After Expert Witness Testimony, Pistorius to Undergo 30 Days of Psychiatric Tests
On Monday, May 26, South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius arrived at a psychiatric hospital to begin a month-long mental health evaluation as ordered by a judge in the trial determining whether or not Pistorius is guilty of murdering his girlfriend.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Pistorius arrived at the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, west of Pretoria, to begin his 30-day psychiatric evaluation. Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the sprinter will report to the public hospital for outpatient evaluations every weekday beginning Monday.
The decision to send Pistorius, 27, to be evaluated came after a defense expert witness testified in court that Pistorius, who is accused of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, suffers from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which makes him hyper-vigilant, according to the Independent.
Judge Masipa said Pistorius will be tested to see “whether he was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act or acting in accordance with appreciation of the wrongfulness of his act,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Earlier this month, Dr. Merryl Vorster, an expert witness for the defense, had claimed in court that because of his anxiety disorder, Pistorius’ “reactions to situations would be different” to those of an individual without GAD under similar levels of stress, the Independent reported.
If proved correct, Vorster’s testimony could allow Pistorius to claim diminished criminal responsibility for Steenkamp’s murder, according to the Independent. However, upon hearing Vorster’s testimony, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused Pistorius of changing his defense from self-defense, to automatism and now a mental disorder. Nel questioned the timing of the Vorster testimony, suggesting her diagnosis of an anxiety disorder was a “fall-back,” a last-ditch attempt by the defense due to Pistorius being an “unimpressive” witness, the Independent reported.
The court will resume on June 30 to examine the results of Pistorius’ evaluation.