|PERUGIA, Italy — She grins and chats. On
Valentine’s Day, she sported a T-shirt that read “All You Need Is
Love.” And one of the first things she said in court was about a
rabbit shaped sex toy.
Amanda Knox faces life in prison if convicted of killing Meredith
Kercher, a British exchange student who was her roommate in this
picturesque university town. However, her breezy behavior in
hearings over the last three months has set tongues wagging in Italy
Knox’s family insists she has always been respectful in court and
knows full well the weight of the charges against her.
The 21-year-old former University of Washington student is being
tried with her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 killing
that mesmerized Italy with its tales of sex and drugs. Both deny
Knox was in an exchange program in Perugia and sharing an apartment
with Kercher, a 21-year-old student from Leeds University in
England, when the Briton was found stabbed to death in the house on
Nov. 2, 2007.
Prosecutors allege that Kercher was killed during what began as a
sex game, with Sollecito holding her by the shoulders from behind
while Knox touched her with the point of a knife.
They say a third man, Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede, tried
to sexually assault Kercher and then Knox fatally stabbed her in the
throat. Guede was convicted of murder in a separate trial last year
and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The case, and particularly Knox’s alleged role, has made headlines
in Italy and abroad and media outlets still converge here for
hearings held most Fridays and Saturdays.
Photo and TV coverage of the trial has focused on Knox’s calm
demeanor, her chats with the interpreter during breaks and in one
case even her fashion sense, when she wore a bright T-shirt with
“All You Need Is Love” scrawled in large pink letters on Valentine’s
In contrast, co-defendant Sollecito, 25, has appeared more tense and
kept a lower-profile; he faces the cameras only when briefly waving
to his family sitting in front of them.
Italian and European reports have buzzed with remarks.
“She is defiant and he, fearful,” summarized Italy’s respected daily
Corriere della Sera the day after the opening hearing.
“The Foxy Knoxy show: Smiling murder suspect makes grand entrance as
trial begins,” read a title on the online version of Britain’s Daily
Mail, which also described Knox as walking “like a Hollywood diva
sashaying along the red carpet.”
Knox’s behavior also raised eyebrows before the trial opened, with a
witness recently testifying in court that the American turned
cartwheels and did splits at the police station in the hours that
followed the murder.
Other witnesses have told the court that Knox made faces at
Sollecito at the police station, crossing her eyes and sticking her
tongue out, while also giggling and kissing him.
“Her behavior has never been adequate, given the seriousness of what
happened,” lawyer Francesco Maresca, who represents Kercher’s
family, said Wednesday. “I criticize a superficial and inappropriate
behavior. There’s a girl who died brutally, we could use some
However, criminologist Saverio Fortunato says Knox’s apparently
carefree behavior could be a psychological “reaction to the pain” of
being involved in a murder case.
“It could be a sign of malaise and confusion,” Fortunato said.
“Facing the wounds of a trial can push you to adopt a certain
behavior to fight off the fear, which can be interpreted from the
outside as inappropriate.”
In recent addresses to the court, Knox spoke in Italian and sounded
confident, even in her first public statement when she casually
explained the presence of a pink rabbit-shaped vibrator in her
Perugia house, saying it was “a joke” and a present from a friend.
In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, Knox’s family
described the American as “generally a positive person,” who tries
to “see something positive in everybody and every situation.”
“When she comes to the courtroom, she is generally happy to see
familiar faces,” the statement said. “The media seems more
interested in what she’s wearing or how she acts for brief moments
... than in the lack of evidence against her or her respectful,
attentive manner during the court proceedings.”
Indeed, both Knox and Sollecito sit quietly near their lawyers and
follow proceedings intently, taking notes and referencing in Italian
law books. Two prison guards are stationed behind them at all times.
Today, coroner Luca Lalli confirmed his earlier findings by
testifying that the Briton died from a stab wound to the neck. He
said it cannot be determined if she was raped, though bruises and
cuts on her face, neck, hands and legs suggest violence during
Maresca said photographs taken during the autopsy were shown during
the closed-doors session and Knox “looked away, while Sollecito
occasionally looked up.”
Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas, said her daughter was “upset” and “just
Later today, local shop owner Carlo Maria Scotto di Rinaldi
testified he saw Knox and Sollecito kissing and hugging in his
lingerie shop the day after Kercher’s body was found.
He said Knox bought “a top and a G-string” and the couple talked
about having “hot sex” once they got home.
The two defendants have largely ignored each other since the trial
opened Jan. 16, but recently they exchanged smiles and whispers and
gestured from a distance.
Prosecutors say Knox’s DNA was on the handle of a knife found at
Sollecito’s house that might have been used in the slaying and the
victim’s DNA was found on the blade.
It’s not clear how, if at all, Knox’s behavior will influence the
eight-member jury, which is expected to reach a verdict after the
“Juries can be influenced by the media, but there is also the
presiding judge,” who as an expert should be able to see through a
defendant’s behavior in court, Fortunato said. “I don’t think that
the trial should revolve around this frivolity”.