Murder of Meredith Kercher
|Murder of Meredith Kercher|
Meredith Kercher in 2007
|Born||Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher
28 December 1985
Southwark, London, England
|Died||1 November 2007
Via della Pergola 7, Perugia, Umbria, Italy
|Cause of death||Knife wounds leading to blood loss and suffocation|
|Burial||14 December 2007
Mitcham Road Cemetery, Croydon, London
Giovanni Galati (General Prosecutor of Perugia)
|Convicted of sexual assault, murder||Rudy Guede
(29 October 2008)
Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher (28 December 1985 – 1 November 2007) was a British student on exchange, from the University of Leeds, who was murdered at the age of 21 in Perugia, Italy, on 1 November 2007. Kercher was found dead on the floor of her bedroom. By the time the bloodstained fingerprints at the scene were identified as belonging to Rudy Guede, police had charged Kercher's American flatmate, Amanda Knox, and Knox's Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. The subsequent prosecutions of Knox and Sollecito received international publicity, with forensic experts and jurists taking a critical view of the evidence supporting the initial guilty verdicts. Knox and Sollecito were released after almost four years following their acquittal at a second-level trial, and in 2015 they were exonerated by the Supreme Court of Italy. Guede was tried separately in a fast-track procedure and in October 2008 was found guilty of the sexual assault and murder of Kercher. He subsequently exhausted the appeals process and is currently serving a 16-year sentence.
- 1 Meredith Kercher
- 2 Rudy Guede
- 3 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Bibliography
- 7 External links
|Via della Pergola 7, courtesy of the BBC.|
Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher (born 28 December 1985 in Southwark, South London), known to her friends as "Mez", lived in Coulsdon, South London. She had two older brothers, John and Lyle, and an older sister, Stephanie. Her father, also named John, is a freelance journalist, and her mother, Arline, is a housewife. Kercher attended the Old Palace School in Croydon. She was enthusiastic about the language and culture of Italy, and after a school exchange trip she returned, aged 15, to spend her summer vacation with a family in Sessa Aurunca.
Kercher studied European politics and Italian at the University of Leeds. Working as a barmaid, tour guide and in promotions to support herself, she made a cameo appearance in the music video for Kristian Leontiou's song "Some Say" in 2004. She aspired to work for the European Union or as a journalist. In October 2007, she attended the University of Perugia, where she began courses in modern history, political theory, and the history of cinema. Fellow students later described her as caring, intelligent, witty, and popular.
Via della Pergola 7
Perugia, a well-known cultural and artistic centre, is a city of 150,000 people. More than a quarter of the population are students, many from abroad, giving it a vibrant social scene. In Perugia, Kercher shared a four-bedroom ground-floor flat in a house at Via della Pergola 7 (Coordinates: ). Her flatmates were two Italian women in their late twenties, Filomena Romanelli and Laura Mezzetti, and a 20-year-old American student from the University of Washington, Amanda Knox, who was attending the University for Foreigners in Perugia on an exchange year. Kercher and Knox moved in on 10 and 20 September 2007, respectively, meeting each other for the first time. Kercher typically called her mother daily on a mobile phone; a second mobile phone she used was registered to her flatmate, Romanelli.
The lower level of the house was occupied by four Italian young men with whom both Kercher and Knox were friendly. Late one night in mid-October, Kercher and Knox met Rudy Guede when they returned home at 2:00 am. Guede had been invited into the lower level flat by some of the Italian tenants, to whom he had attached himself. At 4:30 am, Kercher and Knox left.
Also in mid-October, Kercher and Knox attended the EuroChocolate festival. On 25 October 2007, Kercher and Knox attended a classical music concert where Knox met Raffaele Sollecito, a 23-year-old computer science graduate at the University of Perugia.
1 November was a public holiday in Italy. Kercher's Italian flatmates were out of town, as were the occupants of the downstairs flat. That evening, Kercher had dinner with three English women at one of their homes. She parted company with a friend at around 8:45 pm, about 500 yards (460 m) from Via della Pergola 7.
By Knox's account, having spent the night with Sollecito, she arrived at Via della Pergola 7 on the morning of 2 November 2007, finding the front door open and drops of blood in the bathroom she shared with Kercher. Kercher's bedroom door was locked, which Knox took as indicating that Kercher was sleeping. After showering in the bathroom she and Kercher shared, Knox found feces in the toilet of the bathroom shared by Romanelli and Mezzetti. Knox went back to Sollecito's home and later returned with him to Via della Pergola 7. Noticing a broken window in Romanelli's bedroom and alarmed that Kercher did not answer her door, Sollecito unsuccessfully tried to force the door open. Sollecito called his sister, a lieutenant in the carabinieri, for advice. She advised him to call the 112 emergency number, which he did.
Discovery of the body
After receiving a phone call from Knox, Romanelli arrived at the flat. Candace Dempsey writes that in rummaging around, looking for anything that might be missing, Romanelli inadvertently disturbed the crime scene. On discovering that the two phones Kercher typically carried with her had been found in a nearby garden, Romanelli became concerned and requested that the police force open the door to Kercher's bedroom, but the police declined. Instead, Romanelli's male friend forced the door open at around 1:15 pm, and the body of Kercher was found inside, lying on the floor, covered by a duvet.
Pathologist Luca Lalli, from Perugia's forensic science institute, performed the autopsy on Kercher's body. Her injuries consisted of sixteen bruises and seven cuts. These included several bruises and a couple of insubstantial cuts on the palm of her hand. Bruises on her nose, nostrils, mouth, and underneath her jaw were compatible with a hand being clamped over her mouth and nose. Lalli's autopsy report was reviewed by three pathologists from Perugia's forensic science institute who interpreted the injuries, including some to the genital region, as indicating an attempt to immobilize Kercher during sexual violence.
A funeral was held on 14 December 2007 at Croydon Parish Church, with more than 300 people in attendance, followed by a private burial at Croydon's Mitcham Road Cemetery. The degree that Kercher would have received in 2009 was awarded posthumously by the University of Leeds.
Meredith Kercher scholarship fund
Five years after the murder, the city of Perugia and its University for Foreigners, in co-operation with the Italian embassy in London, instituted a scholarship fund to honour the memory of Meredith Kercher. John Kercher stated in an interview that all profits from his book Meredith would go to a charitable foundation in Meredith Kercher's name.
Italian criminal procedure
In Italy, individuals accused of any crime are considered innocent until proven guilty, although the defendant may be held in detention. Unless the accused opts for a fast-track trial, murder cases are heard by a Corte d'Assise. A guilty verdict is not regarded as a definitive conviction until the accused has exhausted the appeals process, irrespective of the number of times the defendant has been put on trial.
Italian trials can last many months and have long gaps between hearings (the first trial of Knox and Sollecito was heard two days a week, three weeks a month). If found guilty, a defendant is absolutely guaranteed what is in effect a retrial, where all evidence and witnesses can be re-examined. A verdict can be overturned by the Italian supreme court, the Corte di Cassazione, which considers written briefs. If the Corte di Cassazione overturns a verdict, it explains what legal principles were violated by the lower court, which must abide by the ruling when re-trying the case. If the Corte di Cassazione upholds a guilty verdict of the appeal trial, the conviction becomes definitive, the appeals process is exhausted, and any sentence is served.
Rudy Guede 
Rudy Hermann Guede (born 26 December 1986, Abidjan, Ivory Coast) was 20 years old at the time of the murder. He had lived in Perugia since the age of five. In Italy, Guede was raised with the help of his school teachers, a local priest, and others. Guede's father returned to Ivory Coast in 2004. Guede, then aged 17, was adopted by a wealthy Perugia family. He played basketball for the Perugia youth team in the 2004–2005 season. Guede said he met a couple of the Italian men from the lower level of Via della Pergola 7 while spending evenings at the basketball court in the Piazza Grimana. In mid-2007, his adoptive family asked him to leave their home.
The young men who lived in the downstairs flat at Via della Pergola 7 were unable to recall how Guede had met them, but they did recall how, after his first visit to their home, they had found him later in the bathroom, sitting asleep on the unflushed toilet, which was full of feces. Guede allegedly committed break-ins, including one of a lawyer's office through a second-storey window, and another during which he burgled a flat and brandished a jackknife when confronted. On 27 October 2007, days before Kercher's murder, Guede was arrested in Milan after breaking into a nursery school; he was reportedly found by police with an 11-inch knife  that had been taken from the school kitchen.
Guede went to a friend's house at about 11:30 pm on 1 November 2007, the night of the murder. He later went to a nightclub where he stayed until 4:30 am. On the following night, 2 November 2007, Guede went to the same nightclub with three American female students he had met in a bar. He then left Italy for Germany, where he would be located in the subsequent weeks.
After his fingerprints were found at the crime scene, Guede was extradited from Germany; he had said on the Internet that he knew he was a suspect and wanted to clear his name. Guede opted for a fast-track trial, held in closed session with no reporters present. He told the court that he had gone to Via della Pergola 7 on a date arranged with Kercher, after meeting her the previous evening. Two neighbours of Guede's, foreign female students who were with him at a nightclub on that evening, told police the only girl they saw him talking to had long blonde hair. Guede said Kercher had let him in the cottage around 9 pm. Sollecito's lawyers said a glass fragment from the window found beside a shoe-print of Guede's at the scene of the crime was proof that Guede had broken in.
Guede said that he and Kercher had kissed and touched, but did not have sexual intercourse because they did not have condoms readily available. He claimed that he then developed stomach pains and crossed to the large bathroom on the other side of the apartment. Guede said he heard Kercher scream while he was in the bathroom, and that upon emerging, he saw a shadowy figure holding a knife and standing over her as she lay bleeding on the floor. Guede further stated that the man fled, while saying in perfect Italian, "Trovato negro, trovato colpevole; andiamo" ("Found black man, found culprit; let's go").
The court found that his version of events did not match the forensic evidence, and that he could not explain why one of his palm prints, stained with Kercher's blood, had been found on the pillow of the single bed, under the disrobed body. Guede said he had left Kercher fully dressed. He was found guilty in October 2008 of murder and sexual assault, and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. Judge Micheli acquitted Guede of theft, suggesting that there had been no break-in.
Guede originally said that Knox had not been at the scene of the crime, but he later changed his story to say that she had been in the apartment at the time of the murder. He claimed that he had heard her arguing with Kercher, and that, glancing out of a window, he had seen Knox's silhouette outside the house.
Three weeks after Knox and Sollecito were convicted, Guede had his prison term cut from 30 to 24 years before the automatic one-third reduction given for the fast-track trial, resulting in a final sentence of 16 years. A lawyer representing the Kercher family protested the "drastic reduction" in the sentence. Guede had his first 36-hours release on June 2016, after nine years of prison.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
In outlining the case for colleagues hours after the discovery of the body, Perugia Reparto volanti (Flying Squad) Detective Superintendent Monica Napoleoni told them that the murderer was definitely not a burglar and that apparent signs of a break-in were staged as a deliberate deception. Knox was the only occupant of the house who had been nearby on the night of the murder; she said she had spent the night of 1 November with Sollecito at his flat. Over the next four days, Knox was repeatedly interviewed without being given access to a lawyer. She later testified that she was subjected to pressure tactics and struck by police to make her incriminate herself. She was arrested and charged with murder at noon on 6 November 2007.
Napoleoni was backed by several other detectives in arguing for the arrest of Knox, Sollecito, and Patrick Lumumba, the latter whom Knox had implicated as being involved. However, Napoleoni's immediate superior, Chief Superintendent Marco Chiacchiera, thought arrests would be premature and advocated close surveillance of the suspects as the best way to further the investigation. On 8 November 2007, Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba appeared before Judge Claudia Matteini, and during an hour-long adjournment Knox met her lawyers for the first time. Matteini ordered Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba to be detained for a year. On 19 November 2007, the Rome forensic police matched fingerprints found in Kercher's bedroom to Rudy Guede. On 20 November 2007, Guede was arrested in Germany, and Lumumba was released. The prosecution charged Guede with the murder.
Knox became the subject of intense media attention. Shortly before her trial, she began legal action against Fiorenza Sarzanini, the author of a best-selling book about her which had been published in Italy. The book included accounts of events as imagined or invented by Sarzanini, witness transcripts not in the public domain, and selected excerpts from Knox's private journals, which Sarzanini had somehow obtained. Lawyers for Knox said the book had "reported in a prurient manner, aimed solely at arousing the morbid imagination of readers".
According to American legal commentator Kendal Coffey, "In this country we would say, with this kind of media exposure, you could not get a fair trial". In the United States, there was a pretrial publicity campaign supporting Knox and attacking Italian investigators, but her lawyer thought it was counter-productive.
Knox and Sollecito trials
Knox and Sollecito were held in prison. Their trial began on 16 January 2009 before Judge Giancarlo Massei, Deputy Judge Beatrice Cristiani, and six lay judges at the Corte d'Assise of Perugia. The charges were that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede had murdered Kercher in her bedroom. Knox and Sollecito both pleaded not guilty.
According to the prosecution, Knox had attacked Kercher in her bedroom, repeatedly banged her head against a wall, forcefully held her face, and tried to strangle her. Mignini suggested Knox had taunted Kercher and may have said, "You acted the goody-goody so much, now we are going to show you. Now you're going to be forced to have sex!" The prosecution theorized that Guede, Knox, and Sollecito had removed Kercher's jeans, and held her on her hands and knees while Guede sexually abused her; that Knox had cut Kercher with a knife before inflicting the fatal stab wound; and that she had then stolen Kercher's mobile phones and money to fake a burglary. On 5 December 2009, Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murder and sentenced to 26 years' imprisonment.
The appeal (or second grade) trial began in November 2010, presided over by Judges Claudio Pratillo Hellmann and Massimo Zanetti. A court-ordered review of the contested DNA evidence by independent experts noted numerous basic errors in the gathering and analysis of the evidence, and concluded that no evidential trace of Kercher's DNA had been found on the alleged murder weapon. Although the review confirmed the DNA fragments on the bra clasp included some from Sollecito, an expert testified that the context strongly suggested contamination.
On 3 October 2011, Knox and Sollecito were acquitted. A ruling that there was insufficient proof, similar to the verdict of not proven, was available to the court, but the court acquitted Knox and Sollecito completely. The conviction of Knox on a charge of slander of Patrick Lumumba was upheld, and the original one-year sentence was increased to three years and eleven days' imprisonment.
In their official report on the court's decision to overturn the convictions, the appeal trial judges wrote that the verdict of guilty at the original trial "was not corroborated by any objective element of evidence". Describing the police interviews of Knox as of "obsessive duration", the judges said that the statements she made incriminating herself and Lumumba during interrogation were evidence of her confusion while under "great psychological pressure". The judges further noted that a tramp who had testified to seeing Sollecito and Knox in the Piazza Grimana on the night of the murder was a heroin addict; that Massei, the judge at the 2009 trial, had used the word "probably" 39 times in his report; and that there was no evidence of any phone calls or texts between Knox or Sollecito, and Guede.
Following a successful prosecution request, there was a rehearing of Knox and Sollecito's second-level trial. The only new evidence came from the court-ordered analysis of a previously unexamined sample of the blade of Sollecito's kitchen knife,[clarification needed] which the prosecution had alleged was the murder weapon. When the unexamined sample was tested by court-appointed experts for the new appeal trial, no DNA belonging to Kercher was found. Despite the negative result for the prosecution case, the court returned verdicts of guilty against the defendants, who both appealed.
Acquittal of murder charge
On 27 March 2015, Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that Knox and Sollecito were innocent of murder, thereby definitively ending the case. Rather than merely declaring that there were errors in the earlier court cases or that there was insufficient evidence to convict, the court ruled that Knox and Sollecito had not committed the murder and were innocent of those charges, but it upheld Knox's conviction for slandering Patrick Lumumba.
After this verdict was announced, Knox, who had been in the United States continuously since 2011, said in a statement: "The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal."
In September 2015, the delegate Supreme Judge, Court adviser Mr. Gennaro Marasca, made public the reasons of absolution. First, none of the evidence demonstrated that either Knox or Sollecito was present at the crime scene. Second, they cannot have "materially participated in the homicide", since there were absolutely no "biological traces that could be attributed to them in the room of the murder or on the body of the victim, where in contrast numerous traces were found attributable to Guede".
- Kercher, John (2012). Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth p.41-60
- Kercher, John (2012). Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth p.78
- "Profile: Meredith Kercher". BBC News. 4 December 2009.
- Murphy, Dennis. "Deadly exchange", NBC News, 21 December 2007.
- Follain 2011, pp. 25-47
- Follain 2011, p. 39 ("Meredith joined them she took just one pull on the joint; she was no habitual smoker")
- Wise, Ann. "'They Had No Reason Not to Get Along'", ABC News, 7 February 2009.
- Follain 2011, pp. 41-43
- Follain 2011, pp. 46-47
- Dempsey 2010, p. 3
- Dempsey 2010, p. 41
- Dempsey 2010, pp. 48–49
- Burleigh 2011, pp. 172–174
- Follain 2011, pp. 70–71
- Dempsey 2010, pp. 61–62
- Follain 2011, p. 72
- Follain 2011, pp. 116–118
- Follain 2011, p. 296
- Wheatley, Gemma (14 December 2007). "Meredith laid to rest". Croydon Guardian.
- Barry, Colleen. "Family of victim in Knox case remembers slain daughter", Associated Press, 30 September 2011.
- Squires, Nick (19 October 2012). "Meredith Kercher scholarship set up at Perugia University". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
- "Perugia dedicates scholarship to Meredith Kercher". ANSA. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
- "Death in Perugia: John Kercher is no closer to knowing who killed his daughter Meredith". The Australian. Retrieved 13 November 2012. (subscription required (. ))
- Wall Street Journal, 30 January 2014 Italy Court Finds Amanda Knox Guilty of Murder of U.K. Student in Retrial
- Pisani, Mario; et al.; Manuale di procedura penale. Bologna, Monduzzi Editore, 2006. ISBN 88-323-6109-4.
- Folain p269
- Povoledo, Elisabetta: "Amanda Knox Freed After Appeal in Italian Court", The New York Times, 3 October 2011.
- Cappelletti 1967, p. 113.
- "Rudy, il barone con la passione del basket" (in Italian). Quotidiano.net. 20 November 2007.
- Burleigh 2011, pp. 90–91
- Burleigh 2011, pp. 92–93
- Burleigh 2011, pp. 95–96
- Owen, Richard (28 October 2008). "Rudy Guede: engaging drifter who boasted 'I will drink your blood". The Times.
- Follain 2011, p. 179
- Burleigh 2011, p. 97
- Burleigh 2011, pp. 84–85
- Dempsey 2010, pp. 299, 327
- Squires, Nick (29 October 2008). "Meredith Kercher murder: Rudy Guede profile". The Daily Telegraph.
- Follain 2011[page needed]
- Wise, Anne (27 June 2009). "Meredith Kercher murder: Rudy Guede profile". ABC News.
- Follain 2011, pp. 204–205
- Moore, Malcolm (20 November 2007). "Fourth Meredith suspect arrested in Germany". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Pisa, Nick (6 December 2007). "Meredith Kercher suspect extradited to Italy". The Telegraph. London.
- Follain 2011, p. 206
- Owen, Richard. "Rudy Guede guilty of Meredith Kercher murder, Amanda Knox faces trial", The Times, 29 October 2008.
- Moore, Malcolm. "Meredith whispered killer's name, suspect says", The Daily Telegraph, 24 November 2007.
- Pisa, Nick (25 October 2008). "Meredith murder suspect Rudy Guede is an 'easy target' for accusations, say his lawyers". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede, Dr Paolo Micheli, Court of Perugia, judgement of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2011 (Google translation, Italian to English).
- "Rudy: Meredith l'ha uccisa Raffaele", La Stampa (Italian), 27 March 2008.
- Diritto, procedura, e pratica penale Tribunale di Perugia: Ufficio del G.I.P.: Dott. Paolo Micheli: Sentenza del 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009 (Italian): (English trans): Guede "confirmed then to have touched more or less everywhere in the room, even with his hands stained with blood, without however explaining why one of his [palm-]prints were found on the pillow under the corpse, when he remembered the regular pillow on the bed, where they also found the jacket and purse/handbag that the girl [Kercher] had put down on re-entering the house. The bed was, according to his description, covered with a red or beige duvet (but he had insisted far more on the former colour): the pillow was outside of the quilt." Earlier in his judgement, the judge noted that (Italian): "Soltanto in seguito, attraverso la comparazione in Banca Dati di un'impronta palmare impressa nel sangue e rinvenuta sulla federa del cuscino che si trovava sotto il corpo della vittima, si accertava invece la presenza sul luogo del delitto del 21enne G. R. H., nativo della Costa d'Avorio ..." (English): "Only later, through the comparison in the database of a palm-print imprinted in the blood of the victim and found on the pillowcase of the pillow where the body of the victim was found, it confirmed instead the presence at the scene of the crime of the 21-year-old G[uede] R.H., native of the Ivory Coast, ...".
- Dempsey 2010, p. 175
- Burleigh 2011, pp. xxvi–xxvii
- Follain 2011, p. 397
- Squires, Nick. "Amanda Knox trial: Rudy Guede profile", The Daily Telegraph, 5 December 2009.
- "Meredith Kercher killer Rudy Guede has sentence reduced", BBC News, 22 December 2009.
- Follain 2011, p. 338
- Follain 2011, p. 370
- NY Daily News 29 November 2013
- Diane Sawyer, ABC News 30 April 2013
- Sky News, 4 February 2014,http://news.sky.com/story/1206494/sollecito-slams-kercher-killers-release-plan
- Follain 2011, pp. 83-84
- Dempsey 2010, pp. 62, 76–77; for Napoleoni, see Burleigh 2011, p. 165. for Battistelli see Follain 2011, p. 67.
- Follain 2011, pp. 75–76
- Burleigh 2011, pp. 151–152
- Follain 2011, p. 123
- Burleigh 2011, p. 36
- Follain 2011, p. 76
- Follain 2011, p. 321
- Dempsey 2010, p. 47
- For slander, see Dempsey 2010, p. 265.
- Follain 2011, p. 281
- Follain 2011, p. 174
- Radar Magazine October/November 2008.
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- Media, Crime, and Criminal Justice: Images, Realities, and Policies, 2011, R.Surette, p. 124.
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- Follain 2011, p. 344
- Follain 2011, pp. 342-344
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- Dempsey 2010, pp. 311–312
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- Follain 2011, p. 404
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- Follain 2011, pp. 404-406
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- Guardian, 29 June 2011, Amanda Knox prosecution evidence unreliable, appeal court hears
- Follain 2011, p. 408
- Guardian, 4 October 2011, Amanda Knox: police under fire over botched investigation
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- Follain 2011, pp. 366, 428
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- CNN, 30 July 201, Police forensics under scrutiny in Amanda Knox appeal
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- 15 December 2011, Colleen Barry, Associated Press
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- Guardian, 31 January 2014, Why did Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have their convictions upheld?
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- (Italian) Bocciate le indagini su Meredith. Cassazione: "giusta assoluzione"
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- Sollecito, Raffaele (18 September 2012). Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox. Gallery Books. ISBN 978-14-516-9598-4.
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- "Corte di Assise di Appello Perugia: On the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.". Claudio Pratillo Hellmann and Massimo Zanetti, (Court of Appeals) Perugia 2011
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