Jewish terrorist Jack Tytell on Tuesday appealed his conviction and his two life
sentences for murdering two Palestinians to the Supreme Court.
9, the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Tytell to two life sentences and an
additional 30 years in prison for the murder of two Palestinians and an
assortment of other crimes.
Just before the sentence was handed down,
Tytell said he had no regrets and was proud of what he had done.
he was only formally sentenced in April he was convicted on January
Despite his claim that an “angel” had controlled him, the court,
explaining its verdict, found that Tytell was not insane and was thus
“responsible for his actions,” which paved the way for the double life
The court also ordered him to pay NIS 180,000 to the family of
each murder victim and NIS 150,000 to each attempted murder victim.
its ruling, the court stated, “Our roots command: ‘Do not kill’ – but the
accused shut his ears and his eyes, killed and tried to kill in cold
there was no foreseeable threat of a weapon or anything to fear
from [the victims].”
The state prosecutor for the case, Sagi Ophir, said
he hoped the ruling would “send a message” that would “efficiently deter anyone
who will perpetrate terror or participate or aid in terror.”
lawyer, Asher Ohayon, had previously told The Jerusalem Post that they intended
“100 percent” to appeal to the Supreme Court – “not 60%, not 70%” – and that
they intended to appeal “both the conviction and the sentence,” commitments he
made good on Tuesday.
Last May, the court accepted an unusual plea
bargain between the district attorney and lawyers representing Tytell, and
determined that the defendant had murdered two Palestinians and committed other
violent crimes from 1997-2008.
Judges Zvi Segal, Moshe Hacohen and Moshe
Yair Drori said the court had determined that Tytell had committed the acts
attributed to him in an amended indictment.
That indictment includes 10
of the original 14 charges against the defendant – including two murders and two
attempted murders – as the prosecution agreed to remove charges relating to
attempted attacks that authorities succeeded in foiling, as well as general
language describing Tytell’s hatred for those who disagreed with or were
different from him as the motivating factor behind his crimes.
did not formally convict Tytell until it had carefully reviewed whether he could
be held criminally responsible for his offenses.
Although he agreed to
confess to the charges, Tytell refused to physically plead guilty in court when
he was convicted, because he claimed he did not recognize the court’s
Instead, in a highly unusual procedure that required special
court approval, Ohayon – with Tytell present in the courtroom but refusing to
take part – submitted an admission to the charges in the amended indictment on
his client’s behalf.
Courts normally require that defendants confessing
to crimes do so in-person in order to safeguard their rights and ensure that
they have not been coerced into admission or confused about any element of their
The Florida-born Tytell, 39, was originally indicted in
He is charged with the 1997 murder of Palestinian taxi driver Samir
Balbisi, who was found shot dead in his cab.
According to the indictment,
around May 1997, when Tytell was still in the US, he had made up his mind to
murder Palestinians and came to Israel for that purpose, smuggling a gun into
the country by hiding it in a VCR.
He spent his first weeks in Israel
with friends in Jerusalem. He managed to acquire bullets for his smuggled gun
and began seeking out a suitable victim.
The indictment states that he
chose to murder an Arab taxi driver because he thought he could ask the driver
first to drive him to a suitable spot.
On June 8, 1997, he went to the
Arab taxi stand at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, the indictment says, where he
hired Balbisi and asked him to drive him to a hotel. After driving for a while,
Tytell told Balbisi to stop and wait, then proceeded to shoot the Palestinian
man in the head at point-blank range.
The indictment also charges Tytell
with the murder of a second Palestinian man, Beduin shepherd Isaa Mousa’af
Mahamada, who was shot dead near the West Bank settlement of Carmel, near
Hebron, in August 1997.
In 2000, Tytell made aliya and lived in Shvut
Rahel, a West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem, where he married and had four
That year, police arrested him on suspicion of carrying out
both of the 1997 murders, but later released him due to lack of
In March 2008, according to the indictment, he attempted to
murder 15-year-old Amiel Ortiz, a Messianic Jewish teen from
Tytell sent a bomb in a Purim gift basket to Ortiz’s home, which
exploded when the youth opened it.
Other charges included planting
homemade explosives in September 2008 at the home of Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, a
left-wing scholar from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
attempted to murder a resident of the Beit Jamal monastery near Beit Shemesh
because he believed its inhabitants were missionaries who tried to convert
In 2006 he attacked a police station during a gay pride
Following his arrest in 2009, he was remanded in custody in a
secure psychiatric facility, and though an initial psychiatric assessment in
2010 deemed him unfit to stand trial, later tests showed that he was able to
Tytell’s lawyers had previously argued that their
client had not known right from wrong when he committed the acts and that
therefore, the court could not impose a prison term.
successfully argued that Tytell was responsible for his actions when committing
the crimes, despite the defense that an “angel” had controlled his actions and
at least one expert saying that Tytell was insane.
The court accepted an
opposing expert opinion that said, regardless of whether Tytell may have had
episodes of insanity during his trial and imprisonment, if he had been insane
years earlier when he committed the crimes, he would have deteriorated to a far
worse state in the subsequent years.
Based on the above, and the rational
manner in which Tytell gave statements to police when arrested, the court agreed
with the expert that any episodes of insanity came after the crimes and during
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