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. srkonbeast

    Violent crimes by beautiful woman are extremely rare although not unheard of. If you have a case where a beautiful woman is the primary suspect, you always need to look elsewhere as well.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexanGal

      I suppose that means that they should be looking for an ugly woman. Because a beautiful woman is instantly innocent just because she's beautiful? Get real!

      August 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      Its true....I'm beautiful and I've never killed anyone...

      August 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • sciihs1958

      I'm ugly and I've never killed anyone.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      I think it was an ugly man! But not me...

      August 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • SuperComment

      Yes, the ugly tend to be more vicious and animal like.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • caw

      We need to see the evidence Diana.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Child_Please

      @ Texangirl You must be ugly.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      She didn't partake in the assault itself. She instigated it because of jealousy

      August 16, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. MK

    I don't think Amanda would be the primary suspect in reality for this crime. I believe she assisted in it but believe that her boyfriend and the already convicted other accomplice were both involved as well. She would either have stabbed Meredith while the other 2 possibly assaulted or held her down or she held Meredith down while the other 2 might have stabbed her. We'll never know what happened but I have to think all 3 were involved in it.

    August 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • speedro

      Dude are you still back in 2009? Read up on the story for c h r i s a k e.

      August 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Seriously, man. If you read the details behind this case it becomes almost impossible to conclude she and her boyfriend had anything at all to do with this murder.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      I can only assume you're still in LALA Land and haven't bothered to look at any of the evidence. Neither she nor Raffaele were involved at all.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MK

    I'd hardly call Amanda beautiful anyway. Above average looking or cute? Maybe, but I have never understood the fuss over her supposed amazing looks.

    August 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • KUUKAA

      ya, casey anthony is a far better looking murderer

      August 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • diego

      Exactly. she may be a bit above average, in my opinion too, they are fussing too much about the story, and her looks

      August 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jessa2182

    To be honest, I do not know if she did commit the crime and I will not presume to be omnicient and know what occured that night. However, enough has been put forward to show that the investigative team made critical mistakes. If she did commit this crime, she should be in jail (in the US she would be on death row) and it will be sad if she gets away with it because of a technicality. If she is innocent then justice will be served, Pretty American or not.

    August 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      Because using flawed evidence and collection procedures- and then convicting someone on the results is OBVIOUSLY a technicality? Are you serious? Wow. So, what if a technicality like this landed someone you know in jail for murder?

      Must be nice to make such decisions on guilt or innocence from an emotional standpoint and not one based on trustworthy evidence.

      August 15, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • speedro

      A technicality? The only evidence against her has been deemed inadmissable in the eyes of the global scientific and criminal justice communities. Furhtermore there is no motive in the first place, save for the fantastical one presented by a corrupt proscecutor which was later retracted. She ws convicted with no motive given and 2 extremely suspect pieces of DNA evidence. Technicality. You are not a very astute person as far as I can tell.

      August 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Might I add that the evidence was deemed inadmissible because it wasn't even truly evidence? Non-existent is more like it.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cashemire

    Somebody is thinking How the Kerchner's family is hurt and sad with all this circus? Somebody is praying for them ? God bless Meredith's family and they receive courage and strength.GBY

    August 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SarahSmart

    This has nothing to with looks, guilt, or Italy. Amanda Knox was the victim of a corrupt prosecutor. There is NO evidence against her proving she was the murderer or even involved in the murder. Free her. For the record I agree she could be described as 'cute' at best.

    August 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bert

      Gotta agree...there is no evidence against her and the boyfriend.

      August 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. billyspargo

    Mr. Lumumba was arrested before his alibi was verified. Both Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecitio have an alibi (Ms. Popovic) @6:45-8:45 pm. There is no definitive time of death.

    August 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. frap

    Amanda IS beautiful. The women that write on this blog are ugly and jealous of her. Beautiful women do not kill and if they kill its ok.

    August 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. frap

    I would be proud to be killed by a beautiful woman, even if she killed my parents I wouldn't press charges.

    August 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. wes

    Railroaded by an evil mobbed up government! We need to send a Seal Team in and liberate this woman NOW! I don't care about world reaction, Italy has kidnapped one of our girls, and we need to extract her!

    August 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger27

      you are an idiot!

      August 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • seppe

      It seems to me, that america can do no wrong no matter what under your malfuntioning brain, so according to your analogy 4 people in the room one of them it found dead, and non of the other is guilty of anything,so the dead girl stabbed herself?and the other just watched,and by the way stick your seal up your azz

      August 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • seppe

      lot of girls would like to be kidnapped by Italians men and not being killed by the American and expect to get away on technicality just like Antony Cali or O.J.Simpson just to mention few of the many criminals on the street of America.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Sorry Seppe – 2 people in the room – Rudy and Meredith – there is no evidence of anyone else. Rudy killed Meredith. End of story.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • mnz145

      She is as innocent as Anthony Casey! Oh, you forgot to wash out your filthy mouth this morning. As for your brains, well, as your choice of language clearly indicates, you're a real moron!

      August 16, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dan

    Jesus Christ is the answer. He is the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, obey and be saved!

    August 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amen

      Jesus Christ is a fictional character based on a conflicting collections of Jewish and Greek scribblings written long after the time Caesar Augustus (i.e. when Jesus was supposedly alive).

      Many Jewish rabbis claimed to be the messiah and had followers back then. Most were executed by Romans or Jewish groups. The storyline was very common and not original. Religion is used to accrue worldly power and wealth. Study any religion and see how its leaders live. The Pope, for example.

      You believe because you are afraid of death, perplexed by the injustice of this world and want to think you have something better waiting for you on "the other side." Guess what? You don't.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • noel

      Amen, how do you know there's nothing waiting on the other side. Do you know for a complete fact what happens after death? If you don't, then you have made a thoroughly unscientific and unsubstantiated statement. So sad for your intellectual pride.

      August 16, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Amen

      Noel, just keep repeating to yourself, "There really *is* a Santa Claus...there really *is* a Santa Claus...there really *is* a Santa Claus..."

      Noel employs the scientific method by plugging his ears and saying to logic and common sense, "Lalalalalalalalalalalala...I can't heeeaaaaarrrrrr yooooouuuuuuuuuu..."

      August 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. Don't even get me started

    Women are just better at hiding their tracks and/or blaming males for their own evil deeds. Fact.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Minorkle

    I am extremely handsome myself. I am often mistaken for Jim Nabors. Because of my good looks, others often jealousy accuse me of things that I may or may not have done. It can be a curse.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarge

      I can see your dilemma. Jim Nabors is an extremely attractive man. I'm sure he gets blamed for murder all the time.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Just Saying

    Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony, now that would be a good time.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      NOW we're talkin'!

      August 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Consequences will never be the same

      Don't forget to videotape it from many strategic angles and with lots of sensitive microphones. Hire some BBC as the latent and make sure there's plenty of dirty talk.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant


      August 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. iwl4ever

    This story is ridiculous, of course the third party guy did it. Why would he have fled to Germany and then gotten a lawyer and put her name in it. That same lie saying that if he would have said something then someone would have accused him of killing that girl. My kids tell the same story when they are caught lying this guy is lying and I don't honestly believe that this girl did it. Her story seems to make sense. And then they were the one's that called the police, but the guy that was with that girl that night was no where to be found? there has got to be better lawyers out there than this witch craft believing guy.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
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