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. Bigred

    Funny really. In America a foreigner can come to this country, commit a crime, get convicted, serve his/her time and be home in 1-3 years but usually less. They get three squares a day, a shower, a cot, exercise time, and a tv. When an American commits the same crime overseas he or she gets 5-15 years. They get one meal a day if they fight for it, showers once a week with no soap, sleep on the floor with 20 other inmates and get exercise by fighting off the other inmates. Sad but true.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      Yep that's how Knox's accomplice Sollecito was able to finish his computer science masters degree in prison: Sleeping on the floor and fighting off other inmates. The Italian justice system is based on rehabilitation, so sentences are short and prisoners–even murderers–are treated very well. The U.S. system is based on retribution so sentences are long and conditions are miserable.

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

      Dude, sounds like someones spent time in a gulag!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Cregan

      You don't know the first thing about Italy. This is just fear mongering for the crowds.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. mayfly

    who is knox? ,what was she convicted of ?is she guilty?plz share ur comments..

    August 16, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • lewtwo

      boring ...

      August 16, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. micky blue

    very true, but maybe it could be avoided if they had just obeyed the law..

    August 16, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. Justin

    This is a joke right? This whole article should just be: "SHE'S HOT"

    Question answered.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ramius

    More than likely there was a third person involved.....Should the police find this person....the motive behind the act will be revealed and a Prima Facie Case would at last be established........................................

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

      The thrid person involved has already confessed and is in prison. Knox and her ex boy friend are apealing now.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Archangelo

    Anyone not already convinced of the corruption and sensationalism inherent in the Italian legal system should read "the Monster of Florence" for another example of botched justice perpetrated the key prosecutor in Amanda's trial. I'll admit that when I first heard about Amanda's case I was swept up in the headlines and thought she must be guilty as hell. Anyone who so much as scratches the surface of this case, however, will watch it unravel before their eyes. The girl is only guilty of being pretty and in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • mnz145

      We have such a perfect judicial system in the US!!!!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
    • A.D.

      Lol, she's not that pretty.

      I am still baffled by the media's desire to pump up her image. This very article is a great example, as it is nothing more than a veiled advertisement for a book based around just that concept.

      Her "prettiness" is exaggerated and mostly irrelevant.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Cregan

      The Monster of Florence? I wonder how many good books there are about the American justice system and the death penalty. There is no death penalty in Europe, but the books sell well.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. smartypants

    the fascination with the case is not because she's pretty (she's pretty plain looking, actually). People are fascinated because the italian authorities screwed up at every turn, the legal system there convicted three different people for one crime, two of which were convicted following one potential scenario for the crime, and the third–who confessed–under another scenario. And that guy got less jail time that Amanda Knox and Raffael Sollecito. There was also a death-bed confession by some mafioso who said that he knew how and why it happened.

    It's also fascinating to people because so many young women go to italy for study abroad and could have been railroaded by the keystone-cop legal system in italy. that's a terrifying thought.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pobs

    Don't know much about the story so my response is based solely on the radio clip above. However, one thing strikes me as slightly odd. If I was a woman and I came home to my apartment and the front door was unlocked, I would not enter thinking this is strange, shower and then leave. This is especially true if I was living away from home in a foreign country and saw drops of blood in the bathroom. No, I would be going through the apartment to make sure all was well because I would be concerned that someone could be in the apartment who shouldn't be, or that it had been broken into. Based upon the radio interview, Amanda Knox's behaviour seems to have been unusual from the very beginning. Of course this does not mean she is guilty, but it didn't help her cause.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
    • mnz145

      I'm with you a 1000%. Any person walking in their house would have the curiosity of figuring thigs out before walking out, or, at the very least, call the police, if you're afraid to see what happened. She's guilty and generally, an American committing a crime abroad, is NOT acceptable to us, period!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Cregan

      Knox has changed her story 3 times. She even tried to pin it on her boy friend. She's also admitted the drugs. The police only screwed up by not following the strictest forsenic proceedures. That will be her only hope of getting off. But the poor lil American girl in Italy story plays well the the Americans and everyone just assumes the Italians are railroading her, not to mention fighting for 1 meal a day, shower with no soap and sleeping on the floor. Use misinformation to try the Italians.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      The front door was broken and did not click shut unless you locked it with a key. So it was not so unusual for her to think one of the other roommates either forgot to lock it or just stepped out for a minute. The blood in the bathroom was only a couple drops and not that noticable. I hope these facts make you change your mind a little.

      August 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. slickteig

    I pray Amanda and boyfriend are soon free. The lack of dna at the crime scene suggests it's the other guy who killed her and not Amanda or her boyfriend.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      By crime scene I assume you mean the room where the victim was found. The victim's bra clasp had Knox's boyfriend's DNA on it. Independent experts said it could have been contaminated because it had been sliding around on the floor of the room before it was found. But they didn't explain what the boyfriend's DNA would be doing anywhere in the victim's room–a room he had never set foot in. In fact the boyfriend's DNA was found only on on e cigarette butt and on none of the other hundreds of DNA samples that were taken around the house. Knox and her boyfriend had only been together about a week and he simply hadn't spent that much time at her flat.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Bmull the bra clasp wasn't collected until much later – around a month. Considering all the other fiascos associated with this I'm thinking it was contaminated by their gloves or it was planted.

      August 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. descarado

    America is a boob tube culture. If it looks good, it must be good. Amanda Knox is good because she is pretty. Casey Anthony is homely and therefore, she must be bad. Barack Obama is good and the American boob tube culture gets its just reward. LOL!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. power4things

    Did I see the term "Italian Justice"? The mother of all oxymorons. When the police in Italy get tired of extorting money from tourists and slitting your tires at gas stations, they do this. Like Mexico with a Pope.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • mnz145

      You need to go take a hike, and after that, take a very cold shower, and you'll come out it I guarantee it!! Your comments are so typically idiotic-hill-billy-culture type that they make the world laugh. Your observations and comments are off the wall and you should keep your mouth shut, you would do society an honor doing so!!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. mnz145

    I have NO idea where this author was, lived, or observed young Italian girls, but she has it ALL wrong. I see girls doing whatever young guys do anywhere. She must have taken a side trip to some remote part of the world and believes it to be Italy. Her observations of local customs, traditions and values are off the wall, to say the least. She just wants to sell her book ane is determnined to excite and confirm American's ignorance on other cultures.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. CelticHunter7

    How come Italy has much better looking murderess, who looks like an extra for a Disney movie of Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, or Goldilocks. Here in America we have that butt ugly, monkey faced, evil baby killer bio tch Casey Anthony?

    August 16, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. mnz145

    Yeah, man, she's American, how could she be guilty?!!! Yes, send in the troops! You are a joke!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. ion

    Newsflash: no one in europe is 'obssesed' about her.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
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