A look at the trials that produced flip-flop Knox verdicts
ROME (AP) — Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, have been convicted, acquitted, and convicted in three different trials over the death of Knox’s flat-mate Meredith Kercher. On Wednesday, Italy’s high court took up the case for the second time.
Here’s a look at the legal saga that began when Kercher’s body was found on Nov. 2, 2007, in the Italian university town of Perugia. Her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.
THE FIRST TRIAL IN PERUGIA
—Dec. 4, 2009: The court found Knox guilty of murder, sexual assault and slander and sentenced her to 26 years in prison, including one year for slander. Sollecito was convicted of murder and sexual assault, and sentenced to 25 years.
Prosecutors contended that Kercher was killed by multiple stab wounds as an erotic game went awry.
The evidence leading included the presumed murder weapon: Kercher’s DNA was on the blade of the kitchen knife found at Sollecito’s house while Knox’s DNA was on the handle. Mixed traces of DNA belonging to Sollecito and Kercher were also found on a clasp of Kercher’s bra.
Initially Sollecito said he was working on his computer all night but police said there was no sign he used it. Knox initially told investigators she was home that night and had to cover her ears against Kercher’s screams.
The couple later said they had spent the evening at Sollecito’s place watching a movie, smoking marijuana and making love. Knox said her false confession was forced under duress during all-night questioning by Italian police without a lawyer present and in a language she barely spoke. The defense teams argued neither had a motive to kill Kercher.
Knox, meanwhile, falsely blamed a Congolese bar owner for the murder. Eventually another man, Rudy Guede from Ivory Coast, was arrested, tried and convicted of the murder in a separate trial.
APPEAL NO. 1 IN PERUGIA
—Oct. 3, 2011: The court threw out the convictions of Knox and Sollecito, declaring them innocent of murder and freeing them immediately after nearly four years in prison. Knox’s slander conviction was upheld and the sentence was increased from one year to three years. The court criticized the “building blocks” of their conviction and the failure to identify a motive.
Expert witnesses said the DNA on the knife blade attributed to Kercher was “unreliable” and that the testing was not up to international standards. Independent experts also suggested the bra clasp evidence could have easily been contaminated.
THE HIGH COURT REVERSAL
—March 26, 2013: Italy’s highest court vacated the acquittal, ordering a new appeals trial in a scathing decision that attacked the Perugia appellate court’s logic and ordered the examination of evidence that had been omitted previously.
APPEAL NO. 2 IN FLORENCE
—Jan. 30, 2014: The court reaffirmed the 2009 murder and sexual assault convictions against Knox and Sollecito. Knox’s sentence was increased to 28 1/2 years, including time for the slander conviction. Sollecito’s was confirmed at 25 years.
A tiny DNA trace on the kitchen knife that was not previously tested was linked to Knox. Her defense said it was further proof she had used the knife for domestic purposes at Sollecito’s place. The prosecution said it again put the murder weapon in her hands.
A new prosecutor dropped the erotic-game motive, claiming this time that the violence was rooted in a long disagreement over cleanliness between Knox and Kercher. The defense said the changing motive meant the prosecution’s case was weak.
GUEDE’S ROLE IN THE MURDER
Guede was convicted of murder in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence. He acknowledged being in the apartment at the time of the murder and his DNA was found in multiple places in Kercher’s bedroom. His conviction specified that he committed the crime with others, and he claimed that Knox and an unidentified man were present.