Did the public relations campaign on behalf of Amanda Knox help lead to her release in Italy after four years in prison on a murder charge? The New York Times discusses that question and concludes that “no one can say for sure whether the painstaking and calculated rehabilitation of her image helped sway the Italian courts.” Knox returned home to Seattle yesterday.
The Knox family hired a public relations company specializing in crisis management soon after she was arrested in 2007 during her junior year abroad in Perugia, accused along with two men of killing her housemate, Meredith Kercher, during a sexual attack. Volunteers created a website that posted wholesome family snapshots of Knox–part of an effort to counter her portrayal by prosecutors and in the European press as a “she-devil.” By the time she was freed on Monday, many media accounts in the U.S. portrayed her as a nice young woman, a linguistics major at the University of Washington, who had fallen victim to the Italian justice system. It was an official report casting doubt on the DNA evidence in the case that led to her exoneration. The media frenzy was mentioned by both the prosecution and the defense last month in court.