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. AMilam

    I have the same opinion that of Jamal. I believe Amanda Knox was framed or setup (which ever word is appropriate). I believe the appeal will overturn her conviction. My intuition tells me that it's like an old murder story in Europe where the friend of the victim was framed or setup and it involves the Mafia as the suspect behind the scene that will never get caught in his violent murder acts.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eduardo

      Why do Americans thin that they can go all over the world committing crimes and think that they were setup...this is BS, she is guilty like Casey Anthony .! she has to pay for what she did! STAY IN JAIL!

      August 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • fearlessdude

      Eduardo, go back into your hole where you came from. Your are retarded. I have never heard a young woman slashing the throat of another young woman. It doesn't happen. Slashing is a manly thing. Maybe you are a slasher too. Why don't you slash yourself and stop using up perfectly good oxygen. Moron.

      August 16, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      fearless, google Sinedu Tadesse. It happens.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. Remember Meredith

    We don't read about Meredith because Meredith's family didn't hire a publicist to sway public opinion, like Knox's wealthy father did.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. David

    What in God's name does the prosecutor's religion have to do with anything? If he was Jewish and the author made a big deal of that there would be an uproar re: anti-semitism? And Perugia is a lovely town full of wonderful people. So what if it has preserved old imagery?

    August 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TanteEmma

    It's getting really old to hear US media perpetuating the myth that the US system is the best in the world, and all other judicial systems and police is not up to par.
    Knox is a psychopath and exactly where she belongs. I feel sorry for her family, but it's not the Italian justice system who did this to them.....Foxy Knoxie did it.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • smarterthanyou

      Ok, I never waste time posting on the internet, but seriously, it's not the media, the justice system, the country this trial is going on in, or someone's rich father that bothers me.

      TanteEmma – you really must be uneducated.
      Remember Meredith – it's a shame this happened, but were you there, you are reading what's online, not what the true evidence is, so why condemn someone when you don't know the truth?

      1. What does religion have to do with it, nothing. People that make comments about religion are just bored, do what you want, but leave the common sense to the rest of us.

      2. Rich father – let me ask, if that was your daughter, would you do whatever you could to make sure she was treated fairly? No one had denied a girl was killed, so let's now talk about who has money, it's pretty clear that money isn't getting anyone out of this because Amanda Know is still in jail.

      3. Italy & the justice system – has any of you folks who write about Know being guilty ever read anything more than what you were presented in tabloids and nonsense websites? No, because if you did you would realize that the evidence was tainted and the DNA does not match Know or her boyfriend. Isn't it possible the drifter who had a long criminal record set them up or just lied so that he could get a lesser sentence? You know, since that happens all the time in every country, people will lie, cheat, steal, and kill to get out of trouble, so let's see the real evidence.

      4. Common Sense – It doesn't matter what country you are in, but what matters is that the evidence is considered properly. Italy has a history of a lousy system, so whatever happens is what happens, but at the end of the day, read the news and see the facts before you judge someone is guilty.

      When will people wake up and realize that not every person arrested is guilty or that not every person found not guilty is innocent. People's lives are ruined every day by being accused of something they didn't do, it could be a work, walking down the street, or sitting in your house, so wake up and learn before you post things about something you know nothing about. Go read this book:

      August 15, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jackblob

      I can see your only interest here is in defending the Italian justice system and the truth means nothing to you. You have the nerve to call Knox a psychopath? Well, I can make baseless accusations too. For example, the Italian justice system is the worst in the world. See. It's easy. Shame on you.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • smarterthanyou

      Jackblob is on the money!

      People have no interest in justice, they rather look at a story for 1 minute and pretend they are the police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judge, jury, and the most righteous person to walk the world.

      Reality is that the evidence in this case would never commit Amanda Knox in the US or another dozen countries in the world. You have a guy who plead guilty stating that Knox did it, but there's no evidence to support it? You have a country which is known for having a horrendous justice system, and it's not an opinion, that's a fact, just research it.

      Some people like to troll the internet and post stupid comments, stating someone is a psychopath when you have no knowledge of the facts, the people, or anything else, that makes you what?

      August 16, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. iron beast

    Ok the evidence is flawed. i dont know if she is guilty or not but she should be freed. there is no definitive proof that she or the guy(DONT KNOW HOW TO SPELL THE NAME) is guilty. they were robbed of there freedom because the judge was corrupt. P.S she is "good looking" not hot.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bmull

    If Knox has the fatal gift of beauty Freida Pinto is the freaking H-bomb. No one would pay attention to Knox if not for the million-plus PR campaign and media flogging "her" story to sell books and advertising.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iceman

      I suspect that she would trade any book deal for her freedom.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jackblob

    I am quite disgusted by those who obviously know nothing about the case yet they seem completely at ease in declaring Knox guilty. Is this what little regard some people have for a person's life?

    August 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      OK smart guy, give us just one FACT that proves Knox couldn't have committted the crime.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jackblob

      The report by forensic experts that was filed with the Italian appeals court is all that is needed to overturn the conviction. If you want to know what the report says, look it up as I did.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      The report is in Italian. It only concerns two pieces of evidence, which the independent experts thought should be inadmissible (not everyone agrees). In any case there are dozens of forensic data points that link Knox the crime.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iceman

      bmull, state these points. Is it not true that there was no trace of Knox's DNA on Kercher's body but that there was abundant evidence of Guede's DNA in and on the body?

      August 16, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ace

    Here's a tip: the public doesn't give a flip about this case; but, every month or so they'll be an article on or maybe a special on the news and I wonder who is financing this so called media frenzy, and then I remember she has rich parents who are in tight with a congresswomen for their home state so I'll guess we'll continue to hear about this case ad nauseum or hopefully, we can let a sleeping dog lie...

    August 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • confusioncorrection?

      I've come across a lot of posts about her rich parents. Yes they're well off but hardly rich – the majority of the money used for their fight to free their daughter has been gained through donations and fundraisers. That is not a guess, I know the family.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David

    Now I get it Ms. Burley...the Perugins are different than us!!! Imagine that!! A culture many hundreds of years older than ours and they have the effrontery to be different than us, with their own, non American way of doing things

    P.S. those secret Masons did it

    August 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Felix

    She needs to be let out so she can have my babies. I plan on making lots of babies with her... yep.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bianca

    And why is this news? Who wants to keep it alive in CNN and other media? All I know is that, so far, the defense did not bring one, just one, proof that she did not do it, or that she could have not done it. I do not appreciate the diversions defense is creating. The testimonies of some DNA experts do not amount to anything, unless they can explain why they think it is relevant. All they are saying that it SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ADMITED. Well, well. Let's pretent it does not exist. This matter must be left to the local judiciary. She is not such an important person that would motivate mafia to bribe the judiciary and keep her in jail. There is nobody with a strong motive to pay to keep her in jail. We can invent some interesting plot, but thus far, she is a fairly ordinary case of spoiled brats that parents send overseas, and run into trouble.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. beelzebubba

    A persn accused of committing a crime is far less likely to be tried fairly in a foreign land. It's human nature. But Italians seem to be more easily stirred up by trash-tabloid journalism and rumors than many other Westerners. Remember the outrage when a US warplane struck an Italian ski-lift in the late nineties? It turned out, the Italians had not updated their navigation charts. Did their tabloids ever report that and retract their accusations?

    August 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      So it was the Italians' job to provide the U.S. military with flight maps of their country? The U.S. own classified investigation (just revealed last month) determined that the U.S. plane was 100% at fault and recommended that the U.S. pay reparations to Italian families. Of course we never did because being the big man on campus means never having to say you're sorry.

      August 16, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. Iceman

    To compare the Knox case to the Anthony case is ludicrous. The evidence against Knox is nowhere near as strong – in fact it is nonexistent – and the prosecutor is a criminal. Almost as criminal is the frenzy that the British tabloids have been stirring up in the British citizens. Who can blame the Knox parents for trying to break up the snowball?

    August 15, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alex

    She is innocent. Anyone who has done the proper due diligence can arrive at no other conclusion. If I were President, instead of some gutless black man, she'd have been back home years ago. I'd have strong-armed the Italian government to let her go free, or sent a SEAL team to extract her. That simple. Don't screw over my citizens when we don't screw over yours. Show me ONE Italian wrongfully incarcerated in the US. That's right, there are none.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pat

    Let’s be honest, the only reason the media is so obsessed with this case is simple she is a pretty white girl.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
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