(NBC NEWS) – Italy’s highest court will review Wednesday the murder conviction of Amanda Knox, a process which could set up an extradition battle between Italy and the United States. Here’s a look at the long-running case’s various twists and turns — and what to expect.
WHAT IS THE COURT LOOKING AT?
The Italian Court of Cassation will scrutinize the conviction of Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 murder of Knox’s then-roommate, Meredith Kirchner, in Perugia, Italy. The 21-year-old Kirchner’s throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.
It will decide whether or not to uphold a 2014 appeals court decision to sentence Knox to 28-and-a-half years in prison and Sollecito to 25 years. Both were convicted of the murder in 2009 but freed on appeal in October 2011. Knox, 27, who has already spent four years in jail, now lives in the U.S.
WHY ALL THE ATTENTION?
The murder case has spawned countless lurid headlines about drug-fueled sex games gone wrong and captivated international audiences with its cast of characters. It has been covered intensively by British tabloids, which tend to portray Knox as a twisted seducer with a deceptively innocent appearance. A picture of Knox and Sollecito cuddling near the crime scene — an apartment the University of Washington student shared with Kercher — and shopping for underwear shortly after the murder added fuel to the fire.
“Certainly in the British media, among key newspapers, she was guilty way before they got near any sort of court,” Eugene McLaughlin, a professor of criminology at the City of University London, told The Associated Press.
The narrative was almost totally different in the U.S., where Knox’s parents appeared on television programs and her image was burnished by a PR firm.
Both Knox and Sollecito, 30, maintain their innocence and have written books about their ordeals.
WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES?
WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES?
Whatever the coverage leading up to Wednesday’s hearing, there are a few likely outcomes. The judges could confirm the guilty verdicts and order the two back to prison to serve their sentences — case closed.
The case could also be sent back for one or both of the accused to the appeals level to answer lingering questions about evidence used to convict them.
The judges could also confirm the conviction, but alter the sentences handed down to the two at the last appeal.
….AND AFTER THAT?
If the court confirms their guilt, the Italian government would have to request the extradition of Knox — who is a freelance journalist for the West Seattle Herald and has reportedly become engaged to someone she’s known since middle school.
“She would need a groundswell of support to at least stave off the (U.S.) government from moving forward” on any extradition request from Italy, Laurie Levenson, a law professor who directs the center for legal advocacy at Loyola Law School, told the AP.
A confirmation of the guilty verdict would see Sollecito return to prison immediately. He is Italian, in the country and has surrendered his passport to the authorities pending Wednesday’s court showdown. In the last week, Sollecito has given several interviews to Italian press, distancing himself from Knox, stating that he can’t be sure that she was in fact with him at all during the fateful evening.