The New 'Free Amanda Knox' Offensive

As the convicted murderess readies her appeal, her supporters are mounting a full-court press in the media. Barbie Latza Nadeau on the mobster, the FBI agent, and others backing her.

09.03.10 10:12 PM ET

Amanda Knox is innocent and the evidence that was used to convict her was planted. That’s according to former FBI agent Steve Moore, who took to the American airwaves this week to defend the convicted murderess currently serving a 26-year sentence for killing her British roommate in November 2007.

Moore, who has been a regular poster in the pro-Knox blogosphere for months, told the morning news networks that he first began following the Knox case when his wife became obsessed with it. Immediately, he thought the 23-year-old Seattle native was guilty. But after reviewing documents supplied to him by pro-Knox bloggers, he changed his mind. Now he believes that neither Knox nor her erstwhile boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was also convicted of the murder, had anything to do with it. According to Moore, the murder was the work of a lone assassin, Rudy Guede, who is serving a reduced sentence of 16 years for his role in Meredith Kercher’s death. “If Amanda Knox and her boyfriend and that drifter were involved, there would be three sets of fingerprints, three sets of footprints, DNA, hair samples,” he told ABC News. “It would have been a zoo of evidence.” 

Knox’s supporters say they have not solicited Moore’s innocence endorsement, nor are they paying him to be the new front man for the positive publicity effort.

Instead, the former investigator says that the evidence that does link Knox to the crime—mixed blood and DNA, and her DNA on a knife the prosecution presented as the murder weapon—was fabricated. “The evidence that was presented in trial was flawed, it was manipulated,” he then told NBC News. “Some people think some of it was actually planted.”

Like most murder defense strategists, Team Knox, in fact, has always maintained that the evidence linking their client to the crime was not there because she actually committed the crime, but instead because of inept policing or perhaps something more sinister. Either the scientific police contaminated the evidence at the scene in Perugia, or it was manipulated at the lab in Rome. The jury, in a 427-page reasoning released last March, instead had faith in the police results and found Knox and Sollecito guilty. They also wrote that the inability to corroborate the lovers’ alibis and the evidence of a staged break-in backed up the forensic findings.

Knox’s supporters say they have not solicited Moore’s innocence endorsement, nor are they paying him to be the new front man for the positive publicity effort. But it comes as a curious coincidence that Knox’s former spokeswoman, Anne Bremner, has suddenly taken a backseat in their campaign since she pled guilty to a DUI charge last week. Bremner is a popular criminal defense attorney who, as head of the Friends of Amanda support group, had been the face of the pro-Knox campaign since just a few months after her arrest. Her extensive legal background added weight to the Knox-as-victim party line. Moore, equally credible as an ex-FBI investigator, may simply be her de facto replacement on the media circuit. 

Knox’s resurgence in the headlines hasn’t been confined to the United States. Over the summer, an elected Italian parliamentarian named Rocco Girlanda announced that he had written a book based on his private conversations with Knox since her conviction last December. Girlanda, who serves in parliament for Silvio Berlusconi’s political party, also heads the nonprofit Italy-USA Foundation, which strives to foster good relations between the two countries. He used his powers as a parliamentarian to gain access to the prison, thus bypassing Knox’s protective family and the prison administration to visit the young girl under the radar, raising eyebrows among the journalists champing at the bit to get into the prison. He has been making the rounds on the Italian talk shows and says that he and Knox never discussed the case, but he found a young woman at odds with the media representation of her. Knox’s family has been reported as saying they have not met with Girlanda personally, nor do they know what his book is about. But Girlanda’s secretary general, Corrado Maria Dalcon is rumored to be a regular in the office of Knox’s Rome lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova, who represents a number of American interests in Rome. Girlanda’s book, Take Me With You—Talks With Amanda Knox in Prison, will be published in Italian in October. In it, he reprints poetry and letters he received from Knox that contain the heading: “Dear Rocco and Corrado.” Profits from the book will go to Girlanda’s foundation.

The pro-Knox offensive is in full force ahead of what amounts to the “Season Two” of the extremely popular drama. On October 1, Knox is expected to appear before a Perugia judge in a criminal defamation case for accusing the police of beating a confession out of her in the early morning hours of November 5, 2007. During her testimony in June 2009, she said police hit her “twice, on the back of the head” when she couldn’t come up with a scenario for Kercher’s murder. That abuse and intimidation, she says, is what prompted her to admit to being home when Kercher was killed and to accuse Patrick Lumumba of the murder. Because her defense lawyers never followed up the accusations with an official complaint, the Perugia police, now represented by the former Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca, felt they had no choice but to press charges for muddying their good name.

Knox’s parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, will make their own appearance on similar defamation charges for repeating the abuse accusation to the London Sunday Times in a June 2008 interview. Knox and Sollecito will then both be in court in late November when their appeals begin. The appeal process may last a few days or a few months, depending on whether the presiding judge agrees to an independent review of all the forensic evidence presented in the original trial. Both Knox and Sollecito plan to call new witnesses, including a colorful mobster who says his brother is Meredith’s real assassin, and a former cellmate of Rudy Guede’s who vows that Guede admitted that neither Knox or Sollecito were at the scene of the murder. Then Guede’s final shot at his appeal will round out the year. It is scheduled to be heard by Italy’s high court in Rome on December 16.  

Missing from the spotlight will undoubtedly be the anniversary of Kercher’s actual murder, November 2, 2010. Kercher’s parents will mark the dreaded date with a private ceremony at her graveside near Croydon, England. 

Barbie Latza Nadeau, author of the Beast Book Angel Face, about Amanda Knox, has reported from Italy for Newsweek Magazine since 1997. She also writes for CNN Traveller, Budget Travel Magazine and Frommer's.