A South African Court of Appeals overturned a lesser charge of manslaughter and ruled double-amputee Olympian Oscar Pistorius guilty of murder for shooting his girlfriend in 2013.
Referred to as the “Blade Runner” because of his hi-tech, carbon-fiber prosthetics, Pistorius served one year of his five-year manslaughter sentence in prison before being placed under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria. He now faces a minimum 15 years in prison. According to an Associated Press report, a lesser sentence may be imposed in exceptional circumstances.
The courtroom included the mother of murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Justice Lorimer Eric Leach of the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered the ruling but did not state the sentencing date. The judge said the court ruled against the 29-year-old track star because “the accused ought to have been found guilty of murder on the basis that he had fired the fatal shots with criminal intent.”
The BBC reported that Leach commented on the prior ruling saying, “The trial judge conducted the hearing with a degree of dignity and patience that is a credit to the judiciary. The fact that this court has determined that certain mistakes were made should not be seen as an adverse comment upon her competence and ability.”
Leach, a member of the five-judge tribunal in Bloemfontein and directed the North Gauteng High Court added, “This case involves a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions: a young man overcomes huge physical disabilities to reach Olympian heights as an athlete; in doing so he becomes an international celebrity; he meets a young woman of great natural beauty and a successful model; romance blossoms; and then, ironically on Valentine’s Day, all is destroyed when he takes her life.”
Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father called the judgement fair and expressed his relief: ”Let us now all get on with our lives.” Consumed with emotion by his daughter’s death, voice cracking, he lamented, ”I’m sure she’ll be able to rest as well now.”