Man sentenced to life in prison for murder and rape in attack on Naperville woman and friend in Germany

BERLIN — An American man was convicted of murder and other charges on Monday for brutally attacking two American women near Germany’s famed Neuschwanstein castle last summer and pushing them into a ravine, fatally injuring one of them. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The Kempten state court also convicted the 31-year-old of attempted murder and rape with fatal consequences, the German news agency dpa reported. Presiding judge Christoph Schwiebacher determined that the defendant bears particularly severe guilt, meaning that he likely won’t be eligible for release after 15 years as is usually the case in Germany.

Defendants in the German legal system do not formally enter pleas to charges, but the suspect admitted to the charges when his trial opened on Feb. 19.

Schwiebacher described the defendant as “incredibly callous.” He said that “a release after 15 years would not be justifiable.”

Eva Liu

In line with German privacy laws, German authorities did not identify the perpetrator and the victims. However, family and friends at the time said that the victims were 21-year-old Naperville woman Eva Liu, who died, and her friend Kelsey Chang, 22, who survived. Both were recent graduates of the University of Illinois.

The attack took place on June 14 near the Marienbruecke, a bridge over a gorge that offers a view of the castle, one of Germany’s most famous tourist attractions.

Prosecutors have said the suspect met the two women by chance on a hiking path and lured them off the trail. They said he apparently first forced the younger woman to the ground and tried to undress her.

When the older woman tried to help her, a scuffle ensued and the suspect allegedly pushed her down a steep slope. She fell about 50 meters (165 feet) and sustained a head injury, bruises and grazes, but survived.

The suspect then strangled the younger woman until she was unconscious and raped her, prosecutors have said, before pushing her down the slope as well. She died later in a hospital.

“He disposed of her like a bag of garbage,” judge Schwiebacher said as he announced the verdict on Monday, dpa reported.

The court found that the defendant wanted to keep video footage and a photo he had made of his actions — material that became important evidence to investigators — as a “trophy.”

Police officers arrested him near the scene of the attack. The victims were recovered from the ravine by a helicopter.

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