Amanda Knox Hit With $12M Civil Suit

Kercher family looking for repentance in college student's death.

ByAnn Wise
November 27, 2009, 3:18 PM

PERUGIA, Italy, Nov. 27, 2009— -- In civil procedures today, the lawyer representing the family of strangling victim Meredith Kercher requested the equivalent of about $36 million in damages from the three people who are accused of killing her, including U.S. exchange student Amanda Knox.

In asking for what he called "symbolic" damages, the lawyer, Francesco Maresca, told the court here that he believed the case against the two young people was "crystal clear" and enough for the jury and judges to find them guilty.

"There is no room for other solutions," Maresca said.

Italian prosecutors maintain that Knox, 22, sexually molested and killed Kercher, her former roommate, in November 2007, with the help of Raffaele Sollecito, 25, Knox's one-time boyfriend, and Rudy Guede, a young drifter from the Ivory Coast.

They described Knox last week as angry and resentful, and the mastermind of a punitive sex game that ended with Kercher's death.

Guede, 22, was convicted to 30 years in prison for his role in the killing in a separate trial last year, and the judge awarded the equivalent of about $12 million in damages, a third of today's request.

All three of the accused have said they are innocent.

A civil trial in Italy occurs at the same time as the criminal trial. If the jurors and the judge find Knox guilty and award the damages requested today, she will be ordered to pay $12 million to the Kercher family. The sum would be divided among the parents and Kercher's three siblings.

Sollecito would also be liable for $12 million.

After summing up the main evidence discussed in the course of the trial, Maresca said Kercher's family was asking the court for "justice and truth" in the death of their loved one.

"The Bible says that the judge is a minister of God, and inflicts a just punishment on those who do evil ... those who causes suffering must be made to suffer by having their freedom taken," Maresca said.

Falsely Accused Man Asking for Damages

"Meredith no longer has a life and perhaps the only thing left in this case is repentance," he added.

Maresca said earlier he could not explain Kercher's death. "Personally, I hope she did not die for 300 euros [about $450 that was missing from the crime scene], for no real reason, as the prosecutors indicated," Maresca told the court.

"It is devastating to think that kids this young committed such a terrible crime but that is what the evidence tells us," Maresca said.

Maresca spoke of Kercher's family, saying they "taught the whole world the elegance of silence."

They have never gone on TV networks or given interviews to newspapers, he pointed out, something that "puts an abyss between them and the Knox and Sollecito clans," who Maresca said have flooded the media in defense of the two defendants.

Kercher family members are not the only civil plaintiffs in the case.

Patrick Lumumba, the former owner of a local pub who has said Knox falsely accused him of the the killing, is suing Knox for slander; an accusation that carries a heavy sentence of its own.

Knox, when interrogated at length by police in the days after the killing, said she imagined seeing Lumumba at the house when Kercher was killed. Lumumba was arrested the next morning and jailed for two weeks before being released when a witness testified he had seen Lumumba at his pub the night of the killing.

Because her statements were taken without a lawyer present, they were thrown out by a previous court. But Knox repeated a similar story in a written statement she later gave police.

Carlo Pacelli, the lawyer representing Lumumba, attacked Knox's character in no uncertain terms today, describing her as "satanical and diabolical" for blaming Lumumba for a crime he did not do.

Pacelli said Knox is a "talented and calculating liar" who deliberately framed Lumumba.

"Just a few words said by the nefarious and astute Amanda Knox to police, 'I confusedly remember that he killed her,''' Pacelli noted, "have destroyed Patrick Lumumba as a man, father and husband."

Knox's Father Not Yet Ready to Contact Kerchers

Pacelli did not put a figure to his request for damages, saying that would be requested in a separate hearing. He said the damage could not be quantified at the moment because Patrick is still suffering the consequences of being named by Knox, and is undergoing psychiatric treatment.

The Italian state has awarded Lumumba $12,000 in compensation for unjust detention, although he had originally requested more than 10 times that amount.

Outside the court today, Knox's father, Curt, who had just arrived from the United States, told reporters that "once this is all over and the Kercher family see that Amanda had nothing to do with this, I want to pick up the phone and express our condolences at their loss. I can't begin to fathom the pain they must be going through but until they know Amanda had nothing to do with this, then that is a call I cannot make."

The owner of the cottage where the killing took place also requested damages: $57,000 for lost rent and the cost of renovating the house that was dubbed by many "the house of horrors" in the aftermath of the crime.

Closing arguments for the defense are scheduled to start Saturday with lawyers for suspect Sollecito. Knox's defense is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

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