Retired Superior Court Judge Mike Heavey became involved in Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s case in 2008, shortly after they were arrested for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Amanda was a neighbor and friend of Heavey’s daughter. He found this case unsettling because his personal knowledge of Amanda differed so greatly from the portrayal on the news. He began examining the case more closely and observed distinct indicators of a wrongful conviction.
On November 6th, 2007 Amanda and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were arrested because of their suspected involvement in the murder of 21-year-old British exchange student Meredith Kercher. Amanda was interrogated by Italian authorities for the entire night. At 5:45 on the morning of November 7th, Amanda signed a written statement stating that her friend and local bar owner Patrick Lumumba was the killer.
After Lumumba was set free because of a clear alibi, the police tracked down another suspect named Rudy Guede. Guede was a known burglar who had fled to Germany the day after Kercher’s murder. Once they examined the evidence, they found Guede’s bloody handprint, shoeprint, and DNA at the crime scene. Guede admitted to being at Kercher’s house the night of the murder. Rudy Guede was convicted of Meredith Kercher’s murder but the police still did not release Amanda and Raffaele.
On December 5th, 2009, Amanda and Raffaele were convicted of murder. Amanda spent four years in prison until, finally, on October 3rd 2011; her conviction was overturned in an appelate court. Amanda was free to go home to her family. She returned to her home in Seattle, Washington and recently published a memoir recalling the horrific ordeal.
Judge Heavey played an active role in supporting Amanda’s freedom throughout the trial. By helping to educate the public and the media about the truth behind Amanda’s case, and encouraging others around the country to write letters to Italian prosecutors, he was a significant influence in the appointment of the new judge that exonerated Amanda.
In March of 2013, Amanda and Raffaele’s acquittal was overturned. They were re-convicted in a retrial in Florence in January 2014. On March 25th, 2015, the Italian Supreme Court will rule on their appeal.
In an unexpected turn of events the Italian Supreme Court strongly rebuked prior Supreme Court decisions and two lower court findings of guilt. They declared Amanda and Raffaele to be “innocent,” not just “not guilty;” by saying, “They did not commit the crime.”