PRETORIA, South Africa — Oscar Pistorius, the disabled track star who once commanded stellar heights of international competition at the Paralympic and Olympic Games, was found guilty on Friday of culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, after being acquitted of murder charges for killing his girlfriend.
But he was granted bail and will remain free, at least until a sentence is announced. Sentencing procedures are set to begin Oct. 13.
The verdict, pronounced by Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa, was the culmination of a closely watched drama that transfixed many around the world after Mr. Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year, saying he believed an intruder had entered his home.
Wielding a handgun loaded with hollow-point ammunition, he opened fire on a locked toilet cubicle door only to discover when he broke the door down with a cricket bat that Ms. Steenkamp was inside. The prosecution sought to prove that he intended to kill her, but he called her death an accident and a mistake.
Judge Masipa asked Mr. Pistorius, 27, to stand in the wooden dock in the North Gauteng High Court here in the South African capital as she pronounced her verdict. The athlete, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and black tie, looked straight ahead, his hands crossed in front of him, seemingly impassive after several instances during the trial when he wept, wailed and retched.
In the hushed courtroom, with members of both the Steenkamp and the Pistorius families looking on, the judge told Mr. Pistorius that he had acted negligently when he opened fire.
The prosecution, she said, had failed to bring “strong circumstantial evidence” to support its case of murder, while Mr. Pistorius’s version of events “could reasonably be true.”
After the shooting, Mr. Pistorius had been prompt in calling for help, the judge said. He prayed to God and sought to resuscitate Ms. Steenkamp, a model and law-school graduate, and his behavior, the judge said, “was inconsistent” with that of someone who wanted to commit murder.
Moreover, she said, “it cannot be said that the accused did not entertain a genuine belief that there was an intruder in the house.” He could thus not be found guilty on murder charges, Judge Masipa said.