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. daws

    Was she charged as a 300lb. black man? o.O

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

    Guilty, no doubt about it.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandy

      You must be kidding??? The only way that someone thinks she is guilty is someone who has looked at this case superficially.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Belinda

    I think if people actually read about the actual evidence involved and the creepy past this Prosecutor has, that they would seriously question anything he has to say. There is no doubt in my mind that these two kids are not involved in anyway. As long as the only rightly convicted person involved, has a chance at getting out early, he will never admit to being the only one. I can't imagine anyone , including the victims family, having read about and knowing what the evidence is, thinking otherwise. The prosecutor has a long history of this type of behavior. He should be thrown in prison for this.There is no justice in Italy!!!!!!! when my student son was overseas, i discouraged his even visiting Italy.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    Someone is dead and someone pays. Works for me.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • dickless

      Awesome. So when are you up to take the blame for a murder you may or may not have commited? Someone's gotta pay, right?

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

    It doesnt help that most people are addicted to crime tv, and dont have enough of their own life, they have to live through others. It doesnt help that people like Gov Perry are dumbing down the education system so students will have even less of a education. 8th grade with be the new H.S. grad.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lola

    Not sure. I have not been convinced either way. Not enough real evidence linking her directly to the crime. Just the testimony of a criminal. He's not credible. If she really did do it, they haven't actually proved that she did.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ballguy

    Not a single person I've ever known or met has even brought this case up. It's really just not that interesting and affects anyone's life in any way.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maddy

      It effects the life a young woman and young man and their family. An unjust verdict for one, is an unjust verdict for all. It is horrible to think of the number of people wasting in prisons who are wrongfully held to be guilty. Always tragic for not only that person but also the victim who is not being avenged by wrongfully persecuting an innocent person.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Orange Sunshyne

    I remember reading about this crime when it first happened, and from everything I read, I believe that Knox is guilty.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Hi Orange – that's the problem – people read what the media printed and they did not print facts – they slanted innocent things to make her look guilty because it was a better story. Please look at all the facts and evidence now before making up your mind. Anyone who does can see that they are innocent. Rudy Guede did this alone.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. oknrsbeast

    Don't let anyone tell you looks don't matter, because they do. That certainly applies to other cases besides this one.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Pappa

      I think she's HOT !!! Can she DO her TIME here with ME ??

      August 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tara

    to me it doesn't make sense that they convicted her and her boyfriend but also that other man too, sounds like they didn't have a clear view of who did it

    August 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Exactly!!! And when all the evidence pointed to Rudy they refused to back down from their original theory and just twisted the facts around to make them fit. Please look at the evidence and you will see that you are right.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. unbelievable stuff

    The article states she's attractive and we're obsessed ,neither is true. She was doing something obscene so I really don't care.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Karen onCape Cod

    Could our America stop their preoccupation / adulation with Convicted Criminals and so called" have accomplished nothing Reality Stars" and "One Hour Celebrities" ( who contribute zero to society)?

    August 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. flybender

    Over here she would have walked. Not enough evidence to prove she was involved.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frank

    CNN.com should know better than anyone else that hot white chicks always get shuffled to the front page.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ted

    A woman is dead, three people in the room with her, and none are guilty. Really?!

    August 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jstanz

      Ted – only 1 was in the room with her and he is guilty – Rudy – all the DNA and evidence in her room belongs to him.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
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