PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA— -- The prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius case said today he was shocked that a corrections social worker recommended that the convicted killer be spared prison instead be sentenced to three years of house arrest and required to do community service.
Pistorius was found guilty last month of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. The trial has now entered its sentencing phase.
Joel Maringa, a social worker working for South Africa's prison authorities, testified today that he believed the paralympian sprinter known as Blade Runner would benefit from "correctional supervision," essentially recommending house arrest instead of prison time. Maringa urged the court to sentence Pistorius, 27, to three years of house arrest.
In addition, he said Pistorius should be required to perform 16 hours of community service a month cleaning a museum, not be permitted to consume alcohol or drugs, own a gun, and take courses in dealing with anger management.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the social worker if he had read the judgment, describing the suggestion of three years correctional supervision as "shockingly inappropriate."
Maringa repeated several times that a sentence of correctional supervision is not a "getaway sentence," stressing that it would entail stringent conditions imposed by the court.
Pistorius fired four shots through a locked bathroom door, killing Steenkamp. Pistorius claimed that he believed there was an intruder in the bathroom.The judge dismissed the murder charges against Pistorius and found him guilty of culpable homicide.
Judge Thokozile Masipa could sentence Pistorius to a maximum of 15 years.
Pistorius personal psychologist Dr. Löre Hartzenberg testified that Pistorius was devastated by Steenkamp's death.
"We are left with a broken man who has lost everything. He’s lost his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp, he’s lost his moral and professional reputation. He’s lost his friends. He’s lost his career,” Hartzenberg said. “On an emotional level, his self-perception and self-worth have been damaged.”
When Hartzenberg called Pistorius a “broken man,” the Olympian became tearful in court.
Nel countered by asking the psychologist about Steenkamp’s relatives.
"Would you not expect a broken family?" Nel asked.
Hartzenberg says some of her sessions with Pistorius only involved him weeping and crying and her holding him. She said Pistorius carries photos of Steenkamp with him and showed them to Hartzenberg.
The defense will call at least one more witness Tuesday before Nel begins his case. The prosecutor has not indicated how many witnesses he will call.
After witnesses are called on both sides, the state and defense will deliver closing arguments.