US man confesses in Germany tourist murder trial

By AFP   February 19, 2024 | 04:40 pm PT
US man confesses in Germany tourist murder trial
Neuschwanstein castle is one of the most visited sites in Germany. Photo by Wiki
An American man accused of raping and killing a fellow U.S. tourist near Germany's famed Neuschwanstein castle last year made a wide-ranging confession on the first day of his trial Monday.

Troy Philipp B. faces several charges including one count of murder over the death of the 21-year-old American woman. He also stands accused of the attempted murder of the victim's friend, also a U.S. citizen.

"The accused committed the incomprehensible act," his lawyer Philip Mueller told the district court in the southern town of Kempten.

The two women, then 21 and 22 years old, were hiking in the Neuschwanstein area in June last year at the end of a European trip that had taken them to Italy and Spain.

The pair got speaking to B., after the younger of the women and the accused slipped at a similar point on a mountain trail, prosecutors said.

"That's enough adventure for today," B. is said to have remarked to the women, before offering to take them to a nearby viewing point on the way back to the castle, according to prosecutors.

At a secluded spot, the man, then 30, allegedly pushed the 21-year-old woman to the ground and proceeded to rape and strangle her, according to investigators.

Her friend intervened, leading to a scuffle in which the accused allegedly pushed the 22-year-old down a steep, 50-metre (165-foot) slope.

The suspect then continued his sexual assault of the 21-year-old woman, strangling her with a belt while filming the act.

Interrupted by a pair of hikers who stumbled on the crime, he pushed the rape victim over the same ledge while she was unconscious.

The 21-year-old landed at the bottom of the slope next to her friend, who called the emergency services, telling them her friend was "gasping".

When mountain rescue workers found the two women, the 22-year-old was injured but able to talk.

The rape victim was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to hospital, where she died later that night from her injuries.

B.'s lawyer said the accused had not planned the attack in advance.

"He was aware that the victim could die without help, yet he still left her behind," Mueller told the court.

His client was "deeply ashamed" about his actions and wished to apologise to the victim's family, the lawyer added.

B., who hails from the U.S. state of Michigan, spoke only to confirm the accuracy of his lawyer's statement to the court.

B. on Monday also confessed to possession of child pornography, which investigators uncovered as part of their probe into the attack and said featured the accused's younger sister.

He is not expected to make any further comments during the trial, scheduled to run until March 13.

Germany's top-selling daily Bild reported that the rescue operation and his subsequent arrest took place in front of hundreds of tourists.

B. faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein castle is one of the most visited sites in Germany, attracting over a million visitors a year.

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