Amanda Knox 'Beamed' When Judge Allowed Re-Examination of Pivotal DNA Evidence

Butcher knife, bra clasp are the only physical evidence linking Knox to murder.

ByABC News
December 20, 2010, 6:40 AM

Dec. 20, 2010 — -- Amanda Knox and her family sobbed when an Italian appeals court judge ordered an independent review of crucial DNA evidence that was pivotal in Knox's 2009 murder conviction.

"It was just a huge relief to know that it looked like this court was going to really take a look at things very closely. We all cried," Edda Knox, mother of Amanda Knox, said. "[Amanda] was thrilled that there was a little bit of good news and that there was hope again."

On Dec. 18, the court ordered new DNA tests on the only physical evidence linking Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Rafaelle Sollecito, to the 2007 murder of Knox's British roommate, Meredith Kercher. The pieces of evidence to be re-examined are a 12 inch butcher knife and Kercher's bra clasp.

DNA evidence played a pivotal role in Knox's first trial where no clear motive for the murder was established.

Knox, serving a 26 year sentence for the murder, began her appeal in late November. Her defense claims that the evidence was contaminated and the DNA results, inconclusive.

"We think that if that is done, inevitably Amanda Knox will be found not guilty and returned home," Theodore Simon, Amanda Knox's attorney, said.

Knox was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher in the house they shared while studying at a university in Perugia, Italy.

Kercher's body was found in a pool of blood on Nov. 2, 2007, with her throat slit.

The butcher's knife, taken from Sollecito's house, showed slight traces of DNA from both Knox and Kercher. Prosecutors maintain that Knox's DNA was found on the knife's handle and Kercher's DNA was on the blade, proving the knife was used to cut Kercher's throat.

According to the prosecution, Sollecito's DNA was found on a bra clasp in Kercher's room, placing him at the scene. The defense argues that the clasp was collected by investigators six weeks after the murder, leaving plenty of time for any DNA to become contaminated.

Additional Witnesses Permitted in Knox Case

Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman said that the 90 day re-examination of the DNA will "remove any reasonable doubt."

"This is the first time in three years that the Italian court has...said let's look at the evidence and see what it really says," former FBI Agent Steve Moore said.

Two independent experts will first try to conduct their own tests of the evidence and if they are unable to do that, then they will review the testing that has already been done. Still, former FBI agent Steve Moore warned that because of how the DNA was collected in the first place, new tests might still produce questionable results.

"The methods and the procedures they used were so completely unsound, I don't know if there is anything you can really have confidence in," Moore said. "Because of the mistakes, because of the sloppiness, two innocent kids have lost 3 years of their lives."

Knox and her defense team also scored another victory when the judge announced that they will allow several witnesses that the defense hopes will refute testimony that placed Knox and Sollecito near the house on the night Kercher was killed.

During the first trial, testimony from Antonio Curatolo, a homeless man, placed Sollecito and Knox at a basketball court near the house where the murder took place. The defense insists the testimony is unreliable.

Knox's prison mates reportedly cheered as she returned from court, fresh with hope that this will be her last Christmas behind bars.

Still, the mother of Amanda Knox said that the re-examination of the evidence is a step in the right direction. In Perugia, Italy to celebrate the fourth Christmas that Amanda Knox will spend behind bars, Edda Knox spoke briefly to her daughter in the courtroom following the judge's ruling.

"I told her I loved her. I told her to hang on. She just beamed at me," Edda Knox said.

Amanda Knox celebrated the good news by eating barbeque that her father brought to her in prison, Edda Knox said. Knox's family hopes that the ruling will lead to an overturn of Amanda Knox's guilty verdict.

"You don't leave your innocent child locked up in a jail and not do everything you can to get her out of there," Edda Knox said. "I hope she's home before her next birthday in July."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.