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Witness for Pistorius trial says Paralympic star a “paradox”

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius, gestures, as he listens to psychiatric evidence for his defense, during his ongoing murder trial in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. The chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has asked that the double-amputee runner be placed under psychiatric evaluation after an expert witness testified that he had an anxiety disorder. Pistorius is charged with the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Born, Pool)


A sports psychologist who treated Oscar Pistorius over the past six years gave evidence for a second day in the murder trial of the South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter. Wayne Derman, who has worked with the South African Olympic and Paralympic teams, testified that Pistorius’ anxieties were a factor in the fatal shooting of Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, shot four times through a locked door in his Pretoria home bathroom on Valentine’s Day 2013, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside. Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

“He has a specific fear of being trapped somewhere without being able to move very rapidly,” the psychologist said under questioning from the defense team.

Pistorius was born without fibulas and his lower legs were amputated when he was 11 months old. His disability partly contributed to “significant stress and anxiety” and an “exaggerated fight response” to danger.

Another factor responsible for what the defense claims is a mistaken shooting, Derman told the court, was the contrast between Pistorius’s triumphs as a track star and the daily limitations of his condition:

You’ve got a paradox of an individual who is supremely able, and you’ve got an individual who is significantly disabled.

The trial is adjourned until Monday, July 7th.

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If found not guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.