Oscar Pistorius Trial Resumes After Psych TestsBy: Kelly Weidman - June 30, 2014
The case of Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympian on trial for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will be returning to trial on Monday after Pistorius was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Defense witness Dr. Meryl Vorster stated to the court that “It is my opinion…that Mr. Pistorius has an anxiety disorder,” which prompted the judge to order the evaluation.
Pistorius has undergone a month of psychiatric testing at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital where doctors are evaluating not only the possibility for a mental disorder, but the possibility that he is faking a mental disorder in order to get a lenient sentence.
“I always look at these kinds of behaviors through the lens of, is this legitimate, or is this malingering? Is this an act, or is this a true manifestation of intense emotions associated with this particular situation or crime?” said Dr Alexander Sasha Barday, a forensic psychiatrist.
While it was the defense that first introduced the possibility of Pistorius’ mental disorder, this strategy may end up backfiring as it was the prosecution that pushed for an official evaluation.
“The prosecutor, by forcing this evaluation, hopes to pull the gut out of Oscar’s already destroyed credibility. He would take what has been almost destroyed completely and there would be nothing left,” veteran South African attorney Renier Spies said.
Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on the night of February 14, 2013. He contends that he heard noises in their bathroom and fired on what he thought was an intruder but reports of his temper and the couples’ frequent fighting have for the most part negated these claims.
If found guilty of pre-meditated murder, Pistorius will receive a life sentence however if the judge believes him to have acted under mental distress due to an anxiety disorder he may be more lenient when sentencing.
It is also possible Pistorius will be found guilty of culpable homicide, which carries a sentence of 15 years.
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