The Pistorius Saga: From Hero to Villain

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It was a trial that was supposed to last three weeks, but instead trudged on for half a year — six months of at times gruesome and heart-rending testimony that often left the star defendant sobbing and retching into a bucket by his feet. And it was streamed live for the whole world to watch, as Oscar Pistorius, a South African Olympic track star with inspirational story stood accused of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

It had all the elements of a Hollywood film: Pistorius, who grabbed the world’s attention when the double-amputee excelled on the track, fired through a bathroom door in his home on Valentine’s Day, killing Steenkamp — a model who had attracted attention of her own, turning heads when she first lit up a red carpet for a South African Sports Award ceremony in 2012, and who friends said “had a brilliant mind.”

But was Pistorius’ intention murder, as the prosecution claimed, or was he firing at what he believed was a burglar? Testimony would show Pistorius had a temper, and that Steenkamp complained the couple was “fighting all the time.”

On Thursday, Pistorius was cleared of the highest murder charges against him, but was convicted of “culpable homicide,” the South African equivalent of manslaughter. He will be sentenced next month, and could do as little as 5 years in jail, or a maximum of 15. For more on the saga of Oscar Pistorius, Dateline NBC takes a look at the trial from horrific start to surprising finish.



— Hasani Gittens