The saga of American Amanda Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito – who were found guilty of murdering a young British woman in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007 – could finally come to a close today with a verdict in their appeal. The path to today’s decision has been a long and convoluted one.
(Editors note – Knox and Sollecito won their appeal earlier today. Click here for details. )
Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student at Perugia's University for Foreigners, is found dead on Nov. 2 in the cottage she shared with Amanda Knox and two other women. She had been stabbed in the throat with a knife.
Days later, Ms. Knox is summoned by local police for questioning. Her contradictory accounts of that night -- at one point in questioning, she confessed to being home at the time of the murder -- transformed her from a witness to a suspect. She accuses a local bartender, Congolese immigrant Patrick Lumumba, for whom she and Ms. Kercher worked. Mr. Lumumbu is arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of murder. Mr. Lumumba is later released based on a solid alibi.
On Nov. 22, Knox casts doubt on the veracity of her early November confession, saying it was made under severe stress, exhaustion, and emotional duress.
Rudy Guede, who came to Italy from Ivory Coast as a child, is arrested by police in Germany after being found on a train without a ticket. Mr. Guede, whose DNA matched DNA found on Kercher, admitted that he had been with Kercher the night of the murder but denied being guilty of the murder, according to CNN.
In January, the trial for Knox and Mr. Sollecito begins. In June, Knox accuses police interrogators of pressuring her, hitting her in the head, and calling her a liar during their questioning in the days after the murder. Knox and Sollecito are found guilty in December. Knox receives a 26-year sentence and Sollecito gets 25 years.
Knox's appeal begins in late May 2011. Guede, who was declared guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison in October 2008, refuses to say during testimony in June that Knox was not involved. He writes a letter, read aloud in the appeal trial, in which he says he believes Knox and Sollecito killed Kercher.
Forensic specialists told the court that the DNA evidence used to link Knox to the murder -- traces of her DNA were found on the handle of the knife believed to be the murder weapon -- was possibly unsound. The specialists also cast doubt on the DNA evidence that prosecutors used to link Sollecito to the murder, saying that the bra clasp that contained his DNA may have been contaminated because it was collected six weeks after the murder.
Experts selected by the court say that the errors made by police during the original investigation should render evidence against Knox and Sollecito inadmissible. Italian police reject the claim and say their methods were sound.
During final arguments, which began Sept. 23, the experts' questioning of the DNA is attacked by the prosecution. The prosecution calls for Knox and Sollecito's sentences to be increased to life, CNN reports.
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