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Judge in Oscar Pistorius trial outlines his mental assessment plan

Pistorius has shown a lot of emotion during this trial; he broke down in tears as he recounted shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and vomited in court when they showed pictures of her dead body.
By Aileen Graef   |   May 20, 2014 at 11:05 AM   |   Comments

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PRETORIA, South Africa, May 20 (UPI) -- Oscar Pistorius will spend 30 days in Weskoppies psychiatric hospital as an outpatient to determine whether he was mentally incapacitated at the time of the shooting.

Judge Thokozile Masipa outlined his assessment plan Tuesday morning. It will begin at the state-run hospital May 26 and lasts for 30 days. He will be evaluated by a team of mental health professionals every weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., unless he is dismissed earlier.

Dr. Merryl Vorster, a witness for the defense, testified that Pistorius has a generalized anxiety disorder influenced by his mother who slept with a gun under her pillow and unexpectedly died when Pistorius was young. Vorster said this anxiety could have contributed to his actions on the morning of the shooting and altered his perception of safety.

"He certainly was able to appreciate the difference between right and wrong, but it may be that his ability to act in accordance with such appreciation was affected by this generalized anxiety disorder," Vorster told the court.

Masipa responded to this saying that this testimony requires that he undergo psychiatric assessment so that justice may be served.

"The accused may not have raised the issue that he was not criminally responsible at the time of the incident in so many words, but evidence led on his behalf clearly raised the issue and cannot be ignored," she explained.

Along with reviewing his family history, experts will analyze behavior, body language, demeanor and the consistency of his comments and reactions during a series of interviews. This is according to Professor Gillian Eagle who teaches psychology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Court proceedings will resume June 30.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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