While Casey Anthony's Murder Trial stirs up a national sensation in the U.S., the murder trial of Meredith Kercher has gained an international attention, due to its controversies around the validity of the convictions and the conduct of the police investigation and prosecution.
Taking center stage is Amanda Knox, a 20-year-old roommate of Kercher's back in 2007, who has appealed after being sentenced to 26 years in prison, on accounts for murder and sexual assault.
Murder of Meredith Kercher
On November 1, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old British exchange student from Coulsdon, South London, was sexually assaulted and stabbed in her flat that she shared with three roommates, including Amanda Knox.
Her murderer, seemingly had no experience in killing someone, left bloody fingerprints and footprints all over the scene, defecated in the toilet without flushing, and used a knife in such a clumsy way that the first two wounds were not deep enough to be fatal. A third stab left a gash deep enough for the intent of murder to become clear. But since the blade missed the carotid artery, Kercher's agony lasted as long as 10 minutes, the Rolling Stone reported.
After the stabbing, the killer's behavior was peculiar, displaying an attitude rarely evident in a crime scene: remorse. Three white towels were used in a frantic effort to staunch the bleeding. When that failed, the killer removed the comforter from Kercher's bed and, in a perverse gesture of compassion, laid it over the corpse. Investigators would wonder whether the person had even seen a dead body before. Finally, the killer ran out through the front door, leaving a trail of bloody shoe prints, stated the website.
Who is Amanda Knox?
Amanda Knox was born in Seattle, as the daughter of Edda Mellas, a math teacher, and Curt Knox, vice president of finance at Macy's, reported TIME. Knox's parents divorced when she was a toddler. She has two younger sisters, Deanna, 20, and Ashley, 14. In the wake of Knox's trial, Deanna withdrew from college for a semester.
After graduating from Seattle Preparatory High School, Amanda attended the University of Washington in the fall of 2005, and had worked a handful of jobs to save tuition for her study abroad program in Italy for her third year.
In University for Foreigners Perugia, Italy, Knox started to date Sollecito, an Italian engineering student whom she met at a classical-music concert in October 2007.
In her initial statements to police, Knox falsely accused Patrick Lumumba, a Congolese barman, saying Lumumba attacked her roommate Kercher with a knife, while Knox sat in the kitchen covering her ears not to hear Kercher's screams. The accusation was later withdrawn.
Knox was called a modern day she-devil by the Kercher family's lawyer, while Sollecito's lawyer said she was the Amelie of Seattle.
The two images of Knox presented to the court and public were so wholly at odds as to be those of two different women, the Guardian said. The judges face the task of deciding which is the real Amanda Knox.
The trials have drawn heavy media coverage in the UK, US and Italy.
Prosecutors alleged that Knox stabbed Kercher to death in a rage after Kercher refused to take part in a drug-fueled sex game with Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. A third accomplice, Rudy Hermann Guede, was also convicted for sexually assaulting Kercher, and is now serving a sentence of 16 years. Guede was born in the Ivory Coast and moved to Perugia at the age of five.
He became a suspect in the murder two weeks after Kercher's body was found, when DNA tests on a bloody fingerprint and on samples taken from the body were found to match samples which police previously had on file following his earlier arrests.
Knox's boyfriend Sollicito received a 25-year-sentence.
The prosecution's greatest physical evidence against Knox are small traces of her DNA on a knife and on Kercher's bra clasp. Defense lawyers maintained that the clasp was discovered only after six weeks after the investigation, and that the knife did not match Kercher's wounds.
Knox continued to maintain her innocence, saying, I'm no murderer. I am scared of being branded what I am not.
On the night of the murder, Knox and Sollecito say they watched a movie, smoked marijuana and had sex at Sollecito's apartment, but were not at Knox's house. The defense claims Guede was the sole killer of Kercher.
Update, June 27, 2011
On Monday, June 27, 2011, the trial was met with a surprising twist - Knox was shocked and anguished by the key denial from Rudy Guede, who is convicted in the murder case, that he told a fellow prisoner that Knox was not present at the murder.
A prisoner serving a life sentence for killing a child, Mario Alessi, had said last week that Guede said Knox and Sollecito were innocent, along with three other witnesses. But Guede, on the stand for prosecution on Monday, denied the claim.
The crushing evidence against Knox came after a series of victories for her defense team.
The appeal process will resume in July.