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Tuesday
May132014

Oscar Pistorius Defense Is Moving Target, Prosecutor Complains

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius trial Tuesday asked that the Blade Runner be hospitalized for a 30-day psychiatric evaluation and complained to the judge that Pistorius' lawyers keep changing his defense.

The request came a day after a psychiatrist testifying for the defense told the court that Pistorius suffered from generalized anxiety disorder, a condition that would make him more willing to fight than to flee when faced with what he considered a threat.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel noted that the psychiatrist, Dr. Merryll Vorster, interviewed Pistorius, his family, friends and other associates in recent weeks, after the trial began and after Pistorius testified in his own defense.

"The timing [of the evidence] is significant," Nel told Judge Thokozile Masipa. "My Lady, the consultation happened after the evidence of the accused. There must be a reason why that consultation would take place at that time."

"Can it not be seen, my lady, as a fall-back?" Nel asked.

Nel suggested that perhaps it was because "the accused was not the most impressive witness."

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp before dawn on Valentine's Day 2013, shooting through a locked bathroom door. Pistorius testified that he believed burglars were in his home and that he didn't mean to fire, but fired the volley of shots while in a state of terror.

Nel said Pistorius has changed his defense for a third time.

"His initial defense was putative self-defense. Then I thought his defense was adapted to automatic firing. Now psychiatrist says he suffers from a mental disorder," Nel said. "We don't know which of the three versions" is Pistorius' defense, he said.

The prosecutor asked that Pistorius undergo the month-long evaluation to determine if he does suffer from a mental disorder, which could seriously delay the already lengthy trial. The judge said she would rule on the request when court resumes Wednesday.

Vorster, a forensic psychiatrist, told the court she diagnosed Pistorius with GAD, and said he has been suffering from the condition since childhood and that it has been escalating over time. She said he also suffers from depression, but that this was brought on by the shooting incident.

During her evidence, which concluded Tuesday, she explained to the court how Pistorius' physical vulnerability, combined with his mental disorder, could have influenced his reactions when he thought he heard intruders in his bathroom. She was, however, insistent that his condition did not impact on his ability to distinguish between right and wrong and to act accordingly.


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