It’s been almost 22 months since the brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher, found naked and dead in the Perugia, Italy, apartment that she shared with three other women, to include now 22-year-old American Amanda Knox. Knox, along with her former Italian boy friend Raffaele Sollecito, are currently standing trial in Italy for the murder of Kercher. Their alleged accomplice, former Ivory Coast resident Rudy Guede, whose genetic fingerprints were found all over both the murder scene and the victim, has already been sentenced to 30 years for his role in Kercher’s death. Now all that remains is for a six-member Italian jury to determine if Guede acted alone, or if Knox and Sollecito, as the prosecution suggests, in concert with Guede, robbed, assaulted and murdered Kercher with the victim’s throat cut by two or more knives in a manner that caused her to chock to death on her own blood.
Italian justice for Knox has proven to be much slower than that experienced by most Americans. The trial of Knox and Sollecito, which began in January, has lasted months, this as the court room drama is only played out one or two days per week, and now there is yet another break that will last into the fall with a verdict expected sometime around Halloween, the two-year anniversary of Kercher’s death. Prosecutors have an almost “made for TV” tale to explain how and why the three subjects murdered Kercher, while lawyers and supporters of Sollecito, and especially Knox have suggested that the person already convicted, Rudy Guede, is the one and only killer and that former lovers Sollecito and Knox are guilty of nothing more than smoking a few joints, getting their stories confused, and acting their age. It is these same supporters, though, that some believe have gone out of their way to antagonize both the Italian judge and the prosecutor, the latter of whom has his own legal problems to begin with, and something to both prove and gain by convicting the two young defendants. Meanwhile Knox’s parents have mortgaged their home and cashed in their retirement accounts to pay for their daughter’s million dollar defense. Who, though, could do less for their child?
While investigators and prosecutors have pointed to the many conflicting stories told by the two as evidence of their guilt, others believe the two were simply functioning in a drug-fueled fog on the night of Kercher’s death, and, therefore, their collective memories were hard pressed to differentiate true reality from their drug-induced perception of reality. They are their own sole alibis for the time that Kercher was murdered, but whether they were together for the entire night or not is but one of many points of contention between the two murder suspects. Did they call the police before or after the police responded to the murder scene? Both knew “they had the right to remain silent,” and while investigators obviously want the truth, they will take a lie as opposed to silence as such helps to firm up a case against a suspect, like in the case of these two.
Physical evidence in this case, like in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, may or may not implicate one or both of the remaining suspects. Most will agree that the prosecution’s case against Knox and Sollecito is circumstantial and, at times, highly speculative. There is no smoking gun and the scrubbed clean "bloody" knife from Sollecito’s apartment may or may not have been one of the two murder weapons, and may or may not have had both Knox’s and Kercher’s blood on it. Some are quick to note that Sollecito, a knife collector, had a knife on him at the time of his arrest, with many more found in his apartment, one he shared on occasion with Knox. But Guede had been found carrying a knife when he was previously arrested. He was also identified as the burglar who pulled a knife on a home invastion victim as well as the man who committed a burglary almost exactly as the defense suggests Kercher’s residence had been burglarized. But wait. Police believe the glass at Kercher’s home was broken from the inside out, vs. the outside in, thereby suggesting the crime scene had been staged to suggest an unidentified burglar, someone like Guede, when in reality her killers were much closer to her. Point, counterpoint.
Then there is the mixed blood, including the victim’s and Knox’s found at the crime scene that can’t be dated, but statements by Knox seems to put it there at the time of the murder. The bra of the victim was cut/ripped from her at the time of her assault and in addition to the DNA of Guede, trace DNA from Sollecito was found on the clasp of the bra. Defense witnesses note, however, that the clasp was not found for weeks after the murder and could, like other evidence, be the result of cross-contamination at the murder scene, shoddy police CSI investigators, or even exposure to other evidence from the case at the police crime lab that somehow passed to the clasp. Another point, counterpoint.
Many have been quick to question why Knox falsely implicated her former boss, Patrick Lumumba, as Kercher’s murderer. He was arrested and then released when he was able to prove he was at his bar at the time of the murder. Some have suggested that this, like the recent Cambridge, MA case where the black professor and the white cop were at odds as to who lit the fire of challenge and controversy, is a black/white thing, one where the black drug dealer and petty burglar was solely responsible, and one where the pretty white girl, under threat by police and feeling the effects of smoking hashish, entered a dream sequence and tried to throw another black man, Lumumba, under the bus. Another point that could go either way.
Like the case of O.J. Simpson, Harvard Professor Gates, Natalee Holloway and Scott and Drew Peterson, most have their own opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Knox and Sollecito. The British, Italian and U.S. tabloids have had a field day with this story, one that keeps on giving to them. While there is no doubt that a young woman was murdered in a terrible fashion, the identity of her killer(s) has yet to be fully determined. Italian courts have seen numerous subjects convicted on mere circumstantial evidence, and the many apparent lies or misstatements by the two subjects on trial have definitely not helped their image or their defense.
Can a jury vote to convict based upon the evidence entered before them to date? Can they convict the son of a rich Italian doctor and the quirky American girl who said she was “just too sexy for the cops,” or will the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt prevail and the two walk free to write their own story and, like so many before them, either profit from the death of another or just try to make up for lost time and get on with their individual lives? Meanwhile one young and promising life has been lost and two young people continue to await their fate. The clock continues to tick slowly in Italy.
(For more commentary on this case, see my prior postings at: http://clintvanzandt.newsvine.com/_news/2009/03/16/2554571-amanda-knox-says-the-italian-cops-beat-her-confession-out-of-her; "Brutal Murderer or Just too Sexy for the Cops" at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25371590/;
and "Murder in Ancient Perugia" at http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/22188940/