Final Arguments Given In Amanda Knox Trial

3:53 PM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
Photo: AP
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Eric J. Lyman, Special for USA TODAY

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.

Their 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.

Defense 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.

"It's 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 country."

Though Sollecito has traveled frequently since his 2011 acquittal, he has said he will be in Italy when he verdict is handed down.

USA Today

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