September 27, 2009 in Nation/World

Final witnesses testify in student trial in Italy

Computer expert’s testimony could prove a defendent’s alibi on night of murder
Associated Press
 

ROME – A computer expert testified Saturday in the murder trial of an American student and her former Italian boyfriend that someone had used the young man’s computer, which the defense said might have erased data that could prove his innocence.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have denied killing Knox’s British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007, while Knox and Kercher were studying Italian in the northern city of Perugia.

Computer expert Antonio D’Ambrosio was among the last witnesses to give testimony Saturday in the trial before it resumes Oct. 9. Closing arguments are expected later in October, and a verdict could come within weeks.

D’Ambrosio testified that someone had used Sollecito’s home computer twice on the night both defendants were being questioned by police about Kercher’s killing, according to ANSA and other Italian news agencies. He said the computer was used to read ANSA’s reports about the Nov. 1 slaying, the agencies reported.

The defense said this computer use had caused some data to be lost – data that might prove Sollecito’s alibi for the night, according to SKY TG24 TV. Sollecito, 25, has said he was home using his computer the night Kercher was slain.

Knox, 22, has said she smoked pot, had sex with Sollecito and fell asleep at his apartment on the night of the slaying. She said she did not return home until after her roommate was killed.

The defense did not say who might have used the computer while Sollecito and Knox were at the police station.

Also on Saturday, a geneticist gave testimony challenging DNA findings on a knife the prosecution says might have been used to fatally slash Kercher in the throat.

Kercher’s body was found in her bedroom in Perugia on Nov. 2, 2007. She was 21 years old.

Prosecutors say Kercher was killed the night before during a sex game with Knox, Sollecito and a third man, Rudy Hermann Guede, who was convicted of the murder in a separate trial last year and sentenced to 30 years. According to the prosecutors, Sollecito held Kercher by the shoulders while Knox touched her with a knife. They say Guede tried to sexually assault Kercher and then Knox fatally stabbed her in the throat.

Guede, an Ivory Coast national, has said he is innocent and is appealing his conviction.

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