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Amanda Knox, Convicted of Murder in Italy

6 minute read
Kristi Oloffson

After a yearlong trial, American student Amanda Knox was found guilty for killing her British roommate while studying abroad in Italy in 2007. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, on counts of murder and sexual assault, while avoiding Italy’s stiffest life sentence. Her ex-boyfriend Rafaelle Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years. Knox, 22, was accused of killing British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November of 2007.

The juicy tale drew heavy media coverage in three countries. Knox, prosecutors alleged, was a promiscuous party girl who stabbed Kercher to death in a rage after the British 21-year-old refused to take part in a sex game with Knox and Sollecito and was sexually assaulted by a third accomplice, Rudy Hermann Guede. A native of the Ivory Coast, Guede opted for a separate, fast-track trial and was convicted of murder and sexual assault in October 2008 and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but Italian prosecutors say Knox and her boyfriend were accomplices. The prosecution’s two main pieces of physical evidence against Knox — small traces of her DNA on a knife and on Kercher’s bra clasp — were both disputed: defense lawyers maintained that the clasp wasn’t discovered until six weeks after the investigation and that the knife didn’t match Kercher’s wounds. Knox, meanwhile, continued to maintain her innocence, saying in an impassioned final statement, “I’m no murderer. I am scared of being branded what I am not.”

(Read “Amanda Knox Murder Trial Moves Toward a Climax.”)

Fast Facts About Amanda Knox
• Born July 9, 1987, in Seattle, the daughter of Edda Mellas, a math teacher, and Curt Knox, a vice president of finance at Macy’s; the couple divorced when Knox was a toddler.

• Has two younger sisters, Deanna and Ashley Knox, ages 20 and 14; Deanna withdrew from college for a semester because she couldn’t focus in the wake of Knox’s trial.

• Began playing soccer at a young age, where her style of defensive play, her parents say, earned her the nickname Foxy Knoxy. The moniker has been used by the media and prosecutors to portray Knox as a seductress.

• Graduated from Seattle Preparatory High School in the spring of 2005, and began attending the University of Washington that fall, working toward a degree in linguistics. Was named in the spring of 2007 to the University of Washington’s dean’s list.

• Friends say the accusation is shocking; one referred to her as an “amazing person,” another said she is “one of the kindest, gentlest human beings we know.” But Knox did have another run-in with police when she received a public-disturbance citation for throwing a noisy party in June 2007 — she paid a $269 fine.

• Worked several jobs as a student to save the $10,000 tuition for her study-abroad program in Italy.

• Left Washington to spend her junior year studying abroad as part of a yearlong course with University for Foreigners Perugia in Italy.

• Began dating Raffaele Sollecito, 25, whom she met at a classical-music concert in mid-October 2007 in Italy; Sollecito, an Italian engineering student, is also charged in Kercher’s murder.

• On the night of the murder, Knox and Sollecito say they watched a movie, smoked marijuana and had sex at Sollecito’s apartment, but were not at the house that Kercher and Knox shared with two other Italian roommates. The defense says Guede, who is appealing his 2008 conviction, was the sole killer of Kercher.

• Her parents say they have already purchased a plane ticket back home to Seattle for their daughter.

(See the top 10 crime duos.)

Quotes By:
“They say that I am calm. I am not calm … I fear to lose myself, to have the mask of the assassin forced upon me.”
— While taking the stand for the final time at her trial in Italy (CNN, Dec. 3, 2009)

“Meredith was my friend, I didn’t hate her. It’s absurd to say that I wanted revenge on a friend who had been very kind to me.”
— To the court, after prosecutors called for a life sentence during closing arguments of the trial (Reuters, Nov. 22, 2009)

“It was a complicated situation.”
— Explaining at her trial why she originally confessed she was in the cottage the night of the murder when police asked her to imagine what might have happened that night. A higher court later ruled the confession couldn’t be used as evidence because she made the statement without an attorney or translator present (TIME, June 12, 2009)

“When they took me before the judge and they said, ‘You are a suspect in Meredith’s death,’ I was completely shocked and surprised. My jaw dropped.”
— Speaking in Italian in court, explaining her surprise at being questioned after Kercher’s murder (TIME, June 12, 2009)

“When I feel uneasy or nervous, I act a bit foolish.”
— Explaining her behavior when questioned by police. Knox was reportedly doing cartwheels and handstands the day after the murder when she was brought into the Italian police station for questioning (People, June 29, 2009)

(Read “The Tough Women of the Amanda Knox Case.”)

Quotes About:
“She firmly believes that because she’s innocent, the evidence will show that and she’ll be released. So, it’s good that it’s getting started. She’s also nervous. I mean, they say horrible things about her.”
— Edda Mellas, Knox’s mother, on the day the trial began (Good Morning America, Jan. 16, 2009)

“The approach of Amanda toward life is exactly the same of Amélie — spontaneous, immediate and imprudent.”
— Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer for Knox’s ex-boyfriend Sollecito, likening Knox to the ingenue in the 2001 French movie Amélie — the movie Knox and Sollecito say they were watching the night of the murder (Associated Press, Nov. 30, 2009)

“While I was [at the police station] I found Amanda’s behavior very strange. She had no emotion while everyone else was upset. I remember one thing that really upset me. [Meredith’s friend] Natalie said, ‘I hope she wasn’t in too much pain.’ Amanda said, ‘What do you think? She f___ing bled to death.’ At that point no one had told us how Meredith died.”
— Robyn Butterworth, a friend of Kercher’s, testifying in court (London Evening Standard, Feb. 13, 2009)

“Their behavior at the police station seemed to me really inappropriate … They sat opposite each other, Amanda put her feet up on Raffaele’s legs and made faces at him. Everyone cried except Amanda and Raffaele. I never saw them crying. They were kissing each other.”
— Amy Frost, a friend of Kercher’s and a student at University for Foreigners Perugia at the time, testifying in court (The Independent of London, Feb. 14, 2009)

“She had harbored hatred for Meredith, and that was the time when it could explode. The time had come to take revenge on that smug girl.”
— Giuliano Mignini, lead prosecutor, during closing arguments (Associated Press, Nov. 20, 2009)

See Spotlight: Amanda Knox.

Read “Amanda Knox Talks: The Murder Trial Gripping Italy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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