Murder suspect Joran van der Sloot asked for more time Friday to decide how to plead as his trial opened in the death of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman.
The Dutch citizen indicated that he was inclined to confess to the crime but doesn’t accept the aggravated murder charges sought by the prosecution.
A three-judge panel ordered the trial to resume on January 11.
When he was asked moments earlier by presiding judge Victoria Montoya to enter a plea to the murder charges, Joran van der Sloot answered:
“I want to give a sincere confession, but I don’t agree with all the charges that have been placed on me by the prosecutor.”
“Can I have more time to think about this?”
The 24-year-old, lso the prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, repeatedly shook his head when the prosecutor described how Van der Sloot allegedly beat and strangled the victim, intending to rob her.
Van der Sloot long ago admitted to police that he killed Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room on May 30, 2010. So what’s the holdup here?
Police forensic experts have disputed that version of events.
Defense attorney Jose Luis Jimenez said before the hearing that there was a 70% chance Van der Sloot would plead guilty, leading to a reduced sentence.
Prosecutors are seeking 30 years for murder and theft.
Jimenez contends his client was in a state of emotional distress and would “seek to reduce the charge from first-degree murder to simple homicide.”
The latter carries a prison sentence of 8-20 years.
Van der Sloot entered the courtroom in Lurigancho prison in Lima Friday morning in a blue blazer and faded blue jeans with a bulletproof vest.
He sported a crew cut and an untucked long-sleeved shirt.
He took off the vest in court, which lacked air conditioning, and fidgeted, yawning several times and slouching. That drew Judge Montoya’s reproach.
“Sit up straight and show some respect for the court,” she told him.