Amanda Knox retrial over alleged killing of Meredith Kercher begins in Italy

October 1, 2013

CNN on September 30, 2013 released the following:

By Jethro Mullen. Erin McLaughlin and Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN

“Florence, Italy (CNN) — The latest chapter in Amanda Knox’s long legal battle began Monday in Florence, Italy, with a retrial over the 2007 killing of her British roommate Meredith Kercher.

But Knox, 26, who has expressed concern about returning to a country where she spent four years behind bars, was not in court.

Neither was Kercher’s family, which said in a statement submitted by their lawyer in court on Monday that they would be following the new trial closely from the United Kingdom.

Knox was convicted in 2009 of murdering Kercher, a 21-year old British exchange student who was found stabbed to death in November 2007 in the villa the two young women rented in the central Italian university town of Perugia.

The convictions of Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were overturned in 2011 for “lack of evidence.”

After her acquittal, Knox returned to her hometown of Seattle, where she has been living since.

But Italy’s Supreme Court decided last year to retry the case, saying the jury that acquitted Knox didn’t consider all the evidence, and that discrepancies in testimony needed to be answered.

The retrial’s opening day Monday was dominated by procedural items. The presiding judge, Alessandro Nencini, read out the facts of the case, including the conviction of Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede for his role in Kercher’s murder.

The defense teams asked for several items of evidence to be retested for DNA, and Nencini agreed that a knife found in Sollecito’s apartment would be re-examined. The court also agreed to hear testimony from Luciano Aviello, who served time in jail with Sollecito and claims that his brother killed Kercher.

Also absent from the proceedings Monday was Giuliano Mignini, the Perugia prosecutor who won the original conviction and then lost the appeal.

However, Patrick Lumumba, the Congolese bartender Knox originally accused of Kercher’s murder was in court. Lumumba spent several weeks in jail after Knox accused him, and he won a defamation suit against her, for which she was ordered to pay €22,000 ($29,800) for his court costs. Also in the gallery were Perugia residents who attended the original trials.

Court was adjourned until Friday, when Aviello will testify. A verdict is expected by the end of the year.

Afraid to go back

Knox has said she’s scared to return to Italy.

“I’m afraid to go back there,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo in May. “I don’t want to go back into prison.”

The high court also said evidence could support prosecutors’ initial argument — that Kercher was killed in a twisted sex game gone wrong.

Knox has said such claims are “a bombardment of falsehood and fantasy.”

“No one has ever claimed that I was ever taking part in deviant sexual activity. None of my roommates, none of my friends, none of the people who knew me there. This is simply coming out of the prosecution,” she told CNN in May. “I was not strapping on leather and bearing a whip. I have never done that. I have never taken part in an orgy. Ever.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to send the case back to the appeal court for retrial “may be interpreted by the American authorities as double jeopardy — twice tried for the same fact or the same case,” said Riccardo Montana, a law lecturer at City University in London. “In Italy it’s not like this, because this is still the same trial.”

Sollecito, Knox’s former boyfriend, said he plans to stay in the Dominican Republic with a friend. He said he has no immediate plans to return to Italy.

Watching from afar

If the court convicts her, Knox will be ordered to return to Italy. If she refuses, Italy could request her extradition from the United States. But it’s not clear if American authorities would comply.

Knox has said she would be willing to take a lie detector test.

“I’d do anything to prove my innocence,” she told CNN affiliate ITV earlier this month. “I don’t think that is necessary. But like I said, I’m doing everything to prove my innocence. It’s just very sad that’s what it has come to.”

Knox isn’t the only person watching the retrial from afar.

Citing health reasons, Kercher’s family said in a statement that they decided not to return to Italy for the beginning of the trial after speaking “at great length.”

“It is an extremely stressful time for us all and we desperately want to find truth and justice for Meredith, who was so brutally and unnecessarily taken from us, and so we have decided to support each other in the UK and follow closely here,” the statement said.

The family said they would remain in close contact with their lawyer, who was in the courtroom Monday.

“We trust that the evidence will be reviewed and any additional testing requested to be granted so that any unanswered questions can be clarified and the court can clearly decide the next steps in this tragic case,” the statement said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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“Family: Amanda Knox won’t return to Italy for new trial”

August 26, 2013

CNN on August 26, 2013 released the following:

“By Stephanie Gallman and Scott Thompson, CNN

(CNN) — American Amanda Knox will not return to Italy for a retrial in the 2007 death of her British roommate, a spokesman for the Knox family said.

David Marriott said Knox had never agreed to attend, and there’s “no requirement she be there.” Still, there remains the possibility that Italy could request her extradition from the United States.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo in May, Knox said she “didn’t know” whether she’d return.

“It’s a really complicated question,” Knox said. “I mean, I’m afraid to go back there. I don’t want to go back into prison.”

Knox spent several years behind bars in Italy, after she was convicted in 2009 of murdering 21-year old British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

Kercher was found stabbed to death in November 2007 in the villa she rented with Knox, then 20, in the central Italian university town of Perugia.

The convictions of Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were overturned in 2011 for “lack of evidence.”

After her acquittal, Knox returned to her hometown of Seattle, Washington, where she has been living since.

Italy’s Supreme Court decided last year to retry the case, saying the jury that acquitted Knox didn’t consider all the evidence, and that discrepancies in testimony needed to be answered.

The high court also said evidence could support prosecutors’ initial argument — that Kercher was killed in a twisted sex misadventure game, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Knox says such claims were “a bombardment of falsehood and fantasy.”

“No one has ever claimed that I was ever taking part in deviant sexual activity. None of my roommates, none of my friends, none of the people who knew me there. This is simply coming out of the prosecution,” she told CNN in May. “I was not strapping on leather and bearing a whip. I have never done that. I have never taken part in an orgy. Ever.”

Knox and Sollecito’s retrial, which is expected to start this fall, should examine discrepancies in testimony, the high court said. These include differing witness accounts of when screaming could be heard from the home, ANSA reported.

Knox may be ordered to return to Italy for the retrial. If she refuses, the Italian government could appeal to the United States for her extradition. But even if it does, it’s not clear whether the United States would extradite Knox.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

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“Analysis: Knox case could pit extradition treaty against U.S. Constitution”

March 27, 2013

Reuters on March 26, 2013 released the following updated story:

“By Terry Baynes

(Reuters) – The possibility that American Amanda Knox could be convicted of murder and extradited to Italy for punishment could force U.S. courts to enter legal territory that is largely uncharted, legal experts said.

Italy’s top court on Tuesday ordered the retrial of Knox, 25, for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

The move potentially pits a U.S. constitutional ban on double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same offense after an acquittal, against international extradition agreements, experts said.

The issue hinges on whether a lower court decision overturning her conviction amounted to an acquittal, they said.

If Knox is retried after she was acquitted, that would violate her constitutional rights, said Christopher Blakesley, a law professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who specializes in international criminal law. On the other hand, the United States entered into an extradition treaty and, in doing so, accepted Italy’s criminal justice system, he added.

“If Knox is found guilty, there’s still a whole lot of room for battle before she would ever be extradited,” Blakesley said.

Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were accused of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher during a drug-fuelled sexual encounter in Perugia, Italy. The two were found guilty in 2009 and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison respectively.

In 2011, an appeals court, comprised of a panel of judges and lay jurors, overturned the convictions of Knox and Sollecito after forensic experts challenged evidence from the original trial. Knox and Sollecito were released after four years in prison, and Knox returned to her family home near Seattle.

Prosecutors and Kercher family lawyers appealed to Italy’s high court, the Court of Cassation, calling the prior ruling “contradictory and illogical.”

On Tuesday, the Court of Cassation agreed to overturn the appeals court’s acquittals. The high court has not yet provided a full reasoning for its decision, and a date has not yet been set for the new trial, which will be held before a different court of appeals in Florence.

Knox’s Italian lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said via email that the new trial would likely occur in late 2013 or early 2014. Knox does not intend to return to Italy for the proceeding, he said, and the court of appeals can retry the case in absentia.

The Italian government could ask for extradition once the Italian courts have reached a final decision, Dalla Vedova said. If it does, the U.S. Department of State would then have to decide whether to act on the request. If the State Department chooses to comply, it would then deploy the U.S. Attorney’s Office to a U.S. court to seek Knox’s extradition.

What is unpredictable is how such a case would play out in front of a U.S. judge who would have to weigh the U.S. constitutional protection against double jeopardy with the 1984 bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and Italy. The treaty contains a provision that attempts to protect against double jeopardy, but it is not clear whether that provision would bar extradition in Knox’s case.

The legal question would be whether Knox was acquitted, as U.S. courts would define the term, or whether the case was merely reversed and still open for further appeal, said criminal lawyer and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.

“It’s very complicated, and there’s no clear answer. It’s in the range of unpredictable,” Dershowitz said.

Much of the complication stems from the differences between the Italian and U.S. legal systems. In the United States, if a defendant is acquitted, the case cannot be retried.

In Italy, prosecutors and lawyers for interested parties, such as Kercher’s family, can file an appeal. Unlike American courts of appeal, which only consider legal errors in the courts below, Italian courts of appeal, which are comprised of both judges and jurors, can reconsider the facts of a case.

Depending on the Italian high court’s reason for overturning Knox’s acquittal, it is possible that the court of appeals could consider new evidence that’s introduced, said Dalla Vedova. As a result, a defendant can effectively be retried in the course of one case in Italy.

Dalla Vedova said the high court’s decision does not raise a double jeopardy problem because the retrial would not be a new case but rather a continuation of the same case on appeal.

Other defendants who have been acquitted in other countries and then convicted on appeal have attempted to raise the double jeopardy principle to avoid extradition, without much success, said Mary Fan, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in cross-border criminal law.

The text of the treaty prevents extradition if the person has already been convicted or acquitted of the same offense by the “requested” country, which would be the United States in Knox’s case because Italy would be requesting extradition from the United States. Because Knox was never prosecuted or acquitted for homicide in the United States, the treaty’s double-jeopardy provision would not prevent Knox’s extradition, said Fan.

While the issue is rare in the United States, several courts have rejected the double jeopardy argument in similar cases. In 2010, a federal court in California found that a man who was acquitted of murder in Mexico and later convicted after prosecutors appealed the acquittal, could not claim double jeopardy to avoid extradition to Mexico. That court cited a 1974 decision from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, that reached the same conclusion with respect to Canadian law, which also allows the government to appeal an acquittal.

When asked about the potential extradition of Knox at a press briefing on Tuesday, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said the question was hypothetical and declined to comment.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email:


Amanda Knox Conviction Overturned

October 4, 2011

American Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, won their appeals of their convictions in the killing of British exchange student Meredith Kercher. Here is a guide to the Italian appeal process.

On what grounds did Knox and Sollecito appeal their convictions for murder, sexual assault, possession of a weapon, interfering with a crime and theft?

The defense sought to discredit DNA evidence linking the two of them to the killing, in which British exchange student Meredith Kercher’s throat was slashed. Her partially clothed body was found in the house she shared with Knox in Perugia, a central Italian university town.

Two experts argued that DNA evidence found on the knife used to kill Kercher and on her bra clasp was unreliable and contaminated by poor handling. Prosecutors in 2009 had said there were traces of Knox’s genetic material on the handle and Kercher’s in a tiny groove on the blade.

Knox and Sollecito’s defense teams have suggested Rudy Guede, who is already serving a 16-year sentence for the murder, could have been the sole killer.

The case against Knox and Sollecito

Who made the decision?

Eight jurors — six members of the public and two judges — decided the case. The judges take part and vote as part of the jury: their role is to guide but not to instruct the other jurors how to vote. The presiding judge, Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, who was also one of the jurors, read out the verdict.

What were the possible rulings in the appeal?

There were three possible outcomes for the defendants:

1. Verdict is upheld: In this case, Knox and Sollecito would have continued serving their respective 26- and 25-year jail sentences. However, prosecutor Manuela Comodi had called for their sentences to be increased to life.

2. Verdict is overturned

3. Verdict is partially overturned, with a decrease in sentence (verdicts can be upheld on some counts but not others; this would result in a decrease in their sentences, which is what happened).

Does Monday’s ruling mean the case is closed for good or could there be further appeals?

There will most likely be appeals by the prosecution. Both the defense and prosecution can take their case to Italy’s highest court.

Both Knox and Sollecito returned to prison to complete paperwork and collect their belongings. But Knox was freed within an hour; Knox will leave the country Tuesday morning.

Knox, 24, need not remain in Italy pending a possible appeal by the prosecution. After the ruling, the judge has 90 days to write a report on why the court reached its conclusions. The parties then have 45 days to file an appeal to the High Court, which then must schedule it, according to Luiss University law professor Nicola Di Mario.

So there’ll be at least four months between the verdict and any possible High Court appeal. A High Court hearing would be very short and dependent on key technical issues and arguments, not a review of the actual trial itself, according to Di Mario.

Where would an acquittal of just Knox and/or Sollecito have left the case of the other?

That was the big question. The co-defendants appealed together, and while different verdicts could theoretically have been delivered for each of them, this was highly unlikely. A third person convicted of the murder, Rudy Guede, has already appealed to the High Court and had his sentence reduced to 16 years.

Can the defendants ever be tried again for the same crime?

After the case goes to Italy’s highest court and assuming it does not overturn the appeals ruling, Knox cannot be tried again for the same crime under the “double jeopardy” rule.

What will happen if a possible appeal by the prosecution to Italy’s highest court is successful after Knox has returned to the United States?

If Italy’s highest court overturns the lower court’s decision, it effectively revalidates the trial court’s sentence, which means 26 years in prison for Knox.

Italy would then have to put in a request to U.S. authorities for extradition, and it would remain to be seen if that would granted or not. Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner told CNN: “Questions regarding Italian law and process are not ones we can answer. They need to be addressed to Italian authorities.

“The United States and Italy do have a bilateral extradition treaty, which has been in force since 1984. Questions about possible return to the U.S., extradition request, etc. are too speculative for us to be able to comment.”

Does Italian law allow for any civil action by the defendants or by Meredith Kercher’s family following a criminal case?

Yes, a civil action for damages took place alongside the original criminal trial. The family of Kercher sought $36 million in damages from the three co-defendants if they were convicted on the criminal charges. Their acquittal on the criminal charges frees them of civil liability as well.

Did the defendants face any other charges?

Knox also appealed an additional charge for which she was convicted: Defamation of Patrick Lumumba, the club owner whom Knox accused of killing Kercher. He was arrested but released after his alibi checked out. He later sued Knox for libel, winning 40,000 euros ($54,000) in damages.

The appeals jury upheld that conviction and ordered Knox to pay Lumumba. It also sentenced her to three years in prison, but because she has already been held for four years, she was freed immediately.

This article was written by Peter Wilkinson and published by CNN on October 3, 2011.

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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