World

Pistorius Trial Set To Resume Following Mental Evaluation

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial is set to resume after the paralympian underwent a psychiatric evaluation over the last month.

Pistorius Trial Set To Resume Following Mental Evaluation
Flickr / Elvar Pálsson
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After being abruptly halted for more than a month, the Oscar Pistorius murder trial is scheduled to resume Monday. 

"Court proceedings were adjourned last month to allow the paralympian to undergo a psychiatric evaluation." (Via CNN)

"Tomorrow, the court could hear whether Pistorius had a mental health issue when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He claims he mistook her for an intruder." (Via HLN)

"The evaluation is critical to the outcome of this case. It could determine if the trial continues at all." (Via ABC)

The ordered evaluation comes after a psychiatrist testifying on the behalf of the Pistorius defense said the Blade Runner suffers from an anxiety disorder that affected his decision-making the night of Steenkamp's death. (Via The New York Times)

DR. MERRYLL VORSTER: "It is my opinion, my lady, that Mr. Pistorius has an anxiety disorder. He was aware that he was a public figure and believed that this made him at an increased risk of being attacked or burgled." (Via NBC)

Following that testimony, Judge Thokozile Masipa assigned a panel of three psychiatrists and one psychologist to assess Pistorius to determine whether he was capable of understanding his actions when he shot through his bathroom door. (Via The Telegraph)

That assessment is now completed, and the final report handed over to the prosecution and defense Friday. According to legal and medical experts, there are three likely determinations and scenarios that could come from the panel's findings. 

The first could be that Pistorius does suffer from an anxiety disorder so severe, it rendered him "mentally incapacitated" at the time he shot Steenkamp. (Via CBS)

ABC spoke to a South African psychiatrist who says: “If this is found to be the case, Pistorius would be committed to a psychiatric hospital. He would basically become a patient of the State until it is found that he no longer poses a danger to society.”

The second possibility, and best case scenario for the defense, is if Pistorius is determined to have an anxiety disorder and that somehow diminishes his criminal responsibility. (Via BBC)

This would have no effect on determining guilt or innocence, but might help Pistorius avoid the mandatory life sentence if he is found guilty. 

The third scenario is doctors determine Pistorius' mental health was not an issue. This means the trial would proceed and Pistorius could not use mental health as a defense or mitigating factor. (Via Fox News)

If the trial continues after Monday, the defense will still have a few witnesses to call before Judge Masipa hears closing arguments and renders her verdict. If convicted without mitigating factors such as mental health, Pistorius faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.