West Seattle raised Amanda Knox is expected to be handed a sentence within 10 days. Like the story, "The Lady, or the Tiger", two possible fates await her, a blissful journey back to her West Seattle home, or an additional 22 years in an Italian prison.
Amanda Knox, long strange trip may begin to end tonight in court
British tabloids soften Knox criticism over four years while some American journalists dig in
The appeal trial of West Seattle raised Amanda Knox, serving 26 years for stabbing her roommate Meredith Kercher to death in Italy four years ago, and that of her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, is coming to a close. Tomorrow morning, Sept. 23, which is late tonight, Sept. 22 West Coast time, the final arguments begin. Most experts believe the appeal will end within a week or 10 days with a verdict, but no one seems to know what that verdict will read. "Cautious optimism" is the mantra of Knox's parents, step parents, and press.
Since the murder of Ms. Kercher Nov.1, 2007, those who have questioned Knox's guilt have accused the British tabloid press of painting a false, negative, and sometimes horrific, picture of Knox's reputation. The jurors, who are not sequestered in Italy, have been free to read these articles. Those maintaining their belief in Knox's guilt have praised the accuracy of such reports. Britain has been prickly on this case, understandable considering Ms. Kercher was born in London.
But the tabloid tide has shifted.
On Dec. 3, 2007, one such publication's headline read "The wild, raunchy past of Foxy Knoxy" followed by the story that stated "Party girl: Amanda 'Foxy Knoxy' Knox at a college celebration in Seattle. The officer suspected "some kids" were just playing their music too loud, but what he found was no run-of-the-mill summer student party: he later told colleagues it was like a scene from Baghdad. Gangs of students, high on drink and drugs, were hurling rocks into the road. Cars were swerving to avoid them. Debris littered the road. It was mayhem."
Last week, Sept. 15, the same publication ran with this headline: "Fresh forensics blunder pushes Amanda Knox closer to freedom: Victim's bloody jumper was found in a laundry basket six weeks AFTER murder", and this story stated, "(...) the appeal trial has heard from two court appointed independent experts, who have severely criticised the police investigation as shoddy. They have highlighted several breaches of procedure, with dirty gloves being used to collect evidence raising the real risk of evidence being contaminated. In particular they said the clasp had been found during the first examination of the scene but not properly examined until six weeks later. By then it had been in another part of the blood stained bedroom(...)
After four long years of DNA, blood, a knife, and witnesses, the dust has finally settled, and the new judge, his appointed forensics experts, as well as the tabloids, seem to be finding only that, dust.
In contrast, certain American reporters have been digging in, holding on to evidence discovered in the first trial, and pointing to Knox's "odd behavior" including performing cartwheels in the police station and wearing a Beatles T-shirt that read "All You Need is Love" as she "marched" into the courtroom around Valentines Day, 2009.
Two weeks ago conservative lightning rod, Ann Coulter, on a book promo tour, framed the murder case in a political left-wing/right-wing argument declaring this on her blog: "Now liberals are howling that the DNA evidence was contaminated," but they always say that. It wasn't. And the DNA was already thoroughly vetted at trial (...) As described in "Demonic," liberals defend the guilty and impugn the innocent not only because they side with barbarians, but because a fair and just system of law challenges their hegemony as judges of the universe."
However, Glenn Beck, Donald Trump, and Bill O'Reilly (as well as left-leaning commentators) have been on record with their support for Knox, and for doubting what they believe to be contaminated evidence. Regardless of one's personal political viewpoint, all would agree these three are not liberal supporters.
Another American reporter following the murder trial closely came up with this damned if you do, damned if you don't headline yesterday: "Knox: innocent abroad or ‘getting away with murder’?" stating "she is unlikely to escape the indignation of some Italians who believe that Americans always seem to get away with murder in their country (...) Italians are a forgiving people. They know their judiciary is often partisan and sometimes gets it wrong, and they would rather see a guilty person go free than someone possibly innocent kept behind bars."
The Lady, or the Tiger?
In Frank Stockton's 1883 short story The Lady, or the Tiger? a king offered a Roman prisoner two doors in a crowded arena. Behind one was a hungry, ferocious tiger, sure to eat the accused. Behind the other, a beautiful woman to take for marriage and be free, a reward of innocence, and a 50/50 chance.
In these final stages of this case, it will of course be up to the jury, not Knox, to open either the door of freedom and her return to West Seattle or the door to the nearby Capanne Prison to serve another 22 years. And while it is looking better than 50/50 that the door to freedom will soon open for Amanda Knox, her detractors hold their breath with cautious pessimism, her supporters with cautious optimism.