Guilty yet free? Bloody deed is tried again
More than 27 years ago, a man stabbed a woman on the street. There is no doubt about it. He is convicted of murder – and is now in the dock again for the same crime.
When he stabs and kills the woman in Sindelfingen during the night, the word of the year is “multimedia” and Helmut Kohl still has a few more years as Federal Chancellor ahead of him: more than 27 years after almost two dozen stab wounds at an S-Bahn station in Sindelfingen (Böblingen district), a now 72-year-old man has to answer to the court again for the same case in Stuttgart.
The pensioner had already been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Stuttgart Regional Court in July 2021. However, he was able to convince the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) with his appeal, which reversed the judgment and referred the case back to another chamber of the regional court. In the purely circumstantial process, the murder characteristic of insidiousness was not sufficiently proven, it was said from Karlsruhe.
The accused remains silent
The case is now being reopened. In the first trial, the accused was consistently silent – and will continue to do so in the new trial, as he announced on Wednesday. Although there is no doubt about his guilt from the BGH’s point of view, the man could leave the room as a free man.
It remains unclear what happened before the then 35-year-old victim died. From the point of view of the BGH, it cannot be clarified what happened before the fatal stabbing. Was there a conversation or an argument, could the woman have fled or called for help? Because then it would not necessarily have been murder, which is not subject to a statute of limitations under German law, but perhaps manslaughter. You can’t be punished for such a thing after more than 20 years. It is not clear why the man, who was born in northern Germany, killed the woman.
Only transferred in 2018
In the first trial there were dozens of witnesses, many testimonies from people who now live abroad, the file situation was catastrophic, there was a lack of evidence, and some of the witnesses who were asked for had already died or were struggling with memory gaps. A verdict is not expected before the end of March 2023.
“If he just goes out like that, the ground will break under my feet,” said Nicola Moser, the 65-year-old sister of the victim, on Wednesday on the sidelines of the new edition of the murder trial.
The man was only transferred in 2018 after DNA traces under the victim’s fingernails could be assigned to him. A special commission had the man, who was born in northern Germany, in their sights early on – but the investigations were initially unsuccessful.
In 2007, the Würzburg district court had convicted him of manslaughtering a hitchhiker from Obersontheim (Schwäbisch Hall district) – even then on the second attempt after an acquittal in the first trial.