Olympian Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Murder

South African double-amputee sprinter shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in 2013 after allegedly mistaking her for intruder

South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Credit: Shiraaz Mohamed/AP

Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee sprinter to compete at both the Paralympics and the Olympics, was sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. The sentence was announced by a South African judge on Wednesday, CNN reports. 

Pistorius, 29, shot and killed Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, in the early morning on Valentine's Day 2013, firing four bullets through a bathroom door. While he claimed the killing was accidental, having mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, the prosecution argued the act was intentional after the couple had a late-night argument.

The same judge, Thokozile Masipa, convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide – similar to manslaughter – in September 2014, following a trial that stretched across seven months. He was sentenced to five years in prison and served one year before being released to house arrest last October. Two months later, the Supreme Court of Appeals changed the verdict to murder.

While prosecution called for the minimum murder sentence of 15 years, the defense argued that his disability (both of his legs were amputated below the knee as a baby) and emotional distress were mitigating factors. In announcing the six-year sentence, Judge Masipa ruled that Pistorius, a "fallen hero," is genuinely remorseful and a good candidate for rehabilitation. "It must be one of the most difficult things for any accused to have to face the victims of his crime and to apologize," she said.

Masipa said there was "no indication" that the victim had been in an abusive relationship, adding that "a long term in prison will not serve justice."

Pistorius' defense team has said they will not appeal the sentence. According to the BBC, he prosecution has not announced a decision but has 14 days to do so.