Jan. 31, 2014— -- The latest verdict from an Italian Appeals court finding Amanda Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher may come as a stunning outrage to many Americans. But once you dig a little deeper, maybe, just maybe, some of the reasoning becomes a little less outlandish.
In the annals of high-profile injustices, the 26-year-old Knox is now often cited alongside the most indefensible miscarriages of justices this nation has addressed in recent years, such as the West Memphis 3, convicted on nothing more than inaccurate assumptions and a coerced confession; the "Scottsboro Boys," where the Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole finally, 82 years later, pardoned the last of nine black men falsely convicted of raping two white women in a racist rush to judgment; and Ryan Ferguson, who served ten years for murder, convicted on the flimsiest of testimony that was ultimately and completely recanted and discredited. Ferguson has even been in contact with Knox to offer his support.
Knox, who was initially convicted by an Italian court and served 4 years of a 26-year sentence, was released by an appeals court in Italy in 2011.That ruling overturning the verdict confirmed the strongly-held beliefs, or at least suspicions, of many Americans that this pretty, young American studying abroad was railroaded by a corrupt Italian justice system.
The appeals court, in harsh and unambiguous language, questioned the validity of the main forensic evidence based on the way it was handled and collected.
In the wake of the legal victory and her release, Knox published a book followed by a high-profile publicity tour where she portrayed herself and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito as innocent victims guilty of nothing more than failing to grasp the severity of the situation in which they suddenly found themselves ensconced.
A pair of maybe too-affectionate young lovers, ultimately coerced and deceived into making incriminating statements by ruthless Italian investigators, cruelly questioning a sleepless, young tourist in a foreign tongue. And it didn't help that the lead and seemingly overzealous prosecutor also faced charges for abusing his office in another case.
And so the story told on this side of the pond was clear: Amanda Knox was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But in reality, the question of where exactly she was that night and what she and Sollecito were doing has never been completely answered.
Once Knox was safely beyond the reach of Italian law, that nation's highest court reversed the appeals court ruling and called for a new trial, which to those back home in the U.S. just seemed like more vindictive and senseless suffering for these victims. And now the court sentencing Knox to 28 years and six months -- two-and-a-half year more than she had received after the first trial -- will just add fuel to the public fire over this case.