ROME — Rudy Guede, the only person serving time for the 2007 Perugia murder of British Erasmus student Meredith Kercher, has spoken publicly outside a court of law for the first time, giving his version of the story.
In a pre-taped, multi-camera interview in the tailoring classroom of the Viterbo Prison in central Italy, Guede, 29, wearing a gray sweater and glasses, spoke about his life and the murder for which he is now serving 16 years. The Ivory Coast native was a far cry from the scruffy man the press described as a drug pusher and ex-con. In fact, he said he had never tried hard drugs, and his record shows that despite reports to the contrary, he had no previous convictions for any crimes.
He maintained his innocence, pointed the finger at Seattle native Amanda Knox, and refused to name her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Knox and Sollecito were convicted, acquitted, reconvicted, and definitively acquitted of Kercher’s murder over the course of the last eight years.
The interview aired on Italy’s prime time Maledette Storie (“Cursed Stories”), which chronicles the country’s most controversial stories to a wide audience on Thursday nights. Guede, speaking polished Italian and presenting an extremely cultured, if not intellectual, image, spoke clearly and concisely about his life, including how, at the age of 5, he was taken from his mother’s arms in the Ivory Coast after his father “reclaimed” him in Italy.
Images of his prison art projects and the crime scene were interspersed among the long takes of his candid interview. But it would take a true Kercher murder junkie to really separate the wheat from the chaff.
There are many inconsistencies in his story and what he said during the interrogations that led to his conviction. Guede, who was arrested more than a week after the murder—after he escaped to Germany and after Knox fingered her Congolese nightclub boss, Patrick Lumumba—maintains his innocence.
Guede described in blushing detail how he had met Kercher a few months before her murder and how, on Halloween, the two shared a kiss on the dance floor of a local nightclub, saying it “isn’t that difficult to get a kiss on the dance floor in a college scene.” He brushed off reports that Kercher’s friends denied such a kiss with what amounted to a wink and a nod, and talked about how dark a nightclub really is.
He stood by his original story that after that dance-floor kiss, Kercher had invited him over the next night, Nov. 1, 2007, and he happily obliged, arriving at her house after dark. He said she opened the door for him and that they sat in her living room, he drank a juice, and then they engaged in “petting” but stopped short of sex because neither of them had a condom. And, he added, because she had been in other relationships, he wouldn’t go further unprotected.
When Franca Leosini, the show’s interviewer, pressed him about why, if he had gone there to continue the romance from the night before, he hadn’t taken a prophylactic “just in case,” he shrugged it off.
Guede then described how Kercher complained to him about her roommate Knox, saying she had stolen her money and how she was a slob. Then, feeling the effects of a spicy kebab he had eaten earlier, he had excused himself to one of the bathrooms in the apartment, where he spent “around 10 or 11 minutes” and listened to two and a half songs, before a scream “louder than the music from my headphones” startled him. That scream, he said, came after Knox, whose voice he recognized—somehow despite his loud music—had come home to confront her roommate.
Then, he said, he hurried to finish his business and ran out of the bathroom, leaving the toilet famously un-flushed as he raced out to see what happened. There he saw a man, he said. A random man, it would seem, at that. Someone he didn’t know. Someone foreign to him. Someone who, after all these years, he has come to know as part of his own theory, but who remained nameless. He then quoted the court documents that named that man as Raffaele Sollecito, though he refused to do so himself.
Sollecito, it might be noted, had spent the week prior to the airing of the highly anticipated interview threatening to sue Guede if he was named, in an attempt to stop the show from being broadcast. As it turns out, Sollecito needn’t have worried, since Guede didn’t name him.
But Knox, Guede said more than once, was there. “I am 101 percent certain Amanda Knox was there,” he said, before describing how the unnamed man warned Knox that they had “been discovered” and ran out of the building, but not before saying, “black man found, guilty found.” Guede said he knew Knox from flirting with her at the bar where she worked, and he described in detail how they found a connection when he told her he also had a friend from Seattle.
Then Guede said two things that even the most seasoned Kercher murder watchers may have found surprising. He admitted to going into Kercher’s room after Knox and the unnamed man left with fluffy towels to try to stop the flow of blood from the stab wounds to Kercher’s neck. Then he said he fled the scene out of a combination of fear and paranoia that he conveniently regrets. He went to Germany, he said, but only because that was where the next train was going, adding that he might have just as easily ended up in Russia.
Then he told Leosini that when he fled, Kercher was completely clothed in “the same clothes she was wearing when she opened the door for me.” But the facts beg an explanation, since Kercher was found semi-nude, with her jeans and underwear in a heap on the floor. Her bra—which was covered with blood splatters, implying she was wearing it when she was stabbed—had been cut from her body and lay in shreds on the floor.
Sollecito’s DNA was originally found on the tiny metal hook of the clasp of that bra, but that evidence was largely discounted because the cut clasp had been collected some six weeks after the murder took place. “She was dressed when I left,” Guede said, undoubtedly knowing very well the accusation such a statement would imply.
Guede also said that when he ran out of the house, he left Kercher’s bedroom door open, which, of course, is not how it was found. The morning after the murder, Knox and Sollecito were alone in the house and say Kercher’s door was locked from the inside and had to be broken down. One of the few places where Guede’s DNA and fingerprints were not present in the murder room was on the outside of the door, which was absent of any usable forensic evidence except the fingerprints of Sollecito, who said he tried in vain to open the door. Curious indeed.
Guede and his interviewer said no money was exchanged for his exclusive interview, and, indeed, it will have no impact whatsoever on the case, which is now officially closed after Knox and Sollecito’s case was thrown out by Italy’s high court in 2015. Guede, who was convicted definitively as one of three assassins, chose not to pursue a retrial after his presumed co-conspirators were let go, as it could have resulted in a new conviction and a longer sentence.
But no matter, since Guede will be free soon, as well. He has been eligible for work release for almost two years but has chosen to work on his studies in prison instead. Considering he had no prior criminal convictions before his murder conviction and his apparent good behavior in prison, he will most certainly be eligible for parole by 2018.
The forgotten protagonist in the story, as Leonisi so poignantly pointed out in her interview with Guede, is Kercher, who would have turned 30 on Dec. 28 and whose version of the story, which would clearly be the definitive one, has sadly gone with her to her grave.