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Pistorius verdict set for Sept 11

Published:Saturday | August 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Pistorius

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP):The judge in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius said yesterday that she will give a verdict on September 11, bringing closer to an end a globally televised five-month trial that has transfixed South Africans and others around the globe.

Judge Thokozile Masipa made the announcement after the prosecution and defence ended their final arguments. Masipa will decide with the help of two legal assistants if the double-amputee athlete faces prison for killing Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year in his home.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could face 25 years and up to life in prison.

Pistorius said he mistakenly shot Steenkamp through the closed door of a toilet cubicle, thinking there was an intruder in his home. The prosecution alleges the world-famous runner intentionally killed her after an argument.

"The accused intended to kill a human being," chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said at the very end of closing arguments. "There must be consequences."

Nel has urged the judge to dismiss Pistorius' entire story as an elaborate lie and to convict him of premeditated murder. South Africa does not have trial by jury, nor does it have the death penalty.

Pistorius could also be convicted of a lesser murder charge or negligent killing, both of which call for years in jail. Judge Masipa could acquit him if she believes he only made a tragic error.

In the prosecution's final arguments, Nel accused the once-celebrated Paralympic champion of being an "appalling witness" who was constantly "deceitful" during his testimony to try to cover up a murder after a fight between the couple.

Pistorius, 27, sat on the bench Friday behind his lawyer, the same place he has spent every one of the 41 days of proceedings. He wore glasses, mostly looking straight ahead.

Chief defence lawyer Barry Roux argued the killing was an accident and said Pistorius' disability had made him particularly vulnerable and anxious about crime over the years, comparing him to a victim of abuse who kills an abuser after a long period of suffering. Pistorius had his lower legs amputated as a baby, and Roux said that the athlete's long-held fear of being attacked with the disability played a central role in the shooting on February 14, 2013.