Why Amanda Knox Was Acquitted Of Murder

Over the course of roughly eight years, Amanda Knox received two murder convictions in Italy, and for each conviction, she was also later acquitted. Those verdicts stemmed from the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student living with Knox, an American student, in Perugia, Italy, where both women studied at the time. Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian man Knox met while in the country and her boyfriend at the time Kercher died, was also accused of involvement in the murder. Like Knox, Sollecito was twice convicted of Kercher's murder but then twice acquitted. (Italy has no protection from double jeopardy in its legal system.)

Knox's first acquittal happened because of contested evidence as well as reported issues with witnesses, the court ruled. That acquittal was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court of Italy after Knox had returned to her home in Washington state. Referring to the overturning of that acquittal, the court said (via The Daily Beast), "Too many questions remain unanswered." In 2014, Knox once more stood trial in Italy for Kercher's murder, leading to her second conviction. In 2015, Knox and Sollecito were acquitted one final time.

An acquaintance of the couple and the murder victim, Rudy Guede, from the Ivory Coast — who had a burglary record — received a 16-year prison sentence for Kercher's killing. Guede's conviction was never overturned, though his initial 30-year prison sentence was reduced on appeal. After just 13 years, Guede was released from prison in 2020, The New York Times writes.

There were 'stunning flaws' in the investigation

Meredith Kercher was found dead in the flat she shared with Amanda Knox. Her throat was slit, and she had also been sexually assaulted. There were 40 knife wounds all over her body, and in Knox and Raffaele Sollecito's first trial, prosecutors claimed her death came about in a sex game gone wrong. Evidence suggested there was more than one person in the room at the time Kercher died.

Justifying the second Knox and Sollecito acquittal, the judge in the case said there were "stunning flaws" in the Kercher murder investigation, The Guardian reports. There was also no biological evidence linking Knox and Sollecito to the crime, and Knox's motivation for committing the crime was never firmly established, the judge said. DNA evidence did put Rudy Guede at the scene.

Referring to Knox's first 2009 conviction, the judge wrote (via The Guardian), "The international spotlight on the case in fact resulted in the investigation undergoing a sudden acceleration, that, in the frantic search for one or more guilty parties to consign to international public opinion, certainly didn't help the search for substantial truth."

Guede, who lived in a flat below Kercher, denied killing her, but also said Knox and Sollecito were not involved. At Knox and Sollecito's first acquittal trial, a witness testified that Guede confirmed their lack of involvement while in prison.

The case was retried in 2013

As mentioned, Amanda Knox was in the U.S. when it was announced her first acquittal had been overturned. She never returned to Italy for the second trial, but the outcome was another Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty verdict. Some small evidence emerged between the first and second trial: Knox's DNA on a knife handle, but the knife could have been used for general household purposes. That guilty verdict was thrown out one year later by Italy's highest court.

At the time of her second guilty verdict, Knox said (via Biography), "I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict. Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. ... There has always been a marked lack of evidence." And when her second guilty conviction was finally overturned, she said, "I am tremendously relieved and grateful." 

Both Knox and her former boyfriend Sollecito spent a total of four years in prison. At the time of Rudy Guede's release in 2020 — the only person ever convicted for Meredith Kercher's murder — he contradicted previous statements when he said (via The U.S. Sun), "I've got blood on my hands because I tried to save her not kill her," referring to Kercher. Referring to Knox, he said, "They say others were there and that I did not inflict the stab wounds. I know the truth and she knows the truth."