After the murder and rape of a 17-year-old, the suspect is free due to a judicial error: an excessively long duration of the proceedings ensured the acquittal of the 19-year-old.

He met Zoe, 17, via WhatsApp and ambushed her. Lukas V. is said to have dragged the youngsters into a bush on the Willersinnweiher in nearby Ludwigshafen-Friesenheim. There he attacked the girl and is said to have raped and choked her. He took photos of the unconscious victim with his cell phone.

Zoe died in the hospital, the day after the attack, the death investigators knocked on the suspect of the same age. WhatsApp chat traffic with her alleged killer was also found on the victim’s cell phone.

The act of March 2020 is now growing into a judicial affair. Although convicted of murder and triple abuse of minors in August 2022, the 19-year-old suspect was released from custody.

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The Higher Regional Court (OLG) stated that the proceedings had taken an excessively long time on the basis of the delinquent’s complaint against detention. The Senate relied on the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, according to which the cases should be dealt with more quickly, especially in prison matters. In the case of Lukas V., the Higher Regional Court judges complained that the lower court had negotiated slowly over 22 months on only 57 days. At 20 of these meeting dates, the meetings lasted less than two hours.

This violates the principle of acceleration. As a result, the alleged murderer was released again because the verdict is not yet final. The defense and the public prosecutor’s office have appealed the guilty verdict to the Federal Court of Justice (BGH).

In a statement, the Frankenthal district court made it clear that the respective presiding judges decide “how, in what density and sequence the dates in a procedure are determined, how long the negotiations last and which process material is processed in these dates”.

In the case of the sexual murder of Zoe, the days of the session were, as usual, agreed with all those involved in the process. Especially with “the main defender, who is very busy at the scheduled time”. The Senate clearly criticized this. Tenor: Always taking into account a hard-to-reach criminal defense lawyer “is not compatible with the maxim of speeding up that is required in detention cases”. If necessary, the court should have provided the accused with another lawyer.

In his defence, the regional court made it clear that the “present proceedings were based on extensive process material and the taking of evidence to clarify the crimes was very time-consuming”. Furthermore, corona diseases of those involved in the process would have interrupted the main hearing for weeks.

Andreas Klein, defense counsel for the suspect, contradicted the statement: “The juvenile criminal court has not negotiated for a considerably long period of time, and the delays could not be explained conclusively to the Higher Regional Court.” Klein described this as ” as total nonsense”.

The police are currently protecting his client in a secret location. “On the internet, due to the press coverage, people are openly calling for my client to be lynched,” the defense attorney complained.

And so Luke V. is now walking around freely. The victim’s relatives cannot believe that their daughter’s tormentor has been released. “The family fell from all clouds. They cannot understand the court decision,” said her lawyer Christoph Hambusch, who assumes that the alleged murderer could continue to be capable of similar crimes.

“I also didn’t have the impression that the judges had lengthened the main hearing unnecessarily, and the defense made no objections during the entire process.” Only after the verdict did the defendant’s lawyers lodge a complaint. The criminal senate of the Higher Regional Court granted the request six days ago. In an RTL interview, the sister of the murdered Luke V. described it as a “ticking time bomb”.

The trial before the juvenile criminal court in Frankenthal was negotiated behind closed doors, as is usual in such cases. In this respect, the public learned only sparse details about the course of the main hearing. The Trial Chamber imposed the maximum penalty for juveniles.

In the appeal proceedings, the public prosecutor’s office is now demanding the reservation of subsequent preventive detention. The defense attorneys vote for a lighter sentence because they had already pleaded manslaughter in their pleading. A decision by the BGH in Karlsruhe is still pending. Victim lawyer Hambusch does not expect a result before next spring. “At least until then, the delinquent is at large.”