Knox Faces Long Wait Before Definitive Ruling in Murder CaseChiara Vasarri and Lorenzo Totaro
Amanda Knox, who was convicted by an Italian appeals court yesterday of murdering a U.K. student in 2007, probably will have to wait several months before a definitive ruling in the case, a criminal lawyer said.
Knox, 26, who returned to the U.S. two years ago as a free woman after a court tossed out her 2009 murder conviction, was sentenced in absentia to 28 years and six months in jail for murder and slander by an eight-person jury. Her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito got a 25-year jail term.
Yesterday’s verdicts are not final because lawyers for Knox and Sollecito said they will appeal to Italy’s highest court. “It will take months, they may schedule it around October or November,” said Andrea Castaldo, a criminal lawyer and professor at the University of Salerno, about a possible hearing at Italy’s top court.
The defendants’ lawyers must wait until the Florence appeals court publishes its reasons for yesterday’s verdict, which could take as long as three months.
An eventual extradition filing by Italy to the U.S. can be made after a final conviction by Italy’s top court or sooner if authorities request “precautionary measures” such as an arrest, Castaldo said. Also, her lawyers could seek to block the extradition, claiming that Italy’s judicial process violated her U.S. constitutional right against being tried twice for the same crime.
“It really hit me like a train,” Knox, a Seattle native, told ABC’s Good Morning America in an interview today, according to the broadcaster’s website. “I will never go willingly back to the place where ... I’m going to fight this to the very end. It’s not right and it’s not fair.”
Knox and Sollecito were convicted for killing British student Meredith Kercher in 2007. Sollecito was located today about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Italian border with Slovenia, according to Giovanni Belmonte, a police official in the nearby city of Udine.
The police went to a hotel in the town of Venzone to notify Sollecito of the foreign travel ban imposed on him yesterday by the Florence court, Belmonte said.
Sollecito voluntarily followed the agents to the police station and was scheduled to be released as soon as paperwork was completed, Belmonte said. Sollecito’s lawyers Giulia Bongiorno and Luca Maori didn’t respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Before the death of her housemate, Knox was an exchange student in Perugia, a university town of 170,000 in central Italy known for its Baci chocolates. She was originally sentenced to 26 years, and served almost four years in prison before the verdict was overturned in October 2011. Sollecito, now a 29-year-old computer studies graduate, was sentenced to 25 years in jail in the first ruling in 2009 and found not guilty on appeal in 2011.
On March 26 last year, Italy’s highest court approved a prosecutor’s request to void the appeals court verdicts and try the pair again.
Kercher, a 21-year-old London native and Leeds University exchange student, was found dead in her bedroom, half-naked and with her throat slashed, on Nov. 2, 2007, in the house she shared in Perugia with Knox and two other women.
Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said at the original trial that Knox had masterminded a drug-fueled sex game involving Sollecito and Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native who grew up in Italy, which turned violent, leading to the murder.
Guede was found guilty in a separate “fast-track” trial in 2008 and sentenced to 30 years. His jail term was reduced to 16 years in a 2009 appeal.
Knox first told police she was inside the villa at the time of the killing and that screaming from Kercher’s room alerted her to the crime scene. She also initially named the owner of a bar where she had worked as the possible killer. The bar owner, Patrick Diya Lumumba, was arrested and later released after a witness confirmed his alibi. Knox later altered her story and said her original account had been coerced by the police.
Prosecutor Alessandro Crini had requested a 30-year prison sentence for Knox, of which four for slander, and 26 years for Sollecito, saying the murder may have been rooted in arguments about the house’s cleanliness and sparked by a row over a toilet left unflushed by Guede that night.
Like Knox, Sollecito has always denied any wrongdoing, saying all he and his girlfriend wanted at the time was to be isolated in their “little fairy tale.”