Murder of Meredith Kercher

The murder of Meredith Kercher occurred in Perugia, Italy, on 1 November 2007. Kercher, aged 21 at the time of her death, was a British university exchange student from Coulsdon, South London. She shared an upstairs flat with three other young women. She was sexually assaulted and stabbed, and property belonging to her was stolen.

Rudy Guede, a resident of Perugia, was convicted on 28 October 2008 of the sexual assault and murder of Kercher. His fast-track conviction was upheld, and he is now serving a reduced sentence of 16 years. Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian student, and Amanda Knox, an American[1] student and a flatmate of Kercher, were convicted of sexual assault and murder in a separate trial on 4 December 2009. They were given sentences of 25 and 26 years respectively. Knox and Sollecito have appealed. Their appeal commenced in December 2010 and is scheduled to end in late 2011.

The trials have been the subject of news reports around the world, particularly in Italy, Britain and the United States.[2] The coverage has been criticised for being tabloid in nature rather than presenting the evidence accurately and dispassionately.[3]

Reactions to the case are polarized between the view that Knox and Sollecito are innocent victims of a miscarriage of justice[4][5] and the view that they were directly involved in Kercher's murder and convicted fairly.[6][7] The conviction of Rudy Guede has not generated similar controversy.



Meredith Kercher

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, known to her friends as "Mez", was born on 28 December 1985[notes 1] in Southwark, London, England, and lived in Coulsdon, South London. She had two older brothers and an older sister.[8] Her father is a freelance journalist,[9] and her mother is a housewife who was born in India.[10]

Kercher attended the Old Palace School in Croydon[11] and then she took a degree in European Studies at the University of Leeds. At the time of her murder, she was studying for one year at the University of Perugia as part of the ERASMUS student exchange programme.[12]

In Perugia, she shared a flat with Amanda Knox and two Italian women.[13] Her body was found in her bedroom on the afternoon of 2 November 2007 by police and flatmates. Two mobile phones, two credit cards and 300 euros in cash had been stolen at the time of the murder. Her funeral was held on 14 December at Croydon Parish Church, with more than 300 people in attendance.[14][15] She was awarded a posthumous degree by the University of Leeds.[16]

People charged with the murder

Rudy Guede

Rudy Hermann Guede (born 26 December 1986, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire)[17] was 20 at the time of the murder. He had come to Perugia at the age of five with his father,[18] who worked as a labourer in the 1990s.[19] At the age of 16, when his father left Italy, Guede was informally adopted by the family of a local businessman.[18] Guede had acquired joint Italian nationality and sporadically studied accounting and hotelkeeping.[19] He also played basketball for the Perugia youth team in the 2004–2005 season.[19] He often stayed with his aunt in Lecco, about 50 km north of Milan, and sometimes worked in Milan bars, returning occasionally to Perugia.[19]

Amanda Knox

Amanda Marie Knox (born 9 July 1987, Seattle, Washington) was a 20-year-old University of Washington language student who shared a flat with Kercher.[20] She was in Perugia attending the University for Foreigners for one year, studying Italian, German and creative writing.[21] Knox met her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito at a classical music concert held on 25 October 2007,[22] which she attended with Kercher at the University for Foreigners. When Kercher left at the intermission, Sollecito met Knox.[23]

Raffaele Sollecito

Raffaele Sollecito (born 26 March 1984, Giovinazzo, Bari) was 23 years old at the time of the murder, and nearing the completion of a degree in computer engineering at the University of Perugia, which he finished[24] while awaiting trial in prison.

Events surrounding the murder

On the evening of 1 November 2007, All Saints Day and a national holiday in Italy, the upstairs flat in which Kercher lived was unoccupied. One of her Italian flatmates had left town and Knox was at Sollecito's flat. The four Italian men who shared the downstairs flat had also left town.[4]:41

Knox was expecting to work at Le Chic pub that night, but at 8:18 pm[25] her employer, Patrick Lumumba, sent her a text message stating that she was not required due to slow business. She responded by text at 8:35 pm.[25] When a friend arrived at Sollecito's flat around 8:40 pm, Knox answered the door.[26]

That evening, Kercher dined with three other English women at one of their homes and watched a DVD of the film The Notebook.[25] Kercher said that she felt tired and that she wanted to retire early for the night. She borrowed a history book, and left to walk home with one of her friends, Sophie.[27] Parting company with Sophie at about 8:55 pm, she walked the remaining 500 yards (460 m) to her flat alone.[25] According to early investigations and post-mortem examination, Kercher died in the flat between 9 and 11 pm,[25][27] later revised to between 9 pm and 4 am.[28]

At 12:07 pm the next day, Knox called Kercher's UK mobile phone, ringing for 16 seconds. Knox testified that Kercher had always carried that phone since she expected calls about her mother's recent illness. One minute later, she called her flatmate, Filomena, telling her that she had returned to the flat and found the front door open, and blood in the small bathroom. Knox called Kercher's second mobile phone and called the first phone again. The flatmate called Knox back three times. During the final call, which commenced at 12:34 pm, Knox said that the window in the flatmate's room was broken and that the room was a mess. At 12:47 pm, Knox called her mother in Seattle, who told her to call the police. Sollecito then made two calls to the emergency number 112, at 12:51 and 12:54 pm. He reported a break-in, blood, a locked door and a missing person.[4]:57-61 Before the Carabinieri arrived in response to these calls, two officers of the Post and Communications Police came to investigate the discovery of Kercher's mobile phones near another house.[29] Knox and Sollecito were outside and told the police that they were waiting for the Carabinieri, that a window had been broken and that there were spots of blood in the bathroom.[4]:61-62

As Knox showed the two officers the room with the broken window, the locked door and the blood in the bathroom, the flatmate she had called earlier arrived with three friends. The mobile phones were confirmed as belonging to Kercher. The Carabinieri had not yet arrived and the Post and Communications Police officers were reluctant to break down the locked door. Around 1:15 pm, one of the flatmate's friends kicked it open. Kercher's body was on the floor, covered by a duvet soaked in blood. The officers ordered all present to leave the flat,[4]:62-65 and the cottage was secured as a crime scene.

Upstairs flat

The upstairs flat at Via della Pergola 7, based on a crime scene composite created by the Science Division of the Italian Polizia di Stato

The house at Via della Pergola 7 (43.114885°N 12.391402°ECoordinates: 43.114885°N 12.391402°E) was investigated. It is situated on an open hillside below the city centre, near a motorway on the edge of town.[30] Kercher shared the upstairs flat with Knox and two Italian women who rented the flat in August 2007.[30]

Kercher rented one of the bedrooms beginning in late August. Knox rented the remaining room and moved in on 20 September 2007, meeting Kercher for the first time.[31] The house was closed as a crime scene from 2 November 2007 until April 2009, when a jury visited during the trial of Knox and Sollecito. It was remodelled and re-occupied from the end of 2009.[32]

Police interviews

On 5 November 2007, after Sollecito had confirmed that he and Knox had spent the night of the murder at his flat, the police reported that a "confused and nervous" Sollecito stated that Knox could have left his home sometime when he was asleep.[33][34] The police then questioned Knox, who had accompanied Sollecito to the police station.[33] Starting at 11 pm that evening,[33] Knox was questioned first by the police alone and, later that night, in the presence of a prosecutor.[35] She was initially interviewed in Italian — although she had only been studying the language for two months — without an attorney present and without being recorded[36] and later claimed — contradictory to assertions of the prosecutors — that she underwent a hostile interrogation of 14 hours, that she was struck and yelled at, denied food or water, and caused to make incriminating statements.[36] In the end she signed a statement in Italian saying that she had seen Lumumba and Kercher enter Kercher's room.[36]

Knox stated that during these interviews she was asked to imagine what might have happened at her flat had she been there.[37]

Knox was arrested later on the morning of 6 November. Later that day, she wrote a note to the police, saying that she felt confused because she had been told in the interrogation there was hard evidence that placed her at her flat at the time of the murder so that memories and mere "flashes of blurred images" had begun mingling in her mind during the interrogation. She partially retracted her earlier statements. Knox wrote, "In regards to this 'confession' that I made last night, I want to make clear that I'm very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion. Not only was I told I would be arrested and put in jail for 30 years, but I was also hit in the head when I didn't remember a fact correctly."[38] Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini was in the room conducting the controversial interrogation where the misconduct by the officer was alleged.[39][40] She also said she couldn't "fully recall the events that I claim took place at Raffaele's home during the time that Meredith was murdered",[41] adding that she "[understood] that the police are under a lot of stress" so that she "[understood] the treatment [she] received";[38] she denied involvement in the killing.[42]

Capanne prison entrance, Perugia

In February 2009, Knox spoke in court of her November 2007 interview, stating, "I was treated as a person only after I made a statement. Period. That was when I was brought something to drink, when they let me go to the bathroom." A police officer testified that Knox had been questioned "firmly but politely".[43][44] In June 2009, Knox repeated her description of the interrogation at trial.[45] Her lawyer, summing up at the end of her trial, stated that the interviews over the course of four days had lasted a total of 53 hours, causing "stress and fear".[46] Knox also stated that there had been no interpreter present. Both the police and Mignini denied her allegations that she was abused and that there was no interpreter,[37] and she has been charged with slander in a separate trial.[47]

The Italian Supreme Court later found that Knox's human rights were violated because the police did not read her her legal rights, appoint her a lawyer or provide her an official interpreter and that her signed statement was inadmissible for Knox's and Sollecito's criminal trial.[37][48][49] However, the court allowed the statement to be used in the concurrent civil, defamation trial in which Lumumba prevailed against Knox. Both trials had the same jury which heard Knox's confession.[50]

Lumumba was arrested on 6 November 2007 as a result of Knox's statements. He was detained for two weeks until the arrest of Guede. Initially, doubts about his alibi were reported in the press,[25] but ultimately he was completely exonerated.[51]

Guede's arrest

Nick Squires of The Daily Telegraph reported that Guede had "...became a suspect in the murder two weeks after Miss Kercher's body was found, when DNA tests on a bloody fingerprint and on samples taken from the body were found to match samples which police already had on file following his earlier arrests."[52] A manhunt for a fourth suspect began on 19 November 2007 after a bloody handprint found on Kercher's pillow was matched to Guede.[4]:219 Guede had left Perugia by train a few days after the murder. Interpol had traced a computer that he had used in Germany to access Facebook and reply to a message from a Daily Telegraph journalist.[53] In his message, Guede had said that he was aware that he was a suspect and wanted to clear his name.[54] On 20 November 2007, the Bundespolizei arrested Guede on a train near Mainz, where he was apprehended for travelling without a ticket.[18] When questioned, he stated that he was returning to Italy to give himself up.[18] He was extradited to Italy on 6 December 2007.[55]


Forensic evidence

Kercher's bedroom (Kercher located on the floor under the duvet), as labelled and photographed by Italian police (on 2 or 3 November 2007)

Kercher's body was found on the floor of her bedroom, with blood in various locations around the room.[56]:10 There were three cuts on her neck as well as bruises suggesting she might have been strangled. There were also signs of sexual assault.[56]:110 The coroner determined the cause of death was combined blood loss and suffocation.[57]

DNA matching Guede's was found both on and inside Kercher's body[27][58] and on her shirt, bra and handbag.[59] A bloody handprint found on a pillow under Kercher's back was also matched to Guede.[27][60] The prosecution argued that a severed piece of Kercher's bra, including its metal hooks, revealed traces of both her DNA and that of Sollecito.[56]:235 Knox's lawyers later argued that DNA evidence had been contaminated during the investigation at the crime scene and when the investigators accidentally moved the evidence during the 47-day delay in retrieving the samples.[61] A June 2011 report by court appointed forensic experts concluded that there was not enough DNA on the bra clasp to retest, that the collection of the bra clasp evidence did not conform to internationally accepted procedures, and the collection was "in a context that was highly suggestive of ambient contamination".[62][63]

Luminol revealed footprints in the flat which the prosecution argued were compatible with the feet of Knox and Sollecito.[56]:373[64] A consultant for Knox's defence, however, testified that work status reports showed, "in contradiction to what was presented in the technical report deposited by the Scientific Police, and also to what was said in Court, that not only was the Luminol test performed on these traces, but also the generic diagnosis for the presence of blood, using tetramethylbenzidine...and this test...gave a negative result on all the items of evidence from which it was possible to obtain a genetic profile."[56]:256 Nevertheless, the judge did not accept this view and concluded that the traces revealed with Luminol in Knox's bedroom, the corridor and Filomena's room had originated from Knox's bloody feet.[56]:382

Knox's DNA was matched to the handle of a kitchen knife recovered from Sollecito's flat, and the prosecution stated that Kercher's DNA[65] was on the blade.[66] A June 2011 report by court appointed forensic experts concluded that the previous results indicating that Kercher's DNA was on the knife blade appeared "unreliable because not supported by scientifically valid analytical procedures".[62][63] Prosecution witnesses stated that the knife could have made one of the three wounds on Kercher's neck.[33][67] Carlo Torre, a professor of criminal science based in Turin,[68] hired by Knox, testified that all three wounds originated from a different knife that had a blade one quarter the size of that recovered from Sollecito's flat.[69] During her trial, Knox's lawyers argued that she had used knives for cooking at Sollecito's apartment.[70]

Apart from the knife, there was no forensic evidence directly indicating that Knox had been in the bedroom in which Kercher was murdered.[51] Knox's fingerprints were not found in Kercher's bedroom, nor in her own bedroom.[27][71] Investigators argued that a break-in had been staged at the flat, partly because the window seemed to have been broken after the room had been ransacked.[72]

In 2009, a group of American forensic specialists wrote an open letter expressing concern that procedures used by most laboratories in the United States to ensure accurate results had not been followed in this case. They stated that a chemical test for blood had returned a negative result for the knife, that the amounts of other DNA were sufficient only for a low-level, partial DNA profile, and that it was unlikely that all traces of blood could have been removed from the knife while retaining the DNA that was discovered.[73] In December 2010, the judge presiding over Knox and Sollecito's appeal ordered a re-examination of the DNA evidence pertaining to the knife and the bra clasp.[27][61] The report concluded that the DNA evidence used to convict Knox and Sollecito did not adhere to international standards for the collection and analysis of the DNA, that the evidence was unreliable, and that the previous test results could have been the result of contamination.[62][63] The report concludes that the police either mishandled evidence or failed to follow proper forensic procedure 54 times.[74]

Prosecution and defence arguments

The prosecution's first theory for the motive in the murder involved a Satanic ritual orgy,[75][76] similar to the charges of belonging to a Satanic sect that Mignini had unsuccessfully leveled at 20 others in the Monster of Florence case.[77][78] The prosecution also posited it may have been a "cult sacrifice".[79] Mignini denied ever saying that Kercher was the victim of a "sacrificial rite".[80] Later, the prosecution hypothesised that Kercher's murder involved a sex game gone wrong,[81] or that the victim had refused to participate in an orgy,[82] or that Knox was motivated by "jealousy".[79] At trial, the prosecution stated that Knox was easily given to disliking people with whom she disagreed and the time had come to take revenge on Kercher.[83] On another occasion the prosecution theorised that she fell victim to "a rage caused by smoking marijuana".[79] The defence stated that the prosecution had further changed their theory of motive to an economic one.[84] Rolling Stone, quoting a prosecutor as stating "[w]e live in an age of violence with no motive," reported that the prosecutors could not prove either motive or intent.[85]

In the Knox and Sollecito trial, the prosecution sought to prove that a break-in at the murder scene had been staged, arguing that nothing in the room with the broken glass was reported missing and that the perpetrator wanted to divert suspicions from "those who had the apartment keys".[72] An officer testified that shards of glass from the broken window had been found on clothes strewn around the room, suggesting that the window had been broken after the room had been ransacked.[86] A police official and defence witness testified that the break-in was not staged and that the window of Kercher's flat had been broken from the outside.[87] As evidence, he presented a video to reconstruct how the stone was thrown.[87]

Police evidence was presented showing that Knox and Sollecito did not have alibis for the time of the murder. Sollecito maintained that he was at his apartment, using his computer.[88] Police computer analysts testified that his computer had not been used between 9:10 on the evening of the murder and 5:32 the next morning.[88] Knox has maintained that she was with Sollecito at the time, but during police questioning after 10 pm on Monday November 5th 2007, Sollecito said that he could not be certain she was with him when he was asleep.[89] Their version of events was contradicted by a witness, who testified that he had seen Knox and Sollecito chatting animatedly on a basketball court around five times between 9.30 and midnight on the night of the murder.[90] At the appeals trial, the witness, a homeless heroin addict who has appeared as a witness in a number of murder trials, offered contradicting testimony concerning the date he said he saw Knox and Sollecito and other crucial details about his testimony.[91][92][93] A Perugia shopkeeper testified that Knox had gone to his supermarket at 7:45 on the morning after the murder, at a time when she was, according to her account, still at Sollecito's.[94] The shopkeeper first informed police of his recollection months after the crime occurred at the prompting of a reporter who was his friend.[95][96] A worker in the shop testified that she had not seen Knox.[4]:286[56]:84

Knox told the court that she had been with Sollecito in his apartment on the night of the murder.[84][97] The defence stated that, despite having put forward several different theories, the prosecution had produced no convincing evidence of a motive for murder.[84] Knox testified that she regarded Kercher as her friend and had no reason to kill her.[7]

The defence sought to show that Guede could have been a lone killer. A school director testified that he had been caught with a stolen 16-inch (410 mm) knife inside a closed Milan school on 27 October 2007,[98] and was also in possession of a laptop PC and a mobile phone previously stolen from a Perugia solicitors' office, burgled with a rock breaking a window.[99] Guede said that he had bought both the laptop and phone at a railway station in Milan.[98] The school director testified that a small amount of money was also missing after she found Guede looking inside a cabinet in the school office.[98]


Guede, Knox and Sollecito have all stood trial for the murder of Kercher. Guede was convicted and, after appeal, is serving a 16 year sentence. Knox and Sollecito were convicted in a joint trial in 2009 and sentenced to 25 and 26 years respectively. They are currently appealing their convictions. Under Italian law two appeals are permitted to defendants, during which there is a presumption of innocence until a final verdict is entered.[100][101]

On 30 November 2007, Knox and Sollecito were denied bail, a decision that was appealed all the way to the Court of Cassation. Their request for release was ultimately denied and they were to remain in custody throughout trial.[102][103]

Guede elected for a "fast-track" trial that began on 16 October 2008, presided over by Judge Paolo Micheli.[104] By doing so, he exchanged the right to challenge the evidence in a full trial for a more lenient sentence, if found guilty. The trial was held in closed session, with no reporters present.[105] On 28 October 2008, he was convicted of murder and sexual assault but acquitted of theft, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.[60][106] Guede's appeals which concluded in December of 2009 and 2010 upheld his conviction but reduced his sentence to 16 years.[107]

Knox and Sollecito opted for a full trial. They were indicted in October 2008 by Judge Micheli and charged with murder, sexual assault, simulating a crime (burglary), carrying a knife and theft of 300 euros, two credit cards and two mobile phones.[108][109] Their trial began on 16 January 2009 before Judge Giancarlo Massei, Deputy Judge Beatrice Cristiani and six lay judges at the Corte d'Assise of Perugia.[110]:1 The trial and subsequent proceedings has attracted great media attention.[111][112] Knox and Sollecito filed for their first appeal in April 2010,[113] which began in November 2010 and is expected to conclude in late 2011.[112]

Guede trial and appeals

Guede was tried for murder, sexual assault and the theft of 300 euros, two credit cards and two mobile phones that had been in Kercher's possession.[114][citation needed] In evidence he said that on the day of the murder he had visited the cottage for a date with Kercher, organised the previous night.[60] At Guede's trial, witnesses said that they had been with Kercher the night before, and had not seen them talk. Guede said that he had arrived at the cottage at 8:38 pm,[115] and that Kercher had arrived and let him in at about 9 pm.[27] Kercher went to her bedroom and said that a significant amount of money was missing from an open drawer.[27] Guede stated that they kissed and touched each other but did not have sex. He then developed stomach pains and crossed to the large bathroom. Guede specified that he heard Kercher's screams while in the bathroom, but had been unable to hear the killer enter since he was wearing iPod headphones.[116] Guede reported that, emerging from the bathroom, he had found a shadowy figure, holding a knife, standing over Kercher, who lay bleeding on the floor. Guede said that they had struggled.[60] He was cut on the hand,[115] and fell to the floor, but picked up a chair.[27] Guede described the man as an Italian with light-brown hair, without glasses,[115] and shorter than him. The man fled while saying in perfect Italian, "Trovato negro, trovato colpevole; andiamo"[117] ("Found black, found guilty; let's go"). Guede's version of events did not account for Kercher's stolen mobile phones, which had been found in a park about ten minutes' walk from the house.[115]

On 28 October 2008, Guede was found guilty of the murder and sexual assault of Kercher and sentenced to 30 years in prison.[60] The court found that Guede's version of events did not match some of the forensic evidence, remarking that that he could not explain why one of his palm prints, stained with Kercher's blood, had been found on the pillow of the single bed, under the disrobed body,[27][118] when he had stated that he had left her fully dressed.[4]:175


Giving evidence at the first of his two appeal trials, Guede said that while in the bathroom he heard Knox arguing with Kercher about money missing from the bedroom. He said that, glancing out of the window, he saw the silhouette of Knox leaving the house.[119] This testimony did not match the statements he made before his arrest in which he said that Knox was not at the flat at the time of the murder.[120][121]

On 22 December 2009, the Corte d'Appello upheld Guede's convictions but cut his sentence to 16 years.[122] In March 2010 the court explained it reduced Guede's sentence by 14 years because he was the only one of the three defendants to apologise to the Kercher family for his "failure to come to her rescue".[123]

In May 2010, Guede filed his second and final appeal to the Court of Cassation. The hearing was held on 16 December 2010[124][125] when the Court confirmed the verdict and sentence of 16 years.[126]

Knox and Sollecito trial and appeals

Committal hearings

During Knox and Sollecito's committal hearings Judge Micheli concluded that Kercher had been sexually assaulted and then murdered by multiple attackers.[127] He also concluded that the apparent break-in had been faked and that one or more people had returned to the crime scene, rearranged the body, and staged the fake break-in some time after the murder.[27] Judge Micheli also believed that it was suspicious that Sollecito called the Carabinieri military police, saying that a burglary had occurred but "nothing had been taken" when other flatmates had not yet returned to check their rooms for missing items. He also found suspicious Knox's statement that she took a shower in a room with blood on the floor.[27]

Following the court session, Sollecito’s lawyer Luca Maori described the prosecution's theory on the motive for the murder as being part of a "satanic rite" and this was widely reported in the press, some of whom linked this with the fact that the murder occurred on the day after Halloween.[128][129] Micheli dismissed this motive as fantasy and made it clear that the committal for trial of the two suspects was not based on this theory.[127]


During their January 2009 trial Knox was represented by Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova and Sollecito by Giulia Bongiorno. The head prosecutor was Giuliano Mignini, assisted by Manuela Comodi.[56]:3 Guede was called by the prosecution to testify but asserted his right to silence.[130] During the first session, Judge Massei rejected a request by the Kercher family to hold the trial behind closed doors, ruling that the trial would be public with closed sessions where appropriate.[111]

After nearly six months of hearings, the trial was shut down early for summer, when Judge Massei ordered the prosecution to release to the defence previously withheld biological evidence.[131] On 14 September 2009, the defence requested that the murder indictments of Knox and Sollecito be thrown out due to the length of time that the prosecution had withheld evidence. Judge Massei rejected the defence’s request.[132]

Towards the end of November, the prosecution and defence began summing up their cases.[133] On 4 December 2009, after 13 hours of deliberations, Knox was convicted by a panel comprising two judges and six lay judges of all charges except theft and was sentenced to 26 years in prison.[134] Sollecito was found guilty of all five charges and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.[134] According to the lay judges, the verdict was unanimous.[135]

Judges' report

On 4 March 2010, the Corte d'Assise of Perugia released a 427-page report, detailing its rationale in reaching its verdicts.[136] The report concludes that "all of the elements put together, and considered singularly, create a comprehensive and complete framework without gaps or incongruities and lead to the inevitable and directly consequential attribution of the crimes to both the accused, for which therefore they have penal responsibility."[56]:388 The Court determined that Guede had been supported by Knox and Sollecito in subduing Kercher after she resisted his sexual advances.[137] It was noted that Knox and Sollecito had consumed hashish and had been reading sexually explicit and violent comics collected by Sollecito, which were alleged to have influenced their behaviour.[56]:392-4 The court ruled that Knox and Sollecito had acted without premeditation and that no grudge had motivated the crime.[137]

The judges concluded that Knox and Sollecito had stabbed Kercher in the neck using two different knives,[138] and that after the murder they had covered the body with a duvet in an act of repentance.[139] The court also stated that a bloody footprint found on a bathroom mat was made by Sollecito, while a footprint in a bedroom was made by Knox.[136] The court further believed that Knox and Sollecito had staged the apparent break-in at the house to make it appear that Kercher had been killed by an intruder[136] and that Knox had attempted to pass the blame by falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba.[139]


In April 2010, both Knox and Sollecito's defence teams filed appeals contesting the verdict resulting from the initial trial. The defence counsel has asserted that neither Knox nor Sollecito had any involvement in the crime, and has contested the credibility of some of the witnesses at the first trial and the DNA and other forensic evidence.[140] They also intend to produce new witnesses during the appeal.[141] The prosecution has filed an appeal against the sentences, arguing that currently they are too lenient and seeking to increase them to life sentences.[142] Since the trial, Mignini has been sentenced to a 16-month suspended jail term for "abuse of office" over phone tapping during a 2001 re-investigation of the Monster of Florence case, which he is appealing against. Knox's defence has suggested that his conviction could be grounds for an appeal, although Mignini has said that it would not affect her conviction.[143][144]

The first appeal (of a possible two appeals) commenced on 11 December 2010 before the Appellate Court of Assizes, presided over by Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, and is expected to conclude in late 2011.[145] On 18 December 2010, the court announced it would re-examine the DNA evidence used to convict Knox and Sollecito, appointing two experts from the Sapienza University of Rome to conduct the review.[146][147]

In late March 2011 a prosecution witness who had placed Knox and Sollecito near the crime scene on the night of the murder admitted to being a heroin addict.[91] He later contradicted himself regarding the dates, times and details regarding when he may have seen Knox and Sollecito.[91][92]

On 26 March, media reports surfaced claiming that forensic investigators on the case had been unable to find enough genetic material on the knife that Knox and Sollecito are alleged to have used to stab Kercher.[148] News outlets reported that Kercher's bra clasp, linking Sollecito to the crime, was judged to be too rusty to be re-examined.[148]

At a hearing held on 21 May 2011, it was determined that the police must provide the DNA experts appointed by the court with evidence regarding the identification of the alleged murder weapon and the testimony of the police who found the weapon.[149] According to Knox's father, the police's reluctance to provide this information to the court-appointed DNA experts has delayed their report.[150][151] In June 2011, the report by court appointed forensic experts concluded that there was not enough DNA on the bra clasp to retest, that the collection of the bra clasp evidence did not conform to internationally accepted procedures, and the collection was "in a context that was highly suggestive of ambient contamination".[62][63] The forensic experts further concluded that the previous results indicating that Kercher's DNA was on the knife blade appeared "unreliable because not supported by scientifically valid analytical procedures".[62][63] On 25 July 2011, the forensic experts testified that they found no DNA or blood on the blade of a knife the prosecutors argued was the murder weapon. [152]

In June, several witnesses testified that they had information that demonstrated Knox and Sollecito were innocent.[153] One witness stated that his estranged brother committed the murder.[153] One of Guede's former cellmates testified that Guede revealed that Knox and Sollecito had nothing to do with the crime.[153] He testified that Guede and another friend went to Kercher's house with the intent of having three way sex with her, but when she refused his friend stabbed her to death.[153] The defence also called other witnesses to support Alessi's testimony. One such witness testified that he had heard stories of Knox and Sollecito's innocence while he was in jail and he heard Guede say that Knox and Sollecitor were innocent.[154][153] However, Guede denied this on the stand, calling it "all lies". He said he had never discussed the murder and that the former cellmate was being manipulated by others. Prosecutor Mignini introduced new evidence by reading a letter penned by Guede in 2010 that referred to "the horrible murder of a splendid girl by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox", and Guede stated that he stood by the contents of the letter.[155]

Media coverage

The murder and associated trials resulted in worldwide media coverage, especially in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, the home countries of Sollecito, Kercher and Knox, respectively.

Some commentators have criticised the Italian legal process, including Donald Trump,[156] Timothy Egan[157] and journalist Judy Bachrach.[158] Fox News commentators Ann Coulter[159] and Jeanine Pirro[160] have viewed such criticism as misguided.

Alex Wade, writing in The Times, was critical: "If by some cruel miracle a British judge had found himself presiding over 12 good men and true ... it is inconceivable that he would not have made strong, telling directions to acquit".[51] Libby Purves, writing in the same newspaper, said "both evidence and reconstruction look pretty convincing" and described the American campaign for Knox as "almost libellously critical of the Italian court".[161]

Some sources have argued that the pre-trial publicity and tabloid-style coverage tainted the public perception of Knox and may have prejudiced the trial.[162][163] The professional and lay judges who decide the verdicts in Italian court cases are not sequestered during the trial and are allowed to read news articles about the case.[164][165] The lawyers filed complaints with a Milan court and with Italy's privacy watchdog.[162]

News coverage of the Kercher murder trials by Italian and British tabloid newspapers has been criticised as consisting of "character assassination"[164] and "demonisation"[166][167] of the defendants. Author Candace Dempsey, in her book Murder in Italy, lists a number of examples of what she calls falsehoods and distortions in the press reports about the case.[4] Knox's family engaged the services of David Marriott of Gogerty Stark Marriott, a Seattle-based public relations firm, to address what they felt was misinformation about Knox in the media.[167]

On 10 May 2011, Perugia Shock, a blog written by Frank Sfarzo that had been critical of prosecutor Mignini and Perugia law enforcement's conduct in the Kercher case, was shut down by court order. The order was granted by a Florence court to Mignini on the grounds of alleged defamation.[168] The Committee for the Protection of Journalists sent a letter to the Italian government protesting the action.[169] The blog's content was later restored on a new host.[170]

Reaction of the Kercher family

The Kercher family have made clear their views that the trial was fair.[171] On 2 December 2010, Kercher's journalist father, John, writing in the Daily Mail, condemned Knox's "celebrity" status, adding that the "Foxy Knoxy" nickname adopted by the media "trivialises the awfulness of her offence". He said of Knox; "As far as we are concerned, she has been ­convicted of taking our precious Meredith’s life in the most hideous and bloody way."[172]

Support for Knox and Sollecito

Family and supporters of Knox dispute the initial guilty verdicts and maintain the innocence of Knox and Sollecito.[173][174] Members of Knox's family have spoken with a number of journalists and have appeared on several TV talk shows, such as the Oprah Winfrey Show on 23 February 2010. Knox's family have incurred significant debts from legal fees and travel related to the trial. Funds have been established for Knox and Sollecito to help with these expenses. Various benefits have also been run to help raise money to support Knox.[175]

Senator Maria Cantwell

On 4 December 2009, after the announcement of the verdicts on Knox and Sollecito, Maria Cantwell, United States Senator for Washington, stated that evidence against Knox was insufficient, that Knox had been subjected to "harsh treatment" following her arrest and that there had been "negligence" in the handling of evidence.[176]

Idaho Innocence Project

The Idaho Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organisation dedicated to proving the innocence of wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing, worked on the Knox and Sollecito case. On 23 May 2011, Dr Gregory Hampikian, director of the project, announced that, based on its independent investigation and review, Knox and Sollecito are innocent of the crime. Hampikian stated that more than 100 DNA samples taken at the crime scene pointed to Guede, and excluded Knox and Sollecito.[177]

Petition to Italian Justice Minister

On 26 May 2011, 11 members of the Italian parliament, led by Rocco Girlanda and all members of The People of Freedom Party founded by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi,[citation needed] issued a document as an act of parliament addressed to Justice Minister Angelino Alfano criticising the evidence that resulted in the conviction in the first level of Knox and the extended detention to which she was subject during the multiple levels of trial required before a final conviction. Furthermore, it was requested that Alfano consider looking into the situation.[178][179] Girlanda also addressed a letter to President Giorgio Napolitano, in his capacity as president of the Italy-USA Foundation, in which he stated, "These distortions, not without reason, are fuelling accusations against the administration of justice in our country."[180][181]

Other related court cases

Kercher's family filed a civil suit against anyone found guilty of the murder. The court awarded a sum of 1,000,000 to each of the parents and €800,000 to each of Kercher's siblings.[182]

Patrick Lumumba, the man originally accused of murdering Kercher, sued Knox for defamation and was awarded €40,000.[182] He also pursued compensation from the Italian authorities for unjust imprisonment and the loss of his business and, in December 2009, a court awarded €8,000 in damages.[183] In February 2010, Lumumba announced that he would be taking his claim for compensation from the Italian authorities to the European Court of Human Rights.[184]

In March 2010, Knox won a civil case against Fiorenza Sarzanini, author of a book about the Kercher case, Amanda e gli altri (Amanda and the Others), and her publisher for violation of her privacy and illegal publication of Court documents. The book contained long excerpts from Knox's diary as well as from witness interviews that were not in the public domain, as well as intimate details professing to be about Knox's sex life.[185] Knox was awarded €40,000 in damages.[186]

Following an investigation[187] into Knox's statements that she was mistreated by police during questioning about the murder, a case for criminal slander was opened against her on 1 June 2010.[47] In November 2010, Knox was ordered to stand trial on the slander charge by a judge in Perugia.[188]

In February 2011, Knox's parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, were indicted on charges of criminal slander as a result of an interview published by the Sunday Times in 2009, in which they stated that their daughter "had not been given an interpreter, had not received food and water, and had been physically and verbally abused" by police officers after her arrest.[189] Knox and Mellas had sought to have charges dismissed, on the grounds that there was no intent.[190][191] On 4 July 2011, Judge Paolo Micheli resigned from the case, citing his involvement in the trial of Knox and Sollecito.[189] The trial of Knox and Mellas was adjourned until 24 January 2012.[189]

Portrayals in books and other media


  • Brown, Kimberley (27 April 2011). The Amanda Knox Story: A Murder in Perugia (Kindle Edition With Audio/Video ed.). Vook. ASIN B004TTHKJM.
  • Burleigh, Nina (2 August 2011). The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox. Broadway Books. ISBN 9780307588586. OCLC 699763845.
  • Dempsey, Candace (27 April 2010). Murder in Italy: the Shocking Slaying of a British Student, the Accused American Girl, and an International Scandal. Berkley Books. ISBN 9780425230831.
  • Girlanda, Rocco (19 October 2010) (in Italian). Io vengo con te. Colloqui in carcere con Amanda Knox [Take me with you - Talks with Amanda Knox in prison]. Edizioni Piemme. ISBN 9788856615623.
  • King, Gary C. (4 January 2010). The Murder of Meredith Kercher. John Blake Publishing. ISBN 978-1844549023.
  • Latza Nadeau, Barbie (15 May 2010). Angel Face: the True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox. Beast Books. ISBN 9780984295135.
  • Pezzan, Jacopo; Giacomo Brunoro (4 March 2011) (in Italian). Amanda Knox e il delitto di Perugia: misteri italiani. La Case. ASIN B004QXZYYE.
  • Pezzan, Jacopo; Giacomo Brunoro (1 March 2011). Amanda Knox and the Perugia Murder: Italian Crimes. La Case. ASIN B004QXYED6.English translation
  • Russell, Paul; Graham Johnson, Luciano Garofano (7 January 2010). Darkness Descending - the Murder of Meredith Kercher. Pocket Books. ISBN 9781847398628.
  • Sarzanini, Fiorenza (26 November 2008) (in Italian). Amanda e gli altri. Vite perdute intorno al delitto di Perugia. Bompiani. ISBN 9788845262180.

Television documentaries

  • American Girl, Italian Nightmare: CBS 48 Hours documentary, broadcast in April 2009 in the United States
  • Beyond the Headlines: Amanda Knox: Lifetime documentary, broadcast on 21 February 2011 in the United States
  • A Long Way From Home: CBS 48 Hours documentary, broadcast in April 2008 in the United States
  • Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story: CNN CNN Presents documentary, broadcast on 8 May 2011 in the United States
  • Sex, Lies and the Murder of Meredith Kercher: Channel 4 Cutting Edge documentary, broadcast on 17 April 2008 in the United Kingdom
  • The Trial of Amanda Knox: NBC Dateline NBC documentary, broadcast on 4 December 2009 in the United States
  • The Trial of Amanda Knox: Investigation Discovery Cold Blood documentary, broadcast on 20 April 2011 in the United States
  • The Trials of Amanda Knox: The Learning Channel documentary, broadcast on 24 March 2010 in the United States

Television film

Lifetime, an American television network, produced a television film about the case, titled Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy. It focuses on Knox, who is played by American actress Hayden Panettiere. Kercher is played by the British actress Amanda Fernando Stevens. The Kercher family condemned the film and described its images as "horrific and distressing".[192] Before the film was broadcast, lawyers for both Knox and Sollecito formally demanded that Lifetime abandon the production.[193]

Author:Bling King
Published:Sep 24th 2011
Modified:Jan 10th 2012

This website is powered by Spruz