|Knox Holds Breath Awaiting Ruling|
|By PHOEBE NATANSON and NIKKI BATTISTE (@NikkiBattiste)||Mar 25, 2013, 8:16 AM|
Lawyers for Amanda Knox told Italy's Supreme Court that prosecutors who argued today that she should be retried for the murder of her roommate "started with an error and ... continues to insist in the errors."
Knox's lawyer got the last word as a team of lawyers for the prosecution and the family of the slain roommate, Meredith Kercher, told the country's top court that an appeals ruling that freed Knox from prison in 2011 had made a mistake. They want her to face a new trial and be sent back to prison.
Knox, who remained home in Seattle during today's hearing, was released from an Italy's Capanne prison in 2011 after the appeals court threw out her conviction and scolded the prosecution's handling of evidence and the case. Also released at the time was her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito who had been convicted along with her.
The court said it would deliver its ruling Tuesday morning.
Knox, 25, was "anxious" about today's hearing.
The court could reject the prosecution's appeal and end her six year ordeal. But if the Supreme Court rules that Knox should not have been exonerated, a new trial would be ordered. Knox would not be required to return to Italy for the proceedings.
If that lower court trial convicted her again, the verdict would again be appealed, a process that would take years. Only if the Supreme Court upholds the guilty verdict could extradition proceedings begin to return Knox to Italy, although experts do not believe such an effort would be successful.
"'This trial started with an error and the prosecution continues to insist in the errors even in an attempt to convince the Supreme Court that the recourse should be accepted," Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova argued.
Dalla Vedova reminded the court that today's hearing should only consider whether Italian legal code was applied directly, noting it was not a re-trial of evidence and witnesses.
After the hearing, Dalla Vedova told ABC News, "The prosecutor spoke about the merits of the case as opposed to the procedural faults."
Knox lawyers also asked that her slander conviction be overturned. She was convicted of slander for falsely accusing her former boss, Patrick Lumumba, as Kercher's killer.
Knox claims that she told police she had a "vision" of Lumumba during a marathon interrogation by police who insisted she had plans to meet Lumumba that night because they found a message on her cellphone telling Lumumba in Italian, "See you later."
During her 2009 trial testimony, Knox said that during her grilling she was hit in the head, threatened and confused.
Dalla Vedova reminded the Supreme Court they had previously ruled Knox's "confession" inadmissible because Knox was never informed she was suspect.
Knox spent nearly four years in prison and three of those years were considered to have satisfied her penalty for slander. If her conviction is overturned, she could seek compensation for false imprisonment. The maximum she could win is 520,000 euro, or nearly $750,000.
Sollecito's lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, also came to Knox's defense today.
Bongiorno reminded the court that Knox was not allowed a lawyer during her interrogations, but was allowed a translator, or what she referred to as a "medium" who would "induce [Knox] to remember things." Knox testified in 2009 that the translator encouraged her "to try to remember."
Bongiorno added in court today, "There was a lot that was strange that night -- dreams, visions. But she said the strangest was instead of calling a defense lawyer, 'they called a medium.'
The day's hearing began with prosecutors arguing that the appeals court judges who set Knox free had "lost their direction." They argued that "some elements were not taken into account," insinuating that the appeal decision to acquit was wrong because not all evidence was considered.
Prosecutors argued that the independent review of key DNA during the appeal – which blasted the prosecution's case and proved a turning point for Knox -- "was used like a final word" and covered up all other evidence.
Each party was permitted 20 minutes to speak, but the prosecutor went on for an hour. After 35 minutes, the judge chided him and asked him to "hurry up."
The prosecutor's arguments were supported by a lawyer representing the Kercher family and a lawyer for Patrick Lumumba, Knox's former boss who has sued her for defamation. They all argued that Knox and Sollecito were wrongfully set free and should be tried again for murder.
Prosecutors and Kercher's family want to see Knox and Sollecito back in prison.
"We feel that Amanda and Raffaele are guilty and were in the room with Rudy Guede," Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the Kercher family, said as he entered the Corte di Cassazione, Italy's supreme court, in Rome today.
Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter, has also been convicted in the 2007 murder and is serving a 16 year prison term.
Knox, a student at the University of Washington, was attentive to today's hearing. Luciano Ghirga, a member of Knox's legal team, said he heard from his client on Sunday.
"She is anxious. She is following the process very closely," Ghirga said.
When asked if she would return to Italy, Ghirga said only, "She can come back anytime she wishes."
The Amanda Knox case captivated audiences in Italy, Britain and the U.S. She spent four years in a prison outside Perugia and was sentenced to 26 years following her initial conviction. But in 2011 and appeals court threw out the conviction and harshly criticized the prosecution's handling of evidence.
Knox was Kercher's roommate in Perugia when Kercher's throat was slashed and she was sexually assaulted. Prosecutors claimed that Knox, Sollecito and Guede killed her in a sex game gone bad. They claimed to have found Sollecito's DNA on Kercher's bra clasp cut off the bra and a speck of DNA from Kercher and Knox on a knife in Sollecito's kitchen.
An independent panel of forensics experts concluded that the bra clasp had been left on Kercher's bedroom floor for nearly a month after the murder, had been mishandled and likely contaminated. The speck on the knife was so minute it could not be retested and could have come from another substance.
If the supreme court rules today that Knox should not have been exonerated, a new trial would be ordered in a lower court. Knox would not be required to return to Italy for the proceedings.
If that lower court trial convicted her again, the verdict would again be appealed to the Supreme Court. Only if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court's guilty verdict could extradition proceedings begin to return Knox to Italy, although experts do not believe such an effort would be successful.
Since her 2011 release from prison, Knox has resumed her life in Seattle, taking classes and spending time with her family and boyfriend, James Terrano.
Her memoir,"Waiting to Be Heard," published by HarperCollins, will be released April 30. She reportedly received an advance of $4 million for the book.
Knox's first interview since she was freed will air during a primetime special on Tuesday, April 30 at 10 p.m., ET on the ABC Television Network.