Retrial of Amanda Knox Kicks Off In Italy, Knox Remains in Washington

A retrial to determine whether or not Amanda Knox and her boyfriend played a role in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher (Knox's British roommate) is underway — but don't expect Knox to make an appearance. Knox and her former-boyfriend, Raffaelle Sollecito, were acquitted on charges of murder in 2011, but Italy's highest court later threw out the verdict, saying that the trial was full of "deficiencies, contradictions, and illogical" conclusions. This will be the fourth trial of the case.

Now a 26-year-old student at the University of Washington, Knox said that she will not be returning to Italy for the trial. Knox served four years of a 26-year sentence prior to her acquittal in 2011. Of returning to Italy Knox has said, "I have plenty to fear because I was already in prison wrongfully, I was already convicted wrongfully, and this is everything to fear."

Sollecito was also absent from the courtroom on Monday, but plans on attending future court dates, according to his lawyer.

The retrial could last for months, after what has thus far been a six-year legal battle. Italian courts could hold Knox in contempt for not returning, but even if she's found guilty, that wouldn't add any time to her sentence. The Italian government could then put in a request from extradition, but the U.S. could refuse it.

Knox's absence from the trial may come as some relief to Kercher's family. "It took us as a family nearly five years to even begin to feel ready to lay Mez to rest and it is still extremely painful now," her older sister Stephanie said in a statement. "I hope that despite the fact that the case continues, she is resting in peace but, knowing Mez, she will be fighting until the end."

Kercher, who was in Italy for a study-abroad experience, was found dead in her room in the apartment she shared with Knox and two other women in Perugia, Italy. Kercher's throat was slashed and her body was covered in stab wounds.

A third man, Rudy Guede, was found guilty for his involvement in Kercher's murder and sentenced to 16 years in prison, but Italian courts determined that he did not act alone. Knox has said she believes she will be acquitted once again.