David Marriott, a spokesperson for Amanda Knox, announced on Saturday that she will not return to Italy to attend a new appeals trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Marriott said Knox has never agreed to attend, and that her presence is not required.
Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, also issued a statement, telling Florence daily La Nazione that he recently visited Knox in Seattle to discuss the appeal, and that she informed him that she will remain in the United States for the trial. Ghirga also made it clear that Italian law does not require Knox to attend.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in December 2009, for the murder of Meredith Kercher in November 2007. Both were acquitted on appeal in October 2011, after spending 1427 days in prison. In March of this year the Italian Supreme Court annulled the 2011 acquittal, sending the case back to the appellate level for re-trial.
In it’s ruling, the Italian Supreme Court stated that the appellate court did not properly account for the prosecution’s evidence that multiple attackers committed the crime. Oddly, with the multiple attacker theory apparently cemented in their reasoning, the court attempted to give new life to the long discredited sex game gone wrong theory that was originally suggested by Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini during the first trial.
Defense experts suggested that a single attacker committed the crime and prosecution experts could not rule out a single attacker, so it is unclear why the Italian Supreme Court has taken such a strong stance on the multiple attacker theory.
Three people were originally convicted of the murder, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede. Guede’s appeals have been exhausted and his conviction has been finalized by the Italian Supreme Court. All forensic evidence has been shown to point directly at Rudy Guede. Independent court appointed experts discredited the weak evidence against Knox and Sollecito during their appeal, leaving the only probable attacker to be Guede. So it appears the Italian Supreme Court has faulted the appellate court for failing to acknowledge a theory that is not currently supported by evidence.
Will the upcoming appeal against Knox be viewed as a case of double Jeopardy in the United States? It certainly will if you ask retired FBI Agent, Steve Moore:
“Regardless of what Italy might say about any retrial being a “do-over” of the appellate trial, or an extension of the appellate trial; any trial for any offense after a person has been declared not guilty is double jeopardy in the United States. Moore went on to discuss the possibility of extradition if Knox is found guilty in Florence, stating that “no extradition with Italy is possible under that scenario regardless of treaty.”
Appeals court Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann has spoken publicly in defense of his court’s ruling that set Knox and Sollecito free. In an interview with LaStampa, Hellmann suggested the Italian Supreme Court’s annulment is not based on the actual facts. “The party of the Prosecutors had influence on the Supreme Court of Cassation” said Hellmann, adding “I expected that the decision of the Supreme Court would be the annulment and a new trial. The influence (party) of the prosecutors is very strong in the judiciary."
Hellmann has now retired and says he is at peace with his decision. Hellmann has no doubt his court came to the right conclusion stating "I want to see who will take responsibility of convicting two innocent people or at least I challenge anyone to demonstrate that there is evidence to convict them."
The appeal is set to begin on September 30, in Florence, Italy.