U.S. student, Italian to remain held in killing

/ Source: The Associated Press

A University of Washington student and her Italian ex-boyfriend — both held in connection with the slaying of a 21-year-old British student — must remain in jail, a court ruled Friday.

Amanda Marie Knox of Seattle, and Raffaele Sollecito have been jailed in this central Italian city since Nov. 6.

The decision by the three-judge panel was made shortly after Knox, 20, appeared in the court to proclaim her innocence.

Meredith Kercher, a student from Leeds University in England and enrolled for a year of study in Perugia, was found dead Nov. 2 in the apartment she shared with Knox. She died from a stab wound to the neck, and prosecutors said she was killed resisting a sexual assault.

The judges did not release the reason for their ruling but are expected to do so in the next few days, said Marco Brusco, a lawyer for Sollecito.

The detention of Knox and Sollecito was upheld by a judge a few days after their arrest. The judge said there was enough evidence against them to hold them while the investigation continued. Lawyers appealed that decision. Both deny wrongdoing.

Knox and Sollecito were not seen arriving at court Friday, but police officials and lawyers confirmed the two were at the closed hearing.

“We are happy and confident because we were able to fully explain our point of view,” said Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga. “Amanda made a very brief statement proclaiming her innocence.”

Conflicting statements
Officials have said Knox has given conflicting statements since the killing, first saying she was not home the night of the slaying and later telling prosecutors she was in the apartment and had to cover her ears to drown out Kercher’s screams.

According to prosecutors, a drop of Knox’s blood found on a bathroom faucet places her at the apartment on the night of the killing or the morning after, and DNA from Knox and Kercher was found on a knife that investigators believe may have been the used to kill the student.

The knife was found in Sollecito’s home, and a bloody footprint located near Kercher’s body has been matched to his shoes, placing the 23-year-old Italian at the crime scene, prosecutors say.

Lawyers maintain there is not enough evidence linking the knife to Kercher’s wounds or the shoes to the footprint.

Sollecito said he was at his own Perugia apartment, on his computer, but does not remember if Knox spent the whole night with him. Both suspects have explained confused recollections and conflicting statements by saying they had smoked hashish that night, according to court documents.

Ivory Coast national still jailed
In addition to Knox and Sollecito, Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede is also being held as a suspect. He was arrested in Germany after an international manhunt and is awaiting extradition to Italy.

Guede has acknowledged he was in Kercher’s room the night she died but said he didn’t kill her and that an Italian who is trying to frame him did. It is not clear whom Guede accused. DNA testing has confirmed that he had sex with Kercher the night of the killing.

A fourth suspect, Diya “Patrick” Lumumba, a Congolese who owned the Perugia bar where Knox worked, was recently released from jail for lack of evidence. Lumumba, initially fingered by Knox as the killer, has not been formally cleared and denies any wrongdoing.