Joran van der Sloot, prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, goes on trial Friday for the murder of a Peruvian woman in May, 2010 unless a last-minute defense plan has him plead guilty. The woman, Stephany Flores, left a Peruvian casino with Van der Sloot in the early morning, who later confessed to killing her. He is currently being held in a Peruvian jail in Lima.
A late breaking report, however, said that in a last-minute defense strategy change, van der Sloot is expected to plead guilty to all charges against him, according to CNN.
His lawyer told the news agency that a new strategy is to have van der Sloot give a sincere confession so under Peruvian law he can get a lighter sentence. If van der Sloot pleads guilty he could have sentencing as early as next week.
The slaying occurred exactly five years to the day after Natalee Holloway, the 19-year-old who was celebrating her high-school graduation in Aruba, went missing. She was last seen leaving a nightclub with Van der Sloot. Her body has not been found.
Authorities say that Van der Sloot confessed to killing Flores, claiming he became enraged when Flores discovered his connection to the Holloway case. His attorney, however, wants the confession thrown out on the grounds that he only had a state-appointed defense lawyer and no translator present.
Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year prison term for Van der Sloot, saying he murdered Flores with ferocity and great cruelty, according to MSNBC. He is being charged with murder and theft, as prosecutors say he stole the equivalent of $220 from Flores.
Van der Sloot also confessed to being involved with Halloway's disappearance, only to later retract that confession. His lawyer will be arguing that he killed Flores in a state of emotional distress. We will challenge the aggravating factors (charged by the prosecution) and seek to reduce the charge from first-degree murder to simple homicide, Jose Luis Jimenez, his lawyer, told MSNBC. If the charges are reduced, they would carry a sentence of 8 to 20 years in prison.
Flores' family lawyer disagrees with Jimenez, saying that Van der Sloot's interntions are clear. This guy wanted to take the money of the girl because he, in communications he had with his friends in Holland through Facebook and email, stated that he had no money, that he had no money or food, that his stay in Peru was hard and he told them: 'I am on the verge of prostitution,' family lawyer Edward Alvarez told MSNBC.
Van der Sloot is also being charged in Halloway's home town of Alabama with trying to extort the Halloway family, after he told her family that he would lead them to Halloway's body for $25,000.