Oscar Pistorius Defense Scraping The Bottom Of The BarrelBy: 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.
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