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The Trials of Amanda Knox

Aired May 1, 2014 - 22:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our CNN special report, "The Trials Of Amanda Knox."

And the case that's held the world's attention for close to seven years just took another shocking left turn. The Italian court that reconvicted Knox of murder explained its reasons, and they are almost as bizarre as the case itself.

They include an entirely new theory of what happened that night and why, evidence that was never heard of before, even additional perpetrators.

Now, in a moment, you will hear what Amanda Knox herself has to say about all of this.

But, first, let's remind everyone how we got here and what is in this latest ruling.


CUOMO (voice-over): Amanda Knox was just 20 year old when she was charged with murdering her 21-year-old British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in the house they shared in Perugia, Italy.

Italian police immediately zeroed in on Knox, not because of witnesses or forensics, but what they saw as her bizarre behavior. She wasn't distraught enough. She kissed her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, outside the crime scene.

She did yoga in the police station. Soon, the Italian media came up with a persona for Knox that would stick with her the rest of her life, Foxy Knoxy, the sex-crazed villainous who killed Kercher as part of a sex game gone awry. It was the stuff of tabloid headlines, but was also, many would argue, the prosecution's entire case.

Despite this, Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009 and sentenced to more than 25 years in prison. By then, Knox had already been behind bars for two years. Another two would pass before an Italian appeals court acquitted Knox, citing -- quote -- "no objective element of evidence." She immediately flew home to Seattle.

AMANDA KNOX, ACQUITTED ON MURDER CHARGES: Thank you to everyone who's believed in me.

CUOMO: But, last year, a new trial was ordered, and now the 300-plus- page report is in, revealing that an appeals court in Florence convicted Knox again, but based on a new motive. It wasn't a sexual encounter at all, but a fight over money that led to Kercher's death. There were multiple assailants and two knives, and the court said it was Knox who delivered the fatal stab to the left side of the neck, so much of this based on the statements of the only person whose DNA is all over the crime scene, Rudy Guede, convicted of Kercher's murder separately.

Thanks to a quirk in the Italian legal system, he is due to be released this year, after less than six years behind bars.


CUOMO: You are not surprised to know the outcome of the decision, obviously. You knew that already. But, in reading the reasons, what surprised you here?

KNOX: I think what most surprised me is how this court has attempted to account for exonerating evidence.

That is really surprising to me. It is not surprising to me that they put so much emphasis on circumstantial evidence, as opposed to forensic, objective, proven evidence. And I'm really disappointed about that, because the circumstantial clues of this case have all been equivocal, have been unreliable, whereas forensic evidence that proves what happened in that room that night is there, is available for -- to be understood.

It has not been taken into consideration. And that continues to be an incredible difficult obstacle that I'm having to confront in proving my innocence.

CUOMO: Why do you think this judge goes further than any other, that not only does he say, this is the knife, not only does he say that you had it because of DNA around the bottom of the blade and the hilt, but that he believes that you are the one who actually killed Meredith Kercher?

KNOX: I believe -- I can't speculate what this judge's motivations are, personal motivations or otherwise.

What I can say is that, as this case has progressed, the evidence that the prosecution has claimed exists against me has been proven less and less and less.

And all that has happened is that they filled these holes with speculation. I did not kill my friend. I did not wield a knife. I had no reason to. I was -- in the month that we were living together, we were becoming friends. A week before the murder occurred, we went out to a classical music concert together. Like, we had never fought.

And the idea -- I mean, he's brought up lots of things, crazy motives.

CUOMO: He doesn't agree with anything that you're saying right now, specific to the relationship, right? This judge believes that this fight was about money and that you stole money from your roommate, and that that is what started this violent night. Is there truth to that? KNOX: Absolutely not.

He is getting this from Rudy Guede, who is coming up with these sorts of things for self-interest. And the truth of the matter is, one, I have no criminal record, so I am not the type of person who is going to violently kill someone for any reason.

And, furthermore, I had saved up to go to Italy. I was not in need of stealing any money, unlike Rudy Guede, who was a known thief, who was a known burglar, who did this on a regular basis to survive. And why they would think that I was a thief, when, in Meredith's own purse, there are Rudy Guede's fingerprints -- it is based on nothing.

CUOMO: To step through what he sees as the fact pattern of that night, and literally it almost is like a yes/no list, were you and your boyfriend hanging out in the piazza outside your building that night?


CUOMO: Did you let Rudy Guede into your apartment?


CUOMO: Were you with Rudy Guede in your apartment that night?


CUOMO: Was there a fight over money with Meredith Kercher witnessed by Rudy Guede?


CUOMO: The judge believes the only way he could have gotten in is with keys. He throws out the possibility that there was a break-in through the window, the window that was found broken and the room disheveled.

Why do you think that he just dismisses the possibility of that as an orchestrated break-in scene?

KNOX: I mean, again, I don't know why he thinks that. What I can say is that Rudy Guede was a known burglar who broke into houses and offices through second-story windows, having thrown a rock, carrying a knife.

And these all resemble everything that happened in our apartment. And so why he suggested this is impossible doesn't make sense to me.

CUOMO: Your roommates said you two had a strained relationship. Now, that's a bad fact, as we call it in the law. Why would your roommates lie about the relationship between you and Meredith?

KNOX: They said that we weren't hanging out as much around the time that the murder occurred. But that was only because I had gotten a job. And, if anything, Meredith's British friends suggested that maybe Meredith was a little bit uncomfortable about certain issues of hygiene or -- but these were not issues that were going to ever lead to any kind of violence. They never led to any kind of aggressive communication between us. That never happened.

CUOMO: The judge believes that there were three people who did this. He says the blood is suggestive of it, that Rudy Guede had three hands, and if he had three hands, he must not have been alone, that the DNA evidence from Raffaele Sollecito is there on the clasp, and that shows that he was trying to take off her clothes or manipulate her somehow, and that there had to be a third person, and that the DNA of footprints that he believes are yours and your boyfriend's prove that you were three of you in the room that night.

Why is he wrong?

KNOX: Well, let's break that down.

We have a bra clasp that independent court-appointed experts claimed was not reliable evidence because it was collected 46 days after the crime scene had been gone through by the CSI of Italy and after police had tromped through it and basically completely destroyed that scene. And so that is not a reliable piece of evidence.

Then we have the idea that Rudy Guede wouldn't have been able to attack Meredith with two knives, because someone had to hold her down, right?


KNOX: Well, first of all, the knife that they claim is the murder weapon is not the murder weapon.

For him -- for an athletic male armed with a knife to overpower a young woman, that happens everyday in this world. And I don't think that that is impossible to be what happened to Meredith.

CUOMO: And you are saying to me tonight that what is also impossible is that you were in the room that night, you had a knife in your hand, and that you helped kill Meredith Kercher.

KNOX: Absolutely, because my DNA, any trace of me is not there. When you're talking about traces of me that they attribute to be to the crime scene, they are talking about my DNA in my own bathroom or my footsteps that tested negative for blood that had my DNA and Meredith's DNA on the floor between our bedrooms and the bathroom.

Well, of course our DNA is there. We lived there for a month. It was there. It tested negative for blood. So, it wasn't blood. And so it's irrelevant to the crime. But we are talking about the crime that happened in Meredith's bedroom. And there is no trace of us.

If Rudy Guede committed this crime, which he did, we know that because his DNA is there on Meredith's body, around Meredith's body, his handprints and footprints in her blood. None of that exists from me. And if I were there, I would have had traces of Meredith's broken body on me, and I would have left traces of myself around -- around Meredith's corpse. And I -- I am not there, and that proves my innocence.

CUOMO: Those are the big points that this judge makes. There are others. And there's also another man who has judged you before who wants to weigh in on this case. And we have a statement from him. You're going to want to hear it.

We're going to have that right after we take a break here and return with "The Trials of Amanda Knox."

Stay with us.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

The Italian judge who set Amanda Knox free says the appellate court's ruling against her is more worthy of a Hollywood movie set than a courtroom.

In a statement obtained exclusively by CNN, retired Judge Claudio Hellmann says: "The Florence Appeal Court has written a script for a movie or a thriller book, while it should have only considered facts and evidence. There is no evidence to condemn Knox and Sollecito. It is a verdict that seems to me is the result of fantasy and has nothing to do with the evidence."

Amanda Knox is joining us again now.

Obviously, words of comfort to you.

KNOX: Yes.

CUOMO: What does it mean to hear that from the now retired judge?

KNOX: It gives me a lot of hope, because, I mean, he -- he did the right thing. He appointed independent experts. He looked at the forensic evidence, the proven, objective evidence.

He didn't -- he didn't give more weight to equivocal and unreliable circumstantial clues than needed to be, and he found us innocent.

CUOMO: However, the judge on top of him, Nencini, looked at what he did, dismisses it out of hand, as almost saying, that's why he retired, because look at this decision.

And he seems to believe, his quote, "No alternative explanation" other than his "is conceivable."

That is casting a tremendous amount of doubt on the story that you tell about what happened that night.

KNOX: It's not a complex case. It is only complex when you try to find explanations for things that are around about. And it's like, no, no. Let's get to the facts of this case. And then there are other circumstantial clues, like my own DNA in my own bathroom that he says could only be involved with the murder? But that is -- that's just not true.

CUOMO: That Rudy Guede had to enter from use of your keys.

KNOX: That's not true either.

CUOMO: The judge says that's a fact.

KNOX: He had a history of breaking and entering through second-story windows with rocks carrying knives. Like, how is that impossible? He -- there was a window below that he could have climbed up from. Like, he was perfectly capable of doing that.

CUOMO: He believes the convicted killer more than he believes what you say. What does that mean to you?

KNOX: I don't know.

It's definitely very disheartening, because I don't know -- I'm sitting here having to prove my innocence. And it is incredibly disheartening, when -- when Rudy Guede was found to be unreliable, when he was found to be certainly Meredith's rapist and killer, that they would consider his testimony over mine.

There's -- there's no explanation for it, in my mind.

CUOMO: What does it lead you to believe that he thinks about you, this judge, as a person?

KNOX: As a person?

Well, he says in his report that he believes the prosecutor when the prosecutor describes me as a person who was capable of not only completely disturbing everyone around me, but then getting drugged up and -- and -- but I'm not that person. And the evidence doesn't show that.

CUOMO: Another thing that Judge Hellmann says that you should know is that, "The high court will be obliged to confirm the Florence ruling if they don't want to openly contradict their colleagues."

KNOX: He was willing to do it. And so I have to believe that there are authorities in Italy who will be sitting on that Supreme Court panel who will look at the facts of this case and will do the same thing that he did.

CUOMO: Do you believe you are haunted by first impressions, how you were in the aftermath, how the police described you, what they saw as antics that just never seemed right?

Do you think that you have just been unable to shake the image? KNOX: I think I'm haunted more by people's projections of their ideas on to me than my own impression on others, because there has been an absurd focus on seconds of the hours that I spent outside of my house, of police's testimonies of what did or didn't happen in the police office.

I think -- I think it's true that people seemed to have had a kind of tunnel vision in my regard. And that has been something that I have been having to fight against for a long time.

CUOMO: This saga has had many steps. But, legally, there is only one more to go. And the question for you is, what do you plan to do to stop it and have this case come out in your favor?

I want you to hold your answer. We're going to take a break.

We're going to have that when we come back, and a look at what life may be like going forward for Amanda Knox.

Stay with us.


CUOMO: We're back with Amanda Knox.

Amanda, it was about almost a year ago that we did our last interview. At that time, your book had just come out. You were facing the prospect of this trial, the ruling of which we just received.

I want to remind you of what you said then about the prospect of having to return and face this fight again. Take a look.


KNOX: I'm afraid to go back there. I don't want to go back into prison. I mean, I was there for four years. I just -- I have no choice but to confront this. And I don't know. I -- I'm afraid. I'm so afraid.


CUOMO: Then, you had the anticipation of, what will this ruling be? What was worse, the anticipation of it or now knowing where it stands with the judges?


I think it's knowing now where it stands with the judges, because I -- I had truly believed that this court was going to find me innocent. No new evidence had been presented. I did not expect this. I -- I -- and I'm incredibly hurt and disappointed to read what they're saying is true, but is so clearly not.

And I guess my only hope is that people are going to see all of the flaws that are throughout the entire document that justifies this verdict, that this whole theory that I might somehow be involved in some way with Meredith's murder is wrong.

CUOMO: You will appeal.

KNOX: Yes.

CUOMO: You will stay here in the United States for the pendency of the appeal.

KNOX: Yes.

CUOMO: What happens if the Supreme Court confirms this ruling and the case is closed, and you are guilty?

KNOX: You know, from this whole experience, especially in prison, where you have to take everything day by day, right now, I'm having to take everything step by step.

And if I think about everything that I could possibly be facing, it's way too overwhelming for me to even conceive.

CUOMO: This started in 2007. It is now 2014. For you, in your life, is it present day? Are you able to be present in this day? Or are you still trapped in 2007?

KNOX: It's definitely a limbo.

My entire adult life has been weighed down and taken over by this tremendous mess. This -- this -- I mean, on the one hand, I have my life in Seattle. I get to go to school. I get to be with my family, my friends. And I'm so grateful to have them. They really help me get through this, and to know there are people who believe me.

And then, on the other hand, there's in huge weight and there's this huge struggle and trying to learn each step of the way what is -- what what's so wrong and how I can fix it. And I guess -- I guess I'm just -- I guess I'm just one of the lucky ones.

CUOMO: How so?

KNOX: Well, because I'm actually -- I'm actually supported by people. And people have looked into my case, as opposed to have forgotten me.

CUOMO: If the case is affirmed by the Supreme Court, if you are found guilty in final fashion, but the United States decides not to extradite, your life goes on, you can live here, you can be in the United States, but will you ever really be free?

KNOX: No, absolutely not, no.

That's not a livable -- that's not -- especially since, right now, me and Raffaele together are fighting for our innocence. And I -- like I said, I truly believe that that can happen. It is only speculation that convicts us. It is evidence that acquits us. And I'm holding -- I'm holding firm to that, in hopes that what you're suggesting might happen doesn't.

CUOMO: You're holding out hope?

KNOX: Yes.

CUOMO: Amanda Knox, thank you for taking the opportunity to answer the allegations against you. And good luck going forward.

KNOX: Thank you.

CUOMO: That's it for us now and our special report.