Oscar Pistorius Trial : Prosecutorial Gamesmanship

Oscar Pistorius is back in court as his defense team continued to call witnesses.

The defense psychiatrist, Dr. Meryl Vorster, testified as to Oscar's vulnerability as a double amputee, and the prosecutor asked to have the trial delayed and Oscar sent for a 30 day mental evaluation.

This is gamesmanship. The witness clearly stated Oscar knew the difference between right and wrong. There's no indication or defense claim he was insane or suffering from diminished capacity such that he couldn't appreciate the nature of his actions at the time of the shooting.


The prosecutor also claims that general anxiety disorder is tantamount to mental illness. (The psychiatrist disagreed with this and stated Oscar is not mentally ill.) In my view, the prosecutor is trying to buy time to save his losing case. The law (Section 78 of the Criminal Procedures Act) requires both that a mental disorder be present and that the person is incapable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his actions. The judge has taken the matter under advisement, but I suspect she will reject the state's request.

The vulnerability issue goes to the culpable homicide charge. The test is what a reasonable person is Oscar's situation would do under the same circumstances. But is the test the average Joe on the street, or the average double amputee who has experienced a life of vulnerability and has a greater fear of of criminals?

The psychiatrist testified as to Oscar's vulnerability -- why he might believe he was in danger when he was not, and why someone in his situation (a double amputee) might approach and confront, rather than flee from the perceived danger. One reason: On his stumps, he had no ability to flee. The only recourse was to confront.(Given the option of "fight or flight", only the "fight" option was available to him.

The point is that Oscar's reactions to situations would be different than the average Joe on the street because of his disability and generalized anxiety disorder. Dr. Vorster testified, "In my opinion Oscar Pistorius' reaction to the perceived threat should be considered in light of his physical disability and his anxiety disorder."

She also said that Oscar's depressive state didn't begin until after the shooting and that Oscar has repeatedly expressed his feeling of remorse after the shooting. She said his memory is good, and he has no intellectual incapacity. In her opinion, Oscar's reactions in court have been real, not feigned.

Dr. Vorster has a PH.d in forensic psychiatry and has worked at the hospital for the criminally insane. She's a professor. Clearly, she knows the difference between an anxiety disorder and mental illness.

(Sources: live twitter feeds of journalists at the trial.)

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    If Dr. Vorster's Ph.D is worth anything, ... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon May 12, 2014 at 03:45:48 PM EST
    Jeralyn: "Dr. Vorster has a PH.d in forensic psychiatry and has worked at the hospital for the criminally insane. She's a professor. Clearly, she knows the difference between an anxiety disorder and mental illness."

    ... then she'd undoubtedly know that any responsible person seeking to enlighten the general public about the true nature of mental illness should not consciously seek to invoke nightmarish images of institutionalized patients from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as a differential between its lesser and more acute forms. Nor should the term itself lead one to first envision those persons suffering from suicidal tendencies, clinical depression, schizophrenia or psycho-/sociopathy, to the near-exclusion of others who suffer from less ominous or debilitative forms of mental disorders.

    In all honesty, we really need to overcome our own latent and ingrained prejudices about what exactly constitutes and causes mental illness, which has served only to marginalize those persons who actually suffer from one or more of its various incarnations. Like other illnesses such as cancer, mental illness comes in varying types and degrees, can exist in both latent and active stages, and can be caused and induced by organic and non-organic factors alike.

    According to the National Institute for Mental Health, which in fact classifies anxiety disorders as one form of mental illness, such disorders break down into five fairly distinctive types -- generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social phobias.

    In some extreme cases, an anxiety disorder can manifest itself in an individual's aggressive and / or violent behavior toward others, or it can lead to a debilitating mental breakdown in which one becomes emotionally withdrawn and socially dysfunctional. But advances in modern medicine have been such that most persons who are afflicted with such disorders can and do cope effectively with their illness on a daily basis, and can otherwise lead contented and productive lives with the proper medical and / or therapeutic regimen.

    Are there any medical records that actually support the defense counsel's contention, that is, has Oscar Pistorious been formally diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from an acute form of anxiety disorder? If so, and if the level of affliction which the defense counsel is now claiming for the defendant led Mr. Pistorious to engage in documented instances of excessive gunplay prior to the shooting of Ms. Steenkamp, one is left to wonder why he was ever allowed by his own family (never mind South African authorities) to possess guns in the first place.


    We frown on forced care (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mikado Cat on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:58:08 PM EST
    for the mentally ill. Right or wrong society has rejected forcing diagnosis or treatment on to any but the most extreme cases where a person is an immediate danger to themselves or others.

    If you have anxiety disorder, but know if you have it diagnosed and treated you will not be able to own a gun that you see as essential protection, people will resist to the limit.

    Does the reasonable person idea legally accommodate real physical vulnerability issues? I would think that it should.


    Fealing Vulnerable Does Not Excuse Recklessness (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by RickyJim on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:03:24 PM EST
    The vulnerability issue goes to the culpable homicide charge. The test is what a reasonable person is Oscar's situation would do under the same circumstances.>

    Oscar recklessly caused the death of Reeva Steenkamp by not making sure she wasn't the person in the bathroom before he started firing.  In fact, he might be guilty of CH even if there was really a burglar in the bathroom.  If he felt so vulnerable he should have stayed by Reeva in the bedroom, gun out, and made sure she got the police on the phone.  He could have then yelled at the burglar from there to "Get the ** out of my house, the cops are on their way."

    For the record, (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:49:57 PM EST
    this is not the Zimmerman case. There, it was quite obvious, most observers had chosen sides. I don't feel that is the case here, at least, not for a majority.

    Personally speaking, I have a daughter roughly Reeva's age. If (God forbid) my daughter was the victim in a case identical to this one I would want, no, I would demand, justice be done.

    And, by "Justice," I mean:

    If it was proven, to my satisfaction, and, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was a deliberate act, there's no punishment that would satisfy me. But, I know that's just a father talking here.

    On the other hand ( BTW, I was raised in a family with a psychiatrist as my father) if a thorough, non-partisan psychiatric evaluation proved unequivocally that the shooter was not responsible, I would hope that the logical part of my brain would win out. Lord knows that if Oscar Pistorius truly experienced a psychiatric episode rendering him not responsible, the pain & anguish that he will suffer (probably forever) upon becoming cognizant, is something I wouldn't wish on anyone.  

    Today in court (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by jbindc on Tue May 13, 2014 at 06:58:05 AM EST

    * Making the application on behalf of the state, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the court had no choice but to refer Pistorius:

    If there is a reasonable possibility that some mental illness or disorder played a part, the court must refer.

    * But Nel said the state did not and will not make the case that Pistorius was mentally ill. The court is obliged to "act decisively" because of the evidence of the defence's own psychiatrist, Dr Merryll Vorster, who has diagnosed him with generalised anxiety disorder, which might have affected his actions on the night he shot Reeva Steenkamp. If the court chooses not to refer, it could have a bearing on a future appeal.


    State and defence clashed over interpretation of case law concerning referrals, with [defense counsel] Roux accusing the prosecution of failing to understand the cases cited. [Prosecutor]Nel countered that he was counsel in one of them. "I lost."

    Ooh, snap.

    OP (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by jbindc on Wed May 14, 2014 at 06:36:48 AM EST
    To undergo psych exam

    On Wednesday the judge, Thokozile Masipa, said the court was "ill-equipped" to assess Vorster's diagnosis and therefore Pistorius should be sent for a period of evaluation. She said it was important to assess the defendant's state of mind because of the possibility raised by the prosecution that Pistorius might argue he was not criminally responsible as a result of his anxiety disorder.

    "The accused may not have raised the issue that he was not criminally responsible at the time of the incident in so many words, but evidence led on his behalf clearly raised the issue and cannot be ignored," the judge said.

    The judge's words from live feed:

    "It is clear that counsel for the state was correct when he said the court has no discretion."


    "The trigger to the application was the evidence of Dr Merryll Vorster called on behalf of the accused."


    "I do not agree that there are no allegations ... The accused may not have raised the issue that he was not criminally responsible but evidence raised on his behalf clearly raise the issue and cannot be ignored."

    Sounds like the defense made a big boo-boo here and completely misunderstood the law.

    More (none / 0) (#23)
    by MO Blue on Wed May 14, 2014 at 08:49:22 AM EST
    The judge's decision was an apparent blow to defense attorney Barry Roux, who vigorously contested the move in court on Tuesday, calling it a ruse by the prosecution to get a second psychiatric opinion. Pistorius told the BBC on Monday that the request that Pistorius be referred for psychiatric evaluation was "a joke."

    But Masipa said the defense's opposition was "strange" and that the trigger for the evaluation order was the testimony from Vorster, a defense witness.


    Maybe it was a ploy by Roux (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Wed May 14, 2014 at 08:58:37 AM EST
    He knows the defense case is floundering and he was looking for a back door way into getting more time to scratch a case together.  I can't think of another reasonable explanation - he's a seasoned defense attorney and should have known this would have happened.  Hell, anybody who watches "Law & Order" can tell you if the defendant's state of mind is used as an excuse, threby "opening the door", the prosecution is allowed to charge right through.  Can Roux not read a law?

    Could help defense (none / 0) (#25)
    by MO Blue on Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:52:38 AM EST
    if they find "diminished responsibility."

    Possible outcomes:

    At one extreme, they could find that Pistorius was mentally incapacitated at the time he killed Steenkamp, which would end the trial immediately in a verdict of not guilty by reason of mental illness, she said.
    But it would also mean Pistorius needs to be committed to a mental health institution against his will until he is found not to be a danger, she said.

    Another option is that they could find he had "diminished responsibility" at the time he killed Steenkamp. In that case, the trial would continue and his mental health would be taken into consideration during sentencing if he is found guilty, said Phelps, a criminologist and law lecturer at the University of Cape Town.

    The third possibility is that the experts could disagree with the defense psychiatrist and say that Pistorius' mental health is not an issue at all. If that happens, Vorster's testimony will be disregarded, Phelps said.

    On iPad haven't figured out how to do links.


    On my mini I press the arrow, (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by oculus on Wed May 14, 2014 at 10:14:40 AM EST
    Choose "copy", then paste it in the comment.  In front of that, type the words you want highlighted, then put brackets around it all. Preview. Post.  

    Maybe you missed one other possible... (none / 0) (#27)
    by gbrbsb on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:28:36 PM EST
    ... i.e. did OP appreciate the wrongfulness of what he was doing at the time of the act, if he didn't was his mental state pathological or non pathological, i.e. a temporary emotional state, in which case he should be found not guilty and go free. At least that is how I read it from the analysis, "Insanity and diminished capacity before the court", but then out of honesty I should admit I have only read bits of the long piece although the flow chart on page 2 at least appears to be fairly clear (it is missing a No arrow on the left side).

    Of course all this is dependent on the Judge rejecting the State's premeditated murder of Reeva version because neither Frued nor Jung could justify OP not realising he was wrong to shoot Reeva... or not?

    But the State's case has very serious failings, e.g. two witnesses that heard both volleys which, as the state has seemingly chosen the second as the shots, leaves no explanation for the first except the bats but when their own expert testified that shots came before bats.

    And then there is the fact that several witnesses heard a man screaming "help, help, help" between the two volleys, and I admit I have to agree with the defence, WhyTF would Oscar call three times for help from his bedroom balcony, (one or two witness confirmed the screams for help were from a different place to the bathroom and as if outside), if he was just about to premeditatedly shoot his girlfriend, not least because that would pre-suppose an Oscarcito with an intelligence and forward planning that having listened to his testimony and the rest I  frankly find just a bit too difficult to accept.

    But I have to admit the case against him for purposefully, even if in a fit of anger, killing Reeva is imo ever looming less likely, which I never was convinced of anyway, and its the poor perceived burglar who will get the benefit of the doubt. And would we be here if the State had been convinced from the start that he indeed meant to kill a presumably black burglar... weeell that is the million dollar question, but wrong or right in my my mind we probably wouldn't, not even in South Africa.


    Sorry (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Mon May 12, 2014 at 01:27:57 PM EST
    I know this is a defense site, but I just don't see this:

    In my view, the prosecutor is trying to buy time to save his losing case.

    What this looks like to me is that the defense team is throwing a Hail Mary pass to save the client and they are proving it by putting this witness on the stand with this line of testimony. It completely smacks of desperation, since they cannot possibly overcome OP's completely unbelievable testimony. While OP may have an anxiety disorder and feels unsafe, his behavior as to how he lived his life before this does not jive with that conculsion.  He traveled all over the world to compete (including to the Olympics, where he stayed in the Olympic Village), coming in contact with literally hundreds of thousands of strange people, and yet he never had to have a gun in any of those places.  

    (He did however, feel the need to play with a gun in a restaurant and it accidentally went off).

    I get why this is your point of view, and I get why the defense it trying to argue it, but it stretches credulity.

    Yes, but you should understand that (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Anne on Mon May 12, 2014 at 03:11:26 PM EST
    people with anxiety disorder learn tremendous coping skills, and those skills tend to be fairly successful under what I would call "controlled" circumstances - that is, circumstances where you know what it is you have in front of you.  Whether it's an athletic competition in the case of Pistorius, or a live concert or speaking engagement or other in-the-spotlight event, routine is your friend: you do the same things, over and over, and while you still have the anxiety lurking, you manage to cope.

    For example, a lot of people have anxiety about air travel, and yet many of them learn to cope with it.  But throw in a completely unexpected event - extreme turbulence, a long time circling the airport past the anticipated arrival time - and all of a sudden, the anxiety isn't so easily managed.

    So, it isn't unbelievable to me that if, at a time and in a place where he wasn't expecting to be confronted by his extreme fears, he was, that what he says he experienced and felt, and how he reacted aren't out of the realm of possibilities.

    I think most people think of anxiety as being "nervous," but the kind of anxiety we're talking about here isn't that benign or that simple, and it shows me how still relatively uneducated and unaware we are about the mind and human behavior.


    True, but (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Mon May 12, 2014 at 03:28:17 PM EST
    If he was that anxious in his own home, he would have done things like, put bars on the bathroom windows. He would have taken precautions other than just having weapons.

    And it doesn't erase the fact that his story still doesn't add up.

    I'm not seeing why Jeralyn thinks the prosecution has a weak case and this is proof - seems to me (and I don't know S.A. rules of evidence) that if the defense puts their client's mental state on record, then the prosecution is well within their rights to challenge that and demand an evaluation.


    anxiety disorder = mental illness (none / 0) (#2)
    by Alexei Schacht on Mon May 12, 2014 at 01:42:01 PM EST
    The National Institute of Health calls anxiety disorders a form of mental illness. See http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml.

    In everyday language people like you and me think of anxiety disorders as not being mental illnesses but in the mental health professions they are considered types of mental illnesses.

    According to the National Alliance (none / 0) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:54:36 PM EST
    on Mental Illness:

    Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America: they affect around 20 percent of the population at any given time.

    Does South Africa use the (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:13:41 PM EST
    U.S. National Institute of Mental Health's definitions?

    Whether anxiety disorder is a mental illness only half the test. The other half is whether the disorder prevented him from knowing right from wrong at the time of the shooting.

    Where is the evidence that a person with an anxiety order can't tell right from wrong?


    Isn't that the defense's responsibility ... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:25:49 PM EST
    ... to provide evidence that Oscar Pistorious was incapable of discerning right from wrong at the moment he shot Reeva Steenkamp, since they're the ones who are raising this particular argument?

    The prosecution is otherwise contending that Pistorious was fully cognizant of right and wrong at the time of the shooting. If the defense is raising the specter of momentary mental incapacity on the defendant's part, I would think that the prosecution should have every right to seek a third-party psychological evaluation of the defendant to that effect.

    I don't think anyone with an ounce of decency in them wants to see someone simply thrown into prison, if in fact he or she was suffering from a mental incapacity at the time of the alleged offense which rendered them incapable of knowing that what he or she did was wrong.

    But conversely, I don't think that you as defense counsel can simply stake that particular claim as the primary anchor of your case, and then subsequently do everything in your power to prevent the court from taking whatever legitimate steps are necessary in order to try to ascertain the defendant's true state of mind at the time of the alleged crime.

    There is a good reason why entering a claim of insanity, even one that alludes to its fleeting and temporary nature in the defendant, should require the defense counsel to mount an assertive defense. Otherwise, you would effectively require prosecutors to prove the equivalent of a negative, that a defendant who's perfectly same and rational right now during trial was also not mentally incapacitated at the time of the alleged crime. Conversely, there would be no corresponding obligation on your part to prove that your client was incapable of discerning right from wrong at the time.

    It reminds me of a long-ago Cheech & Chong skit, in which the defendant pleads insanity to a charge of sexual assault because "every time I looked at that b**, she drove me absolutely crazy with desire." Are we as a society supposed to just accept that as the final word on the matter, and let the guy go? While such a notion is at present probably a real stretch, that's where I see such rabbit-hole logic potentially taking us.

    There has to be an acceptable balance somewhere. I certainly don't want to see things ever reach a point that circumstances and / or ginned-up public outrage provokes your state legislature into rewriting your state's criminal statutes in such a way that cripples your ability as counsel to enter a legitimate plea of diminished mental capacity on behalf of your client, particularly when such a plea is otherwise obviously warranted.

    I was serving as chief clerk to the State House Judiciary Committee out here during one such time, and I can assure you that sort of public backlash against the rights of defendants is not a pretty sight. It's the kind of pressure where emotion trumps reason.

    And that's awfully hard for most elected officials to actively resist, especially when it comes down to a choice between a defendant's rights and their own personal self-preservation as a political commodity. Very few of them are capable of being Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and facing down the angry mob. And ever fewer are willing to fall on their sword for a lost cause, preferring instead to live and fight another day.

    But by the same token, neither can we allow the State's ability to protect its own citizens from the malcontents amongst us to be summarily kneecapped. If we set the burden of proof for the State so impossibly high, by demanding that prosecutors now prove a defendant's sanity at the time of the offense, such a demand could quickly render most prosecutions problematic, should defendants start claiming that they didn't know what they were doing.

    Further, as a more practical matter, what good does it really do your client should he or she be exonerated on all charges, yet still in obvious and dire need of psychiatric evaluation and care? Such people generally don't seek that kind of help on their own. Oftentimes, it is an event directly attributable to their own out-of-control behavior that leads family members, friends and even the courts to compel them to finally walk down that path to mental wellness.

    Are there any pro-active steps that you as defense counsel can take to see that your client then receives the sort of psychological / psychiatric help he or she really needs, once the court or prosecutor no longer has any legal leverage?

    Thank you for providing a forum where we can freely discuss such issues in a rational manner.



    It seems to me (none / 0) (#3)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:46:11 PM EST
    that the psychiatrist has given OP a  virtual license to kill. Isn't she saying, in layman's terms, that we should excuse Oscar's (irrational) behavior because his anxiety disorder permits him to shoot at threats that "normal" (people without that disorder) would not?

    Double edge sword? (none / 0) (#4)
    by MO Blue on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:51:08 PM EST
    Psychiatrist's opinion on danger to society:

    Nel asked Vorster whether someone with anxiety disorder plus guns would be "a danger to society". "Yes," she replied.

    I wonder if (none / 0) (#6)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:59:11 PM EST
    someone with "anxiety disorder" is eligible to possess a handgun in S.A?

    I know the requirements for gun permits are much stricter in S.A. than in the U.S. It used to take several years to do their background checks; however, that has been reduced to 90 days.

    Still, quite a long time.


    Thanks Jeralyn (none / 0) (#10)
    by Rumpole on Mon May 12, 2014 at 03:52:43 PM EST
    A very good take on things from the trial last night.

    In my view, the prosecutor is trying to buy time to save his losing case.

    If Nel had faith in his own "State Version" of events then Vorster's evidence would be irrelevant. It speaks to and explanation (justification) of OP's actions AS HE CLAIMS THEM TO BE. It is Nel's contention that that is all a fabrication and that the State version of events will prevail. In which case why is Nel so concerned?
    Furthermore why is Nel pushing for an "insanity" defence move? The Defence might well do that but not the State? I assume Nel thinks the evaluation will refute such a claim? It is some sort of pre-emptive move. In which case we are back to the point where we are today. OP not insane, but suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder. The best outcome Nel can hope for is no change in the status of the case, but a LOT of time wasted?

    There is no testimony to support (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:42:19 PM EST
    Nel's request that Oscar was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing that prevented him from knowing right from wrong. Both are required under the statute. Oscar has not pleaded insanity or diminished capacity. Evaluations take 30 days and are done at an inpatient hospital. He's trying to imprison Oscar in a hospital before conviction.

    From the Associated Press, (none / 0) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:27:07 PM EST
    Monday, May 12, 2014

    "Vorster's testimony raised the question of whether Pistorius was now claiming "diminished responsibility" for the shooting, Nel said, because of a possible mental illness. Nel also asked the psychiatrist if someone who was suffering from such an anxiety disorder, and had access to guns, would be a danger to society. Vorster said the person would, indeed, be a danger."

    LINK To Article

    I'm just trying to get a clarification regarding the defense's own expert witness, and, her testimony that his condition, "would, indeed, [make him] be a danger [to society]."

    It really is confusing. It sounds like the defense is trying to thread a very fine needle.

    O.P. is diagnosed as suffering from "anxiety disorder," but, is not mentally ill. A person suffering from this disorder "would, indeed be a danger to society," and, Oscar knew right from wrong.

    So, the defense is saying that Oscar is not sick, but, is suffering from a condition that makes him a danger to society, so, that when he kills his girlfriend, even though he knows right from wrong, he should be found not guilty of all charges.

    Someone, please explain. What did I get wrong?

    The defense is doing what they feel ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:52:50 PM EST
    ... they need to do. I certainly don't fault them for trying to do everything they can to defend their client, and frankly, I would expect nothing less from them.

    But yeah, I agree that this has turned into a terribly convoluted argument. Re-reading my own posts, I'm not even sure that I fully appreciate exactly what each side is contending regarding the defendant's mental capacity, which is embarrassing to admit because I have to read and analyze these sorts of legal arguments for a living, albeit on the civil side of the law.



    It seems to me if the (none / 0) (#21)
    by Natal on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:59:33 PM EST
    30 day observation period finds him without a disorder it will shoot down two of the defenses e.g he suffered from disabling anxiety and secondly the automation defense.  

    South Africa's Criminal Procedure Act (none / 0) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:12:28 PM EST
    Dr. Merryll Vorster said that the court may find that Pistorius had diminished responsibility for killing Steenkamp.

    Nel said under South Africa's Criminal Procedure Act, if there was an allegation an accused might suffer from mental disorder that diminished his responsibility, the court must send him for psychiatric evaluation.

    "If the diagnosis has been made, the court doesn't have an option. The accused shall be referred" for psychiatric assessment, Nel said.

    One legal expert, law professor James Grant, agreed, saying on Twitter that under South African law, the court must refer a person for psychiatric assessment if an allegation is made to the court that a person suffered a psychiatric disorder that led to diminished responsibility - or if it just appeared to the court that an accused may have diminished responsibility because of a mental disorder. link

    Unless I understand you incorrectly... (none / 0) (#28)
    by gbrbsb on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:54:38 PM EST
    ... I must respectfully disagree asVorster specifically stated that her opinion presented would only be relevant once the Judge in her deliberations had fully discarded the State's pre-meditated murder of Reeva version, and was going on OP's putative self defence from a perceived burglar/intruder version.

    Quotes were not mine (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by MO Blue on Wed May 14, 2014 at 05:20:20 PM EST
    Seems the judge agreed with the quoted position even if you did not.


    But Masipa said the defense's opposition was "strange" and that the trigger for the evaluation order was the testimony from Vorster, a defense witness.

    "The effect of the evidence is that a doubt has been created that the accused may have another defense, relating to his criminal responsibility," Masipa said. Vorster's testimony raised the possibility that Pistorius' criminal responsibility might be lessened by his anxiety disorder, she added.

    This court, as a lay court, is ill-equipped to deal with the allegations [of generalized anxiety disorder] at this stage.
    - Thokozile Masipa, judge in Oscar Pistorius murder trial
    Under South Africa's Criminal Procedures Act, a court must refer an accused person for psychiatric evaluation if there is an allegation or reasonable possibility that a person did not know right from wrong because of a mental defect, or if a defect meant he or she couldn't act in accordance with right or wrong.

    Judge definitely disagrees with you and believes the testimony was relevant enough NOW to order a 30 day evaluation.