DNA on Knife May Link American Student to Italian Murder

Italian police found DNA traces of murdered British exchange student Meredith Kercher and her American roommate, Amanda Knox, 20, on a knife belonging to Knox's boyfriend, an investigative source told the Reuters news agency Thursday.

Kercher, 21, was found dead in her bedroom with a deep cut to the throat in the college town of Perugia, which is 80 miles north of Rome, Nov. 2. Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 24, and a Congolese man, Lumumba Diya, 37, who runs a bar in Perugia, have been in police custody since Nov. 6, although they have not been charged.

The investigative source told Reuters that the kitchen knife belonged to Sollecito.

The Italian news agency Ansa reported that Knox's lawyers, Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Della Vedova, asked for a review of the case for for detaining her this morning for reasons they plan to outline in the hearing.

The defense lawyers for each of the three detained in the murder have until Saturday to request the review of the case. Under Italian law, once the request for review is made, the prosecutor has five days to present his evidence for their detention and then a new set of three judges have up to another 10 days to meet, examine the evidence and decide whether those detained should be released.

Police suspect a sexual motive in the murder, and Italian and British newspapers have speculated that Kercher, on a year's study trip from Leeds University, was killed because she refused to have sex with one or more assailants, Reuters reported.

The murdered student's body was flown back to Britain Sunday. The three suspects have all said they are innocent.

According to Ansa, a sponge and a cloth, possibly a handkerchief, were also seized at Sollecito's house. Both of these were in a container, and the knife had been washed, but traces of DNA from both Knox and her boyfriend were found on these.

Investigators said forensic experts have many more objects to test.

The presence of traces of Knox's DNA on the blade, closest to the handle, raise the possibility that she could have cut herself while she was washing it or holding it, Ansa reported.

The Italian news agency also reported that Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, had no comment on the developments. "We are awaiting to hear the results from our forensic experts" on the tests carried out in the lab in Rome, he said.

Ansa said that two other knives found in Sollecito's possession have no DNA traces on them. A prosecutor in Perugia told the news agency that he cannot comment on the latest information.

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