ROME—Italy’s highest appeals court is expected to decide on Friday whether to uphold or overturn the conviction of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in 2007.
The decision had been expected Wednesday but was postponed until Friday because of the time taken by the lawyers’ and the prosecutor’s statements during a morning hearing.
The court will hear the final statement by defense lawyers on Friday followed by deliberations behind close doors. A verdict is expected later in the day.
The court will decide whether to uphold last year’s convictions, which could confirm prison sentences on charges of murder and sexual assault for both Ms. Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, her former boyfriend.
Alternatively, it could overturn the previous guilty verdicts and order a new appeals trial. In a less likely scenario, it could also overturn the conviction and clear the pair of all charges.
The decision adds a new twist to a legal saga that has polarized public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. The mystery surrounding Ms. Kercher’s death and the twists and turns of the subsequent trials have grabbed headlines around the world. Ms. Kercher, a student at the university in Perugia, was found partially clothed in a pool of blood in the apartment she shared with Ms. Knox in 2007.
The 21-year-old had been stabbed multiple times and her throat slashed, with her body also showing signs of sexual assault, according to the prosecution.
Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito were subsequently arrested on suspicion that they had stabbed her to death during a sexual assault. Both have maintained their innocence.
In 2009, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito were convicted of murder and sexual assault, but an appeals court overturned the ruling in 2011. Ms. Knox was freed after four years imprisonment and returned to Seattle, where she currently lives.
Then, in a surprise decision in March 2013, Italy’s highest appeals court ordered a retrial by a Florence appeals court, arguing that the reasoning behind the 2011 reversal had been contradictory.
In January 2014, the judges convicted them of murder and sexual assault and sentenced Mr. Sollecito to 25 years in prison and Ms. Knox to 28 years.
Eight years of twists in the case have raised questions about the credibility of Italy’s justice system. Some critics in the U.S. have blasted the handling of the case by Italian authorities, highlighting the multiple appeals and the retrial as emblematic of an intractable and unfair system.
Indeed, such issues could give rise to a battle over Ms. Knox’s extradition to Italy, if the court upholds her guilty conviction. Ms. Knox has publicly said that she would refuse to return willingly to Italy should it seek her extradition.