After Italy’s highest criminal court Tuesday ordered a whole new murder trial for Amanda Knox, the 25-year-old University of Washington junior called the decision by the Rome-based Court of Cassation “painful” but said she was confident she would be exonerated in the 2007 slaying of her roommate in Perugia, Italy.
“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 in a prepared statement.
Knox left Seattle to study abroad in 2007, just another college student pursuing her interests in languages and literature.
In 2011, after serving four years of a 26-year sentence for murder in an Italian prison, she and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted by an Italian appeals court in the slaying of Meredith Kercher. The 21-year-old British exchange student’s body was found in November 2007 in a pool of blood in the bedroom of a rented house she and Knox shared. Her throat had been slit.
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Since her return to Seattle, Knox, who grew up in West Seattle and graduated from Seattle Prep, has largely avoided the public spotlight and tried to return to the life she knew before the murder case. She has occasionally been seen with her boyfriend, a musician. But the Seattle media largely leave her alone, as do most residents. Family spokesman David Marriott said she would continue to attend the UW.
Italian law cannot compel Knox to return for the new trial, and one of her lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said she had no plans to do so.
Dalla Vedova said Knox would follow the case from home. He said he didn’t think the new appeals trial would begin before early 2014 and no date would be set for it until after the top court issues a written explanation of its decision, due in the next 90 days.
For those familiar with the U.S. legal principle of “double jeopardy” — by which no one who is acquitted of a crime can be tried again for it — the idea that the Italian justice system allows prosecutors to appeal acquittals may be hard to absorb.
Dalla Vedova dismissed the “double jeopardy” concern, insisting the high court’s ruling on Tuesday hadn’t decided anything about the defendants’ guilt or innocence, but merely ordered a fresh appeals trial.
If she is convicted by the Florence court, Knox could appeal that verdict to the Cassation Court, since Italy’s judicial system allows for two levels of appeals — by prosecutors and the defense alike. Should that appeal fail, Italy could seek her extradition from the United States.
Whether Italy actually requests extradition will be a political decision made by a future Italian government. It would be up to U.S. authorities to decide whether they will send her to Italy.
Knox’s former boyfriend Sollecito, whose 29th birthday was Tuesday, sounded shaken when a reporter reached him by phone. He also faces retrial.
“Now, I can’t say anything,” said the Italian, who has been studying computer science in the northern city of Verona after finishing up an earlier degree while in prison.
A local Italian news report quoted Sollecito’s current girlfriend as saying he and Knox spoke by phone after the judicial setback and described him as being psychologically destroyed.
His lawyer, Luca Maori, said neither Sollecito nor Knox ran any danger of being arrested.
Knox’s self-imposed silence could be coming to an end with the scheduled release late next month of her memoir. Her book deal with HarperCollins was reportedly worth $4 million.
Knox also planned to talk with ABC News celebrity interviewer Diane Sawyer in a prime-time special to be broadcast April 30 to promote the book, “Waiting to Be Heard.”
ABC News spokesman David Ford said Tuesday the interview was moving forward as planned.
Associated Press writers Phuong Le, Shannon Dininny, Manuel Valdes, Frances d’Emilio and Colleen Barry contributed to this report.