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. Laura (an Italian girl)


    Thank you for your support (which I hope will not be understood as Mafia support between two Italian woman :D)
    I have two "proverbs(?) that apply perfect in this case – and maybe you can help me translating:
    for the italian side: We are paying for the "al lupo al lupo" story: WE provided the weapons that are now pointing to us, we need to remember that
    for the american side "Non fate di tutta l'erba un fascio".. please

    August 16, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. tutuvabene

    I not obsessed with this case. Are you obssessed with this case?

    August 16, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. Laura (an Italian girl)

    I hope no one get obsessed by this case....

    Caro "tutvabene" Al va tut' ben com' ce dis da le mi part

    August 16, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. TonydeIBalzo

    I have just been informed that I am legally required to state this fact: Gogerty Marriott employs me to drop comments on Amanda's story.

    Having done that, I will totally deny it anytime I see fit.

    August 16, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • TonydelBalzo

      A faux Tony. I am flattered.

      Curiously, now I'm working for a PR firm but before I was Chris M., Amanda's step-father.

      But this is not about any of us. It's about Meredith's memory, Rude's unbelievably light sentence and Amanda's freedom. It's called justice, although there is little of it in Italy.

      August 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      Balzo, Rudy accepted the Italian equivalent of a plea bargain and you know it. Knox and Sollecito chose to fight it out using every legal avenue. If they end up with a longer sentence than Guede it's a result of their chosen strategy and also the court's well-reasoned conclusion that Guede did not inflict the fatal injuries.

      August 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GiGi

    Sounds to me like Burleigh has a girl crush on Knox...keep her in Italy, we do not want her back in USA....we have Casey Anthony (Blah).

    August 16, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Anti-GiGi

      How about send her back to U.S and send you to serve her time..

      August 16, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • katie w

      What has happened to this young girl is disgusting! Americans need to protest the entire country of Italy. Don't take vacations there any longer until this innocent girl has her freedom. As for my family and I, we will NOT spend a dime of American money in Italy. My money spends anywhere and there are much safer places to vacation!

      August 16, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • octopuss

      You do understand that Knox is innocent, right?

      And yeah, I like to previous suggestion to send YOU there to serve your time and bring her back to States.

      August 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      You compare Knox to Anthony? They are nothing alike

      The evidence points heavily that Anthony is guilty,and that Knox is innocent.Anthony is free,Knox isnt.

      Thats like comparing an apple to an orange that killed its baby and buried it in a shallow grave

      August 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      That's what I thought too. Then I found out Burleigh is famous for offering to blow Bill Clinton to thank him for helping women. Maybe she's some kind of hyper-feminist. Maybe she just wanted to travel to Perugia. Whatever it was, she didn't find the truth.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Quentin

    Of all the idiotic things that have been said about this case, the most purely idiotic is that a tiny PR firm in Seattle has somehow hoodwinked the world media. Rubbish. The American media has slowly come over to the innocence point of view because, unlike the British media, they have hired competent consultants to walk them through the evidence. None of it adds up–a fact that is apparent to anyone of reasonable intelligence who is patience enough to work through the evidence step by step. In any event, it does not matter what we say here. The two judges hearing the case now clearly know that a monumental travesty of justice has taken place. Amanda and Raffaele will be free by October 1. That is all that really matters.

    August 16, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      In actuality the product of a PR lie will work if the general public wanrts to believe in the lie. For example Joseph Gobbles is reported to have said "If you tell a lie then tell a big one. That way people will believe a small part.." OR It's better to pander to a persons self interest rather his sense of honesty since he may not have one. Point is that sometime in the future the PR firm in question will be exposed for the fraudulent operation it is.

      August 16, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Milo65

      Quentin, Bronwyn Brin, Katie W, etc.... You're all so full of you own self righteousness its not funny. Just because you read some highly subjective, self serving opinions in the papers, it does not qualify you as an expert witness. Just look at the US legal system and it becomes apparent why the so called "experts" should not be paid for their testimony.

      And if that's not enough, look at the OJ trial to see a true travesty of justice.

      Amanda Knox was convicted on the basis of evidence, anecdotal evidence, her own outright lies, and DNA. This is enough to convict her in the eyes of the majority of people, not to mention the jury.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bronwyn Bryn

    Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent and the world will all find out soon. I do not like Nina or any one else calling Amanda Knox, "Knox" continually and I think it's totally disrespectful and I'm sick of it. I realize there are a lot of other things to focus on and discuss, but this is my call today. I have read Nina's book and though I think it's a very well written and informative book I have some issues with it as it comes off as a book full of some incorrect small details and a perspective that is pro innocence, which is good, however there are some "facts" that are portrayed from Nina's subjective perspective which is well written but not from a person who is educated or experienced in psychology and this to me, walks a fine line, (as a mental health professional), leaving room for irresponsible writing.
    However, I'm glad Nina Burleigh is pro innocence.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Nina.Chalmforth

      You don't sound very intelligent yourself. And what is wrong with calling someone by their, er, name? What would you prefer – that's she's constantly referred to as 'the convicted murderer'??

      August 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bronwyn Bryn

    Ah Nina, listening to this audio you forgot to mention that Rudy went DANCING, AFTER Meredith died and THEN he RAN off to Germany and called a friend on Skype who's Skype was tapped and it was THEN that the friend convinced him he'd get an Italian lawyer.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Nuno

    The cutest murderer I have ever seen

    August 16, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • TonydelBalzo

      You think Rudy Guede is cute?? E-Nuf said.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bronwyn Bryn

    Nina, they were NOT "Making out"...they were "pecking" as Raffaele was comforting Amanda. Also, again, though we know you're supportive of innocence, it's like... "who needs enemies when you have friends like you" everything you are saying about Amanda doing the "cartwheels" was TOLD to you by people, such as, Napoleoni, the freaky female cop in Perugia. You forgot to mention they asked her to show how flexible she can be when she was stretching in a room at 2am after being in the Questura for 14 hours answering questions. Also, Nina, I lived in italy and have close friends and family there. girls DO Play Soccer and most definitely DO go to the gym and do Yoga. That's ridiculous what you're saying. It does not help support the innocence when you make up blanket statements that are just not based in truth. You're talking about an American mentality that just doesn't seem to mesh in Italy and it is indeed a difficult one to put a thumb on. I like Nina's book, I like most of what Nina says, but some things are wrong, misinformed and quite biased. imho

    August 16, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      Pecking with tongues? There is a video clip on youtube. This is not a matter of opinion. And why shouldn't we believe two officers' contention that Knox was doing cartwheels. There is no evidence to the contrary except Knox's own word. But most importantly this was not a way to relieve stress after 14+ hours of questioning. Knox was merely waiting for Sollecito at that point. She herself had not been questioned that day and was told she could leave if she wanted to.

      August 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bronwyn Bryn

    Grimbal, if your theory was correct then Amanda & Raffaele must be magical because how would have had to clean away ONLY their own evidence and left Rudy Guede's DNA, shoe print and hand print from the room. Also, I'm Jewish too, my grandparents spoke Yiddsh...honestly, I really don't think Amanda not saying something to that boy for calling someone a "Dirty Jew" makes her a killer. Maybe she was not sure what to say, maybe she's non confrontational...have you ever thought of that? She was about 18-19 when that happened...still.. a "teen". Man, I'd hate for you to be MY family come off as angry and charged.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      If you get three people together in a small room and dump blood over two of them, who's most likely to leave clear prints in the room? The person who was farthest away from the blood. Add to that the fact that there was evidence of a clean-up and a conscious effort to pin the murder on Guede and it is not surprising that no forensic evidence of Knox and Sollecito (except the disputed bra clasp) was found in the room.

      August 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bronwyn Bryn

    again, Nina, that was great! Thank you for saying that EVERYTHING you read in the news was slanderous-lies created by the media (italian and British) and that when you did a REAL investigation you uncovered truths that were not at all the stories the media created, AND I'd like to note, at the Italian Journalists convention there was a symposium discussing reporting on this case and about 9 of 10 journalists sitting on the stage discussing this case confessed they felt bad that they had created a compelling character of Amanda Knox (and Raffaele Sollecito) that was appealing to readers but not the truth.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bronwyn Bryn

    @ Want Justice... you are a very disturbed and scary person. You write blatant lies and completely ridiculous statements about things you clearly either no nothing about, or choose to discredit and slander. You're a sad member of society. You make spreading venomous vitriolic rhetoric a pastime and with people like you on our planet there's no wonder, Anders Breivik exists....go blow your twisted lies and hateful poison on Glen Beck's channel.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      Isn't it wonderful and so predicable that whenever someone makes a statement that the Knox apologists do not agree with, they come out with all the hate and nastiness they can. I'm talking about your response to @Want Justice' Point is you can't refute it so you try to discredit it by calling people names. How about using logic? You won't of course because you can't. The facts and ALL the evidence speak volumes. Sorry but they are both guilty and that's all. If you took two steps back and stopped being so hystericle you would see that.

      August 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. katie w


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

    How is it any different from the obession of the US media in the Casey Anothoy case? Infact, in the US the media also gives nicknames ... Tot Mom, for example.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
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