Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of Meredith Kercher murder

Amanda Knox looks on during a break in the trial at the court in Perugia, central Italy (AP)
Murdered: British student Meredith Kercher
Amanda Knox

Former lovers Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were last night found guilty of the murder of Meredith Kercher during an extreme sex game.

American Knox, 22, and Italian Sollecito, 25, are expected to launch an appeal against the verdict.

Knox was last night sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito 25.

Prosecutors said the pair killed 21-year-old Miss Kercher in what began as a sex game and ended with Sollecito holding her down while Knox cut her throat with a six-inch kitchen knife.

They committed the killing in Perugia, Italy, with small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, 22, who was jailed for murder and sexual violence last October for 30 years.

After the verdict, Knox's father, Curt Knox, left court ashen faced. Asked if his family would appeal, he said: "Hell, yes."

Knox and Sollecito were told they must pay a total of five million euros to the Kercher family as compensation for Miss Kercher's murder.

Knox was told she must also pay 40,000 euros compensation to Patrick Lumumba, for defaming the local barman when she falsely accused him of the murder.

The semi-naked body of Leeds University student Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit in her room in Perugia in November 2007.

She had been sharing a house with Knox, who was also a student, on her year abroad in the Umbrian hilltop town.

Police are still not certain why Knox, her then boyfriend Sollecito and Guede were all at the house in Perugia together, although they suspect that a drugs transaction was behind the meeting.

Knox bowed her head and burst into tears as the verdict was read out. Her lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, put a comforting arm around her as she wept.

Her family held hands as they waited for the verdict. Their faces fell as they learnt of Knox's fate and her sister Deanna Knox wept uncontrollably

As Knox was led out of court a loud sob was heard.

Sollecito looked impassive while Miss Kercher's family appeared composed.

Knox's family left court in tears and fought their way through the dense crowd of journalists.

Miss Kercher's family's lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said the family was satisfied with the verdict.

He said: "They got the justice they were expecting. We got what we were hoping for."

Mr Maresca added: "With what we got with the Guede sentence last year, we have obtained truth and justice for this tragic event."

It is understood the Kercher family will speak at a press conference at a hotel in Perugia at 11am local time (10am GMT).



KEY DATES LEADING TO MURDER VERDICTS



The murder of British student Meredith Kercher shocked millions. Here are the key events in the case:

2007

:: November 2: Miss Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student from Coulsdon, Surrey, is discovered with her throat cut in her bedroom at a house in the central Italian town of Perugia. Her body is partially clothed and under a duvet.

:: November 4: A post-mortem examination reveals evidence of sexual activity at some point before Miss Kercher died but no confirmation that she was raped.

:: November 5: Police are said to be trawling through Miss Kercher's diary and examining her laptop and email account in a bid to track down her killer.

:: November 6: Police arrest Miss Kercher's American housemate Amanda Knox, then 20; Knox's boyfriend, Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, 23; and Congolese Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, 38, who runs a local bar.

Police claim Miss Kercher was murdered because she refused to take part in violent sex. Knox had reportedly broken down and confessed to the crime. The three are held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit manslaughter and sexual violence.

:: November 7: It is reported that Knox told officers she covered her ears to the sound of screaming coming from Miss Kercher's bedroom. Miss Kercher was supposedly in the room with Lumumba, owner of the pub Le Chic where Knox worked occasionally.

:: November 9: Judge Claudia Matteini rules that the three suspects can be held for up to a year while the investigation continues.

:: November 11: Miss Kercher's body is flown home. Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, tells reporters that Knox did not hear Miss Kercher's screams the night she died but was with Sollecito at his house.

:: November 12: It emerges that Knox was allegedly caught on camera entering the apartment she shared with Miss Kercher on the night she was killed, contradicting her claim that she was at Sollecito's house.

:: November 15: DNA is reportedly found on a kitchen knife belonging to Sollecito, with Knox's DNA near the handle and Miss Kercher's on the blade.

Police are unsure whether the knife is from Sollecito's kitchen or the house the women shared.

:: November 16: Sollecito's lawyers say traces of generic biological material have been found - not blood - and that the development does not change their case.

:: November 19: A fourth suspect is named as Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, from the Ivory Coast. He is thought to have left Perugia for Milan after Miss Kercher died and to be on the run.

:: November 20: Guede is arrested in the German city of Mainz after travelling without a ticket on a train bound for Frankfurt. Mr Lumumba is released without charge from prison in Rome.

:: November 22: Guede admits being in Miss Kercher's house on the night of the murder but says an Italian man he did not know committed the crime.

:: November 27: It is alleged that Knox was present at the scene of the crime after a bloody fingerprint belonging to her is found on a tap in the bathroom next to Miss Kercher's bedroom.

:: November 30: A court in Perugia rejects Sollecito and Knox's appeals to be released from Capanne prison after lead investigator Giuliano Mignini warns the court they might go on the run if set free.

:: December 3: Guede awaits extradition after prosecutors in the German city of Koblenz agree to turn him over to the Italian authorities.

:: December 6: It is revealed that Guede has been extradited from Germany back to Italy.

:: December 14: Miss Kercher's funeral is held at Croydon Parish Church, south London, followed by a private burial at nearby Mitcham Road Cemetery. A court in Perugia orders that Guede must remain in prison.

2008

:: January 10: Italian media report that Sollecito's DNA was found on a piece of a bra belonging to Miss Kercher.

:: January 11: It is revealed that police found traces of a bloody footprint in Knox's bedroom.

:: January 24: An Albanian witness tells police that Knox threatened him with a knife after he crashed his car and she was with the two other suspects 24 hours before Miss Kercher was killed.

:: January 31: It is revealed that police have found mystery traces of DNA on Miss Kercher's bra which do not match up with any of the three suspects.

:: March 27: Italian news agency Ansa reports that Guede told investigators he saw Sollecito and heard the voice of Knox at Miss Kercher's house the night she was found dead.

:: March 30: Italian television station Telenorba 7 broadcasts images of Miss Kercher's body lying in a pool of blood. Miss Kercher's family considers taking legal action against the channel.

:: April 19: Miss Kercher's family attends a closed court hearing in Italy to hear evidence relating to her death after leaks in the Italian media suggested she may not have been sexually assaulted on the night she was murdered.

:: September 9: Guede's lawyers say he will ask to be tried separately from Knox and Sollecito in a fast-track trial after talk of a possible pact between the former lovers to frame him.

:: September 16: All three suspects appear before a judge in the first of a series of pre-trial hearings in Perugia. Judge Paolo Micheli grants Guede's request for a fast-track trial.

:: September 26: Knox and Sollecito come face to face in a closed courtroom for the first time since being jailed after the murder last November.

:: October 28: After 11 hours of deliberation, Judge Micheli sentences Guede to 30 years for the murder of Miss Kercher. He also orders Knox and Sollecito to stand trial for murder and sexual violence in December.

:: October 30: Judge Micheli rules that Knox and Sollecito will remain in prison while they await trial.

2009

:: January 16: The trial of Knox and Sollecito begins. Judge Giancarlo Massei rules that it will be held in public but reserves the right to hold some sessions behind closed doors.

:: February 6: On the first day of evidence, Sollecito tells the court he is not violent and has nothing to do with the case.

:: June 6: Miss Kercher's parents, John and Arline, give evidence. Mrs Kercher says she will never get over her daughter's murder.

:: June 12: Knox gives evidence in fluent Italian. She says she accused Mr Lumumba "in confusion and under pressure" and that a police officer hit her on the head during her interrogation.

:: November 21: Prosecutors ask for life sentences for Knox and Sollecito.

:: December 5: In the early hours local time, Knox and Sollecito are found guilty of Miss Kercher's murder.

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