By Calvin Palmer
The hatred American Amanda Knox harbored for British exchange student and room mate Meredith Kercher led to “an unstoppable crescendo of violence” that resulted in the British girl’s murder, an Italian court heard today.
Chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini summed up the prosecution’s case in a trial that has lasted almost a year.
Knox, 22, a University of Washington student, from Seattle, and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, are standing trial for the murder of 21-year-old Kercher, from Couldsen, Surrey, on the night of November 1, 2007. They both deny any wrongdoing.
Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede, 22, was convicted for his role last fall in a separate trial and sentenced to 30 years. His appeal also began this week.
Mignini argued that Knox initiated a scuffle that degenerated into a beating, sexual assault and eventual stabbing, went on to alter the crime scene to create a clumsily staged burglary and rape, then fell into a self-made trap of inconsistencies and fibs.
“The first accusers of Amanda and Raffaele were they themselves,” he said.
Mignini clearly painted Knox as the mastermind of the crime, an aggressive young woman who harbored hate for her goody-two shoes English roommate and exerted powerful influence over the other two male suspects, who were infatuated with her.
He said Knox bitterly resented the fact that Kercher had complained about her keeping a vibrator and condoms in full view in their bathroom and her habit of bringing men back to the house they shared in the medieval walled town of Perugia in Umbria.
“We don’t know what they intended to do once in the house,” he said “Perhaps there was a discussion, a fight over money or behavior that got out of control. Or perhaps after smoking hash, they decide to include Meredith in an extreme sexual game, and it was the moment for Knox to vindicate herself in a situation that bit-by-bit got more and more violent.”
Knox, dressed in her favorite red, hooded Beatles sweatshirt and jeans, grew increasingly emotional as Mignini described in detail his reconstruction of Kercher’s slaying and wept quietly twice during the course of the afternoon.
“It is Amanda who started the fight, which triggered an unstoppable crescendo of violence, and it is Amanda who plunged the knife into Meredith’s neck,” Mignini said. “It is Amanda who later covers the cadaver with a blanket — a form of pietas, of respect for the victim. An unknown male would not have any need to cover the body. As a woman, and friend, she couldn’t stand to see that nude, battered cadaver that she was responsible for.”
The three alleged killers tried to cover up the crime by smashing a window in the house with a rock in an attempt to convince investigators that the murder was committed by a lone burglar, Mignini said in his closing arguments.
The Italian police who investigated the crime scene have told the court their suspicions were aroused by the fact that glass shards lay on top of clothing lying scattered on the floor, suggesting that the window was broken after the room was ransacked, not before.
“All of this was done to channel suspicions on to a stranger,” Mr Mignini said. “The key to the mystery is in that room.”
Not only was the window visible from a nearby road, making it an odd point of entry for a burglar, but nothing in the room was stolen.
Mignini is expected to ask for lengthy prison sentences for Knox and her former lover when the court resumes. A verdict is expected in the first week of December. If convicted by a panel of two judges and six jurors, the pair could face life imprisonment.
Knox’s laywer Carlo Dalla Vedova dismissed Mignini’s closing argument.
“This was a very suggestive presentation, but this is the court of assize, so you need actual proof to condemn someone,” said Carlo Dalla Vedova.
When asked about Knox’s emotional response during Mignini’s dramatic reconstruction of the crime, Dalla Vedova said “It’s two years she has been in prison, of course it is trying for her.”
Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas, was present in the courtroom, but had no comment.
Co-prosecutor Manuela Comodi will present summations of the forensic evidence in court tomorrow.