Oscar Pistorius trial: IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW

Monday, May 12, 2014

Good morning:

Trial resumed with Gerrie Nel cross examining Thomas Wolmarans, the defense ballistic expert. Also, a psychiatrist is on the stand today. Please join us to watch and comment.

Session 1

Session 2

UPDATE:

Fascinating development today. After the conclusion of Thomas Wolmarans’s testimony, the defense shifted from not guilty to not guilty due to diminished capacity.

In fairness to defense counsel, Barry Roux, however, the shift was not entirely unexpected because he did say at the beginning of the trial that the defense would show that Pistorius’s feelings of “vulnerability” and his disability contributed to him shooting Steenkamp.

The defense called Dr. Merryll Vorster, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at Wittwatersrand University.

She testified that she was requested by the defense to evaluate Pistorius earlier this month long after he had concluded his testimony. She said Pistorius suffers from general anxiety disorder (GAD) and, although he can tell the difference between right and wrong, he would be a danger to society if he had a gun. Because of his heightened fear of crime, due to his disability and the influence of his mother who slept with a gun under her pillow, he would tend to perceive threats where others would not and react aggressively rather than retreat (fight rather than flight).

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he would submit a request to refer Pistorius for a 30 day evaluation by its own experts to determine if they agree with Dr. Vorster’s diagnosis.

Barry Roux argues that a 30 day referral for observation isn’t necessary because he isn’t claiming that Pistorius was delusional (i.e., insane) and could not distinguish between right and wrong. He says Pistorius’s anxiety disorder is relevant to show his mental state and explain why he acted as he did.

Diminished capacity is a defense that admits the acts that constitute the offense (i.e., actus reus), but denies the existence of the requisite mental state (i.e., mens rea) due to a diminished mental ability to form that mental state. It is not a claim of insanity that, if true, would generally require extended hospitalization in a secure facility until the person is deemed safe to be released into the community.

Stunning development that likely resulted from Nel’s destruction of the defense case.

Roux contacted Dr. Vorster a little over a week ago and asked her to evaluate Pistorius.

Many US courts would prohibit switching to diminished capacity after the trial started. let alone in the defense case.

Usually, defense has to file a written notice of intent to claim insanity or diminished capacity no later than six weeks before trial and the prosecution can then have its experts evaluate the client.

I am not familiar with the law in SA, but I imagine that Nel can seek an evaluation.

His theory is that Pistorius killed her after an argument and made up the story about an intruder. He trapped Pistorius in at least two conflicting versions of the incident and the gastric contents in Steenkamp’s stomach blew up his story that they ate dinner at 7 pm and went to bed at 10 pm.

However, since he has the burden of proof, he may seek to have his experts evaluate Pistorius’s mental state and blow-up Dr. Vorster’s evaluation.

Gerrie Nel asked for an early adjournment to prepare the rest of his cross examination of Dr. Vorster.

Court is in recess until tomorrow at 0930.

Crane and I are working hard for you. Her article on saliva testing leading to a conclusive presumption of DUI guilt for anyone stopped by the police while driving a motor vehicle, regardless if they are impaired, is muckracking at its best and going viral. I am giving you the straight skinny on the Pistorius trial.

Please, we need donations. We have received four donations for less than $50. Please donate today.

Thank you,

Fred

20 Responses to Oscar Pistorius trial: IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW

  1. New post up:

    Monday Night Open Thread

    We’re trying a new idea. Check it out.

  2. Go here for a review of the high points of Wolmarans’s testimony today.

  3. Important update to article. Defense is now pursuing a diminished capacity defense.

    See body of the article for the update.

    • bettykath says:

      I am confused by what’s going on. The prosecution seems to be going for Article 78 examination and the defense seems to be objecting.

      • Yes. Did you read my update? I tried to explain it there.

        If my explanation was unclear, ask away and I will answer.

        • bettykath says:

          Sorry, didn’t read your explanation earlier. Still don’t understand what’s going on. The defense presents a sort of diminished capacity witness, the prosecution, if it accepts the testimony says that it requires an examination (it wasn’t clear to me who was to perform the examination) and the defense objects b/c the prosecution isn’t interpreting the testimony “correctly”, that it isn’t really diminished capacity?

          If the defense wasn’t going for diminished capacity, what was the point of this witness? If the defense was going to diminished capacity, why does it object to the prosecution’s motion for section 78 examination?

          Maybe I don’t understand diminished capacity.

          • You understand the concepts.

            Roux has presented evidence of diminished capacity and Nel is entitled to have his team of experts evaluate Pistorius.

            Roux is opposed to that because he probably realizes that they will disagree with his expert who doesn’t know that Nel caught Pistorius in several lies.

            That’s why Roux is claiming his defense kinda sorta isn’t a duck even though it looks and quacks like a duck.

            Tactics, my Lady. Tactics.

          • bettykath says:

            Aaaah. Defense tactic seems to have backfired b/c Nel doesn’t play like Corey’s team, he pays attention. Of course the motion for the examination hasn’t been made by Nel nor approved by the judge. Seems like the judge would want another opinion on this topic.

          • Malisha says:

            I think the whole shrink-a-dink thing was designed to show that Oscar’s crocodile tears and upchucking in court were genuine. Poorrr boy, ee’s goughtda probblim ona ggountov ees mother, you see, so eee agsidenttally killed ees girlfriend. Naughtt ees fault! Don’t pooteem in de VAULT!

  4. Robert Duval in ‘Apocalypse Now’ comes to mind with this trial,

    Kilgore:….The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like [sniffing, pondering] (explosion)

    Kilgore: victory. Someday this war’s gonna end…
    [suddenly walks off]

    For me it’s never about predicting outcomes which are just unpredictable. It’s about seeing the truth. Napoleon made it through Moscow, but he knew the truth was that his army was defeated & then the long retreat began. Maybe that’s justice some days.

    • Malisha says:

      Probably a lot of cases where the lawyer a victim contacts says: “You have no case because the cops are gonna say [blah blah blah blah blah]” just get lost and as a result, there’s no groundswell of outrage about how the system covers up stuff, makes up stuff, victimizes victims, etc. We probably actually HEAR about one percent of them!

      • masonblue says:

        CS here, yup. Guilty pleas are extorted from the vast majority, and the rest have no voice. I am in no way promoting drunken driving. Not at all (had to say that, so lurkers will be clear).

        However, I am concerned that Sober DUI will become mainstream, because they can. And that is not okay, in any way, shape or form.

        • Malisha says:

          I think it will soon become obvious that stops to check for drugs and/or drunkenness, stops to check for citizenship or “legal” papers, and stop-and-frisk to check for whatever else is stopped and checked for, will quickly reveal itself to be the same general system we had before the Civil War, but with a wider net.

  5. Malisha says:

    First of all I was appalled that the psychiatrist’s report was only given to the prosecution when the psychiatrist too the stand. What kind of sloppy practice is THAT? His report should have been in their hands days before at the very least!

    Secondly, saying that Pistorius has an anxiety disorder is worthless without some examination of whether his anxiety disorder is attributable to his very real concerns that he is not likely to get away with murder. “Fear of Crime” comes in a looooooooong way behind THAT!

  6. fauxmccoy says:

    i have been going above and beyond with the homework and have started watching from the beginning. i know that as a group, we did not start there, but i do recommend. once you get over the foreignness of it all, it’s pretty easy to follow.

    i got started on this as a project after researching SA law, speaking with a girlfriend now in the US, but a former police woman in SA, and reading the international press regarding the trial.

    although we have been enjoying gerry nel on cross examination, i will submit that advocate roux is just as rough. he has torn apart state witness stories in a way that caught me by surprise. i suppose we do have to acknowledge, that absent the ‘perry mason moment’, cross examination is where the excitement is.

    i have much more to say, but will sign off for now so i can keep up with today’s happenings.

    bottom line: i would not bet money on a murder conviction.

  7. Getting the impression, glancing at the Livestream comments on YouTube- quite a few people following this think he’s guilty.

    • fauxmccoy says:

      after all the research i have been doing, i suspect a lot of this comes from the joy of watching celebs take a nose dive. this combined with the even more striking wage inequality there than here along with the concentration of wealth and power, i am sure they are doing their equivalent of salting their popcorn.

      this is not to say that i do not perceive pistorious as a self absorbed, demanding prick, because i do. his personal deficits have been front and center in this trial. i think that the unmasking of a national hero as a flawed human is arousing and highlighting all sorts of national issues.

  8. masonblue says:

    note- session 2 is Live Streaming on YouTube.

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