The young American murderess returned to court on Tuesday with a sporty new hairdo, hoping to beat the slander charges levied against her—but she never even got the chance. Barbie Latza Nadeau, author of Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox, reports.
Amanda Knox did not enjoy her 10 minutes back in the spotlight when she made a brief reappearance in a Perugian courtroom on Tuesday morning. The 22-year-old Seattle native, a mere six months into a 26-year sentence for the brutal murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in November 2007, sported a stylish new Garçonne hairdo, but her face was tense and pale. She was back in court to hear whether there is enough evidence for a criminal-court trial on slander charges stemming from her own testimony in her murder trial that the Perugia police had hit her. But only minutes after court was called to order, it was adjourned until October. “It was not a great situation for her,” her lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said after the hearing. “She is facing a serious charge that could result in more prison time and the decision about her fate is again delayed.”
The reason for the delay was, for one of the first times in this three-year saga, completely justified.
The reason for the delay was, for one of the first times in this three-year saga, completely justified. Knox’s defense lawyers filed a motion to prevent the presiding judge, Claudia Matteini, from hearing Knox’s slander case because of her known prejudice against Knox. Matteini was the investigating judge who signed a 19-page order in November 2007 in which she described how Knox, her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and then-suspect Patrick Lumumba schemed to brutally kill Kercher out of boredom. Most of the now-famous 19-page Matteini report has since been refuted. Another man, Rudy Guede, was arrested and convicted in connection with Kercher’s murder, and Lumumba was released due to lack of evidence not long after Matteini signed the report. Many of the names and most of details have since been proven wrong, but Matteini’s report resulted in Knox’s long pre-trial incarceration and it formed the base of the prosecution’s case against her.
On Tuesday, Judge Matteini could have stepped aside and let another judge take her place, but she refused. Knox’s attorneys then objected, and now the final decision about whether Matteini is the appropriate judge to hear this case will be made by an appellate judge on June 17. That hearing is expected to take only a few minutes and Knox is not required to be in court. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who won the guilty verdict against Knox and Sollecito last December, said that Matteini was perfectly fit to hear this case without bias. “She is a judge,” he said. “Her job is to hear all the evidence and apply the law. She is a professional.”
Still, most legal analysts agree that a fresh judge would give Knox a fairer shake. If her slander case goes to trial, she faces up to six more years on her sentence. Having a judge who had no role in her original conviction seems like a logical request. The decision about whether the slander case merits a trial will now be heard on October 1, the same month her murder-conviction appeal is expected to begin in appellate court. But it is not Amanda who will be the next Knox on the Perugia court docket. Her parents, Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, are scheduled to appear July 7 at their own slander hearing. They face heavy fines and jail time for repeating their daughter’s claims against the police. They are not required to appear and there is no word yet whether they plan to take what has long-been their daughter's place in the limelight.
Barbie Latza Nadeau, author of the Beast Book Angel Face, about Amanda Knox, has reported from Italy for Newsweek Magazine since 1997. She also writes for CNN Traveller, Budget Travel Magazine and Frommer's.