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Witness says S-Bahn murder victim hit first

DDP/The Local · 15 Jul 2010, 18:09

Published: 15 Jul 2010 18:09 GMT+02:00

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A 16-year-old boy that was part of a group of children Brunner had tried to protect from bullying by defendants Sebastian Leibinger and Markus Schiller testified that the 50-year-old businessman had squared up to them and said: “This is the only thing you want.”

He then allegedly hit one of the defendants in the face.

“Mr. Brunner took a few steps towards them and hit one of them in the face,” said the boy under tears. “He then totally flipped out. His stance, his moves, it was like a boxer.”

Schiller, now 19, and Leibinger, now 18, allegedly beat Brunner to death in September last year after he intervened while they were attempting to extort money out of the children on an S-Bahn commuter train.

Brunner offered to escort the children out of Solln station but the accused pair followed him off the train. After the altercation began, the defendants continued to punch and kick Brunner even after he had struck his head on a metal handrail and fallen to the ground.

Story continues below…

If convicted of murder, Schiller faces life imprisonment. Because he was a minor at the time, Leibinger faces a maximum of 10 years in jail. However, the boy’s testimony on Thursday corroborates the defendants’ story and could make a murder conviction more difficult for prosecutors.

A third youth, Christoph T., who did not take part in the beating but egged his friends on, was sentenced in April to 19 months' jail.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:06 July 15, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
So what if he hit them first! That is still no excuse to keep kicking him when he is on the ground.. I would do what he did too! That's the problem here in Germany. No one wants to get involved. A very noble thing he did to stand up for some kids. If more MEN in Germany would do this, there would be less of these little $h1t-heads doing things like this!
23:43 July 15, 2010 by lenin_mir
...after defending kids that were clearly harassed and afterwards 'the accused pair followed him(Mr. Brunner) off the train, it clearly shows that the two accused had other bad 'premeditated intentions;' to continue to harass the kids if not to the very unfortunate Mr. Brunner__
02:13 July 16, 2010 by thequeen09@att.net
I too wish more adults would step up to help put these punks in their place. If kids know that adults will not tolerate bad behavior then maybe less of this stuff would be happening. This kind of stuff happens in the USA as well as in Germany. How these kids got the "Only I matter" attitude is beyond me. Kids need to be taught right from wrong and life is not always fair along with they are NOT the center of the universe. Life is not about yourself, life is about others as well I hope they find the kids guilty of murder because they planned on vengance and could not stop after the man was down. If they get away with this, what message is that sending to other kids and other adults that might want to step in or speak up?
08:35 July 16, 2010 by LancashireLad
I agree fully with all of you. If you are forced into a situation where you have to physically defend yourself or others then I believe the phrase "use of reasonable force" comes into play, which I would put in lay terms as "enough to remove the threat." These youths, which is what they were at the time, did not do that. I get the impression they "wanted to teach him a lesson" which now puts them firmly in the "intentional" and therefore "murder" territory.


The "only I matter" attitude is sadly all too prevalent ... I hesitate to add "here in Germany", but I have encountered it here more than anywhere else. The problem as far as I can tell is that many Germans seem to believe that children are just small adults and that they think in the same way. This means they believe that children have the same rights as adults. What they don't think about (in many cases just ignore) is that those people around the child also have rights. Hence the child grows up never learning that other people have rights too.

Many Germans believe that chastising a child and teachinig it society's rules (i.e. not letting it do just what it wants) "inhibits the child's ability think freely".
08:43 July 16, 2010 by wood artist
Under US law, the "first punch" would have little importance, given that the situation started earlier. While it might be possible for the defendants to argue some level of "self defense" that would only go so far. Once the man was down, they (apparently) continued to assault him, and that is clearly beyond any reasonable definition of self defense.

I realize that German law is probably different, but given the total story, these two appear to clearly be responsible for the man's death. Is that "murder" or some other charge? I have no idea, but to me the question appears to be one of penalty not guilt. Any punishment should also consider that they (reportedly) began the whole series of events by trying to shake down the kids.

09:04 July 16, 2010 by freechoice
spare the rod and you spoil the child.

this is the result of years of non discipline
11:13 July 16, 2010 by tallady
I would agree that the youth here is not as bad as I have seen in the USA.A few bad apples should not taint every youth.I also have never felt threatened at a Ubahn station.

I think the guy was correct in helping the victimized youth but the punch in the face was out of line as was the continuous beating of him by the bad apples.
12:38 July 16, 2010 by LancashireLad
My comment was not aimed just at potentially violent individuals. I am talking about a general lack of respect for others or "I don't care what others think I am just going to ... park here and block the pavement / ignore the fact that there are obviously other people waiting to be served / tell you what I think you are doing wrong despite the fact that you didn't ask and you are not annoying anyone / ride my moped down this passageway despite the fact that it isn't even a bike path / add appropriate other situation here". (All of which I have witnessed in the past month - and the crazy parker and moped rider tried to justify or ignore their deeds.)

That's what I meant. These kids just took that thinking to the extreme.

Let's not forget kids pick up many of their behavioural patterns from society.
20:13 July 16, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Wood Artist --

In California, where I practiced for many years, this crime would most likely be charged as manslaughter. It is difficult to know how the evidence of the victim throwing the first punch will affect the outcome of the trial without knowing all the circumstances. The fact that the victim was trying to defend kids against a strong-arm robbery attempt on the train, and the fact that the defendants followed the man and the kids off the train to menace them, would seemingly justify the victim assuming a combative posture and throwing the first punch. We don't know all that was said leading up to that act. In fact, from this reporting we know almost nothing. Evidence can't be taken out of context, and we have no context in this article.

What is clear is the defense strategy to portray the perpetrators as victims, which is not only appalling, but could conceivably work.
00:53 July 17, 2010 by ang2010
You dont know how I hate stronger kids bullyig the weak, like Americans bullying the weakest.
09:00 July 17, 2010 by Johnne
Why can´t we call a spade a spade, murder is murder! those kids are meant to rot in jail because they killed a human beign, that man didn´t deserve to die like that! the kids parents ought to be jailed as well for not teaching them morals. when I was growing up as a teenager, I avoided boys who smoked cigarretes not to talk of weed or hanging around at bus stops, not to now talk of hanging around gangs. I grew up to respect elders..white,black,asian or latino. I couldn´t even talk too loud on the bus since I had to respect the people-especialy elders. I think this is where it starts. Parents & the society should teach the young ones morals.
11:31 July 18, 2010 by Prufrock2010
It's a manslaughter case. It was from the beginning.
07:29 July 20, 2010 by martinjohn
A vulnerable young witness gives evidence, but who has he more to fear from - associates of the accused, or the dead man?
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