Murder conviction reversed, DNA evidence discredited

Amanda Knox, the 24-year-old American who had been held in an Italian prison for four years on charges of violent crimes and murder has had her conviction overturned by an appellate court. She is finally free to return home to the United States.

Knox’s ordeal began in 2007, when she and her boyfriend were in Italy as overseas students. During her stay in Italy her roommate was violently murdered. Knox and her boyfriend were arrested only five days after the murder took place, and she has been behind bars ever since.

Both Knox and her boyfriend have proclaimed their innocence ever since. She says she always wanted justice served for the loss of her friend’s life, but she says that she has no idea what happened to her friend. In fact, she believes that if she had been at the apartment that fateful night, she would not be alive today.

The Italian prosecutors never believed her story. Instead, In 2009, Knox and her boyfriend were convicted in her roommate’s death. However, they appealed that conviction and both were recently exonerated.

The reversal of the earlier murder conviction came as a result of a review of the DNA evidence that was used in the 2009 trial. That evidence was discredited when defense experts found that the original police investigation made several major mistakes. The DNA evidence was collected 46 days after the murder took place. When collecting the evidence the mistakes raised doubts about the DNA attributed to the woman and her boyfriend.

The prosecutor was never able to produce a convincing motive for the spectacularly violent crime. With the DNA evidence discredited, prosecutors were left to depend upon unreliable and even contradictory testimony to prove the elements of the crime, and the appellate court was left unconvinced.

Prosecutors say they will appeal this decision, but for now, both the woman and her then boyfriend were released and will head home. Whether the highest criminal court in Italy will confirm the reversal will certainly be interesting for Maryland residents to watch.

Source: The Pioneer Press, “American Amanda Knox freed by Italian court,” Alessandra Rizzo and Colleen Barry, Oct. 3, 2011

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