PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A case of mistaken identity, or changed identity?
A man named Arthur Knight is scheduled to appear in a Scottish courtroom this week following his arrest earlier this year.
But is Arthur Knight actually Nicholas Alahverdian, who is wanted on rape charges in the United States and allegedly died in 2020?
The authorities believe so, saying he faked his death to avoid prosecution, but Knight maintains they have the wrong guy.
Knight claims he was born Nicholas Brown in Ireland in November 1986. He has no proof of that, however, which he blames on Irish law and a lack of access to his birth certificate and other records from his early life.
“Just because I have similarities to a person in life and in youth, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am that person,” Knight said during a Zoom interview with 12 News.
Knight said he changed his name after marrying his wife Miranda in 2020, the same year a Rhode Island man named Nicholas Alahverdian reportedly died of cancer. Alahverdian was an outspoken critic of the R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and often found himself being quoted in the local media.
His name was back in the headlines last year when Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said Alahverdian wasn’t dead, but rather living under a new identity in Scotland. He was identified through DNA and fingerprints taken after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
Alahverdian, who’s also gone by Nicholas Rossi and a host of other aliases, was a DNA match to sexual assault cases in Utah and Ohio, according to Leavitt’s office.
Knight argued those DNA samples don’t actually exist.
“He doesn’t have a sample. He has no sample. None at all,” Knight said of Leavitt.
Tattoos have also been a sticking point in the case. Photographs of Alahverdian show he had body art on both of his arms, and nurses at a Scotland hospital reportedly used the tattoos to identify him. During an in-person interview with the BBC, Knight refused to roll up his sleeves, but he displayed bare arms while talking to 12 News.
The woman seated beside Knight during the interview was said to be Miranda, who told 12 News they first met in 2011 and struck up a romantic relationship a few years later, then were wed in 2020. She now keeps a watchful eye over her ailing spouse, who is confident he’ll be exonerated.
“There is no doubt in my mind when I am released and my innocence is proven, I will be in Rhode Island one day and celebrating with everyone there to meet you all,” Knight said. “Because I may not be Nicholas Rossi, but I am Arthur Knight and you’ll certainly have a grand time with my wife and I.”