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Friday, 22 December, 2000, 17:36 GMT
US youths guilty of German road murders
One of the convicted youths
One of the boys covers his face as the sentence is read out
Three American teenagers were convicted of murder on Friday, for dropping stones onto passing cars from a motorway bridge in Germany, killing two women and injuring four others.

The three, who are all sons of US soldiers stationed in Germany, were sentenced by a Hesse state court to serve between seven and eight-and-a-half years in prison.

The three youths did not deny dropping heavy stones onto passing cars from a highway overpass.

But their lawyers argued that it had been an ill-conceived contest to see who could hit moving vehicles, without consideration of the danger posed.

Shovel

Prosecutors said the youths had progressed from small stones and a shovel, to rocks as heavy as 18 pounds.

Six cars were hit in the attacks in February, injuring four people and killing Sandra Ottmann, 20, and Karin Rothermel, 41.

"They didn't want to kill anyone. They wanted to hit vehicles," defence lawyer Ulrich Endres told reporters after closing arguments.

Ute Ottman
Ute Ottman, mother of Sandra Ottman who was killed
The trial was closed to the public because the defendants, who were aged 14, 17 and 18 at the time of the attacks, were tried as juveniles.

The oldest defendant, received an eight-and-a-half year jail term; the next oldest got eight years; and the youngest received a seven-year sentence.

According to Mr Endres, the youths all felt genuine remorse for the attacks.

"They're visibly suffering from the consequences of what they have done," he said.

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See also:

01 Dec 00 | Europe
US teenagers on trial in Germany
04 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa marine charged
16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
US soldier guilty of sex killing
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