Category: Trials 2008 & 2009

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Might Come Up In The Final Days Of The Current Appeal

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


There have been nine appeal hearings since last November and there might be a further half a dozen.

Court will meet on July 25 and 31 and August 1. Then will come the August break, and then further hearings and an appeal verdict. At the last hearing on 27 June, Judge Hellman assigned the next three court dates for the DNA report and its rebuttal.

The only other sure thing accepted for discussion is the prosecution’s intention to revisit the mitigating circumstances Massei allowed and argue that they should be disallowed and the sentences of RS and AK increased.

The judges and jury have available to them not only the Massei and Micheli reports but all of the 10,000 plus pages of evidence from both trials plus all the court transcripts.

Our main posters James Raper, a lawyer, and Kermit will be posting a Powerpoint presentation after the DNA court sessions which will explain all of the tough questions that are still lurking in plain sight.

If the appeal court is to overturn the original verdict Judge Hellman would have to convince the Supreme Court of Cassation that Massei, Micheli, Guede’s first appeal judge and the Supreme Court itself that they all got it wrong and that the evidence suggests there was either only one perpetrator or another two.

But the existing evidence including the mixed blood, the mismatched alibis, and the strange pattern of phone calls does not fit either scenario.

Each of the discussion items in the appeal so far seem to have been quasi-disappointments for the defenses, and Giulia Bongiorno seemed to signal that at the June 27 hearing when her frustration over the failure of either Alessi or Aviello to convince became obvious.

Guede on the stand saying that Sollecito and Knox murdered Meredith had to have been a hard blow, and there would be no reason obvious to the court why he would lie.

Our Italian lawyers think the defense on appeal has been misconceived and too hard-line, too zero-sum-game, not very smart.  In the appeal hearings Knox and Sollecito have not had the opportunity to exercise either any innocent charm or any show of repentance, and Knox’s statement on 11 December blaming a whole lot of others could have seemed to the jury rather unpleasant.

Our lawyers don’t see an acquittal in the cards barring some huge surprise, such as Sollecito or Knox getting up on the witness stand and surviving withering cross-examination in convincingly putting across one or other of their alibis.

If they don’t get up on the stand, the judges and jury are meant to not make anything of that. But they surely would wonder why.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti In Perugia Seen Enjoying Their 15 Minutes Of Fame

Posted by Peter Quennell









Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Chief Enforcer Of The Constitution And The Rule Of Law is Wildly Popular Throughout Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell


President Giorgio Napolitano’s popularity rating is at 80% and rising. In sharp contrast, Prime Minister Berlusconi’s is at 30% and falling

Italians invariably take their constitution and their justice system very seriously and they have good reason to be proud of those institutions. Although the President’s daily duties are mostly ceremonial David Willey of the BBC explains his very key powers in those areas.

He is the person who has to appoint a new prime minister every time there is a government crisis. And he is the guarantor of Italy’s constitution, hammered out immediately after World War II by the founding fathers of the republic following two decades of Fascist rule.

He is said to receive dozens of petitions a day and in certain cases he does act to get things done. Significantly, two that he chose to ignore recently concerned the ongoing Sollecito-Knox appeal process.

Of two pretty blatant attempts to bias the Perugia process, one came from Joel Simon of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, and one came from the junior Berlusconi-party MP Rocco Girlanda.

President Giorgio Napolitano simply ignored both of them.

The Italian prime minister also seems to be sitting this one out, as the painstaking process of justice for Meredith rolls on.

 


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sentiment Runs Deep In Perugia For Meredith But Not At All For Sollecito, Knox, Or Guede

Posted by Peter Quennell


Here are two examples of how the sentiment for Meredith stays alive.

The Perugia lawyer and law professor Francesco Bastianelli often comments online pro-Meredith and pro-prosecution. He first became active in irritation over the Perugia-Seattle twin cities arrangement, reacting to the disparaging comments in the Seattle media about Perugia.

He was pushing for the twin-cities thing to be abolished.

With the comment “that sucks” he linked a couple of days ago to a cynical disparaging post on how the defense lawyers are fattening their lot in life by way of this case. The post is on a Perugia blog called Pulchritudo Est Veritatis Splendor (Latin for “Truth is Beautiful”).

The Pulchritudo post is kindly translated below by our main poster Jools.

inCERTAINTY

I know a few things about the process that is celebrated in my city to shed light on the Kercher murder:

I know what were my impressions in the immediacy of the news;

I know that the President of a parliamentary commission [Bongiorno] should be acting as President of the commission, and not requiring fees up to 5 zeros to attend yet another show-trial, and forcing a whole tribunal to do court hearings on Saturdays and having to pay extra respective fees to judges, clerks and ushers;

I know there’s a convicted man in the final phase (we want to call him a murderer) for “complicity in murder” (but in complicity with whom?);

I know that lawyers in Perugia have been slaughtering each other in order to join the defence team, go on TV, and be the posers in front of the cameras of CNN;

I know that lawyer Bongiorno [beforehand] disclosed the results of the [DNA] experts that had to be secreted;

I know that five relatives of Raffaele Sollecito and two journalists, in adjournment after adjournment of court, thanks to the statute of limitations, will never be held accountable for the [Telenorba] broadcasting of the infamous video of the forensic police;

I know that DNA evidence has become “the only evidence” and “the key proof” only just now that it is in favor of the defendants. But what about other “evidence” that came out during the course of the trial;

I know, in the end, that in case of acquittal the same tribunal will be giving birth to an aberrant sentence with two people acquitted, and acquitted despite their peculiar behavior over a murder that was vociferously committed in the room right next to the room that one of them happens to live in.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

DNA Report Already Dead On Arrival? Francesco Maresca Etc Don’t Think It Is Very Good

Posted by Peter Quennell


The New York Times redeems itself a little with an okay story on the report. It includes this:

The lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, countered that the word of the independent experts would not be the last word, and said he would raise his objections during the last week in July, when the report will be formally discussed during a week of hearings.

He said that the scientific police and the consultants who carried out the original tests had far more experience than the independent experts appointed by the court.

“I was surprised that these experts were so certain, and gave such strong, drastic opinions, given that they don’t have the same number of years of experience under their belt,” Mr. Maresca said.

Our Main Poster lawyer Tom M emailed this.

Maresca makes sense.  The referral was not for the purpose of making a legal judgment about the two pieces of evidence, but to report on the techniques employed and the procedures followed. At the end of the first trial there were X number of DNA expert witness reports; now there are X+1 expert reports and this latest one only muddies the water. 

It does not make the judges’ task easier as far as these two items are concerned.  Unless there is something in their analysis that is considerably more persuasive than what the previous defense experts said, AK and RS really haven’t advanced the ball, it’s just that now they have, I don’t know, say 3 expert reports instead of 2 that criticize the LCN and say it could be contamination.

One thing that needs to be looked at is whether legal standards and scientific standards are at odds.  Italian law places the burden of proof on the party that asserts something.  “Can’t rule out contamination” may be a true scientific statement, but does it supplant legal doctrine?  I don’t think so. 

Also, while scientific protocol call for repeatability, Italian seems to provide where the amount of material to be tested is so small that only one test can be performed, others are notified and invited to attend to observe and to raise objections.  I think the law is within its rights to do this, even though the pure scientist would not.

That of course is what happened. The defense experts were all invited to come witness the one-time-only testing of the knife but failed to show. The knife test would not even be under review if they had showed. No wonder the prosecution sound ticked.

There are also quotes in the New York Times from others who expected more and better than they got. 

Other accusers of Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito said that the DNA was just one piece of evidence in the case that they built against them, based on various testimonies, their lack of an alibi and what prosecutors say is other damaging physical evidence, which has not been reviewed. During one interrogation, Ms. Knox allowed that she was in the house when Ms. Kercher was murdered, an admission she later retracted, saying she had spoken under duress.

“The first jury decided looking at a wide range of evidence, the DNA was only part of it,” said one prosecutor, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. “Everything else still stands.”

And Italian poster Yummi on PMF posted this:

I am reading the report. The report brings in a lot of interesting information about the details of the DNA findings on these two items.

However, I fail to find the conclusions about the bra clasp convincing. In this report, the final issue of contamination is considered in the abstract, as well as criticisms on Stefanoni’s work.

In the abstract means, the conclusion on the probative value is given without an assessment on how likely a contamination might occur on that one specific profile of that contributor, which is Raffaele Sollecito.

The same report infers there was environmental contamination of the bra clasp, on the basis of the presence of a plurality of male contributors (at least two). But fails to give weight to the outstanding difference in the peaks hight/areas (amount of DNA) between these third parties, on one hand, and Sollecito’s DNA on the other: the amount of DNA prsent is very diferent in the two cases.

There is a very big difference in the amount of DNA from these contributors - Sollecito on one side versus others, his contribution really very large compared to others. I don’t know why the report fails to notice this.

The report also criticizes the “interpretation” given by Stefanoni, as said, of the DNA chart on the bra clasp. But, in fact, in the end the report acknowledges that both autosomic and Y haplotype DNA of Sollecito are present on the bra clasp (p.135):

So there is no doubt Sollecito’s DNA was on the bra clasp in large amount.

The same report cites failure of meeting interpretation standards for the bra clasp DNA. But acknowledges that there are no agreed standards for the assessment of stutters and alleles on mixed profile traces.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Token Balance In The Italian System: The Voice In The Court For The Victim

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above: Francesco Maresca with the Lead Appeal Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliol and Ms Comodi]


We have often posted before on the pronounced tilt toward defendants’ rights in the Italian court system.

The Italian criminal justice system is just about the only one in Europe that has not yet adapted to the 2001 directive of the European Court that was asking for equality in criminal trials.

As we can see in this case, the system is extremely pro-defendant.

Police and prosecutors have to jump through a large number of hoops. Judge after judge combs through the evidence. Defendants can get up and talk in court at the nod of a judge without being cross-examined.

Defendants never have to take an oath to tell the truth. Judges in effect have to be part of the jury and to stake their reputation on the outcome of every case, the reasoning of which they must describe in writing.

No-one is conclusively declared guilty until two appeals have been concluded. The second appeal is to the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome, which seems to be sitting on more appeals now than the rest of the western world put together. Just about all prison sentences of under three years are waived. 

And that is just for starters.  One outcome is a prison population proportionally less than 1/4 that of the United States.

Many Italians feel that this fairness or leniency - call it what you will - has gone way too far, and Prime Minister Berlusconi’s attempts to press the fairness or leniency even further are wildly unpopular.

We posted recently on the tireless Italian campaigner for a stronger assertion of victim’s rights Barbara Benedettelli and she has a new book out on various cases. She has also sent us some background material on the generic issue which we intend to build into a post.

Against this tsunami of systemic pro-defendant bias in Meredith’s case, we really only have the fortitude of the police and the prosecutors involved, and the systemic presence of the lawyer representing the interests of the victim and her family: Mr Francesco Maresca, who practices law in Florence.

Although his English is said to be hesitant - which means the English media don’t usually track him down for any soundbites - he seems to us to be tirelessly aggressive in the court in standing up to the many impromptu interventions of the three perps and the fireworks of their six-plus lawyers.

Here is an interview with Mr Maresca in yesterday’s Umbria Left which was kindly translated by our poster Tiziano.

The lawyer for the Kercher family: Alessi and Avielli contradicted.

“Guede confirms the presence of the accused in the house of the crime. We have heard witnesses who contradicted Mario Alessi and Luciano Aviello.” Thus said lawyer Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the family of Meredith Kercher, at the end of the hearing of the appeal trial of Raffaele Sollecitoand Amanda Knox.

“Witnesses which,” he added “we could have however done without, heard only because it was necessary from a procedural point of view.” Lawyer Maresca claimed, “Regarding Rudy Guede, this person confirmed what he wrote in the letter to his defence lawyers. And to the specific question whether it was an opinion of his, he replied ‘no, it’s what I experienced that night’.

“In my opinion Guede once again confirmed the presence of all three accused at the site of the murder that night. It seems to me the truth of a co-accused already found guilty. To me it appeared absolutely clear,” Maresca concluded.

Another one landed for Meredith by her lone ranger in the court.



Monday, June 27, 2011

Giulia Bongiorno’s Next Super-Witness? The Apple Of Her Witness Luciano Aviello’s Eye

Posted by Peter Quennell





This is Italian Vladimir Luxuria who, despite appearances, is fully male.

One of several rather convincing fellow-inmates to testify today against Giulia Bongiorno’s “super witness” inmate Luciano Aviello said that he had told them he wanted a sex change operation with the money he claimed she was offering to testify so he could end up looking like Luxuria.

Giulia Bongiorno ended up outraged and threatening lawsuits at this testimony which she claimed was false (the paying of the money bit).

However, at various points in the trial and appeal she has dropped the ball in spectacularly goofy ways.

This morning she was sputtering to Judge Hellman that she only found out today about Rudy Guede’s letter - the letter reproduced in full in in this post which we translated into in English a full year ago.

She tried to have it excluded.

Click the image below for another of Bongiorno’s sundry public disasters. She had claimed that an ex-burglar would climb into Filomena’s bedroom - but he never made it above eye-level with the window-sill.

In fact in three and a half years NO climber has ever made it through that window, though one or two did break in the logical way - via the hard-to-see and easy-to-climb rear balcony.

We do look forward to Giulia’s suit against the inmates. She has promised such suits often before. Perhaps they will all arrive in a bunch.


Below: a juror seems to be secretly grinning at Giulia Bongiorno while Rudy Guede simply looks baffled.



Seen In The Court Today: The Appellants, Main Witness, Prosecutor, Defense Counsel

Posted by Peter Quennell









30-Plus Minute Video By Perugia’s Umbria24 TV Of Rudy Guede In The Courtroom

Posted by Peter Quennell

All in Italian. This is a video of the press TV feed in the press room which is allowed.


The BBC Reports Rudy Guede For The First Time Accuses Knox And Sollecito Face To Face

Posted by Peter Quennell


See at bottom for the BBC report. It refers to Guede’s letter of March 2010 in the post directly below this one.

Guede was in the witness stand as his letter was read to the court on Monday. “This splendid, marvelous girl was killed by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” the letter said.

This also for the first time on Guede’s side (but not on Knox’s or Sollecito’s side) crosses a public boundary between the three of them which the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria described starting here.

The Supreme Court has in effect already given Rudy Guede’s credibility an edge. Also this in the report in the Seattle PI report by Andrea Vogt.

As if the appeal wasn’t bizarre enough, two convicts were called by the prosecution as counter witnesses Monday to contradict several inmates called by the defense earlier this month. They maintained they had overheard in prison conversations about a plot among other inmates to testify in exchange for money and benefits, such as reduced prison time.

The person they heard was arranging things, they said, was Sollecito’s attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, who heads up Italy’s parliamentary justice committee. She forcefully denied the corruption accusations in the break afterwards and vowed to file charges and take legal action against her accusers.

One claim by the inmates was that she offered a sex change operation to Luciano Aviello. It would be helpful if some of this if it exists emerged on tape. What possible reason would they have to lie?

****************

Here is the full BBC report in case it scrolls from their website.

Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend did kill Meredith Kercher, a man who was also convicted of the 21-year-old’s murder has told an appeal court.

After Rudy Guede confirmed he believed the US student killed her British housemate, Knox jumped to her feet saying she was “shocked and anguished”.

The hearing in Perugia is the first time that all three defendants have given evidence on the same day.

Knox, 23, and Raffaele Sollecito, 26, are appealing their convictions.
Child killer

Miss Kercher, of Coulsdon, Surrey, was found with her throat cut at her Perugia flat after what prosecutors claimed was a sex game taken to the extreme.

Knox is serving a 26-year sentence for Miss Kercher’s murder while her Italian co-defendant and ex-boyfriend, Sollecito, was sentenced to 25 years.
Image caption Guede admits being in the house at the time of the Miss Kercher’s murder but denies any involvement

Guede told the court that claims by a fellow prison inmate that he thought Knox and Sollecito were innocent were not true. He said he never made that claim to the inmate.

On 18 June, convicted child killer Mario Alessi told the appeal Guede had confided that Knox and Sollecito were innocent.

According to Alessi, Guede said he and a friend went to the house Miss Kercher shared with Knox with the intent of having sex with Miss Kercher and that when she refused, the scene turned violent and his unnamed accomplice slit her throat.

Drug-dealer Guede was jailed for 30 years for the sexual assault and murder of Miss Kercher after a separate fast-track trial. His sentence was reduced to 16 years on appeal.

Guede was in the witness stand as a letter he had written in response to Alessi’s claims was read to the court on Monday.

“This splendid, marvellous girl was killed by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” the letter said.

Guede has previously admitted being in the house at the time of the murder, but denies involvement in Miss Kercher’s death.

After cross-examination by the defence, Guede said he had always believed Sollecito and Knox were behind the murder.

“I’ve always said who was there in that house on that cursed night,” he told the court.

Knox stood up after Guede’s evidence and denied his claims.

“The only time that Rudy Guede, Raffaele and I were in the same space has been in court. I’m shocked and anguished.

“He knows we weren’t there and have nothing to do with it,” she said.

Sollecito said Guede was always talking “about a shadow that could be me and a voice that could be Amanda’s… we’ve been fighting shadows for four years. Our lives have been destroyed in a subtle and absurd way.”

Speaking before Monday’s hearing, Knox’s mother Edda Mellas told reporters she hoped that Guede would have the “integrity to stand up and tell the truth”.

She said her daughter was “always very anxious and nervous but I think she’s glad things are moving along. She feels things are going well,” but that it is, “hard to get too hopeful, especially after the first trial.”

Two other witnesses were called to counter claims made by another defence witness, a member of the Mafia named Luciano Aviello, who had told the court earlier this month that his brother - who is on the run - had killed Miss Kercher during a botched burglary.

The two witnesses - two inmates at the same prison as Aviello - testified that Aviello had said he had been contacted by Sollecito’s defence team to stir up confusion in the trial in exchange for money.

Witness Alexander Ilicet said Aviello had wanted the money for a sex-change operation.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

If Rudy Guede Testifies On Monday As He Might, It Could Be Game Over For Sollecito And Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell


Rudy Guede might be compelled by the judge and prosecution on Monday to testify at length. He does not seem to have a legal reason not to as the Supreme Court set his sentence in stone.

He may of course really want to. Guede seems tired of being painted as the lone wolf or the wolf with two other accomplices.

In March last year he was decidedly ticked off when Mario Alessi began quoting or misquoting his claims about involvement. Here is the public letter he issued at the time, which inspired Mignini and Comodi to go interview him.

Note to media in response to emails: you are welcome to use this translation unasked in its entirety if you please credit TJMK



The complete text of the letter written by the Ivory Coast man.

Guede’s letter to News Mediaset translated by TJMK poster Tiziano.

Viterbo 07/03/2010

As usual in this beloved beautiful country of ours, there are many dishonest people given over to lying.  And there are likewise those who give these people a voice without the slightest questioning of their consciences, whether it’s worth the trouble of giving space to certain conjectures.

In recent days the only things I have heard have been blasphemous insinuations about me; baseless gossip which has done nothing other than harrying, hither and thither, TV news channels, even though for reasonable people it is the pure invention of a wicked mind.

It must be said that all I have heard in recent days in the media, about what has been falsely stated by this foul being by the name of Mario Alessi, whose conscience is nothing but stinking garbage, are purely and simply the ravings of a sick and twisted mind, his ravings are the dreamed-up, untrue declarations of a monster who sullied himself with a frightful murder in which he took the life of an angelic little human being, as is known throughout Italy. This fellow, now, is telling lies about things that I never said to him and (other things) that I never said, things that don’t exist either in this world or the next.

To his ““ or rather their- rotten declarations, it’s my intention to put in black and white that I never confided in this disgusting creature, since moreover that I’ve got nothing to confess or anything else (to say), and everything that I had to say I have already said to the judges and I will go on shouting and fighting while I am still alive, until the truth itself and justice itself prevail over such lies, and even less did I speak one to one or together with other people or with other inmates about my trial affairs, and if I had ever had something to say, don’t you believe that I would have talked about it with my lawyers?  Giving rise to and giving credit to what is a blasphemous statement made by a sick mind, to a monster who had no pity for a child.

With this latest scenario, which my lawyers, my family and I are now used to, from this latest person, the monster Alessi, I hope that Italians and the rest of the world realise that they are dealing with pigs, pigs which stink of the slime of falsehood, but which, not withstanding everything, go around showing their faces and suffocating people with their fetid lying.

Like their umpteenth scenario which does nothing more than give me the strength and the awareness to struggle more than ever, so that the truth that they want to hide is revealed for everyone to see.

As far as I’m concerned, (I have) the serenity and the calm of complete peace of mind, as a person who does not parade this unfair suffering, but who trusts in justice and in the good sense of Italians. 

And finally I wish that sooner or later the judges will recognise my complete non-involvement in what was the horrible murder of the splendid, magnificent girl who was Meredith Kercher, by Raffaelle Sollecito and Amanda Knox.

Guede Rudy

See that final paragraph? It seems likely that he explained as much to Mignini and Comodi when they interviewed him in March 2010 in Viterbo (nothing has ever been released about what he said) and on Monday Judge Hellman could press him for proofs.

Past posts worth reading in this context are this one on his rather sad growing up and this one on the Supreme Court’s reasons for rejecting his final appeal, stating that three people had to have done it.

Also this one on one of his online conversations from Germany in 2007 with a Perugia friend, kindly translated by a PMF team.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 1 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander




Why This Long Summary

The full Massei Report can be found here.

The wiki page controversy surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher rages on in a tiny corner of the online universe, here is our own contribution to the debate.

It is a 4-part summary of the Massei report, the document that sets forth and explains the Court’s reasons for unanimously convicting Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their role in the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox’s roommate, after a long, thorough and fair trial.

Click here for the rest


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 2 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

4. Morning of November 2

Accounts of the events of the morning of 2 Nov do not agree. According to Knox’s statement, she and Sollecito slept until around 10-10:30 am.[67] After a while, she decided to go back to her house to take a shower and change her clothes, and to fetch a mop to clear up some water from a leaking pipe in Sollecito’s kitchen.[65] Her intention was that when she returned they would leave for a planned trip to the nearby town of Gubbio.[70]

When she arrived at her apartment, she was surprised to see that the front door was open. She entered the house, leaving the door open in case it had been deliberately left ajar by one of her flatmates, who might have gone out briefly, to get some cigarettes for example. She then went to her own room, undressed and went into the bathroom that she shared with Meredith. She took out her earrings and cleaned her ears - a regular necessity because the piercing in one ear had become infected. She noticed drops of blood in the sink, and thought this strange but continued to take a shower. Getting out, and not having remembered her towel, she decided to use the bath mat to shuffle into her own room. At that moment, she noticed the blood stain on the mat but thought it might be from some menstrual problem that hadn’t been cleaned up.[70]

Having returned the bathmat, she put her earrings back on, brushed her teeth, dressed in clean clothes and then went in the other bathroom (the one used by Romanelli and Mezzetti) and dried her hair with their hairdryer. She then noticed that there were feces in the toilet, which was strange as Romanelli and Mezzetti were very clean. She left her apartment, locking the front door, and went back to Sollecito’s, where they made breakfast and she told him what she had seen.[70]

In contrast to this account, forensic examination of Sollecito’s computer showed that it had been used for about half an hour from 5:32am to listen to music. After this, he turned on his mobile phone and, at 6:02 am,  received an SMS message which had been sent to him by his father the previous evening when the phone was switched off. Phone records also confirmed a call made at 9:30am to Sollecito by his father. There was no mention of any of this activity in Amanda’s statement.[82]

According to the testimony of Marco Quintavalle, the owner of a small supermarket, he opened his shop at 7:45am on the morning of November 2 and almost immediately a young woman, whom he identified as Amanda Knox, went into the store department that had groceries, detergents and toilet paper on sale. He saw her leave again but did not know if she bought anything. Quintaville did not present this information to the police until some months after the crime and explained that, although he had previously been questioned about the morning after the murder, he had not been specifically asked about Knox. Another of the shop’s employees stated that she had not seen Knox in the store.[83-84]

The court highlighted the discrepancies between Knox’s account and the evidence of the computer and phone records and the testimony of the shop owner. It also doubted the credibility of Knox going back home to change her clothes, take a shower and fetch the mop to dry the floor. Since Knox and Sollecito had planned a trip to Gubbio that morning, she could well have brought the clothes with her that would be needed. It was also noted that Knox had already showered and washed her hair at Sollecito’s house, the previous evening: there was no obvious need for her to repeat those actions and, if there were such a need, there was no reason why she couldn’t do so at Sollecito’s. Fetching the mop to dry the floor was also deemed to be scarcely credible, considering that Sollecito employed a cleaner and, in any case, everything needed to clean up some water was already there.[85]

What is certain is that, around midday, Knox called Filomena Romanelli to say she had arrived at the apartment and had found the door open: she had taken a shower and it had seemed to her that there was some blood in the apartment. She said that she was going to Sollecito’s place but did not know the whereabouts of Meredith. Romanelli rang Knox back and Knox (now at Sollecito’s) told her that the window in Romanelli’s room was broken, everything was in a mess, and that she should come back home.[30]

Knox and Sollecito went back together to the house in Via della Pergola. According to their accounts, they looked in Romanelli’s room where there had apparently been a burglary, and checked the other rooms, but found nothing missing. They were worried that Meredith’s door to her room was locked and, when she was called, there was no answer. Sollecito made an attempt to force open Meredith’s door (described by the court as a ‘timid’ attempt, given that it was easily forced open later).[31] After that, they left the house, partly to look at the broken window from the outside.

Earlier that morning, two mobile phones had been discovered in the garden of a house located in Via Sperandio, a short distance from 7 Via della Pergola (the shortest route would be distance of about 5-7 minutes on foot, according to one witness).[25] The owner of the house had contacted the Communcations Police with regard to a telephoned bomb threat which she had received and then discovered the two phones. One of the phones was registered to Romanelli (although both were in fact Meredith’s phones - one given to her by Romanelli for use in italy).[26][30]

The Communications Police traced Romanelli’s address and arrived at the girls’ apartment some time between 12:30pm and 1pm. Outside the house, they found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito ““ who said that they were waiting for the carabinieri, whom they had called because they had been away for the night and had come back to find the entrance door open and then a window broken.[28]

Romanelli, her friend Paola Grande and their boyfriends, Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri arrived around 1pm.[28] Romanelli made a quick check of her room, discovering that, although it was in a complete mess with the windowpane broken and clothes thrown around the floor, nothing was missing.[31] Nonetheless, she was concerned that the front door had been found open, bloodstains had been found in the small bathroom, and there was no news of Meredith. Furthermore, Meredith’s bedroom door was locked.[31]

The significance of this fact subsequently became a point of disagreement, with Knox saying that even when she went to the bathroom for a shower Meredith always locked the door to her room (the fact that she said this being confirmed by Zaroli and Altieri). Romanelli, on the other hand, said she was aware of only one occasion when the door had been locked and this was when Meredith had returned to England for a few days.[31]

The Massei report notes Knox’s apparent lack of concern at the locked door, both in the presence of the Communications Police and in her earlier telephone conversation with Romanelli. This was at odds with an email that Knox sent to her friends and family a few days after the murder (November 4, 2007) in which the locked door acquired a central importance and Knox described herself as “panicking” when she first discovered it.  Massei concludes that panic at the locked door would be a logical reaction if Knox had been uninvolved in the murder, but according to Romanelli and the Communications Police, there was no such panic.

Knox and Sollecito, in fact remained in the living room, some distance away from Meredith’s room, while Romanelli and her friends were so concerned that they decided to force the door open. One of Romanelli’s friends broke down the door and the bloody body of Meredith Kercher was found.[32] The Communications Police sealed the area and called the Carabinieri, who arrived a short time later.[33]

5. Pathology: Injuries, time and cause of death and Conclusions

Massei observes that the injuries Meredith Kercher sustained were the subject of intense analysis and speculation in the courtroom, yet his summary and conclusions are clear and concise.  Many of Meredith’s injuries appear to have been caused by the actions of restraining, whereas some were obviously inflicted by a knife or knives and showed great diversity in both dimensions and overall harmfulness.  Massei found that one point was particularly significant: the knife wounds from the attack to Meredith’s neck came from both the right and the left sides.[371]

Massei believes Meredith’s injuries lie at the heart of the debate over the single attacker versus the multiple attacker scenarios.  The hypothesis of a single attacker requires that the single attacker continually modify their actions, first by exercising a strong restraining pressure on her, producing significant bruising, and then for some reason switching to life threatening actions with a knife, thereby changing the very nature of the attack from that of subjugation to that of intimidation with a deadly weapon, and finally to extreme violence by striking first from the right penetrating to a depth of 4cm (1.5 inches) and then from the left to a depth of 8cm (3 inches) into the neck.[371]

Massei describes the first knife blow coming from the right by saying that it was apparently halted from going any deeper by hitting the jawbone. The Court considered that this blow was an effort to force Meredith to submit to an action against her will. The Court also considered that the penetrating knife wound from the left was preceded by the action of running the knife over the surface of the skin on the same part of Meredith’s neck, just a few centimeters below the eventual strike zone where the serious, deeper second wound was inflicted.[371]

What surprised Massei about Meredith’s wounds was that in spite of all the changes in approach during the attack she somehow remained in the same vulnerable position, leaving the same part of her neck fully exposed to an attacker.  If this were a solo attacker then this person released a firm restraining grip on Meredith to somehow bring a knife into play, then striking her first from the right and then switching the knife-holding hand to somehow float a knife in an intimidating manner across her neck on the left, before finally stabbing her in that same location on the left with a final debilitating blow.[371-372]

Massei concludes that throughout the attack Meredith remained virtually motionless, and he cites the almost nonexistence of defensive wounds on other parts of her body in comparison to the number, distribution, and diversity of impressive bruises and wounds to her face and neck.  Massei finds this disproportion to be a significant factor, particularly when considering Meredith’s physical and personality characteristics.[370,371]

Meredith’s physical build was described as being slim and strong; possessing a physique that would have permitted her to move with agility.  In addition, Meredith was described as being athletic and one who practised football, karate, and boxing.[369]  Therefore, the court found it unlikely that only one person performed the attack against her, and inevitable that several people had acted together against Meredith; a group who forcibly restrained Meredith in movement so that she could not defend herself in any way nor shield herself with her hands in order to avoid the repeated attacks to her neck.[371]

Meredith’s defensive wounds were found to be minimal and consisted of a 0.6cm (quarter inch) long superficial slice on the palm of her right hand showing only a trace of blood and another 0.6cm (quarter inch) slice on the second finger of her left hand, along with several highly superficial cuts to the fingertip of the index finger.  Massei finds this remarkable considering that the normal and instantaneous human reaction to that first violent knife stab to the neck would have been to protect the area of attack, along with a strong desire to escape even if it meant receiving a blow to another part of the body.  However, Meredith remained in the same standing position while continuously offering her exposed neck to the actions of the person(s) striking her, with the peculiar distinction of striking first from the right and then from the left.  Massei believes that a scenario as such seemed inexplicable, unless one accepts the presence of more than one attacker who, as a group, forcibly restrained the athletic Meredith’s movements while intimidating and striking her from multiple angles.[369]

Massei also believes that evidence demonstrated Meredith was still dressed and awake when the attack began on her and that the violence against her could not have taken place as it did if Meredith were lying on her bed.  Massei concludes that Meredith was sober and fully conscious since no traces indicating either the use of drugs or the abuse of alcohol were found; all of which, if present, might have contributed an inability to firmly resist an attack.[369]

Furthermore, Massei finds it impossible to imagine a scenario in which a single person could have removed the clothes that Meredith was wearing (shoes, pants and underwear) while inflicting the sexual violence revealed by the vaginal swab.  Massei finds it highly unlikely that one person could have caused all of the resulting bruises and wounds cited above in addition to removing her sweatshirt, pulling up her shirt, and bending her bra hooks by force before finally tearing and cutting the bra. The actions on the bra alone, during which a small piece of material with hooks was cut off and thrown to the floor, were necessarily conducted from behind Meredith and required the attention of both hands of an attacker, and thus Meredith would have had her own hands free to attempt actions of self-defense.[370]

Massei concludes there was very little evidence of any defensive maneuvers on the part of Meredith, which to him was a strong indication that several attackers were present, each with a distribution of tasks and roles: either holding Meredith and preventing her from any significant defensive reaction, or actually performing the violent actions.  Massei concludes that the rest of the body of evidence came in full support of such a scenario, recalling that a biological trace of Rudy was found on one of the cuffs of Meredith’s sweatshirt indicating a gripping in order to prevent any reaction.  In drawing together all of the elements mentioned above, both circumstantial and forensic, Massei concludes that the diverse morphology of the injuries, their number, and their distribution mandated that the violence against Meredith was performed by multiple attackers.[370-371]

Summary of pathology findings

Massei describes the significant injuries discovered during the post-mortem examination and states that there were no noticeable injuries in the chest or abdomen areas, two areas of slight bruising on one elbow, small wounds on the hands indicative of a minimal defensive response, very slight bruising on the front of the left thigh, minor bruising on the front middle of the right leg, and a slight area of bruising just below the top of the head.[111-112]

Massei cites compelling evidence of recent sexual activity having the characteristics of non-cooperation on the part of the female participant.  Non-spermatic biological material belonging to Rudy Guede was discovered during the course of a gynecological examination of the corpse. This, in conjunction with a distinct pattern of abrasions, was interpreted by the court as being strong evidence of sexual violence.[157-158]

The head and neck injuries were the most significant and included small spots inside the eyelids indicative of asphyxiation, a bruise to the cheek possibly caused by a knife point, bruising on the nostrils and trauma to the lips suggestive of silencing or suffocation efforts, biting injuries to the tongue, bruising and abrasions on the lower jaw indicative of a hard compression by hand, and neck swelling and hemorrhaging with pools of blood left inside the lungs as a result of two significant knife wounds.[111]

Dr. Lalli, the Perugia Coroner, who performed the autopsy on Meredith at the morgue of the Perugia Polyclinic, reported that the hyoid bone, located at the back of the tongue muscle had been “severed”.[145: Professor Torri quotes Dr. Lalli’s comment]

The most significant wounds Meredith sustained were inflicted by knife-stabs and thrusts occurring very quickly from the right and from the left, severing the right superior thyroid artery and the hyoid bone.[139] The largest of these was inflicted by a knife high on the left side of the neck near the jawbone which penetrated to a depth of 8cm (3 inches).[111]

Another significant knife wound, 4cm (1.5 inches) deep, was noted on the right side of the neck, above which were found superficial parallel scratches.  The wound from the right crossed the path, inside the neck, of the wound from the left. The Court concluded that these knife wounds were made by single-bladed, pointed cutting tools and that Meredith’s injuries might be consistent with a virtually infinite number of instruments, provided they had a blade with only one sharpened edge that was not serrated.[111-113]

The Court held that it is self evident that should one conclude during forensic pathology investigations that a knife is not compatible with any of the wounds inflicted on the victim, it would be pointless to give that knife further consideration, including DNA testing.[166]

The experts and consultants who were examined during the course of the trial, taking into examination the various wounds present on the neck, did exclude the compatibility of Raffaele’s knife with the smaller stab wound inflicted on the right side of the neck, and the Court agreed.  However, the Court did not agree with arguments that the knife confiscated from Raffaele’s flat was incompatible with the deep wound on the left.  The Court concurred with expert testimony proclaiming that the knife presented by the prosecution as the murder weapon, with the DNA of both Meredith and Amanda on it (ie the “double DNA knife”), is clearly compatible with the large fatal neck wound.[169-173]






Cause of death

The Court found that the death of Meredith Kercher was asphyxia caused by the neck-wound which severed both the hyoid bone and the right superior thyroid artery. The severing of the hyoid bone opened Meredith’s airway directly through the skin to the atmosphere, and the severed right superior thyroid artery was the main source of the blood which asphyxiated her when she then inhaled blood directly through her severed airway down into her lungs.[162]

Time of death

In order to preserve the crime scene, a thorough examination of the corpse was not performed until approximately 11 hours after the body was discovered.  Relying upon the criterion of body temperature and the influences of various other factors such as blood loss, the corpse being covered with a duvet, and other environmental conditions the time of death was initially placed approximately between 8:00 pm November 1, 2007 and 04:00 am November 2, 2007.  An intermediate value for such a time range is considered of value, and the actual time of death was suggested by the coroner as being approximately 11.00 pm on November 1, 2007.  The combined criteria of temperature, hypostatic stains, and rigor mortis all supported this range for the time of death, but for a variety of reasons were unable to accurately define a more narrow time of death range.[113-116]

Massei notes that the state of digestion of Meredith’s stomach contents provided significant additional information towards establishing a more accurate estimate for the time of death.  Meredith’s stomach contents included apple, cheese, and floury fragments of the apple crumble she ate while visiting friends, which had not yet entered into her the small intestine.  In addition, a piece of mushroom was also found in Meredith’s esophagus.  This could not have been consumed during the meal with friends, which did not include mushrooms, since it was in a different less digested state.[115, 178-179]

Testimony during the trial established that an emptying of the stomach into the small intestine under typical conditions starts between two and four hours after the start of a meal.  A complicating factor is that Meredith apparently ate additional food at home after her earlier meal which, according to statements made by the British friends of Meredith, occurred sometime between 6 pm and 8 pm.  Nevertheless, it becomes possible to propose a time of death as being 3 to 4 hours beyond the time frame of the initial eating event: therefore, this could reasonably range between 9pm (around the time she arrived home) and midnight of November 1, 2007.  This timeframe remains consistent with all other indicators.  It is important to note that the beginning of the attack would have been a moment of tremendous stress for Meredith that may have arrested her digestive process. However, Massei notes that this, like many other variables concerning the behavior of the digestive tract, remains in the realm of speculation.[178-179]

The various consultants and experts heard in court regarding the time of death all emphasized the difficulty of establishing a precise time.  Regarding time of death, there can be no doubt that Massei relied upon the evaluations of a variety of evidentiary sources, including the consideration that Meredith would not have been able to make any vocalizations following the final fatal stab wound to her neck, which lends importance to witness statements regarding when they may have heard a scream on the night of the murder.  However, the Court concluded that testimony regarding the pathology alone made it possible to suggest that the time of death that was, in fact, within a range of tens-of-minutes either before or after 10:50 pm November 1, 2007.[131]

6. Forensic investigation

The forensic evidence included the analysis of DNA in various samples taken, of footprints revealed by Luminol, and of foot prints and shoe prints.

Meredith Kercher

The fatal wound was swabbed in order to obtain the profile of her DNA for comparison with other samples. [190] One of two swabs of her vagina produced genetic material, the DNA of the Y chromosome of Rudy Guede. [189] Samples taken from under her fingernails yielded only her own DNA. The court noted that her finger nails were very short and probably would not inflict significant scratches on an attacker. [190]

Rudy Guede’s Y chromosome was also found mixed with Meredith’s blood on Meredith’s handbag and on the left cuff of her sweatshirt.[192]

The Small Bathroom

Blood was found in seven locations in the small bathroom that Knox shared with Meredith. [192]

“¢ The Door Frame: blood was found on the right, inside door frame containing Meredith’s DNA. [192]
“¢ The Light Switch Plate: Meredith’s blood was also found on the light switch. [192]
“¢ The Sink: Blood was found in two places. There was dried blood near the faucet that had the DNA of Knox. [192] A streak from the left part of the sink toward the drain containing Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
“¢ The Bidet: Meredith’s blood was found mixed with the DNA of Knox.[192]
“¢ The Toilet Lid: Meredith’s blood.[192]
“¢ Q-tip Box: Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
“¢ The Bathmat: Three samples taken from the bathmat yielded Meredith’s blood.[192] The bloodstains on the bathmat were studied and compared with footprints taken of the right foot from Knox, Sollecito, and Guede, and found to be that of Sollecito. [351-355]

The Large Bathroom

Toilet paper and faeces were found in the toilet. Testing the toilet paper found the DNA of Rudy Guede.[192]

Traces Revealed by Luminol

Various surfaces were sprayed with Luminol, which fluoresces brightly when applied to blood. The fluorescence was then swabbed and tested for DNA. Nine traces were found; two were Meredith’s, three were Knox, and two were mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox.[281-286]

“¢ Romanelli’s Bedroom: One sample of Meredith, and one of Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[282]
“¢ Hallway: Three footprints matching, based on measurements, Knox’ right foot were found, two facing the exit, and one oriented toward the doorway of Meredith’s room.[247]
“¢ Knox’ Bedroom: Footprint of Amanda Knox’ right foot, also identified by measurements.[247]

Shoeprints

Shoeprints made in Meredith’s blood and visible to the naked eye led from Meredith’s bedroom to the exit, becoming fainter toward the exit. [193] These were determined to be incompatible with Sollecito’s shoe size 9, and to be compatible with a Nike Outbreak 2, size 11.[334-336]

Although the shoes were never found, a box for Nike Outbreak 2, size 11 was found in Guede’s apartment.[334]

A left shoe print was found on Meredith’s pillow, estimated to be between size 36 and 38.[342]

Knox wears a size 37.[343] A defense expert made a comparison of the sole pattern with Guede’s right shoe, and argued that the print could have been made by him. The court noted the conflicting theories without expressing a specific opinion,[343-344] and noted that Knox seemed to have been moving about the scene in her bare feet.[344]

Other Evidence

“¢ A small trail of drops of Meredith’s blood from the small bathroom to the kitchen/living room.[193]
“¢ A cigarette butt found in the kitchen had mixed DNA of Sollecito and Knox.[197]
“¢ A jack knife belonging to Sollecito was found to have the DNA of Sollecito and Knox, but no blood.[195]

The Court’s Analysis:

The defense did not contest the mixed DNA test results, but instead argued that they were irrelevant: that mixed DNA would be expected since Meredith and Knox lived in the same house and shared the small bathroom. [378] They suggested that Knox’s DNA could be exfoliated skin cells. Dr. Stefanoni (for the prosecution) testified that exfoliated skin cells are keratinized and contain no DNA. [202]

The court concluded that Knox’ DNA became mixed with Meredith’s blood from vigorous scrubbing of the hands and feet, and that this is how the mixed DNA sampled came to be found in the sink and the bidet.[279]

DNA testing cannot, by itself, determine when biological material has been deposited, or in the case of mixed DNA, which was deposited first or whether it was simultaneous. [211] However, the court noted that Knox told the court in her answer to questioning that the bathroom was clean when she left the house on the afternoon of November 1.[278]

The court concluded that Meredith’s killers had gotten blood on their hands and elsewhere on their bodies, and that they needed to clean off the blood. Accordingly, they tracked blood on their feet to the small bathroom, where Meredith’s blood was transferred to the doorframe and light switch plate when they turned the light on in order to use the bathroom.[279] Sollecito tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom, leaving a partial print of his right foot in blood.[379]

Knox was not wounded.[280] The trace of her blood on the tap was different in appearance from the mixed DNA samples, and was explained by her as having come from her own ear having been pierced. [280] The mixed trace in the sink and the bidet appeared to have been diluted with water, constituting a single trace placed there by Knox when she was cleaning Meredith’s blood from her hands and feet.[378]

The defense experts did not specifically attack the accuracy of the findings on the trace evidence revealed by Luminol.[285] Dr. Gino noted that a generic test for blood was negative on the sample, and that the DNA test was low copy number. She also noted that substances other than blood can cause Luminol to fluoresce.[282]

The court observed that there was an abundant quantity of Meredith’s blood on the floor of the bedroom to be tracked around the house.[279] The fact that DNA testing revealed the presence of genetic material in the samples indicates the presence of biological material that reacts with Luminol. The court said that attributing the fluorescence to fruit juice, rust, bleach, vegetables, etc. could not explain the presence of reactive trace in so many parts of the house, whereas the walking in blood and subsequent cleanup easily accounts for the findings.[283-285]

The defense’s “low copy number remark” was rejected because Dr. Stefanoni had testified that the sample had been processed according to standards and procedures necessary for international quality certification, and noted that the certification was granted by the international certifying body in 2009; the quality certificate was an acknowledgement of what already existed, and had already been done.[285]  Further, the court noted that the criticisms of Dr. Gino and Dr. Tagliabracci were hypothetical, and all concerned specific findings and a small portion of the specimens.[285]

The footprint on the bathmat was partial, missing the heel. [339] Based on the dimensions of the big toe, the plantar arch, and the shape and location of various “bumps”, Inspectors Rinaldi and Boemia concluded that the print was made in Meredith’s blood by Sollecito’s right foot, that it was consistent with Sollecito’s wider foot and inconsistent with Guede’s longer, narrower foot, and well as being inconsistent with Knox.[339-342]

The measurements from the bathmat: big toe”“33mm wide, 39mm long. Metatarsus”“99mm wide, 55mm long. [339]

Footprints taken with printer’s ink resulted: Big Toe—Sollecito: 30mm wide, 37mm long. [339] Guede: 23mm wide, 43mm long. Knox: 22mm wide, 41.8mm long.[339] Metatarsus”“Sollecito: 99mm wide[339]

Rinaldi and Boemia used the so-called L.M. Robbins grid, which is marked in centimeters, lining the vertical axis with right-hand outline of the foot, and the horizontal axis with the tip of the big toe. [340] By comparing the samples with the bathmat, they concluded that the shape of Guede’s plantar arch and the alignment of his “bumps” could not be reconciled with the print on the bathmat, whereas Sollecito’s bumps align consistently between his sample and the bathmat. [340-341] The primary distinctions between Guede’s right foot and Sollecito’s are: the width of the big toe, the shape of the metatarsus, differences in the plantar arch, and the shape of the left side of the foot.[341]

Professor Vinci, Sollecito’s expert attempted to show that the foot print was actually that of Guede. He argued that the morphology of Sollecito’s foot was such that his second toe made no contact with the paper, but that a portion of the mark on the right side of the big toe print on the bathmat is actually from the second toe. He thus measured the big toe print as being 24.8 mm wide.[352]

The court rejected this theory. It noted that the photograph appeared to show the opposite of what was claimed, i.e., it showed the blood had been deposited as a single unit on a decorative flourish of the mat. Moreover, the court noted that, by comparison, Guede’s foot is generally longer and more tapered, and that the second toe print falls quite far from the big. [354] Finally, the court discounted the idea that Guede had ever been in his bare feet that evening. The visible shoe prints clearly showed that he walked directly from Meredith’s room, down the hallway, and out the door.[379]

Part Three is here.


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 3 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

7. Double DNA knife and bra strap

Exhibit 36: The double DNA Knife

Exhibit 36 is a 31 cm long knife with a 17 cm blade and a dark handle.  It was seized from the kitchen cutlery drawer at Raffaele Sollecito’s home, located at 110 Corso Garibaldi in Perugia, on 6 November, 2007 when Chief Inspector Armando Finzi was ordered to perform a search of Sollecito’s residence.  This exhibit is important because “Sample 36b” taken from a scratch on the knife blade yielded Meredith Kercher’s biological profile.

After putting on gloves and shoe coverings, Finzi and his team entered the home.  They noted a strong smell of bleach.  Opening the cutlery drawer, they saw a big, “extremely clean” knife.  In Sollecito’s bedroom they found a second knife.  The knives were bagged and sealed.[106]

Exhibit 36 was carried back to the police station, where it was placed in a box for shipping to the Polizia Scientifica in Rome.  Dr. Stefanoni was the recipient of the box containing the knife in Rome.  All parties testified that standard procedures were followed to avoid the risk of contamination.

On 4 November, 2007, Meredith’s roommates Filomena Romanelli, Laura Mezzetti, and Amanda Knox had been taken by the police to look at the knives in their kitchen at the apartment in Via della Pergola.  Personnel from the Questura reported Amanda’s “severe and intense emotional crisis, unlike [the reaction of] the other two girls”.[292]  This behavior was contrasted to Amanda’s behavior at Police headquarters two days earlier:

“This circumstance appears significant both in its own right and also when one considers that Amanda had never previously shown signs of any particular distress and emotional involvement (in the Police headquarters, on the afternoon of November 2, Meredith’s English girlfriends, Robyn Carmel and Amy Frost in particular, according to their declarations, had been surprised by the behaviour of Amanda, who did not show emotions).”[292]

Investigators’ attention was alerted to the Exhibit 36 knife because of Amanda’s inconsistent behavior.  Later, police overheard a jail conversation between Knox and her parents on 17 November, when Knox said, “I am very, I am very worried about this thing with the knife ... because there is a knife of Raffaele’s ...”.[292]

Exhibit 36 thus became a central piece of trial evidence.  The debate would subsequently be focused on two issues: The compatibility of the knife with the large stab wound in Meredith’s neck; and the reliability of the DNA analysis.

Considering the first of these points, although the knife blade is 17 cm long, the depth of the larger wound is just 8 cm .  This “discrepancy” was the basis of defense efforts to discredit the knife as a murder weapon. The compatibility of the Exhibit 36 knife and the larger of Kercher’s wounds is addressed by Professor Bacci (see p. 121 of the Massei report).    Professor Norelli maintains that “it is not said that a blade is always embedded (plunged into) the target right up to the handle; the blade may also go (in) only to a certain portion of its length, and not right up to its end”.[126] 

It is noted that the movements of the victim may have played a part in determining the depth of the cuts.  “If I insert a centimeter of the blade into the victim and the victim suddenly moves towards me, how much of the blade will be driven inside the body surface area is absolutely unpredictable and depends on the action of both”.[129]  Alternatively, the blade of the knife might have met an obstacle. The cutting action is described on p. 146 and again starting on p. 152.

Defense witness Dr. Patumi disputed the compatibility of the wounds with said knife, arguing that a blade of 17 cm length could not have caused a cut 8 cm deep; see p. 156-157.  However, the Court rejected “the thesis of the incompatibility of the most serious wound and the knife Exhibit 36”, holding this thesis to be “unacceptable” .[172]

Regarding the second point ““ that of the DNA analysis ““ Dr. Stefanoni was the responsible expert at the crime lab in Rome. Although no biological traces were visible to the naked eye on the face of knife blade, Dr. Stefanoni perceived scratches - “anomalies in the metal’ - on the blade when rotating the blade under strong lighting.  The streaks were:

“... visible under good lighting by changing the angle at which the light hit the blade, since obviously the blade reflects light and thus creates shadows, making imperfections visible.”[196]

Sample 36b was taken from one of these points on the blade.  The genetic profile of Meredith Kercher was identified from this sample. Stefanoni presented charts to the court, showing the DNA profile: she noted “that the peaks were a bit low, but that without doubt were still within the range that is considered useful for testing a specimen (page 108). Although of a much lower quantity of DNA, the profiles were nonetheless very present and, by making a comparison with Meredith’s profile, Dr. Torricelli reported that “šwe find all the alleles, and we find them to be equal to those obtained from the swab taken, from the sample taken from the wound. Therefore in this case too, without doubt”› -she continued- “šalthough we are confronted with a sample that contains very little DNA, it nonetheless contains the DNA of only one person and is therefore comparable to Meredith’s; with regard to this knife, I would say I have no doubt in interpreting it: specimen A with Amanda’s profile and specimen B with the profile, compatible with that of Meredith.”[231-32] However, the amount of DNA was small and it was all used up in order to run a single test.

The defense objected that it was impossible to evaluate whether the actual nature of Sample 36b specimen: 

“.. when we have a small amount of DNA we talk about low copy number DNA, and that when this type of DNA is present, we are indeed able to carry out our amplification and obtain a profile, but we must remember that we may have lost one of the alleles, we may have an allelic imbalance ... it becomes very difficult to distinguish from a real allele, so that when working on ...  small quantities of genetic material, it is necessary to be very cautious in interpreting the results.”[237]

 

To this point, Dr. Stefanoni argued that it is preferable “to know to whom a biological specimen is attributable, rather than ascertaining the nature of that specimen, without attributing it to anyone.”[288]

Furthermore, it was argued by the defense that the quantity of DNA was too low to be able to perform the tests and consider the results reliable.  Given a low amount of DNA, the risk of contamination is high - particularly given the very numerous number of samples being analyzed.
 
The court rejected the possibility of contamination because no anomalies were ever identified in the Polizia Scientifica’s analytical process. The Prosecutor pointed out that all tests had been carried out in the presence of a lawyer/consultant for the defense - who had raised no objections during the testing.  The possibility of contamination during the collection of evidence was rejected based on a detailed consideration of the collection process.

Thus, the DNA from Meredith which was found on that knife cannot be traced back to any contamination occurring in the house in which it was found, or to the method of acquisition of the knife on the part of Finzi, or even to the collection and dispatch methods used by Gubbiotti. In addition, as has been said, that such contamination could have been carried out by the laboratory is also ruled out.[266]

In addition, Dr. Stefanoni testified that she did have the biological profile of the defendants, but did not employ them while interpreting the electrophoresis diagrams. Nevertheless, the Massei report judges that:

“... the main criticisms advanced by the defense concerned precisely this very small DNA quantity, and it raised the question of the reliability of the result obtained.”[288]

To this central point, Dr. Stefanoni:

“Regarding the too low quantity of DNA, Dr. Stefanoni declared, as has been seen, that even in the case of a particularly scanty amount of material, the analysis and evaluation should be performed, and she added that, if the data that emerges is absolutely readable and interpretable and the correct laboratory practice was followed, the result is reliable and there is no reason to repeat the test.

“It does not follow ... that the data is unusable and unreliable as a consequence of a lack of repetition due to a lack of further quantities of DNA. It is necessary, instead, to take account of the data that emerges from such a specimen and to check for the ““ possible ““ presence of other elements, both circumstantial and inherent to the data itself that, despite the lack of repetition of the analysis, could allow an evaluation of the reliability of the analysis and of its outcome.”[289]

The court concluded that the biological profile that resulted from the 36B DNA analysis ...

“... gave a biological profile attributable to the person who was mortally wounded with that very knife: a result, therefore, that was entirely reasonable and consistent with the event; [it was] certainly not explainable as a mere coincidence, and it must be ruled out ““according to what has already been observed in this regard - that it could have originated from contamination or from the use of a suspect-centric method.”,[290] and that

“”¦. it should therefore be affirmed that the analysis of trace 36B, which detected the presence DNA attributable to Meredith, appears to be completely reliable.”[293]






Exhibit 165 (Bra clasp)

Exhibit 165 is a small piece of material with hooks from Meredith Kercher’s bra.  The Polizia Scientifica discovered Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on this so-called “bra clasp”.

Dr. Stefanoni and her team began evidence collection at via della Pergola 7 on November 2, 2007.  Additional searches were conducted of Sollecito’s Audi A3, Sollecito’s flat at Corso Garibaldi 110 (November 13), Patrick Diya’s pub “Le Chic” (November 14),  and Rudy Guede’s studio (November 20).  There was a further search at via della Pergola 7 on December 18. 

Meredith’s bra (missing its clasp) was collected on November 2, 2007, in the first search, along with other items (towels, sheets, toilet paper, underwear, etc.).  The bra was found at the foot of the victim in poor condition: torn off of Meredith’s body with cuts at the back.  The bra is Exhibit 59.

The missing bra clasp was one object of the December 18 search.  The search process - including measures taken to ensure against contamination - is described in detail on pp. 204-06 of the Massei report.  However, it is noted that the bra clasp was picked up about 1.5 meters away from its original position as seen in photographs taken on November 2-3.

Small blood drops were clearly visible on the bra clasp material.  The bra clasp revealed a mixture of DNA belonging to the victim and to Sollecito.  According to Dr. Stefanoni the quantity of DNA was not low. 

On trace B, from the clasp, a mixed genetic profile was found: the victim plus Sollecito and that result was further confirmed by the Y profile of Raffaele Sollecito, also found on the hooks.[197]

The Polizia Scientifica’s mixed trace DNA analysis is described in detail in Massei on pp. 206-11. 

The defense raised the issue of the Polizia Scientifica using a “suspect-centric”methodology that might bias the DNA analysis and its interpretation.  Dr. Stefanoni’s remarks are summarized in Massei:

“With reference then to the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito and the fact that his profile was already present and available to her when she interpreted the collected samples, including the one relating to the hooks, she stated that the data was present as historical fact, but that she did not have it, have it available before her at the moment in which she was interpreting the technical data, nor was she otherwise consulting this biological profile.”[226]

Given the delay in collecting the bra clasp and the fact that the bra clasp had been moved on the floor of Meredith’s room, the essential question before the court is presented as follows:

“Was ... the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito, which, according to Dr. Stefanoni, was found on the bra clasp, a consequence of an act of Raffaele Sollecito carried out directly on the bra which Meredith was wearing on the night that she was killed, or on the contrary, could it have had a different origin, so that this DNA could have ended up on the bra clasp without Raffaele Sollecito having ever touched the bra directly, and its clasp in particular?”[266]

The court observes that Meredith’s door was closed and locked on the morning of November 2; that’s how Sollecito and Amanda testify to have found it and that’s how the Postal Police saw it when they arrived.  When the door was finally broken down and opened:

Raffaele Sollecito remained at a distance, far enough—as has been said—that he could not even have been able to look into the room; furthermore, it does not appear that he entered the room at any later time; in fact, as has been seen, the contrary has been shown: once the door was broken down, everyone was ordered to leave the house and Raffaele Sollecito did not enter into the cottage again, much less into Meredith’s room.[268]

Therefore the court rejects this hypothesis for the “placing” of Sollecito’s DNA in Meredith’s room.  Furthermore, there is no reasonable suggestion that Sollecito could have placed his DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp in the prior week after meeting Amanda for the first time.  Sollecito’s DNA was only found in one other location in the house: on a cigarette stub, mixed with that of Amanda Knox. 

8. The staged break-in

The Massei Report examined the evidence surrounding the broken window and disarray in Filomena Romanelli’s bedroom in order to determine whether a real break-in had occurred or the appearance of one had been staged.

When she first returned to the apartment,  Romanelli had made a quick check of her room and ascertained that, even though it was in a complete mess with the left-side [as seen from inside the room] windowpane broken and a big rock on the floor, nothing was in fact missing.[31] The court noted that when Romanelli had left the house, on November 1, she said she had pulled the external shutters towards the interior of her room, although she did not think that she had actually closed them completely. Because they were old and the wood had swelled a bit, they rubbed on the windowsill so, to pull them towards the room, it was necessary to use some force. But, once they had been pulled in, they remained well closed by the pressure of the swelled wood against the windowsill.[48]

Based on Romanelli’s testimony, the court rejected the assumption made by a defense expert witness that the external shutters were left completely open. In fact they were not even completely open on the day following the murder, according to witnesses on November 2.[50]
The initial assumption was that the window had been broken with a rock thrown from the outside (and such a rock was indeed found in the room). However, to have broken the glass of the window without shattering the external shutters, it would have been first necessary for a burglar to open these shutters. The court considered whether some sort of instrument could have been used to open them from the outside, but noted the failure to find any suitable instrument and doubted what type of instrument could be used to this end. This led them to assume that the wall would have to be scaled a first time in order to open the external shutters, so that the burglar could then aim a rock at the window. [48-49]

He would then have had to return underneath the window for a second climb, and balance on his knees or feet on the outside part of the windowsill, while reaching through the broken glass to unlatch the window. The court noted that the window must necessarily have been latched since, otherwise, there would have been no need to throw a rock at all, but just to open the external shutters and climb inside. [49] The burglar would also need to rely on the fact that the external shutters themselves were not actually latched, and also that the internal wooden shutters had not been fastened (otherwise it would have been impossible to open them from the outside).[49]

The court decided that this scenario appears totally unlikely, given the effort involved: going twice underneath the window, going back to throw the stone and scaling the wall twice. Especially so, taking into account the uncertainty of success (having to count on the two favourable circumstances indicated above), with a repetition of movements and behaviours, all of which could easily be seen by anyone who happened to be passing by on the street or actually coming into the house.

Next, the court noted that the double climb necessary to reach the height of three and a half metres would surely have left some kind of trace or imprint on the wall, particularly at the points on the wall that the burglar would have used to support his feet, especially as the earth below the window, on that early November evening, was very wet.[50] In fact, investigators had examined both the wall and all of the vegetation underneath the window, and noted that there were no traces on the wall of earth, or grass, or any streaks at all, and none of the vegetation underneath the window appeared to have been trampled.[142] Furthermore, it was observed that a nail that was part-way up the wall, remained intact. The court deemed it very unlikely, given the position of that nail and its characteristics, that a climber would not cause it to fall or bend.[50]

The next fact to consider was that the pieces of glass from the broken pane were distributed in a homogeneous manner on the inside and outside parts of the windowsill, without any displacement being noted or any piece of glass being found on the ground underneath the window. A prosecution expert witness stated that this tends to exclude the possibility that the rock was thrown from outside the house. Also, a climber, in leaning his hands and then his feet or knees on the windowsill, would have caused at least some piece of glass to fall, and he would have been obliged to shift some pieces of glass in order to avoid being wounded by them. Instead, no piece of glass was found under the window, and no sign of any wound was seen on the pieces of glass found in the room. It can moreover be observed that the presence of many pieces of glass on the outside part of the windowsill increases the probability of finding some small pieces of glass on the ground underneath, since there seems to be no reason that so many pieces of glass would all stop just at the edge of the windowsill without any of them flying beyond the edge and falling down to the garden below.[51,52]

These inconsistencies in the break-in theory can, however, be explained if one supposes that the rock was thrown from the inside of the room, with the two external shutters pulled inwards so that they blocked the pieces of glass from falling to the ground below. Once the glass had been broken from inside, the rock was set down at some place in the room, and the external shutters were pushed towards the outside, being thus opened from within the room.[51]

A further indication that the ‘break-in’ was staged was deduced from photos of the scene, taken by investigators. The appearance is that the goal was to create obvious disorder in Romanelli’s room, but does not appear to be the result of true searching for the kind of valuable objects that might tempt a burglar. The drawers of the little dresser next to the bed were not even opened; the objects on the shelves appear not to have been touched at all; piles of clothes seem to have been thrown down from the closet but it does not seem that there was any serious search inside the closet, in which some clothes and some boxes remained in place without showing any signs of an actual search for valuable items that might have been there. It does not appear that the boxes on the table were opened in a search for valuable items. Indeed, no valuable item was taken, or even set aside to be taken, by the ‘burglar’.

Based on all this evidence, the court concluded that the disorder in Romanelli’s room and the breaking of the window pane constituted an artificial representation created in order to misdirect the investigations towards a person who, not having the key to the front door, was supposed to have entered through the previously broken window and then effected the violent acts on Meredith which caused her death.

Part Four is here.


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 4 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

9. Conclusions reached by the court

The court concluded that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had colluded with the main protagonist, Rudy Guede, in murdering Meredith Kercher and that this was in the context of a sexual assault.[390-393]

The evidence that Guede was involved in the murder included his bloody handprint found on a pillow in Meredith’s room, and his DNA found on a vaginal swab taken from Meredith, as well as on the cuff of Meredith’s sweatshirt and on a strap of her bra and on her purse. Further biological traces of Guede were found on the toilet paper in the larger bathroom. His bloody footprints were found in the corridor leading out from Meredith’s room to the front door of the apartment. All this evidence pointed to Guede having been in the apartment, crossing the living room to the larger bathroom (where he used but did not flush the toilet), passing back through the living room and the corridor to Meredith’s room, where he committed the murder, then exiting directly along the corridor and through the front door.[43-44]

The court next considered whether Guede had entered the apartment through the broken window in Romanelli’s room.[45] The defense had argued that Guede had previously been found uninvited inside a Milan nursery school and had been in possession of items stolen from a Perugia law office which had been burgled by someone who broke a window with a rock. He had also been identified as the person who had broken into a house and threatened the occupant with a knife. The court noted this evidence but also highlighted some marked differences from the current case, and also the fact that there was no direct evidence that linked Guede to the law office burglary. In addition, the court made a detailed analysis of the evidence of the ‘break-in’ and concluded from many pieces of evidence (see section 8) that the ‘break-in’ had been staged and that no-one had entered the house through the broken window. In fact, the conclusion drawn by the court from this staging was that it had been done in order to throw suspicion onto a supposed intruder who did not have a key to the front door.[46-55]

The court next considered whether Guede might himself have staged the break-in, which might have happened if Meredith had let him in through the front door and he intended to throw suspicion onto a supposed burglar. The court rejected this hypothesis: if Guede was alone in the apartment, following the murder, it is improbable that he would have stayed longer than necessary, faking a break-in, when the other occupants, who would recognise him, might return at any moment. Further doubt is cast on this scenario by the fact that some aspects of the ‘break-in’ are superficially similar to other crimes associated with Guede, so might lead investigators directly to him. Finally, the court doubted that Meredith, alone in the apartment, would have let Guede, whom she barely knew, in through the front door, let alone waited in her own bedroom while he used the bathroom.

The conclusion of the court was that Guede was let into the apartment by somebody, other than Meredith, who had a key to the door and that the ‘break in’ was likewise staged by someone who had a door key. Laura Mezzetti was away from Perugia on the night of the murder and Filomena Romanelli was staying elsewhere, at a birthday party. This left Amanda Knox who had a key to the front door and lacked an alibi for the time of the murder. She, according to the court, was the only person who could have let Guede into the apartment and who also would have a motive for staging the ‘break-in’ to simulate the forced entry of an intruder.[56-58]

The court noted the ‘intense’ relationship between Knox and Sollecito, and the fact that they were both using drugs.[365] After Patrick Lumumba sent Knox a text, shortly after 8 pm on November 1, 2007, telling her that there was no need for her to go to work that evening, the pair of them were free of any commitment that evening. By 9:15pm they had eaten dinner and washed up (as witnessed by Sollecito’s father’s earlier phone call), turned off their mobile phones and made no further use of Sollecito’s computer. The court’s conclusion was that this point, they both left Sollecito’s apartment and were seen by the witness Curatolo, several times, around the Piazza Grimana.[359]

Guede already knew Knox and was attracted to her. The court believed that around 11pm, on the night of the murder, Knox, accompanied by Sollecito, let Guede into her apartment, possibly having first met him in the nearby square.[361] The reason for Guede’s visit to the apartment could not be known for certain: perhaps he was going to spend the night there as had happened on another occasion, although in the downstairs apartment; perhaps to hang out with Amanda and Raffaele for a while and to use the bathroom; maybe he had come to look for his friends in the downstairs apartment, and finding them absent, called on the upstairs apartment.[363] What is certain is that Guede used the toilet in the larger bathroom.[364]

Meredith had arrived home, alone, earlier in the evening and was most likely reading or studying in her own bedroom. The court found it probable that, having used the bathroom, Guede went into Meredith’s room, intent on making sexual advances, which were rebuffed. It was probably at this point that Knox and Sollecito joined Guede.[365-366]

The court concluded from the presence of Guede’s DNA in her body, that Meredith’s attack involved a sexual assault: the evidence that it was not consensual sex was deduced from other specific injuries as well as the obvious violence. Based on factors such as Meredith’s strength and physical fitness, and the way she had been undressed, they believed that she was the victim of multiple attackers.[369-372]

Based on the forensic evidence, the court believed a sequence of events in which Meredith refused to accept an invitation of an erotic-sexual nature and was then grasped by the neck by her assailants, for the purpose of intimidating her. When this intimidation was unsuccessful, it led to an escalation of violence, which involved the small stab wound to the neck.[164]

It is likely that it was at this point that Meredith’s trousers and underwear were removed by her assailants and that she was sexually assaulted. Her top was lifted up and rolled up towards her neck and there was an attempt to unfasten her bra which, despite her resistance, was eventually cut off. A pillow was placed under Meredith to allow further sexual activity: from Guede’s bloody hand print on the pillow, it was deduced that Meredith was already bleeding at this point. Part of the bra, including the clasp which bore Sollecito’s DNA, was found under the pillow, which indicates that this was cut off before the pillow was placed.[164-165]

It was, the court believed, around this time that Meredith screamed loudly, as confirmed by the evidence of Nara Capezzali and Antonella Monacchia, which placed the time around 23:30 pm. The response of the assailants was the compression of the upper airways, by pressing a hand over Meredith’s mouth and nose, and then inflicting the deep knife wound to the right side of the neck. Their conclusion was that death occurred a few minutes later, and was caused by asphyxia resulting from the major neck wound from which there was bleeding into the airways, impeding respiratory activity. This was exacerbated by the severing of the hyoid bone ““ also attributed to the knife wounds.[165]

In the court’s opinion, the initial attempt had not been to kill Meredith, but there was “a crescendo of violence” in which the assailants simply accepted the risk of death, constructively transforming their initial non-homicidal intent into a pro-homicidal intent characterised by reckless malice.[171]






Regarding the murder weapon, the court found it difficult to accept that the wounds of various sizes were all made by the same assailant and the same knife. Their conclusion was that the smaller wounds were made with a pocket knife that has never been identified, but the largest (and fatal) wound was made with the knife which was subsequently recovered from a drawer in Sollecto’s house and which bore traces of Meredith’s DNA on its blade and Knox’s on the handle (the “double DNA knife” discussed in section 7.1).

The court believed that, following the murder, the murderers went into the smaller bathroom to wash off some of the blood as witnessed by the traces of blood found there. They rejected the possibility that these were older traces, left from some previous incident, as Knox had testified that that bathroom was clean when she left on the afternoon of November 1.[278] In the process of cleaning themselves, the murderers must have touched the door and the light switch, leaving a dribble of blood on the former and stains on the latter.[281] The bloody footprint on the bathmat (which matched the size of Sollecito’s foot), indicates that whoever went into this bathroom was barefoot, and must also have been barefoot in Meredith’s room.[279] While in the bathroom, it was deemed likely that the murderers scrubbed their hands, thus leaving mixed traces of Meredith’s blood and their own DNA in the sink and the bidet.[279] The court noted that the traces found in the small bathroom not only tested positive for blood, but also included a mixture of Knox’s and Meredith’s DNA. They concluded it was Knox who, on the night of the murder, had washed off Meredith’s blood in the sink and in the bidet.[280]

The court considered the traces shown up by Luminol tests in Romanelli’s room, Knox’s room and the corridor. Luminol tests positive for blood but can give false positive readings for other substances, including fruit juice, rust and bleach. Other tests for blood were applied to the same traces and proved negative, but were noted to be less sensitive than Luminol. The court considered the alternative interpretations of the Luminol results: it found it improbable that the traces were caused by such things as fruit juice or rust - particularly as there was no explanation for why such substances would be in all three locations. The possibility of bleach having been spread through the three rooms was more feasible, but in that case, the court wondered why it would not appear elsewhere in the apartment. Also there was no evidence (smell for example) that bleach had been used.

Furthermore, the traces contained biological material, although it could not be proved to be blood. Considering all the possibilities, and the fact that there were copious amounts of blood at the murder scene, the court believed that the Luminol traces were indeed blood. They noted that the traces tested positive for Knox’s DNA and, in two cases, also included Meredith’s DNA. Their conclusion was that Knox had washed her bare feet in the bathroom, but some residue of Meredith’s blood had remained on the soles, and she had then walked into her own room, into Romanelli’s room and passed through the corridor, leaving the traces which were discovered.[281-286]

The conclusion of the court was that Guede had left immediately, but Sollecito had then brought in a big stone from the surrounding area and he and Knox had broken the window in Romanelli’s room with it and attempted to fake a break-in. They had gone back into Meredith’s room, covered her body with a duvet, then locked her door.[381] The court believed that the murderers took Meredith’s mobile phones, left the apartment and dumped the phones in a nearby garden. This must have happened before about half past midnight, as can be deduced by the phone records.[383] Knox and Sollecito returned to his apartment where he made a very brief (4 second) use of his computer at about 1am.

Contrary to the statements of Knox and Sollecito, his computer was in use for half an hour from about 5:30am the following morning, and he turned on his mobile phone at about 6am. The court believed that Knox and Sollecito returned to the murder scene that morning, with Knox perhaps having bought cleaning materials from Quintavalle’s shop at about 07:45.[384] There was evidence that cleaning had taken place: for instance the bath mat marked with a bloody footprint could only have been reached by taking steps that should also have left other footprints. None were found, so the logical conclusion is that they had been cleaned up. Even the drip of blood left on the internal edge of the bathroom door was said to seem like the remainder of a much larger trace.[384]

In conclusion, the court stated that all of the elements put together, and considered singularly, create a comprehensive and complete framework without gaps or incongruities and lead to the inevitable and directly consequential attribution of the crimes to both the accused.[388]

 


Current Court Reporting: Seattle Post Intelligencer Still Posts The Best, Least Bias, Most Detail

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Seattle waterfront just north of downtown - Seattle PI building is at front center with globe]

Witness Andrea Vogt’s excellent report on the proceedings today in Appeal Court.

1). On the assorted criminals testifying today. 

The dramatic day of testimony, requested by the defense, brought together a gang of criminals of whom Hollywood scriptwriters could only dream, including a convicted rapist and childkiller, a mafia snitch and other hardened long-timers with little to lose.

Their riveting testimony (complete rubbish or explosive and key new revelations, depending on your point of view) led jurors down some of Italy’s darkest alleys, from the desperate gangster neighborhoods of Naples to the powerful masonic lodges of Umbria and tough Italian prison wards with their own code of honor….

Only one of the five had no connection to Sicily or Naples and that was a Romanian who claimed on the stand that his signature had been forged on a document presented by the defense and that he knew nothing about anything….

2) On the testimony of Mario Alessi

Alessi took the stand around noon, after a sharp drop in his blood pressure required a nurse’s attentions (the stress of testifying had caused him to lose 15 pounds over he last 10 days, his lawyer told seattlepi.com). Alessi said he earned Guede’s trust while they were incarcerated together.

One day, Guede took him by the arm and led him to a corner of the prison yard where they would be out of view of closed-circuit cameras, he said. Then, Guede told him that the real truth was that a drunkard who had gone to Kercher’s flat with Guede from the disco had sexually assaulted her and then killed her to avoid “rotting in prison” for the rape….

Toward the end of Alessi’s story, the lawyer for Meredith Kercher’s family, Francesco Maresca, branded him a repeat liar. Maresca held up a photo of “Tommy,” whose high-profile disappearance and slaying in 2006 shocked Italy….  In response to the photo of Tommy, Alessi said no, he didn’t recognize the boy, to which Maresca said, “That’s OK, we do.”

3) On the testimony of Luciano Aviello:

But on the night of Kercher’s murder, Nov. 1, 2007, Aviello testified, his brother came home with a ripped, bloodied jacket and was covered in scratches on his arms. He eventually said he had stabbed a young woman after surprising her during a break-in to steal a painting, Aviello said…

The brothers had then hidden the murder weapon and keys to the house in a nearby wall and covered the hole with mortar. “Go and see for yourselves. Verify it! You’ll find I am telling the truth,” said Aviello. “Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent.”  Police and prosecutors have never publicly confirmed that such a search was done. Aviello’s brother’s whereabouts are unknown.

When prosecutors asked him about his connection to Alessi and the other cons, Aviello took offense, saying he had nothing to do with those “pedophiles and rapists,” but was rather just an “honest” gangster from Naples doing time for routine organized crime.

Toward the end, Aviello’s testimony grew increasingly aggressive toward prosecutors and police with whom he had collaborated. At one point guards held his shoulders as he yelled accusations through the gap where two front teeth should be. “You are a klan, not the judiciary!” he yelled.

4) And on the prosecution’s many new rebuttal witnesses.

... the court agreed to call a number of counter-witnesses requested by the prosecution, including two more prisoners and two police officials. The court also agreed to hear Giacomo Benedetti, the friend of Rudy’s whose Skype conversation with Guede while Guede was on the lam in Germany led to his arrest, as well as Guede himself.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Today’s Desperate Moves By The Defense Lawyers Seem To Have Backfired On The Two Defendants

Posted by willsavive





Cross-posted here from my own website Savive’s Corner.

Order of business

Just as expected, five inmates testified to in an Italian court that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent, to the best of their knowledge.

According to Barbie Nadeau (author of the Beast Book Angel Face) security was tight in Perugia today, as a string of blue prison vans pulled into the back parking lot of the central courthouse carrying some of Italy’s most notorious convicts.

1. Mario Alessi

First to the stand was Mario Alessi who is serving a life sentence in Italy for kidnapping and killing 17-month old, Tommaso Onofri, in 2006, was called by Sollecito’s defense team. Almost immediately after taking the stand, Alessi turned pale, became ill, and had to step down. After nearly an hour he finally returned to tell his story.

Alessi, who was being held in the same prison as Rudy Guede, testified that the Guede told him that Knox and Sollecito are innocent, speaking in prison conversations in November 2009, a month before the Knox and Sollecito were convicted.

Alessi said Guede approached him during recreation time at the Viterbo prison. “Rudy links arms with me, inviting me to take a walk with him, he has something important to tell me,” Alessi told the court. He quoted Guede as saying he was worried because “I don’t know whether to tell the truth or not,” and that the truth “is altogether different from what you hear on TV.”

Alessi then testified that Guede said he and a friend went over the house with the intent of having three-way sex with Meredith Kercher. When she refused, the scene turned violent. Alessi said Guede told him he had gone to the bathroom and upon coming back he had seen his friend holding Kercher to the ground.

Eventually, “a knife appeared, almost out of nowhere,” Alessi said, quoting Guede as saying that it was pointed at Kercher’s throat. Kercher began fighting, according to Alessi, and her throat slit got slit in the process. Guede tried to rescue her, Alessi said, but his friend stopped him.

Alessi testified (translation by Jools) that”¦

“Guede asked me what benefits he would get if he told the truth. He then said that he had met Meredith in a bar with some friends of his ““ one was called The Fat One. He said that one had got drunk and that he had followed Meredith home to see where she lived. A few days later he said he and this drunk friend went back to the house to see Meredith. They asked her if she would like to have a threesome and she had told them to leave.

Rudy said he then went to the bathroom and that when he came back the scene was very different. He said that Meredith was on the floor, back down, and that his friend was holding her down by the arms. He said that they swapped positions. Rudy then told me that he had put a small ivory handled knife to her throat and that it had cut her and his hands were full of blood. He said that his friend had said: “˜We need to finish her off or we will rot in jail.’”

Note: The bold statement above is a huge inconsistency, because, by all accounts (Knox as well as others who lived in the cottage), Guede already knew where Meredith was living””he had been to the cottage twice before that. According to Alessi, Guede did not reveal the identity of his alleged accomplice.

Alessi said he and Guede had developed a friendship in prison but eventually Alessi broke it off as he realized that Guede “said two innocent people were in jail” but did nothing about it. Alessi then contacted the lawyers representing Sollecito. Of course, being the humanitarian that he is, Alessi claims that he tried to convince Guede to “tell the truth.”

Upon cross-examination, Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca held up a photo of the child Alessi murdered (Tommaso Onofri) and asked him, “Do you know who this is?” “No,” Alessi replied, looking away. Italian media report that he also denied he is serving a life sentence.

Three more fellow Viterbo prison inmates were called to back up Alessi’s story, including police informant Marco Castelluccio, who took the stand behind a blue cover, guards around him. Castelluccio said he heard the story about Knox and Sollecito’s innocent mostly from Alessi. He said on one occasion, however, he heard Guede say from a separate cell that Knox and Sollecito were innocent.

2. Luciano Aviello

Another prison inmate Luciano Aviello [42] who has served 17 years in jail after being convicted of being a member of the Naples-based Camorra, testified today that his brother Antonio and his colleague had killed Meredith while attempting to steal a “valuable painting.”

Aviello said that the Albanian””who offered his brother “work” in the form of a robbery””had inadvertently jotted down the wrong address, and they instead went to the house where Kercher and Knox were living, and they were surprised by Meredith’s appearance. According to Aviello, his brother and the Albanian man then committed the murder and fled.

Aviello is from Naples, but was living in Perugia at the time of the murder. He claims that his brother, who is currently on the run, was staying with him in late 2007 and on the night of the murder he returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood.

Flanked by two prison guards, Aviello described how his brother had entered the house Meredith shared with Knox and had been looking for the painting when they were disturbed by a woman “wearing a dressing gown.”

“My brother told me that he had put his hand to her mouth but she had struggled,” Aviello testified. “He said he got the knife and stabbed her before they had run off. He said he had also smashed a window to simulate a break in.” Aviello said his brother had hidden the knife, along with a set of keys his brother had used to enter the house. “Inside me I know that a miscarriage of justice has taken place,” he asserted.

Consequently, Aviello had been in the same jail as Sollecito and had told him: “I believe in your innocence.”

Knox’s lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova and Luciano Ghirga, visited Aviello in Ivrea prison near Turin back in May 2010 and videotaped his statement and included it in their appeal request.

Under cross examination from the prosecution it emerged that Aviello had also been convicted seven times of defamation to which he angrily replied: “That’s because all of you, the judiciary are a clan.”

As Aviello testified, Knox””dressed in an ankle length floral pattern white dress and blue top””listened intently, occasionally making notes or discussing points with her lawyer. 

A comment

So many convicts, which one to believe, if any?

Rudy Guede will now get a chance to rebut all of the above at the next appeal hearing on 27 June. This may be the worst-case scenario that the pussyfooting Knox and Sollecito defenses tried to avoid for three years. Did Knox realize?

Oh yes, it’s true! Judge Hellman has ordered Guede’s testimony to counter that of Mario Alessi. Guede will be heard alongside two fellow-detainees and two Perugia officers. June is shaping up to be a real “scorcher” in this appeals trial.

Guede had refused to speak on the stand in the original trial of Knox and Sollecito, because his appeal was still ongoing. Now, with Guede’s final appeal completed with Italy’s Court of Cassation; a real surprise could be in store.


Today’s Star Witness For The Defense Mario Alessi Looks To Be Up To His Neck In Trouble

Posted by Peter Quennell


Main reporting on the testimony of Mario Alessi will be available later today. Already the Italian media are reporting on what looks like a slow moving train-wreck for the defense.

1) Alessi’s nervous and defiant claims on the witness stand that Guede told him Sollecito and Knox were not involved sounded distinctly hollow.

2) The prosecution ripped into him during the cross-examination phase and left him squirming and evasive on his claims.

3) The prosecution announced that the police have already investigated him for false claims, and a request for his prosecution has been sent to Viterbo.

4) The lawyer for the victim’s family also ripped into him with a description of his murder of a baby, with an image of the baby being presented to the court.

5) Alessi then developed some sort of health condition with low blood pressure as one of the symptoms, and was briefly treated.

6) Alessi seemed to be trying to opt out from any more interrogation on the stand, but Judge Hellman ordered him to come back.

Baby killer Mario Alessi is one of the least liked characters in Italy, in part because before he was arrested he was seen on TV saying “who could have done such a horrible thing?” 

Attempts to hoodwink the Italian public and courts never seem to go over very well.

***

Added: Luciano Aviello next took the stand. He is the Naples mafia snitch who claims that his missing brother and one other murdered Meredith.

It will be interesting to see if any photographs surface of Aviello. There are no recent shots. Barbie Nadeau tweeted from the court that he looks about 12 years old.

If he cannot produce Meredith’s keys or a knife that he claimed he buried at his brother’s request, he too will be toast and also facing more charges.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Possibilities For Political Derailing Of Justice For Meredith Are Now Down Near Zero

Posted by Peter Quennell

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (below left) gets a huge slap in the face in a referendum of Italian voters. He had no obvious powers to wield over the appeal in any case.

Mr Berlusconi’s own grip on power will be weakened by the repeal of a law that excused senior office holders from attending court because of their workload. He is a defendant in three time-consuming trials involving allegations of bribery, fraud and paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl—cases that are sapping his authority.

And the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano (below right) makes clear through a spokesman that he will not lift a finger to help to spring Amanda Knox despite the request from some junior Berlusconi-party parliamentarians..

Italy’s president says he’s following the case of American student Amanda Knox but can’t intervene as she appeals her conviction on charges she murdered her British roommate.

President Giorgio Napolitano’s diplomatic counselor responded to an Italian lawmaker who asked the head of state to intervene to avert controversies stemming from the case.

Mr Napolitano is known to really dislike Mr Berlusconi and his party, so the Rocco Girlanda ploy the Knox forces inflated into an imminent home run was actually dead even before it ever began.

There is no growing global or American or Italian mass movement pro-Knox, and President Obama and Republicans leaders have nothing to gain by denying Meredith her justice.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Afternoon Of June 12 2009 (2)

Posted by Peter Quennell





Knox’s other defense lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, then took the floor to question Knox.

Before questioning began, Mr. Dalla Vedova and Judge Massei asked Knox if she was too tired to continue. Knox stated that she was “ok to proceed.” Judge Massei advised Knox that being fresh and lucid is important while on the stand and that if at any time she feels tired and wants to stop to say “Basta” and the court will take a short recess. Knox thanked the judge and the questioning resumed.

Mr. Dalla Vedova began with a puzzling line of questioning that didn’t seem to have a purpose, but somehow he connected the questioning to Knox’s prison diaries and how she was told that she may have had AIDS””a ploy claimed to be a plot to extract from Knox how many sexual partners that she’d had.

Dalla Vedova began by asking Knox about her family and why she decided to come to Perugia. They then began discussing a particular writing course that she had taken at Washington State University. It was unclear, at this point, where Dalla Vedova was leading with this line of questioning; though prosecutors made no objections as the questioning was virtually irrelevant to the case and was not helping her defense anyway. One would assume that prosecutors would let this continue all day.

Mr. Dalla Vedova led the questioning to Knox’s writing, which she described as a way of expressing herself. Knox claimed that she often kept a diary, even back home, as a way to “let off steam” and to “understand herself.” While in prison, Knox kept a diary up until 29 December 2007, which at that time was confiscated by prison officials and held in her dossier.

Knox testified that she was faced with the choices of surrendering her diary willfully to prison officials or they would come retrieve it with a warrant; Knox gave it wittingly. The confiscated diary was at one point analyzed by one of Britain’s top criminal psychologists, Dr. David Wilson. In the diary Knox describes that when she first arrived in prison, blood was taken from her. Later, prison officials explained to her that the results of the blood test indicated that she may have AIDS.

She claimed he asked her to write down all of the men that she had slept with up to that point, which totaled “seven men.” Knox claimed to the court that for two weeks she was made to think that she had AIDS, but in fact, they were only trying to dig-out from her how many men she had slept with in order to paint her in court as a promiscuous woman. All of this was apparently done on the sly.

Also in that diary, Knox turned on Sollecito for the first time, speculating that he could have killed Meredith and framed her. “This could have happened: Raffaele went to Meredith’s house, raped her and killed her and then, having come back home, pressed my fingerprints””I was asleep””onto the knife,” Knox wrote.

Seeing how Mr. Dalla Vedova’s questioning was leading them nowhere, the more skilled Luciano Ghirga took over the questioning. Ghirga takes Knox back to her arrival in Perugia. They briefly discuss how well her Italian has gotten since she first arrived and what languages she spoke with some of her friends and roommates in Perugia. Knox claimed that she had been spending most of her time in prison studying, which is why her Italian has improved so much over the last two years.

Knox claimed that she was currently reading Hadrian’s Memoirs by Marguerite Yourcenar; a French writer, and she was reading the Italian version.  Mr. Ghirga then asked Knox to describe her relationship with her three female roommates. Knox stated that Laura was a lawyer during the day and a free-spirited guitar player at night. They often played guitar together””Knox borrowing Laura’s second guitar””and practiced yoga.

With Meredith, Knox testified that they would often discuss literature, because Meredith was always reading. Ghirga spent the next several minutes establishing the relationship between Knox and Kercher. At some point the discussion turned to Meredith’s English friends who had testified on day four of the trial.

Luciano Ghirga: Did you also get together with Meredith’s English friends?

Amanda Knox: Yes, but not much. [Laughs] Not much, because in the end, after I got a job with Patrick, we didn’t get together much, because they didn’t go to my university, they went to Meredith’s university. So we didn’t meet there, and then I wasn’t going around having fun any more, I was going to work. But that was fine.

Luciano Ghirga: But you preferred to be with Italians or foreigners?

Amanda Knox: I preferred to be with Italians, because I wanted to feel Italian, I didn’t come to Italy to feel English.

Mr. Ghirga then asked Knox what she thought about the assertions of Meredith’s English friends. The question was intercepted by Judge Massei who wanted Ghirga to be more specific with his question: the reason for this is, as Italian law prescribes, the witness (Knox in this case) is not permitted to give his or her impressions on the testimony of others.

After a brief discussion Ghirga clarified, asking Knox what she thought of the assertions of the girls that there was friction between Knox and Kercher towards the end. Knox disagreed with these assertions, claiming that for her there was no friction in the house.

According to Knox, the reason why she hadn’t been hanging around with Meredith towards the end was because she was working at Le Chic and had no time to go out and socialize. Ghirga asked Knox if she had been aware of any “candeggina” (“bleach”) in the cottage at the time of the murder. “I didn’t know if there was any there, in the house,” Knox replied.

Knox stated in her testimony (which was confirmed by her cell phone records) that she had asked Meredith via text messaging to meet up with her on Halloween night. Oddly, Knox testified that she had met a male friend (not Sollecito) at Merlin’s Pub, but she did not go inside the pub. Meredith was at this pub with friends and Knox met the boy outside as he exited the pub, but she did not go inside to speak to Meredith.

Knox alluded that she did not know that Meredith was inside the bar, and that she only knew that Meredith had gone to dinner with friends. This may have been because Meredith had not replied to the last two text messages sent by Knox. Maybe there was a reason why Meredith did not want Knox to know where she was going for the evening? In any event, it was well known that Merlin’s Pub was Meredith’s favorite bar in the area and that she often frequented that establishment.

Mr. Ghirga then takes Knox back to the night of 1 November 2007. There was nothing new that came out of this questioning, just reiteration of information that had already been said. One can wonder what the good lawyer was trying to accomplish by this line of questioning. In fact, Ghirga was trying to go through the day of November 1st with Knox, but she could not remember the times that any of the events had occurred.

As Ghirga prodded into the day’s events, he made several suggestions””leading the witness. This was met by objections from Francesco Maresca. There was, however, one interesting piece of testimony to come out of this exchange; one that did not necessarily help the defense. Ghirga asked Knox if she usually turned her phone off at night. Knox responded, “Not usually, because I use it as a clock, an alarm clock, so usually I don’t, but on that night I did.”

Ghirga wisely left that response alone and moved on to November 2nd, but again there was nothing new or helpful to her defense. At several points during Ghirga’s questioning of Knox, it seemed as if he hadn’t ever met with her before. Usually in criminal cases such as this, the suspect’s lawyer will rehearse the questions with the defendant or at least ask questions that he is aware that his client can answer. Yet, as the questioning continued it became evident that this was not a well thought-out interview.

Mr. Ghirga then requested the judge’s permission to play the court an audio taped conversation between Amanda and Filomena on 5 November 2007, at 10:29p.m. The call””which originated from Knox’s phone””was intercepted by police. T

The two spoke mostly in Italian, then at one point Filomena switched to speaking English. Her English was hard to understand. Ghirga stopped the tape periodically to ask Knox a question or two then restarted the tape. At the time of the call Knox was in the police station.

Knox had gone with Sollecito to the police station and she was waiting by the elevators for him to reappear. During the call Filomena asks Knox her whereabouts. Knox responds, “At the police station.” Filomena seems surprised and asks, “So you’re there again today?”

The reason for the call was apparently to discuss where they were going to live. The remaining roommates (Laura and Filomena) were trying to get out of the contract with the agency that they had rented the cottage from and find another place. Filomena informed Knox that she had an appointment the following day (November 6th) with that agency to discuss the situation.

Again, the purpose of Ghirga playing the call was unclear, other than to show that Knox’s main preoccupation was where she was going to be living-out the rest of her days in Perugia. Following the ending of the conversation, Ghirga discusses why neither Knox nor her family were concerned about the continued questioning by police.

Luciano Ghirga: I see. So, in all these days, following the discovery of the body, did you ever think about turning to the American Embassy, or to a lawyer?

Amanda Knox: No.

Luciano Ghirga: Because they were calling you every day to the Questura.

Amanda Knox: No, no. More than anything, I thought they wanted to talk to me so much because I was the closest person to Meredith in the house. And then, I was the person who went back to the house and found the mess. I never thought I needed a lawyer or to talk to the Ambassador, because I thought, okay, I’ll just answer a couple of questions, and then I can get on with my life, I don’t know. And I still had to orient myself in the world around me; I never even thought of contacting someone like a lawyer.

Luciano Ghirga: And the fact that you were being called every day to the Questura, didn’t that worry you and your family?

Amanda Knox: [Sigh] For me, I didn’t understand why, but I really never, never thought that they suspected me; never.

Luciano Ghirga: When they arrested you, did they tell you why? When they put the handcuffs on your wrists, on the morning of the 6th?

Amanda Knox: If they told me, I didn’t understand it. Because in the end, when I found myself””

Luciano Ghirga: And what did you think, when they put the handcuffs on you?

Amanda Knox: I was surprised. I thought—they told me “Come on, it’s just for a couple of days, because we’re protecting you,” so I said “All right, fine, but actually, you’re not even listening to me.” And then in those following days, when I was like ah—when I was alone in the cell, in those days, I was suddenly brought in front of the judge, with two lawyers, and they said “Ah, you are accused of murdering Meredith,” and I just stood there with my mouth open with everybody staring at me like “Hmmm.”

Luciano Ghirga: On the morning of the 6th, you didn’t understand why they were arresting you.

Amanda Knox: No. No. I—they—I thought that, as I had understood from them, that it was a formality that they had to do because there was some testimony that I had been near the scene of the crime or something like that.

Luciano Ghirga: But in the days that you spent in prison before that, before you met the undersigned lawyer Ghirga, what were you thinking during those days? What did you think was happening?

Amanda Knox: In those days, I only wanted to clarify the things that I hadn’t understood before, those images that I had imagined, that contradicted the reality that I remembered. This was my main preoccupation. For me, those days were a big moment of crying and confusion, and fear, and cold. Really, it was freezing.

Mr. Ghirga then requests that the remainder of the defenses’ questioning be suspended until the following day because he sensed that Knox was getting tired. Judge Massei denied the request, citing that the following days proceedings were scheduled for cross-examination by the prosecution.

Knox’s defense had squandered precious time on irrelevant issues, and now they were feeling the pressure. Perhaps it was just that Knox didn’t really have much to offer in the way of her defense.

A discussion ensued, and Judge Massei conceded that he would allot time the next day””only in the morning””for the defense to continue if need be. In the meantime, Judge Massei ordered a ten-minute break.

The questioning recommenced at 5:16p.m., with Carlo Dalla Vedova again taking the floor. Dalla Vedova began by bringing Knox back to the 17 December 2007 interrogation. Conducting the seven hour interrogation was the public prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini.

Knox recalls that she had an interpreter””Australian born Giulia Clemish. Knox explained that she was quite frustrated with her because she was not a very good interpreter and this led to much confusion. Dalla Vedova interjected that they had to get a different interpreter to translate the translator.

Dalla Vedova then asks about how she got the nickname “Foxy Knoxy.” Knox explains that the nickname came out of the fact that she was a defender in soccer and that it also rhymed with her name, “fox,” “Knox.”

Alessandro Clericuzzio, the interpreter responsible for retranslating the whole December 17th interrogation, translated “Foxy Knoxy” to “Mean Fox.” Mr. Dalla Vedova was clearly trying to demonstrate how the phrase “Lost in translation” had applied to this situation, which then shows that this could have applied to things Knox had said during other interrogations.

Knox was asked if she knew that Meredith had taken out money prior to her death. Knox said she did not, and then she corrected herself. “Wait, one time she told this thing to Filomena that she could already give her the money and Filomena said no, let’s wait a little, but I didn’t know if she carried it around in her wallet or left it at home.”

As Knox indicated in earlier testimony, this conversation was in regard to the rent for November 2007, so Knox did have prior Knowledge to the fact that Kercher had already taken out money to pay the rent.

The final discussion of the day centered around Knox’s cell phone discussions with Filomena on the day that Meredith’s body was discovered. The final discussion also touched upon the time between when Knox first arrived at the cottage and when the first officers arrived.

Judge Massei took over the questioning at one point on the matter to get clarification on Knox’s story. His questioning continued for several minutes. Judge Massei asked Knox whether she knew if anyone was home the first time she claimed to arrive at the cottage on the morning of 2 November 2007 (allegedly after leaving Sollecito’s flat in the morning and returning to the cottage).

Knox told the court that she had called out the names, Filomena and Meredith, thinking that maybe they were home. She said that she knew Filomena was going to a party the previous night and she wasn’t sure if she had returned home by then or not. The brief segment that followed was just a reiteration of prior testimony, with Carlo Dalla Vedova retaking command of the floor.

At the conclusion of the defenses’ questioning of the witness, Judge Massei asked the prosecution if they wanted to begin their cross-examination. The prosecution seemed eager to get to questioning with Manuela Comodi saying, “We can start now or we can start tomorrow.”

Judge Massei asked Knox if she could continue, but Knox asked if questioning could be suspended for the day as she was tired. There was no doubt that the day had been long, drawn-out, and grueling for all present””particularly Knox. Realizing this, Judge Massei suspended the proceedings, announcing that they would continue the following morning at 9:00.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Afternoon Of June 12 2009 (1)

Posted by Peter Quennell





[This excerpt covers the questioning by Luciano Ghirga and the next will cover the questioning by Carlo Dalla Vedova]

The afternoon session began at exactly 1:38p.m., as declared by the presiding judge, Giancarlo Massei, who called Knox’s defense team for further examination. Knox took the stand again as her lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, stepped forward to begin his questioning.

Mr. Ghirga began by asking Knox the last time that she saw Meredith alive. Knox began by reiterating her previous version: which began around noon on November 1st, just before Meredith went to Robyn Butterworth’s apartment. This time, her answers were clear and concise. Knox further explained her first meeting with Raffaele Sollecito, the configuration of the living arrangements at the cottage (including who lived there with her and Meredith), and how the rent was paid.

Ghirga then began discussing Knox’s relationship with Meredith, trying to establish that there was no problem between them. Knox claimed that she and Meredith were close friends, but she did mention briefly that Meredith had expressed her discontent over her [Knox’s] cleaning habits; although she made excuses and downplayed the discussion. Knox snickered a bit and claimed that she “wasn’t the cleanest person in the house,” speaking of herself.

Going further into the night of the murder, Knox testified that she and Sollecito read a bit of the book Harry Potter, listened to music, watched the movie Amelie, and then ate a fish dinner around 9:30-10:00p.m. After dinner Knox told the court that Sollecito began doing the dishes. It was then that Knox claims that the sink began leaking water all over the floor. Sollecito was “displeased” she said, because he had recently had the sink fixed.

Sollecito didn’t have a mop, so they found some rags and let the water soak in, and Knox told him that she would go and get the mop she had at the cottage in the morning and bring it back to his place to clean the mess. Once that was determined, Knox says that they went into his room and smoked a joint (marijuana cigarette). After that she said that they had sex and then fell asleep.

From there Ghirga stepped back a few hours to the text message from Lumumba.

Knox said that she received his message “just before or right after” the movie had started. Knox claimed that she was so excited that she didn’t have to go into work that night that she jumped into Sollecito’s arms and screamed, “Woo!” Knox then reiterated her previous version in which she woke up the next morning around 10:00-10:30a.m etc (similar version in her November 4, 2007, email to family and friends).

Knox claims that they had plans to go to Gubbio, so she left his flat, went home to take a shower, and return to Raffale’s so that they could go to Gubbio. After noticing the blood in the bathroom and taking a shower, she returned to Sollecito’s flat.

There, Knox claims that they cleaned the floor in his apartment with the mop she retrieved from the cottage, and then ate breakfast and had coffee at Sollecito’s apartment. Knox then proceeded to testify that she called Meredith’s phone first, then she called Filomena, both from Sollecito’s apartment.

This varies from her 4 November 2007, email to family and friends, because in that email she wrote that she called Filomena first, and then Meredith. Also during her testimony, Knox never mentions running outside and banging on a neighbor’s door, which she writes about in her November 4th email.

Before the breaking of the door into Meredith’s room, Knox testified, “Yes, because I told them, look, the door is locked, and Filomena was going “˜Mamma Mia, it’s never locked, it’s never locked,’ and I said no, it’s not true that it’s never locked, but it is strange.” Knox testified that when Meredith’s door was broken down she was near the entrance.

Yet in her 4 November 2007, email to family and friends she claimed that she was “in the kitchen, having really done my part for the situation.” It also contradicts all other versions of those who were there at the time who claim that Knox was in the kitchen when the door was kicked-in.

Knox also claims that while in the car with Paola and her boyfriend, on the way to the police station, they informed her and Sollecito that Meredith’s throat had been cut.  This statement is suspect, however, as Paola testified that because of the “penumbra” (or “lack of light”) in the room, only a foot could be seen, no blood or anything else.

Knox claims that after she was told that Meredith’s throat was cut she cried. According to Luca and Paola’s testimony, Knox did cry in the car, and they also testified that they told Sollecito and Knox what they knew about how Meredith had died before they had gotten to the police station.

The questioning then switched to 4 November 2007 questioning when Knox was brought back to the crime scene.

Knox explained that the police requested her presence at the police station. Knox testified that she had requested to meet them at the cottage, but police asked her to meet them at the station first. She was driven there by Sollecito and the police then took her over to the cottage.

To her surprise, her other roommates, Laura and Filomena, were there; but they arrived without a police escort. Knox then briefly discussed her mental breakdown at the cottage when she was shown the knives. She claimed that she was very scared when shown the knives and that she was in shock; she claimed that she was just beginning to understand what exactly had happened there.

Luciano Ghirga then shifted questioning to what Knox had told police on November 4th about a man nicknamed “Shaky.”

On that date police had asked Knox to remember if there were any males who had visited the cottage that seemed like they could be dangerous. She could only think of one man who had made a bad impression on her since she had been in Perugia and his name was Shaky. Knox said that they called him Shaky because of the way he danced.

Amanda Knox: one time I had a, he [Shaky] went for example to the place where I worked, at the time when I was supposed to go home, it was very late, and he offered me a ride home on his motorbike. But during the ride, he insisted that I go have some dessert with him, and I said, “Look, I really want to go home,” and he said “No, look, I’m giving you a ride, a bit of dessert is nothing,” and he took me to have it, and then he took me to his house, which to me… 

I kept telling him again and again, “Look, I really want to go home, it’s really late, I’m really tired,” and he kept saying “No, no, relax, relax, come on, sit down on my bed, relax, make yourself comfortable.” I said “No, look, take me home.”

So he finally brought me home, and that was it, but it left me with an ugly impression because I thought he wanted to somehow try something, and he was the only person that had made an impression of strangeness on me, like he had intentions that were different from what I wanted. So he made that impression on me, but that’s all, because everybody else I met was nice.

Mr. Ghirga then switched question back to the November 4th, when police brought Knox to the cottage.

Mr. Ghirga asked Knox what conversations there were between her, Laura, and Filomena. Knox said that they discussed how stunned they were about what had happened, why nothing was stolen during the break-in, and the overall situation that had transpired thus far. Knox said that they also discussed future living arrangements, as the girls were staying with friends and Knox was staying with Sollecito.

On that day the three girls were talking about possibly moving-in together at a different location. Mr. Ghirga then said that he wanted to ask Knox about the evenings of the 5th and 6th, but he was cut-short by Judge Massei, who suspended the proceedings. The time was 2:30p.m., and judge Massei announced that they would have a break in the action and reconvene at 3:00p.m.

The trial picked-up again at 3:00p.m. Judge Massei called for silence and Luciano Ghirga resumed questioning. As Ghirga began to speak crowd noise could still be heard. Judge Massei again called for silence and Ghirga repeated his question, asking Knox about when she first came to Italy.

Amanda Knox had first moved into the cottage in Perugia in late September of 2007. She had previously been in Germany at her aunt’s house with her sister Deanna, and both Amanda and Deanna had gone straight to Italy afterwards.

Ghirga then asked Knox how many piercings that she had in her ear, as he pointed out that he counted eight on the left ear and four on the right ear; Knox agreed. It had appeared as though Mr. Ghirga was going to try to establish that the blood found at the scene of the crime that belonged to Knox came from the piercings. Yet, without warning, Ghirga said that he had exhausted the topic and went back to Knox’s interrogation on 5 November 2007.

Mr. Ghirga then asked Knox about her allegations that she was struck in the head by police:

Amanda Knox: So, during the interrogation, people were standing all around me, in front of me, behind me, one person was screaming at me from here [she points in front of her], another person was shouting “˜No no no, maybe you just don’t remember’ from over there [points to her left], other people were yelling other things, and a policewoman behind me did this to me [Knox mimics the sound of two whacks to the back of her head].

Luciano Ghirga: Once, twice?

Amanda Knox: Twice. The first time she did this, I turned around to her, and she did it again.

Luciano Ghirga: I wanted to know this precise detail.

Amanda Knox: Yes.

Luciano Ghirga: After all that, that whole conversation, that you told us about, and you had a crying crisis, did they bring you some tea, coffee, some cakes, something? When was that exactly?

Amanda Knox: They brought me things only after I had made some declarations. So, I was there, they were all screaming at me, I only wanted to leave because I was thinking that my mother was arriving, and I said look, can I have my telephone, because I want to call my mom. They said no, and there was this big mess with them shouting at me, threatening me, and it was only after I made declarations that they started saying “No, no, don’t worry, we’ll protect you,” and that’s how it happened.

Ironically, just moths earlier “” at Rudy Guede’s trial “” Luciano Ghirga undermined and contradicted his own client’s (Knox’s) story when he said, “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”

Knox then recalls being brought several papers to sign: arrest warrant, declarations, etc. She claimed that she wasn’t sure what the papers were, and that she just signed everything because she wanted to go home.  However, these papers were brought to her after she had been informed that she was under arrest, which she doesn’t make reference to during this exchange.

After repeated questioning about her unpleasant interrogation””in an effort to show that she made the confessions out of exhaustion, intimidation, and miscommunication””Knox claimed to have asked for a piece of paper and a pen so that police could be sure that they understood her. “Look, I’ll give you a present,” Knox claims to have told police, as she lets out a small laugh.

Knox then speaks about the second letter which she wrote when she was first taken to jail.

Amanda Knox: So in prison I again asked for paper, because that’s how I’m used to expressing myself, the way I succeed best, also to organize my thoughts,  I needed to write them down. I needed to reorganize all my thoughts, because at that point I was still confused, I still had these images in my memory that finally I understood were a mixture of real images in my memory from other days mixed with imagination. So I needed those pieces of paper, so I could take everything and put it in order.

Knox’s answer even seemed to confuse Ghirga, who responded by saying, “All right, I’ve finished the subject of the night in the Questura.”

Knox testified that she lost track of the hours and was unsure of any of the times involved. That is quite common when a suspect is initially confined. There had been some confusion after the murder as to why Knox did not leave the country when she had the chance. Knox claims that she had worked hard to get to Perugia and that she wanted to stay and finish her studies.  However, she also said that she asked police if she could leave the country and they said “No.”

Mr. Ghirga then attempted to clear-up the statement made by Knox (on November 17th of 2007), which she made to her mother and father. The calls were from prison and were recorded by police.

There was a long pause as Ghirga flipped through the transcript of the calls and found the quote on page eight. Once he found the page, he read Knox’s comments aloud to the court. Knox said to her mother and father, “I was there. I can’t lie about this. I’m not scared of the truth. It would be stupid to lie about this because I know I was there.” Knox responded by claiming that when she said, “I was there,” she meant that she was at Sollecito’s flat during the murder, not at the cottage.

Mr. Ghirga then pulled out a letter that was written by Knox on 9 November 2007, which was addressed to him; Ghirga claimed to have received it on November 12th. In the letter Knox writes in English that she “felt upset about mentioning Patrick Lumumba’s name.” The letter was not known at the time by any other party and that along with the fact that it was written in English and transcribed into Italian by Knox’s other lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, brought an objection by Prosecutor Manuela Comodi.

A small argument ensued over the translation of the letter from English to Italian. Prosecutor Comodi stated that she did not trust that the translation was accurate. Judge Massei settled the argument by letting the interpreter, who was there translating for Knox, translate the two lines in the letter that Mr. Ghirga was referring to.

After Ghirga had established that Knox had informed him that she was upset about falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba””which slightly clarified an earlier question posed by Lumumba’s lawyer””he then switched questioning to the morning after the murder.

Mr. Ghirga wanted to establish that Knox was not at the Conad Store on Sollecito’s street at 7:45a.m., the morning after the murder. These statements were made earlier in the trial by Mr. Quintavalle, who owned the store, and had testified that Knox was in his store at that time.

Knox denied being at the store at that time or on that day. She did admit to being in the store a couple of times on other occasions, but with Sollecito””never alone. Knox also denied ever owning a red coat or anything resembling a red coat, which Mr. Gioffredi had testified that she was wearing when he saw her.

The last questions from Mr. Ghirga were regarding the scratch on Knox’s neck, which was clearly visible in a picture of Knox outside the cottage just after Kercher’s body was discovered. As indicated by prior testimony, the scratch was also seen by two others who had testified to its presence. Knox told the court that it was a hicky from Sollecito.

In the background, Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, called out, “Is it a scratch from Meredith?” Knox responded, “A hickey from Raffaele.” With that, Mr. Ghirga said, “For now, I’ve finished,” and he took his seat.


_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: How Motive For The Crime Is Addressed By Judge Massei

Posted by James Raper





The Massei Report in the main I thought was excellent. He was incisive with his logic, particularly, though not exclusively, with regard to the staging of the break in and how that necessarily meant that Amanda was present at the scene when the murder was committed.

However, I thought that he was rather feeble in his coverage of the defendants’ motives as to the attack which led to this brutal murder. Perhaps he thought it better to stick with the indisputable evidence. Since this pointed to a sex attack he surmised that Guede had a go at Meredith first, and then - because the stimulation was too much for them - he was joined by Amanda and Raffaele. This works but does seem a bit weak.

Micheli, the judge who committed Amanda and Raffaele to stand trial, was more certain in his mind as to the roles played by these three. He said that there was “an agreed plan”, “to satisfy sexual instincts” with “murderous intent” and that effectively Amanda was the instigator and catalyst.

Motive is largely an area of speculation but it is surely possible to draw inferences from what we know?  As Micheli did.  The Appeal Court and ultimately The Supreme Court of Cassation may well adopt the same reasoning and conclusion ““ maybe go further.

And there were, to my mind, undoubtedly many factors at work, and it is these which I wish to address. I have always been interested in the possible dynamics of just how these three came to murder poor Meredith. Pro-Knox campaigners once made much of “No Motive”. Now not so much because the issue draws people in to a discussion of the evidence and of Amanda’s personality.

For instance, Massei asks, though he says we can not know, had Amanda egged Guede on as to the “availability” ( my word, not his) of Meredith during or prior to their presence at the Cottage?

Frankly the answer to that has to be “yes” since it is a bit difficult to figure out why Amanda and Raffaele would otherwise wish Guede to join them at the cottage. I doubt that Amanda and Raffaele would have wanted Guede around if they were just going there to have an innocent cuddle and sex and to smoke cannabis, as Massei implies. The evidence is that Raffaele hardly knew Guede and in the presence of Amanda was very possessive about her. If he had known of Guede’s interest in Amanda he would have been even less keen to have Guede around.

Also, if all was so innocent beforehand, then why would Guede have tried it on with Meredith and then pressed the situation in the face of her refusal to co-operate, knowing that there were two others there who could have come to her assistance?

The answer is of course that Guede knew full well in advance that there would be no problem with Amanda and Raffaele. He had been invited there and primed to act precisely in the way he did, at least initially. Why? Well there is plenty of evidence as to why Amanda, in her mind, may have been looking for payback time on Meredith. Come to that later.

What does not get much attention in the Massei Report, other than a terse Not Proven at the end, is the matter of Meredith’s missing rent money and credit cards and whether Amanda and Raffaele stole them. It is as if the Judge ( well the jury really) felt that this was a trivial issue that brought nothing much to the case and thus it was not necessary to give it much attention. And indeed there is no summation of or evaluation of that evidence.

Now that does surprise me. Of course there may have been some technical flaw with the charge and the evidence. But in the absence of any comment on this then we do not know what that may be.

What I do know is that the matter, if proven, is not trivial. A theft just prior to the murder significantly ups the stakes for Amanda and Raffaelle and produces a dynamic, which, threaded together with a sexual assault, makes for a far more compelling scenario to murder. It also leads one to conclude that there was a greater degree of premeditation involved : not premeditation to murder but as to an assault, rather than the more spontaneous ” let’s get involved” at the time of the sex attack as postulated by Massei.

What is the evidence? What evidence was before the court? I do not have access to trial records. Therefore I stand to be corrected if I misrepresent the evidence or if my interpretation of it does not met the test of logic.

There were two lay witnesses to whom we can refer. The first was Filomena Romanelli, the flatmate and trainee lawyer. If there was anyone who was going to ensure that the rent was paid on time, it would have been her. She gave evidence that the rent being due very soon she asked Meredith about her contribution of 300 euros and was told by Meredith that all was OK because she had just withdrawn 200 euros from her bank. Filomena assumed from Meredith’s reply that the balance was already to hand.

Is there a problem with this evidence? Is it hearsay and thus inadmissible under Italian law?

Perhaps it is not enough by itself because of course had Meredith not in fact withdrawn the money from her bank, or sufficient funds to cover the stated amount, then that would be a fatal blow to that part of the theft charge. Her bank manager was summoned to give evidence, essentially to corroborate or disprove Filomena’s testimony. I do not know what exactly that evidence was. One would assume that at the very least it did not disprove her testimony. Had it done so that would, as I have said, been fatal. It is also unbelievable that Massei would have overlooked this in the Report. I am assuming that Meredith did not tell a white lie and that the bank records corroborate this.

There may of course be an issue of timing as I understand that the bank manager told the court that transactions at a cash machine are not necessarily entered on the customer account the same day . However that does not seem to me to be significant.

One must also think that the bank manager was asked what other cash withdrawals had been made if the credit cards were taken at the same time as the money.

I understand that there is of course a caveat here: my assumptions in the absence of knowing exactly what the bank manager’s evidence was.

It would be useful also to know how and when the rent was normally paid. It sounds as if it was cash on the day the landlord came to collect.

We do know that the police did not find any money or Meredith”˜s credit cards. Had Meredith, a sensible girl, blown next month’s rent on a Halloween binge? Unlikely. So somebody stole it. And the credit cards. Again, just as with the fake break in, when according to Amanda and Raffaele nothing was stolen, who and only who had access to the cottage to steal the money? Yes, you have guessed it. Amanda, of course.

Does the matter of missing rent money figure anywhere else? There is the evidence of Meredith’s phone records which show that a call was placed to her bank late on the evening of her murder just prior to the arrival of Amanda, Raffaele and Guede. Why? I have to concede that there is no single obvious reason and that it may be more likely than not that the call was entirely unintentional.

But if, as may seem likely, the credit cards were kept with her handbag, and the money in her bedroom drawer, then on discovering that her money was missing she may have called her bank in a funk only to remember that the cards were safe and that no money could be withdrawn from her account.

The missing money also figured in the separate trial of Guede. He made a statement which formed the whole basis of his defence. Basically this was that he had an appointment with Meredith at the cottage, had consensual foreplay with her and was on the toilet when he heard the doorbell ring etc, etc. What he also added was that just before all this Meredith was upset because her rent money had disappeared and that they had both searched for it with particular attention to Amanda’s room.

Now why does Guede mention this? Remember this is his defence. Alibi is not quite the right word. He had plenty of time to think about it or something better. His defence was moulded around (apart from lies) (1) facts he knew the police would have ie no point denying that he was there or that he had sexual contact with Meredith : his biological traces had been left behind, and (2) facts known to him and not to the police at that stage ie the money, which he could use to make his statement as a whole more credible, whilst at the same time giving the police a lead. He is shifting the focus, if the police were to follow it up, on to the person he must have been blaming for his predicament, Amanda.

If all three, Amanda, Raffaele and Guede, went to the cottage together, as Massei has it, then Guede learns about the missing rent money not in the circumstances referred to in his statement but because Meredith has already discovered the theft and worked out who has had it and challenges Amanda over it when the three arrive. Perhaps this is when Guede goes to the toilet and listens to music on his Ipod. After all he is just there for the sex and this is all a distraction.

Although Micheli thought Guede was a liar from start to finish, he did not discount the possibility that Guede was essentially telling the truth about the money. Guede expanded upon this at his appeal, telling the court that Amanda and Meredith had an argument and then a fight over it. It is a thread that runs through all his accounts from his Skype chat and initial statements in Germany to his final appeal.

Guede’s “evidence” was not a factor in the jury’s consideration at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial. Although he was called to give evidence he did not do so. Now his “evidence” and the findings and conclusion of the courts which processed his case come in to play in the appeal of Amanda and Raffaele.

When were the money and credit cards stolen?

I have to accept that as to the money at any rate a theft prior to the murder is critical to sustain the following hypothesis. The credit cards were in any event probably taken after the attack on Meredith.

According to Amanda and Raffaele they spent Halloween together at Raffaele’s and the next day went to the cottage. Meredith was there as was Filomena.  Filomena left first, followed by Meredith to spend the evening with her friends, and Amanda and Raffaele left some time afterwards.

So Amanda and Raffaele could have stolen the money any time after Meredith left and before she returned at about 9.30pm - the day of her murder. Incidentally Filomena testified that Meredith never locked the door to her room except on the occasions she went home to England. Meredith was a very trusting girl.

What motive had Amanda for wanting the money apart from the obvious one of profit?

There are numerous plausible motives.

To fund a growing drugs habit which she shared with Raffaele? Not an inconsiderable expense for a student. Both Amanda and Raffaele explained during questioning that their confusion and hesitancy was due to the fact that they had been going rather hard on drugs. Mignini says that they were both part of a drugs crowd.

Because her own financial circumstances were deteriorating and to fund her own rent contribution?  She was probably about to be sacked at Le Chic where she was considered by Lumumba to be flirty and unreliable and to add insult to injury would likely be replaced by Meredith. In fact Meredith was well liked and trusted by all whereas Amanda’s star was definitely on the wane. 

But maybe Amanda just also wanted to get her own back on Meredith.

Filomena testified that Meredith and Amanda had begun to have issues with each other.

Here are some quotes from Darkness Descending.

Filomena ““ “At first they got on very well. But then things began to take a different course. Amanda never cleaned the house so we had to institute a rota “¦.then she (Amanda) would bring strangers home”¦.Meredith said she was not interested in boys, she was here to study”.

“Meredith was too polite to confront Amanda, but she did confide in her pal, Robyn Butterworth. Robyn winced in disbelief when Meredith said that the pair had quarreled because Knox often failed to flush the toilet, even when menstruating. Filomena began noticing that Amanda could be odd, even mildly anti-social.”

It seems that Amanda did not like it when she was not the centre of attention. It was observed that, comically if irritatingly, she would sing loudly if conversation started to pass her by and when playing her guitar would often strum the same chord over and over again.

On the evening of Halloween Amanda texted Meredith enquiring as to whether they could meet up. But Meredith had other arrangements. Meredith appeared to be having a good time whereas Amanda was not.

Indeed there has been much speculation that Amanda has always had deep seated psychological problems and that just after several weeks in Perugia her fragile and damaged ego was tipping towards free fall.


With Meredith’s money both Amanda and Raffaele could have afforded something a little stronger than the usual smoke and I speculate that they spent the late afternoon getting stoned.

Of course Amanda was still an employee of Lumumba and she was supposed to turn up that evening for work but perhaps she no longer cared all that much for the consequences if she did not.

Again I speculate that she, with or without Raffaele,  met Guede at some time -  perhaps before she was due at work, perhaps after she learnt that she was not required by Lumumba -  discussed Meredith’s “availability” and agreed to meet up again on the basketball court at Grimana Square.

The notion that Amanda and Guede hardly knew each other seems implausible to me. We know that they met at a party at the boys’ flat at the cottage. Guede was friends with one of those boys and was invited there on a number of occasions. He was an ever present on the basketball court in Grimana Square which was located just outside the College Amanda and Meredith attended, and just metres from the cottage. He was known to have fancied Amanda and Amanda was always aware of male interest.

What else did Amanda and Raffaele have in mind when arranging the meeting or when thinking about it afterwards? Guede was of course thinking about sex and that Amanda and Raffaele were going to facilitate an encounter with Meredith later that evening. However Amanda and Raffaele had something else on their minds. The logic of their position vis a vis Meredith cannot have escaped them. They had taken her money whilst she was out. Had she not already discovered this fact then she would in any event be back, notice the money was missing and would put 2 and 2 together.  What would happen? Who would she tell? Would she call the police? How are they going to deal with this? Obviously deny it but logic has it’s way and the situation with or without the police being called in would be uncomfortable.

They decided to turn the tables and make staying in Perugia uncomfortable for Meredith. Now the embarrassing, for Meredith, sexual advances from Guede were going to be manipulated by them in to a sexual humiliation for Meredith. Meredith was not going to be seriously harmed but as and when they were challenged by Meredith over the missing money, as inevitably they would be, she was to be threatened with injury or worse. Knives come in useful here. Amanda may have fantasized that Meredith would likely then give up her tenancy at the cottage, perhaps leave Italy. Whether that looks like the probable and likely outcome I leave you to judge, but the hypothesis is that they were starting to think and behave irrationally and that this was exacerbated by the use of drugs.

In the event there came a point when neither Amanda nor Raffaele had any other commitments anyway. They got to the basketball court. They waited for Guede.

We know Amanda and Raffaele were on the basketball court the evening of the 1st November. This is because of the evidence of a Mr Curatolo, the second lay witness. He was not precise about times but thought that they were on the basketball court between 9.30pm and 10pm and may have left around 11.00 ““ 11.30pm and then returned just before midnight. In any event he testified to seeing Amanda and Raffaele having heated arguments, and occasionally going to the parapet at the edge of the court to peer over. What were they looking at? Go to the photographs of Perugia on the True Justice for Meredith website and you will see. From the parapet you get a good view of the gates that are the entrance, and the only entrance as I understand it, to the cottage.

So why the behaviour observed by Mr Curatolo? They may have been impatient waiting for Guede to arrive. Were they actually to go through with this?  Was Meredith at home, alone, and had she found the money was missing and had she called the police or tipped off someone already? Who was hanging around outside the entrance to the cottage and why? There was, apparently, a car parked at the entrance, a broken down car nearby with the occupants inside awaiting a rescue truck, and the rescue truck itself, all present around 11.00pm. Amanda and Raffaele did not wish to be observed going through the gates with these potential witnesses around.

We, of course, cannot know for certain what went on in the minds of Amanda and Raffaele between the time of them leaving the cottage and their departure from the basketball court to return to the cottage. It has to be speculation but there is a logical consistency to the above narrative if they had stolen Meredith’s money earlier that day, and their meeting up with Guede just before leaving the basketball court does not look like a co-incidence.

From there on in to the inevitable clash between Amanda and Meredith over the money.

It is my opinion that at the cottage Amanda came off worse initially: that she got caught in the face by a blow and suffered a nose bleed.
Stefanoni and Garofano both say that there was an abundant amount (relatively speaking) of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom washbasin, and to a lesser extent the bidet.  Whereas most of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom was mixed with Meredith’s, the blood on the washbasin tap was Amanda’s alone. Both of a quality and quantity to discount menstrual (from washed knickers) or bleeding from ear piercing. Their conclusion was that Amanda bled fairly profusely though perhaps briefly at some stage.

Possibly Amanda may have cut her feet on glass in Filomena’s bedroom but if so it’s difficult to see how blood from that ends up as a blob on the basin tap and in the sink and cut feet are painful to walk on and she did not display any awkwardness on her feet the next day.

Amanda’s blood may have come from a nick by a blade to her hands. I think the nick would be obvious the next day .If so, she was not hiding it. She was photographed the next day outside the cottage waving her hands under the noses of a coterie of vigilant cops.

She might have got a bloody nose during the attack in Meredith’s bedroom save that there is no evidence of her blood there.

On the other hand if she got into a tussle with Meredith (say in the corridor outside their rooms and where there was little room for other than the two to be engaged) and was fended off with a reflex blow that accidently or otherwise connected with her nose, Amanda’s natural reaction would be to disengage immediately and head for the bathroom sink and staunch the flow of blood.

A nose bleed need not take too long to staunch especially if not serious and there is no cut (certainly none being visible the next day).  Just stuff some tissue up the offending nostril. A nose bleed is not necessarily something of which there would be any sign the next day.

Raffaelle fusses around her whilst Rudy briefly plays peacemaker. But Amanda is boiling. As furious with Raffaelle and Guede as she is with Meredith. She eggs Guede on and pushes him towards Meredith.  Raffaele proudly produces his flicknife, latent sadistic instincts surfacing.

Is a scene like this played out inside the cottage or outside? I think of the strange but sadly discredited tale told by Kokomani.

In any event motive is satiated and the coil, having been tensed, is sprung for the pre-planned, but now extremely violent, hazing of poor Meredith.

I am also thinking here of Mignini’s “crescendo of violence” and where a point is reached where anything goes ““ where there is (from their warped perspectives) almost an inevitability or justification for their behaviour. A “Meredith definitely needs teaching a lesson now!” attitude.

Psychology is part of motive and there is much speculation particularly with regard to Amanda and Raffaele. They have both been in prison for well over three years now and during this time psychological assessments will certainly have been carried out.

Based on specific incidents and and general patterns of behaviour, speech and language, and demeanour, some preliminary conclusions will have been reached correlated with the facts of the crime.

If their convictions are upheld these assessments may be relevant to sentence in so far as they shed light on mitigation and motive.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Morning of June 12 2009

Posted by Peter Quennell

Unlike Sollecito, who has exercised his right to silence, Amanda Knox had volunteered to take the stand. As we have seen, the Italian justice system has several differences from that of the United States Justice system. One of those differences is that in an Italian trial witnesses must swear to tell the truth. However, defendants do not.

Defendants can also interrupt the questioning at anytime or even choose not to answer certain questions, in theory of course, though in practice it would be a bad move (incriminating) if a defendant chose not to answer. One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, told reporters a week earlier that Knox would be answering all of the prosecution’s questions.

Knox’s defense team, however, would offer-up objection after objection on even the simplest questions, and this came on the day that was scheduled just for defense questioning (aside from Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer). Every time Knox was caught in a contradiction, a fight would break-out between defense and prosecution. Knox’s vague answers along with her lawyer’s objections distracted lawyers and made it very hard for them to extract anything substantial out of her.

It was apparent early on that this was going to be a long drawn-out examination with nothing substantial provided toward her defense. Not only was Knox vague, but she seemed annoyed and not necessarily eager to tell her story; even using sarcasm on a few occasions and snapping at prosecutors. In the end, her testimony hurt her more than it helped her, because it did not help clear up her whereabouts at the time of the murder, and it lent to the notion that she was lying….

The schedule for the day was going to be questioning from her own defense team, along with questioning from Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer, Carlo Pacelli. Knox entered the courtroom with her hair tied back with a light-blue scrunchy, a white short sleeve collared top, pale trousers, and what appeared to be a large cold sore on her upper lip. She looked tired and pale as she took her seat, and looked around nervously as reporters jockeyed for position at the back of the courtroom.

The beginning of the session was held up a bit as Judge Massei discussed with lawyers whether to allow cameras in the courtroom. The final decision was to exclude cameras, allowing cameras to roll during only the first 20 minutes of Knox’s testimony. Questioning began with Carlo Pacelli, who would get the first crack at Knox as part of Lumumba’s civil lawsuit. Seated immediately to Knox’s left was a heavy-set, brunette interpreter. Knox understood most questions that were thrown at her and the interpreter mostly translated to the court what Knox was saying as opposed to what Knox was being asked by Italian litigators.

Mr. Pacelli started by asking Knox if she knew Rudy Guede. Knox admitted meeting Guede before the murder, claiming that she met him while she was mingling with the boys that lived in the apartment underneath her. Knox said that they were in the center, near the church, when the boys introduced her to Guede. On that occasion, Knox says that she spent most of her time with Meredith, as they all (including Guede) went back to the cottage and had a party on the first floor. This party apparently took place in mid-October of 2007, a little more than a month before the murder. Knox also admitted seeing Guede at Le Chic (Lumumba’s restaurant) at least once.

Knox said that at the party she and others smoked a “spinello” (“marijuana joint”). Pacelli then focused on Knox’s relationship with Lumumba. Knox testified that Lumumba never mistreated her, always treated her with respect, their relationship was good, and she was not scared of him. Mr. Pacelli then brought Knox back to the night of the murder, asking her if she knew what time it was when Lumumba sent her the first text message on 1 November 2007. Knox said “around 8:15-8:30p.m.”

When asked, “When you answered Patrick’s message, where were you?”

Knox replied, “In the apartment of Raffaele, I think, yes.” Pacelli indicated that Knox answered the message 25 minutes later from another location. “It seems from cell pings that you were out of the house when you answered, in the center. Where were you?” asked Pacelli. This question was met by a stream of objections and a heated discussion between defense and prosecution. When the dust cleared Knox stated that she was at Sollecito’s apartment when she responded to the message.

Knox had deleted all received text messages on her cell phone at some point after receiving the last message from Lumumba. Knox claimed that this was because she had limited space on her cell. When asked why she did not delete the text messages that she sent, she answered very sarcastically, “I’m not a technical genius, so I only know how to delete the ones that I receive when I get them.” Knox told the court that she didn’t have an appointment to meet Lumumba at the basketball court on the night of the murder.

When asked why she wrote in her statement to police that she met him at the court that night, Knox responded, “It was a complicated situation. I can explain it if you want me to go into it.” Knox then proceeded to explain her version of what occurred and why she wrote what she did in the spontaneous letter to police after her arrest. She proceeded to explain what she claimed was a long grueling interrogation where police began asking the same questions over and over.

Then, in a long, drawn-out, drab tone that only an American could understand (due to the prosodic “” rhythmic, intonational aspect of human speech “” nature of the tone), Knox said that they kept asking her questions such as “w-h-o k-i-l-l-e-d M-e-r-e-d-i-t-h,” that sounded as if she was down-playing the question, because she had heard it so many times. Knox began to show several glimpses into the bizarre behavior that was previously testified to by others.

Although it may sound trivial, the response was strange; and coupled with the multiple accounts her of odd behavior, it only added to the quandary. During this monologue, Knox stated that police called her a “stupid liar,” several times when she asserted that she had been at Sollecito’s flat all night. Knox then quoted her interpreter during the interrogation, claiming that she had said that Knox was “traumatized and couldn’t remember the truth.”

Knox then continued with her confusing explanation of what happened during her interrogation/arrest:

So what ended up happening was that they told me to try to remember what I apparently, according to them, had forgotten. Under the amount of pressure of everyone yelling at me, and having them tell me that they were going to put me in prison for protecting somebody, that I wasn’t protecting, that I couldn’t remember, I tried to imagine that in some way they must have had, it was very difficult, because when I was there, at a certain point, I just, I couldn’t understand why they were so sure that I was the one who knew everything.

And so, in my confusion, I started to imagine that maybe I was traumatized, like what they said. They continued to say that I had met somebody, and they continued to put so much emphasis on this message that I had received from Patrick, and so I almost was convinced that I had met him. But I was confused.

The next few questions were met with objections by Knox’s lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, and banter between he, the judge, and Pacelli. More objections came when Pacelli asked Knox why she claimed to hear Meredith scream, with now several different lawyers arguing and trying to plead to the judge their reasons why the question should or should not be answered. The argument centered on what was and was not admissible according to the Supreme Court decision at the beginning of trial. Judge Massei then declared that they would take a short recess and he would consult with the lawyers in private on the matter.

When they returned, Judge Massei overruled the objections and stated that the question is permitted because it comes from Knox’s spontaneous statement, which was ruled as admissible during the first week of trial. Knox then switched to speaking Italian upon Judge Massei’s approval. Finally, Knox was able to answer the question, which she replied, “No,” I did not hear Meredith scream.

The following sequence occurred next:

Carlo Pacelli: In the interrogation of November 6, 2007, at 5:45, you declared that before she died, you heard Meredith scream. How could you know that Meredith screamed before she was killed? Who told you?

Knox: So when I was with the police, they asked if I heard Meredith’s scream. I said no. They said “But if you were there, how could you not hear her scream? If you were there?” I said “Look, I don’t know, maybe I had my ears covered.” So they said “Fine, we’ll write that down. Fine.”

Carlo Pacelli: [louder] But I can tell you that on November 6, the police did not know that Meredith screamed before she died, so why would they suggest it to you?

Knox: I imagine that maybe they were imagining how it might have been.

Knox asserted that police were not telling her what to say but suggesting paths of thought. “I kept following their suggestions,” Knox stated. “They asked me if I was in her room when she was killed. I said no. They said but where were you? I said I don’t know. They said, maybe you were in the kitchen. I said, fine.”

Knox testified that she went to the police station with Sollecito the night that they were arrested because she was scared and didn’t want to be alone. She verified that she was not called-into the station that night. Knox also confirmed that the spontaneous statement that she made was her idea, and not the result of pressure from police. Knox said that she asked for a piece of paper and a pen, and that she wrote it to explain her confusion to the police.

Knox then said several times that while at the police station after her arrest she “really wasn’t sure” what had happened on the night of Kercher’s murder. Knox told the court that she gave the written statement to the police freely, voluntarily, and that police did not suggest the content nor pressure her into writing the statement.

The following sequence occurred next:

Carlo Pacelli: Listen, in this memorandum, you say that you confirm the declarations you made the night before about what might have happened at your house with Patrick. Why did you freely and spontaneously confirm these declarations?

Knox: Because I was no longer sure what was my imagination and what was real. So I wanted to say that I was confused, and that I couldn’t know. But at the same time, I knew I had signed those declarations. So I wanted to say that I knew I had made those declarations, but I was confused and not sure.

Carlo Pacelli: But in fact, you were sure that Patrick was innocent?

Knox: No, I wasn’t sure.

Carlo Pacelli: Why?

Knox: Because I was confused! I imagined that it might have happened. I was confused.

Then the questioning turned to when Knox realized that Patrick Lumumba was innocent. Several fights and objections broke out over this line of questioning. The defense seemed to know that Pacelli was onto something and they were trying at all ends to block him or throw him off. Pacelli explained that in Knox’s 7 November 2007, memorandum, Knox wrote, “I didn’t lie when I said the murderer might be Patrick.”

However, Pacelli said that during a phone call with her mother on November 10th (three days later) Knox stated that she felt horrible because she (Knox) got him [Lumumba] put in prison and she knew he was innocent. Knox, then speaking like a politician, led Pacelli -and even the judge - around in circles; not giving a straight answer to the question: when did you inform police that Patrick Lumumba was not the killer?

Pacelli was trying to show that Knox had written that Lumumba was the killer on the 7th, told her mother that Lumumba was innocent on the 10th, but never informed the police at anytime after the 10th that Lumumba was innocent. He was subsequently released three weeks after his arrest, and at no time during the three weeks did Knox inform police that she falsely accused Lumumba. Knox’s final reply on the matter was, “I had explained the situation to my lawyers, and I had told them what I knew, which was that I didn’t know who the murderer was.”

So, Knox never really did answer the question why she never informed anyone - besides her mother on November 10th - that Patrick Lumumba was not the murderer. This was important because Pacelli already knew what Knox’s mother had told investigators about the call and what the basis of her testimony would be. Pacelli knew that her mother’s testimony was coming up the following week, and he wanted to get Amanda’s version on the record knowing that her mother would clarify and contradict - or at least not help - her (Amanda’s) story. Knox also revealed that she never actually said she was sorry to Patrick for her false accusations that put him behind bars for three weeks.

With that, Carlo Pacelli ended his questioning. Judge Massei then announced a break in the action and that the court would reconvene at 1:30p.m.

_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive


[Below: Falsely accused Patrick Lumumba and his lawyer Carlo Pacelli]

 


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post-Trauma Example Of Italy As One Of The Fastest-Learning And Adjusting Societies

Posted by Peter Quennell


Here is an image of Elisa Benedetti whose sad death after crashing and then disabling her car in deep mud our poster Catnip profiled back here.

Two other post-accidents traumas have been much in the news in Italy as Il Giornale today describes.

Two drivers were in traffic accidents in which they feared they had caused the death of others, and both are now dead.

One after dying of cold in the woods after wandering aimlessly for days, and the other after jumping off a bridge. In the case of the first, nobody was even hurt, and in the case of the second, the child who was slightly knocked by the car was released from hospital the same day.

As one would expect in Italy, these incidents have been the subject of much public discussion and several TV chat shows, similar to those for missing people that we learned about in the case of the missing or murdered Sonia Marra.

Now hospital emergency rooms and police forces are moving to beef up their capacity to provide psychological support to those similarly traumatized.

In the case of Elisa Benedetti, the cops tried really hard to help her in the times when she called them for help on her cellphone. Next time they might have psychological knowhow on their side.

Few other countries in the world come close to Italy for a caring population driving constructive effects like these.


Monday, March 28, 2011

The Sollecito Family Criminal Trial And Civil Trial For Leaking Evidence Will Both Start On 29 April

Posted by Peter Quennell


The Sollecito family face charges for releasing an evidence video to the Bari TV station Telenorba showing Meredith’s body unclothed.

Also for attempting to influence some politicians to get some cops investigating the case moved on. Several Telenorba TV Bari staff-members will also also face charges. The trial was postponed five weeks ago as the judge was still on another case.

It is now reported in Italy by the news service Adnkronos that at today’s brief hearing a Kercher family civil suit against the Sollecitos for this disrespecting of Meredith will run in parallel.

The Sollecito defense team want to dispute the Perugia court’s jursidiction as the alleged crimes took place in Bari and Rome. That seems unlikely to fly as the evidence leaked was taken from Perugia.

The next court date for the Sollecito family will be Friday 29 April.


Sixth Appeal Hearing: Andrea Vogt On The Testimony Of The Witness In The Square

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: north side of Piazza Grimana showing the benches where Mr Curatolo normally sits]

Click here for Andrea Vogt’s report for the Seattle PI from the appeals court.

One of the case’s most colorful and controversial characters, Curatolo, 53, has spent many a day sitting in the small public Piazza Grimana square near the university where college students come to play basketball, buy hashish and hang out….

When questioned by prosecutors, he said he remembered seeing Knox and Sollecito having “an animated discussion” in the square, which overlooks the villa where Kercher’s body would be found the next day. It was not raining that night, he said, when asked about the weather. The following day the Carabinieri came around to ask him if he had seen anything, he recalled, and he had watched as forensic crime scene investigators worked around the house.

“Are you sure that the day after you saw those two discussing in an animated way you were questioned by the Carabinieri and saw the police at Via della Pergola in their white suits?” asked Mignini.

“Very sure,” Curatolo said. “As sure as I am that I am sitting here.”

But minutes later, in questioning by Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, Curatolo also said he had seen young people in masks and getting on buses to go to the discos. The distinction is important because Halloween was Oct. 31 and there were likely students in costumes, getting on shuttles to go to the discos on the outskirts of town.

Kercher, however, was killed on the evening of Nov. 1, 2007, which is All Saints Day, a somber holiday in Italy, when it is less likely there were any festivities.

“I think it is clear that he does not have a lucid memory,” said a member of Knox’s legal team, Maria del Grosso, after the hearing. “And I think it was demonstrated today that he is not a credible witness.”

However, prosecutors and the lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, maintained the testimony was in line with previous statements.

“He repeated exactly what he said during the first trial. We still believe he is reliable.”

Good neutral report, as you’d expect, from Andrea Vogt who is the American reporter most consistently in the courtroom. All the other reports in English seemed to include a lot of fluff from the defenses.

We’ll have an analysis post on this hearing and the DNA testing in Rome later today or tomorrow.

**********

Below: Mr Curatolo’s preferred benches are at the far left there. If Sollecito did watch the gate of the house on the night he’d need to be to the far right there. The gate can easily be seen from there.



Friday, March 25, 2011

PMF Translation Team On Three Continents Translates Supreme Court Final Report On Rudy Guede

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Rome: St Peters in foreground; Supreme Court of Cassation large white building in background]

Please click on the image above for this meticulous translation from Italian to English.

The PMF translation team on three continents consisted of Jools, Thoughtful, Clander, TomM, Catnip, Yummi and the 411. This post spelled out how very ominous for the Knox and Sollecito defenses this report really is.

We will have a post soon examining all the fine details of this very tough report.


The Civil Case Of Knox v Lifetime - Umbria 24 TV Video Of Arrivals Today At The Courthouse

Posted by Peter Quennell


Amanda Knox is the supplicant here but you’d be hard-pressed to know it.

Unfortunately there’s no video or images of the team for Lifetime the alleged wrongdoers in this case, who seem to be keeping well out of sight.

There are reports in English here and here and here. Ann Wise of ABC notes that YouTube has removed the video of the movie’s trailer.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Civil Case Of Knox v Lifetime Will Be Considered By The Perugia Courts On July 4

Posted by Peter Quennell


On July 4? Big day in America. Seems today’s judge has a sense of humor.

The closed hearing in civil court in Perugia was brief, and there are just a couple of media images of Knox looking rather dispirited.  The Italian media have not yet identified who are Lifetime’s legal representation or whether they were in court.

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said his client wants the Lifetime TV movie withdrawn. He claimed that the movie had already been viewed 687,000 times on Lifetime’s website from all over the world, and that there is a version with Italian subtitles.

He said the movie could do irreparable harm to the prospects of his client. Amanda Knox in her statement said: “I am shocked at this invasion of my life and the speculations made about myself… I was very disturbed at the images in the trailer I saw on TV.”

The Knox and Sollecito suits were all actually filed before the movie itself had ever aired. No specific scenes were complained about today in court, and as the movie for the most part adheres to Massei, with some artistic license, it will be interesting to find out precisely which scenes are the bad ones.

The movie appeared to give Knox at least one big break in public eyes by making the provisional finding of an HIV test seem highly malicious though the facts don’t support this.

Sollecito appears in the movie much more briefly than Knox, and his most dramatic scene is where he throws one of Knox’s various alibis under the bus. Otherwise he comes across like a pussy.

His legal team has also said they were filing suit against Lifetime both in Perugia and in New York. No sign yet of those filings.





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amanda Knox To Be In Court In Perugia Tomorrow In Hearing About Stopping The Lifetime TV Film

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Lifetime TV has an office suite in this giant hitech building which Google is presently purchasing]

Past posts on this mixed bag of a TV movie can be found here.

Late February Amanda Knox’s lawyers filed suit in Perugia to stop the airing of the movie (so far aired maybe half a dozen times in the US) and Raffaele’s Sollecito’s lawyers filed suit in Perugia and (or so they say - we can find no court record) also in New York.

The Perugia judge at the first hearing took a pretty relaxed view of the urgency of the matter and so it is only now that legal teams for Lifetime and Amanda Knox will face one another in court. The suit claims that the movie “violates the reputation” of Amanda Knox.

Very substantial payment for damages has been requested. If the New York suit also proceeds (unlikely as US law is not exactly favorable) the total asked appears to amount, converted from Euros, to over two hundred million dollars to compensate for sullied reputations.

Today’s Italian media reports in ANSA and AGI dont say very much more than that, except that Amanda Knox would like to be present in court.

As this is not Sollecito’s team’s suit, this is about the first time that one appellant will appear in court without the other. No word at all yet on the constitution of Lifetime’s legal team.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Very Hard Language Of Supreme Court In Rejecting Guede Appeal, Confirming Three Did It

Posted by Peter Quennell


The report of the Supreme Court of Cassation released on Thursday was foreshadowed in content in our post of 17 December:

Rudy Guede’s appeal is rejected on all ten grounds. His appeal grounds were ugly and dishonest and he has no further appeal. He will serve his 16 years, with maybe some time off, for being a savage willing party to the cruel stupid murder of Meredith.

Rudy Guede will go down in infamy for his sex crime against a defenseless victim, for being a party to a taunting torturing knife attack, for claiming Meredith invited him in for consensual sex, and for not calling for help for Meredith and maybe saving her life while it was still possible.

Cassation continues the fine Italian court tradition in this case of taking a firm and unblinking position, and for being utterly oblivious to the vile over-the-top campaign of Curt Knox, Edda Mellas and David Marriott which may now haunt Amanda Knox all of her life.

What really caught the Italian media’s attention and made this the second most widely reported development in the case after the Amanda Knox-Raffaele Sollecito verdict was the icy hard language, the pure contempt for the depraved pack attack, the total rejection of all Guede’s stories, including his oft-repeated and totally unbelievable claim that Meredith invited him in and wanted love-making, and the court’s conclusion once again that the evidence methodically described in the Micheli Report overwhelmingly proves that THREE perpetrators took part in the crime.

The Court of Cassation in this report made clear that Knox and Sollecito are not already formally nominated as the other two perpetrators and it does wait the referral of the outcome of the present appeal in Perugia. But unless the defense witnesses Alessi and Aviello can indeed convince Judge Hellman’s appeal court that Guede attacked Meredith with friends or that some other people entirely carried out the attack, there seems no way out for them. 

The court also indicated that it considered the motive of the attack on Meredith to be frivolous, which is precisely what the prosecution claims in the current Perugia appeal as grounds for rejecting Massei’s mitigating circumstances, and for increasing Knox’s and Sollecito’s prison sentences to life terms. 

This post of a month ago further explains Knox’s and Sollecito’s almost insurmountable problems.

The written report from Cassation on that December 2010 decision on Guede’s final appeal (due soon), plus Judge Micheli’s Sentencing Report for Rudy Guede of January 2009, plus all that associated evidence, now gets automatically ported by law straight into Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeal.

Judge Micheli took a hard line toward Rudy Guede, and he sentenced him to 30 years. He also remanded Knox and Sollecito to trial, and his report explains the basis for that remand.

Judge Micheli’s remorseless and tightly argued report (see summaries below) very comprehensively backed up his decisions. (Later reductions in sentence were automatic and they flowed from the terms of Guede’s short-form trial, and some controversial mitigating circumstances advanced by Massei for Knox and Sollecito.)

The prosecution’s appeal against the Knox and Sollecito sentences argues that the acceptance of mitigating circumstances by the Massei court should be thrown out, and that Knox and Sollecito should be subjected to a longer sentence. Remember that even in the case of Alessi’s wife, who was not even present when he beat the kidnapped baby to death, she received a sentence of 30 years.

So here is how it is stacking up:.

For the prosecution, four courts including the Supreme Court of Cassation have ruled that three people participated in the crime against Meredith, plus all of the evidence from both the Guede and Knox Sollecito trials now comes in, plus the prosecution is appealing for tougher sentences, which seems well justified based on precedents.

And for the defenses? Will they now feel they have no choice but to put Knox or Sollecito or Alessi or Aviello or for that matter Rudy Guede on the stand as a last-ditch manoeuvre?

Hard to see what further they have to lose.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Trial Hearing Scheduled For Sollecito Family Charges Of Perversion Of Justice

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Raffele Sollecito’s father Dr Francesco Sollecito who is a urologist practicing in Bari]

Update: Italian media sites are reporting that the new trial date for the Sollecitos is 28 March as the investigating judge Alberto Avena has commitments outside Perugia. The prosecutors are Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Handy. The Sollecito defense team is Marco Brusco, Francesco Crisis, Luca Maori and Donatella Donati.

There should be a hearing in Perugia in the case against the Sollecito family on Thursday.

Francesco (Sollecito’s father), Vanessa (his sister), Mara (his stepmother) Giuseppe (his uncle) and Sara (his aunt) all of Bari have been charged with leaking a crime scene video out of the 10,000-plus pages plus of evidence and exhibits to Telenorba, a Bari television station.

It was an apparent attempt to discredit the investigators although the video backed that claim weakly if at all. The video included deeply upsetting closeups of Meredith’s uncovered body and the wounds to her neck. It was later re-broadcast by the state network RAI throughout Italy.

Richard Owen of the London Times in an article no longer online described the Telenorba and RAI broadcasts as follows.

Relatives of Meredith Kercher, the British student murdered in Perugia in November, were said to be shocked and distressed last night after images of her bloodied corpse were broadcast on Italian television…

Telenorba, which showed the footage late at night, warned viewers that it was disturbing and suitable only for adults. It showed police scientists in white protective clothing pulling back the duvet to reveal Ms Kercher’s body and slashed throat, and turning the corpse over to examine her bloodied back.

Her eyes were covered by a mask. RAI did not include this part of the footage in its news broadcasts.



[Above Raffaele Sollecito with his sister Vanessa Sollecito who was fired late in 2009 by the Carabinieri]

This is a translation by Jools of an April 2009 report in La Nazione.

The prosecutor of Perugia has served notice of the completion of four investigations into Raffaele Sollecito’s family members and two journalists of the TV station Telenorba on the transmission of a forensic video in which the body of Meredith Kercher wa shown…

The report on the investigations (usually a prelude to a request for trial) indicates crimes were committed of defamation, invasion of privacy, publication of arbitrary acts of investigation and publication of gruesome acts.

According to the reconstruction by the Perugia prosecutor, the father and sister of Raphael Sollecito had legitimately obtained the scientific survey of the police, and had then illegally provided it to Telemundo.

The report also cites a journalist and the editor of Panorama for the publication of an article in which they reported that blood samples from Meredith had revealed an alcohol concentration above the legal norm - implying she was drunk when she was killed. This claim was proved a lie in the course of the forensic tests.

And this is a translation by Jools of an AGI news-service report of April 2009 also no longer online.

Eight “notices of termination of the investigations” have been reported by the public prosecutor of Perugia…  Four Sollecito family members, the TV journalist on Telenorba and the director of the station, are accused of the crimes of defamation, invasion of privacy, publication of documents during the investigation, and publication of gruesome acts….

According to the reconstruction, the Sollecito family members delivered to Telenorba the video and photos of the crime scene survey carried out by the forensic team on November 2 of 2007 in Meredith’s house. Telenorba then put the material on the air.

Other investigations are on-going.

The family members are all also charged with an attempt to manipulate the Knox-Sollecito trial through the political process. There is said to be evidence wiretaps capturing them trying to get family friends in the Italian parliament in Rome to have several senior investigators removed from the case.

Vanessa Sollecito was fired from the Carabinieri late in 2009 for her involvement in this attempt to manipulate politicians, and we believe she still faces a further internal Carabinieri hearing. 



[Above: the town of Bari in south-east Italy where ferries depart for the east Adriatic coast and Greece]


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Open Questions: An Experienced Trial Lawyer Recommends How To Zero In On the Truth

Posted by SomeAlibi


Welcome

If you’ve come to this website because of the Lifetime movie of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox, then welcome. 

Like all of us who come to this case, you have one key question: did they do it?  The movie you’ve just watched is equivocal on that matter and perhaps didn’t help you at all.

On the internet, you will find people who are passionate in their defence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and you will find people who are passionate in their support of the prosecution. 

My own arrival

Placing my own cards on the table here: as a twenty-plus year practising trial lawyer, I am firmly a part of that latter camp.  But it wasn’t always that way.

It was information ““ evidence ““ that changed my views. What became very clear to me, early on, was that very few people in the English-speaking world are aware of anywhere near all of the evidence in this case.

I had thought I had grasped the core of the case, but I did not.  The case is deep and complex and like many criminal cases, the complete facts behind it have been only sketchily reported in the media.  The movie you may have just watched only skirts the real reasons the jury convicted.

The unanimous jury

I am sure that we all agree that no jury, in any murder case, given the awesome responsibility of adjudicating on (young) people’s lives for a multi-decade period of imprisonment, condemns people lightly.

It should be a matter of logic that the evidence presented against the accused must have been deep and satisfied the 6 lay jurors and 2 judges on the case for them to pronounce that huge judgement. That doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be the possibility of a mistrial, but clearly the evidence presented must have been substantial.

In this, we’ve already hit the first problem.  Some supporters of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito will tell you there’s no evidence against them. 

This is patently silly.  No jury ever convicts people and sends them to prison for 24 plus years without being quite convinced of the case against them.  Miscarriages of justice do happen, but the idea that there is “no evidence” can be summarily dismissed. 

The only question is whether the evidence is sufficient, true and accurate.

The voluminous evidence

So is the evidence enough to convict beyond a reasonable doubt?  The six lay jurors and two professional judges thought so, clearly.  What you realise, when you come to the facts of the case, is that the evidence is based not around a single key event but on multiple points. 

It can be astonishing to realise that the case is based not only on DNA evidence but also on cellphone evidence and computer records and further yet on multiple conflicting and contradicting versions of what happened that night from the mouths of the accused, not to mention falsely accusing an innocent man of responsibility for murder causing his incarceration. 

The wealth of evidence is actually extremely unusual. It goes way beyond the quite similar Scott Peterson case.

The Massei Sentencing Report

What is absolutely new to the English speaking legal world is that the reasoning for the conviction can be read in an extremely detailed 440+ page report online.  Bilingual posters at the Perugia Murder File Forum many of whom who are also key posters at TJMK translated the entire document into English over several months last year. 

It was my privilege to play an extremely small part in that work.  People from four different continents with backgrounds in forensic science, law, academia and a host of other disciplines participated. 

You can read an effective executive summary by clicking on the Massei Report link at top here and reading the conclusions from page 388 onwards:

The Knox PR campaign

If you are new to this case, you will likely be shocked how much evidence there is against the convicted parties.  Amanda Knox’s family have spent over $1m and involved a professional PR agency called Gogerty Marriot to suggest otherwise in the English-speaking media. 

You might wonder why an innocent person needs a million dollar PR campaign on their part.  Make yourself a coffee and read the conclusions of the judge’s report. It will take you about 15 minutes.  Up until you read this report, almost everything you watch, hear and read is PR spin and is quite deliberately positioned to make you believe there is no case.

When you complete it,  I believe you will have a very different take. That 15 minutes could change your ideas about everything you thought you knew about the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Now for a quick tour of the evidence.


Some of the points of evidence

Consider as you read it what is your own possible explanation for each of the following:

  • the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito on Meredith’s bra-clasp in her locked bedroom;

  • the almost-entire naked footprint of Raffaele on a bathmat that in *no way* fits that of the other male in this case ““ Rudy Guede;

  • the fact that Raffaele’s own father blew their alibi that they were together in Raffaele’s flat at the time of the killing with indisputable telephone records;

  • the DNA of Meredith Kercher on the knife in Raffaele’s flat which Raffaele himself sought to explain as having been from accidentally “pricking” Meredith’s hand in his written diary despite the fact Meredith had never been to his flat (confirmed by Amanda Knox);

  • the correlation of where Meredith’s phones were found to the location of Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guedes’s flats;

  • the computer records which show that no-one was at Raffaele’s computer during the time of the murder despite him claiming he was using that computer;

  • Amanda’s DNA mixed with Meredith Kercher’s in five different places just feet from Meredith’s body;

  • the utterly inexplicable computer records the morning after the murder starting at 5.32 am and including multiple file creations and interactions thereafter all during a time that Raffaele and Amanda insist they were asleep until 10.30am;

  • the separate witnesses who testified on oath that Amanda and Raffaele were at the square 40 metres from the girls’ cottage on the evening of the murder and the fact that Amanda was seen at a convenience store at 7.45am the next morning, again while she said she was in bed;

  • the accusation of a completely innocent man by Amanda Knox;

  • the fact that when Amanda Knox rang Meredith’s mobile telephones, ostensibly to check on the “missing” Meredith, she did so for just three seconds - registering the call but making no effort to allow the phone to be answered in the real world

  • the knife-fetish of Raffaele Sollecito and his formal disciplinary punishment for watching animal porn at his university ““ so far from the wholesome image portrayed;

  • the fact that claimed multi-year kick-boxer Raffaele apparently couldn’t break down a flimsy door to Meredith’s room when he and Amanda were at the flat the morning after the murder but the first people in the flat with the police who weren’t martial artists could;

  • the extensive hard drug use of Sollecito as told on by Amanda Knox;

  • the fact that Amanda knew details of the body and the wounds despite not being in line of sight of the body when it was discovered;

  • the lies of Knox on the witness stand in July 2009 about how their drug intake that night (“one joint”) is totally contradicted by Sollecito’s own contemporaneous diary;

  • the fact that after a late evening’s questioning, Knox wrote a 2,900 word email home which painstakingly details what she said happened that evening and the morning after that looks *highly* like someone committing to memory, at 3.30 in the morning, an extensive alibi;

  • the fact that both Amanda and Raffaele both said they would give up smoking dope for life in their prison diaries despite having apparently nothing to regret;

  • the fact that when Rudy Guede was arrested, Raffaele Sollecito didn’t celebrate the “true” perpetrator being arrested (which surely would have seen him released) but worried in his diary that a man whom he said he didn’t know would “make up strange things” about him despite him just being one person in a city of over 160,000 people;

  • the fact that both an occupant of the cottage and the police instantly recognised the cottage had not been burgled but had been the subject of a staged break-in where glass was *on top* of apparently disturbed clothes;

  • that Knox and Sollecito both suggested each other might have committed the crime and Sollecito TO THIS DATE does not agree Knox stayed in his flat all the night in question;

  • the bizarre behaviour of both of them for days after the crime;

  • the fact that cellphone records show Knox did not stay in Sollecito’s flat but had left the flat at a time which is completely coincidental with Guede’s corroborated presence near the girl’s flat earlier in the evening;

  • the fact that Amanda Knox’s table lamp was found in the locked room of Meredith Kercher in a position that suggested it had been used to examine for fine details of the murder scene in a clean up;

  • the unbelievable series of changing stories made up by the defendants after their versions became challenged; Knox’s inexplicable reaction to being shown the knife drawer at the girl’s cottage where she ended up physically shaking and hitting her head.


In conclusion

This list is not exhaustive. It goes”¦ on”¦ and on”¦ and on”¦ And yet, those supporting Knox will tell you that’s all made up, all coincidental. 

Really?  Does the weight of all that evidence sound made up to you?

If so, it must be the most over-rigged criminal case in the history of crime.  Unlikely beyond all and any reasonable doubt.

The judge’s report explains why the jury found the defendants guilty. I truly expect you will be astonished at the amount of evidence if all you’ve done is watched a film or read a few press reports. 

For any questions thereafter, please join us and post them on truejustice.org or perugiamuderfile.org .  You’ll find here a host of good people who are all working on a totally volunteer basis in memory of the only victim of this crime.

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher. RIP.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: A Visual Guide To The Staged Break-In Via Filomena’s Window

Posted by pat az


Cross-posted from my own website on Meredith’s case at the kind invitation of TJMK.

The Massei Report on the trial and sentencing of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (...1) looks into whether or not a break-in is supported by the evidence available in the room with the broken window.

It concludes that the broken window and room in disarray - Filomena’s bedroom - are an “artificial representation”, ie. that the break-in was staged. After seven pages of review of the evidence, the Massei Report states:

  “¦the situation of disorder in Romanelli’s room and the breaking of the window pane constitute an artificial representation created in order to orient the investigations towards a person who, not having the key to the front door, was supposed to have entered through the previously broken window and then effected the violent acts on Meredith which caused her death.

What follows is a look at the comments in the Massei report compared with crime scene and other photos. All quotes are from the english translation prepared by unpaid volunteers at PerugiaMurderFile.org. The section on the scenes in the bedroom begins on page 47 and continues to page 55. Some sentences in the paragraphs below have been omitted for brevity, and can be read in full in the original.

Amanda finds the scene:Then (Amanda) went into another room and noticed that the window had been broken and that there was glass inside. She told these things to her and the other girls present. Then she related that she had gone back to Raffaele’s house and had rung Filomena.(p38)(I)n one of the telephone calls to Romanelli,

Amanda spoke of that smashed window and of the possibility that someone could have entered the house through the broken place; she said this also in the telephone call to 112 and in the first declarations to the Postal Police. Also in the e-mail of November 4, 2007, sent by Amanda to 25 people in the US (”¦), she hypothesises that a burglar could have entered the house and says she looked around to see if anything was missing. (p45)


Filomena Romanelli, disturbed by this phone call, had rung Amanda back without receiving a reply and when, a little later, she had succeeded in speaking to Amanda, Amanda had told her that in her room (i.e., in Ms. Romanelli’s room) the windowpane was broken, everything was in a mess, and that she should come back home. (P30)

Filomena Romanelli had ascertained from a quick check of her room, even though (it was) in a complete mess with the windowpane broken, that nothing was missing. (p31)

It must be held that when Filomena Romanelli left the house in via della Pergola, she had pulled the shutters towards the interior of her room, although she did not think that she had actually closed them; furthermore, because they were old and the wood had swelled a bit, they rubbed on the windowsill; to pull them towards the room it was necessary to use some force (“they rubbed on the windowsill”); but in this way, once they had been pulled in, as Romanelli remembered doing, they remained well closed by the pressure of the swelled wood against the windowsill. (p48)

It cannot be assumed ““ as the Defence Consultant did ““ that the shutters were left completely open, since this contradicts the declarations of Romanelli, which appear to be detailed and entirely likely, considering that she was actually leaving for the holiday and had some things of value in her room; already she did not feel quite safe because window-frames were in wood (”¦) without any grille.

Also, the circumstance of the shutters being wide open does not correspond to their position when they were found and described by witnesses on November 2, and photographed (cf. photo 11 already mentioned).( p50)


Now, for a rock to have been able to break the glass of the window without shattering the outside shutters, it would have been necessary to remove the obstacle of the shutters by opening them up. (”¦2)

Consequently, since the shutters had been pulled together and their rubbing put pressure on the windowsill on which they rested, it would have first been necessary to effect an operation with the specific goal of completely opening these shutters.

The failure to find any instrument suitable for making such an opening (one cannot even see what type of instrument could be used to this end) leads one to assume that the wall would have to have been scaled a first time in order to effect the complete opening of the shutters,(”¦3) in order to enable the burglar to aim at the window and smash it by throwing a large stone ““ the one found in Romanelli’s room. (p48-49)

He would then have to have returned underneath Romanelli’s window for the second climb, and through the broken glass, open the window (balanced on his knees or feet on the outside part of the windowsill) otherwise he would not have been able to pass his arm through the hole in the glass made by the stone) and reach up to the latch that fastened the window casements, necessarily latched since otherwise, if the casements had not been latched, it would not have been necessary to throw a rock at all, but just to open the shutters and climb inside. (p49)


The “climber” (”¦4) would also need to rely on the fact that the shutters were not actually latched, and also that the “scuri”(..5) had not been fastened to the window-frame to which the broken pane was attached; otherwise it would not have been possible to open them from the outside; nor would it have been possible, even breaking the glass, to make a hole giving access to the house, (”¦) since if these inner panels had been closed, they would have continued to provide an adequate obstacle to the possibility of opening the window, in spite of the broken pane. (p49)


This scenario appears totally unlikely, given the effort involved (going twice underneath the window, going up to throw the stone, scaling the wall twice) and taking into account the uncertainty of success (having to count on the two favourable circumstances indicated above), with a repetition of movements and behaviours, all of which could easily be seen by anyone who happened to be passing by on the street or actually coming into the house.


But beyond these considerations, there are other elements which tend to exclude the possibility that a burglar could have entered the house through the window of Romanelli’s room.The double climb necessary to attain the height of three and a half metres would have left some kind of trace or imprint on the wall, especially on the points on the wall that the “climber” would have used to support his feet, all the more as both the witnesses Romanelli and Marco Zaroli gave statements indicating that the earth, on that early November evening, must have been very wet (..6) (p50)


In fact, there are no visible signs on the wall, and furthermore, it can be observed that the nail ““ this was noted by this Court of Assizes during the inspection ““ remained where it was: it seems very unlikely that the climber, given the position of that nail and its characteristics, visible in the photo 11, did not somehow “encounter” that nail and force it, inadvertently or by using it as a foothold, causing it to fall or at least bend it. (p50)


The next fact to consider is that the pieces of glass from the broken pane were distributed in a homogeneous manner on the inside and outside parts of the windowsill, without any displacement being noted or any piece of glass being found on the ground underneath the window.

This circumstance, as confirmed also by the consultant Pasquali, tends to exclude the possibility that the rock was thrown from outside the house to create access to the house through the window after the breaking of the pane. The climber, in leaning his hands and then his feet or knees on the windowsill, would have caused at least some piece of glass to fall, or at least would have been obliged to shift some pieces of glass in order to avoid being wounded by them.

Instead, no piece of glass was found under the window, and no sign of any wound was seen on the pieces of glass found in Romanelli’s room. It can moreover be observed that the presence of many pieces of glass on the outside part of the windowsill increases the probability of finding some small pieces of glass on the ground underneath, since there seems to be no reason that so many pieces of glass would all stop just at the edge of the windowsill without any of them flying beyond the edge and falling down to the garden below. (p51 & 52)


On this subject it is also useful to recall that at the hearing of April 23, 2009, the witness Gioia Brocci mentioned above declared that she had observed the exterior of the house, paying particular attention to the wall underneath the window with the broken pane, the window of the room then occupied by Filomena Romanelli.


She said: “We observed both the wall”¦underneath the window and all of the vegetation underneath the window, and we noted that there were no traces on the wall, no traces of earth, of grass, nothing, no streaks, nothing at all, and none [39] of the vegetation underneath the window appeared to have been trampled; nothing” (p. 142 declarations of Gioia Brocci). (51)

This situation, like all the other glaring inconsistencies, is adequately and satisfactorily explained if one supposes that the rock was thrown from the inside of the room, with the two shutters pulled inwards so that they blocked the pieces of glass from falling to the ground below. Once the glass had been broken from inside, the rock was set down at some place in the room, and the shutters were pushed towards the outside, being thus opened from within the room. (p51)


But the fact that all this was in fact just a simulation, a staging, can be deduced from further circumstances. From the photos taken by the personnel of the Questura (photos 47 to 54 and 65 to 66) one can perceive an activity which appears to have been performed with the goal of creating a situation of obvious disorder in Romanelli’s room, but does not appear to be the result of actual ransacking, true searching for the kind of valuable objects that might tempt a burglar.


The drawers of the little dresser next to the bed were not even opened (photo 51 and declarations of Battistelli who noted that Romanelli was the one who opened the drawers, having found them closed and with no sign of having been rifled: see p. 66 of Battistelli’s declarations, hearing of Feb. 6, 2009).


The objects on the shelves in photo 52 appear not to have been touched at all; piles of clothes seem to have been thrown down from the closet (photo 54) but it does not seem that there was any serious search in the closet, in which some clothes and some boxes remained in place without showing any signs of an actual search for valuable items that might have been there (photo 54).


It does not appear that the boxes on the table were opened (photo 65) in a search for valuable items. And indeed, no valuable item (cf. declarations of Romanelli) was taken, or even set aside to be taken, by the ““ at this point we can say phantom ““ burglar.

What has been explained up to now thus leads to the assertion that the situation of disorder in Romanelli’s room and the breaking of the window pane constitute an artificial representation created in order to orient the investigations towards a person who, not having the key to the front door, was supposed to have entered through the previously broken window and then effected the violent acts on Meredith which caused her death.

Footnotes

(...1) The Massei Report in English is readable and downloadable via the link at the top of this page. 

(..2) The consultant for the defence actually assumed that this had been done; in his exhibit, he assumed that the shutters were not present in front of the window

(..3): “if the shutters were closed, he could not have passed through, that is obvious”, cf. declarations of the consultant for the defence, Sergeant Francesco Pasquali, p. 22 hearing July 3, 2009.

(..4): (the window in Romanelli’s room is located at a height of more than three and a half metres from the ground underneath, cf. photo 11 from the relevant dossier)

(..5):,which are the wooden panels [scuri=non-louvered shutters in interior of room] that usually constitute the outer side (or the inner, depending on the point of view) of the window [attached to the outer edge of the inner side of the window-frame]

 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fourth Appeal Hearing: Updates On Today’s Court Hearing Which Is Mainly Procedural

Posted by Peter Quennell


Above: Sapienza University is the largest European university and the oldest of Rome’s three state-funded universities.

  • At noon Italian time ANSA reported that the two DNA experts from Sapienza University have been given 90 days to do their retesting. They will begin their review on Feb. 9, conclude by May 9 and report their findings to the court on May 21.
  • The witness in the square on the night who said he saw Sollecito and Knox, Antonio Curatolo, will be re-examined. This is at the prosecution’s request, not at the defenses’.
  • The DNA experts have asked to break open the handle of the knife they are asked to retest. If Meredith’s blood is found to have seeped into the handle, by itself that will be case closed and verdict confirmed. Decision on hold.
  • The examinations will be carried out in the presence of representatives of all parties. Among them will be Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the technical director of the forensic laboratory that conducted the original DNA investigations.
  • The prosecution requested Rudy Guede as a witness and that too was put on hold. Yet another shot across the bows of the defense. If Alessi or Aviello are put on the stand then Guede will also be there to heatedly rebut them.
  • The next appeal hearings scheduled by the court of appeal have been set for 12 and 26 March, and April 16 and May 21. May 21 is when the DNA experts will report back so just three days for examination of witnesses.

Judge Hellman is allowing no defense fishing expeditions, and he is giving the prosecution full latitude. Good reason for Giulia Boingiorno not to be in court: her baby was delivered today in Rome. We like her and wish her and the baby well.

Below, images of the two court-appointed DNA experts and of Amanda Knox. The Reuters caption says her lawyers are consoling her. Chris Mellas’s remarks later made it sound like the family is already trying to let her down gently.
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The Fourth Appeal Hearing Today Saturday: The Main Items On The Court’s Agenda

Posted by Peter Quennell

Not very much drama is expected. This hearing is mainly organizational.

The mood of the defense lawyers will be interesting to watch. Also whether Sollecito lawyer Giulia Bongiorno is a show or a no-show. And we may find out if the possible defense witnesses Mario Alessi and Luciano Aviello will actually testify. 

Two DNA experts nominated by Judge Hellman at the last appeal hearing on 11 December for the genetics testing of the bra clasp and the knife will appear and be sworn in and charged with their assignment.

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti of La Sapienza University in Rome will be asked how long they believe they will need and it is expected that they will ask for two to three months. 

And the court will establish a timetable for the testimony of several new defense witnesses who may challenge one or two components of Antonio Curatolo’s statement. Nick Pisa bizarrely mis-reports on this in the Daily Telegraph:

He had told the court he remembered the night “clearly” as he saw student revellers queuing up to catch buses to nightclubs on the outskirts of the city.

However defence lawyers have established that he could not have seen the students, as the night Meredith was murdered was a bank holiday with venues being shut and no buses running.

Have established that he could not have seen the students? Really? There were other buses than the disco buses running that night. Students were definitely around.

If prisoners Mario Alessi or Luciano Aviello are indeed put on the firm list to testify that’ll be a pretty sure sign that the defenses are really clutching at straws, as in each case their known claims are contradicted by dozens of evidence points .

The prosecution has interviewed both of them and those interviews have not been made public.  Here are more wrong and seemingly irrelevant claims bizarrely reported by Nick Pisa.

Retired British university professor David Anderson, who lives near Perugia and who has taken an interest in the case, said: “The conviction of Amanda and Raffaele is scandalous as neither has the psychological profile of a killer.

“The investigation was flawed from the beginning with many mistakes being made and there is no DNA, no real motive, no weapon and no credible witnesses at all.”


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Harvard Political Review Writer Alex Koenig Reproaches The Sliming of Italy’s Justice System

Posted by Peter Quennell


With the Pepperdine University and Washington University student newspapers consistently mis-reporting Meredith’s case, it is nice to see a Harvard publication getting it seriously right.

Alex Koenig writes a column for the Harvard Political Review. He is not commenting on the evidence of Meredith’s case as reflected for example on TJMK and in Massei. But he takes several deadly cracks at the arguments of the conspiracy theorists, which he doesn’t see reflecting the real world.

In 2008, 16,277 people were murdered in the United States. 1,176 of these murders were committed by women, of which about a third were confirmed to be white.

That means that in one year there were around 400 white female murderers on US soil”” the majority of whom were convicted to no public outcry. What America needs to ask itself is: does the fact that Amanda Knox is a white sorority sister exonerate her from the murder she is alleged to have committed on foreign soil?

Knox is currently serving a 26-year sentence in Italian prison, in Perugia, for the murder of her then-roommate Meredith Kercher. Seemingly lost among the outrage towards the Italian justice system, the demands of US government intervention in her defense, and the constant assertions of Knox’s innocence is the possibility that, maybe this once, the trained professionals who investigated, tried, and convicted the 23 year old Knox got it right.

Without getting into the facts of the case, and conceding that people are wrongly convicted on a regular basis both in the United States and abroad, we must consider just how America’s treatment of this case reflects upon our society.

The fact of the matter is, those that immediately claim that Knox was wrongly accused and jailed by a corrupt justice system make two extremely arrogant assumptions that reveal perverse American exceptionalism. 

1) It is assumed that, as an American ““ an American woman no less ““ Knox is incapable of murder. This case differs, of course, from the 1,176 domestic murders committed by women because, well, who knows?

2) It is assumed that not only is the Italian justice system incapable of fulfilling its legal duties, but that the intentions of the court were swayed by anti-Americanism.

This is not merely an abstract sentiment, but was actually articulated by Senator Maria Cantwell (D) of my home state of Washington. Cantwell, whom I generally agree with ideologically, released a statement saying that she “had serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted the trial.” She went on to say that she would seek assistance from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Regarding the first problem, I take Knox’s assumed innocence in the public eye to be a representation of national pride. I am as proud to be American as the next guy; I understand all the benefits being American has afforded me and appreciate the sacrifices men and women make each day to ensure that these benefits remain for me and my countrymen.

But assume the superiority of the same countrymen when compared to other citizens of the world I do not. It is as if Knox’s co-citizenship has absolved all her sins in the American court of public opinion. This, by itself, is difficult to grasp but can be forgiven.

What’s harder to forgive is the assumption that Knox has been wronged by a corrupt system because she is American.

Having lived in Italy for a year, I would never accuse the Italian justice system of being exceedingly efficient or flawless. However, I wouldn’t accuse the US justice system of this either.

Anti-Americanism does exist in parts of the world, but the chances of it being present in this trial are low. Are the judges supposed to see the conviction of an innocent American college student as a way to deter American tourists from coming to Italy?

“Putting this girl away for 26 years seems to be an easy way to get rid of those annoying tourists with their stupid hotel rooms, airplane tickets and restaurant bills. Good riddance!”

It’s not as if Knox is accused of murdering an Italian either. Kercher was a Brit. Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede, Knox’s alleged accomplices who are both serving similar sentences for the same charges, are both Italian, although Guede emigrated from the Ivory Coast when he was five.

No, I doubt that anti-Americanism was involved in this conviction. It seems, instead, to be nationalism on the side of Knox’s supporters. Amanda couldn’t have possibly been the one at fault, she’s one of us.

And maybe they’re right. I really don’t know. What I do know is that the anger and offense that the American public has taken in response to this trial obscures the real tragedy at hand, the violent death of a young woman.

It’s possible that Knox has wrongly had her future taken from her. It’s a fact that Kercher has. As the appeal process continues and the story gradually slips out of the consciousness of the average American, with the protest left to the truly passionate among us,

I want to remind us all of one thing: Italy’s murder rate is 1/3 that of America. Perhaps, without the actions of one American there’d be one less death in Italy’s tally. I’ll leave that judgment up to the only court that really matters in such a case, the court of law.

One small correction to what Alex Koenig wrote. Italy’s murder rate is actually 1/6th that of the United States. It is a very law-abiding country with a very low crime rate and a very small prison population - less than 1/20th that of the United States.

But Alex is certainly right in his conclusions.Neither the Micheli not Massei Sentencing Reports show ANY sign of extreme nationalism.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The El Bizarro Defense: “It’s Unfair To Use The DNA They Didn’t Manage To Scrub Away Against Them”

Posted by Cardiol MD


Remember the twins who appealed for mercy at their trial for murdering their parents? On the grounds that they are now orphans?

There is something of that reminiscent here. The defenses of Knox and Sollecito seem to be trying to exclude evidence that they themselves tried to destroy, essentially on the grounds that their destructive attempts failed to destroy all of it, and left behind only some of it.

Their argument boils down to whether the disputed DNA evidence is more unfairly prejudicial than probative. The faux forensic experts who are arguing in the media that this disputed DNA evidence would not ever be admitted in US or UK courts are in fact totally mistaken.

It is my opinion that because it was the defendants’ deliberate conduct that nearly succeeded in extinguishing all their DNA, any US and UK courts would insist to admit this highly relevant evidence, and let the participants duke out its fairness, in open court, in front of a jury.

That is what the only relevant court in Meredith’s case, the Perugia appeals court, is now doing.

DNA evidence may be “only circumstantial” but that is as with most of the evidence in this case. Meredith was murdered - that’s a fact - but no one saw who did it except the killers.

Judge Hellman designated his selected Expert Reviewers with such alacrity that I think he had already thought it all out.  Judge Hellman is being prudently responsive to the legal and political pressures bearing down on him, and knows the ruling also calls the defendants’ bluff.

As Tom in the post below and others are pointing out, the review is limited to a very partial review of the DNA evidence, and what is not to be reviewed is by far the most significant.

The possibility of more residual blood at the blade/handle junction is thought-provoking. Sollecito’s obsession with knife-ownership suggests that his knife, the murder-weapon, would be top quality, probably with a handle/blade junction, pretty, but vulnerable to seepage into it.

Also, the knife-wielders significantly, even deliberately, stayed away from the well-known neck-blood-vessels, the Jugular Veins, and the Carotid Arteries, on both sides, focusing their neck-stabs on the area of the Larynx, as if they had some medical knowledge of what they were doing - but not enough.

The blood-vessel they did cut - the right superior thyroid artery - is a branch-of-a-branch of the better known blood vessels, but very close to the larynx. They didn’t know, or care, enough to anticipate the lethal consequences of cutting so small an artery in that particular location, so near to the airways.

I agree with others that Judge Hellman may also be innoculating himself by heading off a possible adverse ruling of the Supreme Court in Rome, which must be restricted to Procedural/Legal issues.

The defence lawyers sem to be submitting, probably against their own better judgement and advice, to the FOA camp’s insistence for additional review. I also believe the defendants will bitterly regret this insistence.


The Appeal’s Outcome: What The Judges Allowed And What They Didn’t Might Be Telling Us A Lot

Posted by TomM



[Above: the Massei court deciding whether to buy the spiderman theory in May 2009; they didn’t]


As a California lawyer familiar with trials and appeals in my state, watching the Meredith Kercher murder trial wind its way through the Italian legal system has been a learning experience.

It is a system with more protections than the one I know first-hand. The case is now in its first appeal phase, and proceeds far differently from the way it would in the US.

If Knox and Sollecito had been convicted in an American court (which an American court would have had no difficulty in doing) less helpful presumptions would be applied to their appeal. 

In Italy they are convicted, and for that reason they are imprisoned and the visitation privileges they had before the jury’s verdict have been reduced. But for purposes of weighing the evidence in the appeal, they are presumed innocent.

In the US, the court of appeal would not presume them innocent or guilty; it would regard them as having been adjudged guilty.

In Italy, they can ask for the court of appeal to hear testimony from new witnesses and seek to introduce additional evidence.

In the US, the appeal would be on the basis of the clerk’s and reporter’s transcripts of the trial. In the US the jury at the original trial would have been instructed that if an item of evidence can be interpreted two ways, one favoring guilt and one favoring innocence, they should accept the interpretation that favors innocence.

But not so on appeal; the court of appeal would interpret all the inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution.

An American court of appeal would not consider an attack on the credibility of a witness unless the testimony was such that no reasonable person would believe the testimony.

Thus, an attack on the testimony of Curatolo would have no chance of success on appeal. In fact, jury instruction in the US would give the jury blessing to believe him even absent disco buses running that fatal night. From a form jury instruction on how to judge witness credibility:

“Do not automatically reject testimony just because of inconsistencies or conflicts. Consider whether the differences are important or not. People sometimes honestly forget things or make mistakes about what they remember. Also, two people may witness the same event yet see or hear it differently.”

The Italian appeal is described as a “trial de novo”.

In common law jurisprudence, a trial de novo is simply a new trial, and the jury in a new trial would not even be told of the existence of the first trial. It would be done as if the first trial never happened.

Not so in Italy.

The jury and lay judges have full access to the case dossier, the Massei Motivazione, and the briefs of the parties. They decide which parts of the case should receive new evidence, and the parts where none is needed. If that were not the case, they would not know how to respond to the defense requests.

What the jury has not reopened is, to me, more telling than what is.

It is significant that there is no re-visit on the staging of the burglary. This charge is not just one of the things used to prove the murder, it is also a separate charge which does not require that a person also have participated in the murder.

Let’s suspend disbelief a moment. Suppose AK and RS had not been present during the murder, having ducked out briefly to get more drugs, but returned to discover Meredith’s body.

Suppose they thought they would be suspects because they had let Rudy in and feared they would be blamed, so they staged the burglary to divert suspicion from themselves. In this hypothetical situation, they are still guilty of staging a burglary even if they didn’t otherwise participate in the crime.

So, what to make out of the fact that no further evaluation will be made of the staging?

This seems like the easiest of the charges to prove and the most difficult to defend. Staging is a recognized phenomenon in criminal investigations and the defense expert did not fare well under cross-examination. I don’t see how the court would reverse the judgment on this issue given the state of the record.

Defense criticized the way the dna was collected from the bidet, but there will be no review of that evidence - or of any other of the mixed blood/dna evidence - only the knife and the bra clasp.

If the appellate jurors’ inclination were to think there is reasonable doubt on the dna, there is plenty of defense expert testimony to hang that hat on. That only two of the exhibits will be studied shows that they do not question the work of the scientific police as a whole.

I see evidence of a pattern of sorts in these rulings.

From my own experience, I firmly believe that Hellman has not made up his mind on the final outcome. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he thinks the jury will do with the case.

He clearly knows the case, and I think he knows if there are areas in Massei’s reasoning that have vulnerabilities (not necessarily fatal) that could attract attention in the Court of Cassation.

I think he knows whether the prosecution’s case is a house of cards, or if it is a good case with some curable cosmetic flaws.

To me, the rulings look like the judge has reviewed the case, thinks it is fundamentally sound, and believes it will be backed up by unbiased expert opinion - and if it doesn’t,  he will assess what impact that has on the case.

The issue with respect to the scientific police is not that they were biased in the sense of falsifying evidence to wrongfully convict, but that the video of the crime scene investigation showed non-textbook acts, Stefanoni didn’t leave a complete paper trail in testing the knife,  and they failed to collect and correctly bag the bra clasp at the beginning.

All of which left an opening for the defense to claim the dna evidence is suspect. There is a reason why teachers don’t let students grade their own papers, I think that concept is behind Hellman’s decision to seek an unbiased review of these two items.

I don’t see signs of exoneration in these rulings.

If Rudy Guede testifies and gives a believable narrative, it may not matter what the two dna reviews say, and it might also undermine the jurors’ inclination to accept the theory of remorse from the covering with the quilt that persuaded Massei to reduce the sentence. 

An increased sentence is not out of the question.

I really do not understand why the defense and the family are so happy with this review, which is very limited and not complete in any sense - other than, perhaps, the “any port in a storm” phenomenon.

The bra clasp evidence is not going to go away, and there is the risk that increased technical sophistication could result in identifying a complete dna profile of Amada Knox on it. If they disassemble the knife, there could be abundant blood between the handle and the blade.

From my view in the bleachers, there are way more risks to the defense than to the prosecution from Saturday’s rulings.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Reports On Scope Of Appeal Sounds Like Maybe A Setback For The Defenses

Posted by Peter Quennell


The first full reports are not out yet. This is a first quick take on the Italian reporting and may be subject to correction.

Some of the Cassation’s hard-line decision for rejecting Rudy Guede ‘s 10 appeal grounds in Rome on thursday will indeed be accepted into this appeal for the judges’ consideration.

The judges are agreeing to the defense request for a review of the testing of the DNA on the bra clasp and the large knife, though of course nobody - nobody - so far has ever proved contamination as the prosecutors today pointed out.

Two Rome experts in DNA have already been nominated.

Apparently none of the other very extensive forensic evidence at the scene of the crime - which is the entire apartment, not merely Meredith’s bedroom - is to be retested. That has always been very tough to explain away.

Apparently only one or two of the previous witnesses whose testimony is described in the Massei report will be heard from again. Possible Guede confidant Alessi will be allowed and maybe Aviello who claimed his missing brother really did it.

And apparently ninety days is added to the allowed duration of this appeal, because the Massei Report took 90 days to produce. The deadline now is next September, although if it lasts through to the spring we will be surprised.

The defense doesn’t seem to have many strong hopes going forward. No more Spiderman attempts on Filomena’s window. They found no room for appeal with regard to the various contradictory alibis, the various peculiar phone calls, and assorted bizarre behaviors.

Remember that even Knox and Sollecito themselves have claimed they were zonked out of their skulls on the night - though magically they seem to have managed a major cleanup and rearrangement of the entire crime scene, minus evidence pointing to Guede.

The astute commenter Piktor posted this on PMF

The expert review would be needed if the scientific results were the only evidence that convicts.

What if the DNA evidence was thrown out. Could you convict without it?

You have the staging, the lies, the false accusation, the police testimony, the defendant’s multiple alibis that don’t mesh, Mrs. Mellas testimony in court exposing Knox’s willful “confusion”, the email and diaries.

You add it up and it all points in one direction. No doubt about the result.

The prosecution narrative makes sense. The defence has no narrative.



UK’s Sky News Carries A Pre-Session Report from Nick Pisa In Perugia This Morning

Posted by Peter Quennell

Courtroom images are from the session last Saturday.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Stinging Guede Final Appeal Rejection Spells Serious New Trouble For Sollecito And Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell


Rudy Guede’s appeal is rejected on all ten grounds.

His appeal grounds were ugly and dishonest and he has no further appeal. He will serve his 16 years, with maybe some time off, for being a savage willing party to the cruel stupid murder of Meredith.

Rudy Guede will go down in infamy for his sex crime against a defenseless victim, for being a party to a taunting torturing knife attack, for claiming Meredith invited him in for consensual sex, and for not calling for help for Meredith and maybe saving her life while it was still possible.

Cassation continues the fine Italian court tradition in this case of taking a firm and unblinking position, and for being utterly oblivious to the vile over-the-top campaign of Curt Knox, Edda Mellas and David Marriott which may now haunt Amanda Knox all of her life..

This is clearly not a final court of appeal that is now going to turn on a dime and say when they hear the final appeals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, oh, of course, we got that previous decision wrong, and of course Guede did it alone.

Here is the cool clear report of Andrea Vogt, this time being published in the UK’s First Post. The highlights:

1) On rejecting Guede’s ludicrous tale.

Put simply, no judge or magistrate has believed Guede’s story that he was in the bathroom of the apartment the two girls shared in Perugia, listening to music on his iPod while someone else stabbed Meredith.

According to Guede’s story, when he came out of the bathroom he found Meredith bleeding to death and tried to staunch the flow of blood ““ hence the discovery of his DNA by investigators.

2) On the huge new risk now for Sollecito and Knox.

Under Italian law, all documentation from Guede’s various hearings can now be introduced into the appeal trial of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, which reconvenes in Perugia tomorrow.

The problem for Knox and Sollecito is that Guede’s trial documents will include the judges’ reasons for convicting Guede and denying his appeals: namely, that they believe all three ““ Guede, Knox and Sollecito - killed Meredith together.

3) On Kercher family lawyer Maresca possibly demanding Guede testify

“Guede can now be called to testify and we are considering, along with the prosecutors, if we will request that Saturday or not,” said the Kercher family’s attorney Francesco Maresca in Rome.

“We will ask that the high court decision be admitted, as it stabilises the facts and is an important point of reference, with judges confirming the reconstruction of events and the involvement of the other two suspects in this dramatic ordeal in which a young woman lost her life.”

If Guede is called, it is unclear whether he would be considered a reliable witness given that no court has believed his story so far. And the situation is further complicated by conflicting stories about Guede’s take on Knox and Sollecito.

4) On the prospects for requested defense witnesses Alessi and Aviello

Guede is also the subject of a mysterious 10-page letter from prison, written on blue notepaper in the feathery script of convicted child murderer Mario Alessi, and now sitting in a lawyer’s office in Parma.

Alessi claims to have heard the real story of what happened while stuck in a prison cell across from Guede. Three other inmates signed each page of Alessi’s letter bolstering his story - that Guede said repeatedly in his cell and the prison yard that Knox and Sollecito had nothing to do with the crime. (Guede denies the conversations)...

Will the judge overseeing Knox and Sollecito’s appeal in Perugia request it? If he does, it could be entered into evidence alongside further controversial letters, these from a Neapolitan mafia snitch named Luciano Aviello. Aviello claims that his own brother killed Kercher…

Since Knox and Sollecito were convicted and jailed a year ago.. these stories of intrigue have found their way out from behind the prison walls across Italy, from the sex offender ward in Viterbo to the high security penitentiaries in Prato and Turin.

5) And on John Kercher’s recent strong protest against the profiting from Meredith’s death

Meredith Kercher’s bereaved family this month broke a three-year silence to speak out against Knox’s “minor celebrity” status and the high-profile publicity campaign her family and supporters have been waging to claim wrongful conviction.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

As Amanda Knox Via Her Statement Has Now Placed “Will She Testify?” Front And Center…

Posted by Cardiol MD





She sure has created an interesting cliffhanger.

Last Saturday Amanda Knox spoke from her seat beside her defense team and she was not subjected to cross-examination.

If she does choose to mount the stand to back up her claims with some testimony, she will be subject to cross examination, as will Raffaele Sollecito. 

What may the judges and lay judges be allowed to deduce if neither of them mount the stand, or alternatively refuse to answer?

This involves the legal concepts of the Privilege against Self-Incrimination, the Right to Silence, and the Right to Lie.

In the US prosecutors are prohibited from commenting adversely on a defendant’s Exercise of the Right to Silence at trial, on the argument that doing so would violate the privilege against self-incrimination.

But this may be circumvented as demonstrated in the Duke lacrosse-team rape frame-up by the prosecutor.

The DukeLax prosecutor (echoed by many others in Durham and elsewhere) falsely alleged, publicly, a lacrosse-player “wall-of-silence” as persuasive evidence in favor of guilt, even when he knew full-well that the Laxers had transparently cooperated with prosecutorial investigators.

So much for “enshrinement” of the right to silence in the US.

There is no argument that in all three countries, Italy and the US and the UK, criminal defendants have the right to remain silent. This means that they do not have to speak in their own defence, if they choose not to do so.

However, Italy takes the privilege against self-incrimination such a giant step further that a guilty defendant, if given the choice, might be wise to choose trial in Italy, in preference to trial in either the US. or the UK.:

First, there is a significant difference between the use of the word “testify” in Anglo-American common law and its use in Italian law. Iin the former a testifying-defendant is sworn to tell the truth under oath and pain of perjury. Iin the latter, a defendant, when called to the stand, is not even “a witness”, and is not under oath:

According to the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure a defendant can be called to speak, but may refuse to “bear testimony”

Technically, a defendant does not “bear testimony”, or testify; a defendant is not even “a witness” ; in Italian, a witness is interrogato, whereas a defendant is esaminato and may refuse to answer many questions.

A defendant, in Italy, can also lie without fear of legal sanction.

Since a defendant does not take an oath and since a defendant is not technically a witness, if a defendant tells a lie, the defendant is not committing perjury.

A defendant can choose to make spontaneous statements to the Judge; and can tell whatever she/he wishes to tell and can choose not to answer any questions. In the Perugia case too, a defendant can lie without legal sanction.

So, if Amanda Knox speaks at her trial, neither the Judges, the Prosecutors, nor Defendant’s Counsel neccessarily expect her to speak the truth - they may expect her to lie her head off.

Prosecutors will not try to directly expose her lies so much as they will try to expose the contradictions in her various statements.

Amanda Knox’s prepared statement-to-the-court at her trial [as opposed to her testimony] restricted itself to the subject of the false accusations she made against Patrick Lumumba. This unsworn statement could not be submitted to cross-examination. Such unsworn statements are also possible in the other jurisdictions.

In the case of the Meredith;s murder there seems to be an ample supply of evidence showing their guilt, such as the multiple contradictions both between and within their statements.

Furthermore, even if no one, ever, comments adversely on these defendant’s exercise of the right to silence, think of Simon and Garfunkel’s famous “Sounds of Silence”

That song reminds us that finders-of-fact, at least subliminally, can hardly avoid being influenced by accused defendants’ silence.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What We Might Expect From Rudy Guede’s Second And Final Appeal Starting In Rome On Thursday.

Posted by James Raper


Rudy’s final appeal is going to start this Thursday.

This is his last appeal, having already been convicted and having already had his sentence reduced to take in to account the same extenuating circumstances accorded to Amanda and Raffaele, and the reduction which is accorded as a result of his opting for the fast track trial.

The Supreme Court of Cassation will not be hearing the evidence all over again or taking fresh testimony. Its function is to review the case and satisfy itself that the verdict of the lower court was sound. It can not overrule the trial court’s interpretation of the evidence, rather, it corrects a lower court’s interpretation or application of the law.

Accordingly it is difficult to see what we are going to get out of this last appeal.

Guede’s conviction (affirmed on first appeal) rests to a large extent on DNA evidence which looks particularly strong. As regards sentence it seems that he has already had all the reduction to which he is entitled.

If Amanda and Raffaele have their sentences increased (unlikely but possible) then it may follow that Rudy will have his sentence increased, and that might be a reason why his appeal is kicking off after the other two, though of course it is likely to conclude well before.

Most of us would of course like Rudy to tell us how it really was, simply because we believe that we already know what this would amount to and that it would totally undermine Amanda and Raffaele. However it would probably undermine Rudy even further and he is already serving for aggravated sexual assault and his lawyers’ advice might be that 16 years is not that much more than he would get for that anyway. In England the maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years.

I think that Rudy has already had the benefit of a tactical victory and that he will leave it at that. Also Amanda and Raffaele have benefited from this.

I appreciate the reasons for fast track trials but the effect in this instance seems to be to preclude the evidence from one trial from being heard (where relevant) in the other trial ( where, in all fairness, it would have to be tested again by those adversely affected).

It would be normal in the UK for three defendants on the same charge relating to the same incident on much the same evidence to be tried together on their “not guilty” pleas, without some good reason as to why there should be separate trials.

In that scenario, assuming that if Rudy had testified the other two would have done so too, then we would have had a three way cutthroat defence, which would have been interesting to say the least.

We may have got a little further in to motive. In fact we already have Rudy’s testimony (his spontaneous statement at his previous appeal) that Amanda and Meredith were arguing in the cottage over Meredith’s missing money and that this developed into a fight.

He did not say that at his fast track trial but I am pretty sure he would have during a trial of all three together. Also, here in the UK, you only get as much as a third off if you plead guilty. He got a third off even though he pleaded not guilty.

So overall there seems to be no advantage to him now to tell it as it was.

That is a matter between him and his conscience. He has already been called once to testify at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial where he refused to.  I think that is highly unlikely that there are going to be any explosive developments as far as Rudy is concerned.

That was an opportunity lost in the system. Amanda’s and Raffaele’s appeal is the real focus of interest now

To me a third off just for a fast track seems to be a lot, especially given the system of automatic appeals. It was a very smart move by his lawyers - playing the system - but it also had the adverse effect, for the rest of us, of being unhelpful at getting at the truth.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kercher Family Lawyer Walks Out As Amanda Knox Engages In What Looks Like Yet Another Stunt

Posted by Peter Quennell


The other day Meredith’s father John made a strong plea for the cruel and callous PR games to stop.

John Kercher made it pretty clear that he disbelieves EVERYTHING now that Amanda Knox and her parents say in their endless media quotes and appearance.  The English version of John Kercher’s letter is here and the Italian version is here.

Amanda Knox’s mother Edda Mellas was almost immediately reported as reacting to John Kercher thus:

Mellas also addressed the issue today on KIRO Radio in Seattle saying the Kerchers do not “know the whole story.” She said they were not in court except for a few days during Amanda’s trial and feels that they fell “hook, line and sinker” for what their lawyer and prosecutors told them. “They may not have the whole picture,” she said.

That callous and inaccurate reaction did Edda Mellas no good at all. Many who were still cutting her a little slack were appalled by this dishonest and smearing attack.

In fact the Kercher family have been extremely well informed and they have remained singularly cool-headed, dignified and truthful throughout. .

Unlike Edda Mellas they have actually read the Massei Sentencing Report. Unlike Edda Mellas they show no signs of having swallowed anything hook line and sinker. Unlike Edda Mellas they do not again and again lie about basic facts of the case. Unlike Edda Mellas, they did not hide the fact that an innocent man, Patrick Lumumba, was in jail because Amanda Knox lied to put him there. 

And unlike Edda Mellas their view of Amanda Knox’s guilt is no different from maybe 95 per cent of the Italian population. They do get the whole picture.

Time for damage control?  Today in court, Amanda Knox seemed to set out to try something completely different. A limited qualified evasive emotional non-explanation of an explanation. An “I didnt do it but I am so sorry for Meredith and her family anyway” kind of hangout.

To underline his contempt for this ploy, Mr Maresca conspicuously walked out of the court when Amanda Knox started her rambling nervous statement. If the statement actually won any new sympathy for her among the case-watchers in Italy, we are not seeing this reflected in the Italian media reports.

Here is Nick Pisa reporting objectively from Perugia in the Daily Telegraph - in his final para below, it seems he has the same interpretation of the real purpose of Amanda Knox’s statement as we do. 

Knox, 23, broke down several times as she delivered an emotional 20-minute address to the court hearing her formal appeal against conviction, her voice sometimes quavering as she claimed that she had nothing to do with Miss Kercher’s brutal death.

The American dismissed the prosecution’s view of her, saying she was not the “dangerous, diabolical, jealous, uncaring and violent” person depicted during her original trial, telling the court: “That girl is not me.”

Knox also expressed her sympathy towards’s Miss Kercher’s family and friends and said through tears: “I am very sorry that Meredith is no longer here. I have little sisters as well and the thought of being without them terrorises me.

“What you are going through and what Meredith went through is unacceptable and incomprehensible. I remember Meredith and my heart breaks for you. I am honoured to have known her. I don’t know how you must feel, your suffering over a lost life.”

Knox’s words appeared to be in response to John Kercher, Meredith’s father, who recently complained that Knox had been accorded the “status of a minor celebrity” while his daughter was a forgotten victim.

Amazingly, all three of the largest US networks had Ella Mellas on their breakfast shows, unchallenged and fawning, to claim that Amanda Knox’s performance was amazing. Edda Mellas of course speaks no Italian.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Italian reporting highlighted Mr Maresca walking out and reported his highly critical statement verbatim. NO media website today carried a majority of pro-Knox comments.

And in making herself so obviously the center of the universe in her statement, Amanda Knox may have already cooked her own goose with the new judges.

[Below: This now is a full audio recording of the full statement of Amanda Knox with court images ]

 


The Two Convicted Seen Arriving For Their Weekly Date In Appeal Court

Posted by Peter Quennell




Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Andrea Vogt Provides Her Heads-Up On What May Be Heading Perugia’s Way In The Appeal

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: The view as you exit Perugia’s railway station - Meredith’s first view of her longed-for Perugia]


Another of the many very informative reports that have appeared on the Seattle PI website.

A mild quibble up front about the piece is that we would have liked it mentioned that the prosecution have also initiated an appeal, to throw out the “mitigating circumstances” outlined in the Massei Report.

A reversal on the mitigating circumstances, which we too have always found problematical, could result in all three serving longer time. What the prosecution will come out with in that phase is a real sleeper in this appeal.

1) On John Kerchers article protesting the over-the-top PR campaign

The Kerchers have maintained their silence since their daughter’s murder, even as Knox’s parents appeared on national television in the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Italy. But that could change, as negotiations are under way with at least one national network to hear the Kerchers’ side of the story.

Correct and accurate. More on Meredith would be so welcome to an American audience. We reposted John Kercher’s hard-hitting article here in English and (as the Italian media mostly don’t yet know about it) here translated into Italian.

Biased reports like those of the ill-researched Nikki Batiste of ABC, which mis-stated and ridiculed John Kercher’s claims, omitted to say what Andrea Vogt says: this is THE FIRST TIME that John Kercher has gone public, in an attempt to stop the depraved multi-million-dollar deluge.

2) On the chances of an overturn of the December 2009 verdicts.

American pundits are quick to predict Knox could walk, but Italian legal experts say the chances of completely overturning her conviction aren’t good. More likely, they say, are the prospects of a sentence reduction.

“The Knox trial is one of the few, in the history of Italian criminal justice, in which over 25 judges have agreed—at different stages—on the adverse impact of the collected evidence against the positions of both Knox and Sollecito. In this respect, the case is rather unusual, as Italian justice is often characterised by conflicting decisions of courts on the same case,” said Stefano Maffei, an Oxford-educated professor of criminal law in Italy interviewed by seattlepi.com.

“What I can confirm is that courts of appeal are generally more lenient than courts of first instance, and I would not be surprised if the decision on appeal could bear a lower sentence for both defendants.”

The point is made up at the top here that this report does not mention the appeal of the prosecution for tougher sentences , which would seem to effectively balance out the probabilities that Mr Maffei and all the defenses now claim.

The sheer number of judges that all of them agreed on the evidence in this case is particularly damning. Our own Italian lawyers between them know of ZERO cases where so many judges in succession have found no reason to reverse any part of the process.

We have posted a number of good descriptions of how the Italian process actually works (these go beyond the descriptions in ANY British or American reporting, another sign of how sloppy it has mostly been), and our key posts can be seen here and here and here.

3) On the requested defense witness Mario Alessi

In a file tucked neatly under a polished glass paperweight in Laura Ferraboschi’s Parma law offices is a carefully guarded letter that Knox and Sollecito hope will set them free.

It is 10 pages, handwritten in the small, tilted script of Mario Alessi, a convicted murderer who had the prison cell across from Rudy Guede in the sex crimes ward of a tough prison just north of Rome….

Alessi mailed his statement to her for safekeeping after becoming concerned it might “disappear,” she said…. Sollecito’s lawyers, eager to have the letter at their disposition, asked Ferraboschi to share it, but she has refused, saying she did not feel it would be ethical to do so.

“Alessi sent the statement to me for protection, and I do not feel it is appropriate to give it to other lawyers who might drag him into a case that could negatively impact him,” Ferraboschi said. “If a judge requests the statement or his presence, then we will provide it.”

Good luck on that one. We doubt Alessi ever makes the stand.

Here is our most recent post on Mario Alessi which links back to several that went before.  Prosecutors Mignini and Comodi ALSO interviewed Alessi and have never made publoc what he said.

Investigators and prison staff would have checked Alessi out very carefully.  Laura Ferraboschi seems to be hanging firm on not sharing the letter, out of concern that Alessi could incure a charge of perjury.

4)  On the requested defense witness Luciano Aviello

The second series of jailhouse “revelations” are from Luciano Aviello, a Mafia turncoat from Naples who shared a cell in Terni with Raffaele Sollecito. Knox’s lawyers went to videotape a statement from him in prison near Turin in March, a month after Bongiorno had videotaped Alessi’s statement in Viterbo.

He wrote several letters to the court last year. In the most recent statement, he claims he can prove all three people in jail for Kercher’s murder are innocent. It was his own brother, he says, who killed her. Aviello…

Aviello said his brother killed Kercher in a robbery gone awry, then asked Aviello to hide a bloody knife and set of house keys. Kercher’s set of house keys have not been found.

Good luck on that one too. We doubt that Aviello too ever makes the stand.

In our most recent post on him here we remarked that, with this guy, the defense was already seriously grasping at straws. We are amazed that they still want to wheel him out. That weak move does not bode well for Knox and Sollecito.

5) On the requests for more testing of the DNA

Repeatedly, judges have rejected defense arguments about the forensic evidence despite the slipshod way it was processed and Italy’s reputation of lagging behind the rest of Europe in DNA certification, handling protocols and databasing.

Many outside observers believe the court should allow for such an independent review, given the number of protocol mistakes revealed in the first trial.

Defense attorneys and their expert witnesses heavily criticized the work of police biologist Patrizia Stefanoni and the Perugia and Rome forensic teams working under her direction for such missteps as not changing gloves after picking up evidence, poor collection methods and incomplete records of how evidence was handled and in what exact order during later laboratory testing….

Two of the primary pieces of evidence against Knox and Sollecito are highly contested: A bra clasp originally catalogued in the first days after the murder that was picked up in a sweep of the crime scene 46 days later, and the kitchen knife with Knox’s DNA found on the handle and the victim’s DNA found on the blade. The bra clasp is said to contain Sollecito’s DNA. The amount of Kercher’s DNA found on the blade was such a trace amount it registered with a “too low” reading when analyzed.

Our DNA section on TJMK is very complete and to a very high standard. The three posts here and here and here are particularly worth a very careful read. 

More tests had already been denied by Judge Massei. Defenses tend to like to do this, to keep insisting on more and more testing, until finally with luck an expert breaks their way.

The defense now “highly contests” the testing but they also attempted that throughout the trial and several of their experts under cross-examination had to take a step back.

Experts were invited to the one-time-only DNA testing of the knife and then (surprise, surprise) on the day of testing not all of them showed up.

And on whether Italy lags behind the rest of Europe on standards, see below (Italy doesn’t)..

6) On the standards of the laboratories that did the testing

A top geneticist at one of Europe’s top forensic labs at the University of Salzburg confirmed in an interview with seattlepi.com that it is possible to amplify such a small amount of DNA, as Stefanoni did, until DNA can be identified. But the expert added that it would not be allowable unless the result could be reproduced, something police biologist Stefanoni said under cross-examination could not be done.

The Salzburg geneticist, who does forensic testing for police agencies in neighboring Austria, said that in the university’s certified lab (which has the highest certification available in Germany and Austria) different operators are required to handle suspect and victim DNA and that the various phases of DNA analysis happen in different labs along a “one-way street” to avoid the possibility of contamination.

Such protocols were not in place in Rome. In fact, Italy is noted for being behind on international forensic standards. For example, it is one of the last (and only) European countries to have not yet become part of the Prum convention, which sets basic guidelines for sharing of DNA data and other security information.

The top geneticist at Salzburg University is unfortunately not named, presumably at his request, and there have been so many claims by both anonymous and unqualified self-proclaimed experts throughout this case that we wish he had said that yes, he could be named.

The Rome labs were in fact being operated to international standard and they had followed the European protocols for years. When they were only recently certified to European standards, none of the procedures or the training or the layout of the labs had to be changed.

Perhaps the top geneticist should have mentioned this. 

7) And on the views of renowned forensic scientists Luciano Garofano

One of Italy’s top forensic biologists, retired Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano, is at the forefront of the push to introduce a national database and DNA certification standard in Italy. Garofano (a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences who collaborated frequently with the FBI over the years as a high-ranking Caribinieri military officer) analyzed the forensic evidence in the Perugia case for a book released shortly after the trial was complete.

He believes Knox was involved in the murder, but he disagreed with the court’s conclusion that Kercher was sexually assaulted—he is convinced Kercher’s death was a fight that degenerated, then later staged as a rape.

Interviewed by seattlepi.com, Garofano said his read of Knox’s appeal was that it was mostly a rehashing of “points that have already been debated…. The knife is a weak element . . . they could argue it should be thrown out because the amount of DNA does not meet international forensic standards. But that still leaves a lot of other evidence,” Garofano said.

“I do not believe there is enough there to convince an Italian magistrate and jury to overturn this conviction.”

Terrific comments. Hard to see why either Knox or Sollecito deserve even the slightest reduction of their sentence. Neither of them has come up with a consistent explanation, both of them seem to have shown some glee, and neither has shown the slightest sign of repentance.

If they tortured and killed Meredith in a particularly cruel and barbaric way, as it seems, then they both seriously need to serve the time.

[Below: Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano]



Monday, December 06, 2010

Will Sollecito And Knox Finally Want To Take The Stand? Why Our Betting Is Against

Posted by Kermit


The Massei Report makes nothing of the fact that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito did not rise under oath in their defense.

But if that made zero impact on the perceptions of the judges and lay judges, we would be very surprised. There are VERY few cases in the US or Europe where an INNOCENT defendant (1) rose to testify, (2) was then found guilty and sentenced, and (3) and was later found to be innocent after all.

Raffaele Sollecito never ever took the stand. He confined himself to some spontaneous remarks not under oath which is permitted in Italian courtrooms. They seemed not at all effective and they sure didn’t eliminate at all the 80,000 pound gorilla of evidence that the prosecution had let loose in the room.

Amanda Knox made similar spontaneous remarks, none of which seemed very helpful - the first was to jokingly explain why her bunny vibrator was always on view in the bathroom that she and Meredith shared.

The Knox testimony seen here was not a part of the main trial - it was offered ONLY to explain why Knox implicated Patrick Lumumba, and under the agreed rules for that testimony, the prosecution’s questioning was very circumscribed and curtailed.

Despite that, Amanda Knox seemed to do herself little real good on the stand, and in her second day there she sounded amused and very callous about the death of Meredith.

Please click here for 150 questions for Amanda Knox which should open in Powerpoint in half a minute. They show how blistering a full-blown prosecution cross-examination really could be.

Actually it could be even tougher. Those questions were assembled 18 months ago - and in the months after, we had the hesitant and nervous defense phase, the very strong prosecution summation, and the implacable Massei Report.

We could probable triple the questions for Knox now, and create a similar list for Sollecito. If he is given the chance to cross-examine the two, Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola very well may triple them.

The defenses have very few rounds of ammunition going into this appeal - the anti-Guede witness Alessi is a joke, and the DNA and forensic tests were all done fine the first time and have never been proved - despite all the smoke being blown - to be false or falsified.

So will they or wont they take the stand?

They seem cooked if they do - and cooked if they don’t. Tough call.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report: Establishing The Time When Meredith Passed On

Posted by Storm Roberts




Why This Matters So Much

Perhaps the hardest parts of the Massei Report for compassionate readers to take are those concerning Meredith’s wounds and time of death.

Those passages commence early in the report and, as with our translation of much of the Micheli report, left our translators and many readers disturbed and a few of them at least in tears. 

This is an abbreviated overview of how forensic medicine helped the court to establish the time of Meredith’s death.

Click here for the rest


Monday, November 29, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report: The Timeline For Events Before, During, And After The Night #1

Posted by catnip




The Masssei Timeline To Midnight 1 Nov

These two posts list all of the events precisely timed in the Massei Report. Page numbers shown in brackets are those in the original Italian version.

This timeline will be reposted over on the TJMK Massei Report summaries and highlights page as we populate that page further starting this week.

There are plenty of mentions of imprecise occasions and general time periods, such as when Rudy told Giorgio Cocciaretto about liking Amanda (p26) or when lawyer Palazzoli found out their stolen computer had been recovered in Milan (p33), but they are not listed here.

nts_before_during_2/”>Post #2

Click here for the rest


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