FLORENCE, Italy — An Italian prosecutor on Tuesday demanded that an appellate court find Amanda Knox guilty of the 2007 murder of her British roommate and sentence her to 26 years for the killing.
Prosecutor Alessandro Crini made the demand after more than 10 hours of closing arguments over two days during which he argued that Knox and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito acted in concert with a third man, who was convicted separately, in an explosion of violence sparked by tensions between the roommates over cleanliness.
Meredith Kercher’s 2007 murder in the idyllic hillside town of Perugia is getting its third trial after Italy’s highest court annulled an appellate ruling overturning the 2009 guilty verdicts against Knox and her co-defendant and former boyfriend Sollecito. They were convicted in the first trial, and sentenced to 26 years and 25 years, respectively.
Crini demanded 26 years for Sollecito, and also urged a four-year sentence for Knox for slander, for falsely blaming Kercher’s murder on a Congolese-born bar owner, Diya â€˜’Patrick” Lumumba. Knox’s slander conviction has been upheld by the high court.
Knox returned to the United States a free woman in 2011 after the appellate court ruling, having spent four years in jail, and remained there for this trial. Sollecito, who also is free, had attended two hearings but was not in court on Tuesday.
In a statement released in Seattle, Knox said her lawyers had filed an appeal of the slander conviction with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, claiming the accusation against Lumumba were coerced by police who failed to inform her she was a suspect in Kercher’s murder.
â€˜’The police were the ones who first brought forth Patrick’s name saying they knew I was going to meet him the night of Meredith Kercher’s murder, which was not true,” Knox said. â€˜’I have stated many times that my original comments about Patrick were coerced by the police and not true.”
Kercher’s body was found in a pool of blood in her locked bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007. Her throat was slit and there were signs of sexual aggression. Crini departed from past scenarios, saying the crime was not so much sexually fueled — or as the lower court prosecutor described it an erotic game that got out of control — but an act of physical violence with a sexual expression.
Kercher, 21, was stripped naked during the attack, and prosecutors allege that her bra was removed with a knife that tore off a clasp, one among the most-disputed pieces of evidence in the case. Guede was convicted in the murder and is serving a 16-year sentence after a fast-track trial.
Both Knox and Sollecito deny any involvement in the murder, saying they were not in the apartment and that they had no motive to harm Kercher.
Crini alleges that Guede may have sparked anew tensions over cleanliness after he defecated in a toilet inside the hillside apartment and left it unflushed. Crini said Guede, who was friendly with young men living in a neighboring apartment, had done the same thing the previous week.
â€˜’It is an absolutely disgusting and incongruous habit that he evidently had,” Crini said.
Testimony in previous trials had cited tensions between Kercher and Knox over the level of cleanliness in the house they shared with two Italian roommates.