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Investigating Amanda Knox

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Lawyers for former UW student Amanda Knox asked judges last month that she be moved to a controlled residence while she awaits trial. Because their request was denied by Italian authorities, she remains in jail near Perugia, Italy.

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Amanda Knox has been in a jail near Perugia, Italy, for seven months. Knox is one of three suspects in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

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Rudy Guede A Perugian resident who Italian police determined was at the crime scene. Detained as a suspect.

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Patrick LUMUMBA A Perugian bar owner who employed Amanda Knox. Briefly detained early on in the investigation but was officially cleared as a suspect last week.

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Raffaele Sollecito Italian college student who was dating Amanda Knox at the time of the murder. Detained as a suspect.

The case isn’t closed in the convoluted tale of former UW student Amanda Knox.

Knox, 21, is being held in a prison just outside Perugia, in central Italy, as a suspect in the murder of her housemate, 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher.

But Diya “Patrick” Lumumba, 37, the Congolese bar owner who employed Knox, is no longer a suspect in Kercher’s murder last November. An Italian judge officially cleared his name last week. He had earlier denied any involvement with the murder and had witnesses to support his alibi that he was at work.

Raffaele Sollecito, 24, Knox’s boyfriend at the time of the murder, and Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native and resident of Perugia, are both also still in jail as suspects in the murder.

Lumumba was arrested and briefly detained during the early investigation into Kercher’s murder. He was released due to a lack of evidence, although he officially remained a suspect in the case until last week’s development.

While Lumumba’s name was cleared, judges denied last month’s request by Knox’s lawyer that she be transferred from jail to a controlled residence in Italy.

She was apprehended Nov. 6, 2007, and no charges have been filed against her. The prosecution may move the case to trial later this month, despite her mother’s frustrations that the case should have been moved to trial “yesterday.”

But Italian authorities may keep Knox in jail for up to five more months, and they don’t have to charge her with a crime as they conduct their investigation.

The case against Knox and even her role in Kercher’s murder remain unclear.

While the prosecution formulates its case and Italian police collect evidence, doubts have arisen regarding the case’s timeline and forensic data.

What is established is that Kercher died of stab wounds to her neck in her Perugia apartment Nov. 1, 2007. Her body was discovered the next day when police arrived at the house. The officers were attempting to return Kercher’s two mobile phones, which had been discovered in a neighbor’s garden, when they found the body.

Knox lived with Kercher, sharing the upper portion of a house with two Italian girls. Both were students at Perugia’s Università per Stranieri (University for Foreigners), founded in 1925 by fascist leader Benito Mussolini. The school plays host to about 40,000 Italian and international students every year.

Knox arrived in early September 2007 to spend a year studying Italian in the ancient Umbrian city.

“It’s a university town like you can imagine Chapel Hill in North Carolina or Duke nearby,” said Giuseppe Leporace, a UW Italian Studies professor a support of the Seattle Perugia Sister City Association. “The people live their lives like they always did since the town was here.”

Knox worked at Le Chic, a Perugian bar owned by Lumumba, while attending school. It was this link that would later implicate the owner as a suspect in the murder.

When police arrived on the scene, they found blood in the bathroom, a broken window in one of the bedrooms and Kercher’s door locked. Forcing the door open, they found her half-naked body on the floor underneath a blanket.

Police found evidence that she was raped, perhaps by more than one assailant, and that she died slowly of asphyxiation as blood filled her lungs from multiple stab wounds to the neck.

Knox told investigators she had been home earlier that morning but had gone to Sollecito’s apartment to tell him about the blood and broken window.

Sollecito claimed to have called the authorities twice shortly before police arrived at the scene, but police insist Sollecito’s calls were made after officers had arrived.

Neither was taken into custody Nov. 2. The next day, Knox and Sollecito were caught on security tape in an Italian store shopping for lingerie. The storeowner said that Knox insinuated that she and Sollecito should have “wild sex.”

The video first ended up in the hands of Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and later made its way to the international news media.

Mignini had begun secretly taping Knox’s and Sollecito’s cell phone conversations, according to a Vanity Fair article.

Italian authorities questioned Knox’s attitude; they said her behavior at the store was considered inappropriate for a girl whose roommate had just been murdered, according to Vanity Fair.

Paul Ciolino, a private investigator hired by CBS to examine the Knox case, said that this is one of several instances in which the prosecution has botched the case.

“They mishandled almost every piece of evidence they handled over there,” Ciolino said. “They are clueless as to how to collect evidence.”

On Sunday, Nov. 4, Knox and Sollecito were brought before police for questioning.

Mignini and a panel of Italian judges jailed Knox and Sollecito Nov. 6.

Following Knox’s arrest, British tabloid writers quickly published portions of Knox’s MySpace and Facebook Web sites, such as a video of Knox at a party and a short story she had written for class that involved rape.

Knox accused Lumumba of the murder during a lengthy interrogation that continued into the early hours of the morning, according to The Times, a U.K. newspaper. She originally claimed she was at Sollecito’s apartment when Kercher was killed. No lawyers were present at the interrogation.

Lumumba spent 14 days in jail but was later released. Knox has since retracted her statement against Lumumba.

Later in November, Italian police apprehended Guede on a train in Germany. Italian investigators placed Guede at Knox and Kercher’s house the night of the crime, a point Guede has not yet contested. He said he was with Kercher, engaging in sexual foreplay.

Guede claims to have been on the toilet listening to his MP3 player when Kercher was killed. He later accused Sollecito and Knox of entering the apartment with a knife and murdering Kercher, according to The Times.

Police found Guede’s DNA on Kercher’s body and on the bra she wore the night she died. Sollecito’s DNA was later discovered on the fastener of a bra found in Kercher’s room. The piece of evidence was previously overlooked by police.

Investigators found Knox’s DNA on the handle of a knife owned by Sollecito. Kercher’s DNA was supposedly found on the tip, although this has been calle-d into question by blogs like Perugia Shock, a Web site devoted to the case. The puncture wounds to Kercher’s throat could be inconsistent with the blade, according to the Vanity Fair article.

The knife is one of several disputed facets of the case.

“This girl didn’t kill anyone,” Ciolino said. “She is a classic American college student who drinks a little, had sex, and lo and behold, she smokes dope a little.”

Tomorrow: Part 2 — UW experts and Knox’s friends go on the record about the investigation, misconceptions about the case and its portrayal in the news media.

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