- Nastasya Tay at Yahoo Sports15 days ago
PRETORIA, South Africa – Prosecutor Gerrie Nel ended his lengthy cross-examination with the defense's star witness exactly where he wanted him.
Over his three days on the stand, professor Wayne Derman, a sports physician, gave compelling testimony, describing how Paralympian Oscar Pistorius' disability made him vulnerable and deeply fearful; how it might cause him to make different decisions than an able-bodied person facing a perceived attacker.
Much of Judge Thokozile Masipa's decision – murder or a lesser charge – will rest on what she believes to be the athlete's intent in firing his 9mm at a locked bathroom door in the early hours of Valentine's morning last year, when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
And that is where Nel chose to end his interrogation of ostensibly the defense's last witness.
Intent to kill
"He [Pistorius], with intention to kill, shot the person behind the door. That's what he wanted to do, and that's what he did. Do you want to comment on that?" Nel asked Derman.
"I understand that," the professor said.
- Nastasya Tay at Yahoo Sports18 days ago
PRETORIA, South Africa – It was a cross-examination that turned into a standoff.
Professor Wayne Derman, in a neat dark suit and tie on the stand, his right arm outstretched in front of him, his left grasping an imaginary wall.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel inspected the witness' stance – allegedly a demonstration of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius' movements as he approached the danger he believed lurked at the end of his bathroom passage on Valentine's morning last year.
Derman cocked his head. "Are you happy, sir ?" he challenged the prosecutor.
"Mr Derman, the court indicated to you that you should address the court , and not me," Nel retorted.
"Those sarcastic questions is not doing your credibility good," he added, waving his glasses around with a pitying smile. "It does nothing to me."
Embarrassed, the professor looked to the judge for support, only to be met with a stern stare.
"My lady, I'm sorry. It's in response to being asked to show, to demonstrate certain things. I just get the feeling that I'm being on trial here," Derman told Judge Thokozile Masipa.
- Nastasya Tay at Yahoo Sports20 days ago
PRETORIA, South Africa – It was a good day in court for Oscar Pistorius.
After 19 days of presenting evidence, Oscar Pistorius' defense finally got to the crux of its case with its – allegedly – last witness.
Sports Medicine Professor Wayne Derman, seemingly the defense's star expert witness in the Paralympian's murder trial, says people with disabilities live under greater threat of attack, and have a different fight-or-flight response to able-bodied adults.
It is crucial testimony in support of the athlete, who maintains that when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's morning last year, he believed her to be an intruder and was trying to protect them both.
In a blow for the prosecution, the findings of psychologist Jonathan Scholtz – one of the mental health experts who conducted Pistorius' 30-day psychiatric assessment – also supports Derman's testimony.
- Nastasya Tay at Yahoo Sports20 days ago
PRETORIA, South Africa – Fast cars. Favors owed by Italian rock stars. Intercontinental business class flights with his girlfriend at his side. Plans to jet to Tuscany to listen to opera. A deluge of lucrative corporate sponsorship deals.
Murder-accused Paralympian Oscar Pistorius sat silently in the dock Tuesday, his expression inscrutable as his manager described the life he would be leading had the star athlete not shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.
But amid talk of massive contracts being proffered in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics – worth five to six times Pistorius' then salary, according to agent Peet Van Zyl – it appeared to be the image of his lost future life with the blonde model that broke him.
As Van Zyl spoke of Pistorius' request to have Steenkamp travel with him to two upcoming athletic exhibition events – a week before he shot her through a toilet door – the athlete dissolved into quiet sobs.
"For me it was a first. He had never asked me for anything like this," Van Zyl told the court of Pistorius' desire to have his girlfriend accompany him to Brazil and Mexico.
- Nastasya Tay at Yahoo Sports22 days ago
PRETORIA, South Africa – After a 40-day adjournment to evaluate his mental health, Paralympian Oscar Pistorius' expression as he re-entered Pretoria's High Court appeared immutable; composed but resigned.
On Day 34 of his murder trial, the star athlete's face barely moved as prosecutor Gerrie Nel read aloud from the two reports submitted by the panel of four experts who assessed him.
They were unanimous.
"At the time of the alleged offenses, the accused did not suffer from a mental disorder or a mental defect that affected his ability to distinguish between the rightful and wrongful nature of his deeds.
"A mental disorder or mental defect did not affect his ability to act in accordance with the said appreciation of the rightful and wrongful nature of his deeds," read the one-page report from the three psychiatrists – including one appointed by the defense.
The psychologist's extensive report – comprising more than an inch of pages compiled in the judge's hand – echoed the sentiment.
Both defense and prosecution have publicly accepted the panel's findings, that Pistorius did not lack "criminal responsibility" for his actions.
PRETORIA, South Africa – In less than a week, Oscar Pistorius must report to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital on the outskirts of the capital to begin his month-long psychiatric evaluation.
He will be assessed as an outpatient at the facility, starting at 9 a.m. Monday, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled, a concession sources told Yahoo Sports is "extraordinary."
In a dark gray overcoat, Pistorius stood expressionless in the dock to receive Masipa's order Tuesday.
Masipa has requested that the Paralympian – accused of the premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's morning last year – present himself every weekday morning for seven hours, or until he is "formally excused" at the hospital, until court proceedings reconvene June 30.
Much is at the discretion of the psychiatric facility and the panel of four experts that will assess him: the duration of the observation periods, whether they will be conducted daily or only on weekdays, and where in the large Weskoppies facility they will take place.
Oscar Pistorius Trial Day 32: Blade Runner will undergo psychiatric evaluation; it could end up helping him
PRETORIA, South Africa – It may have been a win for the prosecution, but it could end up helping the defense.
As Courtroom GD waited for Judge Thokozile Masipa, a grim-looking Barry Roux – defense attorney for Oscar Pistorius – walked into court. Heading straight over to Pistorius in the dock, he pursed his lips and shook his head.
After a brief, whispered exchange, the Paralympian – who shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's morning last year in what he claims was an act of mistaken identity – took his seat, head bowed, seemingly resigned.
In a series of animated huddles, Roux spoke to members of the Pistorius family, gesticulating as he appeared to explain why it wasn't all bad.
The prosecution said they wanted the murder accused sent for a 30-day psychiatric evaluation, and on Wednesday, Judge Masipa granted their wish.
"The question is whether there was a reasonable possibility that a referral of the accused for observation … would reveal … that at the time the crime was committed the accused suffered from a mental disorder which could have resulted in his not being criminally responsible for his act," she told the court.
PRETORIA, South Africa – The prosecution in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial demanded Tuesday that the Paralympian spend 30 days being evaluated by psychiatric experts in a state-run facility.
Judge Thokozile Masipa is due to rule Wednesday morning whether the star athlete – who shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day last year – will be referred for psychiatric observation.
If she decides the court must have the opinion of a panel of experts on Pistorius' mental state, then trial proceedings will grind to a halt while the former Olympic star spends a month in Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, on the outskirts of Pretoria.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that psychologist Merryll Vorster, a defense witness, had made it clear Pistorius is "a danger to society and himself, and that he should not be allowed to possess a firearm."
Arguing at length that Vorster's diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) "played a significant role" in how Pistorius behaved, Nel insists the court needs a second opinion.
PRETORIA, South Africa – An expert called by Oscar Pistorius' defense team has opened the door for the Paralympian to be sent to a psychiatric institution – but the most damaging part of her testimony could be a Latin phrase dolus eventualis , which could put the Blade Runner in prison for a minimum of 15 years.
Called as a witness by the Paralympian's defense, psychologist Merryll Vorster testified Monday that the star athlete – who shot his girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine's Day morning last year – possessed an intent to murder, under South African law.
"When he armed himself," state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the psychologist, "he at least then foresaw the possibility that he might have to shoot, otherwise why would he arm himself and approach the danger? Am I right?"
"Well, he must have," Vorster agreed.
"He must have foreseen the possibility that …" Nel began.
"… he may have to shoot," she finished for him.
"And you know, he then went further and he did shoot," Nel went on.
"We know now that he did shoot, yes," Vorster said.
PRETORIA, South Africa – It was the second time an expert witness for the defense disputed the testimony of the man who hired him.
Pointing at a bloodless, oblong patch of tile near the toilet bowl, in a photograph of the bloody bathroom cubicle where Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Stennkamp on Valentine's Day last year, defense ballistics expert Wollie Wolmarans nodded vigorously.
"I agree with Mr. Dixon [defense forensic expert Roger Dixon]. That magazine rack was there when she started bleeding," he told the court.
There's no blood on the tile there, in the shape of the foot of the rack, he explained. "That's common sense."
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel smiled and said, "Although it's common sense, it's not the accused's version."
In his version of events, Pistorius clearly described the magazine rack being against the wall in the toilet, declaring that he found Steenkamp in the middle of the blood pool – where the magazine rack was pictured in police photographs.