Fate of student hangs in balance

Sex game gone awry

Fate of student hangs in balance

Amanda Knox. AFP

Prosecutors want a life sentence for Knox, accused of masterminding the November 2007 killing of 21-year-old Briton Meredith Kercher, with whom she shared an apartment in the central Italian university town of Perugia.

A verdict is expected late on Friday. Both Knox and 25-year-old Rafaele Sollecito, who also faces life in prison, have protested their innocence.

“Now it’s up to you,” Knox told the court on Thursday in an emotional statement in which she said she was “afraid of having the mask of a murderer forced upon me.”

After a brief hearing on Friday in which the defence summed up its case, Knox and Sollecito were returned to the Perugia prison where they have spent the past two years to await the jury’s decision.

Kercher from Coulsdon in southeast England, was found semi-naked with her throat cut in the bedroom of her apartment in Perugia, where she was doing a year of overseas study.

DNA was found on her body from an Ivorian drifter with a prior criminal record, Rudy Guede, who was convicted in October 2008 and sentenced to 30 years in prison for her murder.

Guede, arrested on the run in Germany, is appealing the verdict. He has acknowledged being in the house at the time of the killing and having sex with Kercher, but pointed the finger at Sollecito and Knox, whom he said he heard arguing with the Briton, followed by a scream.

Prosecutors accuse Knox, from Seattle, of convincing Guede and Sollecito to take part in an extreme sex game involving Kercher, which turned violent. They say she resented Kercher’s criticism of her lack of cleanliness and promiscuity.

Knox said she and Sollecito had watched a film at his home that evening, smoked marijuana and had sex. Sollecito said he was at his home but could not remember if Knox was also there.

“I fail to understand why I would have participated in this murder with no motive,” Sollecito told the court on Thursday, denying that Knox and Kercher disliked one another.
Knox’s family has pledged to continue their battle to free her even if she is convicted.
Prosecutors allege small traces of DNA matching Kercher’s was found on the blade of a knife, recently washed with bleach, at Sollecito’s home. The defence has said the knife does not match Kercher’s wounds and the DNA evidence was inconclusive and may have been contaminated.

The American is being sued by bar owner Patrick Lumumba after she accused him of being at the scene of the crime. Lumumba was briefly arrested but then cleared.

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