Congress to Convene Briefing on Amanda Knox

By:  ABC News – Nicki Rossoll
Source: ABC News

With issues like immigration reform and the budget looming,  Congress is turning its attention to a completely different subject: Amanda Knox.

On Thursday two Washington State Democrats —  Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Adam Smith — are hosting a panel discussion about the third trial of Knox, who served jail time in Italy for murder before her sentence was overturned.

Knox, who is from Seattle, was convicted in 2009 of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, with the help of her former boyfriend Rafaelle Sollecito. Knox was originally sentenced to 26 years in Italian prison, but after serving almost four years, she was released when an Italian appeals court threw out the original conviction. This March, the Italian Supreme Court issued a new ruling, saying that Knox must be retried for the murder of Kercher.

With the re-trial of Knox now underway in Italy, Congress is getting involved.

According to a letter sent from the offices of Cantwell and Smith, Thursday’s “educational briefing” will feature analysis and insight from three expert panelists. Retired King County, Washington, judge and co-founder of Judges for Justice Mike Heavey will give an in-depth analysis of the case. Steve Moore, a retired FBI supervisory special agent and criminal investigator who has become a Knox supporter, will discuss the investigation and analyze the DNA evidence in this and similar criminal trials. John Douglas, a former FBI special agent, criminal profiler, and author of “Law & Disorder: The Legendary FBI Profiler’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice,”  will discuss his analysis of this international criminal trial.

The briefing was originally scheduled for Oct. 2, but was pushed back because of the government shutdown.

“Our office egularly reserves rooms at the Capitol for Washington state groups — from shellfish growers, to the state AFL-CIO, to Boeing,” according to Cantwell spokesman Jared Leopold. “The discussion scheduled for this week will focus on international criminal law and wrongful convictions.”

Spokespeople for both Cantwell and Smith could not immediately say whether either lawmaker would attend the briefing.

When Knox was first convicted, an irate Cantwell issued a statement saying she had “serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.” She also said she was “conveying my concerns to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

“My office and I do the best we can to accommodate any Washington state groups or people who are visiting DC- whether that be coordinating tours, arranging meetings, helping to reserve a room,” Rep. Adam Smith said in a statement to ABC News. “The panel will address issues related to convictions of Americans abroad and international criminal law.”