Oscar Pistorius Sentence
South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. A South African judge on Tuesday sentenced Pistorius to five years in prison for the negligent killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. REUTERS/Themba Hadebe/Pool

PRETORIA – Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to just five years in prison on Tuesday for the 2013 Valentine’s Day murder of model, Reeva Steenkamp. The sentence was received with gasps from the crowd and reportedly the Steenkamp family is outraged that Pistorius got such a light sentence for the violent murder of their daughter.

Judge Thokozile Masipa who just over a month ago, acquitted the Olympic sprinter on most of the charges against him, but convicted him of “culpable homicide”(the equivalent of manslaughter), said that her sentence was “fair and just both to society and to the accused.” She believed that no jail time whatsoever would send the wrong message to the community, but that a long prison sentence “would also not be appropriate.”

Pistorius wiped away tears as his future was read to the courtroom. After the ruling, Pistorius was taken out of the court and to a holding cell where he waited to be transferred to a maximum security prison. Pistorius’ short say behind bars in the holding cell was the first time he spent any time in jail as he was out on bail for the duration of his trial. In addition to the five year prison sentence, Pistorius was also given a three-year suspended license sentence for shooting off a firearm in a restaurant.

Most people will call Masipa’s sentence to weak and lenient especially considering that the “normal” punishment in South Africa for culpable homicide is 15 years behind bars. Of course, in this instance, the sentencing came down to the discretion of the judge, and she choose to give him a minimum amount of jail time.

Once again, the sentencing is a loss for the South Africa prosecution and lawyer Gerrie Nel. Nel had asked for Pistorius to spend at least a decade in jail for the murder of Steenkamp, but clearly the judge did not agree with him. Pistorius’ attorney, Barry Roux, argued before the sentencing that the Blade Runner should serve a suspended sentence under house arrest because of his disability and fame.

“I have no doubt that, if prisons were below the required standards, the human rights bodies in this court would not hesitate to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation,” Judge Masipa said. “It would not be the first time that the correctional service was confronted with an inmate with a disability.”

The 27-year old could have his sentence reduced to as little as 10 months or two years for good behavior, but as it stands now, he would be out of jail just before his 33rd birthday and would have plenty of time to resume his life and career as a Paralympics and Olympic sprinter.

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