LAKE CITY, FL (CBS) -- An American radiologist used to a simple life in Lake City, a small town in northern Florida, has become the unlikely protector of Joran Van der Sloot, a Dutch national accused of murdering a young Peruvian woman.
Van der Sloot will go on trial for the crime on Friday (January 6), with his Florida benefactor helping pay his legal fees.
Mary Hamer told Reuters she believed that Van der Sloot was innocent. "My heart and soul says that Mr. Van der Sloot is a victim of a major international conspiracy by not only governments - the U.S. and Peru and Chile - but also of wealthy powerful, military connected U.S. citizens," said Hamer.
Van der Sloot first came to the spotlight as a prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an American girl vacationing in Aruba who was last seen with Van der Sloot and whose body has never been found. Van der Sloot was questioned by police in Aruba but was released for lack of evidence.
Exactly five years later, Van der Sloot was back in the news after his arrest for the murder of a Peruvian girl, Stephany Flores, who was found beaten to death in his hotel room in Lima, Peru.
Van der Sloot confessed to Peruvian investigators that he murdered Flores after a night out gambling at a casino in Lima.
But Hamer is convinced that Van der Sloot is the victim of a conspiracy and claims the confession to Peruvian police was forced.
"Joran was not given an official Dutch translator, even though Joran spoke a little bit of Spanish, he wasn't familiar with legal terms in a police interrogation. And everyone knows that if you don't speak the language, people can twist and turn you. They can bribe you, make you sign a document, a confession. 'Hey we're going to send you to Holland. We'll extradite you, but just please sign this confession and look at the camera and say a few things and we'll send you there,'" said Hamer.
Hamer, who describes Van der Sloot as a "beautiful person", considers herself his "guardian angel".
"It's not a sexual love, not a romantic love. It's a spiritual love and spiritual Agape loves [as in the love of God] are even more powerful than sexual love. We all know sexual love can be very superficial and artificial and phoney. But this is a spiritual love and the more I know about him, the more I know how beautiful a person he is," said Hamer.
Hamer, who is paying the Dutchman's legal fees, is convinced he was set up as part of an FBI sting operation, but she is yet to present any evidence to support her claims.
"None of us really knows the truth. But in my heart and through all my research, I know that Joran was innocent of Natalee Holloway, the Aruba sting operation and the Lima, Peru events of 2005 and 2010," she said.
Asked if she has any concern she might be defending a murderer and whether the rejection of her family and risk of financial bankruptcy might deter her efforts to get him released, Hamer said she would never give up the fight for Van der Sloot's freedom.
"I'm doing the right thing. That's what gives me the greatest satisfaction. I know when I die, that I stood up for justice and truth and I fought for human beings' freedom, Joran Van der Sloot," said Hamer.
Hamer has visited Van der Sloot several times at Lima's Castro Castro prison where he is being held and she plans to travel again to Peru for the start of his murder trial.
She has already paid over $20,000 (usd) for Van der Sloot's defense. Peruvian prosecutors are said to be seeking 30 years in prison for the Dutchman for the first degree murder of Stephany Flores.