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.
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.