While imprisoned in Italy for four years in the murder of her roommate, Amanda Knox fended off sexual harassment from guards and an overture from a cellmate. The night of the killing, she smoked marijuana and watched a film with her Italian boyfriend. And the infamous cartwheels Knox reportedly did in the police station never happened.
Those assertions are among the many in “Waiting to Be Heard,” the long-awaited memoir that is Knox’s most extensive public testimony since she was convicted, and then acquitted, of killing her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
On the morning of Nov. 2, 2007, Kercher was found semi-naked, her throat slit, in her bedroom in their villa in the town of Perugia. Knox, a University of Washington student from Seattle, and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were accused of killing Kercher in a sexual escapade gone wrong, along with Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native who was eventually convicted of Kercher’s sexual assault and murder.
An appeals court acquitted Knox and Sollecito two years after their original conviction, and they were released. But in March, Italy’s highest court overturned that decision, ordering a new trial.
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A copy of Knox’s book, scheduled for release April 30, was obtained by The New York Times. The memoir prompted a highly competitive auction, with seven publishers bidding. Knox got a reported $4 million advance from HarperCollins.
In 463 pages, Knox recounts her darkest moments in prison — at one point, she writes, she imagined committing suicide by suffocating herself with a garbage bag — as well as her routines there. She says she practiced Italian, wrote letters and read books by Feodor Dostoevski and Umberto Eco.
Knox exhaustively lays out her defense, describing her whereabouts the night her roommate was killed. She says she and Sollecito were smoking marijuana, reading a Harry Potter book aloud in German and watching the film “Amelie” at his apartment. (“Around our house, marijuana was as common as pasta,” Knox wrote.)
She pointed to the Italian prosecutors who she said willfully ignored and manipulated evidence while they clung to their theory of the crime.
Prosecutors were just as adamant in making their case, presenting DNA and forensic evidence in court.
According to Knox’s account, the police interrogated her for hours and sporadically slapped her on the back of her head. Her requests to use the bathroom were denied. Eventually they goaded her into signing a statement that implicated herself and an innocent man, Patrick Lumumba, her boss at a bar where she worked.
But Knox also said that her own mistakes had contributed to her conviction. She admits to being naive, sometimes inappropriate and odd, too proud to admit when her halting knowledge of Italian failed her. During the investigation, she followed the directions of the Italian police “like a lost, pathetic child,” she recalled.