A court of Leipzig on Friday found Daniel V., 19, guilty of raping and murdering the girl, but handed down a comparatively light sentence because of the man’s serious developmental disability. A healthy adult would have received a life sentence.
In August 2008, Daniel V. lured Michelle back to his apartment, where he gagged her and force-fed her alcohol before raping and suffocating her, in a crime that shocked Germany.
Michelle was on her way home from playing with friends when she went missing, and was found dead three days later in a duck pond by a local resident out for a walk.
“The life of Michelle was to him immaterial,” said Judge Norbert Göbel.
Defence attorney Malte Heise had called for and eight-and-a-half years in a juvenile facility and the chance for out-patient psychiatric treatment.
State Prosecutor Klaus-Dieter Müller and Michelle’s parents had demanded the maximum penalty of 10 years.
Daniel V. had gone about the crime in a brutal way, “such as I have never seen in my long career as state prosecutor,” said Müller.
The stocky young man had knocked out several of her teeth and broken part of her jaw.
Seven months after the murder, the young man turned himself into police before he was scheduled to be DNA-tested under a wide net the police task force had cast to find the perpetrator.
Daniel V. later apologised to Michelle’s parents.