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Oscar Pistorius Not Guilty of Murder: 5 Things You Should Know

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on September 11, 2014 9:22 AM

South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been acquitted of murdering his girlfriend following a six-month trial.

The judge presiding over the trial said that Pistorius had been "negligent" in firing a gun four times through a bathroom door at what he claims he thought was an intruder. Ultimately, however, the judge said she was not convinced that he had intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Here are five things you should know about the Pistorius verdict:

  1. Pistorius still faces four additional charges. Although the judge did not find Pistorius guilty on the most serious charge of premeditated murder, he still faces multiple criminal charges, including culpable homicide, two counts of discharging a gun in a public area, and illegal possession of ammunition.
  2. What is culpable homicide? Culpable homicide is a form of negligent homicide roughly equivalent to involuntary manslaughter in that it involves a homicide committed through negligence as opposed to intent. Judge Thokozile Masipa strongly hinted that she might find Pistorius guilty on this charge by calling his actions "negligent" on the night of Steenkamp's death.
  3. Why wasn't there a jury? Unlike American law, which requires a trial by jury for serious criminal offenses, South Africa's jury system was eliminated during the apartheid era because of concerns about prejudice. Pistorius' trial was presided over by a judge and two assessors, who assist the judge in ruling on the facts of the case.
  4. Could Pistorius still end up going to prison? If Pistorius is found guilty of culpable homicide, he could still face up to 15 years in prison. Pistorius may also face prison time for each of the other three criminal charges, including up to 15 years for having ammunition without the proper license.
  5. What led the judge to acquit Pistorius of murder? The judge said that the prosecution was unable to meet its burden by showing sufficient evidence that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp, saying that the evidence in the case was circumstantial and the witnesses produced by the prosecution were unreliable, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The proceedings are set to resume Friday, when the judge is set to rule on whether Pistorius is guilty of culpable homicide.

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