Trial opens for homeless man accused in US student drowning

Defendant Massimo Galioto, accused of manslaughter in the drowning death of the United States' student Beau Solomon, sits in a court room during the first hearing of the trial, in Rome, Tuesday, May 8, 2018. The body of the 19year-old Beau Solomon of Spring Green, Wis. was pulled out of the Tiber River in July, 2016 a few miles downstream from Rome’s Garibaldi Bridge under which the homeless man was living in a temporary encampment with several other people. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME — A trial opened Tuesday for a homeless man accused of manslaughter in the 2016 drowning of a 19-year-old Wisconsin student whose body was found in the Tiber River soon after he arrived in Rome for a summer study program.

Defendant Massimo Galioto was in court for the hearing, which established witness lists and evidence to be submitted at trial.

Beau Solomon's body was pulled from the Tiber on July 4, 2016, a few days after he began a study program at John Cabot University, an English-language university in Rome.

The 42-year-old Galioto, who lived in an encampment under a bridge near where Solomon was last seen, was arrested two days later, accused of pushing Solomon in the river after a fight.

Galioto's lawyer, Michele Vincelli, said police had the wrong person and that Galioto's conscience is clear. He noted that Galioto, while asserting his innocence, has never tried to shift the blame away from him by accusing someone else of the crime.

"He has his own sense of morality, even though one could think otherwise because although he's someone who lives on the street, he has his principles," he said.

However, on the day Galioto was arrested, Italy's state-run RAI television interviewed his companion, Alessia, who said Solomon and Galioto had gotten into a scuffle along the riverbank, with each one pushing the other.

Police said at the time that Solomon, who had just completed his first year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, had been robbed by two people after going out drinking, then got into a fight with Galioto before ending up in the water.

The next hearing was scheduled for May 16.

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