Monday, May 16, 2011

Amanda Knox case resurfaces as key hearing nears

It was the first house she looked at upon arriving in the small town in central Italy that would be her home for a semester abroad.

But Amanda Knox immediately knew it was the one for her.

The University of Washington student had been in Perugia for just a few hours on a hot summer day in 2007 with her younger sister, Deanna, who saw a poster that included the word "appartamento."

They followed the girl who had posted the ad to a charming, four-bedroom villa near the University for Foreigners of Perugia overlooking a small valley where figs grew.
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The sisters chatted for hours in the kitchen with the two friendly Italian girls who lived there and made plans with them to tour the town the next day.

To the wanderlust-driven young American, who had been hitting the books hard and working multiple jobs since high school so she could study abroad, it was a dream come true.

"She didn't need to see any other place, she didn't need to see any other listings, she was set," says her sister.

British exchange student Meredith Kercher moved into the house shortly after Knox settled in. The two foreigners became fast friends, Knox's friends and family say, as they explored Perugia together.

None of them had any way of knowing that just weeks later, the home would be the scene of a grisly stabbing that would leave Kercher dead and Knox branded her cold-blooded killer.

Prosecutors in Perugia said Knox directed then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and another man infatuated with her, Rudy Guede, to hold Kercher down as Knox played with a knife before slashing Kercher's throat.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito is serving a 25-year sentence. Guede, a drifter originally from the Ivory Coast, was tried separately and is serving a 16-year sentence.

Doubts over the forensic evidence used to convict Knox, 23, and Sollecito continue to linger. Knox has appealed her conviction and is awaiting the results of retesting of two controversial pieces of forensic evidence presented at her trial.

The first is a knife found in Sollecito's apartment with Knox's DNA on the handle and what prosecutors said was Kercher's DNA in a tiny groove on the blade. Forensic experts are also testing a tiny metal clasp from Kercher's bra that was cut from her body after her murder. Forensic scientists in the investigatory phase determined that Sollecito's DNA is present on the metal clasp.



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