Joran van der Sloot took a big gamble to enter a guilty plea in hopes of a reduced sentence in the strangulation death of a young woman he met at a Lima casino, but he lost.
A three-judge panel sentenced him to 28 years in prison, discarding his claims of contrition in a killing his lawyer said was triggered by trauma from being the prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway.
Asked if he accepted the sentence, Van der Sloot, standing in a green T-shirt and faded jeans in a hot Lima courtroom, said he would appeal.
The sentencing marked the latest chapter in the tabloid-sustaining saga and came a day after a judge in Alabama declared Holloway legally dead as her parents try to bring Van der Sloot, 24, to the U.S. for a related crime.
“I believe he is beyond rehabilitation,” Dave Holloway in Birmingham, Ala., after that hearing.
The Peruvian judges said Friday that due to time already served, van der Sloot’s sentence would end in June 2038.
While the parents of Holloway and Flores want him to experience the greater deprivation of a U.S. prison, they will have to wait for him to serve his time before any extradition on U.S. charges related to his alleged extortion of Holloway’s mother, a Peruvian legal expert said.
The three female judges showed no sign of believing his contrition for the May 2010 killing of Stephany Flores. Their sentence, which took a clerk nearly two hours to read as Van der Sloot repeatedly wiped sweat from his brow, said he was guilty of “first-degree murder with aggravating factors of ferocity and great cruelty.”
Van der Sloot stood passively as the clerk detailed how he elbowed Flores, a 21-year-old business student, in the face, beat her repeatedly, then strangled her with his bloodied shirt.
Van der Sloot’s expression didn’t change when the sentence was rendered, including the judges’ order to pay $75,000 in reparations to the victim’s family. No members of Van der Sloot’s family attended the trial.