Category: Heavey, Bremner

Friday, October 16, 2009

Reporters: Seven Areas To Pinpoint With Curt Knox, Edda Mellas And Chris Mellas

Posted by Kermit




Tough questions for reporters to get beyond the incessant spin

Area To Pinpoint #1

Don’t you think that Amanda’s latest of several defence positions is weakened by the fact that her new alibi - that she was with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito all night - does not coincide with the alibi of Raffaele?

He has used his right to not declare in their trial but stated just after the crime that he was at his apartment all night, and that Amanda left between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. on the night of the murder?

(Raffaele’s defence lawyers and his father have confirmed to journalists covering the trial that while they have some defence issues in common with Amanda - for example, questioning the DNA analysis - Raffaele’s defence is not necessarily supportive of or in line with Amanda’s.)

Area To Pinpoint #2

Why did Amanda cut short a questioning session (where she was accompanied by her lawyer) in December 2007, near the beginning of the investigation, and maintain silence - as is her right under Italian law - until the trial was well underway in 2009?

Area To Pinpoint #3

Why do you need a costly, professional PR campaign aimed at an American audience, when your daughter is in an Italian trial? Some observers feel that since the legal case against Amanda is strong, your only hope is to influence the State Department and obtain its political intervention in this case.

However, American diplomats - beyond providing basic, standard consular support - don’t want to touch this case with a ten-foot pole.

Area To Pinpoint #4

Why do you question the honor and professionalism of the Prosecutor of Amanda’s murder trial through your Amercian focused PR campaign, when Amanda’s Italian defence lawyer had to apologise to Prosecutor Mignini for this campaign?

This campaign extrapolates the slight that an American fiction author (Douglas Preston) felt when he was momentarily arrested after ensnaring himself in a police sting operation to do with planting false evidence when he was using a false name.

This arrest was recently rejected for separate legal action against Mignini. On the basis of Preston’s bad feelings, the PR campaign tells us that Mignini has a “history” of inappropriate behaviour.

Do you agree that this smells of “spin”? Why can’t you fight Amanda’s legal battle on the basis of a solid, coherent alibi?

Area To Pinpoint #5

Why would Amanda call you in the middle of the night in Seattle to tell you about what was still supposedly only a break-in in her house (before Meredith Kercher’s door was broken down by the police who soon arrived), when Amanda was accompanied by her Italian boyfriend who would know better than her how to react?

Why to your great surprise at Capanne Prison could Amanda not even remember making that call? And why on the witness stand did it take you many minutes to summarize that 88-second call?

Area To Pinpoint #6

Before the trial started, Amanda’s Italian defence lawyer publicly stated that Amanda had not been hit by police during her questioning on 5 November 2007.

During that session she stated she was in the cottage when Meredith was murdered, and she falsely accused Patrick Lumumba of being the murderer - an accusation which has given rise to an additional charge against her).

Once the trial had started, and coinciding with the arrival of Amanda’s stepfather Chris Mellas in Perugia, Amanda made a spontaneous statement in court that she had been slapped on the back of her head during this questioning, and her Italian lawyer had to incorporate these statements into her testimony.

Are you satisfied with the Italian defence team? Are they aligned with the talking points of the PR campaign?

Area To Pinpoint #7

The justification that Amanda has been held in preventive custody since she became a suspect is due to the possibility that she may flee Italy (in addition earlier on in the investigation to the possibility that evidence may be tampered with).

On various occasions you have publicly regretted not getting Amanda out of Italy before she was arrested.

Also, Seattle King County Judge Heavey (associated with the “Friends of Amanda” campaign) sent a letter to the Italian judiciary on State of Washington letterhead where he decried alleged irregularities and illegalities in the investigation (nobody knows what he based these allegations on).

Such an official letter would suggest to Italian authorities that were Amanda ever to find herself in the United States before her legal processes have finished, that it could be difficult or impossible to extradite her back to Italy.

Are some of the public statements made on behalf of Amanda counterproductive to obtaining her early freedom?


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Knox PR Campaign: Have The Dishonest Talking Points Now Become A Trap?

Posted by The Machine



[David Marriott of a Seattle public relations firms]

Marriott’s dishonest campaign

David Marriott apparently manages (see sample press release) the message and media relations for the campaign to enhance Amanda Knox.

The main thrust of the PR campaign seems to be that there’s no evidence against Knox, or the evidence is tainted, they are holding the wrong person (or already have the right person), and there’s no need to have a trial…  but those rascally Italians just won’t let her go.

Marriott’s nasty campaign already seems to have most of Italy backed off (the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito legal teams both included), and to have lost most of its traction in the UK and New York.

Many good PR gurus think it is very sleazy. Even in Seattle, there are now those who speak out against it.

Not exactly what we’d call a big win.

True, people accused of a cruel and depraved murder do not normally have a PR campaign making their case. Normally they have a lawyer out front - preferably a very good lawyer, who can contend with evidence as it comes out, and appear on the talk-shows and news to explain what really happened.

And true, the PR campaign was launched almost instantly after Knox had already come out with suggestive actions and statements which seem to implicate her in the crime which do not want to go away.

So the campaign was maybe handicapped right from the start.

But still, public relations guys we know are scratching their heads over this one.

Ten obvious public relations lies

Why run a campaign which, time and time again, has taken loud positions not 5 degrees away from probable truth - but a full 180 degrees away? And therefore very hard to quietly back away from?

Each of these ten false claims and mantras below - still not put to rest, although last week was not a good week for them - have been incessantly propagated, some for nearly one year. 

Each of them now seems to be an albatross around the necks of the Seattle defendant and her team. The danger now is that, as the media find ONE false claim fake, they will start to question all of them, and feel that they have been lied to.

Again, not exactly what we’d call a winning stance.

False claim 1: Amanda was beaten or “smacked around” by the police during her questioning

Amanda herself may have started this false claim when explaining to family why she incriminated herself. Although Mr Knox wasn’t present when Amanda was questioned by the police, he has frequently repeated this claim when interviewed by the media.

Reality 

Amanda gave two very different accounts of where she was, who she was with, and what she was doing on the night of the murder. She also accused an innocent man of Meredith’s murder.

This is highly incriminating and poses a real problem for Amanda’s defense and family and supporters. 

However Amanda’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda had not actually been beaten or “smacked around” at Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial last October: “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”

Mr Knox has not acknowledged the admission of his daughter’s counsel or apologised for accusing the Italian police of brutality. The false claim continue to mislead people, with posters on Internet website still maintaining that Amanda’s confession was beaten out of her. 

False claim 2: Amanda was interrogated for 9 hours/14 hours/all night

Jon Follain in The Times quoted the parents in an interview proclaiming: “On November 6, five days after Meredith’s murder, Knox was interrogated by police for nine hours until she signed a statement at 5.45am.” 

Juju Chang claimed it was “an all night interrogation” on ABC News. Jan Goodwin stated in her article in Marie Claire magazine that:“After her arrest, Amanda was detained by the police and interrogated for 14 hours.”

Mr Knox repeated the claim that Amanda’s interrogation last all night, and that it lasted 14 hours, on a recent Seattle TV station King5 interview.

Lexie Krell wrote in The UW Daily on 16 January 2009 that: “The Italian Supreme Court has already thrown out Knox’s original statement on the basis that she was denied a lawyer during her initial 14-hour interrogation.”

Reality 

We know that Amanda was on the phone with one of her Italian flatmates at around 10.40pm, asking if the living arrangement could continue in spite of Meredith’s death. The police questioning had not begun then.

And according to the Italian Supreme Court, Amanda’s questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect. So Amanda was questioned for only approximately 3 hours and then she was held as a suspect.

There never was an all-night interrogation, and it certainly was nowhere remotely near 14 hours in length. 

It seems there may be a simple and straightforward explanation why Amanda suddenly admitted that she was the cottage when Meredith was murdered and implicated Lumumba:

She was informed that Raffaele Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi that she was with him all the night of the murder.

False claim 3: Knox’s confession to being at the murder scene was thrown out.

This was the spoken confession at the end of the claimed 14 hours which Knox claimed she finally came out with only because she was knocked about.

Reality 

True in the narrow sense. But one of Amanda’s statements in which she admits to being at the cottage on the night of the murder was not “tossed” out by the Italian Supreme Court. 

Her letter to the police is almost identical in content to the statements that were not admitted as evidence. This incriminating letter was admitted as evidence last Friday.

False claim 4: Meredith wasn’t sexually assaulted.

Jan Goodwin claimed in Marie Claire: “There is also no indication that Meredith was subjected to sexual violence”¦”

In his unprecedented letter to Italy’s justice minister, Judge Michael Heavey stated that it was not true that: “Sexual violence was perpetrated against the victim”

Jonathan Martin claimed in The Seattle Times. “An autopsy found no evidence Kercher had been raped or had sexual contact with anyone except Guede.”

Reality 

Rudy Guede was found guilty of sexually assaulting Meredith on 30 October 2008. Sexually assaulting. And Judge Micheli in commiting Knox and Sollecito to trial graphically describes how the physical evidence points to a kind of gang rape. 

The claim that Meredith wasn’t sexually assaulted is not only untrue, it’s deeply offensive to Meredith and her poor family. By claiming that there was no sexual assault, the likes of Judge Heavey and Jan Goodwin are insinuating that Meredith consented to sexual activity with Rudy Guede.

False claim 5: The double DNA knife has been essentially ruled out.

The DNA on the blade could belong to half of the population of Italy or there is only a 1% per cent chance that the DNA on the blade belongs to Meredith.

Reality 

Forensic expert Patrizia Stefanoni has consistently maintained that Meredith’s DNA IS on the blade and Amanda’s DNA is on the handle of the knife found at Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment. 

This result was confirmed as accurate and reliable by Dr Renato Biondo, who is head of the DNA Unit at Polizia Scientifica, Rome.

Patrizia Stefanoni and Dr Renato Biondo are highly respected, independent forensic experts with impeccable credentials.

False claim 6: The crime scene was totally compromised by the police or analysts

Many of Amanda Knox’s supporters who seem to have no relevant qualifications or expertise in forensic science have claimed that the crime scene was compromised or violated. One vocal supporter analysed a police break-in downstairs on TV and offered it as proof that the crime scene upstairs had been compromised.

Reality 

This claim has been vigorously refuted by the forensic police. They claim that they have followed international protocols throughout. They recorded the investigation as it happened, changed tweezers when they needed to, and duly informed the defence of every finding.

Independent forensic expert Renato Biondo stated: “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

False claim 7: The European press gave Amanda Knox the nickname Foxy Knoxy.

This is a part of the larger “UK and Italian tabloids have crucified her” meme for which actual evidence online is very hard to find..

Reality 

European newspapers, including the quality newspapers, have occasionally called Amanda by the nickname she herself called herself by on her MySpace page.

False claim 8: Amanda has never ever before been in trouble

Paul Ciolino has stated: “I was stunned that this was why he suspected Amanda and her boyfriend were involved in the crime,” he says. “These two kids, never in trouble, classic middle-class college students “” it’s ludicrous that they were implicated.”

Reality 

Amanda Knox was charged for hosting a party that got seriously out of hand, with students high on drink and drugs, and throwing rocks into the road forcing cars to swerve.

The students then threw rocks at the windows of neighbours who had called the police.

The situation was so bad that police reinforcements had to be called. Amanda was fined $269 (£135) at the Municipal Court after the incident - Crime No: 071830624.

Incidentally, anyone who has recently tried to gain access to the police report has been denied access. It seems strange that a police report into a “routine” incident has seemingly now been hidden from the public.

False claim 9: Amanda hasn’t lied or if she has, she has only lied once

Amanda’s mother claimed in a recent interview with Linda Byron on Seatlle TV’s King5 (6 January) that Amanda has maintained she told the same story for over a year when she was asked whether Amanda had lied. She had previously stated that Amanda had only lied once.

Reality 

Amanda has given multiple alibis and told different stories repeatedly. Amanda herself apologised to Judge Paolo Micheli for lying about Diya Lumumba’s role in the murder. Amanda’s conflicting statements to the police seem to indicate that she lied to them several times. 

False claim 10: The prosecutors have been widely leaking information to the media

Amanda’s family and supporters have frequently made this claim. The biological parents claimed in their interview with Linda Byron on King5 that the international media frenzy had been fed by leaks by the prosecutors. 

Deanna Knox claimed on the Today Show that Amanda is the victim of an anti-American bias: “It’s because she’s an American,” she told Matt Lauer. “They don’t really like her there because she’s a pretty girl and they see her as some target that they can get to, because she’s from a different country.”

Reality 

In Italy Prosecutor Mignini is widely known for not leaking. Many of the so-called leaks were information put out in the course of the many hearings. The evidence in this case has in fact long been like an iceberg - all but a tiny fraction of it has remained out of sight, as the startling revelations last Friday and Saturday went to show.

Media sources have mentioned that many of the leaks have in fact come from defence sources. Fellow TJMK poster Skeptical Bystander was offered access to Amanda’s diary, not by the prosecutors, the police or prison guards, but by somebody close to Amanda herself.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Knox “Friends” Paul Ciolino & Co Smear Prosecutor Mignini As “An Out Of Control Maniac”

Posted by Peter Quennell





At the Salty’s hatefest in West Seattle, Paul Ciolino whipped up the crowd with a rant about Dr Mignini being “an out-of-control maniac”.

We see no proof. We check this whole point of view almost daily but we never, ever, ever get independent confirmation.  The BBC also checked it out and found zero proof of ANY of Ciolino’s wild-eyed claims.

We are repeatedly told that Mr Mignini is tough, fair, and effective, in an Italian system of justice where things are not particularly loaded on the side of the prosecution.

And that he has the reputation of being very, very caring of the victims and their families. The Kerchers have expressed their full confidence in him.

Also that Mr Mignini’s stepping-aside would probably make just about zero difference to the momentum of the case at this point.

There seems to be just too much suggestive evidence waiting to be explained, and a dozen careful judges have endorsed it as suggestive, and the strongly dominant mood in Italy seems to be one of: let us proceed.

Amanda Knox is of course very well represented by counsel. They have already shown irritation over attacks on the prosecutor.

Calling the prosecutor a maniac sure won’t be music to their ears. Is this whole PR campaign quite loopy, or what?!


Monday, December 01, 2008

Why Prominent Knox Supporter Judge Heavey Faces An Uphill Task

Posted by Peter Quennell

Judge Michael Heavey is a Superior Court judge in King County, Washington State, whose daughter was at school with Amanda Knox.

He is said to be popular and fair and someone you might want to have on your side in a fight. We wonder, however, if he is receiving the best possible advice on the case.

Last week Judge Heavey was quoted by the Seattle PI’s Levi Pulkkinen as saying:

“It borders on the diabolical… To me, it just shows [prosecutors] don’t care whether she’s guilty or innocent. They just believe Amanda needs to be convicted…”

Heavey [contends] Guede killed Kercher while Knox was staying the night at Sollecito’s home. [He views] Knox’s contradictory statements to police—claims that she “heard Meredith screaming” as she was killed—as the products of a rough overnight interrogation by Italian police…”

“When you have a heinous crime and a demonized defendant, with very little evidence, you can get a bad conviction. I haven’t been sure of too much in my life, but I’m totally convinced that she’s innocent.”

Here are just some of the problems that are now undercutting an adversarial stance against the Italian investigators, prosecutors and judges.

  • Most of the 10,000 pages of evidence (now being added-to by new witnesses) have not yet been publicly revealed. They will finally emerge during the trial which will start in Perugia on 16 January. Much of the forensic and other evidence has been independently verified by experts unconnected to the investigation
  • .
  • No single piece of the evidence already in the public domain has ever conclusively been found to be falsified. Several US experts have a rather hapless record in their attempts to demonstrate that the police and prosecutors got it all wrong. None seem to have made any recent statements on cable news or in the newspapers that they still stand by their original claims.

  • The defense lawyers who have actually been through the evidence seem to have become a lot more taciturn, and none of them - not one - has subsequently claimed that this is a railroading, or a frame-up, or the fabrication of a prosecutor desperate for a conviction.  (As a precaution against precisely this, there are actually two prosecutors)

  • Only a small part of the evidence - the autopsy, the bedroom evidence, and the neighbor who heard a scream in the night and then people running - was sufficient to result in a 30-year sentence for Rudy Guede. The judge in his case, in explaining the judgment, remarked that it was impossible for Guede to have acted alone in the murder of Meredith, in part due to the huge number of wounds on the body.

  • The additional evidence that did not even need to be taken into account in Guede’s case apparently includes computer and mobile phone activities, statements of a large number of other witness, a knife that may be the murder weapon found in Sollecito’s kitchen, post-crime defendant statements and behaviors, and the statements of those close to the defendants at the time.

  • And there might have been even more evidence. It appears that the crime scene may have been manipulated after the murder to make it look like a sole-perpetrator crime. Finger-prints, footprints, other marks, and blood evidence seem to have been removed - although much still shows up under luminol. It seems to indicate three perpetrators at the crime scene.

  • Amanda Knox actually placed herself under suspicion in her very first encounter with the police. She changed her alibi several times subsequently, apparently attempting to coincide it with Sollecito’s. The notion that she was forced into a confession after hours and hours of questioning is now generally discredited, and her own lawyers have not claimed this or lodged any complaint.

  • Amanda Knox indicated not only in an interview statement, later disqualified, but also in a written statement, still in evidence, that Patrick Lumumba was the murderer. Lumumba, her kindly employer, was in fact at the bar he owned that night, and in view of the harm done by this apparent frame-up attempt, the prosecution has charged Amanda Knox with slander.

The biggest problem of all for those claiming a frame-up or an over-zealous rush to prosecution is the extreme caution of the Italian system. The Italian judicial review process prior to trial seems to be at least three or four times more elaborate, careful, cautious, and fair to a suspect than, for example, normal U.S. processes.

The evidence in the case has already made it through a number of hoops. And repeatedly the various judges in what is a very extensive process, after days of reading and careful consideration, have verified that the evidence against the defendants is, in fact, very strong.

It is still possible that everybody has got it terribly wrong. But so far, nobody seems to be coming anywhere close to that scenario.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Next-Day Press: Newsweek Seems To Think “Friends Of Amanda” Is Radioactive

Posted by Peter Quennell




Above: Seattle’s media-lawyer Anne Bremner. Referred to in Newsweek’s excellent piece on the Italian reactions she seems to have stirred.

Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that the overzealous freelance defense team in the United States, which has taken up Knox’s cause with fervor, have not helped the defendant””and might even have hurt her standing in the Italian courts.

The Friends of Amanda campaign, led by Seattle lawyer Anne Bremner, has infuriated prosecuting and defense attorneys alike by helping focus extensive coverage by major American news networks on the alleged ineptitude of the Italian investigators and antiquated Italian legal system.

Bremner infuriated Perugian prosecutor Mignini by taking swipes at the work of Italian police on NBC, enumerating ways in which prosecutors may have inadvertently contaminated DNA evidence.

Lawyers for both sides of the case quickly pointed out, however, that Bremner was basing her comments on video footage of an apartment below the crime scene, not the actual crime scene itself.

Further alienating the Italians, Seattle judge Michael Heavey wrote a damning letter to Italy’s justice minister about the potential for injustice against Knox, prompting one lawyer to warn that the Americans would have to send the military to get Amanda out of Italy.

“We are being condemned by a group over nine-thousand kilometers away, without knowing the intricacies of the case or the complexities of Italian judicial terminology,” prosecutor Mignini told reporters outside the Perugian courthouse last week. “I am shocked and scandalized by this attitude. It is the first time I have come across such presumption and superficiality.”

Bremner’s comments, like those made earlier in the investigation by New York attorney Joseph Tacopina, have tended to contradict the strategy of Knox’s lawyers and have even put Knox’s lead attorney Luciano Ghirga on the defensive.

“American lawyers do not represent anyone here,” said Ghirga outside the courthouse in Perugia, “and have never represented anyone here.”

The interference has also angered Knox’s family, who have publicly distanced themselves from those in Seattle. “I have faith in my Italian lawyers,” says Curt Knox. “And I dissociate myself from other initiatives on behalf of my daughter.”

Ooops! With friends like this, seriously, who needs enemies?


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