Double jeopardy for Knox

No one could foresee that the murder of a London woman in Perugia, Italy in 2007 would garner so much attention worldwide or manage to stay in the news for six years; and now, more than a year after Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of Meredith Kercher’s brutal murder, they will have to go through the same legal process, and subsequently the same media circus, all over again.

Amanda Knox, left, sits next to Corrado Maria Daclon, the secretary-general of the Italy-USA Foundation as they leave the prison in Perugia, Italy Oct. 3, 2011. Knox was rushed  to the airport that night and flown home to the U.S. and now she faces  the possibility of having to go back. / Wikimedia Commons

Amanda Knox, left, sits next to Corrado Maria Daclon, the secretary general of the Italy-USA Foundation, as they leave the prison in Perugia, Italy on Oct. 3, 2011. Knox was rushed to the airport that night and flown home to the U.S. and faces the possibility of having to go back. | Wikimedia Commons

The Italian Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of a retrial of Knox and Sollecito for the murder of Kercher. The hearing was expected to be a slam dunk in favor of upholding the acquittal; clearly, that was not the case.

Junior accounting major Caroline Cowart reacted much like the rest of the U.S.

“It is unfair to try her a second time when she has already been acquitted,” Cowart says. “Hasn’t she suffered enough?”

Regardless of whether you believe in Knox’s innocence, it is wrong to try her a second time for the same crime. It does not appear that the prosecution has new evidence, so there should be no grounds to overturn the verdict. Repeatedly trying someone for the same crime puts excessive financial, mental and emotional pressure on the defendant and his or her family; it is also unlawful in the U.S.

In the U.S. Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment bans trying someone twice for the same crime, a principle known as “double jeopardy.” The extradition treaty between the U.S. and Italy has a provision that protects against this. Italy allows two levels of appeals: the prosecution has the right to appeal acquittals if the acquittal is annulled, then it is as if it never happened, and a retrial does not constitute a “second” trial.

Although Italy does not have a ban on “double jeopardy,” Knox, a University of Washington student, is an American living on American soil. Italy may request that the U.S. extradite Knox in the event of a conviction, and it is plausible that the U.S. may deny the request.

Joey Jackson, a U.S. attorney, believes the U.S. would not uphold an extradition request from Italy.

“We have principles that are well-founded within our Constitution, one of which is double jeopardy,” Jackson said. “So as a result of that, I think it would be highly objectionable for the United States to surrender someone to another country for which justice has already been administered and meted out. So I don’t think or anticipate that that would happen.”

This does not solve the problem.

Knox’s family and she are unable to move on with their lives and have to worry about how their future will be affected by all of this. I believe Knox is being continually targeted by Italy because she is an American and the popular opinion in Italy is that she is guilty, and neither are reasons for continued prosecution when the justice system has already done its work. Even so, Knox is ready to fight back.

“The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele’s sake, my sake and most especially for the sake of Meredith’s family. … No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have: confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity,” she said.

The retrial is expected to begin sometime early next year in an appellate court in Florence, Italy. It is expected that Knox will be tried in absentia. I hope that the U.S. stands by Knox by upholding its laws and protecting its citizens from unlawful foreign prosecution.

Sarah Backer is a business sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].


  • It makes you wonder what the role of Tabloid newspapers is in Italy – and England. Our American culture would never allow the National Enquirer to run story after story filled with lie upon lie, one sensational fiction after another to the point of destroying the lives of two innocent young students, without a hint of remorse or apology. That would never happen here without an investigation, a challenge or a very vocal objection from other media, politicians or important spokespeople. Remember Monica Lewinsky? And she wasn’t even innocent! What’s wrong with Italy??

  • The evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is overwhelming. They gave completely different accounts of where they were, who they were with and what they were doing on the night of the murder. Neither Knox nor Sollecito have credible alibis despite three attempts each. All the other people who were questioned had one credible alibi that could be verified. Innocent people don’t give multiple conflicting alibis and lie repeatedly to the police.

    The DNA didn’t miraculously deposit itself in the most incriminating of places.

    An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp. His DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests. Of the 17 loci tested in the sample, Sollecito’s profile matched 17 out of 17. Professor Novelli pointed out there’s more likelihood of meteorite striking the courtroom in Perguia than there is of the bra clasp being contaminated by dust.

    According to Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Vinci, and Luciano Garofano, Knox’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra.

    Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts – Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli and Professor Giuseppe Novelli – categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade. Sollecito knew that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade which is why he lied about accidentally pricking her hand whilst cooking.

    According to the prosecution’s experts, there were five instances of Knox’s DNA or blood mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage. Even Amanda Knox’s lawyers conceded that her blood had mingled with Meredith’s blood. In other words, Meredith and Amanda Knox were both bleeding at the same time.

    Knox tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom, the hallway, her room and Filomena’s room, where the break-in was staged. Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s blood was found mixed together in Filomena’s room, in a bare bloody footprint in the hallway and in three places in the bathroom.

    Rudy Guede’s bloody footprints led straight out of Meredith’s room and out of the house. This means that he didn’t stage the break-in in Filomena’s room or go into the blood-spattered bathroom after Meredith had been stabbed.

    The bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot, but couldn’t possibly belong to Guede. Knox’s and Sollecito’s bare bloody footprints were revealed by luminol in the hallway.

    It’s not a coincidence that the three people – Knox, Sollecito and Guede – who kept telling the police a pack of lies are all implicated by the DNA and forensic evidence.

    Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted that she was involved in Meredith’s murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007. After she was informed that Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi, she stated on at least four separate occasions that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed. At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment.

    Knox accused an innocent man, Diya Lumumba, of murdering Meredith despite the fact she knew he was completely innocent. She didn’t recant her false and malicious allegation against Lumumba the whole time he was in prison. She admitted that it was her fault that Lumumba was in prison in an intercepted conversation with her mother on 10 November 2007.

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