The 42-year-old defendant had argued that the killing was accidental. However, the court refused to downgrade the charge to manslaughter.
A court in the Bavarian city of Bayreuth handed down a life sentence to a truck driver on Wednesday after he was convicted of murdering a 28-year-old woman who was trying to hitchhike through part of Germany last year.
Sophia L. was last seen at a gas station in June of 2018 while trying to hitchhike from the Leipzig airport to her hometown of Amberg, near Nuremberg. Witnesses saw her accept a lift from a truck driver.
Her body was found a week later in northern Spain, buried in a shallow grave on the side of a road. Boujemaa L., originally from Morocco, was found and arrested. Reports in Spanish and German media indicated that police were able to find the 42-year-old suspect quickly because of gas station surveillance footage and Sophia having texted the license plate number of the vehicle to her friends.
A medical examiner found that the German student had died after a severe beating that likely occurred after she began arguing with Boujemaa L., who said he did not intend to kill her. His argument, however, was not enough to convince the court to downgrade the charge against him to manslaughter.
After her death, Sophia's friends and family voiced their concern that her murder was being instrumentalized by right-wing extremists, as has been the case with a few other deaths of young women in Germany at the hands of foreign-born men.
"Sophia would under no circumstances want racist agitation to take place at her expense, as has already happened in some cases," her brother said at the time.
* Deutsche Welle adheres to the German Press Code, which forbids giving the full name of those involved in a crime.
es/sms (AFP, dpa)