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. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Hey, grimbal, the fact that there's no direct evidence linking her to the murder should be enough to convince a cement head like yourself she had nothing to do with it.

    This was the work of a corrupt prosecutor and a revenge conviction for Italians looking for retribution for the accidental deaths of 20 people when a U.S. military plane cut a cable supporting a gondola of an aerial tramway in 1998. Couple that with Knox's good looks, odd behavior and Europe's tabloid mindset and there's no way she could have gotten a fair trial. I only hope that when she's finally freed she's able to get some sort of remuneration from the Italian government for wrongfully convicting her.

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

      Don't forget old fashioned, catholic misogyny.

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

      Yes, I too would hope that Knox would get a fair trial – in my eyes that would mean because she is an American she can go anywhere, do anything and be sent back to America – to party.

      Yes, of course, her conviction was plotted by the Italian Government; we ALL know that!

      IF you look outside, those people in the white coats with huge nets are actually coming after you; to give you your well-deserved meds… paranoia will destroy ya…

      August 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnson

      She is so guilty. Hopefully the Italians will keep her locked up for life.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paolo

      Stop saying s%^it ... the Italian Justice system is a screwed as the American one ... she probably is innocent ...like Casey is. Yet. she shall go home free because evidence is simply non existing. End of the story, all the rest is pure crap

      August 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • victim of democrat hypocrisy

      Another self-loathing American chimes in with idiocy masquerading as wit. Thanks for playing, "Jean(-Paul) Sartre".

      August 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • agostino

      agree 100% I was born in Italy and visit almost every year and read about abuse of power from politicians and especially prosecutors. incidently the prosecutor in this case is the same as the one in "the monster of Florence case" where he first develops his thesis and then looks for anything that sustains it instead of allowing the facts lead the investigations. Another big blunder happened in 2006. A scandal called "calciopoli" prosecutors destroyed the yankees of Italy, a soccer team called Juventus, because of the same concept above. Now 5 yrs later the whole truth is coming out and if Berlusconi doesn't draft a law that prevents it from reaching its conclusion many heads will roll. Good Luck Amenda.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Anti American feelings also ran/run strong because of the wounding of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and the killing of an intelligence officer in Iraq in 2005 by US Troops. It was a perfect storm for the next available American to be railroaded.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • mnz145

      Oh, please don't make me barf with your ludicrous hollywood theories. Why don't you take a cold shower, you'll feel better after it, and, you might even think more clearly!!!

      August 16, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • grimbal

      @democrat hypocrisy.. I can see why you would believe your a victim.

      It's typical of the Knox apologists that whenever they are faced with a fact or anything else for that matter out come the insults. in other words they can't deny so they try to discredit sad really

      August 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      I'm a US citizen and I lived in Italy for almost a decade. I never felt "anti US" sentiment. Then again I am respectful of other people and I learned the language quickly as I don't expect everyone to speak to me in English.
      It's all about respect...

      August 17, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. woohoo

    "How Italy culture lead to Knox obsession" – How Italian culture lead to Knox obsession.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I noticed that too. I mean, I'm not going to nitpick every error they make when they're trying to crank out as many new stories as possible 24/7, but how did that slip past them – it's just ignorant.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • woohoo

      Gotta love CNN's version of English

      August 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • noel

      Correction: How Italian culture leads to Knox obsession 😀

      August 16, 2011 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. mike

    Why don't all the americans who do not like the guilty verdict, listen to what Ms. Kercher's parents have to say about the verdicts?

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/meredith-kerchers-father-lashes-amanda-knox-parents/story?id=12294620

    August 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Utterly irrelevant.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texrat

      Maybe we care more about facts and evidence than the (understandable) ranting of aggrieved parents.

      There was not enough of either to rightfully convict Knox, it seems.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilly

      Parents are always going to stand by their children no matter what. Example, the Anthonys.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. billy s

    I dont care what anyone says... amanda knox is guilty! She definitely killed her daughter or at least knows what happened to her. As far as her parents...guilty too! I can't believe the jury found her not guilty! Nancy grace didn't do enough to convince people of her guilt. way to go nancy...

    August 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Oh, wait...

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

      Billy, you have just proved that you have no idea about what's going on. Better sit this one out and leave it to people who actually read the news.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I hope you were trying to be funny Billy because you were...

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

      uhhh Amanda Knox didnt kill her daughter....she is accused of killing her roommate, i think you are talking about Casey Anthony lol

      August 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      I totally agree w/you, it reminds me of the case of that Casey Anthony girl who was wrongly accused of murdering her house-mate in Italy

      August 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • dadatruth

      Wow! Wrong participants in wrong cases. No wonder why verdicts are questionable.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Apple2Apple

      Clearly you don't get his joke.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • dink

      Your right Billy... that's why we have global warming!

      August 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • slick

      I agree. I knew she was guilty when she took her white Ford Bronco and was running from the police.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tricks for Beer

      Bwahahahahahahah!

      August 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Tanna

      If Amanda Knox is not guilty, why was she driving all over LA in a white Bronco?

      August 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • tomek

      Anthony is not guilty. The glove did not fit.

      August 16, 2011 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lauren

    Why would how beautiful she is even play a part in this at all? Is our society that delusional? Are we so shallow that even murder is excused because a woman looks good? If she were "ugly" would that validate her being a murder more than if she was "pretty?" What morons. How you look on the outside has nothing to do whatsoever with who you are on the inside – and that includes murderers!

    August 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texrat

      Incredibly naive.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      I'm niave to believe that people are shallow? Sorry, bud, but if you disagree than I think you're the one that is naive.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      It does matter, especially if she has a nice rack. She's better serving society working in a strip club then wasting away in prison.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      People make me sick. Grow up and get a heart.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I think the primary aspect of her appearance that may have impacted the case is that a person that is perceived by others to be attractive is more likely to be highly publicized by the media (front page of tabloids over and over again), while a person that is perceived as less attractive may show up on a back page with a couple inches of text one time.

      It's similar to Casey Anthony (why do I even know her name, at least this case has international implications) – other mothers have killed their children or attempted to kill their children or been accused of killing their children and the media didn't cover it intensively for weeks on end to the extent there were lines to get into the court room each day. Yes, it's wrong and yes it's shallow and yes, the "masses" are generally that shallow. Sad but the unfortunate reality…

      August 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. yusra

    uh billy wrong story

    August 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. phyllis

    I don't know if this young lady is innocent or guilty, no one does, except her..........

    But if she is I hope she gets to prove it, in Court, and gets to go home with her family.

    But if she is not innocent, she needs to stay where she is at, until her sentence is up.......

    I feel bad for the family of the dead woman, and for the Knox family.....

    peace out.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • meepmeep

      if she is innocent, someone else knows it too.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    nothing works in Italy, why should that be any less true of their court system?

    August 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mnz145

      Yes, of course you're right! In America we have "REAL" justice like the case of Anthony Casey. Stop making inflamatory statements about other people!!

      August 16, 2011 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Casey A

    She is so not hawt.

    If she was hawt like me, she would have been like, innocent or something.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      I dunno', Casey. I think she's pretty hot!

      August 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tricks for Beer

      yo Casey... yu jus a howe. Amanda is true hawt.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. phyllis

    I am afraid beauty does play a part in this, and other murders.....it is sad but very true.........

    peace out.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. valerie

    billy... she killed her daughter? dont you have her case confused with casey anthony?

    August 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Selfish Meme

    How "Italy Culture Lead..."...???

    Shouldn't that be rather "How ITALIAN Culture Lead..."?

    August 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • DD

      IGodsakes, it's "LED". Or "leads". Someone should show these "writers" on CNN how to use spell-checker.

      August 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. older citizen

    Amanda knox knows what happened. However, she has apparently failed to convince people of her ability to tell the truth.
    In these situations those who hear about the crime are likely never to be certain what happened.
    The greatest harm to her will be determined by how she manages her future. By those actions we may get clues about her ability to deal honestly with others.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnson

    She is a psychopathic little murderer who must remain in prison for the safety of society.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike S

    Another xenophobia article. Americans are no different. Just look at the recent Casey Anthony case.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • victim of democrat hypocrisy

      The big difference being in one case an obviously innocent person was convicted of murder, and in the other an obviously guilty person was not.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
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