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At the request of his lawyer on Wednesday, Oscar Pistorius removed his prosthetic limbs to demonstrate the physical difficulty he faced on the night of February 14, 2013, when he fired four shots through his bathroom door, killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The 29-year-old, who sat with his head in his hands during the third day of sentencing hearings, says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

"I don't want to overplay disability," Roux said ahead of the demonstration, "but the time has come that we must just look [at Pistorius] with different eyes."

The lower part of the athlete's legs were amputated when he was a baby, and he is known as "Blade Runner" for the carbon-fiber prosthetics he wore when racing.

"The accused was vulnerable because of his disability," Roux said, asking for a noncustodial sentence that included community service.

Responding to Pistorius' defense, prosecutor Gerrie Nel rejected Roux's claims of "vulnerability," arguing that the Paralympian had developed excellent coping skills.

"We argue that the sentence of 15 years ought to be imposed as a minimum," Nel told the High Court in Pretoria.

Manslaughter conviction overturned

The athlete fired at the door knowing the person behind it could not escape, the prosecutor said, stressing the suffering of defenseless Reeva Steenkamp after she had been wounded.

The second sentencing is the latest chapter in Pistorius' three-year legal saga. The athlete was initially convicted of manslaughter in 2014 and sentenced to five years in prison.

Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius had been dating for three months at the time of her death

After serving a year in jail, he was released on parole in line with South African procedure and has been living under house arrest at his uncle's mansion since October 2015.

Prosecutors appealed Pistorius' manslaughter verdict, however, insisting that he should have been found guilty of murder. They argued that Pistorius intended to kill, even if he didn't know it was his girlfriend in the bathroom.

Minimum 15-year sentence

As a result, in December last year, a panel of Supreme Court judges overturned Pistorius' manslaughter conviction, raising it to a more serious, murder conviction, for which he must now be sentenced.

The minimum standard sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years. In exceptional circumstances, however, a judge can reduce that sentence. Pistorius' disability and the fact he is a first-time offender could therefore be taken into consideration. The athlete is due to receive his sentence by the end of the week.

ksb/msh (reuters, AP, dpa)

  • The rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

    The trial

    In 2014, former Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years imprisonment for 'culpable homicide' for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The following December, that verdict was upgraded to murder - a decision Pistorius is bidding to overturn. The tragedy and ensuing court cases have blotted a unique, and at times controversial, athletic career.

  • The rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

    First strides in Athens

    At the tender age of 17, Oscar Pistorius exploded on to the track scene. He broke the world record in men's 200 meters at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, adding to an earlier bronze medal at the same meet. It was the first major milestone in his career. Pistorius was born with the disease fibular hemimelia, and at the age of 11 months was amputated halfway between his knees and ankles.

  • The rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

    An unfair advantage?

    His success, however, was followed by debate on whether Pistorius had an extra advantage with his prosthetic J-shape limbs. Researchers found out that the prosthetics required "25 percent less energy" to move than normal legs. After initially being stopped from competing at the 2008 Olympics, Pistorius successfully had his appeal upheld at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

  • The rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

    Success in Beijing

    At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing in China, Pistorius walked away with three gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400 meters finals on the track. He had been hoping to reach the Olympics - a constant target in his mind throughout his career - but he fell short of qualifying.

  • The rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

    A step towards the main goal

    Pistorius got a step closer to his career-long dream at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea when he was finally able to race able-bodied athletes. He was included in the South African 4x400m relay team, running the opening leg in the semifinal. However, he was dropped for the final - where the South Africans won silver - because of his slow pace in the semis.

  • The rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

    Pistorius lives olympic dream

    Pistorius was named in South Africa's team to participate in the 2012 London Olympic Games. He was the first double-leg amputee runner to compete in an able-bodied sport at the Olympics, but was not able to get to the final. His South African team also didn't get a medal in the relay, but Pistorius was given the honor of carrying the country's flag at the closing ceremony.

  • The rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

    Paralympic dominance in London

    Just weeks later Pistorius graced the Olympic Stadium in London again, at the Paralympics, leading the South African team in at the opening ceremony. He established another world record in the 200 meter heats, but then lost in the final. He still left with two more gold medals at the end of the event though after winning in the 400meters sprint and the 4x100m relay.

    Author: Ross Dunbar