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Mental disorder not factor in Pistorius shooting

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 30, 2014 at 12:58 pm •  Published: June 30, 2014
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PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius was not suffering from a mental illness when he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and was able to understand the wrongfulness of what he had done, according to psychiatric reports submitted Monday at the Olympic athlete's murder trial.

The conclusions by a panel of experts, read aloud by chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel, appeared to remove the possibility that the double-amputee runner could be declared not guilty because of a mental disorder, which would result in his being committed to a mental institution.

The court-ordered evaluation was conducted during a one-month break in the trial, after a psychiatrist testifying for the defense, Dr. Merryll Vorster, said that Pistorius had an anxiety disorder that may have contributed to the shooting in his home in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013. Pistorius said he feels vulnerable because of his disability and long-held worry about crime, Vorster noted.

Nel had requested an independent inquiry into Pistorius' state of mind, suggesting that the defense might argue that the athlete was not guilty because of mental illness. The examination was conducted at a state psychiatric hospital by a psychologist and three psychiatrists.

On Monday, Nel announced the findings when the trial resumed. However, he quoted only briefly from the conclusions, and the entire reports were not publicly released, raising questions about what else they contained.

Pistorius has testified that he fired through a closed bathroom door, killing Steenkamp, in the mistaken belief there was a dangerous intruder in his home. The prosecution has alleged that Pistorius, 27, killed 29-year-old Steenkamp after a Valentine's Day argument.

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if found guilty of premeditated murder, and could also face years in prison if convicted of murder without premeditation or negligent killing. He is free on bail.

Later Monday, defense lawyer Barry Roux called surgeon Gerald Versfeld, who amputated Pistorius' lower legs when he was 11 months old, to testify about the runner's disability and the difficulty and pain he endured while walking or standing on his stumps. Pistorius was born without fibulas, the slender bones that run from below the knee to the ankle.

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