Amanda Knox's First Interview: 'I Could Have Been More Sensitive'

Amanda Knox ABC News - H 2013

Amanda Knox ABC News - H 2013

After six years of silence, two murder trials and 1,400 days in jail, Amanda Knox finally spoke. 

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The Seattle college student who was caught up in the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher six weeks after arriving in Perugia, Italy, for a study abroad program gave her first televised interview tonight.

She appeared on a one-hour primetime special on ABC hosted by Diane Sawyer. The special coincides with the release today of her memoir, Waiting to Be Heard.

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For those that have followed the case closely, any news was superseded by leaks from the book and the few snippets ABC released in advance. 
In a strangely muted telecast, Knox proclaimed her innocence, criticized the Italian police's interrogation of her, admitted to suicidal thoughts and reached out to the Kercher family.
But new to everyone was the chance to see, to hear, to evaluate Knox in person for the first time. Dressed in a light green sleeveless shift and wearing little makeup, Knox came across as composed and thoughtful, though a little remote. 
"I want to be reconsidered as a person," she said. 
She cried and displayed emotion, but each time she appeared to be trying to stifle it and hold it in, as if trying to shield herself from the full horror of what happened to her.
Her self-description as naive, innocent and immature seems accurate. Most of the harshest charges against her -- that she was promiscuous, that she appeared unmoved by Kercher's death -- appear as youthful folly, not malignant behavior. 
Knox frankly admits that she decided to experiment with casual sex for the first time during her year in Italy but concedes how foolish that was. 
The college student cried when Sawyer recited a list of nicknames the press called her from "she-devil" to "heartless manipulator" to the "sphinx of Perugia."
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She says her seeming coldness in the immediate aftermath of Kercher's murder reflects not indifference but the stunned uncertainty of a young person who had never been involved in anything so horrific. 
"I could have been more sensitive," she concedes, though even that admission is offered in a distant, remote voice. 
She doesn't come across as a bad person or unlikeable so much as guarded and hard to know. 
For the average viewer, it is hard to generate much passion for Knox either way. She claims to have been wrongly convicted -- or at least convicted on the basis of faulty evidence -- but her remoteness makes it hard to generate sympathy for her. 
Knox became most animated in her discussion of her interrogation. 
She accuses the Italian police of conning her out of getting a lawyer by telling her getting one will make it "worse for you" and berating her into giving a false confession. 
Sawyer picks up the story, demolishing the prosecution's case by pointing out the problems in the DNA evidence and emphasizing the guilt of Rudy Guede, a small-time criminal, who separately was convicted of the murder. 
Most damming, Sawyer points out that Knox's DNA was nowhere to be found in the bedroom where Kercher was killed. Guede's DNA was everywhere, including on the victim. 
Sawyer spends little time on Knox's four-year prison stay (it's more than 40 minutes into the program before it comes up), though that's the section of the book that has drawn the most attention. 
Knox -- and these juicy segments already were leaked by ABC muting their power -- admits to contemplating suicide while in prison. She also reveals she found solace in prayer and from the guidance of the prison chaplain. (Knox admits that her faith is not strong but says she thought "it wouldn't hurt to pray.")
Very little time is devoted to Knox's release from prison or her re-acclimation, except for one extremely candid moment on a Seattle playground. 
"My family is expecting the old Amanda," Knox concedes. "I'm not quite as chirpy," she says in a way that conveys the weight of the change.
The program ends on the dual impact of the murder on Knox and Kercher's parents. Knox's parents flew to Italy every week to see their daughter on visiting day, nearly bankrupting themselves.
As Knox says tearfully, "I saw them 1 percent of my time in jail, but they made 100 percent of the visits."  She admits to feeling "incredibly guilty" about their sacrifice. 
If her appeal had failed, she says she was trying to figure out how to ask them [her parents] to move on with their lives by stopping their visits. 
At the end, Sawyer asks what Knox would like to say to Kercher's parents. "Eventually, I hope to have their permission to pay my respects at her grave" and tell them how much she talked about her family in the short time they were roommates. 
The hourlong special seemed haphazard and incomplete in many ways, no doubt because ABC is trying to squeeze multiple iterations out of their Knox exclusive. Tuesday's Nightline will be devoted to the case. 
Knox will give her first live interview Wednesday on Good Morning America. And, still more of the interview will be featured Wednesday on World News Tonight. Including the pre-interview teases, ABC will have featured Knox no less than six times in three days.