Johannesburg, South Africa – Oscar Pistorius has been convicted of murder after fatally shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times on February 14th 2013.
Double amputee Olympian athlete Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of premeditated murder charges back in September 2014, but he was later sentenced to five years in prison charged of culpable homicide. That sentence was cut short when he was released from prison after one year, and placed on house arrest in October.
Now, on Thursday the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein ruled that Pistorius’s conviction for culpable homicide would be overturned by a murder conviction. State prosecutors appealed the verdict of culpable homicide, seeking a conviction on more severe charges. The case has been sent back to the trial court for sentencing.
“The interests of justice require that persons should be convicted of the actual crimes they have committed, not of lesser offenses, That is particularly so in crimes of violence.” appeals court Judge Eric Leach claimed as some of the reasons why Pistorius should have been convicted of murder.
Pistorius said in his defense that he had mistook his girlfriend for an intruder in the middle of the night, and shot her four times from outside the locked toilet door. Judge Eric Leach ruled on Thursday that Pistorius should have predicted that his firing of a gun was lethal act that gambled with the life of whoever was behind his bathroom’s door, regardless of whether he thought it was Steenkamp or an intruder. Now, the Paralympic gold medalist faces a verdict up to 15 years in prison.
This might not be the end of the Pistorius trial. Some legal experts have raised the prospect of the athlete’s lawyers appealing the case to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa, arguing that Pistorius received an unfair trial.
His family said that the athlete’s legal team would be studying the decision: “We will be guided by them in terms of options going forward” Anneliese Burgess, a spokesperson for the Pistorius family, said in a statement.
Pistorius’s new sentence is most likely to be stated next year. Meanwhile, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority has said he can remain in home arrest until sentencing occurs.