- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 18, 2009

ROME (AP) - The Italian court trying an American student and her former boyfriend for the murder of a British woman inspected the apartment house in Perugia on Saturday where the victim was stabbed to death in 2007.

American Amanda Knox, 21, and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who was also studying in the university town in Umbria, are being tried for the slaying of Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher. Both have denied all wrongdoing.

The body of 21-year-old Kercher, stabbed in the neck, was found in a pool of blood in her bedroom of the rented flat in November 2007.

The house inspection by the court was closed to journalists. Spectators, however, could see the judge, jurors, prosecutors and defense attorneys arrive and begin inspecting the exterior of the building, including a window in the rear that had been found broken by investigators when the body was discovered.

After visiting the interior of the apartment, the judge and jury left without talking to reporters, but prosecutor Manuela Comodi told journalists afterward that the visit was important. “The court studied that interior and exterior of the house,” and took note of the position of the bedroom window, Comodi said.

Prosecutors have alleged that Kercher’s attackers broke the window from inside in a clumsy attempt to fake a break-in.

Defendants in Italian trials have the right not to attend sessions. Knox and Sollecito attended Saturday morning’s court session but did not come to the afternoon session at the crime scene.

The morning session in Perugia’s courthouse, the first hearing since an Easter vacation break, also was closed to reporters.

Prosecutors allege the victim was killed during what began as a sex game, with Sollecito holding Kercher from behind while Knox touched her with the point of a knife. Prosecutors say a third person, Rudy Hermann Guede, tried to sexually assault Kercher and then Knox fatally stabbed her in the throat.

Guede, an Ivory Coast national, has been convicted of Kercher’s murder in a separate, fast-track trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He, too, had denied wrongdoing.

One of Sollecito’s lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno, was quoted as describing the atmosphere inside the house as “ghostly.” The Italian news agency ANSA also quoted her as saying that “there are still a lot of knives” in the apartment.

Knox’s father, Curt Knox, remained outside the house during the inspection and later told reporters that beyond what was happening to his daughter in the case, what happened to Kercher was a true “tragedy,” ANSA reported.

Lawyers in the case said the morning session included testimony from a forensics doctor called by the prosecution. The Italian news agency ANSA quoted an attorney representing the victim’s family as saying the expert witness testified there was probably an attempt to strangle Kercher before she was stabbed.

ANSA quoted Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca, as well as two defense attorneys, as giving conflicting interpretations of the doctor’s testimony about whether the knife that prosecutors say could be the murder weapon matched the victim’s wounds.

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