Oscar Pistorius will be sentenced on July 6 for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, a South African judge announced after three days of testimony and arguments in the former Paralympian's hearing. Last December, Pistorius was convicted of Steenkamp’s murder, overturning an October 2014 ruling that found him guilty of culpable homicide, which is equivalent to manslaughter in South African law.
The 29-year-old, known as "Blade Runner" for the carbon-fiber prosthetics he wears when racing, tried to walk through the courtroom without his prosthetic legs to show his vulnerability ahead of his sentencing. Pistorius, whose legal team has urged the court for leniency, faces a minimum of 15 years in jail.
Pistorius was found guilty of shooting and killing his girlfriend Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013 at his Pretoria home. He claimed that he fired his gun at the bathroom door (behind which Steenkamp is said to have been) because he thought an intruder was in his house.
The defense has argued that Pistorius did not deliberately kill Steenkamp and was "a broken man," calling for a non-custodial sentence that includes community service.
Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius should get the minimum sentence of 15 years, arguing that he had not shown genuine remorse as well as noting the seriousness of the crime and the devastating impact on Steenkamp’s family.
“He intended to shoot someone in the bathroom. He did,” Nel told Judge Thokozile Masipa during the sentencing hearing.
As South Africans await the closure in the prolonged case, which has seen an O.J. Simpson-style broadcast of the trial, the judge granted Steenkamp's father's request to release graphic images of his daughter from the crime scene. Barry Steenkamp told the court that he hoped making the photographs public might help deter violent crime in the country.
“A lot of people will disagree with me, and think that I’m callous or whatever it is, but what I would like the world to see are the wounds inflicted onto Reeva, and the pain that she must have gone through,” he said. “So that the world can see this and most probably distract people who are thinking of that type of deed to stop them in future. And this is why I ask if something like that could be shown to everybody.”
After the court granted permission, several media outlets carried the photos blurring some of the parts, while others downplayed or did not publish the pictures because of the graphic content.
Pistorius is currently under house arrest after an appeals court overturned his initial manslaughter conviction. He has served one year in prison for manslaughter. In October 2014, Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for culpable homicide and also given a suspended three-year sentence for an unrelated firearms charge.