Oscar Pistorius Judge Says She Will Render Verdict on Sept. 11

Pistorius' amputations heightened "primal instinct," lawyer says in closing.

ByABC News
August 8, 2014, 4:11 AM

PRETORIA, South Africa -- The judge in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial gaveled arguments to a close today and said she would give herself five weeks to consider the case, setting Sept. 11 as the day to announce her verdict.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the case after five months of testimony, interrupted at one point for a month-long psychological evaluation of Pistorius, who is accused of premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The judge will deliberate the case along with her two assistants. South African courts do not use juries.

In the final day of arguments, Pistorius' attorney Barry Roux the legless athlete's condition must be taken into account in deciding whether he is guilty of murder because his disability made him vulnerable and heightened his "primal instincts" to defend himself.

Prosecutors allege that he killed her in a rage after a loud argument, while Pistorius claims he mistook her for an intruder and thought he fired in self-defense when he shot four times through a closed bathroom door.

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Roux argued that the court has to take Pistorius' disability into account because a reasonable disabled person could have an increased startle reflex.

"I do not have legs, I cannot run away, I am not the same," Roux said to try and explain Pistorius' decision to go towards the bathroom and confront a perceived intruder rather than escape. Pistorius did not have his prosthetic legs on and was on his stumps when he shot Steenkamp.

Roux also said that Pistorius, a paralymic champion known as the Blade Runner for his running prosthetics, should have been charged with culpable homicide or manslaughter instead of premeditated murder.

At one point, Roux slapped his hand on the desk in front of him to mimic a sound that Pistorius has said he heard on the night of Steenkamp's death. Such an alarming sound, Roux argued, explains why Pistorius thought an intruder was in his home and that he had to defend himself by opening fire.

Police also mishandled evidence at the house where the shooting happened, Roux said.

"There was no respect for the scene," he said.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel delivered the state’s closing arguments Thursday, focusing on what he said were inaccuracies in Pistorius’ testimony during the trial, which began March 3 at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa.

The prosecutor compared the trial to a relay race and said the legless athlete had "dropped the baton of truth."

After today’s oral arguments from Roux, it will be up to Judge Thokozile Masipa, along with two legal assistants, to determine the athlete’s fate. Pistorius could be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison if found guilty of murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.