U.S. student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriendRaffaele Sollecito are waiting - once again - for a verdict from an Italian court in the murder case of British student Meredith Kercher. CNN's Erin McLaughlin reports.
In 2009, they were convicted of killing Kercher, 21, who was found stabbed in November 2007 in the villa that she and Knox rented in the central Italian university town of Perugia.
Prosecutors say she was held down and stabbed after she rejected attempts by Knox, Sollecito and another man, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, to involve her in a sex game. Guede is the only person still in jail for the murder, and many aspects still remain unexplained.
The convictions of Knox, from Seattle, and Sollecito were overturned in 2011 for "lack of evidence." But Italy's Supreme Court decided in March 2013 to retry the case, saying the jury that acquitted them didn't consider all the evidence and discrepancies in testimony needed to be answered.
Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court, there is little difference in the evidence or details of the case, and it is unclear how presiding judge Alessandra Nencini will rule Thursday.
The retrial in Florence has renewed questions about the effectiveness of Italy's justice system, given doubts about the handling of the investigation and key pieces of evidence. When Knox was first convicted of murder, there was outcry in the U.S. that she was wrongfully convicted, based on shoddy evidence. When she was acquitted, there was nearly as much of an outcry in Italy that the courts had succumbed to American pressure.
The retrial began on September 30 without either of them in court. Sollecito was in the Dominican Republic at the start of the retrial but returned to Italy. He took the stand in November, defending himself.
"I would like to make you understand that these charges against me are absurd," he said. "There was not a basis to charge me, to put me in jail. ... I don't wish anybody on Earth to go through what I went through."
He said that evidence against him - including a knife that was a key part of the prosecution's case - was "an illusion."
Knox returned to Seattle after her 2011 acquittal and has been living there since. She says she is afraid to return to Italy, where she spent four years behind bars.
She again maintained her innocence in a written statement to the Florence court. "I must repeat to you. I'm innocent. I did not rape, I did not steal ... I did not kill Meredith," Knox said a lengthy e-mail, written in Italian, which was presented to the court by her lawyer.
Whatever is decided Thursday may not mean the case is closed. Either side can appeal a verdict they are unhappy with, under Italy's three-strike trial system. This could also mean the case would continue with no immediate outcome.
Even if Knox is convicted this time around, it is unlikely she will ever return to Italy. One legal expert told CNN that since U.S. law dictates that a person cannot be tried twice on the same charge, she will not be extradited. "Under U.S. law, she was once put in jeopardy and later acquitted," said Sean Casey, a former prosecutor who is now a partner at Kobre & Kim in New York. "Under the treaty, extradition should not be granted."