Oscar Pistorius Trial Resumes: Mental Condition Fine

The prosecutor's ploy to have Oscar declared mentally ill didn't work. Doctors at the state hospital found he does not suffer from a mental disease or defect that prevents him from being able to tell right from wrong.

According to the Twitter feeds of reporters covering the trial, today's witnesses included a sound expert and the physician who amputated Oscar's legs. [More...]

Sound expert Ivan Lin. Lin brought a sound meter to court. He testified if listeners were 177m away in their bedroom and heard a sound coming from the bathroom, the sound would not have been audible or intelligible. (Witness Michelle Burger, who said she heard a woman's "terrified, blood-curdling" screams" and shots, lived 177m away.) Linn also said he doubts whether emotion or gender of the screamer could be differentiated from 170 meters away.

Before Linn, the defense called the doctor who amputated Oscar's legs. He testified Oscar is severely vulnerable on his stumps in a dangerous situation. He has impaired walking and turning, and is in danger of falling. It is unlikely he could have wielded the cricket bat while on his stumps. Oscar did a demonstration for the court with his prostheses off. The media was not allowed to film it. Oscar has claimed that he had his legs on when he bashed down the door and couldn't have done so while on his stumps.

The state took some heat from the judge today over a missing electrical cord in Oscar's bedroom. The state had used the length of the cord to refute Oscar's version and the defense asked for the cord. It's missing. Oscar's lawyer asked for an investigation.

Court resumes tomorrow.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I didn't understand the report to say (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Peter G on Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 12:11:53 AM EST
    that his mental condition was "fine," but only that his psychological condition did not qualify under South African criminal law as a defense to the charges, nor did it make him unfit to stand trial.

    Well (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 09:29:58 AM EST
    Again - I don't see how this is a "ploy" by the prosecution, since it was the defense's expert who testified that OP feels vulnerable because of his disability and long-held worry about crime, had an anxiety disorder that could have contributed to the killing.  

    This seems to be good news for the prosecution as the defense was completely undercut.

    Maybe that's why, accoding to The Telegraph, the prosecutor looked relaxed this morning and the defense team looked pretty grim.

    Agreed. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 11:40:04 AM EST
    And further, what could possibly be learned that's relevant to the present homicide case by putting on the witness stand the orthopedic surgeon who amputated the defendant's legs -- an operation that happened at least 27 years ago, when the defendant was a toddler?

    Does the defense next call Mr. Pistorious' former pediatrician? While they're at it, how about some of his former elementary school teachers, or any other former authority figure or childhood acquaintance who hasn't had direct contact with the defendant for the better part of two decades?

    "Fear of crime" -- which, given, is quite prevalent amongst South Africa's Afrikaaner (Dutch) community -- is also a euphemism for paranoia, particularly so in this case, if it is to be considered a mitigating factor in the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp.

    The defense counsel himself has raised his client's mental state as an issue, and not the prosecution, which has long argued -- albeit not very coherently sometimes -- that the defendant knew what he was doing at the time of the shooting. Ergo, I'd offer that it's the defense that seems to be blowing most of the smoke here.



    Me, three (none / 0) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 12:21:49 PM EST
    Personally, I don't care which way the verdict goes as long as, in the end, I feel that the trial was fairly litigated, and, the judge showed no bias.

    But, I, also, would like to know how the mental evaluation, and, determination favors the defense?

    Could someone please explain?


    More comments (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 12:31:52 PM EST
    that this won't really help the defense.

    Kelly Phelps, a senior lecturer in the public law department at the University of Cape Town, told the Associated Press that if the panel backed Vorster's diagnosis it could add weight to Pistorius's account and compel the judge to consider the question: "Is it more likely that he is telling the truth about what occurred on that night?"

    Even if the judge rules that Pistorius is guilty despite any disorder that he is suffering, Phelps added, the diagnosis could be a mitigating factor when he is sentenced.

    "That is the area of law that is often referred to as diminished responsibility," she added.

    Another opinion:

    "The finding is not good for the defense," criminal defense attorney Anton Smith who has monitored the trial told ABC News.

    Smith said the conclusion was not good for Pistorius "neither in terms of their strategy, as they tried to illustrate a possible diminished culpability, nor in terms of a possible factor once they start arguing in mitigation of sentence."

    And let's face it - Nels is one of the top prosecutors in SA.  Asking for the mental evaluation wasn't a "mistake" - there was a calculation made, and now this finding only seems to strengthen his case. I think this "ploy" will work and will get us closer to the truth of what happened that night.


    Could Witness Burger Have Heard.. (none / 0) (#2)
    by RickyJim on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 10:00:27 AM EST
    Riva screaming in the bedroom, with its open patio door, before she took refuge in the bathroom?

    Makes sense to me (none / 0) (#6)
    by ruffian on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 02:47:28 PM EST
    If the screams were before the shots fired. Did they hear the shots as well?