Oscar Pistorius Defense Scraping The Bottom Of The Barrel

By: Toni Matthews-El - July 4, 2014

It was a bizarre week for those following the ongoing Oscar Pistorius trial. When the case resumed on Monday, the 30 day evaluation results seemed fairly open and shut at first. It was widely reported that the 27-year-old athlete was likely not suffering from any major mental disorder the night he fatally shot 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp.

This was admittedly a huge blow to Pistorius’s defense, which was hoping that the existence of a mental disorder of some kind could halt the trial and potentially result in a not guilty verdict for their client.

However in the days that passed, Pistorius’s lawyers have taken a bold approach in the interpretation of panel findings.

Instead of an acknowledgement of the fact that the athlete would have been in total control of his actions on the night of the murder, his team is attempting to shift the case to focus on how traumatic the act of killing Steenkamp was for the defendant.

Defense attorney Barry Roux read excerpts where mental health experts state that Pistorius suffers from post-traumatic-stress-disorder and depression which they believe is linked to murdering Steenkamp.

While it’s very likely that the event had a negative effect on Pistorius and it’s not unreasonable that he would need mental health treatment, one very important fact is being overlooked: These effects have nothing to do with whether or not Pistorius meant to kill Steenkamp.

Did Pistorius intend to kill his girlfriend? If so, it was an act of murder, a crime for which Pistorius could be punished with a 25 year jail sentence.

Does suffering as a result of actions that may have been intentional mean that Pistorius is entitled to avoid jail time?

That is the rather condescending suggestion that seems to be at the heart of the defense’s current tactic.

Ultimately it’s not about what Pistorius feels now, unless his actions were genuinely not intentional.

If Pistorius lacked a mental disorder at the time of the murder and if he was able to distinguish right from wrong, this remains the most important and relevant psychological finding in relation to the case.

Image via YouTube

About the Author

Toni Matthews-ElToni Matthews-El hails from the land of chunked pumpkins and people who come to a complete stop before making any and every turn. When she isn't contributing articles to WebProNews, she spends her time freelance writing, cheering Liverpool FC, and enjoying life as a hair flower connoisseur. Disclaimer: Written opinions do not necessarily reflect that of WebProNews or its affiliates

View all posts by Toni Matthews-El
  • julias

    Well finally a reporter that is thinking and not copying all the rest!!!! Thank you
    And yes how condescending of the defense to come across as if poor baby oscar has suffered sooo much. While Reeva is dead, body blow to shreds
    I frankly don’t care how much he has or has not suffered, he made a decision to pick up a gun and shoot at a human being locked in a toilet, you do that…and you should pay the price. And this crap about suicide if he “does not continue treatment”
    WOW what a manipulating scumbag coward
    You know how many femicide scumbags are going to try to use this “excuse” now
    Time to pay the bill OZZY BOY

    • http://www.examiner.com/relationships-in-toronto/christine-beswick Christine Beswick

      If you are looking for more, I too have been covering the many different angles and questions in this case the defense is ignoring, here’s one:

      http://www.examiner.com/article/oscar-pistorius-trial-6-degrees-of-premeditation-from-screams-to-murder

      • julias

        Thank you so much!!!
        Now the spin game is trying to say OP purchased a house for them to move in to. Complete with color photo’s…yeah I think most people would meet someone let’s say on Nov 4th, then put a down payment down on a house costing over half a million dollars in less than a month, to move in with someone you have never said you love too (admitted in court)…then blast her away 2 months later…yeah that all makes perfect sense

        • http://www.examiner.com/relationships-in-toronto/christine-beswick Christine Beswick

          You are welcome, I am actually working on that story today as well :)

      • julias

        Im also wondering how the Doctors that did the evaluation could have come up with statements about him NOT having anger issues when there are so many publicized accounts of OP going off or being reckless.
        Threatening to “shoot” someone, it’s in another article ( the article that brought out the roommate incident at the Olympics.
        The roommate wanting to change rooms because he was “yelling” at people on the phone all the time. (it was said then, and documented, changing it now does not mean it was not true then)
        Slamming the door on a women’s ” legs” and sending her to the hospital, police report filed…then mysteriously released.
        Threatening to “break” another soccer mate’s “legs”
        Starting the fight at the race car event with the man he was jealous of taking Samantha on a trip.
        The boating incident that smashed his face, complete cover up.
        The two shooting incidents he has denied, but there are eyewitnesses
        and last but not least…Reeva’s txt messages about being scared and that he snaps…how did they not include or hear any of these?

        • LazyFair

          Oscar’s history definitely shows he has problems functioning in social situations….. and could be said that his functioning in society is downright dangerous!

  • Carol

    PTSD – kill someone in a fit of rage and experience remors
    PTSD – kill someone and realize you will spend the next 25 years in jail
    PTSD – kill someone and realize your life as a hero is over forever
    PTSD – kill someone and realize that your opportunity to earn income from endorsements is over
    PTSD – means nothing. It occurred after the killing.

    • LazyFair

      I deleted my stupid comment!

  • Jono

    “This was admittedly a huge blow to Pistorius’s defense, which was hoping that the existence of a mental disorder of some kind could halt the trial and potentially result in a not guilty verdict for their client.”

    This is inaccurate. The defence was actually never arguing an insanity defence and are not disputing the findings that OP can be held criminally accountable for the shooting. Barry Roux’s main reason for reading that excerpt from the report is that the defence believes that some of it adds credibility to the testimony of the Wayne Derman, the last defence witness and the mentioning the PTSD thing was actually about counteracting previous character evidence given by the state (the suggestion that Pistorius was faking his reactions in the courtroom), not about whether it was directly relevant to the shooting.

    • http://www.examiner.com/relationships-in-toronto/christine-beswick Christine Beswick

      You really believe that witness added credibility?? The PTSD was not present at the time of the shooting, it was present AFTER. And, almost anybody would be at risk of PTSD after an incident like that, it doesn’t negate intent or premeditation.

      • LazyFair

        I do agree, Christine (in case you read my above comment)…. Just challenging Jono… who seems to be in a tunnel.

        • http://www.examiner.com/relationships-in-toronto/christine-beswick Christine Beswick

          No worries at all :) lol @ “tunnel”

          • LazyFair

            :)

      • Jono

        I don’t believe anything, I’m only stating what I believe the defence argument to be.

        Again, I was not talking about the fact that he had PTSD, I was talking about one of the other conclusions that Pistorius had history of feeling vulnerable on his stumps.

    • LazyFair

      You can’t state what the defense is or was doing because obviously, you are not on the team and don’t really know….. but, I’ll give you speculation… I do the same… Comment sections are full of all of our spec’s!

      The contradiciton (you missed) is that hypervigilance is a symptom of PTSD — but the defense has not stated Oscar had PTSD at the time he ripped Reeva’s body with the zombie stoppers — but they have stated he was hypervigilant. So, is it, was it — before, after, during- the firing squad— while it was being countered?

      You are correct, the defense did not argue, but Vorhies (or whatever) inferred and/or stated GAD was relative (or caused?) his hypervigilance and his intention with his gun. So, this forensice psychiatrist — knows or does not know, her stuff?

      Hypervigilance (from About) — A person experiencing this symptom (of PTSD) will be motivated to maintain an increased awareness of their surrounding environment…… to identify potential sources of threat. Hypervigilance may appear similar to paranoia. (hey, I’m good, right?) —and, yes, the defense has used the word paranoid. (“they” can’t have it both ways!).

      Hyper Vigilante…. (I couldn’t help myself!) — ” This is how I fight and destroy my enemies. I will win my war. My body is a weapon. I am the bullet in the chamber of a gun.”

      • Jono

        No, I’m not part of the team, obviously but I’m still allowed to state what I understand from watching the trial.

        And no, I didn’t miss that. I was not talking about the fact that the report diagnosed him with PTSD, I was talking about the fact that among the report also stated that Pistorius has a history of feeling vulnerable on his stumps and that’s what the defence believes supports Derman’s testimony. Obviously the PTSD came about as a result of incident itself and has nothing to do with the shooting. I do agree with you there.

        • LazyFair

          I know you think you come across logical… sometimes, you just don’t. We don’t know that Post Traumatic Stess Disorder symptoms had nothing to do with Oscar’s shooting the life out of Reeva- if we believe his story. I hesitate to repeat that hypervigilence and paranoia are symptoms of PTSD — his defence has verbalized both behaviors in regard to his actions. I agree that, if his story were true, he would have been acting hypervigilantly and shooting through a closed door certainly would be considered paranoid, wouldn’t you agree? But, I do not believe his story, so no PTSD at the time of the killing — which brings right back to repeating myself and I certainly don’t want to — the defense can’t have it both ways.

          • Jono

            I agree that it seems paranoid but you’re saying that the defence can’t have both ways of what?

            Look, the legal defence that has always been used by his defence team from the beginning of the trial was one of putative self defence, which is a legal defence claiming that one committed an act due to a genuine but mistaken belief that they were in danger. In Pistorius’ case, he claimed that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder. Now this defence is not one of self defence, which means that there has to be a real intruder, putative self-defence means that he only has to of believed that there was an intruder even though there was none. Now, in order for such a defence to work, his defence team has to show prove that the actions he took that night to neutralise this imagined threat was reasonable for someone in a similar situation and in his situation. That’s why his defence team is bringing up things like his vulnerability on his stumps, his inability to flee etc. They want all these things to be taken into account when making a decision as to whether his actions were a reasonable reaction to a perceived threat, that’s all. They are not arguing and never were arguing that lacked criminal capacity (an insanity defence), they are putative self-defence and are trying to lead evidence suggesting that his actions were a reasonable reaction to a threat while Gerrie Nel is trying to tear down that defence.

            Whether Pistorius’ story is to be believed or not, putative self-defence is the defence that he’s using. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not arguing about whether or not I believe that his story is true. I’ve never given an opinion on that either way.

          • LazyFair

            I’m thinking on this ……

            To answer your question, tho — hypervigillant at the time of the crime = PTSD.

          • LazyFair

            Thank you for the detailed explanation – I actually looked up the meaning of putative– I wanted to understand further and found that there really is not much difference. It’s a good defense, but IMO not a reasonable one — nor were his actions those of a reasonable person. I firmly believe you could search the globe and not find one person who would unload four Black Talon hollow-point bullets into a closed door that was within 2-3′ (I don’t recall the distance)– for any reason.

            Thanks for the response.

  • http://www.examiner.com/relationships-in-toronto/christine-beswick Christine Beswick

    Well done! I will be quoting you in my next piece, great work :)

  • LazyFair

    The top photo of Mr. Pistorius projects a look of paranoia!