March 27, 2013
The bizarre pursuit of Amanda Knox: injustice Italian style
by Edward Jay EpsteinOn March 25, 2013, the Court of Cassation, Italy’s highest court of appeal, overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox. The comely Knox was a 20-year-old American exchange student in Perugia when her British flatmate, Meredith Kercher, was murdered in 2007. Initially, she was convicted on the basis of demonstrably flawed DNA evidence but then acquitted after the appeal court found that the charges against her were “not corroborated by any objective element of evidence.”
As I show in The Annals of Unsolved Crime, there was not a scintilla of evidence that placed her at the murder scene. Nor was there a witness. The case proceeded from a wild theory of prosecutor Giuliano Mignini that she was a “she devil.” The same prosecutor had previously made a fool of himself in the so-called “Monster of Florence” case by blaming a non-existent satanic cult for the suicide of a Perugian doctor, and was now trying to redeem himself by spinning another Satanic cult crime.
To be sure, Amanda Knox, under unrelenting interrogation without a lawyer, had given a false statement, which she later fully repudiated. Making a false statement is not a rare phenomena—especially when the accused are denied lawyers. Brandon Garrett, a distinguished professor at the University of Virginia Law School, examined 250 cases of people convicted of crimes that DNA later proved they did not commit. No fewer than forty of these exonerated individuals had given a false confession to crimes they did not commit.
The lesson Italy needs to learn is that interrogation without Miranda rights and adequate legal representation leads to false admissions. The absurdity in the Amanda Knox case is that the Italian prosecutors are now getting another chance to perpetuate their original miscarriage of justice.
Edward Jay Epstein's book The Annals of Unsolved Crime is available now from Melville House.