Most people already know the story, at least on the surface: Amanda Knox was a 20-year-old girl from Seattle studying abroad in Italy, absorbed by a whirlwind romance, when she found her roommate, Meredith Kercher, brutally murdered in their shared flat. In the years that followed, Knox and her boyfriend of five days, Raffaele Sollecito, were twice convicted and twice acquitted for the 21-year-old Brit’s murder.
Netflix’s Amanda Knox documentary utilizes original interviews with Knox and Sollecito, plus lead prosecutor on the case Giuliano Mignini and on-the-ground journalist Nick Pisa of The Daily Mail, to dive into the details of the murder and subsequent trials. Here’s what you need to know.
The Footage Is Raw … We Mean It
Be warned: This documentary does not sugarcoat the events that took place on November 2, 2007. It opens with audio from Sollecito’s original call to the police and footage from inside the home taken the day the investigation began, which can only be described as gruesome. We see a messy flat before the camera lands on an eerily still body — Kercher’s — covered by a blanket, only her foot showing. The camera pans to the blood smeared on surfaces all over the room and zooms in, the person behind the camera perfectly verbalizing in Italian our most ineloquent thoughts as we watch: “S--t. S--t!”
Knox and Sollecito Describe Their Whirlwind Romance
After the chilling opening, the film backs up to five days before Kercher’s murder, allowing Knox and Sollecito to describe their meeting and first few days together. To this day, they both describe meeting each other with a tenderness reserved for every girl’s “love at first sight — abroad” fantasy.
When they locked eyes at a classical music concert, Sollecito turned around in disbelief: “Is she looking at somebody on my back?” She knew just enough Italian; he knew just enough English. He kissed her as they gazed over a romantic view of Perugia. Like all nightmares, it started as a dream.
Humanizing Meredith Kercher
Kercher’s family did not participate in the making of this documentary, but they still have a presence via clips from the time of the trials. Mignini describes the heart-wrenching moment when he took Kercher’s mother, Arline Kercher, to see her daughter’s body. She was “absorbed in silence” before asking to give her daughter a kiss.
This scene most perfectly reminds viewers that behind the sensation, there was a family who unfairly lost their daughter, their sister, their friend. This exact moment is the reason it became so important to prosecutors and to the public that this case be aggressively pursued and solved.
Knox and Sollecito Are Found Guilty
Two-thirds of the way into the film, Mignini’s case against Knox and Sollecito was strong. He had behavioral patterns pointing to their guilt, a confession from Knox after hours of verbally and physically harsh questioning, and the kicker: DNA evidence connecting Sollecito and Knox to the crime.
After many searches at the scene of the crime, investigators found the missing piece of Kercher’s bra clasp underneath a carpet in the room. On that clasp: Sollecito’s DNA. And after Mignini ordered a search for the murder weapon at Sollecito’s house, investigators found a knife matching the description of the one used. On that knife: Knox’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s DNA on the blade.
“I remember my colleagues complimenting me and saying, ‘At this point, there’s no hope for the two of them,’” Mignini recalled. There wasn’t. Knox and Sollecito were found guilty and convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2009.
The Case of Rudy Guede
Police detected evidence that there was another person at the scene of the crime on the night of Kercher’s murder and in comes Rudy Guede, a known burglar in the Perugia neighborhood in which Knox lived. In a Skype chat with an unidentified informant, Guede confessed to being at Kercher’s house the night of the murder, but said that Knox wasn’t there and had nothing to do with the murder. He later rescinded that statement during his trial, telling the court that Knox was, in fact, at the scene on the night of the murder.
Pisa admitted that while the media covered Guede’s trial, there wasn’t as much interest in him as there was for Knox and the “girl-on-girl crime, if you like,” as Pisa described it. Both the media and the court seemed to gloss over the depth of Guede’s involvement, who was, allow us to repeat, a known criminal in Perugia.
Knox and Sollecito Are Innocent
Knox’s team continued to fight for her during the appeal trial while she sat in prison, contemplating suicide and envisioning never seeing certain members of her family again. Outside forensic experts working on the case found that there were many flaws in the handling of the crime scene and in the forensic laboratory, opening up a high likelihood of contamination on both the bra strap and the knife connecting Sollecito and Knox to the crime, respectively.
“I remember audible gasps from the press and from everyone in the courts,” Pisa described as the mishandling of the evidence was revealed.
Knox drives home the point of their innocence: “What’s more likely? That I get together this boyfriend that I’ve had and this guy who I don’t even know his name, tell them to rape my roommate and then let me stab her to death, or that a guy who regularly committed burglaries broke into my home, found Meredith, took advantage of her, killed her and ran off – a burglary gone wrong.”
In 2011, four years after the murder, Knox's and Sollecito’s convictions were overturned. “When I went back home, the first thing that I did was stare in the fridge, and I was looking at it like something incredibly new, like I was a primitive man,” Sollecito described. He and Knox were human again.
Who Is to Blame?
They were both home, but the ride wasn’t over yet for Knox and Sollecito. The Supreme Court ordered a retrial, during which a lower court found them guilty once again in 2014. On ultimate appeal, which Knox watched from her home in Seattle, the court once again, and finally, acquitted both parties of the murder in 2015.
The court pointed to the investigation’s “stunning flaws” and the media’s “frantic search” for the initial conviction. They also admitted to “a complete lack of biological traces” to connect Knox and Sollecito to Kercher’s murder, but maintained that evidence did connect Guede to the crime.
Watch the Amanda Knox documentary now streaming on Netflix to learn more about both sides of the case.
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