PERUGIA, Italy Nov. 18, 2009 -- Just days before lawyers will begin summations in the Amanda Knox murder case, the one person already convicted of the crime appeared in an Italian courtroom today and said he saw Knox leaving the cottage as her British roomate lay dying of a knife wound to the throat.
He ended his statement by turning to the lawyer representing Kercher's family and said, "I want the Kercher family to know that I did not kill and did not rape their daughter. It was not me that took her life away."
Guede's appeal is not part of Knox's trial, but in Italy the jury is not sequestered and the Italian press has had lurid coverage of the year-long trial. It comes at a key moment in the procedings. Summations in the case begin Friday.
Prosecutor Pietro Maria Catalani dismissed Guede's account as "not credible" and asked that the conviction be upheld.
Knox's legal team were scathing in their rejection of Guede's account. "Today does not affect Amanda's trial because no one believes Rudy Guede. Guede is not reliable – he is a liar," Carlo Dalla Vedova, one of Knox's lawyers, told ABC News. "Even the prosecutor said this today. He [Guede] has changed his stories."
Guede, 25, has at different times said the Knox, 22, of Seattle, was and was not at the house the night of the murder. At one point, he also implied that Knox's co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito was at the murder scene.
"All Guede can do at this point is just confess and remove two innocent people from this situation," Dalla Vedova said. Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito have suggested that Guede killed Kercher, 21, by himself.
Guede's appeal was held in the same Perugia courtroom where the trial of Knox and ex-boyfriend Sollecito is held. Guede was seated in what is usually Knox's chair flanked by his lawyers.
After the judge read a summary of the case, Guede asked to be allowed to make a spontaneous statement, a courtroom statement by the defendant that is allowed by Italian law.
Guede, a native of the Ivory Coast, spoke of hearing Knox and seeing Knox at the house that Kercher and Knox shared with two Italian women.
Guede Claims He Heard Knox and Kercher Arguing Before Murder
He told the court that he had seen Kercher on Halloween, the night before her death, and that they met again on Nov. 1 and they went to her house together.
While he was getting something to drink, Kercher went into her room and Guede said she began railing against Knox because money was missing from her drawer. "My money, my money," she kept saying, Guede testified.
Together they checked the other rooms and everything was in order, but Kercher kept complaining. "She said that Amanda brought boys back to the house and that she couldn't stand her anymore," he said.
Guede said he and Kercher started making out and petting, but stopped. Ten minutes later Guede says he went to the bathroom, and while there the doorbell rang and he heard Kercher arguing with Knox.
"We have to talk," Kercher told Knox, according to Guede. He figured it was an argument among roomates, so he turned up his iPod until he heard "a very loud scream."
Guede claimed that he ran to Kercher's room where he saw a male figure. He put his hand on the guy's shoulder saying "What's happening," caught a glimpse of Kercher on the floor, and then the unidentified man "tried to strike me. He backed down the hallway in the dark, fell, and heard the man say 'Let's go, there is black man in the house.'"
Guede said he then heard the steps of more than one person on the gravel outside. He went to the window in one of the rooms and saw "the silhouette of Amanda Knox leaving."
Since this was a spontaneous statement, no one could question Guede.
Guede said he then went to Kercher's room, tried to help her, but said he was in total shock.
"I thought I was going crazy. I had tons of questions, but no answers," he testified.
Kercher held his hand and tried to speak to him, Guede said. He testified that he tried to stop the blood pouring from her throat, but got scared and fled.
Guede said he doesn't even know how he ended up in Germany, but later contacted two friends in Perugia and they agreed he should take a train home. He was stopped by police on the train, and taken to the police station.
Guede's Comments to Kercher Family
Then Guede turned to Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the Kercher family, and asked him to tell them that the "only thing I feel I can say to the Kercher family, to which my conscience must answer, is that unfortunately I was scared and I did not do everything I could to help her."
"I want the Kercher family to know that I did not kill and did not rape their daughter. It was not me that took her life away," he said.