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. kunst2gether

    This article is NOT journalism. It should not even have appeared here on CNN. This is a brief, poorly written piece that raises simplistic questions about image and popular perception. It has nothing to do with process or fact. I am terribly disappointed in CNN. This article is too shallow to appear here. This is NOT journalism. It is simply adding to sensationalistic hype. Shame on CNN.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheesh

      Did you catch that this isn't an article, but an introduction to the radio podcast linked at the end? No, I didn't think so. Reading for comprehension – sorely lacking around here.

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

      You're right, it's not journalism. It's called an editorial. Say it a few times to yourself– 'editorial.' 'Editorial.'

      It's meant to be an opinion piece, so go easy on the freak-out.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gbird

      The URL at the top of my page reads: news.blogs.cnn This is the Blog page, no Blogs are not journalism, but why would you come to a Blog page and expect journalism?

      August 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • P

      Quite the contrary, at least as the relevance to CNN. It is not in itself an article but is perfect for CNN as it is not journalism or a factual account of a story, two things CNN gave up years ago.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      ! Amanda Knox, an American college student girl is being condemned for a crime she never committed; that's very important !
      A case where has been involved Anti-Americanism, a morbid news media and an Italian justice system worried about their image and not worried about making justice.

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

      so where does she get her highlites done???????i

      August 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davethecanuck

      I'd love to hear what it is you do poorly for a living.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • kunst2gether's boss

      Get back to work. There are customers at the drive-thru.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matt

    Culture didn't fuel an "obsession" with Amanda Knox. The 24-hour news cycle and their constant need for fuel did.

    There is no "obsession" with the Knox case that hasn't been manufactured.

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

      Too true.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • EricLr

      No, it was anti-American sentiment in Italy, combined with a police force and persecutor looking for a scapegoat. The whole case has stunk to high heaven from the get-go.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • santacroce

      @ericl- anti-Americanism? you've got to be kidding – the Italian court convicted two other Italians in the murder of Meredith Kercher, along with Knox. Are they anti-Italian?

      August 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      Matt, it's true what you say, however, thank goodness for Amanda's sake, who is innocent, there was attention made to the case. There should always be an obsession with innocent people being prosecuted and jailed

      August 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tulula

    I think the attraction to the case has more to do with the likelihood that Amanda Knox is innocent. The whole case sounds like a nightmare. Rudy Guede's DNA was all over the crime scene, and Amanda Knox's and Raffaele Sollecito's hardly at all? Just doesn't make sense.

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

      She is as guilty as they come. Dancing in court and flirting with the cameras? Classic sociopath behavior!

      No, it was the media who whipped this up into a frenzy – good 'ol Pretty American White Girl couldn't POSSIBLY be guilty – especially in such a "foreign backward" country...

      Yeah good luck with that appeal. Inadmissible evidence technicalities or not – it don't change the fact that she's a murderer.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Mitchy – what makes you think she was dancing in court and flirting with the cameras – were you there?

      August 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Obsession?

    Who is this Amanda Knox and what did she do to apparently have some people obsessed?

    August 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Stephanie

    Given the lack of evidence she should not have been convicted, but you cannot blame this solely on a corrupt government. Situations like this even happen in the United States. Take the case of the West Memphis Three for example. Those boys had absolutely no motive, they weren't at the scene of the crime, they didn't know the little boys they were accused of killing back in 1993, yet because they didn't fit the "Type" that people in their small town wanted everyone to look like, and because someone threw their name into the mix, they were convicted, 2 to life and one is on death row. The main reason they were convicted? Because the town wanted a quick resolution, they weren't allowed a fair trial, and DNA evidence was never tested until this year. The justice system is one of the most unjust things I have ever seen, we let the guilty go and incarcerate the innocent all to look good in the eyes of the people, because without that, that person would not be voted in again. Don't know about the West Memphis Three? Look them up and see just how corrupt the US "justice system" is.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • agostino

      compared to the italian judicial system it's golden, I have a pretty good knowledge of both systems and to appreciate what we have here (far from perfect) one needs to step abroad and see how other systems operate, in Italy it's frightning.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitchy

      At least their state doesn't MURDER it's citizens with dark-ages capital punishment...

      ...and you idiots think you're so much more advanced. I'd take an Italian court over one in Texas ANY day – and even more so if I was black!

      August 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      @Stephanie, I know these were 3 white boys but this sounds like an everyday occurence in America for Black Males. The only difference is the white boys gets lots of support from the media and the masses and eventually they will be released but there are or were thousand of innocent black males who were either put to death or did LIFE for crimes against whites that they did not committ .

      August 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NonZionist

    We should give Italy a chance to correct this monstrous miscarriage of justice before giving up on the country and staying home.

    But if the Italian appeals court upholds the wrongful conviction despite the lack of credible evidence, then exchange students and tourists should think very carefully before visiting that country.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • agostino

      I am confident that it will the system gets a little better with the higher courts, the conventional trial courts in italy are eqivalent to what we say about prosecutors and grand juries here in the us–that you can indict a ham sandwich. Prosecutors in italy have tremendous power and influence at trial level, to give you an example in the knox case her lawyers werent allowed to challenge the dna evidence, they could not bring their owne expert. imagine if that happened here.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old man

      Leave the Italian court system time to make up it's mind? She has already been in prison well over three years

      August 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Grace

      I'd go to Aruba before I'd go to Italy. I wouldn't send my dog to Mussolini-land after watching this.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • RonnieC

      Does your dog live in your gigantic nostrils?

      August 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ricky

    The justice system in Europe:
    A terrorist killed 76 people in front of everybody in Norway and got 21 years in prision.
    Amanda Knox a college student girl got 27 years for a crime she never committed.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      "The justice system in Europe:
      A terrorist killed 76 people in front of everybody in Norway and got 21 years in prision.
      Amanda Knox a college student girl got 27 years for a crime she never committed."

      Makes no since.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Grace

      "Makes no since." It's a SINCE-less crime IMHO.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitchy

      She IS a creep and a murderer.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • tomek

      You probably do know it but Norway and Italy are two different countries. There is no one-fit-all judicial system across Europe, either. If Knox wanted to get a lesser sentence she should have committed murder somewhere else.

      August 16, 2011 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Gene Brady

    Common sense was totally absent throughout this obscene excuse for justice. There was only one person responsible and he took the deal. The innocent fought for their lives. The killer was a drifter and criminal who had no base. Knox and her boyfriend were EXACTLY the opposite. The Prosecuter needs to pay for what those two kids lost and for what they were forced to endure to feed his need for publicity. The drifter was no story, just a very typical crime. Shame on all involved, including the victims parents.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ella

    My friend went to Italy this summer for study abroad. I wasn't happy with the idea, but she loved it. Knox is innocent and Italy's judicial system is terribly corrupt. Adding Italy (one of the countries my family comes from) to the list of places I'm never going to.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • MelC

      You probably won't be missed!

      August 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ricci

      Great! People in Italy will be very glad they won't have to stand the visit of another cultureless Murkin.

      August 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mveacheo

    She's hot thats why.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MelC

    Amanda was clearly guilty, and the people who denegrate the Italian legal system need to look at their own system. The assumptiion that an American couldn't have done this is contrary to the fact that there are more Americans locked up in the USA than any other western country. The murder rate in the USA is at epidemic proportions and it is silly to think this couldn't be exported to other countries. The fact is that European countries tend to wait until the trials are over before interviews etc. In the USA people are convicted (or cleared) on television by the likes of Nancy Grace et al and the American public eat it up and makes their decisions on innocence or guilt by information (true and false) provided by talking heads. The only way to determine guilt or innocence is by being on the jury and hearing all the relevant evidence – not clap-trp by the likes of Nancy Grace.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soul912

      By stating that SHE IS CLEARLY GUILTY, you sound ljust ike Nancy Grace. You can not deny the anti-Americanism in this case. Amanda was naive, and her "friends" took advantage of her. She lied and that's what convicted her. What an irony...Casey Anthony killed and was set free because of her lies.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      We're not assuming an American couldn't have done this. We're saying where there is no evidence of 2 people in the room and lots of evidence of 1 person in the room – the 2 people didn't do it.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Melissa

    The only attention its captured the obsession of is the media who can't shut up about it.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tracy

    I can't believe that c*** author is capitalizing off this trial. What's worse is the premise of her book is total bs. Anyone who followed the Casey Anthony trial knows that beauty is leverage and works in the favor of the suspect, not to their disadvantage.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Grace

      "beauty is leverage and works in the favor of the suspect" And yet Casey Anthony is the most hated person in America thanks to me. Ha ha ha!

      August 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MelC

    If the case had been the other way around, where the British girl had murdered the American girl the people crowing about Knox's innocence would be convinced the british girl was guilty because an American girl was killed – hypocrits!

    August 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. VoxVerum

    Is it just me? Every picture I see of this girl gives me the creeps. She just looks evil. I'm not making any judgement about her actual guilt or innocence. There's just something about her eyes that makes me think "sociopath."

    August 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Grace

      Yeah, it's just you. You are so suggestible that you believe everything you read. When I snap my fingers, you will pee yourself.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Yeah it's just you – think about that. If the media wanted YOU to look creepy – in the course of an entire day, they would manage to catch a creepy look on YOU too. That's a split second of movement and it's made to look creepy. Think about that.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
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