Life for German nurse who murdered 28 patients

20th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 November 2006, Kempten, Germany (dpa) - Stephan Letter, Germany's worst serial killer since the Second World War, was sentenced to life in prison Monday for killing 28 of his patients at a hospital where he worked as a nurse. The 28-year-old was found guilty on 12 counts of murder, 15 of manslaughter and one of mercy killing. Hospital authorities in the town of Sonthofen did not realise why the mainly elderly patients were dying so quickly until they noticed that drugs were missing. Judges in Kempten, c

20 November 2006

Kempten, Germany (dpa) - Stephan Letter, Germany's worst serial killer since the Second World War, was sentenced to life in prison Monday for killing 28 of his patients at a hospital where he worked as a nurse.

The 28-year-old was found guilty on 12 counts of murder, 15 of manslaughter and one of mercy killing. Hospital authorities in the town of Sonthofen did not realise why the mainly elderly patients were dying so quickly until they noticed that drugs were missing.

Judges in Kempten, close to the Swiss border, added a rider that would deny Letter semi-automatic parole after 15 years and said he must never be allowed to practice as a nurse again.

Letter showed little reaction to the verdict and sentence, fidgeting with court papers as he listened.

The court heard that Letter had killed his victims, aged between 40 and 94, by injecting them with a tranquilizer mixed with a muscle relaxant. The deaths began in February 2003, shortly after Letter had commenced working at the hospital. He was not caught until July 2004.

Rejecting defence arguments that most of the patients had lost the will to live, the presiding judge said, "None of the patients were expecting an attack on their life." He rejected claims that Letter had no evil motive, but had acted out of sympathy for his victims.

Defence lawyers had unsuccessfully argued that Letter was only guilty of 13 manslaughters of lesser degree and two mercy killings.

Letter, who read out a statement accepting blame at the start of the trial several months ago but never testified, was also convicted of attempted manslaughter in the case of a patient who survived.

Dozens of former patients had to be exhumed as police gradually established the extent of the killings. Under interrogation, Letter said he could not remember all the times he had administered the drugs.

The German Hospice Foundation called after the verdict for Germany to introduce uniform checks, with medically qualified coroners viewing every patient that died in hospitals and old-people's homes.

DPA

Subject: German news

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