YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Josef Fritzl of Austria admits murder, enslavement, rape

The man who held his daughter captive for 24 years and fathered seven children with her reverses his plea. His attorney speculates that seeing his daughter's taped statement may be the reason.

March 19, 2009|Times News Services

ST. POELTEN, AUSTRIA — Josef Fritzl reversed his plea and admitted guilt on all charges Wednesday after watching the daughter he locked up and raped for 24 years describe her ordeal in 11 hours of video testimony.

The 73-year-old Austrian, who fathered seven children with daughter Elisabeth, admitted enslaving her and killing one of their babies by neglecting to seek medical treatment for the infant.

He is likely to face the rest of his life behind bars.

"I plead guilty to the charges in the indictment," he told Judge Andrea Humer, speaking clearly and deliberately.

Defense attorney Rudolf Mayer told reporters he was "completely surprised" by Fritzl's plea change but said his client may have been overcome by Elisabeth's harrowing statement, screened at closed-door proceedings Tuesday.

"I believe that he has been really shaken," Mayer said. "He saw his daughter on the video for the first time and I think that this could have brought about the change."

However, a person familiar with the trial said Elisabeth was in the courtroom Monday and Tuesday when the public and media were excluded, suggesting her presence might have contributed to the decision. The person spoke on condition of anonymity.

Fritzl had been charged with homicide, enslavement, rape, incest, forced imprisonment and coercion. Initially he had pleaded guilty only to incest and forced imprisonment.

Los Angeles Times Articles