- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

PERUGIA, ITALY (AP) - A British student killed in central Italy was attacked by more than one person, a medical examiner testified Saturday in the trial of an American suspect and her former boyfriend.

Prosecution witness Vincenza Liviero took the stand behind closed doors in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia. They are being tried on charges of murder and sexual violence for the 2007 death of Meredith Kercher.

A third suspect, Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede, was convicted on identical charges last year and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“It was an action carried out by more than two hands, and there was sexual violence,” Liviero told reporters at the end of the hearing.

Her testimony was closed to the public and media to comply with a request from Kercher’s family to preserve the victim’s memory.

“There were so many wounds, caused by a knife and caused by hands,” Kercher’s lawyer Francesco Maresca said. “The only way they could have been from one person is if that person had three or four hands.”

A second witness, gynecologist and prosecution consultant Mauro Marchionni, also testified that the bruises on Kercher’s body were not compatible with consensual sex, Maresca said.

Graphic images from the autopsy were shown during the hearing. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said Knox did not look at them and kept her head down. Sollecito glanced at them sporadically, he said.

On Friday, coroner Luca Lalli, who performed the autopsy, testified he couldn’t say with certainty whether Kercher had been raped, though bruises and cuts on her face, neck, hands and legs suggested violence during intercourse. Lalli initially told the court he also believed Kercher had been assaulted by more than one person, but under cross-examination, he said he could not rule out a single attacker, Maresca said.

Knox, 21, was on an exchange program in Perugia and sharing an apartment with Kercher, a 21-year-old student from Leeds University in England, when the Briton was found stabbed to death in the house on Nov. 2, 2007.

Prosecutors allege that Kercher was killed 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. Both deny wrongdoing. Prosecutors say Guede tried to sexually assault Kercher and then Knox fatally stabbed her in the throat.

Guede took the stand Saturday but refused to answer questions. Under Italian law, he had the right not to answer as he has been convicted.

Escorted by prison guards, he appeared tense and did not look at Knox and Sollecito.

Guede has acknowledged being in Kercher’s apartment when the Briton was attacked. He said he tried to rescue her but got scared and fled. He is appealing the conviction.

Sollecito has maintained he was in his own apartment in Perugia and that he doesn’t remember if Knox spent part or all of the night of the murder with him. Knox initially told investigators she was in the house when Kercher was killed and covered her ears against the victim’s screams. Later, Knox said she wasn’t in the house.

Prosecutors say Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of a knife that might have been used in the slaying, while Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade. The knife was found at Sollecito’s house.

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