Extortion trial delayed until fall for suspect in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance
The Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A U.S. judge on Tuesday agreed to delay Joran Van der Sloot’s extortion trial until the fall to give him more time to prepare a defense or decide if he wants to enter a guilty plea.
Van der Sloot’s attorney Kevin Butler had asked for the continuance from the July 31 trial docket to give more time to “review the discovery, investigate this case, and prepare for trial.” Prosecutors agreed to the change.
Van der Sloot, often considered the chief suspect in Natalee Holloway’s 2005 disappearance in Aruba, faces federal charges that he tried to extort money from the missing teen’s mother in exchange for revealing where to find her daughter’s remains. He was extradited from Peru this month to face trial in Alabama, Holloway’s home state.
“Given the defendant’s need to adequately prepare his defense and to make an informed decision on whether to enter a guilty plea or proceed to trial, the court finds that the ends of justice served by extending the pretrial deadlines and granting a continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial,” U.S. Magistrate Gray Borden wrote. Borden said the extension would last until Oct. 2, but said the exact trial date would be set later by the presiding judge.
Holloway went missing during a high school graduation trip with classmates and was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot, a student at an international school on the island where he grew up. Her remains have never been found. No one has been charged in her disappearance.
U.S. prosecutors said that in 2010, van der Sloot sought money from Beth Holloway to disclose the location of her daughter’s body. A grand jury indicted him that year. He has initially plead not guilty to the charges.
Van der Sloot earlier this month was brought shackled into an Alabama courtroom to be arraigned on the federal charges as Holloway’s parents watched.