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Murder of Meredith Kercher

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Murder of Meredith Kercher
Meredith Kercher in 2007
Born Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher
(1985-12-28)28 December 1985
Southwark, London, England
Died 1 November 2007(2007-11-01) (aged 21)
Via della Pergola 7, Perugia, Umbria, Italy
Cause of death Knife wounds leading to blood loss and suffocation
Burial 14 December 2007
Mitcham Road Cemetery, Croydon, London
Prosecutors Giuliano Mignini
Manuela Comodi
Giancarlo Costagliola
Giovanni Galati (General Prosecutor of Perugia)
Arrested Amanda Knox
Raffaele Sollecito
Patrick Lumumba
Rudy Guede
Convicted of sexual assault, murder Rudy Guede
(29 October 2008)
Knox and Sollecito
(30 January 2014)
Acquitted Knox and Sollecito
(27 March 2015)

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher (28 December 1985 – 1 November 2007) was a British student on exchange from the University of Leeds who was murdered in Perugia, Italy, on 1 November 2007. Kercher, aged 21, was found dead on the floor of her bedroom. Some of her belongings were missing. The alarm had been raised by one of her flatmates, Amanda Knox, who had reported an apparent burglary when she arrived the next morning. Within hours the principal investigator had concluded that signs of a break-in had been staged to mislead the police enquiry, and Knox became the prime suspect. After being questioned a number of times over a four-day period, she implicated herself and Patrick Lumumba, a bar owner she worked for. He was then arrested along with Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Lumumba was released when forensic evidence pointed to Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native raised in Perugia. Guede was then accused of committing the murder along with Knox and Sollecito, as Lumumba had originally been. Guede was tried separately at a fast-track trial; in October 2008 he was found guilty of having sexually assaulted and murdered Kercher. He obtained a reduction in his sentence and is currently eligible for day release from prison.

Knox and Sollecito were tried together; they were found guilty at the initial stage of a two-level trials process and sentenced to 26 and 25 years, respectively. In October 2011, they were released after almost four years in prison following their acquittals at the second-level trial. In an official statement of their grounds for overturning the convictions, the judges wrote there was a "material non-existence" of evidence to support the guilty verdicts, and that an association among Sollecito, Knox, and Guede to commit the murder was "far from probable".[1][2][3] Some observers criticised the media for not describing the case accurately and dispassionately, believing it could influence the court case.[4]

Italy's supreme court set aside the judgement of the appellate trial that had acquitted Knox and Sollecito, and ordered them to be retried. Neither was required to attend. On 30 January 2014, both were again found guilty,[5] a verdict which was again appealed. Following the final appeal in March 2015, Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, overthrew Sollecito's and Knox's convictions a second time,[6] and ruled that they were innocent of the murder,[7] definitively ending the case.[8][9][10]

Meredith Kercher[edit]

Kercher arrived in Perugia in August 2007.
External images
Via della Pergola 7, courtesy of the BBC.


Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher (born 28 December 1985 in Southwark, South London, and known to her friends as "Mez") lived in Coulsdon, South London. She had two older brothers and an older sister. Her father is a freelance journalist, and her mother a housewife. Kercher attended the Old Palace School in Croydon. She was enthusiastic about the language and culture of Italy, and after a school exchange trip she returned, aged 15, to spend her summer vacation with a family in Sessa Aurunca. Kercher, who was petite, surprised her father by taking up karate when she was 17 years old.[11]

She won a place at the University of Leeds studying European politics and Italian, which she could speak almost fluently; working as a barmaid, tour guide and in promotions to support herself, she made a cameo appearance in the music video for Kristian Leontiou's song "Some Say" in 2004.[11][12] Her ambition was to work for the European Union or as a journalist, possibly while living in Italy. After some research, she chose the University of Perugia for her Italian study year, taking a course in modern history, political theories and history of cinema. Fellow students described Kercher as caring, intelligent, witty, and popular.[12][13]

Via della Pergola 7[edit]

Perugia, a well-known cultural and artistic centre, is a city of 150,000. More than a quarter of the population are students, many from abroad, giving it a vibrant social scene. In Perugia, Kercher shared a four-bedroom ground-floor flat in a house at Via della Pergola 7 (43°06′53″N 12°23′29″E / 43.1148°N 12.3914°E / 43.1148; 12.3914 (Via della Pergola 7, Perugia)Coordinates: 43°06′53″N 12°23′29″E / 43.1148°N 12.3914°E / 43.1148; 12.3914 (Via della Pergola 7, Perugia)). Her flatmates were two Italian women in their late twenties, and 20-year-old University of Washington student Amanda Knox who was attending the University for Foreigners in Perugia on an exchange year. Kercher and Knox moved in on 10 and 20 September 2007, respectively, meeting each other for the first time.[14] Kercher called her mother at least once a day on a mobile phone she kept with her at all times; her other mobile was registered to an Italian flatmate.[15] Kercher's English women friends saw relatively little of Knox, as she preferred to mix with Italians.[16]

The walk-out semi-basement of the house was rented by four young Italian men with whom both Kercher and Knox were friendly. Returning home at 2 am one night in mid October, Knox, Kercher, and some of the other basement residents met Rudy Guede, who attached himself to the group. He was invited into the basement and talked about Knox with the Italians. Knox and then Kercher came down to join them. At 4:30 am Kercher left, saying she was going to bed, and Knox followed her out.[17][18]

Three weeks before her death Kercher went with Knox to the EuroChocolate festival. On 25 October, Kercher and Knox went to a concert where Knox met Raffaele Sollecito, a 23-year-old computer science graduate at the University of Perugia. She began spending nights at his flat, a 5-minute walk from Via della Pergola 7, and returning for clothes every second day.[19][20]

Last sighting[edit]

1 November was a public holiday. Kercher's Italian flatmates were out of town, as were the occupants of the downstairs flat.[21][22] That evening, Kercher had dinner with three other English women at one of their homes. She parted company with a friend at around 8:45 pm, about 500 yards (460 m) from Via della Pergola 7.[23]

Alarm raised[edit]

By Knox's account, having spent the night with Sollecito, she arrived at Via della Pergola 7 on the morning of 2 November, finding the front door open and drops of blood in the bathroom she shared with Kercher; Kercher's bedroom door was locked which Knox took as indicating that Kercher was sleeping. After showering, Knox found faeces in one of the toilets. Knox went back to Sollecito's and returned with him to Via della Pergola 7. Noticing a broken window in one of the Italian flatmates' bedrooms and alarmed that Kercher did not answer her door, Sollecito unsuccessfully tried to break it down. The Polizia Postale arrived, having traced two mobile phones found in a garden near to Via della Pergola 7. Immediately afterwards, Sollecito called his sister, a lieutenant in the carabinieri for advice. She told him to call the 112 emergency number, which he did.[24][25]

Discovery of the body[edit]

One of the Italian flatmates arrived with her friends after receiving a phone call from Knox. Dempsey writes that in rummaging around, looking for anything that might be missing, she inadvertently disturbed the crime scene.[26] On discovering that the two phones Kercher always carried with her had been found in a nearby garden, an Italian flatmate became alarmed and requested that the police force open the door to Kercher's bedroom, but they declined. Instead, a male friend of the Italian flatmate broke down the door at around 1:15 pm, the body of Kercher was found inside lying on the floor, covered by a duvet.[27]


Pathologist Luca Lalli from Perugia's forensic science institute performed the autopsy on the body of Kercher. Her injuries consisted of 16 bruises, and seven cuts. These included several bruises and a couple of insubstantial cuts on the palm of her hand. Bruises on her nose, nostrils, mouth, and underneath her jaw were compatible with a hand being clamped over her mouth and nose. Asked by a senior detective if more than one knife was used in the attack, Lalli said it was possible, and that in his opinion Kercher had been standing while held around the jaw from behind when she was fatally stabbed in the neck by someone else standing in front of her. Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini (who was observing) suggested that cuts to the front, left and right of the neck must have been caused by different knives, but Lalli retorted that his guess was that those cuts were caused by a single knife.[28] Lalli's autopsy report was reviewed by three pathologists from Perugia's forensic science institute; they differed from Lalli in suggesting bruises indicated sexual violence and an attempt to immobilise Kercher by her attackers or attacker.[29]


A funeral was held on 14 December 2007 at Croydon Parish Church, with more than 300 people in attendance, followed by a private burial at Croydon's Mitcham Road Cemetery.[30] The degree that Kercher would have received in 2009 was awarded posthumously by the University of Leeds.[31]

Meredith Kercher scholarship fund[edit]

Five years after the murder, the city of Perugia and its University for Foreigners in co-operation with the Italian embassy in London instituted a scholarship fund to honour the memory of Meredith Kercher.[32][33] John Kercher stated in an interview that all profits from his book Meredith would be going to a charitable foundation in Meredith Kercher's name.[34]


Italian criminal procedure[edit]

A panorama of Perugia, the city where Kercher, Knox and Sollecito were students

Individuals accused of any crime are considered innocent until proven guilty, although the defendant may be held in detention. Unless the accused opts for a fast-track trial, murder cases are heard by a Corte d'Assise. A guilty verdict is not regarded as a definitive conviction until the accused has exhausted the appeals process, irrespective of the number of times the defendant has been put on trial.[35][36]

Italian trials can last many months, and have long gaps between hearings (the first trial of Knox and Sollecito was heard two days a week, three weeks a month).[37] If found guilty a defendant is absolutely guaranteed what is in effect a retrial, where all evidence and witnesses can be re-examined.[38] A verdict can be overturned by the Italian supreme court or Corte di Cassazione, which considers written briefs. If the Corte di Cassazione overturns a verdict, it explains what legal principles were violated by the lower court, which must abide by the ruling when re-trying the case. If the Corte di Cassazione upholds a guilty verdict of the appeal trial, the conviction becomes definitive, the appeals process is exhausted, and any sentence is served.[36][38][39]

Rudy Guede [edit]

Mug shot of Rudy Hermann Guede taken by police some time before his arrest for the murder of Meredith Kercher
Rudy Guede

Rudy Hermann Guede (born 26 December 1986, Abidjan, Ivory Coast) was 20 years old at the time of the murder.[40] He had lived in Perugia since the age of five.[41] In Italy, Guede was raised with the help of his school teachers, a local priest and others.[42] Guede's father returned to Ivory Coast in 2004. Guede, then aged 15, was adopted by a wealthy Perugia family.[41][43] He played basketball for the Perugia youth team in the 2004–2005 season.[44] Guede said he met a couple of the Italian men from the basement of Via della Pergola 7 while spending evenings at the basketball court in the Piazza Grimana at this time. In mid-2007 the family asked him to leave their home.[43][45][46]

According to Nina Burleigh, the young men who lived in the downstairs flat at Via della Pergola 7 were unable to recall how Guede had met them, but did recall how, after his first visit to their home, they had found him later in the bathroom, sitting asleep on the unflushed toilet, which was full of faeces.[47] Guede allegedly committed break-ins, including one of a lawyer's office through a second-story window, and another during which he burgled a flat and brandished a jackknife when confronted.[48] On 27 October, days before Kercher's murder, Guede was arrested in Milan after breaking into a nursery school; he was reportedly found by police with an 11-inch knife.[49][50]

Guede went to a friend's house at about 11:30 pm on 1 November, the night of the murder. He later went to a nightclub where he stayed until 4:30 am. On the following night, 2 November, Guede went to the same nightclub with three American female students he had met in a bar.[51]


After his fingerprints were found at the crime scene, Guede was extradited from Germany where he had fled a few days after the murder; he had said on the internet that he knew he was a suspect and wanted to clear his name.[52][53] Guede opted for a fast-track trial, held in closed session with no reporters present. He told the court that he had gone to Via della Pergola 7 on a date arranged with Kercher after meeting her the previous evening. Two neighbours of Guede, foreign female students who were with him at a nightclub on that evening, told police the only girl they saw him talking to had long blonde hair.[54][55] He said Kercher had let him in the cottage around 9 pm.[56] Sollecito's lawyers said a glass fragment from the window found beside a shoe-print of Guede's at the scene of the crime was proof that he had broken in.[57][58]

Guede said that he and Kercher had kissed and touched, but did not have sex. He then developed stomach pains and crossed to the large bathroom on the other side of the apartment. Guede said he heard Kercher scream while he was in the bathroom, on emerging, he had found a shadowy figure, holding a knife, standing over Kercher, who lay bleeding on the floor. Guede said the man fled while saying in perfect Italian, "Trovato negro, trovato colpevole; andiamo" ("Found black man, found culprit; let's go").[55][56][58][59]

The court found that his version of events did not match the forensic evidence, and that he could not explain why one of his palm prints, stained with Kercher's blood, had been found on the pillow of the single bed, under the disrobed body.[58][60] Guede said he had left Kercher fully dressed.[61] He was found guilty in October 2008 of murder and sexual assault, and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment.[62] Micheli acquitted Guede of theft, suggesting that there had been no break-in.[63]


Guede had originally said Knox had not been at the scene of the crime, but changed his story to say she had been in the apartment at the time of the murder. He said he had heard her arguing with Kercher, then glancing out of a window had seen Knox's silhouette leave the house.[64][65][66]

Three weeks after Knox and Sollecito were convicted, Guede had his prison term cut from thirty to twenty-four years before the automatic one-third reduction given for the fast-track trial, resulting in sixteen years. A lawyer representing the Kercher family protested at a "drastic reduction" in the sentence.[67] Guede currently qualifies for day release from prison.[68][69][70]

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito[edit]

Main article: Amanda Knox
video still
A still from Italian television, in which Sollecito comforts Knox outside the house. This frame, in which they kiss, became what the BBC called "one of the most incongruous images" of the case.[71]

In outlining the case for colleagues hours after the discovery of the body, Perugia Flying Squad Detective Superintendent Monica Napoleoni told them the murderer was definitely not a burglar.[72] She had concluded the apparent signs of a break-in were staged as a deliberate deception, partly because the smashed window did not seem to be the obvious point of entry for a burglar and was almost a dozen feet above the ground.[73][74][75] Knox was the only occupant of the house who had been near it on the night of the murder.[76] Knox was filmed soon after the body was discovered; a frame reproduced by the media showed her kissing Sollecito. Burleigh writes that Italian television played the video for months.[77][78] At her trial Knox said that she had been crying and trembling as she sat with Sollecito in a car outside the house, he then gave her his jacket and they left the car and were filmed kissing.[79]

At around 3 pm police requested the flatmates and their friends to attend the police station for further enquiries. In the car, Knox sobbed when she overheard that Kercher's throat had been cut.[80] One of the first to be questioned, she said she had spent the night of 1 November with Sollecito at his flat.[81] She burst into tears at the end of her interview.[82] English female friends of Kercher met Knox in the waiting room of the police station hours later, shortly after it had been confirmed to them that Kercher was dead. Some of Kercher's friends were to testify at the trial that Knox had shown "no emotion" and behaved in a way that they had found inappropriate.[83][84][85] In the early hours, Knox was seen pacing a corridor with her head in her hands. She remained at the police station until 6 am.[86]

On the afternoon of 3 November, Knox accompanied police back to Via della Pergola 7.[87] Edgardo Giobbi, of the Rome-based Central Operations Service, later told reporters Knox had sobbed uncontrollably outside the crime scene.[88] Knox was questioned at the police station for a second day. That evening, unable to return to the house to pick up fresh clothes, she was filmed by a store security camera buying underwear, a purchase which was later portrayed as shopping for lingerie.[89][90][91][92] The following day, 4 November, the Italian flatmates and Knox were summoned for further questioning. To check whether any knives were missing, they were taken to the upper flat, where Knox broke down crying and shaking.[85][93]

Knox along with other witnesses was questioned repeatedly over the four days following the murder. She was officially being interviewed at that time only as a witness, and safeguards normal in Italy during questioning of suspects, such as the presence of a lawyer and recording of interviews, were not used.[94] The police had been listening to Knox and Sollecito's telephone conversations, and knew her mother was due to arrive from Seattle on 6 November; Burleigh writes that 5 November might have been the last night police could question Knox without a lawyer, parent, or the American Embassy being involved.[95] On the evening of 5 November, Knox went to the police station with Sollecito. She later acknowledged doing stretches including a split while in a waiting room, but directly contradicted an accusation that she had done cartwheels, as Napoleoni told the trial.[92][96][97][98]


Knox was asked into the Flying Squad offices where, so she was told, Sollecito's interview was about to finish.[99] Napoleoni and detectives from the Central Operations Service interrogated Sollecito until 3:30 am. According to the police, at around midnight Sollecito ceased to support Knox's account of having been at his flat on the night of the murder. Knox's interrogation began at 11 pm, ending at 1:45 am with her signing a statement in Italian.[100] From then until signing a second statement at 5:45 am she was with Prosecutor Mignini. In a 2011 report by appeal court judges, the conduct of the interview was criticised on the grounds that, despite the seriousness of the offence for which she was in effect being treated as a suspect, no lawyer was assigned to her and no audio or video recording of the interrogation was made.[101][102] Noting that Knox "at the time neither understood nor spoke Italian well" the judges said an interpreter had "assisted police" in the interrogation rather than simply translating.[103][104][105]

Knox was told that Sollecito, in another interview room, was no longer saying Knox had been with him all night, but was now maintaining she had left him at 9 pm to go to Le Chic, and had not returned to his apartment until 1 am.[106] Giobbi, watching the interview from a control room, later said he heard Knox scream.[107] Chief Detective Inspector Rita Ficarra told the trial that Knox started to cry when asked about activity on her mobile phone before it was switched off on the night of the murder.[108]

Significance of text to Lumumba[edit]

The last activity on Knox's phone on the night of the murder was a text to Le Chic's owner, Lumumba. On the day the body was discovered, police had asked Kercher's English friend whether Kercher knew any black men.[109] According to Burleigh, the police may have seized on a connection to an African immigrant as confirmation of their line of inquiry.[110] Interrogators asked Knox why she had not been working on that night; she told them that Lumumba had sent her a text saying she was not required because business was slow. Knox explained that the reason for switching off her mobile was to prevent Lumumba from contacting her again if he changed his mind about her not working.[111] Knox had deleted Lumumba's text from the memory of the phone. She told detectives she did not remember replying to it.[100] The detectives looked through the phone's messages and found that Knox had replied. Follain renders Knox's reply to the text as "Sure. See you later. Have a good evening!".[112] Detectives interpreted the "See you later" part of the message, not as a colloquial parting phrase, but as evidence of an arrangement to meet on the night of the murder.[110] The interrogators showed Knox her reply to Lumumba on the display of her mobile.[113] Anna Donnino, an interpreter for the Perugia police, told the trial that Knox had an "emotional shock" on being shown her text to Lumumba, and said: "It's him, he did it, I can feel it."[85]


According to the detectives, Knox told them she had met Lumumba at the basketball court at 8:30 pm, before going with him to Via della Pergola 7 where Lumumba had committed the murder, thereby implicating herself as his accomplice. Knox signed a statement, written by the police in official Italian, which said: "I have a hard time remembering those moments but Patrick had sex with Meredith, with whom he was infatuated, but I cannot remember clearly whether he threatened Meredith first. I remember confusedly that he killed her."[114][115] She told Italian interrogators that she had covered her ears to drown out Kercher's screams.[116]

Knox's account of interrogation[edit]

At her trial Knox's account of what had happened during her interrogation differed from that of the police. She testified that she had spent hours maintaining her original story, that she had been with Sollecito at his flat all night and had no knowledge of the murder, but a group of police[117] would not believe her.[118][119][120] Knox said "I wasn't just stressed and pressurised; I was manipulated";[121] she testified to being told by the interpreter, "probably I didn't remember well because I was traumatised. So I should try to remember something else."[122] Knox stated, "they said they were convinced that I was protecting someone. They were saying 'Who is it? Who is it?' They were saying: 'Here's the message on your telephone, you wanted to meet up with him, you are a stupid liar." Knox also said that a policewoman "was saying 'Come on, come on, remember' and then – slap – she hit me. Then 'come on, come on' and – slap – another one."[120] Knox said she had requested a lawyer but was told it would make things worse for her, and that she would go to jail for 30 years; she also said she was not allowed access to food, water, or the bathroom.[123][124] Ficarra and policewoman Lorena Zugarini testified that during the interview Knox was given access to food, water, hot drinks and the lavatory. They further said Knox was asked about a lawyer but did not have one, was not hit at any time[107][125] and interviewed "firmly but politely".[126] Napoleoni testified that Knox was not beaten, threatened or insulted.[127]

Statement and arrest[edit]

Napoleoni was backed by several other detectives in arguing for the arrest of Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba. However her immediate superior, Chief Superintendent Marco Chiacchiera, thought arrests would be premature, advocating close surveillance of the suspects as the best way to further the investigation. Knox had been interviewed as a witness and what she had said could not be used to prosecute her.[128] Mignini placed Knox officially under investigation and at 5:45 am took a statement from her. According to Follain, Mignini began by telling Knox that anything she said in the statement could be used in evidence against her and that she was entitled to a lawyer. The statement had details changed from what she had previously said; for example, she now said she had met Lumumba at 9 pm, not 8:30. She also added that she had heard Kercher scream, though later in the same statement said she could not remember whether she had heard this. The taking of the statement ended when Knox broke down in tears.[129] After being formally arrested, Knox was told to remove her clothes for a forensic check. Doctors obtained samples of her DNA, saliva, urine, hair and pubic hair.[130] According to Knox, she was also subjected to a manual gynecological examination.[110]

Knox's withdrawal of her statements[edit]


Late Aug: Meredith Kercher arrives in Perugia.

10 Sep: Kercher moves into Via della Pergola 7,
renting a room from two Italian flatmates.

20 Sep: Amanda Knox rents the fourth bedroom.

Mid Oct: Rudy Guede meets Kercher and Knox.

25 Oct: Knox starts dating Raffaele Sollecito.

1 Nov: Kercher murdered in her bedroom.

2-6 Nov. Knox and Sollecito questioned by police
without lawyers.

6 Nov: Knox implicates herself and Patrick Lumumba.
Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba arrested.

19 Nov: Fingerprints at crime scene identified
as Guede's; DNA later identified as his.

20 Nov: Guede arrested in Germany; Lumumba


1 Apr: Supreme Court of Italy upholds detention
of Knox, Sollecito, Guede.

29 Oct: Guede sentenced to 30 years. Knox and
Sollecito charged with murder, sexual assault.


16 Jan: Trial of Knox and Sollecito begins.

18 Nov: Guede's appeal begins.

21 Nov: Prosecution requests life for Knox, Sollecito,
and nine months' solitary confinement for Knox.

4 Dec: Knox sentenced to 26 years, Sollecito 25.

22 Dec: Guede's sentence reduced to 16 years on appeal.


May: Guede files second appeal.

24 Nov: Knox, Sollecito appeal opens.

16 Dec: Italy's Court of Cassation upholds Guede's conviction.


29 Jun: Independent experts say forensic evidence
against Knox, Sollecito is flawed.

3 Oct: Second level trial finds Knox and Sollecito not guilty.


26 Mar: Verdict set aside. Case to be reheard.


30 Jan: New second level trial finds Knox and Sollecito guilty.


27 Mar: 2014 verdict annulled and case closed.


As Ficarra and Napoleoni were about to take her to prison, Knox, who still had not seen a lawyer, hand-wrote a four-page note in which she stated: "I want to make clear that I'm very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion." The Italian Court of Cassation subsequently ruled that the retracted statements could not be used in court, but they were nevertheless adjudged admissible in a defamation suit brought against Knox by Lumumba, which was heard concurrently with the murder charges against her and Sollecito and by the same jury. Lumumba's lawyer was to use vituperative language about Knox in court.[131][132][133][134][135]

Hearing, Guede substituted for Lumumba[edit]

On 8 November Knox appeared along with Sollecito and Lumumba before judge Claudia Matteini, and during an hour-long adjournment Knox met her lawyers for the first time. Matteini ordered Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba to be detained for a year. On 19 November the Rome forensic police matched fingerprints found in Kercher's bedroom to Rudy Guede. On 20 November Guede was arrested in Germany and Lumumba was released. The prosecution charged Guede for the murder, but retained the allegations against Knox and Sollecito that originally related to acting in concert with Lumumba.[136]

Pre-trial publicity[edit]

Knox became the subject of intense media attention.[137] Shortly before her trial she began legal action against Fiorenza Sarzanini, the author of a best-selling book about her which had been published in Italy. The book included accounts of events as imagined or invented by Sarzanini, witness transcripts not in the public domain and selected excerpts from Knox's private journals which Sarzanini had somehow obtained. Lawyers for Knox said that the book had "reported in a prurient manner, aimed solely at arousing the morbid imagination of readers."[138][139][140]

According to US legal commentator Kendal Coffey, "In this country we would say, with this kind of media exposure, you could not get a fair trial".[141] In the US there was a pretrial publicity campaign supporting Knox and attacking Italian investigators, but her lawyer thought it counter-productive.[142][143][144]


Knox and Sollecito were held in prison. They both pleaded not guilty, the trial began on 16 January 2009 before Judge Giancarlo Massei, Deputy Judge Beatrice Cristiani, and six lay judges at the Corte d'Assise of Perugia.[145] The charges were that Knox and Sollecito (along with Guede) had murdered Kercher in her bedroom. The three prosecution pathologists said a knife found in Sollecito's kitchen, which the prosecution said was the murder weapon, was compatible with the most serious of the neck wounds, but not other ones.[29]

The defence teams called forensic pathologists; professors Carlo Torre and Francesco Introna agreed that a single knife with a blade a little over 3 inches long had inflicted all the cuts suffered by Kercher, and not the much larger knife found in Sollecito's kitchen. Torre said the large size of the major neck wound was caused by the attacker stabbing Kercher then using a sawing motion.[146] Introna said the crime scene and injuries to Kercher indicated a single attacker who clamped his hand over her mouth, and forced her to her hands and knees where he used his legs to immobilise her before stabbing her in the neck.[147]

According to the prosecution's reconstruction, Knox had attacked Kercher in her bedroom, repeatedly banged her head against a wall, forcefully held her face and tried to strangle her. Miginini suggested Knox had taunted Kercher and may have said 'You acted the goody-goody so much, now we are going to show you. Now you're going to be forced to have sex!'[148] Guede, Knox and Sollecito had removed Kercher's jeans, and held her on her hands and knees while Guede had sexually abused her. Knox had cut Kercher with a knife before inflicting the fatal stab wound; then stole two mobile phones and money to fake a burglary.[149]

The defence pointed out that no shoe prints, clothing fibers, hairs, fingerprints, skin cells or DNA of Knox were found on Kercher's body or clothes, or in Kercher's bedroom.[150][151] The prosecution alleged that all forensic traces in the bedroom which incriminated Knox had been wiped away by her and Sollecito.[152][153] Guede's shoe prints, fingerprints, and DNA were found in the bedroom, his DNA was found on Kercher and her clothing, and his skin cells were inside her body. Guede's DNA mixed with Kercher's was in bloodstains on the inside of her shoulder bag, and on the left sleeve of her bloody sweatshirt.[154]

The prosecutors advanced a single piece of forensic evidence linking Sollecito to Kercher's bedroom: fragments of his DNA detected during analysis of Kercher's bra clasp. There was also DNA from unidentified males on the clasp.[155][156] Giulia Bongiorno, leading Sollecito's defence, questioned how Sollecito's DNA could have got on the small metal clasp of the bra, but not on the fabric of the bra back strap from which it was torn. "How can you touch the hook without touching the cloth?" Bongiorno asked.[157] The back strap of the bra had multiple traces of DNA belonging to Guede.[158][159]

Expert witnesses called by the defence asserted the results were more compatible with contamination, and noted that the dates when different samples were tested, which could indicate whether they had been tested on the same day with a resulting risk of cross-contamination, had not been supplied by the forensic police.[153][160][161][162][163] Both sets of defence lawyers requested the judges to order independent reviews of evidence including DNA and the compatibility of the wounds with the alleged murder weapon; the request was denied.[164]

They had also requested evidence from the computers of Kercher, Knox and Sollecito which had been seized by the police. However the police admitted that the hard drives on both Kercher's and Knox's computers had been destroyed. Sollecito's computer had been overwritten by the police and in doing so some vital information had been lost.

In final pleas to the court, Sollecito's lawyer described Knox as "a weak and fragile girl" who had been "duped by the police." Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, told the court there had been DNA contamination in the police forensic laboratory, and pointed to text messages between Knox and Kercher as showing that they had been friends.[165] On 5 December 2009 Knox, by then 22, was convicted on charges of faking a break-in, slander, sexual violence and murder, and sentenced to 26 years imprisonment. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years.[166][167][168]

Reactions to the conviction[edit]

Although acknowledging that Knox might have been a person of interest for American police in similar circumstances, journalist Nina Burleigh said that the conviction had not been based on solid proof, and there had been resentment at the Knox family which amounted to "anti-Americanism".[169] Another journalist who attended the trial said that she saw no evidence of anti-Americanism in the proceedings.[170] An Italian jurist said: "This is the simplest and fairest criminal trial one could possibly think of in terms of evidence."[170]

Trial of the second grade and release[edit]

The appeal (or second grade) trial began November 2010 and was presided over by Judges Claudio Pratillo Hellmann and Massimo Zanetti. A court-ordered review of the contested DNA evidence by independent experts noted numerous basic errors in the gathering and analysis of the evidence, and concluded that no evidential trace of Kercher's DNA had been found on the alleged murder weapon.[171][172] Although the review confirmed the DNA fragments on the bra clasp included some from Sollecito, an expert testified the context strongly suggested contamination.[173][174][175][176]

On 3 October 2011, Knox and Sollecito were found not guilty on charges of staging a break in, sexual assault and murder. A ruling that there was insufficient proof, similar to the verdict of not proven was available to the court, but they acquitted Knox and Sollecito completely.[177] The conviction of Knox on a charge of slander was upheld and the original one-year sentence was increased to three years and eleven days imprisonment.[178][179][180]

In their official report on the court's decision to overturn the convictions, the appeal trial judges wrote that the verdict of guilty at the original trial "was not corroborated by any objective element of evidence." Describing the police interviews of Knox as of "obsessive duration", the judges said that the statements she made incriminating herself and Lumumba during interrogation were evidence of her confusion while under "great psychological pressure".[181] The judges further noted that a tramp who testified to seeing Sollecito and Knox in the Piazza Grimana on the night of the murder was a heroin addict, that Massei, the judge at the 2009 trial, used the word "probably" 39 times in his report, and that there was no evidence of any phone calls or texts between Knox or Sollecito and Guede.[92][182][183][184]

Prosecution appeal successful[edit]

In March 2013, the Court of Cassation, Italy's supreme court, granted a prosecution appeal, and set aside the judgment of the appellate trial that had acquitted Knox and Sollecito. Ordering Knox and Sollecito to be retried at the second level, the Court of Cassation instructed the judges at a new trial to give weight to the judicial explanation of Rudy Guede's trial, which asserted that he did not act alone, as well as Knox's statement implicating herself and Lumumba. According to Hellmann, the Court of Cassation had not confined itself to matters of law, but had interpreted the evidence. He said the "ruling has explained to the judges in the new trial how they should convict the two accused".[185][186][187][188]

New trial[edit]

The rehearing of Knox and Sollecito's second-level trial was in Florence, northern Tuscany. Judges ordered analysis of previously unexamined DNA found on a kitchen knife of Sollecito's, which the prosecution alleged was the murder weapon.[189][190] When the unexamined sample was tested by court-appointed experts for the new appeal trial, no DNA belonging to Kercher was found.[188][191][192] The presiding judge, Alessandro Nencini, ordered police to locate Sollecito and confiscate his passport pending the supreme court ruling.[193] On 30 January 2014, after 12 hours of deliberation, the judges in Florence found both guilty of murdering Kercher in 2007. Sollecito was again sentenced to 25 years, while Knox, who had remained in the US, received an increased sentence of 28 years and six months. They were also ordered to pay the Kercher family damages. Lawyers for both the defendants said they planned to appeal.[35][194][195][196] In its decision reasoning released on 29 April 2014, the court declared the evidence indicated that while Guede restrained Kercher, Knox was responsible for delivering the fatal blow.[197]


On 27 March 2015, Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, again overturned the convictions,[6] definitively ending the case.[8][9][10] Knox’s lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said: "Finished! It couldn’t be better than this."[9] Rather than merely declaring that there were errors in the earlier court cases or that there was not enough evidence to convict, the court ruled that Knox and Sollecito had not committed the murder and were innocent of those charges.[7] According to Vedova, the decision by the five judges was almost unprecedented.[10]

After this verdict was announced, Knox, who had been in the United States continuously since 2011, said in a statement: "The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal."[198] Knox ended her statement saying that she was "grateful to have her life back" and, referring to Kercher as a friend, said: "I’m the lucky one".[199]

While overturning the murder and other convictions, the court upheld a guilty verdict against Knox for the slander of Patrick Lumumba, confirming that a three-year sentence would remain. The term for that sentence had already been served while Knox was imprisoned for the overturned convictions.[10][200] The remaining guilty verdict is based on a statement implicating Lumumba in the murder, made by Knox to the police during interrogations which Knox described as abusive.[201] That statement was withdrawn later the same day, after the interrogation had ended, and was ruled inadmissible in the murder trial. Nevertheless, it was allowed as evidence for the concurrent slander case at the same hearing.[134][202]


  1. ^ Squires, Nick. "Amanda Knox freed: tears of joy as four-year nightmare is over", The Daily Telegraph, 4 October 2011: "A jury decided that Amanda Knox, who has spent almost four years in jail, was the victim of a miscarriage of justice following a chaotic Italian police investigation."
  2. ^ Squires, Nick. "Amanda Knox freed: tears of joy as four-year nightmare is over", The Daily Telegraph, 4 October 2011: "A jury decided that Amanda Knox, who has spent almost four years in jail, was the victim of a miscarriage of justice following a chaotic Italian police investigation."
  3. ^ "Appeal Court Denies Existence of Proof – Amanda and Raffaele Not Guilty". Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Elizabeth Vargas and Michael S. James A Tale of Two Cultures: Amanda Knox Case Reveals a Stark Divide, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, 6 December 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  5. ^ "Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of Kercher Italy murder". BBC News. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned". CTVNews. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "The Amanda Knox verdict: Innocente". The Economist. 28 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Amanda Knox verdict overturned by Italy's supreme court.". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c "Italian high court overturns Amanda Knox murder conviction". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d Stephanie Kirchgaessner. "Meredith Kercher murder: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito acquitted". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Kercher, John (2012). Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth p.41-60
  12. ^ a b Kercher, John (2012). Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth p.78
  13. ^ "Profile: Meredith Kercher". BBC News. 4 December 2009. 
  14. ^ Murphy, Dennis. "Deadly exchange", NBC News, 21 December 2007.
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  16. ^ Follain p.35
  17. ^ Follain p.39 ("Meredith joined them she took just one pull on the joint; she was no habitual smoker")
  18. ^ Wise, Ann. "'They Had No Reason Not to Get Along'", ABC News, 7 February 2009.
  19. ^ Follain p.41-43
  20. ^ Follain 46-47
  21. ^ Dempsey 2010, p. 3.
  22. ^ Dempsey 2010, p. 41.
  23. ^ Dempsey 2010, pp. 48–49.
  24. ^ Burleigh 2011, pp. 172–174.
  25. ^ Follain p70-71.
  26. ^ Dempsey 2010, pp. 61–62.
  27. ^ Follain.p 72
  28. ^ Follain p.116-118
  29. ^ a b Follain p.296
  30. ^ Gemma Wheatley (14 December 2007). "Meredith laid to rest". Croydon Guardian. 
  31. ^ Barry, Colleen. "Family of victim in Knox case remembers slain daughter", Associated Press, 30 September 2011.
  32. ^ Squires, Nick Meredith Kercher scholarship set up at Perugia University, The Telegraph, 19 October 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
  33. ^ Perugia dedicates scholarship to Meredith Kercher, ANSA, 18 October 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
  34. ^ "Death in Perugia: John Kercher is no closer to knowing who killed his daughter Meredith". The Australian. Retrieved 13 November 2012.  (login required)
  35. ^ a b Wall Street Journal, 30 January 2014 Italy Court Finds Amanda Knox Guilty of Murder of U.K. Student in Retrial
  36. ^ a b Pisani, Mario; et al.; Manuale di procedura penale. Bologna, Monduzzi Editore, 2006. ISBN 88-323-6109-4.
  37. ^ Folain p269
  38. ^ a b Povoledo, Elisabetta: "Amanda Knox Freed After Appeal in Italian Court", The New York Times, 3 October 2011.
  39. ^ Cappelletti 1967, p. 113.
  40. ^ "Rudy, il barone con la passione del basket" (in Italian). 20 November 2007. 
  41. ^ a b Burleigh 2011, pp. 90–91.
  42. ^ Burleigh 2011, pp. 92–93.
  43. ^ a b Burleigh 2011, pp. 95–96.
  44. ^ Owen, Richard. "Rudy Guede: engaging drifter who boasted ‘I will drink your blood’", The Times, 28 October 2008.
  45. ^ Follain p.179
  46. ^ Burleigh 2011, p. 97.
  47. ^ Burleigh 2011, pp. 84–85.
  48. ^ Dempsey, pp. 299, 327.
  49. ^ Squires, Nick. "Meredith Kercher murder: Rudy Guede profile", The Daily Telegraph, 29 October 2008.
  50. ^ Follain p.
  51. ^ Follain p.204-205
  52. ^ Moore, Malcolm (20 November 2007). "Fourth Meredith suspect arrested in Germany". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  53. ^ Pisa, Nick (6 December 2007). "Meredith Kercher suspect extradited to Italy". The Telegraph (London). 
  54. ^ Follain p.206
  55. ^ a b Owen, Richard. "Rudy Guede guilty of Meredith Kercher murder, Amanda Knox faces trial", The Times, 29 October 2008.
  56. ^ a b Moore, Malcolm. "Meredith whispered killer's name, suspect says", The Daily Telegraph, 24 November 2007.
  57. ^ Pisa, Nick (25 October 2008). "Meredith murder suspect Rudy Guede is an 'easy target' for accusations, say his lawyers". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  58. ^ a b c Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede, Dr Paolo Micheli, Court of Perugia, judgement of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2011 (Google translation, Italian to English).
  59. ^ "Rudy: Meredith l'ha uccisa Raffaele", La Stampa (Italian), 27 March 2008.
  60. ^ Diritto, procedura, e pratica penale Tribunale di Perugia: Ufficio del G.I.P.: Dott. Paolo Micheli: Sentenza del 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009 (Italian): (English trans): Guede "confirmed then to have touched more or less everywhere in the room, even with his hands stained with blood, without however explaining why one of his [palm-]prints were found on the pillow under the corpse, when he remembered the regular pillow on the bed, where they also found the jacket and purse/handbag that the girl [Kercher] had put down on re-entering the house. The bed was, according to his description, covered with a red or beige duvet (but he had insisted far more on the former colour): the pillow was outside of the quilt." Earlier in his judgement, the judge noted that (Italian): "Soltanto in seguito, attraverso la comparazione in Banca Dati di un'impronta palmare impressa nel sangue e rinvenuta sulla federa del cuscino che si trovava sotto il corpo della vittima, si accertava invece la presenza sul luogo del delitto del 21enne G. R. H., nativo della Costa d'Avorio ..." (English): "Only later, through the comparison in the database of a palm-print imprinted in the blood of the victim and found on the pillowcase of the pillow where the body of the victim was found, it confirmed instead the presence at the scene of the crime of the 21-year-old G[uede] R.H., native of the Ivory Coast, ...".
  61. ^ Dempsey 2010, p. 175.
  62. ^ Burleigh 2011, pp. xxvi–xxvii.
  63. ^ Follain p. 397.
  64. ^ Squires, Nick. "Amanda Knox trial: Rudy Guede profile", The Daily Telegraph, 5 December 2009.
  65. ^ "Meredith Kercher killer Rudy Guede has sentence reduced", BBC News, 22 December 2009.
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  67. ^ Follain, p. 370.
  68. ^ NY Daily News 29 November 2013
  69. ^ Diane Sawyer, ABC News 30 April 2013
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  74. ^ Follain p. 75–76.
  75. ^ Burleigh 2011, p. 151–152.
  76. ^ Follain p.123
  77. ^ Burleigh 2011, p. 36.
  78. ^ Follain p.76
  79. ^ Follain p.321
  80. ^ Follain p.83
  81. ^ Dempsey 2010, p. 47.
  82. ^ ABC News 27 February 2009, Cops Cite Amanda Knox's 'Strange Attitude' After Roomie's Murder
  83. ^ The Herald, 14 February 2009, Knox 'showed no emotion' after murder of Meredith
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  87. ^ Follain p.112
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  89. ^ Burleigh 2011, p. 181.
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  100. ^ a b Follain p.133-4
  101. ^ Only one killer: judge explains why Amanda Knox went free Andrea Vogt, Thu 15 December 2011
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  124. ^ Hooper, John. "Was there a plot to kill Meredith?", The Guardian, 5 February 2009.
    • Dempsey 2010, pp. 147–148.
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  126. ^ Squires, Nick. "Amanda Knox 'hit in the head' during Meredith Kercher murder interrogation", The Daily Telegraph, 28 February 2009.
    • For slander, see Dempsey 2010, p. 265.
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  128. ^ Follain 134–136
  129. ^ Follain p. 133–138.
  130. ^ Follain p.143
  131. ^ Follain p. 351.
  132. ^ Follain p.239
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  148. ^ Follain p344
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  155. ^ Follain p.307
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  158. ^ News AU, Bra takes centre stage in Foxy Knoxy trial
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  161. ^ 7 October 2009,Croydon Guardian Last evidence heard in Coulsdon student Meredith Kercher murder trial
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  167. ^ Dempsey 2010, pp. 311–312.
  168. ^ Follain p. 366.
  169. ^ NY Post, 28 February 2010, Anti-US bias in Amanda Knox orgy verdict
  170. ^ a b Seattle PI, 14 December 2009 The debate continues over Knox's guilt
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  172. ^ Kington, Tom. "Amanda Knox DNA appeal sparks legal battle by forensic experts", The Observer, 24 July 2011.
  173. ^ Follain p. 404-406
  174. ^ "DNA experts highlight problems with Amanda Knox case", Associated Press, 25 July 2011.
  175. ^ Guardian, 29 June 2011, Amanda Knox prosecution evidence unreliable, appeal court hears
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  177. ^ Guardian, 4 October 2011, Amanda Knox: police under fire over botched investigation
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  180. ^ Follain, p. 366 & p. 428.
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  182. ^ CNN, 30 July 201, Police forensics under scrutiny in Amanda Knox appeal
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  184. ^ 15 December 2011, Colleen Barry, Associated Press
  185. ^ New Jersey State Bar Association Lessons Learned from the Amanda Knox Case
  186. ^ New York Times, 26 March 2013, Italy’s Highest Court Overturns Acquittal of Amanda Knox
  187. ^ Guardian, 26 March 2013, Italian judges order fresh appeal in Meredith Kercher case
  188. ^ a b Guardian, 31 January 2014, Why did Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have their convictions upheld?
  189. ^ NY Daily, 2 November 2013, Amanda Knox trial: New forensic tests find no traces of Meredith Kercher's DNA on knife
  190. ^ BBC news Europe 31 January 2014, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of Kercher Italy murder
  191. ^ MSN news 11/6/13 Knox's knife DNA casts doubt on murder weapon
  192. ^ BBC 31 January 2014 Kercher trial: How does DNA contamination occur?
  193. ^ Sky News, 4 February 2014,Sollecito Slams Kercher Killer's Release Plan
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  197. ^ Barry, Colleen, "Italy court: Knox struck mortal blow in killing", Yahoo! News, 30 April 2014
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  200. ^
  201. ^ (19 March 2015). "Amanda Knox in Testimony Alleges Police Abuse, Admits Drug Use". Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  202. ^ Nina Burleigh (19 March 2015). "Will Amanda Knox Be Dragged Back to Italy in Murder Case?". Newsweek. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 


  • Knox, Amanda (30 April 2013). Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir. Harper. ISBN 978-00-622-1720-2. 
  • Sollecito, Raffaele (18 September 2012). Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox. Gallery Books. ISBN 978-14-516-9598-4. 
  • Kercher, John (2012). Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth. ISBN 9781444742794. 
  • Schneps, Leila; Colmez, Coralie (2013). "Fourth chapter: Math error number 4: double experiments. The case of Meredith Kercher: the test that wasn't done". Math on trial. How numbers get used and abused in the courtroom. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-03292-1. 
  • Follain, John (2011). Death in Perugia: The Definitive Account of the Meredith Kercher Case from her Murder to the Acquittal of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 9781848942073. 
  • Burleigh, Nina (2011). The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox. Broadway. ISBN 9780307588593. 
  • Dempsey, Candace (2010). Murder in Italy. Berkley Books. ISBN 9781101187111. 
  • Spezi, Mario; Preston, Douglas (2013). Der Engel mit den Eisaugen [Angel with Ice Eyes] (in German). Germany: Knaur. 
  • The Italian Legal System: An Introduction. Stanford University Press. 1967. ISBN 9780804702850. 
Judicial reports

External links[edit]