Frequently asked questions about Amanda Knox’s “retrial”

(Current as of 18 Dec 2013)

Why is Knox being tried again?

Actually, Amanda Knox is not being tried again; the Florence proceedings are re-hearing Knox and Sollecito’s appeal of their original 2009 conviction (CNN, 30 Sep, 2013). This is a ‘continuing case on appeals’,  according to Knox’s Italian lawyer Dalla Vedova (Toronto Sun, Mar 2013).

One NBC-affiliate, King 5 Seattle, has acknowledged they know Knox and Sollecito are appealing their conviction for murder, but decided to call it a retrial anyways.

But wasn’t she acquitted?

The last appeals did result in an acquittal, however that ruling was not a final ruling. The Italian supreme court threw out that acquittal due to “‘deficiencies, contradictions and illogical’ conclusions” and sent the case back to the appellate level to re-hear the appeals (AP/Barry, 17 Dec 2013).

Judgements in Italy are not final until the supreme court affirms a judgement. The acquittal happened at the appellate level and was overturned by the supreme court. Knox’s attorney Ted Simon has admitted the supreme court sent the case back to the appellate level to re-hear the appeals (Shepherd Smith show, 6 Nov 2013).

Isn’t that double jeopardy?

Since the judgements are not final until supreme court approval, Knox and Sollecito are not put in “double jeopardy.”  Even Knox’s own Italian lawyer Dalla Vedova admits its not double jeopardy, as this is a continuation of the same case on appeal (Toronto Sun, Mar 2013).

In the US, they are accustomed to acquittals being a “final” judgement, however that is not true in many parts of the world, including Canada, Mexico, and Turkey. Acquittals can be overturned in those countries; and the US has extradited defendants to each of those countries despite claims of “double jeopardy”.

King 5 Seattle said Italy doesn’t prohibit double jeopardy?

According to one KOMO seattle reporter, Knox PR reps have been pushing the double jeopardy line to reporters.

Italy is a signing party to two international conventions that prohibit double jeopardy from final rulings, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the United Nations convention on human rights. The United States has also signed the UN convention on human rights. The international community recognizes the validity of the Italian processes under those conventions.

Those conventions prohibit double jeopardy in final judgements. As Italy does not recognize the judgement as final until it is affirmed by the supreme court, defendants are not placed in double jeopardy as a result of overturned acquittals.

The ECHR? Isn’t that where Knox appealed her slander charge?

Knox has claimed she has filed a charge in the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) regarding alleged abuses in her questioning by police. The ECHR clearly states they are not an appeals court; they will not overturn or quash legal rulings in the member states (ECHR Questions and Answers, 2013).

Knox’s alleged charge is under the same ECHR convention banning double jeopardy, so her defense team should be well aware that the convention prohibits double jeopardy.

If the appellate court affirms her conviction, what happens next?

The ruling in the current appeals is expected in January 2014. If there is an affirmation of the conviction, Knox and Sollecito will likely appeal the conviction at the supreme court, thus the case will likely continue to the Italian supreme court.

Will she be extradited?

First, the courts in Italy would have to finally affirm a conviction against Knox and Sollecito, then issue an extradition request to the US.

Extradition is a complex process, and there are two parts in the US to consider: the legal process in the federal courts (judicial), and the international relations aspect in the US state department (executive).

For the federal court process, there have been many past US extradition cases that have had similarities to Knox’s potential extradition. In 1974, defendants tried a double jeopardy defense to avoid extradition to Canada, where their acquittal was overturned (CourtListener). The federal court denied that defense and extradited them to canada. In 1995, a defendant attempted a double jeopardy defense to avoid extradition to Turkey, where they had two prior acquittals overturned. The US federal courts again denied that the US constitutional protections do not apply “extraterritorial” protections to crimes in other countries, and the defendant was extradited (CourtListener).

Any questions about the fairness of the Italian court proceedings against Knox would not be dealt with by the federal courts, but by the US state department. The federal courts have said several times that those questions belong to the executive branch of the US government, which is responsible for the extradition treaty with Italy (US vs. Kin-Hong, 1997).

But there’s no evidence against her?

Despite the PR-influenced media reports in the US, the case obviously includes items that have been entered into evidence. Evidence includes Knox’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s DNA and blood in several rooms in the apartment, Knox and Sollecito’s constantly changing stories, and Knox’s written memoriale stating she “stands by” her previous statement placing her at the crime scene during the murder. For a full description of the evidence, see the summary of evidence against Knox and Sollecito at the Murder of Meredith Kercher wiki.

There’s no evidence of her in the room Meredith died?

Knox has made a similar claim in her recent email to the appellate court in Italy, where she limits the “crime scene” to being only Meredith’s bedroom.

The Italian police and courts recognize the crime scene as the whole apartment; Meredith’s blood and DNA was found in the hallway, Filomena’s bedroom, and the bathroom. Guede’s DNA was found in the other bathroom in the house. Limiting the definition of “crime scene” to be Meredith’s bedroom excludes all of this evidence (including the alleged break-in in Filomena’s bedroom).

In all of those places where Meredith’s DNA and blood was found, Knox’s DNA has also been found. In addition, the use of the forensic chemical luminol at the crime scene revealed the presence of two other individuals. Two sizes of footprints were revealed, neither one of which match Guedes’ foot size.

For more details and additional evidence, see the Murder of Meredith Kercher Wiki page on the evidence against Knox and Sollecito.

Didn’t testing exclude the knife?

The media misreported on the latest test on the knife; the most recent test was ONLY on a single trace of DNA that had not previously been tested. The most recent test found Knox’s DNA (Guardian, 30 Sept 2013; Murder of Meredith Kercher Wiki)

This was the fourth biological trace obtained from the knife. Previous scientific testing on the other traces testing revealed two samples of DNA; one belonging to  Meredith and one belonging to Knox (Massei, 2010). The defense disputed the findings of the trace belonging to Meredith, but that report is still part of the case evidence.

Isn’t Guede the only killer?

The prosecution argued several points that show the presence of more than one person:

1. The type and location of the wounds on Meredith; there were almost no defensive wounds (Massei, 2010).

2. The luminol footprints in the hallway that are of two sizes other than Guede’s foot (Massei, 2010).

3. The bathmat footprint in Meredith’s blood that doesn’t match Guede’s foot size (Massei, 2010).

4. Considerations about who would have reason to move Meredith’s body after the murder and arrange the crime scene to look like a break-in (Massei, 2010).

Where can I find out more information?

The Murder of Meredith Kercher Wiki includes source documents, trial transcripts, and summaries of case evidence.

Where can I get updates?

Andrea Vogt is reporting from Italy at her own web site.

The Murder of Meredith Kercher Wiki provides updates on the Florence appeals for Knox and Sollecito.

CNN reporting on Amanda Knox appeals

CNN reporting on Amanda Knox appeals

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Fox news gets a “D” for their misleading report

If ABC News fed the beast of American jingoism, Fox News provided the dessert. (Liberals in the US will hardly be surprised.)

Yesterday, I reported on the misleading report published by ABC News. Their report took seventeen (17!) paragraphs before they correctly called the latest “retrial” an appeal. But by the time ABC News talked about this week’s proceedings as an appeal, they already used the word appeal five other times referring to other things, which prevents any average reader from understanding that the current trial is an appeal.

Fox News does slightly better; they only take 16 paragraphs before almost describing the current process as an “appeal.” They don’t actually call the proceedings an appeal- they talk about the outcome of the current proceedings as an “appeal verdict.” Fox News also uses “appeal” or “appellate” five other times, referring to the first annulled appeals trial and ruling. Again, by the time readers gets to the paragraph that mentions an “appeal verdict,”  they have no basis for understanding what “appeal verdict” means.

Fox News also does slightly better in stating that the acquittal was overturned, but they follow the rest of the US mainstream media by referencing the acquittals ruling to create an interesting story.  A ruling that has no current legal basis in the proceedings in Italy, as it was tossed out by the Italian supreme court.

The processes going on in Italy is an appeal by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito against their conviction for murder. It is NOT the third try to find them guilty. They have already been found guilty by the first court, and they are appealing that decision. The guilty conviction is provisional until all appeals are exhausted and the supreme court approves a final ruling.

In the United States, both state and the US supreme court toss cases back to the appellate level all the time.