By Kaitlin Smalling
Often times, ubiquitous national boundaries truly represent rudimental distinctions worthy of international controversy. Such is the case with Amanda Knox, who has repeatedly been convicted and exonerated of the sexual assault and murder of roommate, Meredith Kercher, by Italy’s highest court. The case that defined the difference between American and Italian court systems and the danger of traveling abroad has ignited a new flame: the overturning of Knox’s 2011 acquittal.
In Perugia, Italy for studies in Italian and creative writing, 22-year-old Amanda Knox never expected to spend the next 5 years of her life there, nor did she expect to be sentenced to 26 years in prison. Unfortunately, on November 2nd 2007, she engaged in promiscuous activities while abusing marijuana. The following morning, her roommate was found with a slit throat and sexual wounds. Authorities immediately hauled Amanda, her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivory Coast National, Rudy Guede off to court. After a year-long trial that had the world divided, all were found guilty.
After the conviction, the prosecution received accusations that the plaintiffs tampered with evidence, lied to the media, and took advantage of a non-citizen detainee. During Knox’s time in jail, questions regarding the prosecution’s ethic came up as her family consistently revealed information contradicting that of the Italian press. Unfortunately, the prosecution got to the media before Amanda’s lawyers could defend her and the lies that shaped the prosecution’s case largely molded public opinion against Amanda. For instance, an Italian Parliament member misquoted Amanda in a closed-door jail interview making it seem like she admitted satisfaction with the Court’s decision and had no objections to the legal system. However, both Amanda and her family have spoken warily of suicidal thoughts and being victimized in a foreign nation. A monumental piece of evidence that swayed the jury was also found to be faulty. Amanda was accused of purchasing bleach several hours after the murder and cleaning a bloodstained bathroom with it, yet neither a receipt nor fingerprints in the bathroom were ever found. The other infamous piece of evidence, Raffaele’s knife, which supposedly bore Amanda’s fingerprints, was a quarter-mile away from Amanda on the night of the murder.
This newly uncovered hullabaloo coerced the Court of Cassation to overturn the conviction and vindicate Amanda so that she could return to Seattle, where she stayed for a year and a half continuing her studies at the University of Washington. While there, she wrote a memoir titled “Waiting to be Heard” as she enjoyed her freedom. Multiple News Organizations like NBC, ABC, and CBS fought to have rights to the first interview with her after her original acquittal in 2011. Multiple media networks went to great unethical lengths to secure an interview with Amanda. Some babysat the Knox sisters, ages thirteen and sixteen, took them shopping and to cafes. Others offered private jet service for Amanda if she needed to return to Italy for a re-trial. However, ABC finally pulled through with an Interview from Dianne Sawyer on Primetime.
After the seeming nightmare was finally over, the Court of Cassation overturned her acquittal in late March 2013. The Kercher family was dissatisfied with the inability to blame someone for their daughter’s death and ordered a re-trial. Unlike in America, where citizens are protected against double-jeopardy, the Italian Court system allows prosecutors to appeal the case as many times as they see fit. Additionally, defendants are not required to take an oath that binds them to the truth, nor are juries sequestered during deliberations. No wonder jurors were subject to biased lies in the media in regards to evidence. The continuation of this trial has not only prolonged Amanda Knox’s nightmare, but has brought to mind what makes American justice inimitable. Just as any government, politic, or history course may emphasize, the critical importance of the Fifth Amendment, Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and rights of the accused in the Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court Case (1966) is not simply an American cliché, but an international necessity.