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Amanda Knox: Path to prosecution, verdict expected soon

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With the verdict on the murder re-trial of American Amanda Knox set to be rendered in a few days from Florence, Italy, a lot of questions still remain as to what led to her prosecution, according to Huffington Post. Although U.S. news media has mainly focused on whether or not Knox could be extradited to Italy if she is re-convicted, there has been a paucity of information provided as to what led to her prosecution in the first place.

Italian prosecutor Giulianni Mignini first focused on Knox as a suspect when he learned from Robyn Butterworth that just hours after Meredith Kercher's mutilated corpse was discovered, Amanda was bragging about "having seen Meredith's body by the closet with a cover or a sheet over her." Buttereworth sensed that Amanda was proud to have been the first to have found her. Butterworth was a friend of victim of Meredith Kercher, according to an article in Vanity Fair.

Mignini wondered how Amanda could have known such vital details if she wasn't involved in the crime itself. The door to Meredith's bedroom had been locked when police arrived. Law enforcement officials had to force open the door to discover the body. The door was quickly closed by the police when they entered the death room. If Amanda had seen the corpse, the prosecutor reasoned, it meant that she had watched Meredith die, according to Vanity Fair.

Mignini then persuaded judges that Amanda was an aggressor involved in the offense. She was portrayed as a histrionic person who never showed any remorse or visible grief for the loss of her roommate. There was also talk that the relationship between Knox and Kercher was strained. The British victim told friends her roommate had a succession of boyfriends, there was irritation over the rent money and that she found Amanda's personal habits sloppy. All of this does not appear to be a strong motive for murder, although many people have been killed for pretty trivial reasons.

Rudy Guede's DNA has been found at the crime scene and as a result he was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Guede was an acquaintance who frequented the the girls' apartment in the days leading up to the murder. He was a native of the Ivory Coast.

Police became more suspicious of Amanda and boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito when they encountered them shortly after the murder and they appeared nervous. Raffaele, who is also on trial for the murder, told law enforcement that Knox spent the previous night with him. When she returned home she found the bathroom smeared with so much blood "it looked as if a butcher had attempted washing up and then given up the task." Sollecito and Knox then told police they discovered the door to Meredith's room locked and a window broken in another bedroom. She told suspicious policemen that her response to the blood-drenched bathroom was to leave Via Pergola and return to tell him the story over breakfast.

Meredith's throat was slashed with a knife blow so powerful it resulted in an eight-by-four centimeter wound which severed a main artery. Meredith was unable to scream for help because of the incapacitating wound. She died a slow, painful death by asphyxiation on the evening of Nov. 1.

The next day a storeowner sold Amanda and Rafaelle thong underwear and claimed he heard a discussion between the two of having wild sex that night. All of the couple's amorous behavior was caught on closed-circuit camera. When the owner of the store recognized Amanda from news reports, he notified police.

Tapes of their discussion in the store were re-played on the news shows in Italy and the police wondered, How could such an insensitive youong woman possibly be innocent? The tape clearly biased many television viewers in Italy against Knox, although it alone would not be evidence she convicted murder.

On Sunday Nov. 4, one day after the publicized shopping tour and two days after the corpse of Meredith was discovered, Amanda and Rafaelle were in the police station of Perugia, Italy. Amanda laughed and performed cartwheels in the police station which further aroused the suspicion of the officers investigating the case. They didn't approve of her behavior following her roommate's death.

But a more serious problem for Amanda was she kept changing her version of what happened. The American told differing accounts of who the killer might be and of events she recalled. At one point she accused her boss and bar owner Patrick Lumumba of killing Meredith. She said, "I recall in a confused way he killed her."

Amanda added further details, "I think I was in the kitchen. At a certain point I heard Meredith's screams and I was afraid and I covered my ears."

Lumumba says he is puzzled by Amanda's accusation of him. His DNA was not found at the crime scene. He had a strong alibi and several witnesses. He served two weeks in jail before he was cleared.

"Why did she do it?" Lumumba asked. "To derail the investigation by pointing the finger at me."

He says Amanda created a completely fictional account to make authorities suspicious of him. While the investigation continues he cannot re-open his bar because he is technically still a suspect under the Italian legal system.

After accusing Lumumba, Amanda retracted her statement implicating Lumumba as the murderer. She later said that she was slapped around by police and threatened with 30 years in prison.

Amanda's boyfriend Sollecito originally gave her an ironclad alibi saying she had been by his side the entire night of the murder at his apartment. He later said he was he was at home working on his computer and smoking marijuana. Beginning at 8 p.m., he and Amanda separated for five hours on the fateful night. He said she went to Lumumba's bar and he stayed home.

Sollecito now claimed his girlfriend pressured him to lie.

With so many conflicting stories from different people, no one is likely to bet their life savings on the outcome of this third murder trial. Knox was found guilty at her first trial, not guilty at the second one and only the judges in Italy know what the final verdict will be in this third trial.

An official for the U.S. government has said America will not extradite Knox to Italy regardless of what the verdict is in this third trial. However, she might be at some risk were she to travel to other countries who also have extradition treaties with Italy.

Ted Simon, who has been assigned the case by the State Department said emphatically the U.S. will not extradite her if her original conviction is upheld.

Knox and Sollecito broke up when they were freed in 2011. She is now dating classical guitarist James Terrano.

The Sunday Express exclusively revealed that Knox spent the 2.4 million pounds she received for her autobiography on huge legal bills. Her parents re-mortgaged their houses to help finance her defense.

Knox opened a Twitter account during the latter part of last year and tweeted that she now accepts Meredith Kercher's family believes she is guilty.

In Knox's favor is the fact Italian police found "not a single trace of Knox's DNA in the bedroom where Meredith Kercher was murdered, according to evidence presented in this third trial. A trace of Sollecito's DNA was found on Kercher's bra.

Also in Knox's favor is that she was questioned without benefit of an attorney and much of what she said was excluded from evidence at the third trial. It is understandable she could be confused in a foreign country without benefit of counsel. Statements by suspects in the U.S. are also excluded if they request an attorney prior to questioning and are not provided one.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009 before being cleared two years later on appeal.

Meredith Kercher was murdered on Nov. 1, 2007 by one or more people.

Knox has told the news media she will remain a fugitive rather than return to Italy if she is convicted this time around.

In the United States legal system, she could not be tried a third time because of the principle of double jeopardy.

Amanda Knox did not appear at this trial, although she did send an e-mail to the Italian court professing her innocence as she has since day one.

It is difficult to know what exactly happened in a foreign country thousands of miles from the U.S. With the language and cultural barriers it is understandable Knox could be confused when she found herself in such a strange situation so far from home in Seattle.

Some reports have said the judges in Italy will render their decision on Jan. 30.

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