The Innocence of Amanda Knox
The savage murder of Meredith Kercher made Amanda Knox a suspect in a strange country.
As a writer for the last five years, I can count on one hand the times I have been trolled. Recently I was thinking about murders, I would like to include in my Murder Monday series, and the troll’s comments came back to me.
You are a disgrace, how can you call yourself British.
The sin I had committed was stating that I thought Amanda Knox was innocent. If you are from another country you might not understand the outrage. Simply put Amanda Knox is American and her alleged victim, Meredith Kercher was British. According to the troll, I shouldn’t look at the facts of the case, just agree she is guilty.
So what are the facts?
On 1st November 2007, Meredith Kercher was found sexually assaulted and murdered in her apartment in Perugia, Italy. A British student she shared this apartment with two other girls and Amanda Knox. Kercher was 21 at the time. She was found dead on the floor of her bedroom, she had been stabbed and sexually assaulted. Her body hidden under a duvet showed bruising and signs that she had been gagged using a person’s hand during the attack.
The last know sighting of Kercher was at 2045 the previous night, where she had dinner with three friends. Leaving alone she made the short walk back to her apartment. No one can say what happened from that moment onwards. The murder was brutal and horrific. A beautiful, British woman lost her life. These are the limited facts of the case that we know.
Discovery of the Body
From this point on, the events that have occurred have been studied, twisted and changed. This helped a police department who was negligent in the investigation. It aided a prosecutor who was desperate to save his reputation by gaining a win and the media who tried and convicted a young woman without the facts.
Amanda Knox had been staying at her boyfriends, Raffaele Sollecito. On the morning of 2nd November 2007, Knox went home to get changed and shower. Finding her apartment door open she went into the apartment, calling out to her flatmates. No answer came, so she went about her morning.
On hindsight, it seems that arriving home to find the front door open should have rattled me more…..But it is easily explained. The old latch didn’t catch unless we used a key. Wind must have blown it open. — Amanda Knox (Waiting to be Heard)
When she went into the bathroom she found two pea size drops of blood on the sink. Having had her ears pierced, she wondered if this was the cause of the blood. When she discovered the blood was dry she put it down to the fact Kercher must have nicked herself. After her shower, she reports seeing a bloodstain on the mat. Again she wondered if Kercher had started her period. Her suspicions were raised, but she wasn’t overly concerned.
Once dressed she went to borrow a hairdryer from the other bathroom in the apartment. Here she found faeces in the toilet and became concerned. Leaving the house in a rush, she returned to Sollecito. She made several phone calls on the way back to his flat. To her flatmates, including Kercher, she says she tried both her phones and they were both off.
Encouraged by her flatmate Romanelli, Sollecito and Knox returned to the house. There they noticed a window had been smashed and their flatmate’s room trashed. Trying Kercher’s door they found it locked, which was surprising as Kercher never locked her door.
Sollecito phoned his sister, a policewoman for advice. She told them to leave the apartment and call the police. Romanelli arrived home and searched her room looking for anything missing. In doing so she contaminates the crime scene, at the initial point of entry.
Whilst they are waiting for the police to turn up, the postal police appear. They have Kercher’s two phones, these have been discarded in a garden near the apartment. The friends become concerned about Kercher and ask the police to kick down her door. They state they have no reason to do this. Still worried a friend kicks the door down. That is when they see a bloody foot sticking out from under a duvet and find Kercher dead on her floor.
Knox Becomes a Suspect
It is fair to say that throughout the initial investigation, Knox did not do anything to help her case. She was so convinced that justice would be served. She failed to protect herself from the allegations that would be thrown at her. She also exhibited some strange behaviour, which the police and media manipulated, to confirm her guilt.
Why did she behave in this way? For one she had just found her friend murdered in their apartment. Grieve and shock are different for everyone and we can not judge someone on the way they deal with it. Having observed Knox for many years and devoured everything she releases. Given my teaching experience, I question whether she may be on the autistic spectrum.
Valerie Gaus is a psychologist who has worked with hundreds of autistic people and is the author of Living Well on the Spectrum. “Everything I read would be consistent with it and it could be one alternative theory for the behaviour that made her seem suspicious,”
Even still Knox explains some of the strange behaviour in her book. After the body was discovered, Knox was photographed hugging and kissing her boyfriend outside the crime scene. It is a picture that became famous with the worlds media when she was labelled Foxy Knoxy. She said although she wasn’t crying she was in shock after seeing the body. The hug from Sollecito was to offer her some support and body warmth.
During the interrogation, it was reported that she was talking loudly to her parents about finding the body. Again she addresses this and says that it has been a fault of hers for many years, speaking loudly when she is under stress.
Knox overheard Kercher’s friends talking about how they hoped she hadn’t suffered. Knox was said to reply, “how could she not have suffered, she got her fucking throat slit.”
Knox herself says of the process, “I showed not enough emotions; then I showed too much.”
She was a woman on her own without family, in a very stressful situation. It is fair to say Knox is what some would consider an odd duck, this does not make her a murderer.
The Italian police were under pressure to solve the case as soon as possible. The worlds media were watching. They suspected Knox and Sollecito were guilty and made the evidence fit.
During the collection of DNA evidence, there was a catalogue of errors. Not changing gloves between rooms, was the first. Dirty latex gloves can be observed in many photos, in the media coverage of the time. They took a knife from Sollecito’s flat, stating this was the murder weapon. This was not handled correctly and rather than being placed in an evidence bag, it was thrown in a box. The bra clasp that was said to contain Sollecito’s DNA, was kept on the floor of the apartment for 46 days before it was collected.
They fed the media stories about Knox, portrayed her as promiscuous. They sold the murder, as a sex game gone wrong. They even went to the length of using a murder short story she wrote in college, as evidence of a depraved mind. As a writer of crime novels, I can only imagine what they would charge me with if they used this approach. It was there believe, that the burglary had been staged, to give a motive for murder.
The strangest statement by the police came from the DNA evidence they did find in Kercher’s room. When asked why no DNA matching Knox was ever found. They stated because Knox must have wiped her DNA away. They never explained how someone could wipe their DNA away and yet keep that of the only suspect.
Guede will state that he had met Kercher the night before at a club and they had agreed on a date. Witnesses at the club place him with a blond girl all evening, not dark-haired. He had met Kercher and Knox at a party in the apartment below but had never spoken to either of them in depth.
He then went on to state that Kercher had let him in and they had a cuddle and kiss. Evidence shows his footprint next to the broken window.
He went to the toilet and during this time he heard Kercher scream. He saw a figure standing over her with a knife, who then turns and runs. He stated he tried to stop her bleeding, but couldn’t, so ran. Running to Germany, because he thought he would be a suspect. It is more likely that Kercher interrupted him stealing from the house and he silenced her.
Guede’s ability to lie though was going to have an advantage for his case. Originally sentenced to 30 years in prison. His sentence was reduced to 24 years as he testified to say that he saw Knox in the house, during the murder. He also opted for a fast track case, which resulted in him getting a further reduction of one third.
For killing the beautiful Kercher he has served only sixteen years. He is currently, on a part-time release program, his freedom is back. He is also said to be writing a book about what happened. A way to exploit this case to make some money.
Critics will say that even though this evidence is flawed, Knox admitted to the crime. They would be correct, she made a full confession under duress from the police department. Hilgendorf and Irving address this when looking at why people make false confessions. We only have to look at the Central Park Five to know this is not an isolated case.
markedly influenced by threats and inducements, stated and implied, interrogators, impair a suspects decision making — Hilgendorf and Irving 1981
The police used many techniques to break Knox and Sollecito, the first was to turn one against the other. Sollecito states in his book, that his family and the police tried to get him to turn against Knox, for a lesser sentence. Sollecito is a man who had principles concerning the truth and stuck with them. Even when his family tried to persuade him not to support Knox, he refused.
Knox’s interrogation went on for four days. During most of her interviews, she was not read her rights or given access to a lawyer. Although she thought she had a good understanding of Italian, she did not. An interpreter was not provided for some of the interviews. Knox did not understand most that was said to her.
The interrogation would include taking her back to the apartment. They would also leave her disorientated about time and exhausted. Still, nothing that would result in a false claim you would think, but this went on for days. The police had damaged her mental state, enough that not only did she make a false confession but she also implicated another man in the case. The man she implicated was soon cleared of all charges, the media then used this as a further sign of her guilt.
Some of the more criminal techniques used to get their confessions was to pack a small room with up to eight policemen to intimidate her. Hit her around the head and slap her, yell at her continually and stand over her. At the time it was unheard of that police would use brutality against an incident victim. The media dismissed it all as Knox trying to remove the confession from the court hearing. We live in a different world today, it is entirely likely that a policeman would attack an innocent suspect.
Knox and Sollecito were both charged with murder. They remained in custody until their trial on 4th December 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years and Sollecito 25 years.
Justice at Last
It would not be for another two years that they would both be acquitted on the 3rd of November. This was not the end of the case though, as the police still desperate for a conviction, appealed the decision. A judge reinstated the charges. Knox remained in the US and refused to fly back to Italy, whilst Sollecito was put on house arrest. Finally, on 28th March 2015, the highest court in Italy found the pair not guilty, the case is closed.
The case is closed it appears for everyone except the poor Kercher family. They will never know whether Guede acted alone or whether others got off with murder.
When this case started in the media, there was something about Knox that I always thought was innocent. I spent months researching the case and finding out every scrap of information I could. I read evidence both for and against her innocence.
I read her account and that of Sollecito’s in the books they published. I had to import Knox’s book, as it wasn’t available in the UK. As I said at the start of this, as a British citizen you are not supposed to think the American Knox is innocent.
When I read both their books, I read with a magnifying glass. Looking for any slight inconsistency in their story, apart from a difference of perspective, the stories are true to each other. Sollecito shows more emotion than Knox did in her account. He also shows how he was swept up with the story, as the Italian police pursued Knox for the murder.
He shows how the media manipulated the public. The shocking part is that this version of events was fed to them by the Italian police.
Simply put, the police manipulated the media who manipulated the public.
It is this wealth of fake news, that has led to the strong opinion of British people. They believe that justice has not been served.
Knox carries on her work in America supporting and clearing the name of others wrongly charged. She uses her name and story to help others in similar places to her. A talented journalist, she has also published essays on gender roles and how these can affect the interrogation process.
Her final statement in her book sums up her feelings on the miscarriage of justice she endured.
I went in a naive, quirky twenty-year-old and came out a matured, introspective woman. — Amanda Knox (Waiting to be Heard)