The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox
June 28, 2011 7:34 PM   Subscribe

The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox. In an in-depth new article in Rolling Stone, writer Nathaniel Rich makes a compelling case for the innocence of the American student at the center of a sordid, long-running Italian crime drama. [via Longreads]
posted by killdevil (92 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
She did it with the help of the "Italian Harry Potter". Let's not fool ourselves with allegations of Italian anti-Americanism. She's a rotten apple.
posted by Renoroc at 7:41 PM on June 28, 2011


Just read this on LongReads. Very sympathetic to Knox. Changed my mind.
posted by k8t at 7:43 PM on June 28, 2011


Very sympathetic to Knox. Changed my mind.

Thats great and all if she's really innocent. Problem is that the media DOES have the power to change the public's perception and sentiment regarding crime. The media response to that is to wield that sword like conan the barbarian, manipulating people left and right to the it's own agenda.

Also: Scares the hell out of old people.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:50 PM on June 28, 2011


She may be a rotten apple but that doesn't make her a murderer.
posted by muddgirl at 7:51 PM on June 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I had a vague idea that it was a railroading, but this article pretty much cements that idea and presents it as a tragicomedy of errors.


Had the lovers waited for the carabinieri, a series of catastrophic blunders would likely have been avoided. For starters, the carabinieri would have prevented anyone from tramping through the crime scene.


And DESPITE that:

And the fact that prosecutors did not immediately drop the case against Knox and Sollecito after the bloody fingerprints and footprints came back matching a 20-year-old petty thief named Rudy Guede.

This is heartbreaking:


Edda asked Knox to fly home, or visit her cousin in Germany, but Knox refused. She wanted to see Kercher's family when they arrived in Perugia. She also wanted to help investigators find the killer. Today her mother's greatest regret is that she listened to her daughter. "Had I known that the British girls were out of there, had I known that the first thing her roommates did was lawyer up — had I known all of that? Absolutely, I would've made her come home," says Edda.

posted by bleep at 7:53 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


She may be a rotten apple but that doesn't make her a murderer.

No, but murdering someone makes someone a murderer. This is especially when they are convicted in a court whose laws we recognize.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:58 PM on June 28, 2011


*especially true*
posted by hal_c_on at 7:58 PM on June 28, 2011


I've read about this case off and on and it seems rather clear that Knox makes a convenient scapegoat, and the Italian justice system is highly corrupt (not all that different from the U.S. justice system, but that's another discussion). The most damning evidence is that, apparently, while initially being questioned by police, Knox was flippant and even making funny faces and joking around. That didn't sound very good for her during the trial.
posted by zardoz at 8:00 PM on June 28, 2011


There are plenty of people convicted in our own country in a kangaroo-like manner.
posted by bleep at 8:00 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good try, but this didn't change my mind. I followed this fairly closely as it unfolded. The best parallel in my mind is the OJ Simpson trial. A total media circus, but with a different outcome.

I imagine the perspectives are similar too. If you're an American you want to believe it was a faulty system that put an innocent in jail. If Italian you want to make sure the brutal American gets what's coming.

There isn't a way to know for certain, but if I were a juror on this case I wouldn't have a lot of trouble sleeping after delivering this verdict.

I'm American if it matters.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:07 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


For anyone who thinks corruption happens within the American system of law, politics, sport, etc, at the same frequency and magnitude as Italy... you really need to live there (or not) to understand how inaccurate that is.
posted by critzer at 8:08 PM on June 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


this article is preposterously biased
posted by nathancaswell at 8:13 PM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


IT's too sensationalistic to take seriously. Really, this tone sells stories but isn't what you use to exonerate.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was posted the last time we did this, but Douglas Preston's 2006 piece in the Atlantic, "The Monster of Florence," is a good long read that also features Giuliano Mignini.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 8:19 PM on June 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've read several articles on this story over the years, and I still have no intuitions or hunches, however crude, about Knox's guilt or innocence.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:21 PM on June 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'm getting that annoying Rolling Stone vibe from this. Nothing new.
posted by koeselitz at 8:24 PM on June 28, 2011


What's interesting to me is the huge differences in news coverage and public opinion on this case. In the UK (where Meredith Kercher - whose father is a journalist - was from), people seem to pretty much universally in agreement that "Foxy Knoxy" is guilty and I've seen some British investigative programmes that are pretty damning. In the US, it is almost the total opposite - I haven't met one American who thinks she's guilty. As an American who lived in Britain for many years, I'm on the fence on this one but it is interesting to watch from both perspectives.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:27 PM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


For anyone who thinks corruption happens within the American system of law, politics, sport, etc, at the same frequency and magnitude as Italy... you really need to live there (or not) to understand how inaccurate that is.

Umm no. Transparency International has rated countries according to their "corruption perception" scale. So yeah, Italy is a bit more corrupt than Europe...but much less corrupt than most places in the world.

In finishing...Italy: STILL less corrupt than Mexico.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:28 PM on June 28, 2011


Having not been present at the scene of the crime or familiar with the principals involved, I concur with darth_tedious, above.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:32 PM on June 28, 2011


Yeah last time we discussed this, wasn't the whole drifter story like a really common lie that rapists make?

If I might paraphrase, the drifter was in the bathroom listening to his iPod. This caused him not to hear the woman in the next room be raped and murdered. After he got done wiping his ass, he came out, freaked out and left. And this sort of alibi of, "I was there, but didn't hear anything, then freaked out," the sort of alibi used by rapists? I'm probably saying this incorrectly, but this was the biggest thing that convinced me she didn't do it.

Oh and I think Amanda Knox might be totally crazy, even given the fact that I might act crazy after a roommate is murdered, but that doesn't mean anything.
posted by geoff. at 8:37 PM on June 28, 2011


I'm British and concur with triggerfinger on the news coverage. I can't speak to public opinion though – I think Knox and Sollecito were railroaded, but I've taken more of an interest in this case than most. The thing that strikes me about the case, other than the focus on Knox to the exclusion of Sollecito, is that her 'flippant' behaviour was given such credence in the press and in the trial. Imagine you'd killed a friend in a fiendish sex crime. You'd be crapping yourself, tightly controlling your behaviour. So why is her behaviour evidence against her? All I have is that people think she's a psychopath. Yeah, OK, maybe, but in that case she'd be just as apt to do cartwheels whether she did it or not.
posted by topynate at 8:37 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


What does anyone have to gain by "railroading" Amanda Knox?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:41 PM on June 28, 2011


Hey, ask the guy with the satanic cult obsession.
posted by topynate at 8:43 PM on June 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm asking you.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:47 PM on June 28, 2011


Judicial distinction. An easy case. Notoriety. Popularity. Fame.

People get railroaded all the time. Look at those cases, and you'll see why it happens. But it happens all the time, so much that saying "what is there to gain?" seems like a bit of an inconsequential question.
posted by koeselitz at 8:50 PM on June 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


(I want to note that I don't really have an opinion one way or the other. I don't really know what happened; I wasn't there. And moreover it's entirely possible that Knox did it. But it's also true that the Italian system seems a bit messed up to me, and I can see every reason why lots of people involved would want to press this in the wrong direction. The odd thing about crappy investigations, however, is that they can be right, too. That's why I reserve judgement.)
posted by koeselitz at 8:57 PM on June 28, 2011


What does anyone have to gain by "railroading" Amanda Knox?

Because the family of the murder victim cares more about "closure" than about the truth; because Italian "honor" demands it; because it's easier to manipulate a naive American into a confession than to do the spadework of building a case with real forensic evidence; because Italy in the post-Berlusconi era is suspicious of foreigners; because Italian jurors don't like American girls who have premarital sex with Italian boys...

Need I go on?
posted by jonp72 at 8:59 PM on June 28, 2011 [21 favorites]


Nor did she suspect that her faith in human nature was a dangerous fantasy. She would learn other terrible lessons along the way too....

A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, and a twister forms over West Texas. A man sneezes, and the stock market crashes. An American girl in Perugia allows the postal police to enter her house, and two years later, she is convicted of murder and sentenced to 26 years in jail.

Whatever the merits of the case, this is not good writing.
posted by smoke at 9:01 PM on June 28, 2011 [22 favorites]


I have yet to read anything even somewhat persuasive that says Knox committed the murder. I understand this piece is biased. If anyone wants to provide articles biased in the other direction I'd like to read some. All I've read so far points to a lazy, corrupt police force who wanted to close a case.
posted by chaff at 9:06 PM on June 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ten miles from me, in Rochdale, a satanic ritual abuse panic ripped apart a number of families in the ate eighties. A boy told his teacher that he'd dreamed of ghosts and spent ten years apart from his family. As I was about five years old at the time, I feel quite strongly for those involved.

There are, I've found, two sorts who are interested in 'Satanism'. One sort is basically conventional, with unorthodox religious views. The other is batshit crazy. Interestingly enough, you get Satanists and anti-Satanists in both camps. The point is, someone who claims with a straight face that there are organized satanic murder cults is a very dangerous person to be involved with an investigation, especially one that uses "recovered memory therapy", as practiced in Rochdale and in the interrogation of Knox and Sollecito.
posted by topynate at 9:20 PM on June 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


The tabloid coverage on this case is and has been ridiculous. It's completely plausible to me that Knox was young, naive, railroaded into a confession in a foreign language in a foreign country with no legal representation - that the prosecutor is off his rocker - that the police bungled their handling of the case.

It's not at all plausible to me that she and her hookup had anything to do with her roommate's murder. There's no motive - the idea of a "satanic orgy" or whatever is risible. What bit of "evidence" the police have is extremely questionable and almost surely contaminated. And they caught the guy who did it - tied him to it with solid evidence - and he's jailed already. All that's left is she makes faces, she did cartwheels, she bought lingerie because she wasn't allowed into the apartment to get her underwear, and she's too pretty for her own good? Yeah, no.
posted by flex at 9:24 PM on June 28, 2011 [20 favorites]


By the way: while the Rochdale panic was over by 1996 at the latest, the boy I mentioned remained apart from his family until 2000, when he was 16 years old.
posted by topynate at 9:24 PM on June 28, 2011


IF the police did coerce a confession (that was not videotaped) and then announce to the world that they found the killers and THEN the blood work evidence comes back showing that it doesn't belong to any of the people held for the murder, but instead to a known petty criminal, well, it seems plenty believable that they might railroad a couple of awkward college students to save face. Plus the prosecutor fellow is insane. Satanic ritual? Sex game with a drifter thief gone bad? Come on, gimme a break. Rudy Guede admitted to the crime. He initially said he didn't know Knox or Sollecito and that they had nothing to do with the crime and then changed his story to have his sentence reduced. His DNA was all over the murder scene. Knox and Sollecito's DNA was not.
posted by wherever, whatever at 9:34 PM on June 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


All along, this has sounded like the Italian police trying to just close to book on this case, no matter who they jailed. If I recall, the prosecution's closing statement was mostly about Knox being, basically, a slut. 'No, we didn't find her blood anywhere, but we know she was having sex, ergo, she's a murderer.'
posted by Gilbert at 10:15 PM on June 28, 2011


For anyone who thinks corruption happens within the American system of law, politics, sport, etc, at the same frequency and magnitude as Italy

Yeah, I'm highly critical of the American justice system, as anyone who reads Metafilter knows, but at least we're not Italy. It's a horror show.
posted by Justinian at 10:49 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait wait wait.

This whole conviction rests on a "Satanic ritual?"

Are you fucking kidding me?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Is this 1986? Because if so, I should be in way the hell better shape than I am here in the Year of Our Lord 2011.

A Satanic ritual? Are you fucking kidding me?

These poor people are innocent, and the bastard that did kill that woman is going to go free.

Because of Satanic panic.

What the fuck? Am I living in?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:50 PM on June 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


If Italian you want to make sure the brutal American gets what's coming.

Ah come on... One thing is the way the media all over the world jumped on this - and it's always been the British press especially tabloids that were most vehemently declaring "Foxy Knoxy" guilty - it's not exactly the same as what ordinary people would think. Of course the media has a huge impact and they all exploited the 'nationalistic' angle - US media, UK media - but insofar as the Italian justice is concerned the problem has nothing to do with the fact Knox is American. This was played up way too much in US media. It's ridiculous, there are Italian citizens in Italy who have found themselves in even worse fuckups of justice!

And yes this is a total fuckup, and not because I "believe" Knox is innocent - I don't believe a thing, I don't know, I cannot know that. The fuckup is in how the prosecution was handled, how she was treated, and especially in this:
Hellmann ordered new analyses of the DNA tests by independent experts — a request that was refused, for no particular reason, during the original trial. There have been indications that the readings on the knife and the bra clasp will be ruled too weak to satisfy international forensics guidelines. If this is what the independent experts conclude, the Knox team anticipates a full acquittal.
I hope so, because this is a horrible example of the worst of Italian justice, another factor being clearly spelled out in the article - it's not so much corruption, at this level, in criminal justice, not involving corporations, corruption is not really relevant - it's the way it works in this respect:
If Judge Hellmann decides to acquit, he will not only defy the judge of the first trial, but also the judges who concluded that Guede, Knox and Sollecito acted together. The system is designed to thwart such embarrassments.
Italy has several degrees of judgement and a system which on paper should guarantee a higher level of justice, but in reality, because of the above described "thwarting embarassment" practice, it's VERY difficult for a judge to completely overturn a case even if holes emerge and errors were made and more and more things are being questioned. That's the scandal. And of course here it's compounded by the media attention and yes "The pressure on the judge is especially high in a case that has brought international disdain to the entire Italian judicial system". But there are other Italian citizens in exactly the same situation, sentenced in dodgy cases with practically no physical evidence, with dodgy confessions, and no "beyond reasonable doubt" principle being applied. (And ok that's not a principle of Italian law specifically but well it should be)

Regardless of whether she is innocent or guilty, I do honestly hope she gets acquitted. She is innocent until proven guilty and this messy trial has not conclusively proven she is guilty.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:45 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


This whole conviction rests on a "Satanic ritual?"

Nope, it rests on a confession, the problem is the confession is dodgy at best, and the problem is, no conviction should rest entirely on a confession especially when there is no hard physical evidence and the prosecution majorly messed up that part about getting physical evidence in the first place.

The rest, the prosecutor's "hypothesis", can be as ridiculous as you like, but the main fault is entirely in strictly procedural matters.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:48 AM on June 29, 2011


I've read a fair bit on this and still have no idea if they were involved. If my impressions are accurate, acquittal is what justice indicates. I do worry, however, that the pugnacious way the US media have approached this case, right from the start, may serve only to harm Knox and Sollecito by adding to the US v Italy narrative.
posted by howfar at 2:04 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


the bastard that did kill that woman is going to go free

The most extraordinary thing revealed in this article is that he isn't - because the Italians tried the guy who matched the DNA and footprints too, and found him guilty of Kercher's murder as well:

During his appeal process, Guede, who had been convicted in a separate trial of murdering Kercher and sentenced to 30 years, changed his story multiple times. In a final reversal, he claimed that he was at the murder scene with Knox and Sollecito, and the judge reduced his sentence to 16 years.

That passage alone sets off enormous alarm bells that Knox and Sollecito have been stitched up.
posted by rory at 2:58 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see the tabloids's influence been very effective...

because Italy in the post-Berlusconi era is suspicious of foreigners

Well that would apply about a hundred tons more to Guede and Lumumba because of their African origins, if there was xenophobia involved in the actual trial it would have targeted them because Italians of African origin and African immigrants are the most obvious target of Berlusconi's Italy (and no it's not yet "post-", not by a long stretch).

And to be fair, it was Amanda involving Lumumba and the article does say she regrets that. Bad move that one was. If you confess, and then mess up your own confession implicating someone who has an alibi, you're already making things about a ton harder for yourself. She didn't sound believable. That's absolutely not enough to convict her in my opinion, and should not be, regardless of how dodgily the confession was obtained - but that's what happened.

because Italian jurors don't like American girls who have premarital sex with Italian boys...


Oh please, this is ridiculous, the prosecutor may be insane and have all sorts of ridiculous preconceptions, but we're not talking of rural Italy in the 1950's here. Come on. No one even uses the phrase "premarital sex" seriously these days. Italians today get married well past their 30s if they ever get married. Perugia is a university town and an Erasmus town, lots of students from all over the world, no one resents them having fun. The framing of Amanda as some kind of sex manipulator has nothing to do with her being American as such, or "having sex with Italian boys", it was for the prosecutor part of his wild theory to justify the mess they made with the conviction without a shred of evidence, and the mess of the simultaneous conviction of Guede, and for the British tabloids it was tabloid fodder and another way to attack Amanda and take the side of the Kercher family in the most twisted sensationalist way.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:08 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wikipedia's English-language account of the case, vs. a translation from Italian, here.
posted by tel3path at 3:26 AM on June 29, 2011


Unquestionably there are serious problems with the Italian Justice System but that does not make Amanda Knox innocent. I see the PR firm that the Knox family have hired is having great sucess in getting at least one gullable hack at RS to help propogate the ongoing hysterical media campaign based on plattitudes of 'she's been railroaded' and 'no evidence.'


The real victim in all of this is of course Meredith Kercher.
posted by numberstation at 3:33 AM on June 29, 2011


Unquestionably there are serious problems with the Italian Justice System but that does not make Amanda Knox innocent.

Yeeeee-ah, but it doesn't exactly make her guilty, either.

I see the PR firm that the Knox family have hired is having great sucess in getting at least one gullable hack at RS to help propogate the ongoing hysterical media campaign based on plattitudes of 'she's been railroaded' and 'no evidence.'

It seems as though she's been railroaded, and there seems to be a lack of evidence. This is not hysterical. Putting serious objections in scare quotes doesn't magically make them unreal.

The real victim in all of this is of course Meredith Kercher.

Meredith Kercher is beyond help. If Knox is an innocent person in prison, that she's still alive means she can be exonerated. The correct priorities seem kind of obvious.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:50 AM on June 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Clearly a pretty white American woman cannot be guilty of murder.
posted by rodgerd at 4:13 AM on June 29, 2011


'It seems as though she's been railroaded, and there seems to be a lack of evidence. This is not hysterical. Putting serious objections in scare quotes doesn't magically make them unreal.'

I find it interesting that the same arguments are flying around 2 years later. See this post from back in 2009 where I made a similar point about the questionable actions of Knox's family.

Of course no one here is actually debating evidence proferred at the trial - instead generalisations are flowing left, right and centre on all sides.

If anyone here is convinced of Knox's innocence and wishes to explain the numerous contradictions in the evidence she gave then please do. As I posted in 2009 the defence given by her lawyers (false memories, confusion and fear) do not stack up as repeated evidence shows other parties information match up repeatedly and resulted in not a single major contradiction. Only the defenants' claims failed to coincide or match with everything else.

KFB - You talk about 'a lack of evidence' but have you actually looked at the dearth of material provided by the prosecution? or are you just coming to this conclusion from reading the RS article?
posted by numberstation at 4:31 AM on June 29, 2011


I'm probably in the comments to that post from two years ago, so yeah, I've seen everything, which mostly seems to boil down to a pitch the prosecutor came up with for a Dario Argento movie at some point or something.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:39 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Numberstation, regarding how the stories of the others match up, the others lawyered up and got out of the country immediately. Amanda didn't do any of those things. That might have something to do with her being out of sync with the group.
posted by bleep at 4:49 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I recall, the prosecution's closing statement was mostly about Knox being, basically, a slut.

And don't forget that she is also a bad housekeeper.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 5:12 AM on June 29, 2011


Or perhaps the world's most uncannily talented housekeeper, since she's also accused of having somehow cleaned up all the DNA evidence from her and Sollecito while leaving all of Guede's.
posted by taz at 5:25 AM on June 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


No, but murdering someone makes someone a murderer. This especially when they are convicted in a court whose laws we recognize.

Wow, a doubly circular argument. Murderers are murderers, and convictions in Italy are presumptively convictions in the US. Gee, thanks.

As a wise person mentioned in another thread, we're just schmucks on the internet, and are free to use our own judgment and common sense. Questioning Italian justice is not American imperialism...
posted by BobbyVan at 5:39 AM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I feel most comfortable with confessions not given at 5:45 AM.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:03 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Umm no. Transparency International has rated countries according to their "corruption perception" scale. So yeah, Italy is a bit more corrupt than Europe...but much less corrupt than most places in the world.

In finishing...Italy: STILL less corrupt than Mexico.


Sorry to pick on you, Hal_C_On, but to critzer's point:

USA ranks 22nd from the top on corruption perceptions with a score of 7.1 (the top being perceived as "least corrupt"), while Italy ranks 67th, just between Rwanda and Georgia, with a score of 3.9.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:45 AM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Douglas Preston also wrote a full-length book called The Monster of Florence, and (although REALLY really long and mindnumbing in parts) it gave me the general sense that the Italian justice system is about one step up from "hey! I found an old black muumuu in my gramma's closet, LET'S PLAY COURT!"
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:49 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I recommend the film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.
posted by Mooseli at 6:55 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's interesting to me is the huge differences in news coverage and public opinion on this case. In the UK (where Meredith Kercher - whose father is a journalist - was from), people seem to pretty much universally in agreement that "Foxy Knoxy" is guilty and I've seen some British investigative programmes that are pretty damning. In the US, it is almost the total opposite - I haven't met one American who thinks she's guilty. As an American who lived in Britain for many years, I'm on the fence on this one but it is interesting to watch from both perspectives.

Here's one British person who's read a lot about the case and believes that the evidence is not there for a guilty verdict. Let's remember that in a court of law you have to believe she is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. From what I've heard, the case against her isn't anywhere near that strong and she should never have been convicted.
posted by Summer at 6:57 AM on June 29, 2011


bitteschoen: “Oh please, this is ridiculous, the prosecutor may be insane and have all sorts of ridiculous preconceptions, but we're not talking of rural Italy in the 1950's here. Come on. No one even uses the phrase "premarital sex" seriously these days. Italians today get married well past their 30s if they ever get married. Perugia is a university town and an Erasmus town, lots of students from all over the world, no one resents them having fun. The framing of Amanda as some kind of sex manipulator has nothing to do with her being American as such, or "having sex with Italian boys", it was for the prosecutor part of his wild theory to justify the mess they made with the conviction without a shred of evidence, and the mess of the simultaneous conviction of Guede, and for the British tabloids it was tabloid fodder and another way to attack Amanda and take the side of the Kercher family in the most twisted sensationalist way.”

Look, I agree wholly that Italy is not as prudish as all that – frankly, given the rampant sexism in Italy today, they could stand to be a little more prudish, or at least a little more sensitive – but you're glossing over a very real thing: European disdain for Americans. Anyone who's ever been an American in Europe knows this is a real thing.

Moreover, where you may be able to claim that in "enlightened" or "cosmopolitan" districts – large, international cities, etc – Americans are more or less welcomed, I can guarantee you that in rural Italy, American students – ill-kept, ill-bred, loud, obnoxious, unhospitable, drunken American students – are not exactly well-loved. Hell, when I was in Europe, I hated American students. So it's understandable that they'd be disliked.
posted by koeselitz at 7:25 AM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


In today's paper, although it is the NY Post.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:37 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Douglas Preston also wrote a full-length book called The Monster of Florence, and (although REALLY really long and mindnumbing in parts) it gave me the general sense that the Italian justice system is about one step up from "hey! I found an old black muumuu in my gramma's closet, LET'S PLAY COURT!"

Yeah, that book is terrifying. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is corrupt, obsessed with "Satanic rituals" and imagines them in seemingly every case he takes, and one month after convicting Knox, Mignini was sent up for a 16 month prison sentence on an "abuse of office" charge.

Not really sure how anyone could take seriously a guilty verdict "won" by that man.
posted by palomar at 7:46 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does anyone have links to an article that is well written and convincing that argues that, well, she actually *did* do it? Maybe something the opposite of this Rolling Stone article?
posted by punkrockrat at 8:04 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Disclaimer: I don't know whether Knox is innocent or guilty.

But I am uncomfortable with the idea that we can apparently accept headlines in British papers like
'The Twisted World of Foxy Knoxy,' ... 'The Dark Angel Of Seattle.' 'Orgy Of Death.' And, Amanda was a 'drugged up tart.'"
but any attempts at pushing back are seen as unwarranted American propaganda.
posted by muddgirl at 8:41 AM on June 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


Note that these are the headlines before Knox was even charged.
posted by muddgirl at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, I agree wholly that Italy is not as prudish as all that – frankly, given the rampant sexism in Italy today, they could stand to be a little more prudish, or at least a little more sensitive –

Ah, as an Italian woman, if I could favorite this a million times I would! so, so well put...

(and the "aah" is both "ah you are so right" and "ah don't make me think about what you're alluding to, makes me cringe")

but you're glossing over a very real thing: European disdain for Americans. Anyone who's ever been an American in Europe knows this is a real thing.

Hmm I wasn't so much glossing over that as a general thing, I've seen examples of that myself, as well as many examples of its opposite - I just really honestly don't believe this played anywhere near a part as the pro-Knox American side of the media makes it out to be. Not in the trial itself, and not in public opinion. In Italy there has also been debate in the press on how messy the trial has been.

Perugia is small but not really 'rural' because of its international presence. And Amanda is not an "ill-kept, ill-bred, loud, obnoxious, unhospitable, drunken" American and had not really been portrayed as such, not that I know of. She's a pretty girl from what seems like a wealthy family. Why, if anything, young Brits abroad in Europe enjoy even worse of a reputation for being "ill-kept, ill-bred, loud, obnoxious, unhospitable, drunken" at least in typical holiday spots. Neither Kercher nor Amanda were suffering from that particular prejudice though. Amanda was not portrayed as being wild or weird or unreliable because of being American.

Honestly I'm not glossing over, I just think that's the wrong focus. The problem is inherent in the Italian criminal justice system and compounded by the notortiety of the case.

Also, ah, fairly recent murder cases involving young Italians, teenagers too, have involved things like 16 year old couples who were doing cocaine and plotted and executed the murder of the girl's family (and confessed, and no doubts on that one). They stabbed to death her mother and little brother. Compared to them, anything Amanda has been accused of is really bland, you know... Believe me the criminal panorama of high profile cases in Italy involves even worse. I don't think she was singled out for being a foreigner in that respect.

I think that, if anything, being a foreigner played into her being naive and manipulated into confession. Although that has also happened to Italians in other cases, I guess in her case the language and culture barrier made her even more incapable of dealing with the aggressivity during interrogations from the police (which is sadly another general problem of the Italian criminal system...)
posted by bitteschoen at 8:59 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh I forgot - my point was also specifically in reply to the idea that "American girl with Italian boy" would somehow be a negative factor for "Italian jurors" - if anything, the fact she was going out with Raffaele, in a relationship with him, and one that seems to have been so close, whatever your guilty/innocent view, well, jesus, it definitely would not in itself be something held against her, quite the opposite!

Obviously, if you take the guilty view and the 'something veeeeery weeeeird happened in that flat' view, then they become the couple from hell, but, again, nothing to do with one of them being American as much as the horrific nature of the crime itself, and the speculation about motives, and the contradictions of the trial.

(Speaking of horrific crimes here's the case of the 100% Italian teenager couple of ascertained murderers I was talking about - a case made even more repugnant by the fact the girl in question initially accused Albanian immigrants taking advantage from and in turn fuelling the xenophobia of the public)
posted by bitteschoen at 9:19 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, but murdering someone makes someone a murderer. This is especially when they are convicted in a court whose laws we recognize.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:58 PM on June 28 [+] [!]


Oh come the fuck on. ITALY barely even recognizes the court of laws in Italy.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


muddgirl: exactly, and for what it's worth, whatever bias I can spot, in some of the American reporting, in wildly exaggerating the role of antiamerican bias as relevant to the conviction, it's nothing, nothing compared to what the British tabloids did to Amanda Knox.
posted by bitteschoen at 9:23 AM on June 29, 2011


Oh please, this is ridiculous, the prosecutor may be insane and have all sorts of ridiculous preconceptions, but we're not talking of rural Italy in the 1950's here. Come on. No one even uses the phrase "premarital sex" seriously these days.

"Italians shrug off extramarital sex, yet they are prim in their attitudes to premarital sex, at least outside the stable context of fidanzamento (engagement). They use the same words for boyfriend and fiance.

So many were taken aback to learn that, by the time she was arrested at the age of 20, Knox had had sex with seven men. They were less outraged by how this information was obtained: Knox was told in prison she was HIV-positive and asked to write a list of her lovers. Before she was told that a mistake had been made, the list was passed to investigators, one of whom passed it to a journalist." (link)
posted by jonp72 at 9:35 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that struck me is how some of her friends describe her: Not being aware that she is attractive, her boyfriend's description of focusing on the pacing/timing of a song as opposed to the emotion it evokes, being "book smart" but "dumb as a rock when it comes to street sense"; her wanting to stay behind and help in the police investigation when her other roommates lawyered-up and split, her inappropriate affect during the initial police interviews, etc.,.

As the mother of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, I recognize some of those descriptions as possibly adding up to her having some form of mild type of autism. I realize that I'm being an armchair psychiatrist; but if that were the case, it adds a whole new level of fucked up-ness to this case.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ah well if it's my word against the word of a Guardian journalist talking about Italians, I give up... (I find his assertions about the Italians' views on fidanzamento ridiculously out of synch, but I guess my own experience and knowledge of small town Italy counts nothing, ok.).

The treatment of Knox by police and in prison is another matter... if that's true, it's in the same category as the pressures on her to confess. ie. less in "this is how Italian people view sex" and a LOT more "this is how fucked up the police can be". In my irrelevant opinion as someone who's never ever dealt with Italian police, of course...
posted by bitteschoen at 10:07 AM on June 29, 2011


it's nothing, nothing compared to what the British tabloids did to Amanda Knox

When you consider their track record on people who aren't even charged with a crime, it's depressingly unsurprising.
posted by reynir at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The British tabloid media need to be taken out and shot.
posted by Summer at 12:34 PM on June 29, 2011


ABC News:
American college student Amanda Knox won a big legal victory in the appeal of her Italian murder conviction today when court appointed DNA experts concluded that some of the DNA evidence used to convict her may have been contaminated.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:03 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any information on what is for me the most bizarre claim made about her, that she went into a sexy dance from a 1950s italian movie when escorted to the murder scene?

It seems completely mad. Is there some kind of rebuttal or explanation from her camp?

I, like echolalia, have been wondering if she might be autistic but the dancing thing sounds more like a full-on psychotic break.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:40 PM on June 29, 2011


And just because nobody's said it yet, this should be reminding people very much of the Azaria Chamberlain case, as in the Meryl Streep movie "A Cry In The Dark" a.k.a. "Evil Angels" -- there was no confession, but the carelessness with evidence, the satanic element, the trial in the court of public opinion, and the perception of guilt simply because her behaviour was inappropriate.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:47 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no convincing evidence that she did it and no motive whatsoever. Why would a previously nonviolent American girl suddenly decide to stab someone brutally in a sex game? Why would she do it with both her boyfriend and a random Italian petty thief who carries a knife?

It sounds to me like she has undiagnosed Asperger's and that's really why she was convicted. The extreme naivete, weird behavior around emotion and lack of attention to social cues are very telling. I'm astonished this idea hasn't been raised before.

By Occam's razor, the scenario in which Guede kills her in a robbery gone wrong makes much more sense—and fits the evidence better than a bizarro Satanic sex scene with three perps, two of whom have no prior records and have no reason for being connected to the third.

The Occam's razor case gets stronger when you consider the insane prosecutor, the appallingly pathetic evidence collection and DNA evidence on Kercher and the unrecorded and likely coerced confession. If she has Asperger's, it would be even easier to coerce that. In contrast, there's no logical explanation for Guede's DNA being there; while Knox's would be likely to be there simply because she lived there.
posted by Maias at 5:23 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Echolalia, I obviously didn't preview ;-)
posted by Maias at 5:24 PM on June 29, 2011


AmbroseChapel: I, like echolalia, have been wondering if she might be autistic but the dancing thing sounds more like a full-on psychotic break.

From the article that jonp72 posted:
As for the cartwheels [at the police station], her mother told the Guardian earlier this year that was "Amanda just being Amanda": it was the early hours of the morning; she was stiff. Her younger sister, Deanna, recounted on another occasion how Knox was prone to gauche behaviour in public.
The writer goes on to describe her as having moments of "social dyslexia".
posted by echolalia67 at 5:27 PM on June 29, 2011


I, like echolalia, have been wondering if she might be autistic but the dancing thing sounds more like a full-on psychotic break.

I've never even heard of the "dancing thing", as you put it, but it reminds me of the oft-repeated charge that Amanda Knox simply must be guilty because she allegedly turned cartwheels at the police station while waiting to be interrogated. I've read interviews with Ms. Knox where she clarified -- she was doing yoga moves to try to relax.

The cartwheels thing was trumped up by the Italian and UK tabloids. Do you think maybe they trumped up the BS "sexy dancing at the crime scene" story? I'm thinking yes.

Incidentally, the paper I just linked to was sued by Giuliano Mignini for defamation after they printed a direct quote from a third party who said Mignini was "mentally unstable". As you can see from the link, Mignini has a habit of filing defamation suits against anyone and everyone. He's filed against Knox and her parents, against journalists for reporting facts and printing direct quotes, Knox's attorneys for... well, frankly I don't know the reasoning for that one.
posted by palomar at 5:38 PM on June 29, 2011


Note: "insane" should instead read "mentally unstable" and be in quotes, citing the direct quote cited by Palomar. No edit function!
posted by Maias at 5:47 PM on June 29, 2011


yeah, careful there, Maias... wouldn't want to be slapped with a defamation suit. ;)
posted by palomar at 5:56 PM on June 29, 2011


Just to clarify, I wasn't talking about the "yoga at the police station" thing, I was talking about this:
an older male detective claimed that, upon returning with detectives to the murder scene, Knox had spontaneously broken into a seductive, hip-rolling dance, popularized in old Italian sex comedies, called La Mossa. Knox, the detective claimed, had shimmied her hips like Monica Vitti, shouting "Hoopla!"
a little further down the article.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:38 PM on June 29, 2011


Yes, as I said, I've never heard of the "dancing thing". Today is the very first time I've ever heard that particular allegation, and I've followed this case pretty closely since it's "local" news in a sense. What I'm saying is that claims like the sexy dancing thing remind me of the cartwheels allegation. Is that clearer?
posted by palomar at 6:43 PM on June 29, 2011


I could totally see trying to stretch your back being misunderstood as a sexy dance in that weird climate. Combine it with an exclamation of "Oh man," and you've got a misunderstood "Hoopla!"
posted by Addlepated at 7:01 PM on June 29, 2011


Court-appointed forensic experts called the DNA evidence suspect today:

In the report filed on Wednesday, the court-appointed experts concluded that while Ms. Knox’s DNA was in fact on the handle of the knife, the tests on the blade were “not reliable” because the correct international protocol for tests on small samples, called low copy number DNA analysis, had not been followed. The results were therefore inconclusive.

“The genetic profile, as obtained, appears unreliable because not supported by scientifically valid analytical procedures,” and so cannot be positively identified as belonging to Ms. Kercher, the report said.

The experts also said that both the knife and the bra clasp had been collected and handled without following international procedures, and that “it cannot be ruled out” that the evidence had been contaminated and that the conclusions were untrustworthy.

posted by dd42 at 8:31 PM on June 29, 2011


I will second echolalia67's point. As someone on the spectrum every single thing she did seems like something I would do if I was accused of murder and deprived of sleep, and her background definitely screams it. Your brain is just firing randomly when you're under stress and you do completely illogical things, in the hope of trying to make it all calm down so you can think again. Considering how I react to the stress of normal social situations I have no idea what my brain would do if I had to react to THIS.
posted by JZig at 8:49 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


JZig: Yes, this.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:51 PM on June 29, 2011


Either way, she's getting all kinds of movie offers. Rolling Stone sucks for siding with a murder.
posted by Flex1970 at 5:38 AM on June 30, 2011


Rolling Stone sucks for siding with a murder.

There's no DNA or fingerprint evidence putting Knox in the room where the murder took place, no motive, a coerced confession, and a pretty obvious railroading job by a corrupt, mentally unwell prosecutor who literally sees the Devil in every crime. Meanwhile there's plenty of DNA evidence linking Guede to the crime (including DNA left inside Ms. Kercher's body), and motive (history of petty theft and break-ins, need for money, end result: robbery gone horribly wrong). Guede's story has changed repeatedly, outside of the coerced confession where she named her boss Patrick Lumumba Knox's story has not changed. There are no reliable eyewitnesses who can place Knox or Sollecito at the scene of the crime when the crime occurred -- all eyewitness accounts have been proven false.

But sure, I guess you can boil it down to a simple "she's a murderer". Why not.
posted by palomar at 7:29 AM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Knox, the detective claimed, had shimmied her hips like Monica Vitti

It seems very unlikely that a 20 year old American girl who's been in Italy for about two months* would be familiar with dance moves from old Italian sex comedies. Monica Vitti is best known for appearing in Michelangelo Antonioni movies in the early 1960s.

*The murder was November 1 and according to Wikipedia Knox was in Italy for a one-year school term.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:42 AM on June 30, 2011


This article on coerced false confessions is interesting. The italian police pretty much did everything you shouldn't do if you want an accurate confession.
posted by echolalia67 at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2011


I have no opinion on whether Knox actually murdered Kercher or not. Pretty much absolutely none of the evidence I've seen presented points to Knox as the murderer. At all. Remotely. That, of course, doesn't mean Knox didn't murder the poor girl. I mean, check out that crazy look in her eye.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2011


"It sounds to me like she has undiagnosed Asperger's and that's really why she was convicted. The extreme naivete, weird behavior around emotion and lack of attention to social cues are very telling. I'm astonished this idea hasn't been raised before."

She doesn't set off my aspiedar. I tend to agree with the people who think she's a psychopath.
posted by fraac at 1:24 PM on July 24, 2011


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