In what defense lawyer Luca Maori said was "the most positive hearing for the defense so far," an important and interesting twist emerged today in U.S. student Amanda Knox's murder trial in Perugia, Italy.
A defense witness testified that just two weeks before British exchange student Meredith Kercher was murdered, his law studio was broken into and a computer and cell phone were stolen. The stolen objects were later found in the possession of Rudy Guede, who has already been convicted for his role in Kercher's murder.
Paolo Brocchi, a lawyer whose office is not far from where Kercher was killed, told the court that the thief had entered his office through a window that had been broken with a large rock.
A similar scenario was found in the cottage where Kercher was killed Nov. 1, 2007.
Knox, 21, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, have been on trial since January, accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher, 21. Both deny any involvement.
Guede, 22, who will likely be the focus of the testimony of a number of upcoming defense witnesses, has already been convicted of Kercher's murder and sexual assault and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He admits to being in the house when Kercher died, but says he did not kill her. Prosecutors believe Kercher was killed by Knox, Sollecito and Guede during a sex game that went wrong.
The defense teams for Knox and Sollecito maintain, instead, that one person alone is responsible for the murder -- a thief who broke into the cottage Knox and Kercher shared.
Maori, Sollecito's lawyer, told reporters in Perugia that today "it was shown clearly and unequivocally that Guede had committed a theft that was a photocopy of the one that took place in Meredith's house."
In fact, the story Brocchi and his colleague Alberto Palazzoli told in court today not only bore a close resemblance to what was found in Kercher's house, but it also painted an even more bizarre picture of Guede than has already emerged.
Palazzoli discovered they had been broken into Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007, and police later determined that the thief or thieves had entered by climbing up to the window, which is above a terrace, about 12 feet high. Police determined a rock was used with some strength to break through the double glass, and the alarm system was disabled. A computer and a printer were missing.
There was a similar broken window at the scene of Kercher's murder, in the house on via della Pergola in Perugia that Knox and Kercher shared with two Italian girls, When Knox returned to the house on Nov. 2, 2007, the morning after the murder, she noticed that the window in her housemate Filomena Romanelli's room was broken, and there was glass on the floor. Nothing of value was missing from any of the rooms, however. Police later found a large rock in the room.
Investigators and the prosecutors in the Kercher case have said the window in Romanelli's room was broken from the inside and accused Knox and Sollecito of simulating a crime. Prosecution witnesses have testified that the window was too high to reach, and that broken glass shards show that the window was broken from within.
The defense contends that the same can be said of the break-in at the law offices.