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Oscar Pistorius: Final Verdict

Judge Masipa has finished reading her verdict in the Oscar Pistorius trial. He is not guilty of murder but guilty of culpable homicide. She found him guilty of one count of negligent handling of a firearm (the one that went off in the restaurant) and not guilty of another firearm charge (shooting through his sunroof.) She found him not guilty of illegal possession of ammunition.

I think she was very thorough and her ruling on the homicide charge was correct. Recap of her ruling below. (For yesterday's verdict reading, see here.) [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Verdict Reading

4:15 am: Glad I stayed up for one more segment. The Judge has just rejected premeditated murder. The state failed to prove its case. She spent some time saying Oscar was a poor witness and not candid with the court, but said that isn't enough to conclude he's guilty. His testimony must be viewed in conjunction with all the evidence presented. Again, it's going to be not guilty of premeditated murder, but she's leaning towards guilt on culpable homicide. She has discretion in sentencing at that charge. Big loss for the arrogant, bellicose prosecutor. Huge win for the defense, blocking a life sentence.

2:55 am MT: Judge takes a half hour break. I'm done for the night, fairly confident that the Judge will find him not guilty of premeditated murder, having rejected most of the state's case. After finishing the issue of premeditation, she recounted Oscar's testimony and his conflicting statements which included that he did not shoot intentionally, he shot accidentally, and he shot unconsciously, without thinking. She doesn't buy his version, and cites him having released the safety mechanism and that he also said he fired because he thought someone was in the bathroom and might come out and attack him. It sounds like she will find him not guilty of the more serious premeditated murder charge and is moving onto his intent in shooting and the "culpable homicide" charge. It's not looking good for Oscar on the culpable murder charge -- it sounds like she thinks he could have foreseen that someone would be shot and killed even if that was not his intent, but she's not done yet. [More...]

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Verdict Day Tomorrow for Oscar Pistorius

Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict tomorrow on Oscar Pistorius. Time Magazine has this rundown of how the verdict will be delivered and the possible outcomes.

[I]f there are any convictions on the four charges Pistorius faces — murder and three unrelated firearm charges — sentences will only be decided later at a separate hearing.

The Guardian has this summary of the charges and each sides' arguments.

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Oscar Pistorius: Closing Arguments End, Ruling 9/11

Closing arguments have ended in the Oscar Pistorius trial. The judge will issue her ruling on September 11.

You can listen to the arguments on Soundcloud here.

The defense said it comes down the 20 seconds where he was standing at the entrance to the bathroom. He was standing there without legs, facing the door. He hears the sounds and fires the shot - was that reasonable? If the judge finds that was reasonable, she must acquit him.

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Pistorius Expert Provides Media With Work Done for Defense

The Evidence Room of Cleveland, Ohio has a problem. It was retained by the defense in the Oscar Pistorius case to create a re-enactment of the shooting of Oscar's girlfriend Reeva.

The reenactment, with commentary by Scott Roder, President of the Evidence Room, as it's being run on a display monitor, aired last night on Australian TV. Since Roder appears in the interview, and takes the interviewer through it, it's not possible he wasn't aware Seven News had it. Roder also talks about what Oscar told him (something a defense lawyer would never do.)

In the exclusive interview, Roder says he is convinced Pistorius did not mean to kill his girlfriend on the morning of February 14, after weeks of interviewing and analysing the evidence. "Absolutely, they physical evidence is consistent and his story remains unchanged," Roder told Sunday Night reporter Ross Coulthart."If you look at the evidence Oscar's clearly not guilty.

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A Good Day for Oscar Pistorius at Trial as Final Defense Witness Testifies

So far, today's trial proceedings have gone very well for Oscar. His final witness, his physician and team doctor, is on the stand. The following is a recap from tweets of several live reporters in the courtroom:

Earlier today, the psych evaluation report of the state panel of experts was read into the record and accepted by both parties. Neither called witnesses to expound on it. The report found Oscar does not have narcissistic personality traits, and he has no history of abnormal aggression of violence. He has no personality traits typical of a rage killer, and he does feel genuinely vulnerable. Oscar has a history of feeling insecure and vulnerable, especially without prostheses

The report also confirmed Oscar and Reeva were in a loving relationship. There were no signs of abuse or coercion. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Trial Resumes: Mental Condition Fine

The prosecutor's ploy to have Oscar declared mentally ill didn't work. Doctors at the state hospital found he does not suffer from a mental disease or defect that prevents him from being able to tell right from wrong.

According to the Twitter feeds of reporters covering the trial, today's witnesses included a sound expert and the physician who amputated Oscar's legs. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Judge Orders Out-Patient Evaluation

The judge in Oscar Pistorius' case yesterday rejected forcing him to undergo a 30 day inpatient evaluation. Instead, saying it was not supposed to be punishment, she ordered an out-patient evaluation. The evaluation will take place at a hospital on the outskirts of Pretoria, and Oscar will be able to spend nights at his uncle's house, where he has been living since the shooting.

That's good news for Oscar and quick thinking by his lawyer, who suggested it as an alternative to the typical in-patient eval.. His family gave a statement afterwards, saying they were pleased by the decision.

The only people who seem disappointed are the journalists covering the trial, since it throws their schedules into disarray. [More....]

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Oscar Pistorius Trial : Prosecutorial Gamesmanship

Oscar Pistorius is back in court as his defense team continued to call witnesses.

The defense psychiatrist, Dr. Meryl Vorster, testified as to Oscar's vulnerability as a double amputee, and the prosecutor asked to have the trial delayed and Oscar sent for a 30 day mental evaluation.

This is gamesmanship. The witness clearly stated Oscar knew the difference between right and wrong. There's no indication or defense claim he was insane or suffering from diminished capacity such that he couldn't appreciate the nature of his actions at the time of the shooting.

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Oscar Pistorius: Neighbors Closest to His House Back His Version

Reading through the twitter feeds of 6 journalists I follow who tweet the court proceedings in real time (rather than the media articles published after which selectively summarize the testimony, mostly in favor of the prosecution), here's what happened at the latest court session:

The defense called two more neighbors who live closer to Oscar than the state's witnesses. They heard bangs followed by a man howling in a high pitched voice. None heard a woman crying or screaming. One is a female psychologist for the Department of Labor who lives right next door or right behind him. She replicated the howling. The state's cross-examination of these witnesses was so short the defense ran out of witnesses and the trial recessed early.

There are now four neighbors who support Oscar's version of events. These witnesses were on the prosecution's witness list but were not called by rhe state. Instead the state called witnesses who lived much further away whose testimony was remarkably different but fit their theory. If the job of the prosecutor is not to convict but to see that justice is done, the state's failure to call these witnesses speaks volumes. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Trial Resumes, Estate Manager Testifies

Oscar Pistorius is back in court after a two week recess. His first witness is the estate manager Johan Stander. Stander was the first person Oscar called after the shooting. He arrived at the scene almost immediately. Oscar told him immediately he mistook Reeva for an intruder.

Stander was on the state's witness list but was not called to testify. Oscar's co-counsel, Kenny Oldwage, is questioning Stander. [More...]

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Pistorius Testimony Over, Back to Expert Witnesses

Oscar Pistorius has completed his testimony. The prosecutor picked apart every little detail hoping to show his version of events was not possible. The state is pushing an alternate theory, however, it sounds like it's nothing more than "it might have happened this way." He didn't get Oscar to admit that any of the elements of his theory were correct. The state's theory is predicated on an argument between the couple, and given Oscar's denial and the lack of any other witnesses present, I don't see how the theory can be considered proved in any way, let alone by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here is the state's version, succinctly put on Twitter by reporter Barry Bateman, who has been in the courtroom every day:

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Oscar Pistorius's Cross-Examination

The press seems to be fawning over prosecutor Gerrie Nel and his "bully-ish" cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius. I was not impressed. I was glad the Judge called him out over his inappropriate sarcasm and laughter and claims Oscar's emotional outbursts were manufactured.

“You possibly think this is entertainment. It is not,” she told Nel. “Please restrain yourself.”

I don't think he proved Pistorius is lying about his account. Nel is trying to get Pistorius to admit to Nel's interpretation of the facts, and when he won't, because he doesn't agree with Nel's interpretation, he blasts him as a liar and murderer and tells him to accept responsibility.

It's not the prosecutor's job to tell a defendant to accept responsibility for the crime for which he's on trial and denies committing. It's his job to ask questions and test his version of the facts.

Unless a defendant's story is so rehearsed it never changes, there are obviously going to be minor discrepancies. It's not surprising that Oscar's memory is better on what led up to the shooting than during the moments of trauma afterwards when he realized Reeva was dead. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Takes the Stand

After a week of recess due to the illness of of one of the judge's fact-finders, the Oscar Pistorius trial resumed today, with the defense calling Dr. Botha The topics ranged from the angle of the bullets to when Reeva last ate and emptied her bladder. When he was done, Oscar took the stand.

From the reporters in the courtroom I follow via Twitter: [More...]

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Pistorius Trial: Crime Scene Evidence Problems

It was a dramatic day 8 at the Oscar Pistorius trial. The investigator who took over the case from the Hilton Botha, Colonel Vermulon, testified about the physical evidence. There are some serious problems.

Both sides now agree Oscar was on his stumps when he shot through the door, and after that, he used a cricket bat to bash in the door. Here's the rub: The state, which claimed at the bail hearing Oscar had his prostheses on when he shot at the door, now says he didn't have them on at either time: when he shot through the door or used the cricket bat. The defense says Oscar put them after shooting at the door and had them on when he used the bat.

In Oscar's bail affidavit, he says he shot through the door while on his stumps, then "I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open."[More...]

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