Oscar Pistorius sentenced to maximum 5 years in prison

Oscar Pistorius
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Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison Tuesday for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

“The following is what I consider to be a sentence that is fair and just both to society and to the accused,” Judge Thokozile Masipa said shortly after asking Pistorius to rise from his seat following an hourlong reading. “The sentence imposed is a maximum imprisonment of five years.”

Pistorius was then led down stairs toward a holding cell and eventually outside, into a police vehicle, surrounded by onlookers, some on roofs, to start serving his term.

Pistorius could serve eight to 10 months of the sentence in jail and the rest under house arrest, according to The Associated Press and Pistorius’ defense. There may also be appeals.

The prosecution argued for at least 10 years in prison during the first five days of a sentencing hearing last week. The defense argued for no prison time but house arrest and community service.

“A non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community,” Masipa said before issuing the sentence. “On the other hand, a long sentence would not be appropriate.”

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Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, was found guilty of culpable homicide, but not murder, on Sept. 12.

On Valentine’s Day 2013, Pistorius shot four times through a locked bathroom door, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside.

On Sept. 12, Masipa said Pistorius’ lawyers correctly argued the runner believed he was shooting at an intruder rather than Steenkamp. The prosecution’s case was that Pistorius shot Steenkamp after they had an argument.

Masipa believed Pistorius’ verson of events, saying it was highly improbable he would have made up a story so quickly, having told the first people he saw after the shooting.

“Hopefully this judgment and sentence can provide some sort of closure for the family and all concerned so that they can move on with their lives,” Masipa said Tuesday.

Pistorius was also sentenced to three years in jail for firing a gun in a crowded restaurant in January 2013. Masipa said the two sentences would run concurrently.

The trial began March 3 and was initially slated for three weeks. Tuesday marked the 49th day in court in Pretoria.

“Courts do not exist to win popularity contests,” Masipa said Tuesday, “but exist solely to dispense justice.”

NBC News: Oscar Pistorius Trial coverage