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Pistorius to start mental evaluation next week

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- Oscar Pistorius will start a period of psychiatric evaluation at a government institution next week, a judge ruled on Tuesday as she postponed the star athlete's murder trial until June 30.

A panel of mental health experts is now to decide if the double-amputee runner can be held criminally responsible for killing his girlfriend.

Judge Thokozile Masipa took just a few minutes to read out her ruling that the Olympian must present himself at 9 a.m. on Monday and every weekday after that at the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria.

Pistorius will be treated as an outpatient, Masipa ruled, and will be allowed to leave the facility in the South African capital each day at 4 p.m. or when "formally excused" by hospital authorities. The period of evaluation will be for no more than 30 days, the judge said, and will depend on how long the panel of four experts needs to observe Pistorius and compile a report for the court. The panel will consist of three psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist, Masipa said.

Pistorius, 27, claims he shot Reeva Steenkamp, 29, by mistake through a toilet stall door in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14, 2013, thinking she was an intruder. The prosecution says he murdered her during an argument. A psychiatrist called by Pistorius' defense lawyers recently testified she believes the runner had an anxiety disorder from childhood which may have contributed to him killing Steenkamp. That prompted the chief prosecutor to ask the court that he be sent for independent psychiatric tests.

Kelly Phelps, a senior lecturer in the public law department at the University of Cape Town and a legal expert observing the trial, said the psychiatric evaluation could affect both the verdict and, if Pistorius is convicted, the sentencing. She saw three possible outcomes:

- An "extreme" conclusion in which the panel decides Pistorius was unable to distinguish between right and wrong, or act in accordance with that understanding, because of an anxiety disorder when he killed Steenkamp. Such an outcome, according to Phelps, would result in a verdict of "not guilty by reason of mental illness."

- The panel basically agrees with the defense witness, Dr. Merryll Vorster, who said Pistorius was able to distinguish between right and wrong but had the anxiety disorder, possibly bolstering Pistorius' argument that he was acting in "putative self-defense" because he feared his life was in danger from a perceived intruder.

- The panel contradicts Vorster and says Pistorius does not have an anxiety disorder, possibly casting doubt on the defense's argument that Pistorius had a long-held fear of crime and felt anxious and vulnerable when he shot Steenkamp.

Judge Masipa said Tuesday that the panel should determine whether any mental illness may have affected Pistorius' capacity to be "criminally responsible" for killing Steenkamp. She said the panel would evaluate "whether he was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act or of acting in accordance with an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his act."

The world-famous disabled athlete faces 25 years to life in prison if found guilty on the premeditated murder charge. He is free on bail.

Masipa's ruling came on day 33 of proceedings in the trial, which started March 3 and was initially predicted to last three weeks.

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R May 20 2014 at 1:20 PM

Funny, he was functioning perfectly fine .... until it's trial time. Typical excuse - we hear it all the time. He took acting lessons for a reason - so he could act his way out of an unhappy ending for "him." His girlfriend has no chance of a happy ending.

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1 reply
angelo R May 20 2014 at 5:31 PM

I agree completely. Just another defense tactic for a bully and abuser who got caught. The man is guilty as sin and will probably get away with a slap while his girlfriend rots in a grave.

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2 replies
Sonja angelo May 20 2014 at 6:57 PM

she was cremated, since this Pig, blow her Brain Off?
Hang this Crippel.
sincerly Sonja Wolff

Flag +3 rate up
gmgpjandon angelo May 21 2014 at 12:18 AM

Gosh! There must some way to keep her from rotting. Any ideas

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wittlief May 20 2014 at 2:28 PM

the neighbors heard them fighting
the neighbors heard Reeva screaming for her life
before and WHILE he was shooting her through the locked door.
He murdered her in a steroid induced fit of rage.

The validity of his made up excuse about being afraid of intruders is irrelevant
because his excuse has already been PROVEN to be a lie
by what the neighbors saw and heard.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
Jack and Georgia May 20 2014 at 1:12 PM

What a joke this is what is called slowing the case down. The next thing he will be sent to a institution for a short time and than be cured and sent home to continue a life with out going to jail.

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3 replies
Max May 20 2014 at 2:11 PM

He suffers from two things: arrogance and a feeling of entitlement. .

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1 reply
Joy Max May 20 2014 at 4:02 PM

you nailed it!!!!!\

Flag Reply +3 rate up
jose May 20 2014 at 1:47 PM

If he had been a poor guy from the projects he would be doing 25 to life right now.
If you have money you can get away with murder....Blame the legal system that allows rich people to manipulate the system.

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1 reply
vietnamvet1967 jose May 21 2014 at 6:56 AM

Would that be a poor guy from the progect's who has a RAP SHEET , 20 pages Long

Flag Reply +1 rate up
philips0811 May 20 2014 at 1:58 PM

He suffers from the all-too-common "A**hole disease. Remember his reaction to losing in the Olympics. "A**hole disease is related to "Affluenza". Both manifest them in sociopathic actions that the diseased blames on someone else.

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1 reply
Madeye philips0811 May 20 2014 at 3:40 PM

That's a common disease among people who were spoiled completely rotten as children. If a child has a disability, treating them like they can do no wrong is the worst thing you can do for them and the people who have to live with them. His fits on the stand are nothing but tantrums.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Vicki Marquardt May 20 2014 at 1:53 PM

Even if he suffers with an anxiety disorder, that does not give reason for his blatant actions to shoot through the bathroom door. If he's that unstable, how'd he get the permission to own guns? Please, give me a break!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
tfarris2 May 20 2014 at 2:19 PM

I guess he is realizing that no one is falling for his lies!! Time to try another way to get away with murder.....

Flag Reply +7 rate up
BoneZ May 20 2014 at 2:48 PM

Didn't he say he went to School for Acting Lessons, Mayby this is Part of why it is going slow to mess with the Courts, I Hope he isn't a Free man while waiting for this to end, He's Playing the Court Please END This, He knew what he was doing.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
Joebudgie BoneZ May 20 2014 at 6:58 PM

Unfortunately he is a free man during the trial and during this sham psychiatric exam. The court order stipulates that he is to go to the clinic daily for 30 days but is free to leave the clinic each day at 4 PM. The court doesn't want to tire the poor baby with more than he can handle all at once, I guess.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
bniel77644 May 20 2014 at 3:36 PM

Isn't that usually done pre-trial?????

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
Joy bniel77644 May 20 2014 at 3:54 PM

YES! I AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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