“I regret what happened, I didn’t want to kill her. (…) I understand the pain of the parents. I can’t hope that one day maybe they can forgive me, even if I don’t does not deserve forgiveness,” said the 61-year-old defendant, who has been on trial since Monday, in his first apparent act of contrition.
Mr. Reiser, who took off his surgical mask, has been speaking since 2:30 p.m. for the first time in his trial on the merits of the case, a hearing considered to be the highlight of this week.
“I don’t know what got into me, I wish I could go back, go back in time, but I can’t,” said Jean-Marc Reiser, who had burst into tears a few minutes earlier, before to recover.
“I don’t even dare to look” at Sophie’s family, he said again.
– “Regrettable coincidence” –
On their bench, the civil parties came closer together. The mother, brother and sister of Sophie Le Tan, who had expressed with dignity their unfathomable pain on Wednesday, were not present on Friday.
On Wednesday, Sophie’s father had also criticized the accused for not having apologized: “the family has not yet received the pardon of their daughter’s murderer”, had launched Tri Le Tan at the bar. .
Invited by the President of the Assize Court Antoine Giessenhoffer to give his version of the facts, Mr. Reiser reiterated the version which has now been his since January 2021: he did not want to kill Sophie Le Tan but “lost the pedals”.
“An unfortunate, deplorable, regrettable coincidence,” he said.
Blowing into the microphone, plunging his head into his hands, he returned to this day of September 7, 2018, explaining how he “by chance” met Sophie in the morning downstairs from his house: after a night spent drinking, he had forgot that she was coming to visit the apartment he had rented out.
“I was still a little in the vapors of alcohol, I felt a good feeling between her and me …”, explains Mr. Reiser. “She visited the accommodation, we sat in the kitchen, we discussed her studies, mine”, then she went to the toilet.
“Then it happened what happened,” breathes Jean-Marc Reiser, who struggles to go further.
Pushed by the president, he continues, explains how he takes Sophie’s hand, tries to “give her a kiss”. Sophie pushes him away, calls him a “pig”. “It pissed me off. I lost control.”
Next? A rain of blows on the frail student, including one “more violent than the others”: she falls “like a mass”, hits the toilet bowl and remains dead, “inanimate”, according to the accused, who says he remained prostrate “for one or two hours” close to the body.
“I hesitated to call the police: given my criminal record I said to myself that they would not believe me”, continues the repeat offender, notably convicted of two rapes.
“I probably made the wrong decision (…) to remove the body and deny”, explains Mr. Reiser, who took two and a half years to recognize having killed Sophie, prevented according to him by “shame” and a “psychological block”.
He dismembers the body, puts it in two suitcases which he stores in his cellar, before leaving to hide it in a forest in the Vosges the following Monday. The body will not be found until October 2019.
“It haunts me since that day, it will haunt me until the end of my life,” he says.
Sophie Le Tan disappeared on her 20th birthday, after visiting an apartment north of Strasbourg. The evidence quickly converged on Jean-Marc Reiser.
Prosecuted for murder, he denies having premeditated his act and having set a trap, in particular by broadcasting a false rental ad to which the student had responded.
The verdict is expected on Tuesday.