PRETORIA, South Africa — Former track star and convicted killer Oscar Pistorius walked on his amputated legs in a South African court Wednesday in a dramatic scene the former track star — nicknamed ‘Blade Runner’ for his speed and prostheses — hoped would lighten his prison sentence.
The disgraced Paralympian walked in the courtroom without his artificial legs as his lawyers argued he is a severely disabled and vulnerable figure who should receive a lesser sentence for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day 2013.
Pistorius shot Steenkamp dead through a bathroom door in their home. He has said he thought an intruder was in the bathroom.
Looking frail, Pistorius, who had changed out of his suit and into shorts and a T-shirt, required assistance as he walked unsteadily across the courtroom Wednesday. He stared at the floor and started weeping as Roux spoke about the killing.
Murder carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in South Africa, but the defense is trying to secure a lesser sentence by arguing there are mitigating factors, including Pistorius’ physical and emotional disabilities.
“He suffers from an anxiety disorder. We know that uncontested evidence that when he was on his stumps, his balance was seriously compromised, and without anything he won’t be able to defend himself,” Roux said.
Pistorius was not wearing his prostheses at the time of the shooting, and Roux painted a picture of a fearful man on his stumps, trying to protect a loved one.
“He was anxious, he was frightened. … He was suffering from anxiety disorder, and that’s not gone,” Roux said. “This must all be seen in context of his disability.”
The lawyer added it was “understandable that a person with disabilities such as that of the accused would certainly feel vulnerable when faced with danger.” He said that Pistorius’ disability also means he would face a harder time in jail.