Knox staying in Seattle as 3rd murder trial begins

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by LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on September 30, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 30 at 8:43 PM

When the Florence appeals court convenes Monday, the star of the show won't be there: Amanda Knox has no intention of returning to Italy to face her accusers.

"I was already imprisoned as an innocent person in Italy and I can't reconcile the choice to go back with that experience," Knox recently told Matt Lauer on The Today Show.

Instead, Knox on Monday will be in class at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she's still trying to finish her education, which was interrupted by the four years she spent behind bars in Italy.  

Knox's troubles began when her Italian study abroad adventure took a sinister turn in November 2007. Her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found murdered in the Perugia house she shared with Knox and two others. Five days later police arrested Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, for the crime, setting up a head-spinning trip through the Italian justice system.

Knox was in jail for almost a year while prosecutors built their case.  In October 2008, she was indicted on murder and sexual assault charges, and her trial opened in January 2009 and lasted nearly a year. 

In December 2009 Knox was found guilty of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to 26 years in prison. She appealed, and in November 2010 her second trial began. It lasted another year, and in October 2011 an Appeals court exonerated Knox. Within hours of that decision she flew home to Seattle.

But it wasn’t over. Prosecutors appealed the acquittal.

“The prosecution in many other systems in the world has the ability to appeal acquittal,” explained Associate Professor Mary Fan who teaches International Law at the U.W.

Prosecutors got what they wanted. In March, Italy's highest criminal court threw out Knox’s acquittal and ordered a third trial -- the one beginning Monday in Florence.

Fan said that in America this move by the prosecution would be considered double jeopardy. But the crime didn't happen in America.

"Courts have said, you know, when you go abroad, you are subject to the laws and the customs and the culture of the country where you traveled,” Fan said.

So what if Knox is re-convicted and Italy moves to extradite?

"A smart lawyer always can come up with arguments, and I can see arguments in her case,  to try to defeat extradition, but it will be an uphill battle ... for her to defeat extradition if there’s a conviction,” Fan said.

And it's unclear when the Italian courts will be finished with Knox -- even the outcome of this trial can be appealed.

Fan said that should Knox be re-convicted, Italy could request extradition under its treaty with the United States.  But, it’s not a simple process. The request goes first to the U.S. State Department, then to a federal judge and finally back to the State Department for a decision.

The trial in Florence is expected to be shorter than the first two trials, with a ruling likely before the end of the year.

Raffaele Sollecito is also being retried for murder. Friends told KING 5 he does not plan to be in the country and will not attend, but his father will likely be present.

Prosecutors accused Knox and Sollecito of murdering Kercher in a drug-fueled sex game involving a third man, Rudy Guede. In 2008, Guede was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but his sentence was reduced to 16 years on appeal.
 

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