The judge in the high profile Oscar Pistorius murder trial ruled Wednesday that she will delay the trial so the Olympic double amputee can undergo psychiatric testing, according to ESPN today, Thursday, May 15. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, although he's admitted he shot her to death in the bathroom of his mansion, according to the London Mirror.
The South African judge said she will see the lawyers back in court Tuesday to announce scheduling plans. Pistorious, who had both legs amputated at the age of 11 months below the knees, suffered a traumatic shock from that event which could've caused him to have anxiety disorder, according to a defense witness Monday.
The expert also testified the anxiety disorder has accompanied Pistorius his entire life and may have affected his judgment the tragic night he shot and killed the glamorous model and law school graduate.
The trial appeared on its way to its conclusion until Monday when defense attorney Barry Roux was asking psychiatrist Merryll Vorster a series of questions. She replied with answers which caused the delay. Vorster said Pistorius suffered from "excessive concern about security" and connected that back to the amputation which she said he viewed as a "traumatic assault." She also said someone in his mental state should not be able to possess firearms.
Based on the fact Vorster said the defendant suffered from general anxity disorder, prosecutor Gerrie Neal Tuesday argued the court must err on the side of caution and order psychiatric testing by government experts. Defense attorney Barry Roux unsuccessfully opposed that motion.
Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled the "Bladerunner" must undergo testing which will last 30 days. Pistorius earned that sobriquet from the fact he runs with fiberglass blades attached to his stumps in competition. He is the first Olympian to ever do this.
Masipa also said that while the testing would normally be done in a governmental facility she desired the Bladerunner be allowed to return hom each night so he wouldn't be punished twice. She gave no indication as to which way she was leaning in the case.
She will make all the decisions in this case since there is no jury. The conventional wisdom is this delay would be less likely to have a detrimental effect on the outcome in a case decided by a judge. Jurors might be more likely to forget details during a delay or disagree as to the testimony while judges take copius notes and can refer to the court reporter's transcript to refresh their memories.
Judges such as Masipa have more experience than jurors and are more familiar with analyzing the facts of such a high profile case. So while the delay is inconvenient, it shouldn't have a detrimental effect on the final outcome.
Reeva Steenkamp, 29, was shot to death by a hail of bullets from Pistorius gun as he was awakened in the middle of the night. He claims he thought Reeva was still asleep in bed beside him when he grabbed his gun and went to the bathroom. He said noises from that section of his mansion caused him to believe an intruder had invaded his palatial home.
Roux has maintained all along his client made a mistake and is not guilty.
While some may criticize the prosecution for the delay, if the prosecutors were given no notice in advance of a mental type defense, they wouldn't have a basis to ask for a psychiatric examination. Evidently, they only became aware of the nature of the defense when Vorster hit the stand Monday.
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