Murder in Umbria: The Murder of Meredith Kercher
The Ongoing Trial
Amanda Knox, 21, and Raffaele Sollecito, 24, are currently on trial for Meredith's murder and sexual assault; an Italian court has already convicted and sentenced Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, for assault and murder. Lead prosecutor Giuliano Mignini says that the trio lured the unwilling Meredith into a violent group sex game. He alleges that Raffaele held Meredith down while Guede sexually assaulted her. Amanda, he says, taunted Meredith with a knife, nicking a necklace of cuts around her neck and chest before finally slitting her throat.
Amanda and Raffaele are charged with sexual assault, which carries a sentence of 6-12 years; theft, 1-6 years; simulation of a crime, 1-3 years; possession of a weapon, up to 1 year; and murder with cruelty, with a life sentence. If Knox is found guilty of slandering Patrick Lumumba by her false accusation, that would earn her an additional 6-20 year sentence.
On March 15, 2009, Amanda was also charged with slander for saying that police hit her and physically and psychologically intimidated her during her interrogation. Police have testified that no one harmed her at the station.
The confession of her presence at the time of the murder which she made the night she was arrested was declared inadmissible because she did not have a lawyer present. There may be other evidence against her: investigators tapped Amanda's phone even before the arrest, and they intercepted and read her letters and recorded her prison conversations.
Many questions remain. Amanda and a North African musician were reportedly spotted at a laundromat the day after the murder; this same man may have been shown on closed-circuit television in the cottage's parking area the night of the murder.
Observers say Amanda and Raffaele have shown varying attitudes toward each other during the trial. She ignored him at the opening hearing, but approached him during an intermission to compliment his newly shorn hair. Friends and family have reportedly advised her to stay on good terms with Raffaele, even as the prosecution continues to build its case.
The outcome of the two's trial remains to be determined, but the sensational details of the case have made it a placeholder for a larger debate across Europe and the rest of the world about the modern implications and interactions of the sexual revolution, globalization and higher education. In a story which placed many of the implicit assumptions of worldly and aspiring families under harsh interrogation and cross-examination, the verdict in the cases of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, regardless of the jury's final decision, will likely remain controversial for years to come.