Today, day 3 of his trial, Josef Fritzl suddenly reversed his plea to guilty on all charges, including the murder of his infant son. He said that watching daughter Elisabeth's videotaped testimony changed his mind.
"When I saw the video tapes I realised for the first time how cruel I was to Elisabeth," he said. The 11 hours of videotaped testimony revealed many terrible details, and it was supposedly what led Fritzl to recognize his years of "sick behavior," as he put it. Per the testimony of Elisabeth and her brother Herald, the "sick behavior" had been going on for the last 31 years. More details from Day 3:
According to the Independent Fritzl first began abusing his daughter when she was only 11. Elisabeth's story was backed up in court by testimony from Herald, who told the court that Elisabeth was "terrified" of her father, and that he was "sexually obsessed" with Elisabeth from a very young age.
Fritzl's abuse started with forcing Elisabeth to watch pornography with him, and sending her pornographic notes, the Daily Mail reports. "Somehow, I don't know why, my father seemed to choose me for himself," she said.
It was the years of abuse that caused Elisabeth to run away at age 16. She was found by the local police, and brought back home. A little over a year later, Fritzl imprisoned her in the basement.
During her teenage years, Herald was her sole confident. However, he too was terrified of his father. Herald suffered repeated beatings at his father's hands, and felt that he was powerless to help his younger sister.
Fritzl claims that his daughter was wild, and that he caught her drinking on several occasions. He says that by imprisoning Elisabeth he was "saving her from herself." He also initially attempted to refute Elisabeth's accusations by saying that she was "confused" about the early years of abuse, and didn't correctly remember who had abused her.
The court also saw a 30-page psychiatric report by psychiatrist Adelheid Kastner, which warns that Fritzl will never be sane, according to the Mirror:
Dr. Kastner warned: "During the entire period of his crimes he was aware of his responsibility and thus his criminal liability.
"They reach the dimension of a high-grade mental abnormality. It is to be feared that in future he will again commit acts with serious consequences."
The report claims that for someone "born to rape he held out for a relatively long time." Dr. Kastner believes that Fritzl's childhood had a huge impact on his current mental state. Fritzl was unloved, and "at best regarded as a calamity."
Also in the report: Fritzl apparently suffered from a condition as a child which made him embarrassed about his penis.
Dr. Kastner has recommended that Fritzl spend the rest of his life in a secure institution for criminals with mental problems. She believes that there is an absolute risk that Fritzl will re-offend. Fritzl has expressed fantasies of spending his last days with his wife, but Kastner says this "cannot be considered as something that is very likely to happen."
The Daily Mail reports that Fritzl's guilty plea includes his recognition that his actions lead to the death of his infant son Michael. The newborn died three days after his birth in 1996 after developing breathing problems, which Fritzl ignored:
'I don't know why I have not seen the baby would have needed help. All I can say is that it was not planned,' Fritzl said today.
'I don't know why I didn't help. I just overlooked it. I thought the little one would survive.'
Admitting the murder means the pensioner now faces a likely life sentence and will die in jail.
Unfortunately, this may not speed up the trial; however, the verdict is expected to come as early as this Thursday.
A reporter for the Daily Beast has revealed that Elisabeth is now in a safe location, and plans to start her life over under an assumed identity:
During the trial, Elisabeth and her children are staying at a nearby psychological center. She will not have to confront her father in court, but she may be asked to provide further video testimony. After the trial, she plans to live under a new identity in an undisclosed location with her son Felix. Kerstin and Stefan suffer from severe social and physical disabilities, including rotting gums and immunity problems from being raised without sunlight. They, along with Fritzl's wife and the upstairs children, have also taken new identities.
Yesterday the court confirmed that Fritzl had been placed on suicide watch following the viewing of Elisabeth's testimony and his subsequent admission of guilt.
Josef Fritzl Trial: He'll Always Be A Danger Says Doctor's Report [Mirror]
Fritzl Lets The Mask Slip As His Daughter Tells Her Tragic Story [Independent]
Josef Fritzl Trial: Daughter Elisabeth Reveals Sick Beast's Sick Sex Acts As He Forced Her To View Porn [Mirror]
Josef Fritzl On Suicide Watch As ‘Avenging Angel' Daughter Gives Damning Testimony [Telegraph]
Fritzl Pleads Guilty To ALL Charges As He Tells Court: 'My Daughter's Evidence Made Me Realise How Cruel I Had Been' [Daily Mail]
In Change Of Heart, Fritzl Pleads Guilty To All Counts [WSJ]
My Life In The Dungeon [Daily Beast]