Childhood and university
Raffaele Sollecito was born on March 26, 1984 at Giovinazzo, a town on the southern Adriatic coast in the Bari province of Italy. His father, Francesco Sollecito, is a wealthy and highly respected urologist. Raffaele Sollecito has one other sibling: a sister Vanessa.
He attended the Molfetta Middle School and the Albert Einstein High School of Science, also in Molfetta. His parents split up in the 1990s: Raffaele and Vanessa remained with their mother, while their father met and moved in with Mara Papagni, who was to become his second wife.
Raffaele Sollecito went to Perugia in 2002 and obtained his graduation diploma that same year. He enrolled in the faculty of informatics and chose Perugia because ONAOSI college (Opera Nazionale Assistenza Orfani Sanitari Italiani—the name of the foundation that set up the college) is located there. He boarded at the college from 2003 to 2005. He was “taciturn, introverted, shy,...and watched many films”. Educators at the college were shocked to find a very hard-core film containing scenes of sex with animals. In response to that they monitored him in an effort to understand him. Two years after Sollecito's move to Perugia, his mother died suddenly. The doctor attributed the death to a heart attack, and no autopsy was carried out, but the college's administrators were told that she had apparently committed suicide.
In 2003 the Carabinieri found Sollecito in possession of 2.67 grams of hashish.
From 2005 to 2006, Sollecito, as part of his Computer Science course, was an exchange student at the Technische Universität München (TUM), Germany. When he returned to Perugia, rather than returning to college accommodation, he moved into an apartment in Corso Garibaldi, paid for by his father.
According to his father, he had, from his teens, a habit of carrying a pen knife in his pocket to record things on the bark of trees and to carve wooden objects. He owned several knives and even carried a knife to the police station when called in for questioning.
He had a brief affair, lasting only a few days, with a girl from Brindisi a few months before October 2007.
Events surrounding the murder
Knox and Sollecito met on October 25, 2007, at a classical music concert to which Knox had gone with Meredith. Meredith had to go home, so after she left during the intermission, Sollecito sat down near Knox. Knox and Sollecito quickly established “a good understanding,” he treating and cuddling her “like a little girl.” They met frequently and were constantly together. Sollecito’s father called him daily, often several times a day, and every time he called, his son talked about Amanda. Knox told her parents in a November 13, 2007, conversation that they were going out together as if they were a couple and that he was kind and caring, that he cooked for her and always wanted to hug her and help her.
Both were using drugs, which was corroborated by the statements of the flatmates, and by Knox in tapped intercepted conversations.
Romanelli recalled seeing them together at the flat the day after the concert, and saw him there two or three more times. Laura Mezzetti recalled seeing him there at other times, “about four times” in all. Very often Knox slept at Sollecito's house. Mezzetti said Knox and Sollecito were constantly hugging each other, and that Sollecito was particularly tender, but seemed to her to be a bit possessive. She thought he was “very attached to Amanda.”
We don't know exactly what happened on the night of the murder, but several pieces of physical evidence suggest Sollecito's presence at the crime scene:
- The bra clasp, cut or torn off from the bra the victim was wearing and originally hidden under the victim, had Raffaele's DNA on the hooks. No plausible argument for contamination has been successfully made.
- A bare footprint made in the victim's blood was discovered on the mat in the bathroom. The print is highly compatible with the size and shape of Sollecito's right foot, but not with Guede's.
- In Sollecito’s house, a knife was found containing traces of Knox's DNA, on the handle, and traces of biological material attributable to Meredith on the blade.
- Footprints compatible with Knox and Sollecito's feet, and made in the victim's blood, were discovered when the forensic investigators tested the crime scene with luminol.
- Given Sollecito's closeness to Knox, his presence is also suggested by the evidence that she was at the crime scene (for example, Knox's DNA was found mixed with the victim's blood in the room where the burglary was staged, and in the bathroom they shared.).
In addition, Sollecito gave several different accounts of the events of that day and a witness (Antonio Curatolo) placed him in the vicinity of the cottage on the evening of the murder.
We know that Knox and Sollecito were at the cottage in the early part of November 1, as witnessed by Filomena, before she left the house. At some point, they went to Sollecito's house on Corso Garibaldi, probably in the late afternoon. At 8:42 pm Sollecito received a phone call from his father and mentioned that he was with Knox and that they had eaten and washed up.
Their activities from that time onwards became a major subject of their subsequent trial. For instance, in every version of their alibi Amanda and Raffaele claimed they slept in until about 10:30 am. This though is contradicted by physical evidence. At 5:32:09 am someone attempted to play an MP3 file using the VLC program on Raffaele's computer.
On November 6, 2007, a few days after the murder, Sollecito changed his story, now claiming that, on the night of the murder, Knox left his apartment alone and did not return until 1 am. He said that "in my previous statement I told a load of rubbish because Amanda had convinced me of her version of the facts". Knox was questioned by police and made statements in which she said she was present at the cottage at the time of the murder and that it had been committed by Patrick Lumumba. The police proceeded to arrest Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba. Lumumba was released two weeks later, having established an alibi which completely exonerated him. Knox and Sollecito were remanded in custody.
By October 28, 2008, the preliminary investigation into the crime was complete and a Preliminary Hearing was held before Judge Paolo Micheli. The court committed Knox and Sollecito for a full trial and, again they were remanded in custody.
In January 2009, the trial of Knox and Sollecito began, presided over by Judge Giancarlo Massei, and lasting until December 4, 2009, when Knox and Sollecito were found guilty of murder and sexual assault. They were provisionally sentenced (subject to appeal) to 24 years in prison for these offences, plus an additional year for the simulated burglary and, in Knox's case, an additional year for the criminal defamation ("calunnia") of Patrick Lumumba. Sollecito did not testify at his trial.
On November 24, 2010, Knox and Sollecito's appeal began. The presiding judge was Claudio Pratillo Hellmann. The case lasted until October 3, 2011, when the appeal court found Knox and Sollecito not guilty of murder and sexual assault. The sentences were again provisional, subject to appeal to the Supreme Court. Knox and Sollecito were provisionally set free.
On March 25, 2013, The Supreme Court considered the Knox and Sollecito case, with new appeals raised by both defense and prosecution. The next day, they announced their verdict of annulling the appeal court's decisions, with the exception of Knox's calunnia charge, which was now made final. A new appeal was scheduled.
On September 30, 2013, Knox and Sollecito's new appeal began, in Florence, presided over by Judge Alessandro Nencini. Sollecito (unlike Knox) attended some of the court sessions but did not formally testify. He made a "spontaneous statement" (not subject to cross-examination), stating his absolute innocence of all charges. Court sessions continued until January 30, 2014, when the judges retired to consider their verdict. Their deliberations took almost 12 hours, but the court's decision was to uphold the conviction of Knox and Sollecito. Knox was sentenced to 28 years and six months, including the calunnia charge, and Sollecito to 25 years. Sollecito was ordered not to leave the country. The judges' Motivation Report, explaining the reasons for their verdict, was filed on April 29, 2014. An English translation of the Nencini Sentencing Report was subsequently made available by a group of volunteer translators.
Events since his release from prison
In March 2012, it was announced that Sollecito had signed a book deal with the publishers Simon and Schuster, a subsidiary of CBS Corporation. Sollecito's co-author was the British writer, Andrew Gumbel. The book, Honor Bound—My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox, was released later in 2012 and immediately caused controversy because of some passages alleging secret backroom deals which supposedly had been offered (illegally) by the prosecution. These allegations were contradicted by Sollecito's father on Italian television.
In December 2012, Sollecito obtained a residence permit in the municipality of Aldesago, near Lugano, Switzerland. He also founded a business, there, for the production of screenplays. However, the Swiss authorities discovered that Sollecito, still undergoing the judicial process for a murder charge, had submitted incomplete documentation regarding his legal matters. He was therefore required to leave Switzerland and return to Italy.
Immediately after the verdict of the Nencini appeal court, Sollecito was stopped by police, close to the Italian border with Austria and Slovenia, prompting media speculation that he was trying to leave the country. The police confiscated his passport.
Sollecito held a press conference in July 2014, at which he appeared to withdraw his support for Knox's alibi. He stated that, Contrary to Knox's account, the evidence showed that Knox was not with him at his home, all evening, on the night when Meredith Kercher was killed.
In October 2014, it was announced that Raffaele Sollecito and the U.S. based British writer Andrew Gumbel, who was the ghostwriter for his book Honor Bound, have been ordered to stand trial over allegedly false claims about the conduct of Perugian judicial officals, particularly Giuliano Mignini, who led the prosecution at Sollecito and Knox's trial. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for January 22, 2015 in Florence. It was accepted for trial and a final decision is expected in the fall of 2017.
- Oreste Volturno's Testimony (English)
- Massei, p61
- Follain p.46
- Massei, p62
- Massei, p61
- See article on Sollecito's Knives
- Massei, p61
- Massei, p62
- Massei, p62
- Massei, p62
- Massei, p63
- Massei, p62
- See The Bathmat Footprint
- Massei, p63
- Massei report translation, p.306
- See Raffaele Sollecito's Nov 5th 2007 Statement to the Police
- ''The Independent'', 31 January 2014, Amanda Knox exboyfriend Raffaele Sollecito found by police near Italian border has passport confiscated
- ''The Independent'', 1 July 2014, Amanda Knox alibi threatened as Raffaele Sollecito abandons her in new defence strategy
- Andrea Vogt, "Amanda Knox trials/ Meredith Kercher case", October 8, 2014