Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius to undergo psychiatric evaluation, trial delayed


Oscar Pistorius will undergo psychiatric evaluation, delaying his murder trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled Wednesday.

Masipa granted an application from the prosecution that Pistorius be placed under mental observation, citing South African law after a forensic psychiatrist testifed that he had an anxiety disorder. The disorder may have played a role in his fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year and could affect the judge’s verdict.

“I’m persuaded that the requirement of a reasonable possibility has been met,” said Masipa, who did not outline a specific length for the evaluation. “A referral inevitably means more delays in finalizing this matter, but this is not about anyone’s convenience but rather about whether justice has been served.”

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought an intruder was locked inside his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside on Valentine’s Day 2013. He has not claimed he was mentally incapacitated at the time.

He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Merryll Vorster testified Monday that Pistorius had generalized anxiety disorder, based off two interviews with him earlier this month.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cited Section 78 of South Africa’s Criminal Procedure Act in applying for Pistorius to undergo psychiatric evaluation. The law states:

(1) A person who commits an act or makes an omission which constitutes an
offence and who at the time of such commission or omission suffers from a mental
illness or mental defect which makes him or her incapable-
(a) of appreciating the wrongfulness of his or her act or omission; or
(b) of acting in accordance with an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his
or her act or omission,
shall not be criminally responsible for such act or omission.

The defense argued that Pistorius’ general anxiety disorder is not a mental illness applicable in the cited law, though it’s clear from the law he could be acquitted if found not criminally responsible for shooting Steenkamp due to mental illness.

“The effect of the evidence is that a doubt has been created that the accused [Pistorius] may possibly have another defense relating to his criminal responsibility,” Masipa said. “There is also a possibility that there may be diminished criminal responsibility.”

Masipa called her ruling an “integral part of a fair trial” and said the specific order will be handed down Tuesday.

Pistorius stood with his hands clasped, wavering slightly, as Masipa spoke for 15 minutes before issuing her ruling.

Masipa said it would be preferable for Pistorius to be an outpatient as he undergoes the psychiatric evaluation.

“The aim of referral is not to punish the accused twice,” she said.

The trial that began March 3 and has taken multiple breaks is now 32 days old.

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

Watch Real Sports trailer on Peter Norman of 1968 Olympic podium protest

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HBO’s “Real Sports” will profile Australian 1968 Olympic 200m silver medalist Peter Norman in an episode premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

Norman finished between Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 200m final at the Mexico City Games.

Largely forgotten, Norman’s story is chronicled by “Real Sports,” with the help of Smith and Carlos.

Norman died of a heart attack in 2006, and Smith and Carlos flew to Australia to serve as pallbearers and deliver eulogies at his funeral.

Smith and Carlos reflected on the role Norman played in their famous raised-fists podium gesture in this transcript from “Real Sports:”

Tommie Smith: “I had my gloves. And there was some discussion in the tunnel between John and myself.”

John Carlos: “Peter was there and he was kinda curious as to what we were doing, what we were talking about. And I turned to Peter and I asked him. I said, ‘Peter,’ I said, ‘Do you believe in human rights?’”

Real Sports: “You said– you expected to see fear in his eyes. Instead–”

John Carlos: “I didn’t see nothing but love, man. He looked at me and he smiled. He said, ‘Of course.’ And I said to him, I said, ‘Would you like to wear Olympic Project for Human Rights button?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ And he started reaching for mine. And I pat him on his hand. I said, ‘Whoa, you can’t have this. But I’ll get you one.’”

Real Sports: “He didn’t hesitate?”

John Carlos: “Mr. Norman never flinched.”

MORE: Smith, Carlos honored at White House

Russian wrestler who died in 2013 not stripped of 2012 Olympic medal in doping probe

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  Silver medalist Besik Kudukhov of Russia, Gold medalist Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan, Bronze medalist Coleman Scott of the United States, and Bronze medalist Yogeshwar Dutt of India in the Men's Freestyle 60 kg Wrestling on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 11, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia says the International Olympic Committee has dropped an investigation into a deceased wrestler who allegedly tested positive for a banned steroid when an old sample was retested.

Besik Kudukhov won the silver medal in the men’s freestyle 60-kilogram class at the 2012 Olympics and died the following year in a car crash.

The Russian Wrestling Federation says in a statement his sample from the 2012 Games was retested this year and found to be positive for the steroid turinabol. The case was passed to an IOC disciplinary commission, which ended its investigation last week with no action taken, the federation says.

The IOC, which has not acknowledged any positive test by Kudukhov, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kudukhov also won bronze at the 2008 Olympics.

MORE: Mongolian wrestling coach suspended 3 years for stripping