Amanda Knox Trial Reopens Monday

(AP Photo/Stefano Medici)
Photo: Amanda Knox smiles prior to being tried for murder in Perugia, Italy, Friday, July 17, 2009.

ROME (AP) Forensic experts and other defense witnesses will be taking the stand as an American student and her former Italian boyfriend try to defend themselves against charges they killed her British roommate.

The trial of Amanda Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia, central Italy, reopens Monday after a summer break of nearly two months. A DNA expert and consultant for the defense is expected to challenge some of the evidence collected at the crime scene.

Knox, 22, and Sollecito, 25, are charged with murder and sexual violence in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher, with whom Knox shared a rented apartment in Perugia. Both deny wrongdoing and are expected to appear in court Monday.

Witnesses for the defense, who began testifying in June, have been challenging DNA findings the prosecution says link the two defendants to the case.

In particular, prosecutors say Knox's DNA was found on the handle of a knife that might have been used in the slaying, while Kercher's DNA was found on the blade. The knife was found at Sollecito's apartment. Knox's defense has maintained that DNA from Kercher is too little to be attributed with certainty.

Photo: US murder suspect Amanda Knox arrives for a hearing in the Meredith Kercher murder trial, in Perugia, Italy, June 13, 2009.

Prosecutors also say they found Sollecito's DNA on the victim's bra, although his defense team charges that the evidence might have been inadvertently contaminated during the investigation.

Closing arguments by prosecutors and defense lawyers are expected to begin some time in October, lawyers say, but it's unclear when the eight-member jury will reach a verdict. The court might also request an independent review of the scientific evidence, delaying a decision.

If convicted, Knox and Sollecito face life in prison. November will mark the two-year anniversary that they were jailed after Kercher's body was found on Nov. 2, 2007. The two have remained behind bars ever since.

The trial began Jan. 16 but hearings are mostly held on Fridays and Saturdays.

Knox was on an exchange program in Perugia and sharing an apartment with Kercher, a 21-year-old student from Leeds University in England, when the Briton was found stabbed to death in the house.

Prosecutors allege that Kercher was killed during a sex game. A third person, Rudy Hermann Guede of the Ivory Coast, was convicted in a separate trial last year and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He denies wrongdoing and has appealed his conviction.

According to the prosecutors, Sollecito held Kercher by the shoulders from behind while Knox touched her with the point of a knife. They allege Guede tried to sexually assault Kercher and then Knox fatally stabbed her in the throat.