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. LINDY

    The only reason Amanda & Rafael were convicted was the Italian police did not like how they behaved. They thought that kissing at a crime scene and having smoked some pot the night before made them guilty. They have the man who did this in prison already and no association has ever been made between him and Amanda/Rafael. Surprising considering the bad behavior of Italy's leaders. Never would have happended in the US!! But then again I never thought a woman who murdered her daughter would walk free either!!

    August 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. carlo_65

    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.
    You are right Laura.

    Hai ragione lLura.

    August 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kerry

    Apparently Italians love to see young, pretty Americans behind bars. It somehow justifies the equality differences and what they perceive to lack in comparison. They are too caught up in their own drama to see the truth.

    August 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • KerrySalvation

      "They are too caught up in their own drama to see the truth"....well being said from an american it sounds quite ridiculous.
      USA is pretty much an on going movie production in every corner, law, education, army, government...want a whole list?

      August 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mrs. M

    The MEDIA IS THE PROBLEM. The public is no more or less interested in this case than any other. However, when any accused murderer is a young white female the media is on the story like a starving dog on a bone.

    August 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CleverName

    File under who cares...

    August 18, 2011 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Logan

    Reading through some of these comments I'm astounded at the lack of basic forensic knowledge. Blood cannot cover up other traces of DNA, it's impossible. It mixes together, giving distinct readings of the seperate profiles that can be easily seperated. Also it is impossible to remove blood completely from things like clothes and carpets, there will always be a trace even if you used bleach. Then there's the lack of knowledge on the relationship between Amanda and Raffaele. They dated for 6 weeks and Raffaele spent almost every day, for at least 10 minutes, at the cottage. The bra clasp. contaminated though it was, the DNA they attributed to Raffaele was female. The footprint originally attributed to Amanda has been conclusively matched to Rudy Guede. The knife never matched any of Meredith's wounds, never contained Meredith's DNA and what they said was blood was actually starch. No DNA from Amanda and Raffaele was found in Meredith's bedroom. Traces of Amanda's DNA were found in the bathroom she shared with Meredith, but no more than would be expected in a bathroom she used every day. Neither of their DNA was found in Filomena's room, where it had been ransacked. If they were guilty, why did Amanda frantically try to get hold of Meredith while Raffaele called the police? Why did they wait for the police? Why has neither of their stories ever changed, beyond Raffaele admitting he couldn't remember the whole night? Why couldn't Guede describe or identify even their voices, which he claimed to have heard clearly? Why did Guede then confess to murdering Meredith with no help before changing his story yet again? He's now changed his story a total of 5 times, probably more. Amanda and Raffaele never have. Why did Mignini arrest Patrick Lumumba, despite having no evidence and no reason to suspect him? Amanda certainly never accused him. Why did they break the law by not recording that interrogation unless they wanted to hide something, like police brutality as Amanda claims? Why was Amanda not provided a lawyer when she asked for one or an independant interpreter? Why was she refused food, drink and rest for 40 hours, while the police took shifts to question her? Why did they even arrest them with no evidence, but computer records proving they were at Raffaele's at the time of the murder that were then 'accidentally' destroyed? Why have the prosecution consistantly lied about the time of death, saying it was an hour after what the coroner has always maintained? Why did the prosecution refuse the defence access to the evidence, even though that is a requirement by law? Why did Stefanoni use discredited techniques to examine the evidence and test it? Why was Mignini even allowed to head this investigation when he was in the middle of being investigated for corruption over the Monster of Florence case, which included him sending innocent people to prison with little to no evidence, and police brutality against a reporter? Why does Mignini keep changing his thoery? The evidence has never fit any of them.

    August 20, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • sanbro

      Why would Raffaelle's DNA be on the braclasp if he said he was never in the house, even if it was only picked up 45 days later? Because he was in that house, and he was in that room when Meredith died. And why would the knife the police found at Raffaelle's house have Meredith's blood if Meredith never went to his apartment? Because that knife was the knife they killed her with. There's all the evidence right there.

      September 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • speedo

      why would they bring the knife home with them after using it to murder?

      September 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • TimHawks

      Sanbro you have obviously not read all the facts about the case. The DNA found on the blade of the knife was identified by using touch dna. Touch dna is used when not enough genetic material is left to analyze a sample using traditional methods. Also touch dna can be extracted off of something just from someone touching it ( actually where it gets its name from) or any number of forms of cross contamination, ie I shook hands with someone then touched something else and now it has a very small amount of their dna on it. Furthermore Raefelle's dna could have gotten on the bra clasp if it was washed with some of Amanda's clothes, actually fairly likely in this case as it was also a small amount of dna. Furthermore whether or not any of this evidence is accurate, it should never have been allowed being so horribly mishandled.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Gian

      What a convenient and selective analysis Logan, did you know that Raffaele's dad interfered with the investigation?
      did you know that she changed her story several times. Denied food or water for 40 hrs? What a lot of bull!
      Why are 98% of young Italian people that have followed the case disgusted at the verdict?
      There is no way she doesn't know more than she told the police.
      It was not her fault if the wrong police dept was called, she was new in Italy and did not know BUT RAF. SOLLECITO knew who to call but why didn't he? The wrong mob came, a civilian smashed her door(under lock and key?) down they touch everything and there goes the evidence! How convenient! She did accuse her boss and the day after she signed a statement which was retracted later on. The same old excuse, "under duress".
      2 different knives were used, someone was strangling her while someone else was stabbing her.
      They have to be deadly sure before someone is convicted, otherwise better let them go free!
      In closure, it is improbable that Amanda meets a guy and after 1 week they are both killer types, too much of a coincidence.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nathan

    Logan said, "Then there's the lack of knowledge on the relationship between Amanda and Raffaele. They dated for 6 weeks...."

    I thought it was more like 7 days. The reporter even says that at 1:50 on the radio interview above.

    At any rate, Amanda Knox is innocent. There's no question in my mind. Rudy Guede killed Meredith Kercher by himself.

    August 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Logan

    Nathan, on the length of the relationship, I get my information on that from the police files, which stated many times the length as 6 weeks, 8 weeks since they met. This was through Amanda and Raffaele's statements as well as those of friends and the roommates.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sophie

    I don't care what culture or country you are from. If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit!

    September 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • shegundala

      The same great logic that worked for the nincompoop OJ jury. Good thinking, Sophie.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. Honestly

    Amanda Knox is a racist lying murdering cave ape.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • marc

      Finally...the truth comes out thank you

      September 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sylvia

      I totally disagree with you. Amanda is a sweet innocent girl. She and Raffaele had absolutely nothing to do with Meredith's murder. Meredith was murdered by Guede. Read the case in its entirety, or read Logan's sunnary.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. woodrow

    Now that the DNA evidence has proven useless, there is no way this verdict can stand. No witnesses, no DNA, no confessions. You got zip. At this point she is in jail for being a roommate. Sounds pretty ridiculous.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. marc

    Put her that cave ape in a cage where she belongs and be done with this.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. belinda

    That she is still in jail is outrageous!!!!!!!! Someone should write a book about the psychotic prosecutor involved in this case. He is way more complicated and colorful than people realize. I am happy to say that the Justice Dept, here in America putting prosecutors like him in jail, where they belong. It makes sense that Italy was one of the countries, that stayed to listen to the psychotic ramblings Iranian President Ahmanijad. It is becoming abundantly clear that this country is fascist, in it's way of thinking. I would be very careful traveling thru Italy, there is obviously no justice there.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • shegundala

      You need to proofread your posts.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Gian

      Belinda, your comments are proof of your abyssal ignorance, why don't you find the case of Kevin Fox of Will County Illinois and a myriads of similar cases and see who's justice system is corrupt! You have one of the worst judicial systems in the world, notoriously racist (except OJ Simpson's case!) and full of innocents in jail.
      A cable car in Cavalese, in Val di Fiemme was brough down by a US Ea-6b plane in 1998 killing all 20 passengers.
      The 4 US personnel aboard the plane were drunk like parrots. They were returned to your wonderful "JUST" country and have never been brought to justice.
      look at the Wiki-leaks videos to see what is happening.
      You think you are so superior but you are very arrogant and have SELECTIVE hearing and no moral sense, since you only see what is convenient for you to see!
      NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE NO JAIL that's absolutely fair !!! However look at the whole case and you'll know there is a
      lot more there.
      Gian Mureddu

      October 10, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. lloyd evans

    why are prosecuters not held accountable for what they say or insinuate in court.apparently they can make up whatever they want and have no accountability for it.if the jury buys the defendant is punished.prosecutors should be sued for defamation unless they have prooflooks like somone is trying to protect a co-workerhow is it a fair trial when they use words like shedevilwhat is a shedevil and does one exist besides a comic book.the prosecutors are making italians look more foolish then they already are.does not look good for miss kercher getting justice

    September 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • shegundala

      Before you refer to anyone, or any other culture as looking foolish, you might want to re-read this infantile gibberish that you posted.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. gwen

    when will americans learn the we are not wanted in foriegn countries and whenever they get a chance they will always blame americans for a cime. Thank GOD Amanda is aquitted and she will come home. The americans must learn a lesson when they travel to other countries.

    October 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
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