ROME -- Defense lawyers argued Monday that the first acquittal of Amanda Knox
should stand as both sides gave final statements in the third trial of a
sensational murder case plagued by irregularities from the prosecution.
Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito already served four years in prison for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, who was found nearly naked and dead with her throat cut in a home she shared with Knox.
original conviction was overturned in 2011, and Knox returned to the
United States. But Italy's highest court ordered a retrial after
criticizing aspects of the first appellate trial, including the poor
handling of forensic evidence by police.
A verdict is not expected sooner than Jan. 30, and that must be
approved by Italy's highest court. Knox, who was not required to be at
the trial, has said she would not voluntarily go to Italy if she were
ordered to return to prison.
"Legally I'll be defined as a
fugitive, but I will continue to fight for my innocence," she told
Italian journalists earlier this month. "I will not willingly submit
myself to injustice."
If she is convicted, Italy would likely ask the U.S. State Department
to take steps to turn her over to Italian authorities. She would be at
risk for being sent to Italy if she travels to another country that has
an extradition treaty with Italy.
"This whole trial has been
messy, but that will seem like nothing compared to the problems that
could emerge with a guilty verdict from this trial," said Massimo
Lanzoni, a legal procedures expert with the University of Rome.
lawyers and prosecutors each had 30 minutes to make their cases Monday.
Prosecutors asked for 26 years in jail for both Knox and Sollecito --
the maximum 30-year sentence minus the four years served -- in addition
to four years for slander for Knox, who initially suggested the killer
may have been Patrick Lumumba, a bar owner who knew both Knox and Kercher when they were students in Perugia.
Sollecito's attorney said the two lovers were inaccurately blamed by
authorities to calm local fears that "a monster was loose" in the
picturesque Umbrian university town. The retrial is big news in Italy,
where most Italians are ready for the trial to be over with.
embarrassing this has gone on so long," said Angelo Gella, a
55-year-old Roman newsstand owner. "I don't know if they [Knox and
Sollecito] should be guilty or innocent, but it's already a kind of
punishment for them that this keeps dragging on."
Tony Renzo, 23, a
student who participated in a semester-abroad program in the USA,
agreed: "This story is like a nightmare for students abroad," he said.
"It's so frightening to think about getting arrested in a foreign
Though Sollecito has traveled frequently since his 2011
acquittal, he has said he will be in Italy when he verdict is handed