Caroline Dickinson murder verdict due Monday

14th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, June 13 (AFP) - A Spanish drifter accused of smothering to death a British schoolgirl as he raped her is expected to hear the verdict of his murder trial in a court in western France on Monday.

RENNES, France, June 13 (AFP) - A Spanish drifter accused of smothering to death a British schoolgirl as he raped her is expected to hear the verdict of his murder trial in a court in western France on Monday.

Francisco Arce Montes, 54, faces life in prison if found guilty of attacking 13-year-old Caroline Dickinson, who was molested and killed as she slept with schoolmates in a French youth hostel in July 1996.

DNA samples taken from the semen found on the girl's thigh and pyjama shorts have linked Arce Montes to the crime, which took place in the village of Pleine-Fougeres, near the tourist attraction of Mont-Saint-Michel.

The Spaniard admitted in court last week that he sexually assaulted Dickinson but denied intending to kill her as he blocked her mouth to stop her screaming.

He was largely uncommunicative and expressionless during the trial, except on Thursday when he broke down in tears as he was asked about his mother in an attempt to outline his upbringing and character.

The chief judge had to call a 20-minute pause in proceedings to give Arce Montes time to recover his composure.

"I want to excuse these tears in this room where I am not the victim," Arce Montes said when he was brought back to the defendant's stall.

Acquaintances and psychologists described the Spaniard as troubled and immature, but responsible for his actions.

He would have viewed Dickinson as "a real sexual treat" because of her virginity and age, one psychiatrist, Jean-Michel Masson, told the court Friday.

An ex-common law wife who testified in a hearing closed to the public and a former friend spoke of Arce Montes's violent nature.

The lawyers and judges were unable to coax Arce Montes to give details of the what happened on the night of the murder, which occurred hours after another sexual assault in a nearby village.

But genetics experts said the DNA samples taken from the scene perfectly matched those from the defendant.

Arce Montes was extradited to France in 2001 from Miami, Florida, where he had been arrested for sexual assault. A US immigration officer had spotted a
British news report identifying the Spaniard as a suspect in the Dickinson murder, triggering the incriminating DNA test.

US authorities agreed to drop their own charges against Arce Montes in order for him to go to France to face justice for the more serious crime.

The trial is expected to come to an end Monday after lawyers present their closing arguments.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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