Russia's Worst Serial Killer on Trial

Pichushkin's mother, Natalya, spoke to Moscow's Tvoi Dyen tabloid after her son's arrest. "How could I have known that he'd become such a beast?" she said. "He grew up as a normal child. Although at the age of 4 he did fall off a swing, hit his head and spent a week in hospital."

The "Crazy Chess Player," as Moscow police now call him, does not deny the toll of his killing spree. His lawyer, Pavel Ivannikov, told the court that Pichushkin would plead guilty.

Capital punishment is still in the Russian penal code, but since 1996 Russia has observed a freeze on the death penalty, as required by its Council of Europe membership. Realistically, if convicted, Pichushkin faces a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

After leaving the courtroom, Alexander Fyodorov, an elderly, intellectual Muscovite, told reporters, "He got my brother drunk, then threw him into the sewage well, still alive. Pichushkin deserves more than a life sentence. A firing squad would be too light on him."

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