Trial of the Century: The Story of Amanda Knox

The tragic murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher rocked the world in 2007. The beautiful 22-year-old was studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, when she was fatally attacked in the bedroom of the home she shared with three other women, including American student Amanda Knox. Knox would later be charged with her murder alongside her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

Over the next few years, the media would condemn Knox, calling her manipulative, a sex-crazed monster, and “Foxy Knoxy.” In one of the most sensational cases in history, Knox was eventually acquitted of the murder in 2015. People around the world are still split as to whether or not the blonde did or didn’t do it, but Knox has always maintained her innocence. Join us as we take a look at the grisly discovery that started one of the most high-profile murder cases of the century.

The Trip Of a Lifetime

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In 2007, Amanda Knox was your typical college student. She loved to throw a good party, had an active social life and was called a gentle, kind person by her friends. Supporting herself with several jobs to pay her tuition, she looked forward to leaving the University of Washington behind for a year to continue her linguistics degree in Perugia, Italy. She hoped the experience would make her more independent.

When she arrived in Italy, she moved in with fellow student, Meredith Kercher, and two other women. Little did both of the young girls know, their trip of a lifetime was about to end in murder and one of the biggest trials of the century.

The Holiday Weekend From Hell

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Both of the girls got along well at first. Their bedrooms side by side in the flat that overlooked a beautiful valley. Aside from tension over the cleaning roster, everything was relatively normal. Knox had begun a relationship with Italian computer student Raffaele Sollecito, while Kercher steered clear of relationships for the most part.

November 1, 2007, was a holiday weekend in Italy, and the rest of the flatmates were out of town visiting family. Just Knox and Kercher remained. Amanda spent the night with Sollecito, while Meredith spent the evening having dinner at a friend’s house, leaving at around 8:45 p.m. It was the last time she would be seen alive.

A Grisly Discovery

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When Amanda Know returned home the next morning, she told police that she discovered drops of blood in the bathroom that she shared with Meredith. Upon checking Meredith’s door, she found it locked and assumed she was sleeping. Thinking one of the girls must’ve had “menstrual issues” Knox thought nothing of it and decided take a shower in the bloodstained bathroom — one of many decisions that would come back to bite her.

When she had finished, she went back to her boyfriend’s apartment, later returning with Sollecito to the house. The pair noticed a broken window in another roommates room, and after becoming alarmed that Meredith wasn’t answering her door, they eventually called the police.

Murder In Perugia

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After being called by Amanda Knox, their fellow roommate Filomena Romanelli returned to the flat. Upon looking to see if anything was missing, it’s thought she inadvertently disturbed the crime scene. By this point, Meredith’s two cell phones were discovered in a nearby garden. Concerned, Romanelli implored police to break into Meredith’s room. They initially declined.

At Romanelli’s insistence, a friend forced entry into the room at around 1:15 p.m., only to discover the body of 21-year-old Kercher, lying in a pool of her blood on the floor, covered in a quilt. The room was in disarray, with blood splattered clothing littering the tiles. Up next: Kercher’s autopsy reveals the truth.

Autopsy Discovers Meredith’s Cause of Death

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Pathologist Luca Lalli performed the autopsy on Meredith Kercher, recording sixteen bruises and seven cuts, including a fatal one to her throat. Bruises on her nose, nostrils, mouth and underneath her jaw were consistent with a hand being clamped over her face.

The autopsy also concluded that the British student had been sexually assaulted, with the bruises around her face likely from an attempt at silencing her. It didn’t take long for police to arrest both Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. From the start, Amanda raised suspicion for what was deemed unusual behavior. Rather than crying at the scene, she cuddled and kissed her boyfriend. A media circus ensued as police tried to piece together the events leading up to the tragic death of a promising student.

Five-Day Interrogation

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The questioning of both Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is was not without controversy. According to Knox, there was no interpreter present and she was subjected to verbal and physical abuse by detectives. Knox’s actions when she first arrived home were seen as a testament to her guilt by detectives Monia Napoleoni and Marco Chiacchiera.

Police couldn’t understand why Knox didn’t call the police straight away when she discovered bloodstains in the bathroom and were puzzled as to why she instead took a shower. Knox has said that police pressured her, convinced that she was protecting someone. “I wasn’t just stressed and pressurized,” she said. “I was manipulated.” It’s this supposed manipulation that led to Knox falsely stating that she had been at home during the time of the murder. She implied her employer, Patrick Lumumba, was the killer. Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba were all arrested and charged with murder.

An Alibi and A New Lead

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Amanda Knox had signed a confession stating that Patrick Lumumba was the killer and that she was present at the time of the murder, albeit in a different room. However, merely hours later she recanted her statement. By that point, the damage had been done and her employer was kept in custody for two weeks before providing an alibi.

The police then discovered bloody fingerprints at the scene which belonged to a local drifter, Rudy Guede. Guede, who alleges he knew he was going to be falsely implicated because he was black, fled to Germany where he was caught and brought back to Italy. The police believed that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede had committed the murder together, in a sex-game gone wrong.

Guede Is Convicted of Murder But Cleared of Having Murder Weapon

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Eager to clear himself of any wrongdoing, Rudy Guede furiously denied the charges. When he was first interviewed, he claimed that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito weren’t in the house. However, he later changed his account and indirectly implicated them.

After a fast-track trial, Guede was convicted of murder, but it was accepted that he had never had a knife, meaning that he was believed to have had an accomplice. Guede claimed that he was at the home with Meredith Kercher that night, and when he went to the bathroom he heard a scream. Upon returning to Kercher’s room, he alleges he saw a man with Amanda Knox before the two fled, leaving him to cradle a dying Meredith. Worried that he would be charged, he fled. The jury’s belief that Guede had an accomplice would be a huge factor in Knox’s trial.

The Birth of “Foxy Knoxy”

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Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito opted to be tried together in a full trial, but it was Know who got the most media attention. She was a young, beautiful American woman who seemingly had it all — why would she commit such a heinous crime?

While Americans across the pond worried about the Italian judicial system, the prosecution was painting a picture of Knox as a marijuana junkie who dragged her boyfriend into a rough sex-game that ended in the murder of Meredith Kercher. She was described as evil, calculating and cold. To be exact, Giuliano Mignini called her a “she-devil.” Media outlets latched on to the description, dubbing her “Foxy Knoxy,” a nickname they had discovered from her Myspace page.

The Prosecution Begins

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The prosecution presented the case as follows: on the night of the murder, Amanda Knox had attacked Meredith Kercher in her bedroom, banging her head repeatedly against a wall. Knox, along with Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito, removed Kercher’s jeans, while Guede proceeded to sexually assault her.

As Kercher struggled, the prosecution argued, Knox cut her with a knife before inflicting the fatal stab wound to the throat. They pointed to minute traces of Sollecito’s DNA on Kercher’s bra clasp that had been removed from her, while the back strap of the bra was covered in DNA belonging to Guede. They believed that afterward, Knox staged a burglary, which would account for the missing credit cards and cash taken from Kercher’s handbag. Both Sollecito and Knox pleaded not guilty.

The Defense

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The defense argued that Rudy Guede acted alone, and pointed to a large amount of forensic evidence left behind in Meredith Kercher’s room. Guede’s DNA was not only found on her bra, but his bloody palm print was on a pillow that had been placed under Kercher’s hips as well as found on her clothing. Not a shred of Knox’s DNA had been found.

The defense requested that the judges order independent reviews of the DNA evidence, but their request was denied. Rather than the believe the media speculation that Knox was a perverted wild child, Sollecito’s lawyers called Knox a “weak and fragile girl” that was “duped by the police.” They presented text messages between Knox and Kercher as evidence of friendship, but by now, the jurors had already decided on the fate of Knox.

Guilty of the Murder of Meredith Kercher

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Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher on December 5, 2009. 22-year-old Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison for faking a break-in, sexual violence, and murder. While Italians believed that it was a clean cut case of a wayward sexual predator preying on an innocent girl, Americans believed it was a great miscarriage of justice.

Lawyers in the U.S. were deeply concerned at the pre-trial publicity, believing that jurors would’ve had a preconception of Knox before they’d heard the case. Journalist Nina Burleigh, who had spent months in Perugia following the case, said that the conviction wasn’t based on solid proof but on “Anti-Americanism.” While Italians thought it was over, it was just the beginning.

U.S. Experts Speak Out


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After the conviction, the case didn’t die down, it just picked up speed. A number of American experts poured over the details, picking holes in both the prosecution case and the defense. Consultant Gregory Hampikian was one of many who focused on the DNA evidence.

He said that the Italians claimed to have successfully identified minute traces of DNA which were at levels below those that an American laboratory would even attempt to analyze. What’s more, they never supplied the methods that they had used. Hampikian firmly believes that all forensic evidence pointed to Rudy Guede acting solely alone.

Second Trial and Acquittal

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The fight wasn’t over for Amanda Know and Raffaele Sollecito. By November 2010, an appeal was in full swing. A court-ordered review found that independent experts discovered multiple errors in the gathering and analysis of the DNA evidence first submitted, while no traces of Meredith Kercher’s DNA had been found on the alleged murder weapon located in Sollecito’s kitchen.

A year later Knox and Sollecito were found not guilty of the murder and acquitted. The judges, Claudio Pratillo Hellmann and Massimo Zanetti stated that there was a “material non-existence” of evidence to support the initial guilty verdicts. Cleared of murder, Knox was still sentenced to three years for falsely implicating Patrick Lumumba, but as she had already served more than this she was immediately released.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty…Again

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For Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the overturning of the guilty verdict was what they had been dreaming of, having spent almost four years in prison for a crime they vehemently denied committing. When they were released, Knox immediately returned to Seattle, Washington and returned to school.

Little did she know, the Italian justice system was nowhere near done with her. In March of 2013, Italy’s highest court decided to overturn the acquittals on the grounds that the retrial hadn’t ordered new DNA tests, and didn’t give important evidence weight. Another retrial was ordered, but this time Knox stayed in the U.S. The pair were once again found guilty of murder.

“They’ll Have to Drag Me Back Kicking and Screaming”

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When news of the second guilty verdict reached the Knox family, Amanda Knox was devastated. She almost immediately penned a fierce statement beguiling the Italian justice system.

“Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system,” she wrote. “The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution.” Knox also said she felt as though the Kercher family were offered “no consolation.” On the other hand, Kercher’s family openly said they felt as though justice had been served. In terms of returning to Italy, she told the media she would have to be dragged back “kicking and screaming.”

Two Years In Limbo

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Despite the guilty verdict and speculation that Amanda Knox would be extradited back to Italy to serve her 28-year sentence, she remained in the U.S. As America largely believed Knox was innocent and a victim of a lesser judicial system, no effort was made to ship her back to Europe.

Raffaele Sollecito was immediately ordered to report to jail to serve his 26-year sentence and remained in custody for the next two years. Meanwhile, the next appeal was already in motion. Could there be any way that the two would once again be found innocent, or would the courts stick with their guilty verdict once and for all? In 2015, the final decision was made.

Innocent For Good

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In March of 2015, the Supreme Court of Cassation heard the ultimate appeal by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The appeal argued that there was simply no foundation to the case, so the pair couldn’t possibly be guilty of murder.

A five-judge panel acquitted the pair once more, referring to a number of errors which they called “glaring” and “sensational.” They said the prosecutors who won the original murder conviction didn’t prove a whole truth, failing to paint a believable picture of how the two supposedly killed Meredith Kercher. For the second time in her life, Knox, now 26, was cleared of killing her roommate.

The Kercher Family React

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Since that fateful day on November 2, 2007, when the body of their sister and daughter was discovered, Meredith Kercher’s family has wanted nothing but justice for her. With the tumultuous journey of having three people found guilty of her murder, it seemed like the end. When Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were finally acquitted for good in 2015, they were left shattered once again.

“The family is in shock after the verdict,” Francesco Maresca, the Kercher family lawyer, told the press. “They don’t wish to make any other declarations. I’ve had to explain to them there are now no avenues open to them. There is a great sense of bitterness.”

What Now?

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When she was finally found innocent for the final time, Amanda decided to pursue a career as a writer and public speaker, helping others who had been subject to miscarries of justice. In 2018 Knox did a series of reports for Vice‘s sister publication, Broadly, called The Scarlet Letter Reports. She meets with women who have been hounded by the press for varying reasons and subjected to intense and often unfair scrutiny.

“Though our backgrounds and stories are different, we were all attacked as women,” Knox said of the series. “And, in trying to live our lives or come forward with the truth, we faced vicious campaigns against our characters—our identities distorted and crammed into prepackaged tropes, ready-made to be discounted, condemned, and rejected: the slut, the psycho, the trainwreck, the liar, the man-eater.” Amanda Knox still maintains her innocence.