Deliberations Begin for First Murder Suspect in Slain British Coed Case

An Italian judge began deliberations Tuesday on whether to hand down the first conviction in the 2007 slaying of a British student and indict an American woman and her former Italian boyfriend in the case.

Both decisions were expected later in the day.

Amanda Knox of Seattle, 21, and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24, have been jailed for about a year since the slaying of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, central Italy. Neither has been formally charged.

A third suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede of Ivory Coast, is undergoing a fast-track trial at his request. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for him.

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All of the suspects deny wrongdoing. They were in separate cells at the courthouse Tuesday awaiting the decision by Judge Paolo Micheli. Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga described his client as "tense and extremely worried."

Kercher, a 21-year-old student from Leeds University in England, was found dead Nov. 2 in the apartment she shared with Knox. She died from a stab wound to the neck.

Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito have also asked that their clients be granted house arrest in case they are ordered to stand trial. Ghirga proposed that the American, who is considered a flight risk, be held at a community for recovering drug addicts and young offenders run by a Catholic charity near Perugia.

Prosecutors allege that Kercher died 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 and Guede tried to sexually assault her. Prosecutors say Knox stabbed Kercher in the throat.

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. Scared, he immediately fled the scene, he said.

Sollecito has said he was in his own apartment in Perugia and that he doesn't remember if Knox spent part or all of that night 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.

They say they found Sollecito's DNA on the victim's bra, although Sollecito's defense team says the bra bore multiple DNA traces and charge the evidence might have been inadvertently contaminated during the investigation.