Joran Van der Sloot Seeks Plea to Reduced Charge

Joran Van der Sloot's attorney was interviewed this weekend and said that three weeks ago he told prosecutors Joran would plead guilty to killing Stephany Flores but argue the killing was spontaneous and unplanned, falling within Peru's "murder by violent emotion" statute, which allows for a sentence of between three and five years. This would mean Joran could be released in about 20 months.

The prosecutor is asking for 30 years. Flores' family wants at least 25. (I don't care what Beth Holloway wants -- she isn't part of this case and her opinion should be irrelevant.)

So how would this work if the prosecution doesn't agree? There are three separate homicide offenses in Peru with three separate penalties: Homicide Aggravated, Homicide Violent Emotion and Homicide Simple. [More...]

The prosecution is recommending a charge of Aggravated Homicide, which carries a minimum of 15 years. But it seems the judge has not yet made a finding as to whether to accept that charge. (Joran's lawyer says the preliminary investigation isn't complete and there's still some issue as to whether Joran was deprived a certified translator when he made his post-arrest statements.)

Here's how the insanity process works, as best as I can determine from the Pervuian code, using Google translator. (Scroll down to Articulo 75.)

Here's how the three murder statutes break down.

It seems to me Joran would first file a petition asserting temporary insanity with the court. The court would appoint experts and make a finding on Joran's mental state at the time of Flores' death. If the court agreed Joran was temporarily insane at the time, he would (as we say here) bind the case over for trial on the lesser charge of homicide violent emotion, rather than aggravated homicide. Only if he does so, it seems to me, could Joran plead guilty before trial and be assured of a 3 to 5 year sentence. If the judge rejects the temporary insanity claim, and determines the aggravated murder charge is appropriate, it doesn't seem like Joran would have the option to plead to the lesser crime of homicide by violent emotion.

Speculating about how criminal laws work in another country is a perilous endeavor. So I'll stop now. But I think what Joran's lawyer is saying is that he's asked the court to find Joran temporarily insane, and if the court agrees, so that Joran is facing only a homicide by violent emotion count, he'll plead guilty. Sounds like a long shot to me. But, he also may just be sending a signal to the judge that there's a way to resolve this case without spending years in litigation: Find Joran temporarily insane and bind him over on the lesser charge of murder by violent emotion, and Joran will plead guilty and accept the 3 to 5 year sentence.

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    van der Sloot (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ding7777 on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 12:42:31 PM EST
    may well have become "enraged" but it certainly wasn't because Flores "looked him up online and learned of his alleged involvement in the Holloway affair" since Joran has been milking his notoriety wrt Holloway for years

    With a little luck (none / 0) (#1)
    by richj25 on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 07:59:55 PM EST
    He can knock off an even half-dozen by the time he's

    No Way he Walks in 20 Months (none / 0) (#2)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 12:27:05 PM EST
    Two things.
    First, I am no Beth Holloway fan, but if his defense/plea hinges on her daughter, she really does have some input.  The inference is that he killed Natalee and was enraged at another poking around his computer.  I don't believe, but that seems to be the direction he is headed.  Pretty hard to claim loss of control over a crime you didn't commit, just doesn't make sense.

    Second, this seems like such an obvious sucker move.  IMO he is backing himself into a murder charge of NH, and I wouldn't be surprised if they wait until his near release before trying him or extraditing him.

    No way he walks away from all of this in 20 months, I will be surprised if he is ever free.  I watched a couple media shows back when this occurred and I didn't see anyone claiming he didn't do it.  They neglected a lot of the information that in my mind is pretty damning to his guilt, or at the very least, very suspect.

    I don't know, the whole thing seems way too convenient for my liking.  He is either the dumbest SoB ever, or the unluckiest.  But that doesn't mean he deserves to be locked up if he didn't do it.

    He already said he did it. (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 12:40:57 PM EST
    Now he's claiming that he was temporarily insane because he was mad she was snooping in his computer and that's why he killed her.  But there is no doubt that he did it.

    And don't forget - he also faces wire fraud and extortion charges in the US (Alabama).


    JB (none / 0) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:44:40 AM EST
    He's gone back and forth, he admitted it, then he was coerced.... he's all over the place, and I can't figure out if he's saying this and that to get a lower sentence, or if he didn't do it.

    The is doubt whether he did.  Signing a confession is a different language isn't exactly what I would call conclusive.


    Well, yes (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:57:51 AM EST
    He also IS an admitted congential liar, so that doesn't really help him much - especially when he's claiming "temporary insanity".

    She has zero input (none / 0) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 11:31:29 PM EST
    This is in Peru, not the U.S., and the Holloway murder, if there was one, happened in Aruba.  The Peruvians are not so dumb as to give him some sort of a deal for a crime he hasn't even been accused of formally in another country, for the benefit of the family in yet a third country.  Please.

    I'm of course not all that familiar with the Peruvian justice system, but from what I've read, they're far less draconian in their treatment of murder than the U.S. (as is just about every other civilized country) and this particular deal would be well within the ordinary there for the situation.


    You mean a slap on the wrist (none / 0) (#7)
    by nyjets on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:18:54 AM EST
    " they're far less draconian in their treatment of murder than the U.S."
    So I assume you think it is okay for someone who is convicted of murder to get a slap on the wrist.

    His trial (none / 0) (#5)
    by mexboy on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 09:27:58 PM EST
    It seems to me all those nay sayers who predicted he would never get a fair trial in a, gulp, third world country were wrong.

    Good point (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdm251 on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:59:06 AM EST
    Good point mexboy.  It seems like the Peruvian system is much fairer than the one in the US.  I am starting to wonder who really lives in the third world.

    priors and virtual priors (none / 0) (#9)
    by diogenes on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:23:00 AM EST
    The prosecutor is asking for 30 years. Flores' family wants at least 25. (I don't care what Beth Holloway wants -- she isn't part of this case and her opinion should be irrelevant.)

    Prior convictions affect a sentence.  How about virtually sure priors?

    That's fine (none / 0) (#11)
    by Harry Saxon on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:53:55 AM EST
    until you start railroading people into jail based on said "virtual priors" instead of using evidence and actual convictions when prosecuting them.

    Joran's attorney (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 03:42:20 PM EST
    Wants journalists to have access to his client.

    Does he think Joran will come off as more sympathetic if he talks to the media?  Or will it allow them to build a case of temporary insanity?