Oscar Pistorius Ruled Not Mentally Incapacitated When He Shot Girlfriend
Oscar Pistorius, on trial for murder in South Africa, was not mentally incapacitated when he shot his girlfriend to death, a psychiatric assessment of the athlete has found.
Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, 29-year-old model and law school graduate Reeva Steenkamp, in his home in February 2013.
Pistorius admits shooting Steenkamp through a closed door, killing her, but has told the court in Pretoria, South Africa, that he mistook her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty.
The state says Pistorius argued with Steenkamp before killing her.
The results of the assessment were revealed in court Monday when the Olympic sprinter’s trial resumed after a monthlong break for the evaluation.
According to the findings by an independent panel of doctors, Pistorius did not suffer from a mental defect or mental illness at the “time of the commission of the offense that would have rendered him criminally not responsible of the offenses charged.”
The report added that “Mr. Pistorius was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act.”
Pistorius’ psychiatric testing last month was triggered by the testimony of a psychiatrist who said the sprinter has suffered from generalized anxiety disorder since he was an infant, stemming partly from the amputation of his lower legs.
The disorder meant Pistorius had “excessive” concerns about security and felt threatened even when, objectively, he was not, Dr. Merryll Vorster testified on May 12.
After Vorster’s testimony, prosecutor Gerrie Nel filed a motion asking the judge to require psychiatric tests, arguing that if there was any chance the defendant’s mental health was an issue, the court must “err on the side of caution.”
Nel’s extremely unusual move was essentially an effort to maneuver the court into considering an insanity or “capacity” defense even though the athlete’s legal team is not mounting one, CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps said.