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Victim's Family To Testify In Amanda Knox In Italian Murder Trial

(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
American murder suspect Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy.

PERUGIA, Italy (AP) The family of a British student killed in Italy in 2007 arrived Friday to testify at the trial of an American student and her ex-boyfriend who are charged with murder and sexual violence.

Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old student from Leeds University in England, was found stabbed to death on Nov. 2, 2007 in the house she rented in Perugia, central Italy. Her roommate, Amanda Knox, also 21, and Knox's former boyfriend, 25-year-old Raffaele Sollecito, are standing trial. They deny wrongdoing.

Prosecutors allege Kercher was killed during what began as a sex game.

Kercher's mother and father filed past reporters at the Perugia courthouse without comment. The victim's sister, Stephanie Kercher, only said she felt "anxious" going inside, where the family listened to testimony by a forensic expert.

The testimony, which included graphic images of Kercher's body, was ordered closed to the media out of respect for the victim.

(AP Photo/Stefano Medici)
22-year-old British student Meredith Kercher.

Knox and Sollecito, jailed since shortly after the slaying, have given conflicting statements and said they smoked hashish the night of the murder.

Sollecito has said he was at his own apartment in Perugia, working at his computer. He said he doesn't remember if Knox spent the whole night with him or just part of it.

Knox has insisted she was not home during the slaying.

The two risk Italy's stiffest punishment, life imprisonment, if convicted of murder.

A third suspect, Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede, was found guilty of identical charges last year and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was given a fast-track trial at his request.

His lawyer, Walter Biscotti, said Friday that Guede's appeal would start Nov. 18. Guede, 22, has acknowledged being in Kercher's room that night but denies having killed her. He has accused an unidentified Italian of trying to frame him.

The Kercher family has joined the trial as civil plaintiffs, and they will testify at the request of their lawyer.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are shown Friday, Nov. 2, 2007, embracing outside the house where Kercher was found dead.

In Italy, civil lawsuits can be attached to criminal trials. In the Kercher case, it allows the family to more closely monitor the case, receiving information that normally would be reserved for defense lawyers or prosecutors.

In a statement issued shortly before Knox and Sollecito were ordered to stand trial, the family said they hoped justice would be done. They described the victim as a caring woman who loved Italy.

The media in Italy and the United Kingdom have all but convicted Knox. But a recent broadcast of raised serious questions about the evidence in the case and questioned the unusual manner in which the prosecutor came up with his theory of the crime.

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