Pistorius set to learn fate

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Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is set to find out if he has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend with the judge starting to deliver her verdict on Thursday.
It has been just over a month since the closing arguments in the murder trial in the Pretoria courtroom with prosecutor Gerrie Nel, known as the “pitbull”, having taken centre stage for most of the proceedings going up against lead defence advocate Barry Roux.
Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder after shooting his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on February 14 last year and it is now the job of crime reporter turned judge Thokozile Masipa to reveal her findings having digested vast amounts of evidence, including testimonies from 37 witnesses.
As well as being accused of murder, the 27-year-old is facing three unrelated firearms charges that allegedly occured before Steenkamp’s murder, including firing a gun in a restaurant, firing a gun out of a car sunroof and the illegal possession of ammunition. He has pleaded not guilty to all four charges.
To be found guilty of premeditated murder, the judge needs to believe that Pistorius knew Steenkamp was in the toilet at the time of the shooting and intended to kill her when he fired his gun. He would then face a 25-year prison sentence, but this could still be reduced if the judge is convinced of mitigating arguments.
If the judge decides it was unplanned, Pistorius could still face a sentence of 15 years in prison. For this to happen, the judge needs to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius fired his gun in the heat of the moment with the intention to kill whoever he thought was behind the toilet door – burglar or girlfriend.
Throughout the trial Pistorius has always maintained he believed a burglar had broken into his house and that he fired his gun as an act of self-defence.
Similar to the charge of ‘manslaughter’ in Britain, the charge of culpable homicide removes any intention from the action of murder. If Pistorius is found guilty of this charge, the judge would have accepted that Pistorius did not intend to kill. 
There is no minimum sentence to this charge and a maxiumum of 15 years in prison. This sentence could be reduced to a community-type sentence with no time in prison, depending how much the judge weighs up the responsibility of Pistorius.
After considering all the evidence, there remains a chance the judge may find Pistorius not guilty of all charges and he would walk out of the courtroom a free man.
There will however almost definitely be an appeal, whatever the verdict. The state will appeal any not guilty verdict and almost certainly the defence will appeal any guilty verdict.
It would seem that Pistorius is preparing for all scenarios with reports stating the South African was last week trying to raise money to fund any ongoing legal process. It is likely that the final vedict will not be announced until Friday.

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