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. Devnet

    Amanda, along with her boyfriend and Rudy Guede are GUILTY!

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

      You got that right!!!

      August 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Th

      Absolutely not guilty. Study the evidence

      August 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheLostSurveyor

      Really? You've heard all of the evidence and come to that conclusion have you? That was the most ridiculous case of judicial misconduct I think I have ever seen. Not to mention that the theories of what transpired presented by the prosecution were so outlandish and bizarre they made a dime novel look like something written by Homer. Now the DNA evidence is shown to be corrupt. How much more do you need to see before you realize she was railroaded because she is an American.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devnet

      Amanda, her nerdy boytoy and that jig Guede are all guilty of murder.

      You want judicial misconduct? How about the O.J. trial? You want to call Italian justice system corrupt, look at our own country, where money buys freedom!

      August 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jp

    She is guilty and the Italian Courys got it right; given flaky US jurors; she might have walked here; she did it and lied about it and got caught; case closed

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

    True Justice for Meredith Kercher:

    Read all the facts, before making up your mind that Amanda is innocent. She is most certainly not!

    August 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      I thought Amanda was guilty until I looked at the facts Devnet – now I know she's innocent. I think you're a little confused.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      I think you need to polish up on your reading skills...

      August 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sant

      Methinks you belong to that PR firm hired by Knox's father. You have been defending Knox throughout the whole comments page and now you tell me that you thought she was guilty until you read a website two seconds ago?
      Stop misleading...

      August 17, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      No Sant – I believed she was guilty in the beginning until I started thinking the prosecution's theory makes no sense and then I looked into the facts and changed my mind about her.

      August 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. vern

    she needs casey;s lawyer

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

      Best comment all day!

      August 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wyatt

      Wow, Sant, you're easily impressed!

      August 15, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. m

    Corrupt DEA where stealing drugs from evidence vaults and reselling them to cover extensive credit card debt.

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

      Excuse me? Could you please try again?

      August 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Devnet

    Both Amanda and Raffalle couldn't come up with soundtight alibis which could have placed them away from the scene of the crime. One inconsistency after another. All the other flatmates upstairs and downstairs were out of town at the time of the murder, the only person with a key would have to of been Amanda, who with Solliceto allowed Rudy Guede into the flat, when Meredith was already in her room.

    August 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wyatt

      Who says someone needed a key? I thought you people felt so safe you didn't lock your doors.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • humanbean

      Read the latest article about this in Rolling Stone. It will change your mind. Reminds me of a trial in small town southern US where they believe in satanic worship and the like. Ridiculous. She was railroaded, period.

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

      The front door to the flat was always locked – the rooms inside had doors with locks too. The only time Meredith locked her door, was when she went to England to visit her family. But the main door was always locked. Amanda even said she noticed this door "ajar" when she was questioned.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Secks

      Guede broke a window to get in.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Devnet

    Read the entire Massei Sentencing report – over 400+ pages of information on the case. Very thorough and informative. Anyone who claims the Italian court system is corrupt should have their heads examined.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Anyone who reads the Massei report and finds it informative needs to have their head examined. That guy is a quack.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      I have never heard of a judge being permitted to just make up theories off the top of his head that have nothing to do with the evidence. That's what the Massei report is........someone fantasies about how the crime COULD HAVE

      August 16, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Thethunderbolt

      Sure. Read the Massei report and you will find “… it is therefore likely that she (Meredith) had tried to interpose her hands to attempt some deflection of the blows that were being inflicted on her neck, receiving in this way some defensive wounds as well. …”(English translation)

      So based on the prosecutions theory, this would mean that Amanda and/or Raffaele are reaching in with a knife and Meredith is trying to deflect it with her hands. Amanda’s and/or Raffaele’s hands were the distance of the knife blade away from Meredith’s neck yet no part of her (hands or otherwise) made contact with either of them? No contact (resulting in a DNA deposit) with several stabbing attempts? Weren’t they supposed to be high on drugs? They didn’t have any coordination issues with two knives swinging away? It also seems impossible for neither Amanda or Raffaele to have cuts on their hands/fingers. They didn’t, Rudi did.

      So as far as the prosecution is concerned, the actions of Rudi, Amanda, and Raffaele are all similar. If this is the case, then why isn’t the amount and location of Amanda’s and/or Raffaele’s DNA similar to the amount and location of Rudi’s DNA? Please forget about bleach/cleaning…it would have removed everybody’s DNA, they never would have found all the DNA, and it also leaves a detectable pattern in a crime scene (and none was detected).

      August 17, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. robert Zuckschwerdt

    I believe Amanda Knox is guilty, as well as her boyfriend,, they did everything to get rid of evidence before the police arrived! I believe she is just another college student who wanted to study in a foreign country where her parents wouldn't know what she was doing! I feel sorry that her roommate was subjected to those animals!

    August 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Have you ever stopped to think and considered how they could have managed to erase EVERY shred of evidence that they were there and NOT DISTURBED any of the evidence that Rudy was there? Without leaving ANY EVIDENCE of a cleanup effort. Think rationally about that for a couple minutes.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    Absolute nonsense. She's hot. That's all. It has nothing to do with culture. She's not guilty. This trial would have been thrown out in the USA.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cultural

    People following murder cases got too much time on their hands. It's not healthy to sit idle gawking at other people's misfortune. Need action?

    Volunteer, get a job – or maybe an education? Or maybe exercise a little...

    Now let's talk about important things happening in the real World – and in our own Great American Banana Republic.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. us1776

    There is not one shred of "credible" evidence that ties Amanda or Raffaele to the murder of her roommate.

    Guede, the career criminal, did this all by himself and then implicated those two kids in return for concessions from prosecutors.


    August 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • forensic science

      no family members allowed- please

      August 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CAP

    Pity it didn't happen in Florida...

    August 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Yes I am sure it's the Italians who obsess sooo much over court cases. We have nothing like that shoved on us by the American media or anything...

    August 15, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnny

    What is the obsession with her looks? First of all, she's on the homely side. Secondly, what does it have to do with anything? I'd like to see journalism regain its original thinking.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. forensic science

    The face that there wasnt enough to conduct multiple DNA tests does not vindicate her, it simply means there was limited sample. Her DNA was on the weapon. She is guilty ! no doubt. There are plenty of casey anthony juror type deep thinkers out there- though, so she might go free.

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

      First of all it was admitted BY THE PROSECUTION

      August 16, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      It was admitted BY THE PROSECUTION that that knife WAS NOT the murder weapon. The knife that made the wounds was NEVER FOUND. Did you know that? And of course Amanda's DNA was on the knife they took from Raf's kitchen...she cooked there. Your DNA is on your kitchen utensils too......better watch out.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
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