Candace Dempsey, author of MURDER IN ITALY, visits Mme. Perry's Salon

You've read the sensational headlines in newspapers, magazines, online media and the tabloids about the tragic death, bizarre circumstances and shocking theories in the death of the British student Meredith Kercher, and the arrest, trial and conviction of her American roommate, Amanda Knox. Or maybe you watched the Lifetime movie about these two young women attending school in Italy. If you haven't read MURDER IN ITALY by Candace Dempsey, the Italian-American journalist who has covered the entire story from the beginning, you are in for an even greater shock.

MURDER IN ITALY (Penguin/Berkley Books) received the Best True Crime Book of 2010 Editor’s Choice Award and Best True Crime Book of 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards. We are very pleased to have author Candace Dempsey visit Madame Perry's Salon.

Jennifer Perry: Welcome to Madame Perry’s Salon, Candace. We are joined by my friend, Atlanta broadcast professional Joy Barge. We are so delighted that you could make time to talk with us.

As I told you before, many times I passed your book MURDER IN ITALY as I scoured the true crime shelves at bookstores. Having bought the sensational media and legal conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the horrible murder of Meredith Kercher, I didn’t think my opinion could be swayed. Then I bought your book, and was absolutely amazed.

Please tell us how you came to be covering the story, and how you were able to get such a close up view of the proceedings?

Candace Dempsey: The Amanda Knox case has beautiful people, sex, drugs, Italy, a hilltop college town, tragedy. A real-life murder mystery. For me, it’s a natural. I’m an Italian-American journalist from Seattle, Amanda’s hometown. I have many sources there and in Italy, where I flew for trial and interviews. I know Italy well, because I have family there.

In fact, I’d just returned from Rome in 2007 when I heard a British student had been murdered in Perugia, Seattle’s sister city, and that the main suspect was Amanda, an honor student from the University of Washington in Seattle. Meredith Kercher’s stabbing was so sad, tragic and ironic. I had to write about it on my blog.

Joy Barge: For some reason, the first time I saw this story I didn't believe Amanda Knox was guilty. It seemed from the start a sort of media hysteria. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in another country accused of such a heinous crime. When did your opinion about the case begin to change?

Author Candace Dempsey
Dempsey: When police claimed Amanda was cultivating marijuana in her Perugia garden. That’s like growing orchids outdoors in the Arctic. When police lie like that, I get curious. They also told reporters that Amanda had called drifter Rudy Guede, supposedly a co-conspirator, before and after the murder. He didn’t even have a cell phone and police knew it. They’d taken it away on Oct. 27, because Rudy had stolen it.

Even prestigious newspapers like The Times of London simply typed up whatever police or prosecutors leaked on a given day - no matter how illogical or nonsensical. That certainly made me wonder if Amanda could be innocent.

Perry: It seems that Kercher and Knox met because they both responded to a billboard notice seeking roommates, and knew each other only a few weeks before the murder. Knox was with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito that night anyway. Did it seem this was just disregarded in favor of sensational headlines?

Dempsey: Yes, the roommates shared quarters little more than a month. Nobody knew anybody very well. Meredith’s British friends described Amanda harshly in court, but most of them had met her only once—at the police station after the murder. They became suspicious only after her arrest.

Barge: Do you think Amanda Fox was so targeted by Italian authorities and the media because she is American? Did that have any bearing on her case?

Meredith Kercher
Dempsey: I’m not sure she was targeted, but anti-Americanism plays a part. Read the comments in Italian newspapers. They’ll bring up Guantanamo Bay, the electric chair, George Bush, U.S. arrogance. They’ll talk about “Natural Born Killers” like it’s a documentary. Amanda Knox becomes Sharon Stone in “Basic Instincts.”
There’s also hypocrisy. Perugia’s been called a “Disneyland of drugs” and prostitution thrives there, but you’d think Amanda invented marijuana and premarital sex. The prosecutor was fixated on vibrator and condoms. Very few of Perugia’s 40,000 college students are American. Perugia has serious crime problems that we didn’t cause.

Perry: The Kercher family seemed convinced of Knox’s guilt. Their grief and heartbreak is certainly painful. Do they seem at all swayed by the information brought to light in your book?

Dempsey: Victim’s families usually side with the prosecution. They need to trust someone. We’re all looking at the same facts. I doubt they’ve read my book.
Amanda Knox

Barge: Amanda and her family were recently in the news again on new charges. What do you think about this? Are you in touch with her family at all?

Dempsey: Yes, I’m in touch with Amanda’s family. They’re accessible to journalists. Yes, she’s in court all the time. Her 26-year murder conviction is on appeal. She and her parents are also being tried for slander. Twelve police offers have brought charges against her because she said an officer hit her twice during an all-night interrogation. Her parents are being tried simply for telling a reporter what Amanda said about the hitting.
Police refuse to provide videotapes, audio or even transcript of that interrogation. So it’s a police said/they said. Amanda already has a 26-year sentence. To Americans, these new trials look like harassment, especially when the financially drained parents are hauled into court.

Whatever happens, I’ll cover every twist and turn in the Amanda Knox case on my blog.

Perry: I believe we all want true justice in this case, and for Meredith Kercher’s family and friends to find some peace and consolation after such a despicable tragedy.

Thank you for giving us so much of your time here, Candace, and for your excellent reporting of events. For both the Kercher and Knox families, it is vital that someone is diligently watching the developments with an interest in the truth.


Harry Rag said…
The evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is overwhelming. They gave completely different accounts of where they were, who they were with and what they were doing on the night of the murder. Neither Knox nor Sollecito have credible alibis despite three attempts each. All the other people who were questioned had one credible alibi that could be verified. Innocent people don't give multiple conflicting alibis and lie repeatedly to the police. 

The DNA didn't miraculously deposit itself in the most incriminating of places. 

An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito's DNA was found on Meredith's bra clasp. His DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests. Of the 17 loci tested in the sample, Sollecito’s profile matched 17 out of 17.

According to Sollecito's forensic expert, Professor Vinci, Knox's DNA was on Meredith's bra. 

Amanda Knox's DNA was found on the handle of the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo and Professor Francesca Torricelli - categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade. Sollecito knew that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade which is why he twice lied about accidentally pricking her hand whilst cooking.

There were five instances of Knox's DNA mixed with Meredith's blood in three different locations in the cottage.

Knox tracked Meredith's blood into the bathroom, the hallway, her room and Filomena's room, where the break-in was staged. Knox's DNA and Meredith's blood was found mixed together in Filomena's room, in a bare bloody footprint in the hallway and in three places in the bathroom. 

Rudy Guede's bloody footprints led straight out of Meredith's room and out of the house. This means that he didn't stage the break-in in Filomena's room or go into the blood-spattered bathroom after Meredith had been stabbed.

The bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot, but couldn’t possibly belong to Guede. Knox's and Sollecito's bare bloody footprints were revealed by luminol in the hallway. 

It's not a coincidence that the three people - Knox, Sollecito and Guede - who kept telling the police a pack of lies are all implicated by the DNA and forensic evidence.

Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted that she was involved in Meredith's murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007. After she was informed that Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi, she stated on at least four separate occasions that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed. At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox's alibi that she was at his apartment.

Knox accused an innocent man, Diya Lumumba, of murdering Meredith despite the fact she knew he was completely innocent. She didn't recant her false and malicious allegation against Lumumba the whole time he was in prison. She admitted that it was her fault that Lumumba was in prison in an intercepted conversation with her mother on 10 November 2007.

The English translation of the Massei report can be downloaded from here:
Elizabeth said…
Ohhhhhh......I love Italy. And I love your doors in the side panels.

Stopping by from Cym Lowell's Book Review Party.

Stop by my blog for a giveaway of LINEN QUEEN courtesy of Sarah from Hachette Books.
Deborah said…
What a great blog post - every word of it! I've been following this case too, in the newspapers and on TV, and frankly don't know what to believe. I'll certainly make sure I get this book though.

Great discovery through BookBlogs -I'll be following.
Kinia said…
As usual your interview was wonderful! This was a very interesting article Madame, I've seen this story in the news it was good to get a feeling of Italy and it's laws.

I can't wait to read the book!
Jessica said…
This is fascinating.. I have found myself very into several cases like this in the past and I read this blog for the first time but I already want to know more!

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