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- Oscar Pistorius
- Olympic and Paralympic Runner
- February, 2013
- Trial continues
The arrest of Oscar Pistorius:
His nickname is "The Blade Runner", an Olympic and Paralympic sprinter whose legs were amputated as a child because of a birth defect. Oscar Pistorius certainly put his artificial legs to their highest possible use…
…becoming a Paralympic champion.
He was a hero in his native South Africa - until Valentine's Day, 2013. That's when he shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp…
…in the bathroom of his home.
Pistorius claims he thought she was an intruder and didn't mean to kill her. And he became very emotional in court – crying and vomiting at some points.
But prosecutors called the shooting intentional and produced witnesses who said they heard screams in the house.
Put of trial, the verdict was delayed while Pistorius undergoes psychiatric testing.
On June 30, 2014, a panel of mental health experts concluded that Oscar Pistorius was not suffering from a mental illness when he killed Steenkamp. The experts believed Pistorius was "capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act". And so, his trial and legal defense resumed.
On September 11, 2014, the judge presiding over Oscar's trial cleared him of the two most serious murder charges.
Remember, Pistorius had claimed he thought there was an intruder in his house and that he didn't mean to kill Reeva, claiming that her death was an accident.
Already acquitted of premeditated murder (which carried at least 25 years in prison) and a lesser charge of homicide called "murder" in South Africa; Pistorius slumped and sobbed when he was cleared of the most serious charges.
But in a real-life cliff hanger, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa abruptly suspended court proceedings after a lunch recess until the next day. She didn't explain why, but had appeared to be on the verge of convicting Pistorius on the lesser crime of "culpable homicide". That's the equivalent of involuntary manslaughter, and it carries a range of penalties including no more than 15 years in prison.
Keep in mind, there are no jury trials in South Africa, so the judge with the help of two aides, rendered the verdict on her own.
The following day, Oscar was in fact convicted of culpable homicide and on October 21, 2014, he was sentenced to five years in prison in Steenkamp's death.
The "Blade Runner" just wiped his eyes before being led away and showed no other reaction.
Reeva's parents told reporters they were happy with the sentenced and relieved the case was finished.
With a suspended sentence on the firearms charge, his lawyers expect Pistorius to spend about ten months in prison with the rest of his time under house arrest.
But it wasn't over yet.
A few weeks later, on December 10th, 2014, the same South African judge ruled that prosecutors could appeal the acquittal on murder charges. (Remember that in October, she'd convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide and sentenced him to a five-year prison term.)
In mid-March, 2015, Oscar's lawyers failed to block the appeal by prosecutors against the acquittal on murder charges.
Prosecutors then pushed to impose a longer prison stretch. And they succeeded. On July 6, 2016, a South African judge sentenced Pistorius to six years in prison for Steenkamp’s murder.
But the “Blade Runner” could not outrun an even longer sentence. In November 2017, ruling on a prosecution appeal, Pistorius was ordered to spend the full 13 years in jail. The judge agreed with prosecutors who called the initial sentence insulting and that the six-year sentence was “shockingly lenient” to the point that it could trivialize his serious offense.
Pistorius does have the right to appeal this decision.
But Steenkamp’s family called it “justice for Reeva: and that she “can now rest in peace.”