JOHANNESBURG (TheBlaze/AP) — The saga surrounding double-amputee Olympian Oscar Pistorius continued on Thursday, with a South African appeals court convicting him of murder.
In doing so, the court overturned a lesser charge of manslaughter for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death in 2013.
Justice Lorimer Eric Leach of the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered the ruling by the five-judge appeals court in Bloemfontein and directed the trial court, the North Gauteng High Court, to impose a sentence.
The judge called the details surrounding the crime "a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions."
Oscar Pistorius rubs his eyes as he sits in court as the sentencing process entered a second day, Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday Oct. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
"The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder," Leach said to the courtroom of the Pistorius' previous culpable homicide conviction.
Steenkamp's mother, June, sat in the courtroom as the ruling was given, though the Olympian was not present.
A 15-year prison sentence is the minimum punishment for murder in South Africa. However, the law allows for a lesser sentence to be imposed in exceptional circumstances.
Pistorius was placed under house arrest in October after serving one year in prison. He had been sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter; it is unclear what will come next in terms of legal punishments for the crime.
His lawyers can also argue that he should be shown leniency because he is disabled.
Pistorius, 29, killed Steenkamp in the early morning of Valentine's Day. He insisted he thought she was an intruder behind the door of a toilet cubicle in his home. The prosecution said Pistorius shot Steenkamp during an argument.
Leach said regardless of who might have been behind the door, Pistorius should have known someone could be killed if he fired.
A picture taken on January 26, 2013 shows Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. South Africa's Olympic sprinter Oscar 'Blade Runner' Pistorius was taken into police custody on February 14, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images)
"All the shots fired through the door would almost inevitably have struck the person behind it. There would be effectively no place to hide," Leach said. "The identity of his victim is irrelevant to his guilt."
Under the concept of "dolus eventualis" in South African law, a person can be convicted of murder if they foresaw the possibility of someone dying through their actions and went ahead anyway.
Pistorius, a multiple Paralympic champion, became one of the world's most famous athletes and the first amputee to run at the Olympics and the able-bodied world championships. He was known as "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fiber running blades.
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