The lawyer for Cheik Tidiane Diaw, a 27-year-old Senegalese immigrant detained in the death of an American woman in Florence, said Thursday that his client fought with Ashley Olsen but had no intention of killing her, the Associated Press reported.
The attorney, Antonio Voce, told the AP that Diaw fought with 35-year-old Olsen after they consumed drugs and had consensual sex.
According to Voce, Diaw physically assaulted Olsen when she tried to push him out of her apartment after they had sex on Jan. 8, a day before the Florida native's body was found in her apartment in Florence. She died after being strangled with a rope or cord, according to an autopsy.
Voce said Diaw punched Olsen in the neck and pushed her to the ground, where she hit her head. He said that Diaw helped her up and left her on the bed and did not strangle her.
Olsen, originally from Summer Haven, Florida, was found by her boyfriend, who had not heard from her in several days.
Authorities ruled out her boyfriend as a suspect and began to investigate Olsen's computer as well as a surveillance camera near her apartment. Diaw was taken into custody after appearing near her home on video and based on DNA evidence, Italian press service ANSA reported.
Questions remain about any potential relationship between Olsen and Diaw. Her apartment had shown no sign of forced entry, and there did not appear to be a struggle, Corriere della Sera reported. Diaw was known to police and allegedly involved in drugs, La Repubblica reported.
Crime scene investigators returned to the apartment on Wednesday, La Repubblica reported.
Olsen had moved to Florence after her father took a job teaching in the city. She had lived there for several years and was well known in art, fashion, and ex-pat circles.
In the English-language news magazine The Florentine, Olsen's friends wrote they were bereft to lose her and hoped for swift justice.
"People were changed by her," one friend wrote. "Whoever you were, you always had her entire attention. She was warm and open, with an easy laugh that she loved to share. People smiled around her, and she quickly entered the hearts of everyone she met. She was the kind of person you could bare your soul to, and she would listen and love you in return."