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Amanda Knox awaits another verdict from Italian court

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
January 30, 2014 -- Updated 0630 GMT (1430 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Florence court to rule at Knox, former boyfriend retrial Thursday
  • Both were convicted of British student Meredith Kercher's murder, later acquitted
  • Knox has opted not to travel to Italy for the trial after spending four years in jail
  • If found guilty, Knox said she would become "a fugitive"

(CNN) -- It is the case that seems to have no end.

U.S. student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are waiting -- once again -- for a verdict from an Italian court.

Knox has been back home in Seattle ever since an appeal court acquitted her and Sollecito in 2011 of the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher. The 21-year old was found partially naked in a pool of blood in the house she shared with Knox in the picturesque town of Perugia, where both women were exchange students.

Knox says she is afraid to return to Italy, where she spent four years behind bars.

Amanda Knox's ex takes stand in retrial

Italy's Supreme Court in March overturned the pair's acquittals, saying that the jury did not consider all the evidence and that discrepancies in testimony needed to be answered.

The case was sent to a retrial in Florence, where a verdict is expected Thursday.

Ruling unclear

The retrial began last September, refocusing international attention on the case that grabbed headlines in Italy, Britain and the United States -- but neither Knox or Sollecito were present in court.

It has renewed questions about the effectiveness of Italy's justice system given widespread doubts over the handling of the investigation and key pieces of evidence.

Prosecutor Alessandro Crini has said both Knox and Sollecito should be convicted and handed a 26-year sentence for homicide, with an additional four years for Knox for slander.

Both have maintained their innocence.

With little change in the case details over the years, it is not clear how presiding judge Alessandro Nencini will rule.

Whatever is decided, however, may not mean the case is closed.

Either side can appeal the verdict. It is unclear if the United States would agree to extradite Knox to serve any sentence if she were found guilty.

"Fugitive"

Knox, 26, and Sollecito, 29, were convicted in 2009 of killing Kercher, who was found with more than 40 stab wounds and a deep gash in her throat.

Prosecutors say she was held down and stabbed after she rejected attempts by Knox, Sollecito and another man, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, to involve her in a sex game. Guede is the only person still in jail for the murder and many aspects still remain unexplained.

Knox has always denied murdering Kercher and again maintained her innocence in a written statement to the Florence court.

"I must repeat to you. I'm innocent. I did not rape, I did not steal ... I did not kill Meredith," Knox said a lengthy e-mail, which was presented by her lawyer.

In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica earlier this month, she said that if found guilty she would be "a fugitive."

Sollecito was in the Dominican Republic at the start of the retrial but returned to Italy.

In November he took to the stand to make a spontaneous declaration, saying the charges against him were "absurd."

"For me, it's a nightmare that goes beyond imagination," he said of what he's been through.

"No one remembers Meredith"

A lawyer for the Kercher family said the victim's brother and sister, Lyle and Stephanie, would attend court to hear the decision.

The case has dragged on for more than six years, frustrating attempts by Kercher's family to discover the truth about her death with the three trials doing little to clear up mysteries surrounding the details of the murder.

The Kercher family welcomed the retrial ruling, their lawyer, Francesco Maresca said in March, adding they believed the ruling that acquitted Knox and Sollecito was "superficial and unbalanced."

The Kercher family believes more than one person was in the room when Kercher was killed, he said.

"No one remembers Meredith, while the two defendants write books, speak to the media and earn money," Maresca told the court in closing remarks last month.

Ferguson advocates for Knox

One person who has been advocating for Knox is Ryan Ferguson -- the Missouri man who walked free last November after being imprisoned for nearly a decade for murdering a newspaper editor. A state appeals court overturned his conviction.

"We kind of had this connection in the sense that we've been through this justice system ... It's relatively the same. We've been through this, and there's not a whole lot of people" who've had the same experience, he told CNN's "New Day."

"So it's cool and we can kind of just talk to each other. She wanted to reach out and say if you need to talk to anybody, if you need any help, I'm here for you. If not, I completely understand. So that's how we began communicating."

Asked about Knox' current state of mind, he said she's staying positive.

"She seems to be doing very well. I'm impressed with her. It's so daunting at this time," he said. "Within 48 hours she should know her fate. You can't start living life until they actually clear you and until you're free essentially. So I'm amazed how she's doing. She's working hard on school and continuing life the best she can. She believes the courts are going to do the right thing based on the facts. I agree."

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