Pistorius's prison sentence for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 has been reportedly extended to 15 years, minus time served

By Adam Carlson
November 24, 2017 10:46 AM

Paralympic medalist-turned-murderer Oscar Pistorius‘ prison sentence for killing his girlfriend in 2013 was more than doubled on Friday when a South African appellate court agreed that his original term was “shockingly lenient,” multiple news outlets report.

In its decision, the five-judge Supreme Court of Appeal ordered Pistorius — originally sentenced to six years in prison for murdering Reeva Steenkamp — to spend 13 years and five months behind bars, according to the Associated Press, the BBC and The New York Times.

The new ruling reportedly bring Pistroius’ sentence in line with the recommended minimum of 15 years for murder in South Africa, minus the time he has already served either in prison or under house arrest.

According to the AP, the appellate court’s decision is likely the final development in Pistorius’ case. It began not long after he fatally fired four times on Steenkamp, a law grad and model, on Valentine’s Day 2013, shooting her through a closed bathroom door in his Pretoria, South Africa, home.

Pistorius, 31, has always maintained he believed there was an intruder that night, but prosecutors said they suspected he was motivated by an earlier argument with his 29-year-old girlfriend of less than a year. At his first trial, they argued that he was gun-crazy and temperamental.

Oscar Pistorius arrives to court in July 2016
Chris Jude/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The shooting came months after the 2012 Summer Olympics at which Pistorius — an amputee runner nicknamed the “Blade Runner,” for the prosthetic legs he used to compete — was an international star. After several successful Paralympic Games, he competed at the Olympics, a first for a double-amputee.

His arrest and trial made months of headlines around the world. Though he was initially convicted of culpable homicide and served one year in prison, prosecutors appealed and he was found guilty of murder in 2015.

Likewise, with Friday’s decision, prosecutors have successfully appealed his initial sentence, which the trial judge reportedly attributed, in part, to Pistorius’ attempts at a personal apology to Steenkamp’s family.

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Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013, only days before she was killed
Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images

“I am of the view that a long-term imprisonment will not serve justice,” the judge said in 2016, when sentencing Pistorius to six years, according to the Times. “He’s a fallen hero who has lost his career and is ruined financially.”

The appellate court disagreed in its decision this week, reportedly finding that the first sentence “is shockingly lenient, to a point where it has the effect of trivializing this serious [offense].”

Pistorius, one appellate judge said, did “not demonstrate any genuine remorse on his part” when he apologized to his girlfriend’s family and he “does not appreciate the gravity of his actions.”

Neither prosecutors nor Pistorius’ defense team could immediately be reached for comment on Friday morning.

Pistorius’ older brother seemingly shared his shock at the news on Twitter, writing in one message that he was “Shattered. Heartbroken. Gutted.” In a follow-up to another user, he wrote, “We have all suffered incomprehensible loss. The death of Reeva was and still is a great loss for our family too.”

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It is unclear if Pistorius will appeal his new sentence to South Africa’s highest court, according to these reports. An earlier challenge to his murder conviction was unsuccessful there, the AP reports.

“This is an emotional thing for them,” a spokeswoman for Steenkamp’s family told Reuters after word of the extended sentence. “They just feel that their trust in the justice system has been confirmed this morning.”

“I always, from the beginning, said justice had not been served,” Steenkamp’s father reportedly told South African TV. “Now it has.”