Amanda Knox, a student at the University of Washington, left for a study abroad trip in Italy in the fall of 2007. Studying in the town of Perugia, she was set to room with Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student from South London. No one knew of the horrible events that would soon take place inside of their apartment.
On the night of November 1, 2007, Kercher was found sexually assaulted and brutally murdered in the flat that she shared with Knox and two other women. It is a case that has been broadcasted throughout the entire world for the last four years. Knox was charged with the sexual assault attack and murder and finally convicted in 2009. Knox’s DNA had been found on the handle of a knife that also had traces of Kercher’s DNA on the blade, indicating she had stabbed Kercher. Footprints that were believed to have been hers were found in blood in the apartment the women shared. Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s former boyfriend she had met in Italy, and Rudy Hermann Guede were also charged and found guilty along with Knox. Knox was charged with 26 years in prison, Sollecito with 25 years, and Guede received 30. All three individuals sought out to appeal these decisions, which brought intensified media coverage to the cases.
Knox’s appeal case soon became a tug of war - the defense was arguing for an acquittal while the prosecution was asking for a tougher sentence of life in prison. Knox’s lawyers wanted to bring a new witness into the trial and felt that the DNA evidence used to convict her wasn’t enough to convince anyone that she had actually been present. Later, scientists in fact found that the sample size of DNA was too small to be viable and had also been contaminated. The defense also argued that Knox’s personality had been on trial rather than the evidence. Knox was referred to by the prosecution by names such as “she-devil”, supposedly in an attempt to sway the jury into a biased position against her. The defense believed it was these tactics that allowed the insufficiency of the DNA to be overlooked.
On October 3, 2011 the final verdict of both Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeals were read- both Knox and Sollecito’s guilty verdicts were overturned and almost all of the other verdicts, such as sexual assault and robbery of Kercher’s goods, were overturned as well. The only conviction that remained was Knox’s guilt of lying to the police when she indicated that her own boss, Patrick Lumumba, had been the one to kill Kercher. She retained the 3-year sentence this charge carried, but the courts announced that it would count as “time served” and she was able to go home free. Guede’s appeal verdict didn’t set him free, but his 30-year sentence was reduced to 16 years.
According to MSNBC, the overturning of the DNA evidence was the prime reason for the acquittal. The fact that they had been contaminated forced the courts to throw them out, leaving no sufficient evidence to link Knox or Sollecito to the murder and allowing Knox’s family to celebrate the return of their daughter.