Boy in the dog box: Trial ends with two guilty verdicts

After deliberating for more than seven hours, the jury reached a verdict late Thursday evening: finding both accused women guilty. The boy's mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Seven of the eight judges answered the key question of attempted murder in the affirmative, while the other two points were answered unanimously.

The friend, who allegedly gave instructions to the mother to punish the boy, was prosecuted as an abettor or intender for continued violence and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Here the jury's vote was also unanimous. Neither judgment is final.

Both women were granted shelter

According to the verdict of the jury, both women are sane, but because of the risk of further crimes from them, they are placed in a forensic treatment center. The judge justified the level of punishment by saying, “Both women have physically almost destroyed a life.” On a psychological level, the boy from before was “definitely completely destroyed.” Both women must pay a total of 80,000 euros for the child.

The child's mother's previously normal lifestyle, her contribution to finding the truth and her only occasional attempts were found to be mitigating factors. According to the Chief Justice, the combination of the three offences, the act against an underage relative and the “insidious, torturous attitude” were considered aggravating. In the case of the second defendant, the previously normal lifestyle was a mitigating factor; On the other hand, the insidious commission of the crime is also brought into play here.

The state prosecutor's office decided not to pursue legal action, and victim advocate Timo Reussinger and the mother's defense attorney, Astrid Wagner, did not issue a statement. The second defendant's attorney, Saska Flatts, immediately filed a dismissed complaint and appealed.

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ORF/Anna Wohlmuth

The jury's deliberations lasted more than seven hours

The prosecutor emphasizes the scale of the case

In his closing argument, the prosecutor addressed the jury: “Did the two defendants torture a nearly twelve-year-old child?” He added: “The doctors were amazed that the boy had the strength to survive.” He pointed this out. He expressed confidence that it would take months for the investigative body to realize the full extent of the case and that “neither of them succeeded” in “fooling” the jury.

“Two girls” “destroyed” the boy – at least mentally,” the lawyer said. The child's mother also accepted the death of the then twelve-year-old boy. Victim advocate Timo Reussinger missed genuine remorse from both defendants. The 13-year-old victim is aware of today's trial and wants justice. The first of the trial The answer to the question why he expected on the day was “no” in these three days of talks.

Defense: “One of the most difficult cases”

The two defense attorneys once again summed up their clients' responsibilities: the boy's mother cleared herself of attempted murder, but admitted to torturing and imprisoning her child. The alleged accomplice did not plead guilty — he was accused of continued violence.

“This is one of the most difficult cases imaginable. This is truly a case of the century,” the mother's lawyer, Astrid Wagner, said in her plea. Because of her “distorted perception,” her client did not realize that the child's life was in danger, so the attempted murder did not happen. Saska Flatz, the lawyer for the second defendant. Said: “I'm sure my client didn't know this was happening.” The 40-year-old even saved the child's life with his intervention.

Defendant investigative dog box

ORF/Anna Wohlmuth

“Who is behind these personalities?”

During the first two days of the trial on Monday and Tuesday, trial viewers were given an insight into the boy's unimaginable suffering: chat logs of the two defendants were read and videos of the tormented child were played — recorded and sent by cell phone. By his own mother.

“Who are these women and who is behind these personalities who manage to do something like this to a child?” asked the lawyer at the beginning of the trial. Court psychiatrist Peter Hoffman spoke on the third and final day of the trial to find answers. In a psychiatric report he prepared, the 33-year-old mother was diagnosed with a “severe and persistent mental disorder”.

The expert finds “severe emotional confusion” in the mother

He spoke about the very complicated process and described significant milestones in the boy's mother's life, for example the death of his own mother in 2019 when he lost an important support in his life. In subsequent years, pathological characteristics became more and more important.

He was able to testify that the defendant was sane at the time of the crime and that the woman was not acting under a “delusion.” The ability to control crime during the crime period was significantly limited, but not eliminated. According to Hoffman, the mother also had a “severe emotional breakdown,” and the 33-year-old had no sense of the absurdity of the situation. The expert spoke of “a heinous crime over a long period of time”. The 33-year-old has a high probability of committing serious bodily harm again in the future.

“Big hollows inside” and “lack of empathy”

The situation is similar in terms of risk for a 40-year-old potential partner. However, Hoffman said the accused was always discreet. If the second defendant has indeed behaved as alleged in the charge sheet, this clearly indicates a “deep hole within” and a “lack of empathy”. In addition to the sentence, the Krems public prosecutor's office requested that both women be placed in a forensic treatment center in accordance with Article 21 Paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code.

During the trial the statements of the two defendants contradicted each other in several areas. On Thursday, the mother appeared distraught and said she was “very sorry for what happened”. She did not know “how it could have gotten this far” and regretted contacting the second defendant. The 40-year-old insisted he was unaware of the full extent of the actions.

“Why should we believe another word you say?”

“Unfortunately, I can no longer right the wrong; I will have to intervene.” She tearfully apologized to the now 13-year-old and his father. The public prosecutor found contradictory statements from the 40-year-old. “Why should we believe another word you say?” asked the prosecution representative.

The 33-year-old mother and single parent is accused of, among other things, beating, tying, gagging, repeatedly locking her son in a dog crate for hours and dousing her with cold water from at least July 2022 until November. It is also said that the child was starved.

The woman was arrested on November 24, 2022. In early March 2023, the handcuffs clicked for the 40-year-old potential partner. She and the baby's mother have been best friends for years. The woman from Waldviertel is also said to have repeatedly given detailed instructions to the first defendant on how to abuse the child. The 40-year-old also reportedly suggested putting the boy in a dog crate. However, the woman denied this.

A victim's advocate takes over the role

Despite the verdicts for both women in this jury trial on Thursday, the question remains open for victim advocate Timo Ruisinger – according to the explanations of social workers warned in October 2022 – “whether the authorities really did everything. The power to protect the child in this case.”

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