American exchange student Amanda Knox visited a grocery store early the morning after her British roommate was murdered, in spite of a statement Knox gave Italian police that she had slept late at her boyfriend's home that day, according to witness testimony in court in Perugia, Italy, today.
Knox, 21 and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 24, are accused of sexually assaulting and murdering British student Meredith Kercher, 21, who was found in her bedroom in a pool of blood with her throat slit on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007. A third suspect, Ivory Coast citizen Rudy Guede, was earlier sentenced to 30 years in jail for participating in the murder, which he denied.
In the 11th hearing of a trial expected to last through the summer, store owner Marco Quintavalle testified that he saw a young woman he later recognized as Amanda Knox enter his store at about 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2007. The defense questioned his account, asking why it had taken him a year to come forward with his story, even though police had questioned him in the days after the murder.
Quintavalle told prosecutor Giuliano Mignini that a young woman "with remarkable blue eyes" and a face so pale that he was struck by it entered his store just as he opened it that day.
She was wearing jeans, a grey jacket, and a hat, he said. She went to the upper level of the store, which is just down the road from Sollecito's house, without returning his greeting, Quintavalle said, and left shortly thereafter, heading down the street in the direction of the house where Kercher was killed. Quintavalle said he did not see if she had purchased anything because he was not at the cash register.
When newspapers published photographs of Amanda Knox after she was arrested four days later, Quintavalle said he recognized her as the young woman who had entered his shop.
Knox maintains that she spent the night Kercher was killed with Sollecito at his house, and says that she woke up late and left his house at around 10:30 a.m. to go back to her house to take a shower.
Under cross-examination, Quintavalle said that he had not wanted to get involved in the case but finally did so, in August 2008, at the urging of a journalist friend.
Immediatedly after the murder, Quintavalle said, police had asked him whether he had sold any bleach to Sollecito, who was a regular customer. Investigators believe that Knox and Sollecito used bleach to remove traces of blood after the murder.
Quintavalle said he could not recall if police had asked him about Sollecito and Knox or shown him any photos of the two young people.
At the courthouse at the end of today's hearings, Carlo Dalla Vedova, Knox's lawyer, told ABC News that Quintavalle's testimony was "absolutely unreliable."
The lawyer representing the victim's family, on the other hand, told reporters he was pleased with testimony in the last two hearings. "Statements by witnesses showed that the two defendants had their cell phones off or inactive on the night of the crime," Francesco Maresca told reporters, and "the next morning they were up and about early, when they have always maintained that they got up late."
Also today Sollecito's former housekeeper, Rosa de Calle, testified that she cleaned Sollecito's house for the last time on Nov. 5, 2007, the day before he was arrested. She said she had never used bleach to clean his house and did not know whether he kept any in the house.