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Amanda Knox shares why she's working to help others falsely convicted

Knox went on the record with KING 5 about the lies that put her behind bars and why she is working to help others falsely convicted.

SEATTLE — The case captured the attention of the world 16 years ago. American exchange student Amanda Knox was arrested for the murder of her British roommate.

The Italian police arrested her and a year later she would face trial and be convicted of murder.

We all remember the retrial and her eventual acquittal. By then, Knox had spent four years in prison for a crime she did not commit.

All these years later, she's hoping to clear her name of the slander conviction that continues to hang over her for falsely accusing her boss of the killing.

Knox went on the record with KING 5 about the lies that put her behind bars and why she is working to help others falsely convicted.

Knox: I look back on 20-year-old Amanda fairly often, because, in a lot of ways, we're exactly the same person. And in very, very big ways, we're not. I was having the time of my life, and then completely out of the blue, the worst possible thing happened.

Joyce Taylor: Your instinct was to go to the police to help them in any way that you could because this roommate was not just a roommate, it was your friend.

Knox: Yeah, a lot of people forget that. She was also my friend. Meredith was at home when she was raped and murdered and it was shocking. It shocked me so deeply to my core that I didn't really, at the very beginning, even know what to think or to do. So I just did what I was told. So much of what really impacted this case happened within a few days prior to my arrest. And that was when the police were putting together their idea of what happened in this case, without any forensic evidence available to them. Unbeknownst to me, they were focusing in on me. I was the only person who had her cellphone tapped by the police. I was questioned for 53 hours over five days, way more than anyone else. But of course, I didn't know this. I think the thing that made me the most vulnerable, and that makes any innocent person most vulnerable, was that I assumed that my innocence was obvious.

Taylor: Walk us through what happened that ended up with you in jail, waiting for trial for a year, and then actually being convicted in prison, all starting with you wanting to help the police and your interrogation.

Knox: As much as I told them, that I had given them everything I possibly knew, they just wouldn't believe me. And it escalated. And they started lying to me. They told me that my boyfriend said I wasn't with him that night, they lied to me and told me that they had proof that I was at my house when I was actually at Rafaele's house. It wasn't until this fake interpreter was brought in, and she said, "That's what happened to you, Amanda, you went through something so horrible that you don't even remember it. But here's the thing, we need you to remember what we know, you need to remember right now, or you're never going to see your family again." When I didn't remember correctly, they would hit me in the back of the head. I believed them at a certain point that I must have amnesia, that I must be scared and broken because I felt scared and broken. And they got me to sign statements that implicated myself and others in a crime that we had nothing to do with simply because they wanted to arrest someone as soon as possible.

Taylor: Based on what happened with you, why do you want to help others?

Knox: You know, when I first came home, I didn't know how common wrongful convictions were. And it wasn't until I went to my first ever Innocence Network Conference that I walked into a room full of hundreds of people who had went through the exact same experience as me. And they came up to me and told me that I didn't have to explain a thing to them because they already knew. Like, the relief that swept over me in that moment was life-changing. And I wanted to share that relief with others.

Taylor: A lot of people knowing what you have been through would say, why? Why doesn't she just want to just close the door on that, put it behind her?

Knox: I have found that it, first of all, the best way to grapple with trauma, instead of looking away from it is to look directly at it. I still have deep, deep trauma responses that arise from when I feel like authority figures are lying to me like that. I get a fear response when that happens. So I'm still processing my own trauma. But on top of that, I have found that by sharing my perspective about what happened, I am empowering other people to not find themselves in the situation I was in.

Taylor: And then layer on top of that you're a mother now. And I'm wondering if that at all plays a role in your involvement in trying to change the future.

Knox: Absolutely. I mean, I had this incredible experience when my daughter was first born. I was afraid going up to giving birth to her, of how the world was going to treat her because she was my daughter. The thing that really hit me though, was what it must have felt like to be my mom going through everything that I was going through and how much my mom would have given to trade places with me at any point. But she couldn't. And how many parents find themselves in that situation, just utterly powerless to help their kids as they're going through the torture of the justice system. And I have felt more compelled than ever, to try to change things just to make it so that it's fair and that it works. It's that simple, just to protect those who deserve to be protected.

Taylor: Let's talk about finally clearing your name.

Knox: While I am no longer a convict, which is great, I'm back to being a defendant. And it is a little surreal to be back in that space again. But I plan on pursuing justice to the fullest extent that I can. And I hope that ultimately, I will be acquitted. And really, this whole thing could be put behind me.

Taylor: Will you go back to Florence, where this is going to be tried again?

Knox: Yes, I am prepared to stand up for myself in a court in Italy.

Taylor: And to clear your name once and for all.

Knox: Absolutely.

Washington Innocence Project's work

The Washington Innocence Project is hoping to get a bill through the Washington State Legislature this year that could help prevent false confessions.

Lara Zarowsky, the Washington Innocence Project executive and policy director, said the bill being proposed would make any statement a suspect gives resulting from deceptive tactics inadmissible.

"More than 30% of DNA exonerations nationally, were the result of a false confession. It is the leading cause of wrongful conviction in homicide cases, a false confession,” said Zarowsky. “One of the most important things that we can do to prevent false wrongful convictions that result from false confessions is to remove the opportunity for law enforcement to create this false reality that is only going to generate false information. A truly effective interrogation is trying to seek information. It's not trying to create new information...it's to uncover the truth.”

The Washington Innocence Project has helped to free 20 people wrongly convicted. It receives more than 500 requests for help every year.

Both Zarowsky and Knox reject the idea this bill would be an obstacle for police and have said it would help prosecutors do their job in getting the truth.

"I would say that going after the wrong person is an incredible waste of law enforcement resources. And if what you actually want is the truth, you confront people with the truth," Knox said. "You do not confront them with lies, because lies just beget more lies.”

Watch the full interview with Knox below:

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