Amanda Knox Trial Drags On

Do you remember the O.J. Simpson jury trial that took an unbelievable 8 1/2 months to complete?  Well, the trial of Amanda Knox, an American student accused of murder in Italy, just passed that 8 1/2 month mark and may take as many as 10 months to complete.   Along with her Italian boyfriend, Amanda is accused of killing her British roommate Meridith Kercher.

UW student Amanda Knox defends a charge of Murder in and Italian courtroom

Amanda Knox, a UW student from Seattle, is currently defending a charge of Murder in an Italian courtroom.

The trial began on January 16th, 2009 in the town of Perugia, Italy.  Knox was studying in Italy for her junior year.  She is a student at the University of Washington in Seattle.  I wrote about the charges she faced early last summer in an earlier post.  At that time I did not anticipate that the trial would still be pending come fall.

Prosecutors say Kercher was killed during a sex game with Knox, her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and a third man, Rudy Hermann Guede, who was convicted of the murder last year.  According to the Italian prosecutors, Sollecito held Kercher down, while Knox threatened her with a knife. They allege Guede tried to sexually assault Kercher and then Knox fatally stabbed her in the throat.

I kind of wonder what is taking so long with this trial.  In the O.J. Simpson trial, the cause of the delay seemed to be endless “sidebars” or private meetings between the lawyers and judge.   In this case, there seem to be endless breaks.  In the summer, the court took nearly two months off before this case resumed.   In addition, the court only conducts the trial a couple of days each week due to the other cases that are going on.  In Italy, the jurors and judges also have a right to have certain witnesses recalled to the stand to testify over again.  In this case, over a 100 witness have been called.

Amanda's parents have spent much of their money on Amanda's defense.  For more information visit friendsofamanda.org

Amanda's parents have spent much of their money on Amanda's defense. For more information visit friendsofamanda.org

I often wonder about what the delay is with certain trials that I hear about on the news.  As a young prosecutor, I called in the assistance of an assistant attorney general to help me in a murder case involving three people shot in the head.  The attorney warned me of the complexity of the trial, and indicated that it might take two weeks.   In fact, the case ended up taking only 5 days, from the opening statements to the verdict.  It seems in Ferry and Stevens County the judges accomplish a lot in each trial day.  The judges start early, and work late, and it is seldom that other cases interfere in the scheduling of an important murder trial.   I have found in bigger counties, the trials are sometimes interrupted by other business.

If I were the attorney for Amanda Knox in Italy, I would worry about everything the jury would forget from the beginning of the trial to the end.  The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that taking extended breaks in the presentation denies the defendant the right to a fair trial.   In the U.S., the 6th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right of the accused to a “speedy and public trial.”   In Herring v. New York, Supreme Court expressed concern over a delay of “two days — a period during which the judge’s memory may well have dimmed, however conscientious a note-taker he may have been.”

One Response to “Amanda Knox Trial Drags On”

  • Michelle:

    Thanks for your coverage of this. I did not know Amanda at the U but was the same class as her. Why is this trial dragging out for so long? Why was she imprisoned so long prior to the trial starting? If this was happening to her in a third world country, people would be up in arms, but since it is in another NATO country and in Europe, people assume some level of fairness. what the press is doing to her over in Italy and Britain is just appalling.

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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