A South African judge has sentenced Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison for the shooting death of his girlfriend, saying "The decision of sentence is mine and mine alone." The judge also gave Pistorius three years for unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant in a separate incident weeks before Reeva Steenkamp's death.
A South African judge has sentenced Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison for the shooting death of his girlfriend, saying "The decision of sentence is mine and mine alone."
Pistorius, 27, killed Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013, by shooting her four times through a door in his home. Pistorius said that the shooting was an accident because he mistook her for an intruder.
Under South African law, Pistorius will be required to serve at least 10 months of his sentence before he can ask for parole consideration.
Last month, judge Thokozile Masipa convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide, but acquitted him of murder and could have sentenced him to up to 15 years in prison. She said the sentence could not bring Steenkamp back, but "hopefully, this judgment on sentence shall provide some sort of closure for the family."
Defense lawyers wanted a three-year sentence of house arrest with community service for Pistorius because he is a double amputee who needs prosthetic legs and he would be vulnerable in jail. But prosecutors pushed for a 10-year sentence and said house arrest would be “shockingly inappropriate."
Pistorius was also given three years in prison for unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant in a separate incident weeks before Steenkamp's death. That sentence was suspended for five years on the condition that Pistorius is not found guilty of using another fireman negligently.
Masipa said that Pistorius's punishment was "fair and just both to society and to the accused” and that a noncustodial sentence "would send the wrong message to the community,” but a long one "would also not be appropriate."
The International Paralympic Committee has said that Pistorius will be ineligible to compete during his five-year prison sentence. Even if he is released after 10 months, the committee's rules ban him from competing during that five-year time period, meaning he will not run at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.
- Scooby Axson