Category: The psychology

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Should The Amanda Knox Defense Maybe Point The Finger At An Angry Daddy?

Posted by Peter Quennell





Given a level playing field Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are almost certainly going down for the final count.

There is not the slightest sign that their defenses know how to contend with the Supreme Court appeal filed by Umbria’s chief prosecutor Dr Galati. One has already walked (Maori) and the fact that the others don’t respond publicly to Galati speaks volumes to Italian lawyers.

If the first appeal (called in Italy the second level) is rerun in whole or in part, Sollecito and Knox could see Judge Massei’s “mitigating factors” annulled and find themselves each facing 30 years inside or even life.

The whole thrust of Sollecito’s ill-timed book (subtitle “how to shoot oneself in both feet”) is that he deserves to serve less time than Amanda Knox (who he “nobly saved”) and preferably to serve no time at all.

The sliding scales of all discussion of the case

Many bright people follow the case. We have many lawyers and crime experts and even judges read here. Many took a long time to settle on a “guilt” point of view and approached it very professionally (reflected in many of the posts written by professionals here). This is contrary to the klutzy, amateurish FOA campaign and their inaccurate rants about “haters”.

There are various great sliding scales or continuums in considering all aspects of this case. A lot of what we talk about on PMF and TJMK is where, precisely, we should all come down on each of these various scales at the end of the day. Especially of course how the judges in Rome and Perugia should calibrate them.

Via Dr Galati’s appeal and especially Sollecito’s book, we now have a new one. If reconvicted, should Sollecito and Knox serve equal time? Or should one or other serve more? Let us approach this by considering first some of the most-discussed of the sliding scales.

1) Was Knox a good friend of Meredith or increasingly a pariah?

Many here incline strongly to pariah.

Knox has an obvious tin ear and sharp elbows, was doing little study in Perugia, was making life hell for all her flatmates, was bringing noisy threatening lowlife men home (the other three virtually never brought men home), was disturbing Meredith’s studies, was hitting on patrons in Patrick’s bar, and was definitely into drugs to the extent that she might already have become an addict.

2) Pre-meditated murder or a hazing or spontaneous spiral initiated by Guede?

At least some here incline to the view espoused by some psychologists that Knox and Sollecito were probably both at minimum fantasizing violence, Knox against Meredith, and Sollecito long-term generically.

Knox had become threatened by Meredith in several different ways: Meredith was prettier, was much funnier, had won the best available boy, was brighter, had a tougher study regime, was more directed and ambitious, and had left Knox in the dust on all fronts. Hints that Meredith was about to get Knox’s job at Patrick’s bar could have been the last straw.

To most here, Knox has always seemed the initiator and the leader in the rage against Meredith, and the other two were possibly drawn in by group dynamics.

Judge Micheli certainly believed this. Judge Massei might have done, and his pointing at Guede (espoused in spades by Hellmann and Zanetti) and Massei’s “mitigating factors” both seemed “humane” stretches to give them a few years off - stretches which Chief Prosecutor Galati in his appeal and the Supreme Court in their finding on Guede have already both rejected.

3) Isolated crime/unique family or does American society incline this way?

Statistics show that society here in the US is separated out between super-rich and the other 99% more than at any time in the past 80 years and although productivity has been going up amazingly, all fruits of growth have gone to those super-rich. Many of them have a mindset that basically tells them they made it on their own, and government roles in their success and that of their creative hard-working employees dont matter a damn.

The situation and the anger in the US has been worsening, and absence of true growth for most people also have European and Japanese societies in disarray

In the US one can see heightened levels of anger in the losers of the Superbowl, in the renewed buying of guns, in conspiracy theories on the Internet, in the success of the very thought-provoking Hunger Games books and movie (small people against rich and a captured, cruel over-militarized government), in politics (of course!), and in the vitriolic flames on the IMDB movie forums now against the front-runner movies and actors for the Oscars.

We may not see this at major play here in the crime against Meredith, though, except in the over-competition sense, and the sense that Knox grew up in slight poverty (see below) and was burning through her savings with all the cocaine use (Perugia cops think it was cocaine)

4) Mental ill health in the perps and/or families or original evil?

Sollecito’s dad has long admitted that Raffaele is not normal, and he has struggled to keep him off drugs and focussed hard on his studies. His dad also admitted to all Italy that Sollecito included defamatory lies in his book.

An open and shut case? Seems so. Raffaele now looks “uncomplicatedly” psychopathic and the myriad wrong and nasty claims in his chest-beating book really hammer this take on him home.

That book seems to be his equivalent of Knox’s abrasive, uncaring two days on the stand in 2009 which so damaged her with the Massei jury.

Knox’s mental health seems more complicated. She was widely known to be “quirky” as a kid and then she became pretty wild in Seattle after she moved to live near the university. That certainly wouldn’t have helped.

Most recently, Knox seems to be sliding away into a bubble world without any possibility of admitting she needs treatment, which seems to explain her being kept well out of sight for a year now and not working or studying.

Generally the PROSECUTION in Perugia has been the side to suggest she is not mentally fully well (after the psychological tests in Capanne Prison in 2008) and the DEFENSE and FAMILY has been the side that shrugs this off and hasn’t made it any part of her defence.

Knox seems to have given off plenty of signs in the days after Meredith died that she was alternating between glee and horror. So she seemingly did know what she was doing on the night, and our guess is that it was she who pushed the knife in. In these circumstances the original verdict and sentence seem appropriate.

However!

5) Knox made herself what she was or did her family contribute?

Curt Knox’s seeming blind rage at Edda during their marriage and for years after are an open secret among some in Seattle. He apparently had one of the worst records in the entire US in not paying child support to Edda for Amanda and Deanna, and had again and again to be taken to Superior Court by Edda to be forced to make his monthly payments.

Here are two public records showing two instances of him being taken to Superior Court by Edda.

And we are told that Curt Knox was counseled by one or more judges to get himself some anger management therapy. Apparently he wasn’t formally required to take anger management therapy. He may have done so, though there seems no record that he ever did.

Okay. Not all kids growing up in such toxic family situations suffer, but some do, and a few end up with their hard wiring seriously messed up. Some even end up as drug-takers and murderers.

The classic example recently was the mass killer Anders Breivek in Norway, whose early childhood in a toxic family situation was not entirely unlike Knox’s. (In that case also, the prosecution thought maybe he was nuts, and the defense, successfully, argued otherwise.)

Italian lawyers tell us that it would be for the DEFENSE to bring this up in Perugia if it is a possible mitigating factor, and that it doesnt impinge on the prosecution’s case.

But how could they?

Curt Knox was apparently the one who shushed Amanda Knox at their first meeting in Capanne Prison, Curt Knox was apparently the one who misled her about the world-wide skepticisim against her (she didnt know about that until she came out of prison), and Curt Knox was apparently the one who drove the nasty PR bus - and most recently hosted all of the worst of the rabid PR nuts (including Sforza and Fischer) in Seattle.

Curt Knox has apparently consistently instructed the defense lawyers and PR honchos to keep the pedal to the floor, even though Chris Mellas once openly argued against that. Amanda Knox may have pushed the knife in, but Curt Knox for five years has not come clean about his own possible role in any mental condition.

Our present conclusion

Without a lot more information on Amanda Knox’s early days in her broken home in Seattle, and her current mental condition and condition back in 2007, it is pretty hard to calibrate this. It is not really possible to be precise about where she should be on any sliding scale of time deserved in prison if she is finally convicted.

It is really incumbent upon the defense counsel in Italy (their lawyers’ code of ethics requires this) to push hard for this information, and if they think it relevant to present it to court at any rerun of the appeal trial.

Amanda Knox herself should want this.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Perugia’s Exceptional Uni And Economy May Have Made RS And AK Feel Small Frogs In Big Pond

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Multi-millionaire success story Brunello Cucinelli and, below, his Perugia-area factory and a typical store]


Few crime specialists seem to see the pattern of the attack against Meredith as being absent of intense anger.

There is no way that attack represents the pattern of a lone burglar or for that matter of a single perp of any kind. The Supreme Court already KNOWS that and they know that at first appeal the Knox and especially Sollecito lawyers tried desperately to prove that two or three other perps were there, either with Rudy Guede (witness Aviello) or without (witness Alessi).

For months now, apparently unnoticed by the FOA sheep, the defenses have been sounding absolutely feckless in the face of the juggernaurt prosecution appeal submitted to Cassation by Perugia’s chief prosecutor Dr Galati.

We’re betting that if they had it all over they would have urged Knox and Sollecito to take the short-form trial and one of the olive branches offered by the prosecution (that it was a sex-based attack which went too far, not an intentional preplanned murder).

They could have entered known facts about Sollecito and Knox to show that at the least they had tin ears and had always been callous, jealous and quirky. They might have advanced a drug-based excuse - the other olive branch advanced by the prosecution was that they were on cocaine and not marjuana that night and cocaine can induce rages leading to murder.

They might also have advanced the notion that both AK and RS were being remorselessly frozen out by their peers, who increasingly looked down on them, not least of course Meredith whose sleep and studies were constantly disrupted by the thoughtless, sharp-elbowed Knox.

Consider first who were their peers. Perugia is a city of driven high performers and it may not be the most comfortable environment for low-performing layabouts. In its own small way it is about as hustling as Manhattan.

It is one of the brightest cities in Europe with an extremely high median IQ. It is one of the top-performing cities in the Italian economy, in part because of the advanced scientific research at the very large university, and in part because it is the home to some brilliant international entrepreneurs.

Both these faces of Perugia are constantly in the Italian news. A search of the past week’s news for the university turns up reports on medical and mathematical and space-science breakthroughs and as usual a number of international conferences in the works.

And a search of last week’s news for Perugian businesses turns up for example this report on Brunello Cucinelli the highly sucessful and innovative fashion-goods entrepreneur who is now talking of doubling his factory.

Sollecito was never really a part of either. He had few friends and no girlfriends, he was a year or two behind his age-group in his studies, and he needed his back watched at all times - though from his book it is obvious that he felt needled by his highly successful doctor-father.

And Knox arrived with poor Italian despite all the claimed studies back in Seattle, she took on only a light and unimpressive study-load (compare Knox’s to Meredith’s) and she was rapidly shedding friends and the goodwill of her tolerant, well-meaning employer.

Neither had a credible and impressive career path in mind, and for that matter, still don’t. It is tough enough to know you are not making it, that can induce in many quite a rage.

But it is even tougher when all your peers around you notice it, and in American street parlance you get to feel “dissed”.












Friday, July 13, 2012

Rebutting Saul Kassin’s Substantive Claim Of Forced Confession

Posted by Fuji




This was first posted on 12 January 2011 (see 30+ comments under that post).  It shows in effect that EVEN IF the timeline on the night of Knox’s “confession” in which she actually blamed Patrick Lumumba resembled Saul Kassin’s fantasy timeline there is no sign that Amanda Knox is one of the very few with the “right” psycho-sociology to cave quickly under police interrogations.

My original post pre-dates by some month Dr Kassin’s erroneous, self-serving claims to Seattle radio and CBS 48 Hours, and by over a year his misleading KEYNOTE address (scroll down) to the John Jay College global conference last month (see page 31 of the program).

We don’t know yet when Saul Kassin’s submission to the Hellman court via Amanda Knox’s lawyers was made, or the nature of its impact on judges and jury, if any. Dr Kassin is welcome to try to explain all of Amanda Knox’s other “confessions” as described here. Also to try to explain all of Sollecito’s “confessions” as described here.

Meredith’s case is absolutely riddled with fabricated false myths. 

They are now found by the hundreds on some misleading websites, and they simply make experienced law enforcement and criminal lawyers laugh. 

For example “Police had no good reason to be immediately suspicious of Knox simply because the murder occurred at her residence”.  And “The double-DNA knife is a priori to be disregarded as evidence, because no murderer would retain possession of such a murder weapon.”

One of the most strident and widespread myths is that Amanda Knox’s statements to the Perugian investigators on 5 and 6 November 2007, placing her at the scene of Meredith’s murder, are to be viewed as the products of a genuinely confused mind imbued with a naïve trust of authority figures.

The apparent certainty with which many of Amanda Knox’s most vocal supporters proclaim that Knox’s statements are actual “false confessions” as opposed to deliberate lies is not supported by even a cursory reading of the pertinent academic literature regarding false confessions.

What actually are “false confessions”?

Richard N. Kocsis in his book “Applied Criminal Psychology: A Guide to Forensic Behavioral Sciences” (2009), on pages 193-4 delineates three different kinds of false confessions:

First, a voluntary false confession is one in which a person falsely confesses to a crime absent any pressure or coercion from police investigators….

Coerced-compliant false confessions occur when a person falsely confesses to a crime for some immediate gain and in spite of the conscious knowledge that he or she is actually innocent of the crime….

The final type, identified by Kassin and Wrightsman (1985), is referred to as a coerced-internalized false confession. This occurs when a person falsely confesses to a crime and truly begins to believe that he or she is responsible for the criminal act.

The first problem facing Knox supporters wishing to pursue the false confession angle as a point speaking to her purported innocence is epistemological.

Although much research has been done on this phenomenon in recent years, academics are still struggling to come to terms with a methodology to determine their incidence rate.

The current state of knowledge does not support those making sweeping claims about the likelihood of Knox’s statements being representative of a genuine internalized false confession.

As noted by Richard A. Leo in “False Confessions: Causes, Consequences, and Implications” (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2009):

Although other researchers have also documented and analyzed numerous false confessions in recent years, we do not know how frequently they occur. A scientifically meaningful incidence rate cannot be determined for several reasons.

First, researchers cannot identify (and thus cannot randomly sample) the universe of false confessions, because no governmental or private organization keeps track of this information.

Second, even if one could identify a set of possibly false confessions, it is not usually possible as a practical matter to obtain the primary case materials (e.g., police reports, pretrial and trial transcripts, and electronic recordings of the interrogations) necessary to evaluate the unreliability of these confessions.

Finally, even in disputed confession cases in which researchers are able to obtain primary case materials, it may still be difficult to determine unequivocally the ground truth (i.e., what really happened) with sufficient certainty to prove the confession false.

In most alleged false-confession cases, it is therefore impossible to remove completely any possible doubts about the confessor’s innocence.

The next problem Knox supporters face is that, even allowing for an inability to establish a priori any likelihood of a given statement being a false confession, the kind of false confession which is usually attributed to Knox is in fact one of the LEAST likely of the three types (Voluntary, Compliant, and Persuaded, as Leo terms the three different categories) to be observed:

Persuaded false confessions appear to occur far less often than compliant false confessions.

Moreover, despite assertions to the contrary, Knox and her statements do not in fact satisfy many of the criteria researchers tend to observe in false confessions, particularly of the Persuaded variety:

“All other things being equal, those who are highly suggestible or compliant are more likely to confess falsely. Individuals who are highly suggestible tend to have poor memories, high levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, and low assertiveness, personality factors that also make them more vulnerable to the pressures of interrogation and thus more likely to confess falsely…

Highly suggestible or compliant individuals are not the only ones who are unusually vulnerable to the pressures of police interrogation. So are the developmentally disabled or cognitively impaired, juveniles, and the mentally ill….

They also tend to occur primarily in high-profile murder cases and to be the product of unusually lengthy and psychologically intense interrogations… ordinary police interrogation is not strong enough to produce a permanent change in the suspect’s beliefs.

Most significantly, there is one essential element of a true Persuaded False Confession which in Knox’s case is highly distinctive:

To convince the suspect that it is plausible, and likely, that he committed the crime, the interrogators must supply him with a reason that satisfactorily explains how he could have done it without remembering it.

This is the second step in the psychological process that leads to a persuaded false confession.

Typically, the interrogator suggests one version or another of a “repressed” memory theory.

He or she may suggest, for example, that the suspect experienced an alcohol- or drug-induced blackout, a “dry” blackout, a multiple personality disorder, a momentary lapse in consciousness, or posttraumatic stress disorder, or, perhaps most commonly, that the suspect simply repressed his memory of committing the crime because it was a traumatic experience for him.

The suspect can only be persuaded to accept responsibility for the crime if he regards one of the interrogators’ explanations for his alleged amnesia as plausible.

Knox did not in fact claim drug or alcohol use as the source of her amnesia - rather, she claimed to have accepted the interrogators’ attribution that this was due to being traumatized by the crime itself, and she offers no other explanation for her selective amnesia:

This is from Knox’s statement to the court in pretrial on 18 October 2008 with Judge Micheli presiding.

Then they started pushing on me the idea that I must have seen something, and forgotten about it. They said that I was traumatized.

Of course, Knox’s initial statement went far beyond being that of being merely a witness to some aspect of Ms. Kercher’s murder, as the interrogators at first seemed to believe was the case.

Rather, her statement placed her at scene of the murder during its actual commission while she did nothing to avert it, which naturally made her a suspect.

In other words, in the absence of any of her other testimony which indicated that she was only a witness to the murder, her own self-admitted rationale for providing a false confession was that she was traumatized by the commission of the murder itself.

Perugia judges will be familiar with all of the above and we can be sure that they brief the lay judges on the remote circumstances and incidences of false confessions.

If I were a Knox defense attorney, I would find it to be a far more fruitful line of argumentation to argue that she was simply lying, rather than claiming the supremely unlikely provision of an actual internalized false confession.

**********

First posted by Fuji on 12 January 2011. Everything in this post applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saul Kassin: An Example Of How The Knox Campaign Is Misleading American Experts And Audiences

Posted by The Machine





It has happened again and again.

Seemingly good, well-qualified lawyers and experts in police science have repeatedly been made to surface to spout inanities and wrong “facts” put out courtesy of Curt Knox’s “public relations” campaign.

It seems that Dr Saul Kassin is yet another of these naive dupes.


Who is Dr Saul Kassin?

The Social Psychology Network website states that he is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the John Jay Criminal Justice College in New York City. The website outlines his impressive academic credentials which include a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

Curt Knox’s chief hatchet man Bruce Fischer, himself notoriously unqualified in every field relevant to the case who for a long time masqueraded pompously under a false name, claimed on his website that Saul Kassin gave help to Amanda Knox’s lawyers in Perugia.

Also that his work was presented to the court during the 2011 Hellman appeal.

Many may not know this but Sarah was instrumental in bringing Kassin in to analyze Amanda’s interrogation. His work was presented during the appeal..

The family had asked that we not release Kassin’s work to the public until they received clearance from the attorneys. I know I often state that this case is over but the attorneys rightfully want to keep everything professional until the Italian Supreme Court confirms Hellmann.

Last October, Saul Kassin did speak at length about Amanda Knox’s interrogation in an interview with John Curley on Radio Kiro FM.

In this post we’ll examine ten of the false claims which have long been circulated by Curt Knox’s campaign, with Bruce Fischer’s site as the central clearing house, and which were regurgitated by Saul Kassin in that interview.


False Claim 1: They brought her in for that final interrogation late at night.

No they didn’t.

Neither the police nor the prosecutors brought Amanda in for questioning on 5 November 2007. Amanda Knox herself testified in court that she wasn’t called to come to the police station on 5 November 2007.

Carlo Pacelli: “For what reason did you go to the Questura on November 5? Were you called?”

Amanda Knox: “No, I wasn’t called. I went with Raffaele because I didn’t want to be alone.”

Amanda Knox went with Raffaele Sollecito because she didn’t want to be alone. Kassin’s false claim is the first red flag that Saul Kassin is very confused or has been seriously misled when it comes to this well-documented and well-handled case.


False Claim 2: The so-called confession wasn’t until 6:00am.

No it wasn’t.

If Saul Kassin had actually read Amanda Knox’s first witness statement, he would have known that it was made at 1:45am. Knox had admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed some time before this.


False Claim 3: She was interrogated from 10:00pm to 6.00am.

No she wasn’t.

According to the Daily Beast Amanda Knox’s questioning began at about 11:00pm.

Since Knox was already at the police station [in the company of Raffaele Sollecito] the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m.

After Amanda Knox had made her witness statement at 1:45am, she wasn’t questioned again that evening. That was it.

However, Amanda Knox herself then wanted to make further declarations and Mr Mignini who was on duty on the night sat and watched while Knox wrote out her declarations.

Mr Mignini explained what happened in his email letter to Linda Byron, another who was factually challenged.

All I did was to apply the Italian law to the proceedings. I really cannot understand any problem.

In the usual way, Knox was first heard by the police as a witness, but when some essential elements of her involvement with the murder surfaced, the police suspended the interview, according to Article 63 of the penal proceedings code.

But Knox then decided to render spontaneous declarations, that I took up without any further questioning, which is entirely lawful.

According to Article 374 of the penal proceedings code, suspects must be assisted by a lawyer only during a formal interrogation, and when being notified of alleged crimes and questioned by a prosecutor or judge, not when they intend to render unsolicited declarations.

Since I didn’t do anything other than to apply the Italian law applicable to both matters, I am unable to understand the objections and reservations which you are talking about.

In Amanda Knox’s written witness statement, she explicitly states that she’s making a spontaneous declaration:

Amanda Knox: “I wish to relate spontaneously what happened because these events have deeply bothered me and I am really afraid of Patrick, the African boy who owns the pub called “Le Chic” located in Via Alessi where I work periodically.



False Claim 4: They banged her on the back of the head.

No they didn’t.

All the numerous witnesses who were actually present when Amanda Knox was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at trial in 2009 that she wasn’t hit. She has never identified anyone who hit her and on several occasions confirmed that she was treated well.

Even one of Amanda Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda Knox had not been hit: “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”  He never ever lodged a complaint.


False Claim 5: All the other British roommates left town.

No they didn’t.

The police also told Sophie Purton that they needed her to stay on in Perugia on precisely the same basis as Amanda Knox. In chapter 19 of Death in Perugia, John Follain states that Sophie Purton was questioned by Mignini and Napoleoni in the prosecutor’s office on 5 November 2007.

Sophie had been counting on leaving Perugia to fly back home as soon as her parents arrived, but the police called to tell her they needed her to stay on; they would let her know when she could leave.



False Claim 6 : Amanda Knox stayed back to help the police.

No she didn’t.

This claim is flatly contradicted by Amanda Knox herself. In the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007 she categorically stated she was not allowed to leave Italy.

i then bought some underwear because as it turns out i wont be able to leave italy for a while as well as enter my house

Knox actually knew on 2 November 2007 that she couldn’t leave Italy. Amy Frost reported the following conversation (The Massei report, page 37),

I remember having heard Amanda speaking on the phone, I think that she was talking to a member of her family, and I heard her say, No, they won’t let me go home, I can’t catch that flight.

It’s not the first time that the myth that Knox chose to stay behind rather than leave Italy has been claimed in the media. And incidentally, lying repeatedly to the police isn’t normally considered to be helping them.


False Claim 7: Amanda Knox had gone 8 hours without any food or drink.

No she hadn’t.

Reported by Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009

Ms Napoleoni told the court that while she was at the police station Ms Knox had been ‘treated very well. She was given water, camomile tea and breakfast. She was given cakes from a vending machine and then taken to the canteen at the police station for something to eat.’

Reported by Richard Owen in The Times, 15 March 2009.

Ms Donnino said that Ms Knox had been “comforted” by police, given food and drink, and had at no stage been hit or threatened.

John Follain in his meticulous book Death in Perugia, page 134, also reports that Knox was given food and drink during her questioning:

During the questioning, detectives repeatedly went to fetch her a snack, water, and hot drinks including camomile tea.



False Claim 8: The translator was hostile towards Amanda Knox.

No she wasn’t.

Saul Kassin offers no evidence that the translator was hostile towards Amanda Knox and there is no evidence that this was the case. Nobody at the questura has claimed this. Amanda Knox’s own lawyers have not claimed this.

Even Amanda Knox herself has never ever claimed that Anna Donnino was hostile towards her although she had every opportunity to do so when being questioned on the stand.


False Claim 9: The translator was acting as an agent for the police.

No she wasn’t.

Saul Kassin offers no evidence to support this claim, which by the way in Italy is the kind of unprofessional charge that incurs calunnia suits. Do ask Curt Knox.


False Claim 10: The police lied to Amanda Knox.

No they didn’t.

The police didn’t mislead Amanda Knox. They told her quite truthfully that Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi, and that he had just claimed in the next interrogation room that that she wasn’t at his apartment from around 9:00pm to about 1:00am.

This also is the kind of unprofessional charge that incurs calunnia suits


Some Conclusions

Saul Kassin clearly hasn’t been directed to any of the official court documents like the Massei report, available in accurate English on PMF and TJMK, or the relevant transcripts of the court testimony.

Worse, he clearly hasn’t even studied Amanda Knox’s own witness statements before claiming to the media that they were coerced.

What he seems to have done is to fall hook line and sinker for the fantasy version of Amanda Knox’s interrogation which has been propagated in the media by Amanda Knox’s family.

He has then mindlessly regurgitated this false information in this interview. For somebody with Saul Kassin’s academic qualifications and educational background, it’s inexcusable that he gets so many facts wrong.

He needs to use much more reputable sources or, as so many other dupes before him have done, simply shut up. Of course, it would be professional for him to admit his mistakes.

He is welcome to do that right here.

[Everything in this post applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.]


[Below: Dr Jeremy Travis the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC]




Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Hands Of Time Video With Screenplay By Amanda Knox - A Confessional Obsession?

Posted by Fly By Night & Thundering





Amanda Knox rarely, if ever, mentions her “˜close friend’, murder victim Meredith Kercher. Perhaps out of her self-proclaimed desire to “˜move on with her life’.

So the recent Hands of Time (H.O.T.) music video The Mistral Blows which was posted on YouTube with a screenplay attributed to the Seattle native is nothing if not astonishing.


Whilst there is some discussion as to whether Amanda Knox wrote the entire screenplay, or a section of it, or whether the screenplay was created through a merging of several versions, the screenplay is clearly attributed to her in the credits that appear on the video.

Crediting Amanda Knox with the screenplay is repeatedly emphasized by H.O.T. themselves who posted multiple Twitter entries:


And this screenplay does Amanda Knox and her claims of innocence in the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher no favours at all. 

Although provisionally “˜acquitted’ at the trial of second instance, Amanda Knox still stands accused of a capital crime, aspects of which she seems compelled to continue to portray in her various writings. 

The hapless band H.O.T. might be well-advised to disassociate themselves from this endeavour and drop the video like a hot potato.  The more-so as they have already burnt their fingers, tampering with the so-far elusive Brand Knox, finding themselves “˜forced to remove [clips of Knox dancing in Capanne] from the file, after a sudden, unexpected and “very strange” last-minute opposition from Amanda’s entourage.’

They state with a hint of bitterness:


The result?  A compromise.  The image of Knox dancing with carefree abandon in Capanne Prison (easily retrieved from other internet sites) remains, but is obliterated by a large “˜censored’ notice.


The reasons to attempt to disappear this video or, at the very least, any identifiable links with Knox, are abundantly clear to anyone having followed this dreadful case over the last four and a half years.

1) The video is riddled with allusions to the crime itself and features an easily-identifiable Amanda Knox as “˜heroine’ or “˜victim’ as she may now prefer to be seen and depending on how you look at it.

2) Any pre-book-release publicity will potentially devalue the carefully branded and preserved Amanda Knox product.

A cursory look at the video demonstrates the depraved audacity of the writer, a person who simultaneously insists she was found innocent of the crime of murder and of which she still stands accused.

The video features a Knox look-alike ““ recognizable by her clothing - in a prison-cum-house of horrors.


 

It opens with the heroine sitting down, colouring pictures in a prison cell.  Amanda Knox was reported to spend time colouring pictures of her hands whilst in prison.


 

From there she leaves the cell and embarks on a journey through a range of horrifying experiences, until she finally flees the house but not the prison to which she is eternally condemned.

As she runs through the house of horrors she encounters:

1) Ghost-like figures lurching out at her hinting at the night of Halloween before the murder and the ghouls and demons of the house of horrors both in which the crime took place and in which she is forever imprisoned.

2) A tall, faceless black-haired figure dressed in black carrying an umbrella resembling Meredith Kercher dressed as a vampire on her last night alive, the red belt reminiscent of the fake costume blood and the actual blood spilled the night of the murder.


 

3) A faceless butcher figure dressed in a blood-stained apron holding a knife, who hands her a maggot-infested apple, reminiscent of the photograph of co-accused Raffaele Sollecito as posted on his Facebook page.  The apple is suggestive of the poisoned apple offered by the witch to the innocent Snow White ““


 

4) Or a subliminal suggestion of Raffaele’s guilt in handing her the infested and poisonous apple “¦.. Remember: she claimed Raffaele may have pressed the murder knife with Meredith’s DNA into her hand whilst she was sleeping.


 

5) A figure tied to a chair covered in a red cloth hinting of the pools of blood and of Meredith unable to move to defend herself.  As she reaches out to lift the red cloth the bound figure screams, sending her running out down staircases and steps and out of the house.

In the same way, witness Nora Cappezzali heard Meredith’s desperate, blood-curdling scream, followed shortly afterwards by running footsteps out of the house of horrors and onto the steel staircase near her home.


 

The video ends with the Knox look-alike remaining in prison.  Both real and imagined.


 

H.O.T. suggest that the video and screenplay are a means of documenting the tale of the events in Perugia and, of course, Amanda Knox hopes to chronicle the nightmare in which she “˜innocently’ found herself.  In so doing, she inadvertently describes the crime and the images, sounds and memories that will seemingly not leave her alone.

Not only are there many references to the crime, but there seems as well a clear jealous obsession with Meredith, given the numerous references and comparisons to Kristian Leontiou’s video Some Say in which Meredith hauntingly starred.

The Knox look-alike emulates Meredith from the Some Say video both in her dress and appearance as well as in her actions.  She descends an old staircase, appears in doorways and through arches reminding us of the shots of Meredith and the church of the “˜Some Say’ video. 


   


 


 

Emulation is a form of envy.  Guilty or innocent, it seems Knox cannot exorcise her memories of the crime, and remains compelled to depict it in screenplays and short stories.  Knox is seemingly still jealous of Meredith which had proved her original undoing.  Here, in a bizarre reversal of reality, Meredith becomes the foreboding, frightening presence, whereas Knox is the shocked and terrified victim. 

At a time when a tough Galati appeal to the Supreme Court and a $4 million book deal are on the table, the memory of Meredith and the crime seem to haunt and obsess Amanda Knox who may reveal a deep-seated need to confess.  But while still accused, Amanda Knox cannot afford to engage in such obsessive, confessional activity.

Could this prove to be her final undoing?


Friday, June 15, 2012

In Trial For Killing Of 77 Norway Very Complexed About Whether Admitted Perpetrator Is Barking Mad

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: this is the courthouse in central Oslo where Anders Breivik is currently been tried]


In Norway a judge and jury and those tens of thousands personally affected by the bombing and shooting deaths of 77 people, mostly in their teens, are trying to calibrate the personality of Anders Breivik.

The self-confessed killer has under Norwegian court procedures been allowed to say a lot about himself during his trial. And to mount a defense which in effect implies that he is the one who is normal, and that everybody else in Norway is either stupid or blind.

There is a sort of Catch 22 situation here.

If the judge and jury and those affected accept that Breivik really IS normal and merely a common or garden Nazi-type fanatic, he can only be sentenced to 21 years x 77 with the sentences to run concurrently. He could be out of prison at only 54.

Even Breivik has said that is pathetic and he would be joyously executed rather than be diminished like that.

But if they accept that he is insane, then he can be sent away to a prison for the criminally insane, and unless he in effect grows a totally new brain, he could be kept locked up for the rest of his natural life.

So if prosecution psychologists can prove him to be what the British like to call barking mad, he could get in effect the maximum time behind bars: life. But blame for a deed which most see as pure evil would in effect be dilute.

Breivik of course is trying very hard to prove that he is NOT mad. But he is not being helped by the testimony of either his mother or his father (who separated in great anger in London a few months after he was born) who have each thoroughly rejected his defense. His mother says he simply lies all the time, and his father says he should have committed suicide.

Nor is he helped by the 1517 page manifesto that he wrote (in English) and emailed to everybody in his address book a few hours before he set out on his attack. 

Dr Avner Falk lives in Jerusalem, Israel, and he is perhaps the most published in the world in the fields of long-distance psychohistory and political psychology. 

On his personal website Dr Falk has just posted this long and deeply researched essay exploring Breivik’s psychology.

Although of course the analysis was done 1/4 of the way around the world, it is difficult to read this essay without concluding that these really are the main facts about what is in Breivik’s head - and that he really is barking mad.

More scientifically, his psychology seems situated somewhere between borderline personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenic.

Dr Falk shows how Breivik may have got that way, and what was driving him to kill (don’t laugh, read the essay first: he became psychotically angered over repeated shows of lack of love by his father, who when Breivek was 16 cut him right off, and too much love by his mom, which Breivek thinks sissyfied him).

And why it would seem to be the safest thing to do to put Breivek away for life.   

So. Is any of this relevant to Meredith’s case? More below.






In Meredith’s case there also seems to be a sort of Catch 22.

First off, it seems that nobody holding any point of view about Knox or Sollecito can see the makings of a credible insanity defense.

One reason many dont want to go down that road is that Italian prosecutions are always facing long odds, and they fear that it could too easily at the end of the legal process leave the accused-perps off the hook and free to go, and to publish whatever they will.

Some fear the same could happen with a defense based on too much alcohol or psychosis-causing drugs.

But at the same time, many also believe that AK and RS were not the social and psychological paragons that many in the obfuscatory PR campaign have tried for a long time to make out.

Even those eager henchmen in Curt Knox’s campaign have had to turn cartwheels to explain why Knox did cartwheels and so quickly put so many people in Perugia right off her, or to explain why Sollecito was so friendless and so obsessed with violent comics and porn and always carried a concealed knife.

And yet despite that, a sort of stealth psychological defense DOES seem to have been mounted, and with Judge Hellman’s interim appeal verdict it does seem to have helped them to be provisionally sprung.

In a process a little reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day where the “villain” has to keep repeating the same day over and over until he gets certain things just right, the public audience and the judges and juries were presented with several different Amanda Knoxes and Raffaele Sollecitos and the 2011 versions seem to have worked.

  • In 2008 the images that dominated were of two cold-hearted or hot-headed jealous abusers who had gone way too far in the remorseless 15-minute struggle with Meredith. Magistrate Matteini and Judge Micheli both firmly took this view, which was confirmed by psychological tests on RS and AK in Capanne Prison that concluded that Perugia would be safer if they stayed behind bars pending their trial.
  • The images that dominated the trial in 2009 was of a mild and slightly daffy Sollecito and a mostly milder and decidedly daffier Amanda Knox, strongly supported by their large and loving families spread out all around the court. That seems to some extent to have worked on Judge Massei, and RS and AK were rewarded with some years off their sentence for a supposed kindness to Meredith’s dead body. In the sentencing report, Rudy Guede became the somewhat villainous initiating attacker of Meredith on the night.
  • The image that dominated the appeal in 2011 was of two serious studious very normal bambinos falsely being tied together with an extremely villainous Rudy Guede, now a notorious drifter and drug dealer who carried knives. The accused in effect dressed in shades of grey, and there were never any smiles or jokes in court. Italian judges and juries and watching audiences have a reputation for leniency toward bambinos, and Judge Hellman’s report suggests that attitude did intrude.

The Italian Supreme Court doesnt usually get to set eyes on those who are appealing or (as in this case) appealed against. More often than not they calibrate a legal and psychological position about as hard-line as the investigating magistrate (Matteini) or the judges at the first level (Micheli and Massei).

Now Knox and Sollecito might not return to the court for any re-run of the appeal trial. But if they don’t, the original images of themselves, those advanced in 2008 which a clear majority of Italians still hold to, could be the version of their personalities that a second appeal judge and jury get to “see”.

Tough call for Knox and Sollecito and their tribes. Their Catch 22.

But either way, assuming a level playing field, a fair outcome seems reasonably assured.

*****

Below: a crowd of 40,000 gathered in central Oslo to sing a song “Children of the Rainbow”.

That is the song by Norwegian folk singer Lillebjoern Nilsen (based on Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Race”) which Breivek claimed in his manifesto shows the decadence of Norwegian youth. 


Friday, June 08, 2012

A Case In Which The Accused’s Team Used A Psychological Condition Maybe Similar To AK’s Or RS’s

Posted by Grahame Rhodes





The wealthy Durst family develops tall buildings in Manhattan including the Bank of America tower in midtown and the new One Wold Trade Center in downtown which will soon reach 1776 feet high.

Robert Durst is one of the heirs of the founder of the Durst Organization who died in 1995 and his brother Douglas now runs the company with a cousin. Here is a brief summary of Robert’s early life from Wikipedia.

Durst grew up, one of four children, in Scarsdale, New York and attended Scarsdale High School. He completed his undergraduate degree at Lehigh University and attended graduate school at UCLA.

Durst reportedly witnessed his mother’s apparent suicide at age seven; she either fell or jumped off the roof of the Scarsdale family mansion.

According to Reader’s Digest, Durst underwent extensive counseling because of his mother’s death, and doctors found that his “deep anger” could lead to psychological problems, including schizophrenia.

Durst went on to become a real estate developer in his father’s business; however, it was his brother Douglas who was later appointed to run the family business. The appointment in the 1990s caused a rift between Robert and his family, and he became estranged. His earlier schizophrenia diagnosis was incorrect.

In 1982 a seeming dark side to Robert Durst began to appear. Also from Wikipedia:

In 1973, Durst married Kathleen McCormack, who disappeared in 1982. Her case remained unsolved for eighteen years when New York State Police reopened the criminal investigation.

On December 24, 2000, Durst’s long-time friend, Susan Berman, who was believed to have knowledge of McCormack’s disappearance, was found murdered execution-style in her Benedict Canyon California house. Durst was questioned in both cases but not charged.

According to prosecutors, he moved to Texas in 2000 and began cross-dressing to divert attention from the disappearance of McCormack.

Both the Kathleen Durst and Susan Berman cases remain open, and New York and Los Angeles police still work on them.

From the Galveston Texas Daily News here is a timeline for the movements of Robert Durst for late 2001 and early 2002.

Sept. 30 “” A 13-year-old boy spots a man’s torso floating near the shoreline of 81st Street and Channelview Drive. Nearby, police find garbage bags containing human limbs, along with a number of items investigators later trace to an apartment house in the 2200 block of Avenue K.

Oct. 5 “” Officials identify the body parts as the remains of Morris Black, a 71-year-old South Carolina native who lived at the apartment house.

Oct. 9 “” Police arrest Robert Durst, 58, who lived in an apartment across the hall from Black. Durst is charged with murder and possession of marijuana, but leaves jail that night after posting $300,000 bond.

Oct. 16 “” Durst becomes a fugitive when he fails to appear at a court hearing in his case. A grand jury indicts him on charges of murder and jumping bail.

Oct. 17 “” A man in Mobile, Ala., rents a red Chevrolet Corsica, using the name Morris Black.

Nov. 30 “” Police in Pennsylvania arrest Durst and charge him with the shoplifting theft of a small bandage, a sandwich and a newspaper.

Dec. 5 “” Galveston detectives leave for Philadelphia, armed with a search warrant for the red Chevrolet Corsica police seized from the parking lot of the Pennsylvania grocery store where Durst was arrested.

Dec. 7 “” A search of the car reveals numerous pieces of identification in the name of Morris Black, an undisclosed amount of marijuana, two handguns and about 80 bullets.

Dec. 17 “” State District Court Judge Susan Criss issues a gag order in the murder case, barring officials, attorneys and potential witnesses from talking about the case.

Jan. 25 “” Durst waives his right to an extradition hearing, agreeing to return to Galveston to face charges.

Jan. 27 “” Durst arrives at the county jail.

New York Magazine adds this bit of color.

At the time of Black’s death, Durst was living as a deaf-mute woman known as “Dorothy Ciner” who communicated with the landlord via handwritten notes. During the trial he startled jurors by growling loudly like a dog and snorting like a pig.

Later, in prison, he became known for doing nude calisthenics in his cell.

In 2003 he was found not guilty of the murder of Morris Black. From Wikipedia:

During cross-examination, Durst admitted to using a paring knife, two saws and an axe to dismember Black’s body before dumping his remains in Galveston Bay. The jury acquitted him of murder.

Specifically he was found not guilty because the jury bought into the idea of a mental condition. CBS News describes how the jury saw it.

Is Durst a cold-blooded killer with a string of victims over more than 20 years? Or is he somehow a victim himself?

Last spring, Correspondent Erin Moriarty talked to Durst’s closest friends and the defense psychiatrist who examined him. The Durst fortune, valued at more than $2 billion, is in the same league as Donald Trump’s fortune. And it’s certainly more than enough for the best legal defense that money can buy.

His high-powered defense team - Dick DeGuerin, Mike Ramsey and Chip Lewis ““ say that early on, they had difficulty communicating with Durst. So they hired Dr. Altschuler, a well-known Houston psychiatrist, to find out why.

Altschuler says he met with Durst almost on a weekly basis, and spent more than 70 hours examining him. His conclusion: Durst suffers from a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a fairly uncommon disorder that leaves a victim’s intellect intact, but limits his ability to interact socially.

“Emotion is very difficult to him. He doesn’t know what happy is,” says Altschuler. “He can feel it, but almost as if he were feeling it as we would feel fingers through a glove. It’s very dulled, at best, to him “¦ His whole life’s history is so compatible with a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder.”

The jury apparently bought it. They were convinced that Durst, in a panic, dismembered Black’s body.

Many people with Asperger’s self-diagnose themselves and learn to adjust and most have good lives and careers, many in computers and math-based professions. (Probably a coincidence but Knox’s parents are both in math-based professions, as is Chris Mella.) But some apparently do have flash rages when they yet again encounter in themselves an inability to connect or to win people over. So there are some murders that have been ascribed to this condition.

Both Knox and Sollecito may have had childhood trauma which their families, naturally, seem not too keen to have exposed. Or one or other might have been born wrong-headed.

Note how both of them in Perugia had isolated themselves from just about everybody else when Meredith died - Sollecito with his dark sullenless and Knox with her sharp elbows and brash, grubby, offputting ways.

Note Sollecito’s sordid history of beasty porn, and his knife fetishes, and violent manga comics and films, and lack of close friends, and endless drugs, and slow school progress, and attempted close supervision by a struggling father, and a loyal sister who he has left decimated and jobless without even a shrug.

Note how Amanda Knox seems to have tried all her life to be liked and has never understood why she is so often successful for just a short time. Note the reported riotous behavior off campus in Seattle, the shortage of school and college friends who speak up for her, the strange tale of her walking off the intern job in the German parliament, and the searching for love in all the wrong places

Note her willingness to let Patrick Lumumba rot in jail for weeks. Note how she bought hot underwear while giggling, and how she chose to miss the remembrance service for Meredith in favor of a pizza. Note how the prison tests in 2008 seem to have found both her and Sollecito to be continuing dangers. Note her flippant narcissistic demeanor at the trial, and her various bizarre statements.  Note her reported self-imposed isolation and odd deportment and hygiene while in prison.

Note how her sense of right and wrong seems to be completely at odds, comparatively speaking, with the rest of the human race. Note how she seems unable to exhibit any emotion, or take any responsibility for her actions, even when challenged directly and her veracity called into question.

Finally, note her seeming never-ending lack of empathy for Meredith and her family, observed and remarked on both when Meredith was found and at trial and in the months and years afterwards. Meredith came from a hard working loving family who encouraged her to work hard and gave her every break and certainly never brutalised her. She was talented and made friends easily because of her wonderful sense of humor and her positive view of life.

Meredith was the complete antithesis of Knox. Well adjusted, liked, highly intelligent, very diligent and disciplined,  and driven to succeed. A remarkable success story in process, whicht Knox seemingly could not even begin to relate to.

So are Robert Durst and either of the still-presumed-guilty perps in any way similar? Were either of them born wrong in the head or made that way by childhood trauma?

Or was a mental defense simply an easy way for the entitled but awkward Robert Durst to have got off the hook for a cruel murder, and one that the Hellman jury (and those in the FOA) subliminally bought into for Knox and Sollecito as well?

I leave it to you to decide.


[Below: Robert Durst’s missing wife, and a murdered Los Angeles friend]


[Below: Some new Durst organization buildings in New York including at center 1 WTC]


Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Smug Killer Who Thought Perhaps He’d Escaped Justice Was Brought Down In The UK Today

Posted by The Machine



[Above and below: Arlene Fraser and husband Nat who today was again convicted for her murder]


Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Nat Fraser has been been found guilty for the second time of murdering his estranged wife Arlene in 1998.

He was originally was found guilty in 2003 and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. However, after a long appeal process, his conviction was quashed last year by five judges at the Supreme Court in London.

They sent the case back to the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal, where the jurors have just taken approximately five hours to reach a majority verdict after a six-week trial.

It’s not the first time this year that someone in Britain has been finally found guilty of murder after initially escaping justice.

In January, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey. Dobson had been acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996 but the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. (The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.)

David Harvie the director of serious casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, said:

The Crown is absolutely determined to ensuring that criminals are brought to justice for crimes they have committed, no matter the passage of time nor the legal complexities involved.

I have no doubts that Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola are just as determined to ensuring that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are brought to justice.

The cases above are a reality check for anyone who assumes that Knox and Sollecito are innocent simply because they were provisionally acquitted. It’s a fact of life that killers are sometimes acquitted. It’s also a fact of life that for them things often come full circle.

And if anyone thinks that cases of people being convicted of murder after escaping justice don’t happen in Italy, they are seriously mistaken. Barbie Nadeau outlined the case of Angela Birikova, who was convicted of murder after being acquitted at her first trial, in a November 2010 article for the Daily Beast:

In the meantime, the Seattle native’s lawyers say she is anxious to get back to court. She has reportedly been getting to know a new cellmate, Moldovian native Angela Biriukova, herself a celebrity criminal in Italy. Dubbed the Black Widow by the Italian press, Biriukova was tried for murdering her wealthy older husband by stabbing him 16 times.

Her DNA was found on a cigarette butt near the corpse, but nowhere else at the murder scene. Unlike Knox, however, Biriukova was acquitted during her first trial. Knox might take comfort in what happened next: The prosecutors appealed and Biriukova’s acquittal was reversed””after being set free, she was convicted during the appellate process. Should Knox’s appellate trial yield the same dramatic reversal, it will be a stunning conclusion to a trial whose narrative has often sharply turned on twists of fate.

It should noted that there is considerably more undisputed evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito than there is against the various convicted killers that are mentioned above.

Apologist journalists like Nick Pisa and Nick Squires, and especially Michael Day, would do well to remember this, before glibly dismissing the case against the still-accused pair.


[Below: convicted killer Angela Biriukova who Knox reportedly made a friend of in Capanne]

Posted by The Machine on 05/31 at 01:32 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Crime hypothesesThe psychologyOther legal processesThose elsewhereComments here (4)

Friday, April 13, 2012

In Close Parallel To Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony Faces Court Action For Falsely Fingering Another

Posted by Peter Quennell



Both recent images. Above the plaintiff Zenaida Gonzalez; below the defendant Casey Anthony


Amanda Knox provisionally got off on the main count (the murder of Meredith) but anyway was sentenced to three years (which she served) for fingering Patrick Lumumba.

Casey Anthony definitively got off on the main count (murdering her infant daughter Caylee, see previous posts) but anyway was sentenced to some time in prison for time-wasting and expensive misleading of the police officers.

She received no sentence for falsely fingering a nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez, for making off with Caylee, and as she had never even met Zenaida Gonzalez it is unclear how she came up with Zenaida’s name.

The Orlando Sentinel reports an issue is whether or not Anthony identified Gonzalez specifically enough when she talked to her parents when they visited her in jail.

Anthony’s attorney said details offered by Anthony did not match Fernandez-Gonzalez and clearly showed Anthony wasn’t talking about her. Gonzalez’s attorneys say she still was damaged as the only person with that name interviewed by investigators.

Fernandez-Gonzalez had never met Anthony. Investigators believe Anthony may have seen the name on an apartment rental application.

During Anthony’s trial last year, her attorney Jose Baez said Anthony made up the story about the babysitter and that Caylee truly drowned in the family pool. Anthony was acquitted of murder and other serious charges.

Nevertheless, yesterday a judge in Orlando, Florida, ruled that Zenaida Gonzalez may sue Casey Anthony for defamation of character, and the case is scheduled for January 2013.

In Amanda Knox’s case she absolutely did know Patrick Lumumba, her kindly employer who gave her a job without a work permit, and she and her mother let him languish in prison for several weeks.

Pretty hard to look worse than Casey Anthony, but in her cruel act of framing Patrick, Amanda Knox certainly does.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pseudoinnocence: Is This Possibly The Predicament Of Amanda Knox?

Posted by Vivianna


In a dissertation titled Pseudoinnocence ““ An Invitation To Murder, Barbara Shore explores the phenomenon of “pseudoinnocence” in American culture as an inadequate response to the “conflagration of violence that encircles us today.” These are her introductory words:

“America is a country long haunted by its pseudoinnocence, by its blinding prolonged naivete. We are a culture that closes our eyes to all that is too painful to see, persuading ourselves that we have escaped, that we are neither interdependent nor vulnerable, or that we are victims.

We cannot come to terms with our own unwitting complicity in the destructiveness brought to ourselves or others. Capitalizing on such naivete, we fail to see how such “˜innocence that cannot include the demonic becomes evil’ (Rollo May 50).” (Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences Mar, 2001 Vol 61(9-A))

Ms. Shores’ words, although published six years before the murder of Meredith Kercher even took place, represent an eerily accurate description of Amanda Knox’s predicament, even reflecting some of the terminology employed in Attorney Carlo Pacelli’s exposition on September 26, during the closing portion of the first appeal trial.  As a reminder, Pacelli, who represents Patrick Lumumba in his civil suit against Knox, pointed out that Knox “has a split personality, fresh-faced, the daughter everyone would like, Saint Maria Goretti, and then with her histrionic side [she is] an impostor, she is a she-devil, satanic, diabolic, addicted to borderline behaviour.”

Although Pacelli’s words have been seen by some as too harsh, they carry a heavy implication mirrored in the above quote from Shore ““ that “innocence that cannot include the demonic becomes evil”; in other words, that if Knox cannot reconcile her two sides and seek atonement, she has no hope of redeeming herself as a human being.

I have argued before, in a comment posted here on the TJMK board, that Knox is not likely to make a confession in the near future due to the pressures exerted by her family’s innocence campaign. The innocence campaign is, in my opinion, just one of the factors which prevent Knox from admitting her direct involvement in the crime against Meredith Kercher.

The other factors may include her failure to reconcile the two parts of her persona (innocent, carefree, kind, compassionate young woman versus “diabolical” murderer) and perhaps a culturally-engrained inability to accept involvement in a destructive act. The discussion of these latter factors is perhaps best left to someone with formal training in psychology or sociology.  What I would like to enlarge upon is my conviction that there is a direct correlation between the strength of the innocence campaign and Knox’s unwillingness to admit guilt.

I would like to draw your attention to a conversation between Knox, her mother (Edda Mellas), and her father (Curt Knox) which took place in the early days of the investigation, when Amanda had already been detained.  This conversation will be well-known to those who have been consistently following this case as evidence that, in the early stages, Knox may have been inclined to give a confession.  I have chosen not to include it, but it is readily available on both TJMK and PMF. 

The reason why I believe this conversation to be so important is not only because it might contain the beginning of the confession, but also because it highlights the involvement of her family in defining her position.  I would argue that, had Knox been left to her own devices, she might have cracked in the early stages and given an accurate description of that night’s events, saving both herself, her family, the victim’s family, and anyone involved in the trial considerable grief, time, money, and effort.

At that particular point in time, she may not have been as psychologically divided and conflicted, and she may have had an easier time accepting her criminal side and perhaps moving on to experience positive changes.  It is, however, her parents’ firm belief in her innocence and in her inability to commit such a heinous crime that has consistently mired her in a difficult position.

As we well know, the Knox-Mellas family hired a PR firm, Gogerty-Mariott, to clean up Amanda’s image after unflattering stories started appearing in European tabloids.  The PR campaign has grown exponentially from a few stories about Amanda’s childhood, complete with baby pictures, to what I consider to be a falsification of public opinion. 

On the one hand, there is a concerted effort to offer inaccurate information about existing evidence (limiting the crime scene to Meredith’s room, stating that there is no evidence linking Amanda and Raffaele to the murder, pushing Rudy Guede as the “lone wolf” assassin, etc.), which is then fed to news outlets unwilling to do their own research and pushed upon the unsuspecting public via books, blogs, and forums. Then comes the even more insidious effort to falsify the public’s response to these stories, by hiring posters to write positive reviews for FOA books, post positive comments to inaccurate stories, and shout down any reasonable opposition.

Of course, this entire effort does not come cheaply, and rumors say that the PR campaign’s tab is around one million.  This is an enormous debt to place on the shoulders of a young woman who already needs to contend with the guilt of having committed an incomprehensible, heinous, violent crime.  While it is difficult to feel sympathy for any of Meredith’s killers, I find it impossible not to feel a certain amount of compassion for Amanda, who most likely never asked for this campaign to be initiated.  How could she admit her role in this crime when a million dollars has already been spent to trumpet her innocence?

In addition to the material aspects, there are social and psychological aspects to contend with.  While many of the FOA members are paid for their public appearances and statements (and may not harbor any personal opinions about the case), there seem to be individuals who are supporting Amanda’s innocence out of personal conviction.  Some of them may have even donated money to help her family.  How could she disappoint everyone who invested money and time into supporting her, from her own family to charitable strangers? How could she look them in the eye, after four years of lies and obfuscation, and admit that she was terrified of being punished, or incapable of seeing herself as a murderer?

Peter Quennell has suggested to me that this may be an example of “path dependence,” a concept used in both economics and social sciences to describe a scenario in which current actions and decisions are inexorably determined by past decisions. While my personal knowledge of path dependence is limited, I think that it is certainly applicable in this case and that it can be traced back to the prison conversation discussed before.  During the conversation, Amanda’s parents indirectly communicated to her that the course had been set ““ that the legal team would handle all questions and that she was not to communicate her thoughts without supervision; also that a confession would be unacceptable because she was undeniably innocent. 

As to why her family took this position, I think we can find the answer in the concept of pseudoinnocence ““ the inability to accept responsibility for and involvement in a terrible event, accompanied by a forced distancing from anything that could be considered troubling. 

It is not a coincidence that Amanda has been consistently portrayed as a victim of the supposedly corrupt, medieval Italian justice system, as someone who has been “railroaded” in a “third-world” country, as her supporters want us to believe. It is more comforting to become a victim than to accept responsibility and acknowledge that Amanda’s problems may have started at home, long before she was on a plane for Perugia. I believe that the innocence campaign is not only meant to exculpate Amanda, but to also exculpate her family from any perceived contributions to the formation of a murderer. 

As long as Amanda’s family continues to invest so much money and effort into supporting her innocence, and to maintain so much publicity around her case, I believe that any professional attempts to help Amanda admit her involvement will prove ineffective. This entire undertaking, combined with her own psychological dividedness and any cultural influences, is placing an enormous amount of unnecessary responsibility on Amanda and displacing a more appropriate type of responsibility. 

Amanda, at this point, should feel responsibility towards Meredith and Meredith’s family primarily.  While the murder itself cannot be reversed and no true solace offered, a confession would offer a certain amount of closure to those who knew and loved Meredith. Instead, Amanda’s sense of responsibility is being artificially redirected to not disappointing her own family and supporters, and to not betraying the trust they have placed in her innocence. Aside from being hurtful to the victim’s family, this situation is also damaging for Amanda herself, as it’s setting her on a path of continued “evil” rather than one of heal


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A New Book Explains The Unfruitful Emergence Of More And More Conspiracy Theories

Posted by Peter Quennell


Conspiracy theorists have dismally failed to come up with a plausible alternative theory of how Meredith died.

However, they do keep trying. So do the proponents of literally hundreds of other conspiracy theories, constituting vast amounts of effort probably better spent elsewhere - conspiracy theorists very rarely achieve very much, or do well economically, or rise to the top jobs.

The articles here and here look with skepticism on the 9/11 conspiracy theories which on the tenth anniversary of the twin towers coming down have been pushed hard by the various factions.

Now a new book “The Believing Brain” explains the mental makeup that disposes people to so eagerly believe the worst of our fellow man or our governments: One review in the Wall Street Journal..

In Mr. Shermer’s view, the brain is a belief engine, predisposed to see patterns where none exist and to attribute them to knowing agents rather than to chance””the better to make sense of the world. Then, having formed a belief, each of us tends to seek out evidence that confirms it, thus reinforcing the belief.

This is why, on the foundation of some tiny flaw in the evidence””the supposed lack of roof holes to admit poison-gas cans in one of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers for Holocaust deniers, the expectant faces on the grassy knoll for JFK plotters, the melting point of steel for 9/11 truthers””we go on to build a great edifice of mistaken conviction….

Mr. Shermer offers a handy guide for those who are confused. Conspiracy theories are usually bunk when they are too complex, require too many people to be involved, ratchet up from small events to grand effects, assign portentous meanings to innocuous events, express strong suspicion of either governments or companies, attribute too much power to individuals or generate no further evidence as time goes by.

The increasingly shrill posts appearing daily on the website Ground Report seem to mark pretty high against that list. Could the Evil Mignini have engineered even this?

Oops. Another conspiracy theory in play.


Sunday, September 04, 2011

An Overview Of Modern Thinking On The Criminal Mind

Posted by Ergon



[Above: an image of the influential researcher Dr Abram Hoffer]
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Introduction:

The question of criminality has been much in the news lately, as wild gangs of youth rampaged through British cities, and wild gangs of feral financial speculators rampaged through the world’s economies.

As a scientist I wonder about the pathologies involved, and as a spiritual person I wonder about root causes.

So this is about where we are going as a society. Are we descending into criminality, and is the problem getting worse? I also wonder about the connection between criminality and mental illness.

In the course of trying to find a treatment for my own children’s Autism, I came to the following conclusion: conventional medical science has no clue about the causes or effective treatment of mental illness.

Therefore I had to range further into alternative medicine to find solutions, and serendipitously, I did. Yet, when my son’s autism reversal was confirmed by psychologists, no one seemed to want to know how. Neither the media, nor the conventional establishment.

Never mind. My findings were presented, for free, to various alternative medical doctors and clinics, reported in journals and books, and confirmed by them. The protocol has great possibilities in the treatment of other neurological illnesses. It is possible to reverse brain disease.

At my clinic in Toronto as well as other countries, I treated hundreds of young people with Autism, ADHD, Aspergers, and other psychological disorders, using holistic medical methods alone. Many of them went on to have normal lives; most improved significantly. And, when I have the time, I will write a book about this journey, and share it with everyone.

Which I already did in fact.  See here. But this is by way of background. I do not claim to have cures, or answers; I’m a searcher for knowledge, which I wish to share with others.

The question:

So: Is there such a thing as a criminal mind? This was a question much pondered as the new field of psychology came into being. In opposition to religious belief that crimes were caused by man’s original state of sin, and provoked by deadly sins like avarice and lust etc., it tried to define abnormal behaviour as a function of upbringing and environment.

It was only later as research into the nature of the brain emerged that new theories were formed; could neurological deficits explain criminal acts? Along with other suppositions of nurture and nature, addictions and abuse?

The answer:

According to these studies yes there is..

The release today of a study by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showing than 64 percent of local jail inmates, 56 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners have symptoms of serious mental illnesses is an indictment of the nation’s mental health care system. It is both a scandal and a national tragedy.

The figures are worse than those generally believed in the past, in which estimates of the total number of inmates with mental illnesses have been approximately 20 percent. The study reveals that the problem is two to three times greater than anyone imagined. What is even more disturbing is the number of these inmates that have served prior sentences, committed violent offenses, or engaged in substance abuse.

This is not an ideological statement, nor is it an attempt to avoid the serious problem of crimes in society. We have to have a system of laws and justice, and we have to protect the innocent. But the present system of crime and punishment doesn’t work, either.

So, how do we measure the criminal mind? Could there possibly be genetic, neurological, behavioral or even, physiognomic markers? I was 10 years old when a gentleman took one look at certain bumps on my head and said I “was very perceptive; could look at a scene and see what others could not"Cool, and this was my introduction to phrenology.

This was where 18-19th century researchers sought to determine racial and emotional differences through the study of skull size, shape and protuberances. And yes, they did believe the criminal’s head was different than that of normal people. This later became the field of craniology and craniometry as scientists tried to avoid making unsavory determinations.

The scars left after World War II by these atrocious programmes of research meant that the study of human skull shape and size fell into disrepute. Human variation, the core subject of anthropology, was increasingly explored through genetics and other biological markers, and became functional and adaptive in orientation rather than a search for racial affinities.

In recent years, however, the introduction of new computer-based techniques of measurement, and the greatly enhanced power of statistical analysis, has meant that there has been a resurgence of interest in this subject, and, stripped of its non-Darwinian and racist past, the study of the human head remains a topic of major importance.

So now, scientists are using cranial measurements to determine mental illness as shown here:

Recently, Harvard researchers reported that children with autism have a wide range of genetic defects, making it nearly impossible to develop a simple genetic test to identify the disorder. Now, University of Missouri researchers are studying 3-D imaging to reveal correlations in the facial features and brain structures of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which will enable them to develop a formula for earlier detection of the disorder…

When you compare the faces and head shapes of children with specific types of autism to other children, it is obvious there are variations. Currently, autism diagnosis is purely behavior based and doctors use tape measurements to check for facial and brain dissimilarities. We are developing a quantitative method that will accurately measure these differences and allow for earlier, more precise detection of specific types of the disorder,” said Ye Duan, assistant computer science professor in the MU College of Engineering.

Then you have “The Criminal Brain-Understanding Biological Theories of Crime”, by author Nicole Hahn Rafter, New York University Press (October 2008)

What is the relationship between criminality and biology? Nineteenth-century phrenologists insisted that criminality was innate, a trait inherent in the offender’s brain matter. While they were eventually repudiated as pseudo-scientists and self-deluded charlatans, today the pendulum has swung back.

Both criminologists and biologists have begun to speak of a tantalizing but disturbing possibility: that criminality may be inherited as a set of genetic deficits that place one at risk for theft, violence, and sexual deviance.

If that is so, we may soon confront proposals for genetically modifying “at risk” foetuses or doctoring up criminals so their brains operate like those of law-abiding citizens.

Wow. Now this really frightens me, to see scientists, once again, barking up the wrong genetic tree, but there you go any way.

Brain Injury as a factor in crime:

Alternative physician Dr. Russell L. Blaylock:  Vaccines, Depression and Neurodegeneration After Age 50

Previously, it was thought that major depression was secondary to a deficiency in certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly the monoamines, which include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. While alterations in these important mood-related neurotransmitters is found with major depression, growing evidence indicates that the primary culprit is low-grade, chronic brain inflammation.

In addition, we now know that inflammatory cytokines can lower serotonin significantly and for long periods by a number of different mechanisms.

I would agree with him there, since it has been my observation that mental illness is often accompanied by inflammatory disorders or auto-immune illness. I also believe the changes in vaccine schedules may have led to increased neurological deficits and genetic damage passed on to subsequent generations, but that is an argument for a separate article. I do not blame vaccines alone, as I will explain here.

There is research that shows criminal minds and behavior issues are often accompanied by brain damage.

Brain injury is a condition that involves microscopic damage to brain tissue that can only be seen in life through the lens of the patterns of the injured person’s life. Chris Henry, the former NFL wide receiver whose autopsy results confirmed he was living with brain damage, may have finally made that clear.

“Limbic Abnormalities in Affective Processing by Criminal Psychopaths as Revealed by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging” by Kiehl, et al, (PDF)

Results: Compared with criminal nonpsychopaths and noncriminal control participants, criminal psychopaths showed significantly less affect-related activity in the amygdala/hippocampal formation, parahippocampal gyrus, ventral striatum, and in the anterior and posterior cingulate gyri. Psychopathic criminals also showed evidence of overactivation in the bilateral fronto-temporal cortex for processing affective stimuli

The brains of autistic individuals show similar defects:

The two research teams have noticed an intriguing abnormality in the brains of the small group of autistics they have examined: The cerebellum, a portion of the brain involved with muscle coordination and the regulation of incoming sensations, contains fewer neurons known as Purkinje cells. There are also preliminary indications that growth in parts of the limbic system, which oversees emotion and memory, is arrested while autistics are still in the womb

Likewise in schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.

New research shows for the first time that both have a common genetic basis that leads people to develop one or other of the two illnesses..find that thousands of tiny genetic mutations ““ known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) ““ are operating in raising the risk of developing the illness.

“Early Signs of Psychopathy” argues that signs can show at an early age.

A twenty-five year study, published this month in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, demonstrates that, as early as the age of three, there are temperamental and physiological difference between those who show psychopathic tendencies as adults and those who don’t.

Not only do psychopaths lack emotions of conscience and empathy, but research has shown that these individuals consistently display certain aspects of temperament including a lack of fear, lack of inhibition and stimulus seeking behavior.

A lack of a hormone that affects empathy:

We’ve long accepted that hormones can make you amorous, aggressive, or erratic. But lately neuroscience has been abuzz with evidence that the hormone oxytocin—which also acts as a neuromodulator—can enhance at least one cognitive power: the ability to understand the gist of what others are thinking. In this week’s Mind Matters, Jennifer Bartz and Eric Hollander, two leading researchers in this area, review the many and surprising ways in which oxytocin seems to influence both our openness to others and our understanding of them.

For inherently social creatures such as humans, the ability to identify the motives, intentions, goals, desires, beliefs and feelings of others is not a nicety but an essential skill. We must understand “where others are coming from” not only to pursue our individual goals but also to facilitate social harmony more generally. Specifically, we need to recognize that other people can have thoughts, beliefs, desires and feelings that differ from our own…

And it may be this that drives psychopathy, or the criminal mind.

Cleckley in Psychopathy: Two lengthy checklists of psychopathic, or anti-social personality disorder:

Cleckley’s original list of symptoms of a psychopath:

1. Considerable superficial charm and average or above average intelligence.
2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
3. Absence of anxiety or other “neurotic” symptoms considerable poise, calmness, and verbal facility.
4. Unreliability, disregard for obligations no sense of responsibility, in matters of little and great import.
5. Untruthfulness and insincerity
6. Antisocial behavior which is inadequately motivated and poorly planned, seeming to stem from an inexplicable impulsiveness.
7. Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
8. Poor judgment and failure to learn from experience
9. Pathological egocentricity. Total self-centeredness incapacity for real love and attachment.
10. General poverty of deep and lasting emotions.
11. Lack of any true insight, inability to see oneself as others do.
12. Ingratitude for any special considerations, kindness, and trust.
13. Fantastic and objectionable behavior, after drinking and sometimes even when not drinking—vulgarity, rudeness, quick mood shifts, pranks.
14. No history of genuine suicide attempts.
15. An impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated sex life.
16. Failure to have a life plan and to live in any ordered way, unless it be one promoting self-defeat.

Hare in The Psychopathic Personality:

A psychopath can have high verbal intelligence, but they typically lack “emotional intelligence”. They can be expert in manipulating others by playing to their emotions. There is a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories (i.e., how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may have felt and why).

The lack of emotional intelligence is the first good sign you may be dealing with a psychopath. A history of criminal behavior in which they do not seem to learn from their experience, but merely think about ways to not get caught is the second best sign.

The following is a list of items based on the research of Robert Hare, Ph.D. which is derived from the “The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, .1991, Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.” These are the most highly researched and recognized characteristics of psychopathic personality and behavior”:

1. glibness/superficial charm
2. grandiose sense of self worth
3. need for stimulation/prone to boredom
4. pathological lying
5. conning/manipulative
6. lack of remorse or guilt
7. shallow emotional response
8. callous/lack of empathy
9. parasitic lifestyle
10. poor behavioral controls
11. promiscuous sexual behavior
12. early behavioral problems
13. lack of realistic long term goals
14. impulsivity
15. irresponsibility
16. failure to accept responsibility for their own actions
17. many short term relationships
18. juvenile delinquency
19. revocation of conditional release
20. criminal versatility

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Is it becoming a rare quality among young people? It certainly seems to be declining in society.

Emotional intelligence “is a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Mayer & Salovey, 1993: 433). According to Salovey & Mayer (1990), EI subsumes Gardner’s inter- and intrapersonal intelligences, and involves abilities that may be categorized into five domains:

Self-awareness: Observing yourself and recognizing a feeling as it happens.

Managing emotions: Handling feelings so that they are appropriate; realizing what is behind a feeling; finding ways to handle fears and anxieties, anger, and sadness.

Motivating oneself: Channeling emotions in the service of a goal; emotional self control; delaying gratification and stifling impulses.

Empathy: Sensitivity to others’ feelings and concerns and taking their perspective; appreciating the differences in how people feel about things.

Handling relationships: Managing emotions in others; social competence and social skills.

And according to Goleman (1995: 160), “Emotional intelligence, the skills that help people harmonize, should become increasingly valued as a workplace asset in the years to come.”

The last words belong to the educators, of course.

Howard Gardner (July 11, 1943 - ) American Psychologist and Educator

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) proposes that intelligent behavior does not arise from a single unitary quality of the mind, as the g -based theories profiled on this Web site suggest, but rather that different kinds of intelligence are generated from separate metaphorical pools of mental energy.

Gardner derived this conceptualization of intelligence in part from his experiences working with members (of) extreme populations, in which certain cognitive abilities are preserved (often to a remarkable degree) even in the absence of other, very basic abilities. For example, some autistic savants display extraordinary musical or mathematical abilities despite severely impaired language development and social awareness. Likewise, individuals with localized brain damage often demonstrate severe deficits that are circumscribed to a single cognitive domain (Gardner, 1983/2003).

And Piaget, who inspired me many years ago: Jean Piaget (August 9, 1896-September 16, 1980) Swiss Biologist and Child Psychologist

Definition of Intelligence:  Intelligence is an adaptation”¦To say that intelligence is a particular instance of biological adaptation is thus to suppose that it is essentially an organization and that its function is to structure the universe just as the organism structures its immediate environment” (Piaget, 1963, pp. 3-4).

Intelligence is assimilation to the extent that it incorporates all the given data of experience within its framework”¦There can be no doubt either, that mental life is also accommodation to the environment. Assimilation can never be pure because by incorporating new elements into its earlier schemata the intelligence constantly modifies the latter in order to adjust them to new elements” (Piaget, 1963, p. 6-7) (Including, imo, ‘criminal intelligence’)

Major Contributions:

The Theory of Genetic Epistemology.  Piaget also believed that intellectual development occurs in four distinct stages.

The sensorimotor stage begins at birth, and lasts until the child is approximately two years old. At this stage, the child cannot form mental representations of objects that are outside his immediate view, so his intelligence develops through his motor interactions with his environment.

The preoperational stage typically lasts until the child is 6 or 7. According to Piaget, this is the stage where true “thought” emerges. Preoperational children are able to make mental representations of unseen objects, but they cannot use deductive reasoning.

The concrete operations stage follows, and lasts until the child is 11 or 12. Concrete operational children are able to use deductive reasoning, demonstrate conservation of number, and can differentiate their perspective from that of other people.

Formal operations is the final stage. Its most salient feature is the ability to think abstractly.

It is my opinion that emotional intelligence development also follows these four distinct phases. This is where nurture and nature come into play, and any trauma, abuse, neglect, that occurs during these phases can lead to an emotional stunting where the child is unable to progress to the next stage of development.

In the same way, a positive home and school environment can help children grow to be more harmonious members of society, once you adjust for any biological and neurological deficits. Early recognition and treatment is key…

Having worked as a volunteer in the public school system, I can tell you what teachers and educators have been telling me for years: the number of learning disabled and emotionally disturbed children is increasing exponentially..

Is it just me, or does it seem like the world has become an increasingly disharmonious place lately?

But the last word might well come from a book written by a Norwegian judge, Jens Jacob-Sander:  The Criminal Brain: A View from the Bench…  Exploring the Criminal Mind

What goes on in the minds of criminals? This question raises perennial philosophical issues about human behavior in general and criminal conduct in particular. Do criminals act the way they do because of how and what they think and feel? And, are these internal forces of thought and feeling caused by the states of their brains, which in turn are predetermined by biology, chemistry, and genetics? Is the problem, in short, what used to be called bad blood?

Or, are the thoughts, feelings, and actions of criminals caused by external factors such as parents, education, and other influences in the environment that mold and shape malleable brains, which, in turn, give rise to the criminal personality? In other words, is the real culprit for criminal behavior what used to be called society?

With the emergence of brain science over the past 50 years, including brain imaging technologies and the study of brain chemistry, perhaps we can return to these profound questions with new hope of making progress toward answers.

At the present time, although some scholars of brain science lean heavily toward a reductionistic biological determinism, others call attention to the plasticity of the brain and its capacity for change. Even if we cannot ever uncover a single satisfactory answer to how the criminal mind works, perhaps we can begin to diminish the devastation caused by criminal behavior.

An exploration of the criminal mind might yield insights, ideas, and innovative hypotheses worthy of serious consideration and further study. It might also provoke us to reconsider how we think about the questions we ask about the causes of criminal behavior. Instead of polarizing the discussion by pitting determinism (biological or social) against free will as mutually exclusive explanations of criminal conduct, we might discover that biological predispositions and habits of thought can be influenced by education, cognitive retraining, and behavior modification. Whatever our current state of knowledge, isn’t it worth our effort to try to formulate better theories and more effective forms of intervention?

That daunting task has been undertaken in a new e-book titled Exploring the Criminal Mind and subtitled Advances of Brainscience and Mental Procedures of the Criminal Personality: A Unified Brain-Mind Theory. The author and publisher, Jens-Jacob Sander, is a judge in the Norwegian Courts of Justice, located west of the city of Oslo. Judge Sander tells us in the foreword to his book that it grew out of his frustration with trying to understand the criminal mind while he was engaged in a major international fraud-hunt in 1989 that, although successful, was apparently hampered by the lack of adequate information and insights about criminal minds.

Perhaps we can return to these profound questions with new hope of making progress toward answers, indeed.

Posted by Ergon on 09/04 at 05:01 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Crime hypothesesThe psychologyComments here (11)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Thinking About Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito, and Amanda Knox: What Might Have Been

Posted by Ergon





This is my post on my website Man From Atlan of June 26, 2011 cross-posted here at the invitation of TJMK.

Due to my Scorpionic nature, I think, I come across a great many criminal and legal cases that grab the public attention.

It seems, also, that I get involved in the case in one way or the other, and, a great number of coincidences seem to er, follow me. Psychologists call that the ‘I was there syndrome’ and that’s fine, it’s a form of mental illness, and you can decide if I have it, or not!

But I have spent a lifetime studying the fine line between Psychic Sensitivity and Schizophrenia, and what interests me here is not only how we identify with the crime and the individuals involved, but how these cases establish themselves in the public consciousness.

And yes, I want to write about the lives wasted, and what might have been.

Whenever a person dies, there is a break in the fabric of consciousness, and all of humanity is affected. Most people learn to ignore it; some, more sensitive, get consumed by it, but we are all affected by it at some level.

A murder case may be just one individual; the devastation of an earthquake or tsunami may affect hundreds of thousands. As for me, I am an observer, but also in a way, a catalyst.

Look, you know my spiritual claims. Forget that for a moment. What I do is warn people about the fateful consequences of the psychic and spiritual damage done to our souls (or psyche) and environment, and if you don’t listen, if you don’t change, then so be it. What will be, will be. But a part of me, having seen what would happen, mourns for what might have been.

One of my patients was a girl who had Rhett’s Syndrome, a severe form of Autism. She came to my clinic and the treatments really helped, yet it was the mother who also needed help. In the end, suffering from depression, she killed her child and tried to commit suicide.

A woman two streets down from us, suffering from post partum depression, killed her husband and stabbed her two children as well. My son used to play with their dog at the local park, but curiously, I never met them.

I worked on a mayoralty campaign. The candidate, a lovely soul, came second. At the farewell party I saw something dark around him. I told his partner that he needed help, and offered. It wasn’t heard because they were, I think, already caught up in their karma. A year later he jumped off a bridge and killed himself.

Then, going from the personal to the ‘famous’ cases, and the ‘coincidences’ and lessons thereof.

I wrote in “Michael Jackson, the Drowning Man” about how I helped a famous musician with his Parkinson’s Disease in 1994 but when I asked him to introduce me to Michael Jackson, he didn’t. I was too controversial. Pity, I could have helped him before he descended into his inappropriate behavior.

OJ Simpson was the first criminal case. I lived in Santa Monica almost equidistant between him and his ex-wife Nicole Brown. I had driven around the neighborhood enough times to know the story had some inconsistencies, but I believed he was guilty. I also accepted the jury’s verdict of Not Guilty, because the principle of reasonable doubt, in American law, had to be upheld.

There also was the fact I had closed my practice in Toronto and moved to Los Angeles just to help people there, arriving in 1993 in time for the Malibu Fires and Northridge Earthquake (written in “A Spiritual Journey To The United States”) and once I knew my work was done left for Texas. And a few months later, the murder, the White Bronco slowly driving down the freeway, the media circus and all of LA enjoying a mass catharsis.

After I left the US in 1995 I shifted my focus to Europe, though Canada remained my home base. I still looked back to the US with fondness, and sadness for what was yet to come.

I was in England in 2005 when the Terri Schiavo case gripped the nation. She was in a lengthy coma, with most of her brain destroyed. Her parents were fighting to keep her on life support, while her husband wanted to pull the plug and let her die.

I tried to stay uninvolved, even though I knew her spirit wanted to be free. I felt this was wrong, for parents to keep holding on to their child. So one day, when Chloe called me about the latest developments, I said enough was enough, and helped her spirit pass on. She died that evening. And shortly after I left England, there was the London Tube bombing. Coincidence, or catharsis?

Madeleine McCann, a little girl from the U.K., disappeared from her holiday bedroom in Portugal just a few days before her 4th birthday, in May of 2007. Her parents were dining some distance away with their friends and inexplicably had left the children unattended and the door to their villa unlocked. The investigators never found Madeleine. The conclusion, absent a body, was that she had been kidnapped. There were many false sightings after that, as people assumed she had been kidnapped by child traders.

This was two months before I went to the UK with my family on holiday. I was asked what I thought about Madeleine. Would she be found? I replied that she had died that first night, and the parents were involved in a cover up. The person who asked me that question then consulted a psychic, who of course said what everyone wanted to hear: Madeleine was alive.

Then further reports came out, and we found that special police dogs, trained to sniff for evidence of death, had indicated she had died inside the bedroom that very night. Nothing further came to light, as political interference corrupted the whole process, and police investigators were sacked for ‘unfairly blaming the parents’

Yet, there’s a website that does just that; you be the judge. See here and here and here.

This was another example of a case that would consume the public, as so many identified with the missing child, or the parents. And, as always, my presence seemed coincidental to a whole series of events. A few weeks before we arrived in Glasgow, bombers hit Glasgow airport with a van loaded to the top with propane cylinders, the rains hit the whole country for three months straight, and the biggest floods in over a century inundated large parts of Southern England. Yet wherever we went, there was sunshine…This is the dichotomy of healing, that there can be sunshine, but also, darkness.

I had already arranged to go back to the UK for a month as a consultant. I returned to Canada on October 31.

The very next day, on November 1, 2007, British student Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, was murdered in Perugia, Italy. Her roommate, Amanda Marie Knox, was convicted of the murder, as was her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Hermann Guede, a drifter from the Cote de Ivoire in Africa.

I hadn’t read much about the case and trial, but came across it on the pages of Huffington Post, the social news website. Here was a full blown narrative: Amanda Knox was innocent of the crime, she was the victim of a corrupt Italian prosecutor, and Rudy Guede was the sole perpetrator (All untrue, btw)

What piqued me was the fingerprints of an extensive PR campaign to manipulate public opinion so as to influence the outcome of a trial in another country. Appearances by Knox’s family on Oprah, calls to boycott Italy, politicians trying to intervene in a judicial process, oh my.

And the comments on the numerous Amanda threads were funny, and so sad. These people were, in a word, disturbed. They were even foul mouthed about the victims parents, for daring to say they felt justice had been served. And they had no compunction about blatant lying and slander either.

I’d seen this so many times, the ease with which people could be led to believe, on the basis of something they saw or read, the most outlandish things.

Now I really do believe that trying to convince True Believers is a waste of time. (But arguing with them can be er, illuminating:) I’m interested in the process by which they come to that belief, but any good book on mob psychology can give you the basics, and of course, you must always read Orwell’s 1984. The same principles of propaganda used to create support for war can also be used to support a position, no matter how wrong it might seem to the intelligent observer.

So I looked at the facts of the case. Amanda Knox had falsely accused her black boss, Patrick Lumumba of the crime, she and her boyfriend had provided alibis that were later disproved, there was a staged break in to mislead the investigation, and there was sufficient DNA, blood and foot prints to prove the complicity of the other two accused.

Two courts, led by Judges Micheli and Massei, had already looked at over 10,000 pages of evidence to conclude that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had also been involved in the murder. And, the most compelling DNA evidence, Raffaele’s DNA on the victims bra, and Amanda’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s on the murder knife found in Raffaele’s flat.

The Supreme Court of Italy, while affirming Rudy Guede’s conviction, had already established that more than one attacker had been involved, and that DNA attributed to Knox and Sollecito had already been found.

I also noted that the Wikipedia page on Meredith Kercher, once reflecting the findings of guilt against all three accused, had now been hijacked by, let’s say, Amanda Knox partisans.

I have to thank the two websites TJMK and PMF for the fine work they have done compiling and translating the vast volume of Italian language transcripts of the trial and summaries of evidence. Without them, my technical knowledge of the case would have been quite inadequate. I can’t recommend them highly enough for anyone interested in learning about the case.

But I formed my opinions way before I found their sites, and I say this out of respect: I don’t want their work compromised by association with my own views.

What I write about here is first and always, spiritual in nature. I may use logic to confirm something, I will look at evidence, but ultimately I look at disturbances in the fabric to search out imbalance and untruth. And I learn to trust my instincts. It is only afterwards that I look at other factors, and if I need to adjust my views, so be it. But the patterns and the coincidences, are fascinating.

First, the Astrology. Meredith Kercher, born Dec. 28, 1985, and Rudy Guede, December 26, 1986, are both Capricorns. Raffaele Sollecito, March 26, 1984, is Aries, and Amanda Knox, July 09, 1987, a Cancer. Their signs form a T-Square, at 90 degrees to each other, which are widely seen as indicators of stress and incompatibility. The day of the murder saw widespread stressors on all their horoscopes which would lead to murder, detection, conviction and imprisonment. The Astrology even shows Raffaele’s drug dependency and mental confusion on the night of the murder, the conflict between Amanda and Meredith, and the violence and rage that simmered just below the surface of Amanda Knox’s psyche.

And the night of the murder, November 1, 2007, saw Saturn and Venus in the house of emotional excess, Uranus in the house of sudden death, and Jupiter/Pluto, in the sexual house, in an almost exact T-Square to each other. The close conjunction of Pluto to the Milky Way’s Galactic Center shows the potency of this murder in attracting the public imagination, and also, the trigger for the murder.

But Astrology is just one of many tools in Humanistic psychology. It shows patterns, yes, but mainly it gives a picture of motivations and stages of development. And sometimes, it tells us what might happen. For me, there are many tools: Psychism to know, and other tools to understand.

So I will say this about all four:

Amanda Knox’s profile is that of the self destructive individual who will fall from ‘the shattered tower’ due to her associations with others. Btw, her July 09 birthday is the same as OJ Simpson’s and they Both Wielded Knives, hmmm!

Raffaele Sollecito has powerful friends who won’t be able to help him. He almost had it too easy, and his drug use took him into some deep dark spaces. Note he wasn’t just using cannabis, but more likely a potent form called skunk weed, plus heroin and cocaine.

Rudy Guede may actually turn out to be a sympathetic individual. His is the one chart I see that leads to redemption and indescribable potential. He is, quite frankly, the most believable of the three, even though he did lie, and he was rightly found guilty.

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was greatly loved, had the intellectual capability to go far, and would have, if she hadn’t been murdered, been a bright blazing star. RIP Meredith.

I hate to make predictions. Human beings will always have the capacity to alter the future (though truth be told, not as much as they like to think) My prophecies have to do with the future of this planet and humanity’s ability to survive and regenerate itself.

But on June 27, Rudy Guede will face Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in their appeals trial, and for the first time, be forced to answer questions directly. I believe this will be the day he begins to redeem himself.

(Update: And on that day, he placed Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the crime scene)

On June 30th, the DNA experts will present their findings. This will be one day before the solar eclipse in Cancer. I predict bombshells in court.

(Update: the expert’s report was presented a day earlier, on June 29, and it was interesting, to say the least. It disputed some of the DNA findings accepted by the previous court and one would think from the media reporting they prove Knox and Sollecito’s innocence. From my reading of the report, it does no such thing, only places ambiguities on some of the evidence. There definitely will be fireworks in court, as the prosecution tears into the many errors of the report)

I am struck by the coincidences of the cases I outlined: allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, disputed forensic and DNA evidence, racism and political interference, your standard trial. But they all, held a special place in the public imagination.

But in spiritism we see that it is the unquiet spirit of the victim that calls to us, and we can only hope and pray for their peace. Justice is always done.

And one can only look back at them with sadness, for what might have been.

Posted by Ergon on 07/06 at 07:36 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Crime hypothesesThe psychologyThe officially involvedComments here (10)

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.


Saturday, March 05, 2011

Thoughts On Meredith’s Tragic Case And Its Significance In The Bigger Scheme Of Things

Posted by Saskia van der Elst


As one of the regular commentators on this forum once pointed out, the question we all are trying to answer regarding the pointless murder of the talented and beautiful Meredith Kercher in Perugia is: What is it, that keeps on drawing us to this case?

We all have our own reasons. According to me, a murder case seldom has so much in common with an old school murder mystery, or “whodunnit”. A victim that you instantly sympathize with, several suspects, each with their own particular background, ethnic origin and possible motives, a tragic event taking place on the day of the Death, a charismatic prosecutor, who himself is the center of some controversy, and all of this set in the stunningly beautiful medieval hilltop town of Perugia, with its two universities, its relatively small population and its many temporary residents, studying and partying in the small town center.

All are ingredients for a captivating story: a small universe, that can easily be explained to an outsider and once you heard the beginning of the story, you crave more. More information, more depth, more color. For those that have a normal, healthy brain, there comes a point in any murder mystery where you are convinced of the guilt of one or more of the characters in the story and as you near the end of the story, there might be an unexpected twist, but you can rest assured that you will find out who did it.

Of course, in real life stories don’t follow formulas, most of the time they don’t have a definitive ending and in the case of the murder of Meredith, the book is not closed. The three perpetrators of the crime have been convicted to a total of 67 years in jail between the three of them, but all three maintain their innocence. We all know that three cannot keep a secret, so it is a matter of time until one of them reveals more about the exact events that took place on the 2nd of November in 2007.

Each of the three perpetrators will go through a process of maturing in prison. Once they feel they have paid a significant price for their crime, they may realize the graveness of they crime and realize that they made bad decisions in their past. Not until that moment, they can find redemption and may feel the need to let the world know that they have changed as a person. All three perpetrators were immature in their own way when they committed their crime, so it might take a while for them to mature enough to be able to face reality.

Rudy might be the first one to reach that point, since he is more or less an orphan, with no controlling relatives, friends and others with vested interests in the lies that have masked the truth. Nobody will lose face if he decides to confess his participation in the crime. The same thing, but to a lesser degree,  is true for Raffaele. Since he never even cared about clarifying all inconsistencies in his stories, he implicitly has already admitted his involvement. He too, doesn’t affect many people if he opens up and gets clean. The only close relatives he has are his father and sister and they have not publicly expressed a strong believe in his innocence.

Amanda is in a much more difficult position, because of the amount of people that was mobilized to defend her. By now she has been the income generator for quite some people and although nobody envies her parents, they have a clear mission, that keeps them occupied and that gives their lives meaning. The moment Amanda would confess her involvement, the parents would be forced to exchange the “free my innocent daughter” banner for one that reads “I raised a murderess that is serving two and a half decades in a foreign prison”.

On top of the above, the process of coming clean might be a slow one, because all three suffer from uncertainty about how the other two are doing. That uncertainty might cause postponing the advance, until they are forced to speak up, because one of the others did so first.

The result for those that are following the case is that we know we don’t have all information yet and for us to fill in all the blanks and be able to understand what exactly has happened to Meredith we need that information. Until we have it, we cannot accept the story as is as it leaves us unsatisfied. Of course we are talking about a true story here and not about a work of fiction, but for the rational part of our minds that doesn’t make a difference.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Elisa Benedetti: Another Sad And Unneccesary Death Of A Young Woman Living In Perugia

Posted by catnip


About our series

This is another in our occasional series of posts on crimes involving young women in Perugia.

It shows how trouble and death so easily overwhelmed the vivacious Elisa, how drugs and drug dealers may have played a role, how the authorities handled Elisa’s disappearance, and how caring Perugia yet again rallied round.

Who was Elisa?

Elisa Benedetti was a 25 year old student and call-centre operator and lived in Città  di Castello with her father Osvaldo, 51, and younger brother. Her mother had died two months previously.

The disappearance

On Saturday night, 29 January 2011, Elisa Benedetti, 25, out drinking with friends, disappeared into the dark wilderness north of Perugia. The car she was driving became bogged down on a muddy track.

She called the emergency number. She was lost, confused and frightened.

Eventually, the phone batteries gave out. It was icy cold and wet, mud everywhere. Around midday on the following Monday, her body was found about a kilometre from the abandoned car.

She had died from exposure to the cold.


Click here for the rest


Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Don’t Perpetrators Say They’re Sorry? A Psychoanalytic Perspective

Posted by Carol Poole


[Image: In downtown Leeds, a city in which Meredith was extremely happy]

A disclaimer: I do not intend these remarks as commentary on any specific individual(s). I’m offering them as food for thought, for anyone who (like me) struggles to understand both the human capacities for destruction and for healing

Why don’t abusers apologize when they’re caught? Even when it would be in their own best interest to show remorse?

Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes people own their crimes and take responsibility. The less shameful the crime, the more likely this is. As Johnny Cash sang, “I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die.” When he sang at Folsom Prison, no doubt his audience nodded along, sharing a general sense that shooting or getting shot in a bar is the kind of thing that any man might find himself doing on a bad day.

But no one sings about molesting a child. Or rape. Even the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, was offended when officers suggested he had raped the women he murdered—women, most of them young, all of them working the hardest of jobs and deserving much better.

So there are some crimes that no one brags about—or apologizes for, either, which is a shame, since the survivors and loved ones are left to try to understand what has happened. In my work as a psychotherapist for trauma and abuse survivors, I seek answers for this difficult question: how can people do such terrible things to others, and show no remorse?

This is especially hard when the perpetrator seems like a nice, “normal” person, a respected member of society. We can more easily understand when an act of violence is committed by someone in the grip of a psychotic delusion. It’s just a terrible accident then, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Likewise, we don’t lose sleep trying to understand a coldly sociopathic attack: we don’t have to wonder why a mugger steals a purse.

But it baffles and hurts us deeply when someone we should have been able to trust commits violence against one of us. Especially when the crime is covered up by denial, adding injury to injury by robbing the injured parties of something they need in order to heal: acknowledgment of the truth of what’s happened.

Dori Laub, a psychoanalyst who survived a childhood in concentration camps in the Holocaust, observed that when our faith in goodness is shattered, we feel abandoned by the world of goodness, and lost in a kind of desert of the soul, a deathly state that feels empty of all life except for the malign presence of the perpetrator.

And he pointed out something he must have learned by experience: there is something about trauma that messes with our ability to recognize it when it’s happening. Our minds sometimes cannot see it, refuse to put together the picture that is right in front of our eyes, perhaps because we fear that if we see the truth, it will destroy our hope that the world is the good place we need it to be.

This, I believe, is why good people sometimes collude with abuse by refusing to see it. The refusal is happening at such a deep instinctive level that it’s rarely an entirely conscious choice.

And in a sense, it’s also why perpetrators of the worst crimes so rarely own what they’ve done. Research has shown that abusers have a curious relationship with remorse: they may have formidable defenses against feeling guilt, which is feeling bad about what you’ve done. But they are highly prone to shame, which is feeling bad about who or what you are.

The kind of people who are most likely to abuse others are those who are absorbed by a damaged sense of self. They lash out in a crude effort to fend of feelings of being bad, in a kind of magical thinking: If I put the badness in you, it won’t be in me anymore. If I make you hurt, then I won’t have to hurt. To a very childish state of mind, to hurt is to be bad. We all make that equation when we’re very small, but most of us grow a mature sense of self that integrates our many different feelings into a whole picture.

Having a mature sense of self means being able to say, “I sometimes do things that aren’t good. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is. At least I can try to repair the harm I’ve done, and learn not to do it again.” The same sense of integration is what prevents us from acting out our worst impulses. We can safely want to strangle people from time to time, knowing we will never do it.

When someone’s sense of self is so badly damaged that they can be violently abusive, they aren’t able to hold together a whole story about themselves, or about what they’ve done. It’s only after years of therapy (or other means of growth) that such a person might become able to really put together the picture of their own violence, and take responsibility for their actions.

Which means that people who have been harmed by violence have to find ways to take care of themselves and heal, even though the perpetrator has an infuriating, baffling way of seeming not to have been there at all. It’s as though nothing happened.

It’s natural to wish that the perpetrator would be sorry. It would help so much to hear their apology. But there’s a trap, too, in waiting for help from that quarter. It’s no good trying to get such a person to hear you or understand that gravity of what they’ve done. It’s like trying to get a clear reflection out of the fragments of a shattered mirror.

Instead, what helps survivors and loved ones heal is to tend their souls, and work their way back toward everything that makes life full: love, trust, gratitude, hope. Which means finding a way to grieve the losses.

We don’t grieve in the cold shadows of the death zone; we grieve when we remember our love and our hope for the future.

It helps to have a sense of community acknowledging our loss. It helps if we can find a way to bring something good out of the devastation—if we can at least bring some meaning to the loss by letting the tragedy inspire us to do good.

It’s only at the end of the movie, when the mother and child embrace, that we can let down and weep for everything they had to go through to find each other again, and weep too for the ones we miss.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Claims Amanda Knox’s Confessions Resemble “False Confessions” Not Backed Up By Any Criminal Research

Posted by Fuji



[Above: Perugia’s central police station where Knox, Sollecito and Guede were all interviewed]

Meredith’s case is absolutely riddled with fabricated false myths. 

They are now found by the hundreds on some misleading websites, and they simply make experienced law enforcement and criminal lawyers laugh. 

For example “Police had no good reason to be immediately suspicious of Knox simply because the murder occurred at her residence”.  And “The double-DNA knife is a priori to be disregarded as evidence, because no murderer would retain possession of such a murder weapon.”

One of the most strident and widespread myths is that Amanda Knox’s statements to the Perugian investigators on 5 and 6 November 2007, placing her at the scene of Meredith’s murder, are to be viewed as the products of a genuinely confused mind imbued with a naïve trust of authority figures.

The apparent certainty with which many of Amanda Knox’s most vocal supporters proclaim that Knox’s statements are actual “false confessions” as opposed to deliberate lies is not supported by even a cursory reading of the pertinent academic literature regarding false confessions.

What actually are “false confessions”?

Richard N. Kocsis in his book “Applied Criminal Psychology: A Guide to Forensic Behavioral Sciences” (2009), on pages 193-4 delineates three different kinds of false confessions:

First, a voluntary false confession is one in which a person falsely confesses to a crime absent any pressure or coercion from police investigators….

Coerced-compliant false confessions occur when a person falsely confesses to a crime for some immediate gain and in spite of the conscious knowledge that he or she is actually innocent of the crime….

The final type, identified by Kassin and Wrightsman (1985), is referred to as a coerced-internalized false confession. This occurs when a person falsely confesses to a crime and truly begins to believe that he or she is responsible for the criminal act.

The first problem facing Knox supporters wishing to pursue the false confession angle as a point speaking to her purported innocence is epistemological.

Although much research has been done on this phenomenon in recent years, academics are still struggling to come to terms with a methodology to determine their incidence rate.

The current state of knowledge does not support those making sweeping claims about the likelihood of Knox’s statements being representative of a genuine internalized false confession.

As noted by Richard A. Leo in “False Confessions: Causes, Consequences, and Implications” (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2009):

Although other researchers have also documented and analyzed numerous false confessions in recent years, we do not know how frequently they occur. A scientifically meaningful incidence rate cannot be determined for several reasons.

First, researchers cannot identify (and thus cannot randomly sample) the universe of false confessions, because no governmental or private organization keeps track of this information.

Second, even if one could identify a set of possibly false confessions, it is not usually possible as a practical matter to obtain the primary case materials (e.g., police reports, pretrial and trial transcripts, and electronic recordings of the interrogations) necessary to evaluate the unreliability of these confessions.

Finally, even in disputed confession cases in which researchers are able to obtain primary case materials, it may still be difficult to determine unequivocally the ground truth (i.e., what really happened) with sufficient certainty to prove the confession false.

In most alleged false-confession cases, it is therefore impossible to remove completely any possible doubts about the confessor’s innocence.

The next problem Knox supporters face is that, even allowing for an inability to establish a priori any likelihood of a given statement being a false confession, the kind of false confession which is usually attributed to Knox is in fact one of the LEAST likely of the three types (Voluntary, Compliant, and Persuaded, as Leo terms the three different categories) to be observed:

Persuaded false confessions appear to occur far less often than compliant false confessions.

Moreover, despite assertions to the contrary, Knox and her statements do not in fact satisfy many of the criteria researchers tend to observe in false confessions, particularly of the Persuaded variety:

“All other things being equal, those who are highly suggestible or compliant are more likely to confess falsely. Individuals who are highly suggestible tend to have poor memories, high levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, and low assertiveness, personality factors that also make them more vulnerable to the pressures of interrogation and thus more likely to confess falsely…

Highly suggestible or compliant individuals are not the only ones who are unusually vulnerable to the pressures of police interrogation. So are the developmentally disabled or cognitively impaired, juveniles, and the mentally ill….

They also tend to occur primarily in high-profile murder cases and to be the product of unusually lengthy and psychologically intense interrogations… ordinary police interrogation is not strong enough to produce a permanent change in the suspect’s beliefs.

Most significantly, there is one essential element of a true Persuaded False Confession which in Knox’s case is highly distinctive:

To convince the suspect that it is plausible, and likely, that he committed the crime, the interrogators must supply him with a reason that satisfactorily explains how he could have done it without remembering it.

This is the second step in the psychological process that leads to a persuaded false confession.

Typically, the interrogator suggests one version or another of a “repressed” memory theory.

He or she may suggest, for example, that the suspect experienced an alcohol- or drug-induced blackout, a “dry” blackout, a multiple personality disorder, a momentary lapse in consciousness, or posttraumatic stress disorder, or, perhaps most commonly, that the suspect simply repressed his memory of committing the crime because it was a traumatic experience for him.

The suspect can only be persuaded to accept responsibility for the crime if he regards one of the interrogators’ explanations for his alleged amnesia as plausible.

Knox did not in fact claim drug or alcohol use as the source of her amnesia - rather, she claimed to have accepted the interrogators’ attribution that this was due to being traumatized by the crime itself, and she offers no other explanation for her selective amnesia:

This is from Knox’s statement to the court in pretrial on 18 October 2008 with Judge Micheli presiding.

Then they started pushing on me the idea that I must have seen something, and forgotten about it. They said that I was traumatized.

Of course, Knox’s initial statement went far beyond being that of being merely a witness to some aspect of Ms. Kercher’s murder, as the interrogators at first seemed to believe was the case.

Rather, her statement placed her at scene of the murder during its actual commission while she did nothing to avert it, which naturally made her a suspect.

In other words, in the absence of any of her other testimony which indicated that she was only a witness to the murder, her own self-admitted rationale for providing a false confession was that she was traumatized by the commission of the murder itself.

Perugia judges will be familiar with all of the above and we can be sure that they brief the lay judges on the remote circumstances and incidences of false confessions.

If I were a Knox defense attorney, I would find it to be a far more fruitful line of argumentation to argue that she was simply lying, rather than claiming the supremely unlikely provision of an actual internalized false confession.


Friday, November 26, 2010

More On Motive: Some Of The Cases Of “Nice” Girls Who Killed With Little Or No Motive At All

Posted by The Machine



[Above: One of the Manson girls’ murder victims, Hollywood film star Sharon Tate]

The conspiracy theorists trying so hard to spring Amanda Knox now have about zero credibility - because they can’t field even one good expert that any other expert respects. 

The various claims of their various faux experts about this or that aspect of the evidence having been mishandled or misread or contaminated lack the one really crucial element. ANY real evidence.

And NOT ONE Italian interrogator or investigator or prosecutor has been proved to have done even one thing wrong with intent.  Which seems these days to be making the conspiracy theorists more and more shrill in their claims.

An ex campus security guard Steve Moore is now one of the shrillest faux experts - but the conspiracy theorists still seem to think he is their great ace in the hole.

Steve Moore is not exactly what we might call competent as a real-crime-scene investigator. He seemingly can’t get even one core fact right and his knowledge of the Micheli and Massei reports are absolutely abysmal.

Few of this faux expert’s claims arouse more ridicule and sardonic contempt than one sweeping claim made to any lazy and gullible reporter who will listen - Ann Curry, Linda Byron and Steve Shay, for example.

The claim that there is some standard profile for women who kill. And that well-bred educated middle-class girls like Amanda Knox do not fit “it”. That profile.

So it is impossible that they would ever kill.

In an interview with Anne Curry on NBC the faux expert actually claimed: ““This was an honor student; she is not a violent person….  What they are alleging is that she not only helped assault the roommate, but stabbed her in the throat. That kind of deviant, violent behavior doesn’t go unnoticed for 18, 19, 20 years. Some things leak out; you see some episodes, some indication that this person has issues.”

Actually she DID have issues.

Their faux expert clearly does not know the history of Amanda Knox very well. She seems to have started putting out warning calls for help from around the age of four, and there are a number of stories about her quirks and her drugs up to when she left for Perugia.

In this piece, we will look at some some high-profile murder cases in America, Italy and New Zealand involving seemingly normal young women with profiles not unlike Amanda Knox who suddenly committed horrific and senseless murders.



[Above: Laurie Ann Swank’s victim, hotel night clerk Janet Chandler]

USA: Laurie Ann Swank

If anyone thinks the idea that a woman would arrange for men to sexually assault and murder her friend and roommate is totally far-fetched and beyonds the realms of possibility, they should read about the Janet Chandler case.

In January 1979, Laurie Ann Swank held a position of responsibility, working as the manager of the Blue Mill Inn in Holland, Michigan. She was also the roommate and friend of Janet Chandler, a 23-year-old student who worked as a desk clerk at the hotel. 

Laurie Ann Swank lured Janet Chandler to a “party” where she was tied to a chair and raped and tortured for hours by five security guards who were staying at the Blue Mill Inn. After Janet Chandler had been gang raped, she was strangled and her body was dumped on the side of Interstate 196.

The officers involved in the case concluded that Laurie Swank orchestrated the attack on Janet Chandler out of envy and jealousy “to teach her a lesson.” The motive behind this vicious murder was actually admitted by Swank to have been petty jealousy, especially over a boy. She actually watched while Janet was raped and then strangled with a belt.



[Above: Two more of the Manson girls victims Leno and Rose Labianca ]

USA: Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel

Steve Moore seems to think that honor students are incapable of committing murder. His apparent refusal to believe that someone who is from a respectable background and well-educateed could be involved in murder is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Vincent Bugliosi was the chief prosecutor in the Manson trial. He has pointed out that the backgrounds of the Manson killers terrified America precisely because they were from fairly good backgrounds and that many people refused to believe they could be involved. Vincent Bugliosi, chief prosecutor in the Charlie Manson case:

The other thing that terrified the nation so much is when the identity of the killers became known. And who were they? Young kids from average American homes with fairly good backgrounds. There was a feeling that this could be our own children.

Tex Watson, Manson’s “chief lieutenant” at the murder scene, was from Farmersville, Texas, hometown of World War II hero Audie Murphy. Watson was a football, basketball, and track star. He had almost an A average in high school. And when the people in Farmersville learned he was being charged with these murders, the general consensus was this is absolutely impossible, it must be a case of mistaken identity.

Patricia Krenwinkel””another one of the main killers””her father was an insurance executive; she sang in the church choir; got good grades in school; at one time she even wanted to attend a Jesuit college in Alabama. Leslie Van Houten””another killer””she was a homecoming princess at Monrovia High School here in L.A.



[Above: Manson girl Squeaky Fromm attempted to murder President Gerald Ford]

Leslie Van Houten was an honor student and a homecoming queen. She came from a middle class background; her father was an auctioneer and her mother was a school teacher.

In 1968, she joined Charlie Manson’s family. She was not involved in the vicious killings at Roman Polanski’s home - which upset her - but she took part in the savage murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  She along with Patricia Krenwinkel attacked and stabbed Rosemary LaBianca. Van Houten tied the electrical cord from a lamp around La Bianca’s neck and put a pillow case over her head before stabbing her 16 times in the lower back.

Patricia Krenwinkel came from a fairly normal background. Her father was an insurance salesman. She graduated from high school and then attended a Catholic college for a semester before moving in with her sister. In 1967, she met Charles Manson when he was visiting her sister.

Krenwinkel participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders. She stabbed Abigail Folger more than 70 times. When the police found Folger’s body, they thought she was wearing a red dress.

Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel are currently serving life sentences for the Tate and Labianca murders. They are still being denied parole 40-plus years later.

USA: Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, inventor and mother of four, went on a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama. 

Amy Bishop had already shot and killed her 18-year old brother, with a shotgun, during an argument in 1986. Bishop claimed it was an accident and no charges were filed then - but 24 years later, charges were indeed filed.

According to witnesses, Amy Bishop later killed three professors and wounded three others during a meeting at the University of Alabama. They said that she sat through the first 30 minutes of the meeting and then pulled out a 9mm handgun and opened fire until the weapon jammed or ran out of bullets.



[Above: Karla Homolka murdered her own sister Tammy and and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French]

Canada: Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo

Karla Homolka was the oldest child of three. She was regarded as well-adjusted and intelligent. She was a popular child who received plenty of love and attention from her family and friends. She loved animals and after high school she went to work at a veterinary clinic.

When she was 17, Karla Homolka attended a pet convention and met 23-year-old Paul Bernado. They soon discovered they shared the same sado-masochistic tendencies.

On 23 December 1990, Homolka and Bernado gave alcoholic drinks spiked with halcyon to Homolka’s 15-year-old sister, Tammy, at a Christmas party. They took her to the basement and Homolka held a cloth soaked with Halothane to Tammy’s mouth until she became unconscious. Bernado and Homolka then raped her. Tammy choked on her own vomit as she was being raped.

On 15 June 1991, Bernado kidnapped Lesle Mahaffy and took her to the couple’s home, where they repeatedly raped over a number of days. The couple videotaped many of the assaults. They then killed Mahaffy and cut her body into pieces and encased the pieces in cement.

On 16 April 1992, they kidnapped 15-year-old Kristen French and took her to their home and videotaped themselves torturing and sexually assaulting her. The couple killed French before they left for Easyer Sunday dinner with Homolka’s family.

Karla Homolda was convicted for her role in the raping, torturing and killing her own sister, Tammy and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. She was released from prison after serving 12 years in prison. Paul Bernado is still in prison.

There are videos on the seeming normality of very dangerous people like these two here and here.



[Above: Julet Hume who with Pauline Parker battered Pauline’s mother to death]

New Zealand: Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker

Juliet Hulme was the daughter of Dr. Henry Hulme, an eminent physicist and a rector at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 1954, Juliet Hulme and her friend, Pauline Parker, battered Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper, to death with half a brick in a lisle stocking. At the trial, it was revealed that Honora Rieper had been subjected to a sustained and brutal attack. Hulme and Parker had planned to murder Parker’s murder because they didn’t want to be separated.

After the murder, Parker and Hulme ran to a nearby tea shop, upset and covered in blood, claiming that Pauline’s mother had slipped and fallen.

Honora Rieper had 45 separate wounds on her head. The torn blood-soaked stocking with the brick in it was found nearby.

Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker were found guilty of murder.



[Above: Kelly Ellard was convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk]

Canada: Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski

Kelly Ellard came from a middle class family and lived in a well-to-do neighborhood.

In 1997, she and Warren Glowatski murdered convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk, who was the 14-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants. Ellard and six other teenage girls beat up Reena under a bridge. Ellard and Glowatski then dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge and beat her for a second time. It is believed that Ellard forced Reena’s head under the water and held it there until she stopped struggling.

Kelly Ellard was sentenced to life imprisonment for the second-degree murder of Reena Virk on 20 April 2000. . A second trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury. The Supreme Court of Canada reinstated the second degree murder conviction against Ellard in 2009. Warren Glowatski was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999. Six girls aged between 14 and 16 were sentenced in 1998 for their roles in the initial attack.

Next year Kelly Ellard will apply for parole. Reena’s parents are still waiting for any sign of remorse or sorrow for their loss.



[Above: Nadia Roccia was murdered by her friends Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica]

Italy: Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica

Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica lured their school friend Nadia Roccia to Botticelli’s home with the excuse of doing homework together and then they killed her. It was their second attempt as The Independent reports.

They turned off the lights and Sica began strangling her with a scarf. Botticelli urged her to pull it tighter and kicked Roccia in the stomach. Once satisfied she was dead, they looped a rope around her neck to simulate hanging…

The mother of Nadia Roccia yelled “Bravi ... finally justice for Nadia” as the sentences were read out. In imposing the toughest sentence, the court accepted the prosecution argument that the crime had been “premeditated, ferocious and for futile motives”.

Investigators are still at a loss to uncover a motive for the murder - with theories ranging from Satanic sects to prostitution rings. The pair appeared in court only once, but refused to answer questions and never showed any repentance.

It was discovered that the pair had tried to murder Roccia several months earlier. They offered her a cola drink laced with rat poison, but she refused to drink it. They made her sign a blank sheet on which they later typed a fake suicide note. “I am lesbian and in love with my best friend, that is you, my sweetest Anna Maria ... unfortunately you like men but soon you won’t have to worry about my jealousy any more,” read the note found by Roccia’s body.

Anna Maria Botticelli and Sica, both now 20, heard the sentence on television from their cell in Foggia, 90 miles from Naples. In jail they have completed their high-school leaving exam and are now studying law and economics.

Before Wednesday’s verdict Botticelli’s father pleaded: “I beg you on my knees to give these two girls a chance.”

There was widespread disbelief that Botticelli and Mariena Sica could be guilty of such a horrific murder because they were normal girls from respectable backgrounds. It was only after they were recorded admitting that they were involved, that many people acknowledged their guilt.



[Above: Erika de Nardo at letf with dark hair murdered her mother and brother]

Italy: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro

Erika de Nardo came from a wealthy middle class family - her father was a factory manager and her mother was an accountant - and she grew up in an affluent part of Novi Ligure in Italy. From Wikipedia:

The crime scene, indeed, didn’t suggest a robbery: doors and windows weren’t forced and nothing precious had been stolen. Neighbours noticed nothing unusual and De Nardo’s dogs didn’t bark all evening long. Moreover, Susy and Gianluca had been over-killed (medical examiner counted almost 100 brutal wounds on their corpses), while young Erika was safe and didn’t exactly seem shocked.

She immediately described the presumed aggression she faced, but her version of the facts was full of contradictions. Policemen showed her several mugshots and she “recognized” without any doubt an Albanian teenager named Cezar: the boy was immediately interrogated but proved he had an alibi. Erika stated that she ran away from the garage’s door, but police easily observed that her footprints didn’t mark a run: in fact, she had walked quietly.

Some close friends described the 16-year-old girl as a neglectful, pampered girl, recalled she often squabbled with her parents because of her bad school marks and because her new boyfriend, a bully named Omar Favaro, was someone her mother disliked.

Investigators found Erika’s diary in her bedroom. It was full of terrible sentences such as “That damn child (her brother) made me angry today and I beat him… ” or “This is the end, Mommy, I hate you” or “However we know that everything will be finished by death” and so on. Two days later, Erika and Omar Favaro (a 17-year-old) were left alone in a room at the police station where some hidden microphones and a camera recorded their shocking confession.

It is reported that Erika even performed the very scene of the stabbing and whispered: “I hit her (referring to her mother) right here…” and recalled: “My brother was so strong, he didn’t want to die… he fought so much… was as strong as a bull… oh my God, he was my little brother! He was just eleven years old!” and later ironically asked Omar: “You enjoyed yourself by killing them, didn’t you?”.

But Omar was upset: “You don’t understand, Erika, this is not a game… two people have died… we do risk a life sentence for this!” whispered “Come here, you, murderer!” the boy screamed while shaking her. The girl stated: “I hate my mom, I hate my brother and if you keep on saying this I’ll hate you too! They (policemen and judge) can’t do anything, there are no evidences, they are to believe me!”

De Nardo’s false claim about Albanians (shades of Amanda Knox) caused immense collateral damage. There was an anti-immigrant outcry with Italian newspapers articles demanding a crackdown on illegal immigrants, and anti-immigration demonstrations.

Erika de Nardo drew only a short sentence as a minor and is due to be released in 2012. Omar Fasaro was released a few months ago.



[Above: Erika de Nardo murdered her mother and brother, above]

*******

There are some clear parallels between the Meredith Kercher case and the cases above. There was widespread disbelief that some of the highlighted killers were capable of committing brutal murders.

Like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, many of these killers attempted to derail the police investigation. And nearly all these murderers came from respectable, middle class backgrounds, were well-educated and had no previous history of violence.

Real experts know that it is indisputable that murderers come from all walks of life. The motives behind the horrific murders described above are beyond the comprehension of any normal person, and in some of these cases a motive was never uncovered.

The claims of faux experts like Steve Moore that Amanda Knox is innocent because she doesn’t fit the profile of a someone who would kill in a violent rage are in fact the complete opposite of true.



[Above: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro after their arrest in Italy]


Friday, November 12, 2010

Report Students Studying Abroad on Average Double Or Triple Their Alcoholic Intake

Posted by Peter Quennell


American embassies and other nations’ embassies abroad get to hear of hundreds of cases a year of students who got in over their heads.

In the past couple of years, there have been TWO notorious murders by foreign students in Florence alone. Florence is about one hour’s drive north of Perugia. The embassy simply shrugged and moved on as Italian justice worked its careful process through.

Both perps happened to be American, and both were high. There were no cries in those cases of anti-Americanism. Howvever, there was some troubled talk in Italy of the excesses foreign students go to.

And a lot of tightening up by the colleges who send a lot of students abroad, including the University of Washington (Amanda Knox’s college) and Pepperdine University (Steve Moore’s former college - this helped to seal his firing.)

Amanda Knox is one of the rare ones who shrugged off all home-college supervision, presumably with the okay of her parents. Meredith was closely watched over by the Erasmus scheme, which sadly did not save her life.

Now the University of Southern California’s student newspaper carries this report on one root cause of students facing foreign judges.

Students traveling abroad can keep glass half full

By Kelsey Clark of the Daily Trojan

According to researchers at the University of Washington, American college students who study abroad are likely to increase “” even triple “” their alcohol consumption while traveling internationally.

Students over the age of 21 doubled their intake of alcohol from an average of four drinks per week on campus to eight drinks per week abroad, according to a study published in the October issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The overall increase in surveyed students’ alcohol consumption was 105 percent, while those underage students tripled their drinking with an increased consumption of 170 percent….

By consuming alcohol in excess, particularly in an unfamiliar country, the risks for students are greater than those traditionally associated with a night of drinking at USC.

Though instances of injury, crime and sexual abuse do occur as a result of binge drinking at USC, such severe ramifications are comparatively rare within the university’s party culture. Some of the more prevalent woes are students who slept through class because of a hangover or ruined a cell phone by jumping in a pool.

But students who travel abroad must take additional precautions as the heightened risks include becoming lost, getting pick-pocketed or otherwise taken advantage of.

And of course bumping some poor innocent person off.


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