A friend of mine has just read a very good book about the case, by Barbie Nadeau of The Daily Beast and Newsweek. Nadeau never bought into the pro-Amanda narrative that the rest of the U.S. media followed like slaves. She states up front that in her view Amanda and Rafaele are guilty.
Also, she brings out a side of the story that no one brought out before. Rafaele, with Amanda following his lead, was HEAVY into drugs and alcohol, of all types and combinations. Before he met her he was a big drug user and his father was threatening to put him in rehab. At the same time, Amanda, before she met Rafaele, was heavy into sex, having had a series of one night stands in Perugia. She kept bringing strange guys home, and her housemates were frightened about it.
Then the two hooked up and the drugs combined with the sex. Their sex affair was also a drug affair.
(And by the way, the movie gives no hint of this at all, no hint of the sex-and-drugs intoxication that Amanda and Rafaele were probably in during the days prior to the murder.)
The drugs and sex, fueling each other, provide a context in which the otherwise incomprehensible events leading to Meredith’s death start to make sense. In Nadeau’s account (or at least in Nadeau’s account as interpreted by me), Amanda and Rafaele were out of control. They were in a Dionysiac state. This was what led to the “play” torture of Meredith which became more serious torture and then became homicide.
They probably bought drugs from Rudy Guede the night of the homicide and were very high, with Amanda borrowing 300 euros from Meredith for the purchase, which annoyed Meredith. Nadeau’s theory is that Amanda was annoyed with Meredith because Amanda and Rafaele were high out of their minds and Meredith was being too straight. So Amanda, Rafaele, and Rudy Guede, under Amanda’s direction, began to “play” with Meredith, to taunt her with the knives. (Also, Rafaele, this soft, weak character, surprisingly carried a switchblade with him all the time, and Rudy always carried a knife.) Then it got out of control, something happened, and Meredith was slashed in the throat. In Nadeau’s account, it was really a manslaughter rather than a murder.
Amanda’s and Rafaele’s claim that they couldn’t remember what happened the night of Meredith’s death may be true in part, since they were so stoned. However, Nadeau seems to think that they couldn’t remember at all what happened, which I find hard to believe.
Amazingly, the prosecutors barely touched on the drug aspect of the case. Why? Maybe they didn’t want to destroy Perugia’s image by revealing it as the youth, sex, and drugs capital that it is.
As for the cluelessness of the Knoxes, the family were so out of it, so loose in the American way, that when they came to Italy to help Amanda, Amanda’s sisters would show up in court wearing short shorts and tank tops. Their sister had been charged with murder and they went to court half naked, repeatedly. They had no idea there was anything inappropriate about this. Neither did their good-hearted but hopelessly liberal and deluded mother.
But it’s not just Amanda’s fault, or the Knoxes’ fault, or America’s fault, as the Italians want to see it. Perugia is a youth vice capital, and the Italians, for all their clucking self-righteous disapproval of Amanda as the “wicked foreign woman,” have never criticized the culture of Perugia as playing a role in this story. In reality the death of Meredith Kercher was a product of Perugia, an environment without norms, an environment where sexual liberation plus drugs and alcohol turned into the Dionysian which turned into deadly violence.