Va. Man to Face Murder Trial in Czech Republic

     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A Virginia man accused of killing and then burning the bodies of four members of his extended family was extradited to the Czech Republic on Monday to face multiple murder charges, the Justice Department said.
     Kevin Dahlgren, 23, formerly of Sacramento, Va., is the prime suspect in the violent deaths of his uncle Martin Harok, aunt Veronika Harokova and cousins Filip and David Harok. According to court documents, Dahlgren was a guest in the family’s Brno, Czech Republic home on May 22, 2013, when the murders were committed.
     “The victims died of multiple stabbing, chopping and cutting wounds, particularly to the head and neck,” the government says in its complaint for extradition. “Following the murders, Kevin Dahlgren attempted to burn three of the four bodies by setting fire to them in the basement of the home.”
     Neighbors reported smoke billowing from the Harok’s basement window where they discovered a “smoldering pile of duvets and blankets, which were covering the bodies of three of the victims,” the complaint says.
     Czech police said they found the fourth victim on another floor of the home, and that two of the victims’ wrist watches had stopped at 8 a.m. The government says a coroner in the Czech Republic concluded the victims were dead before the killer attempted to incinerate them.
     On the same day as the murders, the government says, Dahlgren took a taxi to Vienna, where he caught a flight to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
     He was arrested in the United States on a provisional warrant issued by Czech authorities, the extradition request says.
     Authorities say Dahlgren’s luggage contained a pair of shorts that were spattered with blood that a DNA test later matched to the victims.
     Documents submitted to support the government’s extradition request suggest several of the Haroks’ neighbors saw Dahlgren acting strangely in the days and hours leading up to and immediately following the murders.
     One described seeing the alleged murders brandishing a knife and bragging about successfully sneaking a knife aboard an airplane, the papers say. Another claims to have heard “shouting not in the Czech language as well as banging like hitting a punching bag coming from the Harok’s patio” on the afternoon of the murder.
     Extradition documents describe a young man trained in martial arts, who told a friend that he “might have to return to the States as huge things have happened there.”
     A cleaning lady who came to the Harok’s house on the morning of the murders told Czech police that Dahlgren “positioned himself in the doorway leading further inside the house, spread his arms in the doorframe and told her again that there was to be no cleaning that day.”
     Dahlgren is currently being held without bail pending his murder trial.
     If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in prison, a Czech media report says.
     According to the Czech Ministry of Justice, Dahlgren is the first U.S. citizen ever to be extradited to the Czech Republic on criminal charges.
     Dahlgren’s attorney John Zwerling told Courthouse News his client was wrongly denied his right to appeal his extradition before he was physically removed from the country.
     Zwerling said he if his client had been afforded that opportunity, he would have challenged the constitutionality of the Czech warrant, which he claims lacked probable cause.
     “It would not have been a warrant that would have been issued in the United States,” Zwerling said. “The 4th Amendment applies to U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, so he had a right to suppress the evidence that was seized from him at the border and the court did not agree with that, or ignored it, more accurately. That was one of the issues we wanted to raise and now cannot.”
     “Then there was the issue of reciprocity,” Zwerling continued. “The charge that he is facing in the Czech Republic carries an additional sentence based on an element that doesn’t exist in this country.”
     According to Zwerling, Czech courts can prosecute individuals for criminal liability in addition to murder with intent. “Whether or not you can be rehabilitated is not an aggravator in this country,” Zwerling noted.
     Zwerling claims he has not spoken with Dahlgren since his extradition, and he does not know when his client’s trial is scheduled to begin.
     “Once you extradite him to another country you don’t get him back,” Zwerling said. “If somebody gets sentenced to death and you don’t stay the execution pending his appeal, then you execute him and he wins his appeal, what good does it do him?” he asked.
     Dahlgren is also represented by Cary Citronberg, of Zwerling Leibig & Moseley in Alexandria, Va., and Theodore Simon, of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in Philadelphia.

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