The scene of the crime of 1 November 2007 — the house where Meredith Kercher was killed, in Perugia, central Italy — was the focal point of police activity. The victim’s throat had been cut; she had been stabbed 43 times, and, the autopsy showed, she had been raped.
The 21-year-old British university exchange student from South London, was a flatmate of Amanda Knox.
On 6 November, Knox, from the US city of Seattle, 20—years-old at the time, and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito — a southern Italian — were arrested. So was Congolese-born Patrick Lumumba, the dead woman’s part-time employer at a bar, but he was released a few days later.
On 20 November, Rudy Guede was arrested in Mainz, Germany. The 20-year-old Ivorian was a small-time drug-dealer. He was the first to be convicted: for the sexual assault and participation in the murder of Meredith Kercher.
After his extradition to Italy, he took the option of a “fast-track” trial with the possibility of a more lenient sentence; 30 years in prison was reduced to 16 last year.
The trials of Knox and Sollecito began in January 2009.
The court heard reconstructions of the events presented by the prosecutors.
The judges accepted as fact that Meredith Kercher had refused to take part in sex-play, was restrained by Sollecito, raped by Guede and knifed by Knox.
Knox had falsely accused Lumumba. This discredited her defence and brought her one year more than Sollecito when the pair were convicted.
On 4 December 2009, Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison — Sollecito 25.
The defence appealed, disputing that either of them had even been at the scene of the crime, and saying a motive was lacking.
Amid steady media attention, both strongly denied involvement.
Earlier this year, independent expertise cast doubt on police procedure in the taking of DNA samples.