Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp when South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal overturned his previous conviction of culpable homicide in a case the judge called “a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.”
Judge Eric Leach ruled Pistorius should have foreseen that firing a gun through the door of his bathroom would have killed whoever was behind the door.
The defense had argued that Pistorius thought an intruder was in the bathroom, not Steenkamp.
“The identity of victim is irrelevant to his guilt,” Judge Leach said, calling the original judgment “fundamentally flawed.
“All the shots fired through the door would almost inevitably have struck the person behind it. There would be effectively no place to hide,” the judge declared, calling Pistorius’ testimony in his own defense “unacceptable,” “vacillating” and “contradictory.”
The culpable homicide verdict had been appealed by prosecutors seeking conviction on the more severe charge. “Culpable homicide” is legalese for a negligent killing.
Pistorius, 29, shot model Steenkamp four times through a closed and locked bathroom door on Valentine’s Day 2013, claiming he mistook her for an intruder.
Judge Leach said Pistorius “gambled with life” when he fired through the closed door.
Pistorius’ new sentence has not been decided, but he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Known as “Blade Runner” — a reference to the prosthetic legs he uses when he races — Pistorius had been under house arrest at his uncle’s home since October, after serving a year of his original five-year sentence in prison.
Pistorius has one final hope: taking the case to South Africa’s Constitutional Court.