Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was charged with killing his girlfriend, South African model and paralegal Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day 2013. The sentence the athlete received has been changed multiple times through appeals after the initial trial. The case is investigated on tonight’s episode of Dateline NBC.
Pistorius and Steenkamp had been in a relationship for a few months leading up to Valentine’s Day. That morning, Steenkamp was in the toilet cubicle of the bathroom when Pistorius fired four shots through the door, killing Steenkamp. He told investigators that he believed there had been an intruder in the bathroom.
The sentence Pistorius originally received has been overturned, and the second sentence he received was more than doubled later by an appeals court. Read on to learn more about Pistorius’ sentencing and trial.
Pistorius Was Originally Charged With Manslaughter And Was Sentenced to Six Years
At the end of the original trial, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable murder, which is comparable to being charged with manslaughter in the United States. At the time, he served 10 months in prison before being released on house arrest.
In July 2016, after an appeals court changed the charge to murder, Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison. Then, the sentence was changed again. In November 2017, a court found that the sentence was “shockingly lenient,” and The Supreme Court of Appeal increased his sentence to 15 years minus time served in prison and on house arrest.
Pistorius had an outstanding sentence of over 13 years at that time, according to The New York Times.
Steenkamp’s Family Believed Reeva Would Be Able to “Rest in Peace” After Updated Sentencing
After the sentencing in 2017, Reeva Steenkamp’s family said that she could now “rest in peace,” according to The Huffington Post.
“They feel there has been justice for Reeva,” family lawyer Tania Koen told The Associated Press. “But at the same time, people must realize that people think this is the end of the road for them… the fact is they still live with Reeva’s loss every day.”
Justice Seriti, a judge on The Supreme Court of Appeals, spoke about the original six-year sentence.
“The sentence of six years’ imprisonment is shockingly lenient to a point where it has the effect of trivializing this serious offense,” they wrote. They also said it was hard to believe that Pistorius was “genuinely remorseful.”
The family spokesperson also said that Steenkamp’s family felt that their “trust in the justice system has been confirmed” following the new sentencing.
At the time, according to NPR and the AP, Pistorius was nearly out of options for appealing his conviction or sentence. In March 2018, according to The Guardian, Pistorius’ last appeal to South Africa’s highest court was denied, saying “the application for leave to appeal is dismissed,” and saying that the ruling was not a constitutional matter.
“This is the end of the road. There are no other legal options available,” national prosecuting authority spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku told AFP, according to The Guardian.
He will be eligible for parole in 2023 at the earliest, according to sportscasting.com.