Court to rule on Knox DNA in Italy sex-murder trial

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Lawyers for Amanda Knox, the American convicted with two others of murdering a British student in Italy, are hoping her appeal trial Saturday will order new tests on DNA linking her to the crime.

Leeds University student Meredith Kercher was found half-naked in a pool of blood on November 2, 2007 in the cottage that she shared with Knox in the picturesque medieval Italian town of Perugia, where both girls were studying.

Lawyers for 23-year-old Knox want an independent analysis of the presumed murder weapon -- a kitchen knife found in the house of her then-boyfriend that had traces of Knox's DNA on the handle and of the victim's on the blade.

"The sentence is not convincing. There is a lot of conjecture, a lot of grey areas.... The life of Amanda Knox is hanging on a very thin thread -- her DNA found on a knife," Carlo Dalla Vedova, one of her lawyers, said earlier.

Knox was sentenced last year to 26 years in prison for the crime.

Her boyfriend at the time of the killing, Raffaele Sollecito, was handed a 25-year sentence and another man, Rudy Guede, got 16 years.

Sollecito and Knox say they are innocent and are appealing together.

Guede was tried separately from the other two in a fast-track trial and his sentence has already been confirmed by Italy's highest appeals court.

The Ivorian has said he was in the house but did not commit the murder.

Prosecutors say the gruesome killing was the culmination of a drug-fuelled sexual assault on Kercher, who was in Perugia as part of an exchange programme.

Lawyers for Knox are also asking for an examination of the traces of Knox's DNA found mixed together with Kercher's blood in a bathroom in the house.

And they want a new witness -- a former mafia member who claims his own brother carried out the killing -- to give evidence at the appeal trial.

Luciano Aviello, who is currently in prison, has claimed that Knox, Sollecito and Guede are completely innocent and that his brother and an Albanian man carried out the murder as part of an attempted burglary.

Earlier this month Knox was indicted on additional charges of slander for claiming that police beat her during questioning soon after the murder. She said then that she had been in the house at the time of the killing.

She now says she was at Sollecito's house when the murder took place.

Knox also told investigators during initial questioning that a local bar owner, Patrick Lumumba, was the likely culprit. Lumumba was arrested but later found to be completely innocent and is a plaintiff in the appeal trial.

The case has served as the basis for a new television film entitled "The Amanda Knox Story" and starring US actress Hayden Panettiere as Knox, which is due to be released in the United States next year.

© 2010 AFP

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