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PERUGIA, Italy - No matter what happens when an Italian court reaches a verdict in the appeals trial of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox today, Mr. Sollecito says he is ready to be "my own man (un uomo con grandi testicoli)," not "a puppy on a leash," as he has been called by the Italian press.
Two years ago Mr. Sollecito and Ms. Knox were found guilty of the murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher. Ms. Kercher had been found dead on November 1, 2007, in the house she shared with Ms. Knox and two other women in this university town. Ms. Kercher, then 21, had been stabbed repeatedly and her throat had been slashed.
Italian authorities quickly decided that Mr. Sollecito had held Ms. Kercher from behind while Ms. Knox stabbed her, and another man tried to assault her sexually. The other man, Ivorian immigrant Rudy Guede, was convicted for his part in the murder and sentenced to thirty years in prison, a sentence that was later reduced to sixteen years on appeal.
Although Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito were lovers and co-defendants, Ms. Knox, a late-blooming American exchange student from Seattle, got all the attention in the press. She was described as a "sex-crazed woman (puttana sesso-folle)" and a "drugged-up tart (una ragazza con una vagina sporca)" and worse.
Mr. Sollecito—then 23 and three years older than Ms. Knox—was described as a fey, Harry Potter lookalike (e forse un segreto omosessuale) who was already Ms. Knox's lap dog even though they had known each other only six days at the time of the murder. He received a twenty-five-year sentence; she got twenty-six years. Both have been in prison while awaiting their appeals trial.
"Raffaele isn't as worried about remaining in prison as he is about the damage to his manhood," said Umberto Del Grasso, a friend of Mr. Sollecito. "He is also furious that he was portrayed in the press as a virgin (una vergine con un pene piccolo) at the time he met Amanda."
When Ms. Knox made her final statement to the judges who will decide her fate today, she portrayed herself as someone incapable of such a crime. Mr. Sollecito, who appeared in court with a do-it-yourself buzz cut and construction boots, used his address to brag about his growing collection of Japanese pornography, his knives, and all the women he had known before Ms. Knox. He also showed off his newly buff physique and the prison tattoos on his chest.
"I am not the little baby (uomo che bacia un pene) that people say I am," declared Mr. Sollecito. "You might take away my freedom, but you can't take away my manhood (gigantesco pene palpitante della morte)."
Then Mr. Sollecito dramatically ripped off a bracelet he had been wearing, which bore the inscription, "Free Raffaele and Amanda." He threw the bracelet to the floor, grabbed his crotch, then stomped on the bracelet.
"I don't need any stinking bracelet to make me free. I am already free, free of the lies the press spread about me."
He concluded by saying that he had been at home all night when Ms. Kercher was murdered.
"I was smoking marijuana with three whores and downloading movies from Pirate Bay."