Oscar Pistorius is attempting to escape a jail sentence for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp with a probation officer recommending house arrest and community service.
The South African athlete was in court on Monday morning for the first day of his sentencing hearing after being charged with culpable homicide last month.
Such a charge can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in jail but Joel Maringa, a prison service officer summoned by the defence, said three years of house arrest and community service would be more effective than a jail sentence.
"The accused will benefit from correctional supervision," Mr Maringa said, adding that this will give him an "opportunity to restructure and modify his behaviour".
"We are basically not saying that he should be destroyed because he will still be coming back into the community," he said.
In response, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel described the suggestion as "shockingly inappropriate" and suggested such a verdict would be the same as "no sentence".
Barry Steenkamp, father of the deceased, held his head in his hands as Mr Maringa made the suggestion. Friends of Ms Steenkamp were seen shaking their heads in disbelief.
Pistorius' psychologist, Lore Hartzenberg, was first to speak at the hearing, describing him as a "broken man" after the killing on Valentine's Day last year.
However, she was criticised by Nel for avoiding questions over Pistorius' new love interest, insisting she had never spoken directly to the Olympic athlete about it.
Judge Thokozile Masipa will hear legal arguments and testimonies from numerous witnesses before passing sentence.