Sat May 18, 2013
'Waiting To Be Heard' No More, Amanda Knox Speaks Out
Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 6:47 pm
When 20-year-old Amanda Knox left for Italy in August 2007, it was supposed to be a carefree year studying abroad.
No one could have foreseen it ending in her being accused, tried and convicted in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher.
The case, and Knox, became an international media sensation.
"I think that there was a lot of fantasy projected onto me," she tells weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden. "And that resulted in a re-appropriation and re-characterization of who I am."
Following a controversial trial led by a prosecutor accused of misdoings, Knox and her onetime boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, spent four years in prison before an Italian appeals court overturned the ruling.
Also convicted in Kercher's murder was a man named Rudy Guede. In his case, extensive DNA evidence linked him to the crime.
Knox returned home to Seattle, but in March 2013, the Italian Supreme Court annulled her acquittal and ordered a new review of the case.
It is uncertain what that will mean for Knox.
Now 25, Knox tells her story in a new memoir, Waiting to Be Heard.
On why she didn't leave Perugia, Italy, or call the American Embassy in the days after Kercher's murder
"It never occurred to me to worry that I would be a suspect; I didn't do it. And I was very much making myself available to the police so that I could help. But what's important is I thought my innocence was obvious. And even when they were screaming at me in my interrogation and calling me a liar, like, I could not believe what was happening to me was happening. I very much did not understand the kind of danger that I was in."
On her conviction
"After my conviction, I was devastated. I had never believed that I would be convicted. And so all of that time after my conviction, leading up to my acquittal, I was afraid to hope. Not even my innocence had saved me, and so I was afraid that my innocence would never save me."
On whether she has reached out to the Kercher family
"No, I haven't reached out to them personally. It's been a very complicated question for me about what is the right way to approach them. What I did do is I read John Kercher's book and it definitely confirmed to me that they are grieving intensely from this incredibly horrible thing that happened to their daughter. And I can tell that they are unconvinced of my innocence and that is this huge wall that I'm not sure how to confront."
On the Italian Supreme Court ordering a retrial
"It's looming over me — this horrendous thing that just never ends. I do not think that I will be convicted because there just simply is not that evidence. I just simply did not do it. I feel like I'm having to prove my innocence as opposed to have the prosecution prove my guilt."
JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
When 20-year-old Amanda Knox left Seattle for Italy in 2007, it was supposed to be a carefree year studying abroad. No one could have foreseen it ending in her being accused, tried and convicted for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, just weeks after she arrived. The case - and Knox - became an international media sensation.
(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS MONTAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #1: American Amanda Knox returned to an Italian courtroom Monday...
UNIDENTIFIEDBROADCASTER #2: ...And prosecutors aren't the only ones who don't buy Amanda Knox's claims of innocence...
UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #3: (Foreign language spoken) Amanda Knox...
DIANE SAWYER: Amanda Knox, the object of a worldwide mystery and tabloid sensation...
LYDEN: Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, spent four years in prison following a controversial trial, before an Italian court overturned their convictions. Now, 25-year-old Amanda Knox tells her own story, in a memoir called "Waiting to Be Heard." She joined me from member station KUOW in Seattle, to talk about it. I asked her to take me back to the young woman she was when she first left Washington state for Italy.
AMANDA KNOX: I wanted to go somewhere where I could come into my own without any ties, and prove to myself that I could be an adult. I was definitely a very - confident in very certain ways, and then very insecure and immature, just like any 20-year-old who hasn't had the life experience to justify their confidence in themselves. (Laughing) So I was very young.
LYDEN: Let's go back to the days just after the murder of Meredith Kercher. It is November of 2007. You didn't know that you were a suspect. You didn't leave Perugia. You didn't call the American Embassy. Why didn't those things happen?
KNOX: It never occurred to me to worry that I would be a suspect. I didn't do it. And I was very much making myself available to the police so that I could help. But what's important is, I thought my innocence was obvious. And even when they were screaming at me in my interrogation and calling me a liar - like, I could not believe what was happening to me was happening. I very much did not understand the kind of danger that I was in.
LYDEN: One of the things that would turn out to be the most troublesome in the case against you, Amanda Knox, was this false confession that emanates from that time, that you made about your boss, Patrick Lumumba. He's your boss at this late-night bar, Le Chic. How did that happen?
KNOX: Yeah. That was something that I didn't understand how it could happen for a very, very long time. I had spent those days since the discovery of Meredith's body, mostly in the police office being questioned, repeating over and over what I saw. And that night that I finally broke down, there was a change in their behavior towards me. It wasn't about questions anymore. It was about saying to me that I wrong, that I was lying. (Sighs)
They told me that I had witnessed the murder; that I knew who the murderer was, and that I only couldn't remember. And the only explanation that made sense in that terrible, incredibly incomprehensible moment was what they were providing me - which was that I must have witnessed the murder; that the text message that I received from my boss meant that I had met him that night. And I believed them.
LYDEN: You had spent four years in Capanne, the prison outside Perugia, fighting for your freedom. You - and separately, Raffaele Sollecito - you were sentenced to 26 years in prison. You learned Italian well enough to eventually defend yourself in your second trial, your appeal. Maybe you could relive for us the moment of your conviction being overturned in 2011.
KNOX: After my conviction, I was devastated. I had never believed that I would be convicted. And so all of that time after my conviction, leading up to my acquittal, I was afraid to hope. Not even my innocence had saved me. And so I was afraid that my innocence would never save me. I stood there, quivering, and then they announced that I was innocent, and I was immediately freed.
I remember going in the car back to Capanne from the courthouse. And when I got back there, the entire prison erupted and everyone started banging pots against the bars and waving T-shirts out of the windows, just screaming (Italian spoken). And it was overwhelming because I had imagined this, and I had imagined also the worst of never, ever leaving.
LYDEN: I want to turn to something else perhaps less glorious to remember. Every detail of your sex life and details that were attributed to your sex life became front page news around the world. I'm wondering if you think that such a case might have been built in the same circumstances around a handsome young man who'd only been to Italy for six weeks.
KNOX: I think a lot about what if I were a man, would it have been such a sensation throughout the world? Maybe not. But maybe I would have been suspected where I a man. Maybe I would have been suspected were I black or Asian or any other race besides white. I think the fact that my case was so sensationalized is because I am a white woman. And...
LYDEN: And one who's - one who was sexual...
LYDEN: ...and whose diary became part of the evidence used against her.
KNOX: Exactly. I think that there was a lot of fantasy projected onto me, and that resulted in a reappropriation and re-characterization of who I am.
LYDEN: Your case, Amanda Knox, has now taken another turn. This past March, the Italian Supreme Court annulled this acquittal and a new review of the case has been ordered. Do you feel that your name really hasn't been cleared now?
KNOX: Oh, God. It's looming over me, this horrendous thing that just never ends. I do not think that I will be convicted because there just simply is not that evidence. I just simply did not do it. I feel like I'm having to prove my innocence as opposed to have the prosecution prove my guilt. The only thing I can do is continue to defend myself.
And I'm trying so hard to make understood at least the aspects of it that I did to contribute. I'm trying to help. I'm trying to explain. I'm not trying to excuse the wrong things I did, like accuse Patrick Lumumba. And I don't know if I'm going to be dealing with this for the rest of my life. I don't.
LYDEN: That's Amanda Knox. Her new book is called "Waiting to Be Heard." Amanda Knox, I really want to thank you for spending some time with us.
KNOX: Oh, thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.