ROME - Italy's highest court delayed until today a decision on whether American student Amanda Knox will face a new trial in the murder of her British roommate - an unusual but not unprecedented move.
The court heard six hours of arguments Monday and spent several hours deliberating that and a handful of other cases before announcing it would issue a decision this morning on whether the 2011 acquittals of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito will stand.
Italian prosecutors have asked the high court to throw out the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito in the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial.
The high court normally issues the decisions the same day it hears arguments. But prosecutor general Luigi Riello told reporters that "in very complex cases, it happens" that the court takes another day.
Sollecito's father was calm about the development.
"We have waited so many years, one night is not going to make a difference," Francesco Sollecito said outside the courthouse. He said he hadn't spoken to his son, who did not attend the hearing, about the day's proceedings.
Knox, meanwhile, was waiting anxiously in Seattle to hear if her long legal battle is over.
"She's carefully paying attention to what will come out," attorney Luciano Ghirga said. "This is a fundamental stage. The trial is very complex."
Knox, now 25, and Raffaele Sollecito, who turns 29 on Tuesday, were arrested in 2007, shortly after Kercher's body was found in a pool of blood in her bedroom in the rented apartment she shared with the American and others in the university town of Perugia, where they were exchange students. Her throat had been slashed.
Prosecutors alleged that Kercher was the victim of a drug-fueled sexual assault.
Knox and Sollecito have maintained their innocence.
Knox and Sollecito were convicted and given long prison sentences: 26 years for Knox, 25 for Sollecito. But an appeals court acquitted them in 2011, criticizing virtually the entire case mounted by prosecutors. The appellate court noted that the murder weapon was never found, said that DNA tests were faulty and added that Knox and Sollecito had no motive to kill Kercher.
The court can decide to confirm the acquittal, making it final, or throw out the Perugia appellate court ruling entirely or partially, remanding the case to a new appeals court trial.
In that case, Italian law cannot compel Knox to return to Italy.
The Italian appellate court hearing the case could declare her in contempt of court, but that carries no additional penalties.