LUEBECK, West Germany -- A woman who walked into a courtroom and fired seven bullets into a child molester accused of killing her young daughter was sentenced to six years in jail by a West German court today.
The court found Marianne Bachmeier, 32, guilty of manslaughter and unauthorized possession of a weapon in connection with the death of Klaus Grabowski, a 35-year-old butcher.
Ms. Bachmeier shot Grabowski two years ago on the third day of his trial for the slaying of her 7-year-old daughter, Anna. Ms. Bachmeier faced a minimun jail term of five years and a maximum of life imprisomnent.
Ms. Bachmeier testified she took a loaded gun into court March 6, 1981, during Grabowski's trial, but did not intend to kill him until she heard he intended to malign her dead child in court.
Ms. Bachmeier said she then saw visions of Anna and fired at Grabowski's back 'as if in a dream.'
'I did it for you Anna,' she said after the shooting, according to testimony during her trial.
The prosecution, changing the charge from murder to manslaughter after the evidence was heard, called for an eight-year sentence for Ms. Bachmeier.
Defense lawyers asked for acquittal on grounds Ms. Bachmeier was not responsible for her actions the day of the killing.
The defense also blamed Luebeck authorities for allowing Grabowski, who underwent voluntary castration in 1976 after convictions for sexual offenses, to take hormone treatments that returned his sexual drive and led to his allegedly molesting and killing Anna.
The case has stirred considerable controversy in West Germany, with a number of people pleading for sympathy for the young mother who took the law into her own hands to seek revenge.
But the tragic life of Ms. Bachmeier herself has aroused the most comment, with the weekly magazine Stern serializing her story before the trial began.
Unloved by an hysterical mother, deserted by an alcoholic father and beaten by her stepfather, Ms. Bachmeier had her first illegitimate child at age 16, according to court testimony.
She was raped while pregnant with her second child three years later.
Her childhood experiences and a series of unhappy love affairs made her unstable and 'an easy catch' for men, psychologists told the court.
Anna, her third and favorite child, took on the role of friend and advisor. Psychologists testified that for the mother, killing Anna was like killing Ms. Bachmeier herself.