A Tale of Two Cultures: Amanda Knox Case Reveals a Stark Divide

U.S. anger, doubt focus on Italian courts and Italians don't like it.

ByABC News
December 4, 2009, 10:47 PM

PERUGIA, Italy, Dec. 6, 2009— -- The Italian lawyers for U.S. college student Amanda Knox say their client has lost a battle but not the war. They're already preparing to appeal her murder conviction.

But last week's verdict has deepened a sharp cultural divide.

The Italian and British media generally have supported the outcome but it was denounced by many U.S. analysts. Some Italians have called Americans arrogant for questioning the result and the Italian legal process.

The jury ultimately gave Knox a 26-year sentence for murder and other counts rather than the life sentence that prosecutors had requested. Knox, 22, could serve considerably fewer years in jail with time off for good behavior.

But she had hoped for an acquittal.

"She said, 'As soon as I heard the first guilty sentence, I fell into my arms and couldn't hear anything,'" her younger sister, Deanna Knox, told ABC News after visiting Amanda Knox in jail. "She said she heard us crying behind her and she tuned everything out and just cried."

Knox's former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, also was found guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher Nov. 1, 2007.

The verdict capped an 11-month trial before a jury that was not screened for bias and was allowed to read newspapers and watch TV reports, many of them negative toward Knox.

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A senator from Knox's home state of Washington has questions about the Italian justice system and wonders whether Knox got a fair hearing from an impartial jury.

"I'm not sure that's what she got," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "I think what happened [Friday] is we had a decision in which it seems the overall impression of Amanda Knox by the press in Italy and the overwhelming amount of attention given this case may have prejudiced the jury."

Cantwell will contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the case, she said. She also plans to contact the European Union to encourage it to pressure Italy during the appeals process and already has been in touch with the Italian prime minister.

"I didn't believe she had a fair trial," Cantwell added. "And I think it's important for both of our countries to make sure that justice is served and that there is a rule of law and a standard that people believe in."

Clinton told ABC News' "This Week" that she has not yet taken up the case.

"I honestly haven't had time to even examine that," she said. "I've been immersed in what we're doing in Afghanistan. Of course, I'll meet with Sen. Cantwell or anyone who has a concern but I can't offer any opinion about that at this time."