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Suspect in stabbing of US student can't recall events after taking drug, lawyer says

Updated at 4:15 a.m. ET on Nov. 5:  ROME -- The suspect in the stabbing of a 19-year-old American student in the Italian capital Rome says he has no recollection of the events, officials said Saturday.

Reid Schepis, 20, told a judge Saturday that he didn't even want to go clubbing Halloween night before the Thursday morning stabbing, his lawyer told NBC News.

The victim, New Jersey-born Fabio Malpeso, is "doing much better and is awake and has already spoken to his parents and sibling," Police Chief Lorenzo Suraci told NBC News. "Doctors are more confident on his recovery now."

Malpeso was in critical condition after the attack, officials said.

Suraci said police hope to speak to Malpeso, who underwent surgery for stab wounds to his lungs and other parts of his body, when he recovers further.

Attorney Vincenzo Comi, who represents Schepis, also said he was told Malpeso is improving.

"He is obviously still under observation but he is awake and talking," Comi told NBC News. "He even asked about the situation and what is happening."

Earlier: Italy police say student stabs sleeping American friend while on drugs

Comi said a judge on Saturday confirmed Schepis' arrest and will decide soon on a defense request that Schepis be held under house arrest.

Comi said that Schepis told the judge that he "did not remember anything of the episode."

"As he spoke of the events leading up to the tragedy he was crying desperately and sobbing throughout," Comi said. "He kept saying how sorry he was. Every time Fabio's name was mentioned he would break down. He just couldn't explain the events."

Comi said Schepis went "against his will" with Malpeso and two unnamed young men to the club Atlantic, where some in the group drank alcohol and took drugs.

Schepis told the judge that it was the first time he had ever taken drugs, Comi said.

Schepis firmly denied buying the drug, Comi said. An unnamed friend among the foursome gave it to him, Comi said.

Schepis remembers seeing his friend collapse, Comi said. He said he panicked and became very agitated as he tried to think of how to help and recalls running to the bathroom, fetching a glass of water and throwing on his friend, Comi said.

Schepis said he then started feeling ill and faint himself, Comi said. From that moment on he has no recollection of going back to the house or any of the horrific events that took place there, he said.

Schepis "woke up in the police station cell."

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"Reid is a good kid; he comes from a good family,” Comi told NBC News. "Fabio and Reid were the best of friends. They were both in their second year of university but knew each other from before. Even their parents knew each other. This is another dramatic aspect of the whole tragedy. They were all friends."

"Reid is just a 20-year old kid who found himself in the middle of something he could never even have imagined," he said. "There was not a single sign that could have forewarned anyone of this tragedy." 

Yara Nardi / F3 Press

Reid Schepis is taken into custody Thursday after allegedly stabbing fellow student Fabio Malpeso in Rome, Italy.

Authorities earlier said the motive for the early Thursday attack in an apartment that overlooks Rome's famous Colosseum was unclear. However, detectives suspect "drug- and alcohol-related delirium" might be a factor.

Schepis and Malpeso are both second-year students at John Cabot University, an American college in Rome, Comi said.

A third man, an Italian in his 30s named Andrea Rinaldi, suffered injuries to his arms and hands trying to defend Malpeso, and was also in the hospital, police said. Rinaldi is the boyfriend of Malpeso's sister, Federica.

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The couple had returned to the flat early Thursday and had not gone to the club with the foursome, as earlier reported.

The two unnamed youths with Schepis and Malpeso had returned to the flat, too, but left before Malpeso was stabbed about 7:45 a.m., according to court testimony.

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