Oct 6, 2011

Do Good Looks Influence A Jury?

Much like the Casey Anthony murder trial, there has been a media frenzy surrounding the Amanda Knox case. 

Amanda Knox
On Monday, the appeals court overturned the 26-year sentencing given to Knox in her original trial, allowing the young American to return home after the first time in four years.

Meredith Kercher
Knox was convicted of murdering and sexually assaulting her 21-year-old roommate Meredith Kercher after the young student’s body was found in the Perugia, Italy home they shared. Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was apparently found in the room and on a bloody knife that also contained Kercher’s DNA. After the initial ruling, a judge allowed an independent investigation to take place allowing the defense to show discrepancies in how the DNA evidence was handled in the original case.

The truth about what actually happened the night Kercher was murdered remains a mystery. In the end, a poor, innocent girl was brutally murdered and many of the specifics of the case have been left unanswered. 

 It does get me thinking about how the relative attractiveness of both Knox and Casey Anthony played into the outcome of both of these sensational, media-obsessed trials.

Both women’s physical appearance was heavily scrutinized and commented on by the press. Knox had been painted as a vixen and given the nickname "Foxy Knoxy" by the Italian press. While, her cherubic features convinced many others that there was no way someone who looked like her could have committed such a crime. 

Although, Casey Anthony's appearance wasn't quite as innocent (jurors saw her in skimpy outfits partying the night away while her daughter had been reported missing), her big, doe eyes and relative attractiveness certainly could have played into the eventual outcome of 
the Caylee Anthony murder trial. She too was acquitted of the most serious crimes against her despite what seemed like a slam-dunk case for the prosecution.

In a recent Forbes article, contributor Kiri Blakeley discusses how the looks of an accused female play into the coverage and outcome of a trial. In the article, former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole is quoted as saying, “Attractive people-women in particular-face several dilemmas when accused of a crime. The focus of the case quickly goes to the woman’s physical appearance, only to underscore the belief that really pretty women—for whatever reason—cannot also be criminals. Or, if a very attractive woman is in fact guilty, she must be evil.”

Caylee Anthony
In the article O’Toole also is quoted as saying “good looks can either help or hinder a defendant. The jury may simply be unable to reconcile a beautiful face with a horrific crime, and therefore more likely to give her the benefit of the doubt. But the opposite can also happen: If it is shown or implied that the woman “used” her good looks to get what she wanted, a judge or jury can be more likely to convict.”
Casey Anthony

In the end, Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony were cleared of their most serious charges and set free-seemingly based on the evidence presented to the jury. These cases were certainly sensationalized by what the defendants looked like and by the media’s obsession with crimes related to sex, family drama and of course murder.  It’s doubtful we’ll ever know the truth with either case but it’s certain that those closest to the victims will mourn their loss forever. 

No matter what, these two women will never be able to live down the reputation that has been created of them. Whether it's justified or not, their looks and demeanor played a part in how they will forever be perceived by the public and for these crimes, despite the outcomes.

No comments:

Post a Comment