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December 4, 2009

American Amanda Knox sentenced to 26 year in Italian murder case

I know next to nothing about Italian criminal procedure and sentencing, but I am intrigued to learn that the high-profile murder prosecution of American Amanda Knox concluded today with a conviction and the imposition of a stiff sentence.  Here are detailed from this CNN report:

An Italian jury has found American student Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito guilty in the stabbing death of British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years. Both were convicted on all charges except theft and together must pay 5 million euros ($7.4 million) to the victim's family. In addition, Knox must pay 40,000 euros ($60,000) to a man whom she falsely accused of the killing....

Knox and Sollecito will appeal the verdicts, attorneys said. After the verdict, Knox's lawyer, Carlo Della Vedova said his client was upset, but strong.

He would not speculate on the reason for the verdict. "We have to see the motivation," he said, referring to legal paperwork the judge must file within 90 days to explain the jury's reasoning....

Knox and Sollecito have been jailed for more than two years. The trial began in January in Perugia, a university town about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Rome.

December 4, 2009 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The CNN reversal on converge is fascinating. This case woke up Lisa Bloom.

Posted by: George | Dec 4, 2009 11:08:17 PM

American criminal law totally sucks. It allows 99% of millions of crimes a year off scott free. It falsely convicts 20%, likely a far higher fraction in plea bargain. Most of the laws are garbage laws, prohibiting harmless behavior so that lawyers can seek the rent, defund productive entities such as males, and confiscate vast amounts of hard earned money. It is truly a disgrace.

Italian criminal law is 10 times worse, and nearly non-existent. The Mafia kills prosecutors and judges at will.

I like the inquisitorial judges.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 4, 2009 11:44:46 PM

I don't watch CNN George but I thought the case against her was her strong. There was dead body her house that she couldn't even explain, for crying out loud. I don't think the case was open and shut but from what I read the defense had no effective rebuttal for the presence of the body in her house.

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 5, 2009 2:12:07 AM

Under Italian law, the "appeal" will be a second full-blown trial.

Posted by: Alpino | Dec 5, 2009 2:15:35 AM

Daniel, I haven't followed it but do recall some salacious headlines. Evidently and ironically, CNN and its guests are saying the media tainted the trial and much of the initial coverage was false. Lisa Bloom in particular. If that includes the body or not, I'm not sure. Weren't they roommates? Anyway, it was funny hearing CNN talk about the harm of trial by media.

Alpino, thanks for the information. No one on CNN seemed to know that and most thought reversal on appeal was as unlikely as here in the states.

Posted by: George | Dec 5, 2009 3:49:16 AM

Will she be out on bail during the many years of appeal?

Here are results of crime victim surveys, the best indicator of crime in a nation.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_vic-crime-total-victims

1 in 4 Italians has experienced a crime the prior year. Close to 1 in 5 Americans did. Germany is an overlawyered country, but was not on the list.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 5, 2009 5:04:40 AM

I hardly think that 26 years is a "stiff" sentence.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 5, 2009 11:16:00 AM

We must demonstrate restraint in our condemnation of the Italian court's ruling in Amanda Knox's case. The victim's family deserves some considerations too. Somebody called her conviction a travesty of justice. That was a pretty strong statement in my judgment. Our criminal justice system is not perfect either. A murderer should not be set free just because he or she is an American. Talk about why they hate us.

Posted by: sampson ojukwu | Dec 5, 2009 12:20:28 PM

We do give life sentences for non-violent crimes. 1 in 30 of our citizens is under the control of the criminal justice system. I'm not sure how we can make judgments about the harshness of sentencing in foreign countries.

Posted by: beth | Dec 5, 2009 1:29:56 PM

I was not criticizing either US or Italian justice for its harshness toward cold-hearted murderers. They both suck for their love of the criminal, their protection of the criminal for rent, and government make work jobs dependent on the criminal.

So Amanda should be summarily executed for her crime. Instead, we get endless self-dealing, lawyer, pretextual procedure.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 5, 2009 2:45:01 PM

George. Yes, they were roommates, that's the whole point.

This is what the case boils down too.

Prosecution: There's the murdered body in the house that your client lived in and the it appears you were the last one to see her alive. Do you know what happened?

Defense: No.

That's just not plausible in my opinion. Most murder cases are circumstantial and the circumstantial evidence here was strong. Do I know if she is guilty. No. But this is not street justice by the Italians.

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 5, 2009 2:52:27 PM

As an interested citizen who has loosely followed the Amanda Knox case in Italy and having no knowledge of Italian law have two questions:

Does she get credit for time served awaiting the court system?

Is the 26 years hard time, meaning she will not be eligible for early release (or parole) for being a model prisoner?

Posted by: Jamaga | Dec 5, 2009 9:01:44 PM

federalist: "I hardly think that 26 years is a "stiff" sentence."

Let's revisit the question, federalist after you've spent 26 days (or 26 hours, for that matter) in a noisy, hostile, frightening confinement with presumably dangerous cellmates far away from everything you're familiar with.

It's that sort of lack of imagination that fosters a system like ours in which sentences of two or five or 10 years are routinely dismissed as "lenient."

Posted by: John K | Dec 5, 2009 10:58:15 PM

it appears that those posting here who think that amanda is truly guilty have not followed the case

the real murderer was found and convicted

the prosecutor, who is under criminal indictment for abuse of office, sees a satanist behind every curtain and is a full blown misogynist

this case was right out of the witch trials of the inqusition

Posted by: uncle joe mccarthy | Dec 6, 2009 2:51:26 AM

Can we please have more uninformed opinions?

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 6, 2009 4:57:22 AM

I've followed the case a bit from Europe - I live not in Italy but in neighbouring France, where the information about Italian affairs is quite good. It's true that the evidence against Ms. Knox and her boyfriend (let's not forget: an Italian was found guilty as well on the same evidence...) was largely circumstantial. My biggest problem is that the prosecution made a big issue of the fact that the murder weapon was a carving knife from the boyfriend's kitchen, which had the victim's DNA on the blade and Ms. Knox's DNA on its handle. Well... she might have used that knife at any time in her boyfriend's appartment. It had been scrubbed, true, but perhaps it was just bad luck that her DNA didn't come off. On the other hand...

...certain aspects of this case DO implicate Ms. Knox if not in murder then in a serious cover-up for heavens know what reasons. She gave the name of the wrong African immigrant to the police, apparently to give the actual culprit time to escape, so that a totally innocent man spent 3 weeks in jail and saw the cafe he owned go down the drains. The police found a window smashed from the inside in a clear attempt to make it look like the murder had been committed by an intruder. Now... who would do that other than a guilty person who realises that, being the one who has the key to the door, she will be implicated?

Posted by: Hans | Dec 6, 2009 6:58:12 AM

If I found my roommate butchered, I would freak out, yelling and leaping about. She was weirdly quiet, hanging out with the boyfriend. That can only happen if you already knew there was a body in the apartment.

Also I have faith in the jury system.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 6, 2009 10:40:36 AM

Uncle Joe.

I don't know of anyone on these boards that thinks she is "truly guilty". What I object to is the portrayal of this trial as some type of "witch trial". It is plainly not, as anyone who has looked at the basic facts knows. This was a rational and reasonable case for the prosecution to go to trial with. I would have said the same thing if the jury had found her not guilty.

SC. "Also I have faith in the jury system."

I laughed so hard it brought tears to me eyes.

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 6, 2009 12:16:33 PM

Knox could have gotten life so at least the sentencing isn't all bad. Who knows maybe she'll be eligible for an international exchange of some sort.

Posted by: Eric Davidson | Dec 6, 2009 6:43:37 PM

Just a comment from my own watching of CNN:

In the last decade there have been a small number of instances of Americans being convicted of murder in other countries. It strikes me as rather odd that each time, pundits thump their chests (and their egos) and loudly proclaim a foregone verdict by a tainted jury in a small town that smelled blood.

I'm not saying that Amanda Knox was guilty as a factual matter--I don't think anyone knows that for certain. But there certainly was evidence against her that would get to a jury in our system, and frequently in this country people are convicted on similar evidence. This was hardly a savage anomaly, and in my humble opinion it is irresponsible of journalists (insofar as CNN really has "journalists" to speak of) to slander a verdict as clearly wrong simply because one of our own is in the crosshairs.

Ironically I think, it was CNN with the foregone conclusion. Nothing save an acquittal would have prevented the ensuing pundit pandemonium.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Dec 7, 2009 12:48:31 PM

Knox will get credit for time served. A 26-year sentence means she'll likely do less than ten (which, of course, takes into account the time already served).

Posted by: Alpino | Dec 7, 2009 1:39:08 PM

Res ipsa, Lisa Bloom argued that there was enough evidence to convict Knox and that she would likely be convicted here in the states given the same evidence, but that was her problem with it. In other words, it can be at times too easy to convict especially given all the pre-trial publicity. I like this because my complaint with the justice system is that the media has too much power and it is often based on false information that lawmakers take as fact. Indeed, if not for that, I probably wouldn't object the the justice system at all. If society wants tough laws, so be it, but they should not be based on false premises and if based on false premises contempt for the law is only logical. For example, the last effort before voters on the California Three Strikes law looked like it was going to pass. Just before the election Gov. Schwarzenegger initiated a media blitz against it using the fear mongering language a court had stuck from the opposition of the amendment that was false, but most voters don't even know it because Schwarzenegger made the rounds with editorial boards of newspapers. The amendment was defeated. Contempt.

Posted by: George | Dec 7, 2009 2:49:21 PM

The evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is overwhelming.

Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on:

1. On the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo and Professor Francesca Torricelli - categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade.

2. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the ledge of the basin.

3. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the bidet.

4. Mixed with Meredith blood on a box of Q Tip cotton swabs.

5. Mixed with Meredith’s blood in the hallway.

6. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the floor of Filomena’s room, where the break-in was staged.

7. On Meredith’s bra according to Dr. Stefanoni AND Raffaele Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Vinci.

Amanda Knox’s footprints were found set in Meredith’s blood in two places in the hallway of the new wing of the cottage. One print was exiting her own room, and one print was outside Meredith’s room, facing into the room. These bloody footprints were only revealed under luminol.

A woman’s bloody shoeprint, which matched Amanda Knox’s foot size, was found on a pillow under Meredith’s body. The bloody shoeprint was incompatible with Meredith’s shoe size.

Two independent imprint experts categorically excluded the possibility that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat could belong to Rudy Guede. Lorenzo Rinaldi stated:

“You can see clearly that this bloody footprint on the rug does not belong to Mr. Guede, but you can see that it is compatible with Sollecito.”

The other imprint expert print expert testified that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot.

An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito's DNA was found on Meredith's bra clasp. Sollecito must have applied considerable pressure to the clasp in order to have left so much DNA. The hooks on the clasp were damaged which confirms that Sollecito had gripped them tightly.

According to Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani, Rudy Guede's visible bloody footprints lead straight out of Meredith's room and out of the house. He didn't lock Meredith's door, remove his trainers, go into Filomena's room or the bathroom that Meredith and Knox shared.

He didn't scale the vertical wall outside Filomena's room or gain access through the window. The break-in was clearly staged. This indicates that somebody who lived at the cottage was trying to deflect attention away from themselves and give the impression that a stranger had broken in and killed Meredith.

Guede had no reason to stage the break-in and there was no physical evidence that he went into Filomena's room or the bathroom. The scientific police found a mixture of Knox's DNA and Meredith's blood on the floor in Filomena's room. They also found irrefutable proof that Knox and Sollecito had tracked Meredith's blood into the bathroom.

The murder dynamic implicates Knox and Sollecito.

Barbie Nadeau wrote the following:

"Countless forensic experts, including those who performed the autopsies on Kercher's body, have testified that more than one person killed her based on the size and location of her injuries and the fact that she didn't fight back—no hair or skin was found under her fingernails."

Judge Paolo Micheli claimed that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito knew precise details about Meredith's murder that they could have only known if they were present when she was killed.

Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted that she involved in Meredith's murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007. She stated on at least four separate occasions that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed. She also claimed that Sollecito was at the cottage.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito both gave multiple conflicting alibis and lied repeatedly. Their lies were exposed by telephone and computer records, and by CCTV footage. Neither Knox nor Sollecito have credible alibis for the night of the murder despite three attempt each. At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox's alibi that she was at his apartment.

Legal expert Stefano Maffei stated the following:

"There were 19 judges who looked at the evidence over the course of two years, faced with decisions on pre-trial detention, review of such detention, committal to trial, judgment on criminal responsibility. They all agreed, at all times, that the evidence was overwhelming."

Posted by: Harry Rag | May 10, 2010 12:15:16 PM

The lengthy list of half truths above sounds very damning until you look closer and find that it is just a laundry list of prosecution and even tabloid leak factoids. For instance every instance of Amanda's DNA listed are cohabitation traces... not linked in any way to the murder. The same sort of traces found in any house where people live. The alleged blood traces were not tested to see if they were blood outside of the bathroom and again poor forensic practice and selective withholding of results and failure to do test normally done for comparison purposes make all of it unusable or meaningless. The only traces in the hall definitely linked to the murder were made by Guede's shoes. Not one trace can be linked to anyone else as being made on the night of the 1st. 4 people lived in the house and they had visitors. The hall floor can be seen to have dust on it in forensic pictures. The footprint on the mat is Guede's despite the efforts of the prosecution "expert" who was caught out with other admitted mistakes and whose creditability is in extreme doubt and appears to be a tool of the prosecution and not a neutral truth seeker.
There are several outright lies in the previous comment. No DNA or any other trace of Amanda was found in the murder room. The footprints alleged to be hers are partial prints from Rudy Guede's shoes.
The prosecution claims Abundant DNA on the bra clasp... There is no scientific word for DNA quantity like "abundant"... the partial match that could be Raffaeles was from contamination from sitting on the floor of the murder scene for 47 days, contamination from the way it was collected (there is video proof of it being tainted evidence) or from contamination in the lab. 5 other profiles were detected on the same tiny clasp and no effort was made to explain them... only the one that vaguely could be claimed to partially match Raffaele's was termed "Abundant".
To refute all the disinformation in the mishmash comment above would take too long as its poster knows very well, so if you want to know more try this link ...http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/
which does a very good job revealing the truth of a serious injustice and refuting the superficial "usual suspects" red herrings alleged to be evidence.

Posted by: Questor | May 18, 2010 2:21:59 PM

For those not familiar with this case Rudy Guede is guilty as sin. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are totally innocent. In Italy’s trial of the century, their justice system was broken.

Vast evidence indicates that Guede committed the crime but the police and prosecutor become fixated on a theory that would have no parallel in the history of crime. They believe that Amanda Knox got together with Guede, who she had seen around but did not know personally, for a sex orgy involving her, Meredith, and her new Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Meredith is murdered when she resists. Sexually motivated homicides are almost always committed by troubled males acting alone. There is no credible evidence that this crime was an exception.

No biological material of Amanda Knox was found in the room where the murder took place, none. Rudy Guede's DNA was everywhere including in area indicating sexual penetration. His palm print was there in the victim's blood; his foot prints are there; he flees; he admits being there. Guede had no visible means of support and was not a student. Meredith had started dating an Italian young man and no one knew of a relationship between her and Guede. Rudy says he had consensual sexual contact with the victim and somebody else came in and killed her while he was sitting on the toilet. The defensive wounds on his hands were from his heroic attempts to fight off the real attacker. He doesn't call police or an ambulance but instead goes to a disco to further party that night. The next day he flees to Germany.

In the weeks prior to the crime he had participated in at least three separate breaking and entering incidents in which he was armed with a knife and had no accomplices. He had a history of knife fights and he had motives of sexual desire and theft.

The prosecution claims that Amanda confessed but they have no video or recordings of her interrogation. Two days after the murder Amanda had written a 6 page email to 25 family and friends in which she detailed her version of the events. That version of events appears truthful in all respects and is presumed to be what she told police at least until they started playing tough with her.

The prosecution claims two pieces of DNA evidence link Amanda and Raffaele to the crime, but outside experts have heavily disputed the validity of these two items. Both were of trace amounts and could have gotten there through contamination or transfer by innocent means. Prosecutors explain the lack of DNA evidence with claims that that Amanda and Raffaele had cleaned it all up with bleach.

This case was one of the great travesties of justice of our time. Commentators in the US have condemned this trial in the strongest terms. Italian law prohibits publication of the trial record to the Internet meaning that the important public debate on this issue has been defined by second hand information.


I am a citizen with a grass roots interest in the case.

Posted by: PhanuelB | May 18, 2010 9:01:06 PM

Let's documents what commentators in the US are saying:

Senator Maria Cantwell (Dem. Washington)
“The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty.”

George Fletcher (Columbia University Law School Professor)
“I think this is a scandal of the highest order”

John Q. Kelly (Attorney in OJ Civil Case. Larry King Live 9-Oct-09)
“It's probably the most egregious, international railroading of two innocent young people that I have ever seen. This is actually a public lynching based on rank speculation, and vindictiveness.”

Steve Moore (Retired FBI Agent – 25 years)
“One reason that they were falsely convicted was that every rule of good investigation was violated.”

Peter Van Sant (CBS News Correspondent)
“She’s an innocent woman. And I would stake my reputation as a journalist [on that] and I have been in this business for a quarter century.”

Judy Bachrach (Vanity Fair Editor,Guest on CNN)
"I have always thought that Amanda was going to go to a Kangaroo court and unfortunately I’ve been proven correct."

Doug Preston (Best Selling Author, Appeared on CNN and CBS)
“This is a case based on lies, superstition, and crazy conspiracy theories and that’s it.”

Tim Egan (New York Times Columnist)
“Preposterous made-up sexual motives were ascribed to her.”
“What century is this? Didn’t Joan of Arc, the Inquisition and our own American Salem witch trials teach civilized nations a thing or two about contrived sexual hysteria with a devil twist?”

Madison Paxton (CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees 4-Dec-09)
“When I was there – I saw every single day I was in court, I saw jury members sleeping through Amanda’s defense.”

Barbie Latza Nadeau (Author, Newsweek Correspondent,7-Apr-10 )
"I was in Perugia when those op-ed pieces came out [Tim Egan New York Times Jun-09] and they were not helpful to Amanda. The prosecutor was angry, the jury members were insulted.”

Barbie Latza Nadeau (Angel Face p.27)
“After she was arrested, the police set a trap for Amanda by telling her she had tested positive for HIV. This sort of psychological trickery is commonly used by investigators in Italy to illicit a confession.”

Paul Ciolino (Private Investigator retained by CBS)
“This is a lynching. This is a lynching that’s happening in modern day Europe right now and it’s happening to an American girl who has no business being charged with anything.”

Judge Michael Heavey (Seattle area Superior Court Judge)
“The prosecutor’s office, police and prison employees have made illegal and false statements to the press. These false reports have wrongfully poisoned the well of public opinion against Amanda. A Perugian judge, Claudia Matteini, was caught up in this false speculation and has repeated and added to the false speculation in her opinions.”

Posted by: PhanuelB | May 19, 2010 6:42:06 AM

Amanda didn't kill Meredith, and this is why her family wants desperately to bring her home. You'd want to do the same if your daughter/sister/friend was unjustly convicted. Find out all you can before you decide that the cops and prosecutor are the "good guys" who must have had reason beyond a shadow of a doubt to send this girl to prison. In fact, there is no credible evidence with which to convict her. Injustice in Perugia org

Posted by: Heather Coy | May 20, 2010 1:50:18 PM

Do you believe Amanda Knox is guilty? If your only sources are tabloid headlines and one or two websites that post hateful propaganda, you’ll want to hang her. But when I looked past the accusations with an open mind at her side of the story, I cried and wanted to hug her. I challenge you to look at both sides before you make up your mind.
Proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? Not even close.
Please…look for the truth and don’t be part of the witch hunt.
http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/
injustice in perugia . org

Posted by: kitty waters | May 25, 2010 1:28:52 PM

If you think Amanda Knox is guilty, then why? Because you heard someone say so? Because you accepted without questioning some myth about a cartwheel or accusing an innocent man? (Not true.) If the information you heard is wrong, then so is your conclusion. If she was your daughter/sister/friend, wouldn’t you want people to listen to both sides of the story before deciding?
http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/
injustice in perugia . org

Posted by: may doveaston | Jun 11, 2010 3:10:15 PM

A bright young honor student with a reputation for kindness and honesty goes off to study in Italy and overnight turns into a vicious murderer and liar? I’m skeptical. Seems hard to believe without some real proof. I looked all over the net for proof and didn’t find it. Found lots of slurs and allegations but all of it shown to be untrue or reasonably refuted. I’m firmly convinced she is innocent. Now someone has collected the information and posted it here:
http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/
injustice in perugia . org

Posted by: may doveaston | Jun 22, 2010 5:38:07 PM

Judge Massei's 427- page report will be published in English on Monday 9 August. It will be available for download from PMF and TJMK.

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