Amanda Knox prosecutors pursue life sentence despite setbacks
(CBS) - There is a desperate, and often ill-advised, gambling strategy called doubling-down. More and more, it seems to have become the strategy of choice by Italian prosecutors in their case against American student Amanda Knox. If you are losing big, raise the stakes!
In December 2009, Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of murdering British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. Both Knox and Sollecito are currently appealing their convictions.
This week, an Italian court heard from two court-appointed DNA scientists in the Knox-Sollecito appeal. The experts testified that DNA evidence - key evidence critical to the prosecution's case - was not reliable.
The ancient Roman poet Lucretius had words of wisdom for just such a situation. Two thousand years ago, Lucretius wrote, "Nothing can be created from nothing." The Perugia prosecutors have not heeded the ancient poet's advice. Though now left with virtually no evidentiary floor to stand on, the prosecution continues to press forward.
The appellate trial - appeals can be mini-trials in Italy - of Knox and Sollecito began in 2010. Easily forgotten over that time is the end game. Knox was sentenced to 26 years, Sollecito to 25. Both say they were wrongfully convicted and seek acquittal and their freedom.
But the prosecution wants still harsher punishment; they've doubled-down.
They are asking the Italian appellate court to sentence both Knox and Sollecito to life sentences in prison. Since Italy does not have the death penalty, a life sentence is the country's harshest punishment. The punishment calculus in Perugia looks to be completely out of whack!
In 2008, Rudy Guede was convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher. Prosecutors believe Guede, Knox, and Sollecito killed Kercher in November 2007. Guede was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Guede quickly appealed that sentence and an appellate court cut his jail time almost in half.
But following that reduction, there were no headlines saying "Perugia prosecutors seek life sentence for Guede". Not a finger was lifted, not a word was spoken, not even a "We are disappointed" emerged from the prosecutors following Guede's very good deal from the appellate court.
The venom, it seems, was stored for when Knox's and Sollecito's turn to appeal would came around.
And it is more than just the prosecutor's office seeking harsher treatment. The lawyer representing Meredith Kercher's family, Franceso Maresca, also wants Knox and Sollecito put away for life. During this summer's appellate sessions, Maresca has become an added, sometimes over-the-top, voice for the prosecution's side.
Outside of court this week, an Italian a reporter asked the Florence-based Maresca if his recent, super-charged courtroom behavior suggested the Kercher lawyer was seeking vengeance over seeking justice.
Earlier in court, the appellate judge had slammed his fist down hard on the stand to silence a Maresca outburst, which had interrupted the DNA expert's testimony.
The reporter never got an answer. After being asked the question, the Florentine lawyer glared and turned away.
But another ancient Roman may have a clue. Cato the Younger, a statesman and Roman senator, once said, "An angry man opens his mouth and shuts his eyes."
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