LONDON – The father of slain British student Meredith Kercher on Friday harshly criticized a U.S. television movie that shows a re-enactment of his daughter's murder.
The Lifetime movie, due to air later this month, is based on the trial that followed the stabbing death of Meredith Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007, a killing for which Kercher's roommate, University of Washington student Amanda Knox, was eventually found guilty.
"Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy" has "Heroes" star Hayden Panettiere in the title role. A preview posted to Lifetime's website shows scenes from the run-up to the murder — including a split-second scene showing Kercher, wearing a gray bra, being attacked by Knox's then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and another man, Rudy Guede, both of whom were also convicted in the killing.
John Kercher was quoted in Britain's The Sun newspaper as calling preview clips "absolutely horrific."
"To actually see it like this is very distressing," he said, according to the tabloid. "It's awful what these film people have done."
The case — which involved lurid sex allegations and two photogenic, educated young women — became a media sensation from the moment Kercher's body was found with her throat slit in the bedroom of her house in Perugia, a university town in Umbria, central Italy.
Prosecutors said the Leeds University student was the victim of a violent, drug-fueled sex game. According to the prosecutors, Sollecito held Kercher by the shoulders while Knox touched her with a knife. At one point, they say, Guede tried to sexually assault Kercher and Knox fatally stabbed her in the throat.
All three deny wrongdoing. Knox is appealing her 26-year sentence and Sollecito is appealing his 25-year sentence. Italy's highest criminal court has already upheld Guede's conviction and his 16-year-prison sentence.
The movie was filmed last year in Rome and Perugia. Producers didn't talk to any of the families, and instead worked from courtroom documents, including a 400-page report written by the judge in the case, and media reports.
Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, said Knox's innocence or guilt was a daily topic among the cast. Panettiere, meanwhile, focused on staying true to who she believes Knox was before the trial.
"This wasn't a dark, angry girl," she told The Associated Press last month. "She was a young girl with dreams and aspirations. I don't think guilty or innocent takes away from that."
The film airs on Feb. 21. Following the movie, Lifetime will air an hour-long documentary "Beyond the Headlines: Amanda Knox" that features interviews with Knox's mother, father, friends, investigators and prosecutors discussing the legal evidence and allegations.
Beth Harris contributed from Pasadena, Calif.