(CBS) – Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp with four shots from a handgun on Valentine’s Day 2013.
The former Paralympic double-amputee track star known as “Blade Runner” — who shot to international fame when he was granted permission to run in the 2012 Olympics alongside able-bodies athletes — has maintained since the day of the shooting that he believed an intruder entered his home and was hiding behind the locked bathroom cubicle door.
Prosecutors argued that he knew it was Steenkamp behind the door in his luxury house and that he shot her in a fit of rage after an argument.
Both the prosecution and Pistorius’ legal team have the option of appealing Judge Thokozile Masipa’s sentence.
She sentenced him to five years for killing Steenkamp, and an additional three years for the unlawful discharge of a firearm in a restaurant in a separate incident. She suspended the three-year sentence for the discharge of a firearm.
In the final phase of the trial Pistorius’ legal team called one witness who argued that the runner’s disability would make a prison sentence unduly hard for him to bear. Masipa chastised the witness before announcing her punishment on Tuesday, saying she believed the South African prison system was capable of handling an inmate with physical disabilities.
“I have no reason to believe the accused would present the department of corrections with an insurmountable challenge,” Masipa told the court.
Masipa said the key mitigating factors she considered in her sentencing were that Pistorius was a “first offender and seems remorseful.” She also took into account his actions immediately after the shooting, “which indicated that he wanted the deceased to live.”
The judge said she attempted to strike a balance in determining her sentence, which she must “neither be too severe nor too light.”