After a 41-day trial during which his life was laid bare, Oscar Pistorius now waits for the verdict to be revealed on Sept 11.
Eighteen months ago when he granted Oscar Pistorius bail after the killing of his girlfriend, South African magistrate Desmond Nair noted a number of “improbabilities” in the Olympic and Paralympic star’s account of the shooting.
After 41 days of testimony and drama in the Pretoria High Court, Pistorius’s freedom hangs on whether the prosecution has made its case well enough to convince judge Thokozile Masipa that such improbabilities cannot be “reasonably possibly true”.
Pistorius, a double-amputee who made it to the semi-final of the 400 metres at the London 2012 Olympics, says he fired through the door into the toilet cubicle in the mistaken belief he was defending himself from a burglar.
Why, Nair had asked, did Pistorius not find out who was in the toilet before firing four 9mm hollow-point rounds? And why did Reeva Steenkamp not let him know she was there?
South Africa’s apartheid government scrapped trial by jury in the late 1960s, meaning that 66-year-old Masipa, only the second black woman to rise to the bench, will ultimately decide Pistorius’s fate when she delivers her verdict on Sept 11.
Possible verdicts range from convictions for premeditated murder and a minimum 25-year sentence, or a lesser count of murder, to culpable homicide with a maximum 15-year sentence – if Masipa believes he did not intend to kill Steenkamp but did so by firing negligently or recklessly.
She could also acquit Pistorius if she accepts that he was acting in self-defence – known formally as "putative private defence" – when he pulled the trigger.
“This case is about the credibility of Oscar Pistorius,” said Johannesburg-based advocate Riaan Louw. “If he’s not a credible witness and the judge does not accept his testimony, he’s going to be convicted on either murder or culpable homicide.”