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Despite his dark past, he gets royal treatment

Nearly four years after he was charged with the death of a fellow student at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, 24-year-old Paolo Liuzzo's name is in the news again, this time for romancing an heir to the British throne.

Liuzzo's transformation -- from being charged with manslaughter and then ordered to spend 100 hours of community service at a head trauma unit and study a website containing information on the life of his victim, Jonathan Duchatellier, to skiing in the Swiss resort of Verbier with Princess Beatrice and her parents, Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson -- has sparked a frenzy in the British press and left Duchatellier's relatives stunned.

British newspapers reported that Liuzzo flew back to England from Switzerland Wednesday with the royals and was whisked through the VIP section of the arrivals hall at London's Heathrow Airport.

''What happened was a terrible accident, and not a day goes by without me being haunted by it," Liuzzo, 24, told The Sun newspaper. ''I've been given a second chance with Beatrice, and I'm not going to blow it."

Beatrice, seven years younger than her new beau, is fifth in line to the British throne. British papers said that they had kept their romance under wraps, but that Liuzzo had told her of his criminal past.

Reached last night, Duchatellier's sister, Kezia -- who told a Worcester Superior Court in 2004 during Liuzzo's sentencing that her brother was a ''kind and thoughtful" man whose life was ended by a ''sucker punch" -- said ''nothing will bring Jonathan back" and declined further comment.

Liuzzo was originally charged with manslaughter after he got into a drunken, off-campus brawl with Duchatellier, 19, in May 2002. Liuzzo pleaded guilty after the charges were reduced to assault and battery at Worcester District Court in October 2004. He was sentenced to three years probation and 100 hours of community service.

Duchatellier, then a freshman from Atlantic Highlands, N.J., was killed after he, Liuzzo, and several other male students got into a fistfight less than 2 miles from the Holy Cross campus in Worcester.

Liuzzo's lawyer and family friend, Joseph S. Oteri, a Boston-based lawyer who represented Liuzzo in the Worcester case, said news reports have exaggerated Liuzzo's role in Duchatellier's death and his station in life.

The Evening Standard calls Liuzzo an ''American socialite."

''It was a tragic accident that happens when college kids drink," Oteri said yesterday in a telephone interview. ''It was a totally horrible thing, but it was not murder, not assault. It was a misdemeanor."

Liuzzo is an ''Italian kid from a hard-working New York family," Oteri said. Liuzzo's father started a successful manufacturing company after moving to Long Island from Italy. Liuzzo's brothers now run the family business, reportedly a successful plastics recycling company, and his sister is a lawyer, Oteri said.

Oteri said that he ''has no idea" if Liuzzo is dating Beatrice, but that he wouldn't be surprised if it were true. ''Whatever Paolo does with his life, he is going to be successful at it," Oteri said. ''He is such a charming kid."

A man who described himself as Duchatellier's father declined to comment last night.

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