All eyes will be on the North Gauteng high court in South Africa as Judge Thokozile Masipa delivers judgment in the trial of Oscar Pistorius. The Paralympian faces a premeditated murder charge after he fired four shots through a toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day 2013, which killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius claims he had mistaken her for an intruder. He also faces two charges relating to firing a gun in a public space, and a separate charge for illegally possessing ammunition. The potential verdicts include:Not guilty on all charges
Should the athlete be found not guilty, he would leave court a free man. Pistorius would then have his 1m rand bail returned to him and would reserve the right to institute a civil case against the minister of police and justice for damages he felt he might have incurred during his prosecution.
Guilty on all charges
Premeditated murder in South Africa carries a minimum sentence of life imprisonment, which constitutes 25 years. Coupled with anything from two to five years in prison or a fine for the firearm and ammunition charges could see the athlete spend three decades in prison. South African law does afford him a parole hearing after 25 years and, if released, will still be on parole for the rest of his life.
Guilty on firearm and ammunition charges, not guilty of premeditated murder but guilty of culpable homicide
In this scenario, Pistorius could face a fine or up to five years in prison for the firearm charges but Judge Masipa could find that the prosecution had not proved premeditated murder beyond reasonable doubt. She could then still find Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide (manslaughter) which is a lesser charge than premeditated murder and focuses on negligence rather than intent. There is no prescribed sentence for culpable homicide in South African law and the sentence can be decided at the discretion of the judge based on the weight of evidence and circumstances surrounding the incident.
Not guilty on firearm and ammunition charges but guilty on premeditated murder charge
In this case, Pistorius will face a life sentence (25 years) or more depending on whether Judge Masipa feels that there are aggravating circumstances.
Sentencing and appeal
Should scenarios one to three occur then the following process will unfold.
After Masipa delivers her verdict the court will adjourn and reconvene at another date for sentencing. When court reconvenes both the prosecution and defence will present mitigating and aggravating circumstances to be considered by Judge Masipa during her sentencing. After considering both arguments, she will deliver her sentence.
After the sentence is delivered, Pistorius will have a chance to appeal both conviction and sentence.
He can also be granted bail at the judge's discretion. However, these bail conditions will come with heavy conditions such as house arrest or reporting to a police station once a week.Source
This trial has been developing incredibly slow but the verdict will finally be given tomorrow. What do you think the probable verdict will/should be?