Joran van der Sloot is set to be sentenced in a Peruvian court on Friday
He pleaded guilty Wednesday to "qualified murder" and robbery
The Dutch national killed Stephany Flores, 21, in a Peruvian hotel room
Flores' family plans to be in court for Friday's sentencing, her brother says
Peruvian judges began a sentencing hearing Friday for Joran van der Sloot, who pleaded guilty two days earlier to all charges related to the killing of a 21-year-old woman.
Enrique Flores, brother of the victim, said that family members planned to be in court for van der Sloot’s sentencing. He said none attended the court proceedings on Wednesday, when the 24-year-old Dutch national confessed to the charges of “qualified murder” and simple robbery.
It was an apparent attempt to win a more lenient sentence, using a plea called an “anticipated conclusion of the process” under Peruvian law. Five days earlier, the three judges delayed the start of van der Sloot’s trial after he declined to give a plea after expressing reservations about the “aggravating factors” tied to admitting his guilt.
Under sentencing guidelines, the panel of judges on Friday could order van der Sloot imprisoned for as much as 30 years.
As he appeared red-faced, frowning and with his head hung low, his attorney, Jose Luis Jimenez, argued Wednesday that a shorter sentence was in order.
Jimenez claimed that his client was under special stress the day the 2010 murder occurred, which marked five years after Natalee Holloway went missing. Van der Sloot – who, with two others, was among the last people seen with the Alabama teenager – was detained twice, but never charged, in Holloway’s disappearance.
“He was pointed at and persecuted. The world had been against him for five years before this case, for a murder he said he never committed and for which there is no evidence whatsoever,” said Jimenez.
Police say van der Sloot murdered Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room in May 2010, then took money and bank cards from her wallet and fled to Chile, where he was arrested a few days later.
Investigators believe he killed the Peruvian woman after she found something related to the Holloway case on van der Sloot’s computer while she was visiting him in his hotel room.
Alabama Probate Judge Alan King on Thursday – about six and a half years after she went missing – signed an order declaring Natalee Holloway legally dead.
The girl’s body has never been found, and no one has been charged in Aruba. But van der Sloot does faces possible extradition to the United States in a matter tied to Holloway’s disappearance and her family.
In June 2010, a federal grand jury in Alabama indicted him on charges of wire fraud and extortion after allegations surfaced that he tried to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s mother, Beth. Van der Sloot offered to provide what turned out to be bogus information about the whereabouts of Holloway’s remains in exchange for the money, according to the indictment.
He was allegedly given a total of $25,000, and authorities believe he used that money to travel to Peru and participate in a poker tournament, where he met Flores.