Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty in Peruvian court Wednesday to charges of qualified murder and simple robbery in the murder of Stephany Flores on June 6, 2010.
Van der Sloot stood before the panel of three judges and told them he was guilty, and that he regrets his actions. He declared that he wanted to give a “sincere confession.” Doing that could reduce his sentence substantially.
The prosecution requested a 30-year sentence. But under Peruvian law, a defendant has the right to give a "sincere confession" to the panel of judges, which can result in a more lenient sentence.
Van der Sloot's lawyer says he does not expect the three-judge panel to reduce the sentence to the minimum of seven years in prison, but does think that the sentence will be substantially less than the 30-year maximum.
After Van der Sloot entered his plea, his attorney argued for a reduced sentence. His attorney told the court van der Sloot was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome related to Natalee Holloway's disappearance. The prosecution objected to the defense's attempt to bring in the Holloway case, and the judges agreed, telling the defense attorney to stick to the charges.
Van der Sloot was a suspect in the highly publicized disappearance of Holloway, the Alabama teen who vanished in 2005 after partying with with van der Sloot in Aruba. He has never been charged in Holloway's case and her disappearance is still unsolved.
Van der Sloot confessed to strangling Flores on June 6, 2010. His attorneys later tried unsuccessfully to get that confession thrown out of court, saying police coerced him.
Former Peruvian attorney and In Session guest Giovanna Gismondi says the judges have to decide if his guilty plea qualifies as a "sincere confession" based on the evidence.
The judges suspended the trial so that they can decide van der Sloot's sentence. They'll be back in court Friday at 10 a.m. ET with their decision.
Tune in to In Session for more on Joran van der Sloot’s guilty plea right now.
Also, tune in to “Nancy Grace” tonight at 8 & 10 p.m. ET on HLN for more on Joran van der Sloot’s guilty plea and what type of sentencing he could get.