Rotterdam man suspected of killing American said she attacked him first

Joel S., the man who confessed to murdering Sarah Papenheim in her Rotterdam student home in December, claims that he acted in self defense. In a statement to the police, he said that the 21-year-old American student attacked him first, Sebas Diekstra, the lawyer representing the young woman's mother, said based on the case file, AD reports.

Sarah Papenheim was stabbed to death in her student flat in Rotterdam Kralingen. She had 27 stab wounds in her abdomen, neck, torso and back. Joel S. who lived in the same building, was arrested a short time later. The Public Prosecutor is charging him with murder, which shows that the judiciary believes the stabbing was premeditated.

S. appeared in court for the third proforma hearing in this case on Wednesday. Sarah's mother Donee Odegard, who received and read an English copy of the case file, again came from the United States to attend. "She wants to know everything about the last moments of her daughter's life", Diekstra said to AD. "She also wants to see color photos of how Sarah was found. It is part of her way of processing it."

Odegard was visibly upset when S. was brought into the courtroom with a smile on his face. "Why laugh? There is nothing to laugh about", she said after the hearing, according to the newspaper. "It made me angry. It hurt me. The boy's attitude shows no respect. I'm angry too because he blames everything on Sarah. It is her fault, he says, that he stabbed her to death. I am furious about that. Because the statements in the file show that he says he remembers everything about what Sarah would have done to him, but not what he did to her."

S. is currently undergoing psychiatric evaluation at the Pieter Baan Center. The evaluation is nearly complete and the report will be ready in a few weeks, the Public Prosecutor said on Wednesday. The trial against S. will likely start in November. S. will remain in custody until then.