One after the other, all painted in their pleadings an extremely gloomy portrait of the accused before the Assize Court of Isère. The verdict is expected on Friday after three weeks of an intense and highly publicized trial.
Speaking last, Me Fabien Rajon, who represents the girl’s mother, spoke for two hours, beginning by paying tribute to the courage and dignity of Colleen, Maëlys’ older sister, by comparing the “mediocre life that is itself” built the accused.
Then he described at length the long night of the girl’s disappearance in August 2017, the “six months of hostage-taking” linked to the silence of the suspect, until the discovery of the body in a forest and the “nightmares” who have been pursuing his mother ever since.
Nordahl Lelandais, who will be 39 on the day of the verdict, has been on trial since January 31 by the Isère Assize Court for the kidnapping and murder of Maëlys De Araujo, 8, as well as for sexual assaults against two cousins aged 4 and 6, during the same summer of 2017. He faces life imprisonment.
Pushed to his limits during the debates, the former dog handler admitted to having pedophile inclinations towards his cousins. He also admitted to killing “voluntarily” Maëlys, evoking a fit of panic, a “hallucination”. And he repeated that he had never had any sexual intention towards her.
Me Rajon reaffirmed in his argument that if he is not prosecuted for the rape of Maëlys in the context of this trial for lack of “incontrovertible proof”the “sexual motivation is for (him) obvious”.
He dwelt at length on the factors “worrying” of his personality, “the consensus of experts as to its dangerousness”, but also his recent behavior in prison, where he allegedly continued to consult “questionable videos” with an illegally obtained phone.
“It’s so easy to say ‘I’ve changed'”, he attacked, before reading a letter from the parents of his first victim, Corporal Arthur Noyer, whose murder has already earned him twenty years in prison last year. Outraged by the defense adopted by the accused, the couple describe him as “a malefactor, a manipulator, a coward”.
Previously, the lawyer of the father of Maëlys Me Laurent Boguet had portrayed him in “Wolf man” who “perfectly apprehends the limits of good and evil and (who) made the choice to organize towards the dark side”.
Nordahl Lelandais has “all deployed to run in zigzag so as never to be caught”, he pointed out.
It’s someone who “lives his life as a driver and woe to you if you cross his path when he has decided to accelerate! Speed is intoxicating, it’s good. Until we hit the wall”, he throws.
The accused, seated in his cubicle, in a black shirt, listens in silence.
Me Yves Crespin, lawyer for two child protection associations, had previously estimated that the former soldier had failed during his trial “a great opportunity to express yourself”.
“It’s this man you have to judge”he told the jurors, seated in a row behind the magistrates. “You don’t have to understand, you never can”.
“I have this terrible conviction that fortunately he was arrested in time and that Maëlys will not have died for nothing”he concluded.
For Me Caroline Rémond, lawyer for the two little cousins who were victims of touching, the former dog handler is “a pedophile, a sexual predator”. “You looked for prey, that’s a predator”she apostrophes.
She returns to the “atrocious videos” which he filmed with his phone as he assaulted the sleeping children. The images had frozen the assistance during their projection.
The accused “took life” to Maëlys and the“innocence” to her little cousins. “They won’t find her”, she denounces.
The indictment and the defense of the lawyer Me Alain Jakubowicz are expected on Thursday.