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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Amanda Knox Acquittal

The Amanda Knox Acquittal
Elaine Hirsch

Amanda Knox is an American woman arrested and later convicted of slander, murder, and sexual assault in Italy in 2007. The story made headlines when it first broke, but died down after the trial. It resurfaced after two of her sentences were overturned in 2011. A number of debates among PhDs and other experts online have cropped up as people try to determine whether she actually committed sexual assault and murder.

The Knox family was jubilant when the new verdict was read. Knox spent four years in prison for a crime she says she didn't commit. The question many people want answered is why the conviction was overturned. There are many variables, but the most central reason is the questionable physical evidence presented in court.

Amanda Knox and two others were convicted of the murder of Knox's roommate, Meredith Kercher, based on testimony and physical evidence. Knox claimed she was not at the flat when Kercher was attacked. She said she was with her boyfriend, Raffaele Sallecito, who was also convicted of murder and sexual assault in this case. However, Knox had incriminated herself when she lied to police during an initial interrogation, stating that another man had committed the murder.

Knox first said she wasn't there but then said she knew who the killer was. She was either in the apartment when it happened or she didn't actually see the murder. In other words, she lied in either case. That led to greater suspicion by police. She later stated she lied because she'd been under stiff questioning for well over forty hours and wasn't thinking straight. She also claims to have been struck on the head during the interrogation.

The key piece of evidence against Knox for the slaying was a knife bearing Knox’s fingerprints. Police claimed that particular knife must have been the murder weapon, though the fingerprint was the only thing found on the knife. Though prosecutors presented the knife as the murder weapon, it had no blood on it. Though it seemed to be simply a knife Knox had used at some point in the apartment, the prosecution presented DNA evidence to play up its role as a murder weapon.

The decision to overturn the conviction was finalized by the testimony of experts who said this evidence was contaminated when it was handled by police. Police also admitted they made the decision that Knox was guilty because of her demeanor at the scene after the body was found. There were simply too many discrepancies in the case which caused enough doubt to overturn Knox's conviction, as well as Sallecito’s.

Amanda Knox has returned to the United States, hoping to resume her life after four years imprisoned in Italy. She has been offered a million-dollar movie deal for her story, but has made it clear that the most important thing to her at the moment is spending time with a family from which she has been separated for far too long.