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Amanda Knox Update: Would $139,000 have helped stack the odds in favor of Knox in new trial?

This image released by NBC shows Amanda Knox during an interview on the "Today" show, Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 in New York. Knox defended her decision not to return to Italy for a new appeals trial over the 2007 killing of her British roommate, even as she acknowledged that "everything is at stake," insisting she is innocent. In March, Italy's supreme court ordered a new trial for Knox and her former Italian boyfriend. An appeals court in 2011 had acquitted both, overturning convictions by a lower court. Italian law cannot compel Knox to return for the new legal proceeding. Peter Kramer,AP Photo/NBC

Amanda Knox
This image released by NBC shows Amanda Knox during an interview on the "Today" show, Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 in New York.
Peter Kramer,AP Photo/NBC

(CBS) - Would $139,000 have been too high a price for Amanda Knox to have paid to stack the courtroom odds in her favor? That may be the question that Knox's defense team should have considered, as they prepared for trial, this summer.

PICTURES: Amanda Knox Personal Photos

The second trial session for the American student, what one Italian website is calling an "international reality show", was again underway today in Italy. Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are defending themselves against charges they murdered Meredith Kercher in Perugia in November 2007. The trial is scheduled to run into December. But Knox-Sollecito trials can be like popular corn mazes: once you're in, there's no real good way of predicting when you'll get out.

Throughout the six years of legal proceedings in the Kercher case, one man has haunted Amanda Knox at every turn. He said in 2007 that he'd been "stained" forever by the case and he seems to have meant it.

His name is Diya "Patrick" Lamumba. In 2007, he owned Le Chic bar in Perugia. Amanda Knox worked at the bar and Lamumba was her boss. By all accounts, the Congolese immigrant was a well-liked citizen of the town and a kind, gentle guy.

Patrick Lamumba's tranquil world was shaken when, in the early morning of November 6, 2013, he was arrested for the murder of Meredith Kercher. The night before, Amanda Knox had told police interrogators she'd seen Lamumba in Meredith Kercher's bedroom and had heard a scream. The "confession" would quickly prove to be false but in its immediate aftermath Knox, Sollecito, and Lamumba were arrested for murder.

But two weeks later, Lamumba was freed. He had an air-tight alibi for the night of the murder. Within a week of being freed from jail, Lamumba sold his story to a British tabloid and collected a large paycheck. He told the Daily Mail that Perugia police "hit me over the head and yelled 'dirty black'....I was questioned by five men and women, some of whom punched and kicked me." The "stain" wouldn't go away.

Eventually, an Italian court threw out Amanda Knox's confession, declaring it null and void. Police had violated Knox's rights during the interrogation. That should have been the last an Italian court would ever hear of it. But prosecutors have used the confession against Knox time and again at trial, thanks to Patrick Lamumba.

Lamumba has had several court cases against Amanda Knox for libeling him during the interrogation. Because of those on-going civil cases, Italian law allows Knox's former boss to be a "civil party " in the criminal cases against her. Lamumba, and his claims against Knox, become part and parcel of the prosecution's case against the Seattle native. Without Lamumba, no Italian prosecutor could bring up the confession.

It is a courtroom twist that defies an American's appreciation. But it is how things are done in Italy and it means that every time Patrick Lamumba is in court, so is the Knox confession, despite the fact that it was thrown out.

In March, the Italian Supreme Court ordered both Knox and Sollecito to again face trail for the murder of Meredith Kercher. One thing the Supreme Court said it wanted to find out was whether Amanda Knox lied to police interrogators about Lamumba in an effort to derail their murder investigation.

During one of her trials in Perugia, Amanda Knox told Patrick Lamumba, "I hope you manage to find your peace....You know what it means to have unjust accusations imposed on your skin." But as the years have passed, Lamumba's "stain" has grown and festered. This past Monday, Lamumba was in Florence for the start on the new trial. He told reporters, "I say the same I say six years ago, I think she is guilty." Lamumba also told the media that Amanda Knox still owed him 103,000 euros ($139,000) in court-awarded penalties and fines for libeling him.

On Monday, Amanda Knox lawyer's asked the court to not allow Patrick Lamumba into the new trial as a civil party. After two hours of deliberation, Judge Alessandro Nenini denied the defense's request - Lamumba will be part of the trial.

Did Knox's legal team ever consider paying Lamumba what he says he is owed? Wouldn't that have kept both Lamumba and the false confession out of the current trial? Wouldn't that have "derailed" the Supreme Court's derailment interest in the confession?

Certainly, Alicia Florrick on "The Good Wife" would have made that deal in an hour (less commercial breaks). She might have even negotiated a lower settlement price and removed the confession sword hanging over Amanda Knox's head.

But that is scripted, television drama, not the "international reality show" that the current trial of Knox and Sollecito will soon become.

Complete Coverage of Amanda Knox on Crimesider

  • Doug Longhini

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