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Entries in Perugia (16)

Tuesday
Oct042011

Amanda Knox's First Words Since Regaining Freedom

Tiziana Fabi - Pool/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox's first comments since she was acquitted of murder have arrived in a written letter of thanks to a U.S.- Italian foundation for supporting her through her four-year ordeal.

Knox was thankful people were there, "To hold my hand and offer the support and respect through the barriers and controversies of the Italians. There was the Italy U.S.A. Foundation, and many who have shared my pain and helped me to survive on hope," Knox wrote Tuesday in a letter addressed to the Secretary General of the Italy-U.S. Foundation, Corrado Maria Daclon.

"I am forever grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous efforts.  Those who wrote to me, who defended me, who stayed close to me, who prayed for me.  We are forever grateful.  I love you.  Amanda," the letter read.

The Italy-U.S. Foundation said Knox departed shortly after noon on Tuesday from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport.  After a layover, she's set to board a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to arrive Tuesday evening in her hometown of Seattle.

Daclon confirmed that he was with Knox from Monday night when he went to see her at prison, until Tuesday morning when he left her at the airport gate.  He confirmed that he and Knox went through special security channels and that the rest of the Knox family departed on same flight.

"She is very tried... it's a mix of emotions...," Daclon told ABC News. "Tired by this long limbo of a year's appeal trial...the uncertainty of the result made her more tense and she was very worried."

He said that Knox said nothing when they departed.

"We just hugged and looked at each other," he said.

"She told me that she has nothing against Italy and the Italians.  She is just upset about the judicial mistake but she has said she will come back to Italy," Daclon said she told him early Tuesday morning.

Knox, 24, and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, were convicted in December 2009 of killing her roommate Meredith Kercher in a 2007 attack that left the British exchange student partially nude and bleeding to death from a slashed throat.  Sollecito was also acquitted of the murder on Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Amanda Knox Acquitted of Murder, to Be Released from Prison

Amanda Knox sobs with relief as she is removed from the courtroom after her acquittal. ABC News(PERUGIA, Italy) -- A jubilant Amanda Knox was cleared of murder charges Monday by an Italian appeals court, ending her four-year prison ordeal and clearing the way for the American student to return home to Seattle.

The tension of the moment was so acute and full of dread for Knox that she looked pale and physically ill when she was brought into the courtroom for the verdict. When the judge cracked the tension by announcing that she was acquitted, Knox nearly collapsed. She was rushed out of the courtroom, barely able to walk, stumbling while being hauled along by court officers.

The former exchange student was crying and doubled over, her head occasionally coming up for big breaths of air.

Left behind in the courtroom was the family of Meredith Kercher, Knox's British roommate who she was accused of killing. Kercher's mother, Arline Kercher, sat stoically long after the elated Knox family hugged each other fiercely and streamed out into the street.

In the street, the family was greeted with cheers and boos, with some shouting "disgrace."

Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in December 2009 of killing Kercher in a 2007 attack that left the British exchange student partially nude and bleeding to death from a slashed throat.

Sollecito's conviction was also overturned.

Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, have spent the last four years in an Italian prison and faced the prospect of a life sentence depending on the appeals court ruling.

The court's six jurors and two judges deliberated for hours after listening in the morning to impassioned pleas by Knox and Sollecito to throw out the guilty verdict and set them free.

Knox struggled through tears and, at times, a shaking voice, as she addressed the court in Italian.

"I want to go home. I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished... I don't want my future taken away from me for something I didn't do because I am innocent," she said.

"I didn't do what they say I did. I didn't kill. I didn't rape. I didn't steal. I was not there," Knox insisted.

In encouraging the six jurors and two judges to set her free, Knox said, "I am not escaping truth. I am not fleeing from justice. I insist on the truth."

Lawyers for the prosecution called Knox a sex obsessed "she devil" and a liar. Twice they showed the court grisly photos of Kercher's nude and bloodied body, along with close-ups of the gash in her neck.

Knox's defense countered, saying that she wasn't a "she devil," but was more like Jessica Rabbit, the voluptuous cartoon character who was tender and loving. "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way," was her trademark line.

Knox's lawyers told the court she had been "crucified" by the media during the investigation and trial, a reference to the often lurid coverage of the case in tabloid papers, as well as seven books and a movie.

Forensics may have played a bigger role than rhetoric in the court's verdict. Much of the appeal revolved around whether the DNA on two key pieces of evidence were credible.

Two court appointed experts looked at the prosecution's evidence and delivered a damning assessment that the manner in which the DNA was collected, stored and analyzed was below international standards.

The prosecution defended their evidence and dismissed the experts' conclusion as the shoddy work of people with little experience in genuine investigations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Amanda Knox Makes Final Plea: 'We Deserve Freedom'

Franco Origlia/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Amanda Knox Appeals Court Has Reached a Verdict

The Italian jury considering whether to overturn Amanda Knox's murder conviction and let her go home to Seattle -- or send her back to prison -- has reached a verdict, court officials said. The six jurors and two judges are expected to announce their decision at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox made her final plea for freedom before the courtroom in Perugia Monday, telling the Italian judges and jurors, "I don't want my future taken away from me for something I didn't do because I am innocent.”

Crying and with a shaky voice, Knox delivered her statement in Italian after her codefendant and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito made his last remarks and her lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, made his final rebuttal.

[Click here to see Amanda Knox make her final plea]

Knox and Sollecito are appealing their conviction for the 2007 murder of Knox' British roommate, Meredith Kercher.  Knox, 24, was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Sollecito, 27, was given 25.

Through a translator, Knox said, "I didn't do what they say I did.  I didn't kill.  I didn't rape.... I was not there."

"...This person [Kercher] who I shared my life with, who had the bed next to mine had been killed in our home, and if I had been there that night, I would be dead, I would be killed,” she continued.  "The only difference is I was not there.  I was at Raffaele's place."

"I am not escaping truth.  I am not fleeing from justice.  I insist on the truth," Knox said.

She concluded, "We deserve freedom.”

Following Knox's statement, the court adjourned to allow the six jurors and two judges to begin their deliberations.  They do not have to reach a unanimous verdict; a majority vote will decide Knox and Sollecito's fate, and if the judges and jurors are evenly split, the two will be freed.

Knox and Sollecito have been transported back to prison, where they'll await the decision.  A verdict is not expected to come before 8 p.m. local time, or 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Meredith Kercher's Family: Media Coverage May Influence Verdict

Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Franco Origlia/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- The family of Meredith Kercher said Monday they still believe Amanda Knox took part in her murder and are in no mood to think about forgiveness.

Kercher's family spoke as the six jurors and two judges were deliberating whether to uphold or throw out the 2009 murder conviction of Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

The Kerchers have stayed away from the nearly year-long trial in Perugia, Italy, until Monday when they arrived to witness the appeals verdict.

Meredith Kercher's mother Arline was joined by her sister Stephanie and her brother Lyle. When asked if they believe in the original guilty verdict, Stephanie Kercher said, "We were satisfied with the verdict… Nothing's changed."

"It's very difficult to talk about forgiveness at this time, with the [media] hype around the case. And the defendant is involved in that. The brutality of it has been forgotten," said Kercher's brother, Lyle. "There comes a point when we are just battling against what's essentially a PR machine."

Referring to the gruesome autopsy photos that were shown during the trial and appeal, the brother said, "If we had them all up here," he said pointing to the wall behind him, "you would find it hard to forgive someone who had done that to your loved one."

"I'm not sure we'll be looking for forgiveness for a while," he said. The Kercher family, who traveled from their home in Britain, are wary about the current attention on Knox instead of Meredith Kercher.

"It's been four years now, and the focus has shifted for obvious reasons onto the proceedings at court at the moment, but Meredith has been forgotten in all of it," said Stephanie Kercher.

If the appeal is overturned, Knox and Sollecito will be freed from prison. If the conviction is upheld, Knox may have to serve out her 26 year prison sentence and Sollecito will have to complete his 25 year term. Those sentences could be reduced or increased to life, which is what the prosecution is seeking.

Kercher, a student at the University of Leeds, was studying abroad in Perugia for a year when she was killed. She had been sharing an apartment with Knox, an American student studying abroad, and two Italian women. She was found partially nude and with her throat slit in her bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007.

A third person, Rudy Guede, 22, was also convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in her murder.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Amanda Knox Ready to Make Emotional Appeal for Her Freedom

MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox has one last chance to save herself from spending the next two decades in an Italian prison when she stands in the Perugia courtroom Monday and pleads with the jury to believe her when she says she is innocent.

"She will be fighting for her life," Knox's mother Edda Mellas told ABC News last week in the final days of the appeal.  She entered court Monday morning holding hands with her husband, Chris Mellas.

Knox has been working on her statement for three months, her father Curt Knox said, an acknowledgement that there is a lot riding on it.

Knox's statement on Monday comes after her lawyer makes a final rebuttal and her codefendant and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito makes his personal statement.

Interest in the pending verdict is so intense that court officials removed seats from the court room to accommodate more observers, although it is standing room only.

The two are appealing their 2009 conviction for murder.  A jury concluded they were guilty of killing Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher in November 2007 in the cottage the two women shared in Perugia.  Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito was given 25 years.

Sitting in the courtroom are Knox's family who are holding their breath in hopes that after four years in an Italian prison cell they will be able to take her home to Seattle.

Also in the courtroom are Kercher's family, who have made it clear that they believe Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, are guilty.

The six jurors and two judges do not have to be unanimous in their verdict.  A majority vote will decide their fate, and if they are evenly split, Knox and Sollecito will walk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Amanda Knox's Dad Says Summations 'Couldn't Have Gone Any Better'

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Lawyers for Amanda Knox wrapped up their summations Thursday in the appeal of her Italian murder conviction, and her relieved father said, "It couldn't have gone any better."

The worried father, Curt Knox, acknowledged it remains uncertain how the six jurors and two judges will react to the appeal.

"I'm not the one actually making the choice. I'm just hoping the judge and jury heard what I heard today," Curt Knox told ABC News.

Amanda Knox, 24, and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, are asking the court in Perugia, Italy, to throw out a 2009 conviction that they murdered Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher. The two women were sharing a cottage during a year studying in Italy when Kercher's partially nude body was found in her bedroom with her throat slashed in November 2007.

Knox and Sollecito have spent the last four years in an Italian prison. Knox is serving a 26 year sentence, while Sollecito was given a 25 year sentence. A verdict on their appeal is expected Monday. One possibility is that the court could agree with the prosecutors and extend their prison sentences to life.

Knox attorney Luciano Ghirga closed the team's summations by alluding to the suffering of Knox and her family during the four years of investigation, trial and appeal for a murder he inisted she didn't commit.

Knox's legal team concluded their 10-month long appeal Thursday by attacking the prosecution's theories on the alleged murder weapon and the couple's alleged motive for brutally assaulting Kercher.

One of the key pieces of evidence for the prosecution during the initial murder trial was a knife found in a kitchen drawer at Sollecito's apartment that investigators claim was the weapon used to kill Kercher. They claimed that DNA from Knox was on the handle and DNA from Kercher was on the blade.

Two forensic experts appointed by the court during the appeal, however, have said there was not enough DNA to prove it belonged to Kercher. The experts also said they believed the DNA came from rye bread.

Dalla Vedova also pointed out to the jury that the prosecution's motive for the November 2007 murder in Perugia, Italy, has shifted several times. The initial accusation was that Kercher died in a sex game gone awry. During the trial the motive changed to a furious Knox attacking Kercher out of hatred over her criticism and a fight over money. At the conclusion of the murder trial, the prosecution said simply they "killed for no reason."

So there is "no motive and no murder weapon." Ghirga said.

Another target of Knox's lawyers Thursday was Rudy Guede, a local drifter who was convicted of taking part in the Kercher murder in a separate trial. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison on his final appeal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Thursday
Sep292011

Amanda Knox Defense Slices into Murder Weapon Evidence

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox's lawyer attacked the last key piece of evidence in her Italian murder trial Thursday, saying the prosecution's claim that a knife found in her ex-boyfriend's apartment was the murder weapon was "total imagination."

Defense lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova also pointed out to the jury that the prosecution's motive for the November 2007 murder in Perugia, Italy, has shifted several times.  The initial accusation was that Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher died in a sex game gone awry.  During the trial, the motive changed to a furious Knox attacking Kercher out of hatred over her criticism and a fight over money.

At the conclusion of the murder trial, the prosecution said simply they "killed for no reason."  And during Knox's current appeal, prosecutors asked that her 26-year prison sentence be increased to a life term because the motive for the killing was "futile," an Italian legal term that means there was no motive.

Speaking passionately to a hushed courtroom, the lawyer told the jury, "Amanda is innocent.  She has spent more than 1,000 days in jail for a murder she did not commit."

Knox and her family looked more relaxed Thursday as the grueling appeals process -- and possibly her four-year prison ordeal -- is nearing an end.  She nodded at her family while entering court on Thursday amid a barrage of camera flashes from the media and mouthed "bongiorno."

The judge said Thursday that Knox and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito will have to wait until Monday to find out if their murder conviction is overturned or their sentences increased to life behind bars.  The judge had previously said the verdict could come as early as Saturday.

One of the key pieces of evidence for the prosecution during the initial murder trial was a knife found in a kitchen drawer at Sollecito's apartment which investigators claim was the weapon used to kill Kercher.  They claimed that DNA from Knox was on the handle and DNA from Kercher was on the blade.

Two forensic experts appointed by the court during the appeal, however, have said there was not enough DNA to prove it belonged to Kercher.  The experts also said they believed the DNA came from rye bread.

Dalla Vedova tried to add to the doubt by citing defense forensic experts who determined that the blade was not compatible with Kercher's wounds and that it was expected to have Knox's DNA on it because she cooked at Sollecito's apartment.

He calls the theory that Knox had the large kitchen knife in her bag an "incredible story" and "total imagination."  She didn't carry a knife with her because she wasn't scared in Perugia, even though she worked at a bar at night.

If a knife that large was used to stab Kercher in the neck with such force, "it would have come out the other side of her body," the lawyer argued.

And if it was murder weapon, Dalla Vedova asked rhetorically, why wouldn't they just throw it into the canyon next to the crime scene rather than take it back to Sollecito's house?

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep282011

Amanda Knox's Sisters 'Hoping for the Best' as Appeals Trial Concludes

MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Every week for the past four years, at least one member of Amanda Knox's family has made the trip to the Italian prison where the American student is being held.

Wednesday morning, Knox's parents, stepparents, aunts and sisters made what they hope will be their final visit to the prison as the appeals case in her 2009 murder conviction nears its conclusion. They're hoping the case will end in a verdict that will free her from a sentence of 26 years in jail.

"She's doing really good," Knox's sister, Deana, told ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday in an exclusive interview from Italy with Knox's two other sisters, Ashley and Delaney, after their visit.

Knox, 24, and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, were convicted in 2009 of murdering Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, where both women were spending a year abroad to study.  Knox has been sentenced to 26 years, while Sollecito got 25 years in prison.

"I cherish every moment I get with her because you don't know when it could be your last," Knox's younger sister, Delaney, who had not seen her sister in two years before Wednesday's visit, told GMA.  "But I'm hoping for the best and things are going good."

Knox's family said they now see new reason for hope in the final days of the often tense trial.

Knox herself looked more optimistic in court this week as her lawyers urged the judge and jury, "If you have any doubt about the DNA evidence, you must set her free."

At the end of Tuesday's session, Edda Mellas, Knox's mother, told ABC News that she saw Knox smile for the first time and asked her daughter, "'Can you feel the light?' because today's hearing was great."

"I think we got past all of the hard stuff in the last couple of days," Deana said on GMA.  "We finally started the good days with all the defense and she was really happy that process has begun."

The judge presiding over the appeal by Knox and Sollecito said that the final arguments were moving along so quickly that a verdict could come as soon as Saturday.  It had originally been anticipated to be delivered early next week.

A key moment in the trial still to come will be when Amanda Knox addresses the court, either Friday or Saturday.  Knox will be the last person to speak before the six jurors and two judges retire to decide whether to overturn her murder conviction and set her free, or increase her 26-year prison sentence to life in prison.

Knox's family said she has been working on the statement, which she plans to deliver in Italian, for more than three months.

"She really wants to just show the court who she really is," Deana said on GMA. "She doesn't want them to believe the character that all the prosecutors have played out.  She wants them to know who she is."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep272011

Lawyer: Amanda Knox Is Jessica Rabbit, Not 'She Devil'

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- The defense of Amanda Knox began Tuesday by denying claims over the last three days that she is a murderer and a sex-obsessed "she devil" who orchestrated the killing of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.

Instead of a she devil, attorney Giulia Bongiorno told the Italian court that Knox is more like Jessica Rabbit, the sexy yet loyal and tender femme fatale of the Who Killed Roger Rabbit? movie.

She paraphrased a famous line from the movie in which Jessica says, "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Bongiorno invoked the loving image of Jessica Rabbit when she mentioned the pictures of Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito embracing outside the Perugia cottage where Kercher was killed and later at the police station while waiting to be interrogated.

Those images have been used by the prosecution and the press to reinforce an image of Knox being more interested in sex than her slain roommate.

The embrace outside the cottage, Bongiorno said, was "tenderness, not obsession." And she added that she didn't know that "two young kids were not allowed to embrace in police stations."

Knox's defense was launched by Bongiorno, who is actually the lawyer for Sollecito, who was convicted of Kercher's 2007 murder along with Knox. A third person, Rudy Guede, was also convicted in a separate trial of taking part in the murder. He was sentenced to 16 years on his final appeal.

Bongiorno told the appeals court that the case has been "Amanda-centric." Sollecito was convicted of taking part in the killing because he was Knox's boyfriend, she said.

Bongiorno said the image of the two suspects was drawn up by prosecutors to fit the crime.

The real problem with the trial is "haste" she said, "haste to resolve the case in four days, haste to find the evidence to fit the crime, including haste to find the murder weapon." She said the prosecution should have abandoned the case against Knox and Sollecito as soon as "one piece of evidence didn't fit the puzzle."

Knox is clearly feeling the pressure of being the focal point of the case. Her father, Curt Knox, told ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday that she had broken out in hives, and has had trouble eating and sleeping. Curt Knox said he watched his daughter "cringe" as lawyers depicted her Monday as a liar and a person with a "double soul," half of it "angelic" and the other half "satanic."

The father said Amanda Knox has also been working for more than three months on the statement she will make to the court next week. Knox will be the last person to speak before the six jurors and two judges retire to decide whether to overturn her murder conviction and set her free, or increase her 26-year prison sentence to life in prison.

Knox's lawyers will make their summations on Thursday, followed by summations and statements by Sollecito and Knox.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep272011

Amanda Knox Called 'She Devil,' Shown Roommate's Wounds at Trial

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- The lawyer for Amanda Knox's slain roommate showed an Italian appeals court Monday autopsy pictures of the more than 40 wounds on her body because he wanted the jury to know "how this girl suffered."

The photos and summation presented by the lawyer for Meredith Kercher's family capped a grueling day for Knox who was earlier described by another lawyer as a "she devil," a "liar" and a woman who has an "angelic" side as well as a "diabolic" side.

The Kerchers' lawyer Francesco Maresca was one of several civil lawyers who addressed the court on Monday in a series of summations in the appeal by Knox, 24, and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27.  Both have been convicted of killing Kercher in November 2007.  Knox is serving a 26-year prison term while Sollecito was given a 25-year term.

The stakes are excruciatingly high for the former Seattle college student.  While Knox and Sollecito are hoping they will be let out of the Italian prison where they have been confined for the last four years, prosecutors have asked the appeals court to increase their sentences to life in prison.

Maresca was the third lawyer to speak Monday and he presented the jury with a second look at autopsy photos that had been shown earlier in the appeal.  While the court was cleared when the grisly photos were originally shown, spectators were allowed to remain in the courtroom this time.

The lawyer held up a photo of Kercher when she was alive and said, "I don't know why such a happy girl was killed."

He then proceeded to show photos of her naked and bloodied body, including a picture of the fatal gash on Kercher's neck.  Some of the jurors looked away.  The lawyer said the lack of any defensive wounds on Kercher indicated that she was either tied up or held by others, preventing her from defending herself.

"I'm showing these photos to make you understand how this girl suffered," Maresca told the court.

"We are asking for justice," he said.

Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, called the repeated use of the photos "disgusting."  She told ABC News that she found the "personal attack on my daughter a sign of desperation because they have no evidence."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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