Amanda Knox’s slander conviction upheld in case related to Meredith Kercher’s murder

Author: Editors Desk, Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN Source: CNN:::
June 5, 2024 at 08:56
Knox arriving at the Florence court with her husband on Wednesday. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images
Knox arriving at the Florence court with her husband on Wednesday. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images
Florence, Italy (CNN) — An Italian court has upheld Amanda Knox’s final remaining conviction stemming from the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007.

Knox was convicted in 2009 of slander for falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba of murdering Kercher in the Italian city of Perugia. An appellate court in Florence upheld that conviction on Wednesday.

Knox was previously cleared of Kercher’s murder by the Italian supreme court in 2015.The two-judge, six-jury panel, with two alternates, reached their decision after an emotional Knox told the court that she was “sorry” she did not try harder to retract the accusation and that she was a young person in an existential crisis when she accused him. “I did not know who the assassin was,” she told the court.

The retrial never threatened to result in any more jail time for Knox. She had already served the length of the original slander sentence when she spent four years in detention following her wrongful imprisonment for Kercher’s murder.

In 2007 during an interrogation, Knox, then 20, accused her then-boss Patrick Lumumba of the murder, which led to his arrest and two-week incarceration.

Knox signed two statements prepared by police regarding this accusation, but later wrote a handwritten note to cast doubt on her accusation. She was convicted of slandering Lumumba and sentenced to three years in prison, which she already served awaiting her murder trial in 2009, which led to her first conviction.

In 2023, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that her rights were violated during the interrogation that led to her accusation against Lumumba, which compelled Italy’s Supreme Court to order a retrial at the appellate court level. The trial that concluded on Wednesday was a retrial of her slander charge.

Wednesday’s judgment extends a lengthy ordeal that outlasted Knox’s trials, convictions and eventual, definitive acquittal in 2015 of Kercher’s murder.

Speaking in Italian in the same courtroom where she was convicted a decade earlier, Knox told the judge that she was “exhausted and confused” when she accused Lumumba of the murder.She said the police told her she “must have been involved in the horrible crime,” adding that they “yelled at me to remember, remember.” She also apologized for not appearing stressed at the time. “It was a statement made by a young woman in an existential crisis,” she said.


Knox pictured in 2019. She wrote on X that she hoped to 'clear my name once and for all' on Wednesday.
Knox pictured in 2019. She wrote on X that she hoped to "clear my name once and for all" on Wednesday. 
Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters/File

Before her appearance, Knox wrote on X that she had hoped “to clear my name once and for all of the false charges against me.”

Wednesday’s ruling dashes that goal, though it does not necessarily close the book on the legal saga; the decision will still have to go to Italy’s supreme court once more, and Knox has the chance to appeal.

“Amanda is very upset from the outcome,” her lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said outside the court on Wednesday, adding that her legal team was surprised by the judgment. “She was looking to have a final point of all this, 17 years now, (of) judicial procedure.”

‘Too upset to speak’

Knox was clearly shaken by the verdict; her lawyers both touched her arm and her husband then hugged her after it was read out.

She had previously said she would speak about the verdict, and reporters gathered outside with microphones awaiting her appearance, but Dalla Vedova told the pack of journalists that she was “too upset” to do so.

Knox was escorted out of the building through the “suspect’s door” which is where people arriving in police vehicles are kept from the media, a local police officer told CNN. It is unclear if she intended to leave the country.

Now the judge has 60 days to write her motivation or reasoning behind the decision. After that, lawyers have another 60 days to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court based on details in the reasoning. Dalla Vedova said they would consider their right to appeal only after reading the sentence.Knox also has the right to return to the European Court of Human Rights, which would then potentially issue a new ruling.

The court had taken into consideration a handwritten note in English that Knox had written after signing the official police statements, in which she said she wasn’t sure where she was the night of the murder, or if Lumumba committed the murder. When she addressed the court, she said when she wrote the statement, it was the same in her mind as retracting the accusation, but the court, which took just under two hours to reach a decision, ultimately disagreed.

Lumumba was arrested for the murder in November 2007 along with Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, based on Knox’s confession to police during an interrogation without a lawyer present.

Knox, Sollecito and Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede, whose DNA was present in the murder room, were all convicted of the murder in 2009. Guede admitted to being in the house with Kercher the night she died, but denied killing her. He said both Knox and Sollecito were also there.

Guede served 13 years of a 16-year sentence and was released in 2021.

The murder convictions of Knox and Sollecito were overturned by a Perugia appellate court in 2011 after an independent review of key forensic evidence, only to have that acquittal overturned by Italy’s supreme court in 2013. A Florentine appellate court then convicted the pair again in 2014. Knox was by then back in US and did not attend that trial.

The 36-year-old Seattle native, now a mother of two, and Sollecito, were definitively cleared in 2015 of Kercher’s murder after Italy’s supreme court voided the 2013 re-conviction.

But after being cleared of murder, Knox remained convicted in the slander case, a ruling upheld by Italy’s supreme court in 2015. She was sentenced to three years in prison, which she served while awaiting the original murder trial and subsequent appeal.

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