Court delay for suspect in disappearance of Natalee Holloway of Alabama
A Birmingham federal judge agreed to delay Joran van der Sloot's trial on extortion charges until later this year in order to give his defense more time to prepare. Van der Sloot, the chief suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, is charged with trying to extort money from the missing teen's mother in exchange for revealing where to find her daughter's remains.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gray Borden on Tuesday granted van der Sloot's request to postpone the trial, which will now occur sometime after December 4.
Van der Sloot's attorney Kevin Butler had asked for the continuance from the October trial docket to give more time to "review the discovery, investigate this case, and prepare for trial." Federal prosecutors did not oppose the request. The trial date will be set by a separate order by a district judge.
"Given the defendant's need to adequately prepare his defense and to make an informed decision on whether to enter a guilty plea or proceed to trial, the court finds that the ends of justice served by extending the pretrial deadlines and granting a continuance," Borden wrote.
Although he's not on trial for harming Holloway, the extortion and wire fraud charges are the only alleged crimes that link the Dutch citizen to Holloway's unsolved disappearance on the Caribbean island of Aruba. The 18-year-old went missing during a high school graduation trip with classmates and was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot, a student at an international school on the island where he grew up.
Van der Sloot was extradited to the United States from Peru, where he's serving a 28-year sentence after confessing to killing a Peruvian woman in 2010.