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Amanda Knox Convicted in Italy

Info: 4020 words (16 pages) Essay
Published: 2nd Aug 2020 in Criminology

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“Meredith was my friend, I didn’t hate her. It’s absurd to say that I wanted revenge on a friend who had been very kind to me.” After a year-long trial, an American student from Seattle, Washington, Amanda Knox was held accountable for the killing of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, while studying in Perugia, Italy at the University for Foreigners in 2007 where she was studying German, Italian, and creative writing. Knox was convicted to 26 years in prison while her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years. Rudy Hermann Guede’s sentence was reduced from 30 to 16 years in prison after an appeal.

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Meredith Kercher born as, Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, and known mostly by her close friends as “Mez”, was born on December 28, 1985 in Southwark, London located in England, and later lived in Coulsdon, South London. She had three older siblings, John and Lyle, and, Stephanie. Her mother is a housewife, born in India and her father is a freelance journalist. Meredith attended the Old Palace School in Croydon and later went to the University of Leeds where she took a degree in European Studies. She has been awarded a posthumous degree by the University of Leeds. She then attended the University of Perugia as a part of the ERASMUS student exchange program where she was only able to attend for a year because of her murder. In Perugia, she shared a flat with Amanda Knox and two other Italian women. Meredith’s funeral was on December 14, 2007 at the Croydon Parish Church, with more than three hundred people attended.

Amanda Marie Knox was born on July 9th 1987 in Seattle, Washington. Her parents are Curt Knox and Edda Mellas. Knox has three younger sisters two of which are her stepsisters, Deanna, Ashley, and Arlene Knox. While playing soccer, Amanda was nicknamed Foxy Knoxy because of her defensive plays while playing soccer. In 2005, Amanda Knox graduated from the Seattle Preparatory High School. Later that September, she began attending the University of Washington, where she was studying towards a degree in linguistics. She later decided to leave Seattle so that she could spend her junior year studying abroad as part of a yearlong course with University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy. In June 2007, Knox received a public-disturbance citation for throwing a noisy party and had to pay a two hundred sixty-nine dollar fine. At the time of Meredith Kercher’s killing, Knox was a 20 years old college student attending the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy studying Italian, German and creative writing. While in Perugia, she lived in the same flat as Meredith Kercher. In mid-October 2007 Amanda Knox met Raffaele Sollecito, age 23 at the time, at a classical music concert and began dating a few days after.

*Raffaele Sollecito was born on March 26th 1984 in Giovinazzo, Bari located in Italy. He is the son a very well known doctor in Italy. At the time of Meredith’s murder he was a 23 year old student attending the University of Perugia and nearing upon the completion of a degree in computer engineering. He was able to complete his degree while awaiting trial in prison.

*Rudy Guede, born as Rudy Hermann Guede, was born on December 26th 1986 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. He was 20 years old at the time of the murder of Meredith. At the age of five he moved to Perugia, Italy with his father. At the age of 16, his father left him in Italy and was informally adopted by the family of a local businessman. Guede obtained joint Italian nationality and periodically studied hotel keeping and accounting. He also played basketball for the youth team in Perugia in the 2004-2005 seasons. He sometimes worked in Milan bars while visiting his aunt in Lecco near Milan, returning occasionally to Perugia. Guede had no criminal record at the time of the murder.

Kercher was murdered on the evening of November 1st 2007 at around 11:00p.m.. On November 1st, Kercher spent her last evening hours with a few friends, watching the film The Notebook and eating home-made pizza. Just before 9:00p.m., she walked home with a friend. The two separated near her friend’s flat and Meredith Kercher walked the remaining 500 yards towards her house alone. Around 9:30 p.m., Meredith called her mother in England, but at 10:00 p.m., her England mobile phone dialed another number only once, a wrong number: her London bank without the international prefix, which was the first entry in her phone index. At 10:13 p.m., her England phone received an incoming message, through a different mobile station shared with an adjacent neighborhood, but Meredith never answered.

*At midday on November 2nd , at 12:07 Amanda Knox called Kercher’s England phone, and then called a housemate, Filomena, saying that the front door of the cottage had been left open and she had found blood. She also called her mother, although it was still around 4:00 am in Seattle. Later, the Italian Post and Communications Police went to investigate the discovery of two mobile phones in a garden which was nearby. one of the two phone were registered to Meredith Kercher. They later arrived at Amanda and Meredith’s house in Via della Pergola 7 at 12:35. Amanda and Raffaele were standing outside the house and told the police that the house had been broken into, that a window had been broken, and that there were a few drops of blood in several of the rooms. At 12:51 and 12:54, Raffaele made 2 calls to the Carabinieri military police, reporting a burglary.

*The police then began investigating the upstairs flat and reported that apart from Meredith’s bedroom and the nearby bathroom had been “thoroughly cleaned with bleach”. They also reported to have found blood in several rooms, a bloody footprint in the smaller bathroom, an unflushed toilet in the large bathroom, broken glass in the third bedroom, and blood near Meredith’s bedroom which was locked. The lower left pane of Filomena’s bedroom window was broken and the room appeared rummaged. The washing machine was on the final cycle with Meredith’s clothes inside, but not the clothes she was wearing when attacked. Filomena returned at around 1 pm and reported that nothing had been taken.

*Meredith’s bedroom door had to be forced open because it was locked. The police found Meredith laying under a duvet which was drenched in blood and there were pools and smears of blood all around her bedroom. Her superior thyroid artery had been severed by a stab wound and she died a slow and agonizing death as she inhaled her own blood. Her hyoid bone was also found broken, indicating that she had been choked before she was stabbed. They found signs of sexual assault. Her body had been disrobed and moved some time after death. DNA matching that of Guede was found on and inside Kercher’s body, her shirt, bra, and on her handbag. A bloody handprint that was found on a pillow under Meredith’s back was matched to Rudy Hermann Guede. Kercher’s bra, including its metal hooks, revealed traces of her DNA and that of Sollecito. Luminal revealed footprints made in blood in the flat, compatible with the feet of Knox and Sollecito. Knox’s DNA was found mixed with Kercher’s blood elsewhere in the apartment. A further footprint, believed to be a woman’s, was found under the body. It was the right size to be Knox’s, although it was never matched to her footwear. An expert defense witness stated that this was a partial print that matched the pattern of Rudy Guede’s right shoe. Knox’s DNA was found on a kitchen knife, recovered from Sollecito’s flat, and Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade. The knife could have made one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck. Apart from the knife, there was no forensic evidence directly indicating that Knox had been in the bedroom where Kercher was murdered. Knox’s fingerprints were not found in Kercher’s bedroom, or in her own bedroom. Others were told not to enter because the area had to be secured for investigation. When the Carabinieri police arrived, the forensic lab in Rome was contacted so that they could process the murder scene. The police said that Meredith was found wearing only a cotton shirt rolled halfway up, and concluded her throat had been slit with glass or pen-knife. They later concluded that from the dried blood-spatter patterns and bra-strap marks found, she had been wearing two cotton-mesh shirts rolled up, above her bra, at the time of the murder, and that the apparent break-in at the flat had been faked. One of the first police theory about Meredith’s death was that Meredith had met her killer the previous night during the Halloween festivities.

*Knox and Sollecito were interviewed several times by the police on the day the murder and the following two days. On November 5th 2007, Knox willingly went with Raffaele to the police station where he gave a statement. In his statement he said that he did not know for sure if Amanda had been with him on the night of Meredith’s murder. Then the police decided to question Amanda and began the interview at 11:00 p.m. that evening. Knox was interviewed twice during the night of November 5th, first by the judicial police and later in the presence of a prosecutor. During these interviews, Knox made statements that implicated Patrick Lumumba, who was the owner of a bar-restaurant named Le Chic which she occasionally worked at. She said that she had gone with Patrick Lumumba to Meredith’s house and stayed in the kitchen while Lumumba committed the murder. Knox later claimed that both statements were made under pressure and that she had been forced into implicating Lumumba. She also said that she had been hit twice on the back of the head during the questioning and she had been called a “stupid liar.” This was denied by the police who have now charged her with defamation.

*Knox was later formally arrested on the morning of November 6. Afterwards, she made a written note to the police explaining that she was confused when she made the earlier statements, saying “I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion”. However, she still seemed to incriminate Lumumba by saying, “I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrick [Lumumba], but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.” She went on to saying, “I see Patrick as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night.” On November 6th 2007 Patrick was arrested because of Amanda’s statements. He was held under custody for two weeks until Rudy Guede was arrested.

On December 2010, the judge at Amanda and Raffaele’s appeal ordered a review of the DNA evidence relating to the knife and the bra clasp.

In the Knox and Sollecito trial, the prosecution sought to prove that a break-in at the murder scene had been staged. An officer testified that the shards of glass found from the broken window in Filomena’s room were found on top of a computer and some clothes that had been scattered around her bedroom which suggested that the window had been broken after the room was ransacked.

Police evidence showed that Amanda and Raffaele did not have any verifiable alibis for the time of Meredith’s murder. Raffaele maintained that he was at his apartment, using his computer, but a police computer analyst testified that his computer had not been used between 9:10 on the evening of the murder and 5:32 in the morning the next day. Amanda has also preserved her alibi that she was with Raffaele at the time, but in his statement to the police, he said that he could not remember if Amanda had been with him or not. Their version of events was then contradicted by a homeless man, who testified that he had seen Amanda and Raffaele chatting animatedly on a basketball court, within sight of Meredith’s house, about five times, between 9:30 p.m. and midnight the night of the murder. A Perugia shopkeeper also testified that Amanda had gone into his supermarket at 7:45 in the morning after the murder to buy cleaning supplies, but according to her, she was still at Raffaele’s. A worker in the shop testified that she had not seen Amanda that morning.

The defense stated that, even though having put forward several different theories, the prosecution had no convincing evidence for a motive for the killing of Meredith. Amanda testified that she saw Meredith as a friend and she had no reason to kill her.

The defense wanted to show that Guede could have been the only killer. A school director testified that Guede had been caught with a stolen 16-inch knife inside a closed Milan school on October 27th 2007, and was also in possession of a stolen laptop and a mobile phone. Guede stated that he had bought the laptop and phone at a railway station while he was in Milan. The school director testified that a small amount of money had also gone missing after she found Guede looking inside a cabinet in the school office.

Guede elected for a “fast-track” trial which began on 16 October 2008, presided over by Judge Paolo Micheli. In this way he exchanged the right to test the evidence in a full trial for a more lenient sentence, if found guilty. The trial was held in closed session, with no reporters present. He was charged with murder, sexual assault and theft.

Guede claimed that Knox and Sollecito had entered the Perugia flat and committed the murder while he was in the bathroom. He said that he was listening to music on his iPod, but heard Kercher scream.

On 28 October 2008, Guede was found guilty of the murder and sexual assault of Kercher and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Appeal

At appeal, Guede claimed that, while in the bathroom, he had heard Knox’s voice arguing with Kercher about some missing money in the bedroom. He further said that when he glanced out of the window, he saw the silhouette of Knox leaving the house.

On 22 December 2009, the Corte d’Appello upheld Guede’s convictions but cut his sentence to 16 years. In March 2010, the court issued a detailed report of its ruling, explaining that it had reduced Guede’s sentence by 14 years because he was the only one of the three defendants to apologize to the Kercher family for his actions. On May 2010, Guede launched a second and final appeal to the Court of Cassation; the hearing was subsequently fixed for December 16th 2010.On December 16th 2010 Corte di Cassazione confirmed the verdict.

Amanda and Raffaele Trial

Knox and Sollecito were indicted in October 2008 by Judge Micheli. Micheli concluded that Kercher had been sexually assaulted and then murdered by multiple attackers. He also concluded that the apparent break-in had been faked and that one or more people had returned to the crime scene, rearranged the body, and staged the fake break-in some time after the murder. Judge Micheli also believed that it was suspicious that Sollecito called the Carabinieri military police, saying that a burglary had occurred but “nothing had been taken” when other flat mates had not yet returned to check their rooms for missing items. He also found suspicious Knox’s claim to have taken a shower in a room with blood on the floor.

Following the court session, Sollecito’s lawyer Luca Maori described the prosecution’s theory on the motive for the murder as being part of a “satanic rite” and this was widely reported in the press, some of whom linked this with the fact that the murder occurred on the day after Halloween. However, Judge Micheli dismissed this motive as fantasy and made it clear that the committal for trial of the two suspects was not based on this theory.

The trial of Knox and Sollecito began on 16 January 2009, before Judge Giancarlo Massei, deputy judge Beatrice Cristiani and six lay judges at the Corte d’Assise of Perugia, with considerable media attention. They had been charged with murder, sexual assault, simulating a crime (burglary), carrying a knife and theft of 300 Euros, two credit cards and two mobile phones.

Knox was represented by Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova, Sollecito by Giulia Bongiorno. The head prosecutor was Guiliano Mignini, assisted by Manuela Comodi. Since the trial, Mignini has been convicted of “abuse of office” and sentenced to 16 months in prison by a Florence court for tapping the phones of police officers and journalists investigating the still unsolved Monster of Florence case. He has protested his innocence, and remains in office, pending an appeal.

Rudy Guede was called by the prosecution to testify but asserted his right to silence. During the first session, Judge Massei rejected a request by the Kercher family to hold the trial behind closed doors, ruling that the trial would be public with closed sessions where appropriate.

After nearly six months of hearings, the trial was shut down early for summer vacation when Judge Massei ordered the prosecution to release to the defense previously withheld biological evidence. On 14 September 2009, the defense requested that the murder indictments of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito be thrown out due to the length of time that the prosecution had withheld evidence. Judge Massei rejected the defense’s request.

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Towards the end of November, the prosecution and defense began summing up their cases. On 4 December 2009, after 13 hours of deliberations by the panel of judges, Knox was convicted of all counts except theft and was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Sollecito was found guilty of all five charges attributed to him and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

On 4 March 2010, the Corte d’Assise of Perugia released a 427-page report, detailing its rationale in reaching its verdicts. The Court determined that Guede had been supported by Knox and Sollecito in subduing Kercher after she resisted his sexual advances. It was noted that Knox and Sollecito had consumed hashish and been reading sexually explicit and violent comics collected by Sollecito, which were alleged to have influenced their behavior. The court ruled Knox and Sollecito acted without premeditation, and that there was no grudge motivating the crime.

The judges concluded that Knox and Sollecito had stabbed Kercher in the neck using two different knives, but after the murder they had covered the body with a duvet in an act of repentance. The court also stated that a bloody footprint found on a bathroom mat was made by Sollecito, while a footprint in a bedroom was made by Knox. The Court further believed that Knox and Sollecito had staged the apparent break-in at the house to make it appear that Kercher had been killed by an intruder and that Knox had attempted to shift the blame by falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba.

Other court cases arising from the events of the murder

- Civil lawsuit filed by Kercher’s family

Kercher’s family filed a civil suit against anyone found guilty of the murder. The court awarded a sum of €1,000,000 to each of the parents and €800,000 to each of Kercher’s siblings.

- Patrick Lumumba’s civil lawsuit against Knox

Patrick Lumumba, the man originally accused of murdering Kercher, sued Knox for defamation and was awarded €40,000. He also pursued compensation from the Italian authorities for unjust imprisonment and the loss of his business and, in December 2009, a court awarded €8,000 in damages. In February 2010, Lumumba announced that he would be taking his claim for compensation from the Italian authorities to the European Court of Human Rights.

- Civil lawsuit filed by Knox

In March 2010, Knox won a civil case against Fiorenza Sarzanini, author of a book about the Kercher case, Amanda e gli altri (“Amanda and the others”), and her publisher for violation of her privacy and illegal publication of Court documents. The book contained long excerpts from Knox’s diary as well as from witness interviews that were not in the public domain, as well as intimate details professing to be about Knox’s sex life. Knox was awarded €40,000 in damages.

- Criminal slander case against Knox

Following an investigation into Knox’s claims of mistreatment by police during questioning about the murder, a case for criminal slander was opened against her on 1 June 2010. In November 2010, Knox was ordered to stand trial on the slander charge by a judge in Perugia.

- Criminal slander case against Knox’s parents

Knox’s parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas have been charged with criminal slander as a result of an interview published by the Sunday Times in 2009, in which they stated that their daughter “had not been given an interpreter, had not received food and water and had been physically and verbally abused” by police officers, after her arrest. Knox and Mellas had sought to have charges dismissed, on the grounds that there was no intent.

According to investigators, Kercher died in the flat at around 11 pm.

At 12:08 pm the following day, Knox called a flat mate, telling her that she had returned to the flat and found the front door open, a broken window, some blood, and that Meredith was missing. She also called Kercher’s two mobile phones. At 12:51 pm and 12:54 pm, Sollecito made calls to 112, the Italian emergency number. Before the Carabinieri arrived in response to these calls, two officers of the Italian Post and Communications Police came to investigate the discovery of the mobile phones carried by Kercher in a nearby garden. Knox and Sollecito were standing outside and told the police that the premises had been burgled, that a window had been broken and that there were bloodstains in the bathroom.

The police found blood in several rooms of the flat and near Kercher’s locked bedroom. The window in one of the bedrooms had been smashed and there was broken glass and a large stone in a bag on the floor. The police were informed that nothing had been taken from the room.

The door to Kercher’s room was forced open and the police found Kercher lying beneath a duvet, soaked in blood, with pools and smears of blood around the room. The area was secured for investigation.

Works Cited Page:

Knox, Amanda. “Murder of Meredith Kercher.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 16 Mar. 2011. .

“Meredith Kercher Timeline | World News | The Guardian.” Latest News, Comment and Reviews from the Guardian | Guardian.co.uk. Web. 16 Mar. 2011. .

“Meredith Kercher’s Killer Speaks for First Time about ‘night He Saw Knox Fleeing Murder Scene’ | Mail Online.” Home | Mail Online. Web. 16 Mar. 2011. .

“Amanda Knox, Convicted of Murder in Italy – TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.com. Web. 16 Mar. 2011. .

Dempsey, Candace. Murder in Italy: the Shocking Slaying of a British Student, the Accused American Girl, and an International Scandal. New York: Berkley, 2010. Print

“Murder Of Meredith Kercher.” Free Articles Directory | Submit Articles – ArticlesBase.com. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. .

 

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