German on death row in Florida gets sentence commuted

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A German national on death row for 22 years in the murder of his girlfriend in Florida has had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, judicial officials said Friday.

Officials said an appeals court revised the sentence of Dieter Riechmann, in a case that had prompted the German government to request a review of the matter.

Riechmann was convicted in 1988 by a Florida court and sentenced to death for the murder of his girlfriend, Kersten Kischnick, killed by a bullet to the head while driving with him in a car in Miami Beach earlier that year.

Riechmann, who was visiting Florida as a tourist with the woman, said an unknown man had shot his girlfriend when they stopped to ask for directions.

Prosecutors argued that Riechmann killed the woman when she said she would stop working as a prostitute, and that he wanted to collect life insurance on the woman.

After a series of appeals, the man's sentence was commuted to life in prison by a circuit court on March 19, according to the Florida Commission on Capital Cases, a state entity that tracks death row cases.

The German consulate in Miami declined to comment on the case.

© 2010 AFP

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