Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of murder for shooting and killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. The South African sprinter still faces jail time for a conviction of culpable homicide, but the ruling is not satisfactory to those that were closest to the victim.
When Judge Thokozile Masipa officially cleared Pistorius of possible murder charges and found him guilty of culpable homicide on Sept. 12, Steenkamp’s family and friends were visibly disappointed. The model’s mother held her emotions in check in court, but she has not been shy in condemning the judge’s decision.
“In my opinion, it means that Oscar’s not going to pay properly for killing our lovely daughter,” June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, told Hello! Magazine.
“I understand that the judge could only deal with the facts that were placed before her, but my view is that the verdict is not the right one, it doesn’t sit well with me at all.”
A guilty verdict for premeditated murder would have carried a sentence of at least 25 years. Pistorius awaits sentencing for culpable homicide, which could put him away for 15 years but could also see him walk free without serving any jail time.
A sentencing hearing has been set for next month, at which time both the prosecution and the defense will make their arguments for an appropriate jail sentence. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel will likely push for the maximum 15-year sentence, and it’s been expected by many that he’d ask June Steenkamp to take the stand. After a six-month trial, however, Reeva’s mother has no desire to go back to court.
“I don’t wish to set foot in a courtroom ever again,” she said. “All we have ever wanted is the truth. We don’t necessarily want him to go to jail. Nothing will change. Reeva is not coming back.”
Pistorius stated throughout the trial that he didn’t know it was his girlfriend whom he was shooting through the bathroom door. Instead, the Olympian claims he thought an intruder had entered his house, and he was trying to protect Steenkamp by firing his gun four times. The judge ultimately decided that Pistorius used excessive force, but the accused didn’t know that shooting at the door would result in death.
The prosecution argued that Pistorius killed his girlfriend after the couple had an argument. A few witnesses testified to hearing a woman’s screams before they heard gunshots. According to June Steenkamp, fights between Pistorius and his girlfriend were common.
“As their relationship developed, she phoned me to tell me they’d been fighting a lot. When you’re in love with someone so early in a relationship you don’t fight, at least not that much,” said Reeva Steenkamp’s mother.
“I also believe she was his trophy and he wanted her to be the woman who would help boost his career, not someone who he was devoted to.”
The trial resumes on Oct. 13 with Pistorius’s sentencing hearing.