Amanda Knox, an American woman convicted of the murder of her British roommate in Perugia, is worriedly awaiting the Italian high court’s verdict on Knox's appeal. The murder of Meredith Kercher in 2007 resulted in an ongoing legal battle and a media circus, focusing on Knox and her Italian ex-lover Raffaele Sollecito. The pair were found guilty in 2009, freed in 2011, and re-convicted in 2014; Knox received a sentence of 28.5 years. Having maintained her innocence and refused to return to Italy, Knox is awaiting the verdict on the appeal — expected Wednesday or as late as Friday — from her home in Seattle. So what has Knox been doing for the past couple years?
For a semi-condemned woman, Knox has been remarkably active — especially considering an inauspicious beginning to her American life post-prison. After spending four years in an Italian jail, her conviction was overturned in 2011, and she returned home to Seattle, Washington State. Arriving back on American soil in April, to a warm welcome, within months she was reportedly receiving hate mail. In a practical move, the then-24 year old began taking self-defense classes with her sister — training in Krav Maga, a combo of boxing, wrestling, and martial arts developed by the Israeli Defense Forces.
By that time, Knox had already started dating old beau James Terrano, a classical guitar student at the University of Washington, and the couple were sharing an apartment in Seattle’s Chinatown. Flash forward 4 years, past an inconvenient re-conviction, and that relationship is no longer thriving. But Knox seems to have a thing for musicians, and just last month she announced her engagement to Colin Sutherland — a childhood friend and musician, who wrote to her during her stint in prison. Sutherland had been living in Brooklyn, where Knox visited him, but recently returned to Seattle.
Romance aside — and of course, given the sensationally erotic suspicions surrounding Kercher’s murder, interest in Knox’s love life is through the roof, spawning distasteful “Foxy Knoxy” references (although admittedly, this her own name on her MySpace page) — the 27 year old has managed to create a convincing semblance of a normal life. She went to graduate school, studying towards a creative writing degree from University of Washington (from which she was due to graduate last June). She found regular work at a Seattle bookstore, and has also written for the West Seattle Herald and Westside Weekly.
Last November, publisher Ken Robinson told local publication mynorthwest.com that Knox had reached out to him over summer, offering to cover local theatre. “We said yes and she sent something in and it was good. And she asked if we wanted more and we said yes, and she started sending us play reviews and book reviews,” he said. Her by-line had gone virtually unnoticed, he reported.
Web editor Patrick Robinson (the newspaper is a family affair) gave a slightly different version of events — claiming that the paper had actually approached Knox, “to give her the opportunity of a normal life.” Whatever the real story, she’s since penned many articles, including one about a high school production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
And that’s not the only writing Knox has been doing. In May 2013, her book, Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir, was released — after a book advance of a reported $4 million. The memoir details the story of her years in Italy: from her arrival through to her conviction and eventual release, and consistently asserts her innocence. Knox’s effort (a collaboration with ghostwriter Linda Kulman) is an in-depth account of sexual liaisons and prison trivia. A New York Times review offered lukewarm praise, saying it contained “instances of genuine writing.” The Guardian was more generous, hailing the memoir as “an intriguing and often compelling account of the trauma of spending the best years of one's life in an Italian provincial jail.” Last year, Michael Winterbottom made a film about the trial and the insane media scrum surrounding it. Face of an Angel, starring Kate Beckinsale and Cara Delevigne, is due to be released in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2015.
Since the murder trial, Knox has been in sporadic correspondence with the Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone, and last February some of that correspondence was published. The dispatches from Seattle sound like an emotionally drained young woman trying to get her life back on track. In April 2013, after Waiting to be Heard was published and her re-trial had been announced, she wrote:
To be quite honest, the joyful relief of the publication of my book was short-lived. Without those responsibilities to think about any more, I'm anxiously awaiting news about my further trial and I'm a bit at a loss of what to think about it or do about it. I wasn't expecting to have to defend myself all over again and it's incredibly disconcerting.
Later, Hattenstone meets Knox in person in Seattle. She makes Hunger Games references, and talks about the difficulty of being notorious:
If I'm interacting with somebody and they don't recognize me immediately, they'll ask questions like, 'Hey, so what major are you?' 'Oh I'm a creative writing major.' 'Are you a senior? A freshman?' 'Oh, I'm a senior?' 'How old are you? 'Oh, I'm 26. And they're like 'Oh wow, what have you been doing to take so long?' and I'm like, 'Oh, well, I was studying abroad.' 'Really, where were you studying abroad?' 'Oh, in Italy.' 'Oh wow, that must have been awesome.' I'm like, 'O-aaaaah.' And they're like 'Oh why, explain?' And I'm like, 'I was in prison.'
She has homework looming, and talks about her family and friends. Now, these beginnings of a normal life — running errands in comfy outfits, eating curry, chilling with her fiancé — hang in the balance, as an Italian court determines whether to uphold, overturn, or retry. It is possible that she will be extradited if the conviction is upheld. Although Knox is reportedly anxious about the decision, one of her attorneys projected positivity. “I have always been confident,” Luciano Ghirga told Christian Science Monitor. “Amanda is innocent.”
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