A Superior Court judge in Amanda Knox’s home state of Washington says the 25-year-old should not return to Italy for a murder retrial over the death of her former roommate Meredith Kercher.
On Tuesday, March 26, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and ordered a new trial.
The couple were released by an appeals court 18 months ago after finding fault with the evidence in the primary case which convicted the pair for murdering British exchange student Meredith Kercher at the home she and Knox shared in Perugia in 2007.
Prosecutors and lawyers for Kercher’s family challenged the acquittal in the Supreme Court.
However, Michael Heavey, a judge in the King County Superior Court of the state of Washington, says he still believes the couple are innocent and that the prosecution case is flawed.
Expressing disappointing but not surprise that the Italian Supreme Court has ordered a retrial, when asked if Knox would return to Italy for the proceedings, Heavey said: “She may. The intelligentsia of Italy knows she is absolutely innocent.”
He added: “But a good proportion of the population, because of what’s called confirmation bias, what they’ve been told so many times, they can’t tell you why, but they think she’s guilty and that is not a healthy climate for her to be in.”
Penalized by the Washington State Commission on judicial conduct after he wrote three letters to the Italian authorities in 2008 about the case while still serving a judge, Heavey said he would not criticize the Italian judicial system but added that he believed the case was set to drag on for years.
He said: “It is terribly disappointing. You just feel like you have been kicked in the stomach. My heart goes out to Amanda and Raffaele and their families for what they’re going to have to go through. The nightmare continues.”
As yet, no-one in the Knox family has commented on whether or now she will return to Italy for the retrial, although in a statement yesterday Amanda said she and her family would “face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity.”
Sky News reports that one Knox lawyer in Italy has said he does not believe she will attend the trial, which is her right under Italian law.
If Knox is found guilty in the new trial and that conviction was upheld, Italy could seek her extradition from the US.
Current speculation about whether or not the US would grant an extradition request for Amanda Knox, could conflict with the double jeopardy rule under US law, which states that a person cannot be tried for the same offence twice. However, there have been exceptions to this.
State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Patrick Ventrell stated on Tuesday that he would not comment on the case because the Italian Supreme Court’s full ruling was not yet released.
He added: “We never talk about extradition from this podium in terms of individual cases.”