One of the many lines of argument deployed by defenders of Amanda Knox is that her conviction was based, in part, on information about her personality and private life which was never really relevant to the question of whether she might have been guilty of murder and which has, in any case, been distorted so as to give a picture which would not be familiar to anyone who knows her.
She was sexually promiscuous. She used drugs. She posted some slightly dark short stories online. People around her were disturbed by her response to the death of her flatmate. She performed cartwheels at the police station. She kissed her boyfriend on TV. She once made an arguably anti-Semitic remark. She kept a vibrator on display in the bathroom. Have I missed anything out?
Up to a point, I can nod understandingly at the dismay that any of these things might be taken to indicate her guilt. After all, what 20 year-old student isn’t interested in sex and drugs? Cartwheels at the police station? Who here can honestly say they have never committed a faux pas unless it had been preceded by a murder? As for her amateur fiction, are we to presume that Stephen King may be a real-life arsonist or axe-wielding maniac? Is JK Rowling a real-life sorceress?
However, although much of this stuff was indeed reported in the media, I don’t think it is very clear at all that it influenced her trial, let alone that it was a basis for her conviction. The prosecution, in a search for some clear motive (elusive in this case), did present evidence that Meredith Kercher and Knox had fallen out over matters to do with the latter’s tidiness and choice of bathroom ornaments. I don’t think that’s the sort of evidence on which anyone will ever be convicted of such a serious crime, and the court was right not to take it into account in reaching its decision.
Along with her two co-accused, Knox was convicted on the basis of footprints, DNA evidence, an apparently staged burglary and her shifting accounts and vague memory as to what happened on the night of the murder.
Any or all of this evidence may conceivably be found wanting upon scrutiny. As far as I can see, that scrutiny is what’s going on right now as she and Raffaele Sollecito exercise their right to an appeal.
Tabloids print all kinds of rubbish. Don’t buy them. But, at the same time, don’t imagine that a courtroom, having spent nearly a year hearing evidence, is likely to have convicted someone of murder because of something they read about something someone may or may not have done on a train.