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Van der Sloot pleads guilty to Peruvian woman's murder

By the CNN Wire Staff
January 11, 2012 -- Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Hearing Thursday regarding possible Holloway death declaration
  • Victim's family will attend Friday's sentencing
  • The lawyer for victim's family calls van der Sloot a "psychopath"
  • Van der Sloot was charged with murdering a woman in a Lima hotel room

(CNN) -- Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty Wednesday to all the charges against him in the 2010 killing of a Peruvian woman.

"I am really sorry for what happened," he told the three magistrates overseeing his trial in Lima, Peru, after pleading guilty to the "qualified murder" and simple robbery of Stephany Flores. There is no jury.

The 24-year-old Dutch national faces a sentence of 30 years in prison, but his attorney hopes his plea, called an "anticipated conclusion of the process," will reduce that term.

He will be sentenced Friday morning.

Enrique Flores, brother of the victim, said the family did not attend court Wednesday but will be in the courtroom gallery for sentencing.

The Peruvian murder case garnered global attention in part because of the circumstances of the killing, but also because van der Sloot was arrested twice but never charged in the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

"I was just happy to see that the Flores family finally got justice," Dave Holloway, Natalee Holloway's father, told HLN's Nancy Grace. "I just hope that on Friday that he gets the proper sentence that he deserves."

After entering his plea, van der Sloot was red-faced and frowning. He hung his head as his attorney made a plea for a reduced sentence.

"He was pointed at and persecuted. The world had been against him for five years before this case, for a murder he said he never committed and for which there is no evidence whatsoever," said attorney Jose Luis Jimenez.

Prosecutors objected to Jimenez bringing up the Holloway case in the courtroom.

Afterward, van der Sloot smiled and gestured with his attorney.

Dave Holloway said he was "kind of surprised" that van der Sloot's defense attorney used the Holloway case and the death of van der Sloot's father in an attempt to reduce his sentence, saying they created stress for him.

"He created all this -- if he has any stress -- created all this stress himself," Holloway said. "I just don't buy it."

"This individual is a psychopath and a psychopath cannot be freed because if that happens he becomes a danger to society," Edwar Alvarez, the attorney for the Flores family, said after the hearing.

Van der Sloot began to plead guilty during a hearing last Friday, but at the last moment asked for more time to "reflect" on it.

Police say van der Sloot killed Flores in his Lima hotel room in May 2010, then took money and bank cards from her wallet and fled to Chile, where he was arrested a few days later.

Van der Sloot's lawyer mentions Holloway
Joran van der Sloot pleads guilty
A 'bored' van der Sloot postpones plea

Van der Sloot sues nation of Chile

On Friday, prosecutors went over all their evidence and witnesses and gave a summation of the case.

During the hearing, a judge criticized van der Sloot for yawning, slouching and showing disrespect to the court.

Jimenez said his client had been transferred to the courthouse at 6 a.m. and was kept in a hot holding cell for four hours, wearing a bulletproof vest and jacket the whole time. He hadn't slept well because he was nervous about the process and was handcuffed the entire time, Jimenez said.

The lawyer asked the court to handle van der Sloot's arrival differently Wednesday, but there were no assurances that would happen, he said.

Investigators believe van der Sloot killed Flores after she found something related to the Holloway case on van der Sloot's computer as she visited with him in his hotel room. Holloway, an Alabama teen who vanished in 2005 while on a graduation trip to Aruba, was last seen leaving a nightclub with van der Sloot and two other men. Her disappearance is still unsolved.

The Peruvian victim's family, including her father, Ricardo Flores, had pushed for stiffer charges.

While his Peruvian trial wraps up, van der Sloot also faces possible extradition to the United States. In June 2010, a federal grand jury in Alabama indicted him on charges of wire fraud and extortion. Prosecutors say he demanded more than $250,000 from Holloway's family in return for disclosing the location of her body.

He was allegedly given a total of $25,000, and authorities believe he used that money to travel to Peru and participate in a poker tournament, where he met Flores.

Dave Holloway said Wednesday he doesn't believe Aruban authorities will ever be able to prosecute van der Sloot in his daughter's disappearance.

"To some extent, you try to hold in your mind that this sentencing coming up Friday will help out, and just knowing he's behind bars will help out," he said. "... You've just got to, you know, take a step back and say, 'He's behind bars and that's probably as good as we're going to get.'"

A probate judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, on Thursday will consider a request to have Natalee Holloway declared dead.

Dave Holloway filed the petition."This is a normal proceeding for families when a loved one has been missing for an extended period of time," his attorney said last year. Dave Holloway's former wife and Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway, had no comment Wednesday.

CNN's Rafael Romo and InSession's Jean Casarez and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

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