By KATIE McLAUGHLIN
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Court TV) — A judge has granted a motion filed by Joran van der Sloot‘s attorney seeking an extension on pretrial deadlines, as his client awaits trial on federal charges of extortion and wire fraud.
Kevin Butler, the federal public defender for Holloway, had requested a 30-day extension on pretrial deadlines and asked that the court hold off for at least 60 days on setting a trial date. Van der Sloot, who has waived his right to a speedy trial, initially had until July 17 to decide whether he planned to plead guilty or go to trial. He now has until the fall.
Van der Sloot is considered a suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, who vanished while visiting Aruba on a high school graduation trip. Van der Sloot, now 35, has never been charged in connection with her presumed death.
However, authorities said in 2010, van der Sloot falsely told Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway, that he would reveal the location of Natalee’s body if she paid him $250,000. Later that year, a federal grand jury in Birmingham, Alabama indicted van der Sloot on charges of wire fraud and extortion.
Earlier this month, van der Sloot was extradited to Alabama from Peru, where he is serving a 28-year sentence for the 2010 murder of college student Stephany Flores. At his initial U.S. court appearance on June 9, van der Sloot pleaded not guilty to the fraud and extortion charges. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail.
In his request, Butler wrote: “Because undersigned counsel needs additional time to review the discovery, investigate this case, and prepare for trial, it is in the interest of justice to continue the motions deadline and the trial setting.”
According to court records, the team prosecuting van der Sloot, the Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney’s Office, has not pushed back on the defense’s request.
Prosecutors allege van der Sloot told Beth Holloway for an initial payment of $25,000, he would escort a representative for the Holloway family to the location of Natalee’s body. He said he would collect the remaining $225,000 once the body was recovered and positively identified.
The affidavit states that Natalee died after van der Sloot threw her to the ground when she attempted to stop him from leaving her. The affidavit further states that van der Sloot’s father, Paulus van der Sloot, helped him dispose of Natalee’s body. Paulus, who has since died, was an Aruban lawyer training to be a judge at the time of Natalee’s disappearance.
Following the announcement last month that van der Sloot was to be indicted, Beth noted that Natalee would be 36 if she were alive today, saying:
“I was blessed to have had Natalee in my life for 18 years, and as of this month, I have been without her for exactly 18 years. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.”
Van der Sloot told the Holloway family’s representative that his father buried Natalee’s remains in gravel beneath the foundation of a home, but later admitted that was a lie.