Every time a new development happens in the Amanda Knox case, I get a bunch of angry emails and tweets from amateur internet sleuths who believe that Knox did in fact kill her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in their house in Perugia, Italy, way back in 2007. (They are usually reacting to this article, which summarises the main points of the case.)
These people — Knox Truthers, basically — cannot wait until she is extradited back to Italy for a second trial on the same facts that were presented the first time around, and ultimately overturned on appeal. The Italian justice system is complicated, and both defence and prosecution can appeal and acquittal. The prosecution won its ultimate appeal to the Court of Cassation, which is why Knox is likely to be dragged back to Italy to again relive the murder of her roommate.
So I spent some time on Knox truther web sites recently to see if there was anything I was missing.
First it should be noted that Knox Truthers have one admirable ambition: Justice for Kercher, the 21-year-old student who was senselessly killed in her own home. But even on their own evidence, the case against Knox is weak at best and, more importantly, points much more convincingly to the man who has actually been found guilty of the crime.
Could it be, perhaps, that the amateurs were right and that Knox did in fact kill one of her friends?
To believe that theory you basically have to believe that Knox, aged 20, plotted a bizarre three-sided sexual assault on Kercher with a knife (along with her boyfriend and another dude she hardly knew), and then staged a break-in, and then stole Kercher’s phone, and then dumped it in a nearby garden, and then stayed at the crime scene to cooperate with the police. She did this without leaving her DNA at the scene.
You also have to accept that it is not enough that a man has already been found guilty of killing Kercher after his DNA, fingerprints, footprints, and poop were found at the scene. That man, Rudy Guede had a history of breaking into people’s houses and stealing knives, and he fled to Germany after the killing, after all but confessing to a friend that he was in Germany because he knew the police would be after him. He’s currently serving 16 years in prison.
The strongest part of the case against Knox is the reason the Italian courts are sending the case back for another trial. This ruling describes how, upon appeal, the court found that there was evidence that Guede did not act alone when he killed Kercher. It’s a long ruling, but much of the “evidence” cited is conjecture on the part of the court. For instance, there is an entire section speculating why Kircher had so few defensive wounds. The court seems to think she should have put up more of a fight. Perhaps she did not because she believed she was with friends.
Or perhaps the reality of sexual assault is that it’s not like the movies, it’s terrifying, it happens really quickly, and often women hope that if they just keep still it will end more quickly and they won’t be killed. There is no section in the ruling on that scenario.
The anti-Knox case also relies heavily on some of Knox’s own poor behaviour after her arrest:
She lied to the police and falsely implicated her boss at a nightclub in the crime. She has actually been convicted of that crime and paid a big fine and done prison time for that. (The false allegation came after Knox had been questioned for hours and, she claims, slapped by a police officer. While it looks bad, it actually doesn’t prove her involvement in the crime either way.)
She kissed and hugged her new boyfriend while they waited for the police to investigate the crime at her house. (They were kept out of the house while the police were in there, and it was November. Plus, her boyfriend was one of the few people in Italy she actually knew.)
She did a cartwheel or the splits while in police custody. (She had been questioned for days in a foreign language and was tired from lack of sleep. Also, doing a cartwheel does not make you a killer.)
Her DNA was found on the bra clasp of Kercher. (The bra evidence was mishandled by police — it lay on the floor of the crime scene for six weeks before blood evidence was found on it. Her DNA, fingerprints or footprints were not found anywhere else in the crime scene even though Kercher’s bedroom was covered in blood. From the anti-Knox point of view, there is only one explanation of how a woman’s DNA might end up on another woman’s bra. From a common sense point of view, they were female roommates who shared a bathroom, living room and kitchen — of course they’re going to transfer DNA.)
Knox tells lies. (Well, she apparently gave varying accounts to the police of what she did before and after the time of the killing. But even if you accept this anti-Knox site’s list of Knox’s “lies“, none of those lies actually prove she killed someone. They are all — with the exception of the false statements about her boss — the kind of routine slip-ups anyone would make under intense questioning from police. If you can’t remember exactly what you did yesterday, minute from minute, and have your account match with your phone records then you’d be the same kind of “liar”.)
None of the anti-Knox sites cut Knox any slack for the obvious: She was 20. She came from a sheltered American background. She was naive. She knew few people in Italy. She was being interrogated for a murder in Italian, a language she barely spoke. And she was young, arrogant and dumb.
Her entire life until that night had added up to playing soccer in high school, trying to learn Italian on a study abroad program, and playing acoustic guitar badly. Yet for the Knox Truthers, her year abroad in Italy was suddenly the opportunity she was looking for to become a gang sex killer who was amazing at cleaning up crime scenes.
None of the anti-Knox crowd seem to accept the obvious — that the guy who was literally convicted of the murder, and whose role in the killing is not disputed, is in fact the killer.
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