Whither thou goest Oscar Pistorius

September 10, 2014


3 dimensional walk-through of Pistorius bedroom/bathroom

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good morning:

Crane-Station’s efforts to resuscitate her computer have been unsuccessful so I am subbing for her today.

Tomorrow morning at 3:30 am EDT, Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce her decision in the Oscar Pistorius case. He is the famous disabled South African paralympian known as the Blade Runner. An audience of millions will be watching.

Both legs were amputated below the knees when he was 11 months old because he was born with detached fibia and tibula bones. He competed by wearing a curved metal prosthesis that functioned like a spring permitting him to compete against the fastest sprinters in the world. He won a gold medal in the 100 meter sprint at the paralympics and barely missed qualifying for the 100 meter final in the Olympics.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by shooting her to death through the locked door of the toilet cubicle that is next to the bathroom in his upstairs master bedroom suite.

His home was located in a gated community protected by a 24/7 security staff.

Steenkamp was a lawyer, model and actor who was on the verge of international fame and fortune with her role in a South African reality show.

They were a beautiful couple supposedly involved in a fairytale romance that ended with four gunshots through a locked toilet door on Valentine’s Day last year.

Pistorius testified at trial that after he and Steenkamp went to bed around 10 pm, he was awakened around 3:30 am by the sound of the bathroom window opening. He said he thought that an intruder had entered the bathroom by climbing a ladder. He grabbed his gun and without putting on his regular everyday prosthesis he proceeded down a short hallway on his stumps to the entrance to the bathroom. After hearing a sound like someone bumped the magazine rack in the toilet stall, he fired his gun four times through the door.

When he returned to the bedroom, he discovered that Steenkamp was not in bed and only then realized that she might have been in the toilet stall.

Steenkamp was hit three times. First, in the hip. Second in the arm and chest. Third, in the forehead. He was using an especially deadly form of ammunition that releases little metal hooks tucked into the side of the bullet that pop out as the bullet spins out of the muzzle of the gun.

She could not have survived the wounds to her hip and head.

The prosecution’s theory of the case was that she locked herself in the toilet stall with her cell phone during an argument with Pistorius. He lost his temper and shot her to death through the locked door.

Several neighbors, including a woman who lived next door, testified that they heard loud voices and a woman’s terrified screams followed by four shots. She said she awakened to the screams and looked out her bedroom window at Pistorius’s bathroom window and noticed that the light was on.

He testified that it was off when he fired the shots. Like George Zimmerman before him, he claimed that the neighbor heard him screaming, not Steencamp.

He claimed she never said anything and he admitted that he did not call out to her to make sure she was not in the toilet before he fired his gun.

The medical examiner testified that Steencamp had consumed a stir fry meal approximately an hour and a half before the shooting, based on an analysis of her stomach contents.

I will always remember this trial for the savage cross examination of Pistorius by the prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, and the sudden switch from self-defense by defense counsel, Barry Roux, to a pervasive state-of-anxiety-caused-by-my-disability made me overreact.

This mid-stream switch resulted in a 30-day commitment for a thorough mental health examination by three psychiatrists who unanimously concluded that he did not suffer from a general anxiety disorder.

Oh, well. The show must go on.

With the facts and law against him, Barry Roux reanimated the defense delivering an excellent poor-Oscar closing argument that just might carry the day.

But I wouldn’t advise betting the ranch that Pistorius will be acquitted.

The law of self-defense is clear. To justifiably use deadly force in self-defense, Pistorius must have reasonably believed himself to be in imminent danger of death or serious injury.

Self-defense will not fly, if Judge Masipa concludes that Pistorius knew Steencamp was in the toilet stall. If she rejects self-defense, she can find him guilty of premeditated murder, in which case he is looking at a minimum of 25 years in prison, or she can find him guilty of intentional murder (i.e., intentional but not premeditated) which has a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.

Premeditation requires proof of intent to kill, reflection on the decision to kill, and an affirmation to go ahead and do it. Actual reflection on the decision to kill, rather than the passage of time, is what distinguishes premeditation from an intentional killing. So called heat-of-passion killings are usually intentional, but not premeditated, because the decision to kill merges with and is inseparable from the killing.

Even if Judge Masipa decides that he believed he was shooting at an intruder, self-defense is unlikely to fly because the intruder was behind a locked door. Like Theodore Wafer, Pistorius was not in any danger, unless the intruder opened the door.

She might find him guilty of culpable homicide, if she decides that he acted negligently in self-defense, but without intent to kill. She could then sentence him up to a maximum of 15 years in prison. This is probably the best outcome he can reasonably expect, since an acquittal is unlikely.

Last, but certainly not least, Pistorius is also charged with shooting a gun under the table in a crowded restaurant and shooting a gun out of the open sunroof of his vehicle while motoring down the roadway.

These shooting incidents and his refusal to accept responsibility for shooting the guns, as if they went off by themselves while he was holding them, evidence a reckless young man with a gun fetish who refuses to accept responsibility for his acts.

Those two acts form a menacing background for the Valentine’s Day shooting.

I am planning on staying up late tonight to watch Judge Masipa deliver her opinion.

The pool is open. See you in the comments.


Oscar Pistorius: Defense closing argument UPDATED

August 8, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Good morning:

Watch Barry Roux’s closing argument livestream here. The court is back in session after lunch.

The arguments of counsel have now concluded.

Judge Masipa announced that she will deliver her opinion in the case on 9/11 at 9:30 am Pretoria time (3:30 am EDT).

To see the morning session, go here:


Tuesday Evening Open Discussion: Comparison of Wafer to Pistorius

July 22, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Good evening:

Welcome to the Tuesday Evening Open Discussion where off topic is on topic.

A jury of 12 with two alternates has been selected in the #TheodoreWafer porch-shooting case. Two black females, two black males, one Arab male, two minority females, three white females and four white males. Don’t know anything else about them because jury selection was not televised or live streamed.

I am frustrated by the decision not to broadcast jury selection because that is where most trials are won or lost.

Opening statements will commence at 10 9 am EDT tomorrow. They will be livestreamed as will the rest of the trial.

Many people have compared this case to the Zimmerman case, but I believe it more closely resembles the #OscarPistorius case because the defendants in both cases are claiming self-defense after shooting through locked doors at people whom they say they believed to be an intruder (OP) or potential intruder (TW).

What do you think?

Anything else on your mind?

This is our 1149th post.

If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation to enable us to keep the lights on.

Thanks,

Fred


Pistorius: Defense rests closing arguments on August 7 and 8

July 8, 2014

The Reenactment Video

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good morning:

The defense rested this morning in the Oscar Pistorius trial.

Judge Masipa has scheduled closing arguments on August 7th and 8th.

The State’s written closing argument is due on July 30th.

The Defendant’s written closing argument is due August 4th.

The video is a reconstruction of the shooting and Pistorius carrying Steenkamp’s body downstairs. His sister Aimee plays the role of Steenkamp’s dead body.

Note that Pistorius does not exhibit emotional distress reliving the event and he has little problem moving on his stumps.

His right shoulder does not appear to bother him, which is surprising since he testified that he slept on the right side of the bed, instead of the left, because his right shoulder was bothering him.

The defense claims that the video was shot for trial preparation and they never intended to introduce it at trial.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has decided not to bring up the video.

This is our 1118th post. Please make a donation, if you appreciate what we do.

Thank you,

Fred


Pistorius trial resumes with the defendant’s final witness

July 7, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Good morning:

We resume this morning after the weekend hullabaloo over the Sunday evening showing on Australian television of a defense reenactment video of the shooting.

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3


Pistorius: Fireworks today as Gerrie Nel cross examines Pistorius’s physician about startle responses and intentional acts

July 3, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Good morning:

The Thursday session has ended. The trial will resume Monday morning with Dr. William Derman back on the stand to undergo further cross examination by Gerrie Nel.

Lots of fireworks today with tempers flaring as Nel cross examined Dr. Derman regarding unintentional startle responses to sounds and intentional acts, such as pulling the trigger firing multiple shots. Specifically, he pressed Dr. Derman regarding the passage of time between being awakened by a noise in the bathroom and firing the shots.

Rebecca Davis of the Daily Maverick describes what happened,

“If there was only one startle, and the accused acted as he did…he would have acted outside the fight or flight response?” Nel asked. Derman replied that he wouldn’t be in a position to know this. Nel insisted that earlier Derman had said that there would need to be more than one startle.

“Because that’s what happened,” Derman replied (ie, that there were two further noises which evoked a startle response from Pistorius). In other words, Derman was strangely unwilling to entertain any possibilities outside of what Pistorius specified happened.

It’s been an extremely fractious session, characterized by hostile exchanges between Derman and Nel. On more than one occasion Derman asked Judge Masipa for assistance against Nel, but at least once Masipa instructed him to get on with answering Nel’s questions.

“If you cannot assist because you don’t know, just say you don’t know,” Masipa told Derman.

Well worth your time to watch this battle as the outcome may determine the final result of the trial.

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

As you watch the master in action, ask yourselves if Dr. Derman’s relationship with Oscar Pistorius has compromised his objectivity.

If you like what we do, please make a donation.

Thank you,

Fred


Game within the game: Why defense fears Pistorius evaluation

May 20, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Good morning:

According to the Guardian, Judge Masipa has ordered Oscar Pistorius to spend 30 days as an outpatient at Weskoppies state psychiatric hospital in Pretoria, beginning on Monday 26 May.

• He must attend every weekday between 9am and 4pm (or until excused by the medical superintendent at the hospital).

• The four professionals overseeing his assessment include Dr. Leon Fine, Professor Herman Pretorius and Dr. Jonathan Scholtz.

• This panel will compile separate reports for the court to judge whether Pistorius was criminally liable for his actions, and whether he “appreciated the wrongfulness of his conduct”.

• Setting out the details and purpose of Pistorius’s evaluation, Masipa said:

“The panel [of mental health professionals] will establish whether the accused was by mental illness or defect criminally responsible for his actions.

The panel will also seek to establish whether Pistorius appreciated the wrongfulness of his conduct.”

• The court will resume on 30 June to hear the results of the evaluation.

Dr. Scholtz is a psychologist. Dr. Fine and Professor Pretorius are psychiatrists.

Here’s a description of what will happen during the 30 day observation and evaluation provided by Carly Danielle, a psychologist who did her internship at Weskoppies state psychiatric hospital where Pistortius will be evaluated. This is a standard procedure.

Conduct lengthy psychiatric interviews in which they will obtain his full life history, his family background, his criminal history, and also importantly his psychiatric history.

Administer a range of psychological and other tests. These will include personality tests, neuropsychological tests, tests for malingering (the technical term for faking a mental illness) and general cognitive tests that evaluate each and every cognitive process from intelligence to memory. Each test can take between 30min – 3 hrs to complete. It is an extremely rigorous process. To give an example, the MMPI (The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) has over 500 items.

Observe him during every single minute of every procedure. In addition to the formal interviews and tests, OP’s every move will be scrutinized. He will be evaluated on his appearance, attitude, behaviour, mood and cognitions.

After each member of the team has concluded theses procedures, they will then meet and together they will formulate a diagnosis.

The first question is whether he suffered from mental illness or defect at the time of the shooting.

Dr. Vorster diagnosed him with a general anxiety disorder, which qualifies as a mental disease or defect under DSM V. The panel may agree or disagree. Regardless, I believe there is a substantial probability that they may diagnose him with an antisocial personality disorder and/or narcissistic personality disorder.

Either or both will eliminate any possibility of a favorable outcome to this process for Pistorius because people who have that diagnosis can distinguish between right and wrong and appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct, but they go ahead and commit the crime because they want to and think they can get away with it. If they do get caught, they will often attempt to lie their way out of trouble.

Probably most politicians, corporate CEOs, white collar criminals and the criminal banksters share this diagnosis. Many cops do too.

Defense counsel, Barry Roux, will argue, that because of his general anxiety disorder, OP misinterpreted the sounds he heard as caused by an intruder instead of by Reeva Steenkamp.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel will argue that OP shot her to death because he lost his temper during an argument in which she threatened to leave him and then he lied about it to escape legal responsibility.

The problem with the defense argument is that even an anxious person has a duty to exercise reasonable caution to avoid shooting through closed doors with intent to kill the person on the other side without determining if she be friend or foe and when the use of deadly force isn’t reasonably necessary to protect themselves from death or serious bodily injury.

Barry Roux knows this and that is why he so vigorously resisted the 30 day commitment. He also probably fears that the team will come back with the APD and/or NPD diagnosis.

If you appreciate my game-within-the-game analysis of what is really going on beneath the surface in this case, please make a donation today. There have been only four donations this month totaling $45 and that is beyond depressing. Please help us keep the lights on.

Fred


Oscar Pistorius ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation

May 14, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Good morning:

Welcome to The Game Within The Game in which I explain why lawyers and judges are making certain strategic decisions.

Judge Masipa has granted a prosecution request to order Oscar Pistorius to undergo a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation by a panel of state experts. The evaluation will take place over a 30 day period at a state institution. The trial will be suspended until the evaluation has been completed.

Pistorius will not be held in custody during the 30 day period.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel requested the evaluation after Dr. Merryll Vorster, a defense psychiatrist, testified that Pistorius suffers from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a mental health disorder defined in the DSM V. She described the disorder as a pervasive state of anxiety that began when his legs were amputated below the knees at the age of 11 months, was exacerbated by his mother’s death at age 14, and continues to this day.

She said it manifests as a heightened fear of crime and obsession with personal security and guns with which to protect himself. She also said it likely contributed to his mistaken perception that an intruder was present when he heard a window slide and the toilet door slam, his decision to confront rather than flee from the intruder, and his decision to shoot through the toilet door without attempting to decide who was in the toilet cubicle before he squeezed the trigger.

The prosecution’s theory of the case is that Pistorius invented the story about an intruder to conceal that he lost his temper during an argument with Reeva Steenkamp and intentionally killed her when she threatened to leave him.

Until Dr. Vorster testified, the defense had not argued or presented any evidence to explain why Pistorius might have mistakenly believed that an intruder was in the toilet cubicle. Assuming his version of events that night is true, her testimony potentially bridges the gap between a normal person’s reaction to the sounds he heard and his apparent overreaction. That is why Gerrie Nel asked Judge Masipa to suspend the trial and order the 30 day observation and evaluation.

Judge Masipa granted his request explaining that, because she is not a mental health expert, she is not equipped to determine if Dr. Vorster’s diagnosis is correct and what role his mental state may have played in his perceptions and decisions that night. The evaluation will assist her to make that determination and that is why she ordered it.

I suspect her decision should be filed in the better-to-be-safe-than-sorry category because Gerrie Nel savaged Pistorius on cross examination catching him in several material lies that substantially increase the probability of his guilt, so much so that his GAD may satisfactorily explain why he killed her (i.e., because she was going to leave him) and why he offered such a lame excuse (i.e., yee olde intruder) to cover-up what he did. Consider it a form of insurance.

While the referral for observation may yield information that helps Pistorius, it’s more likely that it will not and in the end justice will appear to have been done, as no stone will have been left unturned leaving no credible argument that Pistorius was the victim of a railroad job.

If you believe this article adds to your understanding of this case and you appreciate the effort that went into it, please make a donation.

Thank you,

Fred


Oscar Pistorius: Gerrie Nel continues to cross examine defense psychiatrist

May 13, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Good morning:

Gerrie Nel continues to cross examine the defense psychiatrist, Dr. Merryll Vorster.

He begins with a set of general questions about an anxiety disorder, after reading up on it last night in DSM V., seeking to distinguish it from generalized worrying about the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to (as Shakespeare once said in another context).

She said it doesn’t come and go depending on external circumstances. It’s always there. She used the word “pervasive” to describe it.

Follow along with us and comment as we watch Gerrie Nel attempt to turn her into a prosecution witness on you tube.

Keep in mind that her vulnerability is that she did not get involved in the case until a little over a week ago and claims not to know much about the case. Taking her at her word, this means that she does not know about Pistorius’s lies that Nel exposed when he cross examined Pistorius and her diagnosis is based on her assumption that Pistorius told her the truth when she interviewed him.

She is not incompetent or naive for doing so because this is standard operating procedure for mental health professionals. They are not independent fact gatherers. They start with what the patient says to develop trust and work with that to probe their minds and moods.

Session 1

Session 2

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Oscar Pistorius trial: IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW

May 12, 2014

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


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