Monday, June 14, 2010

Will Joran Get Away with Murder Again?

by Diane Fanning

Many feel Joran van der Sloot should be behind bars for the murder of Natalee Holloway.  Instead, he's been traipsing around the world.  Now, it may be time for him to pay--unfortunately, another young woman had to die to make that possible.

When 18-year-old Natalee Holloway disappeared while on vacation in Aruba in late May 2005, her parents zeroed in on 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot. He was the last person seen with Natalee and he kept changing his story.

Dutch authorities obviously shared their suspicion, arresting Joran twice—but never charging him with her murder. Hope for closure in the case died from a combination of investigative error, an island desire to minimize the crime for the sake of tourism and the hostility generated by Natalee’s parents who made inadvertent missteps as they were caught up in an alien justice system. It appeared that, short of the miraculous discovery of a body, with compelling, intact forensic evidence, there would never be any justice for Natalee Holloway.

For five years, he’s tormented Natalee’s parents through titillating interviews with bloggers and members of the media. Most recently, he accepted a $25,000 down payment in two installments toward the $250,000 he requested from Beth Holloway. In return, he said he’d argued with Natalee and threw her on the ground. Her head hit a rock and she died. He also said that his father—who conveniently died in February—helped him to bury her body in the foundation of a house. A week later, he sent an email saying that he lied.

Along with many others, I believed that it was only a matter of time before Joran was accused of another act of violence against a woman. His obvious narcissism and clear disdain for Natalee’s grieving family made that a foregone conclusion. We could only hope that, this time, it would not be fatal.

Stephany Flores Ramirez (below right) encountered Joran in a casino where they were both gambling. She won a $10,000 pot using some money fronted by Joran. They went to his room to divide up the winnings. According to Joran, she was on his laptop and accessed an article about Natalee Holloway. He said that was a gross and intolerable invasion of his privacy.  "I didn't want to do it," he said.  "The girl intruded in my life."

A civilized person, feeling such an affront, would ask the other person to leave the room. Instead, Joran elbowed her in the face hard enough to knock her unconscious and slammed her into the wall with sufficient force to cause a brain hemorrhage and then strangled her to death with her shirt. Some reports indicate that also he stabbed his victim repeatedly.  Stephany died on May 30, 2010—exactly five years to the day of Natalee’s demise. 

Joran confessed to this murder but his defense attorneys are now saying the confession was coerced and not admissible in a court of law. I imagine Joran is now entertaining fantasies of getting away with this homicide, too.

However, he is facing an entirely differently situation this time. When he ended Natalee’s life, he was on his home island of Aruba. Natalee was just another foreign woman vacationing there. Now, Joran is the foreigner and Stephanie is the native of Peru. I think that factor in this murder will count heavily against Joran’s evasion of justice in this case.

The court of public opinion in Peru seems outraged by Joran’s crime. According to The Associated Press, even holy men gathered outside the courthouse to condemn him. “Outside, seven Indian shamans in brightly colored ponchos repeatedly stabbed a cloth doll representing van der Sloot in a "spiritual punishment" ritual. ‘We're punishing him so that all the forces of evil are purged,’ one shouted.”

However, I am still troubled by the puny sentence. The maximum he could receive for murder in Peru is 35 years. Even if he served the entire sentence behind bars, I think Joran van der Sloot will still be a danger to women when he is 57 years old. To make matters worse, Peru traditionally gives a shorter sentence to those who confess to their crime.

It’s hard to know what to hope happens. Do you want Joran’s confession to be heard in the courtroom, thus nearly guaranteeing that he would receive a sentence shorter than thirty-five years? Or do you hope his lawyers succeed in having the confession thrown out and look to the prosecutors to present a strong enough case for conviction?

I tend to think that either way, the courts will not be very forgiving of the foreigner who killed a native citizen, of a man who is believed to have killed another woman in a fit of rage.

We have to count on Peru to take care of business—to finish the job that Aruba could not. If they, too, fail and Joran gets away with another murder, I have no doubt that he will kill again.

22 comments:

Rose said...

What about the broken neck... was this not accurate info?

Great blog post, well written and easy to read.

Diane Fanning said...

I'm not certain about the broken neck, Rose. I considered adding it but in the end did not because I found contradictory information regarding it.
Glad to hear you enjoyed the post.

Leah said...

We have to hope that just because Peru can sentence Joran to less time for his confession, they won't.

Diane Fanning said...

That's my fervent hope, too, Leah. The world is a safer place with him behind bars.

Anonymous said...

As I understood it, aggravated assault carries a 35 year sentence, while murder only 15. They have said he acted with great ferocity and cruelty but that he also robbed Stephane, so I think Peru is going for the aggravated assault...in addition to murder charges. I was translating a peruvian news site, and one person said someone could pay off the judges to get him released, he probably has many admirers and his prison number is there for all to see...someone could wire money to him. But as far as the official word, the police there don't believe his story about giving information on Natalle, as he has told so many lies about it in the last five years. So, barring some form on illegal pay off, he is there for the duration.

Diane Fanning said...

Maybe he'll get consective instead of concurrent sentence, anonymous. That would be even better. Do you know if that is an option in Peru?

Anonymous said...

Breaking news, his current lawyer just quit. Said he didn't want to represent him. My guess is not enough money and he didn't want to be paid off in homemade bread.
I don't think there are concurrent sentences in Peru, only that he may have to serve the 35 year sentence vs. the 15 year, and half that with good behavior.
They are already having to take such precautions with him. He eats food the guards eat so he won't get sick. They can't put him in with the general population. Even thought trial in Peru typically take three years or longer to be heard, my guess is they may 'rush' this one through, so they won't have to use manpower they don't have to keep him alive.

Diane Fanning said...

Can't say I'd want to defend a client that has shown a history of belligerance, dishonesty and ingratitude.
Will his mother come to his rescue?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that since he also commited robbery, thus murder during the commision of robbery, plus the savagery he will likely get the full 35 years. Especially since it is so notorious.

His mom really cant do anything for him unless she is able to get a good lawyer to work for free. Joran has pretty much bankrupted the family over the last 5 years with his antics and all the legal fees. And she isnt a judge, she is a schoolteacher. Hopefully she just wishes him well and goes and takes care of her 2 younger boys.

Diane Fanning said...

I don't know if there was any insurance money but I had visions of his mother possibly hiring an attorney with Dad's life insurance. But if they were financially strapped when he died in February, I doubt even life insurance would be enough to hire a good criminal attorney.

piper said...

Someone may represent him for the notoriety.

Diane Fanning said...

I'm sure there is someone who will represent him for the notoriety alone. But a *good* criminal attorney is not an ambulance chaser.
Casey Anthony got an attorney who is representing her for the notoriety and although it hasn't all played out yet, Jose Baez is almost universally regarded as a joke.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty sad to see that another post on this site is nothing more then a listing of assumptions. In another post Pat Brown claimed that Van der Sloot was a serial rapist. A claim which for which there isn't any evidence, it's just an assumption.

And now this post. There's a difference between manslaughter and murder. The latter has to be planned. Just another claim for which there is no evidence.

It's also funny that one the one hand you say that Van der Sloot changes his statements constantly, which he did. Year after year I’ve heard different stories about what happened to Natalee - Joran made a lot of stuff up to fill his pockets - a claim that can be backed up by evidence. But if you take in mind that Joran isn't the most trustworthy person in this world, why do you accept his current statements without the blink of an eye?

And there's a lot of cherrypicking in this post. Why put in the "some reports indicate that he also stabbed his victim" ? It's not supported by his statements, or statements by the police. It sounds juicy, everything for a good story?

Aside from the weird stuff that happened on Aruba in the Natalee case in the first week justice wise, I’m glad Joran didn't get convicted if there was no evidence to do so. It's how a good justice system works: no evidence, no conviction. This might be harsh for people involved, but it's of no importants compared to putting people in jail without proper evidence. Also, the fact that Van der Sloot is a foreigner in Peru shouldn’t make a difference in the treatment the justice system gives him.

And a puny sentence? 35 years in a jail in Peru... Puny? Hehehe, I think the odds are very much against anyone surviving that kind of time this condition. So much for puny, it's more like a very slow deathpenalty.

I'm in no way defending Joran for the things he did or might have done. I'm talking about proper journalism here. Give me facts, not assumptions that sound juicy. Be a bit more critical of your own writings. This way you might be taken seriously in the future. Stay with the facts, don't make up stories.

I'm sorry for any, and I know there are a lot, grammar/spelling errors. I'm Dutch, English isn't my native language. But the fact that I’m Dutch is of importance. Van der Sloot has been in de media continuously here and I followed the case with great interest. It's safe to say that I _do_ know the facts and I _do_ know what I’m talking about. I'm afraid this isn't the case at Women in Crime Ink, and that's a shame...

Diane Fanning said...

Anonymous,
I stand beside my firm belief that Joran Van der Sloot is responsible for the death of Natalee Holloway and Stephany Flores Ramirez. And yes, he lies. But when the available forensic evidence supports what he says, he gains some factual basis.
This blog is not a news reporting space--it is a blog. Opinions are expected and appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Diane,

Thank you for your reaction.

The belief that Joran is responsible for the death of these two girls is something different then saying he murdered them.

People consider the writers of this blog "criminal justice professionals and authors" and believe what you say. I would not take the responsibility that comes with that lightly.

But alright, let's play the guessing game:

Isn't it far more realistic to think that Joran was involved in the death of Natalee, but that it was an accident and not murder?

Diane Fanning said...

Anonymous, If you are convinced that the death of Natalee was an accident, I certainly could not say with any authority that you are wrong.
But I look at the man who has now demonstrated clear signs of narcisstic traits, a proclivity to violence and a tendency to fly into a rage over a perceived violation of his privacy.
Before the death of Stephany, I could see the demise of Natalee as either an accident or murder. Since the murder of the young woman in Peru, it is obvious to me that Joran is a brutal man. Because of that, I see it as more realistic that Natalee died through an act of violence at his hand. Is it possible that he hit or without premeditated intent to murder and she died? Yes. But that act of intentional violence makes the act a homicide although not in the first degree.

Anonymous said...

So we agree that the murder charge is a bit over the top?

I'm not convinced Natalee died because of an accident, but the facts never pointed towards murder or violence. A drug-overdose could also be the cause, for example. I'm not convinced of anything besides the fact that he knows more then he's telling the authorities.

As we have all seen on (dutch) tv, it went downhill for Joran after he got arrested the first time. Maybe this is the time when his aggresive nature started to manifest. We don't know, do we?

All i'm saying is that people should be more carefull about the claims they make. People believe you. And that gives you, in my eyes, a responsibility to cherish the truth.

Again, thank you for your reaction.

Anonymous said...

Anon above. The TRUTH is, Joran is a psychopath who IMO did kill Natalee, and then proceeded to torture her mother for the next 5 years with his lies.

If it was an accident, then WHY? Why would he torture Beth? Why wouldnt he just tell what he did? Why wouldnt he keep a low profile?

Diane Fanning said...

I appreciate and respect your opinion, Anonymous. But, actually, that's not exactly what I said. I said premediatated murder is too much to assume. But many murders are not premeditated.
I do agree that there is no direct proof of violence in Natalee's case; however, the best predictor of the presence of violence is other behaviour in that person's life. And Joran has proven he is capable of great violence and acts of impulsive rage. Did this blossom in his character after he was arrested? I doubt it. It seems to be a deeply ingrained personality trait.
And everything we've seen about Joran points to a man who is either a psychopath or a malignant narcissist.
Do I view my opinion about this case or others as correct and sacrosanct at all times? Absolutely not. I am always open to re-evaluating my stance based on new information.
The revelation of new facts or evidence could make me change my opinion. But at this time, with what I know now, I have presented what I believe based on my experience, my knowledge base and the application of logic.
All we can do now is hope that all the truth comes out and justice is served.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous two post above
The truth is that you have opinion? That doens't make your opinion a fact.

@Diane
Here in the Netherlands there's only one type of murder, they are always premeditated. In fact, the definition of murder = premeditated manslaughter. I thought this was the same in the US. It's the difference between murder and homicide. Maybe a difference in legal systems (although i doubt it...) ?

You say you're open to re-evaluating your stance, based on new information. But in the post above you judge this 'new information' as truth, like the stabbing, and this is not the case. They are assumptions or rumors.

I agree that Joran has all the signs against him. But even if he did all the things he's suspect of, he still unguilty until proven guilty. All i'm saying is that people should focus more on facts and less on rumors. Don't let emotions cloud your vision.

People want Joran to rott in hell. And i agree that _if_ he is found guilty, he should be punished. But don't jump the gun.. (and ofcourse the jails in Peru are a disgrace to humanity, even if they house only the worst criminals...)

Anonymous said...

@anonymous two post above
The truth is that you have opinion? That doens't make your opinion a fact.

@Diane
Here in the Netherlands there's only one type of murder, they are always premeditated. In fact, the definition of murder = premeditated manslaughter. I thought this was the same in the US. It's the difference between murder and homicide. Maybe a difference in legal systems (although i doubt it...) ?

You say you're open to re-evaluating your stance, based on new information. But in the post above you judge this 'new information' as truth, like the stabbing, and this is not the case. They are assumptions or rumors.

I agree that Joran has all the signs against him. But even if he did all the things he's suspect of, he still unguilty until proven guilty. All i'm saying is that people should focus more on facts and less on rumors. Don't let emotions cloud your vision.

Anonymous said...

Facts instead of rumors. He was on video meeting Stepahne Flores in the casino in Peru and befriending her. He was seen on video taking her to his room. He was seen leaving the room and re-entenring same room several hours later with two empty cups, for which he asked help from an attendant, claiming he could not get the door open. Then, several hours later he was seen leaving the room again. No one else came and went in said room and it was all recorded. He left the TV blaring and told the people at the front desk 'not to bother his girl', as he had paid for the room for an additional 4 days. When he recieved a phone call to said room, the attentdant was curious when he didn't answer. She found the body of Stephane Flores decompsing in a mass of bedclothes, as she had been there several days per his instructions not to be disturbed.
He was then found in Chili, having fled Peru in her jeep, with her money, and clothes with her blood on them.
His DNA is under her fingernails where she tried to defend herself against fatal blows and strangulation.
I can hardly think of a crime with more proof..almost as if it were meant to be..almost as if it were all filmed on camera.It is almost as if God scripted it.