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Natalee Holloway suspect postpones plea in Peruvian murder case

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 3:17 p.m. HST, Jan 6, 2012

LIMA, Peru >> Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot asked for more time Friday to decide how to plead in his trial for the 2010 murder of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman. His case was postponed until Jan. 11.

A panel of three female judges heard the prosecutor lay out the case against Van de Sloot in the killing of Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room on May 30, 2010.

The 24-year-old defendant was also the prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 killing of U.S. citizen Natalee Holloway from Mountain Brook, Alabama.

He shook his head as the prosecutor detailed the case against him in the Flores case.

When asked how he would plead, Van der Sloot answered in rudimentary Spanish, "I want to give a sincere confession, but I don't agree with all the charges that has placed on me by the prosecutor. Can I have more time to think about this?"

Judge Victoria Montoya agreed to the postponement.

Van der Sloot entered the courtroom Friday morning in a blue blazer and faded blue jeans with a bulletproof vest beneath the jacket. He sported a crew cut and wore a long-sleeved gray shirt.

Defense attorney Jose Luis Jimenez told The Associated Press Friday that there was a 70 percent chance Van der Sloot will plead guilty, which could help him get a reduced sentence.

Flores' father, Ricardo Flores, told the AP Friday that the family would participate in the trial in hopes of ensuring that Van der Sloot is also accused of robbery in connection with the killing,

Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year prison sentence on murder and theft charges.

But Jimenez has said he would argue that his client was in a state of emotional distress when he killed Flores and "seek to reduce the charge from first-degree murder to simple homicide." The latter carries a prison sentence of from eight to 20 years.

Police and Flores' family dispute Van der Sloot's version of her death. They say the defendant was hard up for cash and knew the Peruvian business student had been winning at the casino.

"We hope that throughout this process our attorneys can demonstrate the true motives for the killing of my daughter," Ricardo Flores said.

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