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Gucci Murder Case To Go to Jury

November 2, 1998 GMT

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Maurizio Gucci’s ex-wife and four other defendants on trial for the fashion scion’s slaying may make a final appeal to a Milan court before the case goes to the jury Tuesday, the court president said.

For Patrizia Reggiani Martinelli and her codefendants, the prosecution has requested life prison terms, the stiffest penalty in Italy, which does not have capital punishment. All five are charged with premeditated murder.

Judge Renato Samek Ludovici said Monday the five would have an opportunity to make final statements before the panel of two judges and five citizens begins deliberations Tuesday.

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The testimony of betrayal, greed and social climbing that emerged during the five-month trial revealed a dark side to Milan, the center of Italy’s fashion industry.

The prosecution contends Reggiani Martinelli, 50, contracted to have Gucci killed to gain control over his multimillion-dollar estate.

Not content with the $860,000 a year she received in alimony, she wanted all of Gucci’s fortune and feared he would marry his companion, Paola Franchi, prosecution witnesses said.

While defense lawyers admitted Reggiani Martinelli threatened Gucci and repeatedly sought someone to kill him, they maintained she never went through with the plan.

They accuse codefendant Giuseppina Auriemma, Reggiani Martinelli’s longtime confidante, of ``exploiting″ her friendship with Reggiani Martinelli to blackmail her friend.

``In Pina’s eyes, Patrizia Reggiani Martinelli was a golden cow, to be milked for money,″ defense lawyer Gianni Dedola said in his closing arguments last week.

Gucci, 46, was shot to death March 27, 1995, outside his Milan office.

He was the grandson of Guccio Gucci, who founded the fashion company known for its leather goods and double ``G″ logo. He was the last Gucci to have an interest in the company, selling out for $120 million in 1993, three years after the couple divorced.

Also on trial are Ivano Savioni, a hotel porter; pizzeria owner Orazio Cicala, and Benedetto Ceraulo, an auto mechanic who is accused of being the gunman.

All the defendants except Reggiani Martinelli and the alleged gunman have confessed to their roles in the slaying.