By Calvin Palmer
Rudy Guede, convicted last year of killing British exchange student Meredith Kercher, today addressed a court in Italy as he launched his appeal against his 30-year prison sentence.
Guede, 22, told the court in Perugia he heard Kercher and Amanda Knox, her American room-mate, arguing over money in the bathroom of the house that they shared. Minutes later he heard a “piercing scream”.
The court is expected to reach a verdict on Knox, 22, of Seattle, and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 26, early next month. They both deny any wrongdoing.
Guede was born in the Ivory Coast but emigrated to Italy as a child and was described as a drifter at his fast-track trial.
He told the court he went to the Leeds University student’s house on the evening of November 1, 2007, but started to feel queasy, having eaten a kebab the night before. He went to the bathroom and started listening to his iPod. Over the sound of the music he heard an argument between Kercher and Knox.
“I heard Meredith’s and Amanda’s voices, arguing about some money missing,” he said. “I was listening to music but halfway through the third track I heard a piercing scream.”
He said he rushed into Kercher’s bedroom where he saw a man, whom he later suggested could have been Sollecito, who tried to stab him with a knife.
Staggering back into the hallway, Guede said, “The man said: ‘Let’s go. There’s a black guy in the house.’”
Guede said he heard people leaving the house and looked out of the window where he saw a silhouette he later identified as Knox.
Knox maintains she spent the night of the murder at Sollecito’s house elsewhere in Perugia.
Sollecito has said he home working at his computer that night. He said he does not remember if Knox spent the whole night with him or just part of it.
Guede told the court he tried to save the life of Kercher, who was by now lying in a pool of blood with her throat cut. He tried to stem the flow of blood with towels, but then panicked and left the house.
“Seeing Meredith in these terms was agonizing,” he said. “She was dying. She tried to tell me something, but I couldn’t understand her. I held her hand, I asked her what had happened. … In that moment, I entered into a state of shock”.
He fled the house and a few days later left the country. He was arrested on a train in Germany and extradited back to Italy.
“I want to let the Kercher family know that I did not kill or rape their daughter,” he said. “I was not the one who took her life.”
The prosecution claims that during a group sex game, Sollecito held the Briton by the shoulders while Miss Knox threatened her with a knife and Guede sexually assaulted her. Knox then allegedly stabbed Kercher, from Coulsdon in Surrey, in the throat.
Guede became a suspect after his fingerprint was found in bloodstains on Kercher’s pillow, and other DNA traces were recovered on her body and in the lavatory bowl.