Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic athlete that competed at the 2012 Olympic Games, has been found not guilty of murder in the death of his former girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius Found Not Guilty Of Murder

Pistorius was acquitted of both premeditated murder – which carries a minimum sentence of 25 years behind bars – and the lesser charge of murder. He could still be found guilty of culpable homicide, which in similar to involuntary manslaughter in U.S. courts and would carry a lesser sentence.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who handed down the verdict based on what she gleaned from the lengthy trial, believes Pistorius’ defense that he did not fire into the locked bathroom with the intention to kill and had not been aware that it was Steenkamp and not an intruder behind the door. Pistorius did not predict the "possibility that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased, as he thought she was in the bedroom at the time," according to Masipa.

Despite dismissing the idea that Pistorius shot to kill Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, Masipa acknowledged in court that his reaction was extreme, suggesting he should have called the police or yelled from the balcony for help. She also noted that the rampant crime in South Africa and his mother’s pronounced fear for their safety are not necessarily excuses for his behavior. Masipa did, however, state that Pistorius’ disability could lead him to have a more extreme reaction to a perceived threat.

"I am not persuaded that a reasonable person with the accused's disabilities in the same circumstances would have fired four shots into that small toilet cubicle,” said Masipa, who added, "I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. It is clear that his conduct was negligent."

Masipa adjourned the hearing on Thursday until Friday before announcing the verdict for culpable homicide. If convicted of culpable homicide, Pistorius could face up to 15 years in prison. Though, it’s also possible he could serve no jail time for the charge.

Pistorius' Gun Charges

Pistorius is still facing sentencing for three gun charges, including one for ammunition for which he did not have a license and two charges for operating firearms recklessly in 2012. The ammunition charge carries with it a maximum of 15 years, while the other two carry maximum sentences of five years. Instead of jail time, the athlete could merely be ordered to pay a fine and/or lose his gun license.

Read more about: