If you wanted a theme for a nightmare, a dream that would never let you sleep again, this would be it. You’re a young woman going to college in another country, with foreign chatter and differing folkways all around you, but basically it’s a time of fun, and learning, and handsome young men. These are exciting times. Except that one night your housemate is murdered, brutally, her neck slit open. Police are everywhere for a time, asking questions of everyone. To be expected.
But when they start asking more questions of you than anyone, when they scream at you into the night, for hours, at the police station, to come clean, to confess, and finally indict you for the crime of murder, the good times are all over. The nightmare of the endless loop has begun. After several days your mother arrives from the United States, but it’s too late. Italian authorities claim that you’ve confessed already, sort of, and that you need to be detained, indefinitely.

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Your name is Amanda Knox, and you may not have confessed to anything, but you are guilty of something. You’re guilty of being a free-spirited, eccentric young American woman in Italy, where the expectations of feminine behavior are more traditional. You’re guilty of not grieving enough when you learned of the death of your new friend, who shared your home. You’re guilty of doing Yoga and even gymnastics at the police station, while Italian women looked on, aghast. Your whole way of dressing, of talking, of being, just don’t seem quite right here. So you attract attention, and suspicion. For you, it was a taste of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, and the witchcraft scandals. If you act differently from everyone else, you must be guilty of something.

Knox was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison, then two years later a higher Italian court overturned the conviction—Amanda was released from prison and returned to Seattle to begin the rest of her life.. Then, in 2013 a still higher court re-tried the case, offering the specter of a re-conviction and an order to extradite back to Italian justice. On September 7, 2015, a final verdict cleared Knox and her former boyfriend Raffele Sollecito of responsibility for the death of Meredith Kercher. The huge sigh of relief could be heard all the way from Seattle, where Amanda was engaged to be married. Normal life could resume.

Now that the murder case recedes into history, you’ll hear less and less about Amanda Knox. But what happened in Perugia, Italy that fateful evening that so ignited emotions on both sides of the Atlantic? Why the loathing, and the informal conviction of Knox by the mainstream Italian press, and Italian people, years ago? Amanda’s case is a classic small town tale, of bias and posturing, and genuine crime, and corruption. What journey of understanding can she take us on?

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