Convicted child killer backs Amanda Knox

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A convicted child killer on Saturday told a court Amanda Knox and her lover Raffaele Sollecito had nothing to do with the murder of a British woman who he said was killed after a sexual assault.

Mario Alessi, a mason who is serving time for killing a child, told the court that Knox's co-defendant Rudy Guede had spoken to him in a gym about his trial at a time when they were both detained in the same cell.

"Rudy told me he tried to help the young woman (Meredith Kercher) after his friend wounded her with a small knife with an ivory-coloured grip," Alessi told the appeal hearing.

The friend then told Guede: "What are you doing? We have to kill her if not we'll end up in prison because of her."

When questioned by Perugia prosecutors Guede, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in a separate trial for his role in the murder, denied ever having made such statements.

Knox and Sollecito were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison. Meredith Kercher and Knox had shared a house in Perugia.

Both are now appealing their convictions.

Prosecutors have said the crime was a drug-fuelled sex game that turned ugly.

Alessi earlier made the same allegations in a deposition to police.

At the court's request Guede is to be heard as a witness on June 27.

At Saturday's hearing another witness for the defence, Luciano Aviello, also told the court his brother killed Kercher in an attempt to steal a painting.

Knox and Sollecito were originally convicted in large part because of traces of Knox's DNA found on the knife that killed Kercher and Sollecito's DNA on a bra clip.

© 2011 AFP

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