Oscar Pistorius Gets Six Years For Murdering Reeva Steenkamp

The Blade Runner’s fall from grace is complete. Oscar Pistorius, the once-lauded Paralympian known for the blade-like prosthetics that would propel him to new heights on the track, has been sent to jail for six years in the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day, 2013.

In 2012, it appeared as though Pistorius was on top of his game, receiving much support and notice for his athleticism and his drive as he hoped to pursue not a Paralympic medal, but an Olympic medal. He did, in fact, compete in the London Summer Olympics; Biography reports that Pistorius became the first ever double amputee to compete in the Games, successfully appealing a ruling that his carbon fiber prosthetics gave him an unfair advantage over other runners. While he did not medal at the Games, he still made history.

According to CBS News, Judge Thokozile Masipa did not believe Oscar Pistorius would re-offend, and she said that she also felt that a long jail sentence would serve no purpose. While Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, were stoic, her father appeared disappointed at the judge’s decision.

The defense argued that Pistorius was now struggling with worsening health and a deteriorating mental state in the wake of the murder trial, saying that Pistorius should be sentenced to a custodial sentence, one where he could be released to his family and serve out the remaining part of his sentence under house arrest. The defense said that Pistorius is dealing with extreme depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

According to Help Guide, symptoms of PTSD can include upsetting memories, sweating, nausea, and flashbacks. While PTSD experiences with military members have been widely covered by the media, those who have endured intense traumatic experiences might also deal with symptoms of PTSD as well.

Oscar Pistorius has always maintained that he believed Steenkamp was still in bed and that the person he shot through the bathroom door was an intruder. At one point during the trial, Pistorius was asked to illustrate the extent of his mobility without the use of his prosthetics.

Among the mitigating factors cited in her decision, Masipa said that she could not ignore the fact that Pistorius fired not one but four shots into the bathroom in spite of knowing that there was someone inside the room behind a closed door. In addition, according to NBC News, she recognized that Pistorius had attempted to apologize to Steenkamp’s family, a move which she said demonstrated his remorse, as it must have been incredibly difficult for an accused to apologize to the victim’s family.

She also noted Pistorius was now a “fallen hero” who had “lost his career” and could not be “at peace with what he had done.” With all that said, Masipa said that justice would not be served in having Pistorius serve a 15-year sentence, which was what the prosecution had wanted.

The defense had tried to argue that Pistorius was vulnerable, even going so far as to have the athlete remove the prosthetics he’d been reliant on since he was nearly a year old to demonstrate his vulnerability. Pistorius had been born without a fibula in both legs, and his parents had decided ultimately for a double amputation below the knees. Within six months, Pistorius was walking successfully on prosthetics and ultimately took to sports like a duck to water. It wasn’t until he was 16, though, and recovering from a rugby injury, that he was introduced to track and rose steadily to fame for his skill on the oval.

Pistorius did initially admit, on Feb. 19, 2013, to unintentionally shooting and killing Steenkamp; ironically, that same year, Pistorius’ brother Carl was also facing a homicide charge in relation to the 2008 death of a cyclist.

Neither the Steenkamp family nor the family of Oscar Pistorius have commented on the sentencing. The legal team representing Pistorius, however, have said that the runner will not appeal the sentencing.

(Narco Longari, Pool Photo via AP)

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