Reporter’s notebook: Both Perugias prepare for Amanda Knox appeals trial

Stephen Robert Morse Tow-Knight Fellow in Entrepreneurial Journalism , The City University of New York
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Editor’s note: Stephen Robert Morse is in Perugia, Italy, covering Amanda Knox’s murder appeal hearing exclusively for The Daily Caller. For his latest observations, see his live-tweet feed.

PERUGIA, Italy – On Friday morning Amanda Knox will find herself one step closer to the conclusion of a saga that has lasted nearly four years.

Since November 2007, she has been under the watchful eye of the Italian prison system, for the first year without being charged, then being tried before audiences around the world, then being convicted of murder, then sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Now she is nearing the closing arguments of an appeals trial that has discredited significant amounts of forensic evidence used against her during the first criminal trial.

Just one week after Amanda, then a 20-year-old University of Washington student who worked multiple jobs to afford a semester abroad in Italy, met her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito at a classical music concert, the pair were imprisoned for the murder of Amanda’s roommate Meredith Kercher.

Despite a lack of convincing DNA evidence against them, and a tremendous amount of DNA evidence linking Rudy Guede to the crime, the two have faced an uphill battle to clear their names.

Italian and British media outlets have become polarizing forces in this case. While they crucified Amanda and Raffaele before a shred of physical evidence incriminated them, American media have been for the most part sympathetic.

Comparisons to Casey Anthony and Troy Davis aside, this case will surely go down as one of the most watched of the 21st Century. And, inevitably, Ann Coulter and other opinionated commentators — Coulter sees Knox as the new Mumia Abu-Jamal — will continue to provide an equally controversial soundtrack.

As one who has studied abroad in Italy, I immediately identified with Amanda after the murder, not knowing about her guilt or innocence, because I understood the wackiness, bureaucracy, and inconsistencies of all things Italian. I assumed that would translate into a hard-to-understand and complex justice system, and I was right.

Italy is difficult for foreigners to comprehend. Thrown together from many kingdoms 150 years ago, this country until the 1960s still featured a general populace who didn’t speak what we call standard “Italian” today, with hundreds of dialects heard instead all at once. (RELATED: Shocking new evidence in Amanda Knox murder case may lead to her release)

On the eve of the final stages of Knox’s appeals trial, I have been exploring Perugia, Italy, this Umbrian hill town which is home to a 40,000-strong community of university students. In America, we would call the resulting culture a strained “town-gown” relationship. But in Italy, they say there are two Perugias: the Perugia of the students and the Perugia of everyone else.

One Perugia features nightlife where for 10 euros ($14) you can enjoy an all-you-can-drink party. The other is home to retirees who seem like they haven’t left the medieval town center since the La Dolce Vita era of some fifty years ago.

I will be live tweeting throughout the trial. Questions are welcome, and I will present both breaking news and reportage on the cultural differences that have played out through the course of “il processo.”