Joran van der Sloot, a 23-year-old Dutch playboy accused of murdering a Peruvian woman following a night of drinking and gambling will plead guilty of involuntary manslaughter, his lawyer said today.
Van der Sloot, the primary suspect in the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba, plans to use a "fit of rage" defense in his upcoming trial for the murder of Peruvian Stephany Flores, his lawyer Maximo Altez said today.
Altez, speaking on the Peruvian television show "Domingo Al Día," said van der Sloot had no premeditated plan to kill Flores. The two got into an argument after Flores had looked at his laptop, the lawyer said.
"They started pushing each other and that is why it happened," Altez said.
Under Peruvian law, manslaughter in a fit of rage carries a prison sentence of between three and five years, and Altez said his client could be free in 20 months. Van der Sloot could face a sentence of 15 to 35 years if he is convicted of murder.
Soon after his June 2010 arrest, van der Sloot confessed to killing Flores in his hotel room, telling authorities that he became enraged when the woman looked him up online and learned of his alleged involvement in the Holloway affair.
"She hit me in the head. I lost control of my actions. I didn't know what I was doing. I remember what I was doing, but not the motive. It was an impulsive act after receiving a blow to the head," van der Sloot said in a signed confession to police last year.
"She was on the bed when I hit her hard with my right elbow and I think her head went back and hit the wall, then she begins to bleed," he said. "Immediately I get on top of her and with both hands I begin to strangle her, keeping her that way for a minute.
"After that, I throw her to the floor, but she keeps breathing. At that moment I take off my shirt and put it on her face, pressing on it. I don't remember for how long, but she stops breathing. In this way I think I caused her death," he said when investigators asked for a details description of the killing.
The "fit of rage" defense is typically reserved for crimes of passion, such as when a husband catches his wife in the act of committing adultery.
Van der Sloot said he drank 10 drinks of whiskey and Pisco, a Peruvian grape liquor, at the Atlantic City Casino in Lima, where he picked up Flores at a poker table.
Following the murder, van der Sloot said, he left his hotel room and purchased two cups of coffee and some cake. He returned the room and ate breakfast over Flores' body.
He left the hotel, taking only his laptop and some cash and fled to Chile, where police arrested him several days later.
Though he initially tried telling investigators an armed man had broken into his hotel room, he later confessed to killing Flores.
At the end of the confession he tried to barter a deal with authorities, promising to tell Aruban police the whereabouts of Holloway's remains to avoid facing trial in Peru.
"I wish to talk about the Natalee Holloway case from five years ago and the possibility that if this trial goes quickly and fluidly it could be possible for me to be extradited to Aruba. I wish to discuss the case, but not at the moment. It's a case that is years old and I would prefer to speak with the Aruban police and if there is the possibility of closing the case I would be ready to clarify the case," he told authorities at the time.
Van der Sloot has been the primary suspect in the Holloway case for six years. He has been charged by U.S. authorities with extortion for taking money from Holloway's mother in exchange for information about where to find the girl's remains.
Investigators concluded the information he provided was false, because the foundation of the house where he said she was buried was not under construction at the time of her disappearance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.