June 12, 2009

“The railroad job from hell”

Earlier this week I posted Haunting Video Released in Murder Trial of Meredith Kercher

Now from the New York Times comes a story about the defendant Amanda Knox, the "angel face" from Seattle, on trial for murder: An Innocent Abroad by Timothy Egan.

The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.

But it is also about Amanda Knox, an equally high-spirited student whose life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution – “the railroad job from hell,” as one outside expert hired by CBS News concluded.

She started seeing an Italian student, Raffaele Sollecito, the son of a prominent doctor. They spent the night of the murder at his apartment, she said, and no reliable witness or credible evidence has ever placed them at the crime scene. But within days of the killing, these two would be painted across Europe as thrill-seekers who killed a woman in a drug-fueled orgy.

That may sound like a preposterous motive for a murder by college kids, but it’s a recurring obsession for the prosecutor in the Knox case.
She spent nearly a year in jail without being charged. This, despite the fact that the only physical evidence found on the murder victim’s body was from someone else – a drifter with a drug problem named Rudy Guede.

Shortly after the crime, Guede fled Italy for Germany. His prints and his DNA were found in Kercher’s room and on the body. After being arrested, he underwent a fast-track trial and was found guilty last fall of complicity in the murder, and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

All trials are about narrative. In Seattle, where I live, I see a familiar kind of Northwestern girl in Amanda Knox, and all the stretching, the funny faces, the neo-hippie touches are benign. In Italy, they see a devil, someone without remorse, inappropriate in her reactions.

In the end, of course, this is about the victim. Meredith Kercher is gone, a daughter no more, leaving behind the “brutality, the violence, and the great sorrow it has caused,” as her mother said in court last week.

But one life taken should not keep anyone from asking the right questions before ruining two others.

Posted by Jill Fallon at June 12, 2009 10:08 AM | Permalink