May 20, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT
Oscar Pistorius will undergo up to 30 days of mental evaluation as an outpatient at a psychiatric hospital beginning Monday. His murder trial is delayed until June 30, nearly four months after it began.
Three psychiatrists and one psychologist will determine if Pistorius is criminally responsible for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, taking into account that a psychiatrist diagnosed him with generalized anxiety disorder earlier this month.
The panel will “inquire into whether the accused, by reason of mental illness or mental defect, was at the time of the commission of the offense, criminally responsible for the offenses charged, whether he was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act,” Judge Thokozile Masipa said in a four-minute court session in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday morning.
Pistorius will spend his weekdays at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria.
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 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.
Last 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 Steenkamp and could affect the judge’s verdict.
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