Judge postpones Pistorius defense hearings after assessor is hospitalized

By Michelle Kapusta,

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial was unexpectedly adjourned on Friday after one of the two judicial assessors fell ill and was hospitalized.

According to the New York Times, the announcement came shortly after the athlete arrived at the courthouse on what was supposed to be the day his defense team began presenting their case.

"One of my assessors is not well, so this court is not properly constituted," Judge Thokozile Masipa told the courtroom in Pretoria.

South Africa does not have a jury system and assessors are legal experts that assist the judge in trying the case and deciding the verdict.

USA Today noted that the trial has been postponed until April 7.

The former Olympian is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

Prosecutors contend that the double amputee intentionally shot the model after the two had an argument. Pistorius, however, has pleaded not guilty and claims that he fatally shot her after mistaking her for an intruder.



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