The parents of Reeva Steenkamp said today they will remain "neutral" and not testify against Oscar Pistorius in the penalty phase of Pistorius' trial for the culpable homicide of their daughter.
The statement came a day after revelations in court that Pistorius had been making monthly payments to Barry and June Steenkamp since shortly after the Valentine's Day 2013 shooting of their daughter.
Her parents were struggling financially at the time, and Pistorius, through his lawyers, offered to give the family monthly payments of about $530 for rent and living expenses, payments that continued from March 2013 until September 2014, according to the statement.
In the statement released today, the Steenkamps' lawyers stated, "We have advised the parents to remain neutral in regard to sentence in the sense that they should not be seen to attempt to influence the sentence in any way."
After the payments were revealed Tuesday, the lawyers for Steenkamp's parents said they were dropping their civil suit claims against Pistorius and would repay the roughly $10,000 he had given them.
The statement today elaborated on the parents' plans.
“It was always the intention of the parents that the amounts … would be set-off against any civil claim that they were going to institute,” the statement read. “However, once they had decided not to proceed with the civil claim, which decision was only taken during the past few weeks, it follows that the money will be repaid.”
Pistorius' chief defense lawyer, Barry Roux, later read the statement in court.
Pistorius, 27, was found guilty last month of culpable homicide, the rough equivalent of manslaughter, in the 2013 shooting. The champion sprinter known as the Blade Runner could be sentenced to as much as 15 years in prison. He could also avoid prison and receive a fine and suspended sentence. House arrest is also an option, and that has been suggested by a social worker and a probation officer called by Pistorius' defense.
The prosecution began presenting its case today. Closing arguments will follow before Judge Thokozile Masipa renders a sentence.