American Student Amanda Knox Found Guilty of Murder in Italy

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Perugia, Italy—After a sensationalistic, nearly year-long trial that made headlines around the world, University of Washington student Amanda Knox, 22, has been found guilty by two judges and eight jurors.

Knox was accused of being the mastermind behind the brutal murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher, with whom she was living while studying in Perugia. According to prosecutors, Knox and her then-boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, along with another man who was infatuated with Kercher, Rudy Guede, were involved in an episode of sexual violence that culminated in Kercher’s killing. Knox, said prosecutors, ordered the two men to hold the victim down while Knox slashed her throat.

Guede was convicted in a separate trial in October 2008. Both Knox and Sollecito, 25, have been imprisoned for over two years, as the investigation and then the trial have been ongoing.

DNA evidence linked the accused to the victim. A clasp on Kercher’s bra had Sollecito’s DNA on it, although defense claimed that the clasp had been left at the crime scene for weeks and so the evidence was contaminated. Similarly, a knife that prosecutors contended was the murder weapon, and which had both Knox’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s on the blade, has come under scrutiny by the defense, who claim that it does not match the wounds and that it did not have any blood on it.

Knox and Kercher had initially been friends, but had grown apart and then shared a troubled history. Some say that Knox was angry with Kercher; others claimed that she and her boyfriend had gotten into aberrant sexual practices which spilled over and involved the roommate and other friends.

Knox and Sollecito had been charged with theft in addition to the charges of murder and sexual violence, as $444 had been found missing from Kercher’s wallet. The theft charge was the only one for which the Italian jury did not find them guilty.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison; Sollecito was given 25 years. Together, they must pay 5 million euros ($7.4 million USD) to the victim’s family. Additionally, Knox will be required to pay reparations in the amount of 40,000 euros ($60,000) to a man she had falsely accused of the murder, her former boss at an Italian bar.

The murder, which took place in November 2007, has been the subject of intense media scrutiny and public speculation. Perugia is a university town located approximately 115 miles north of Rome.

Both Knox and Sollecito plan to appeal their convictions.

 

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