'She deserves sympathy': Amanda Knox defends woman who urged boyfriend's suicide

Amanda Knox (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

SEATTLE - Amanda Knox, the wrongfully convicted Seattleite who was acquitted of an Italian murder rap after years behind bars, is making headlines again after coming to the defense of the woman who was sentenced Thursday for encouraging her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself.

In an opinion column published Friday in the Los Angeles Times, Knox wrote that Michelle Carter "deserves sympathy" - and not a prison sentence - for urging her boyfriend Conrad Roy III to end his life.

"It’s hard to feel sympathy for Michelle Carter." Knox wrote. "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."

Knox also confessed in the opinion piece that she herself considered suicide after she was sentenced to 26 years in an Italian prison for the murder of her roommare Meredith Kercher.

"I pictured myself sitting on the floor of the shower, wrists slit, bleeding out under the warmth and privacy of hot water and steam," Knox wrote. "I felt the power of those thoughts, the comfort in knowing that no matter how bad things got, no matter how seemingly desperate and inescapable a situation, there was always an escape. But I never took it."

According to court documents in the case of Michelle Carter, she sent dozens of text messages to her boyfriend Roy over a period of time urging him to go ahead with his plans to kill himself. He finally did so after she texted him to "get back in" a truck filled with toxic carbon monoxide gas. For that she was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 months behind bars.

That sentence was far shorter than the 20-year prison term she could have received - and which Roy's family wanted.

But as Carter's defense attorney pointed out, she was struggling with mental health issues of her own — bulimia, anorexia and depression — during the time she urged Roy to kill himself.

Carter also initially tried to talk Roy out of suicide, her attorney said, but eventually encouraged him to go ahead after she became convinced he was determined to do it and nothing she did could change that.

Knox, in her opinion column, said it was wrong to convict Carter of involuntary manslaughter.

"Involuntary manslaughter is when a drunk driver crashes into another vehicle ... and as a result an innocent person dies. Encouraging your boyfriend to follow through with his own death wish should not qualify. Carter may not be innocent in a moral or philosophical sense, but she was wrongfully convicted.

"The very fact that suicide is illegal reveals how self-harm confuses our sympathies. 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. ... 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."

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