South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to a relatively lenient six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, whose earlier manslaughter conviction was overturned so he could be re-tried on the more serious charge of murder, had faced up to 15 years, but Judge Thokozile Masipa called him “a good candidate for rehabilitation.”
Pistorius was convicted of murder in December 2015 for shooting Steenkamp four times through the bathroom door of their home on Valentine’s Day 2013. He has mainted he believed she was an intruder.
The former Olympic runner was originally set to serve most of a 5-year manslaughter sentence on house arrest at his uncle’s mansion. After the manslaughter conviction was overturned and he was re-convicted of murder, his defense team made a bid for a more lenient sentence by having Pistorius remove his prosthetic legs in court to demonstrate how vulnerable he is without them.
Pistorius, who sobbed and retched through much of his first trial, was calm when he received the sentence. Judge Maspia said she believes there are “substantial and compelling circumstances” to show leniency toward Pistorius, according to the AP, because he showed genuine remorse for Steenkamp’s death and because she believes he is unlikely to commit another crime.
Afterwards, Steenkamp’s family told the Associated Press they intended to make no further comment:
The Steenkamp family did not criticize the sentence. “The family has said it before they wanted the law to run its course. It has done so. No further comment. They will keep a dignified silence,” said Dup de Bruyn, Steenkamp family representative.
Pistorius leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, July 6, 2016, following his sentencing. Photo via AP