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. mark

    Only in Italy would this case have this kind of spin.. a nation of whiners & arrogant fools.. Knox isnt even that pretty...pathetic..

    August 16, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
    • mnz145

      Only from your bird brain would such language about an entire nation and culture would be used. You MUST be a true moron for making these statements. Were you born an idiot, or did you have to go to some Kentucky university to get a degree for it!?

      August 16, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • etri

      @ mark: hmm... would you like to be reminded what happens in the courtrooms of the US instead? all the people sentenced to death and then found innocent after their execution... and those such as our dearest Casey Anthony that got away with murder... This things have nothing to do with how a nation is or is no. Your comment is so dumb that you should rather be worried that if someone from another country reads it, they may think you represent the typical American.. I hope nobody from other countries reads your moronic comment!

      August 16, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • silly

      have you guys not seen jersey shore.. recently filmed in Italy. just sayin

      August 16, 2011 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. alumette

    the whiners and arrogant fools....that's us, in the US. The Italians are great people with a wonderful zest for life. They don't take the crap this Knox woman was dishing out. Good for them.

    August 16, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • John Mercado

      Yeah....right the Italians have impressed me with this LOL. next time I want to go to a primitive place I will forgo the trip to New Guinea and go to Italy.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. ivyleague

    The Italian prosecutors seem to portray the Democratic Party here in the U.S., e.g., corruption, autocratic, no room for intellectual arguments, etc., etc. In other words they both display a great deal of Nazi characteristics.

    August 16, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
    • G.

      Knox is rumored to have pranked female roomates at U of Washington for April Fools Day (got a few male pals to done ski masks and knives).

      Looks like she pulled the same kind of prank in Italy, with 2 men who were NOT like the boys back at UW (a knife collector and a petty crook, boht of whom she'd only known for about 6 days).

      The prank was on the day after Halloween – it's called "Day of the Dead" in Italy.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      @ G – RUMORED is the key word here. Someone's life should not hang in the balance on "rumors" – try reading some facts/evidence.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bmull

    According to Daily Beast's Barbie Nadeau, who also wrote a book about the murder, the Knox family will only grant access to Knox in exchange for guaranteed positive coverage. No real journalist would agree to these terms. If you want to know what really happened read the judge's report (Massei Report PDF on the web). While you're at it check the Perugia Madonna and see if you think Amanda Knox looks anything like her, and if that's why the prosecutor is "obsessed with her". Burleigh accuses everyone else of fantastical conspiracy theories but she seems to have an endless supply of her own.

    August 16, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • NonZionist

      The Massei report starts with the bogus premise that THREE people were required to inflict the pattern of wounds. American professionals at the InjusticeInPerugia org site easily refute this premise. Massei was simply trying to back up the corrupt prosecutor's salacious fantasy. Massei's report is hopelessly flawed.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
    • TonydelBalzo

      The author makes an excellent (and often forgotten) point that nothing new is be introduced in the appeals stage. EVERYTHING "discovered" on appeal was known earlier. The defense knew that the Homeless man was one day off. The defense knew that the DNA on the bra clasp was nt put there by Sollecito. The defense knew that the "wrong sized knife" did not contain bloood from Ms. Kerher.

      Yet the Italians delayed the process for TWO YEARS before the truth comes out.

      "Justice delayed is justice denied".

      And to compound the problem, the evil lab-tech (in training), Patrizia Stefanico, hid data from the court for all of the 90 days in March, April and May. Once forced to produce the data, It was too late to finish the appeal before the merciless heat of an Italian. The heat in the prison reaches well over 105 degrees, even in the shade. The Italian prosecution tok advantage of Knox's weak defense and she was mase to suffer even more.

      In the meantime the Italian courts went on pleasant vacations during August.

      Calling ignorant Perugians corrupt is not out of line.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      I Googled "tonydelbalzo" + "amanda knox"

      You are all over the internet with pro-Amanda comments

      Are you another member of her pricey PR firm ("gogerty marriott")?

      August 16, 2011 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      Balzo you're wrong. The defence may "know" everything that is to be presented in the appeal, but the court doesn't know anything. For example the judge allowed a previously undisclosed letter to be read in court, in which Guede clearly stated Knox and Sollecito were involved.

      The major reason the trial has gone on for two years is that Sollecito's lawyer can only work on Saturdays because she is also a member of Parliament. She also went on maternity leave and had other issues. In addition, it is never in the prosecution's interest to slow down a trial. Witnesses forget. Evidence goes missing. It is typically the defence that tries to slow things down.

      And I don't know who you're talking about when you say "evil lab-tech (in training), Patrizia Stefanico, hid data from the court for all of the 90 days in March, April and May." Dr. Steffanoni is a high-ranking forensics expert in Italy's equivalent of the FBI. The judge received a letter on April 7 2011 asking for more paperwork on the DNA testing. The judge notified Dr. Steffanoni on April 14, and she complied on April 20.

      "The heat in the prison reaches well over 105 degrees, even in the shade." I'm assuming you're talking about the prison grounds, since there is no "shade" indoors. I won't dispute that. I would take an italian prison over an american one any day.

      August 16, 2011 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Talk about "fantastical conspiracy theories"? That sounds like the Massei Report!!!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thethunderbolt

      Every key bit of "evidence" present by the prosecutor has collapsed under close scrutiny. Read the English version of the DNA report for yourself

      Even Barbie Nadeau has admitted that Knox will likely be released.

      You, and a lot of others, are going to shocked very soon.....or should I say stunned?

      August 17, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. fyzics

    Okay, maybe i'm the only American that doesn't believe she is not guilty... Okay that's too strong. It appears that it was definitely Rudy Guede. His alibi sounds OJ-ish at best. But what if there is some truth to his story. Maybe there was an argument. I don't know, maybe i'm reaching. Just something about Amanda Knox seems false to me, like she not telling the whole story or something, but that's just my gut talking. Does anyone else feel that way? preferably someone from the US

    August 16, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      If it was just Guede who let him in? He didn't break the window and climb in because (a) it's an extremely difficult climb (b) the glass pattern shows that the outside shutters were closed when the window was broken (c) there are much easier ways to break into the house. If it was just Guede why did he take the victim's bra off after she was dead to try to make it look* even more* like a s ex crime? If it was just Guede why do his bloody shoeprints go straight from the victim's room out the front door, yet there was blood in the bathroom, Knox's doorknob, and several other places? If it was just Guede what was Knox's desk lamp doing on the floor of the victim's room, as if it had been used in a cleanup? I could go on but you get the idea.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
    • NonZionist

      Hello bmull. All of your questions are answered at the InjusticeInPerugia site.

      (a) It was actually a very easy climb. At the above site, you can see someone demonstrating how it was done. The burglar simply stood on the security bars on the first storey windows

      (b) The glass pattern shows no such thing. If the window were broken from the inside, there would be glass outside. There was none.

      (c) Guede is a burglar. Climbing into windows is what he does.

      Etc., etc..

      If it was just Guede who let him in? He didn't break the window and climb in because (a) it's an extremely difficult climb (b) the glass pattern shows that the outside shutters were closed when the window was broken (c) there are much easier ways to break into the house. If it was just Guede why did he take the victim's bra off after she was dead to try to make it look* even more* like a s ex crime? If it was just Guede why do his bloody shoeprints go straight from the victim's room out the front door, yet there was blood in the bathroom, Knox's doorknob, and several other places? If it was just Guede what was Knox's desk lamp doing on the floor of the victim's room, as if it had been used in a cleanup? I could go on but you get the idea.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull


      The defence got a very tall man to pose for a picture standing on the first floor window bars and reaching up to the second story window. They did not show how he got there, and they did not show him climbing through the window as that would have been extremely difficult. As for the pattern of glass on the windowsill if you look at pictures it exactly matches what you would expect if the external shutters were closed when the window was broken from the inside, i.e. there is glass on the inner 1/2 of the windowsill but not on the outer 1/2. There is no glass outside the window because the shutters were closed.

      August 16, 2011 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Dani

      Notice no one answered the desk lamp question brmull posed. Amanda's desk lamp was on the floor in Meredith's room because Amanda was using it to clean up the crime scene after she killed Meredith.

      May 3, 2013 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |

    I've read much of this case and agree that there is no way Amanda had anything to do with the murder. The only thing she's guilty of is some poor judgement right after the murders. But she is young and who really knows how they would act if a murder took place. I'm fairly certain that the Italian prosecutors are fully aware she's innocent now. I don't think they were at first, but now they are trying to save face. This is the European way. Save face at all cost. I think what they need to do now is find a way to let Amanda go free, but use an Italian law that slaps her on the hand or shows they are mainly giving her mercy. Its not the same as being innocent, but at least Amanda would be free. She's a young girl and bless her heart, she's losing the best part of her life. I feel there will be a conclusion this year for Amanda. I cannot imagine her staying in jail as that might bring some unfortunate issues to Italy in the future. There is a way to fix this and have both sides win... She goes free, and Italy doesn't say she's innocent.

    August 16, 2011 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      You are aware that 19 judges, including some of the most respected judges in Italy, have heard parts of this case and all of them accepted the proposition that Knox and Sollecito were involved.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
    • NonZionist

      Italy can save face by bringing the corrupt Perugia prosecutor to justice and firing the incompetents who served under him. Knox and Sollecito should then be compensated for the wrongful conviction

      When Knox is released, I hope she will use her celebrity status and the knowledge she has gained to benefit other people wrongly convicted around the world. She could turn her ordeal in Italy into something positive, by becoming a spokesperson for others in her position.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. stan

    Just amazing that after the re-testing of DNA evidence, people don't have any reasonable doubt that Amanda may not have committed this crime. It is an interesting social study indeed.

    August 16, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. G. Saleen

    Knox accused an innocent black man of being her accomplice.

    Knox admitted to abusing street drugs to the point of memory loss.

    Knox tried to claim she "never laid eyes on Rudy Guede" (to CBS 48 hours), but then admitted, on the stand, that she partied with him, and smoked drugs with him before the murder.

    Knox's DNA and blood are mixed with the victim's blood in 5 separate locations, spread over 3 separate rooms of the murder house, indicating a fight that went from room to room.

    Knox's "boyfriend" of 6 days is a "knife collector" with a cocaine problem – he let his DNA on the victim's bloodied bra clasp.

    August 16, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
    • NonZionist

      You must get your information from Italian tabloids. One lie after another!

      August 16, 2011 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      Actually, those are findings of fact from the Court's 427 page judgment, not lies.

      Amanda's expensive PR firm (Gogerty Marriott of Seattle) has done a good job of keeping Ameircans in the dark.

      Amanda is GUILTY as hell.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Get your facts straight before you present them – Amanda's BLOOD is not mixed with Meredith's blood. Amanda's DNA was mixed with Meredith's BLOOD. And that's because Amanda lived there so her DNA was everywhere. Which then mixed with the blood when the blood fell.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. belg

    Sorry but compared to Italian women she is pretty ..... fugly!

    August 16, 2011 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. bill

    the italians should be ashamed of themselves

    August 16, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. DJR

    She accused that, she did this, it's all BS with a capital on the BULL. There are so many because's in this case it is like a giant black hole. Go in and you'll never come out. It is exactly what the prosecutor and the italian's wanted. A DEATH trap. Everything written, said and posted about this young American women has been lies and fabricated hatred towards her her family and America. Choose Patricks arrest. Amanda falsley acused him. Is that right? Did Amanda arrest him? If what Amanda says is gold why is she in jail? A simple phone call to Patricks alibi's up north and you had no case. But instead the police hold Patrick for 14 days till the men from Sweden show up And poof Patricks out! meanwhile the DNA comes in and the police have a name. Rudy Guede. What's that? Where is he on Amanda's phone? Where is he on Amanda's testimony? No where because like the police she didn't know? And why do the police have a record of Rudy Guedes DNA? I thought he never did time. Was a small time thief. He's a desperate enough thug that his DNA is on file. A criminal, known criminal with a record, oh gee wiz he couldn't be involved! Oh no the black guy did it was good enough for Patrick but not Rudy. Why is that? What's that about? Amanda Knox is not a bag guy. She is not a sociopath, and she is not a criminal. She is however a scapegoat for a lot of people who are hiding alot of bad dealings. The question that really is resounding now, is Italy going to do what they know is right or be what people are saying they are! Amanda's in jail because in Italy it's illegal to walk barefoot in your house, use another persons knife in THEIR kitchen and be young and twit-iipated! Italians condemn young love! Imagine condemning LOVE! They really need to get some, in their hearts.

    August 16, 2011 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
    • NonZionist

      Well said! The psychology that causes certain people to scapegoat Amanda is the same psychology that led people to accuse women of witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Amanda is a free spirit and a woman, and that combination drives some misogynistic folks mad.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      NonZionist is defending Amanda because Amanda hates Jews (she taunted Jewish coworkers in Seattle and brags about having an" inner Nazi").

      August 16, 2011 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. hm

    She is guilty for sure. There is DNA evidence that placed her in a crime scene. And you know the fact that she was doing cart wheels when she was arrested...i think this fact speaks for itself. You know, if any normal human being would be accused of murder that she/he didn't do, i think there would be a lot of tears, trying to convince that she/he is innocent. Cart wheels would be the last thing a person would do.

    August 16, 2011 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
    • NonZionist

      There is ZERO DNA evidence connecting her to the crime.

      She and her boyfriend, Sollecito, called the police when they discovered the break-in. They were not immediately arrested: They were to be interviewed as WITNESSES. There was a long wait, and Amanda did yoga exercises while waiting - exercises, not cartwheels.

      The behavior of a guilty person would be the exact opposite. The guilty person would try to appear normal and unexceptional.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      You support Amanda because of her contempt for Jews.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. Laura (an Italian girl)

    It is fine to believe she is innocent, as it is fine to believe she is guilty. I mean, for the informations we got, it is possible to believe in one or the other ways. This is not the first murder process with a not 100% sure verdict. It has happens in all the world, because there is not a perfect legal system, anyone can fail.
    What is terrible here, is that:

    – too many people speak of Italian system without really knows it.

    – Facts like the "strage del cermis" and the "Omicidio Calipari" are used to prove that we have an open bill with USA, and too many people seems to think that we are asking payment back with Amanda. There is something true, I mean, it is possible that the 20 Cermis's death teach us that your justice is applied only within USA.... but that you are ready to defend any American guilty citizen, if his crime is not against Americans... Somehow, it show us how the world is dived in two classes, americans and the others. Richard Ashby was found not guilty only because his trial was made in north carolina... He was guilty, in a way or another, at least that's what italians thinks, but (here is the difference between europeans and american) we respect your system, also if we do not found it perfect.

    AS ITALIAN WE ARE PERFECTLY AWARE THAT OUR LEGAL SYSTEM IS NOT PERFECT (and it can't be perfect, because it is manage by people, by definition, not perfect) and you scary us if you think that American legal system is perfect – at least we are aware it is not.

    TRUE, we have Mafia, able to interfering with justice process... but can't a lot of money do the same in the US system?

    TRUE, at the moment our economy is poor, we do not have much money to spend in prison, yet, our last "finanziaria" (economy plan for 2012) does not cut expenses for this dept (we do not have gulag... like someone here seems to think)

    THINK that NO EUROPEAN FEELS SECOND TO ANY AMERICAN CITIZENS IN MATTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS, as we never forget that you still have death penalty, and this is something we will never accept under the definition of civil system, I am sorry to say this, but for us the presence of death penalty define you as "barbari". It is a stain I really hope you will clean sooner than later.

    – I think that, for the information we got, is fine to believe Amanda guilty or innocent. What is simply not acceptable (because not true) is:
    * you are perfect and the rest of the world is wrong by definition
    * We process Amanda just because she is American (we can't care less... and the prove is in the living form of Raffaele)
    * We do not process Amanda because she is beautiful. First, it simply means nothing, second, she can be beautiful for your standard, i don't know, but for us she is just a little bit more than ordinary, may be pretty, but nothing more!
    – Our news papers have not treat different this case because she is American. You can get the proof of that by comparing the press space dedicate to this case and the space dedicated to the all italian "omidio di Cogne" (mother suspect to kill his own little son)

    Once again, think that she is innocent, it's fine. Think she is guilty, its fine. But please, stop using her in order to prove you are the good guys and we are not more than not unfair not only for us. It is unfair also for you.....I really believed your are (or you can be) better than this.

    REMEMBER At the end of the "appello" (the final court decision), independently for the verdict, we will have take the right or wrong decision, but at least (if we are going to find her guilty), we will not send her to death.... (and maybe, in few more years, find the proof of her innocence)

    Can you say the same????????????

    (ps. sorry for my English, I know it's far from perfect)

    August 16, 2011 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. urbansprall

    forget about Knox. The really, really BIG scandal coming to the bogus mainstream media will be the september 14th discovery that "there is no birth certificate" in hawai'i for obamafraud. This event will start the ball rolling on the most dramatic events in the history of modern america: How america and the world was conned by the biggest fraud in the history of the world! A precipitous fall the likes of TIger . Seriously, hawai'i should lose its statehood too.

    August 16, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. urbansprall

    A precipitous fall the likes of Tiger Wood could not even imagine. Stay tuned.

    August 16, 2011 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
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