It stands to reason that anyone facing 25 years in prison would try just about anything to save themselves. And so it was on Tuesday in Rome, when Raffaele Sollecito and his lawyers called a press conference that was supposed to be “importantissimo” with regard to his strategy to appeal his murder conviction along with Seattle native Amanda Knox for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. The two were convicted of Kercher’s murder in 2009 and acquitted on appeal in 2011. The acquittal was overturned by Italy’s supreme court in 2013 and their murder convictions were reinstated in 2014. Italy’s supreme court will rule later this year or early next year whether to confirm the convictions or send them back to trial.
There was plenty of reason to believe that Sollecito would throw Knox under the bus, starting with the fact that Sollecito’s aunt Sara Achille has taken to the Italian airwaves in recent months to say just that. Then there was the carefully leaked “scoop” given to gossip weekly Gente, attributed to and later denied by the Sollecito family, that even laid out just under what terms Sollecito would make his big break from Knox. He has supposedly “just remembered” that Knox had not stayed in his Perugia apartment the night Kercher was murdered, which would strip the American of her alibi.
Instead, Sollecito, dressed in a summer white blazer, flanked by his lawyers in front of a sea of microphones, hemmed and hawed about certain aspects of his new appellate case, including the fact that, as he had stated before, he could not remember in any detail whether Knox was in his apartment during the early part of the night that Kercher was killed.
His lawyer Giulia Bongiorno went on to clarify that the now infamous text message that Knox sent to her pub boss Patrick Lumumba, who she later accused of Kercher’s murder, was, in fact, not sent from Sollecito’s apartment as had been earlier implied.
He stated strongly that he did support Knox’s innocence, obviously together with his own, but that “there are certain anomalies” in Knox’s testimony that have nothing to do with him. Bongiorno added, “we ask that the court to not extend the anomalies of Amanda’s testimony to Raffaele.” In short, they want to be considered as separate entities, not as “the inseparable twins they make us out to be,” according to Sollecito. “I am not a crazy person. I am not a criminal. I am innocent,” he said before adding. “But my name is Raffaele Sollecito, not Amanda Marie Knox.”
At issue going forward in what is clearly an 11th hour appeal for freedom is a prison diary and declaration that Knox made after an interrogation in which she admitted she was in the house when Kercher was killed, and in which she subsequently accused Lumumba of the murder. The so-called confession led to her arrest, along with Lumumba’s. Knox was ultimately convicted by Italy’s supreme court and ordered to pay Lumumba damages for defamation associated with the false accusation. She has no appeals left against that conviction. She has not yet paid Lumumba the court-ordered damages. Sollecito said the statements made in her interrogation and written statements are hers and hers alone. “Her statement may be fantasy and hallucination,” he said. “But if you are going to hold it as the truth, what do I have to do with it?”
Sollecito’s lawyer maintains that any mention of the prison diary or so-called false confession in convicting Knox must not also extend to Sollecito, implying that the declarations alone led to the convictions, and conveniently neglecting to mention that the second appeal court also ruled that the DNA attributed to Sollecito on Kercher’s bra clasp that was cut from her body after she was murdered was also considered valid. “This diary is not a confession in the sense that Amanda did not say “I killed Meredith”, but if it is to be considered as valid by the court, it has to be used against Knox only,” Bongiorno told The Daily Beast. “You cannot convict by association.”
Knox’s camp have not yet commented publicly on anything Sollecito said in his press conference, but they will undoubtedly cling to Sollecito’s opening remarks in which he said “We still believe in the innocence of Amanda Marie Knox,” and likely nothing he said after. The high court can either uphold the murder convictions for one or both, or annul them and send the case back for another appellate trial.