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Neuschwanstein castle murder case opens with U.S. man admitting to rape, killing of fellow U.S. tourist

Man arrested in fatal attack near German castle
U.S. man arrested in fatal attack on American tourists near German castle 01:28

Kempten, Germany — An American man accused of raping and killing a fellow U.S. tourist near Bavaria's famed Neuschwanstein castle last year made a wide-ranging confession on the first day of his trial Monday.

Troy Philipp B. faces several charges including one count of murder over the death of the 21-year-old woman. He also stands accused of the attempted murder of the victim's friend, also an American citizen. Neither the suspect nor the victims have been identified due to German privacy laws.

CBS News' Anna Noryskiewicz said B.'s lawyer surprised the court right at the outset of the Monday hearing when he admitted that his client had committed the crime.

Murder trial begins after violent attack at Neuschwanstein Castle
A 31-year-old American man accused of murder is led into the courtroom at the Kempton District Court, Feb. 19, 2024, in Kempten, Bavaria, southern Germany. Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/Getty

"The accused committed the incomprehensible act," his lawyer Philip Mueller told the district court in the southern town of Kempten.

The lawyer said B. had been motivated to carry out the acts spontaneously and denied any intent. B. also admitted to possessing child pornography right at the beginning of the trial.

Suspects do not enter formal guilty or not guilty pleas to charges in Germany's criminal justice system.

Tourist dies after attack at Neuschwanstein Castle
A file photo shows the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, southern Germany. Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance/Getty

The two women, then 21 and 22 years old, had been hiking in the Neuschwanstein area in June last year when they met B., who offered to take them to a viewpoint, investigators said.

At a secluded spot, the man, then 30, allegedly pushed the 21-year-old woman to the ground and proceeded to rape and strangle her. Her friend intervened, leading to a scuffle in which the man allegedly pushed the 22-year-old off a steep slope.

The accused then continued his sexual assault of the 21-year-old woman, strangling her with a belt while filming the act.

Interrupted by hikers who stumbled on the crime, he pushed the rape victim down the same slope while she was unconscious.

When mountain rescue workers found the two women, the 22-year-old was injured but able to talk.

Neuschwanstein Castle stands is seen on June 11, 2015, near Hohenschwangau, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty

The rape victim was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to hospital, where she died later that night from her injuries.
"He was aware that the victim could die without help, yet he still left her behind," Mueller told the court.

His client was "deeply ashamed" about his actions and wished to apologize to the victim's family, the lawyer added.

The suspect, who is from Michigan, spoke only to confirm the accuracy of his lawyer's statement to the court.

He is not expected to make any further comments during the trial, scheduled to run until March 13.

The rescue operation and his subsequent arrest took place in front of hundreds of tourists.

An image taken from video shows a suspect being led away by police officers near Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, southern Germany, June 15, 2023, after two tourists were attacked near the castle. Eric Abneri via AP

One of them was another American tourist, Eric Abneri, from New York, who captured video of B. being taken into custody. He told CBS News after the incident that the suspect's "face was covered in deep red scratch marks and his neck as well."

"There was clearly a struggle there, and he just had a frown on his face," Abneri said. "He didn't say anything. He had a sort of disturbed look."

Built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein castle is one of the most visited sites in Germany, attracting over a million visitors a year.

B. faces up to life in prison if convicted.

On Monday, he also confessed to possession of child pornography, which investigators uncovered as part of their probe into the attack.

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