The high-profile murder case of British foreign exchange student Meredith Kercher has dragged on for several years now, but the most recent ruling by Italian courts next month will determine the fate of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito who were already found guilty twice in what one prosecutor called a ritual of satanic rites.
Meredith Kercher was 21 years old in November of 2007 when she was found brutally murdered in her Perugia, Italy flat where she lived while attending the University of Perugia. Her flatmate, Seattle native Amanda Knox, was the one who found Kercher's body and reported the crime, but was soon being sought as the number one suspect in the young woman's murder.
Knox and her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, were both put on trial in 2009, but the media circus surrounding the case was thought to greatly taint the final verdict. The two were found guilty of Kercher's murder, along with local man Rudy Guede in a separate trial that sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Guede's DNA was found in multiple locations at the crime scene while neither Knox's nor Sollecito's DNA were found anywhere near at the time.
Guede's sentence was cut down to 16 years after he changed his story to involve Knox. According to the man, Knox was heard fighting with Kelcher on the night of the murder, which was testimony used against Knox in her own trial.
Because of the addition of several new pieces of evidence, Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison while Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years, but a second trial was conducted in 2010 that overturned the conviction and set the two free in October of 2011. The judge said that there was insufficient proof, ruling that original incriminating evidence was not allowable in court.
But a re-examination of Guede's trial and an appeal from the prosecution in 2013 allowed yet another trial that this time found the couple guilty for a second time. On January 30, 2014, Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito were once again found guilty of the murder of Meredith Kercher and this time re-sentenced to 28.5 years and 25 years, respectively.
The reason that this case has gone back and forth for so many years is due to several things. First off, eyewitness testimony has been given and retracted several times, and what is believed to be a heavy media bias against Knox was said to taint the opinion of many involved with the case from the beginning.
One such claim is that Knox and Sollecito murdered Kercher as part of a satanic ritual for Halloween, as claimed by one of the prosecuting attorneys, Giuliano Mignini. Although Mignini denies making that claim, he did later write a letter to the editor of Florence Corriere to set the record straight. "[T]he scenario put forward by the prosecution in which the Meredith murder [...] was the consequence of a sex hazing to which Meredith herself did not intend to take part, and, above all, it was the consequence of a climate of hostility which built up progressively between the Coulsdon girl and Amanda because of their different habits, and because of Meredith's suspicion about alleged money thefts by Knox," he said.
Another ruling is set to be made in March 2015 that should give the final verdict in the case once and for all. Thanks to several popular petitions that call for Knox's name to be cleared, this trial could result in freedom for the 27-year-old woman.
Amanda Knox currently works for the West Seattle Herald as a freelance reporter, where her boss, Patrick Robinson, contends that she deserves to be treated as "an actual human being."
"It doesn't matter what people say or think - the truth is that she's a West Seattle resident, she grew up here," he told the Daily Beast back in November of last year. "Why not give her the opportunity to be an actual human being versus a celebrity?"
Under Italy's judicial system, an appeal must be heard by the highest courts to be deemed truly effective. Knox's and Sollecito's appeal has yet to be heard, so they're currently free, despite the guilty ruling last year.
So while the two have been found guilty twice and have had a drawn-out series of legal battles for over seven years now, their fate is still completely up in the air. But we should find out that final verdict as early as next month.