"48 Hours" reveals Amanda Knox's untold story
The fate of Amanda Knox has always been inextricably linked to Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini.
"His world view is evil walks on this earth ... there are people in his community who are practicing occult rituals ... who maybe worship the devil," said Nina Burleigh, author of "The Fatal Gift of Beauty."Learn more: The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox
Burleigh said that the closer Mignini looked at Meredith Kercher's murder, the more he began to see not only evidence -- but the spector of the supernatural.
"A body has been found. It's very spooky. It's the night after Halloween," Burleigh explained. "... it happened on a Thursday night ... that's when the witches held their Sabbath."
Witches? The Sabbath? It sounds laughable, but, Burleigh said, Mignini sees the face of evil everywhere.
"I think when he looked in the eyes of Amanda Knox, he thought that she was evil," she said.
To Mignini, a staunch Catholic with a medieval mindset, Amanda Knox was a sinner who took part in a satanic orgy that resulted in the murder of an innocent.
"This is ridiculous. This is absolutely insane and it's unfounded," said Amanda's friend, Meredith Paxton. "The claims that they put against Amanda that she was so sexually powerful that she could manipulate these two men who she didn't even really know ... tells you a lot more about the person making the claims than about the person those claims are made against."
But Mignini did not back down -- not even when he was forced to release Patrick Lumumba, who had a solid alibi... and not even when the DNA evidence came back and seemed to exonerate Amanda and Raffaele Sollecito.
"There's nothing in that room, out of all those 400 samples, that places Amanda or Raffaele in that room," her mother, Edda Mellas said. "You can't go into a room and selectively just clean up your DNA and leave everybody else's DNA there. It's impossible, it can't be done."
A bloody fingerprint found at the scene gave Mignini a new suspect: Rudy Guede, an African immigrant, who was known to have confronted people with a knife.
"He was hanging around with these students and partying with them and pretending to be like them. But he wasn't like them at all," Burleigh explained. "And in order to keep up with them he started, apparently, getting involved in breaking and entering."
Guede was tracked down, arrested and charged with Meredith's murder.
"His bloody fingerprint is there?" Van Sant asked investigative journalist Bob Graham.
"Absolutely," he replied.
"His footprint is there? DNA."
"And he fled to Germany?"
"And he admits he was there," Graham explained. "He admits cradling her body as she -- as she was bleeding to death, feeling bad about it, feeling so bad that he ran out of there, carrying her money. He felt so bad that he went to a disco and partied. He felt so bad that he disappeared to Germany, to let other people take the rap for it. That's how bad he feels."
Even with Guede in custody, Mignini refused to believe that only one person was responsible.
"He believes deeply in conspiracies," Burleigh told Van Sant. "Conspiracy is part of his investigative DNA."
Mignini believed he was in possession of the murder weapon: a kitchen knife, found in the apartment of Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda's boyfriend.
"The Roman scientific police claimed they found an infinitesimal amount of DNA on the handle related to Amanda and an infinitesimal amount of DNA on the blade relating to Meredith," Burleigh explained.
All that was left for Mignini was to establish a link between Rudy Guede, Amanda and Raffaele. The police began pressuring Guede.
"First statement from Rudy Guede, 'Amanda had nothing to do with it.' Those are his own words. Following statements he's moving her more into the story -- moving her more into the case ... he gets up and says, you know, 'She did have something to do with it. She was there,'" Burleigh told Van Sant. "And was the instigator."
In 2008, Guede went on trial first. He was convicted of killing Meredith Kercher and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Mignini told the court that Guede had expressed remorse and later his sentence was reduced to 16 years.
The stage was set. Amanda and Raffaele's trial began in January 2009, and by then, Mignini had another piece of evidence that reportedly had Raffale's DNA on it.
"A piece of Meredith Kercher's bra that had been cut off by the killer," said Burleigh.
Mignini barreled ahead with his prosecution, convinced that Amanda, Raffaele and Rudy Guede all conspired and took part in the murder of Meredith Kercher.
And the press, Graham says, played a key role.
"I don't just blame the prosecutor and the police in this. I also attribute a lot of the blame to the media," he told Van Sant. "...they bought the lies ... they helped create the perception that existed that Amanda Knox was the she-devil and Raffaele Sollecito was her slave."
At nearly every turn, Amanda was losing the publicity war. After "the kiss" came a videotape showing Amanda shopping for "sexy underwear" a day or two after Meredith's murder. Never mind that all her clothes were locked up at the crime scene.
"The public was fed a diet of untruths, myths, rumors, falsehoods, lies about Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito," said Graham.
Mignini spun a fantastic tale for jurors, filled with graphic details about the violent sex orgy on the night Meredith was murdered. An Italian magazine created drawings based on Mignini's theory, showing Amanda plunging a knife into Meredith.
"It was made up," Graham said. "It was fantasy."
On Dec. 4, 2009, after a trial that lasted nearly a year, a smiling Amanda Knox walked into the court at nearly midnight convinced the jury had seen the truth and that she'd soon be going home.
Paxton video diary excerpt:
"She did not think for a single moment think that she was going to be convicted ... it never really fully entered into any of our minds that it could actually happen. She very ideally thought that the truth was enough.
But the jury found a different truth. Amanda was found guilty of killing Meredith Kercher and sentenced to 26 years. Raffaele got 25 years.
"This is a complete miscarriage of justice and is a travesty to the Italian judicial system," said Curt Knox.
Amanda, trapped in an Italian prison, soon had a new, more immediate problem -- a prison official she feared was on the prowl for sex.
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