The Presiding judge – Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa – in the trial of South African blade runner, Oscar Pistorious, for the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year – is expected to give her verdict today (September 11).
We take a look at the possible sentences available to her:
Premeditated murder – carries a life sentence and if convicted, the accused will not be eligible for parole before 25 years. However, the judge has ruled out this sentence, saying “there are not enough facts” to support the prosecution case that the athlete intended to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on the fateful day.
Second-degree murder – if convicted he would face 15 years in prison. State prosecutors argued that the shooting involved a level of planning in that the runner had time to arm himself, disable the gun’s safety catch, walk down the bedroom corridor towards the bathroom and fire four times into the toilet cubicle – a period in which he had time to consider what he was doing and the effects of his actions. They insisted that he had intended to kill whoever was behind the door – making him guilty of murder. But the judge had not found him guilty of second degree murder.
Culpable homicide (known as manslaughter in other countries) – this carries no minimum sentence in South African law and it is possible that in this case the defendant would escape jail all together. But the judge can look at options including a jail sentence, a suspended jail sentence, correctional supervision and even a financial penalty.