May 14, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT
Oscar Pistorius will undergo psychiatric evaluation, delaying his murder trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled Wednesday.
Masipa granted an application from the prosecution that Pistorius be placed under mental observation, citing South African law after a forensic psychiatrist testifed that he had an anxiety disorder. The disorder may have played a role in his fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year and could affect the judge’s verdict.
“I’m persuaded that the requirement of a reasonable possibility has been met,” said Masipa, who did not outline a specific length for the evaluation. “A referral inevitably means more delays in finalizing this matter, but this is not about anyone’s convenience but rather about whether justice has been served.”
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 on Valentine’s Day 2013. He has not claimed he was mentally incapacitated at the time.
He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Merryll Vorster testified Monday that Pistorius had generalized anxiety disorder, based off two interviews with him earlier this month.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cited Section 78 of South Africa’s Criminal Procedure Act in applying for Pistorius to undergo psychiatric evaluation. The law states:
(1) A person who commits an act or makes an omission which constitutes an
offence and who at the time of such commission or omission suffers from a mental
illness or mental defect which makes him or her incapable-
(a) of appreciating the wrongfulness of his or her act or omission; or
(b) of acting in accordance with an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his
or her act or omission,
shall not be criminally responsible for such act or omission.
The defense argued that Pistorius’ general anxiety disorder is not a mental illness applicable in the cited law, though it’s clear from the law he could be acquitted if found not criminally responsible for shooting Steenkamp due to mental illness.
“The effect of the evidence is that a doubt has been created that the accused [Pistorius] may possibly have another defense relating to his criminal responsibility,” Masipa said. “There is also a possibility that there may be diminished criminal responsibility.”
Masipa called her ruling an “integral part of a fair trial” and said the specific order will be handed down Tuesday.
Pistorius stood with his hands clasped, wavering slightly, as Masipa spoke for 15 minutes before issuing her ruling.
Masipa said it would be preferable for Pistorius to be an outpatient as he undergoes the psychiatric evaluation.
“The aim of referral is not to punish the accused twice,” she said.
The trial that began March 3 and has taken multiple breaks is now 32 days old.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:24 PM EDT
It marked Jorgensen’s largest margin of victory in her World Triathlon Series career.
Mar 28, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT
But they haven’t decided on the 2018 Olympics.
Mar 28, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Tracy Wilson are on the call.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT
How they fared against World champion Simone Biles.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT
“I don’t know if it’s going to ever happen again.”
Mar 28, 2015, 10:53 AM EDT
Next year, Tuktamysheva can go for a feat not seen since 2001.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
The U.S. has a new former NHL player as head coach, is missing a major Sochi star and hopes to end a losing streak to Canada.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT
The Olympic champions are slated to compete for the first time since London 2012 this weekend.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT
The U.S. men are unlikely to secure three spots for the 2016 World Championships.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT
A French couple became the youngest World champions in 40 years.
Mar 26, 2015, 10:14 AM EDT
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva landed a triple Axel in one of the greatest short programs of all time.
Mar 26, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT
The last time Canada won a World title in pairs was before the 2002 judging scandal.
Mar 25, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT
A slight improvement could mark the best U.S. pairs finishes since 2002.
Mar 25, 2015, 9:13 AM EDT
Bolt’s last appearance in New York produced his first world record.
Mar 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT
The Olympians could become the second U.S. ice dance couple to win a World Championship.
Mar 24, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
The Olympic and World champion returns to the site of a bloody collision.
Mar 24, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT
Boston will not move forward with an Olympic bid if a majority of state and city residents don’t support it.
Mar 24, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Olympians Erin Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer star in an inside look at the sport.
Mar 24, 2015, 9:27 AM EDT
Tuesday marked 500 days out from the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.
Mar 23, 2015, 5:50 PM EDT
Three U.S. women have a shot at the podium, and an American ice dance couple could win gold.
- Meryl Davis, Charlie White won’t compete next season 0
- Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman competitive with U.S. teammates in comeback 0
- Javier Fernandez wins upset World Championship; top American fourth 0
- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva wins World Championship; U.S. just misses medals 0
- How to watch Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman’s comeback gymnastics meet 0
- Yuzuru Hanyu tops World Championships short program; Jason Brown leads Americans 0
- U.S. women struggle, trail Russian brilliance after World Championships short program 2
- 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)