For four days, witnesses have testified at the sentencing hearing for Oscar Pistorius. The former Olympian is waiting to find how much jail time he’ll serve, if any, after being convicted of culpable homicide for the death of Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius hasn’t denied shooting his girlfriend through a bathroom door in his South African home, but he claims he thought he was firing at an intruder. Steenkamp’s family appears unwilling to accept Pistorius’s version of what happened on Valentine’s Day 2013, calling for him to be put in jail.
"My family are not people who are seeking revenge, we just feel that to shoot somebody behind a door that is unarmed, that is harmless, needs sufficient punishment," Kim Marin, Steenkamp’s cousin, told the court on Thursday.
The maximum jail sentence for culpable homicide is 15 years, but Pistorius is looking to avoid prison all together. His attorneys have pushed for house arrest, which was recommended by Joel Maringa, a social worker for the correctional services department.
“The accused is a first offender,” Maringa said, explaining that a culpable homicide conviction frequently don’t lead to any jail time. “The traumatic encounter being responsible for the negligent loss of the life of his companion has already subjected him to punishment. His offending behavior could be successfully modified within the community context. His potential in sports could best be unleashed within the community context for his ultimate financial upkeep.”
Probation officer Annette Vergerr testified that Pistorius should be given house arrest because of his handicap. Vergeer told the court that the double-amputee would be vulnerable in prison.
Vergeer’s testimony also revealed that since Pistorius killed his girlfriend, he had made monthly payments to Steenkamp’s parents. The payments amounted to approximately $500 a month, though prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the family promised to repay Pistorius.
According to the lawyer acting on behalf of the Steenkamps, Dup de Bruyn, the money went towards the family’s rent and expenses to help with their financial problems. When the Steenkamps chose not to pursue a civil suit, they determined they would repay Pistorius.