Two women who live in the vicinity of the cottage in Perugia, Italy, where British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found with her throat slit in November 2007 testified in court today that they heard a scream come from the house that night.
Mara Capezzali, an elderly woman who lives across a parking lot from the house, testified that at about 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2007, she woke up in her home and while walking to the bathroom she heard a woman scream.
"It was not a normal scream," said Capezzali, "it made my skin crawl."
Capezzali was on the stand to testify in the trial of American student Amanda Knox, 21, and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, who are accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher.
Kercher, 21, was found dead in her bedroom in a pool of blood with her throat slit on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007. A third man, Ivory Coast citizen Rudy Guede, was earlier sentenced to 30 years in jail for participating in the murder, which he denied.
When asked to describe the scream she heard more specifically, Capezzali said it was a long scream, and she imitated it softly. The only other place she had heard such a scream, she said, was at the movies.
Capezzali looked out her bathroom window but saw nothing. Shortly afterwards she said she heard people running, at least two people in opposite directions almost simultaneously.
"I heard someone running on the metal stairs and someone else on the gravel and leaves in front of the house across the way," Capezzali said.
Her testimony supported the prosecution theory that more than one person was at the scene of the crime when Kercher was killed.
Under cross-examination from defense attorneys, Capezzali became confused about events, and was unsure after repeated questioning of the date on which she heard the scream. But she said she was sure it was the night before she found out that Kercher had been killed.
Another witness, a young school teacher from Perugia, also told the court she had heard a scream the night of Nov. 1, 2007.
Antonella Monacchia testified that she awoke some time after 10 p.m., when she normally goes to bed, to the sound of two people arguing heatedly. Shortly after that she heard a scream.
She got out of bed and opened the window, but saw nothing. Everything was dark. Monacchia then went downstairs to her parents' apartment, but they had heard nothing, after which she went back to bed.
Monacchia testified that the voices were a man and a woman yelling at each other in Italian. She did not hear what they said or whether they had any particular accent.
Monacchia's bedroom window overlooks a parking lot, and has a clear view of the house where Kercher died.
A third witness, Maria Dramis, who lived in the area testified that on the same night she heard the sound of running footsteps under her window, a sound that woke her up around 11 p.m. This was not an unusual occurrence, but it struck her in light of what she found out the next morning about the death of Kercher just down the road.
A peculiarity about the testimony of the Monacchia Dramis is that they did not report what they had heard to investigators until over a year after the fact. When they finally did explain what they heard, it was only after prompting from a journalist who accompanied them to the police station.