PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius said Monday that the double-amputee athlete should be placed under psychiatric observation after an expert called by the defense said Pistorius has an anxiety disorder.
Judge Thokozile Masipa has not yet ruled on the request. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he had no other option but to ask for a study of Pistorius' mental health following testimony by a psychiatrist, who said the Olympic runner's anxiety could have shaped the way he responded to perceived threats.
Pistorius has said he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by mistake last year, fearing that there was an intruder in his home when he fired through a closed toilet door in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013. The prosecution says he killed her intentionally after an argument.
Psychiatrist Dr. Merryll Vorster said events during Pistorius' life, including the amputation of his lower legs as a baby and his late mother's habit of sleeping with a gun under her pillow, contributed to his "increasing stress."
"Overall, Mr. Pistorius appears to be a mistrustful and guarded person," Vorster testified.
She said the Olympic athlete displayed "escalating levels of anxiety" through his life when she interviewed him this month. Vorster said she also spoke to members of Pistorius' family, some of his friends and his agent.
Pistorius' defense said at the outset of its case that it would show his feelings of "vulnerability" and his disability contributed to him shooting Steenkamp. Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.