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Category: Great reporting

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Italians Have For A Long Time Known How Depraved And Cruel The Final Struggle Was

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters




An Exceptionally Vicious Attack

As you can see in the prosecutors’ scenario posted below, we did not translate and post quite everything.

Meredith’s final 15-minute death-struggle is not there.

Back in January of this year the Micheli Report described in great detail Meredith’s autopsy, the wounds on her body, and the horrific state of her room.

Click here for the rest


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Summations: Barbie Nadeau On Mr Mignini Setting Out The Attack Scenario

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Rome-based Barbie Nadeau’s report from the courtroom. Her excellent description includes this sad passage on Meredith.

Then he described Kercher as a woman full of life and potential, “the young woman we too often forget.” Mignini quoted Kercher’s father John on a number of occasions, especially when explaining that she was a strong woman who practiced karate and who would have fought back against an attack.

The courtroom was silent as he recalled the words of Kercher’s father: “Meredith would have fought with all her life.”

The report also includes this on possible hard drugs.

He also hinted that Knox and Sollecito might have been in a drug-fueled frenzy when they allegedly killed Kercher. He outlined the effects of cocaine and acid, and told the judges and jury how Knox and Sollecito ran with a crowd that often used these “stupificante,” or stupefying drugs.


Drugs were not proven other than that both Knox and Sollecito claimed to have smoked marijuana on the day. The two drugs mainly hypothesized up to now if there was a drug other than unmodified marijuana (cannabis) seem to have been crystal meth and skunk cannabis.

Both of them are now proving a cause of psychotic episodes which can result in fatal attacks. Genetically-engineered skunk cannabis seems to increasingly be most of the cannabis on the market.


Friday, November 20, 2009

The Summations: Nick Pisa In Daily Mail Has A Late-Morning Report

Posted by Peter Quennell


Please click above for Nick Pisa’s full story. Two key claims made by the prosecution:

Murder suspect Amanda Knox was described as ‘dominant’ in her relationship with co-accused Raffaele Sollecito today, as prosecutors began summing up in the case against them.

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said Knox ‘dominated’ her relationship with Sollecito who in turn was ‘dependent on her’. He said this was evident in TV footage from the time of the murder, where Sollecito was ‘following on behind her, often kissing and cuddling her.’

Prosecutor Mignini added: ‘The key to this mystery is in the room where the supposed break-in took place’. Mignini added: ‘This break-in is the nail of Knox and Sollecito’s defence, but it was all simulated.  ‘It would have been manna from heaven for them if blood or other genetic evidence had been found on the broken glass or window frame but nothing was found.”

“This hypothetical thief then did something quite remarkable - he didn’t take anything of value. No jewellery was missing, computers were left at the scene as well as designer bangs and clothes. A “very strange break-in” was in fact how the first police officer who arrived at the house described it - they could not believe that nothing of value was taken.”

Prosecutor Mignini also pointed out how fragments of glass had been found on top of clothes scattered on the bedroom floor which was also unusual for a break-in, especially if the wardrobe had been ransacked after the window was broken.

He added that it was also virtually impossible to climb to the bedroom window of Filomena Romanelli and that it was also the most exposed as it was visible to the road and passing traffic…

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/20 at 03:36 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingComments here (3)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Actual State Of Play: The Status Now And What Is Coming Up

Posted by Michael



[above: Meredith’s family gets briefed on the proceedings and prospects last June]

The excellent pro-Meredith LA7 documentary that Nicky reported on below would have moved many Italians.

But, apart from some of the claims from Seattle, it is unlikely to have given them many surprises.

Those in Italy have often been able to watch the court proceedings directly, Amanda Knox’s seemingly misconceived stint on the stand included, and the Italian newspapers and networks have done a pretty exemplary job of the reporting. Those there who follow the case will have a highly informed and very accurate understanding of what the evidence points to - that it pretty well overwhelmingly points to the notion that the right defendants have been tried and the case against them is strong.

For non-Italians, though, arriving at a good take on the case has been very much tougher. UK and US followers have had to rely on far fewer media sources, and the biased ones have often drowned out the few good. Be it due to inherent prejudice within certain national media, jingoism, financial opportunism, a simple desire to sensationalize or turn what should be hard news into entertainment, language and cultural barriers, or sheer laziness, the reporting on this case has fallen very far short of the “duty” of the media to inform.

To make matters worse, the media have been affected by third-party influences. Most notably, the ostensibly pro-Amanda-Knox campaign has tended to muddy the waters with aggressive anti-Italy, anti-prosecutor and anti-investigator propaganda, and some highly peculiar takes on the real facts. The US media in particular has gone out of its way to provide them with a willing platform, and it has too often relied on the campaign for main information on the case.

It seems a sad day for the media and for truth in general when the public is left to rely largely on the families and representatives of the accused for their information. As Commissario Montalbano points out below, the PR campaign and the slanted reporting will actually have zero influence on the court. And we hear from the inside that it is likely to have zero influence on the US government, and in particular the State Department (the foreign office). But it certainly has left in its wake a pool of angry and confused people who think Italy is up to something nefarious. 

So, what is realistically the state of play for the accused, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito? How strong is the case against them, what is the verdict in early December likely to be, and what are the prospects for appeal?

Bear in mind first that the elements of the case of the prosecution had jumped a large number of judicial hurdles on the way to trial for which there is no equivalent in the US and UK systems. Judge after judge after judge reviewed the emerging case, and Judge Micheli showed how formidable it was when he committed Knox and Sollecito to trial in October 2008

And the prosecution seems to have presented at trial a very robust case against the accused, within a very compelling overall framework, comprised of behavioral, witness, forensic, and circumstantial testimony, and self-incriminating testimony of the accused. The real strength of the case lies in the whole damning picture when all the elements are drawn together.

A defense explanation can be attempted for any one piece of evidence taken in isolation, and sometimes such pieces do seem weak. But when they are all brought together, the whole seems too much, too large a wall for any defense team to break down. A regular poster on the case summed it up with this metaphor. Imagine the case against the accused being a swimming pool. Now in that pool there are no sharks - but there are many dozens of piranha fish. They will strip you to the bone far faster and more effectively then any shark. This seems in essence what the response of the defenses now faces.

Convictions and sentences for both defendants early in December do seem to be more or less assured. 

So what does a well-informed and fair-minded native Italian who really understands the Italian legal system think of the chances of acquittal for the accused? Our frequent commenter Yummi, who writes from Italy, was asked about the prospects for a guilty verdict, and the likelihood of a prosecution appeal in the case of an acquittal. Yummi had this to say:

A trial in the Italian justice is an event in which the most important part is played by the written sentence (so called “sentence report”). The prosecution would give up the appeal only if the written motivations appear to them obviously unassailable, so to make it easy to predict a second failure. But in all other cases appeals by the prosecution are frequent, sometimes even on guilty verdicts. In this case an appeal by the prosecution would be real and almost certain in case of acquittal.

But it is extremely unlikely that AK and RS are found innocent in the first instance. Not because there is any proof 100% good, any single piece of evidence alone won’t be able to produce a guilty verdict, but even if the pieces of circumstantial evidence are not a decisive proof taken one by one, they are too many, and too systematic. There is practically no way to come out from such a web of physical indicators, the defendants are implicated.

Yummi is not alone in this view. Most tellingly, Amanda Knox and her family are said to have been warned by her Italian lawyers, Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Della Vedova,  to expect a guilty verdict. And Knox’s family are now more than ever talking about an eventual appeal in the US media. These are remarks by the mother of Amanda Knox. 

There’s been many people that have told us that’s not how it works. Just because you’re innocent, you’re not found innocent, at least…  at this first level, and that normally true justice doesn’t happen until the appeals process.

By ‘“first level” Edda Mellas means the current trial. In effect, she seems to believe that, in the Italian process, almost everyone is found guilty in the main trial, and the real business and the acquitting is done in the appeal. This happy talk about the appeal has been quite common from the Knox camp of late. This suggests that the supporters of Knox and Sollecito are expecting a guilty verdict and are now hanging all their hopes on that appeal.

Is it in fact correct that the appeals court is where the real business is done? In effect that it is almost automatic that Knox and Sollecito would be found guilty in the trial, and that then it’s almost a done deal that they will be freed on appeal?

First, it must be noted that we’ve heard similar happy talk before. Leading up to and during the early stages of the trial, the line was that Amanda will prove her innocence in the trial itself, most especially by getting up on the stand. That clearly hasn’t worked out that way, and as the trial is almost at an end, the supporters are turning their attention instead to characterizing the appeal process.

What is the reality of the appeal process? This is how our Italian watcher Yummi describes it:

Appeals are usually very similar to first degree trials in their overall figure. Basically it depends on what are the aims and strategies of parties in the appeal. If the outcome in the first degree is obvious, most likely it will be obvious in the appeal. Many appeals in Italy don’t take place just to overturn the first degree - i.e. the fact that a defendant is guilty often is not questioned - often they are made just to introduce minor corrections to the first sentence.

So what do the actual appeals statistics say? The statics on the success rates of appeals in Italy are in fact not good news for those convicted. 

  • 70% of appeal cases end with the confirmation of the original verdict: 25% of these with a confirmation of the sentence at the original trial, and 45% with a reduction in the penalty.
  • The other 30% of appeals cases end with 10% of them lapsing due to expiration, 8% for NDP procedural reasons and only 12% overturning the verdict.

So the reality is that only a mere 12% of all appeals result in the overturning of a guilty verdict. This seems very out of step with what Edda Mellas has been claiming. The facts of the matter in this case seem to be that (1) the returning of a guilty verdict at the end of the trial is very high, and that (2) there is a negligible chance of that guilty verdict being overturned on appeal.

The reality therefore is that things are not looking at all good for the defendants, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

And even worse, because there are three appeals, one each, they may really tear apart from one another now and on appeal go their different ways - as, seemingly, will Rudy Guede.

We are now coming to the end of what has been a very long sad tough process indeed, most of all for the family and friends of Meredith Kercher. I can only hope, that whatever the outcome, they are given the truth and repentance they seek. And that they finally are able to find some closure and truly lay their daughter to rest in peace.

The Kercher family on the second sad anniversary of Meredith’s death a few days ago expressed their heartfelt desire that eventually, finally, soon, they and the world can stop remembering Meredith as a victim and news item, and instead as a whole person - the truly wonderful person that she was.

It is my reading here that we will reach that point early in December of this year, in that Perugia courtroom.

Posted by Michael on 11/16 at 03:41 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingMedia newsComments here (10)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Best Meredith-Case Documentary Ever - One Intensely Compassionate To Meredith

Posted by Nicki


As many here know, I am an Italian-American who lives and works in Milan in northern Italy and who follows the case closely in Italian.

On TJMK here I have posted repeatedly on the DNA dimension and on the public perceptions in Italy of Meredith, Amanda Knox, and the campaign.

A week ago today, those public perceptions sharpened very noticeably.

One of the three largest national TV networks here, LA7, broadcast a one-hour documentary on the case. This was months in the making, the most costly production to date, and compelling for the depth and objectivity of the reporting.

And absolutely compelling for its extreme compassion toward Meredith, a loved and revered figure in Italy, for whom the cruel and untimely nature of her passing has led to a lot of outrage and sadness. 

If there were any dry eyes among the very large Italian viewership of LA7 by the end of the broadcast, it would be quite surprising.

The production’s power to move comes from its placing of Meredith right at the beginning (her church and her chaplain), repeatedly in the middle (people in England who knew her, including one who was with her in Perugia) and right at the end, where there is a scene in the cemetery where Meredith was buried of almost transcendental beauty and sadness.

The documentary (so far) is only watchable online in Italian, with Italian voice-overs of the many interviews that were carried out in English in the UK and in Seattle. 

The arguments of the Knox supporters in Part One came across as tired, weak, clutching at straws, playing on emotions, and avoiding hard facts, and well-informed Italian viewers probably tuned out the droning and confused Ann Bremner. Sympathy shown for Meredith and her family was around zero.

In sharp contrast, the Croydon and Leeds segments on Meredith in both parts, especially the second with the deeply-hurting Samantha Rodenhurst, sounded new, fresh, authentic, interesting, and very moving, and would have had Italian viewers transfixed. And Charles Mudede in Seattle was extremely effective in puncturing FOA hype.

For those with no Italian, which seems to be the huge majority of our readership, we have posted below a large number of still images from the broadcast, to convey the ground that was covered in Italy, the United States, and England..

The producers were largely guided, we believe, by the Italy-based American journalist Andrea Vogt, who appears several times to give effective commentary and who is credited at the end.

There is nothing really new on Amanda Knox, who herself does not feature very prominently, and virtually nothing at all on Raffaele Sollecito or Rudy Guede.

New in the Italy segments is an interview with the prosecutor, Mr Mignini, who observes that the FOA’s claims about the true strength of the case are simply flat-out wrong. He notes that they are not based on a thorough knowledge of the evidence presented or of the Italian judicial system.

New in the America segments are interviews with four University of Washington students, only one of whom thinks Amanda Knox is innocent and then with no great conviction. Interviews with two of Amanda Knox’s teachers at Seattle Prep, who found her to be pretty normal at the time. And highly insightful commentary by the Seattle journalist Charles Mudede.

And new in the England segment are interviews with Meredith’s chaplain at her former school, who also conducted her funeral service, and with Kirsty Whalley, a reporter for the Croydon Guardian. Also with a Croydon caféteria owner who served Meredith many meals of cheeseburgers and chips, and with four students at the University of Leeds, who were keen to see the thing over and properly reported upon so the Kercher family could perhaps find some peace.

Perhaps most moving of all were the many short segments with Samantha Rodenhurst. Samantha and Meredith became very close friends in the few weeks they were together in Perugia, and Samantha was one of the girls Meredith shared a pizza with on a bed, watching the movie The Notebook, before Meredith headed home to her final cruel fate.

We will later add some translations to the three posts directly below. [Many are now added.] The overwhelming sentiment of the program seems to me this: May Meredith finally rest in peace now, and her family be given respite from the Knox hype of the cruel campaign.

I doubt that many Italians feel any differently. Amanda Knox herself and the campaign have ensured that.

Posted by Nicki on 11/11 at 04:44 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Crime hypothesesGreat reportingMovies on caseComments here (16)

LA7 TV’s Documentary On Meredith’s Case #2 The American Segments

Posted by Nicki

Below: One of many good images of Seattle which included some specially taken from the air

Below: The home of the Knox family where Curt Knox and daughter Deanna were interviewed

Below: Curt Knox being interviewed and showing four childhood photographs of Amanda Knox

These are childhood images of Amanda. The FOAK is quite independent of our family. They concentrate on analysing the case and raising money for us. They are nothing to do with the family! The Kerchers lost their daughter, but we can still hope to get ours back.

Below: One of the childhood photographs shown of Amanda Knox, seen here playing a guitar

Below: Amanda Knox’s sister Deanna Knox being interviewed in the garden of her father’s home

Below: Segment with part of a YouTube video showing Amanda Knox aopparently a bit drunk

Below: A Seattle street with crowd; many lively crowd scenes here and in the UK were included

Below: First of four students at University of Washington; only one strongly believed Knox is innocent

Everything is possible. It’s always a possibility - you have to study her personalty in depth and the eventual psychological motivations which could have led her to commit the murder. It’s the only thing I can say. I don’t know whether she took part in the crime.

Below: Second of four students at University of Washington; only one strongly believed Knox is innocent

The story changed so many times that I think she is guilty.  She changed versions several times.  I’ve stopped following the story because the media try to take away attention from it and then go back to make the interest in it rise again. But I think that she is guilty.

Below: Third of four students at University of Washington; only one strongly believed Knox is innocent

I knew her, yes, we were at high school together at Seattle Prep. [Q: And you were in the same class?] Yes, in the same class. [Q: And what do you remember?] She was very nice - a nice person, I didn’t know her very well ...  I could never have imagined that she could be involved in such a thing.  It’s a tragedy because I believe she didn’t commit the murder. I follow the trial and it’s sad because for me, she seems innocent.  I don’t really believe that she committed the murder.

Below: Fourth of four students at University of Washington; only one strongly believed Knox is innocent

I don’t know - I haven’t any idea. I think that this case has been manipulated too much by the media.  It’s very difficult to discern between media sensationalism and the truth.  So it’s difficult to express an opinion.

Below: Dr Taso Lagos of UW spoke weirdly of cultural differences - and Knox somehow being the real victim

Below: Offices of Seattle magazine The Stranger where campaigner for truth Charles Mudede works

Below: Charles Mudede, perhaps first US journalists with an in-depth piece sympathetic to Meredith

Here we don’t talk enough about Meredith, and that is always because of the distance.  We don’t talk about who this wonderful English girl really was.  I don’t know whether you’ve noticed it, but in the American press, yes, Meredith is named as the person killed, but they talk very little about her and about what her parents are undergoing. You have to consult the English papers to read this; you don’t find it in the American ones.  This is the result of an attitude which is favorable towards Amanda, because you don’t have a connection with the victim as you would have, say in England.

Amanda was a bar attendant and also worked in an art gallery in the university area.  She was a student of European languages.  She practised yoga and played soccer: all characteristics of a normal American education. Amanda grew up in a middle class family in West Seattle, differently from how the British press described her as a rich girl.  She isn’t.  Amanda belongs to the middle class, typical of this city.  Here there aren’t many poor people, or rather there are, but not a whole lot as in other cities. While the rich tend to not make themselves very visible.

There seems a dark side to Amanda’s personality.  I think this dark side is the same as in many young people of her age.  She wanted to experiment, at times with drugs, at times with sex.  When I did research on her I found a police statement where it was written that Amanda had taken part in a party that ended up badly. She had to defend herself in court on charges of disturbing the peace, but it was nothing sensational.  I don’t believe that her dark side is something exceptional even. The idea that she was beaten up and maltreated by the Perugia police makes me laugh - it’s an exaggeration. I mean the police have to do certain things which may seem a bit nasty but this is not unusual - it happens here too.

Below: One of various shots of grounds of Seattle Prep where Amanda Knox went to school

Below: Two of Amanda Knox’s teachers describe experiences with her as seemingly normal

Below: Andrea Vogt, American reporter based in Italy, provides some excellent in-depth commentary

“She was a girl like so many others here in the Pacific north-west. She was sporty, she liked playing sport, going out. She spent so many of these beautiful days running or playing football. That’s what the girls here in this area do.”


LA7 TV’s Documentary On Meredith’s Case #1 The Italian Segments:

Posted by Nicki

Below: The Corriere newspaper’s headline reads “Justice for Meredith” reflecting dominant public opinion

Below: Perugia students sitting by the fountain in the Corso Vanucci, as they do every night of the year

Below: The pressroom adjacent to the courtroom which many journalists prefer as they can type and call out

Below: Amanda Knox on the witness stand presenting testimony on her accusations against Lumumba

Below: Meredith’s mother making a statement; thereafter the family is shown being seated in the court

Below: Prosecutor Mignini is shown several times in an extended interview on misleading by FOA and US media

“The American commentators with no in-depth knowledge of the case and little if any understanding of the Italian justice system are severely clouding the issues. They show an extreme lack of knowledge of the facts of the case and of the Italian system. In this case the accusation of the prosecution is based on the existence of serious indications of guilt, and this hypothesis has been supported by the GIP (the judge heading the preliminary investigation), by the court which confirmed the remand in custody, and by the Appeals Court.”

Below: Andrea Vogt, Italy-based reporter for the Seattle PI and the Independent, comments on the process

Below:  Andrea Vogt draws attention to “blog wars” and shows the camera TJMK and PMF forum

Below: Patrick Lumumba makes some sharp remarks about the false charges against him by Knox

On Meredith: “Very reserved, a very kind person, I think. Every time when I met her she had a smile and “Ciao! How are you?” We talked like this. There was always this group of English girls. I first noticed her because she spoke to me about a Polish vodka. She to me, “Ah, you’ve got some here.” I asked her if she knew it and she replied yes, that she used to work in a bar in England where they used this vodka for making Mojitos.”

On Amanda Knox: “In this month and a half, two months that I knew Amanda, I can’t claim that I got to know her that much. But at least I spent that time with her at the bar ... and therefore I’m in the position to understand that… when she’s lying…. And I don’t believe her. She tried it, but it didn’t work.”


Below: Mention of Rudy Guede’s conviction last October and his upcoming appeal in November

Below:  Just this one brief shot of Meredith’ s house, after dark, as it was on the night in question

Below: Gates of Capanne Prison where Amanda Knox has been held during the hearings and trial

Posted by Nicki on 11/11 at 04:34 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedThe prosecutorsGreat reportingComments here (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

John Follain’s Book And At Least One Other On Meredith’s Sad Case Due Out In January

Posted by Peter Quennell


The verdict in the case is tentatively expected around the end of the first week in December and the first of the books will be out about six weeks later.

Please expect detailed reviews of all the books here on TJMK.

Our criteria for judging all the books is really pretty simple. One, will they be accurate on all the evidence and fair to the Italian system? And two, will they tell us sympathetically much more than we already know about the wonderful person that was Meredith? Or will they simply obsess further about the two defendants? 

Everything we know about John Follain (above), the Italy correspondent for the UK Sunday Times, from John’s past reporting on the case, from his past books, and from comments about him by those who work with him in Rome and greatly respect him, is that John is scrupulously fair, never ever sensational, and increasingly well researched on who Meredith really was.

We are still waiting to see what angle Nina Burleigh will be taking in “Cottage in Perugia” but we are hopeful. And we can probably kinda anticipate what one-note angle Candace Dempsey’s “Murder In Italy” will be taking.

Oh and this just for the record. Nearly a million people dropped by TJMK seeking to know Meredith in the past year.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/21 at 07:46 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Crime hypothesesNews media & moviesGreat reportingComments here (5)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Croydon Guardian The Kerchers’ Hometown Paper Continues To Report Objectively

Posted by The Machine


Click above for the factual report. The Croydon Guardian has posted way over 100 stories and regular readers will be among the best-informed in the UK.

The Croydon Guardian was the first newspaper anywhere to mention True Justice For Meredith Kercher, which helped put TJMK on the map in November of 2008.

It is also good to see the journalist Kirsty Whalley doing what so many journalists covering the case have failed to do, namely sticking to the facts. No spin. She writes a balanced account and is not afraid to unequivocally state that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife and Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra clasp.

It’s no secret that Amanda Knox’ family and supporters have tried to exert a stranglehold over the media and angrily control what journalists can and cannot write. So it’s refreshing to read an article in a small local paper that hasn’t been hijacked for once by Curt Knox, Edda Mellas, Anne Bremner or Doug Preston.

Incidentally, Anne Bremner needs to prep up on Italian law after getting a basic fact wrong in a recent interview on ABC News when she claimed that the Italian legal system has eight jurors and two judges. Bremner seems to have the unfortunate habit of messing up whenever she’s interviewed about the case.

Who can forget her stridently analyzing entirely the wrong crime scene on NBC last year?

The editors of two of the newspapers in Seattle - the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the West Seattle Herald - could also learn a thing or two from reading Kirsty’s article. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will not now allow any of its readers to comment about the case - something that online reporter Monica Guzman was commendably unhappy about.

Italy has been portrayed as being a backward country by elements in the US media and especially by a vociferous minority in Seattle. Perhaps the people of Seattle should be more concerned about being denied the right of freedom of speech, a basic constitutional right, by one of their main newspapers.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s readers deserve to know whether Amanda Knox’s family was behind the decision to ban all comments about the case. It has already been well-documented on TJMK that the Seattle-Post Intelligencer hosts a strident and highly inaccurate “reader’s blog” which has had a record of trashing poor Meredith and her silently-grieving family.

The West Seattle Herald hasn’t fared much better with bumbling reporter Steve Shay covering the case. Shay’s pieces are more like Knox family newsletters than newspaper articles. Shay landed The West Seattle Herald in hot water by making unfounded comments about Mignini, which resulted in Mignini suing the newspaper

If it relies on its own local paper, Croydon essentially knows the truth of what is going on. And Seattle unfortunately doesn’t if it relies on its own dismal reporting.

Posted by The Machine on 10/15 at 12:41 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in News media & moviesGreat reportingKnox-Mellas teamComments here (4)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trial: Further Expert Examinations Denied - The Report From Nick Pisa

Posted by Peter Quennell


Excerpts from Nick Pisa’s report in the UK’s Daily Mail.

A judge last night rejected defence requests for an independent review of evidence in the Meredith Kercher murder case.

The decision means that a verdict in the trial will come by early December as an independent review could have taken up to a month delaying the decision….

Yesterday lawyers for Knox and Sollecito argued that the review should be held because of errors in the police investigation and the way evidence was collected.

Key to the case is a 30cm black handled kitchen knife on which DNA from Knox was found on the handle and that of Meredith on the blade.

Prosecutors say the knife, which was found in the kitchen of Sollecito’s flat, is compatible with the murder weapon - which has never been found.

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Della Vedova said that too many discrepancies had emerged in the examination of the knife by forensic scientists….

Sollecito’s lawyers had also asked for a review of a bloodied bra clasp found at the scene which had his DNA on it.

They pointed out that the clasp had been found during an initial police search in one point and then ‘lost’ for six weeks before being found else where in the room….

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini had argued that: ‘There is no need for a review as the evidence was gathered in a very professional way by qualified persons.’

In his ruling judge Massei said: ‘The court has heard from several consultants who have brought several elements and which rule out the need for any further proof.’...

As the judge read out his decision Knox, who earlier had been laughing and joking with guards, closed her eyes and looked upwards.

Sollecito rubbed his eyes and was in tears as the decision would seem to indicate the court has already made up its mind over their guilt.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Newsweek’s Barbie Nadeau Has A Really Vital Piece On How The Evidence Stacks Up

Posted by Peter Quennell


And,  in short, it is ominous.

Click above for the full report. This really IS vital reading. A few key excerpts as follows.

Evidence: Rudy Guede

Who it hurts: Knox and Sollecito

Rudy Guede is the 24-year-old Ivory Coast native convicted in a fast-track trial last October for his role in Kercher’s murder. He is serving a 30-year sentence (his appeal begins on Nov. 19). Guede, who refused to testify in the Knox trial, has admitted that he was in the house when Kercher was killed. He says Kercher invited him there and that the two were making out when a stomach cramp from a bad kebab sent him to the bathroom. He was on the toilet with his iPod headphones on through four songs and, when he came out, Kercher was dying. He says he tried to save Kercher by using a towel to sop up the blood on her neck wounds, but he was scared after a man he says looked like Sollecito told him that “they’ll pin this on the black guy.” Guede fled to Germany, where he was later arrested for skipping a train fare. His feces (found in a toilet), along with his DNA and fingerprints from Kercher’s bedroom, link him to the crime scene. The sentencing judge who convicted him, though, did not see him as a lone assailant. Instead, the judge wrote in his sentencing report that he believed Guede acted with Knox and Sollecito.

Evidence: Murder dynamic

Who it hurts: Knox and Sollecito

One of the most complicated aspects of Kercher’s tragic death is how the murder itself played out. The prosecution believes that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede taunted Kercher in a sex game that quickly escalated to violence and ended in murder. Countless forensic experts, including those who performed the autopsies on Kercher’s body, have testified that more than one person killed her based on the size and location of her injuries and the fact that she didn’t fight back””no hair or skin was found under her fingernails. The defense has confused matters more: Knox’s forensic specialist testified that Kercher had been killed by only one person from the front, but Sollecito’s expert testified that Kercher had been killed by one person from behind.

Evidence: Knox’s confession

Who it hurts: Knox

On Nov. 5, 2007, Sollecito was called to the Perugia police station for questioning about Kercher’s murder. Knox testified last June that she did not want to be alone, so she accompanied him. During his interrogation, Sollecito admitted to police that he did not know for sure if Knox actually spent the night of the murder at his house, as she had told police earlier. Since Knox was at the police station, the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m., and, by 5:45 a.m., Knox had told police that she was in the house when Kercher died””and that Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the nightclub where she worked, was the assailant. She even described Kercher’s screams. She, Sollecito, and Lumumba were arrested. The next day, Knox wrote a five-page memorandum reiterating everything she said the night before. But since there was no lawyer present during her interrogation””and so far no one has produced an audiotape of the interrogation””Knox’s attorneys were able to have her verbal confession thrown out of evidence. The five-page memorandum still holds….

Evidence: Conflicting alibis

Who it hurts: Unknown

Knox maintains that she spent the night of Nov. 1, 2007, at Sollecito’s house. Sollecito did not take the stand during this trial, and his lawyer told NEWSWEEK that it was, at least in part, because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi….

So Sollecito did not take the stand in part because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi. Wow. That has to hurt.

Very much more in Barbie Nadeau’s original piece.  We recommend that you read it all.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Trial: Italian-Language Reporting Now Faster And More Objective Than English-Language

Posted by Peter Quennell


It is no secret that the English-language reporting increasingly seems all over the map these days.

This is being much-discussed behind the scenes, and informed commenters like MacK MacK are being quite open about it. Some English-language reporters seem too anxious to keep on the good side of the FOA while they seem to have no pipeline at all to Meredith’s family, or her friends, or her supporters.

Meanwhile, all of the major TV networks in New York are concluding that the FOA line is basically non-credible and history as far as they are concerned - and that the REAL emerging story is to be Meredith.

We think they have the much smarter take here. A lot more attention needs to be given to Meredith now, and a lot less attention to the highly over-exposed mantras of the FOA.

None of the English-language reporting on the trial today is out yet. But here is some of today’s Italian-language reporting - straight reporting without spin:

1) From TGCOM

The computer consultant appointed by the defense of Sollecito has tried to show that during the time of the death of Meredith Kercher the accused was at his house and was using his laptop to watch a movie on DVD.

Between 9.30 and 11:00 he would have seen a film “The Wonderful World of Amelie” in the company of Amanda Knox. The expert analyzed the computer and the internet data of the young Pugliese.

Next will be heard a computer consultant appointed by the defense of Amanda Knox, who has analyzed the same computer. With the testimony of these two experts, the defense depositions before the Court of Assizes of Perugia draw to a close..

TGCOM then includes several objective, low-key paragraphs on yesterday’s testimony about why Knox was freaking out at the police station.

She was freaking out but not we think for the bizarre reason the expert provided.

2) From the Italian AP

Proving that Raffaele Sollecito at the time of the death of Merdith Kercher was in his house and was using his laptop to watch a movie on DVD was the purpose of the technical analysis of a computer consultant for the defense, a Mr Giovinazzo. He was asked to give evidence today in court for the trial over the death of Meredith Kercher that occurred on November 1, 2007 in the house on Via della Pergola.

He claimed that Sollecito between 9.30 and 11 would have watched a film, “The Wonderful World of Amelie” in the company of Amanda Knox. This has been claimed for almost two years by the defense of the boy from Puglia.

Here is the Machine’s meticulous description of the prosecution’s take on Sollecito’s alibis which directly contradicts this.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Well-Informed New Voice On The Relevant Italian Law

Posted by Peter Quennell


[click for larger images]

Above: the street up from the station - probably the first road in Perugia Meredith ever traveled, just a few short weeks before her death.

Informed foreign commentary on the Italian legal system has been very thin on the ground in this case and we have posted what still remains one of the best.

Now in the the Comments section of a post on The Daily Beast that in passing compares the Italian system negatively with the American system, a new commenter, MacK MacK (not registered on TJMK in that name) has posted a number of informed comments worth reading before they scroll away.

Here is the first of MacK MacK’s comments - right under another which reads “I really do hate this perception that America has the highest legal system in the world” - and several of the responses, including his or her own.

MacK-MacK

This is not a very well though out article, poorly written by an author who assumes that a civil law system (i.e., Italy) should be like a common system, i.e., the US.

First, the presumption of innocence does apply since Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, to which Italy is a signatory, and which is enforced by the European Court in Strasbourg provides detailed rights (1) to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, (2) the presumption of innocence, and (3) other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence (adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence, (4) access to legal representation, (5) right to examine witnesses against them or have them examined, and (6) right to the free assistance of an interpreter) - which makes Italy better than say Texas with appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Second, in a civil law country trial is a two step process. There is a preliminary proceeding conducted by an investigating magistrate (in some civil law countries called a juge d’instruction) who is like a grand-jury in the US system, but with added powers, since he/she can cross examine the police and prosecutor and will only allow a case to go to trial if there is prima facie evidence that the defendant has a case to answer - and which point the defendant gets a trial with the presumption of innocence.

The confusion among bad reporters that leads to the idea that when on trial one is “guilty until proven innocent” is because the investigating magistrate only lets a case go to trial if he/she thinks the defendant is guilty, but the trial is a fresh one - that is what is going on now.

The Knox family, who are fairly well off in fact, are being badly advised by Washington based criminal lawyers to use publicity in her case, and the publicists they have hired have decided to put the Italian justice system on trial. They have spread potentially libelous stories about the prosecutor and tried to muddy the waters in public. The problem for Knox is that this may well antagonize the court - it is a stupid tactic, being used by people who are trying Seattle court tactics in Italy.

The civil trial system is heavily run by the judges, who have to make the decisions. What this means in practice is that they ask a lot of the questions and will when there are problems with evidence keep recalling people to get to the bottom of the issue. This is in contrast to the US system where a witness is heard, examined and cross-examined, and the defense and prosecution tries to score some points during that testimony. In the Italian system, if a question mark is raised, the judges will often call a few witnesses back to ask for explanations.

Knox and Sollecito to me, and I have read most of what has come out in this case, have very serious problems. The trouble Knox has is that ab initio she told the police a pack of lies, implicating an innocent black man (and demonstrably so) as the killer (by the way her choice of Mr. Lumumba is particularly telling since in a country with a smallish black population she chose someone of the same race as Guede - why?) Her alibi is to put it mildly piss-poor and in both her and Sollecito’s case they don’t match facts that can be established (e.g., cell phone records, computer use.) Sollecito has avoided supporting her alibi in court.

The only reasonable conclusion that can be reached is that she and Sollecito were in some way present or involved in at least part of the events on the fatal night - the nature of that involvement is not clear, but the confessions seem to be a starting point for working out what it might be.

It is this inescapable involvement that presents the huge problem - Knox is not telling the truth and Sollecito has stopped really talking at all - however, what Knox now says and Sollecito’s lawyers argue are inconsistent with some known facts—why? What you see the court heading towards is that Knox is trying to tell a false story because the truth must be worse.

I do notice by the way that the fact that Knox fingered Lumumba as the murderer, and that he had a solid alibi is simply not mentioned in this or other press accounts in the US.

citivas

Best post I have read here on this subject.

AmericanPravda

MacK-MacK:

A fine post, indeed! It’s not often on TDB that a post is actually more informative than the original article.

You seem to know what you’re talking about. So, correct me if I’m wrong, but does civil law not focus more on answering the three questions: what happened? Why did it happen? And how did it happen? as opposed to our common law where prosecuting lawyers and defence lawyers rely more on precedent.

I absolutely buy into your point that the Knox family are being badly advised by Washington- based criminal lawyers to use American-style negative publicity in her case and this potentially will backfire on them. It is a stupid tactic, as you say!

Sample of one here, but I think she is very guilty and should pay the price.

mblips

This is an excellent post - in fact much better than the original article.

I have followed this case from the beginning, and I am certain that they are guilty. Here are some details that came out early in the story, but now seem to have been forgotten:

1. In the early hours of the morning after the murder, Knox and Sollecito made two separate trips to the store to buy a bottle of bleach. Why would they be consuming so much bleach if they weren’t trying to scrub forensic evidence?

2. Knox originally said that she was at the crime scene and covered her ears to block out the sound of the victim’s screams. Then she changed her story and said that she wasn’t there at all. How is it possible to be mistaken about this?

3. Their behavior immediately after the discovery of the body was bizarre. Firstly police found both of them at the crime scene when they turned up to investigate the victim’s found mobile phone, but the accused hadn’t contacted police. Surely, upon discovery of a body, it is something you would do immediately. Secondly, at the crime scene, the accused made-out in front of police - surely a misguided attempt to act innocent. Immediately after this, they went lingerie shopping, and then at the police station, Knox passed the time, but doing the splits.

They are guilty, and I think they will not escape this.

The most interesting thing to wait for is Guede’s appeal, which will be heard after the Knox/Sollecito trial is over. I think some fine dirt will be dished at that one.

AmericanPravda

mblips:

No…I remember these details, which you itemize in your post. Regarding your second point, I believe that she’s (Knox) claiming that she gave the statement ‘under duress’. I don’t believe that she, or her legal team, mentioned what caused the duress; perhaps she was in a state of duress, because she had just murdered somebody!

Regarding your third point, her bizarre behaviour on her shopping trip directly after the initial police investigation, was caught on tape, so it’s around for perpetuity.

I suspect that we haven’t been hearing about these issues on this side of the Atlantic because her father’s attempts, via professional media relations firms that he has hired, to obfuscate the key issues has indeed been working, at least with the US public. (The strategy here is to create a over swell of public opinion in the US in favour of her innocence so that the Italian justice system will be somehow intimidated into either letting her go, or allowing her to be tried in the US, where she would, presumably, get a more lenient trial.)

I hope that the Italians stick to their principals and give her the deserved punishment.

MacK-MacK

There is also in a lot of the reporting a misunderstanding about rules of evidence in the common law system versus the civil law system.

To explain, rules of evidence in common law cases, generally heard for the most part before lay-jurors, that is to say ordinary non-legally-trained people, are very very strict, with principles such as the hearsay rule, high requirements for scientific evidence before it will be considered, etc. This is because of a concern that lay-jurors may be unable to place proper weight on evidence - that they will regard things as unduly prejudicial. Thus in a US case “motions in limine” have a big role - these are motions before trial to exclude evidence - and the usual argument is that evidence is more prejudicial than probative. To explain in a US case the argument would be that this individual piece of DNA evidence should be excluded because there might be something wrong with it, or this statement to the police should be excluded because it makes the defendant look bad and proves less than the prejudice it might create.

The evidence about Knox’s sex life, sex toys and vibrators, etc., relevant to explain her problems with her roommates (who were uncomfortable with an apparent parade of men at the breakfast table) would have been excluded in the US, because even though they had at least some relevance to the circumstances of the murder and Knox’s risky behavior, also make her look bad. In an Italian court they take the view that they can exclude the issue of her morality as a matter of sexual behavior (i.e., do they not like her) from the question of her guilt or innocence.

In a civil law system the jurors are in effect professionals. They are expected to know things like eyewitness identifications are inherently unreliable and the system trusts them to weigh the evidence and its reliability in toto, so for example hearsay is usually allowed. Thus if there is an issue about say this bloodstain - yes they take account of that, but they do not exclude the bloodstain, they simply regard it as less reliable - but they consider it in context. So the defendants are disputing multiple examples of DNA evidence - the judges will consider each separately, but also collectively - as in how likely is that that all of these separate bloodstains would exist, each supporting Knox and Sollecito’s presence. Knox made a statement - she says it was under duress; OK, maybe it was, maybe that makes it unreliable - but some of this physical evidence found after the statement supports the story in the statement - maybe it is reliable. A US court might simply exclude Knox’s confession absolutely, and then not consider it in the context of the other evidence.

If you are used to the common law system where evidence is attacked and excluded in isolation you write this sort of [Daily Beast] article, where you talk about the Sollecito’s hammertoe, but not how that matched in with other things. If you understand the civil system you consider it in the context of Knox’s challenged confession and you wonder does each corroborate the other.

In effect everything is relevant and most things admissible, they are just given different weights as evidence. Things like including Knox’s weird behavior in court may have an impact - this continued until someone told her she was not doing herself any favors. Now this [Daily Beast] article has a demure photo of Knox (presumably from the Knox family publicists)—other articles, often in the British press (who want to present her as guilty) show her with weird grins on her face and wearing flippant slogans on T-shirts.

You are in effect talking about a fundamentally different system. The most important thing to know is that if a case is brought against you in a civil system, although you have still the presumption of innocence, you have in effect already been tried by the investigating magistrate, who after seeing all the evidence has already concluded that you are guilty. That does not mean that you do not have the presumption of innocence at trial, just that if you do go to trial you have lost once already before an impartial pro (the investigating magistrate) - by contrast in the US New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously observed that district attorneys have so much influence over grand juries that “by and large” they could get one to “indict a ham sandwich.”

By the way, does it occur to anyone that given all the publicity, Sollecito’s well connected family, a US citizen, etc., the path of least resistance for the Italians would have been to do what Knox’s lawyers want them to do, and simply to have accepted that Guede acted alone—that is what most criminal justice systems might have done, avoiding the headache of trying these two as well. They had their “goat” why go for more unless they did think Knox was guilty?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/22 at 11:24 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in News media & moviesGreat reportingItalian systemComments here (2)

Friday, September 11, 2009

With Trial Set To Resume,  New In-Depth Overviews By Barbie Nadeau And Andrea Vogt

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above and below, shots through the windows of the deserted Le Chic Bar, now out of business

This is where Amanda Knox had been working as a waitress and where Meredith looked set to soon join her or take her place.

Now out and online are two long, balanced and well-researched pieces by Italy-based American reporters on where things now stand.

Wonderful that the Seattle PI with its much diminished budget still manages to carry Ms Vogt’s dispassionate pieces. TJMK’s posters are about equally distributed in Italy, the UK and the US, by the way.

In fact TJMK’s and PMF’s readerships considerably exceed that of all other sites on Meredith’s case - combined. TJMK and PMF between them may be seeing 80 percent of all followers of the case

When commenting on the websites, we hope that reporters do one day make that plain. In itself it’s a statement about true justice for Meredith.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/11 at 04:13 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingComments here (7)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Justice V Jingoism: UK’s Sky News Tells Us They Are Seeing Hypocrisy

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

Sky News (controlled from NYC when last we looked! by Rupert Murdoch, above, on Sixth Avenue) says what a lot of Europeans are thinking.

A lot of New Yorkers too. A mean-spirited and dishonest PR campaign and a lazy dishonest media have colluded for far too long on this case.  And on too many similar examples.

It is quite different in the US when it comes to foreign treatment of one of their own citizens.

Amanda “˜Foxy’ Knoxy, is the young American woman now on trial in Italy for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

I was astonished to see her whole family, parents and children, invited on [ABC’s] Good Morning America and treated with cloying sympathy for all the world as if they were victims of a miscarriage of justice.

Sky News and the other Murdoch vehicles (the London Times, for example) have been among the MOST dispassionate about the case and among the MOST compassionate about Meredith.

Good on you, Rupert. For this, we salute you.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Best-Informed Global Audience Is Now Becoming Strongly Pro-Meredith

Posted by Peter Quennell

Mainstream media really should take note of this.

The smarter, better-educated, better-informed, more pro-active, more influential, and more successful component of the global audience for any one issue is widely recognized now as shifting over here to the internet.

And the global audience for Meredith’s sad case case is clearly swinging now to being very strongly pro-Meredith - one that is becoming stronger and more passionate day-by-day as the deliberate fog blows away.

Meredith didn’t win her final battle against a depraved pack of knife-wielders in her own home. But she sure is winning the hearts and minds of the world in a big way. 


Chart 1 above shows that TJMK is already in THE TOP 10 PERCENT of all 6-plus million websites in the world - a feat almost unheard of for a non-commercial website that refuses all income, and that is run on a shoestring by its posters as a tribute to Meredith as a much loved, admired and lamented victim of a very cruel crime. 
 

Chart 2 above shows that the Perugia Murder File forum is pretty well neck-and-neck with TJMK - a predecessor version of the PMF began soon after Meredith was so cruelly murdered, and the commenters there have sustained their efforts and their deep respect, longing and sadness for Meredith through some very dark days.


Chart 3 above shows that the relatively new and specialized Miss Represented website is remarkably close in its readership to TJMK and the PMF - the M-R site is run by a professional psychologist who is deeply insightful into violent crimes, including crimes against young women, and who has posted on TJMK about the backlash to the Knox campaign in Italy.   


Chart 4 shows that the Perugia Shock blog is way at the back - it now has only about 1/8 of the attractiveness of TJMK although it is twice as old - and its ugly trademark attitudes of being sarcastic toward the police and prosecution, uncaring toward Meredith, and often seriously vicious toward those who would like to see justice for Meredith, remain real losers.

The several other pro-defendant websites are even further back again and fading.

Rest in peace, Meredith. So very many now wish that they had known you. And our commiserations, as always, to your amazing and so-deprived family.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Trial: Sky News Italy Report In Italian

Posted by Peter Quennell

As always with the Italian reports we see, a fast, precise, fair, and very accurate report

This Sky TV report provides the main facts of Meredith’s murder, and an accurate summary in half a dozen sentences of what happened in court yesterday.

These videos are always worth a look for the new visuals, even if one lacks the Italian to understand them.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/04 at 02:54 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingComments here (0)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How The Media Should Approach The Case If Justice Is To Be Done And SEEN To Be Done

Posted by Hellodalai


The American media are really playing with fire here.

This is one of the most seriously misreported cases in recent history, and a line really needs to be drawn.

Much of the media are doing no digging, consulting no Italians, repeatedly recycling discredited sources and those with a vested interest in the outcome, stating facts that are not facts, ignoring other facts that really are facts, revealing no understanding of how the Italian judicial process works, and often depicting the Italian professionals with contempt.

And so far no-one is really calling them on it.

From this perspective, I have been reading all the articles and information on this case for the past few days. I too was very disappointed in the NY Time pieces by Egan.  Rather than attempt to discuss the facts and evidence that are known so far, he painted “broad brush” strokes to argue that this trial is unfair.

The TIME magazine report just below - where the reporter basically allowed a Knox advocate to state her position unchallenged - is equally mediocre in terms of investigative and reporting quality. It was one of dozens that have done that.

Here is my own analysis of the case which I advance as the appropriate depth that EVERY reporter and print and TV analyst should aim to achieve before they start telling the rest of us what to think.

Motive

Egan points out that Amanda Knox had no motive to kill or participate in killing Meredith Kercher.

I agree that there seems to be little evidence on this issue.  One roommate testified as to tensions between Amanda and Meredith.  Roommate tensions are common, though, and rarely lead to murder.

Neither Rudy Guede, who has been convicted already, nor Raffaele Sollecito, who was Amanda’s boyfriend of less than two weeks, seemingly had motives, either.

All three were young adults who liked alcohol, music, marijuana, and sex (although Rudy has been described as a petty thief and small time drug dealer; other reports state he had no criminal convictions). None seemed likely to erupt into a murderous rage.

One of the downstairs male students testified that Guede expressed some interest in Amanda and said that Meredith was beautiful.  Sollecito wrote in a newspaper column that he was a 23 year old virgin when he met Amanda.

So Sollecito was vulnerable to Amanda’s influence.  Guede may have wanted to gain Amanda’s favor.  Add alcohol and drugs and group dynamics and - the threesome may have spun out of control.

Since the murder, Amanda’s behavior could certainly be questioned.  Who does cartwheels at a police station during an investigation of their murdered roommate?  What defendant wears a shirt to their murder trial that says “All you need is love” when the prosecution is trying to portray them as someone with out-of-control sexual behavior?

If this case rested solely on whether Amanda had a motive to kill Meredith, I would agree with Egan’s stance that the trial is unfair.  Egan seems to stop at that issue, however, and seems unwilling to examine all the evidence objectively.

DNA Evidence

One of the better reports on the case included this statement:

“But perhaps more damning even than the knife was Stefanoni’s testimony that a mix of Knox’s DNA and Kercher’s blood was found on the floor in the bedroom of a third roommate, Filomena Romanelli. While it might not be noteworthy to find mixed genetic traces of residents of the same house, Romanelli’s room is critical in this crime.

Her window was broken with a large rock that prosecutors believe was used to stage a break-in. The mixed Knox-Kercher trace was found after investigators used luminol, a substance used in forensic science to bring out blood that had been cleaned up.

In addition, Stefanoni testified that a mixture of Knox’s DNA and Kercher’s blood was found on the drain of the bidet, on the bathroom sink, and on a Q-Tip box in the girls’ bathroom.”

That is FOUR different blood samples with mixed Knox-Kercher DNA.  Yes, it does seem that the investigative methods were sloppy and not all samples may be reliable (I acknowledge that there are some problems with the prosecution’s case).

But I have yet to read even one article where a reputable DNA expert can explain why sloppy police procedures would result in four separate mixed blood samples.  I did read one explanation that Amanda bled from a pierced ear—thus providing some explanation, although weak, for why her blood may have been in the bathroom.  That doesn’t explain why her blood was in the bedroom of Filomena Romanelli (another of her roommates) or why her blood was found mixed with Meredith’s - or why her blood would be recoverable from an area that had been cleaned after the murder to eliminate evidence.

Similarly, the DNA evidence from Sollecito, found on Meredith’s bra clasp is not explained away by scientific reasoning.  True, the police left the clasp in Meredith’s room (which was sealed) for weeks and did not retrieve it, but DNA is not transferred by “flying DNA”; there is no “innocent” scientific explanation why Sollecito’s DNA (not sloughed dead cells, which do not contain DNA) would affix itself to a bra clasp worn by the murder victim after the clasp had been torn from her body.

As to the DNA evidence found on the knife located in Sollecito’s apartment,  the DNA sample from Meredith was very tiny, according to reports, and the DNA from Amanda could be explained by her using the knife at Sollecito’s apartment. (Sollecito explained Meredith’s DNA by stating she had come to his apartment for dinner with Amanda and that he had accidentally pricked her. But no witnesses have been found who remember Meredith ever talking about going to Sollecito’s apartment)

True, the knife is not the same size as most wounds on Meredith, but it is the same size as one wound. The knife showed evidence of bleach cleaning and some scratches (Sollecito’s apartment showed a lot of evidence of bleach cleaning, even though his maid did not use bleach to clean).

Clean up motives and evidence

I have yet to see a careful review of the testimony and possible conclusions that may be drawn from the known facts and circumstantial evidence, including the clean up after the murder—which, to me, are very compelling.

The neighbor has testified that she heard a very loud, long scream that night (presumably Meredith’s last), followed not long thereafter by the sounds of two to three different people running from the area (it was unusual to hear people running at that time of night).  The neighbor was 69 and could not remember exactly the date she heard the screaming, but she was firm that it was the night before Meredith’s murder was discovered.

It is not a stretch to link the screaming to Meredith, given that loud, long piercing screams are uncommon.  Also, a murderer or murderers would realize that Meredith’s scream may bring the police at any moment—so running from the crime would be expected. 

The uncontradicted testimony is that there was a fair amount of effort to “clean up” the crime scene (the defense merely claims that Knox and Sollecito were not involved). It also appears that whoever came back for the “clean up” also broke a window in Filomena’s bedroom (as mentioned, one of the two other roommates living upstairs; there were also four male students living downstairs in a separate unit), in an attempt to throw the investigating police off the scent. 

Filomena testifed that she found clothes strewn around her room the next day and that she had left the room tidy.  She testified that glass from the window broken in her bedroom was on top of those strewn clothes.  If the window was broken by someone entering the home who was intent on rape and/or robbery, then the glass would not be on top of the clothes as those clothes would not have been under the window then (Filomena also testified that she had valuables in plain view in her bedroom and that none were taken).

The evidence suggests that someone placed these clothes around the room and THEN broke the window to “stage a scene” (as there is no explanation for why anyone would have any motive to randomly take clothes and throw them around a room).

Let’s start with Guede first and the assumption that he came back to the home that night - either by himself - or with someone other than Amanda and Sollecito.

Guede’s motivation to come back to the crime scene would be to clean up the most incriminating evidence against him and to stage this crime scene to lead the police in a direction away from him.

Guede left DNA inside Meredith, bled on Meredith’s body, and left a bloody hand print on the pillow underneath Meredith’s head.  He also left feces in the bathroom toilet (the bathroom near Filomena’s bedroom - -not the “bloody” bathroom between Meredith and Amanda’s bedrooms).  He would know that if he came back to clean.  He would know that that evidence would be the strongest against him.

During this “clean up phase,” the DNA inside Meredith, Guede’s blood on Meredith’s body, the bloody hand print, and Guede’s feces in the bathroom toilet were all left untouched. 

The “clean up phase” spent a lot of time in the bathroom next to Meredith’s bedroom (it was also next to Amanda’s bedroom), the hallway, and Filomena’s bedroom, where the “break-in” was staged (it is possible at least part of this crime occurred in the bathroom, as Meredith’s blood was found on the bathroom light switch when it was in an up position - meaning it was touched when the light was on.  The bathroom had numerous droplets of her blood, some of which were commingled with Amanda’s blood.)

Despite the cleanup in Filomena’s bedroom, the police were still able to obtain DNA samples.  Guede’s DNA was not found in either the bathroom or Filomena’s bedroom.

Six bloody footprints from bare feet were identified.  One was visible to the naked eye in the bathroom and five were visible only after the police used luminol, which allows blood evidence cleaned by bleach to become visible under a special light.  The luminol did reveal five bloody footprints that had been cleaned up (one shoe print was also found under Meredith’s pillow - the print is consistent with the size of Amanda’s shoe).

None of the six bloody footprints are consistent with the size of Guede’s feet.  All six of these footprints are consistent with the size of Amanda and/or Sollecito’s feet.

Why would Guede concentrate his clean-up efforts on areas where there is little to no evidence from him and ignore the areas where there is substantial evidence of his involvement?  Wouldn’t he at least flush the toilet?

As to the staged “break-in,” would Guede be motivated to set this up?  If the police believed a “break-in” had occurred, would they then be led away from investigating Guede as a suspect?

If the police believed that a break-in had occurred, then they would focus on looking for someone who was either a complete stranger to Meredith or someone she would not readily admit to her home late in the evening if they knocked on her door unanounced.  Guede was not a complete stranger.  One of the four male students who lived in the separate unit downstairs testified that Guede sometimes came to the apartment of the four male students and met and talked to Amanda and Meredith there (the testimony is that Meredith dated one of those four male students).

The evidence suggests that Guede only slightly knew Meredith. So, Guede was not someone who could knock unannounced on Meredith’s door late at night (at least 9:30—after Meredith talked to her mother) and be readily admitted. 

Guede had no motivation to stage a “break-in” because a break-in would in no way lead the police away from his scent.  Plus, there is no evidence that Guede was ever in Filomena’s bedroom where the “break-in” was staged.  If he had participated in this staging, a footprint consistent with the size of his feet should have been illuminated by the police’s luminol.

It wasn’t.

Conclusions that jurors would normally draw from facts and the circumstantial evidence relating to the “clean up” and “break-in” point to someone OTHER than Guede participating in the “clean-up” and “staged break-in.”

Let’s now look at the assumption that Amanda and her boyfriend, Rafaelle Sollecito, were the ones who came back for the “clean up” and “staged break-in.”

If Amanda and Sollecito were with Guede when the murder occurred (accounting for the extra footsteps running away shortly after the last scream of Meredith) and then came back to get rid of evidence of their guilt, their motivation would be to clean up their blood and DNA evidence and lead police away from their scent.

As for whether Amanda bled that night, another roommate of Amanda’s and Meredith’s, Laura, testified that she saw a a mark under Amanda’s chin the day after the murder that was not there the day before the murder; Laura testified the mark was not a hickey as a hickey would have been purple and more round. 

I have read two different comments on this issue from Amanda’s father.  One stated that the mark was merely a hickey and is evidence she spent the night with her boyfriend.  Another was that a physician examining Amanda on Nov. 6th - -the murder occurred the evening of Nov. 1st - did not note a mark under the chin.  (Interestingly, the police interrogating Amanda the next day did not report such a mark, either).

I then found a photo that was posted online taken of Amanda the day after the murder.  It clearly shows a mark under her chin—and would account for her blood being found at the apartment.



[click for larger image]

If Amanda and Sollecito did the “clean up,” they would be motivated to leave evidence of Guede’s guilt and point the police in his direction.

Forensics don’t show either way whether bleach was used to clean up Meredith and Amanda’s apartment, though it was used in Sollecito’s apartment AND on the knife found in his apartment containing the DNA of Meredith and Amanda. 

The Conad store owner reported the presence of Amanda in the household cleaners part of his store early on the morning after the murder (when Amanda and Sollecito contend they were asleep) although rumored receipts for bleach were not presented at trial.

Meredith’s body, which contained Guede’s DNA and his blood (mixed with hers) was not cleaned and Guede’s feces was not flushed from the toilet.

The bathroom, which even after the cleaning, contained Amanda’s blood mixed with Meredith’s and a bloody footprint which is consistent with the size of Sollecito’s foot (trial testimony was that it was “likely” Sollecito’s footprint), had a lot of cleaning activity.

The hallway and Filomena’s bedroom, which even after the bleaching contained Amanda’s blood mixed with Meredith’s and bloody footprints, was the site of a lot of cleaning activity (these footprints were all consistent with the size of the feet of Amanda and Sollecito, but not consistent with the size of Guede’s feet) .

The “cleaning” evidence, and conclusions which may be drawn from it, point to Amanda and Sollecito as participants.

Would Amanda and Sollecito have a motive to stage a break-in?  Amanda obviously had a key to the unit and did not have to break into her own apartment.  If there was no sign of a break-in, police would probably focus on people who had a key to the apartment or friends of Meredith she would readily admit to her apartment at 9:30 at night.  If there was no sign of a break-in, police would question Amanda and Sollecito at length - and they would obviously know that.

Amanda and Sollecito had a strong motive to stage a break-in to focus police on looking for a stranger, or someone like Guede who only knew Meredith very casually.

What about the next morning?  Let’s first assume Amanda was innocent and she is being truthful when she testified that she did not come home until around 11:30 the next morning.

Amanda testified that when she came home around 11:30 a.m. that the apartment door was open, that there was visible blood in the bathroom (which would have been numerous scattered blood drops, a ten inch smear on the bathroom door, and a bloody footprint on the floor) and that there was feces in a toilet.  Amanda says that she called out for Meredith and no one answered.

She then took a shower and went to Filomena’s bathroom and used her dryer to dry her hair (this is the bathroom with Guede’s feces;  this toilet is different than American toilets in that it had a large flat area so that the standing water in the toilet did not submerge the feces) and returned to her boyfriend’s apartment.

If Amanda were truly innocent when she arrived that morning, wouldn’t she also try to open the door to Meredith’s bedroom after Meredith did not answer, even when she banged on her door more than once?  Amanda’s fingerprints were not found on the door knob and she has never testified that she tried to open the door.  Sollecito testified that when he arrived later with Amanda that he tried to open the door - and his fingerprints are on the door knob.

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she text Meredith, as she did several times two days before?  Wouldn’t she call both of Meredith’s cell phones and let them ring to see if they were in her bedroom? (Phone records show she called each phone one time; one for three seconds and the other for four seconds, despite Amanda telling Filomena that day that she had called Meredith’s cell phones and that the phones just kept ringing) 

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she also call out for Filomena and Laura - because she would not know for sure if they might have returned that morning (she knew Filomena had spent the night in town and that Laura was in a nearby town)?  Wouldn’t she look into their bedrooms (Filomena’s door was closed that morning, according to Amanda; Sollecito says it was open) and have noticed that Filomena’s bedroom window was broken and her clothes were strewn about? (When Amanda first called Filomena she did not mention that Filomena’s bedroom had been broken into).

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she have just flushed the exposed feces down the toilet?

If Amanda were innocent and truthful, wouldn’t her hair three hours later look like it had been washed and blow dried that day?  Look again at the photo posted above.  It was taken about three hours after the alleged washing and blow drying.  Is that the hair of a woman who washed and blow dried her hair three hours earlier?

Wouldn’t Amanda have noticed that the lamp in her bedroom, which was the only source of light for that room, was missing? (Police later found it in Meredith’s room).  Wouldn’t she have immediately noticed the missing lamp when she first entered her bedroom that morning so that she would have immediately either left the apartment without taking a shower or called the police to come over? (Police and phone records show that Sollecito didnt call them until 12:54, even though the Postal and Communications Police had been at the apartment with Sollecito and Amanda since 12:26 - the Postal Police unexpectedly showed up at the apartment because Meredith’s cell phones had been found.)

People react differently to unexpected happenings and Amanda may not have done all of those things, but surely she would have done at least one of them.

If Amanda were truthful about showering and drying her hair, wouldn’t her fingerprints be in both bathrooms? (Since these activities would have occurred AFTER the clean up).  The police only found one of her fingerprints in her residence - on a glass in her kitchen.

As to this time frame, what about the recent trial testimony of Amanda’s mother that Amanda told her in their first phone call that day that she thought someone was in her apartment?  Cell phone records place that call at 12:47, some 21 minutes after the Postal Police arrived. (A nearby video camera documents that time, as does Postal Police log records;  the defense has tried to argue that the Postal Police did not arrive until after 1:00 p.m., but do not have evidence for that position.  In fact, Filomena testified that she arrived back at her apartment before 1:00 and that the Postal Police were already there.)

Postal Police testified that both Amanda and Sollecito were in Amanda’s bedroom with the door closed at 12:47 - the bedroom with no lamp or overhead light (neither Amanda nor Sollecito mentioned to the Postal Police or Filomena when they emerged from that bedroom after many minutes that the only lamp in the room was missing).

Let’s keep assuming Amanda was innocent.  Would she have come back to her apartment with Sollecito, still not having called police, and then start a load of washing of Meredith’s clothes? (The Postal Police said the washing machine was running when they entered;  Filomena, who arrived a little later, said that the washing machine was still warm and contained Meredith’s clothes.)

Amanda has testified that she got out a mop and bucket the first time she went to her apartment that day and took it back to Sollecito’s because there was water on his apartment floor from water used in cooking pasta the night before (Sollecito said, however, that the water was from a broken pipe;  Sollecito’s diary written in prison talks of a dinner of stir fry mushrooms and vegetables).

Who has water spills from cooking pasta so large that the next day it is still puddled to the degree it needs to be mopped?  Who voluntarily carries a mop and bucket several blocks to clean up water from cooking pasta the night before? (Especially a person who has been labeled in trial testimony as messy and unkempt in their cleaning habits).

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she and Sollecito have called the police after Sollecito tried to open Meredith’s locked bedroom door and couldn’t open it?

Instead of calling the police, Amanda and Raffaele went outside and stood next to the mop and bucket.  Why didn’t they just put the mop and bucket back up in the apartment when they first arrived?  Why leave it outside the apartment?  Why then go back out and stand next to the mop?

If Amanda and Sollecito were innocent, that means that Guede (and perhaps one or two accomplices) murdered Meredith, then ran away, and then came back at some point and cleaned up the crime scene PARTIALLY (but ignoring and leaving the most damning evidence against him) and THEN GUEDE CAME BACK that morning after Amanda had showered and left - so that GUEDE could do a LOAD OF WASHING of Meredith’s clothes - presumably blood stained, all the while ignoring his feces in the toilet and his bloody hand print on the pillow under Meredith’s body - only for GUEDE to then leave again right before Amanda and Sollecito arrived (so the washing machine would still be running when the Postal Police arrived a short while later).

What type of person or persons would come back to a crime scene to clean it up?

The most likely person to return to a crime scene for a clean up is someone who knows that they can do a clean up with little chance of being caught. 

Guede might have known that the four male students downstairs were all away due to his occasional appearances there.  But how would Guede know that Filomena and Laura, the other two upstairs roommates, would not come back either that night or in the morning?

Amanda and Sollecito, on the other hand, would know that everyone who lived in the house would be gone and that they could do a clean up that would take some time and have a good chance of not being caught in the act.  Only the unexpected appearance of the Postal and Communications Police interrupted the mopping and cleaning (as there was still a ten inch blood smear on the bathroom door near Meredith’s bedroom and numerous visible blood droplets).

No one else other than Amanda and Sollecito, and who may have been involved, had such knowledge.   

Conclusion

     

The facts, testimony, and conclusions that may reasonably be drawn from the evidence, including circumstantial evidence (that is what juries do all the time), lead me to believe that Amanda will be found guilty.

Let any reporter or analyst run the case through their minds at this depth and then make sure that at a minimum, they keep their cool and don’t misrepresent.

When I read an article or blog in the New York Times or Time magazine, I expect thorough, well-reasoned, well-researched, investigative journalism. Judicial cases DEMAND it.

Instead, here I have found articles that IGNORED the evidence and some very mediocre journalism. What happened to journalistic standards?  Where is the public outcry against the U.S. media’s handling of this case? 

For the sake of true justice, a line now needs to be drawn.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Trial: Early Report By Nick Pisa On What Was Expected To Be Heard Today

Posted by Peter Quennell

This SkyNews video was just posted. The TV news report in the UK was broadcast earlier today.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/19 at 04:29 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingComments here (4)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trial: Nick Pisa Files An Overview Report For Sky News

Posted by Peter Quennell

Now 5:00 pm Italy time. Nothing new so far from the UK media sources.

Even the Italian reporting is slowed now as they try to provide historical context, and we are still seeing reports of the claimed night at Sollecito’s. There should be a good description soon of Amanda Knox on the morning after at her house.

This is intensely difficult material for the reporters to write up, because every fact and timeline now offered has a history in itself. The reporters sometimes know the history but it is tough to write up on the fly.

There are two things to look forward to here later today.

  • Poster Nicki will post late but extensively from Italy on what the Italian media - and public - are now saying.
  • And Andrea Vogt and Ann Wise will presumably be filing their usual excellent end-of-the-day reports.

Want to try your hand at Google translation? They are not fully satisfactory but certainly much better than nothing.

Click here for a Google News roundup of all stories in Italian. Important: click top left on the Past Hour or Past Day for the very latest.

Click here to cut and paste articles into Google Translation. They will emerge in 5-10 seconds in rough English.

We have quite a few speakers of Italian in the group, by the way, and three or four posters in Italy, but good translation does consume time.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/13 at 04:03 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingComments here (0)

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