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Meredith: Lawyers want new autopsy

  • Story Highlights
  • UK exchange student Meredith Kercher killed in Perugia, Italy November 1
  • Lawyers for released suspect Patrick Lumumba demand second autopsy
  • Request after another suspect says an unidentified assailant attacked Kercher
  • Other suspects include Kercher's U.S. flatmate and flatmate's Italian boyfriend
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PERUGIA, Italy (CNN) -- A judge was considering Monday whether to grant a request for a fresh autopsy on the body of the British student Meredith Kercher, killed in the Italian city of Perugia.

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Meredith Kercher was found dead in her villa November 2 with a knife wound to her neck.

Kercher's corpse is still being held in a morgue in Britain as her family awaits permission to bury the 21-year-old who bled to death after she was stabbed in her bed.

The request was received from the lawyers of Patrick Lumumba, one of the four suspects identified by Italian police.

Carlo Pacelli, a lawyer for Lumumba - who was released by Italian police last week but still remains a suspect in the killing - said they wanted to establish more closely the time of death of the victim.

The decision on a second autopsy is expected some time Tuesday, Francesco Marasco, the Kercher family's lawyer, told reporters in Perugia Monday.

Marasco told CNN that Italian investigators would travel to London to carry out a second autopsy if it was granted.

Kercher, an exchange student at Perugia's university, was killed late on November 1 in the villa where she lived, according to police.

Investigators found her the next day, half-naked, with a stab wound to her neck. A report issued more than a week ago by an Italian judge suggested she may have been sexually assaulted at knifepoint before she was killed in her bed.

The original post-mortem put the time of death at between 10 p.m. and midnight, according to a report from Perugia's prosecutor general Claudia Matteini.

However, Matteini said that Kercher probably suffered a "very slow agony" as she bled to death and that the wound could have been inflicted as early as 8:30 p.m. and that she could have died at any time up to 11:30 p.m.

Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner, says he has a solid alibi for the time of the killing, according to his lawyers.

The autopsy request came a day after the latest suspect in the case, Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, claimed that an unidentified assailant attacked the British student, his lawyer told CNN Sunday.

Guede has already admitted being in Kercher's home the night she was killed, but denies any involvement in her death, his lawyer, Walter Biscotti, told CNN.

Last week, investigators said DNA on a vaginal swab taken from Kercher matched Guede's DNA, indicating the two had sex.

Italian police say that they have connected Guede to a bloody fingerprint on a pillow at the crime scene, and that DNA tests on skin cells found on toilet paper there have linked him to the villa.

The suspect, arrested last week after fleeing to Germany, claimed he was in the bathroom when he heard Kercher screaming from the bedroom, Biscotti said.

He claimed he saw a person, whom he describes as "the killer," outside the bedroom door, and that when he went to help the victim she whispered "A.F" into his ear, his lawyer said.

Guede tried to confront the person, but the assailant ran away, according to Biscotti. His lawyer said Guede denies that he and Kercher slept together.

Media reports in Italy and Britain say police are looking at the possibility of a fifth suspect involved in the killing following Guede's claims.

But a source in the prosecutor's office in Perugia told CNN that no fifth suspect was being sought in connection with the killing.

Guede is the only suspect to have acknowledged having been in Kercher's villa the night she died. He is expected to be extradited in the next 10 to 15 days on suspicion of murder and sexual assault.

In addition to Guede, two other suspects remain in custody in connection with the killing: Amanda Knox, 20, Kercher's roommate, and Knox's boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 23.

A source in the prosecutor's office said forensic police will return to the villa before Friday's court hearing to determine whether Solliceto and Knox should continue to be held by police.

The source said forensics investigators had discovered impressions on the victim's bra, which was found near her body, and were trying to determine if the impressions are fingerprints.

According to a report in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera Saturday, Sollecito said in a statement to police that Knox lived in a dream world but said she was not a murderer.

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"She lives life as if it is a dream, she's out of touch with reality. But from here to even just imagining that she is a murderer, it becomes impossible," the newspaper reported Sollecito as saying.

Knox, from Seattle, has told police that she is unclear about what took place on the night of Kercher's death. Even the American's lawyer has admitted he was confused by his client's testimony. Both Knox and Sollecito deny any involvement in the killing. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Hada Messia in Perugia contributed to this report.

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