Pistorius to undergo psychiatric evaluation

The Sports NetworkMay 14, 2014 

Pretoria, South Africa (SportsNetwork.com) - Oscar Pistorius will be required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation that will again delay the South African sprinter's murder trial.

Pistorius has been charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Steenkamp was killed by Pistorius on Feb. 14, 2013 in the bathroom of his home. He has maintained the shooting was an accident, believing he was firing into the bathroom at an intruder. The prosecution has countered that he knew Steenkamp was in the bathroom in a premeditated murder.

On Monday, defense witness Dr. Meryll Vorster testified that Pistorius has a general anxiety disorder that likely caused his reaction to fire a gun instead of run away from a potential intruder on the day of the shooting.

Lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel then asked Judge Thokozile Masipa to have Pistorius further examined, with the request granted on Wednesday.

The psychiatric evaluation could take upwards of a month and delay the trial until the end of June.

Pistorius' trial began March 3 and is being broadcast throughout South Africa and other parts of the world. It was delayed for about two weeks in late April and early May.

Judge Masipa will decide guilt or innocence in the trial, since South Africa does not have trial by jury.

In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius also faces charges of contravening South Africa's Firearms Control Act.

The murder charge could carry a sentence of life in prison. There is no death penalty in South Africa.

Steenkamp, who was 29 years old, was a model and reality television star in South Africa.

Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner," made history at the London Olympics in 2012 when he became the first double-amputee runner to compete in the Games. He had both legs amputated before he was a year old after being born without fibula bones and runs on prosthetic blades.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had initially said that his prosthetics were considered technical aids and in violation of an IAAF rule. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport later overturned that decision, making him eligible to compete against able-bodied runners.

Pistorius qualified for South Africa's Olympic team in 2012 and competed in the 400-meter race, reaching the semifinals, and the 1,600-meter relay.

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