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. pll

    this girl is guilty i hope she never gets off. the fact that she changed her story more then once claiming she didnt remember what happened and then all of a sudden she did and started blaming other people make no sense.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. marc

    Lock that animal away she's right where she belongs...

    August 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Observer

    Donot let her get away from this crime, of course the court must get the truth as well.....SORRY FOR THE YOUNG STUDENT MEREDITH...

    August 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. grimbal

    Just a small point. Don't you find it really unbellievable that Knox can remember everything from the night before and everything the day after but for the night of the murder itself she can't remember anything. And you call this believable?
    Come on now. Start calling me names. I suppose you will but you can't change it by doing so. However you're that easily intimidated go ahead.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JLS1950

      Actually, she DID recall that night rather well. She said that she was expecting to work that night, but received an SMS from her employer saying that she would not be needed. She was happy about this, and apparently decided to turn off her phone after responding so as to avoid further interruptions and to conserve its battery.

      (Incidentally, had Amanda worked that night, she would have returned home to change first – at just about exactly the time Rudy Guede was photographed first approaching the cottage. He left the cottage area about 20 minutes later, and then returned just before Meredith arrived home at about 8:50 – 55. One must wonder what kept Rudy occupied near the cottage for those 20 minutes: did he initially break in then? I have long held that Amanda was his intended victim.)

      We know that Amanda answered the door at Raffaele's apartmetn at about 20 minutes to 9 – about 15 minutes before the attack on Meredith began. Amanda stated that she and Raffaele watch the movie Amelie on Raffaele's computer, and record show that this movie complete playing at about 9:30 PM. Amanda states that she read from her German language edition Harry Potter book for a time, that she and Raffaele shared a late supper at about 11 PM, that the kitchen plumbing broke while they were washing up, that they smoked cannabis, were intimate and fell asleep. Raffaele appears to have awaken briefly at about 6 AM and then returned to sleep. Amanda awakened about 10 AM and returned home to shower and change, leaving her soiled clothing on her bed where police found it. The rest is all history.

      It is the Italian police and the Italian press which manufactured the story that Amanda had scant memory of the night. In actual fact, she seemed to have a very good memory of all that happened up until about midnight or a bit later when she fell asleep.

      August 17, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Yes – she did remember everything pretty well until the police kept telling her she is wrong and lying – and lying to her by telling her they had evidence that she was there. Which made her confused. I also have wondered if Rudy was actually stalking Amanda – the person seen hiding in the yard a couple times in the week or so before the murder. Also, it's possible Rudy broke the window the earlier time he was there and then found it too much trouble to climb up so waited until Meredith came home and accosted her after she opened the door.......

      August 17, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sotellme

    How is this girl still in prison while casey anthony is walking free?

    August 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nisroc

      I would seriously laugh if Casey Anthony was proved 100% innocent and Knox 100% guilty. Funny how people such as yourself judge before you have hard facts

      August 17, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Carry On

      There is no comparison between Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox. One is innocent, one is guilty. Knox is innocent. I don't much care about Casey Anthony. Amanda worked hard and long for her desirous time in Italy to work and continue her education. Her parents were not wealthy. Amanda would never kill somebody. Anybody nor would her lover Solecito. Both should be releasd and tensions are rising to the point of hatred against Italian people for this injustice. They are too quick to judge.

      Would you build a house without a solid foundation? No. But it seems to me that Italian judge would.
      Saddens me very much, because I love Italian people.
      They are just too corrupt.

      August 17, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      @ Carry On
      You say build a case without a solid foundation. Isn't rthat what you just did with your pronouncment that Knox and Sollecito were innocent

      August 17, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      grimbal... shame on you. There have been SERIOUS problems with evidence presented in the Knox case. Contamination of DNA evidence, missteps by the police, the prosecutor being nailed for hiding evidence in other cases.... need I keep on going?

      Personally, I am 100% sure that if I was on a jury, I would be voting "Not Guilty" or whatever the analogous thing is in Italy. No one else who I have challenged with those missteps has been able to say any different.

      August 18, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. grimbal

    OK Then answer this. Why is it that Amanda Knox can remember everything the day before the murder and everything the day after yet can't remember anything from that night. Smoking grass does not impede short term memory.
    answer that one all you Knoxy apologists.

    August 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pattha990

      Because she wasn't just smoking pot that night. She admittedly was drinking very heavily and alcohol has a well-known history of causing memory loss and blackouts related to the time period the alcohol was consumed.

      August 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • TonydelBalzo

      That's easy, gumball. Knox and Sollecito had dinner, smoked, made love, watched a movie and went to sleep.

      Your confusion is because Sollecito changed his story and the police bullied a false confession out of Knox.

      But she know where she was and what she did, I believe her. She has no motive, reason or cause to have done otherwise.

      Italy is going to owe he sooo much retribution and compensation for false imprisonment and she will deserve every euro.

      And then Merideth can stop being used as a pawn to collect millions of Euros from Knox. Meredith knows Knox is innocent so let her rest.

      John Kercher...Its not about money....Fire Maresca...Be dignified.

      August 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Archibald Fox

      She was on the rag, man ... give her a break.

      August 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph W Bishop

      How do you know what she said?

      August 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      OK That's what you believe. Too bad it's not enough. Insidentally she started to remember what happened the first thing in the morning. so you can't have it both ways. You can call the Italain Justice system all the names you want but cooler heads will prevail.
      We approach this using logic while you lot appraoch it using emontion. I'll stay with the logic thank's

      August 17, 2011 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      I'll answer that Grimbal – she did remember everything very well about that night until the police kept insisting she was lying and then lying to her about having evidence that she was there. She then started becoming confused and wondering how that could be when she knew she wasn't there. It's the police who twisted everything around trying to get a false confession from her.

      August 17, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • GreyFox

      Everybody remembers better when they've had sleep which Amanda didn't get due to being slapped multiple times. Amanda did tell them what she did. It was boring and didn't serve the police's purpose so they asked her to use her creative writing skills and come up with a way she imagined Patrik did it. Yes Patrik ! Because the police were convinced he did it !!! Not Amanda's fault that Gomer Pyle and Barney Fife was chosen to investigate this case. Blame Mingini for putting together a puzzle that simply dont fit? I challenge anyone reading to take a good look at the facts and see for yourself how the police destroyed evidence as well as created evidence. Crooks in power for sure!
      I used to think she was guilty too. All I looked for was one piece of evidence that would make up my mind. Thought I had it several times... Lie's about reciept of her buying bleach the next day...Caught on tape..etc. None of the stories panned out. Check for yourself you will see.These whispers from the police to the tabloid press made huge headlines but never a mention of any of it turning out to be false. Those that disagree.. I ask you: Is it fair of the police to destroy the computer hard drives that prove they were at home yet still press forward with the case knowing Barney and Gomer just destroyed their alibi?

      August 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. epicjourney

    I think she is too cute to have done it.

    August 16, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • My Name is... Not Mike


      August 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. EM

    No, it is not "...because the italian authorities screwed up at every turn ..." - it is, in fact, because she is attractive. Everything in the media focuses on good looks nowadays. More than it ever has before. It is because we, the human race, are disgusting in our animalistic tendancies to being attracted to good looks. We have reverted to our 20,000 year old animal past, and our animal drives.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EM

    What a load of crap. Listen to Burleigh on that podcast clip - it's obvious she is biased in favor of Amanda Knox. Completely lacking in objectivity. Taking every little fact and twisting it to make Knox look good. And innocent; hooey.

    Why is it that, when push comes to shove on the international scene, Americans always circle the wagons and support fellow Americans ..... even if they are guilty as sin.

    August 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MK

    Part of me wonders if Knox even really knows if she was involved in this whole ordeal. Its not out of the question if she was high and or drunk enough she only remember brief parts or virtually none of the night this happened. I have said I'm pretty sure she was involved in the murder in some way, my burning question though is if she really knows herself.

    August 17, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Quentin

    Knox and Sollecito have effectively rebutted every prosecution claim and proved their innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt. Consider that:

    –They had no motive for the crime.
    –Neither had any criminal history or tendency to violence. A professional who worked up a profile of Knox said that she was among the least violently inclined people he had ever seen.
    –The statements both made were in response to brutal police pressure that would not be tolerated in any civilized country, and the statements, in any event, do not remotely resemble a confession. Both Knox and Sollecito repeatedly asked for a lawyer and this was denied them. Quite remarkably neither interrogation session was filmed or recorded as per protocol. Need I add that Amanda did not speak or read Italian well at the time and was also denied a proper translator?
    –No credible witness ever saw Knox and Sollecito away from the latter's apartment on the night of the murder. Indeed, the log file on Raffaele's computer shows that it was in constant use throughout the evening and provides an alibi.
    –An eyewitness visited Knox and Sollecito at his apartment at a time much to close to the time of death for them to have committed the murder.
    –Not one single piece of physical evidence implicates Knox and Sollecito. There is absolutely no sign of Knox anywhere in the murder room. Despite the fact that the victim was losing liters of blood, and despite the fact that four people were supposedly wrestling around in a space the size of a queen sized bed, not one single drop of blood ever got on Knox or Sollecito. This is a physical impossibility.

    This is just the basics. I could go on. One should also consider that, while there is no evidence against Knox and Sollecito, there is massive and unassailable evidence against Rudy Guede. Here is a summary:

    – bloody fingerprints on a pillow found under
    – DNA inside Meredith's body
    – DNA on two articles of Meredith's clothing (bra and fleece jacket)
    – DNA on Meredith's purse
    – Bloody shoe prints

    Guede was also in the midst of an escalating crime wave when he committed the murder. He had been arrested six times in the previous 33 days and his modus operandi foreshadowed all the elements of break in that led to the Kercher murder–breaking and entering through second story windows–the carrying of knives–stealing money and electronic items–using the bathroom–helping himself to food from the refrigerator.

    One final thing the Massei report. The poor little judge has made himself ridiculous in every way possible. Even a reader who knew nothing about the case would recognize immediately that it was overlong, digressive in the extreme, speculative, ludicrously self-contradictory, and execrably written. If you know the case well, it is immediately obvious that he began with an assumption of guilt and worked backward from there, merrily torturing evidence to make it fit. What Massei says about such things as DNA, the forensic use of luminol, and cell phone and computer technology is purely embarrassing. He ignores powerful defense arguments entirely and at times, when he is stuck, he just makes things up, positing the existence of evidence that was never introduced at trial. The report is an acute insult to the good people of Italy and to people everywhere who love justice.

    August 17, 2011 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
    • JLS1950

      Well stated.

      August 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • bmull

      I keep waiting for someone to defend Sollecito and Knox without crass emotional arguments and distortion of evidence. I'm still waiting.

      August 18, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      bmull – "emotional" arguments? Distortion of evidence? That's hilarious! Every defender of Amanda I have ever read does nothing but quote facts!!!! It's people like you who can't come up with a solid fact to defend your argument – all you do is quote the media!

      August 18, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. L

    "and this is the man prosecuting this case".... so what? Must not the prosecutor look at all possibilities?

    these "cultural things" are some of the things the people there deal with, and if there's evidence which indicate some of these "cultural" factors then so be it. The show's host seems very biased against these "cultural" things...

    go ahead and make fun of someone's justice system but know this, don't throw rocks at someone's roof if yours is made of glass.

    August 17, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Yes – he must look at all possibilities and then SUBSTANTIATE them – substantiate being the key word here.

      August 17, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. denvervet

    I went to school in Perugia in the 80's. There were NO drugs, NO pot, and no one drank that much at all. How things have changed. I was so surprised that students there from all over the world studied, went to class and hung out in the shopping district on top of the mountain at night. I skipped class once and the Professoresa showed up at my door wanting to know if I needed to go to the dr...........(I must be sick if I didn't show up for class was the thought)........I never skipped class again.

    August 17, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. robert

    agree she is very cute to have murdered. had to have been the "black man". blame it on the black man. yes he did it. amanda is way to cute and white to have have murdered and cause she said so ...

    August 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      I don't know Robert – I kind of thought the black man was cute, too......

      August 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Casey Anthony for president 2012

    If anyone missed it.....We all love Casey and hope she is doing well. The haters are stupid and are going away more and more everyday, just as expected. I hope Casey can make some good cash, she deserves it, what a drag the past couple of years had to be on her. I like George and Cindy, and Lee too, they good people, we hope they make much ca$h also, TOODLES!!!!

    August 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
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