If Knox's conviction is ultimately confirmed pending further
appeals, her lawyers are expected to argue that the United States
cannot send her to Italy in part because of U.S. constitutional
guarantees against "double jeopardy," although some experts say that
could be a tough case to prove.
Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were found
guilty on Thursday for the second time in the 2007 stabbing death of
Meredith Kercher, in a retrial that reversed an earlier appeal
judgment that cleared her.
Knox, who spent four years in an Italian jail before returning to
the United States in 2011, was sentenced to 28 years and 6 months
but will not face jail time pending further appeals in Italy. Knox
did not attend the trial and would have to be extradited to serve
"She has powerful legal arguments that she can use to fight
extradition, or the U.S. can use to deny extradition," said Sean
Casey, a New York-based former federal prosecutor. "Under the law,
the Constitution trumps a treaty."
Now 26 and a student at the University of Washington, Knox said she
would not willingly return to Italy.
"I'm going to fight this until the very end. And it's not right, and
it's not fair and I'm going to do everything that I can," she told
ABC News' "Good Morning America."
If Italian authorities ultimately seek her return, Knox could find
herself in a U.S. federal courtroom to fight it, and experts were
split on her chances of prevailing on legal grounds.
Some said a constitutional ban on being retried for the same offense
after an acquittal would trump an American-Italian extradition
agreement. U.S. courts may also frown on her having been tried in
absentia, they added.
Others counter the treaty implies an acceptance of the Italian
justice system, and that the legal case for extradition is strong.
"You'd have to show a complete breakdown of their judicial system,"
said Julian Ku, an international law expert at Hofstra University.
"There's no problem of hometown bias for the victim because she was
not a local. There's no evidence of corruption."
SUPPORT AT HOME
Initially portrayed as a sex-obsessed party girl, Knox has been
commonly seen in her home country as a victim of a judicial process
riven with breakdowns in police procedure, mishandling of crime
scene evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.
Knox's lawyers argued that only one person is guilty of the murder:
Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, who is serving a 16-year sentence for
sexually assaulting and stabbing Kercher. But his trial found that
he did not act alone.
[to top of second column]
In a measure of the support Knox has received close to home, U.S.
Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat, said she was
"very concerned and disappointed" by the verdict.
In a move that would be rare but not unprecedented, the U.S.
Secretary of State has the final right to veto an extradition
request, and legal analysts said Washington might feel political
pressure to keep Knox out of an Italian prison.
The U.S. State Department has said officials will continue to
monitor the Knox case.
"There's a lot of reasons it wouldn't sit well with folks in our
country to see her extradited," said Robert Anello, a New York-based
attorney and expert in international criminal law. "That would weigh
heavily on the political end."
Washington has proven willing in the past to shield citizens from
Italian justice. In 2009, U.S. officials said they would not
extradite 23 CIA members convicted in absentia in Italy of
kidnapping an Egyptian cleric under the U.S. "extraordinary
A decade earlier, two U.S. Marines whose jet clipped the cable of a
ski resort gondola, killing 20 people, were tried in a U.S. military
court over the objection of Italian prosecutors. They were found not
guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Denial of extradition would be met with disappointment by Italian
officials but would be unlikely to precipitate a diplomatic crisis,
several U.S.-based analysts said.
"There are limits to how seriously they feel about actually getting
a hold of her," said Paul Rothstein, a law professor at Georgetown
University who said an extradition process could take months, if not
years, to reach a final conclusion. "They could have acted earlier,
(Additional reporting by Eric Johnson in Seattle;
editing by Cynthia
Johnston and Gunna Dickson)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.