Knox at the National Innocence Network Conference with David Camm (center) and exoneree Randy Steidl (left)
|Born||Amanda Marie Knox
July 9, 1987
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Education||University of Washington|
|Known for||Being wrongfully imprisoned in Italy|
Amanda Marie Knox (born July 9, 1987) is an American woman who spent almost four years in an Italian prison accused of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, one of the women who shared her apartment, before being definitively acquitted by the Supreme Court of Cassation. Knox had raised the alarm after returning from spending the night with her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Police initially thought a faked burglary at the apartment indicated a single male known to Kercher, but investigations began to focus on Knox. Four days later, she and Sollecito were arrested following an interrogation. Knox and Sollecito were sent for trial accused of acting with Rudy Guede, who had strong forensic evidence against him and was convicted at a separate trial. Knox's defenders suggested that Guede was a lone killer, who had committed the murder after breaking in. Guede had said Kercher had opened the door to him, and implicated Knox and Sollecito. A guilty verdict at Knox's initial trial caused controversy in the US, where experts quoted in the media expressed the opinion that the forensic evidence in the case was incompatible with Knox being involved. A prolonged legal process, including a prosecution appeal against her acquittal at a second level trial, continued after Knox was freed. On March 27, 2015, some seven-and-a-half years after their arrest, Italy's highest court exonerated Knox and Sollecito.
Amanda Knox grew up in West Seattle with three younger sisters. Her mother, Edda Mellas, a mathematics teacher, and her father, Curt Knox, a vice president of finance at the local Macy's, divorced when Amanda was a few years old. Her stepfather, Chris Mellas, is an information-technology consultant.
She graduated in 2005 from the Seattle Preparatory School and began studying linguistics at the University of Washington, making the dean's list by early 2007, when she decided to study in Italy. Her stepfather had strong reservations about her going to Italy that year, as he felt she was still too naïve.
Italian judicial procedure
In 1989 the inquisitorial system of Italy was reformed and elements of US-style adversarial procedure were introduced. The changes were intended to remove an inquisitorial continuity between the investigatory phase and the basis for a decision at trial, but in practice they took control of inquiries away from police and gave prosecutors authority over the preliminary investigation. Although they have considerable authority over early inquiries and discretion in bringing charges, Italian prosecutors do not customarily use their powers in the aggressive way common in the US system.
Perugia, the city where the murder of Kercher took place, is known for its universities and large population of students. There had reportedly not been a killing in the city for twenty years, but its prosecutors had been responsible for controversial murder charges. In 2002 the conviction in Perugia of fomer Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti on murder conspiracy charges resulted in complaints that the justice system had "gone mad". The Supreme Court took the unusual step of definitively acquitting him the next year.
In early 2002, Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who enjoyed taking a detective-like role and was later to be in charge of the Kercher investigation, arraigned a number apparently respectable people for a complex conspiracy. Mignini was acting on the theory that a man who apparently committed suicide was actually killed by a high-level secret society; the case was finally dismissed in 2010. According to a scholar who researched comparative law in Italy, selective changes to the Italian legal system left it unable to cope when a prosecutor with Mignini's American-style adversarial approach used his powers to the fullest. Knox became the subject of unprecedented pre-trial media coverage, including a best-selling book about her that contained witness transcripts not in the public domain, imagined or invented events, excerpts from her prison journal, and unsubstantiated allegations about her private life. 
Murder trials are heard by a Corte d'Assise, which is less likely to exclude evidence as prejudicial than a US court. Two presiding professional trial judges, who also vote on the verdict, are expected to correct any bias of lay-judges during their deliberations. Italian judges' reasoning is given in writing and can be grounds for overturning their verdict. Unlike the US, a not guilty verdict can be appealed by the prosecution. . If the Supreme Court grants an appeal against a guilty verdict it usually sends the case back to be re-heard. It can also dismiss the prosecution case, although this is rare.
The murder trials
Via della Pergola 7
In Perugia, Knox shared a four-bedroom ground-floor apartment in a house at Via della Pergola 7. Her flatmates were two Italian women in their late twenties, and Kercher. Kercher and Knox moved in on 10 and 20 September 2007, respectively, meeting each other for the first time. Knox was employed part-time at a bar, Le Chic, which was owned by a Congolese man, Diya Patrick Lumumba. She told flatmates that she was going to quit because he was not paying her; Lumumba denied this. Kercher's English women friends saw relatively little of Knox, as she preferred to mix with Italians.
The walk-out semi-basement of the house was rented by young Italian men with whom both Kercher and Knox were friendly. One, Giacomo, spent time in the girls' flat due to a shared interest in music. Returning home at 2 am one night in mid-October, Knox, Kercher, Giacomo and another basement resident met Rudy Guede whom the Italians knew from playing basketball with him at Piazza Grimana. Guede attached himself to the group and asked about Knox. He was invited into the basement and talked about her with the Italians. Knox and then Kercher came down to join them. At 4:30 am Kercher left, saying she was going to bed, and Knox followed her out. Knox recalled a second night out with Kercher and the Italians from the house where Guede joined them and was allowed into the basement. He never frequented the women's apartment.  Three weeks before her death Kercher went with Knox to the EuroChocolate festival. On October 20, Kercher became romantically involved with Giacomo, after going to a nightclub with him as part of a small group which included Knox. Guede visited the basement later that day. On 25 October, Kercher and Knox went to a concert where Knox met Raffaele Sollecito, a 23-year-old student. She began spending her time at his flat, a 5-minute walk from Via della Pergola 7.
November 1 was a public holiday and the Italians living in the house were away. Kercher was alone in the house when she returned that evening. In the late morning of November 2, 2007 Knox reported that, after spending the night with Sollecito at his apartment, she had returned to the house and found a broken window and signs of a burglary. There was blood in the bathroom and Kercher was not answering her bedroom door, which was locked. Police arrived and the door was broken open, Kercher's body, naked except for a T-shirt pulled over her shoulders, was on the floor. She had died of blood loss and suffocation caused by stab wounds to her neck.
Prosecutor Mignini was assigned to the case, and spoke to Knox at the scene. According to author John Follain, Mignini thought she was concealing something. Because anyone effecting an entry through the broken window seemed unlikely, police almost immediately discounted the possibility of a burglar being the killer and Knox became the prime suspect, although she was not told this. Over the next four days she was repeatedly interviewed and during the interrogation and statements of 5–6 November, the conduct of which is a matter of dispute, Knox incriminated herself and Lumumba. Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba were arrested and charged with murder. Examination of the crime scene identified the fingerprints of Rudy Guede, who had fled to Germany days after the murder. Guede, Knox, and Sollecito were charged with committing the murder together. On 30 November 2007 a panel of three judges endorsed the charges, ruled there had been no burglary, and ordered Knox and Sollecito held in detention pending a trial.
Prior to the murder of Kercher, Guede was said to have burgled a Perugia apartment and brandished a jackknife when confronted, although the complaint and identification did not come until he was a fugitive. On October 14, 2007, a Perugia office was broken into by smashing a window with a large stone. Property was stolen and later found in Guede's possession. On October 27, 2007, the principal of a Milan nursery school arriving for work in the morning discovered Guede in her office. Police found stolen items in his backpack, including a knife from the school kitchen. 
In initial internet conversation while he was a fugitive wanted for the murder of Kercher, Guede did not mention Knox or Sollecito as being in the house on the night of the murder. He was accused of committing the murder together with Knox and Sollecito, but Guede was tried separately and first. As defendant he could give evidence without taking an oath, but he did not testify. In his pre-trial declarations Guede said Kercher had let him in the cottage. He was convicted of murdering Kercher.
The court's report on their verdict said someone with a key must have let Guede in the house and the signs of a break-in had been staged in an attempt to divert suspicion. The judges discounted the possibility of the break in having been faked by Guede after he had got in to commit the murder by calling at the house, because they thought Kercher would not have opened the entry door to Guede (although she knew him to be an acquaintance of her boyfriend Giacomo). Some later writers on the case have considered that Guede having killed Kercher after she answered the door while alone in the house was the most likely way the murder had occurred.  
In 2009 Knox and Sollecito pleaded not guilty at a Corte d'Assise on charges of sexual assault, murder and simulating a burglary.
A prosecution witness, homeless man Antonio Curatolo, said Knox and Sollecito were in Piazza Grimana on the night of the murder for an hour. Prosecutors advanced a single piece of forensic evidence linking Sollecito to Kercher's bedroom, where the murder had taken place: fragments of his DNA on Kercher's bra clasp. Giulia Bongiorno, leading Sollecito's defence, questioned how Sollecito's DNA could have got on the small metal clasp of the bra, but not on the fabric of the bra back strap from which it was torn. "How can you touch the hook without touching the cloth?" Bongiorno asked. The back strap of the bra had multiple traces of DNA belonging to Guede. According to the prosecution's reconstruction, Knox had attacked Kercher in her bedroom, repeatedly banged her head against a wall, forcefully held her face and tried to strangle her. Guede, Knox and Sollecito had removed Kercher's jeans, and held her on her hands and knees while Guede had sexually abused her. Knox had cut Kercher with a knife before inflicting the fatal stab wound; then faked a burglary.
The defense pointed out that no shoe prints, clothing fibers, hairs, fingerprints, skin cells or DNA of Knox were found on Kercher's body, clothes, handbag or anywhere else in Kercher's bedroom. The prosecution alleged that all forensic traces in the room that would have incriminated Knox had been wiped away by her and Sollecito.
Guede's shoe prints, fingerprints, and DNA were found in Kercher's bedroom. Guede's DNA was on the strap of her bra, which had been torn off, and his DNA was found on a vaginal swab taken from Kercher's body. Guede's bloody palm print was on a pillow that had been placed under Kercher's hips. Guede's DNA mixed with Kercher's was on the left sleeve of her bloody sweatshirt and in bloodstains inside her shoulder bag, from which 300 euros and credit cards had been stolen. Guede refused to answer questions at his trial.
American lawyers were troubled by statements obtained while Knox was being denied her rights under Italian law being excluded from the murder trial, but allowed for contemporaneous civil and defamation suits heard by the same jury. Knox's defense attorneys were seen as, by American standards, passive in the face of the prosecution's use of character assasination.
In May 2011 Gregory Hampikian, director of the Idaho Innocence Project, a non-profit investigative organization dedicated to proving the innocence of wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing, said forensic results from the crime scene pointed to Guede being a killer who had acted on his own.
Acquittal and release
A Corte d'Assise verdict of guilty is not a definitive conviction. An appeal trial, Corte d'Assise d'Appello, reviews the facts of the case as well as legal aspects. The appeal (or second grade) trial began November 2010 and was presided over by Judges Claudio Pratillo Hellmann and Massimo Zanetti. A court-ordered review of the contested DNA evidence by independent experts noted numerous basic errors in the gathering and analysis of the evidence, and concluded that no evidential trace of Kercher's DNA had been found on the alleged murder weapon, which police had found in Sollecito's kitchen. Although the review confirmed that male DNA fragments on the bra clasp, which the forensic police had lost on the floor for 47 days, included some from Sollecito, the court-appointed expert testified the context strongly suggested contamination.
On October 3, 2011 Knox and Sollecito were found not guilty and released. In an official statement giving their grounds for the acquittals, the judges emphasized that Knox and Sollecito's accounts failing to completely match did not constitute evidence they had given a false alibi. Discounting Curatolo's testimony as self-contradictory, the judges observed that he was a heroin addict. Having noted that there was no evidence of any phone calls or texts between Knox or Sollecito and Guede, the judges concluded there was a "material non-existence" of evidence to support the guilty verdicts, and that an association among Sollecito, Knox, and Guede to commit the murder was "far from probable". Knox returned to the US.
To hold my hand and offer support and respect throughout the obstacles and the controversy, there were Italians. There was the Italy–USA Foundation, and many others that shared my pain and that helped me survive, with hope. I am eternally grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous commitment. To those that wrote me, that defended me, that stood by me, that prayed for me... I am forever grateful to you.
On March 26, 2013, Italy's highest court, the Supreme Court of Cassation set aside the judgement of the trial of the second degree that had acquitted Knox and Sollecito, leading to a retrial. The retrial began on September 30, 2013, while Knox remained in the US. Judges granted a prosecution request for analysis of previously unexamined DNA found on a kitchen knife of Sollecito, which the prosecution alleged was the murder weapon based on the forensic police reporting that Kercher's DNA was on it. The conclusion had been discredited by court-appointed experts at the appeal trial, but the failure to order another test had been criticized by the prosecution and others. When the unexamined sample was tested, no DNA belonging to Kercher was found. On January 30, 2014, Knox and Sollecito were found guilty. Both Knox and Sollecito appealed for a second time.
On March 27, 2015, having heard another appeal by Knox and Sollecito, the Supreme Court of Cassation overturned the previous guilty verdicts, definitively ending the case. Rather than merely declaring that there were errors in the earlier court cases or that there was not enough evidence to convict, the court ruled that Knox and Sollecito were innocent of involvement in the murder.
- A Long Way From Home: CBS 48 Hours documentary, broadcast in April 2008 in the United States
- American Girl, Italian Nightmare: CBS 48 Hours documentary, broadcast in April 2009 in the United States
- The Trial of Amanda Knox: NBC Dateline NBC documentary, broadcast on December 4, 2009, in the United States
- The Trials of Amanda Knox: The Learning Channel documentary, broadcast on March 24, 2010, in the United States
- Beyond the Headlines: Amanda Knox: Lifetime documentary, broadcast on February 21, 2011, in the United States
- Cold Blood: Life Behind Bars For Amanda Knox: Investigation Discovery Cold Blood documentary, broadcast on April 20, 2011, in the United States
- Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story: CNN Presents documentary, broadcast on May 8, 2011, in the United States
- Amanda Knox: The untold story: CBS 48 Hours documentary October 8, 2011, 7:45 pm
- Murder Mystery: Amanda Knox Speaks: ABC News 20/20 special interview with Diane Sawyer, Knox's first interview after being released from prison
- Oloffson, Kirsti. "Amanda Knox, Convicted of Murder in Italy", Time magazine, December 4, 2009.
- Bates, Daniel (September 28, 2011). "We cherished every moment together". Mail Online.
- Bachrach, Judy"Perugia’s Prime Suspect", Vanity Fair, June, 2008.
- Follain p.14-15, 19
- Joyce, Julian (January 16, 2009). "The college lovers on trial for murder". BBC News. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- The Italian Judicial System
- Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012. p 234
- Economist, February 8, 2014 italian justice Untimely Italian Justice
- (Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012. p 237 and footnote 151)
- University Kansas, February 4, 2015, Professor: Amanda Knox trial shows problems with comparing legal systems
- Kercher, John (2012). Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth
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- The Week, 9 DEC 2009, Robert Fox, Nothing 'Third World' about Italian justice Retrieved30/2/15
- NYT, November 19, 2002, Andreotti's Sentence Draws Protests About 'Justice Gone Mad'
- Death in Perugia: The Definitive Account of the Meredith Kercher John Follain, Chapter 55
- Monster of Florence: Amanda Knox Prosecutor's Satanic Theories Rejected by Judge, Crimesider, CBS News, April 23, 2010
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- Follain p10-11 and 26
- Murphy, Dennis. "Deadly exchange", NBC News, 21 December 2007.
- Follain p. 25-47
- Follain p.35
- Follain p179
- Follain p.39 ("Meredith joined them she took just one pull on the joint; she was no habitual smoker")
- Wise, Ann. "'They Had No Reason Not to Get Along'", ABC News, 7 February 2009.
- Follain p41-47
- Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.70=72
- Follain p. 83-84
- Dempsey 2010, pp. 62, 76–77; for Napoleoni, see Burleigh 2011, p. 165. for Battistelli see Follain p. 67.
- Follain p. 75–76.
- Burleigh 2011, p. 151–152.
- Follain p199-200
- http://www.penale.it/page.asp?mode=1&IDPag=750 Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede], Dr Paolo Micheli, Court of Perugia, judgment of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2011 (Google translation, Italian to English).
- (Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012.)
- name="T24">Moore, Malcolm. "Meredith whispered killer's name, suspect says", The Daily Telegraph, November 24, 2007.
- (Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012.)
- Davies , F., Criminal Law & Justice Weekly, Vol.179 No.18, 16th May 2015. The Brutal Killing of Meredith Kercher: A Search For The Truth – Part 19
- Follain p. 397.
- Follain p.307
- "Kercher trial: How does DNA contamination occur?". BBC News. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
- Telegraph, December 5, 2009, Amanda Knox trial: the unanswered questions
- News AU, Bra takes centre stage in Foxy Knoxy trial
- Follain p344
- Follain p342-344
- Guardian, September 22, 2011, Amanda Knox 'hopeful of release'
- Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede, Court of Perugia, judgment of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009 (Google translation, Italian to English).
- Falconi, Marta. "Prosecutors: Knox staged break-in after murder", Associated Press, November 20, 2009.
- Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.248
- Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.177
- Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.174
- Povoledo, Elisabetta. "Italian Experts Question Evidence in Knox Case", The New York Times, June 29, 2011.
- Rizzo, Alessandra. "Amanda Knox DNA evidence contested by experts, crucial victory for defense", The Christian Science Monitor, June 30, 2011.
- Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede, Dr Paolo Micheli, Court of Perugia, judgement of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2011 (Google translation, Italian to English).
- Diritto, procedura, e pratica penale Tribunale di Perugia: Ufficio del G.I.P.: Dott. Paolo Micheli: Sentenza del 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009 (Italian): (English trans): Guede "confirmed then to have touched more or less everywhere in the room, even with his hands stained with blood, without however explaining why one of his [palm-]prints were found on the pillow under the corpse, when he remembered the regular pillow on the bed, where they also found the jacket and purse/handbag that the girl [Kercher] had put down on re-entering the house. The bed was, according to his description, covered with a red or beige duvet (but he had insisted far more on the former colour): the pillow was outside of the quilt." Earlier in his judgement, the judge noted that (Italian): "Soltanto in seguito, attraverso la comparazione in Banca Dati di un'impronta palmare impressa nel sangue e rinvenuta sulla federa del cuscino che si trovava sotto il corpo della vittima, si accertava invece la presenza sul luogo del delitto del 21enne G. R. H., nativo della Costa d'Avorio ..." (English): "Only later, through the comparison in the database of a palm-print imprinted in the blood of the victim and found on the pillowcase of the pillow where the body of the victim was found, it confirmed instead the presence at the scene of the crime of the 21-year-old G[uede] R.H., native of the Ivory Coast, ...".
- Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial (January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012, page 247, note 122
- Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial (January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012.
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- Follain p. 408.
- Kington, Tom (December 15, 2011). "Amanda Knox trial was flawed at every turn, says appeal judge". The Guardian (London).
- Squires, Nick. "Amanda Knox freed: tears of joy as four-year nightmare is over", The Daily Telegraph, October 4, 2011: "A jury decided that Amanda Knox, who has spent almost four years in jail, was the victim of a miscarriage of justice following a chaotic Italian police investigation."
- Povoledo, Elisabetta (October 3, 2011). "Amanda Knox Freed After Appeal in Italian Court". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- Pisani, Mario, ed. (2004). Manuale di procedura penale (in Italian). Monduzzi. ISBN 8832341026. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Amanda Knox's handwritten letter to supporters in Italy". Seattle: KING-TV. October 4, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- Guardian, January 31,2014, Why did Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have their convictions upheld?
- Acohido, Byron; Lyman, Eric J. (March 26, 2013). "Amanda Knox's lawyer: 'She's ready to fight'". USA Today. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Meredith Kercher murder: Amanda Knox retrial opens". BBC News. September 30, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
- BBC News Amanda Knox and bad maths in court Ruth Alexander, 28 April 2013 BBC News.
- NY Daily News.com, November 2, 2013, Amanda Knox trial: New forensic tests find no traces of Meredith Kercher's DNA on knife
- BBC news Europe 31 January 2014, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of Kercher Italy murder
- MSN news 11/6/13 Knox's knife DNA casts doubt on murder weapon
- BBC 31 January 2014 Kercher trial: How does DNA contamination occur?
- Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2014 Italy Court Finds Amanda Knox Guilty of Murder of U.K. Student in Retrial
- Lizzy Davies and Simon Hattenstone (January 31, 2014). "Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito lose Meredith Kercher murder appeal". The Guardian. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- "Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned by Italy's highest court". Associated Press. March 27, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- "Amanda Knox verdict overturned by Italy's supreme court.". Slate Magazine. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
- Stephanie Kirchgaessner. "Meredith Kercher murder: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito acquitted". the Guardian. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
- "The Amanda Knox verdict: Innocente". The Economist. March 28, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
- "A Long Way From Home". CBS News. April 10, 2008.
- "American girl, Italian nightmare". CBS News. April 8, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- "The Trial of Amanda Knox". NBC News. December 4, 2009.
- "The Trials of Amanda Knox". Discovery Communications. March 25, 2010.
- "Amanda Knox TV Movie Draws Ire from Victim's Dad". CBS News. February 4, 2011.
- "Cold Blood: Life Behind Bars For Amanda Knox". Discovery Communications. April 18, 2011.
- "Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story – CNN's Drew Griffin Reports". CNN Presents (CNN). April 28, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- "Transcript". CNN Presents: Murder Abroad, The Amanda Knox Story (CNN). Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- "'48 Hours' reveals Amanda Knox's untold story". CBS News. October 8, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "Murder Mystery: Amanda Knox Speaks". ABC News. April 30, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Collected news and articles at the Guardian