Amanda Knox says watching Michelle Carter‘s involuntary manslaughter trial play out in the media gave her a “sickening sense of déjà vu,” and argues that the woman whose texts urged her boyfriend to suicide was “wrongfully convicted.”
In a new op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times, Knox — who was at the center of international scrutiny during a years-long investigation into the 2007 slaying of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Italy — writes that Carter’s 15 month sentence, though “relatively lenient,” is “too much.”
“Involuntary manslaughter is when a drunk driver crashes into another vehicle, when a gunman shoots at tin cans in his suburban backyard, when a carnival ride operator fails to ensure that all passengers are strapped in, and as a result an innocent person dies,” writes Knox. “Encouraging your boyfriend to follow through with his own death wish should not qualify.”
Knox notes that it’s “hard to feel sympathy for Carter,” and that the 20-year-old “may not be innocent in a moral or philosophical sense.”
Carter was convicted in June in the 2014 suicide of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, who she’d urged to kill himself through texts and phone conversations. Though sentenced Thursday, she won’t begin serving her term until her potential appeal is resolved.
The Massachusetts woman, who was a 17-year-old minor at the time of Roy’s death, faced up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors asked for seven to 12 years, while the defense had argued for five years of supervised probation.
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“We naturally want to blame someone for the murder, but we’re reluctant to further condemn the victim,” argues Knox. “This emotional paradox makes it hard for us to find closure. But with Roy’s suicide, we have, in the person of Carter, another party to hold responsible. It’s much easier psychologically to reproach a villain than it is to hold in one’s mind the contradictory feelings we have about suicide.”
Knox says that Roy “made the mistake of seeking the advice and encouragement of another troubled adolescent,” and notes that Carter had her own struggles with mental illness. She writes that Carter’s own “bad choices” will haunt her “for the rest of her life.”
“By holding her accountable for Roy’s death, we increase the tally of victims in this case, we ignore the mental health factors that lead to suicide, and we learn nothing about how to prevent it,” says Knox.
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Knox relates the high-profile case back to her own, which saw her convicted in her roommate Kercher’s murder before the decision was ultimately overturned by Italy’s highest court in 2015.
“When I was on trial for murder in Italy, the media tried to paint me as a ‘femme fatale,’ ” says Knox, who later adds that “fell into a depression” after her own initial conviction.
Concludes Knox, “It’s hard to feel sympathy for Michelle Carter. It’s also hard to feel sympathy for drug addicts or to understand obsessively suicidal adolescents. Even so, we have to try. Just because it’s hard to feel sympathy and understanding, that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right — and just — thing to do.”