When it comes to those few murder cases that made international headlines – and then kept making them – few are as notorious as the saga of Amanda Knox who, along with then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, was accused and convicted in Italy of the 2007 killing of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher.
Knox and Sollecito were later acquitted and convicted again in Kercher’s death, before Italy’s highest appeals court overturned their second conviction. Knox has said she would “never willingly go back” to the country.
Now, one year after her second conviction was overturned, Knox and the many different people involved in her case are being examined again in a new Netflix documentary.
Amanda Knox, which was released Friday, also explores how the international tabloid media and its fascination with Knox’s looks, sex life and drug habits fueled worldwide speculation about whether the then-20-year-old study abroad student was either railroaded or a sex-crazed femme fatale with a knife.
Documentary co-director Rod Blackhurst puts it this way to PEOPLE: “The people at the heart of this story had kind of been turned into these entertaining and salacious headlines and what was becoming quickly journalism, and we wanted to understand who these people actually were as individuals and what it was like for each of them to be caught up in these events and circumstances.”
His co-director, Brian McGinn, agrees, telling PEOPLE, “Each of these people had an identity created and crafted for them that now has come to define them.”
Knox herself is most succinct in the documentary when she says, “Either I am a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I am you.” (She became known in the tabloids as “Foxy Knoxy.”)
The documentary also includes interviews with Knox’s ex, Sollecito, and the Italian prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, who presided over the case.
Echoing its refracted did she/or didn’t she trailers, Amanda Knox allows its subjects to remake their claims about what really must have happened the night of Kercher’s death, who was later found sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed inside the Perugia apartment she shared with Knox.
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Mignini, who says he loves crime movies, explains in the documentary that he suspects Knox and Sollecito for several reasons:
One, he says, he was convinced that a broken window at the crime scene was staged to make it look like a break-in. He also came to the conclusion that a woman must have been involved in Kercher’s slaying because “a woman who has killed tends to cover the body of female victims.” (A comforter was found covering Kercher’s body.)
In addition, Mignini says in the documentary, he found Knox’s quirky behavior suspicious – in particular, the infamous kiss, caught on camera by the press, between Knox and Sollecito outside the crime scene.
It was “affection inappropriate for the moment,” he says.
Mignini alleges that Kercher was murdered after the young Brit interrupted a sex game between Knox, Sollecito and Rudy Guede, whose DNA was discovered in Kercher’s bedroom.
Guede was also found guilty of killing Kercher and is serving a 16-year prison sentence.
“Meredith couldn’t take it anymore,” Mignini alleges of that fateful night. “She must have scolded Amanda for her lack of morals. … I am convinced Sollecito and Rudy were trying to indulge Amanda in every possible way that night.
“Pleasure at any cost. This is at the heart of most crimes.”
But Knox, who admitted to being suicidal during her years-long incarceration, puts it this way in the documentary: “What is more likely, that I get together this boyfriend I have and this guy, I don’t even know his name, tell them to rape my roommate and then let me stab her to death? Or that a guy who regularly committed burglaries broke into my home found Meredith, took advantage of her, killed her and ran off? A burglary gone wrong.”
Co-director McGinn tells PEOPLE the interviews came about after Knox and Sollecito “decided it was beneficial for them to tell their side of the story and after they were finally acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2015. And that’s when Giuliano Mignini felt like his side of the story was not being heard.”
Amanda Knox tackles these conflicting narratives directly – and how, even after official conclusions have been drawn and Knox was set free, no one has walked away untainted.
As McGinn says of the “personalities” each person was ascribed during the trial and its aftermath, “They are all working to break free from that, break free from these stories that were written about them and have come to define them.
“All of them are going to forever be trapped by the narrative that exists.”
Amanda Knox is out now on Netflix.