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Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic who shot and killed his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year, cannot be found guilty of intentionally killing Reeva Steenkamp.

A judge ruled that Pistorius’ actions were “negligent,” but not intentional. The ruling suggests Pistorius may be found guilty of “culpable homicide,” but has been acquitted of the two most serious charges — premeditated murder and murder.

Judge Thokozile Masipa says that evidence suggests Pistorius really believed there was an intruder in the bathroom, not Steenkamp. She has yet to hand down a verdict.

From the New York Times

Earlier, calmly and coolly taking up piece after piece of evidence, dismissing some, discounting others, offering practical interpretations of still more, Judge Masipa said that although Mr. Pistorius made a poor and evasive witness, she found large parts of his story credible. Most significantly, she said it seemed — or at least that the prosecution had been unable to prove otherwise — that when he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, through a bathroom door in February 2013, Mr. Pistorius genuinely believed that intruders had broken into his home and were hiding in the bathroom at the time.

Judge Masipa also dismissed out of hand large portions of the prosecution’s evidence, in particular the testimony of neighbors who said they had heard the sounds of a man and woman arguing in Mr. Pistorius’s house before the shots were fired. And she said that prosecution evidence culled from WhatsApp text messages and meant to demonstrate that Mr. Pistorius and Ms. Steenkamp’s relationship was “on the rocks,” as she put it, could not be considered relevant. Nor, she said, could seemingly contradictory text-message evidence from the defense meant to show that the couple had a loving relationship be helpful in reaching a verdict.

“In my view, none of this evidence, from the state or defense, proves anything, she said. “Normal relationships are dynamic and unpredictable sometimes.”

Judge Masipa adjourned the case until Friday. In addition to culpable homicide, Pistorius also faces three counts relating to firearms offenses.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest.


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