Sheinbein Pleads Guilty in Israel

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( Accused killer Samuel Sheinbein pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of murder in Tel Aviv's district court, but judges did not agree to accept his plea bargain until they had further reviewed and discussed the case.

An Israeli Justice Department spokesman told that Sheinbein will have to undergo a family and mental evaluation before he will be sentenced. His case will be under review until October 11.

Sheinbein fled to Israel last year after the murder and chain saw dismemberment of Alfred Tello. Sheinbein's father is an Israeli citizen, which allowed the boy to claim citizenship in Israel and block his extradition to the US to stand trial, according to Israeli law at the time.

That law has since been amended to avoid Israel's becoming a haven for criminals, but 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 unhappy over the deal worked out between the defense and the Israeli prosecution.

That deal would give Sheinbein a 24-year prison sentence and parole eligibility after 16 years. The sentence, according to Israeli standards, is tough for a minor, which applied to Sheinbein because he was 17 when the murder was committed.

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.

Israeli officials were shocked that the pending plea-bargain was revealed to the American media, saying that the Maryland state prosecutor had been notified of the arrangement in advance of the plea out of "professional courtesy."