'Pokemon murder' defendant attempted to conceal crime using Facebook

'Pokemon murder' defendant attempted to conceal crime using Facebook
The man attempted to prove he had never met his victim, aged 20, by sending out messages through from her Facebook account. Credit: © Belga

A man on trial for the murder of a 20-year-old woman who came to trade Pokemon figures in his apartment immediately turned to Facebook to try to conceal his crime, the second day of hearings revealed.

The 27-year-old man, identified as Jonny Van Den Broeck, is accused of murdering Shashia Moreau after inviting her to her apartment on February 2017, in a crime dubbed "the Pokemon murder" by Flemish media.

Van Den Broeck and Moreau met online over their shared interest in cosplay and eventually agreed to meet in person to trade figures of Pokemon characters.

The trial, which kicked off on 18 October, saw Van Den Broeck break with a claim he had upheld for years according to which he did not remember how Moreau died, admitting he had strangled her during sex, in an encounter he says was consensual.

"We had sex, first normal, then rougher," Van Den Broeck told the court. "I grabbed her throat with both hands for a light strangle, but I pushed harder than I realised."

Van Den Broeck said Moreau had shown "surprised" at his advances but later engaged sexually with him, but several reports on Belgian media say he raped Moreau before strangling her to death.

Facebook alibis

Surveillance camera footage dated 7 February 2017 showed the pair meeting in Antwerp Central Station and making their way to Van Den Broeck's apartment, which they reached at around 10:41 AM.

Two days after their meeting, Moreau's naked and tied up body was found in a grave dug in the defendant's courtyard, according to SudInfo.

Messages obtained by criminal investigators showed that minutes after they arrived in his home, Van Den Broeck sent Facebook messages to Moreau asking why she hadn't shown up, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

The first messages, sent between 11:02 and 11:14 AM, were then followed by messages sent out to himself and to Moreau's friend using his victim's Facebook account which were meant to show that she had chosen not to show up to their meeting.

Surveillance footage from the subsequent hours shows Van Den Broeck leaving his apartment to buy a shovel, and wearing a different sweatshirt than when he met up with Moreau, according to the Flemish outlet.

Van Den Broeck said he did not have the intention of killing Moreau, saying that he "panicked" when he noticed that "she was no longer breathing."

"I realised that I had to get rid of her. I bought a shovel and dug a well in the garden," adding that, when he realised it wasn't deep enough, he opted to tie her legs and arms, "so that she fit in."

He said that he was trying to "fool himself" and that he made the wrong decision when he chose to try to conceal his crime and his victim's body. A verdict is expected on 25 October.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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