A tearful Amanda Knox pleaded with an Italian appeals court earlier today to overturn her conviction for the 2007 murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. Knox was sentenced in December 2009 to 26 years in jail for her part in sexually assaulting and killing Kercher, her roommate in Perugia, where both were exchange students. "I did not kill; I did not rape; I did not steal; I was not there,” a faltering Knox told the court, in Italian. "I had to cope with unjust accusations and I am paying with my life for things that I did not do."
Nathaniel Rich wrote about the Knox trial in Rolling Stone in June. The Amanda Knox that emerges from his reporting is a naive kid from Seattle who was basically talked her way into jail. He wrote:
"[The list of problems with the case against Knox was long]: incompetent police work, leading to the mishandling of evidence. The lack of any physical trace of Knox in Kercher's bedroom. Italy's carnivalesque judicial process, where there is never order in the court, the lawyers and defendants constantly interrupting the proceedings with groans and catcalls and wild gesticulations, while the press in the gallery yammers away like the kids in the back of the classroom. The prosecution's failure to establish motive or intent ("We live in an age of violence with no motive," said one prosecutor). And the fact that prosecutors did not immediately drop the case against Knox and Sollecito after the bloody fingerprints and footprints came back matching a 20-year-old petty thief named Rudy Guede.
These were valid criticisms, but Knox's supporters missed one crucial point. The prosecution, despite their ineptitude, would never have been able to convict Knox and Sollecito all by themselves. They needed help. And they would get it — from Amanda Knox.
Knox had several disadvantages from the start: She was American and, despite majoring in Italian at the University of Washington, could barely speak the language. Her poor comprehension may have contributed to her second problem: her inability to realize that she was, from the first day of the investigation, suspected of murder. Most damaging, however, was her obstinate faith in the kindness of strangers.
Knox could have her sentence reduced or increased. Or, after four years in jail, she could be set free. A verdict is expected today.