Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Accused killer Samuel Sheinbein pleaded guilty to charges of murder in Tel Aviv's district court today. However, judges refused to accept his plea bargain until they had further discussed the case.
A Justice Department spokesman told CNSNews.com that Sheinbein will have to undergo an family and mental evaluation before he will be sentenced. His case will be under review until October 11.
Sheinbein fled to Israel from Maryland last year after allegedly killing Alfred Tello and dismembering his body with a chain saw. Sheinbein, whose father is an Israeli citizen, claimed citizenship and his extradition to the US to stand trial was thus denied under Israel's extradition law. That law has since been amended to avoid Israel's becoming a haven for criminals. After his extradition was refused he was charged for the crime in Israel.
Word of a pending plea bargain was leaked to the press by Maryland State Prosecutor, Douglas Gansler, last month, who was angry over the deal worked out between the defense and the Israeli prosecution.
The proposed deal would give Sheinbein a 24-year prison sentence with the possibility of eligibility for parole after 16 years. The sentence, according to Israeli standards, is tough for a minor, which applied to Sheinbein who was 17 when he committed the murder.
Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein, who had fought in favor of extraditing Sheinbein, said at the time that the plea "is in the upper limits of sentencing for murders by minors."
However, Gansler and Tello's relatives were outraged because Sheinbein would have likely received a life sentence in Maryland.
Israel prosecutors said they were shocked that the pending plea bargain was revealed to the media. It said it had notified the Maryland State Prosecutor in advance of the plea out of "professional courtesy."