Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 13th 2014 Contents PRETORIA---Oscar Pistorius has an anxiety dis-
order that may have contributed to the fatal shooting
of his girlfriend, an expert testified at his murder
trial yesterday, prompting the chief prosecutor to
say the double-amputee Olympian should be placed
under psychiatric observation.
The judge has not yet ruled on prosecutor Gerrie
Nel s application that the court considers a period
of mental evaluation for the world-famous runner.
Dr Merryll Vorster, a psychiatrist called by the
defence, testified that a series of events in Pistorius
turbulent life, including the amputation of his lower
legs as a baby, his parents divorce, his late mother s
habit of sleeping with a gun under her pillow and
his own fear of violent crime contributed to his
"Overall, Mr Pistorius appears to be a mistrustful
and guarded person," Vorster testified. She said he
has "many features of anxiety."
Vorster said Pistorius anxiety combined with his
physical disability may have caused him to act dif-
ferently from other people when he shot four times
through a toilet stall door in the early hours of February
14, 2013, killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius, 27, claims he mistook Steenkamp for a
dangerous intruder when he shot her with his licensed
9 mm pistol in the pre-dawn hours.
Prosecutors say he killed the 29-year-old model
after an argument and shot in anger and not fear
last Valentine s Day.
Pistorius chief lawyer Barry Roux said at the start
of defence-led testimony that the double amputee s
vulnerability and disability was at the center of his
case of a mistaken killing. But prosecutor Nel ques-
tioned Monday if Pistorius was merely trying one of
a number of defenses for shooting his girlfriend.
"There must be some reason why Mr. Roux decided
to call this witness. It might be the third defense
that we have," Nel said.
Pistorius, the first amputee to run at the Olympics,
testified at his trial that he fired his gun accidentally
at the toilet door.
That appeared to contradict his initial statement
in court documents last year that he shot in self-
defence because he believed his life was in danger.
Nel said if Pistorius had genuine anxiety issues,
Judge Thokozile Masipa should order him to be eval-
uated. Responding to a question from a reporter after
the trial was adjourned, Pistorius said "Go read the
As the athlete sat in the Pretoria courtroom earlier
Monday making notes and occasionally looking up
at the witness stand, Vorster outlined his apparently
unhappy childhood and a life story in contrast to the
smiling, triumphant disabled runner who made history
at the London Olympics in 2012.
Vorster s testimony raised the question of whether
Pistorius was now claiming "diminished responsi-
bility" for the shooting, Nel said, because of a possible
Nel also asked the psychiatrist if someone who
was suffering from such an anxiety disorder, and had
access to guns, would be a danger to society. Vorster
said the person would, indeed, be a danger.
Vorster s testimony came at the start of the eighth
week of the globally televised trial, and a day before
Pistorius defense had predicted it might wrap up its
case. It now appears unlikely that the defense will
rest Tuesday. The prosecution s cross-examination
of the psychiatrist could continue on day 31 of pro-
ceedings after Nel asked for more time to look at her
report on Pistorius.
Vorster reached her opinion after meeting with
Pistorius on two occasions this month, and also from
interviews with his family, friends and agent, she
Pistorius and his brother and sister "were reared
to see their external environment as threatening,"
Vorster said, and this played a part in his actions on
the night of the shooting.
Vorster said Pistorius was more likely to try and
"fight" what he thought was an intruder than run
away, because his disability meant it was harder for
him to flee.
Pistorius was on his stumps when he shot
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian Psychiatrist: Pistorius
has 'anxiety disorder'
Oscar Pistorius yawns in
a courtroom during his
ongoing murder trial at
the high court in
Pretoria, South Africa,
yesterday. Pistorius is
charged with the
shooting death of his
Valentine's Day in 2013.
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