- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

PERUGIA, ITALY (AP) - A grocer testified Saturday that an American student accused of killing her British roommate in Italy was in his store early on the morning after the death, contradicting the timeline she offered.

Defendant Amanda Knox has said she woke up mid-morning the day after her roommate Meredith Kercher died from a stab wound to the neck.

Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are accused of killing the 21-year-old British student on the night of Nov. 1, 2007. Prosecutors say Kercher was killed between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. during what started as a sex game. Kercher’s body was found the next morning in the Perugia house she shared with Knox.

Other testimony Saturday focused on whether Sollecito’s apartment smelled of bleach on Nov. 6, 2007, when police arrested the two defendants.

Both Knox and Sollecito deny wrongdoing in the case. Sollecito said he spent the night at his house, and does not remember if Knox spent all or part of it with him. Knox, after conflicting statements, eventually said she was at Sollecito’s house and awoke mid-morning on Nov. 2, 2007.

Witness Marco Quintavalle said Saturday that a young woman he identified as Knox entered his grocery store near Sollecito’s house in Perugia at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 2. He said the woman was waiting for him to open the store, and that he and she exchanged glances when she entered.

“It really struck me, she had a very pale face and these light eyes,” Quintavalle said. “I can still see the image in my head.”

Asked by the presiding judge if that woman was in the courtroom, Quintavalle said he was sure it was Knox.

“Now I’m sure,” he said, looking at her. Knox did not appear to react.

Quintavalle said he did not know if Knox bought anything because he was not at the cash register that morning. He said he had seen Knox one or two times before at his store with Sollecito, a frequent customer.

Defense lawyers questioned the reliability of the witness. Carlo Dalla Vedova asked him if he could say how tall Sollecito is and what color his eyes are. Quintavalle gave an indication on the height and said he was not sure about Sollecito’s eye color.

Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas, said the trial so far had failed to show “any evidence that she’s done anything, which is the truth.”

The court also heard Saturday from a woman who cleaned Sollecito’s apartment, who answered questions about whether she used or detected bleach at the place.

Prosecutors say police detected the odor of bleach on Nov. 6, 2007 _ the day both defendants were arrested. Investigators allege the defendants might have used it to eliminate possible trace on any item that might have been at the death scene.

The Ecuadorean cleaner, Rosa Natalia Guaman Fernandez De Calle, said nothing seemed different in Sollecito’s house when she last went there on Nov. 5, 2007, and was asked to clean “as usual.” She said she never used bleach and did not smell it that day, but could not be sure if it was among the cleaning products in the house.

Prosecutors said it is significant bleach was not used by the cleaner, but was smelled by police.

A lawyer for Sollecito, Luca Maori, offered an opposing view, noting that the cleaner had not smelled bleach while in the house for two hours, suggesting police might have wrongly identified the odor.

A third defendant, Rudy Hermann Guede of the Ivory Coast, was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison at a separate trial last year. He also denies wrongdoing.

Police said this week that intruders got into the house where Kercher and Knox lived. On Saturday, Italian media reported that a pillow and the mattress in Kercher’s room had disappeared, apparently during the intrusion. Officials did not comment on the reports.

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