Joran van der Sloot Peru murder trial set to begin Friday
(CBS/AP) LIMA, Peru - Joran van der Sloot, accused in the murder of a young Peruvian woman, goes on trial Friday, nearly seven years after he became the prime suspect in the disappearance of American teenager Natalie Holloway.
Van der Sloot, 24, is charged with killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room on May 30, 2010, after the two left a casino together.
Authorities say Van der Sloot confessed to killing Flores, claiming he became enraged after she discovered his connection to Holloway, who disappeared while celebrating her high school graduation on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba. Holloway was seen leaving a nightclub with Van der Sloot.
His attorney says the confession should be voided because the defense lawyer present when he made it was state-appointed and no official translator was present.
Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year prison sentence for Van der Sloot on murder and theft charges in a trial that will be held at Lima's Lurigancho prison.
He is accused of murdering Flores with "ferocity and great cruelty," and prosecutors say he also stole 600 soles, about $220, from the victim.
Meanwhile, Van der Sloot's attorney Luis Jimenez will argue that his client was in a state of emotional distress when he killed Flores and thus the charge should be reduced from first-degree murder to simple homicide. The latter carries a prison sentence of eight to 20 years.
Lawyers for Flores' family, who are allowed to participate in the trial under Peruvian law, will try to show that Van der Sloot killed her to steal money she won at the casino.
If the court finds that to be true, a conviction could result in Van der Sloot being sentenced to life in prison.
Van der Sloot has been in custody since being arrested in Chile days after Flores' death.
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