In Depth

Amanda Knox wielded the knife that killed Meredith, says judge

Judge who convicted Knox explains why he is convinced of her guilt – even if others aren't

AMANDA KNOX inflicted the fatal knife blow that killed Meredith Kercher while Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede held her back, according to the Italian judge who convicted the American of murder earlier this year and who today released his 'reasoning'.

Moreover, during the course of Knox’s long and drawn out judicial process, Judge Alessandro Nencini claims, serious attempts were made to tamper with evidence in a way that would favour her.

It is the latest twist in a case that began more than six years ago when British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found stabbed to death in the flat she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy.

Nencini theorises in his 337-page reasoning report that the deep, fatal knife wound on the left side of Kercher’s neck was delivered as a coup de grace to silence the English girl, who had screamed after being lightly cut on the other side of the neck by Raffaele Sollecito with a different, smaller knife, after an altercation over money, men and hygeine.

“It is certain that the second stab into the left side of the victim’s neck was carried out after the girl had screamed, and to stop her from repeating the scream: in fact, after the knife stab went into the victim’s neck eight centimeters, the hemorrhage would have stopped poor Meredith from screaming.”

In the scathing report that spells out the evidence, logic and reasoning that led to his guilty verdict in Florence on 30 January, Judge Nencini also says Knox and her defence tried to tamper with evidence and pervert the truth by introducing prisoners as witnesses, whose testimony turned out to be false and induced by “other interests”.

“It is clear how this trial was subject to heavy evidence tampering, both internally (slander) and externally,” Nencini writes.

He calls the media interest in the case “fertile ground” that led a number of witnesses to give misleading testimony in exchange for their moment in the limelight.

He also slams the first appeal court’s independent experts for having been oddly superficial and illogical in their analysis of the DNA evidence, especially regarding the potential for contamination, noting that controls were in place to prevent it.

Nencini considers DNA evidence produced in the first trial as reliable, but also cites the new statistical evaluation by the RIS of Rome as further proof that the large kitchen knife was indeed the murder weapon, and was wielded by Knox.

Knox and Sollecito, who was her Italian boyfriend at the time, were convicted of murder in 2009. A third man, Ivory Coast national Rudy Guede, was also convicted of participating in the group homicide, in a separate trial in 2008. He lost all his appeals and remains incarcerated in Italy, where he is serving a 16-year sentence.

Nencini cites much from Rudy Guede’s trials and, unlike the first appeal trial judges, considers some of his testimony to be a strong element of proof that Knox and Sollecito were also involved.

Knox and Sollecito were released from prison in 2011 after an appeals court sensationally acquitted them of nearly all charges (one charge against Knox stuck: the slander of Congolese pub owner Patrick Lumumba, who she initially blamed for the crime).

The acquittal ruling, however, was later annulled by Italy’s Supreme Court and a second appeal trial in a jurisdiction outside Perugia was ordered. By that time Knox was safe and sound back in Seattle and chose not to return to Italy for her Florence appeal, instead emailing a statement to the judge, proclaiming her innocence. Sollecito attended.

On 30 January, Judge Nencini and a lay panel of jurors issued a guilty verdict and handed down an even harsher sentence: 25 years for him and 28.5 years for her.

Knox went on national television back in the US the following day claiming, as she always has, that she continues to be the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice carried forward by inertia by dozens of Italian judges.

But in his report, Nencini suggests the gross miscarriage was by Knox and her defence lawyers: indeed, he gave her a longer jail sentence precisely because of the gravity of the slander against Patrick Lumumba aimed at getting investigators off her back.

A small group of fervent supporters continue to lobby on Knox's behalf and earlier this month she attended an Innocence Project conference with other exonerees, even though Italy's courts have upheld her convictions.

Sollecito, meanwhile, has a new Italian girlfriend who is a fellow student. Over the Easter holidays the couple was spotted walking by the Via della Pergola house where Kercher was murdered.

With this latest development, however, there appears little wriggle- room for either Knox or Sollecito. Italy’s Supreme Court is expected to give the final ruling on the case after September.

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