Inside the Amanda Knox trial

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The trial of Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend of one week, Raffaele Sollecito, was a marvel for the world to watch for 8 years. In 2007, the unexplained murder of a young British exchange student in Italy unleashed a series of legal proceedings, DNA tests, and witness reports that split the case’s audiences into 2, divisive sides – Did Amanda do it or is she actually innocent?

Who is Amanda Knox?

Before she became an international point of interest, Amanda Knox was just an average Seattle college student with a passion for Italy, soccer, and of course, boys. Amanda grew up in Seattle and lived there her entire life, although, she frequently expressed a desire to travel more. In her hometown, Amanda was known as ‘Foxy Knoxy.’ Her father, who felt Amanda was a naive girl at the age of 20, strongly opposed to her studying abroad in Italy. Amanda, however, couldn’t wait to go back to the country she had only visited one time prior at the age of 15.

Studying abroad in Italy

In 2007, Amanda Knox became an exchange student in Perugia, Italy. During that time, she planned on studying at the local university and lived with 3 housemates – Meredith Kercher (Britain) and 2 Italian students in their 20’s. Amanda worked as a bartender at Le Chic for a local business owner named Patrick Lumumba. She typically preferred spending time with Italians as opposed to internationals but on occasion, Amanda would go out and enjoy herself with Meredith as a fair weather friend.

Amanda meets Raffaele

On October 25th, 2007 Amanda met Raffaele Sollecito at a classical music concert she attended with Meredith. Raffaele was a 23-year-old computer student at a nearby college. Almost instantly, the new couple became attached at the hip and Amanda began spending many evenings at his apartment, which was conveniently, located 5 minutes from her shared apartment at Via della Pergola 7.

Amanda and Meredith’s friendship

The relationship between Meredith and Amanda was somewhat casual but nonetheless, Amanda still claims that the 2 girls were more friends than just roommates. A few short weeks before the murder took place, Amanda and Meredith had gone to the EuroChocolate festival. The roommates had also been seen partying together on a few occasions, which is how they came to know and establish a casual acquaintanceship with a local man named Rudy Guede.

Meredith’s body is found

The last time Meredith Kercher was seen alive was when she departed from a friend’s house at around 8:45 pm and returned to her apartment. Both of Meredith’s Italian flatmates were out of town on the weekend of November 1st. On the morning of November 2nd. Amanda Knox came home from Raffaele’s and noticed that the front door was left open but proceeded to enter the bathroom and take a shower. Amanda then went back to Raffaele’s briefly. Finally, the couple went to Amanda’s apartment and tried to force open Meredith’s bedroom door after noticing a broken window outside.

The crime scene

After failing to force open Meredith’s door, Raffaele called the 112 emergency number and authorities were called to the crime scene. Meredith’s body was then found, cloaked underneath her comforter. Glass shards from the broken window in her bedroom were lying on top of clothing piles and other miscellaneous belongings in her room. This crime scene detail was an immediate red flag to the Italian authorities. Meredith’s cell phones were located in a nearby garden.

Traces of DNA everywhere

Amanda Knox’s blood had been found in 5 different places of the girls’ apartment, all mixed with Meredith’s blood. A footprint found to be compatible with Amanda’s was found on Meredith’s pillowcase and traces of luminol mixed with Meredith’s blood and Amanda’s DNA were found throughout the apartment. Raffaele’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp, which had torn off her bra entirely and thrown into the corner of the bedroom. Rudy Guede’s DNA was found inside Meredith, after a swab test was performed during an autopsy. When police searched Raffaele’s apartment, it was described as smelling like bleach. Then, a knife was confiscated from the home that contained Amanda and Raffaele’s DNA on the handle and Meredith’s DNA on the blade.

Where was the couple all night?

After police found Meredith’s body and the apartment was closed off as a crime investigation, Amanda and Raffaele were seen kissing and hugging as they waited for updates and further direction. According to Amanda’s account, she had spent the night at Raffaele’s and the pair shut off their cell phones and computers for the duration of their sleepover (until 10:30 am the next morning). This alibi was disputed on multiple occasions; forensics showed that Raffaele’s computer and phone each active once during the early hours of November 2nd and Amanda Knox was seen in the area of the crime scene by 2 witnesses.

An early cleaning call

A local shop owner also recalls seeing Amanda Knox in the early morning hours of November 2nd at 7:45 am. He claimed that she was waiting for his store to open and once the doors were unlocked, she went straight towards the cleaning supply aisle. Raffaele soon retracted this alibi, as well, claiming that Amanda did leave his apartment the night of the murder but he did not know where she went.

Amanda’s shopping spree

On November 3rd, one day after the body of Meredith Kercher was discovered, Amanda and Raffaele were seen shopping for lingerie. The owner of the shop, Scotto di Rinaldi, stated “They were in here for around half-an-hour. They seemed very relaxed, they were hugging each other and kissing each other non-stop.” It was later reported that Amanda had previously complained about not having any underwear and had worn Raffaele’s as a substitute on occassion.

Meredith and Raffaele are questioned

On November 5th, Amanda Knox went to the Perguai police station voluntarily to be questioned by police. Amanda, until this very day, claims that she was not offered legal counsel, was slapped in the head by her interrogators, and that she was questioned for 13-14 hours. Amanda stated, “I wasn’t just stressed and pressurised; I was manipulated. Probably, I didn’t remember well because I was traumatised. So I should try to remember something else.” The time duration of the interrogation has since been disputed and corrected to 2 hours.

Amanda’s false confession

During her interrogation, Amanda told police that Patrick Lumumba (her boss at the bar she waitressed at) was the person responsible for killing Meredith. She falsely recalled going to her apartment with Patrick during the night of November 1st and leaving him alone in Meredith’s bedroom with her. Amanda claimed that she had been in the kitchen when Patrick murdered Meredith.

Arresting Patrick Lumumba

Following Amanda’s false confession, Patrick was arrested by the Italian police and held for 2 weeks in prison. A bar patron soon came forward and told the local authorities that he had been drinking with Patrick at Le Chic all evening, observing him work as well. The newfound alibi released Patrick from jail and Amanda was charged with slander against her former boss and bar owner. Patrick and his wife moved to Poland after he was relieved of all charges; Amanda ruined his reputation in Perugia and he could no longer earn a living.

Locating Rudy Guede

In December 2007, Rudy Guede, a Meredith and Amanda, was arrested in Germany and extradited to Italy. Guede’s DNA was tested and found inside Meredith’s body during her autopsy one month prior. Guede claims to being intimate and having a physical relationship with Meredith but maintained his innocence upon arrest. His account of the evening, which has never changed, explains that he went to see Meredith at her apartment, they hooked up, and then he left for the night.

Prosecuting the suspects

On July 11th, 2008 Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox, and Rudy Guede were indicted and formally charged with the murder of Meredith Kercher. All 3 parties had been detained for 7 months and were ready to stand trial. Guede, however, would stand trial alone, as Amanda and Raffaele were co-defendants in their own.

Rudy’s fast-track trial

Rudy Guede requested a fast-track trial; he feared the pact that Amanda and Raffaele had created against him, stating “In recent weeks a lot of poison has been spread by the defense teams, and we feel the necessity to find some form of serenity in a separate hearing.”

Rudy’s sentencing

Rudy Guede was found guilty by the Perugian court and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The DNA evidence that incriminated him consisted of his fingerprints found in Meredith’s room, his feces left in her bathroom toilet, and his shoe-print located near her broken window. Following an appeal, Guede recieved a reduced sentence of 16 years.

The trial begins

On January 16th, 2009 the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito began. Over the next 6 months, the DNA evidence found in Meredith’s bedroom and bathroom were introduced to the court and Amanda testified to the police brutality that she experienced during her first interrogation in 2007. The trial attracted international media attention and due to a lack of space, reporters were approved to sit at the defense trial. During the duration of the trial, Amanda was portrayed as a promiscuous party girl with a split personality.

Amanda and Raffaele found guilty

On December 4th, 2009 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher. Amanda was sentenced to 25 years in jail and Raffaele was sentenced to 25. Both defendants expressed their intention of filing an appeal to overturn their convictions. That following June, in 2010, Amanda stood trial again for slander charges against Patrick Lumumba.

Appealing the verdict

Amanda and Raffaele’s appeal case began on November 24, 2010. Amanda’s attorney, Luciano Ghirga, addressed reporters outside of the courtroom following the 15-minute hearing that day; “We have to prove her innocence, which is more difficult to do.” The hearing was cut short due to a member of the prosecution not being in attendance.

Condemned for a crime…

During her appeal process, Amanda chose to speak to the court and plead her innocence, as well as Raffaele’s, by stating, “I’ve been condemned for the crime I did not commit,” [then, adding that the court has made] “a huge mistake.”

Retesting the evidence

In the beginning of January 2011, experts from La Sapienza University in Rome are court instructed to retest the forensic and DNA evidence used in the first trial against Amanda and Raffaele. The new test results were expected that following May and in the meantime, 2 inmates who were serving time at the same prison of Amanda testified to her innocence and made their own claims as to who the real murderer was. The credibility of these witnesses was quickly denied.

An incriminating letter

During the appeal process on June 27, 2011, Rudy Guede testified in open court and refused to state that Amanda was not involved in the murder. The prosecution submitted a letter Rudy had previously written into evidence, which said, that he believed Amanda and Raffaele were responsible for Meredith’s death. After Guede left the stand, Amanda was called to testify immediately afterward and said, “The only time that Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito and I were in one room together was in a courtroom. He knows what the truth is. I don’t know what happened that night”

Rudy still blames Amanda

Today, Rudy Guede is still sitting behind bars and won’t be eligible for work release until 2018. He insists that Amanda knows what happened to Meredith and in a 2016 interview, he outright said, “I am 101 percent certain Amanda Knox was there.” He also still maintains that Meredith was alive when he left her apartment that fateful evening, wearing the same clothes he had gone to visit her in.

DNA on the knife handle

In June, forensic testing results were reported to the court. Experts stated that the knife was an unreliable piece of evidence after Meredith’s DNA sample on the blade proved to be “unreliable.” In fact, the blood sample found on the blade was so small that it was impossible to retest a second time around. The bra clasp belonging to Meredith, that possessed Raffaele’s DNA, was deemed “unreliable” as well, since it was collected from the crime scene 6 weeks after the murder took place.

“Inadmissable” evidence

Due to a series errors made by forensics officers and scientists during the initial stages of the investigation, the original physical and DNA evidence used against Amanda and Raffaele were deemed “inadmissible” by the court. Patrizia Stefanoni, the Italian state’s leading forensic expert, defended the methods and equipment utilized during initial DNA testing. The Prosecution made a request to test the evidence for the third time and was rejected. Additionally, a new witness requested by the Prosecution was also rejected by the court.

Remembering Meredith Kercher

Meredith Kercher’s family had flown to Perugia to not just witness the trial and appeals process, but engage with the press. Meredith’s sister repeatedly addressed the public by saying “please remember our beautiful Meredith,” instead of falling victim to details surrounding the case. During Amanda and Raffaele’s appeal, Meredith’s parents were addressed on several occasions. The Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, even presented photos of Meredith’s body during her final statements against Amanda to “show you the pain of Meredith.” Amanda refused to look at the displayed photos.

Overturning the conviction

On October 3, 2011, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were exonerated for the murder of Meredith Kercher and their convictions were overturned. Neither party was required to serve 25-26 years in prison and Amanda immediately left Italy with her family and returned to Seattle, Washington.

Back to Seattle…

4 months later, in February 2012, Amanda signed a book deal with HarperCollins; she wrote and published a memoir that was based on her prison journals and personal experiences while standing trial in Italy. For the next year, Amanda tried to live a normal life. What she didn’t expect, however, was the Italian Supreme Court decision that would make her stand trial again for a crime that she was just exonerated from after spending 4 and a half years behind bars…

The Supreme Court makes a ruling…

In March 2013, the Italian Supreme Court called for a retrial against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Amanda, now 25 years old, confided in her lawyer who told the press that her client was “upset and surprised because we thought that the case was over.” The retrial was set to begin in September 2013. Neither Amanda or Raffaele was expected to appear in court for the proceedings.

A shocking retrial

Raffaele chose to appear for the retrial. He took the stand and exclaimed, “I would like to make you understand that these charges against me are absurd. 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.” Raffaele also stated that the DNA on the knife was “an illusion.” Amanda sent a written statement to the court for her lawyer to relay; it read, “It is impossible to identify and destroy genetic traces and leave others. I was not there.”

Amanda and Raffaele are guilty… again

In a stunning and unexpected turn of events, Amanda and Raffaele are both convicted of murder for the second time. Amanda’s sentence was increased to 28 and a half years, while Raffaele’s remained at 25 years. Raffaele was not in Italy during the retrial but after the guilty verdict was announced, he returned to combat it once again.

Refusing to return to Italy

Amanda, on the other hand, refused to return Italy following the reinstatement of her conviction. At this point in time, Raffaele had decided to distance himself from his former girlfriend and while he and Amanda are still friends, he and his lawyer believed that fighting the returning guilty verdict would be more effective if done solo. The “stick together” and “tried” together tactic no longer seemed helpful.

Foxy Knoxy’ on CNN

On May 1st, 2014 Amanda Knox gave an exclusive interview proclaiming her innocence and refusing to go back to Italy “willingly.” During the interview, she said, “I did not kill my friend. I did not wield a knife. I had no reason to, I did not kill my friend. In the month that we that we were living together, we were becoming friends. A week before the murder occurred, we went out to a classical music concert together. We had never fought.” One year later, a final judgment would be passed…

The final appeal…

In March 2015, the Italian Supreme Court overturned Amanda and Raffaele’s murder convictions for the second time and just like that, the 8-year case was over, closed, and completely shut. Today, she is forbidden by the Kercher family from visiting Meredith’s grave and she still keeps in touch with Raffaele (it’s rare, though). Amanda is in a new relationship, active on social media, and works as a freelance writer in Seattle.

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