By LIEZL THOM
PRETORIA, South Africa – Oscar Pistorius has completed his court ordered psychiatric evaluation, allowing the murder trial for the paralympic sprinter who gained fame as the Blade Runner to resume.
Pistorius will be back in court on Monday, but it’s not clear whether the psychiatric report will be ready to be submitted to the court at that time.
The legless sprinter is on trial for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. The trial, which has been marked by Pistorius’ crying jags, was halted last month when defense witness Dr. Merryll Vorster, a forensic psychiatrist, testified that Pistorius suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and depression, which may have had an impact on his actions when he shot Steenkamp.
Vorster told the court that the disorder could have heightened his perception of danger which may have had an influence on his reaction the night he shot Steenkamp. The psychiatrist testified that Pistorius’ physical disability, as well as the fact that his mother slept with a gun under her pillow, contributed to his sense of fear and vulnerability.
The surprise testimony prompted prosecutor Gerrie Nel to request that Pistorius be sent for mental observation to determine if Pistorius does suffer from the disorder and whether it could affect the trial.
Judge Thokozile Masipa ordered Pistorius to go through a month long evaluation as an out-patient at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria. He was evaluated by three psychiatrists and a psychologist. He concluded those sessions this week.
The defense has indicated that if the psychiatric report is not ready when court resumes Monday, they will call their next witness. It is unclear exactly who this witness will be, but it is expected that a psychologist might be called to give further evidence about Pistorius’ emotional state at the time of the shooting.
Pistorius, 27, admits that he shot Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door during the night, but said he mistook her for a burglar.
If convicted of murder, Pistorius could face up to 25 years in prison.