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. Mark

    Why did Amanda lie and tell different versions of what she was doing the night of the murder? And she was smoking pot and banging her Italian boyfriend on here second week of arriving Italy... Wow! That's quick as a FOXY!!!

    August 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • dta

      you said 'pot' haha ur old ..but what does that have to do with murdering someone you just get hungry happy sleep lol

      August 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • woodrow

      How do we know she lied? All we know is what the prosecution made up. Apparently that's all you know too. No evidence, just a juicy story.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • DSK

      Nobody made anything up – you can still read Foxy's hand-written confession (produced under no duress whatsoever) in which she admits to being at the murder scene, to hearing Meredith die, and in which she blames Patrick Lumumba – an innocent man – for commiting the murder. Just google 'Amanda Knox statement'. She's guilty.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      So WHAT if she was smoking pot and/or banging her italian boyfriend she just met?? Is that supposed to mean she is guilty? LOL. And clearly you live a perfect life.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TODAY

    This chick is a killer...stop treating her like Casey Anthony

    August 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • zhawk88

      ????? And Casey Anthony didn't kill???

      August 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D Gannon

    I guess I missed out – who is Amanda Knox?

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

      She's right behind you!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JL

    I seriously think it's hilarious how men supposedly find Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony 'beautiful'. Maybe only in comparison to the total banged up wrecks that end up in jail but, out on the street, these girls are average at best.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      Average or not, they can still be beautiful. Plus, I don't recall anyone saying they looked like super-models.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Jane

      Exactly i was thinking the same too. average at best, no where near beautiful. definitely not a "head turner"

      August 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mott the Hoople

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I, for one, find her "girl next door" look very attractive, much more attractive than so-called "gorgeous women" (Andie McDowell and Julia Roberts comes to mind).

      August 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Libido

      Both Amanda and Casey are attractive–objectively a 7-8 on a scale of 1-10. Both are helped by being on-weight in this age of obesity. However, for whatever reason, both are subjectively far hotter. I guess guys like (at least the fantasy of) bad girls as much as women like that of bad boys. Probably because in both cases they are . . . taboo!

      August 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • big787

      Knoxy is foxy as hell. I'd bang her in an instant.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Secks

      They are beautiful considering they are accused of murder. Most murderers are ugly so they shine. If you put them in the Miss Universe Pageant the same people would say they are dogs.

      August 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Don

    This was never such a sensational case in the US as the story implies.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Just Me

    too bad Casey Anthony couldn't have been tried in Italy! LOL Seriously though, this can't be easy for anyone having to deal with this case. I feel for all involved. I think there is more involved with it than any of us know.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary Jane

    An American is NEVER guilty of anything outside America? hmmmmm

    August 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Libido

      Let's not cover the same ground again, shall we? The case is weak, at best. This has nothing to do with her being American, and everything to do with the Italian criminal justice system. She would never have been convicted by a jury in a common law jurisdiction given the amount of reasonable doubt in the case. And ironically, Guede, whose DNA was actually inside Meredith, is serving less time than either Amanda and Sollecito.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      White Americans always find sympathy when found guility abroad and it makes no difference if they are convicted of murder, drugs or violating international borders without pass ports. Did any of u notice how quietly the Black African was convicted & jailed in this Amada Knox. Rudy was found guility and placed in jail and nobody is complaining that he didn't receive a fair trail..

      August 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      That might be because whether Rudy is black or not his DNA was found all over the place. Including in Meredith

      August 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carrie

      How about some examples of other American girls in Italian prisons who are causing an international uproar? People only care about Amanda Knox because she was convicted with bogus evidence. This is coming out very clearly in the appeal. Anyone with a brain who is following it can see that she and Raffaele Sollecito were railroaded in the first trial. Good thing Italians automatically give two free do-overs.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RonnieC

    So when do you get out, JL?

    August 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nikki

    Amanda Knox was harrassed into confessing by Italian police. She was high from smoking pot, so she wasn't acting right, when the police arrived on the scene. So, the police just assumed she killed her friend. If, you read all the articles, you can see that there isn't any piece of evidence to place her at the scene of the crime. The person who actually killed her, is in prison. He said at first, Amanda didn't kill her, but change his statement. Makes you wonder what he was given to change his statement.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Al

    It really is surprisingly easy to get a murder confession out of a naive person in police custody. Wear them down for hour after hour of interrogation then tell them that regardless of their guilt or innocence that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them and the only thing they can do is to limit the damage by confessing to get a lenient sentence. Sometimes they convince suspects to confess to confess to lesser wrongdoing which implicates them in the murder.
    There are innocent people in prison because they tried to work and reason with law enforcement and there are guilty people who walk because they know not to tell the police anything no mater what they promise or threat. This is the way the system works. Most convicts end up being tricked by the police into convicting themselves.
    I don't know if Ms. Knox is guilty or innocent but I do know that in the right hands almost anyone can be goaded into confessing to anything.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kathleen

    What if maybe she was there, and mistook Rudy for Patrick... That's why she gave that confession.. maybe she saw him from afar and then ran away and didn't help her friend. but that doesn't make her a murderer.

    August 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve Miles

    Culture did not fuel it. You crammed it down our throats.

    August 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    This girl is guilty as hell.. the only way she should be let out of prison is in a casket.

    August 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    The real lesson for Americans is this: Don't go to Italy. Don't buy anything Italian.

    August 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mickey

    Wasn't there another man convicted on this case? Has he testified whether Amanda and her boyfriend were involved?

    August 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Rudy Guede is the real killer – he at first said they weren't there and then changed his story for a reduced sentence.

      August 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
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