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. Jeff

    She is so naughty.

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

      Naughty isn't the word to describe AK.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jane

    She's innocent. She wiill be set free.

    August 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Child_Please

      She did it. Murder is just basic. No grand conspiracys and no trigger man. Everyone is capable of murder.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devnet

      Learn how to spell.

      Amanda IS guilty, it was proved in court.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      It was proved in court with corrupt and contrived evidence.

      August 16, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. docserveralson

    There's a high degree of cultural sado-masochism in Italy and Southern Europe. They love to see the beauty tormented. So they went after her, fascinated at the ways they could make her suffer. I hope all this nightmare will be over for her soon.

    August 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      Oh please! I was a US citizen living in Italy for almost a decade at the same time as her (ironically we even look alike) and nobody ever tortured me. The difference is that I behaved.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devnet

      The only person who was truly tormented, was the victim Ms. Kercher. RIP.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jack

    Amanda Knox was persecuted and prosecuted by the corrupt Italians simply because down deep they resent Americans. Ban Jersey Shore.

    August 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      I'm an American citizen that lived in Italy for 10 years. I was always treated with respect and nobody ever resented me "for being American".
      If you respect people, they will respect you back...

      August 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      ps. Lucky for Italians Jersey Shore is NOT Italian. They are American citizens....

      August 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Morons Hate Cute Girls

    That dirty rapist Guede is so obviously the murderer and he told idiotic stories to implicate Knox. He fled like a guilty man. He flings the race card like a guilty man. He blames Knox like a guilty man. He got a lighter sentence. Only people with no brains who hate the good looking girl and makes excuses for dark skin people blame Knox.

    August 15, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      Why did Amanda Knox first point fingers at Lumumba if it was only Guede? Unfortunately we will never know the truth....

      August 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devnet

      Why did Amanda lie and accuse her boss? Besides, Amanda was friends with Guede, who was obviously attracted to her.

      Rudy Guede wrote a letter, implicating AK and RS at the scene of the crime. Rudy opted for the "fast track" trial, so the two of them couldn't put all the blame on him. So glad DNA doesn't lie.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • humanbean

      Devnet, quit making stuff up. She was NOT friends with Guede at all. This whole case was handled like the Keystone Cops. In fact that's who showed up first and tainted the whole scene. The equivalent of traffic cops walked Knox and her boyfriend through the whole place, tainting evidence. I suggest you read the latest story in Rolling Stone about this whole mess and how those small town Italians boggled this thing from the beginning. I've never believed for one second that she had anything to do with this.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      DEVNET he did not write a note at the scene of the crime implicating AK and RS. He said they had nothing to do with it and changed his story later for a reduced sentence. Don't say things without being possessed of the facts. That's why they're in prison to begin with – people opening their mouths and people writing crap without knowing what they're talking about

      August 16, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Colleen Kelly Mellor

    As a blog writer, I did a post on Amanda Knox and what's transpired regarding her trial. Many things play into this and I, too, came to the conclusion that her behavior (lacking empathy for her roommate immediately following the murder) was the one thing that sealed her fate. Unfair? You betch, but it happens. Men have found this appallingly true for years which til now saw many of them imprisoned unfairly. DNA's correcting much of that. But Italy seems less concerned with DNA than punishing for her and her boyfriend's inappropriate behavior following the crime. My post's at This case is eerily alike a Rhode Island case where the supposed perpetrator was also found guilty for poor behavior (lying to police.)

    August 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich Taylor

      explain casey anthony then

      August 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • KillaKenye


      August 15, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J. Tanenbaum

    Why did Amanda intentionally accuse an innocent black man of being her accomplice in the attack?

    Why did Amanda have her PR people tell CBS News that she "never laid eyes on Rudy" when, in fact, she had smoked dope with him before the murder?

    August 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      The police typed up a confession – in Italian – and she signed it after being brutally interrogated, hit and starved with nothing to drink after sleepless days of interrogations and after an entire night of this brutality. She thought she could clear it up once she got out of the police station. Amanda doesn't have "PR People" and I don't know that she said she never laid eyes on Rudy so I can't say anything about that but I do know she said that she, Raffaele and Rudy were never alone in the same room together and she only met him once or twice.

      August 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Child_Please

      @Jstanz, Child please, Were you there? That white girl did that.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Witcraft

      Child_Please, were you there? The problem with this case from the beginning was an almost complete lack of motive, as well as no explanation how a stabbing death scene could be so devoid of forensic evidence. It's clear that the police focused on her for either political or cultural reasons. Like many police organizations in the media glare of a sensational case, it's easier to concoct a scenario to implicate the witnesses/suspects you don't like than investigate a mysterious case while being badgered by impatient media. If the experts, appointed by the court, find the evidence inconclusive or compromised this case goes from flimsy to pure fantasy.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devnet

      Hey David, there was DNA of Amanda mixed with Meredith's several places outside Meredith's room – in the bathroom.

      Luminol on the floor of the flatmate whose flat was "ransacked" found DNA of AK mixed with Meredith's blood as well.

      Socelitto's bloody footprint on a bathroom mat, enough said.

      Amanda lied, and lied, and lied. No alibi. Raffelle's father's phone calls to his cellphone confirmed that they were up to something that evening.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Guede's bloody footprint was found in the bathroom. Get your facts straight.

      There was minimal, if any, DNA from Knox and her boyfriend. And that evidence is highly suspect as the crime scene was highly contaminated by the police.

      As for Knox's DNA being in the bathroom, true or not, they were roommates, of course her DNA would be all over the place.

      August 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      DEVNET – I bet your DNA is all over your house, too.....hope no one gets cut in your house or your DNA is going to be mixed with their's also been proven (a fact) that the footprint on the bathmat is not Raffaele's. What do these facts do to your assumption that they're guilty?

      August 16, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pris

    At the end of the story is an arrow with words that say to click on to get the whole story. A write who spent quite a bit of time with Amanda, her family, read the court record, and spent quite a bit of time in Italy explains the whole thing.

    August 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. elizabeth

    I don't understand how an adult woman who went overseas to study could be so immature. Her statements were inconsistent and childish. Don't you get vetted when you go overseas to study, to make sure you are intelligent enough to handle the whole educational experience?

    August 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Denese

    Just as in the Casey Anthony case, the media was the only one obsessed with this case. They pick a topic and then spend millions cramming it down our throats so they can sell advertising.

    August 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazycatman

      You beat me to it, Denese. It's not "The Culture" - whatever that means - that is obsessed with this case. It's the media. If they didn't keep it in the headlines and at the top of the hour for months, nobody would ever think about it. Hmmm - is there anything going on in the world that they don't want us to think about, so they give us something to distract us? What could it be?

      August 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. josh

    CNN depicts Amanda is a killer

    August 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devnet

      She is.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kevin

    wow.. the picture on CNN's main page says it all. They portray her as some psycho before the facts are straight, just like you know who.. seriously though, that picture is priceless.

    August 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cloe

    How many appeals is this woman going to get? Enough! She got so much attention to begin with because 1) She is white and 2) Her parents have a little money. Stop looking at her face and THINK about the facts of this case.

    August 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      How many appeals? This is the only one she has gotten.

      August 16, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rubin Safaya

    wait... who?

    August 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Connie

    She' will pay for what she done....

    August 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
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