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Kercher friendship 'had cooled'

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Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox appear in court

The friendship between murdered British student Meredith Kercher and accused Amanda Knox had "cooled" before her death, a court in Italy has been told.

Filomena Romanelli, who lived with the pair in Perugia, said the two had grown apart in the weeks before the murder.

Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found stabbed to death at the apartment in November 2007.

Miss Knox, 21, is charged with murder along with ex-lover Raffaele Sollecito, 24. The pair deny the charges.

No emotion

A third suspect - 21-year-old Rudy Hermann Guede, born in Ivory Coast - was jailed last October for 30 years.

He opted for a fast-track trial, separate from the other defendants.

Miss Romanelli said that at first the two young women had been friends.

"At the start they had a good relationship," she said. "They had no reason not to get along."

But then their interests had diverged, and they had drifted apart, she said.

Both Miss Knox and Miss Kercher were studying in the Umbrian hilltop town at the time of the murder on 2 November 2007.

Amanda Knox in Kanuary 2009
Knox did not shed tears over the death, Miss Romanelli said

Neither Miss Knox nor her boyfriend Mr Sollecito cried when Miss Kercher's body was found, Miss Romanelli said, although most of the others present at the scene did.

Miss Kercher's semi-naked body was found in her bedroom in the shared cottage. Her throat had been cut.

Miss Romanelli described how Miss Knox had telephoned her that morning and told her: "There's something strange in the house. The door is open and there's some blood."

'Blood everywhere'

She said the two accused had been very affectionate with each other when they had been together.

"He was always very nice to her, always holding her hand," she said.

She added Miss Knox had seemed like a normal girl. "She liked music, yoga, sport, socialising," she said.

She also described to the court the murder scene.

"There was blood everywhere and broken glass."

When shown a knife believed to be the murder weapon, Miss Romanelli said it had not come from the house the girls had shared.

Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito have been held for 15 months awaiting the trial, which is expected to last until at least the summer.



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