Court orders mental health report for suspected murderer of US tourist Sarai Sierra
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoAn Istanbul court has ordered a detailed report into the mental health condition of Z.T., who admitted to killing 31-year-old tourist Sarai Sierra earlier in the year, to determine whether he was of sound mind when he allegedly killed the American woman.
Z.T. appeared in court for the trial’s first hearing today on charges of murder and sexual assault. If found guilty, he could face an aggravated life sentence.
The suspect admitted to killing Sierra, but said he did not rape her beforehand but rather simply attempted to kiss her. Z.T. claimed he was high at the time and that he killed the woman with a rock following a physical struggle.
But a lawyer appointed by the Family and Social Ministry dismissed Z.T.’s defense, stating that he murdered Sierra because she rejected his sexual advances.
The court ordered Z.T. to remain under supervision so that authorities can prepare a report on his mental health, thereby determining whether or not he had any mental illnesses or weaknesses that could affect his sentencing.
Sierra, who left the United States for the first time in her life on Jan. 7 to take pictures in Istanbul, went missing in the city on Jan. 21. Her dead body was found Feb. 2 along Istanbul’s city walls near Sarayburnu beneath Topkapı Palace.
Z.T. fled Istanbul shortly after Sierra’s body was discovered; police detained him on March 17 in the southern province of Hatay’s Reyhanlı district after he had reportedly re-entered the country from Syria.