Extradited US citizen given life by Czech court for brutal murders

Kevin Dahlgren, photo: CTK

The first US citizen to be extradited to face criminal charges in the Czech Republic has been found guilty on four counts of murder after a high profile case. He now faces a life sentence in a high security prison for the brutal deaths of his Czech aunt and uncle and their two children.

Kevin Dahlgren,  photo: CTK
Kevin Dahlgren heard the verdict with a stony expression. According to the judge no-one else but Dahlgren could have committed the murders back in May 2013. Three members of the family were killed in their home in a quiet suburb the Czech Republic’s second biggest city with the remaining son murdered after he came back from school.

Dahlgren tried to cover up his tracks at the home but traces of the victims’ blood were later found on his shorts. Witnesses who saw him on May 22 said he acted as if nothing had happened.

Dahlgren later that day fled to Vienna and caught a flight back to the states, where he was arrested.

The judge dismissed one of the main planks of the defence, that Dahlgren was such a deeply disturbed person that he could not be held responsible for his actions. The judge agreed that the American indeed had psychological problems that influenced his behaviour, but not to the extent that they could exonerate him.

Kevin Dahlgren’s father,  photo: CTK
And Dahlgren’s relative youth when the murders took place, he was a few weeks short of his 21st birthday, was also brushed aside.

Kevin Dahlgren’s defence lawyer immediately declared Wednesday that an appeal would be launched against the life verdict, which usually means at least 20 years in jail. His father, in court for the verdict, also said they were convinced that his son was not guilty.

A large part of the court case was focused on Kevin Dahlgren’s psychological state with submissions from both US and Czech experts. Unlike the US experts, the Czech ones tended to the conclusion that Dahlgren could still be held responsible for his actions.

The picture emerged of a loner from a young age who was unable to create relations or fit into society. He hankered to overcome his frustrations with his normal life by committing some deed that would make him infamous and a celebrity.

Dahlgren also described voices in his head from his childhood that blocked out everything else and encouraged him to do evil. He said those voices were overpowering in his last days with his relatives in Brno, so much so that he could hardly raise himself from his bed.

Although silent throughout most of the trial, Dahlgren described the voices in his first and final comments in court on Tuesday. He added that he had been undergoing treatment for the last three years and pleaded with the judge for his psychological condition to be taken into account.

Photo: CTK
“I had no control [over] any of my actions. I could do only what the voice instructed me to do. What happened to the family is a tragedy.”

The American came to Brno after failing to get a job in the US. He made a bit of extra money by giving English lessons. He had tried to get into the army at home but failed the enrolment tests and also dreamed at one stage of going to Africa to save wildlife.