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Man gets reduced sentence for murder of 11-year-old girl

A 54-year-old man has been found guilty in the fatal shooting of a girl in northern Bavaria last year. The court, however, has opted not to hand him a life sentence.

The accused, Roland E., had shot a revolver at a group of people celebrating New Year's Eve outside his house in the Franconian town of Unterschleichach last year.

A bullet struck an 11-year-old girl by the name of Janina, killing her on the spot. The girl was celebrating with friends and was not accompanied by her parents.

A district court in Bamberg on Thursday sentenced Roland E. for murder but ruled that he could not be held fully accountable for his actions, pointing to his depression. The 54-year-old accused was therefore sentenced to 12-and-a-half years and spared a life sentence.

At the outset of the trial, the public prosecutor's office disputed the notion that the accused had limited control over his actions, and therefore requested that Roland E. be handed a life sentence.

By contrast, the defense advocated that Roland E. was merely guilty of negligent homicide and argued for a reduced prison sentence.

Deutschland Prozess wegen Mordes an Elfjähriger in Silversternacht 2015/2016 (picture-alliance/dpa/N. Armer)

Roland E's actions sparked uproar across Germany, but the court ruled that he did not have full control of his actions.

The court recognized that anger and frustration, which were caused by his neighbors' celebration outside his house, were the most likely motives for the shooting. The presiding judge, Manfred Schmidt, saw this as sufficient proof that the defendant shot five times at the crowd in quick succession, making him guilty of murder.

However, a psychologist hired by the court determined that Roland E. was only partially responsible for his actions after he was diagnosed with mild to moderate depression.

Schmidt said he granted the accused "the benefit of the doubt" after choosing to follow the psychologist's recommendations.

dm/kms (dpa, AFP)