The Italian Court of Cassation, an appellate court of the highest instance that only verifies the interpretation of the law, issued its 52-page formal written explanation this past Monday for its March ruling exonerating Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher. The pair initially was convicted in a Perugia court in 2009, acquitted after a first appeals court, and then convicted again in 2014 after a separate Cassation Court panel overturned those acquittals, both serving nearly four years in prison. Knox and Sollecito have since been exonerated, while Rudy Hermann Guede, a man from the Ivory Coast, was convicted and is now serving a 16-year sentence. Knox faced 28.5 years in Italian prison while Sollecito faced 25 years had their initial conviction been upheld.
The scathing explanation condemned prosecutors for presenting a flawed and hastily constructed case from the onset. The investigation of Knox and Sollecito is a case depicting some of the most common flaws seen in wrongful convictions. Factors such as prosecutorial misconduct, international media attention, lack of evidence, and contamination of what evidence there was led to an ultimately flawed case. The conclusion indicated that had there been a proper investigation, “the defendants’ guilt or innocence could have been determined from the earliest stages.” Moreover, the Florence appeals court, which overturned the acquittals last year, ignored expert testimony demonstrating possible contamination of evidence and misinterpreted findings about the alleged crime weapon, a kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s house. There were no traces of blood found on this knife. Further, computers belonging to Knox and Kercher with potential information were “burned by imprudent maneuvers by the investigators, who caused an electric shock” through an apparent charging error. Finally, Kercher’s bra clasp which prosecutors argued carried a trace of Sollecito’s DNA, remained on the floor of the murder scene for 46 days, and was then passed through the hands of workers who were wearing “dirty latex gloves.” The wrongful convictions of Knox and Sollecito resulted from a sloppy and inept investigation that could have easily been avoided. Now, as an exonerated woman, Amanda Knox intends on advocating for others who have been wrongfully accused and have lost years of their life while wrongfully incarcerated.