ROME - The brutal murder of a British college student in Italy by American Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend was not premeditated, the judges who convicted them said in a document released Thursday.
Instead, the killing occurred spontaneously after what began as a sexual assault on Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old Briton, the judges said.
In fact, Knox – Kercher’s roommate – and Raffaele Sollecito had felt no resentment toward the victim. After the murder, they showed a “sort of repentance” for their crime when they covered Kercher’s naked dead body with a duvet.
The judges also said they found no holes or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case against Knox and Sollecito, largely supporting forensic evidence that had been disputed by defense lawyers.
Knox and Sollecito were convicted in December by a court in Perugia, the central Italian town where the slaying took place in 2007.
The Seattle woman was sentenced to 26 years in jail, while Sollecito received a 25-year sentence. The two, who were dating at the time of the killing, have insisted they are innocent.
They remain in jail.
On Thursday, the judges released the reasons behind their ruling in a 427-page document that reconstructed the night of the murder and detailed evidence and testimony heard during the roughly yearlong trial. Once the document – required in Italian trials – is released, defense lawyers can launch their planned appeals.
Kercher’s body was found in a pool of blood on Nov. 2, 2007, in the apartment she shared with Knox. The judges said she was murdered the night before by Knox, Sollecito and another man, Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivory Coast citizen who also has been convicted of murder in a separate trial. Guede sexually assaulted Kercher with the help of Sollecito and Knox, the document said.
The judges said the murder was carried out because of “merely random circumstances”: Knox and Sollecito were free that evening, they “ran into” Guede in town and they “found themselves” at the house where Kercher happened to be alone.
The document said, Knox and Sollecito assisted Guede’s sexual desire for Kercher, becoming her brutal assailants with the Ivorian man and ultimately killing the 21-year-old from England when she resisted the sexual approach.
The pair might have found Guede’s sexual drive toward Kercher “exciting” or might have been under the influence of drugs, the document said.
Knox, now 22, has said that she at the house of Sollecito, 25, and was shocked and saddened to learn of her roommate’s slaying.