Oscar Pistorius trial verdict: The key moments from the past six months

Video: As the trial comes to its conclusion, what were the key moments along the way?

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The Independent Online

The trial of Oscar Pistorius began on 3 March 2014, with most of it being broadcast live and with every moment garnering worldwide attention.

That was always going to be the case when news emerged on Valentine's Day, 2013, that the 27-year-old double-amputee Paralympian had shot and fatally wounded his girlfriend, 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp, through a locked toilet door in his home in Pretoria.

Today, Judge Thokozile Masipa will give her ruling on the trial of Oscar Pistorius as not only South Africa but the whole world looks on.

The man known as "blade runner," who won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and competed at the Olympics, was told this morning that he will not be convicted of murder. Judge Masipa ruled out dolus eventualis - that he could have foreseen his actions could kill Reeva Steenkamp.

OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL LIVE

After a harrowing and exhausting six months of stop-start testimonies and cross-examinations, below is a time line of the key events during the biggest trial in post-Apartheid South African history:

1. Pistorius pleads not guilty

Oscar Pistorius pleads not guilty to the court on the first day of the trial. He claims the death of Steenkamp was a mistake as he believed there was an intruder on the other side of the bathroom door.

2. Defence attacks the first witness

Pistorius' former neighbour, Michelle Burger, told the court that she heard "a woman's terrible screams" coming from the athlete's home on the night in question. She said the screams became more intense and then she heard gun shots. The athlete's lawyer said that Burger "was not sure" what she heard and that her pre-trial statement contradicted what she was now saying in court.

During her verdict, Judge Thokozile Masipa questioned the reliability of the testimony from witnesses who heard screaming and gunshots on the night Pistorius shot dead Steenkamp.

3. Steenkamp's mother speaks out

While Steenkamp's mother, June, did not speak in court, she spoke to the media for the first time early on in the trial. She said had to see Pistorius in court because she wanted to make sure he knew she was there representing her daughter. She said she wanted to forgive Pistorius, saying she had to let go of any anger she felt.

4. Claims of witness intimidation

Witness Charl Johnson told the court he had received intimidating messages after his mobile number had been read out in court. He said that one message read: “Why are you lying in court? We know Oscar didn’t kill Reeva. It’s not cool, come on man.”

5. Ex-girlfriend comments on Pistorius

Pistorius's ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor told the court that he had cheated on her with Steenkamp and that Pistorius always carried his gun around with him. She said he once shot the gun through the sunroof of his car after becoming angry at the police.

6. Pistorius throws up

Pistorius threw up multiple times in the dock as he heard the graphic details of the injuries Steenkamp sustained on the night she died. Pistorius was given a bucket during the hearing and he covered his ears when some details were read out.

7. Police blunders

A former policeman who was the first on the scene said that one of the officers had handled Pistorius' gun without wearing gloves, thus giving the defence cause to question the police investigation into the death of Steenkamp.

8. Pistorius takes the stand

Pistorius starts to give evidence for the first time. His voice trembled as he apologised to Steenkamp's family for his actions.

"There hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family. I wake up every morning, and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for …. I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved."

9. Video of Pistorius shooting a watermelon

The prosecution shows a video of Pistorius firing a gun at a watermelon at a shooting range, with the athlete commenting that the melon was "softer than brains".

10. Trial set back for psychiatric observation

The trial comes to a halt on May 12 after an expert suggests Pistorius be placed under psychiatric observation as he may have anxiety disorder. The trial resumes on June 30 after a panel of psychiatrists conclude Pistorius is not suffering any mental illness.

11. Pistorius the paradox

Medical expert Wayne Derman says that due to Pistorius' disability and his vulnerability, his initial reaction to danger is to fight rather than flee. He said, ""You have a paradox of an individual who is supremely able and an individual who is significantly disabled" he told the court."

12. Pistorius vulnerability questioned

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel was a formidable force during the trial and he argued that Pistorius had a strong family and friend base around him and that claims of his vulnerability were false.

13. Closing arguments

The defence counsel Barry Roux told the court the athlete had "built up" an exaggerated fear of crime and snapped the same way a victim of domestic violence would have done after years of abuse.

Meanwhile, Gerrie Nel accused the athlete of being a "deceitful and appalling witness" and claimed he had consistently tailored his version of events.

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