Another Verdict for Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox

By Wendy Murray

Update:  On January 30, 2014 AmandaKnox was found guilty (along with Raffaele Sollecito) of the 2007  murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher, and sentenced to 28.6 years in prison. (A third convict, Rudy Guede, is already serving a 16-year prison sentence; Sollecito was sentenced with Knox to 25 years.) This post has been updated to reflect this change of circumstance. Judge Alessandro Nencini will submit an official report within three months of the verdict that explains the judgement. Read the judge’s interview about the verdict here.

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Seattle native Amanda Knox faced a third ruling in murder trial that has consumed her life since Meredith Kercher’s body was found raped and bloodied in the flat they shared in Perugia, Italy.

Read: “Trust the Process

British college student Meredith Kercher (then age 21), was Knox’s roommate at a university in Perugia, Italy, when she was murdered in November 2007. Knox and her then-(Italian) boyfriend, Raffaele Sollicito, were arrested shortly thereafter and subsequently convicted of the crime in 2009. Since then the case has seen a staggering number of twists that challenge anyone who is sincerely trying to understand and process this tragedy. The murder of Meredith Kercher is a story so sad, that all its respective constituencies–Italians, Americans, British and even Africans–simply can’t sustain a measured conversation about it. 

The verdict will prove decisive. Amanda told the Italian paper La Repubblica on January 9 that if she is found guilty, she will become a fugitive:

Ma se il processo dovesse concludersi con una condanna cosa farà?

“In quel caso sarò… come si dice… una latitante.”


[But if the process results in a guilty verdict?]  

["In that case I will be ... as they say ... a fugitive."]

(Knox has since released a clarification of this statement.)

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In 2010  took a dozen students to Assisi, Italy (May) where I taught an international journalism seminar. At the time Amanda was still incarcerated in Perugia. I had been living in Assisi when the murder took place in 2007 and was intimately connected to the case. I followed it meticulously from the start and then, returning with these students, followed up locally.

During that two-week seminar my students and I were joined for a day by Chris Mellas, Amanda’s stepfather, who was living in neighboring Perugia. I interviewed him on tape and he answered every question I asked. [See the interview.]

My students in turn struggled to process the conflicting elements of this troubling case (the cumulation of this work can be seen here). To help them understand the place of good journalism in this difficult and emotional story, I issued two provisos:

First: Always to keep in the forefront of their work that this case is about justice for Meredith Kercher; it is not about Amanda Knox.

Second: To trust the Italian court system. Though it is different than that of the U.S., the Italians are competent and meticulous. We must trust the process.

Here are the bullet points of the case:

  • November 1, 2007, Meredith Kercher was murdered in the apartment she shared with Knox.
  • November 6, 2007, Knox was arrested by the Italian police and, along with Sollecito, charged with the murder of Kercher.
  • December 5, 2009 Knox (then 22) and Sollecito were convicted on charges of faking a break-in, slander, sexual violence and murder, and sentenced to 26 years imprisonment. However, according to Italian law,  she would not be considered guilty until the verdict was confirmed by higher courts. She appealed.
  • Her appeal at the second level (secondo grado) of trial concluded on October 3, 2011, when the original conviction was overturned and Knox and Sollecito were released from prison.
  • On March 26, 2013, Italy’s highest criminal court threw out the acquittal of both and took the appeal to the next lever at an appellate court in Florence. The trial began with Knox in absentia on September 30, 2013
  • A verdict is expected January 30, 2014.

(A more detailed timeline can be found here.)

Meredith Kercher

Meredith Kercher

Meredith — or “Mez” as her family and friends called her–came to the Umbrian town of Perugia in the fall of 2007 to complete her degree in European studies. During the night of November 1st that same fall, she was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered in her home. She shared a flat in a small cottage outside the city center with three others: two Italian women and one American. The “American girl,” Amanda Knox, was convicted of the murder by an Italian court in December 2009, (along with Raffaele Sollecito and a third man from the Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede). In October 2011 the verdict was overturned and she was released. In March 2013 the next round of appeals opened a new trial.

This sad story is so complicated, confused and visceral in its twists and heartbreak, that human reckoning is not sufficient to navigate it objectively. After so many phases of this tortured case — all of which have been scrutinized in the crucible of time and under the eye of the international press — once the verdict is rendered, the public should be satisfied the court has done its work.

After all my research and reflection and despite my personal connection to this story, I maintain what I commended to my students:

This case is about justice for Meredith Kercher. We need to trust the process.

(This post first appeared in Plog magazine.)
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About Wendy Murray

Wendy Murray is a veteran and award-winning journalist. She served as associate editor and Senior Writer at Christianity Today magazine and has written extensively for other publications such as Books & Culture and The Christian Century. She has written 11 books.

  • Fredly

    Maybe you should tell your students that Andrea Vogt is a hack who has consistently written pro guilt lies about the case.The case is about Knox and Sollecito because they have been framed and spent four years in jail. Perhaps you should go here – http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/index.html and tell your students to read it as well as Vogt’s reporting, so they can have balance.

    • SPEECHFREEDOM1976

      they are guilty – get over it!

  • dmontnz

    This is an interesting view Wendy. I am seeing that the current judge Nencini knows that Raffaele Sollecito started a cartoon on his computer at 9 26pm in his house. Meredith’s phones were no longer in her possession at 10pm, although convicting judge Massei said she was killed a lot later. However Nencini is listening to a prosector Crini who prefers the early time of death, before 10 15pm., so will presumably make a judgement as to when the murder was completed to be within these times. Since there are explanations for dna and foot prints that allow for Rudy to have killed alone, and since the rock was hurled from the car park, and not from inside the room as Massei incorrectly conjectured, and the simulated Wikipedia of Mr Edward McCall and Harryrag incorrectly suggests, this trial is different in every respect to the previous one.

    You suggest this in your conclusion

    “We need to trust the process.”
    Trust is a big word, and this has very big ramifications for Raffaele and Amanda. It has nothing whatever to do with the Kercher family, and everything to do with these other families now.
    A known killer is in jail, and the Kercher family know this, and should get on with their lives.
    Your students should study the case as intently as many other hard working people have before trusting a process that may convict.
    Even if the process acquits it has already bankrupted and destroyed these families.
    This is an outrage in the eyes of the omniscient.

    • ThisIsTheEnd

      “A known killer is in jail, and the Kercher family know this, and should get on with their lives.”

      I can’t imagine anybody can get on with their lives after having a loved one brutally murdered.

      • Shea100

        And yet that’s exactly what they need to do, since the sole attacker has been convicted and imprisoned. Though I can’t imagine why they aren’t objecting to Guede being given day-release from prison any day now.

        • ThisIsTheEnd

          The family of a murder victim don’t need to do anything

          • Shea100

            In this case, the family of the murder victim is pursuing false charges, and asking for millions of dollars in damages, against the two students. They need to stop.

          • ThisIsTheEnd

            Two students who are also convicted murderers. If you must then inveigh against the Italian Justice system and not the family. But I guess that wouldn’t be as emotionally satisfying for you.

  • OneSaturn

    Wow! Truely amazing to be able to write all this Wendy without even mentioning Rudy. Rudy is a known criminal, with history of mental illness and burglaries (breaking in with a stone and carrying a knife) and his DNA was Everywhere in that crimescene. On the victims things, on her, in her. It’s distgusting. He has admitted to being there. His fingerprints and footprints were there. Even his shit was there. And after the murder he is seen at a club all night, hardly in regret and sorrow eh… Then he flees the country. Then he tells a friend he was there and doesn’t even mention Amanda and Raffaele. Rudy is convicted for this crime. Thanks to people like You Wendy, this seriously dangerous man got his sentence reduced from 30 to 16 years and may be out already this year. So tell me, did you say you cared for justice for Meredith??


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