Oscar Pistorius Pistorius could escape murder charge

Oscar Pistorius Pistorius could escape murder charge
Published: 2014 May 14 11:26:47 (8318 Views)
The judge at the Oscar Pistorius trial has ruled that the double-amputee will be sent for psychiatric evaluation after an expert said that he suffered from an anxiety disorder that gave him 'hyper-vigilance'.

Psychiatrist Dr Merryll Vorster, for the defence, said that Pistorius' condition is linked to his disability and meant that he was prone to fight, rather than take flight, in the presence of perceived danger.

If Pistorius' condition is found to have played a role in the fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home on February 14, 2013, then he may escape a murder charge.

It means that the trial - already on its 32nd day - will be delayed.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said the court would hand down the details of the assessment on Tuesday, adding it would be preferable for him to undergo the evaluation as an outpatient.

The decision on Wednesday by Masipa followed a request for a psychiatric evaluation by the chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel.

Nel questioned why the defense decided to ask Dr Vorster to testify on behalf of the Olympic runner.

He has suggested that the trial is not going well for Pistorius and that his lawyers are floating the idea that a disorder contributed to Steenkamp's shooting and that therefore Pistorius bears less responsibility for her death.

Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her through the closed door of a toilet cubicle. Prosecutors say he killed her in anger after an argument.

Professor Craig Jackson, Head of Psychology at Birmingham City University, explained about the condition that it's claimed Oscar Pistorius has.



'Hyper-vigilance is more of a behavioural symptom of wider psychological problems than an actual psychiatric condition in itself,' he said.

'Hyper-vigilance is when an individual is in a chronic state of high anxiety and arousal and is constantly scanning their surroundings - the environment they are in, as well as friends and the people they encounter - for threats.

'This is often as the result of suffering a traumatic or frightening experience. After a while this state becomes second nature to the fearful individual and begins to shape their routine behaviours - for example always checking behind closed doors when entering a room, or assessing new places for the nearest emergency exit.

'Those who are hyper-vigilant are often easily startled, suffer from poor sleeping patterns, may have difficulty concentrating, and can be quite quarrelsome, spontaneous and irritable.

'Hyper-vigilance is one of the symptoms required in order for psychiatrists to make a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) alongside other symptoms of intense fear such as avoidance, re-experience, flashbacks and intense arousal.

'Not everyone who suffers traumatic events will go on to develop PTSD or hyper-vigilance, and there may be other underlying personality factors or past experiences that make it more likely to manifest in some rather than others, such as narcissism or high intelligence.'

In asking for another professional evaluation of Pistorius' mental state, Nel appeared to be trying to ward off any attempt by the defence to say Pistorius should be treated favourably by the court because of a mental condition linked to his disability.

Pistorius' chief lawyer, Barry Roux, said at the start of defence-led testimony that the double amputee's vulnerability and disability was at the centre of his case of a mistaken killing.

He said Pistorius should not be sent for 30 days of psychiatric evaluation and that he wanted to call another witness to continue testimony.

The psychiatrist, Vorster, met Pistorius this month, prompting the prosecutor to question whether the timing of her late entry to the stable of defence witnesses signified a change in tactics by the defence, which has said Pistorius fired out of fear that he was about to be attacked.




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Really is walking away free'money buys Law!

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