PERUGIA, Italy — A U.S. student on trial for allegedly murdering her British roommate in Italy was recognized by a witness Saturday as a woman in a grocery store the early morning after the killing, although the defendant says she woke up at mid-morning that day.
That defendant, Amanda Knox, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are accused of killing Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old British student who was found dead Nov. 2, 2007.
The prosecutors say that Kercher was killed the night before, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., at the apartment she shared with Knox after what had begun as a sex game.
The two defendants deny wrongdoing. Sollecito said he spent the night at his house, and that he does not remember whether Knox spent part of all of the night with him. Knox, after conflicting statements, eventually said she was not home. She has said she awoke at Sollecito's house at mid-morning.
Witness Marco Quintavalle said Saturday that a young woman entered his grocery store near Sollecito's house in Perugia at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2007. He said the woman was waiting for him to open the store and that he and she exchanged glances when she entered.
"It really struck me, she had a very pale face and these light eyes," said Quintavalle. "I can still see the image in my head."
Asked by the presiding judge if that woman was present in the courtroom, Quintavalle said he was sure it was Amanda Knox.
"Now I'm sure," he said, looking at her. Knox did not appear to react.
Victim frequented store
Quintavalle, who said he was not at the cash register, said he was not sure whether Knox had bought anything that morning.
Quintavalle said he had seen Knox one or two times before at his store with Sollecito, who was a frequent customer. Quintavalle said he did not realize the woman who entered the store was Knox until he saw her face in newspaper articles and on TV days later.
Quintavalle volunteered this information to the prosecution a year later upon the suggestion of a reporter friend. He said Saturday that he had waited because he had "no enthusiasm about getting involved in this story."
Defense lawyers questioned the reliability of the witness. Carlo Dalla Vedova asked him if he could say how tall Sollecito is and what is the color of his eyes. He gave an indication on the height and said he wasn't sure about the eye color.
Stepdad makes visits to jail
Chris Mellas, Knox's stepfather, said the trial had so far failed to show "any evidence that she's done anything, which is the truth."
"With each court session that passes she feels a little bit better," Mellas told The Associated Press before Quintavalle took the stand. Mellas has been coming to court and visiting Knox in jail.
In other testimony, Jovana Popovic of Serbia said Sollecito had agreed to drive her to a bus station in Perugia the night of the murder. They ended up not going as Popovic changed her plan. Popovic went to Sollecito's house at 8:40 p.m. to tell him she no longer needed to go, and Knox opened the door to take the message, the Serbian woman testified.
Another person implicated in the case, Rudy Hermann Guede of the Ivory Coast, was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison at a separate trial last year. He also denies wrongdoing.
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