Her much-anticipated memoir, published yesterday, is called ‘Waiting to be Heard’, and last night, Amanda Knox finally broke her five-and-a-half year silence, giving her first ever television interview since she was accused of murdering 21 year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November 2009.
Knox, who has always maintained her innocence, served four years of a 26-year sentence in an Italian jail before being dramatically freed on appeal in 2011.
Last night she spoke of contemplating suicide in prison, that she was bullied and broken down into making a ‘confession’ in the days after Meredith’s death, and the prison officials who told her she had tested positive for HIV.
In the hour-long interview with veteran US journalist Diane Sawyer, 25 year-old Knox, now living back in her native Seattle, frequently blinked back tears as she admitted she considered cutting her wrists in the shower or drinking bleach, had panic attacks and began losing her hair while in prison.
However, her manner became more steely and determined when she said: “It bothers me when people suggest Meredith wasn’t my friend. I was stunned by her death. She was my friend.”
“I was, to all intents and purposes, a murderer, whether I was or not,” she said. “It’s not true.”
As in her 460-page memoir, Knox attempted last night to offer explanations for much of the inappropriate and bizarre behaviour she displayed in the days after her roommate’s death, which many interpreted as signs of guilt. “What is strange is why it all got so mischaracterized,” she said.
The cartwheels she was supposed to have performed around the police station never happened, she told Sawyer. “I did do the splits, once,” she admits. But, she says, it was at the behest of a police officer, while she was stretching after hours hunched in a chair answering questions.
The ‘confession’ she signed, naming Patrick Lumumba as Meredith’s killer (an accusation she later retracted) was forced from her under extreme pressure, she said. “They [the police] told me I had amnesia. They told me I had remembered it all wrong, and that I had to remember correctly or I’d never see my family again.”
“I can only describe it as breaking down. I didn’t know what I remembered any more. I signed it because I was incredibly vulnerable at that time. I was demolished in that interrogation.”
In her book, she also catalogues the events of the morning when Meredith was found dead, when she arrived home, found the door unlocked and blood spatters in the bathroom, before eventually telling her boyfriend of just one week (who would be her co-accused, Raffaele Sollecito) who alerted the police.
While the prosecution painted Knox as sexually voracious, an American with loose morals, she admitted had, at that time, been on what she called a ‘campaign for casual sex’. “I wanted sex to be about empowerment and pleasure,” she said. “I thought that was what liberated, self-confident women did.” Last night she said her ‘campaign’ was irresponsible and childish.
She had slept with four people before she left for Italy and three (including Sollecito) in the six weeks since her arrival in Italy. When her prison guards told her (incorrectly) that a blood sample she had given when she was first imprisoned had tested positive for HIV, she was “stunned”. “I immediately made a list of all my seven sexual partners,” she said.
Now studying creative writing in her native Seattle, Knox has been attempting to put the events in Italy behind her and rebuild her life. “My family was expecting the old Amanda back. But I’m not quite as chirpy any more,” she said.
The $4 million (2.5 million GBP) advance Knox was paid for her book will mostly be spent clearing debts and paying legal fees incurred fighting her conviction, her family said.
But there is likely to be more expensive legal fees to come. In March this year, Italy’s Supreme Court overturned Knox’s acquittal, and ordered a new trial. “I can’t be afraid now,” she said. “I have to be ready to defend myself.”
Watch the teaser for the interview below...
By Jane Mulkerrins