Oscar Pistorius Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For His Girlfriend’s Murder

South African paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The verdict came more than three years after Steenkamp was allegedly shot by Oscar inside his home in an upscale Pretoria neighborhood.

The verdict was pronounced the same judge who had found Pistorius guilty of manslaughter back in 2014. According to The New York Times, the 29-year-old sprinter looked expressionless when the verdict was read. Oscar was asked by the judge to rise and listen to the sentencing. Steenkamp’s family was also present in the courtroom, which remained silent all through the nearly hour-long verdict.

The sentence of six years is considerably lower than what the prosecution wanted for Oscar. They were in favor of Pistorius being sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison for his crime. However, Judge Thokozile Masipa said that there were “mitigating factors” that led her to sentence Oscar to a much lesser six-year term. She also added that over Pistorius had shown genuine remorse and has tried to repeatedly apologize to the family members of Steenkamp.

Todays verdict is the newest chapter in the dramatic trial of Pistorius that followed the murder. In 2014, Pistorius was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for the crime by the same judge. Judge Thokozile Masipa had back then, found Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide, which is similar to manslaughter. What this basically meant was the Pistorius was negligent when he shot his girlfriend through his bathroom door and that his actions were not intentional. Following that verdict, Pistorius spent a year in a Pretoria prison before being granted parole in October 2014.

In December 2014, following an appeal, a higher court overturned the original verdict and said that Pistorius had committed murder — meaning the murder of Steenkamp was pre-planned and executed. The appeals court, for the same reason, found Pistorius guilty of murder while adding that Pistorius should have been aware that using his gun would have killed anyone who was behind the bathroom door.

At this time, it is unclear if Pistorius would appeal this latest verdict too. If he doesn’t, he will spend the next six years of his life in prison.

People have, on social media, started to talk about the verdict already — some clearly angry over the fact that Pistorius received a “light” sentence. Questions are being raised for the light sentence owing to the fact that the minimum prison sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years. There were others, however, who tweeted out in support for him.

It was on February 14, Valentine’s Day of 2013, that the crime that shook the country took place in Pretoria. Pistorius’s girlfriend Victoria Steenkamp was shot four times through a bathroom door by Pistorius, who still claims that he fired the shots thinking there was an intruder behind the door. The crime happened at around 4 a.m. local time. To this day, the actual circumstances that led to the incident remain shrouded in mystery. The prosecution claimed that Oscar’s decision to fire bullets was the result of a late-night argument he had with Steenkamp, stressing that the murder was pre-planned. Defense lawyers, however, toed Oscar’s line, claiming that the lady was mistaken for an intruder. To this day, only one person, Oscar Pistorius himself, knows what actually happened that fateful morning.

In the days leading to the newest verdict, there were dramatic scenes in the courtroom, and on one occasion, Pistorius was asked to walk across the courtroom without his prosthetic legs. He did so, weeping, as his lawyer appealed the court to show some leniency to him. Oscar was reportedly not wearing his prostheses at the time he killed Steenkamp.

“He suffers from an anxiety disorder. We know that… when he was on his stumps, his balance was seriously compromised, and without anything he won’t be able to defend himself,” his lawyer said.

“The accused can never resume his career. The accused has punished himself and will punish himself for the rest of his life far more than any court of law can punish him.” Pistorius’s lawyer added further.

Meanwhile, the family of Victoria Steenkamp had asked the judge for a strict sentencing during an earlier hearing. Steenkamp’s father Barry Steenkamp cried as he pleaded to the court asking Pistorius to be punished for the murder of his daughter.

“I don’t wish that on any human being, finding out what happened. It devastated us,” Barry Steenkamp said. “I ended up having a stroke and so many things since then have happened to me.”

[Image: Alon Skuy/Pool Photo via AP]

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