Convicted killer gets mercy

by Colleen Day

When sprint runner Oscar Pistorius emerged in the public arena during the 2012 Summer Olympics, he ran in and stole the hearts of millions.

Having overcome a double amputation of his legs at 11 months old, the South African “blade runner” represented hope, perseverance, strength and tenacity. As his racing times began to match those principles, many clung to him as their hero of inspiration. Because Pistorius overcame multiple obstacles he made anything seem possible. But nobody thought he was also capable of being a killer.

Pistorius’ career as a track and field athlete, specializing in the 400-meter-race, began at 16. Through overcoming legal litigations around the fairness of his participation in international competition, his handicap hardly slowed his progression to stardom. His early success, coupled with his booming public image and ability to face-off against able-bodied competitors, set him apart from the pack and carried him to the 2012 Summer Olympics. Pistorius was in his prime – he was running well, highly motivated, deeply admired by his fan base, and supported by all of those who were rooting for the underdog.

By Flickr user Jim Thurston

So, in the wake of killing his 29-year-old girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in his apartment in South Africa, everyone wondered, “why?”

CNN reported the “blade runner” was officially found guilty on Oct. 21 for slaying his then girlfriend. After months of trial and questioning on whether this was an act of cold blooded murder, or an event that stemmed from deep emotional issues and paranoia on Pistorius’ behalf, the court gave him a five year prison sentence.

But a five year sentence is hardly enough given the years he stole from Steenkamp. Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide, and Pistorius’ defense team actually attested that he will likely only serve 10 months behind bars and under house arrest, according to CNN.

Pistorius was in no immediate danger, and the premise of his case was that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder, said prosecutor, Gerrie Lel, according to CNN.

When it comes to ending another person’s life, the court should look at Steenkamp’s death in black and white terms.

One has to wonder if Pistorius’ public image and previous standing with the world as a hero may have misguided and influenced the decision process for the jury. While a jury is chosen randomly and the defense and prosecution have the right to expel any member that seems biased to a particular outcome, how could they put together a completely neutral jury around a case and a figure loved by so many?

Pistorius’ confession of killing Steenkamp should have closed the case right then. Public image, former success and adoration of the defendant should never be at odds with the facts. Steenkamp’s death ought to be treated by the court as any other murder trial and the judge should have sentenced Pistorius to life behind bars. I believe Pistorius should receive no mercy, because he did not show any to Steenkamp when he took her life.