Why is Amanda Knox facing yet another trial stemming from 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher?

Mother of two has been convicted and acquitted twice — can she have her final charge thrown out? Graig Graziosi reports

Wednesday 10 April 2024 08:35 BST
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Amanda Knox faces a final trial in Italy before she is fully cleared of all charges stemming from the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher
Amanda Knox faces a final trial in Italy before she is fully cleared of all charges stemming from the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
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Amanda Knox became a household name in 2007 after she and her then-boyfriend were arrested and charged with the death of her 21-year-old flatmate, British student Meredith Kercher. Unprecedented pre-trial media coverage painted her and her boyfriend as degenerate sex fiends who killed an innocent woman in a kink gone wrong.

She and her boyfriend were convicted and sentenced to more than two decades in prison. Another man, Rudy Guede, spent 13 years in jail for the murder and sexual assault of Meredith.

During her trial and subsequent jailing, Knox maintained her innocence. Later investigations found that police had not provided her with legal representation, coerced a confession, and made numerous errors in the investigation that led to Knox's conviction.

She was acquitted in 2011, and she returned to her life in the US, only to be re-convicted after her case was forced to retrial in Italy in 2013. Two years later, she was once again acquitted when the Italian Supreme Court tossed out her conviction.

With all of that behind her, Knox has one final legal wrinkle to iron out in Italy; a defamation case.

Her trial began in Florence on Wednesday.

Amanda Knox: Joy as murder conviction overturned
Amanda Knox, left, talks to reporters as her mother, Edda Mellas, right, looks on outside Mellas' home in Seattle
Amanda Knox, left, talks to reporters as her mother, Edda Mellas, right, looks on outside Mellas' home in Seattle (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

What is Amanda Knox doing now?

Knox, now 36, is the mother of two small children and is married to a man named Christopher Robinson. She lives with her family in Seattle, Washington.

Her experiences in the legal system inspired her to begin campaigning for criminal justice reform and to highlight how police use their power to force confessions from suspects.

In addition to her campaign work, Knox has also recorded commentary for a meditation app that focuses on resiliency and launched a podcast with her husband. A mini-series focusing on her battles with the Italian legal system is in production at Hulu, with Monica Lewinsky as executive producer, according to People.

The public's perception of Ms Knox notably shifted after the release of the 2016 Netflix documentary Amanda Knox.

The documentary examined the charges brought against Knox and highlighted how she was presented in the media, especially by salacious tabloid writers in Italy, the US, and the UK.

Meredith Kercher murder and conviction

She was accused and convicted of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a British student who shared a home with her in Perugia, Italy.

Meredith Kercher
Meredith Kercher (AP)

Knox was studying at the University of Washington in 2007 when she decided to take a year to study abroad. She shared a four-bedroom apartment in Perugia with a pair of Italian women and with Kercher. A section of the house had also been rented out to a group of Italian men.

Kercher was a student at the University of Leeds who was also studying in Italy.

While studying in Italy, Ms Knox worked part-time at a bar called Le Chic, owned by a Congolese man named Diya "Patrick" Lumumba. She also began dating a man named Raffaele Sollecito.

On 2 November 2007, Ms Knox allegedly returned to her apartment where she found bloodstains inside, and Kercher's bedroom door closed.

She left the apartment fearing that something had happened to Kercher. Ms Knox showered at her boyfriend's home and the pair returned to look at the apartment. When Mr Sollecito found that Kercher's door was locked, he called the military police.

Knox speaks to her lawyer Carlo Della Vedova in the courtroom before a trial session
Knox speaks to her lawyer Carlo Della Vedova in the courtroom before a trial session (REUTERS)

When police opened the door they found Kercher's body lying on the floor, with a duvet over her remains. Police reports at the time said her throat had been cut.

Knox and her boyfriend were accused of killing Kercher in a sex game that went too far. She was jailed for two years in Italy before she went to trial. After a nearly year-long trial, a jury eventually found Knox and her boyfriend guilty.

She was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Sollecito was given 25 years.

Knox was freed in 2011 after an appeals court overturned the most serious of her charges. The Italian police who investigated the death were accused of blundering through the probe to rush to a conviction.

While the murder was overturned, one of her charges — a slander conviction — was upheld.

In 2013, Italy's Court of Cassation tossed out Ms Knox's acquittal and ordered a retrial. She was convicted again, and this time sentenced to 28.5 years in prison, while Sollecito's sentence remained 25 years.

Knox said she would never return to Italy, and two years after her second conviction the Italian Supreme Court overturned her second conviction.

The slander case

Knox was sued for defamation after she claimed that Mr Lumumba, the owner of Le Chic, killed Ms Kercher.

The trial began on 10 April. Knox chose not to attened the Florence-based trial. In Italy an individual does not need to be present to be tried.

Knox reportedly wanted to stay home with her children.

“Knox, 36, was planning to attend the retrial on Wednesday at Florence’s appeals court but her lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, told Ansa news agency that she remained in the US as

Carlo Dalla Vedova, Knox’s attorney in Italy, told the Ansa news agency that “she is busy taking care of her two young children, one of whom was born recently”, back in the US.

The trial proceeded for approximately four hours before recessing for the day. The trial will pick back up on 5 June for rebuttals and a final decision. Two professional judges and eight civilian jurors are hearing the case, according to the Associated Press.

Mr Lumumba provided police with an alibi and subsequently sued Ms Knox for suggesting he was a murderer.

Knox appealed the defamation conviction, as she had not only not been given legal representation as Italian police questioned her, but they warned her that getting a lawyer would make things worse for her.

She said she made statements regarding Mr Lumumba during the interviews where she was being questioned without requested representation.

Congolese pub owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba who was originally jailed for the murder of Meredith Kercher
Congolese pub owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba who was originally jailed for the murder of Meredith Kercher (AP2008)

In 2023, the Court of Cassation ordered that the conviction be retried. That trial begins on Wednesday in Florence.

Knox said on her podcast, Labyrinths, that she hoped the ruling would clear her of wrongdoing and allow her to be free from any legal consequences of the 2007 murder.

She said any statements she made to police regarding Mr Lumumba were made “under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”

She also pointed out that police told her at the time she was facing 30 years in prison and that Sollecito had flipped on her, which was not true.

“On the one hand, I am glad I have this chance to clear my name, and hopefully that will take away the stigma that I have been living with,’’ she said.

“On the other hand, I don’t know if it ever will, in the way I am still traumatised by it. I am sure people will still hold it against me because they don’t want to understand what happened, and they don’t want to accept that an innocent person can be gaslit and coerced into what I went through.”

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