Oscar Pistorius Case: When Will The Murder Trial Resume?

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Defendant Oscar Pistorius sits in court during the murder trial of Reeva Steenkamp. Reuters

The Oscar Pistorius trial has yet to resume, as the Olympian continues to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Judge Thokozile Masipa sent Pistorius to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria to determine whether he suffered from a mental disorder when he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The double-amputee doesn’t deny shooting the model to death on Valentine’s Day 2013. He claims that he mistook her for an intruder, and never intended to murder the 29-year-old.

If it’s discovered that Pistorius has a mental illness, it could be determined that he isn’t completely responsible for his actions. It’s been suggested that having his legs removed gave the defendant an anxiety disorder. Dr. Merryll Vorster testified that his physical disability, as well as the fact that his mother slept with a gun under her pillow, gave him an increased level of stress.

When Pistorius took the stand, he testified that his fear drove him to shoot at his bathroom door.

"I had a fear, I didn't have time to think, I discharged my firearm ... I didn't intend to shoot at anyone, I shot out of fear."

Pistorius arrived at the facility on May 26 as an outpatient. He’s required to undergo observation from 9 a.m. ET to 4 p.m. ET on weekdays, but he doesn’t have to attend on weekends. The evaluation is slated to last a month, and the trial will begin again on June 30.

A panel consisting of a psychologist and three psychiatrists will decide if Pistorius’s mental state makes him any less culpable for Steenkamp’s death. The panel will specifically look at “whether he was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act or of acting in accordance with an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his act.”

The mental evaluation was requested by prosecutor Gerrie Nel. The defense opposed the break in the trial.

The trial started three months ago, but several breaks have caused it to last into the summer. In mid-April, Masipa instituted a 17-day break, because of the Easter holiday. Once the trial finally resumes, the two breaks will total nearly two months.

Pistorius faces a sentence of 25 years to life if he’s found guilty of premeditated murder. A diagnosed mental disorder could help lessen his sentence, or keep him out of prison all together.  

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