Amanda Knox on Trial for Third Time for Kercher Murder
A retrial is underway for Amanda Knox, the American student who was convicted and later acquitted of murdering her roommate while studying abroad in Italy.
This is the fourth trial surrounding the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, whose body was found with multiple stab wounds in the apartment she shared with Knox. Italian prosecutors have long alleged that Kercher’s death was the result of a sex game gone wrong, and that Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, participated in the murder.
On the first day of the new trial, attorneys for Knox and Sollecito presented numerous requests for the examination and reexamination of physical evidence, including a semen-stained pillow found at the murder scene and Kercher’s mobile phone logs. Judge Alessandro Nencini rejected most of those requests, but allowed the examination of a DNA sample that was previously believed to be too small to be analyzed.
The DNA sample is one of two that was found on a knife that prosecutors believe is the murder weapon. Police recovered the knife from a drawer in the apartment Knox and Kercher shared.
The other DNA sample on the knife was tested by a police lab before the first trial and linked to Kercher, leading to the convictions of Knox and Sollecito. But years later, an appeals court would declare those DNA tests to be faulty, which was a major factor in Knox and Sollecito’s convictions being overturned.
DNA Evidence Critical to Defense
Giulia Bongiorno, a defense attorney for Sollecito, told the court Tuesday that the lack of substantial DNA evidence from Sollecito and Knox at the murder scene is proof that they weren’t involved.
Bongiorno noted that none of Knox’s DNA was found at the scene and only a trace amount of Sollecito’s was discovered, whereas there was substantial DNA evidence linked to Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede.
Guede was convicted of Kercher’s murder in a separate trial in 2008 and sentenced to 30 years. Prosecutors presented evidence that Guede left a handprint stained with Kercher’s blood on a pillow, and that his semen was found inside Kercher’s body. On appeal, Guede’s sentence was reduced to 16 years, and he remains incarcerated. Prosecutors in Knox and Sollecito’s trials alleged that the couple willingly engaged in violent group sex acts with Guede and preyed upon Kercher.
According to the Daily Express, Bongiorno asked the court, “How is it possible to find traces of Guede in enormous quantities but not a single trace of Amanda?”
Knox Extradition Unlikely if Convicted
Neither Knox nor Sollecito were present for the start of their retrial, and no law required them to be. Knox, who is living in Seattle, is following the trial from abroad but will not attend. Sollecito said he will attend the trial closer to the verdict announcement.
The retrial of Knox and Sollecito would not be allowed in the United States because the concept of double jeopardy would protect them from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. But there is no such protection in Italy, and combined with the lack of a statute of limitations for murder, Knox attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova said his client was at risk of “infinite trial.”
If Knox is convicted and the ruling is confirmed by Italy’s highest court, the Italian government can file a formal request to have her extradited back to Italy. But that seems unlikely, as New York attorney Sean Casey told Bloomberg that the extradition treaty between Italy and the United States “specifically prohibits extradition of someone that was once acquitted for a crime.”
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