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Following Amanda Knox

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On Monday, Amanda Knox was released from an Italian prison after an Italian appeals court reversed the 2009 conviction that senteced Knox and Rafaelle Sollecito to 26 and 25 years in jail, respectively, for their roles in the 2007 death of Meredith Kercher, Knox’s roommate at the time.

The murder, trial, conviction and appeal have captivated the attention of Italians, Britons, Americans and media outlets throughout the world. American Knox, 20 at the time of the murder, was portrayed as a sex-vixen who, along with her then-boyfriend Sollecito and a man neither knew well, Rudy Guede, killed Kercher in a four-way sex game gone awry.

It’s a story that never quite made sense, but maybe that is why – it was a story. In the Italian judicial system, juries aren’t sequestered and prosecutors often leak their theories to the media to drum up public support. In the small mountain town of Perugia, nothing of this magnitude had occurred and it immediately became a media craze.

I’ve paid close attention to the trial since news first broke of the murder back in 2007. Before studying at the University of Washington, Knox graduated from Seattle Prep in 2005. Both members of a 150-member graduating class, Knox and I were classmates and friends. When I first heard she was accused of murder I was speechless; I honestly couldn’t believe it. I know it had been a little more than two years since I last hung out with Knox at a summer graduation party, but there was no way she was A) a crazy sex-vixen or B) capable of brutally murdering her roommate and friend.

As I followed the trial over the next two years the facts supported my opinion. However, because the Italian judicial system is far different from the United States judicial system, specific pieces of evidence were initially allowed that never would even make it to court in the U.S. DNA evidence “linking” Sollecito to the crime-scene was gathered 46 days after the murder off Kercher’s bra clasp. However, according to everything I read (I was unable to perform independent tests of my own) the DNA evidence was improperly gathered, could have been contaminated and was of such minute amount that it would have been inadmissable in a U.S. trial. On top of that, the evidence linking Knox to the crime came in the form of DNA on the handle of a knife that had Kercher’s DNA on the blade.

Again, questions arose about the amount of DNA and the fact that the “murder weapon” found in a drawer at Sollecito’s house 20 minutes from the crime scene could also have been contaminated. On top of that, the prosecutions main witness was a drug-addict homeless man who lived in the square outside Kercher and Knox’s house.

After Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009, they immediately appealed the conviction. From what I’ve heard, all the money is in the appeals court in Italy. Through cross-examinations and independent investigations Knox and Sollecito’s lawyers were successful in getting the court to overturn the 2007 conviction – freeing Knox to return to Seattle.

You might be wondering, ‘wait, what about the third person involved, Guede?’ Glad you asked. Guede, was convicted in a fast-track trial prior to 2009 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He is currently still serving his sentence but plans to appeal. In my opinion, Guede committed the murder with or without outside help. However, if he was aided, like the courts claimed, that help did not come from Knox or Sollecito.

Monday was a glorious day for Knox supporters. I don’t want to take anything away from Kercher or her grieving family, but I was elated when I heard the 2009 conviction was overturned. It was a feel-good moment. After 4 years in prison for a crime she did not commit, Knox was free and headed home. I just wish I could have been there to welcome her.

The views expressed here reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the San Diego Entertainer.

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