The United States and Italy have extremely different methods of conducting criminal trials. In the United States, a defendant’s guilt must be established beyond a reasonable doubt for them to be found guilty of a criminal act. The entire burden of proof lies on the prosecutor who has to prove the defendant’s guilt by the presentation of incriminating evidence. If there is any doubt at the end of the trial, then the verdict must be “not guilty.” Italy, on the other hand, handles criminal matters in a much more unethical manner. On November 2, 2007, Amanda Knox was found guilty of both murder and sexual violence of Meredith Kercher and sentenced to 26 years in a Perugian prison. If the Amanda Knox trial was held in the United States, using America’s rules of evidence, then the outcome of the trial would have been in favor of Amanda Knox.
There were only a few key pieces of key evidence found at the Kercher crime scene, none of which can be positively linked to Amanda Knox. The key pieces of evidence that led to her conviction were a knife, a bloody footprint, and Kercher’s bra clip with Amanda’s boyfriend’s DNA on it (Longhini). After reviewing this evidence, many experts will agree that Knox’s conviction is absolutely absurd. Because of the lack of evidence and no suspects, the Perugian investigators used the media’s influence to persuade the judges and citizens of Knox’s guilt.
Even if the evidence against Knox was solid enough for a conviction, the method in which it was collected is unacceptable. Many of the proper procedures were not complied with. The video footage from the crime scene showed critical flaws and would have been frowned upon even thirty-years ago. For example, after a ruler was placed on the side of a bloody footprint, a rubber glove reaches down with a piece of white cloth and scrubs the bloody mark off the tile floor, then puts the cloth in the evidence bag.
This happens three times with three separate footprints. In a crime scene video a day later, another team of investigators attempts, using photographs, to try to place where the footprints had been (Longhini). There is also footage of investigator’s hair draping on the floor (Simon). In America, forensic scientists would have simply lifted the tile or cut a piece of carpet to preserve the evidence, then used a cotton swab to test the blood. Obviously, the preservation of evidence was not a priority in the Knox case.
The prosecution’s key piece of evidence is the so-called murder weapon. The knife that was found in Rafaelle Sollecito’s flat had Amanda’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s DNA on the tip. There was a bloody imprint of a knife on the bed linens which did not correlate with the knife found in Sollecito’s apartment. Also, two of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck could not have been made by the knife (Simon). Experts also disagree on whether the DNA on the tip belongs to Kercher because it was of poor sample quality and possible contamination undermines the accuracy of the results. Another dilemma for the prosecution in America is when biological material is so minute that the DNA test cannot be repeated, but because the trial was in Italy this evidence was a burden for the defense. Regardless, the test was negative for blood.
Meredith’s bra clasp is another piece of evidence that has no clout. The clasp was not collected until 67 days after the murder and was trampled on at the crime scene. The crime scene video displays the clasp in different rooms at different times before it was logged into evidence. The white bra clasp is actually shown in crime scene footage going from “white to black” from being kicked around the room by investigators (Simon). The bra clasp would never have been used as evidence in America because the evidence was not handled properly.
The only other evidence that assisted in Knox’s conviction was purely circumstantial. There were rumors of an intense sex life but the nickname “Foxy Knoxy” had nothing to do with sex (Dubuc). Knox’s soccer team nicknamed her that because she was fast as a fox. Italy’s media twisted her reputation to make her sound evil and promiscuous. The Italian media should have informed the public that she was an excellent student and athlete who never had a bad word said about her.
Many foreign countries have a sort of hatred for Americans and people from those countries let it be known. Even the convicted murderer, Rudy Guede, claimed that Amanda and Sollecito were not present at Kercher’s house that night, but he is a criminal and a drug dealer himself. It is truly amazing that he cannot be trusted but the Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who was convicted of “abuse of office” in a previous murder investigation, is still considered credible in Italy. The Knox case is a travesty and Italy needs to make major modifications to their justice system.