In 2005, I moved to Seattle from Colorado to attend the University of Washington. It wasn't very long after moving into Terry Hall that I told the girl in the room next to mine that I could hear her singing through the paper-thin walls and that I liked her voice. Over two years, we became close friends. She helped me with all my photo projects, one time posing at the Ave and 43rd for me at 4:00 a.m., one time helping me lug heavy equipment and props two stories up an unstable ladder to the roof of my apartment building. I helped her with her music theory and read stories she wrote for her creative-writing classes. At the end of that year, we decided that when she got back from spending 12 months studying in Perugia, Italy, we would rent an apartment together.
Two years have passed, and I am living in the apartment we hoped to rent together with another friend. In Seattle, my would-be roommate needs little introduction. Her name is Amanda Knox. Not Foxy Knoxy, Angel Face, Dark Lady from Seattle, Luciferina, or she-devil. Her name is Amanda. As of December 4, she is a convicted killer, a far cry from the kindhearted girl whose love for life, the outdoors, and this beautiful city made her a perfect match for Seattle.
Her story has gained worldwide attention over the last two years. It is long, complicated, and heartbreaking. It leaves one innocent person—Meredith Kercher—brutally murdered, multiple families devastated, and now two innocent people convicted of the crime. Most readers will be familiar with the allegations against Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede. While it is impossible for me to cover all the case details in the space available, my intention in writing this is to present often ignored questions regarding this case and the prosecutor's theories. As the case moves through the Italian appeals process, I hope you keep the following things in mind. To get more information, please visit www.friendsofamanda.org or www.amandadefensefund.org.
Before being jailed as a suspect, Amanda was interrogated for 53 hours over five days. On November 6, 2007, after an all-night, 14-hour interrogation in Italian (her Italian was at a beginner's level) without a translator, Amanda confessed to being at the crime scene and suggested Patrick Lumumba, her boss, was the murderer. This is what people need to question: If Amanda was involved in this and actually confessed, why on earth accuse Patrick? Why implicate yourself but save Rudy Guede, the man whose DNA actually is all over the crime scene? The police were convinced Patrick was involved after looking over Amanda's phone and seeing a text: "see you later" written on the night of Meredith's murder. They decided "see you later" alluded to the planned rape and murder of Amanda's friend. Amanda has said that after 14 hours, she was scared, confused, and literally could not remember the truth anymore. She was a 20-year-old being yelled at in a language she didn't understand, being asked to imagine what could have happened and how Patrick could have been involved. Amanda recalls that she was called a liar when she didn't know the answer to their questions, that she was told she wouldn't see her family for 30 years, and that she was hit by one of the Italian police officers in the back of the head. In the end, she broke. Personally, I'm just proud she lasted 14 hours. We know that no lawyer was present, and it seems too convenient that there are no recordings of the interrogation, despite the Italian law that requires both. Why change protocol and not tape this interrogation?
Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini's theory went as follows: Amanda, a violent, manipulative, oversexed girl (in his closing statements, he used the fact that she had condoms in her room as a testament to why she wasn't a wholesome girl), led Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede in a drug-fueled orgy that went wrong. Originally, the trio was Amanda, Raffaele, and Patrick, but after Patrick's alibi checked out, he was replaced with Rudy Guede (again, Rudy's DNA was found all over the crime scene). What do we need to question about the prosecutor's theory? First, the complete and utter lack of proven forensic evidence to suggest Amanda's or Raffaele's involvement. Multiple experts have testified for the defense that the bra clasp claimed to have Raffaele's DNA on it (the one piece of evidence supposedly linking him to the crime scene) is contaminated. The bra clasp was left at the crime scene for over 40 days then collected improperly, as video footage shows. Experts have testified that the amount of DNA that prosecutors say matches Raffaele's on the bra clasp is too low to be a confirmed match, and that due to contamination, at least 10 people's DNA is on that clasp. As for the knife supposedly tying Amanda to the crime scene: This knife was collected at Raffaele's home not because it looked like a match to the wounds on Meredith but because the officer who collected it said his "police intuition" told him it was the murder weapon. I sat through days and days of experts testifying that the knife that prosecutors claim is the murder weapon could not have created the wounds on Meredith. Furthermore, the DNA attributed to Meredith on the handle has been misreported. Experts testified that Meredith's DNA could not be matched absolutely to anything on the knife blade and that DNA levels were so low they couldn't even run a second test (as is required by Italian law).
Let's look past the lack of forensic evidence to confirm Mignini's theory and move on to common sense. Mignini came up with this theory before forensic testing—he needed a way to fit all these suspects in Meredith's room, and thanks to Amanda's character assassination at the hands of the media, he had plenty of reason to think she was a horrible person. Add to that the admission from Amanda and Raffaele that they smoked pot that night and the condoms and vibrator (a small gag gift) he found among Amanda's possession, and his theory arose.
There is nothing in Amanda's or Raffaele's past to indicate that they would participate in, instigate, or condone a rape and/or murder. Amanda cannot tolerate violence, and I have never once seen her react to any situation with physical anger or intimidation. Furthermore, she never once expressed an interest in having any sort of orgy. Why would a girl with no violent history and with only a handful of monogamous relationships opt for an orgy resulting in a violent murder? What about Raffaele in all this? He had only had one girlfriend before he met Amanda, yet we are to believe that after less than a week of having a sexual relationship with Amanda and no indication he was sexually interested in men, he opted to have an orgy with Rudy?
Mignini's theory of Amanda's motive has changed five times, the last change being made during his closing arguments. First it was the marijuana that made her crazy. Then he decided Amanda stole Meredith's missing money. When it was pointed out that Amanda worked three jobs to get to Italy, had a job in Italy, and had family members who would help her if she ran out of money (which she was not close to doing), the motive switched to Amanda simply hated Meredith. When kind texts between the two of them were shown and it was made known that a few days before Meredith's murder they had gone to a chocolate festival together and even that Meredith had drawn a fake tattoo on Amanda a few days before her murder (not something girls who hate each other usually do), the motive changed yet again. Amanda just happens to be a natural-born killer, a naturally violent person. But nothing in her past supports this, and so finally, the prosecutor stated during closing arguments: There is no motive. The prosecution argued that because the evidence was so solid, Amanda and Raffaele should still be convicted without a known motive.
It is well known that the DNA evidence is being heavily questioned worldwide, but there are some fundamental things we should question on top of the DNA. Mainly, if Amanda is guilty, why didn't she flee when she had every opportunity? After Meredith's murder and before Amanda's arrest, her phones were tapped. At court, several conversations between her and her family were played. They asked her to come home, but she said in the recording that she wanted to help the police. Her family members in Germany called her and asked her to stay with them for a while. As we all know, Amanda remained in Perugia and even walked into the police station without being asked—simply to accompany Raffaele—the day she was arrested.
What evidence did the prosecutor have to claim that Amanda and Raffaele instigated an orgy? What is the motive? Do we trust a prosecutor under indictment for professional misconduct in another trial, who knows this case will make or break his career? What about the unsequestered jury that wasn't screened for bias? The jurors chosen from Perugia had seen a year's worth of horrible media portrayals of Amanda and Raffaele before the trial started. And throughout the yearlong trial, they could go home every night, talk to their friends and family about the case, read the news about Amanda's lack of empathy, her supposedly crazy party life, and her manipulative power over men. Jurors could even mingle with prosecutors, lawyers, and media.
On top of the lack of forensic evidence, the theory of her guilt simply doesn't make sense. There is no proven murder weapon, no motive, no believable theory, and no DNA clearly linking Amanda or Raffaele to the crime scene. Sometimes the simplest explanation is true. One person's DNA is all over the crime scene, one person fled Italy, one person has a history of violence and breaking and entering. That person is Rudy, and Rudy alone.