Amanda Knox traveled to Italy to study writing. A few weeks later, the American college student became a murder suspect. Now nearly a year after she was convicted in a second trial by an Italian court, Knox has returned to writing, as a journalist in Seattle.
Knox has been working as a freelance reporter for the small West Seattle Herald for a few months, according to Web Editor Patrick Robinson. The Herald asked her to be a freelance reporter, but not because of her notorious status.
“We approached her originally to give her the opportunity of a normal life,” Robinson told The Daily Beast. “We simply asked her as we would ask anyone of that age and stage, if they would be interested in writing for us as a qualified writer of that scale and this level of journalism.”
In November 2007, Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found dead in the house they shared with two other women. Authorities arrested Knox, boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and a bar owner and charged them in Kercher’s murder. In 2009, Knox and Sollecito were found guilty of murder. Both spent four years in prison before a court acquitted them in 2011 after evidence was thrown into doubt by independent experts. Knox returned to the U.S. following acquittal, but a court in January 2014 upheld the 2009 guilty verdict and sentenced Knox and Sollecito to more than 25 years. Knox has not been extradited to Italy while the case is appealed.
In 2012, Knox signed a book deal reportedly worth $4 million. A movie based on a book by The Daily Beast’s Barbie Latza Nadeau has been made into a movie starring Kate Beckinsale.
Knox wanted to write under a pen name at first, which the paper allowed her to do.
“That was purposely to give her the protection of that and to give her the opportunity. She showed us writing samples and they were good,” Robinson said. After she “got her feet wet,” Knox began writing under her own name.
Knox is covering everything from human-interest stories to local theater like a high-school production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
“Amanda’s a very bright, very capable, highly qualified writer,” Robinson said, adding he was “flabbergasted” by how good her photography had become over a few months. “She’s certainly been through as lot and been very easy to work with and very interested and eager in doing stories.”
The Herald was obviously aware that their newest freelancer—an international celebrity and convicted murderer—would eventually generate outside attention. There was “some note of caution” attached to hiring Knox, thanks to the negativity from the case, Robinson said. But that wasn’t why the paper hired her, he insisted.
“It doesn’t matter what people say or think—the truth is that she’s a West Seattle resident, she grew up here,” Robinson added. “Why not give her the opportunity to be an actual human being versus a celebrity?”
That celebrity may attract unwelcome visitors, like people with cameras, but Robinson said all meetings with Knox are conducted privately. Though “she’s not hiding,” he added.
As for the murder charges against Knox and Italy’s request to extradite her, Robinson said that’s not the newspaper’s concern. The outcome of the case has “little to nothing” to do with Knox’s relationship with the newspaper, he said.
“It’s really about giving a young, talented writer an opportunity at a normal life.”