May 12, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT
The lead prosecutor said he is applying to have Oscar Pistorius held for mental observation after a forensic psychiatrist testified the runner had an anxiety disorder at his murder trial Monday.
Pistorius has generalized anxiety disorder and is on depression treatment, said psychiatrist Dr. Merryll Vorster, who visited the runner twice this month. Vorster said the condition may have affected how Pistorius reacted to the situation when he fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, but he still was able to distinguish right from wrong.
Lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Vorster’s testimony justified an application to refer Pistorius for mental observation.
“I’m bringing that application based on this witness’ evidence,” Nel said. “This court will not have an option but to refer Mr. Pistorius for mental observation.”
Pistorius’ lead defense attorney, Barry Roux, argued against the application because Pistorius could still distinguish right from wrong and was not delusional.
Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought an intruder was locked inside his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside last year.
He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius, 27, could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.
On Monday, the trial’s 30th day, Vorster said Pistorius’ anxiety and stress developed over time, from when his legs were amputated below the knee at 11 months old to his parents’ divorce at age 6, his mother’s death at age 15, breaking ties with his father at 21 and the increasing demands of being a famous professional athlete.
Vorster said Pistorius was raised to believe his external environment was threatening and became hypervigilant. His mother slept with a firearm under her pillow.
“As one is increasingly anxious, one feels more and more insecure about one’s personal safety, even though factually one’s safety may not be threatened,” Vorster said. “You perceive your surroundings as being threatening when maybe they aren’t.
“He was aware that he was a public figure, and believed that this made him at an increased risk of being attacked or burgled.”
Pistorius felt isolated and alone and tried to combat those feelings by inviting friends to sleep over, but he was still distrustful and guarded, the psychiatrist said.
Pistorius’ anxiety disorder and physical vulnerability go hand in hand, possibly affecting how he reacted when he fatally shot Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder, Vorster said.
“He would have been more likely to fight as his capacity to flight was compromised,” by not having his legs, she said. “I’m not saying this constitutes a mental illness.”
She said Pistorius’ anxiety disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis rather than a mental disorder but said there was “no harm” in Nel’s suggestion Pistorius be referred for mental observation.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT
Figure skating champion joins MLB outfielder, ballerina.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
Anderson is the two-time reigning USA Volleyball Player of the Year.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT
The 2018 World Championships were already awarded.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT
Tennis player flew from Singapore to Denmark to New York this week.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT
Rising black smoke caused brief panic, but the fire was quickly put out.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT
Bruno Grandi was at the helm for a judging overhaul.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT
One of the U.S.’ strongest skaters from last season is not on the team.
Oct 28, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT
Sundquist was a partially eaten gingerbread man, a leg lamp and a flamingo in recent years.
Oct 28, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Either Berlin or Hamburg will be chosen in March.
Oct 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT
Those against Boston hosting an Olympics sent a letter to the USOC.
Oct 28, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT
Judge rules in lawsuit over environmental concerns.
Oct 27, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
China’s Zhang Jike kicked through an advertising board.
Oct 27, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT
The list includes a four-time Olympic champion.
Oct 27, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
Rousseff could join a short list of women to declare open an Olympics in two years.
Oct 27, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT
Alexander Kaptarenko carried a Sochi Olympic torch for 200 meters in December.
Oct 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Pistorius was sentenced to no more than five years behind prison last week.
Oct 26, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT
Russian who was too young for Sochi Olympics takes title.
Oct 26, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT
Olympic champion’s worst-ever result in Soelden.
Oct 25, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT
Machida breaks record for winning margin; U.S. matches its longest drought.
Oct 25, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT
Two Russians lead the way.
- Matt Anderson taking break from volleyball due to depression 0
- Caroline Wozniacki nervous for New York City Marathon, even in her dreams 0
- Prosecutors to appeal Oscar Pistorius verdict, sentence 3
- Russian triumphs at Skate America; Gracie Gold third (video) 4
- Ted Ligety struggles in first race of season (video) 0
- Japan’s Machida routs U.S. men at Skate America; ice dancers make history 0
- Mikaela Shiffrin wins her first World Cup giant slalom in Soelden tie (video) 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)