Amanda Knox, of Seattle, and her former boyfriend were ordered Tuesday to stand trial in last year's slaying of her roommate, while the judge also convicted an Ivory Coast man in the killing, lawyers said.
PERUGIA, Italy — Amanda Knox, of Seattle, and her former boyfriend were ordered Tuesday to stand trial in last year’s slaying of her roommate, while the judge also convicted an Ivory Coast man in the killing, lawyers said.
The judge indicted Knox, 21, a University of Washington student, and Raffaele Sollecito, of Italy, on charges of murder and sexual violence in the stabbing death of Meredith Kercher, of England, said Francesco Maresca, a lawyer for the victim’s family. Trial for the two, who deny wrongdoing, will start Dec. 4.
A third suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede, of the West African nation of Ivory Coast, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted on the same charges in a fast-track trial requested by his defense, Maresca said. Prosecutors had asked for life in jail.
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Knox’s attorney, Luciano Ghirga, said his client “was quite disappointed” by the ruling. “She is ready to start again,” Ghirga told reporters. “The [first] hearing is very close; we have to reorganize our defense line in time.”
Judge Paolo Micheli emerged with a verdict after almost 12 hours of deliberations. All the proceedings were held behind closed doors, and the three suspects awaited the ruling in separate cells at the courthouse.
Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito, who were jailed shortly after the slaying last Nov. 2, had asked that their clients be granted house arrest if indicted. Lawyers leaving the courthouse said Micheli did not rule on that request and that a decision was expected in the coming days. If convicted, Knox and Sollecito could face life in prison.
Knox’s divorced parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, both of Seattle, said in a statement they were “extremely disappointed and surprised” by the judge’s decision, “given the weakness of the evidence against” their daughter.
“We believe that she will eventually be proven innocent of all charges against her and we will support her in every way possible as we work toward her complete exoneration,” the parents said.
Kercher’s family, including her mother, father, two brothers and a sister attended the hearing.
“We are as pleased as we can be with the decision. At the end of the day, we are here because our sister Meredith was murdered,” her brother Lyle Kercher said at a news conference.
Kercher, a 21-year-old student, was found dead in the apartment she shared with Knox. She had been stabbed in the neck.
Prosecutors allege Kercher died during what began as a sex game, with Sollecito holding her by the shoulders from behind while Knox touched her with the point of a knife and Guede tried to sexually assault her. Prosecutors say Knox then fatally stabbed Kercher in the throat.
Guede, also 21, admitted being in the house but denied any part in the killing. He said that he was in the bathroom when Kercher was attacked and that he rushed into the bedroom to try to rescue her. He said he fled Italy after the slaying because he was frightened. Guede’s defense said it would appeal the verdict.
Knox initially told investigators she was in the apartment when Kercher was killed and covered her ears against the victim’s screams. Later, Knox said she wasn’t in the house.
Sollecito, 24, has said that he was in his own apartment in Perugia at the time of the killing and that he doesn’t remember whether Knox spent part or all of that night with him.
In Seattle, attorney Anne Bremner, who represents the group “Friends of Amanda,” termed Tuesday’s indictments “stunning” and was particularly disappointed that Knox was charged on all six counts.
“Our feeling has always been, and our complaint has been, that the tabloid accounts have influenced the courts.”
King County Superior Court Judge Mike Heavey also has been a strong Seattle supporter of Knox’s and tried to get the trial moved on grounds that leaks to the tabloid press from the prosecutor, police and prison officials would influence the case in Perugia.
Though Heavey said he, too, was extremely disappointed at Tuesday’s news, he also saw a glimmer of encouragement in some of the Italian judge’s words.
The judge said he might have ruled differently had there been more time to evaluate phone records procured within the past few weeks by Raffaele Sollecito’s defense lawyers, Heavey said.
Those records purportedly show that Knox and her former boyfriend were at his house downloading a song at 9:46 p.m. the night of the slaying. An incomplete phone call made from the victim’s cellphone at 10:01 p.m. may be able to show, Heavey said, that Kercher already was dead by then.
“If that can be shown at trial, then that will be good,” Heavey said.
Seattle Times staff reporters Christine Clarridge and William Mari contributed to this report.