Oscar Pistorius: Could Psych Exam Clear Him Of Murder?By: Toni Matthews-El - June 29, 2014
A month has passed since Judge Thokozile Masipa ordered defendant Oscar Pistorius to undergo a mental health evaluation. The findings are expected to have a major impact on the outcome of the Reeva Steenkamp murder trial.
The 27-year-old is on trial for fatally shooting Steenkamp, his 29-year-old girlfriend, in the early hours of February 14th, 2013.
Pistorius claimed that he was not aware that it was Steenkamp he opened fire on and that he was certain his girlfriend was still in their bedroom. Pistorius’s defense is that the event was a terrible accident.
However, prosecutors are working to prove that Steenkamp was deliberately murdered by Pistorius following an argument.
According to witness testimony, a woman’s screams were heard amid gunfire, undermining the claim that Pistorius had no idea he had opened fire on his girlfriend.
After a disastrous turn on the stand, Pistorius’s defense team has moved to emphasize their client’s mental health state in an effort both excuse his killing of Steenkamp and his behavior throughout the trial.
This defense spurred Masipa to order Pistorius to undergo a 30 day mental health evaluation.
Pistorius was evaluated at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa.
A panel made up of a psychologist and three psychiatrists assessed the athlete during that time period and are expected to share their findings when the trial resumes Monday.
Pistorius’s defense claims that he suffers from an anxiety disorder. This disorder supposedly causes him to be extraordinarily paranoid about his safety and obsessed with protecting himself.
Depending on what the panel has decided, Pistorius could find himself cleared of the murder charge. It could also seal his fate. There’s also a possibility that the findings have a direct impact on sentencing, should Pistorius be found guilty.
If Pistorius is convicted of Steenkamp’s murder, he faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.
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