Married or not, Knox’s future is frozen, writes columnist Jonathan Martin.
Amanda Knox got engaged last week.
For an ordinary 27-year-old Seattlite, a wedding would be a pivot to a new life. The future Mr. Knox is Colin Sutherland, also 27, a musician who recently moved to Seattle from New York. They’ve known each other since middle school. Best of luck, and happy Valentine’s Day.
But Knox’s life is extraordinary, for all the wrong reasons. Married or not, Knox’s future is frozen at Nov. 2, 2007, the day her roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found brutally slain just at the start of Knox’s junior year abroad in Italy.
Since then, Knox’s case has pinballed through the Italian judicial system in ways that baffles many Americans. In quick summary: Knox returned home to West Seattle in 2011 after her murder conviction was reversed on appeal. That decision was appealed by prosecutors, and she and her ex-boyfriend were re-convicted in 2014.
The case takes another turn March 25 this year, when Italy’s Court of Cassation, its highest court, hears yet another appeal of an appeal, and decides whether Italy may seek to force Knox back for another trial.
Knox has sought to keep a low profile since returning, despite bouts of paparazzi stalking that yielded pictures of her and Sutherland, a lanky rock musician. Her engagement was disclosed by a source close to the family, and Knox confirmed it in an email, but declined to say anything else.
I met Knox for coffee late last year at a West Seattle café, on her condition it would be off-the-record. She’d recently graduated from the University of Washington, finishing the degree interrupted by her four years in prison, and had begun writing for the West Seattle Herald. She works at a bookstore.
As we talked about journalism, she struck me as a normal would-be writer — earnest, well-read, a bit of a goofy sense of humor. When I brought up her pending case, she shut down entirely.
I don’t blame her. The killing of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, is a Rorschach test for the digital age, spawning an industry of websites and message boards. The fine grains of evidence are sifted and re-sifted through nearly every possible lens — American entitlement, Italian buffoonery, female sexual power, male prosecutorial abuse, and so on.
Race plays a role because Knox falsely accused a black Italian man before recanting, a serious mistake she apologized for in her memoir. And then there’s Rudy Guede, who was convicted separately in Kercher’s death. Despite credible evidence pointing to him as the sole culprit, Guede could be released before Knox’s fate is determined.
Friends and sources consistently ask me about Knox, whose case I’ve covered off and on since 2007. To believe she’s innocent, you have to simply be willing to believe that prosecutors get stuck with tunnel vision, and that Italian judges are fallible political animals. It is telling that prosecutors’ sensational theory about Kercher’s death — a sex game gone awry — was abandoned in the latest court ruling, in favor of a more pedestrian case of roommate squabbling.
None of these theories holds up. It is a highly circumstantial case, with DNA evidence so thin that Knox probably wouldn’t have even been charged in the United States. The prosecution’s shifting theories reflect the fact that Knox had no motive. She might be America’s most famous wrongfully convicted person.
The March 25 hearing in Italy could result in her acquittal. Many of Knox’s supporters instead fear she and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito could be sent back for yet another trial. Knox has said publicly she has no intention of voluntarily returning to Italy. An extradition process would be legally difficult to avoid and painfully expensive for her family, but I suspect members of Washington’s congressional delegation will make it into a political fight.
Until then, if Seattleites see Knox around town, give her a smile and maybe a congratulations on her engagement. (No date has been set, according to my source.)
Her husband-to-be wrote her while she was in prison, and now he has signed up to be stalked by paparazzi, British tabloids and Internet trolls. It must be love.