Why will Amanda Knox not stop speaking about Meredith Kercher's murder?

By Ryan Parry

Tens millions of people around the world are watching a sensational new Netflix documentary about Amanda Knox and her conviction then acquittal of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

But one woman will not be joining them: Meredith Kercher's sister Stephanie.

For Stephanie, the memories of November 1, 2007 - the day her "best friend" was knifed to death in a shared student apartment in Perugia, Italy - are still too painful to bear.

Instead she and her family will mark the upcoming anniversary of their beloved "Mez's" death as they always do, lighting a candle and remembering the laughter and joy Meredith brought to their lives.

Nine years later the Kercher family are still struggling to deal with unanswered questions surrounding the case that gripped the world - and to learn to live without Meredith in the face of constant publicity.

The Netflix documentary includes new graphic crime scene footage and extensive interviews with those close to the case, including American Knox and her former lover Italian Raffaele Sollecito.

In a rare and emotional interview, Stephanie has told how it's difficult to see yet another "unnecessary" film about what happened and she opens up about the hurt her family is still experiencing, how the documentary still doesn't answer key questions in the case and how her family is in an agonising "limbo" over Meredith's death.

It also frustrates her that once again a film has been produced that largely ignores the most important element of this case - the victim.

 Stephanie Kercher and John Kercher, the sister and father of Meredith Kercher, pictured in 2009 after Knox and Sollecito were first found guilty of murder. Photo / Getty
Stephanie Kercher and John Kercher, the sister and father of Meredith Kercher, pictured in 2009 after Knox and Sollecito were first found guilty of murder. Photo / Getty

A lengthy legal process in the Italian court system meant the case dragged on for eight years in total - finally concluding in March last year.

In 2009, two years after Meredith died, Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the murder and sexual assault, while Sollecito got 25 years.

Another man, drifter Rudy Guede, was jailed for 30 years - cut to 16 on appeal.

But then in 2011, both Knox and Sollecito were controversially cleared and freed after the prosecution's key evidence collapsed.

It was only last year that the appeals process finally came to an end and the pair's acquittal stood - a final verdict; Guede is now the only convicted murderer.

Stephanie admits the documentary - details of which she has been told about by friends - has served only to set the healing process back once again.

Stephanie said: "We got to the end of last year and you're trying to gather your own thoughts and your own feelings and try and build yourself up again into what your life is now meant to be and just a year later, even though there's nothing new to bring into the picture, Netflix decide to do another programme.

"If the documentary was meant to be about their experience and acquittal then that should have been the sole focus and how and why that came about.

"But to me the inclusion of graphic material is over the line.

"And there's still many questions that these documentaries fail to address, key questions the producers avoid including.

"The fact remains that the court found Rudy Guede guilty of the murder but in the final decision, one of the things the court reiterated, was the fact he didn't act alone.

"I'm not an expert so I can only go by what I've been told, seen and read, as will anyone following this case.

"Partly that is why the public opinion has always been divided. Facts are facts and obviously circumstantial evidence, people will take to mean different things, but at the end of the day this is what has been presented and it's still not a clear answer... where does that leave everyone involved?

"Knox and Sollecito are the only other people implicated but they have been acquitted so we are left in limbo. If they were not involved then who was? What happened that night?"

Ever since Knox returned to her home in Seattle, Washington she has made a string of high profile TV appearances, most notably an interview with ABC News's Diane Sawyer.

Amanda Knox spoke to Diane Sawyer after the last appeal in her case and has gone on to make the Netflix documentary. Photo / Getty
Amanda Knox spoke to Diane Sawyer after the last appeal in her case and has gone on to make the Netflix documentary. Photo / Getty

US media has portrayed the case as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice for decades and roundly slammed the Italian legal system as archaic.

Dubbed "Foxy Knoxy" during the aftermath of the murder Knox became very much the focal point for worldwide headlines around the case.

In the new Netflix documentary her prominence doesn't change and she chillingly poses the question to the audience: "Either I'm a psychopath in sheep's clothing or I am you."

But for Stephanie, 33, who lives in Surrey, England it should never have been all about Knox.

It's her belief that because of the global attention on Knox, now 29, the memory of Meredith has faded.

Stephanie said: "Everyone seemed to say they wanted to try to rebuild their lives, including Knox and Sollecito, and yet we constantly see programmes and interviews.

"I don't understand why they want to keep reliving this nightmare. I guess it might seem contradictory me giving an interview criticising them and Netflix but if they so desperately want to find a way to move on with their lives as much as we are trying to, as hard as it is for all involved, I struggle to see why they participate?

"Surely they want to separate themselves from this tragic experience?

"I know it's going to be hard for them to move on with their lives because of the experience and how people see them; we are in a similar situation - I've gone for job interviews and I sit there waiting when you say your name, thinking, 'Are they going to recognize me?' and it can be an unnerving feeling.

"But as the case finished last year it would be nice to try and be able to remember Mez for Mez.

"Meredith has been forgotten again."

Meredith Kercher, 21, was studying in Perugia, Italy, when she was killed.
Meredith Kercher, 21, was studying in Perugia, Italy, when she was killed.

The aftermath of her sister's murder is still vivid in Stephanie's mind.

"I had just got home from a training course when Mum called me, her voice trembling, relaying news that a 21-year-old English girl had been found under a mattress in Italy," she recalls.

"Trying to calm Mum down I began calling Mez on her mobile. I ended up leaving a voice message explaining what had happened, telling her to be safe and to call me as soon as she could.

"I finished, as always, saying 'I love you'. I even emailed her the news page so she knew what I was talking about... Little did I know I was already too late.

"Dad's was the next voice I heard. Through tears he told me the name he had been given by a newspaper was Meredith. I thought - it was a mixture of disbelief and sheer pain. I did not know what to think or do and then my body just sunk.

"When I arrived at Mum's the pain in my chest was unbearable as I was told the few details of what had happened - the broken window, her door locked on the inside.

"Thoughts and scenarios were racing through my head faster than I could comprehend and I collapsed into my parents' arms, filled with the fear Meredith must have endured that night."

The family stayed up all night watching the news, waiting for any concrete information.

Then a Halloween photo of Meredith taken the night before her murder was the first to appear on television.

"I spun round to Mum and said, 'That's not Mez. That's not Mez, Mum'."

"I was adamant it was not my little sister, but Mum stroked my hair and painfully submitted that it was.

"I cried all night until I could barely see or breathe, everything just felt so empty."

The family soon traveled out to Italy to be with Meredith and their nightmare was only just beginning.

In court, complex and conflicting evidence was presented at the year-long trial in 2009 and during the various appeals.

But, the prosecution's case against Knox and Sollecito was blown apart by a court-ordered DNA review that discredited crucial genetic evidence.

Stephanie Kercher cannot understand why Amanda Knox keeps on reliving the nightmare. Photo / AP
Stephanie Kercher cannot understand why Amanda Knox keeps on reliving the nightmare. Photo / AP

The third person implicated, Rudy Guede, was convicted in the brutal slaying, however his trial concluded he did not act alone.

That left a huge question mark over what really happened.

To this day there remains no clear motive for the murder, no precise time of death and no definitive murder weapon.

Knox and Sollecito told police conflicting stories as to where they both were on the night of the murder.

Knox even falsely accused Congolese bar owner Patrick Lamumba of the murder, a lie she later recanted and blamed pressure from detectives.

And then there were the repeated claims of Knox's seemingly blaze attitude towards the case, including an incident where witnesses saw her doing did cart-wheels in the police station.

Much of this strange behavior and the lies told remain in large parts unexplained.

As a result Stephanie says she feels "let down" by the Italian judicial system.

"We've had a lot of help and support from the Italian police and the Italian public etc, so I am not referring to anyone specifically, but to have two convictions, two acquittals and the outcome is there's only one person in prison when we're told there was more involved, yes of course I feel we have been let down. I think most people would."

She continues: "So if the two in question have been acquitted who else was there? In that sense we are all still in limbo.

"We have always said that we don't want the wrong people convicted so we have to be satisfied with the acquittal as much as if we'd been satisfied with the conviction.

"The only reason I'm not satisfied is that it's not really a cut and dry decision because everything has been left open. If the Italian Judicial system had given clear reasoning based on evidence, we would all have closure on this horrific case."

Stephanie does admit she felt a sense of relief when the court proceedings finally came to an end last year.

After all she was 24 when the whole nightmare began nine years ago and the murder has dominated her life since, without being able to truly focus on Meredith.

But she feels the Netflix documentary has set things back a little.

Rudy Guede, who was born in the Ivory Coast, is the only person serving jail time for the murder of the British student. Photo / Getty
Rudy Guede, who was born in the Ivory Coast, is the only person serving jail time for the murder of the British student. Photo / Getty

"I don't really understand what is the rationale behind the making of this documentary," she explains.

"I don't really know what the purpose of it is if it can't bring anything new to light."

Friends told Stephanie of the inclusion of graphic crime scene footage, which includes a shot of Meredith's foot purtruding from underneath a bloody duvet, something she thinks was "completely unnecessary".

"That was pretty upsetting to hear because I don't see how that serves any purpose.

"I still have trouble getting over images that I have seen previously - it's hard when you see things.

"So none of us watched it and I doubt any of us will.

"If it was a programme about what actually happened, if they were investigating all the possibilities and looking at everything that happened, that might be different, but from what I can gather it is mainly a documentary about Amanda Knox's experience and it didn't answer lots of the nagging questions people have."

Stephanie can't recall receiving an approach from documentary makers but said no one in the family would have agreed to do it anyway.

It's time to finally let Meredith rest in peace and let us as a family - and hopefully anyone who has been involved - to begin to rebuild their lives.
Stephanie Kercher

She added: "This whole experience has impacted on everyone involved in various ways and that's part of my frustration with this new documentary that has come out - and only four weeks before Meredith's anniversary.

"It's time to finally let Meredith rest in peace and let us as a family - and hopefully anyone who has been involved - to begin to rebuild their lives."

And of course Meredith's memory still burns deep.

"We still miss Meredith terribly and it is painful," says Stephanie praising her "incredible" sister.

"We all spend Christmas together as a family and we've found our own ways of dealing with it too.

"As time goes on it's still difficult and I don't think that will ever change. We all still remember Mez every day.

"I light a candle every birthday and anniversary and we have a little toast at Christmas so she's always remembered at any occasion.

"Her friends do things for her too, so her memory is very much still alive she is still here with us.

"My mum couldn't bring herself to change her bedroom at first but now we've sorted through her things - mainly for nice reasons to have those memories and look at her things.

"But it is still Mez's room, it has all her stuff in it but not set out as it originally was.

"Her photos take over the house, Mum has some lovely photos of her up.

"But it's still an incredible void in our lives every single day - there's not a day goes by I don't think of her."

- Daily Mail

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 23 Jan 2017 11:28:48 Processing Time: 729ms