Source AP ©

Russian serial murderer kills 48 people

A Russian man is accused of murdering scores of people and counting his victims on a chessboard. Prosecutors administered the "severest punishment" for the killer. But the accused displayed no remorse and made fun of both prosecutors and even his own lawyers.

Alexander Pichushkin, 33, has confessed to killing 63 people with the goal of marking all 64 squares on the chessboard. Prosecutors charged him with 49 murders, but later dropped one count for lack of evidence.

Most of the victims were killed over the course of five years in Bittsa Park, a sprawling wild green area on the southern edge of the city, and the serial killer became known as the "Bittsa Maniac."

Moscow city prosecutor Yuri Syomin told the jury in his closing arguments that investigators have proved Pichushkin killed 48 people and attempted to kill three others and he "deserves the severest punishment as a serial killer."

Russia has maintained a moratorium on the death penalty since 1996, although it has stopped short of abolishing it completely.

Pichishkin's lawyers questioned the evidence in 23 of those killings in 14 cases no body was found and asked that he be cleared on those crimes.

"I would not want him to be blamed for someone else's crimes," said lawyer Pavel Ivannikov.

Pichushkin, who was held in the courtroom in a glass cage, refused to make a final statement.

"A final statement?" he said, speaking through a microphone. "It sounds grim. I donate my final statement to all the deaf and mute."

"All that is being said here by the prosecutors and lawyers is so pitiful," he said, after prosecutors several times had to correct one of his defense lawyers when he confused some facts of the case during his closing arguments.

The jury in the Moscow City Court could deliver its verdict as early as Tuesday.

"I would give him death by firing squad," said a woman whose sister was one of the victims. Prosecutors said Pichushkin lured his victims to the park by promising them vodka if they would join him in mourning the death of his dog.

They say he killed 11 people in 2001, including six in one month. He killed most of victims by throwing them into a sewage pit after they were drunk, and in a few cases strangled or hit them in the head, prosecutors said.

Beginning in 2005, he began to kill with "particular cruelty," hitting his intoxicated victims multiple times in the head with a hammer, then sticking an unfinished bottle of vodka into their shattered skulls, prosecutors said. He also no longer tried to conceal the bodies.

Prosecutors said Monday that Pichushkin admitted that he had killed one of his last victims in February 2006 to demonstrate that he was still at large following inaccurate reports in Russian newspapers that the "Bittsa Maniac" had been caught.

Pichushkin was arrested in June 2006 after a woman left a note at home saying that she was going for a walk with him and was then found dead.

Pichushkin said he was aware of the note but killed her anyway.

"I burned myself, so there's no need for the cops to take credit for catching me," he said during the trial. "I'm a professional."

During the trial, which began Sept. 13, Pichishkin also reveled in the memory of his first murder, saying "it's like first love it's unforgettable."

Experts at Russia's main psychiatric clinic have found Pichushkin sane.