If there is a rule book—and surely there is—listing all the things you shouldn’t say if you are on trial for murder, one would think that “If they convict me, I’ll become a fugitive” must be somewhere near the top of the list. The second thing on the list might well be, “When all of this is over, I want to visit the victim’s parents.”
But that’s exactly what Amanda Knox, the now 26-year-old Seattle native who is appealing her 2009 conviction for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher, told Italy’s top national newspaper La Repubblica ahead of the last day of defense closing arguments in her second appellate trial, now being held in Florence.
Knox and her erstwhile Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are fighting to keep their freedom after Italy’s high court threw out their 2011 acquittals that had cleared them of Kercher’s murder last March. They currently stand convicted of Kercher’s murder after their acquittals were reversed. The ongoing trial is their appeal of that conviction. A verdict in the new appeal, which began in September, is expected on January 30, and will still have to be considered by Italy’s high court before this case is finally closed.
Knox apparently made the ill-advised remarks to Meo Ponte, the La Repubblicacorrespondent who has been covering the Kercher murder case that has been lumbering through the Italian legal system for more than six years, in an unrecorded Skype interview ahead of Thursday’s hearing. Ponte, who stands by his story and who has championed her innocence in previous trials, concedes that Knox was likely making a lighthearted joke about an extremely serious appellate case that has not exactly been going her way. But a comment about becoming a fugitive is hardly a laughing matter in a murder trial. It undoubtedly sends a signal that Knox might just go into hiding should her murder conviction be upheld on January 30. If that’s the case, American authorities may be compelled to keep a close eye on her until the case is definitively concluded.
In Italy, appeals are not considered final until and unless the high court signs off on them. In Knox’s case, that could happen sometime in late 2014. If her conviction is upheld by the Florentine appellate court, the high court would also have to uphold the conviction before any extradition request is made. There is a valid extradition agreement between the United States and Italy and the U.S. State Department—not a hometown Seattle court, in a city where Knox is often viewed as an innocent—would make the final decision if Italy chooses to request that Knox return to serve a prison sentence.
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