Sprinter Oscar Pistorius awaits sentencing for death of former girlfriend

A.J. Perez.

In this June 15, 2016 photo, Oscar Pistorius' prosthetics lay on the floor as he walks on his amputated legs during argument in mitigation of sentence by his defence attorney Barry Roux in the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa. The long legal saga of Oscar Pistorius is drawing to a close as he faces sentencing on July 6 for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius could be leveled with a prison term of at least 15 years when he’s sentenced in a South African courtroom on Wednesday.

But the 29-year-old former Olympic sprinter could also see a significantly lighter sentence for the Valentine’s Day 2013 murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

“I think he’ll get less than 15 years, maybe even a suspended sentence with probation,” said New York-based defense attorney Barry Slotnick, who’s studied the case. “He’s a very powerful figure in South Africa and that alone could be enough to keep him out of jail.”.

Judge Thokozile Masipa can reduce the mandatory 15-year sentence if she finds “substantial and compelling circumstances.” Pistorius attempted to show those during last month’s sentencing hearing.

Prof. Jonathan Scholtz, a clinical psychologist, testified that Pistorius was “quite ill” and a “broken” man when he was called by the defense at last month’s sentencing hearing. He advocated that Pistorius, who he described as depressed, would be better served in a psychiatric facility.

Oscar Pistorius called ‘broken’ man as he faces sentencing for murder.

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Pistorius didn’t take the witness stand at the sentencing hearing, although he shed his prosthetic legs and walked around the courtroom on his stumps. Slotnick called the display an “effective means of garnering sympathy.”.

Prosecutors released the crime scene photos last month, graphic images that had been under seal since the murder. Reeva Steenkamp’s father, Barry Steenkamp, advocated the release of the photos — which are pixilated due to the violent nature of the images — so the world can see the damage Pistorius inflicted when he shot through a bathroom door multiple times.

Pistorius claims that he thought he was shooting at an intruder.

Pistorius was originally convicted of manslaughter, but the charge was upgraded to murder by a higher court. Pistorius exhausted all his appeals last year and served about a year in jail before he was released on house arrest in October.