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Van der Sloot admits to Peru killing, seeks lesser charge

From Mayra Cuevas and Jean Casarez, In Session
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Big news in case of Holloway suspect
  • Defense lawyer has asked judge for lesser charge
  • Joran Van der Sloot is accused of killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores in Lima, Peru, last year
  • If found guilty of first-degree murder, Van der Sloot would spend a minimum of 15 years in prison

(CNN) -- The lawyer for Joran Van der Sloot, the Dutch national accused of killing a 21-year-old woman in Lima, Peru, last year, said Monday he has asked the court to charge his client with the lesser offense of manslaughter.

"In his statement to the police, Joran admitted that he committed the crime, but it was not in the way that the police said it happened," said attorney Maximo Altez. "We have submitted a motion to show that he shouldn't be charged with aggravated murder, but with violent emotion murder."

"Violent emotion murder" is the equivalent of manslaughter in the United States.

Van der Sloot faces up to five years in prison if convicted on the lesser charge and a minimum of 15 years if found guilty of first-degree murder.

Altez gave a copy of the motion, dated late last year, to "In Session." A judge has not yet made a ruling on it, he said.

2010: Confronting van der Sloot
2010: Inside van der Sloot's cell
2010: Reporter interviews van der Sloot

Van der Sloot has been charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the case of 21-year-old Stephany Flores. Authorities found Flores' body in a Lima hotel room registered to him in June last year.

He is perhaps best-known as the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of an American teenager in Aruba. Van de Sloot was arrested twice in connection with the Natalee Holloway case, but was not charged.

Police have said Van der Sloot admitted that he attacked Flores on May 30 after she read an e-mail on his computer connected with the Holloway case.

After killing Flores, police say, Van der Sloot took money and bank cards from her wallet and fled to Chile, where he was arrested June 3.

He was returned the next day to Peru.

"My client ... admits having murdered the victim, but not with ferocity, for profit or pleasure, nor any of the other element(s) that make up this murder, but only by violent emotion that overtook him at the time he was attacked by the victim," Altez's motion read. The lawyer contends there is no evidence of robbery.

Van der Sloot also faces federal wire fraud and extortion charges in the United States, where prosecutors say he demanded more than $250,000 from Holloway's family in return for disclosing the location of her body.

"I hope he remembers that there's a hold on him and that he faces up to 20 years for extortion here in the U.S.," said John Kelly, the attorney for Holloway's mother. He said Van der Sloot is a "prolific liar."

Van der Sloot is being held at the Miguel Castro Castro Prison. He is spending his time teaching English to the guards and is still in solitary confinement, his lawyer said.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report