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Oscar Pistorius 'Not Guilty' of murder of his Lover Reeva Steenkamp

South African paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius reacts in the dock on September 11, 2014 as a judge began at the High Court in Pretoria handing down her verdict on whether he was guilty of the 2013 Valentine's Day murder of his model girlfriend. Judge Thokozile Masipa moved swiftly into her assessment of the almost 40 witnesses, apparently rejecting state evidence that pointed to an argument between the couple. The judge also found that Pistorius was not guilty of the premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, dismissing the most serious of charges against him.-AFP
Oscar Pistorius has been sensationally cleared of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The Paralympian broke down in tears and bowed his head in the dock as the judge delivered her verdict.

Pistorius had been accused of deliberately shooting the 30-year-old model during a furious row at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.
But he had always maintained - often through wails of despair during his six-month trial - that he shot the law graduate in self-defence after mistaking her for an intruder.
Judge Thokozile Masipa has yet to decide on a lesser charge of culpable homicide - similar to manslaughter.
Earlier, she also ruled there were not enough facts to prove the most serious charge of pre-meditated murder against the athlete.

Although she described the 27-year-old as a 'very poor; and 'evasive' witness, judge Thokozile Masipa said this did not mean the track star was necessary guilty in a case that she said was based entirely on circumstantial evidence.

'The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder,' Masipa told the Pretoria High Court.

'There are just not enough facts to support such a finding.'
Appearing tense with a sick bucket by his side in the dock, the 27-year-old sprinter looked on as Judge Masipa called Pretoria's High Court to order.
During her summary of the case, she dismissed a series of heated text messages between the couple which the prosecution claimed was evidence they were in a volatile relationship.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had used them in an attempt to bolster his claim that the athlete shot his girlfriend in a fit of rage.
Judge Thokozile Masipa reads her verdict as South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius (unseen) sits in the dock during the verdict in his murder trial, Pretoria, South Africa.-AFP
But the judge said that inference could not be made, adding: 'Nothing of this proves anything at all.'
She added: 'Neither the evidence of the loving relationship or a relationship turned sour can assist this court to determine whether the accused had the requisite intention to kill the deceased.'

She also said there was 'some doubt' that a woman screamed on the night because of contradictory witness testimony, which she believed had been contaminated by media reports.
This apparently acknowledged the possibility that the defense argument that it was, in fact, Pistorius who had been screaming in a high-pitched voice. 
Some interpreted her remarks as a blow for the prosecution, although she also cast doubt on the evidence of some defence witnesses.
Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June (C), and father Barry arrive to attend the Oscar Pistorius trial at the High Court in Pretoria.-AFP
And she said Pistorius himself in his evidence showed 'a number of defences, or apparent defences'.
After reading a list of contradictory statements in Pistorius's testimony, she said one assertion 'is inconsistent with someone who shot without thinking'.
Earlier, Pistorius wept in the dock as the judge described the injuries he inflicted on Miss Steenkamp when he shot her four times through a locked toilet door.
He arrived at the courthouse at 8am in a dark suit and white shirt, surrounded by bodyguards and police who escorted him through a scrum of reporters, supporters and television cameras.
He appeared calm, staring straight ahead and making no comment.
South African Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius(C) arrives at the High Court in Pretoria on September 11, 2014.-AFP
Shortly after, his estranged father Henke arrived, putting in only his second appearance at the trial that has captivated a global audience for the last six months.
'I'm just here to support him,' Henke told reporters.
The athlete's brother, Carl Pistorius, arrived at the courthouse in a wheelchair with both his legs in splints in his first appearance since being seriously injured inn a car crash earlier this year.
In a fitting reminder of how South Africa has changed in the 20 years since apartheid, the fate of Pistorius, a wealthy white man from privileged roots, rests in the hands of a 66-year-old black woman from Soweto.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, only the second black woman to be appointed a high court judge in post-apartheid South Africa, has analysed more than 4,000 pages of evidence before reaching her decision.
Her ruling will likely be laid out in two days of careful legal argument and then a final verdict, perhaps tomorrow.
In reaching her verdict, Judge Thokozile Masipa will have to weigh Pistorius's claim that he shot Miss Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder and the prosecution's allegation that the runner intentionally murdered her after a row.

If the judge decides Pistorius deliberately murdered Miss Steenkamp, he could face a life sentence, which in South Africa means 25 years in jail.
But even if that is her verdict, it is not the end of a case that has seen Pistorius vomit, retch and break down in tears on several occasions in court.
There will be arguments before sentence is handed down and, most likely, an appeal to a higher court.
If Pistorius is acquitted of murder he can still be convicted on an alternative charge of culpable homicide, which could also carry a prison sentence.
He denies all the charges, including three other firearm-related counts.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel took 15 days to lay out his case against the 27-year-old back in March, arguing he deliberately killed Miss Steenkamp by firing four rounds from a 9mm pistol through a closed toilet door.
The personality of the Paralympian gold medallist, who won worldwide fame when he competed on his prosthetic 'blades' against able-bodied runners at the London Olympics, was a focus of the trial.
Prosecutors described him as an egotistical liar obsessed with guns, fast cars and beautiful women, who was not prepared to take responsibility for his actions.
Several neighbours testified to hearing a woman's terrified screams before a volley of shots, countering Pistorius's assertions that he mistook Miss Steenkamp for a burglar.
The fatal shots: Four holes are seen on the toilet door from bullets fired by Pistorius, three of which hit Miss Steenkamp - in the arm, head and hip.-Daily Mail
Cutting through months of complex evidence and testimony, Mr Nel ended proceedings last month by returning to his core argument.
'He knew there was a human being in the toilet. That's his evidence,' Mr Nel told the judge.
'His intention was to kill a human being. He's fired indiscriminately into that toilet. Then m'lady, he is guilty of murder. There must be consequences.'
Mr Nel ended proceedings by making a final plea for the South African athlete, nicknamed the Blade Runner after his carbon-fibre prosthetic running legs, to 'face the consequences' of his actions.
Defence lawyers said there are 'two Oscars' - a world-class athlete and a highly vulnerable individual with a serious disability who acted out of fear, not anger, when he fired the fatal shots.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux said during his own wrapping-up that psychological evidence had proven the track star had a heightened fight response because of his disability and was in a terrified and vulnerable state when he shot Steenkamp.
'You're standing at that door. You're vulnerable. You're anxious. You're trained as an athlete to react.
'Take all those factors into account,' Roux said, adding that Pistorius had felt exposed because he was standing on the stumps of his legs.
'He stands with his finger on the trigger, ready to fire when ready.
'In some instances a person will fire reflexively,' he added. 'That is your primal instinct.'
Mr Nel responded to those claims by insisting that Pistorius undergo psychiatric tests to establish if he was mentally well enough to stand trial.
But, after a court-ordered 30-day assessment, experts ruled that he was capable of understanding the wrongfulness of his actions when he fired the fatal shots.
Mr Roux also argued that prosecutors had only called witnesses who supported their argument and not other key people, including police officers, who he said would have undermined their case.
The case involved physical as well as oral evidence, with one forensic analyst demonstrating in court how Pistorius may have hit the toilet door with a cricket bat.
Scene of horror: This photograph shows the blood-soaked bathroom where Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the toilet cubicle (top) with his 9mm pistol (seen lying on a bathmat, right) and the blood-splattered cricket bat (bottom right) he used to break down the toilet door after killing her.-Daily Mail
A key element of the case was the time of Ms Steenkamp's final meal.
Pistorius said they ate at around 7pm on the night she was killed, and went to bed at around 10pm before the shooting in the early hours of the morning. 
But the prosecution alleged that a finding that she still had food in her stomach after she was killed contradicted that story. 
Both sides used texts sent by the couple to support their case. In one read out by police captain Francois Moller, Ms Steenkamp said: 'I'm scared of u sometimes and how u snap at me and of how u will react to me.'
But the defence claimed such messages were only a fraction of the total taken from the couple's mobile phones by police, and produced others in which they were affectionate.
For example, in January Steenkamp sent Pistorius a photo of herself in a hoodie with the message: 'You like it?'
He replied: 'I love it.'
The trial's tensest and most dramatic moments came in several days of highly charged testimony from Pistorius.
His voice thick with emotion, the athlete began his evidence by saying sorry to Ms Steenkamp's family.
Watched by the model's mother June, he said: 'I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved.

Mrs Steenkamp later told Hello! Magazine she has forgiven him. 'I don't hate Oscar,' she said.
Pistorius went on to describe how he had suffered from nightmares and sleeplessness following the incident, while also recounting the impact on him of previous instances of crime.
Later in his testimony, the court had to adjourn as Pistorius broke down sobbing and howling while describing the aftermath of the shooting.'I sat over Reeva and I cried,' he said.
Pistorius was on the stand for five days of intense cross-examination from Mr Nel. 
At one point he refused to look at a photograph of Ms Steenkamp's wounds as the prosecutor urged him to 'take responsibility'.
In June, after the trial was halted for a month, experts concluded that Pistorius was not suffering from mental illness at the time of the shooting. (Daily Mail)

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