Pistorius trial ends, judge sets verdict date

08/08/2014 7:29 AM

08/08/2014 11:52 AM

Pretoria, South Africa (SportsNetwork.com) - The murder trial for Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius came to an end Friday with a closing argument from the defense and Judge Thokozile Masipa has scheduled a verdict date of Sept. 11.

The prosecution made its closing statement on Thursday and urged the judge to convict Pistorius of premeditated murder in the shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius' defense team made its final argument Friday and again maintained the double-amputee runner believed an intruder was in the bathroom when he fired four shots through the door.

Steenkamp was killed by Pistorius on Feb. 14, 2013 in the bathroom of his home.

Judge Masipa, with the aid of two associates, will decide guilt or innocence. South Africa does not have trial by jury.

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the premeditated murder charge. There is also no death penalty in South Africa. He could receive a lighter sentence if the judge decides guilt without premeditation.

In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius also faces charges of contravening South Africa's Firearms Control Act.

The lengthy trial began March 3 and was broadcast throughout South Africa and other parts of the world. It was delayed for about two weeks in late April and early May, then again for nearly the entire month of June after the prosecution requested testing for Pistorius after the defense team contended he suffered from an anxiety disorder that likely caused his reaction to fire a gun instead of run away from a potential intruder on the day of the shooting.

Steenkamp, who was 29 years old, was a model and reality television star in South Africa.

Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner," made history at the London Olympics in 2012 when he became the first double-amputee runner to compete in the Games. He had both legs amputated before he was a year old after being born without fibula bones and runs on prosthetic blades.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had initially said that his prosthetics were considered technical aids and in violation of an IAAF rule. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport later overturned that decision, making him eligible to compete against able-bodied runners.

Pistorius qualified for South Africa's Olympic team in 2012 and competed in the 400-meter race, reaching the semifinals, and the 1,600-meter relay.

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