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The length of the sentence is completely at the judges’ discretion, said court officials and a leading Peruvian criminal attorney, Luis Lamas.
The attorney for the family of the victim, Edwar Alvarez, has argued for life in prison and deemed a sentence reduction “unacceptable.”
“In the court record, this man has submitted to psychological examinations, and they have concluded that he is a psychopathic person,” he told reporters. “What judge would give a psychopath a penal benefit?”
The victim’s father, circus impresario and former race car driver Ricardo Flores, attended the opening of the trial but not Wednesday’s hearing.
Reached by phone before van der Sloot’s plea, he said he could not bear to even watch the proceedings on TV.
Mr. Flores told the AP on Friday said the family, as a party to the trial, had planned to introduce testimony from friends of his daughter and casino employees proving that she won $10,000 there and that van der Sloot had learned of it. He said the casino had videotape of his daughter cashing in the chips.
Video taken at the Atlantic City Casino, where the victim met van der Sloot, shows the two leaving together, and closed-circuit images from the downmarket TAC hotel shows the pair entering together and van der Sloot leaving alone hours later, bags packed.
After strangling Flores, van der Sloot left the hotel room and, to hide the crime, bought two cups of coffee across the street, asking a hotel employee to open his room when he returned, Prosecutor Jose Santiesteban said in the trial’s opening argument Friday.
Van der Sloot continues to be dogged by the case of Holloway, a Mountain Brook, Ala., 19-year-old who disappeared during a high school graduation trip in 2005 to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, where van der Sloot grew up.
She was last seen leaving a nightclub with him. Her body has never been found.
The case received a storm of media attention, and the tall, garrulous Dutchman became a staple of true-crime TV shows, in several interviews describing himself as a pathological liar. In a clandestinely taped conversation, he is seen telling a Dutch TV reporter he was involved in Holloway’s disappearance.
Van der Sloot’s trip to Lima may have been funded by continued fallout from that case.
U.S. officials, who indicted him on extortion and fraud charges days after the Flores killing, say van der Sloot had just extorted $25,000 from Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, by offering to lead her attorney, John Q. Kelly, to Holloway’s body in Aruba.
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