Prosecutors in Perugia, Italy, today requested murder indictments for American college student Amanda Knox and two others in the gruesome slaying of Knox's British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
Knox, a 21-year-old University of Washington student, has been held for the past eight months in a maximum security Italian prison after the bloody November 2007 death of Kercher in the home the two girls shared while studying in Italy.
Prosecutors also requested murder indictments against Knox's Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivory Coast citizen Rudy Hermann Guede.
Now that the indictments have been requested, a preliminary hearing date will be set and is expected to be held in mid-September. The hearing will be held in front of judge Paolo Micheli, who will decide whether adequate evidence exists to have the suspects stand trial. Micheli is the fourth judge to rule on this case.
If the case goes to trial, it will likely begin before the end of the year.
All three suspects have denied having a hand in Kercher's death.
Today's news ends a week in which Knox celebrated her milestone 21st birthday Wednesday behind bars in the Italian prison.
Sollecito and Guede have also been detained as suspects. Under Italian law, suspects can be held for one year before being charged with a crime.
Sollecito's lawyer, Luca Maori, told ABC News that Sollecito sent Knox flowers on her birthday — nine yellow anthuriums — along with a note that read: "Happy Birthday. I hope that justice prevails soon."
Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, told ABC News this week that her daughter told her that she received Sollecito's note, but did not mention flowers.
Sollecito and Knox have not been permitted to speak since their November arrests and are currently held in separate prisons. They have written to each other previously, according to Maori.
Mellas and Curt Knox, Amanda's father, alternate stays in Italy for their twice-weekly, one-hour visits with Amanda on Tuesdays and Fridays. Mellas, who is currently in Italy, said she did not see Amanda on her birthday or on Thursday, when Mellas celebrated her own birthday.
"We sang 'Happy Birthday' to each other, hugged, held hands and cried," Mellas said in a sad tone of her Tuesday visit with her daughter. "It was an emotional day — celebrating our birthdays stuck in places we don't want to be, not really celebrating."
Knox told her mother this was not the birthday she envisioned, but she had resigned herself to the fact that she would turn 21 in prison, Mellas said.
"Here we are, the two of us, spending birthdays in Italy a few miles apart. It's not really a birthday." Mellas said.
Ten thousand miles away in Seattle, Curt Knox, Amanda's sister Deanna, 19, and half-sisters, Ashley, 13, and Delaney, 9, also sent birthday cards. Curt expected a 10-minute phone call from Amanda on Thursday, which she is permitted once per week to approved family members.
"For me, it's not her birthday," Curt Knox told ABC News. "I had hoped to have her go out and buy me a cocktail, a privilege she should have earned today at home [in Seattle]. There are certain milestones we hit at certain ages in life — and this is one she missed."
"This is not what I would call a happy birthday, he added. "We will celebrate the happy portion when she is cleared of everything and can come home."