Slain student's body sent home from Italy
The body of slain student Meredith Kercher was returned to Britain on Sunday, despite a request for a second post-mortem from defense lawyers...
Special to The Seattle Times
ROME — The body of slain student Meredith Kercher was returned to Britain on Sunday, despite a request for a second post-mortem from defense lawyers.
Seattle native Amanda Knox, who was Kercher's roommate; Knox's boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito; and Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, a 37-year-old Congolese immigrant who owned the bar where Kercher worked, have been detained as suspects in the Nov. 1 slaying.
It is not clear which defendant's attorney requested that Kercher's body be retained for a second autopsy. But Italian magistrates denied the request, allowing the body to be moved to Rome by train and then to London on an Alitalia flight. The body arrived Sunday afternoon.
Still, legal experts said the request could mean that a defense strategy for Knox and the other defendants is starting to take shape.
In that vein, several Italian newspapers speculated that part of the strategy could be based on DNA evidence that a fourth person was in the room with Kercher during the struggle in her apartment in Perugia, which ended with her throat cut and her bleeding to death — likely for at least two hours.
Her body was not discovered until the next morning.
Whatever defense strategy is eventually used, it may not be heard in court for some time. The three detainees have been declared "flight risks," which means that in the case of violent crimes the law allows them to be held up to two years without being charged and with no bail being set. However, a shorter period is likely in a high-profile case such as this one.
In other news from the weekend, Knox's parents were finally able to see their daughter.
Edda Mellas visited her daughter on Saturday, four days after arriving in Perugia, and the Italian media reported that her father, William Knox, visited Sunday, two days after his arrival.
The Italian media quoted Mellas as saying: "Amanda told me she was not even in the house when it happened and that she is sure she would be released soon."
Another visitor over the weekend was Father Saulo Scarabattoli, who came to Knox's two-person, 16-foot by 16-foot cell after Knox was denied permission to attend Mass at the prison.
"I explained to her the true sense of what life is, and how values are connected to moral behavior," Scarabattoli said in a statement. "I told her that wild party nights were a tragedy, and I believe she listened carefully to what I said."
The Roman Catholic priest said he didn't meet with Knox's mother, Edda Mellas.
He said Knox had received visits from him "with joy" and was writing down her thoughts. "It's not a diary in a formal sense as we know it, but she is recording sensations, memories, her account," the priest told The Associated Press by telephone.
Knox and her mother would have sat face to face in the visitors room, said the priest. Inmates usually are allowed hourlong visits about four times a month, he said.
Francesco Sollecito, the father of Knox's boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, visited his 23-year-old son in prison. He described his son as "tranquil enough, although obviously tried by the atmosphere."
His son is also "a bit perturbed," the father said. "He's reviewing his impressions of this girl," referring to Knox. Raffaele Sollecito had been seeing her for about two weeks before the slaying.
Investigators have said Kercher was stabbed with a knife similar to one Raffaele Sollecito was known to carry.
But Francesco Sollecito dismissed any link.
"I, too, collect weapons. I collect rifles and other things," he said. His son, he said, "collects knives — nothing more, nothing less."
The father, a doctor, contended the wound suffered by Kercher was "compatible with several kinds of knives."
In a ruling upholding the detentions, Perugia Judge Claudia Matteini described Knox as confused about the events because she had smoked hashish before the slaying.
The third suspect, Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, 38, was accused by Knox of the killing, according to the judge's ruling. Lumumba's lawyer has maintained that his client was at his pub at the time and accused Knox of making "slanderous statements."
Sollecito's attorney has also told reporters that his client was not at the crime scene, although the judge wrote that Sollecito's footprints were found in Kercher's room. The Italian news agency Apcom quoted Sollecito's father as saying that the footprints were of a "very common" kind of shoe and that the defense would press for new scientific tests on his son's shoes.
Eric J. Lyman is a freelance reporter based in Rome. Portions of this report are from The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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