Victim's mother "appalled": Six years in prison for fatal stabbing of American student
Joel S. was sentenced to six years in prison and institutionalized psychiatric treatment for stabbing 21-year-old Sarah Papenheim to death in her Rotterdam student home last year. Her mother was angered by the sentence, which was well below the recommendation offered by the prosecution.
The 24-year-old man was convicted of manslaughter, not murder, because premeditation could not be proven, according to the court, NOS reports. The Public Prosecutor demanded 10 years in prison and treatment against the man.
Papenheim's mother, Donee Odegard, attended the ruling, as did American ambassador Pete Hoekstra. Odegard said she was "appalled" by the sentence. "What do I think about it? It's bullshit", she said to the broadcaster. "I just feel that injustice has been had here, and I was hoping this country would step up and protect my daughter, at least give her some respect afterwards. But to hear that he's probably going to be out in four years. I am appalled."
Those sentenced to prison for criminal convictions in the Netherlands are often eligible for early release after serving two thirds of their sentence.
Papenheim, a young woman from America who came to study in Rotterdam, was stabbed to death in the student complex where she and S. both lived in December last year. The two of them were friends. S. was arrested at Eindhoven Station shortly after Papenheim's body was found in her Kerklaan home. He confessed to killing Papenheim. He told the court that he cannot remember much of that day, but does remember that he was angry with her. "Then I saw blood on the wall and I saw her lying on her back."
The young woman had 27 stab wounds and 10 cuts on her body. When the judge asked S. why he killed her, he said that he did not know, but that he was depressed and wanted to take his own life because he had little success in the musical field.
Sebas Diekstra, the Dutch lawyer representing Papenheim's mother, told the broadcaster that aid workers could have prevented this tragedy. About a week before her death, Papenheim told a friend that she was worried about S., after which the friend called the hotline for reporting people showing disturbed behavior. Aid workers visited S. twice, but saw no reason to intervene immediately. Papenheim herself also reported S. after he told her he wanted to become a serial killer.
S. was examined by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a neurologist. They concluded that S. lost touch with reality due to a combination of multiple disorders including autism, schizophrenia and psychosis. He cannot be held fully accountable, the experts said, recommending treatment.