Amanda Knox, Netflix's documentary about the woman originally accused of murdering British exchange student Meredith Kercher, features many of the case's participants, onlookers and suspects talking openly about the event, trial and fallout. By many accounts, the film has led viewers to reappraise what they thought they knew about the case, since it was so luridly represented in the press.
But what exactly did #AmandaKnox lead us to reevaluate about the famous trial?
Let's focus on five key points presented in Amanda Knox that either made us question or change our opinions entirely. Similar to the #Netflix original series, Making a Murderer, this documentary is incredibly fair to the subject and does a great job in not persuading the viewer to believe one side over another. We, the viewers, are given the information from both sides and allowed to form our own opinions on what really happened when Meredith Kercher was murdered.
These five questions were the most standout points that made us wonder one thing: was Amanda Knox and/or Raffaele Sollecito really guilty?
1. Was The Evidence Discovered Enough To Fuel The Investigation Against Knox?
There was really only one main piece of evidence regarding a murder weapon: the knife used to fatally stab Meredith Kercher. Throughout the course of the trial and investigation, several questions were brought in by police regarding the knife, and there were several searches in both the home shared by Amanda Knox and the home of Raffaele Sollecito to try and determine where the knife came from.
Sounds like standard procedure, right? Well, it would seem that way until you actually get a look at how the evidence was handled. It makes you question whether the evidence was even handled fairly.
After police found a knife in Sollecito's kitchen that seemingly matched the characteristics of the knife used in the murder, police went full force with their theories that tied Sollecito and Knox to the murder. The fact that the knife had traces of Knox's DNA on the handle (as well as DNA from Kercher on the blade) is what fueled the continued pressure from police.
However, Knox maintains to this day that she had no explanation as to why her DNA was found on the knife. Well, aside from her normally sharing kitchen utensils with Sollecito and the deceased victim.
The only other bit of evidence found that suggested Sollecito could have been involved was the fact that his DNA was found on a clasp ripped off of the bra that Kercher was wearing at the time of the murder. Seeing how Sollecito himself claimed that he wasn't necessarily a "ladies' man" prior to his brief relationship with Amanda Knox, there was no evidence to suggest that he had any sort of relationship with Kercher that would lead to his DNA being found on such an intimate piece of clothing. Especially when authorities received overwhelming DNA evidence placing Rudy Guede at the scene.
2. Were The Police Competent?
Amanda Knox raises quite a few questions regarding the subject of competency. Throughout the investigation, it would seem as though the Italian officials in charge of the investigation lacked a sense of true direction and continued down the paths drawn by theories that had counteracting evidence. In other words, why were Knox and Sollecito still being pursued after the police extradited a more credible suspect in Rudy Guede?
Even after Guede's fingerprints and DNA were found in multiple places around the home shared by Knox and in Kercher's bedroom (and was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison), Italian police continued to press on and formally charged Knox and Sollecito with murder and sexual assault.
These charges came after local testimony and police records showed the type of person that Rudy Guede was. He had a reputation for breaking and entering, and had even been arrested in Milan days prior to Kercher's murder for breaking into a nursery school with an 11-inch knife in his possession. Guede was even quoted via Skype as saying Amanda and Sollecito weren't at the house when he was there with Kercher — just like the couple had repeatedly told Italian police.
However, as soon as Guede's "fast-tracked" trial began, he changed his story and placed both Knox and Sollecito at the scene of the murder.
At the end of the day, the main theory was the fact that Amanda "Foxy Knoxy" Knox was more interesting to the media; the idea of Kercher being murdered as a result of a drug-fueled sexual encounter gone wrong looked better in the newspapers. Main prosecutor Giuiliano Mignini states in the documentary that the police believed Kercher confronted Knox over her lack of personal morality, causing Knox to snap and murder her, at the persuasion of Sollecito and Guede.
3. Should Amanda And Raffaele Have Been Investigated So Closely?
The documentary makes you question whether Amanda and her very brief lover, Raffaele, should have been investigated so closely — even after the evidence continually suggested that they were not involved.
The bottom line presented by the film is that Amanda and Raffaele only dated for about a week, and as you could expect, a week isn't a lot of time to really get to know someone. He didn't know her roommate very well (if at all) and quite frankly, neither did Amanda. The university environment is an interesting one to navigate, but any of us who have been to college know that just because someone is your roommate, it doesn't automatically make you best friends. You don't always see each other, you don't instantly know everything about them, you don't always know their friends, and you don't always hang out together. You might not even get along with your assigned roommates!
At the end of the day, what possible reason would Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have had to murder her roommate, Meredith Kercher? Not only that, but why were the couple so scrutinized by Italian police, even after they had alibis that were verified? It's somewhat baffling to reevaluate the investigation with this documentary and see the tireless efforts by Italian police in an attempt to make it seem like the couple were at fault, despite the evidence brought in their defense.
4. Was Amanda A Valid Suspect To Begin With?
All of a sudden you're in a brand new place with new people, and naturally the first thing you want to do is explore and have fun. With that said, it's rather believable when Amanda told police that she and Meredith didn't know each other too well. Not only that, it very well could have been an explanation for Amanda's seemingly vacant reaction to the murder of her roommate.
Although it is standard and logical protocol to interview those in close proximity to a victim, that doesn't guarantee their involvement. As sad as it is, it seems like Italian officials and even the media were against Amanda from day one. Call it naïveté or whatever you want, it's possible that authorities figured she was awkward enough on her own and in the right position to be blamed for murder.
She presented alibis and evidence that counteracted the theories presented by police, and her story didn't change, yet she was still pursued and ultimately convicted.
5. Why Weren't The Experts Used In The Second Trial Present For The First?
Whether you believe Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty or not, the re-opening of the case was definitely a huge blow to prosecutors. Rudy Guede had his sentence reduced to 16 years from 30 after an appeal, yet Knox still was facing 26 years in prison and Sollecito faced 26 years.
The case regarding Knox and Sollecito was reopened after the Italian courts granted an appeal by Knox to reevaluate the evidence used in the trial. Independent experts ultimately proved that the forensic evidence used against the couple was flawed. The question remains: why wasn't this sort of investigation done in the first place?
Forensic expert Dr. Stefano Conti makes it very clear in the documentary how easy it is to leave traces of your DNA anywhere. He even goes far enough to say:
"You move your hand on your arm, that small amount of fine dust. Those are all DNA traces which we spread within the area we are in that moment. Therefore, a crime scene must be kept completely sterile. That's not what happened in this case."
The findings showed that the level of chaos from onlookers and Italian police entering and exiting the crime scene without protective clothing (or without changing clothing after entering and exiting) was cause to believe any DNA evidence found linking Knox and Sollecito was flawed due to potential cross-contamination. These concerns were supported by a second forensic expert, Dr. Carla Vecchiotti.
So if this evidence could have been brought forward during the first trial, why wasn't it done? What possible reason did they have to convict these two young people when there was so much cross-contamination introduced in the crime scene from day one?
In addition to the evidence presented by Dr. Conti and Dr. Vecchiotti, it also leads to the question of why items not found in their original place (such as the bra clasp), subject to contamination, were even allowed to be placed into evidence. These findings not only draw into question why this wasn't done in the first place, but also bring us back to the question of police competency.
If these facts had been presented during the first trial, the outcome might have been much different. But then again, that's not what sells newspapers and tabloids, right?