POSTED: 06:11 a.m. HST, Jan 11, 2012
LIMA, Peru >> Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty today to the 2010 murder of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman he met at a Lima casino who was killed five years to the day of the unsolved disappearance in Aruba of an American teen in which he remains the main suspect.
"Yes, I want to plead guilty. I wanted from the first moment to confess sincerely," he told the court. "I truly am sorry for this act. I feel very bad."
Van der Sloot's lawyer argued after his client's brief statement that the defendant killed Stephany Flores as a result of "extreme psychological trauma" he suffered from the fallout of the 2005 disappearance on the Caribbean island of Aruba of Natalee Holloway.
The 24-year-old Dutch citizen's trial opened last week but was adjourned until today after Van der Sloot asked for more time to decide how to plead. He said last week that he was inclined to confess but doesn't accept the aggravated murder charges the prosecution seeks.
Van der Sloot entered the plea in hopes of a reduced sentence. The panel of three judges has 48 hours to render a sentence.
Prosecutors sought 30 years in prison on first-degree murder and theft charges. The defense claimed the killing was manslaughter, whose minimum sentence is 5 years.
Van der Sloot claimed in a confession shortly after the May 30, 2010, murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores that he killed her in a fit of rage after she discovered on his laptop his connection to the disappearance of Holloway.
But prosecutors say Van der Sloot killed Flores, a business student from a prominent family, in order to rob her after learning she had won money at the casino where the two met. They say he killed her with "ferocity" and "cruelty," beating then strangling her in his Lima hotel room.
Holloway, an Alabama teen, disappeared a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba where Van der Sloot grew up.