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Two teens convicted in Koskela murder to appeal sentences

The varying duration of the boys' sentences, of about eight to ten years each, were affected by how much violence they had each inflected on the victim before leaving him on the ground that night in December.

Muistokynttilöitä Koskelan surmapaikalla.
Candles burn at a makeshift memorial in the Koskela district of Helsinki, near the site where three teenagers beat another teen to death last December. Image: Kristiina Lehto / Yle
Yle News

Two teenagers who were found guilty of taking part in the violent murder of another teen in the Koskela neighbourhood have expressed dissatisfaction with Helsinki District Court's verdict, the first step towards appealing their prison sentences.

Last week the two boys, along with a third defendant, were all convicted of murder committed as a minor. The district court sentenced one of the defendants to a prison term of 10 years and 1 month. The second defendant was sentenced to 9 years and 2 months and the third was handed a prison sentence of 8 years and 2 months.

On the evening of Friday, 4 December 2020, the teens lured the boy to a hospital area in the district. Then, after brutally beating him, they left the victim at the scene, where his body was discovered three days later.

The perpetrators and victim were all 16 years old at the time of the deadly attack. Their sentences were reduced on grounds that the defendants were minors at the time of the murder.

The varying duration of the boys' sentences were affected by how much violence they had each inflected on the victim. The defendants' dissatisfaction with the verdict has so far been voiced by the teen who received the longest sentence as well as the boy who received the shortest sentence.

"A decision about an appeal or its contents has not yet been made, but it will be made later in September," said Dan Palvinen, the lawyer of the teen handed the shortest prison sentence.

All three of the defendants denied the murder charge they faced. The two boys who received the longer sentences plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter and aggravated assault.

'Brutal, cruel and humiliating'

The defendant who received the shortest sentence only admitted to assaulting the victim. Testimony was heard that the teen was not present at the crime scene for part of the evening that the violent and prolonged attack took place.

All three of the defendants based their cases on the premise that the killing was not intentional. Additionally, their defence was based on the extent to which each boy participated in the violence.

However, in its ruling, Helsinki District Court found that the boy's death was intentional. It said that the defendants had jointly agreed to take part in the violence and that they must have considered the victim's death a quite probable consequence of their violent acts.

Court-ordered psychological evaluations found that the defendants were of sound mind and therefore criminally responsible on the night of the killing.

The district court's decision noted that the victim was subjected to brutal, cruel and humiliating violence for several hours and was left lying on the ground in the cold and that none of the defendants had even made an attempt to get help for the victim.

Prosecutor still deciding

The prosecution also has the opportunity to appeal the district court's decision, but as of Tuesday had not decided whether to submit a report about their dissatisfaction about the verdict.

During proceedings in district court the prosecution had demanded sentences that were one or two years longer than the defendants received last week.

"We will make a decision at the end of this week," prosecutor Satu Pomoell said.

Janne Nuutinen, the victim's lawyer, said shortly after the district court handed down its decision last week that the victim's relatives accepted the verdict. During the trial, the victim's relatives had demanded that all three of the defendants receive 12-year prison sentences.

According to the law, a complaint of dissatisfaction with a court's decision in such a case can be filed with the court within a week after a verdict is handed down. After that there is a one-month window to take the case to the Court of Appeal for consideration. In this case, that deadline is 4 October 2021.

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