New Hope? Mystery Man Blamed in Knox Case

Convict says killer Rudy Guede told him American was not at the murder scene.

March 6, 2010, 11:56 AM

ROME, March 6, 2010 — -- Surprise testimony emerged in Italy Friday indicating that American student Amanda Knox, who was recently convicted of murder in Perugia, Italy, was not present at the scene of the crime when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was killed.

This is just the latest twist in the ongoing Italian murder case involving Knox, 22, who was convicted in December along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, of sexually assaulting Kercher, then killing her by slashing her throat. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison; Sollecito received 25 years.

A third person, Rudy Guede, 23, an Ivory Coast native, was convicted earlier of taking part in the murder. He was convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but that term was reduced to 14 years on appeal.

On Friday the lawyers for Sollecito deposited video-taped testimony from a fellow convict of Rudy Guede, Mario Alessi, in which he says Guede confided to him in jail that Knox and Sollecito were not at the house when Kercher was killed but that another man was present. According to Alessi, Guede told him the man, who has never been mentioned or suspected, killed Kercher when he was in the bathroom. Guede did not reveal his name.

Guede has always admitted to being at the house the night of Kercher's murder (his palm print was found under the victim's body, and his DNA on her body and clothing), but has said in past statements that he was in the bathroom when Kercher was killed, and he found himself face to face with a knife-yielding man when he came out. He has never named Sollecito, and in his most recent statement, to the Perugia appeals court in November, Guede said he did not recognize the man wielding the knife, but that while in the bathroom he had heard and recognized Knox's voice as she argued with Kercher just before the killing. He said he saw Knox's "silhouette" leaving the house with a man, when he looked out the window.

Guede says he then tried to rescue Meredith but fled in a panic.

New Testimony Comes From Notorious Child Killer in Italy

Alessi is well known in Italy as the man who kidnapped and murdered Tommaso Onofri, a 2-year old boy, in 2006 in a case that drew as much media attention as the Knox case. He made his revelations in a letter he addressed to one of Sollecito's lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno, who is a well-known figure in Italian judicial circles. Bongiorno is a parliamentarian and the head of the Justice Commission in Parliament.

Alessi is serving a life sentence, recently confirmed on appeal, in the same prison in Viterbo, Italy, as Guede. They are both in the special section reserved for those accused of sex crimes.

According to Alessi's account, Guede told him that the other man killed Kercher when she refused to participate in a sex triangle. Rudy and his friend, according to the account, then met up again later at a disco.

Sollecito's Perugia lawyer, Luca Maori, confirmed to ABC News that they had deposited a 2 1/2 hour video of the interview of Alessi that they conducted two weeks ago in prison with the Perugia court. Maori did not want to comment on the matter because it is "very delicate" and the testimony is being evaluated by the court authorities.

Guede's lawyers, however, discount Alessi's testimony, saying it is just "another desperate attempt by desperate inmates" to get attention and "please the defendants," as in Knox and Sollecito.

Walter Biscotti, Guede's lawyer, told ABC News on Saturday that he had just been to see Guede in prison, during the permitted weekly visit, and that Guede laughed when told about Alessi's testimony. He said he had never spoken to him about his case. Biscotti said Guede "was annoyed" by the latest development that put him back in the headlines.

"Rudy has never spoken to anyone about his trial, except us, his lawyers," Biscotti said. "He doesn't even speak to his friends about it."

This is not the first time in the Knox case that inmates have come forward with "important revelations."

Last year, a jailed mafia turncoat who had shared a prison cell with Sollecito wrote to the judge in the Knox-Sollecito trial claiming he could testify to Sollecito's innocence. He claimed he knew every detail. He also said he was behind the break-ins to the crime scene that took place last year, when the house was still confiscated by police.

New Trial With New Judge and Jury Expected in Perugia in Fall

Police questioned Luciano Aviello in prison but determined he was not reliable and what he had to say was not useful. Aviello had been accused of slander many times in the past.

The new version of events recounted by Alessi comes just one day after the Perugia jury released a 427-page document explaining why it convicted Knox and Sollecito. In its "motivations" the jury reconstructed the crime, based, they say, on the physical evidence placing the three defendants in the house the night of the murder. The jury believes Knox and Sollecito met up with Guede, let him into the house Knox shared with Kercher and assisted him when he sexually assaulted Kercher. According to the document, the jurors believe both Sollecito and Knox held knives to Kercher's throat and that Knox inflicted the deepest wound that killed the British student.

The jury felt the DNA, blood, and footprint evidence presented by the prosecution was valid, notwithstanding extensive attempts by the defenses of the two defendants to show it was weak and inconclusive.

The lawyers for both defendants are preparing their appeal of the conviction based on this latest document.

After reading the "motivations," Knox lawyer Luciano Ghirga told reporters that in their appeal they will again present all of the topics that were analyzed in court, insisting on a new evaluation of the forensic evidence by an outside expert, and in particular the DNA evidence. The DNA evidence was hotly contested by the two sides in the first trial.

Ghirga told the ANSA agency that "we are profoundly dissatisfied by the fact that the judges did not believe Amanda."

Knox's parents said in a statement Thursday that in their opinion "there is a lot of conjecture in these motivations, a number of discrepancies as well as a number of inconsistencies and contradictions; as well as conclusions not supported by evidence."

The lawyers have 45 days to file their appeals and the next trial, with a new set of jurors and judges, is expected to be scheduled in Perugia this fall.

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