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Experts to Brief Congress on the Case of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito

Second Update: The Congressional briefing has been rescheduled again. It will now be held at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 202, on Thursday, October 31, 2013 from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.

A panel of experts will brief Congress on the upcoming trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Florence, Italy. The “Congressional Briefing” will take place on Thursday, October 31, 2013 in Room 202 of the U.S. Capital Visitor Center from 9:30 to 11:30 AM. American citizen Amanda Knox had originally been found guilty of the 2007 murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy but was released after four years in prison when an Italian appellate court overturned her conviction. Last March the Italian Supreme Court reversed the acquittal raising the specter of extradition for Knox.

The panelists include retired Seattle area superior court judge Michael Heavey; retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Steve Moore; and John E Douglas, also a retired FBI agent and renowned criminal profiler. The event will be sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA9).

The three panelists have all previously spoken out in defense of Knox and Sollecito who many believe are innocent of any involvement in the high profile case. The defenders of Knox and Sollecito believe the crime was committed alone by a third defendant, Rudy Guede, who was convicted in 2008 and is currently serving a 16 year sentence.

Judge Heavey is a decorated Vietnam veteran who before his recent retirement had served for over 12 years as a judge in King County, Washington. His daughter had been a high school classmate of Amanda Knox. Judge Heavey has spoken out forcefully for Ms. Knox since 2008 shortly the case first broke. In recent years he has been giving presentations to local Rotary Clubs, law schools, and other organizations where he has called into question the quality of the trial and police investigation.

Steve Moore retired from the FBI in 2008 after a 25 year career. His work included investigation of terrorism, violent crime, and white supremacist organizations. In 2010 shortly after Ms. Knox’s initial conviction he took an interest in the case at the request of his wife, Michelle. He has since made dozens of television appearances arguing for Ms. Knox’s innocence. In 2011 Steve and Michelle were present in Perugia, Italy for the appellate acquittal of the two. He has also authored a book, Special Agent Man, about his storied FBI career.

Last year Steve Moore testified before Congress about the case of Jacob Ostreicher, an American currently held in a Bolivian prison, who many people also believe is innocent.

John E. Douglas served in the FBI between 1970 and 1995. He is co-author of the widely used Crime Classification Manual resulting from his work at the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. His work there included interviews with many of America’s most notorious serial killers. Douglas was also the inspiration for the fictional character, Jack Crawford, in the novel Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. Working with his co-author Mark Olshaker, Douglas has written a number of books about crime, including the recently published Law and Disorder which includes a chapter about the Amanda Knox case.

Also present will be U.S. Attorney John Q. Kelly who has recently begun to represent Raffaele Sollecito in the U.S. In 2009 Kelly had a appeared on a Larry King Live segment where he described the case as, “the most egregious international railroading of two innocent young people that I have ever seen.”

Case Background

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were both taking college classes in Perugia, Italy in the fall of 2007 when Amanda’s British flatmate, Meredith Kercher, was found murdered. The case became a media sensation in the European tabloids, mostly focused on the photogenic Ms. Knox. Sollecito was an Italian engineering student who had been dating Knox for about a week before the crime.

The two were arrested days after the murder even though scientific evidence that would later point straight at a local petty thief named Rudy Guede had not yet been analyzed. Guede’s DNA and prints were found in abundance at the crime scene and he had fled to Germany a few days after the murder. His story of consensual sexual contact and a mysterious intruder who appeared while he was in the bathroom is believed by no one.

While the tabloids were having a field day, American news outlets took a different view. With only a few exceptions, American experts have forcefully declared Knox and Sollecito to be innocent, with some even comparing the saga to the witch trials and inquisitions that have cropped up periodically in the region for thousands of years.

The case has also been marked by a fierce online debate described by the best selling author Douglas Preston as “some of the most savage commentary the Internet has ever seen.”

The US Government Role

The new appellate trial in Florence began late last month with neither Knox or Sollecito present. No matter what the outcome, the case will again return to the Italian Supreme Court for review. As an Italian citizen, Sollecito is in more jeopardy than Knox who according to legal experts would have a strong case for avoiding extradition. Close observers of the case are speculating that the panel members may urge the US government to provide political asylum to Sollecito.

The event will be open to the public.

A Press release is available here