On Friday morning, January 31, Amanda Knox told Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts that she is yet again facing a verdict of guilty for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007, but strongly stated that she has every intention of fighting the guilty verdict. Knox recently found out that the Italian appeals court has chosen to uphold her conviction charge from 2009. Kercher, from the UK, and Knox, from the U.S., were sharing a student apartment in the Italian town of Perugia while studying the language. Knox, 26, was first convicted in 2009, for the sexual assault and murder of her roommate along with her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, 29.
The Italian courts have just recently sentenced Knox, in her absence, to twenty-eight and half years in prison. According to the New York Times, this decision to appeal Knox’s murder conviction will likely cause a series of court battles here in the U.S. as well as in Italy. This case will have to go through this series of court cases before Knox could actually be extradited for the guilty verdict, report legal experts.
Both Knox and Sollecito spent four years in Italian prisons after their convictions in 2009. Upon serving these four years, the verdicts against them were reversed in 2011 by an appellate court. This reversal was due to lack of evidence. However, on Thursday, January 30, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the Italian court systems, overturned the appellate court’s decision and sent the case back to Florence. The appellate Judge Alessandro Nencini convicted both Knox and Sollecito, who was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.
According to CNN, the prosecution’s main evidence is the murder weapon. Upon initially searching Knox and Kercher’s apartment Italian officials seized a knife that linked Kercher’s blood and Knox’s DNA. The Washington Post reports that in the first court case Knox and Sollecito were accused of premeditation of the crime and aiding one another in a sexual assault that went awry. With this recent verdict, the Florence court issued a new test for DNA evidence on the alleged murder weapon, which in prior investigations had not been examined. A small amount of DNA was initially found on the murder weapon, but was not further examined. Knox believes this proves she had only used the knife for domestic purposes at Sollecito’s apartment.
Since the news of their conviction both Knox and Sollecito have voiced their innocence. Knox told Good Morning America, “I’m going to fight this to the very end, and it’s not right, and it’s not fair,” declaring she has every intention to fight her guilty murder verdict and no intentions on leaving this country willingly.
Legal experts told the New York Times, that this case is likely to go on for an extended period of time. As of now, the Florence court has ninety days to give justification and explanation of the reasoning behind the verdict. Then the defendants will be able to appeal the court’s decision, which will cause the case to be sent back to Italy’s high court. As legal experts have expressed, this is likely to take a period of several months. According to Martin J. Auerbach, former federal prosecutor and defense lawyer in New York, after the court has gone through that drawn out process and Knox is still found guilty, the Italian government would have to decide whether it wanted to request extradition. If the country did choose extradition, then the U.S. government would most certainly hold open proceedings. Knox would then be arrested and have a chance to appeal the Italian conviction to a Federal District Court.
Auerbach also stated that it is going to be difficult for Knox to avoid going back to Italy after being charged twice by the Italian courts. Although the U.S. and Italian judicial systems differ, there is nothing in this case that would cause the U.S. to not respect Italy’s legal process. Another former federal prosecutor and specialist of extradition law, Sean Casey, told the New York Times that one of the best things going for Knox at this point is that she is within U.S. borders and that gives her certain protections as a citizen that will help her in her fight against charges and extradition. For now it is yet to be seen what Knox will face, but one thing that she has stated very clearly is that she intends to fight her guilty verdict.
By Sarah Widger