Amanda Knox case: The obsession with what happened that night in Italy
American Amanda Knox is appealing her murder conviction in the 2007 death of her roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy.
August 15th, 2011
10:00 AM ET

Amanda Knox case: The obsession with what happened that night in Italy

There’s been no shortage of speculation about what took place the night in 2007 when American student Amanda Knox’s roommate was murdered in the house they shared in Perugia, Italy.

Whether the case is playing out in court or not, the speculation about whether Knox was responsible for the death of her roommate Meredith Kercher rages on - in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, and her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, was sentenced to 25 years for murder.

The question everyone asks: What really happened inside that house, and is Knox responsible? The questioning of the verdict comes in many forms: How do the cultural and judicial differences between Italy and the U.S. and UK change the way we view the case?

Part of the answer has come from the case's new momentum as Knox’s attorney presented evidence during his client's appeal of her murder conviction challenging Italian police forensic operations.

Forensic expert Patrizia Stefanoni and her team examined DNA evidence during the original investigation in 2007. Their work has been strongly contested by two court-appointed forensic experts, professors Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti. The professors argued that two key pieces of evidence in the conviction of Knox and Sollecito should have been considered inadmissible. Knox's supporters say they hope her conviction may be overturned or her sentence reduced on appeal.

CNN Radio's John Lisk spoke with journalist Nina Burleigh about her new book, "The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox" (Broadway), which takes a look at why this case has captured the attention of so many people.

"Fatal Gift" is not the first book to examine the case and its popularity - and it certainly won't be the last. Talk of possible movies has dominated headlines, too.

Burleigh explains how the culture in Italy and how Knox’s actions after the murder may have played into her portrayal in the press during the early days of the case. In those first weeks of the investigation, Knox’s face was splashed across the front pages of newspapers across Italy. And in 2008, Knox was voted the country's Woman of the Year, surpassing even Carla Bruni (the Italian-born wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy) and Angelina Jolie, Burleigh recalls.

“The macabre nature of it, the lurid nature of this tale, combined with her prettiness, made the story irresistible and it became a sensation," Burleigh told CNN. "And that definitely played to her disadvantage.”

How has that culture played into Knox’s conviction inside the courtroom and in the public speculation?

“I think that we in our society, not just in Italy … all of us have to sort of stand back and say why is it that we are so fascinated by the occasionally evil female and not so interested in the run-of-the-mill, garden-variety, much more common male,” she said.

Listen to Burleigh describe what she’s learned about the woman at the center of the trial and other key players, the theories about what happened on the night Kercher was murdered, how the case may have played out if it had been tried in a U.S. courtroom and where the appeals process stands.

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soundoff (601 Responses)
  1. Pedro

    She is a nice looking girl. They shouldnt have put her in jail.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • bridgmjm

      Where should they have put her?

      August 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • AWMessenger

      Sadly, I haven't paid enough attention to this case to form a logical opinion about this, but I have skimmed articles that stated, BECAUSE she was a cute, attractive, American girl, the Italian police chose to condemn her, regardless of the lack of evidence, or the way evidence was promulgated against her. Is this true? I don't know, but it makes sense. Other countries don't have a high opinion about Americans ...

      Oh but yes, in total agreement, she is obviously attractive. Odd how that happens once in a while.

      Remember Anna Chapman?? Why on earth did American authorities let her slip so quickly through their fingers??
      Now she's posing for magazines in Russia, touting her escapades in the US. What up???

      August 16, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Pedro

    Plus i dont think anyone actually believes she did it. The people of italy are odd. They are also very very corrupt.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      I know she did it. The evidence against her is overwhelming. As a prior poster said, she is too pretty to be in jail. If she was obese and homely, press coverage would not be there.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Loon

      jesus the "evidence" against her is non existent...the evidence actually shows she probably didn't do it and was most likely not even there when it happened

      August 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      If it is so then why can't she remember were she was that night? Her stories keep on changing.
      I lived in Italy for 10 years and I'm a US citizen and I never ONCE felt mistreated or anything of the sort. Police in Italy would actually forgive me when I was talking on my cell phone while driving and I would flash the a smile. I actually felt always safe (except a couple of Albanian incidents).
      If something Italian men have a weakness for is beautiful women. Had she been innocent then they would have let her go without a problem. The issue is that there are many discrepancies that don't make sense on her behalf.

      August 16, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • carlo_65

      Pedro,I belived she did it.I am italian,and not corrupted.

      August 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Humber

    Non e' vero, Pedro.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kiki

    Just because she's a "nice looking girl" doesn't mean they shouldn't have put her in jail. The case should be based on evidence and supported facts. Never judge a book by its cover!

    August 15, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      Kiki,
      Learn how to read before commenting. They DID NOT put her in jail because she is beautiful. They put her behind bars because she lied and kept on changing stories over and over again. Most likely the crime scene investigators were not up to par but unfortunately she framed herself with her actions. Also her italian boyfriend was put in jail. Why don't they talk about him as well?
      Remember that Italy is ROMAN LAW. You are guilty until proven innocent...

      August 16, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. Pedro

    I agree with you frap. Me too. She is way innocent. Just look at her. Young and cute. Only really ugly girls are mean.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pedro

    Well. Ugly girls and Casey Anthony who has a horse face and alien ears.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. grimbal

    Obviously the comments here indicate the level in intelligence that is endemic to the American Education System. Anybody with an I/Q greater than their shoe size who has read the trial transcript knows she is absolutaly guillty

    August 15, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • phatboi

      Anyone with an IQ > Shoe Size can spell absolutely.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      OK So I misspelled a word. So What? This does not make her innocent. Also if this is all you have then perhaps you should shut up and leave the discussion to people will I/Qs larger than their shoe size

      August 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scoop

      I ABSOLUTALY love it when some people feel the need to prove their intelligence via a witty remark. It is a matter of an opinion and that is why the option is there. Grimbal, where are your manners?

      August 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caz

      Anybody with an I/Q greater than their shoe size who has read the trial transcript knows that the trial was a corrupt piece of theater that railroaded two innocent lives.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Anyone with an IQ larger than their shoe size looks at evidence before they make a judgment and you obviously didn't because anyone who looks at this non-evidence can see she's innocent.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Renzo Marcono

    Knox is not 'beautiful' – Burleigh's creepy and shallow deceit is hugely offensive, especially as she is trying to use it to make money out of her hugely pretentious book. At one point Burleigh even compares her heroine's looks to that of the Virgin Mary – this is not only pathetic, but downright blasphemous. The immorality and greed of authors like Burleigh are two of the most unpleasant aspects of this high-profile case.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah Waite

      Burleigh is typical of authors who try to cash in on subjects they know absolutely nothing about. Her dreamy, no-nothing views on Italy are downright offensive. During the radio interview she sounds like a male businessman – profit driven and mean. And yes – she just makes stuff up to back up her tedious, pretentious waffle.

      August 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gene Brady

      No immorality or greed on the part of the Prosecution???

      August 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nimbo

      What's 'immoral' or 'greedy' about state prosecutors prosecuting? What do you expect them to do – smoke pot, get drunk, and launch unprovoked, cowardly attacks on their housemates?

      August 15, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MK

    Amanda had something to do with the murder if you ask me but there is no real evidence to prove that because the moron police made a mess of the crime scene investigation, so she should never have been put in jail. Too bad for Meredith's family because one of their daughters killers is going to go free.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      The only killer of their daughter is in jail. The other two are clearly innocent.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Their daughter's only rapist and killer is in prison already. And if they wouldn't have made such a mess of this investigation he would be there much longer as he should be.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. M.Grant

    Burleigh makes up 'facts' to fit her pretentious 'theories' – at one point she even claims that Italian women don't play soccer. Er, how would that explain the Italy national female football team, and the fact that every club side has a women's team? And the fact that girls at school and college play soccer?...And Burleigh's obsession with Knox looking like the Madonna is sub-tabloid rubbish. It's a revolting, dreamt up idea aimed at padding out a book-load of offensive waffle aimed at enriching the sensationalist Burleigh... Burleigh sounds just like Candace Dempsey – another old woman blogger who has cashed in on a crime she views as 'sensational'.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bil

    yeah she is a beautiful girl, too bad she ended up with the wrong boyfriend. too bad i wasn't there:) haha jk but what a sad story. poor girl's life is being wasted.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. Justen beiber

    I'd like to bend Knox over and give her sine bieber liven

    August 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. woodrow

    What makes it sensational is they convicted her with virtually no evidence. And now the DNA evidence is proven defective and inadmissible. So it's taking a lot of creative imagination to believe her guilty of anything except being a pretty American girl.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      And you believe this How? No evidence! Poor you because after the fifth of next month both of them will be found guilty on all counts.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Let's hear the "evidence"...

      August 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Grimbal tell us your evidence so we can show you your IQ

      August 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Roger27

    Yeah, that's it, she was convicted because she was too pretty AND American, that is what they do in Italy! Do not worry, she will be freed and she will be back to America where she will make tons of money! It is funny how everyone feels sorry for this little sl## but nobody gives a cr## about Meredith!! I guess she wasn't pretty enough or American!

    August 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      The reason I would like to see Rudy Guede spend more than 16years in prison is because I care about Meredith.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TexanGal

    I believe she helped kill Kercher and is guilty but there is definitely more to this story we are not hearing about and is not being investigated. Keep Knox locked up but they need to look for an another accomplice.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bert

      based on what?

      August 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Seriously, Texan, based on what?

      August 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      So are you saying that Rudy Guede is not the accomplice? Yeah seriously is right......I guess his DNA all over the place doesn't mean anything.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
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