Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Amanda Knox: the middle-calls American student turned murderer

American Amanda Knox, 22, has been found guilty of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher
American Amanda Knox, 22, has been found guilty of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher
From left, of Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, slain British woman Meredith Kercher and her American roommate Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox looks on during a break in the trial at the court in Perugia, central Italy (AP)
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito arrive at court in Perugia, Italy (AP)
Lawyers have asked the Perugia court to clear Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox in court
Amanda Knox

Raffaele Sollecito was an IT undergraduate from a middle-class family when he met the American student who would change his life forever.

Originally from Bari in southern Italy, Sollecito, the son of a respected urologist, first encountered Amanda Knox at a concert not long after she arrived in Perugia.

His first impression of the Seattle-born foreign exchange student was that she was "interesting".

The pair quickly started a relationship and acquaintances said the young Italian lavished attention on his pretty new girlfriend.

He was always holding her hand and "always nice to her", according to Knox and Meredith Kercher's housemate, Filomena Romanelli.

Sollecito, whose sister was a police officer, described the relationship as "sentimental".

The couple sometimes smoked marijuana together and Sollecito claimed he was smoking the drug and downloading a cartoon at his house on the night Miss Kercher was murdered.

But prosecutors said his DNA was found on the British student's bra strap, which linked him to the crime.

He had, they said, joined Knox and a third person, drug dealer Rudy Guede, in trying to get Miss Kercher to participate in an extreme sex game that night.

He was arrested on November 6, 2007 - four days after Miss Kercher's semi-naked body was found in her bedroom.

He has been held behind bars ever since, where he was reportedly keen to continue his studies during the long wait for the case to finish.

His alibi was thrown into doubt when police chief Filippo Bartolozzi told the court that an inspection of Sollecito's computer showed there had been no activity on it between 9.10pm on November 1, 2007 and 5.32am on November 2.

It was some time between these hours that Miss Kercher is thought to have been killed.

Miss Romanelli then described Sollecito's unemotional response to the young woman's death.

Neither Sollecito nor Knox shed a tear when the body was discovered, she said.

In the aftermath of the murder, the couple were also filmed by TV cameras, kissing near the murder scene.

The Italian protested his innocence throughout and, on the first day of evidence in February, he stood up and told the court he found it hard to kill a fly.

He was not a violent person, he said, and claimed he had been the victim of a "judicial error".

He and Knox had not been together for long enough to want to include others in their sex life, he said.

He has at times appeared less relaxed than his former lover during the court proceedings, often shooting nervous glances at the throng of journalists gathered at the back of the courtroom.

He was also seen flicking through newspaper coverage of the trial during breaks in proceedings.

At one stage he even intervened to put across his version of events through the media, writing from prison to a magazine in Bari.

He wrote: "Consider for one moment what it's like to be in my position: you meet a girl at a concert, she lives with friends and from that day you go out more and more, you spend untroubled days together... You can't ask for any more from life.

"Then one morning you return to her house and find a big mess. The problems begin: the police arrive, break down the locked door of a bedroom and discover the lifeless body of one of her friends.

"From then on they suspect everyone and everything, including you. And you, thinking you are helping them, fall into a trap you have made with your own hands."

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