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American tattooist axe killer jailed for ten years

The Local · 26 Apr 2012, 15:26

Published: 26 Apr 2012 15:26 GMT+02:00

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An initial charge of murder against the 30-year-old New Yorker identified only as James B., an alcoholic, was dismissed because he was extremely drunk when he attacked the Austrian man in a Berlin flat.

But judge Ralph Ehestädt told the defendant that his was a crime of exceptional savagery.

“One cannot conceive of a more brutal act than splitting open a man’s skull,” he said, jailing him for ten years and six months. He also noted that the American had failed to show any signs of remorse.

James B. attacked his fellow tattooist last July after a drunken argument. He dismembered the body with a saw and axe and threw the remains in suitcases into the River Spree.

The American had previously spent five years in a US jail for a stabbing. He had only been living in Berlin for just six months at the time of the killing – but his residency permit had already expired.

The motive for the crime remains a mystery. James B. admitted his crime but told police he could only remember getting into a fight with his colleague – he could not explain how it had reached its barbaric conclusion.

The man will initially spend two years in a detoxification clinic to deal with his alcoholism before serving the rest of his sentence in jail.

The victim’s brother was a joint plaintiff in the proceedings but chose not to attend the sentencing. The family’s attorney Anne Forkel said on his behalf: “No sentence can atone for the taking of a life.”

Story continues below…

Forkel also disclosed that the family was “shattered” by the meagre punishment handed down to the killer’s erstwhile girlfriend, who had helped to dispose of the victim’s head. Obstruction of justice charges against her were dismissed in exchange for a fine of €1,000.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:27 April 26, 2012 by Herr Ed
I'm fairly new to Germany, so maybe somebody can explain to me why they never identify criminals here? I worked on newspapers in the US and the identity of anybody arrested and charged is a matter of public record there.
18:09 April 26, 2012 by Eric1
I don't understand why people want tattoos. It makes a person look trashy, vulgar, dumb, and unattractive.
18:37 April 26, 2012 by Whipmanager
tattoos on Some women ar ehot, sexy, whatever. On some men it gives them character, and is seen as an important part of who they are. I don't have any, but hey, to each their own right? Live and let live? Or is it live and let die? Ian Flemming, where are you when I need you.....

He gets 10 years, she gets a 1000 Euro fine and a man is dead. If you drink and drive and hurt soemone, you probably would get mroe time in Germany, or if you steal, or rob a bank, is this justice? And he is a violent fellon with prior incarceration for Knifing someone. This man may not learn from his past mistakes...I am sure Germany will kick him out after his term in jail. Is ther a chance for parole to get him out sooner?
21:10 April 26, 2012 by raandy
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
00:03 April 27, 2012 by willowsdad
Herr Ed: it probably has to do with the much-honored-in-the-breach concept that the accused is innocent until proven guilty and thus shouldn't have their names publicly besmirched.

Chango: Stats show that when the State takes life, it sets a bad example for the citizens and they tend to take life at higher rates than when it doesn't. There's also ample evidence that many convicted are in fact innocent. In 1995, the US state of Illinois vacated its death row after it was shown (by journalism students, BTW) that half of them were not guilty. So until police and courts become infallible, it's probably a good idea not to have them killing people.

Too bad there's no time machine that could transport you back to the 12th century and the good old days of public executions.
03:27 April 27, 2012 by taiwanluthiers
In Taiwan this man would have been sentenced to death, no question, given the savagery of the crime and the lack of remorse. Then he would wait in death row for 20+ years before facing the firing squad (in Taiwan they use firing squads). They're slow to execute in Taiwan because they're trying to appease the like of the EU by not carrying out executions.
10:34 April 27, 2012 by LecteurX
Ah, I see, Chango Monkey indulged again in some totally gratuitous, irrelevant and uninformed EU-bashing... Do you really get up every morning and think about what lies you're gonna spread about the EU during the day, or what? Such obsession verges on insanity, I must say. So, you're totally wrong -again- Chango Monkey, it has nothing to do with the EU that convicted criminals are not usually named in the press in Germany, it is all down to German law. In France, Spain and other European countries I know, it is an entirely different story, really. But as willowsdad pointed out, it's a real shame you can't be magicked off to 12th century England, you would fit in there much better than in 21st century Germany no doubt.

Anyway. I'm surprised the comment thread is not flooded with hysterical comments about the country being swamped with illigal immigrant thugs. What's happening? We have an illegal alien with previous convictions who had overstayed his visa and went on to gruesomely kill someone... Oh, wait, of course, he's not brown, not muslim, and comes from a Western country, so different standards apply here.
11:57 April 27, 2012 by Herr Ed
Willowsdad: I can almost (key word) agree with that reasoning, but in this case the criminal has been found guilty. Certainly they're not trying to protect his "good" name at this point.

As far as the death penalty conversation, personally I have mixed feelings. I'm not sure how effective it is in deterring others from committing similar crimes, but I do know that if one of my family members were the victim, I'd want to see the perpetrator sucking gas, riding the lightning, pumped full of holes or swinging from a yard arm, whichever would cause him the most pain. I have heard people calling the death penalty nothing more than state sanctioned revenge. My answer to that is - so what's the problem?
16:13 April 27, 2012 by auslanderus
So this "person" was found to have done this murder beyond and dought, so why are people complaining about putting person to death for there crime? If there is no dought(1000%) he did it and there is no dought he can not be innocent so do him the favor of puting him down also. I say, if found gulity, give him a chance to say goodby to family, be it 1 hour or 4 hours later, shoot, hang, needle or what ever and be done with it. Case closed. Next.
18:42 April 27, 2012 by willowsdad
Once more, when the State indulges in acts of cruelty it sends the message that such things are OK for non-state actors as well. Compare rates of violent crime between jurisdictions that have the death penalty with those that don't. It's also questionable as to whether executions provide the imagined satisfaction to the families of victims.
14:27 April 28, 2012 by Andredog

where in the story does it mention tattoos on women?

Talking about your hooker babes again?
20:46 April 30, 2012 by Whipmanager
Andredog: Yes, of course I am...for as you state so elloquently, all women who have tattoos must be hookers....
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