Itai Ben-Dror in court - Nir Keidar - July 2011
Itai Ben-Dror appearing in court shortly after his arrest last year. Photo by Nir Keidar
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The Petah Tikva District Court yesterday convicted Netanya resident Itai Ben-Dror of murdering his three children, ages 10, 8 and 5.

The prosecution will be asking the court to impose three life sentences on Ben-Dror; however, Ben-Dror's public defender, Ran Alon, said he would seek a reduced sentence based on his client's psychological state.

The court acceded to his request to send Ben-Dror for further psychiatric evaluation.

Ben-Dror reiterated his confession that he had stabbed his three children in his apartment in Netanya a year ago, but denied many of the details in the indictment.

Alon told the court that Ben-Dror had only planned the murders a week before they took place, and not a month as claimed by the state. Alon also denied that his client had intentionally committed the murders on his ex-wife's birthday out of revenge.

The children were living with their mother at the time, but had come to visit their father at his home for the weekend.

"The accused sought to take his life and the lives of his children in order to save him and them from the agonies of this life," Alon said.

Ben-Dror's ex-wife, Lilach Shem-Tov, said after the hearing: "I know that he did it all in order to cause me great pain and sorrow. I won't give up until I get what I want - three life sentences."

Alon said that Ben-Dror had initially intended to commit suicide and only a week before the murders did he decide to kill the children. Alon said his client had initially bought knives and sleeping pills to kill himself, not his children, as stated in the indictment.

Ben-Dror has been held on suicide watch since his arrest. During the early days of his imprisonment, he would reportedly "converse" with his murdered children in his cell, asking their forgiveness and weeping.