Joran van der Sloot finally pleaded guilty yesterday to the murder of a Peruvian woman, Stefany Flores, whom he had met in a bar. His lawyer, Jose Luis Jimenez, blamed the crime on van der Sloot’s earlier arrest for the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba and the widespread suspicion that he was the missing teenager’s killer.
Defense lawyers, in the zealous representation of their clients, must often come up with creative theories bordering on the risable to try to wring every last drop of helpful spin out of a hopeless case. It bothers non-lawyers and legal ethicists alike when attorneys assert things about a case or their client that they couldn’t possibly believe is true, though it is enough to meet the low bar of the Rules of Professional Conduct for the lawyer to believe that such statements might be true, perhaps in a parallel universe. They are in the “well, how about this?” category. A defense lawyer with a despicable client like van der Sloot, who appears to be a stone cold sociopath, doesn’t have much to work with.
Still—-being unjustly accused of murdering a teenager he picked up for a fling upset him so much that he murdered another woman he picked up for a fling? What kind of theory is that? How does that make any sense, psychological or otherwise, at all? Can we now look forward to O.J., after he stabs his next wife, claiming that all the stress of unjustly being accused of killing Nicole made him do it? When Herman Cain starts harassing women, will he blame Politico for giving him the idea? Will Dick Cheney bomb the Empire State Building because the Truthers have driven him to it?
Of all the ridiculous defenses to a confessed murder, from the Twinkie defense on down, the “I was so upset by being unjustly accused of murder that I decided to go ahead and kill someone “ has to be the most ridiculous excuse I’ve heard yet. A lawyer who will mouth such obvious nonsense is embarrassing his profession, and I doubt that it does his client any good either. Better to tell the court, “My client did it, is remorseful, and takes full responsibility.” In the case of van der Sloot, that’s mostly baloney too, but at least it doesn’t leave everyone rolling on the floor laughing.