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Oscar Pistorius Gets 5 Years In Prison For Killing Girlfriend

South African track star Oscar Pistorius is sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend.
Themba Hadebe
AFP/Getty Images
South African track star Oscar Pistorius is sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend.

Updated at 7:35 a.m. ET

South African Paralympic and Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, 27, received a verdict of culpable homicide from a judge in South Africa in September — a conviction that could have put him in prison for 15 years.

As we reported at the time, Pistorius was found not guilty of the more serious charge of premeditated murder: "[Judge Thokozile Masipa] said there wasn't sufficient evidence to support the notion that Pistorius, 27, knew that Reeva Steenkamp was behind a locked toilet door in his home when he fired several shots on the morning of Valentine's Day 2013."

Steenkamp's parents told the BBC they were happy with the sentence. Prosecutors had called for a minimum of 10 years, while the defense team called for community service and house arrest.

The BBC says:

"Pistorius's uncle, Arnold, said: 'We accept the judgment. Oscar will embrace the opportunity to pay back to society.'

"He appealed to the media to 'accept the ruling of court and let us move forward in this process and give us some degree of dignity and privacy.' "

The New York Times reports that "the athlete's defense team said the law under which he was punished calls for him to serve only one-sixth of the prison term — 10 months — before he can be placed on house arrest. He was also given a suspended three-year term on separate firearms charges."

Pistorius, known as "the blade" for his use in competition of specialized artificial lower limbs, won two gold medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. In the same year, he became the first double leg amputee to participate in an Olympic event, entering the men's 400-meter and 4x400-meter relay races.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for NPR.org and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.

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