The prolonged Italian murder trial of American student Amanda Knox is raising more questions than answers. How is a murder trial only held on weekends? How does a jury hear autopsy testimony and other forensic evidence and then get time off for two weeks? How is there supposed to be any continuity in thought or determination on the charges? It makes no sense because it’s happening in Italy.
American student Amanda Knox, whom I’ve posted about previously, is on trial for murder with her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, each accused of killing her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia two years ago. Last night, CBS’s 48 Hours ran a story, raising issues of investigator and prosecutorial misconduct. Again, I don’t have enough evidence to make a determination and you will often find such charges bantied about when Americans are charged with any crime abroad. Yet, it does make you stop and think twice, especially when the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, has been previously reprimanded in another murder trial.
A third man, Rudy Hermann Guede of the Ivory Coast, has already been convicted of the killing but he has failed to testify for the prosecution. According to SeattlePI.com, Guede felt that if the prosecutor called him a liar once, then why should he cooperate now. Guede’s lawyer claims his real story will come out on appeal. Now, how long should that take? If a trial can last this long, just imagine how long the appeal will take.
In this country we have a constitutional right to a speedy trial and when a jury is seated they are not supposed to be exposed to media coverage or discuss the matter outside the courtroom. Further, once the jury is charged in a murder case, they are sequestered to keep them focused and away from outside influences in making their decision of guilt or innocence. How can that possibly happen in Italy? How can the jury who is now home for a two-week Easter break not discuss the matter at the Easter dinner table?
I still have not heard enough facts to determine Knox and Sollecito’s guilt or innocence but I do know that the jury who has heard the facts so far cannot possibly make an unbiased determination in that environment. I may be an Italian-American but I am so glad that I practice law in the United States.