On the final day of evidence in the latest Amanda Knox court case in Italy, her former boyfriend described the “nightmare” that had crushed their “fairy tale” romance more than five years ago. Still the Italian judiciary is wrestling with the same disputed facts that were first aired in 2007, was this knife a kitchen utensil or a murder weapon?
Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher in 2009. But that verdict was overturned by an appellate court two years later, before another dramatic twist saw their acquittals reversed by Italy’s high court in March this year.
Sollecito, who was attending the new appeal for the first time, made an emotional 17-minute plea, telling the court that his life had been ruined by the case. “I do not wish this experience on anyone,” he said. “It has been a nightmare.”
Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native, was convicted in a separate fast-track trial for his role in the murder before the first trial for Knox and Sollecito began. His conviction has been upheld by Italy’s high court.
The latest appeal has focused on only a few choice pieces of evidence, including testimony from a cross-dressing mafia turncoat who says his brother was Kercher’s real killer. On Wednesday, the court also heard from a police expert about a spot of DNA on the blade of a knife that had previously not been tested. The knife, which was considered the murder weapon by the court that convicted Knox and Solllecito, had a small sample of DNA in a tiny groove on the blade that had been attributed to Kercher. But because the sample was too small to double test and had to be amplified beyond the standard forensic protocols, the appellate court essentially discounted it as the murder weapon.
The appeal judge allowed for the examination of a spot high on the blade near the handle that had never been definitively attributed to anyone in either of the previous trials. The expert told the court that tests ruled out Guede, Sollecito and Kercher, but matched Knox. At one point the judge reprimanded Carlo Dalla Vedova, Knox’s lead attorney, for leading the witness. “Do not put words in the mouth of one expert that were spoken by other experts,” the judge said, threatening to hold him in contempt.
The court then heard from Sollecito who sat at the witness stand to address the judge and lay judges hearing the case. Tanned from his new life in the Dominican Republic, he explained how the various court proceedings had “ruined his life.” He asked the court to consider him “a good person who grew up in a good family, an Italian” not as the “assassin the media has painted him to be.” He also complained to the court that even on vacation he must defend himself. He pleaded that he had difficulty in job interviews. Most importantly, he told the court twice that he had never met Guede.
“It is absurd that a person in their twenties who has always had a tranquil life, who has never lost his head, who didn’t party, who didn’t drink, could be condemned,” he said. “Ok, so I smoked a few joints, but it didn’t change my personality.” He said “Everyone is wrong about me, about that period of my life, it is not reasonable to accuse me of a crime like this without foundation.”
He also explained how when he first came to Perugia he was a quiet student and that he met Knox “my first love” and how they wanted to keep their “love nest” sacred and private. "Amanda was carefree. She and I wanted to be isolated in our nest of desire in a little fairy tale," he said. “Not have our relationship subject to media scrutiny.”
He only mentioned Kercher’s name once, to say he barely knew her.
The new appeal, which began in September, has not garnered the same media attention as the previous two trials primary because Knox, the star attraction, is sitting out this appeal safely in Seattle. Under Italian law, neither she nor Sollecito are required to attend the new appeal although she could be the subject of extradition proceedings if Italy’s high court confirms a subsequent conviction for the murder. The new appeal reconvenes November 25 to begin closing arguments. Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito will present their arguments in mid December. A verdict is expected January 10, 2014.