News

Pistorius has ‘heightened fight response,’ witness says

Pistorius has ‘heightened fight response,’ witness says

ON TRIAL:South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius arrives in court for his trial in Pretoria July 2. Photo: Reuters/Werner Beukes

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Double-amputee Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius can’t flee dangerous situations and has a “heightened fight response” due to his disability, a defense witness told his murder trial on Thursday.

Pistorius, who had his lower-legs amputated at birth, could face life in prison if he is found guilty of murdering his law graduate and model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed at his home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day last year.

His defense team have sought throughout the trial to portray Pistorius as a vulnerable individual who killed 29-year-old Steenkamp accidentally after mistaking her for an intruder hiding behind a closed toilet door.

The prosecution has argued that Pistorius is a gun-obsessed hot-head who regularly lost his temper with Steenkamp.

Sports psychology expert Professor Wayne Derman told the Pretoria High Court on Thursday that Pistorius had a life-long fear of crime and would be more likely to confront danger when standing on his stumps, as he was when he shot Steenkamp.

“He is not able to flee because of his disability, his fight response dominates his behavior … resulting in an exaggerated fight response which culminated in this horrific tragedy,” Derman said.

The trial was adjourned until Monday after state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked for more time to consult one of the psychiatrists who participated in the evaluation of Pistorius to clarify technical aspects of Derman’s testimony.

The murder trial resumed this week after a month-long break for Pistorius, known as ‘Blade Runner’ because of the carbon-fibre prosthetics he uses in competition, to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

The court heard on Monday that the athlete was not suffering from a mental condition when he shot Steenkamp, meaning he had the ability to distinguish between the rightful or wrongful nature of his actions.

Pistorius was once revered around the world as the ultimate example of triumph over adversity as he overcame his disability to compete alongside able-bodied athletes at the London 2012 Olympics.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Siyabonga Sishi; Editing by Joe Brock)

Recent Headlines

1 hour ago in Music

Prince’s motorcycle jacket from ‘Purple Rain’ film on auction

Fresh
purplerainREUTERS

A motorcycle jacket worn by the late pop star in his 1984 film when he rides through the woods with the movie's leading lady, Apollonia, will be sold at auction.

1 hour ago in Sports

Mayweather happy in retirement but hints at ring return

Fresh
mayweatherREUTERS

Mayweather quit boxing in September after accumulating a 49-0 record during a 19-year career that produced world titles in five weight divisions and earnings in excess of $800 million.

1 hour ago in Sports

Day three off lead as PGA Tour event spills into Monday

Fresh
14-overlay

World number one Jason Day moved within three strokes of the lead during the third round at the weather-plagued Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Sunday before more torrential rain halted play for the day.

2 hours ago in Sports

DeRozan, Raptors shoot past Pacers in Game 7

Fresh
15-overlay

Dwane Casey read the reviews of the Toronto Raptors' decisive Game 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

2 hours ago in Music

U2 guitarist The Edge makes history as he rocks Sistine Chapel for cancer

Fresh
u2edge

The Edge, lead guitarist with the Irish band U2, has become the first rock star to play in the Sistine Chapel, a venue he described as "the most beautiful parish hall in the world."