Italy: Amanda Knox and ex-boyfriend indicted in Briton's murder; 3rd defendant convicted
PERUGIA, Italy — Seattle's Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend will stand trial for the murder of a British woman in central Italy last year, an Italian judge ruled today.
The Associated Press and Seattle Times staff
PERUGIA, Italy — Seattle's Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend will stand trial for the murder of a British woman in central Italy last year, a judge ruled in Italy today.
The judge indicted Knox and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito on charges of murder and sexual violence in the slaying of Meredith Kercher in Perugia last year.
The trial is scheduled to start Dec. 4.
A third suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede of Ivory Coast, was sentenced to 30 years in jail after his defense requested a fast-track trial, said the lawyer for the victim's family Francesco Maresca.
Prosecutors had asked for life in prison, but such a sentence is normally reduced to 30 years in a fast-track trial.
All suspects have denied wrongdoing.
Kercher, a 21-year-old student from Leeds University in England, was found dead Nov. 2 in the apartment she shared with Knox. She died from a stab wound to the neck.
Knox' lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, said his client "was quite disappointed" by the ruling.
"She is ready to start again," Ghirga told reporters. "The (first) hearing is very close, we have to reorganize our defense line in time."
Judge Paolo Micheli emerged with a verdict after almost 12 of hours of deliberations. All the proceedings were held behind closed doors.
Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito, who were jailed shortly after the slaying, had asked that their clients be granted house arrest if indicted. Lawyers leaving the court house in Perugia said Micheli did not rule on the request and a decision is expected in the coming days.
Prosecutors contend that Kercher died during what began as a sex game, with Sollecito holding her by the shoulders from behind while Knox touched her with the point of a knife and Guede tried to sexually assault her. Prosecutors say Knox then fatally stabbed Kercher in the throat.
Guede has acknowledged being in the house, saying he was in the bathroom when Kercher was attacked and that he rushed into the bedroom to try to rescue her. Scared, he immediately fled, he said.
Sollecito, 24, has said he was in his own apartment in Perugia and that he doesn't remember if Knox spent part or all of that night with him.
Knox, 21, initially told investigators she was in the house when Kercher was killed, and covered her ears against the victim's screams. Later, Knox said she wasn't in the house.
Prosecutors say Knox's DNA was found on the handle of a knife that might have been used in the slaying, while Kercher's DNA was found on the blade.
They say they found Sollecito's DNA on the victim's bra, although Sollecito's defense team says the bra bore multiple DNA traces and charge the evidence might have been inadvertently contaminated during the investigation.
Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, who represents the group "Friends of Amanda," said news of the indictments is disappointing.
"In light of the lack of evidence on the case, it would have been, in our view, best for her not to have been charged," Bremner said this afternoon.
The fact that Knox will be tried on all six counts is particularly disappointing. she said.
"I think the charging, for our group, was stunning," she said. "I did not believe that she would be charged with everything. The theories of the prosecutors have gone from a sex killing, to a robbery, to a ritual."
She said that today's news is "really a tragedy for any family."
"Our feeling has always been, and our complaint has been, that the tabloid accounts have influenced the courts. We're just asking for fairness, and who can argue with that?"
Seattle Times staff reporter William Mari contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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