FLORENCE, Italy — U.S. student Amanda Knox declared her innocence in her roommate’s brutal 2007 murder in a highly unusual email submitted Tuesday to the Italian court hearing the case against her, and said she was staying away from the trial out of fear of being wrongly convicted.
“I didn’t kill. I didn’t rape. I didn’t rob. I didn’t plot. I didn’t instigate. I didn’t kill Meredith,” Knox wrote.
Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini read into the record the email, written in Italian and submitted by Knox’s lawyers before their closing arguments, noting it was not normal procedure given Knox’s absence, and did not have the same legal standing as a spontaneous declaration made in person.
“Who wants to speak at a trial, comes to the trial,” Nencini said, adding that he had to take it at the word of her lawyers that the email, printed over five pages, originated with Knox. “I never saw her, I don’t know her,” the judge said pointedly.
Knox explained her absence was out of fear that she would be wrongly convicted, which she contends happened during the first trial against her and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. The case against Knox and Sollecito is being heard for a third time.
Knox, now 26, spent four years in jail. She was permitted to return to the United States after she was acquitted on appeal — a decision overturned in March by Italy’s highest court, which sent it back for a second appeals trial. Sollecito, 29, has appeared at several hearings, declaring his innocence in remarks to the court last month.
“I am not in court because I am afraid. I am afraid that the vehemence of the prosecution will make an impression on you, that their smoke will get in your eyes and blind you,” Knox said. “I am not afraid of your powers of discernment, but because the prosecution has succeeded already in convincing a court comprised of responsible and perceptive adults to convict innocent people, Raffaele and me.”
She said she was following the case closely, “given that my life is at stake.”
Meredith Kercher, 21, was brutally murdered in November 2007 in the apartment she shared with Knox in the picturesque university town of Perugia. She had been raped, stabbed dozens of times in the face, her throat slashed, her body left beneath a blanket in her bedroom.
Knox declared her innocence in Kercher’s death, and said the two were friends, without any conflict between them. She also said she had no contact with Rudy Guede, a small-time drug-dealer who is serving a 16-year sentence for Kercher’s murder. Prosecutors claim Knox and Sollecito carried out the murder with Guede, whose conviction specifies that he did not act alone.
Prosecutors are seeking a 26-year sentence against both Knox and Sollecito for the murder, and an additional year added to Knox’s three-year slander conviction — which stands — for wrongly accusing a bar owner of the murder. Prosecutors say the slander amounts to aggravating circumstance because Knox lied to deflect investigators’ attention from her.
Knox, in the email, said she falsely accused Patrick Lumumba under pressure from police, who made her sign a false confession “that made no sense and should not have been considered legitimate evidence.” She said she was denied a lawyer during 50 hours of interrogation over four days in Italian, a language she said she barely knew at the time.
“They lied to me, yelled at me, threatened me, and gave me two slaps on the head,” she wrote.
A verdict in the trial is expected in mid-January.