Pistorius ‘not mentally ill’ during killing

(CNN)Oscar Pistorius was not mentally incapacitated when he shot his girlfriend to death, a psychiatric assessment of the athlete has found.

The results of the assessment were revealed in court Monday when the Olympic sprinter’s trial resumed after a monthlong break for the evaluation.

According to the findings by an independent panel of doctors, Pistorius did not suffer from a mental defect or mental illness at the “time of the commission of the offense that would have rendered him criminally not responsible of the offenses charged.”

The report added that “Mr. Pistorius was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act.”


Pistorius begins mental evaluation

Oscar Pistorius listens to evidence being presented in court in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday, June 30. Pistorius, the first double amputee runner to compete in the Olympics, is accused of intentionally killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in February 2013. Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murder and three weapons charges.Oscar Pistorius listens to evidence being presented in court in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday, June 30. Pistorius, the first double amputee runner to compete in the Olympics, is accused of intentionally killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in February 2013. Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murder and three weapons charges.

Pistorius leaves the court in Pretoria on Tuesday, May 20.Pistorius leaves the court in Pretoria on Tuesday, May 20.

Oscar Pistorius reads notes during his trial on Monday, May 12. Oscar Pistorius reads notes during his trial on Monday, May 12.

Ballistics expert Tom Wollie Wolmarans testifies for the defense on May 12.Ballistics expert Tom “Wollie” Wolmarans testifies for the defense on May 12.

A red laser dot points at bullet holes in the bathroom door for a forensic demonstration during the trial on May 12. Pistorius admits firing four bullets through the closed door, killing Steenkamp, but says he thought he was protecting himself from a burglar.A red laser dot points at bullet holes in the bathroom door for a forensic demonstration during the trial on May 12. Pistorius admits firing four bullets through the closed door, killing Steenkamp, but says he thought he was protecting himself from a burglar.

Pistorius returns to court as his murder trial resumes Monday, May 5, after a break of more than two weeks.Pistorius returns to court as his murder trial resumes Monday, May 5, after a break of more than two weeks.

Pistorius gets a hug from a woman as he leaves court in Pretoria on Wednesday, April 16.Pistorius gets a hug from a woman as he leaves court in Pretoria on Wednesday, April 16.

Pistorius rubs his eye Tuesday, April 15, after testifying during his murder trial.Pistorius rubs his eye Tuesday, April 15, after testifying during his murder trial.

Pistorius arrives at the court in Pretoria on Monday, April 14.Pistorius arrives at the court in Pretoria on Monday, April 14.

Pistorius' sister, Aimee, cries in court as she listens to her brother's testimony on Tuesday, April 8.Pistorius’ sister, Aimee, cries in court as she listens to her brother’s testimony on Tuesday, April 8.

June Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother, reacts as she listens to Pistorius' testimony on April 8.June Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp’s mother, reacts as she listens to Pistorius’ testimony on April 8.

Pistorius is hugged by his aunt Lois Pistorius in court on Monday, April 7.Pistorius is hugged by his aunt Lois Pistorius in court on Monday, April 7.

Pistorius sits inside the courtroom as members of his defense team talk in the foreground Friday, March 28.Pistorius sits inside the courtroom as members of his defense team talk in the foreground Friday, March 28.

Pistorius leaves court on March 28. The trial was delayed until April 7 because one of the legal experts who will assist the judge in reaching a verdict was sick.Pistorius leaves court on March 28. The trial was delayed until April 7 because one of the legal experts who will assist the judge in reaching a verdict was sick.

Steenkamp's mother, right, and family friend Jenny Strydom react in court Tuesday, March 25, during cross-questioning.Steenkamp’s mother, right, and family friend Jenny Strydom react in court Tuesday, March 25, during cross-questioning.

Cell phone analyst Francois Moller testifies during the trial on March 25. Questioned by the prosecution, Moller listed in order the calls made and received by Pistorius after he shot Steenkamp.Cell phone analyst Francois Moller testifies during the trial on March 25. Questioned by the prosecution, Moller listed in order the calls made and received by Pistorius after he shot Steenkamp.

Pistorius cries as he sits in the dock during his trial on Monday, March 24.Pistorius cries as he sits in the dock during his trial on Monday, March 24.

Pistorius talks to defense attorney Barry Roux on March 24. Pistorius talks to defense attorney Barry Roux on March 24.

Pistorius holds his head while members of his family talk behind him on Tuesday, March 18.Pistorius holds his head while members of his family talk behind him on Tuesday, March 18.

Steenkamp's mother, wearing the white collared shirt, looks on while a police officer takes notes in court March 18.Steenkamp’s mother, wearing the white collared shirt, looks on while a police officer takes notes in court March 18.

Pistorius is hugged by his aunt Lois on March 18.Pistorius is hugged by his aunt Lois on March 18.

Pistorius takes notes Monday, March 17, as his murder trial enters its third week.Pistorius takes notes Monday, March 17, as his murder trial enters its third week.

Pistorius covers his head as he listens to forensic evidence Thursday, March 13.Pistorius covers his head as he listens to forensic evidence Thursday, March 13.

Forensic investigator Johannes Vermeulen, left, is questioned during the trial March 13.Forensic investigator Johannes Vermeulen, left, is questioned during the trial March 13.

Pistorius listens to questions during his trial on Wednesday, March 12.Pistorius listens to questions during his trial on Wednesday, March 12.

A police officer takes part in a court reconstruction March 12. A police forensic expert said Pistorius was on the stumps of his amputated legs when he knocked down a locked toilet door with a cricket bat to reach his shot girlfriend. That counters the track star's assertion he was wearing his prosthetic legs at the time. Defense attorney Barry Roux countered by suggesting that even with his prosthetic legs on, Pistorius would not be swinging a bat at the same height as an able-bodied person.A police officer takes part in a court reconstruction March 12. A police forensic expert said Pistorius was on the stumps of his amputated legs when he knocked down a locked toilet door with a cricket bat to reach his shot girlfriend. That counters the track star’s assertion he was wearing his prosthetic legs at the time. Defense attorney Barry Roux countered by suggesting that even with his prosthetic legs on, Pistorius would not be swinging a bat at the same height as an able-bodied person.

Pistorius listens to cross-questioning on Monday, March 10.Pistorius listens to cross-questioning on Monday, March 10.

Friends of Steenkamp's family watch Pistorius during his trial on March 7.Friends of Steenkamp’s family watch Pistorius during his trial on March 7.

Pistorius covers his ears on Thursday, March 6, as a witness speaks about the morning Steenkamp was killed.Pistorius covers his ears on Thursday, March 6, as a witness speaks about the morning Steenkamp was killed.

Pistorius' sister, Aimee, right, speaks with members of Steenkamp's family on March 6.Pistorius’ sister, Aimee, right, speaks with members of Steenkamp’s family on March 6.

Pistorius sits in court on the third day of his trial Wednesday, March 5.Pistorius sits in court on the third day of his trial Wednesday, March 5.

Pistorius appears on the second day of his trial Tuesday, March 4.Pistorius appears on the second day of his trial Tuesday, March 4.

Members of the media work during a break in proceedings March 4.Members of the media work during a break in proceedings March 4.

Pistorius talks with Roux inside the court on March 4.Pistorius talks with Roux inside the court on March 4.

Pistorius speaks with his legal representatives on March 4.Pistorius speaks with his legal representatives on March 4.

Pistorius is escorted out of the court Monday, March 3, after the first day of his murder trial.Pistorius is escorted out of the court Monday, March 3, after the first day of his murder trial.

People try to get a glimpse of Pistorius as he leaves the court building on March 3.People try to get a glimpse of Pistorius as he leaves the court building on March 3.

Pistorius is seen shortly after arriving for his trial on March 3.Pistorius is seen shortly after arriving for his trial on March 3.

Pistorius walks into the courtroom on March 3.Pistorius walks into the courtroom on March 3.

Pistorius takes a drink of water March 3 during his trial.Pistorius takes a drink of water March 3 during his trial.

The case has captivated South Africa. Here, Lauren Wentzel watches the proceedings from her home outside Cape Town on March 3.The case has captivated South Africa. Here, Lauren Wentzel watches the proceedings from her home outside Cape Town on March 3.

June Steenkamp arrives at the court building for the start of the trial.June Steenkamp arrives at the court building for the start of the trial.

Pistorius' relatives wait inside the courtroom on March 3.Pistorius’ relatives wait inside the courtroom on March 3.

People at the court building wait for Pistorius' arrival on March 3.People at the court building wait for Pistorius’ arrival on March 3.


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Photos: Oscar Pistorius murder trialPhotos: Oscar Pistorius murder trial


Pistorius begins mental evaluation

Had the doctors deemed Pistorius mentally incapacitated during the shooting, the trial would have immediately ended in a verdict of not guilty by reason of mental illness.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, 29-year-old model and law school graduate Reeva Steenkamp, in his home in February 2013.

Pistorius admits shooting Steenkamp through a closed door, killing her, but has told the court in Pretoria, South Africa, that he mistook her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty.

The state says Pistorius argued with Steenkamp before killing her.

On May 20, trial Judge Thokozile Masipa ordered Pistorius to report for a psychiatric evaluation to establish whether he was criminally responsible for his actions.

The prosecution and defense said they accepted the report’s findings. The defense has resumed its case.

Psychiatrist’s testimony

Pistorius’ psychiatric testing last month was triggered by the testimony of a psychiatrist who said the sprinter has suffered from generalized anxiety disorder since he was an infant, stemming partly from the amputation his lower legs.

The disorder meant Pistorius had “excessive” concerns about security and felt threatened even when, objectively, he was not, Dr. Merryll Vorster testified on May 12.

After Vorster’s testimony, prosecutor Gerrie Nel filed a motion asking the judge to require psychiatric tests, arguing that if there was any chance the defendant’s mental health was an issue, the court must “err on the side of caution.”

Nel’s extremely unusual move was essentially an effort to maneuver the court into considering an insanity or “capacity” defense even though the athlete’s legal team is not mounting one, CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps said.

Phelps said Nel appeared to be placing a high-stakes bet that experts would disagree with Vorster’s evidence.

Pistorius’ lead defense lawyer, Barry Roux, argued against the tests, describing Nel’s reading of the law as “unfortunate.”


Pistorius evidence revealed


How will Pistorius evaluation play out?


Pistorius trial on hold for mental exams

But Masipa ordered the evaluation, saying the defense’s act of putting a psychiatrist on the stand had raised the question of the athlete’s mental health. Testing began on May 26.

Light and balance

When court resumed Monday, the defense called Pistorius’ orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gerald Versfeld as a witness.

Versfeld described the limitations of Pistorius’ mobility, based on his examination of the athlete and Pistorius’ own description.

In his cross-examination, Nel focused on the effect of light on Pistorius’ balance.

In his affidavit, Pistorius said he had rushed to the bathroom on stumps with a pistol after hearing a noise. He said he had been too scared to turn the lights on. “It was pitch dark in the bedroom, and I thought Reeva was in bed.”

Nel suggested to Versfeld that it would have been “highly unlikely” that Pistorius would have been able to walk on his stumps without falling if it had been pitch black in the bedroom, given the objects in it.

“If it was indeed pitch dark, that is so,” Versfeld replied.

Roux referred to Pistorius’ evidence that there had been slight illumination.

“The moment there is light available, he will be able to use his vision to balance,” Versfeld said, agreeing that if Pistorius had known the objects in his room, that would also have helped protect him from falling.

Sound of screams

Acoustic engineer Ivan Lin was the second witness to take the stand Monday.

He told court that “typically,” one can differentiate between male and female screams, but not without exception.

Previous witnesses have described hearing a woman’s screams between shots the night Steenkamp died, but the defense has argued that Pistorius sounds “like a woman screaming” when he’s anxious.

Lin said it would be “impossible” to replicate the “highly complex sound transmission” from Pistorius’ house the night he killed Steenkamp. He explained how different variables could affect the transmission.

Verdict

At the trial’s conclusion, Masipa will have to decide whether Pistorius genuinely made a mistake or killed Steenkamp intentionally.

If she does not believe the athlete thought there was an intruder, she will find him guilty of murder and sentence him to at least 15 years in prison and possibly life. South Africa does not have the death penalty.

If Masipa accepts that Pistorius did not know Steenkamp was the person he was shooting at, she could find him guilty of culpable homicide, a lesser charge than murder, or acquit him, according to CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps.

A verdict of culpable homicide would leave the sentence at Masipa’s discretion.

Read: 13 things to know as case resumes

Read more: Judge sends Pistorius for psychiatric tests

Read: Judge lays down rules for Pistorius psychiatric tests

Read: Is Oscar Pistorius crazy? State wants tests

Read: What life’s like in a South African prison

Read: Case highlights South African gun culture

Read: Oscar Pistorius’ affidavit to court in full


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