CRIME
02/25/2013 03:31 pm ET

Kim De Gelder, Belgian 'Joker Killer,' Tells Court He Had To Stab Two Toddlers To Death

A Belgian man who stabbed two toddlers to death four years ago while dressed as the Joker character from "The Dark Knight" told the court he had no choice but to commit the brutal murders.

"I was aware that you should not (kill) but I did not see any other choice," Kim De Gelder said in a courtroom in Ghent, Belgium, according to France24.com. "I was pushed towards this choice, perhaps from outside. It came directly."

De Gelder killed the two toddlers and their 54-year-old caretaker in January, 2009, Reuters reported.

Officials said he entered the Fabeltjesland nursery, in Dendermonde, Belgium, through an unlocked side door and told people there he wanted to ask a question. Instead, he ran into two rooms to attack his victims before riding away on his bicycle.

He was wearing black and white makeup on his face and his hair was dyed bright red, according to the Dutch language website Standaard.be.

In addition to the two children and their caretaker, De Gelder is also accused of murdering an elderly woman in a separate attack a week earlier, and attempting to murder 22 others -- including 16 babies and toddlers --during his nursery attack.

Psychiatric experts told the court that De Gelder could stand trial as he was "able to distinguish between good and evil" when the killings took place, News.com.au reported.

De Gelder has not denied the killings. The trial, which began on Friday, will centered on whether he was insane at the time of the murders, the National Post reported.

"When he committed the facts, Kim De Gelder was not sane and cannot be punished for the facts," Jaak Haentjens, De Gelder's lawyer, told the court on Friday, TheStar.com reported.

A report by psychologists appointed by the prosecutors said, however, that De Gelder was sane when committing his crimes, as he prepared them meticulously months in advance, according to the paper.

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