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Convicted of killing her roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007, Amanda Knox, now 24, is due to hear the final verdict on her appeal later today. Knox stood trial alongside her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, for sexual assault and murder of the 21-year-old British national who was on a one-year exchange to Perugia, Italy from her university in Leeds. A third person was also convicted, drug dealer Rudy Guede, 21. In a separate trial, Guede, an Ivory Coast national, was sentenced to 30 years in prison but through appeal, his sentence was reduced to 16 years.
Amanda Knox and her family are hoping that the verdict will be overturned so Knox can return to her native Seattle.
Meredith Kercher was found dead in late 2007 at her and miss Knox’s shared apartment with 40 stab wounds and a slit throat. Evidence also suggested a sexual assault shortly before death. The Italian police launched a murder investigation and five days after the killing, Knox, Sollecito and 38-year-old barman Patrick Diya Lumumba were arrested on suspicion of “conspiracy to commit manslaughter and sexual violence,” according to the BBC timeline.
While Mr. Lumumba was let go soon after, Knox and Sollecito were sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively in December 2009. After 11 months of appeal, Knox’s defense lawyers have focused their case on the DNA evidence of the murder weapon, a kitchen knife, which they argue was contaminated during the investigation and should be considered unreliable. Both Knox and Sollecito’s defense have also suggested that Guede could have been the sole killer, according to CNN.
The case against Knox have been criticized by miss Kercher’s family for over-exposure of Knox’s plea of innocent. In a BBC report, Kercher’s sister is quoted for saying on Italian television: “in these four years, Meredith has been completely forgotten. But we need to find justice for her, we need to find the truth for her.”
Meanwhile, Knox’s father told ABC News that the family would continue fighting for her release. “We will do everything we can. If it happens to go bad we have another alternative in going to the Supreme Court within Italy and we son’t stop until she comes home to us.” He added, “We’re just very hopeful – and she is – that they see she really had nothing to do with this horrific crime.”
A jury of eight members, comprised of two judges and six members of the public, will make the final decision. There can be three different outcomes: The verdict is upheld, the verdict is overturned or, like in the case of Guede, the verdict is partially overturned. In case of the first two options, the losing side is expected to make a new appeal, this time to Italy’s highest court. If Knox is set free, there is no restrictions on her to remain in Italy pending the prosecution’s appeal and an unknown extradition process will likely commence. There will be at least four months between today’s verdict and a possible High Court appeal, according to CNN.
Reuters reported early Monday morning that there are high expectations for the release of the American among many in the United States — trust in the DNA evidence has been shaken and there is still hope that the doubt will set her free.
“She is confident, she is jittery, she is waiting and a little bit frightened by the wait,” Knox’s lawyer Maria Del Grosso told reporters on Saturday. The student will address the jury herself in Italian, which she has learned while being imprisoned for almost four years.
Deliberation has to finish before the jurors can leave their chamber. The two judges can guide the verdict but not control the final decision. Despite the forensic review that weakened the DNA evidence, the prosecution believes there is plenty of other evidence and the actions of Knox and Sollecito to speaks against their innocent.