ROME – Lawyers for an Ivory Coast man on trial in the slaying of a British student tried to shift blame Saturday to the other two defendants in the case, suggesting that the American woman and her Italian boyfriend had tried to wash away the victim's blood.
Meredith Kercher, 21, was found stabbed in the neck in her bedroom in a rented house in the Umbrian university town of Perugia on the night of Nov. 1, 2007.
Prosecutors allege that Kercher died during what began as a sex game, with defendant Raffaele Sollecito holding her by the shoulders from behind while his then-girlfriend Amanda Knox of Seattle, one of Kercher's flatmates, touched her with the point of a knife and Rudy Hermann Guede of Ivory Coast tried to sexually assault her. Prosecutors allege that Knox then stabbed Kercher in the throat.
Sollecito's defense team argued in court Friday that Kercher was slain by an intruder during a burglary gone wrong and suggested outside court that Guede was the killer.
Guede has admitted being in the house, saying he was in the bathroom when Kercher was attacked and that he rushed into the bedroom to try to rescue her.
Guede's lawyer Valter Biscotti said Saturday that investigators had found traces of blood diluted with water in the house. He told reporters outside the closed-door hearing that Sollecito and Knox probably had tried to wash away evidence after carrying out the killing.
"Sollecito and Amanda went back to that house and probably carried out cleaning," Biscotti was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying.
Guede's request for a fast-track trial was granted and he has been on trial since last month.
A verdict in Guede's trial and rulings on requests for murder indictments of Knox and Sollecito are expected within a week.
Sollecito has said he was in his own apartment in Perugia the night of the slaying and doesn't remember if Knox spent part or all of that night with him.
Knox 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 and returned the next day.
Lawyer Nicodemo Gentile said the defense argued in the closed door hearing that Guede was the only suspect who stuck to his version of events.