A verdict in the high profile murder trial of sports star Oscar Pistorius has been set for September 11, after lawyers wrapped up five months of drama-filled proceedings.
Eighteen months after Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, the star’s fate now lies in the hands of South African Judge Thokozile Masipa.
“We shall be back here on the 11th of September at 9:30 for the judgment,” said Masipa, drawing proceedings to a close on Friday.
Pistorius stands accused of deliberately shooting dead his 29-year-old lover after an argument.
He faces 25 years in jail if convicted, but has pleaded not guilty, saying he mistook Steenkamp – who was in a locked toilet cubicle when she died – for an intruder.
During a trial that has heard testimony from nearly 40 witnesses, the athlete – celebrated for his courageous journey from disabled child to Olympic champion – often cut a wretched figure.
Amid gruesome evidence about Steenkamp’s gunshot wounds to the head, hip and hand Pistorius vomited in the dock and later frequently broke down in tears.
Proceedings concluded on Friday with fiery defence lawyer Barry Roux insisting the “cold facts” did not prove his client’s guilt and that the state’s case was “circumstantial”.
In a last-ditch plea to the court, Roux sought to show there was enough doubt about the prosecution to make a murder conviction impossible.
He said the evidence suggested the Paralympian should never have faced a murder trial, but rather the lesser charge of culpable homicide.
“The failure of the state to present that evidence leaves one big question mark,” Roux said.
The defence has sought to explain Pistorius’s actions as those of a “highly-vulnerable individual” obsessed with safety.
Roux argued on Friday that the “slow burn” caused by Pistorius’s anxiety is comparable to that of an abused woman who finally attacks her husband.
On Thursday Pistorius was branded a “deceitful” witness by prosecutor Gerrie Nel in his final arguments, who said the athlete’s efforts to concoct an alibi had led to a “snowball effect” of lies.
Summing up the state’s review of evidence, Nel said Pistorius was guilty of “a baker’s dozen” of misleading statements.
Steenkamp’s parents Barry and June sat side by side in the first row of the public gallery, their faces impassively fixed on Roux as he described Pistorius shooting their daughter.