Rather than clarifying a case of what prosecutors said was a sex game gone fatally awry, the conviction in Italy of Amanda Knox, 22, a Seattle college student, for killing her roommate, Meredith Kercher, 21, seemed to heighten the conflicting public opinions voiced in two years of fierce international news coverage, the New York Times reports. As the yearlong trial unfolded in the media and the courts, Knox was depicted in the U.S. as a fresh-faced young woman caught in the vagaries of the Italian justice system. In the Italian press, she was a blithe, dope-smoking party girl who had accused a former boss of the crime before changing her story.
A statement from Knox’ family said, “It appears clear to us that the attacks on Amanda's character in much of the media and by the prosecution had a significant impact on the judges and jurors and apparently overshadowed the lack of evidence in the prosecution's case against her.” Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, and is appealing the conviction. Her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, got a 25-year term. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said, “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.”