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« Josef Fritzl Gets Life Sentence | Main | The Josef Fritzl Trial - Day Two »

The Josef Fritzl Trial - Day 3 - Guilty!

Rudolf MayerFritzl at CourtJudge Andrea Humer

"I recognize that I am guilty of all the charges presented," he said. "I regret what I've done." With those words, Josef Fritzl ended any further reason to continue with his trial. He uttered those words in front of  judge Andrea Humer at the beginning of the third day of his trial. Catch the story from the beginning in this 5-part video called The Josef Fritzl Story and read about developments in the case since being arrested and imprisoned on The Josef Fritzl Page.

Asked what had made him change his mind so suddenly, and prompted him to admit to the charges of murder and slavery that he had previously rejected, Fritzl said: "Because of the video testimony of my daughter."

Under questioning by judge Andrea Humer with regards to the murder charge, Fritzl admitted that he was present when the twins were born and confessed he knew Michael had breathing problems. Baby Michael lived for 66 hours and Judge Humer told Fritzl that was more than enough time to see there was a severe health problem and seek medical help.

"I don't know why I did not help. I was hoping he would get through it," Fritzl told the hushed courtroom at Sankt Poelten, Austria. "I should have done something. I simply failed to do so. I was of the opinion the little one would survive."

Before pleading guilty to all six charges against him: rape, deprivation of liberty, incest, coercion, slavery and murder Josef Fritzl did not even bother to inform his lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, but he did request to see a psychiatrist after leaving court the evening before.

"He asked to see a psychiatrist afterwards, so crushed was he. The testimony which he saw for the first time had a profoundly devastating effect on him and led to the change of direction in this trial."

Rudolf Mayer's client had not informed him in advance of his decision to plead guilty, he said:

"I was indeed surprised, not least because someone with such a personality disorder as he has - which involves keeping up appearances and giving the impression that he's the one with the power - finds it difficult to drop his trousers in front of the world."

Until his confession, Fritzl had stubbornly refused to admit that he had caused Elisabeth much suffering, arguing instead that he had saved her from a life of ruin and debauchery when he lured her into the cellar at the age of 18.

Fritzl will face a sentence of between 20 years and life imprisonment. But it is possible that his confession will lead to a reduced sentence. "It all depends on whether the jury and the judges take the confession to be a mitigating circumstance," said the vice-president of the court, Franz Cutka. The verdict and sentencing are expected in tomorrow's session.

Fritzl is on a suicide watch, meaning at the end of each day's court sessions guards remove his tie and belt to ensure he cannot use them to harm himself. There were unconfirmed reports that Elisabeth was in court and that Fritzl made eye contact with her the day before he changed his plea. The pair had not met since Fritzl's reign of terror was exposed and he was arrested last April at his home in Amstetten.

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