On the eve of the Amanda Knox appellate verdict decision, Perugia was alight with a sort of surreal buzz. For those of us who were here in December 2009, when Knox was convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher, the scene is vaguely familiar, though the giant Ferris wheel that had defined that moment has been replaced with the white tent tops of an Umbrian fair. Red carpets line the Corso Vannucci, the main thoroughfare that slices through the historic center, for the Perugia Film Festival.
The scene is bizarre, but then again, so is the story. We are all here for one reason, to be part of the live event of the moment—to find out if the 24-year-old Seattle native has to languish in jail or if she will walk free. TV trucks are parked outside the courthouse and prison, and cameras are everywhere, trying to capture the scene. Back in Seattle, supporters are holding a vigil, hoping their hometown girl comes back.
In Perugia, almost everyone is talking Knox. The sense is that Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito will walk free on Monday night, but that may only be because it’s the media speculating, and an acquittal is the only thing we can prepare for. If her conviction is confirmed, there really won’t be much to cover.
The Kerchers are also coming back into focus, for a change. After rumors of their Sunday arrival, it has been confirmed that they will be in town on Monday morning, but not likely in time to be in court to hear Knox and Sollecito give their final pleas for their lives back. Knox herself attended Mass on Sunday, playing the guitar and trying to stay calm before the storm. She spoke to her grandmother in Seattle by phone while her family sat for long-format interviews with the networks.
In court on Monday, Amanda Knox made an emotional final appeal in Italian, pleading innocence. Sollecito read from a written statement and was deeemed much less effective; Knox delivered hers from memory. Then the jury will deliberate for as long as it takes before announcing they have reached a verdict. Word on the street is that the judge has already ordered both lunch and dinner for his jury, which may mean we are in for a long wait.
Upon announcement that the verdict has been reached, the media will descend in a stampede onto the ancient cobbled piazza of the courthouse to report live what happens. Those who can get in will fight Knox’s supporters for space. The rest will watch the live feed in the pressroom or in the TV trucks.
If she gets to go home this time, the media will then set their sights on how she’s getting there. If she has to stay in prison, the cameras will be on her family to capture their grief. But either way, this story is over for the citizens of Perugia—who will likely be very glad to take their city back and see the media circus pack up its tents and leave town.