- Category : Criminal Case
- Type : GP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 1
Raffaele Sollecito (born 26 March 1984, Giovinazzo, Bari), the son of a doctor, was 23 years old at the time of his arrest, and nearing the completion of a degree in computer engineering at the University of Perugia. Sollecito had met Knox at a classical music concert, seven days before Kercher was murdered.
Interrogation and detention
Sollecito was interviewed without audio or videotaping, on 5 November 2007 from around 10 pm, while Knox waited in a side room. He later said detectives had told him he was lying about Knox having spent the evening and night of the murder in his apartment, and treated him "with violence and coercion". At some point he signed a statement saying that he and Knox had been out on the evening of the murder and had parted company at 9 pm, and that she had not shown up at his apartment until 1 am. Sollecito was arrested with Knox, despite objections by several detectives that evidence against him was too weak. At a hearing on 8 December Sollecito said his statement made to Napoleoni was untrue. According to Sollicito, he was pressurised by authorities and his family to support the police against Knox in return for being released, and although he refused he was 'terrified' she would succumb to similar pressures.
Sollecito, who said he had never met Guede, was held in custody without bail. The defence called Professor Francesco Introna, who challenged the prosecution's reconstruction of the murder in almost every detail. Introna said the crime scene and injuries to Kercher indicated she had been overpowered by a single attacker who clamped his hand over her mouth, forced her to her hands and knees and used his legs to immobilise her; inflicting the fatal wound from behind with a knife much smaller than the one the prosecution said was the murder weapon. The prosecutors advanced a single piece of forensic evidence linking Sollecito to Kercher's bedroom, a DNA fragment (Sollecito's Y chromosome) detected during analysis of Kercher's bra clasp, which had been cut from the strap. The clasp was visible in crime-scene video taken on 2 November when it had been found by Perugia's forensics squad who placed a marking card beside it for Stefanoni's team from Rome. Stefanoni's team only realised it had been missed 46 days later, by which time they had inadvertently moved it four feet across the room, where it was found under a rug in a pile of other items. Giulia Bongiorno, leading the defence, questioned how Sollecito's DNA could have got on the metal clasp of the bra, but not on the fabric of the bra strap from which it was torn. "How can you touch the hook without touching the cloth?" Bongiorno asked. The back strap of the bra had multiple traces of DNA belonging to Guede. During a cross-examination Bongiorno screened film of the belated recovery of the bra clasp that appeared to show Stefanoni touching the hooks of the clasp with her glove; Stefanoni admitted that, contrary to what she had said at pre-trial hearings, she may have touched the hooks. DNA evidence remained the central plank of the prosecution case against Sollecito. Convicted in December 2009 on charges of staging a break-in, murder and sexual assault, he was sentenced to 25 years.
Appeal and release
Independent forensic experts appointed by the court for Sollecito's appeal (secondo grado) were unable to re-test the bra clasp, because it had become rusted due to incorrect storage by the Scientific Police, but noted that video of the clasp's recovery showed it had been handled using a glove that was "dirty". The experts said the DNA evidence was faulty, possibly because of contamination, and that the "international procedures for inspection, protocol and collection of evidence were not followed" by the police or forensic team. The conviction was overturned on appeal on 3 October 2011. A ruling that there was insufficient proof, similar to the verdict of not proven was available to the court, but they acquitted Knox and Sollecito completely. In an explanation of their decision the appeal judges noted that there was no evidence of phone calls or texts between Knox or Sollecito and Guede, that the tramp Curatolo who testified to seeing Sollecito and Knox in the Piazza Grimana on the night of the murder was a heroin addict, and that Massei, the judge at the 2009 trial, used the word "probably" 39 times in his report.