- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

TOULOUSE, France A 33 year-old Frenchman accused of a series of rapes and murders was sentenced last week to life imprisonment for what the prosecution described as his "out-of-the-ordinary crimes."
Patrice Alegre, a former doorman with a history of drug abuse and violence, was found guilty on Thursday of the rape and murder of five women and the rape of another between 1989 and 1997.
Throughout his 10-day trial in the southern city of Toulouse, Alegre ignored repeated pleas from his victims' families for him to explain his crimes to which he had confessed earlier. Even his own 12-year-old daughter, Anais, wrote him a letter urging him to open up and explain to the court and the grieving families of his victims the details and motivation of his attacks, but Alegre only mumbled "I don't know" or "I don't remember."
Before the verdict on Thursday, he asked his lawyer to hand over six letters "personal and private" to the families. "That is all I have to say," he said.
Prosecuting attorney Marc Gaubert told the court that Alegre's crimes were premeditated, and that he had even robbed his victims. "You are not just a perverse psychopath, you are a bad man," he told him.
Sentencing him to life, the judge recommended he serve at least 22 years.
Alegre was arrested in 1997 after allowing one of his victims, named in court as Emilie E., to escape. She described in court how, having been beaten and raped by him in his car, she persuaded him to let her go, and he then drove her to a friend's house and apologized.
An expert on the psychology of serial killers, Daniel Zagury, testified Wednesday that Alegre associated sex with violence but had developed a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" character to shield himself from the horror of his actions.
The case transfixed the French public with its daily drama, while Alegre, sporting a rough beard and close-cropped hair, sat in the dock of the Toulouse courtroom wearing a bullet-proof vest and flanked by police officers.
He was almost inscrutable, except for some facial tics and the clasping and unclasping of his hands.
Emilie E., now aged 25, testified last week that her ordeal happened the day she met Alegre, went to a nightclub and then left with him.
He turned on her, beating her unconscious, undressing her and raping her in his car. Once she regained consciousness, she said, she realized that her only hope of survival was to calmly talk to her attacker. The gambit paid off, and, she said, Alegre even eventually gave her a "sincere" apology for his violence before dropping her off at a friend's place.
After receiving hospital treatment, she went to police, prompting Alegre to flee the home he shared with his girlfriend and daughter.
During his flight, he continued to kill, said prosecutors.
Alegre told the court he spent two nights with his last victim before raping and killing her on Sept. 4, 1997. Investigators suspect he also tortured her.
"She was shy, kind, smiled a lot," he said on Tuesday. "I was excited. … I wasn't in control of myself."
Police caught up with Alegre one day later in Paris. He immediately confessed to the rape of Emilie E. and the rape and murder of the five other women.
Psychologists told the court Alegre was deeply mentally scarred by the regular violence he suffered as a child from his father. But they warned that he showed little sign of facing up to the reality of the horror he inflicted on his victims, and the chances were great he would rape and kill again if released.

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