On Thursday morning at the courthouse in Pretoria, South Africa, Judge Thokozile Masipa read her summation as millions of people around the world waited for news of Oscar Pistorius’s fate.
To the shock of quite a few people, including Reeva Steenkamp’s friends and family, Masipa determined that Pistorius was not guilty of murder.
Pistorius wept openly as he learned that the most serious offense against him, one for which he could have been given a life sentence, was off the table.
Masipa explained that she did not find Pistorius guilty of murder because the evidence presented by the prosecution failed to suggest that his actions were premeditated.
The judge also dismissed the testimony of neighbors, saying that their words were not supported by the established timeline of events.
She believed the neighbors really did mistake Pistorius’s screams for help for that of the victim as she believed the evidence showed that Steenkamp’s injuries were so severe she would not have been able to scream.
She also felt that Pistorius’s version of events has largely remained unchanged and was supported by the evidence.
Just because Masipa has decided that Pistorius will not be sent to prison on a murder charge does not mean that the 27-year-old athlete is completely free and clear.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 11, 2014
During her judgment, Masipa stated that she felt Pistorius had been “evasive” about questions asked during his testimony. She also described him as a “poor witness”.
She also found his behavior to be “negligent”.
This suggests there is a possibility that he could ultimately be sent to jail for the actions which resulted in Reeva Steenkamp's death.
— IBTimes UK (@IBTimesUK) September 11, 2014
The charge of culpable homicide remains on the table. If Masipa finds him guilty of this charge, he could still go to jail for a lengthy period of time.
Depending on the final word from Masipa, the prosecution may seek to contest the judge’s ruling.