Editor's Note: Amanda Knox, a college student from Seattle, is currently being tried in Perugia, Italy on charges she murdered her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in the fall of 2007. Both were foreign exchange students at the local university. The prosecution rested its case two weeks ago. Now the defense is making its case and Amanda is taking the stand in her own defense. She's scheduled to resume testifying on Saturday. The case is being heard by a panel of eight judges.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/12/italy.amanda.knox.trial/art.knoxtrial.afp.gi.jpg caption="American college student Amanda Knox, 21, testifies Friday at her murder trial in Perugia, Italy. "]
Defense Attorney & Friends of Amanda Spokeswoman
Italian authorities claim Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, killed Meredith Kercher in collaboration with a drifter named Rudy Guede. Alleged motives include a "sex game" gone wrong, petty theft, or a dispute between Amanda and Meredith over household chores.
"Friends of Amanda" is a group of people who believe the evidence shows that Amanda and Raffaele are innocent, and Rudy committed the murder by himself. Rudy opted for an abbreviated trial last fall, was convicted, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The trial of Amanda and Raffaele began in January and won't finish until at least this fall.
The prosecutor recently finished presenting his case, so now is a good time to summarize his evidence. Much of it centers on Amanda's behavior before and after the crime. The prosecutor examined a number of witnesses who offered testimony critical of Amanda. Nobody, however, said that Amanda displayed any anger or aggression toward Meredith or anyone else. And indeed, Amanda's friends and family say she is a gentle person who would never hurt anyone.
The prosecutor also presented two pieces of DNA evidence he says are significant. The first involves a kitchen knife taken from Sollecito's apartment, several blocks from the scene of the murder. Authorities say they found a trace of the victim's DNA on the blade. The second involves a bra fastener found in the victim's room, which allegedly revealed Raffaele's DNA.
The defense will note that the knife is too large to have made two out of three wounds on the victim's neck, a point the prosecutor has conceded, but accounts for by saying two knives were used in the attack. The defense will also argue that the DNA chart produced in the knife test is too weak to constitute reliable evidence. It involved a sample measuring in the trillionths of a gram. Any apparent match with the victim is probably the result of trace contamination in a lab that had processed numerous samples containing her DNA.
With regard to the bra fastener, the defense will argue that the item was massively contaminated at the crime scene. They will note that it was left on the floor of the victim's room for six weeks while investigators tore the place apart and made a huge mess, and that it ended up beneath a pile of debris before it was finally noticed and bagged as evidence. They will argue that the DNA chart fully reflects his mishandling, because it shows the profiles of several unidentified donors as well as a profile that may match Raffaele.
A third point of physical evidence is a bloody footprint left on a mat in the bathroom Amanda and Meredith shared. The prosecution presented an expert who claimed this print matches Raffaele's foot. The defense will counter that the print more closely matches Rudy's foot.
To those of us who believe Amanda is innocent, the prosecution's case is weak. He has not produced a credible motive, his theory of what happened is sketchy and improbable, and the physical evidence is marginal. In contrast, the physical evidence against Rudy is extensive, consisting of a bloody hand print and shoe prints, as well as DNA evidence. Even more importantly, this evidence tells a clear and all-too-familiar story: a troubled young man, prowling empty streets on a weekend when many students are gone, finds a woman alone and assaults her. From then on everything goes wrong, and leads to the worst possible outcome.
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