Meredith Kercher killer's apology won sentence cut

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The Independent Online

An appeals court today said it shaved 14 years off the sentence of a man involved in the murder of a British student Meredith Kercher because he was the only one of the three defendants to apologise to her family.

Rudy Hermann Guede denied killing Ms Kercher, 21, a Leeds University student from Surrey, but said he should have done more to help her as she lay bleeding in her room in a Perugia flat she shared with Amanda Knox, the American student from Seattle who was also convicted of her killing, Italian reports said.

The appeals court in December upheld Guede's conviction in an earlier trial for sexual assault and murder but cut his prison sentence to 16 years from 30.

By law, Italian courts must give a written explanation of their rulings within a few months of the end of trial.

The ANSA and Apcom news agencies said the appeals court also said that while Guede sexually assaulted the woman, he wasn't the one who stabbed her.

Prosecutors said Knox stabbed her roommate in the throat during a sex game involving the three defendants.

In a separate trial which ended late last year, Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted three months ago of the murder.

Knox received 26 years; Sollecito, 25. They deny wrongdoing, and are serving their sentences in Italian prisons while awaiting a possible appeals trial.

Guede "was fully involved not only for being the one who carried out the sexual violence, but also for having held firm the left hand of the victim while she was being fatally wounded," the ruling said, according to ANSA.

He also was the only one among the defendants to apologise to the victim's family, "even if it (the apology) was limited to failure to come to her rescue".

Guede testified during his individual, fast-track trial shortly after the killing saying that he was in the bathroom in the house listening to music when the attackl took place.

In the days after the murder, Knox, a 21-year-old student at the University of Washington, and Sollecito, 24, gave conflicting statements, saying they smoked cannabis the night of the killing.

Sollecito has said he was at his own apartment in Perugia, working at his computer and didn't remember if Knox spent the whole night with him.

Knox has insisted she was not home during the attack. Her DNA was found on the handle of a knife that prosecutors alleged might have been used in the killing; Kercher's DNA was found on the blade.