I talk a lot about how much I love trashy reality TV. And this is true. Nothing entertains me like the drama of Real Housewives; it's one of my favorite ways to unwind.
But, if you really know me, you won't be surprised to hear me say that I'm also very interested in investigative journalism. I love the way the stories are told like pieces of a puzzle, waiting to be solved. Even better, are the stories that are shared from opposite perspectives and leave me questioning which side I support. I really get caught up in shows like 20/20 and Our America, and I think this also why some stories on HLN, recently Jodi Arias and George Zimmerman, capture my attention so intently. My feeling get very wrapped up in these cases, and, sometimes to the chagrin of others, I become very passionate about my opinions related to their guilt or innocence.
I've been intrigued by the Amanda Knox case since the news first broke in 2007. I've always felt compassion for who I saw as a young, naive girl who had been targeted for the murder of her roommate during her year abroad studying in Italy. I was appalled, though not surprised, to learn about how unfairly she was treated by the detectives, ultimately leading to a false confession, which she quickly retracted. I can only imagine how confused and scared I would have been in her same situation. It was pretty sobering to see her convicted of such a heinous crime, especially when the real murderer, whose DNA was all over the crime scene, was already behind bars.
I cheered for Knox when she won her appeal and was free to come home. I was relieved for her that the battle was finally over. Until, that is, the courts decided to appeal her acquittal, an concept I still don't quite understand. Living only in the United States, it is inconceivable to me that a person can be tried multiple times for the same crime, though I have learned that this is common in Italy.
When I came across her Memoir, Waiting to be Heard on OverDrive last week, I immediately placed a hold. The book became available this weekend, and offered respite from another book I wasn't enjoying. Just as I was during her various TV specials, I was gripped by her story from page 1. I listened to the first 30 chapters before finally forcing myself into bed at 1:00 only to wake up the next morning and immediately grab for my headphones. It was even more powerful to hear this story in her own voice.
Her story provides so much insight into the role of the media in her case. I was not aware of some of the huge differences in the Italian judicial system, specifically how jurors were not screened for bias or kept from viewing and reading about the case during the trial. I also didn't know that the law allows persons to be jailed for up to a full year prior to even being formally charged with a crime, during which time the prosecution can collect evidence.
We all know how the media spin stories and exaggerate the details because sensationalism sells. The problem here, though, is that the prosecution was leaking "evidence" to the press that was easily refutable. Of course, the prosecution wasn't going to go running to the media when their evidence was debunked. The desperation to "save face" was, in my opinion, largely what drove the prosecution. They didn't want to take responsibility for their errors and refused to admit, even when the evidence said otherwise, that their accusation was wrong.
I know that Knox case is very polarizing, and there are plenty of critics who will disagree with my assessment. What I can say, though, is that hearing her words only confirmed what I thought all along. Her story is truly heart-breaking. It's like a recurring nightmare that knows no end.
There has been a lot of speculation about whether or not Knox will be extradited if and when the Italian court makes that request, a decision that is more politically than legally motivated. I, for one, feel strongly that the Secretary of State needs to stand behind the US Double Jeopardy Law.