Criminal Justice

Oscar Pistorius has anxiety disorder, psychiatrist says; his mom slept with a gun under her pillow

The mother of Oscar Pistorius slept with a gun under her pillow and raised her children to see the outside world as threatening, a psychiatrist testified on Monday at the track star’s murder trial.

Forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster testified that Oscar Pistorius suffers from an anxiety disorder, and his upbringing contributed to his escalating stress, report the Associated Press, the Guardian, the New York Times, CNN and the Telegraph. Vorster said Pistorius should be evaluated to determine whether his mental state was a factor in the shooting death of his girlfriend, law school graduate Reeva Steenkamp.


Oscar Pistorius. Featureflash

Pistorius testified last month that he fired four shots at the closed bathroom door because he thought an intruder was inside. The shots killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Vorster said Pistorius had both his legs amputated less than a year after he was born without fibula bones in his legs. He would have experienced the amputation as a “traumatic assault” because he was too young to understand the operation, Vorster said. The anxiety disorder makes Pistorius feel his safety is threatened even when objectively he is safe, Vorster testified.

Pistorius appeared emotional during the testimony, cradling his head in his hands, the Times says. The chief prosecutor asked for a psychiatric examination after Vorster testified, according to the AP and the Guardian.

If Pistorius is convicted of culpable homicide, a lesser offense than murder, the judge would have discretion in his sentence, CNN says. Homicide carries a penalty of at least 15 years in prison.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.