Trial for Greek Model Murder BeginsCOSTAS KANTOURIS , Associated Press
Nov. 27, 1999 5:09 PM ET
DRAMA, Greece (AP) _ A Greek sailor accused of strangling and mutilating his American girlfriend went on trial Saturday after a court rejected his lawyer's request to postpone the hearings for further psychiatric evaluation.
George Skiadopoulos, if convicted, faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole for the Jan. 8 murder of former model Julie Scully of Mansfield, N.J.
The partially burned and headless body of Scully, 31, was found in a swamp near the northern town of Kavala. Her head was not found.
Presiding judge Panayota Mandikou said Skiadopoulos might be subjected to comprehensive psychiatric testing at a later date but refused to delay the trial. The defendant has undergone only preliminary assessment.
The decision is considered a setback for the defense, which had indicated it would argue that Skiadopoulos is mentally unstable.
Skiadopoulos, a cruise ship petty officer, met Scully on a Caribbean voyage in 1997.
Scully, who once posed in a bikini for a New Jersey newspaper, moved to Greece last December with plans for marriage. She left her 3-year-old daughter with her ex-husband, Timothy Nist.
The 25-year-old Skiadopoulos had initially reported his girlfriend missing but confessed to the murder during police questioning and led investigators to the body. Repeatedly expressing remorse, he claimed he had argued with Scully over her inability to adjust to life in Greece and her possible return to the United States.
Skiadopoulos' lawyers are expected to argue that the defendant had acted out of ``jealous rage'' and had not planned the murder.
But Nist, who traveled to Greece for the trial, told The Associated Press before giving testimony that Skiadopoulos' motive may have been financial. Scully was to receive $320,000 as part of their divorce settlement, he said.
``Julie was the mother of my daughter. She wasn't just a model who wore a bikini,'' Nist told the court. ``She was my love and my friend. I want the murderer to go to jail.''
Skiadopoulos' mother and other family members attended the trial in Drama, a town 93 miles east of Thessaloniki, in northern Greece. The court of three judges and four jurors could reach its verdict as early as next week.
The trial will resume Monday.