Knox appeal: DNA experts granted extra time

21st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

DNA experts reviewing the evidence in the appeal of Amanda Knox, the American woman convicted for the murder of a British student in Italy, were given extra time at a hearing on Saturday.

"I'm innocent but have been in prison for more than three and a half years. It's very frustrating and exhausting," Knox said on learning that the extension meant the appeal outcome would likely be delayed, ANSA news agency said.

Knox was sentenced in December 2009 to 26 years in prison for the grisly murder of Meredith Kercher with whom she shared a house in Perugia, in a drug-fuelled sex game that turned violent.

Raffaele Sollecito, Knox's boyfriend at the time, was sentenced to 25 years for his part in the murder. Both are now appealing their convictions.

The Seattle native arrived in court looking elegant in an ivory satin shirt and black trousers. Her hair pinned back into a ponytail, she smiled at her father Curt, who had flown over from the United States to support her.

"There's nothing more important than finding out the truth. There have been many prejudices and mistakes made. I remember the first days, I was young and I didn't understand all of this," Knox said.

"I don't want to stay in prison unjustly for my whole life," she added, her voice trembling.

As part of the appeal, fresh DNA tests were ordered on the presumed murder weapon and a bra clip found at the scene. Two independent experts from Rome's Sapienza University were originally given 90 days to review the evidence.

At Saturday's hearing the forensic specialists asked for a extra 40 days to examine other evidence and were granted an extension until June 30.

The court in Perugia also ruled that five serving inmates who have written letters claiming to have information on the Knox case will be allowed to give evidence, SKY said.

The next hearings were scheduled for June 18 and 27.

"The experts asked the forensic police to hand over information essential to their report. They still haven't received it and will therefore request a 40 days extension," Carlo della Vedova, Knox's lawyer, said ahead of the hearing.

"It's not the first time we've asked for the police to hand over this information," della Vedova added.

The lovers were originally convicted in large part because of traces of Knox's DNA found on the knife and Sollecito's found on a bra clip -- but della Vedova said the specialists had been unable to verify the findings.

"They weren't able to find any DNA on the knife blade at all, and it wasn't possible to repeat the test on the bra clip. It had been kept in a wet bag and had completely disintegrated," della Vedova said ahead of the hearing.

The lawyer for the 23-year-old American said the experts had been asked to verify the presence of DNA, and if this proved impossible, ascertain whether the original tests had been carried out correctly by Italy's forensic police.

© 2011 AFP

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