American Suspect Appears at Italian Hearing in Death of British Coed

An exchange student from Seattle suspected in the murder of her British roommate last November appeared in an Italian court Tuesday for a hearing to decide whether she'll face trial in the grisly slaying along with her former boyfriend and an African man.

Amanda Knox, 21, was escorted by police to the closed-door proceedings in Perugia, a university town in central Italy. Defendants in Italy have the right to skip court hearings, and Knox's former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, chose to remain in jail rather than attend.

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Both have been held since shortly after the Nov. 1 stabbing death of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, 21, of England. The two shared a rented house in Perugia.

Also in court was Ivory Coast citizen Rudy Hermann Guede, who has acknowledged being in the victim's room, where the body, with a neck wound, was found in a pool of blood.

All three suspects have denied any wrongdoing.

Knox's attorney said the University of Washington student was calm and did not speak during an eight-hour court hearing.

Guede asked the judge to grant him a separate trial, which FOX News contributor Joe Tacopina said could mean that he's trying to strike a deal with authorities.

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Kercher's parents and sister attended the hearing, where their lawyer formally pressed a request to attach a civil suit to any criminal proceedings. In Italy, civil lawsuits can be attached to criminal trials. In the Kerchers' case, it would allow the family to more closely monitor case, receiving information that normally would be reserved for only defense lawyers or prosecutors.

Judge Paolo Micheli, who was conducting the hearing, was expected to rule on the prosecutors' indictment requests in several weeks, lawyers have said.

Micheli is expected to hold another closed hearing on Sept. 26 and on Sept. 27, witnesses are expected to be called, the Times of London reported.

Kercher, a student from Leeds University in England, was stabbed in the neck. Prosecutors say the suspects strangled and stabbed her. They also have alleged Guede engaged in sexual violence against Kercher, with the help of Knox and Sollecito.

No motives for the slaying have emerged.

Prosecutors have asked the court to charge the three with Kercher's death as well as counts of sexual violence and stealing $475 in cash, two credit cards and two cell phones from Kercher.

Kercher's family said they hoped for justice.

"We're pleased that we've reached a new phase in the process, hoping that justice will soon be done for Meredith," the victim's sister, Stephanie Kercher told reporters on Monday, with her parents by her side. The family recalled their loved one's "caring, loving nature, and laughter," and how she "loved everything about Italy."

Guede was arrested in Germany and extradited to Italy in December.

Knox, a 21-year-old student at the University of Washington, and Sollecito, 24, have given conflicting statements about what happened the night of the slaying.

Sollecito has said he was at his own apartment in Perugia, working at his computer. He said he does not remember if Knox spent the whole night with him.

Knox has insisted she was not at home during the slaying. But her DNA was found on the handle of a knife that prosecutors say might have been used in the slaying, while Kercher's DNA was found on the blade.

Guede, 21, has denied killing Kercher and has accused an unidentified Italian of trying to frame him.

A fast-track trial, during which evidence is presented in document form and no witnesses testify, leads to a lesser sentence, if the suspect is convicted.

Attending the hearing Tuesday was Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, a Congolese citizen who was originally jailed in the case. Lumumba's lawyer has requested to have a civil suit joined to any criminal proceedings against the three suspects. Lumumba has said he was planning to seek defamation damages from Knox, who accused him of involvement.

Knox at one point told prosecutors she was in the apartment the night of the slaying and had to cover her ears to muffle Kercher's screams while Lumumba killed her, according to court documents.

Lumumba owns a pub in Perugia that is a popular hangout for students. He is no longer a suspect.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.