Amanda Knox: 'Reinstate guilty verdicts', court told
Italian prosecutor urges appeals court to send pair back to prison and may ask for extended sentences
AN ITALIAN appeals court has been told it should reinstate the guilty verdict against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito over the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, The Guardian reports.
Presenting his closing arguments, prosecutor Alessandro Crini urged the Florence court to assess the evidence as a whole rather than separating it out as the previous court had "mistakenly" done. He asked the court to consider witness testimony that had been dismissed by the Perugia appeals court and said new DNA testing of the kitchen knife that was allegedly used to kill Kercher, should be seen as "linking Knox conclusively to the murder".
The defence has argued the opposite, saying that the new DNA testing bolsters Knox's case.
Crini, who wants Knox and Sollecito's original convictions to be upheld, told the court yesterday that the decision to acquit the pair had been "essentially razed to the ground" by a supreme court ruling in March. Italy's supreme court overturned Knox and Sollecito's acquittals, focusing on what it said were "shortcomings, contradictions and inconsistencies" in the case.
Knox has not travelled to Florence for the fresh appeal, but Sollecito has made a statement to the court. Both deny any involvement in the killing.
Today, the prosecutor could ask the appeals court not only to confirm the guilty verdicts but to extend the original sentences – 26 years for Knox and 25 for Sollecito – to life, the Guardian says.
Amanda Knox: New DNA sample on knife 'bolsters' her defence 07/11/13
A NEW DNA trace on the knife allegedly used to kill British student Meredith Kercher, belongs to her alleged killer Amanda Knox, an Italian court has heard.
The fact that the DNA does not belong to Kercher, "bolsters" Knox's defence, says The Independent. The American's lawyers have always claimed that the knife - which was found in the kitchen of Knox's former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito - was not the weapon used to kill 21-year-old Kercher in 2007.
Another piece of DNA on the knife was attributed to Kercher during the trial that lead to Knox and Sollecito's conviction in 2009. But it was "disputed" during the appeal that lead to their conviction being overturned in 2011, the Independent says.
Speaking at the court in Florence where Knox and Sollecito are being re-tried for Kercher's murder, forensic expert Andrea Berti said the "minute" new DNA trace discovered on the handle of the knife "showed considerable affinity" with Knox's DNA. It did not match Kercher's DNA, he said. Neither did it match samples taken from Sollecito or Rudy Guede, the man who is serving 16 years in jail after being convicted of Kercher's killing in a separate, fast-track trial.
Speaking outside the court, Knox's defence lawyer Luca Maori said expert's testimony backed his argument that his client had only used the knife to prepare food. He also noted that the new DNA trace was from the handle where another DNA trace linked to Knox had been found.
"It means that Amanda took the knife exclusively for cooking matters, to keep in the kitchen and to use it," Maori said. He added that the discovery of the DNA traces indicated the knife had not been washed, which he said was significant. "It is something very important," he said. "It is absurd to use it for a murder and put it back in the drawer."
The knife has been a crucial piece of evidence in the long-running case. Prosecutors have argued it was the murder weapon because it "matched Kercher's wounds" and evidence presented in the first trial that convicted Knox and Sollecito, suggested Kercher's DNA was on the blade and Knox's was on the handle.
However, a court-ordered review during the first appeal discredited the DNA evidence, Time says. The review found there were "glaring errors in evidence-collecting and that below-standard testing and possible contamination raised doubts over the DNA traces linked to Kercher on the blade, as well as Sollecito's DNA on Kercher's bra clasp".
Raffaele Sollecito: 'Amanda Knox was my first love' 06/11/13
RAFFAELE SOLLECITO, the Italian man convicted, acquitted now re-tried over the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, has given an "impassioned" speech to a court in Florence.
The 29-year-old "choked up" towards the end of his 15-minute statement, insisting he was not the "perfect, hardened assassin" depicted by prosecutors, the Daily Telegraph reports. He added that his life has been a "nightmare" since Kercher's body was found six years ago in the cottage in Perugia he shared with his then girlfriend, Amanda Knox.
"I have been described as a ruthless killer but I am nothing of the sort," he said.
Sollecito and Knox were convicted of Kercher's murder in 2009, but the decision was overturned on appeal in 2011. In March, Italian Supreme Court judges ruled that the pair should face a new trial.
Knox has not travelled to Italy for the proceedings which began on 30 September. But Sollecito made an emotional 15-minute statement to the court in Florence today, pleading for his life back and criticising the case against him.
"I would like to make you understand that these charges against me are absurd," he said. "There was not a basis to charge me, to put me in jail. I don't wish anybody on earth to go through what I went through. This was something that was so bad."
CNN says Sollecito is not a witness in the current hearing, but as a defendant he has the right, under Italian law, to make a "spontaneous declaration".
In his statement, Sollecito said he had been very "reserved" when he first met Knox at a classical music concert in Perugia ten days before the murder. The American was his first true love, he told the court.
Sollecito insisted that he didn't know Rudy Guede, the Perugia man who is serving 16 years in jail after being convicted of Kercher's killing in a separate, fast-track trial. He added that he "barely knew" Kercher.
"I was thrown into a maximum security prison. I wouldn't wish on anyone in the world the experience that I had to go through," he said. "It was a nightmare that went beyond any imagination."
The case continues.
Amanda Knox film: Beckinsale joins the cast 16/10/13
ACTRESS Kate Beckinsale is the latest star to join the cast of a new film inspired by the Amanda Knox case.
The Face of an Angel – directed by Michael Winterbottom, the man behind 24 Hour Party People – has been in the pipelines for the last three years. Winterbottom revealed in July that he had bought the rights to the book Angel Face: Sex, Murder and the Inside Story of Amanda Knox, by Rome-based American journalist Barbie Latza Nadeau.
However, he said he would avoid using the name of its famous subject, who was convicted and jailed in 2009 for the killing of her British housemate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy.
Along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, Knox spent two years in jail before they were released when cleared on appeal in 2011.
A new trial is currently underway in Florence after Italy's Supreme Court overturned both acquittals, but Knox has remained in America and continues to protest her innocence.
Winterbottom has steered clear of talking too much about the murder case. "We bought the rights to the book that tells the story of the trial, but our film is not really about that," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "Our film is actually about losing a daughter, losing someone close to you; why are we so interested in violence and why are we not more interested in love?"
According to Deadline, model Cara Delevingne looks likely to play the young woman accused of murder, while Beckinsale will star as a journalist investigating the case.
The cast also features The Fifth Estate's Daniel Bruhl as a documentary film-maker who shares Beckinsale's fascination with the trial.
It comes two years after the controversial made-for-television film Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy, starring Hayden Panettiere as Knox. Kercher's family were horrified by scenes depicting their daughter's murder, while lawyers for Knox and Sollecito, who were still in prison at the time, demanded that the Lifetime channel abandon its production. Panettiere apologised to the Kercher family earlier this year, insisting she meant "no disrespect".
Amanda Knox retrial begins – without the stars of the show 30/09/13
FLORENCE – The appeal trial of US student Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito got under way in Italy Monday, but without the stars of the show.
Knox and Sollecito were originally convicted in 2009 of the murder of Briton Meredith Kercher, found stabbed to death in the flat she shared with Knox in November 2007. They were acquitted on appeal, but that ruling was annulled by Italy's high court in March, which cited faulty reasoning by the Perugia appeals judges. It sent the case back to court for a second appeal trial – this time in Florence.
Knox returned home to the US after her release and has said she has no intention of returning to Italy for the case. Sollecito was recently snapped by photographers on the beach the Dominican Republic, but his father and lawyers were present at the courthouse on Monday. The parents of the victim, Meredith Kercher, also stayed away from court, due to health issues, but they said they planned to attend future hearings.
One protagonist did appear: Patrick Lumumba, the innocent Congolese pub owner Knox originally blamed for the murder. Knox was convicted of calumny by Italy's high court this year for her false accusation of Lumumba. On Monday he said he was there because he still hasn't received a penny in compensation and wanted to be a civil party in the trial, in hope of someday being compensated.
"Amanda should be here, but she is scared because she knows she has a responsibility," he told reporters before the hearing.
Defence lawyers for Knox and Sollecito asked to submit new evidence and reopen debate on 15 different points, including additional forensic testing, while prosecutors requested new DNA tests to be carried out on the kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon.
The judge rejected nearly every defence motion, but agreed to conduct new tests on the knife to see if trace DNA can be analysed. The judge also agreed to prosecutors request to hear testimony from mafia turncoat Luciano Aviello who was incarcerated with Sollecito.
Speaking before the retrial, Knox's attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova called the new trial an anomaly that potentially violated her client's constitutional rights because it risked going on "indefinitely".
"Can a person be on trial their whole life?" he asked. "We have to ask if Amanda Knox is being treated equally under the law."
Prosecutor Alessandro Crini had said it was the defence that was dragging the case out by asking for so many aspects of the trial to be discussed again. Crini had argued that the new trial should be more limited in scope, concentrating on the murder weapon and using more sensitive forensic equipment for analysing trace DNA.
The Kercher family submitted an emotional letter to the court explaining their absence and asking that all necessary forensic testing be carried out to clarify unanswered questions.
"It has been the six most difficult years of our lives and we want to be able to seek closure and remember Meredith for the truly wonderful girl that she was rather than the horror that is associated with her," the Kerchers wrote. "Nothing will ever bring our beautiful Meredith back and we will always hold her in our hearts and memories, but we need to know what happened and she at least deserves the dignity of truth."
Amanda Knox retrial: the case file 30/09/2013
THE retrial of Amanda Knox over the murder of British student Meredith Kercher is due to begin today in Florence. Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty in 2009, two years after Kercher's death, but acquitted on appeal in 2011. Italy's Supreme Court has overturned both acquittals and ordered the whole process to begin again – but Knox will not be in Italy for the retrial.
Amanda Knox: murder scene reconstructed for TV probe 26/09/2013
A CHANNEL 5 documentary has reconstructed the Italian apartment where Meredith Kercher was murdered in a bid to answer five key questions about the case against Amanda Knox.
The programme, which is broadcast tonight at 10pm, comes days before Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are to be retried over Kercher's death in 2007.
The pair were found guilty in 2008 but the verdicts were quashed in 2011 and Knox returned to Seattle. She will not be attending the retrial, which begins on Monday. If she is found guilty again, Italy could apply for her extradition.
However, the documentary Amanda Knox Trial - 5 Key Questions finds that the evidence originally used to convict Knox and Sollecito is far from conclusive.
The documentary follows the opposing lawyers as they undergo a "CSI-style investigation", reports the Daily Mail. Using a purpose-built reconstruction of the Perugia home where Kercher had her throat slashed, the documentary consults crime-scene specialists to address five key questions:
Could Rudy Guede have committed the murder on his own? Guede was sentenced in 2008 to 30 years in prison, later reduced to 16 years, for Kercher's murder. In the programme, a martial arts expert found that it would be possible, although difficult, for him to have carried out the murder on his own.
How was the apartment window broken? Knox's defence claim a broken window was Guede's way in, but the prosecution says it was broken from the inside as the killers tried to cover-up their tracks. A forensic glass specialist claims it is "more likely" that it came from the outside.
What evidence places Sollecito and Knox at the crime scene? Traces of Sollecito's DNA were found on Kercher's bra clasp but his defence say the clasp had been moved by police and contaminated. A forensics expert shows how DNA could be transferred easily.
Did Knox or Sollecito leave a bloody footprint on the bath-mat? An unidentified bloody footprint was found on a bath-mat in Kercher's home. Its size seems too big to be Knox's and a forensic podiatrist demonstrates how Sollecito's "uniquely arched toe" would provide distinct imprints. She recommends that further footprint tests should be taken at the retrial.
Who was heard leaving the apartment at the time of the murder? A neighbour and key witness claims to have heard two people running away from the scene, but a sound engineer questions whether she really could have heard the noise from inside her flat.
Amanda Knox: I would take lie detector test to clear my name 23/09/13
AMANDA KNOX has said she would be willing to take a lie detector test to prove her innocence over the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in 2007.
Knox was interviewed live from Seattle on ITV's Daybreak this morning, where she again ruled out going back to Italy to face retrial. The 26-year-old insists she cannot afford to return to Italy and fears being falsely imprisoned for a second time.
Speaking via videolink, she said her innocence "means everything" and added: "A lie detector test, I would be fine with that."
Knox has secured a $3.8m deal for her book Waiting to Be Heard: A memoir but says she has spent all her earnings on legal fees and reimbursing her parents.
"I can't financially afford to be going back and forth to Italy," she said. "I am in school, I am trying to rebuild my life. Then there is the very real fact that I was imprisoned wrongfully and I cannot reconcile that experience with the choice of going back. It doesn't make sense."
She said she has "plenty to fear" from the retrial, adding: "I was already imprisoned wrongfully, I was already convicted wrongfully and this is everything to fear. This, as an innocent person, is the ultimate nightmare. This does not make sense."
Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of killing Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, in November 2007. But they were later cleared in 2011.
Knox said today: "There is proof of my innocence in there being no trace of me in the room where my friend was murdered. There was no reason for me to have done this, there is nothing that is a part of me that would ever do something like this."
ITV has refused to say whether or not it paid Knox to appear on the programme, but admits it does often pay guests.
Dismal sales of Perugia memoir leave Amanda Knox in a fix
DISMAL sales of her much-vaunted memoir and mounting legal problems have left Amanda Knox - once jailed for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher and later freed on appeal - facing an uncertain future.
Not only have American sales of Waiting to be Heard fallen far short of expectation – only 36,000 copes have sold from an announced initial print run of 750,000 – but any hopes for a global bestseller have evaporated.
"I don't know what I am going to do. The future is very unsure for me financially," Knox told the Toronto Post.
Last year, the Associated Press reported that Knox's book deal was worth $4 million for world rights, with Knox being represented by high-profile Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose other clients include President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.
But several European publishers have run scared of being sued by those who claim Amanda libeled them in Waiting to be Heard. The book has not been published in either Britain or Italy. NovelRank, a site that tracks Amazon sales globally, reports Knox's memoir sales as "inactive" in Germany.
Even in the US, Publisher's Weekly said the memoir "underwhelmed" and was "slow out of the gate". As of last Friday, it had lost 30 per cent of its sales from its debut week, falling back to No. 5 on the non-fiction hardcover bestseller list despite Knox conducting dozens of interviews in the hope of boosting sales.
Knox received a $1.5 million advance for the book, but as lawyers' bills continue to mount, the cash is apparently not stretching far.
In March, the Italian high court overturned her sensational acquittal and called for her to be retried on appeal in Florence. Knox's lawyers say they are now waiting for the high court's reasoning, due next month, before deciding whether Knox should attend when the retrial is finally scheduled.
Meanwhile there are at least six outstanding cases or complaints in the Italian courts and at least two more being drafted by incensed Perugia officials who read online – or via Italian media accounts - what Knox had written in her book. Some of those complaints are defamation - alleging her remarks have damaged reputations - but there are also calumny cases, in which Knox is charged with having accused someone else of a crime.
In Bergamo, anti-mafia magistrate Giuliano Mignini, who prosecuted the murder case against Knox and her one-time Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, filed a defamation complaint against the Italian gossip magazine Oggi after it pringted excerpts from Waiting to be Heard. Mignini took issue with accusations that he intimidated, yelled and failed to protect Knox rights during his questioning.
Meanwhile, Knox's parents are still fighting a (pre-memoir) defamation charge for alleging that the Perugia police hit Knox during questioning. Knox herself also faces a more serious calumny charge in Florence for alleging in court that police coerced her to accuse Patrick Lumumba, a Perugia bar owner, who she was definitively convicted of slandering in March.
Knox told interviewers: "I am not going to change my story just because someone is threatening to sue me but I mean... it sucks. It sucks and it sucks."
Meredith Kercher's family have reserved comment during Knox's media blitz, even when she's made direct reference to them, for instance saying she wanted to visit Meredith's grave for closure and that she had felt "crushed' by the fact that the Kerchers were not yet convinced of Knox's innocence. Meredith's father, John Kercher, who published his own tribute book, Meredith, last year, reportedly declined to make any television appearances.
Signs that suggest Amanda Knox is a psychopath 09/12/2009
Through 11 months of court appearances in Perugia, Amanda Knox's behaviour ranged from composed to flamboyant. Only after Judge Giancarlo Massei read out the jury's decision late on Friday night, and sentenced her to 26 years in jail for murdering her housemate Meredith Kercher, did she show signs of distress, shouting out, "No, no, no!" as she was led to the prison van by her guards.
There is considerable dispute about the strength of the evidence presented against Knox and about the prosecution's insistence on highlighting Knox's sexual history. An entry from the American girl's diary listed seven sexual partners, three of whom she met after she had moved to Italy, excluding her co-defendant, Rafaelle Sollecito. She had had sex with one of the men on the train as she was travelling to Perugia.
After inviting Knox, a Jesuit-educated student, to live with her and two other English students in their cottage, Meredith Kercher soon began having reservations about Knox, particularly about her bringing "strange men" to the house.
Knox’s behaviour does not indicate that she was sexually dysfunctional
The prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, claimed that it was Knox's sexual activities that provoked Kercher's criticism and inflamed Knox to the point of murder. According to the prosecutor's reconstruction, Knox returned home on the evening of November 1, 2007 accompanied by Sollecito and Rudy Guede - the Ivorian who has already been convicted of murder in a separate trial - and encountered Kercher.
Guede has admitted his attraction to Knox. The prosecution suggested that the two men were vying for her attention and, incited by Knox, began to attack Kercher sexually. The violence soon spiralled out of hand, ending in Kercher being fatally stabbed in the neck by Knox.
So, the prosecution's story implies that the murder was a result of a sexually perverse scenario that went tragically wrong. However, the facts of the case and Knox's behaviour following her arrest and during her trial do not indicate that she was suffering from a sexual perversion or was sexually dysfunctional.
Professor David Canter, director of the centre for investigative psychology at Liverpool University, has argued: "Most bizarre murders, particularly those with a lot of sexual activity and if there are drugs involved, come out of a lifestyle that's pretty dysfunctional in which there's some build-up. So it's unusual for apparently capable and functioning youngsters to get caught up in all this."
Knox comes from a stable family, she has lots of friends and is highly intelligent. During her remand in prison, she continued her language studies in Italian, German, Russian and Chinese, read books on philosophy and religion, took guitar lessons, and taught her fellow inmates yoga and English.
But do her unexpected responses in various situations belie what may be a more profound psychological disturbance?
Much has been made of the fact that Knox was caught giggling and seen performing a cartwheel during her first visit to the police station following the discovery of her housemate's brutal murder.
When she was arrested, her manner was described as cold and detached. During the police investigation, a friend expressed the hope that Kercher had not suffered. Knox exclaimed: "What do you think? They cut her throat... She fucking bled to death!"
During the next few days, Knox was seen to repeatedly press her hands to her temples, a gesture interpreted as trying to get rid of what was in her mind.
A short story, entitled, Baby Brother, written by Knox when she was at the University of Washington in Seattle, also prompted suspicion. In the story, Knox writes about a young woman, drugged and raped by another young woman, and describes the victim's pain in lurid detail.
However, it was Knox's behaviour in court that was most bizarre. At no point - until the verdict - did we see Knox protesting her innocence or fraught with anxiety. Instead she seemed disconcertedly dissociated from the gravity of what was going on. During the initial period of the trial, she appeared relaxed and cheerful, light-heartedly talking to her lawyers and guards while gesticulating, Italian-style, with her hands.
After her behaviour was unfavourably commented on in the press, she became more serious, nevertheless very conscious of the media attention she was receiving. She seemed to play up to it. This was most apparent when Knox appeared in court on St Valentine's day wearing a large T-shirt printed with the Beatles' lyric, 'All you need is love'.
Knox's narcissistic pleasure at catching the eye of the media and her apparent nonchalant attitude during most of the proceedings show the signs of a psychopathic personality. Her behaviour is hauntingly reminiscent of Eichmann's arrogance during his trial for war crimes in Jerusalem in 1961 and most recently of Karadzic's preening before the International Criminal Court at the Hague.
The psychopath is someone who has no concern or empathy for others, no awareness of right and wrong, and who takes extreme pleasure in having power over others. The psychopath has no moral conscience and therefore does not experience guilt or remorse.
Most psychopaths are highly skilled at fooling those around them that they are normal by imitating the emotions that are expected of them in different circumstances. They are consummate at charming people and convincing them they are in the right. It is only when they reveal a discrepancy in their emotional response that they let slip that something may be wrong with them.
The psychopath is the conman, or in the case of Amanda Knox, the con-woman par excellence. Her nickname 'Foxy Knoxy', given to her as a young girl for her skills at football, takes on a new meaning.
Whether or not Knox, who is appealing her verdict, is ultimately found guilty, her chilling performance remains an indictment against her. Her family's disbelief in the outcome of the trial can only be double-edged. ·