No More Obstacles for Murder Trial of Diplomat’s Son Who Fought Extradition
BEDFORD, Va. (AP) _ After years of international legal wrangling, the U.S. murder trial of a West German diplomat’s son accused of slashing his girlfriend’s wealthy parents to death has no more obstacles.
Jens Soering, 23, is accused of killing Derek and Nancy Haysom in March 1985 with help from their daughter because they opposed the romance. He goes on trial this week before the local ″yokels″ he once bragged would never bring him back.
The Haysoms were stabbed repeatedly and both victims’ throats were cut.
Elizabeth Haysom, 26, is serving a 90-year prison term after admitting she helped plan the slayings. She did not fight extradition after the fugitive couple was arrested in London in 1986.
Soering ultimately took his case against extradition to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled last July that he should not be returned to the United States because he faced a possible death sentence.
Virginia prosecutors won his extradition after promising British officials that capital murder charges would be reduced to first-degree murder carrying a maximum penalty of two life sentences. Soering arrived in January.
Jury selection was completed Friday and trial was scheduled to begin this week.
″Time has caught up with all of us,″ Bedford County Circuit Judge William Sweeney said.
Soering is the son of Klaus Soering, a diplomat previously serving as vice consul at the West German Consulate in Detroit. The elder Soering is now stationed in Mauritania, Africa, but was in court Friday.
During the protracted extradition battle, Soering’s attorneys sought to have him tried in his native country, where there is no death penalty and he would have faced a maximum 10- to 15-year prison term.
In a letter to Ms. Haysom written about four months after their arrest, Soering scoffed at the early extradition efforts of Virginia authorities.
″Those yokels don’t know what’s coming down,″ he wrote in the letter made public during Ms. Haysom’s legal proceedings. He predicted he would go to West Germany, ″and then I’ll be out in a surprisingly short time.″
Soering and Ms. Haysom began their relationship while both were students at the University of Virginia.
During school breaks, Ms. Haysom wrote to Soering, who was home in Detroit, about how she hated her parents and that they could be rich and happy together only if her parents were dead.
In recorded statements to investigators played during a pretrial hearing, Soering said he went to the Haysoms’ home the night they were killed to confront them about their opposition to his relationship with their daughter.
On the tape, he said there was an argument and the Haysoms were dead when he left, but declined to answer when asked if he stabbed them.
Investigators concluded Ms. Haysom was not in the house at the time.
Haysom, 72, was a retired steel industry executive. He was stabbed 39 times. Mrs. Haysom, 53, was stabbed five times.
Their daughter testified at her sentencing hearing that she hated and resented her parents, but was merely indulging in ″grotesque, childish fantasies″ when plotting their deaths.
Author Ken Englade’s recently released book ″Beyond Reason,″ chronicles the Haysoms’ story and was read by some courtroom spectators during lulls in the pretrial hearings.
Englade said a television movie based on his book is under consideration and he plans to add a final chapter after Soering’s trial is completed.
″These are people of intelligence and education involved in a very serious crime for no apparent reason,″ Englade said in a recent interview from his New Mexico home. ″These kids had such a bright future.″