Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Only Person Convicted in Kercher Murder Seeks Acquittal

Nearly two year after Italy’s highest court acquitted Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend of murdering a British student, the legal wrangling still isn’t over.

Lawyers for the Ivorian man convicted in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher are petitioning a Florence appeals court Tuesday to overturn the only conviction in the case, arguing the acquittals of the high-profile defendants are in conflict with the guilty verdict against Rudy Hermann Guede.

Guede, 29, is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder, after his initial 30-year sentence was reduced on appeal. When the high court upheld his sentencing, it ruled he did not act alone, although it did not name any accomplices.

Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca will be in court to argue that Guede’s guilty verdict must stand. Revising verdicts is extremely rare in Italian justice, and the court is expected to recess before issuing a decision.

“The Italian justice system must give us at least one guilty party,” Maresca told AP on Monday. “We want that maintained, absolutely.”

Maresca argued alongside prosecutors in both Guede’s speedy trial and the multiple joint trials of Knox, now 29, and Raffaele Sollecito, 32, joining arguments that Guede could not have acted alone. He cited, among other things, the lack of defensive wounds that suggest that more than one person was present to hold Kercher down during the sexual assault and murder at knifepoint.

Maresca and the family have expressed dismay that Guede was convicted without any other accomplices being held accountable, or other suspects ever being identified.

Whatever the appeals court in Florence decides, it won’t affect Knox, who has been in Seattle since she was released on a first-level appeal in 2011 after four years in prison, or Sollecito.

Knox’s Italian lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, emphasizes that the physical evidence against Guede, including genetic evidence on the victim’s body and a palm print in blood in her room, is incontrovertible.

“There is no conflict between that conviction and our acquittal. Our acquittal is clearly saying that the evidence against Rudy Guede is very strong. In that decision, they don’t mention that it was possible he was there with someone else in the room. There is no evidence of anyone else,” Dalla Vedova said.

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