The murder trial of Amanda "Foxy Knoxy" Knox, the 21-year-old American student accused of murdering her study-abroad roommate in Perugia finally started this morning in Italy.
As you'll recall, Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24, are accused of murdering and sexually assaulting British student Meredith Kercher, who was found semi-naked with her throat cut in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox in November 2007. Rudy Guede, 21, from the Ivory Coast, was already convicted of Kercher's murder and rape and sentenced to 30 years in prison in October. Prosecutors say that Sollecito and Knox held Kercher down while Guede raped her in a sex game gone wrong.
While Sollectito and Knox are both standing trial, not surprisingly, the Italian media frenzy has focused on Knox. "Foxy Knoxy" was the highest ranked woman in an Italian "personality of the year" poll in December, and the BBC reports that the Italian media has treated her as a "Lady Macbeth figure." Yesterday, much of the court proceedings dealt with how to handle the case considering the intense public interest. Francesco Maresca, a lawyer for Kercher's family sought to have the proceedings closed to the public and media, "to protect the memory and dignity of the victim and the Kercher family have lost a child." Prosecutors were not opposed to a closed trial, but the defendants wanted the case public. "We are going to demonstrate that there is no evidence against Raffaele Sollecito," said his lawyer, according to The Sun. The judge ruled that the trial will remain open, and more than 150 press passes have been issued for the court.
Earlier this week, the Kercher family appealed to the court to have a book about the case impounded, according to The Guardian. The book is based mainly on Knox's diaries, which were confiscated by the police, and reveals details about the students drinking and partying lifestyle. The publishers refused to stop distribution of the book, saying in is already in circulation. The author says that the book doesn't influence the trial because the diaries are part of evidence that will be submitted in court.
Knox and Sollecito have already been in jail for 14 months, and the trial could drag on for as long as a year, since in Italy only one to two hearings are held per week. Six members of the jury, three men and three women, were sworn in today and 250 witnesses are lined up to testify. Italy does not have the death penalty, so if convicted, the pair would face a maximum sentence of life in prison.