Amanda Knox made headlines when she spent nearly four years in an Italian prison after being convicted there for the murder of her roommate. After she was acquitted, her case gained attention as an example of a wrongful conviction, and now Knox is speaking out about another case she says was improperly handled.
In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Knox took issue with the sentencing of Michelle Carter, another woman whose conviction has been on headlines plastered on national news sites. Carter is the Massachusetts woman who was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail on involuntary manslaughter charges for encouraging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide. (Of that sentence, she was ordered to serive 15 months, but her time incarcerated will be suspended while her appeals of the precedent-setting verdict are pending, a judge ruled.)
Knox acknowledges that it was wrong for Carter “to instruct Roy over the phone to get back into the truck in which he was poisoning himself with carbon monoxide.”
However, she argues it isn’t involuntary manslaughter, and that Carter’s immoral actions show that she needs help, not to serve time.
“The very fact that suicide is illegal reveals how self-harm confuses our sympathies,” Knox writes. “The suicide is his own victim, his own murderer. We naturally want to blame someone for the murder, but we’re reluctant to further condemn the victim. 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 also points to her own experience in which “the media tried to paint [her] as a ‘femme fatale.’” This was echoed in Carter’s case, she argues, as the 20-year-old as having “coldly and calculatingly insinuated herself into Roy’s vulnerable consciousness.”
“They held her accountable for failing as Roy’s caregiving companion. Instead of protecting Roy from himself, Carter coerced him to commit suicide against his better instincts,” Knox writes. “Except that’s not what she did. For months leading up to Roy’s suicide, Carter advised Roy against self-harm and to seek counseling. Every time she urged Roy toward professional help, she implicitly admitted, ‘I am not enough.’”
Knox also knows depression first-hand, she revealed, and fantasized about killing herself. Roy needed sympathy when he was struggling, she says, but did did not get help in time.
“Just because it’s hard to feel sympathy and understanding, that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right — and just — thing to do,” Knox writes. “Michelle Carter deserves the same sympathy and help now.”
Read the full op-ed here.