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CRIMES OF THE CENTURY

Crimes of the Century: Prosecution of Amanda Knox

Aired August 18, 2013 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


NARRATOR: She was young. She was beautiful. And she was in big trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The 20-year-old from Seattle sits in this Italian jail, a prime suspect in the mysterious death of her roommate.

DARREN KAVINOKY, ATTORNEY/LEGAL ANALYST: This was the ugly American on steroids.

CANDACE DEMPSEY, AUTHOR, "MURDER IN ITALY": Is Amanda Knox a whore or a saint?

AMANDA KNOX, JAILED IN ITALY: I was sexually active. I was not sexually deviant.

NARRATOR: Was she guilty, in fact, or just in the press?

ANDREW GUMBEL, CO-AUTHOR, "HONOR BOUND: MY JOURNEY TO HELL AND BACK WITH AMANDA KNOX: The newspapers had this fabulous story assuming that what the prosecution said was true.

ANNE BREMNER, ATTORNEY, FRIENDS OF AMANDA KNOX: It's salacious, it's fascinating. The juicier the tidbit, the better.

NARRATOR: It was a media spectacle that consumed the United States, Italy, and England igniting controversy that still rages.

NINA BURLEIGH, AUTHOR, THE FATAL GIFT OF BEAUTY: There's something about the way her eyes moved that leaves us wandering.

KNOX: I wish so much that I had stood up to them.

NARRATOR: "The Prosecution of Amanda Knox." Next.

Perugia, Italy is a storybook city, famous throughout the world for its chocolates. And equally famous to students as a party town where getting high and hooking up is like a prerequisite for the college experience.

BURLEIGH: To the average American tourist, this town looks like an idyllic Italian mountain town, field with beautiful art and churches. If you spent a little time there and you read Italian, you start to realize every single headline is about drugs, it's about gang violence.

GUMBEL: Everything looks so calm and tranquil on the surface. This was a lovely little town in Italy and terrible evil is being committed. This is something that the tabloids can feast on.

NARRATOR: Amanda Knox never thought she'd become fodder for the tabloids. When she arrived in Perugia in 2007 as a 20-year-old exchange student, Italy seemed like a dream come true.

BURLEIGH: She was a junior at the University of Washington. She was good with languages, and she decided she was going to take her junior year abroad. She enrolled at the Perugia School for Foreigners, which is a school that historically teaches Italian to foreigners. So she became the third of four roommates living together in this little house.

NARRATOR: Two of the roommates were Italian. Amanda described one as offbeat and the other as a bit of a hippie. The third housemate was 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student. Amanda found her exotically beautiful and friendly. Next to Amanda, however, all three seemed almost reserved.

DEMPSEY: Amanda is from Seattle. She was considered eccentric in Seattle, which prides itself on its eccentricities.

BURLEIGH: The way that you comport and present yourself to the people around you in Italy is of extreme importance, but she had this sort of extreme version of being blind and carefree and careless, and actually kind of took pride in it, but in Italy it's just not done, and especially not young women.

NARRATOR: As the newest and youngest of the roommates, Amanda and Meredith found much in common. They also shared a bathroom at one end of the house. They would only know each other for six weeks.

BREMNER: It's just so sad. She had by all accounts just a wonderful person. A very smart, talented, and well-liked, regarded loved girl.

BURLEIGH: Meredith Kercher was more formal. She was British. She was more sophisticated. She was there with a pack of friends who she knew from the University of Leeds, so she was in a more secure place. Amanda was like a lone wolf running around basically picking up guys.

NARRATOR: Amanda's free spirit and fresh-faced beauty even helped her get a part-time job.

BURLEIGH: She was recruited to waitress at a bar owned by an African immigrant to Italy named Patrick Lumumba. He hired her because she was American and pretty, and he hoped that she would attract more male patrons.

NARRATOR: The first big holiday of the season was November 1st. All Saints Day. In Italy it's a sacred time when families honor their ancestors. But for foreign students like Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher, it's a traditional party time, not unlike Halloween.

Amanda and Meredith had the cottage to themselves. Their Italian roommates were gone for the night. Amanda had just started dating Raffaele Sollecito, a young student whom she had met a week earlier.

DEMPSEY: Raffaele Sollecito was in love, but how many people fall in love at 23? And think it's forever?

BREMNER: They met at a classical music concert but those things weren't reported. It was much more that that she was this wanton kind of sex-crazed vixen.

NARRATOR: For that one week, they spent every night together. It was a romantic whirlwind until the morning of November 2nd, 2007.

After another evening with Raffaele, Amanda returned to the house early in the morning. She said she had no idea that Meredith Kercher was dead in her bedroom. Her throat had been slashed and she's been sexually assaulted.

DEMPSEY: Amanda Knox came home the day after the murder to take a shower. She took the same shower every single time she stayed at Raffaele's because he had this really crummy, guy-type moldy shower. So she came home to shower and change her clothes. She came in and saw kind of weird little things in different parts of the house, but being Amanda Knox and being a bit eccentric rick, she still took a shower.

BURLEIGH: She noticed, first of all, that there were blood drop on the sink and faucet, and when she got out of the shower, a kind of bloody spot on the blue bathmat, but she thought maybe Meredith was having her period and had just drip blood or that -- the blood on the sink had been dripped from her ear. Amanda Knox had gotten 11 ear piercings that week.

She went into the other bathroom. Not the bathroom that she uses all the time, but the other bathroom to get a hair dryer and blow dry her hair.

NARRATOR: At this point Amanda's story takes an odd turn.

DEMPSEY: There she found feces in the toilet, which kind of grossed her out because it was a nice, clean house. Those particular roommates that used that toilet were the cleanest women in the house, so she couldn't figure out why didn't they flush the toilet, and thought it was really weird and creepy, and she did not flush it.

GUMBEL: Then she went back to Raffaele's house for breakfast. People find that very hard to understand. And, you know, the explanation is that she was young and innocent and a little bit naive. In her words she was stupid about it, but stupidity is not a criminal offense.

NARRATOR: Amanda tries calling Meredith several times before she and Raffaele returned to the house. In another odd twist, the police arrive a short time later. They're investigating the theft of two cell phones that were registered to Amanda's roommates.

BURLEIGH: First thing they do is go inside and notice Meredith's door is locked. She doesn't answer the door. They open the door of one of the other roommates, and there's a room in utter disarray with a broken window, broken glass everywhere, clothes strewn around. Drawers pulled open. And clearly somebody has been in their house. And then everybody starts to become concerned. Meredith's door is locked.

NARRATOR: No one is prepared for what they find in Meredith's room. The scene is a bloodbath.

DEMPSEY: She was lying on the floor covered by a duvet, and her foot was sticking out. And there was blood everywhere. On the walls. On the closet. Everywhere.

NARRATOR: The house was sealed off. Amanda and Raffaele remained outside. Their behavior quickly drew the attention of the police.

DEMPSEY: So the body of Meredith Kercher had just been discovered in the cottage, and they were outside comforting each other, and the camera started rolling. And they were not aware of that, so they kissed like these little pecks three times.

NARRATOR: As the police gathered information, a lead investigator was brought on to the case. Giuliano Mignini.

DEMPSEY: What people don't understand that a prosecutor like Giuliano Mignini is both investigator and prosecutor. So he's controlling what the police look at.

NARRATOR: The devoutly Catholic Mignini was known as a tough, no nonsense prosecutor.

BURLEIGH: He is a staunch Catholic. He believes that in his town there are people who are practicing these dark ritual acts and the fact that it happened on an All Souls night was part of the clue to him that this was a ritual act.

BREMNER: We used to say every day is Halloween to Mignini. Every day was satanic. Every day was witchcraft. You know, every day had these kinds of ritualistic overtones, and that's what this overlay was in the case.

NARRATOR: Giuliano Mignini and the police were not buying Amanda's story. It was hazy at best. Was there opportunity? Yes. But was there motive?

DEMPSEY: Giuliano Mignini is the kind of person who can come to a crime scene and see a beautiful English girl lying dead in a pool of blood and fantasize a four-way orgy.

NARRATOR: To Mignini, the primary questions were obvious. Did Meredith die at the hands of Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, and how? As it turned out, the answers almost didn't matter.

KAVINOKY: There's always been this idea that there's just something more going on and people couldn't quite put their finger on it and Amanda was the best scapegoat, if you will.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Investigators have been picking apart this case, bringing in forensic experts, criminologists --

NARRATOR: To the press in both America and Italy, it wasn't just the story of the year. It was the story of the century.

KAVINOKY: The Amanda Knox case had something for everybody. Sex, drugs, international intrigue. Through the prosecutor, it even had Satanism.

BURLEIGH: The Italian press crafted a picture of this girl, this American girl, that was she's a sex maniac, she's a spoiled, rich American, and isn't she pretty?

BREMNER: She had this uncanny ability to look straight into the camera no matter who was taking the picture and the paparazzi, and look piercingly into that camera and the pictures were chilling.

KNOX: I would much rather suppress my emotion than have it be determined as insincere and affected.

NARRATOR: A broken back window. An unlocked front door. A mutilated corpse.

British exchange student Meredith Kercher had been savagely killed after a sexual assault in her own bedroom. The murder resonated throughout Perugia.

BURLEIGH: As the days progressed and this crime became known to the community, students were fleeing in fear. My god, there's possibly a maniac in our town.

NARRATOR: Just outside the crime scene, Meredith's roommate, Amanda Knox, and her boyfriend of one week Raffaele Sollecito were acting as if nothing had happened. The police began to suspect they were involved in the murder thanks, in part, to the now infamous kiss.

GUMBEL: This kiss was caught on cam remarks and then they were accused of behaving inappropriately in the context of murder investigation.

NARRATOR: With her house now a crime scene, Amanda moved in with Raffaele. Police kept close tabs on both of them. Meanwhile, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini developed a theory. Raffaele was naive and willing to please, caught under the spell of a racy American temptress, a woman who may well have been part of a secret satanic cult.

Investigators began interviewing potential witnesses.

BURLEIGH: They asked everybody from that house to come to the police station to be questioned. All of the Italians who lived in the house showed up with adult advisors, parents, professors, or lawyers.

KAVINOKY: In the Italian justice system, just like the American justice system, any time the police want to see you, it's smart to lawyer up. DEMPSEY: Raffaele Sollecito didn't think that he had anything to lose. All did he was help out Amanda when she was upset and asked him to come back to the house and see what was going on at her house.

NARRATOR: Like Raffaele, Amanda arrived without counsel. She may have been eccentric, but Mignini reportedly considered her a narcissist and a she-devil. Amanda seemed to preen in front of the police with a few suggestive yoga stretches.

GUMBEL: There were moments, for example, in the police station when they were waiting around. Amanda infamously, as was also reported by the media, did splits. She may have done other yoga moves. But Raffaele saw Amanda do things that he found odd. For example, she curled up on him like a koala bear. Somewhere deep down he felt uncomfortable.

NARRATOR: For Raffaele things got worse during his questioning.

GUMBEL: The way Raffaele got himself into the most trouble was to underestimate the seriousness of a murder investigation, not to understand that he had to be absolutely crystal clear about what he'd done, what he'd seen, where he'd been. He couldn't remember what had happened which evening. He was eating dinner, he was smoking pot, he was seeing Amanda, and he couldn't really remember which night was which, so when the police asked him, he had a tremendous difficulty remembering, did she go to work that night, did she not go to work that night?

They took that statement, got him to sign it in writing, and then they took it back to Amanda and said, your boyfriend has testified against you and said you went out.

NARRATOR: Amanda's command of Italian was poor, but under questioning the police got her to recant her original story and say she had not been with Raffaele all night.

DEMPSEY: This interrogation went on all night long. And she wasn't given food or water. She wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom.

BREMNER: She was told that, you know, imagine if you've been there, what would you have heard or seen, and she said -- there's that really famous statement -- I cover my ears. I heard a scream, I cover my ears.

NARRATOR: Amanda claims she answered hypothetically, but it was taken as gospel.

KNOX: The police told me that I knew who the murderer was. They told me that I had to know, that I wasn't telling them the truth, that I had amnesia and that I had to remember.

NARRATOR: Incredibly Amanda now told police that she was in the house when the murder occurred. Then a new suspect was implicated. Amanda's boss at the nightclub, Patrick Lumumba.

DEMPSEY: They told Amanda Knox that they had absolute proof that she had been at the crime scene and that she had left the apartment and that she had met Patrick Lumumba.

BURLEIGH: They have her cell phone and they see that she texted Patrick Lumumba, her boss. She said, I'll see you later. They read that as an actual appointment with him and that was her last text before the phones went off on the night of the murder.

DEMPSEY: Amanda Knox did actually say that she was there, but she said she was in the kitchen and that she heard Patrick murdering Meredith. She heard Meredith scream, but her statement is so confused and so bizarre that she said, I remember confusedly that he did all that. And what she has said was the police asked her to imagine various scenarios, and that was one of them.

BURLEIGH: So they basically browbeat the confession out of her and the confession is a signed statement that they wrote for her that she signed, which says, I see myself in the house with Lumumba, and he is in the other room, and Meredith, I can hear her start to scream.

NARRATOR: Though Amanda never directly admitted to the murder, the police were quick to report they have their killers. Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Patrick Lumumba. With Knox and Sollecito already in custody, the police raced out to arrest Patrick Lumumba.

BURLEIGH: They dragged him out of his house and he's thrown into prison. He says, no, I wasn't there. I was in my bar and there is somebody who can tell you that I was there with me. So they went and found his alibi, and there's a professor of French or something who says, yes, I was in the bar with him that night. He wasn't killing anyone at 9:00. He was in his bar serving me a dink. They still didn't let him out, though.

NARRATOR: As the prosecutor built his case, the press had a field day and dug up everything they could about the accused.

DEMPSEY: The British tabloids from the beginning were -- I felt by far the worst because they just printed whatever the prosecutor and he was saying all of these terrible derogatory things about Amanda Knox and portraying her as just pure evil, as this terrible human being who had this beautiful trusted roommate and had encouraged these men to help her kill her roommate.

KNOX: I was sexually active. I was not sexually deviant, and because I was sexually active, that turned in for them to sexually deviant.

NARRATOR: Giuliano Mignini had his three killers behind bars. He would now use the press to help prove his case.

BREMNER: The press in Italy doesn't have any boundaries. That's where the word paparazzi comes from.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAVINOKY: The Amanda Knox case was a media juggernaut, and once this case got going, it had a life of its own.

DEMPSEY: We all first heard about the case when we turned on our televisions --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My head is all confused. The incident has left me very confused.

DEMPSEY: And there was an American college student in Italy being paraded on a perp walk, and so that was absolutely a shocking image that went viral.

BURLEIGH: If she was an ugly girl, would we have a different feeling about her?

KAVINOKY: Let's not overlook that the real victim in the case is Meredith Kercher and her family that continues to grieve.

ARLINE KERCHER, MEREDITH'S MOTHER: We need to find out what happened.

NARRATOR: For the tabloids, however, Meredith Kercher wasn't the story. This was all about Amanda Knox.

KAVINOKY: In the Amanda Knox case the media played an enormous role. This was a case front and center in all of the Italian media. And they look at her as this sex demon. You know, here she was, an American on their soil. Committing heinous crimes.

NARRATOR: But some were beginning to question the facts. At least as presented by the Italian prosecutor.

BURLEIGH: In Italy you can't just go to the court building and say, may I please have all the court records that have to do with this trial? The way it's done there is all the lawyers who are involved and sometimes the police hand to their favored reporters what they want them to have.

NARRATOR: With Amanda in deep legal trouble, her mother arrived in Italy. Eager to change public opinion about her daughter.

EDDA MELLAS, AMANDA KNOX'S MOTHER: I mean, as an innocent person, it's really hard for her. There is no evidence of Raffaele or of Amanda that connects them to that crime. She told me, you know, what had happened to her in the interrogation. You know, she told me, you know, I never confessed to anything. They asked me to imagine possibilities, and, you know, I have now learned that that's a tactic that they use.

KNOX: The only thing that they were fixating on is the fact that I must have met Patrick, and so I said Patrick, and then they set up this entire scenario of having met Patrick, about having heard Meredith scream, and I signed to it just to make it stop.

BREMNER: Who do you know that's black, I think is what they said. And she said Patrick. She didn't say, like, he -- like he did it, he is the one. You know, arrest that guy. He's the murderer.

NARRATOR: When fingerprint results came in, the case took a new turn. There was an African man at the scene of the crime, but it wasn't Patrick Lumumba. BURLEIGH: If you are an immigrant you have to check in once a year with the police, I believe. You are considered a guest and the fingerprints are known to them. They happen to be on file in the police station. They belong to a man named Rudy Guede, an African immigrant's son.

NARRATOR: Rudy Guede was a drifter, originally from the Ivory Coast. He partied on the periphery of student life and was suspected of several recent crimes around Perugia.

BREMNER: Rudy Guede had a history with knives, violence, break-ins.

DR. MARK WATERBURY, AUTHOR, THE MONSTER OF PERUGIA: He left his blood. He left traces all over the crime scene. He left his feces in the toilet and although that degrades DNA very rapidly, there was DNA out there as well.

BREMNER: His blood and fingerprints are on her purse, and there are bloody imprints and blood down the walls in her bedroom, and he may have been surprised. I don't know why he left, but he didn't complete the act of the rape. She had a tampon in at the time and maybe that's why.

NARRATOR: But Guede had left Italy for Germany. He admitted to a friend he had been with Meredith that night but claimed he didn't kill her. His connection with Amanda, Raffaele and Meredith was thin at best.

BURLEIGH: There's a question about whether Amanda and Meredith knew him. Amanda had said, I had seen him, but I didn't know his name.

GUMBEL: Raffaele had never met Rudy Guede. Never set eyes on him, didn't know anything about him.

NARRATOR: Within days, Guede was picked up by police in Germany.

GUMBEL: The initial assumption when Rudy Guede was arrested in Germany and extradited back to Italy was it was all going to be over any day now. Everything points to him. He even had a motive.

MELLAS: He had stated in a conversation to the police that, yes, I was there. Yes, I know who Amanda is and, no, she wasn't there, and, no, I have never met her boyfriend before. So we're all sitting there going, hallelujah.

BURLEIGH: They basically just throw Lumumba back out on the street. Sorry, we got the wrong black guy.

NARRATOR: Patrick Lumumba was released from custody, but the damage was done. His reputation was trashed because of Amanda's accusations.

KNOX: I would take back my interrogation. When I think back on it, god, especially right afterwards, right after all of that happened, I wish -- I wished so much that I had stood up to them.

NARRATOR: Prosecutor Mignini, however, wasn't changing his position. To him Amanda had simply confessed about the wrong man. He still believed the murder stemmed from a sex orgy gone wrong with Amanda at its center.

KAVINOKY: Investigators were interested to know how sexually active she was because they felt like that fit into the theory of their case.

BURLEIGH: They took her downstairs and had a doctor take a blood test in the jail, and then they call her back and said, we're so sorry you have HIV. So she writes down every guy she's ever had sex with, and there are seven guys, and then two weeks later they say, oops, sorry. We made a mistake. You're not HIV positive. Meanwhile, they have taken this document where she's listed out these guys that she's had sex with, and they handed that to the press.

KAVINOKY: To take that false information of such a deeply personal nature, something that is so intimate, and then leak that out to the media to add to the sensationalism of this case, it's just unimaginable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to try to do our best to put on a face that it is going to work out.

MELLAS: And we keep telling her that it's taking way longer than we ever expected, but she will get out of there.

BREMNER: I would look at all the evidence in the case, including the crime scene, DVDs, her quote-unquote, confession, her bank records, her phone bills. I had everything. And went through all of it and was convinced at the end of the day that she was innocent.

NARRATOR: With the evidence pointing at Rudy Guede as the lone killer, would the prosecution actually put Amanda Knox on trial for a murder she didn't commit?

KAVINOKY: If the Amanda Knox case were to have been tried in America, it would have been the Rudy Guede case, period.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAVINOKY: DNA is very powerful evidence, but if it's mishandled, if that evidence is compromised, it's garbage in, garbage out.

WATERBURY: Their investigation technique was really just appalling.

GUMBEL: If you ever get into the system, it's very hard to get out.

KNOX: I was not strapping on leather and bearing a whip.

NARRATOR: Fourteen months have passed since Meredith Kercher was murdered, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have spent the entire time waiting in jail for their day in court. For Amanda the ordeal is compounded by the peculiarities of the legal system.

BURLEIGH: The Italian juries work differently than ours. The judge is a member of the jury. The judge actually leads the jury in its decision making. KAVINOKY: In Italy they take their time, and the case may start at one point and then adjourn for a couple of weeks. You'll have another day of testimony. A longer adjournment. And so this keeps people on pins and needles for a lot longer.

NARRATOR: Before trying Amanda and Raffaele, the Italian court will prosecute the third suspect in the case, Rudy Guede, who has requested a separate fast-track trial.

KAVINOKY: With Rudy Guede they had strong evidence. They had his DNA not only on her body, but actually inside of her. So this was a slam dunk case against Rudy Guede, and if this case were brought to justice in America, it's my suspicion that we would never be hearing about Amanda or Raffaele. The investigation would have begun and ended with Rudy Guede.

NARRATOR: But there may have been other reasons for granting Rudy Guede a quick trial.

BREMNER: The prosecutor is convinced that this wasn't just Rudy. That once Rudy was found guilty, Rudy would kind of cooperate, especially if he was offered certain reductions in the settlement.

NARRATOR: In the end Rudy Guede's trial was simply a warm-up. The real show was the prosecution of Amanda Knox.

BREMNER: She was voted over the first lady of France as the most popular in the press. In Europe. Think about it. Amanda Knox, you know, over Carla Bruni.

DEMPSEY: I think it's so unfair to look at everything that Amanda does in court and to write it down. But these people are actually doing them.

KNOX: When I didn't cry, it was bad. When I smiled, it was bad. When I didn't smile, it was bad. It -- I have been paralyzed by this kind of scrutiny. And I feel like it's unfair.

NARRATOR: Amanda Knox's defenders say she was constantly misrepresented. Even her online social media nickname, Foxy Knoxy, was held up as alleged proof of her wicked ways.

DEMPSEY: In court they talked about that all the time. Like why are you Foxy Knoxy? And what does that really mean?

NARRATOR: It was a name her teammates gave her when she played middle school soccer.

BREMNER: That was her nickname. It was that innocent. Nobody called her that in Seattle. Nobody called her that when she was in Italy. No one called her that post probably age 14.

NARRATOR: At the same time the media virtually ignored Raffaele Sollecito.

GUMBEL: Raffaele in the media was almost invisible. He was Amanda's boyfriend. He was alleged to have been involved somehow. The prosecution made various allegations against him. But really nobody focused on him.

NARRATOR: The trial was a long, slow process. And the media constantly milked the emotions of the public.

DEMPSEY: The prosecutor and the media tells wonderful stories but would get up and say Amanda did this, Amanda did that, and they would just write it down as though it happened in front of their eyes.

KAVINOKY: The Italian justice system and the Italian media system is like a two-headed monster, and both of them need to get fed.

NARRATOR: Even with all its advantages, the prosecution's case lacked hard physical evidence against Amanda and Raffaele.

DEMPSEY: They kept trying to find evidence placing Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the actual room where the murder was committed, and they've never been able to do that.

BREMNER: There's only two pieces of evidence that ever supposedly connected her to this crime, and neither one of those connect her.

NARRATOR: The first was a kitchen knife found in Raffaele's apartment.

WATERBURY: In the case of the knife, the media mantra on this, the thing they kept repeating over and over again, was that it had Meredith's DNA on the blade and Amanda's on the handle. It did not have Meredith's DNA on the blade. If a spoon was taken from your kitchen drawer and tested by the same techniques that the spoon would be shown to have on Meredith Kercher's DNA on it. It really was pseudo-science.

NARRATOR: The second piece of evidence was Meredith's bra clasp found at the crime scene allegedly carrying Raffaele's DNA.

WATERBURY: So they went back in some 40-some days after the original crime scene investigation and brought back that bra clasp.

BREMNER: Didn't collect it for, like, six weeks? And they kept kicking it around the room and then picking it up with the same gloves and putting it down.

NARRATOR: The defense tried to challenge the DNA test done on the knife and the bra clip, but the prosecution argued that all testing had been done correctly. The judge agreed and disallowed additional testing.

DEMPSEY: They refused to have independent experts look at any of the scientific evidence, so all you could go by was what the police wanted to show you.

GUMBEL: What ended up being prosecutor Mignini's contention was that somehow Amanda ordered the murder from the next room because that was the only way you could explain how she was involved but there was none of her DNA at the scene. It was some -- it was remarkable it didn't even pass the giggle test, but that was what the prosecutor was reduced to.

NARRATOR: Without real evidence the prosecution had built a case on Amanda's presumed bad character, but was merely looking guilty enough to send Amanda Knox to prison for life?

KNOX: For all of their theories about my personality and my behavior, there is nothing that links me to this murder. I am not present at the crime scene. I'm just not.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEMPSEY: The more you know about Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the less likely you are to believe that they were guilty.

GUMBEL: If you met Raffaele Sollecito you'd realize that you're him harming a fly is absolutely absurd.

KNOX: The idea that I could have participated in a murder and yet be not present at the crime scene is ludicrous.

NARRATOR: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito lasted almost 12 months. Finally on the December 4th, 2009, just over two years after the murder of Meredith Kercher a verdict was reached.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news from Italy, Amanda Knox found guilty of murder. The verdict for the 22-year-old American handed down earlier this evening and we're told she was sobbing while the decision was being announced.

NEWTON: You could really hear a pin drop in that room. The judge dispassionately saying that both were guilty giving Amanda Knox 26 years, her former lover 25 years, for the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher.

KAVINOKY: When the verdict came down, there were parties in the street. People seemed to be overjoyed with the fact at her conviction.

BURLEIGH: As an American living in the 21st century be present at the conviction which was announced at midnight on a foggy night with a crowd of townspeople shouting "assassina, Americana," was the closest thing I will ever come to, I think in my life, witnessing an actual pagan scapegoating ritual.

NARRATOR: The prosecution and Meredith Kercher's family felt justice had been served.

BURLEIGH: The Kercher family is convinced that she killed their daughter, and they are behind the Italian prosecutor 100 percent.

NARRATOR: But there were others who were outraged by the manipulation of evidence and the verdict.

WATERBURY: In any legitimate court of law that was looking at this DNA evidence in the United States, in the U.K., in France, in any of these countries, this DNA evidence would be absolutely thrown out.

BREMNER: There's not a hair of Amanda Knox in there. There's not a fiber of Amanda Knox. There's not blood of Amanda Knox. There's not footprints of Amanda Knox. There's nothing.

NARRATOR: No one, however, questioned Rudy Guede's guilt. Yet two and a half weeks after Amanda's trial ended, Guede's sentence was reduced from 30 years to 16, leading some to ask, did he cut a deal?

WATERBURY: There's overwhelming DNA evidence along with lots of other physical evidence that points to Rudy Guede.

NARRATOR: Amanda's attorneys appealed the verdict and focused on challenging the DNA evidence.

GUMBEL: When the appeals process began, it felt like they had another mountain to climb that right away you could tell that there was a very different tone, and, again, the key decision was whether or not they would allow an independent assessment of the forensic evidence.

NARRATOR: November 24th, 2010, 11 months after the guilty verdict a second trial is granted. The defense presented a very compelling case identifying Rudy Guede as the true killer, based on hard facts and motive.

BREMNER: Rudy Guede came to the house. He broke in. He was in the bathroom. He left his own DNA in the bathroom. Meredith may have come home and surprised him. Maybe he was lying in wait. I hate to say it, but it's kind of the garden variety one-guy-kills, tries-to- rape-and-rob-girl case.

NARRATOR: In contrast to Rudy Guede's incriminating DNA, Amanda's defense team also set out to prove that the DNA found on the knife allegedly Meredith's, did not implicate Amanda or Raffaele.

DEMPSEY: They actually had independent experts come in, and they were absolutely appalled by the way that DNA was collected and tested.

BREMNER: Those independent experts said the evidence is contaminated. It's not admissible. It's compromised. They thought was Meredith's DNA, was not DNA at all. It was nothing. It didn't match her in any way, shape, or form.

KAVINOKY: The prosecutor trying to rebut suggests that somehow Amanda went back and cleaned up the DNA. It's a ridiculous notion. It's crazy.

DEMPSEY: Somehow they have special vision that allows them to see DNA, so Amanda and Raffaele were able to go in all night they worked and cleaned up only their DNA and left Rudy's DNA all over the place.

NARRATOR: Amanda and Raffaele tried to remain hopeful about the second trial, but public opinion was still against them. And they had already spent years behind bars.

KNOX: There were times that I thought I was going crazy and I was literally just talking to my younger self when I was alone. I would be alone in my cell thinking about the past and thinking about all of my regrets.

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KAVINOKY: Publicly this case is considered to be the Amanda Knox case but really it's the Meredith Kercher murder case. And sadly I think a lot of that has been lost in the way the case has been covered in the media.

BURLEIGH: Millions of Italians believe that this young woman is a murderous. Millions.

KAVINOKY: I don't think Amanda is guilty of felony murder, but I think Amanda is guilty of being felony stupid.

NARRATOR: The second trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito took 11 months to complete. Even when delivered in Italian, the verdict was clear. Amanda Knox was free.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Knox, Amanda is free and Sollecito, Raffaele as well.

BURLEIGH: In the fall of 2011, after these kids have been in prison for four years, a Perugia appeals court threw the case out. Overturned it. And they walked and they went home.

NARRATOR: While it became a time of celebration for Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and their families, the tragedy of Meredith Kercher cannot be forgotten.

DEMPSEY: The Kercher family has paid the ultimate price. I wish that they would not always go by what the prosecutor says. Because the prosecutor is absolutely obsessed with this one person and actually they could have had some closure long ago if he had just pursued the most logical trail.

KNOX: I don't think the prosecution has admitted that through the objectivity of their evidence they can conclude who participated and who did not. And the fact that it has been put out there for so long that I may or may not have had something to do with the murder they can't let go of. They just -- the idea that someone knows what happened or was a part of what happened and isn't saying anything and isn't being held responsible is maddening.

I understand that. But it's not -- I'm not responsible for what happened. I didn't do it. I wasn't there. I don't know anything more about it.

KAVINOKY: This is a case where there is DNA evidence that show that the murderer is in prison but yet there's this feeling that somehow justice hasn't been served.

DEMPSEY: When I talk to people they don't understand that somebody else has already been convicted of this crime. Not only that but that all the evidence in the murder room points to Rudy. NARRATOR: Just after her acquittal, Amanda flew back to the U.S. She knew she had to face the press. But it was nothing like Italy.

BREMNER: When Amanda came home there was a huge crowd.

KNOX: My family is the most important thing to me right now. And I just want to go and be with them. So thank you for being there for me.

BREMNER: All the TV stations, all the radio stations, all the print media, "Seattle Times," everybody, they wrote -- they sent a letter which I think is unprecedented together, saying, we will honor Amanda Knox's request to leave her alone.

NARRATOR: Raffaele Sollecito tried to move on with his life as well.

GUMBEL: I think that Raffaele feels very embittered about the justice system and continues to feel very embittered because of the length of time this has taken. His great virtue was he understood that Amanda was innocent and he was absolutely not going to roll over. He was not going to testify against her no matter it cost him.

BURLEIGH: After Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were released, Raffaele came to the United States and spent a few days with her. Their relationship was over. They are obviously bound together by this bizarre experience but they are not boyfriend and girlfriend any more.

NARRATOR: Some five months after returning home, Amanda Knox signed a book deal worth a reported $4 million. But her nightmare was not over.

On March 26th, 2013, two months before Amanda's memoir was published she and Raffaele received distressing news.

COOPER: "Crime and Punishment" tonight, will Amanda Knox face re- trial for murder in Italy?

NARRATOR: The Italian Supreme Court was considering a third trial. Unlike the American legal system, the prosecution in Italy can appeal a reversal verdict. And Giuliano Mignini is apparently not a man to lose the case of his career.

BREMNER: We called this the Mignini express. You know, it was like -- it's like this vortex that you get into and can't get out.

The biggest moral of the story is she should have lawyered up. But before that she should have gotten on a plane. She stayed in Italy voluntarily. If she had just flown home none of this would have ever happened.

NARRATOR: Whether or not Amanda Knox returns to Italy to face her accusers, the Italian justice system can grind on for decades, and Amanda may never be able to say she is truly free.

KNOX: I'm afraid to go back there. I don't want to go back to prison. There are only so many times that I can say no, I didn't do it.

END