BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Details surrounding Joran van der Sloot’s arrival to Birmingham to face charges of extortion and wire fraud connected to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway are being held close to the vest.
One reason is because of this being an international event. The other is concern for van der Sloot’s safety.
He is weeks if not days from setting foot on U.S. soil. While the circumstances around this case and publicity may be unusual, van der Sloot will be treated just like any other federal detainee.
”Just like we house all of our federal detainees, pretrial inmates, they will be in one of the local jails or facilities that the Marshals contract with,” former U.S. attorney Jay Town said. “So he could be in Jefferson County or Hoover Jail for the time between when he arrives until he is finally sentenced and sent back.”
How long van der Sloot will be housed depends on the length of the legal proceedings. From the moment he enters a plea to the moment the trial begins, it’s doubtful a case this complex will be settled quickly.
“He will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty,” said John Byrne, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “Almost certainly he will plead not guilty to the charges. And in a case like this with a lot of publicity and high-profile case like this, that could take up to a year to play out.”
Also because of the case’s high profile, a real concern will be finding jurors who are not prejudiced or motivated by pursuits other justice.
”Making sure that the jurors are honest because sometimes potential jurors will lie to get on a case,” attorney Eric Guster said. “They may tell untruths and say what they think the lawyers wants to hear so they can strike a book deal and we’ve seen that nationally very recently. Jury selection is the pivotal moment in this case.”
Van der Sloot still has 15 years remaining on his 28-year sentence for the murder of a Peruvian college student, which took place five years to the day Holloway disappeared.