Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was convicted of murder on Thursday as a South African appeals court overturned his previous manslaughter conviction for the 2013 killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, the Associated Press reports.
Pistorius, 29, was released from prison in October after serving one of five years of the manslaughter sentence. The remainder of the sentence was to be served under house arrest. However, the new murder conviction will carry a minimum of 15 years in prison.
Throughout the legal proceedings, Pistorius, who became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics during the 2012 Games in London, has maintained that he accidentally shot and killed Steenkamp because he believed she was an intruder who had broken into his home.
The appeals court ruled that Pistorius should have predicted that firing his gun would result in the death of a person, regardless of the mistaken identity. The decision to overturn the manslaughter conviction was based on the court’s belief that the original conviction had come as a result of a misinterpretation of the law and an incorrect dismissal of evidence, according to The New York Times.
“The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder on the basis that he had fired the fatal shots with criminal intent,” Judge Eric Leach said.
“As a result of the error of laws referred to and on a proper appraisal of the facts, he ought to have been convicted not of culpable homicide on that count but of murder.”
Pistorius will remain under house arrest until his sentencing. The date for the sentencing has not yet been announced.
- Erin Flynn