Reeva Steenkamp’s mother stunned by verdict, wants to meet Oscar Pistorius
(CNN) — The mother of South African model Reeva Steenkamp expressed “disbelief” over dismissal of murder charges against the man who killed her daughter.
A judge found Oscar Pistorius guilty Friday of culpable homicide, which is akin to negligent killing.
The conviction came a day after Judge Thokozile Masipa cleared him of murder — premeditated or otherwise — in Steenkamp’s death.
In her first comments since the verdict, June Steenkamp said Pistorius got off too easy for her daughter’s killing.
“I just don’t feel like this is the right sentence … they believe his story, and I don’t believe that story,” June Steenkamp told NBC News. She said she was not ready to talk to Pistorius during the trial, but wants to meet him now in private.
“This verdict is not justice for Reeva, I just want the truth,” she told NBC News.
Pistorius, 27, has always admitted firing the bullets that killed Steenkamp, 29, his girlfriend at the time of the shooting on Valentine’s Day last year.
He has maintained he thought there was an intruder at the house.
“She died a horrible death, a horrible, painful, terrible death and she suffered, you know? I can’t believe that they believe that it was an accident,” June Steenkamp said.
‘Don’t care what happens to Oscar’
During the trial that lasted about six months and transfixed the world with its grisly details, Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murdering her, saying it was a tragic mistake.
Masipa said she believes Pistorius did not intend to kill his girlfriend. He thought he was defending himself from an intruder, she said while issuing the verdict Friday.
There is no minimum sentence for culpable homicide in South African law, so it will be up to the judge to decide. He’s free on bail until his sentencing starts on October 13.
“I really don’t care what happens to Oscar,” June Steenkamp said. “It’s not going to change anything because my daughter is never coming back. He’s still living and breathing and she’s gone, you know, forever.”
Shortly after the verdict, Pistorius’ uncle said they were relieved that he was convicted of a lesser charge. However, there were “no victors” in the case, Arnold Pistorius said.
“It won’t bring Reeva back, but our hearts still go out for her family and friends,” he said.
Pistorius’ uncle declined to comment further, citing respect for the victim’s family.
Pistorius’ verdict also dealt with three other charges, all weapons-related.
Pistorius was found not guilty of two — a car sunroof shooting incident and illegal possession of ammunition found at his house after Steenkamp’s shooting.
The judge found Pistorius guilty of the third: a charge involving a shooting at a restaurant. The maximum penalty for that is five years behind bars. But he could get a lesser sentence, such as a fine or the loss of his gun license.
There were no fatalities in the sunroof and restaurant shootings.
Dismissal of murder charges
Masipa said the prosecution failed to prove its case that Pistorius and Steenkamp argued on the night of the killing, and that the Olympic track star shot her in a rage through a closed toilet door.
Testimony of neighbors who said they heard shouting, screaming and shots was not persuasive, the judge said. She believed media coverage had contaminated testimonies, and neighbors’ stories did not match the timings on phone records the night of the killing.
Before the shooting, Pistorius was admired worldwide for competing against able-bodied athletes in the 2012 Olympics despite having his lower legs amputated at a young age. He runs with carbon fiber prosthetics.
CNN’s Richard Allen Greene and Emily Smith contributed to this report.