Oscar Pistorius Sentencing: Hearing To Determine Fate Of Former Athlete For Murder Of Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius’ sentencing hearing is underway, with the former South African athlete back in court this week for sentencing for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius had previously served one year of a five-year sentence after he was originally found guilty of manslaughter in Steenkamp’s death. The manslaughter conviction was later overturned by an appeals court, who then found him guilty of murder.

Pistorius, who is also known as the “Blade Runner,” became famous after being the first person to compete in both a Paralympics and able-bodied Olympics. After competing more than once in the Paralympics, Pistorius qualified to run in the 2012 Summer Olympics. While he did not medal, he was selected to carry the flag for the closing ceremonies and later carried the flag at the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Paralympics, where he also competed. His success earned him sponsorship from companies like Nike and Oakley. As a role model for amputees everywhere, it seemed Pistorius was on an unstoppable rise.

Oscar Pistorius London Olympics 2012
Oscar Pistorius London Olympics 2012 [Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images]

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On Valentine’s Day 2013, Pistorius was at his home with his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, when according to him he thought he heard an intruder in the bathroom. Pistorius grabbed his gun and shot four rounds into the closed bathroom door, hitting Steenkamp three times. He claimed that he thought Steenkamp was in bed beside him when he fired the fatal shots, however prosecutors stated that neighbors heard loud arguing before she was killed.

There has been a great deal of coverage given to the case, particularly with the legal twists that have happened. In 2014, Pistorius was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to only five years in jail. He was released after only serving one year of that sentence and was allowed to finish the rest of his time under house arrest. In December 2015, an appeals court overturned the manslaughter conviction stating that the lower court had misinterpreted the law. The ruling found him guilty of murder meaning he faced another sentencing hearing, and this time, he is facing a minimum of 15 years in prison, although the judge does have the discretion to give a lower sentence in special circumstances.

Oscar Pistorius’ sentencing hearing for the murder will have testimony and closing arguments with the hearing expected to last until Friday. Steenkamp’s father testified on day two, saying that his wife had forgiven Pistorius for killing his daughter, but that he needed to pay for his crime.

Also on the second day, the court heard from a woman whose son was born without legs who testified that Pistorius had been kind to her son and that he had given her son the gold medal he won. The court also heard from Pastor Marius Nel who testified that he had visited Pistorius in jail after his manslaughter conviction and said that he was a broken man. The Pastor also stated that he had been in contact with schools that wanted Pistorius to provide disadvantaged kids with sports training.

Psychologist Jonathan Scholtz was called the first day by the defense to speak to mitigation for sentencing. Scholtz testified that Pistorius suffers from depression, anxiety, paranoia and has post-traumatic stress, and that he should be in a hospital not in jail. He went on to say that he did not believe Pistorius was capable of testifying in the hearing because his condition was “severe,” to which Chief Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked how he was able to give an interview to Britain’s ITV.

With Oscar Pistorius’ sentencing hearing to be completed, with the sentence handed down by Friday, the former athlete will be in court to learn his fate. He has already been denied the right to appeal his murder conviction, so the sentencing will likely be the last chapter in the ongoing case.

[Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images]