Oscar Pistorius: what happens next?

With a verdict due this Thursday, we examine all the possible outcomes and what they could mean for the man they call the Blade Runner.

Peter Iantorno September 10, 2014

After six months, more than 4,000 pages of transcript, detailed video recreations, advanced ballistics analysis and frequent bouts of sobbing, retching and vomiting from the defendant during his testimony, which lasted a full week, the verdict of Oscar Pistorius' murder trial is finally due this week.

On Thursday, September 11, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa is expected to announce her decision in what is the most high-profile court case for a sports star since OJ Simpson's in 1995, leaving Pistorius either a free man or facing some serious jail time.

After such a long, drawn-out trial process, the verdict is likely to be welcomed by the family of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend of Pistorius, who was killed on Valentine's Day last year aged just 29, after being shot through the bathroom door by the Olympian.

However, the verdict on Thursday is not as simple as 'guilty or not guilty' - Pistorius' defence has been that he believed he was shooting at an intruder. There are in fact a number of possible outcomes that Judge Masipa may settle on, so here we've outlined what they could be and what each would mean for Pistorius: 2

Guilty of premeditated murder

If he's found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence. In South African law, this means he'll be eligible to be considered for parole after a minimum of 25 years in prison, meaning he'll be at least 52 years old if he ever becomes a free man.

Guilty of murder without premeditation

If Pistorius is found guilty of murder without premeditation, the judge has the discretion to decide his sentence. However, given former social worker Judge Masipa's record of coming down hard on men accused of domestic violence, anything less than 15 years looks unlikely.

Guilty of culpable homicide

This verdict will arise only if the judge believes that Pistorius did not mean to kill Steenkamp, but he was negligent in firing his gun at the locked toilet door. If found guilty of this, Pistorius would face a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Guilty of lesser charges

As well as the murder charge, Pistorius is also up for two counts of firing a gun in public, relating to two separate incidents, and one count of illegal possession of ammunition. All of these offenses carry possible jail terms, but the length of them is at the discretion of the judge.

Not guilty

If the defence team has done enough to convince Judge Masipa that Pistorius made an honest mistake and his actions were reasonable and not negligent, he could be acquitted of all charges and be a free man. 1 Would Pistorius go back into athletics if he was found not guilty, or would he try to vanish out of the public eye in an attempt to rebuild his life?

It's hard to say, but we'd wager that keeping up any sort of public profile after being at the centre of such a high-profile case would be nigh-on impossible. It's also worth nothing that whatever the decision, it's likely that the losing side will appeal, which will draw out the process further still.