Swedish pastor appeals sentence for ordering nanny to kill his wife

Associated Press/August 4, 2004

Stockholm, Sweden -- The lawyer for a pastor convicted of manipulating his former nanny into murdering his wife said Monday he would appeal the life sentence a court handed down last week.

Helge Fossmo, 32, was sentenced to life in prison Friday after the Uppsala District Court ruled that the Pentecostal church pastor persuaded Sara Svensson, 27, to shoot his wife as she was sleeping in their house in Knutby, about 75 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of Stockholm. Svensson also shot Fossmos' neighbour, Daniel Linde, who survived the Jan. 10 attack.

Helene Fossmo's death was originally declared an accident after medical examiners decided she hit her head on a bathtub faucet after a fall. But during the trial, prosecutors reopened the investigation into Helene's death, claiming that Fossmo had killed her by bashing her head against the faucet.

Svensson, who was deemed mentally ill by a panel of judges, was sentenced to psychiatric care. She admitted to the shootings, but maintained that Fossmo persuaded her to do it, in part by sending her anonymous text messages on her cell phone.

"I was a robot, programmed to kill," Svensson told the court during her testimony.

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