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US Student Faces Murder Trial in Italy

PERUGIA, Italy (Oct. 28) - An American college student and her former boyfriend were ordered Tuesday to stand trial in last year's slaying of her roommate, while the judge also convicted an Ivory Coast man in the killing, lawyers said.
The judge indicted Amanda Knox, 21, of Seattle and Raffaele Sollecito of Italy on charges of murder and sexual violence in the stabbing death of Meredith Kercher of England, said Francesco Maresca, a lawyer for the victim's family. Trial for the two, who deny wrongdoing, will start Dec. 4.
US Exchange Student Charged With Murder
Pier Paolo Cito, AP
6 photos


American college student Amanda Knox was ordered Tuesday to stand trial in the slaying of her British roommate. An Italian judge indicted Knox, shown on her way to a Sept. 26 court hearing, and her Italian ex-boyfriend on charges of murder and sexual violence in the death of Meredith Kercher. A third suspect, a West African man, was convicted of the same charges, lawyers said.
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A third suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede of the West African nation of Ivory Coast, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted on the same charges in a fast-track trial requested by his defense, Maresca said. Prosecutors asked for life in jail.
Knox's attorney, 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 and the three suspects awaited the ruling in separate cells at the courthouse.
Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito, who were jailed shortly after the slaying last Nov. 2, had asked that their clients be granted house arrest if indicted. Lawyers leaving the courthouse said Micheli did not rule on the request and a decision was expected in the coming days. If convicted, Knox and Sollecito could face life in prison.
Kercher's family, including her mother, father, two brothers and a sister attended the hearing.
"We are as pleased as we can be with the decision. At the end of the day, we are here because our sister Meredith was murdered," brother Lyle Kercher said at a news conference.
The victim's other brother, John, said he was "overwhelmed" when the judge handed down the guilty verdict for Guede.
Knox's divorced parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, said in a statement they were "extremely disappointed and surprised" by the judge's decision, "given the weakness of the evidence against" their daughter.
"We believe that she will eventually be proven innocent of all charges against her and we will support her in every way possible as we work toward her complete exoneration," the parents said.
Kercher, a 21-year-old student from England, was found dead in the apartment she shared with Knox. She had been stabbed in the neck.
Prosecutors allege 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, also 21, admitted being in the house, but denied any part in the killing. He said that he was in the bathroom when Kercher was attacked and that he rushed into the bedroom to try to rescue her. He said he fled Italy after the slaying because he was frightened. Guede's defense said it would appeal the verdict.
Sollecito, 24, has said that he was in his own apartment in Perugia at the time of the killing and that he doesn't remember if Knox spent part or all of that night with him.
Knox initially told investigators she was in the apartment 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 argue the evidence might have been inadvertently contaminated during the investigation.
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