Closing arguments for Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s appeal case are still set to commence September 23 due to a ruling made by Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann earlier this week. His decision is good news for the American student and her former Italian boyfriend accused of sexually assaulting and killing Meredith Kercher.
As part of the appeals trial, the defense requested a review of all DNA evidence to be performed by independent forensic scientists, much to the chagrin of the prosecution. Claims of unreliable collection, storage and analysis of genetic evidence prompted the request. The two, neutral DNA experts concluded that the findings from the original forensic reports formulated after Kercher’s murder in 2007 were flimsy and that DNA evidence could have been compromised. Not happy with these recent conclusions, the prosecution immediately requested another independent review. Judge Hellman ruled against the prosecution’s demand, allowing for the trial to continue on schedule; the final verdict should be established by early October.
Evidence presented in the original trial that led to the conviction of Knox and Sollecito included Knox’s DNA evidence on the handle of the knife, believed to be the murder weapon, and Sollecito’s genetic profile on the clasp of Kercher’s bra. The independent forensic experts stated that DNA testing and evidence collection were below standard, particularly when it came to analyzing the bra, which was collected 46 days after the murder, suggesting possible cross-contamination.
The original DNA profiler, Patrizia Stefanoni, stands behind her forensic findings. She states that the knife, which she found to have traces of the victim on the blade along with Knox’s on the handle, was tested within the first week of the murder, and that the crime scene had been closed off properly preventing any risk of contamination.
Although Judge Hellmann’s ruling does not guarantee an acquittal for Knox and Sollecito, it seems that their release from their 26 and 25 year sentences respectively is plausible since motive and reliable witnesses were missing from the original court proceedings.
Kercher’s family is pleading with the Italian courts to re-examine every detail of the case believing that the media frenzy surrounding Knox is skewing the truth presented in the courtroom. In Italy, she was voted the top female personality in 2008 due to the flurry of intrigue she has generated. Known as “Foxy Knoxy,” she has certainly been a major focus in the international public eye as well. Her beautiful and young looks have either painted her as a naïve, falsely accused heroine or a vicious femme fatale.