Amanda Knox Trial: Lawyers Make Final Arguments, Verdict to Be Given by End of January
Both the defense and the prosecution gave their final arguments in the Amanda Knox murder trial on Monday.
Defense lawyers argued that the acquittal of Knox, 26, should stand, pointing out the irregularities from the prosecution.
Knox and her former boyfriend, Italian citizen Raffaele Sollecito, had already served four years in prison for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a British student who was found raped and murdered in the home she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy.
The conviction was overturned in 2011, and Knox returned to her home state of Washington. Italy's highest court then ordered a retrial after questioning aspects of the first appellate trial, including the poor handling of forensic evidence by police.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors each had 30 minutes to make their cases, according to USA Today. Prosecutors asked for 26 years in jail for Knox and Sollecito, which is the maximum 30-year sentence minus the four already served. They also asked for four additional years for slander for Knox, who initially said the killer may have been Patrick Lumumba, a bar owner who knew Knox and Kercher when they were students.
Sollecito's attorney said the pair were falsely blamed by authorities to calm fears that "a monster was loose" in the university town.
When the verdict comes down, it must be approved by Italy's highest court. Knox, who was not required to be at the trial, said she would not go back to Italy if the verdict is not in her favor.
"Legally I'll be defined as a fugitive, but I will continue to fight for my innocence," she told Italian journalists in early January. "I will not willingly submit myself to injustice."
If convicted, Italy will ask the U.S. State Department to turn Knox over to Italian authorities. If she travels to another country that has an extradition treaty with Italy, she will be at risk of being sent back.
"This whole trial has been messy, but that will seem like noth ing compared to the problems that could emerge with a guilty verdict from this trial," said Massimo Lanzoni, a legal procedures expert at the University of Rome.
Most Italians are ready for the lengthy trial to come to an end.
"It's embarrassing this has gone on so long," said Angelo Gella, a 55-year-old newsstand owner in Rome. "I don't know if they [Knox and Sollecito] should be guilty or innocent, but it's already a kind of punishment for them that this keeps dragging on."
Tony Renzo, 23, an American student who participated in a study abroad program, agreed with Gella.
"This story is like a nightmare for students abroad," he said. "It's so frightening to think about getting arrested in a foreign country."
The verdict is expected no sooner than Jan. 30.