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Amanda Knox initially thought of the courtroom as a scientific laboratory where "information is boiled down, and the truth is found beyond a reasonable doubt".
Instead, she learned that "this was the scene of a battle, a battleground of storytelling," as Italian authorities wrongly convicted her of murder.
On Tuesday, Knox, an American author, activist and journalist, spoke at the Hutchinson Sports Arena as a Dillon Lecturer and shared her experiences as an American university exchange student accused of killing her roommate.
Meredith Kercher's 2007 stabbing death forever changed Knox's young life.
"One thing that I try to point out whenever I talk about this case is how bizarre it is that my name and my face and my identity really came to define it when I had nothing to do with it," Knox said.
At age 20, Knox was arrested in 2007 and convicted in 2009 for the murder. After four years in prison and four more years of lengthy appeals and trials, the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation acquitted Knox in 2015.
Knox shared details about the now-convicted killer, Rudy Guede, including the amount of evidence found against Guede rather than herself. However, she said the community put pressure on investigators to solve the case quickly, leading to Knox's arrest rather than Guede.
After outlining the case, Knox dove into a narrative of her home in Seattle and becoming a student in Italy, in an apartment on a hilltop surrounded by fig trees overlooking the town of Perugia. Kercher, Knox, and two Italian law students lived in the flat together.
Knox described her discovery of the crime scene in that flat and how things progressed from there.
"From the beginning, this case went off the rails," Knox said.
After authorities arrived at the scene, Knox said everything moved quickly. Fifty-three hours of interrogation followed — with journalists visiting the apartment for the story before authorities processed the scene. Knox was then taken by police to prison to await trial.
The Italian media quickly grew the story to international attention, Knox said, painting her as the murderer.
The jury reached a verdict of guilty and a judge sentenced her to 26 years in prison.
In prison, feeling alienated and her young life lost, day-to-day living was a challenge, Knox said. She felt an overwhelming sadness.
"It's not pretty," she said. "I wasn't angry; I think anger was an emotion that I couldn't really afford."
Later in her time while incarcerated, she found ways of living in the present and remaining in the present rather than focusing on what her future would become.
Each day remained too unpredictable to plan anything past the hearings, so she found herself playing cards with murderers and conversing with other inmates.
The case spanned eight years of legal hearings, moving through multiple courts within Italy and finally ending in the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation.
Knox recalled the day she returned to the prison, acquitted by that court from her conviction, with the fellow inmates yelling "libertà! libertà!" while banging pots and pans celebrating her freedom.
Knox's career today
Today, Knox's career involves sharing her experiences with other wrongfully-convicted people and participating in activism to spread awareness. The Innocence Project works with wrongfully-convicted people and their families; Knox said visiting one of their conferences impacted her.
"It was the one place where I didn't have to explain what this experience was and what it meant," she said. "Then, finally, coming into contact with other people who have been wrongly convicted and understanding this wasn't an isolated incident."
The Dillon Lecture Series
Tuesday's lecture this week, concluded the 40th year of the Hutchinson Community College Dillon Lecture Series, which invites speakers from every corner of human culture.
The series began in 1982, with Richard Morefield, a former United States diplomat held captive in Tehran, one of 66 staff members at the American embassy in 1979.
The lectures have included notable individuals such as Lynette Woodard, the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters, former Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and Kansas retired U.S. Army veterinarians Drs. Jerry and Nancy Jaax.
HCC President Carter File said Knox's speech worked well as the final speech for the 40th year of the lecture series and he's excited for the following two speakers invited to the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
"Celine Cousteau and Nick Hague are going to be two outstanding speakers," File said.
Cousteau is a socio-environmental advocate and public figure, and Hague is a flight test engineer and NASA astronaut. Their lectures will occur next spring of 2022; dates have not yet been announced.
This article originally appeared on The Hutchinson News: Amanda Knox speaks at Hutchinson Community College