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Amanda Knox: Did Sollecito propose to American to escape return to Italy?

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The stunning claim was made recently that Amanda Knox's murder co-defendant and Italian citizen Rafaelle Sollecito proposed marriage to her in Seattle in the hopes of staying in the U.S. and avoid having to return to his native country to stand trial, according to Radar Online News today, Wednesday, Jan. 22. Italian judges are expected to announce a verdict Jan. 30 in the murder re-trial of Knox and Sollecito in connection with the murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

Knox has opted to remain in the U.S. and study textbooks at the University of Washington rather than return for her re-re-trial in Florence in front of new judges and new jurors. She has publicly stated that if she is convicted again this time she will refuse to return to the country shaped like a boot and do any prison time to which she might be sentenced.

Sollecito is in a more risky position because as an Italian citizen he cannot claim refuge in the United States if he is convicted and sentenced to prison in Italy. He has attended some of the trial. In this third trial his defense attorney has attempted to distance him from Knox.

Sollecito made the marriage proposal to Knox in March, according to an article in today's Daily Mail Online. The publication quoted Sollecito's ex-girlfriend Kelsey Kay this week as its source for this information.

Knox and Sollecito were in a romantic relationship at the time Kercher was murdered brutally in 2007. The couple ended their relationship after they were found not guilty in their second trial and released from prison in 2011.

Kay told RadarOnline that Sollecito made the marriage proposal to Knox in the presence of his lawyers and her lawyers in March of 2013. Kay furthers said that "Rafaelle told me that when he had been in Seattle in March, his lawyers and Amanda's lawyers had a meeting where he had proposed the idea of the two of them marrying."

"Rafaele proposed the idea to Amanda and her lawyers so that he could obtain citizenship in the United States and stay," Kay said during her interview with RadarOnline.

Knox reportedly rejected his proposal at the meeting and told her ex that she was in a relationship with classical guitarist James Terrano.

Knox and Sollecito are charged with murdering Kercher, 21 and a Leeds University student, while the two women were exchange students and roommates in Perugia, Italy in 2007. A verdict is expected on Jan. 30 unless something unforeseen happens. Current prosecutor Alessandro Crini asked the judges and jurors for guilty verdicts against the former lovers and sentences of 26 years for both during his closing summation Monday.

He also requested Knox be extradited from the U.S. if she is sentenced to an Italian prison. The American and her Italian boyfriend served four years in prison in Italy for the murder of Kercher, who was discovered with her throat slashed in the apartment she shared with Knox on Nov. 2, 2007.

Although Knox and Sollecito were free after the not guilty verdict in the second trial, Italy's highest court ruled in March of 2013 there would be another re-trial. Sollecito's affluent father Francesco Sollecito, has said his son will not escape from the borders of his native land. He cited the fact his son had been present in court throughout this latest murder trial, even though Knox has not.

Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder, although his conviction papers stated he did not carry it out alone.

The strategy of Sollecito's defense team has been to separate him from Knox based on the closing arguments in court.

A key issue the court is considering is whether or not a knife found in Sollecito's apartment with Kercher's blood on the blade and Knox's DNA on the handle indicates guilt on the part of the two co-defendants. The defense argues it should be excluded as evidence since after the original testing, there was not a sufficient amount of the DNA remaining for the defense to do any re-testing.

The first court considered the knife and found them both guilty. The second court excluded the knife and found them not guilty.

While a verdict is anticipated for Jan. 30, a delay would not shock anyone in this trial which has had more twists and turns than a John Grisham suspense novel.

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