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American tattooist admits Berlin axe killing

The Local · 16 Apr 2012, 13:08

Published: 16 Apr 2012 13:08 GMT+02:00

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The 30-year-old New Yorker identified only as James B., had only been living in Berlin for about six months when he got into a drunken argument with an Austrian tattooist.

“He first hit the man straight in the face with an axe, damaging his skull and cutting through his nose and mouth,” Tobias Kaehne, spokesman for the Berlin District Court, told The Local.

“Because he killed him with particular savagery, the usual sentencing limit of 15 years for murder could be extended to life.”

Forensic detectives found at least 52 injuries on the Austrian Raoul Schmidhuber’s body, after it had been recovered in pieces from the Spree River and the Schäfer Lake in and around the German capital. The cause of death was drowning - in his own blood.

The first parts – wrapped in plastic bags and weighed down with training weights – were found just a day after the killing, floating in the river in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. Over the following week the rest of the body was found, with the head the last to be recovered from the lake.

“The victim was covered in tattoos so it was easy to identify him – and he had been reported missing too,” said Kaehne.

Police then received an anonymous tip that Schmidhuber had been seen with the American the day before he went missing.

Officers questioning James B. said he admitted having killed the man, but did not elaborate on why they had argued.

He also admitted the killing in court on Monday, Kaehne said.

The judge dismissed charges against the American’s German girlfriend for trying to hinder the hunt for her man. She was also to some extent a victim of her boyfriend, said Kaehne.

She had left her flat when the two men were arguing, only to find the dismembered body on the floor when she returned, and terrified for her own safety, had then helped to dispose of the head, he said.

Story continues below…

She had already spent more than five months in investigative custody, and the court said she could go free if she paid €1,000 to a charity.

The case continues.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:02 April 16, 2012 by DOZ
Quit letting North Americans into your country. Think!
16:30 April 16, 2012 by wenddiver
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:07 April 16, 2012 by derExDeutsche
@ wenddiver

22:05 April 16, 2012 by ovalle3.14
They usual 15 years could even be extended to 15 years and a half.
23:07 April 16, 2012 by Greysuede
These americans come in various sizes and shapes...
04:50 April 17, 2012 by taiwanluthiers
What if they let him go back to America to serve his time?

Then they can put him in that supermax at Florence, CO where he'd spend 23 hours a day in a cell.

Now that's punishment enough.. he'd probably wish he get the death penalty.
10:24 April 17, 2012 by raandy
This individual was obviously a few bricks shy of a load. with his demonstrated pendency to extreme violence.

Hopefully the Germans keep this monster locked up forever.
10:53 April 17, 2012 by bugger
He already did time back home, five years for violent crimes. He is lucky he can stay in a German jail. Compared to the penal system in the States, he can look forward to a nice and comfortable time now.
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