Headsup: In "Talking To Strangers" Malcom Gladwell lied to his readers with an inaccurate and venomous attack on Italian justice that gives aid to the mafias. Below is the seventh of maybe 10 posts providing the ACCURATE information Gladwell should have done. Series starts here.

Category: The two knives

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Disarray And Decay In The Pro-Knox Parade: Bruce Fischer’s Epidemic Of Malicious Claims

Posted by The Machine




The Knox supporters’ leader-of-the-parade spirals up

Back in October 2008, in our first long post ever on Meredith’s case, Skeptical Bystander highlighted the crazed pro-Knox attack sharks that were starting to appear on Candace Dempsey’s blog.

Psychologists warned us that a competitive leader-of-the-parade spiral was wittingly or unwittingly being encouraged by the Curt Knox/David Mariott/Anne Bremner campaign, and that this could be far from the worst we’d see.

Sure enough, late in 2008, Frank Sforza (timidly posting anonymously as “Frank Sfarzo”) did a u-turn on his blog Perugia Shock from nicely supporting Meredith and the prosecution to angrily supporting Amanda Knox and vilifying the prosecution and pro-Meredith sympathizers. (A u-turn for which he now pays dear.)

At a West Seattle Knox fundraiser in January 2009 a really angry Paul Ciolino wowed the crowd with red meat. He attempted to leapfrog all the other pro-Knox hotheads with a vicious personal attack on the prosecution. Ciolino sounded so crazed that even Amanda Knox’s defense lawyers had to distance themselves from him.

Soon after, Doug Preston, long a timid sniper safe on the other side of the Atlantic from Italy, published his angry, error-ridden Monster of Florence with its surreal Afterword on Meredith’s case.

From that point on, slamming the Italian police and police experts and prosecution without any restraint (for which there has been zero parallel in US or UK legal history) became a cowardly passion across the Atlantic which any ill-informed hothead could play. The Italian MP Rocco Girlanda next leaped to the head of the parade with easy access to Knox in prison, and some of his slobberings were so bizarre that even the Knox-Mellases for once thought to check that supporter out.

Fischer attempts to elbow his way to the front

First mention of “Bruce Fisher of New York” on Perugia Murder File was in a comment by myself on 7 March 2010. Even back then, Fischer had a whole handful of basic facts about the case wrong but heeded no advice.

Fischer arrived after the 2009 Massei trial was done, and from that time on he tried to absolutely dominate the pro-Knox parade. His fundamental effort is to muddy the water on the hard evidence and inflame American public against Italy and its cops, court, and ustice officials.

Such inflammatory actions are in fact illegal under Italian law and especially so when very senior justice officials are falsely accused of crimes.

Fischer wrote a joke of a book, the very worst on the case. He has posted endless badly-written posts on his own websites and forums, with no correction when they proved wrong.

He also posted endless badly-written posts on other blogs and group blogs like Technorati (evicted), Gather (evicted) and Ground Report, with no correction when they proved wrong. And he posted dozens of videos on Youtubes with no correction when they proved wrong.

Fischer set out to hijack the Amanda Knox Wikipedia page, which to knowledgeable Italians now looks absolutely bizarre. He recruited a raft-full of confused and uncurious nitwits like Steve Moore, Nigel Scott, Ron Hendry, David Anderson, Saul Kassin, and Michael Wiesner.

All of them are now lesser people than they once were.

Fischer is clearly a clinically deeply angry man (he has in his past little education, a disaster of a career, several bankruptcies, and a house repossession) so not unexpectedly most of Fischer’s prolific output has been in the form of vicious personal rants.

Revealed 18 months ago to be merely Bruce Fischer, a shop assistant in a mall store on the far outskirts of Chicago, with not a single honorable accomplishment to his name, he chilled somewhat. But his personal rants all still remain online, and so does his epidemic of wrong claims.

Lately he has been trying frenetically to shore up the edifice of the seemingly unstable Frank Sforza. Sforza is now on the run from the American law and facing several trials in Italy; Sforza’s own site has fled behind the scenes.

This first post in the series nails 20 of Fischer’s malicious claims intended to inflame public opinion against the police and prosecution which he has long pushed hard on his websites and other websites and forums.

Bruce Fischer on Amanda Knox’s interrogation

On his website under the heading The Illegal Interrogation of Amanda Knox, Bruce Fisher gives what appears to be a very detailed eyewitness account of what happened to Amanda Knox when she was questioned at the police station on 5 November 2007.

The problem is Bruce Fischer wasn’t actually present when Knox was questioned and he doesn’t know what happened. His account is repeatedly contradicted by numerous witnesses who were actually present. These witnesses include Amanda Knox’s interpreter, Anna Donnino, numerous police officers from different units from Perugia and Rome and Amanda Knox.


Malicious Claim 1: Amanda Knox repeatedly told the truth

Bruce Fischer’s claim that Amanda Knox repeatedly told the truth is complete and utter nonsense. Even a simpleton could understand that Amanda Knox’s repeated claims that Diya Lumumba killed Meredith are not true and that it’s not possible for her to be in two different places - Sollecito’s apartment and the cottage on Via della Pergola - at the same time.

Judge Micheli, who presided over Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial and sent Knox and Sollecito to trial, noted that they had given multiple alibis and had lied in attempt to cover for each other.  The mobile phone records, the data recovered from Sollecito’s computer and the corroborative eyewitness testimony provide irrefutable proof that she lied repeatedly.

Judge Massei outlined numerous examples of these lies in his report: she falsely claimed she received a text message from Diya Lumumba when she was at Sollecito’s apartment (322); there are various discrepancies in her statements about the time she and Sollecito ate dinner (78); her claim that she and Sollecito had a peaceful night of continuous and prolonged sleep is contradicted by Sollecito’s activity on his computer, the turning on of his cell phone and the testimony of Marc Quintavalle (85).

Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, conceded that she had given conflicting accounts to the police:

All of the lawyers have imposed on Amanda the gravity of her situation, and the gravity of accusing other people. They have all told her that she needs to tell the truth because there have been differences in the statements.

According to Anna Donnino, her interpreter, she denied responding to a text message from Lumumba.

She had denied responding to an SMS message from Mr Lumumba telling her there was no need to come to work because there were few customers, leaving her free for the evening. But she broke down when police said phone records showed that she had done so, Ms Donnino said.


Malicious Claim 2: The interrogation of Amanda Knox was illegal

No court in Italy has ever ruled that any of Amanda Knox’s questioning on 5 and 6 November 2007 was illegal. This explains why Bruce Fischer is unable to support his claim with any reference to a court ruling.


Malicious Claim 3: Amanda Knox was told Diya Lumumba killed Meredith and she did not give Patrick’s name to the police. His name was suggested to her.

According to the corroborative testimony of multiple witnesses, including her interpreter Anna Donnino, Amanda Knox voluntarily and spontaneously accused Patrick Lumumba of murdering Meredith.

After hearing and weighing up the testimony of these witnesses and Amanda Knox, Judge Massei stated that it couldn’t be claimed that “Amanda Knox was persuaded by the investigators to accuse Diya Lumumba aka Patrick, by means of various pressing requests which she could not resist.” (The Massei report, page 388.)

He noted that there had been “no corroboration of the pressing requests which Amanda was seemingly subjected to in order to accuse Diya Lumumba of the crime committed to the detriment of Meredith.” (389).

Judge Massei concluded that Knox had freely accused Diya Lumumba of Meredith’s murder.


Malicious Claim 4: Amanda Knox was slapped on the back of the head.

All the witnesses who were present when Knox was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at the trial that she wasn’t hit. Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, distanced himself from these allegations:

There were pressures from the police, but we never said she was hit.


Malicious Claim 5: This abuse went on for hours until Amanda was finally broken.

Leaving aside Fischer’s unsubstantiated claim that Amanda Knox was abused for hours, she was questioned for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes on 5 November 2007. According to Barbie Nadeau Amanda Knox’s questioning started at about 11.00pm:

Since Knox was at the police station, the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m.

Knox questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect and made her first witness statement. She wasn’t actively questioned again that night. Mignini later witnessed another statement but no questions were asked.


Malicious Claim 6: Amanda Knox was suffering from extreme exhaustion with no food or water.

A number of witnesses who were present when Knox was questioned, testified that Knox was given something to eat and drink. Even Amanda Knox admitted this was the case in court.

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.’ (Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009).

Also from Richard Owens in The Times.

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 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. (Death in Perugia, Kindle edition, page 134).



Malicious Claim 7: The Italian Supreme Court stated that the interrogation was illegal because Amanda did not have an attorney present.

The Italian Supreme Court has never stated that Amanda Knox’s questioning on 5 November 2007 was illegal. Bruce Fischer eventually admitted this was not true on PMF.net

When it comes to the admissibility of the written statements, you are technically correct. The interrogation itself was never ruled illegal.

However, he still hasn’t corrected this Malicious Claim on his website.


Malicious Claim 8: Sollecito couldn’t support Knox’s alibi because he was sleeping.

Bruce Fisher’s claim that Sollecito was only speaking about when he was sleeping is completely contradicted by Sollecito’s witness statement:

Amanda and I went into town at around 6pm, but I don’t remember what we did. We stayed there until around 8.30 or 9pm.

At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner. (Aislinn Simpson, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2007).

Police said Raffaele Sollecito had continued to claim he was not present on the evening of the murder. He said: “I went home, smoked a joint, and had dinner, but I don’t remember what I ate. At around eleven my father phoned me on the house phone. I remember Amanda wasn’t back yet. I surfed on the Internet for a couple of hours after my father’s phone call and I stopped only when Amanda came back, about one in the morning I think. (The Times, 7 November 2007).

At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment.

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


Malicious Claim 9: Amanda Knox gave in to the interrogators demands by describing an imaginary dream or vision.

Contrary to Bruce Fisher’s claims that Knox described an imaginary dream or vision, Amanda Knox makes no mention of an imaginary dream or vision in her two witness statements. She categorically states that she met Diya Lumumba at Piazza Grimana and that they went to the cottage on Via della Pergola. In her first witness statement, she claims that Lumumba killed Meredith.

Bruce Fischer on the double DNA knife


Malicious Claim 10: No other knives were taken from Raffaele’s apartment.

Fischer makes yet another demonstrably Malicious Claim. He clearly hasn’t read the Massei report in its entirety because Judge Massei discusses a jack-knife that was 18cm long with an 8cm blade at some length and the results of the DNA tests that were carried out on it:

He (Armando Finzi) recalled they found another knife whose total length was 18cm, with an 8cm. blade… (106).

On the jack”‘knife, 4 samples were taken, with negative results where blood-derived substances had been looked for; on the fourth sample, which involved the handle, the genetic profile was found to be of Sollecito plus Knox…

Four samples were taken from the jack-knife and only one yielded a positive genetic result: the sample taken from the belt clip. The trace did not turn out to be blood and it yielded a mixed genetic result: Sollecito plus Knox. To confirm the presence of result the Y profile of Sollecito. (194).

Andrea Vogt reported that another knife was taken into evidence in article for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A small knife was taken into evidence from Sollecito’s bedroom, along with other items.  (Andrea Vogt, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 February 2009).


Malicious Claim 11: The knife was chosen from the drawer because it looked clean.

Fischer is desperately trying to discredit the police investigation by dismissively and falsely claiming that the knife was chosen because it simply looked clean. Armando Finzi was the police officer who bagged the knife. He testified that he thought it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound on Meredith’s neck. Andrea Vogt explained this in the same article:

Armando Finzi, an assistant in the Perugia police department’s organized crimes unit, first discovered the knife in Sollecito’s kitchen drawer. He said the first thing he noticed upon entering the place was a “strong smell of bleach.” He opened the drawer and saw “very shiny and clean” knife lying on top of the silverware tray.

“It was the first knife I saw,” he said. When pressed on cross-examination, said his “investigative intuition” led him to believe it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound as it had been described to him. With gloved hands, he placed the knife in a new police envelope, taped it shut with Scotch tape, then placed it inside a folder, he said. There were smaller and bigger knives in the drawer, but no others were taken into evidence from the kitchen, he said.

(Andrea Vogt, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 February 2009).


Malicious Claim 12: No DNA was on the blade.

Bruce Fischer’s bizarre claim that there was no DNA on the blade is contradicted by numerous DNA experts. Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA Unit of the Scientific Police, Professor Francesca Torricelli, former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano and Professor Novelli have all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife.

Even Greg Hampikian and Elizabeth Johnson’s letter confirm that the DNA on the blade of the knife was consistent with Meredith’s DNA. Carla Vecchiotti also acknowledged that there was a complete DNA profile on the knife, but claimed it was unreliable because it should have been tested two or three times.

After categorically stating that there was no DNA on the blade, Fischer goes on to claim that the DNA on the blade came from the laboratory. However, Dr Stefanoni analyzed the traces on the knife six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. This means that contamination couldn’t have occurred in the laboratory. In court, Carla Vecchiotti accepted that six days was sufficient to avoid contamination.


Malicious Claim 13: No additional testing will ever be available.

Professor Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories with cutting-edge technology that could have carried out a test on the remaining DNA on the knife. (Galati-Costaglio Appeal, UK Version, page 26).


Malicious Claim 14: No control tests were done

John Follain points out in Death in Perugia that the control tests had been filed with another judge:

The tests had been filed with an earlier test, and Judge Pratillo Hellmann later admitted them as evidence. (Death in Perugia, Kindle Edition, page 409).

Forensic scientists Professor Novelli and Emiliano Giardina specifically who were consultants for the prosecution stated in an article in an Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotiano that the negative control were performed and these tests excluded the possibility that Meredith’s bra clasp was contaminated in the laboratory.

Bruce Fischer on the bra clasp


Malicious Claim 15: They (the Scientific Police officers) pass it (the bra clasp) around with contaminated gloves.

How could Bruce Fischer possibly know that these gloves were contaminated? He is not a forensic scientist. He didn’t quote any DNA tests on the gloves. There is no evidence that these gloves were contaminated and predictably Fischer provides no scientific findings to support his assertion.

Bruce Fischer on the Luminol footprints


Malicious Claim 16: None of the bare footprints detected with luminol tested positive for Meredith’s DNA.

Bruce Fischer gets his facts wrong for the umpteenth time and proves that he’s ignorant of the facts concerning the DNA evidence. The Luminol footprint in the corridor contained Meredith’s DNA. This information is contained in the Massei report:

Amanda (with her feet stained with Meredith’s blood for having been present in her room when she was killed) had gone into Romanelli’s room and into her [own] room leaving traces [which were highlighted] by Luminol, some of which (one in the corridor, the L8, and one, the L2, in Romanelli’s room) were mixed, that is, constituted of a biological trace attributable to [both] Meredith and Amanda”¦ (380).


Malicious Claim 17: “Yet the court concluded Amanda purchased bleach anyway.”

Judge Massei made no such claim. On the contrary, he argued that the fluorescence given off by Luminol was due to the presence of blood, not bleach (284).

To support his argument that bleach had not been used to clean the cottage, he pointed out no-one entering the house had not noticed any smell of bleach (283) and noted that if bleach had been used to clean the house, many traces would have been highlighted by the Luminol (284).


Malicious Claim 18: Quintavalle states that he only saw the side of Amanda’s face.

This claim is completely untrue. Galati pointed out in his appeal that Quintavalle’s own witness statement contradicts this claim:

A further observation on which the CAA bases its assessment of unreliability (thus, of low reliability) appears completely arbitrary, because contradicted by the statements of the witness. Quintavalle would have seen the young woman out of the corner of the eye and never from the front.

From the examination of the statements made by Quintavalle in the first instance trial completely different facts emerge because Quintavalle affirms what was referred to by the Court of Assizes on p. 71, when the young woman was still outside the store (cf. transcripts of the hearing 21 March 2009, p. 72) adding: “this young woman when she came inside, I looked at her to greet her; I mean I saw her at a distance of one metre, 70-80 cm”.  (Galati-Costaglio Appeal, UK Version, page 39).


Malicious Claim 19: “He (Curatolo) said Amanda and Raffaele were chattering from about 9:30 pm to right before midnight on the basketball court near the cottage.”

Antonio Curatolo clarified in court that he didn’t watch Knox and Sollecito the whole time in Piazza on the night of the murder. Barbie Nadeau reported that he saw them on a couple of occasions:

...he (Curatolo) placed Amanda and Raffaele there, testifying that the two stood at the gate and watched the house around 9:30pm and again at around 10:30pm on November 1.  (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, Kindle edition, page 116).


Malicious Claim 20: “During closing arguments, after all of his different theories had fallen apart, Mignini told the jury: “There is no motive.”

Mignini never told the jury that “there is no motive”. Barbie Nadeau pointed out that the prosecutors had changed their theory, but only rather slightly:

The prosecution lawyers began their case in January 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. When it came time for closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred” A sex attack was still involved.


The Knox supporters’ leader-of-the-parade spirals down

Only 20 Malicious Claims are taken apart above but there are at least several hundred more. When you consider the sheer number of Malicious Claims that Fischer has made and how much these claims differ from the actual hard truths, you cannot trust anything he says.

And yet many of Fischer’s Malicious Claims have been unquestioningly widely accepted as fact, and have been repeated by many in the media. For example, Journalist Nathaniel Rich stated that Sollecito claimed that Knox could not have left his apartment for several hours while he was sleeping. A key Fischer claim.

More of Nathaniel Rich’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Steve Moore’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Saul Kassin’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Michael Wiesner’s parotting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here. 

The credibility of Bruce Fischer and his disastrous leadership of the Knox parade have been completely shot to pieces. Any journalists who use Bruce Fischer as a source in the future should hang their heads in shame.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How Much Or How Little To Blame Rudy Guede? The Defenses’ Immense Headache Coming Up

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Photo by Andrea Vogt as in December 2010 Supreme Court decides that Rudy Guede didnt act alone]


On a scale of 0% to 100% how much of the blame for the crime against Meredith has been heaped on Rudy Guede?

Well, it sure varies.

In trial court and first-appeal court it was never ever 100%. Seemingly very scared of the harm Guede could do to their clients, if they provoked him into telling all, defense lawyers have acted consistently since 2008 and more-so since December 2010 as if they walk on eggshells around him.

In fact among the defendants and their teams only ONCE was Guede ever blamed 100%. 

Sollecito’s bizarrely-titled Honor Bound 2012 book, the factually unchecked one which now is causing him and his defense team so much trouble, was the first instance ever among those accused to try to blame Guede for the crime 100%.

Our next post will look at the categoric claims against Guede in that book. Meanwhile, here, let us start at the beginning.

Commencing from when they were arrested, Amanda Knox pointed decisively at a black man, but of course she pointed at the wrong one: Patrick Lumumba. Make that 0%. Not long after they were arrested, Knox and Sollecito were strongly questioning the role of one another. So 100% against each other, but still a zero against Mr Guede.

In his messages from Germany Guede blamed two hasty intruders though he had no choice but to say he was there. Perhaps 33% at this point.  After Guede was captured, Sollecito implied that they were at the crime scene together because he was worried that Guede would implicate him. Make that 50%.

At Guede’s short-form trial In October 2008, Judge Micheli blamed Guede 33% too. In sending Knox and Sollecito to full trial he dismissed the lone wolf theory (never really to be revived in court again) and he tentatively believed the evidence pointed to their being equally guilty.

In fact Judge Micheli tentatively blamed Knox for instigating both the attack on Meredith and the rearrangement of the crime scene.  In effect he allocated 50% of the blame to Amanda Knox and 25% each to Guede and Sollecito. 

Throughout trial in 2009 the Knox and Sollecito defense teams seemed to take great care not ever to blame Guede 100%, perhaps because (for murky reasons not made public) Rudy Guede had refused to testify against their clients.

Judge Massei assigned Guede 33% of the blame as he concluded that Guede had initiated the attack but that Knox and Sollecito had wielded the knives and that one of them had struck the final blow. 

During trial and thereafter, the defense lawyers for the three were often on Italian TV and as our main poster the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria exhaustively charted in a four-part series, each “gently” blamed the other two.

We can assume that is either 33% or 50% but never more than that.

On February 24. 2011, in the Supreme Court report, on its rejection of Guede’s final appeal of his sentence for involvement in killing Meredith, blamed Rudy Guede and two others equally. Some 33% of the blame each.

The Supreme Court relied upon three facts: the physical evidence of Guede’s presence at the flat, Guede’s actual admission of his presence, and Guede’s implicit admission of shared-guilt in his documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 (“I was scared that they would say I was the only guilty person”).

In a nutshell, the situation at the start of the Sollecito and Knox appeal before Judges Hellmann and Zanetti in 2011 was this:

  • The Supreme Court had decided that Rudy Guede acting ALONE could not have attacked Meredith with several knives over an estimated 15 minutes, left so little physical evidence upon her, staged the break-in via the absurd route of Filomena’s window while leaving zero DNA in her room, placed Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, engineered several traces of Knox’s and Sollecito’s footprints outside the room, and placed the mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox in several different locations outside Meredith’s locked door.
  • But there remains zero evidence that perps two and three which the physical evidence strongly pointed to were anyone other than Knox and Sollecito. There’s really not one speck of hard evidence to the contrary. Defenses somewhat desperately tried to engineer some at first appeal from the seemingly perjured testimony of jailbirds Alessi and Aviello and some smoke-blowing over the DNA testing, but in terms of HARD evidence came up empty-handed. Alessi did a meltdown on the stand, while Aviello turned completely cuckoo, and Judges Hellmann and Zanetti had to invent arguments frantically to dig Knox and Sollecito out of that hole.

I have done a series of posts (to be read from the bottom upward) on the Hellmann-Zanetti outcome covering many other aspects of their strange arguments.

Back in late 2010 some of us at TJMK were impressed at the alacrity with which Judge Hellman selected Conti and Vecchiotti.

We were thinking that “he had already thought it all out” [we seem to have got that-much right], and that he was “being prudently responsive to the legal and political pressures bearing down on him, and knows the ruling also calls the defendants’ bluff.”

I had posted that the defenses of Knox and Sollecito seemed to be trying to exclude evidence that they themselves tried to destroy, essentially on the grounds that their destructive attempts failed to destroy all of it, and left behind only some of it.  Their argument had boiled down to whether the disputed DNA evidence is more unfairly prejudicial than probative.

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

I had thought that was what the Massei Court had already done, and was what the Hellmann/Zanetti court was then doing. The Hellmann/Zanetti court was doing that - but that was not all it was doing, as we now know and regret.

I had believed that the defendants would bitterly regret their petition for such DNA Expert-Opinion Review.  We should know in March 2013 if they regret it at all, let alone “˜bitterly’. So far they may not, but Sollecito’s current venture into special-pleading journalism in his book seems likely to accelerate their journey to a bitter and regretted destiny.

We were less impressed with how Judge Zanetti started the appeal hearings.

To his eternal discredit Judge Zenetti uttered words to the effect that “the only thing that is “˜certain’ in Meredith’s case is that Meredith is dead.” Nothing else. In effect, illegally promising a whole new trial at appeal level - very much frowned on by the Supreme Court.

Unless the word “˜thing’ is a mistranslation, that is not the only thing that was already certain in Meredith’s Case; Many Things were then certain in her case. 

For example, it is certain that the first-ever documented references to Meredith’s scream just before she was killed had already come both from the mouth of Amanda Knox herself, and from the hand of Amanda Knox, in the case of her contemporaneous personal hand-written notes.

Guede, himself, had certainly already made a documented reference to Meredith’s scream.

It was also certain that Guede had made documented references to his actual presence when Meredith screamed.

Some of these already-certain facts inconveniently undermined Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s already-assumed conclusions, so they then proceeded in-turn to undermine the “˜reliability’ of those facts, e.g. “˜it is not certain that the scream was Meredith’s scream; it could have been someone-else’s scream’; or even Amanda’s scream?

The Massei court had exhaustively presented the evidence from all sources in their conclusion that Knox and Sollecito were the ones who shared Guede’s guilt. But Hellmann/Zanetti then contradicted ALL the previous finders-of-fact with regard to Guede, essentially using five ploys in arguing:

  • That Guede was Unreliable: “for example, in the questioning before the Prosecutor, he denies being known by the nickname of Baron, “¦.so as to result in a version completely incompatible with the reality of the facts as perceived and heard…” [Is that ever giving birth to a mouse?], and
  • That the Supreme Court had “held Rudy Guede to be an Unreliable person”, and
  • That “therefore, among the evidence against the two accused, the testimony given at the hearing of June 27, 2011 by Rudy Guede cannot be included because it is Unreliable, nor can the contents of the letter written by him and sent to his lawyers”, and
  • That concerning Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 “”¦ the contents of the chat between Rudy Guede and his friend Giacomo Benedetti on the day of November 19,  2007,  also listened to by the Police,  can be considered in favour of the two accused”, because “he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance,”
  • And that “So, in the course of that chat with his friend….. Rudy Guede does not indicate in any way Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as the perpetrators…..” and “.....he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance….. he being…. certainly the perpetrator….. of the crimes carried out in via della Pergola, that if Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had also participated, that he would at that moment have revealed this to his friend.”

So, summarising Hellmann and Zanetti, they have absurdly argued a contradiction:

  • Because of Guedes notoriously unreliability, the public evidence in which he did accuse Knox and Sollecito cannot be considered as evidence of their guilt, but
  • In spite of Guede’s notorious unreliability, because Guede did not accuse Knox and Sollecito in a private conversation this must be considered as conclusive evidence of their innocence.

We are not the audience to which Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti to the Supreme Court is directed. Most of us probably have some difficulty with its legalese, translated into English, so bear with it.

Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti refers to Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 as follows:

The Hellmann/Zanetti court, “has”¦ made “¦. completely anomalous use of the Skype call, accepting it for the time of Kercher’s death, but not for other circumstances which are also extremely relevant for judgment purposes, but which have been totally ignored.

In fact, in the call, Guede recounts having heard Meredith complaining about her missing money and of her intention of asking Ms Knox, with whom she had quarrelled, for an explanation (p. 10 of the call [transcript]), of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (p. 18), then of having seen Meredith look, still in vain, for her missing money in Amanda’s room (pp. 18-19 of the call [transcript]), and of having heard a girl enter the house, who could have been one of the roommates, thus Amanda (p. 11 of the call [transcript]), while the Ivorian found himself in the bathroom, just before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have caused him [59] to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the girl’s ingress (p 12 of the call [transcript])”... .

The Court has, in practice, without reason thrown the responsibility onto Guede for throwing the rock and clambering in (see pp 121-122 of the appealed judgment): in the same Skype call, Guede, however, repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room during the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola on that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call [transcript]). Not only that: Rudy Guede also said that he was at Knox’s many times”› (pp 88 of the call [transcript]).

If the Court held the Ivorian citizen to be sincere in the tele-conversation with his friend Benedetti, then why not also believe him when he denies having broken in, or when he recounts Meredith having it out with Amanda, or when he says that he had been at the latter’s place many times”›?

Dr Galati’s appeal to the Supreme Court argues that the Hellmann/Zanetti appeal judgment, apart from being manifestly illogical, is manifestly contradictory with respect to the contents of the case file referred to (Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code). Here is what it says about their tortured interpretations of Rudy Guede.

And in the Skype call with Benedetti, intercepted unbeknownst to him, there emerge circumstances that confirm Guede’s court declarations. The Court takes the Skype call with his friend Benedetti into examination, valuing it “šin favour of the two accused”› both for what it does not say and also for what it does say, and this it does building from one, not only unexplained, datum but which would have taken little to deny: since Rudy was outside of Italy, he was in some sense safe”› and thus could well have been able to tell the whole truth (p 40 of the judgment).

Not in the least does the Court depart from the presupposition that in this call Rudy would have been telling the truth and, because in this call he would not have named the current defendants, these have got nothing to do with the homicide. The Court does not explain, though, that even in this call Rudy was tending to downplay his responsibility and, if he had named his co-participants, that would have easily allowed, by means of investigations and subsequent interviews, the bringing out of his causal contribution and of his responsibility.

[91] Of the things said in this Skype call, the Court seems at one moment to want to value the chronological datum from 9:00 PM to 9:30 PM to affirm that this would therefore have been the time of death of Meredith; successively, though the appeal judges, following the principle of plausible hypothesis, in relation to the outgoing calls on the victim’s English handset, have moved it to 10:15 PM, but they have not altered the reliability of the time indicated by Guede.

In truth, during the course of the conversation, Rudy recounts having heard Meredith complain about the missing money and of her intention to ask Knox, with whom she had argued, for an explanation (p 10 of the call); of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (see p 18); of having seen her search, again in vain, for the missing money in Amanda’s room (pp 18 and 19 of the call) and of having heard a girl enter the house ““ who must have been one of the flatmates, thus Amanda (p 11 of the call), ““ while he was in the bathroom, a little before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have induced him to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the ingress of the girl (p 12 of the call).

And also, on the subject of the break-in in Romanelli’s room ““ thrown without explanation onto Guede’s back (see the judgment being appealed from, at pp 121 and 122) ““ can remarks by the Ivorian citizen be found in the transcription of the intercept. Guede repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room for the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call).

If the [Appeal Court] had held as reliable what Rudy narrated in the Skype call relating to the time in which Meredith was killed, it supplies no reason at all, on the other hand, for why it does not believe him as well when he denies [92] having committed the break-in or when he recounts the quarrel of Meredith with Amanda.”

None of this changes my own beliefs that there are even many more things in evidence that are “˜beyond any reasonable doubt’.  For example:

  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Meredith was restrained by hands other than the knife-wielding hand(s); and that Meredith was restrained by the hands of two, or three persons as she was killed.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were taken to clean away smears made by Meredith’s blood in the place where she was killed, and tracks of Meredith’s blood transferred by her killers to other places.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were also taken to simulate a break-in that never-was.

In the next post, we examine Dr Galati’s appeal further and the strident claims against Guede made in Sollecito’s own book which contradict some of the positions of HIS OWN LAWYERS. Note that Dr Galati has argued in the appeal that it was ILLEGAL for Hellmann and Zanetti not to have taken the Supreme Court’s ruling on three perps fully into account and having innored it or brushed past it. 

Verrrry tough situation for defense counsel to be in.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Excellent Sunday Times Report On The Many Killer Questions The Second Appeal Next Year Might Answer

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Rome: St Peter’s and Vatican in foreground; Supreme Court large white building in right background by River Tiber]


It really ain’t over until it’s over, and knowing the hyper-cautious Italian justice system, maybe not even then.

Now the drama moves to Rome.

Before any verdict and sentence in the case can become final, under Italian law and the constitution the verdict and sentence must be endorsed by the Supreme Court of Cassation.

If either the prosecution or defenses demand that issues be looked at by Cassation (as we know, the prosecution will) Cassation will do so, and it may punt the case back down to the first appeal court to re-examine questions or even run a complete re-trial at first appeal level.

At Cassation level the prosecution is likely to have at least five advantages.

    1) A confusing Hellman sentence report seems likely which won’t be able to dispose of the Massei and Micheli reports because the Hellman court did not re-examine all issues

    2) Cassation’s ruling on the final appeal of Rudy Guede which points to three perps, and Cassation’s general tendency to side with trial courts against first-appeal courts.

    3) The likelihood that only the prosecution will file issues for consideration by Cassation and not the defenses and so the prosecution will dominate all proceedings.

    4) Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and entourages seem unlikely to be there in person for the Cassation hearings or a retrial, and emotive factors would be less in play.

    5) The Italian media and Italian public opinion and increasingly UK and US opinion seem to be taking the position that the Hellman appeal decision was unsatisfactory.

Two days ago, the Sunday Times ran this fine analysis below by their reporter on the case, John Follain, of the open issues that will be facing Cassation and possibly again facing the lower appeal court. 

With a dozen books out John Follain has by far the largest and most impressive book publishing record of any reporter on the case.

Publishers Hodder and Stoughton have announced that his book Death in Perugia: The Definitive Account of the Meredith Kercher Case will be released first in the UK later this month - on 25 October.

KILLER QUESTIONS; The acquittal last week of Amanda Knox only deepens the confusion surrounding the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher. John Follain, who has investigated the case for four years, unpicks the evidence How could one man pin Meredith down and inflict those injuries?

By John Follain in Perugia.

They may have been coached to hide their true feelings, but the expressions of the judges and jurors were an open book. Surprise and shock registered on the faces of the appeal tribunal in Perugia as they watched a video taken by the forensic police who searched the whitewashed cottage where Meredith Kercher was murdered.

That summer’s day in the medieval, vaulted Hall of Frescoes was the pivotal scene of the 10-month appeal trial of Amanda Knox, 24, and Raffaele Sollecito, 26 “” the moment that freedom suddenly became possible, if not probable, for the former lovers.

The rotund, bespectacled Stefano Conti, one of two specialists in forensic medicine appointed by the court to review two crucial traces of DNA evidence, gave a sardonic running commentary on the behaviour of the Roman scientific squad searching for clues in the cottage. They failed to use clean protective gloves to handle each item of evidence or biological sample, Conti pointed out. They passed Meredith’s bra clasp to one another before placing it back on the floor where they had found it. The officer who picked up her bra wore no gloves at all.

As the senior appeal judge, Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, recalled last week after acquitting Knox and Sollecito of sexually abusing and murdering Meredith, the DNA review was “the most difficult moment” of the trial.

“The prosecutors understood that their case was at risk, and it was at that moment that the trial became a battle with no holds barred,” he said.

The courtroom fight over this international cause célèbre ended with a sobbing Knox being rushed out by guards and flown home to a heroine’s welcome in Seattle.

But, far from resolving the mystery of how and why Meredith died, the acquittal has fuelled the unanswered questions over her fate. Are we “back to square one”, as Meredith’s brother Lyle said after the verdict? What are the mysteries still to be resolved? And will we ever know what truly happened? MEREDITH, a 21-year-old language student from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found lying virtually naked, her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox and two other young women on the afternoon of November 2, 2007. “Case closed,” an overoptimistic police chief proclaimed just four days later.

The investigators thought Knox had handed them the keys to the mystery. Under questioning she placed herself at the crime scene on the night before the body was found. She had been in the kitchen, with her hands over her ears, she said, while Patrick Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner for whom she worked as a waitress, killed Meredith.

Police promptly arrested Lumumba, Knox and her boyfriend. But Knox later went back on her testimony, insisting she had been with Sollecito at his flat all night.

Investigators were forced to release Lumumba after witnesses testified he had been working at his bar on the night of the murder. Knox and Sollecito stayed behind bars.

Forensic evidence then prompted the arrest of another African immigrant, Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter. Part of his palm print was on a cushion under Meredith’s body, his DNA was in her body where he had apparently groped her sexually, and his DNA was mixed with hers in drops of blood inside her shoulder bag.

The prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, accused Guede, Knox and Sollecito of killing Meredith when she resisted their attempts to force her into a sex game.

Certainly, there appeared to be compelling evidence that Knox was lying. She had tried to frame Lumumba. The defence now claimed that an intruder had broken into the cottage and attacked Meredith; but the break-in had clearly been staged. Amateurishly, a room had been ransacked before the window into it was smashed “” the glass lay over the strewn clothes instead of under them. Was this to cover Knox’s tracks? There were mixed traces of Knox’s and Meredith’s blood in the bathroom and another room. Bloody footprints had been left by Knox and Sollecito in the bathroom and in the corridor. Knox had behaved bizarrely at the police station after the murder, kissing and caressing Sollecito and doing yoga exercises. Sollecito had said he spent much of the murder night on his computer, but this was disproved by experts.

Still, this was all circumstantial evidence rather than proof. The Rome forensic police came to the rescue of the prosecution team. They reported that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of a kitchen knife found at Sollecito’s flat “” and Knox’s was on the handle. This was believed to be one of the murder weapons.

Forensic pathologists said Meredith’s wounds had been caused by two knives, pointing to more than one killer. The team from Rome also reported that Sollecito’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra clasp. (Only much later would it emerge that the police had retrieved this from the bedroom floor a full 46 days after first spotting it.) The case rapidly became a sensation. The prime suspect was an intelligent and alluringly pretty American, only 20 at the time, who, reporters joyously discovered, had been nicknamed “Foxy Knoxy” back home in Seattle. That this was for her skills on the soccer pitch was lost in the rush to find out more.

Dozens of witnesses and expert consultants passed through Perugia’s Hall of Frescoes during the first trial, which lasted for much of 2009.

Knox was portrayed by the lawyer for the bar owner, Lumumba, as an unscrupulous and manipulative she-devil, and by her defence team as “a wholesome girl” wrongly accused.

The prosecution case was that Kercher, a hard-working young woman from a modest background, had become exasperated by Knox’s slovenly and promiscuous behaviour as a housemate.

She had remarked to her father that “Amanda arrived only a week ago and she already has a boyfriend”. She told friends that Knox left a vibrator and condoms in the bathroom and brought “strange men” to the cottage. Investigators leaked Knox’s diary, in which she had listed seven sexual partners, three of whom she had slept with after her arrival in Italy, including a man she had met on the train on her way to Perugia. On Facebook she had put down as her interests: “Men.” Unable to prove exactly what had happened on the night of the murder, Mignini offered a plausible scenario based on Meredith’s 43 knife wounds and bruises.

He suggested that an argument between Meredith and Knox escalated when Guede and Sollecito joined the American “under the influence of drugs and maybe of alcohol” in trying to force Kercher into a heavy sex game that ended in murder. The sensational 11-month trial ended in guilty verdicts and jail sentences of 26 years for Knox and 25 years for Sollecito.

Some months later, in August 2010, I met Knox briefly in Capanne women’s prison, which is a short drive from Perugia. She had cut her hair and looked younger and more frail than during her trial. She wore a red Beatles sweatshirt, black leggings and silver nail varnish.

When I arrived, she was pushing a trolley down a corridor.

A guard explained that her job was to collect orders from other prisoners for small goods they could buy: newspapers, cigarettes, coffee, magazines and “” at that time of year “” strawberries. We were allowed to talk for only a few moments, but a guard told me: “She’s pretty well. Amanda’s confident that the future will bring freedom for her. She doesn’t break down in tears. It’s nothing like the night of tears after the verdict, when we had to comfort her.”

I was told she had been reading “” in Italian “” the 427-page summary by the two judges at her trial, who had dissected the inconsistencies in her evidence.

This summary included the judges’ own reconstruction of what might have happened on the night of the murder, based on the evidence that had been put before them.

They suggested that Knox, Sollecito and Guede had arrived at the cottage at about 11pm. Knox and her boyfriend had gone to her bedroom to have sex, and, excited by a situation “heavy with sexual stimulus”, Guede had walked into Kercher’s room wanting to have sex with her.

Kercher rejected him “” she was tired, and had a new boyfriend anyway “” but Knox and Sollecito intervened to assist him. According to the judges, they were probably drugged on hashish and seeking “erotic sexual violence”. Forcing Kercher to yield to Guede was a “special thrill that had to be tried out”.

They suggested Sollecito cut Meredith’s bra with a small knife he always carried “” collecting knives was a hobby. As Guede sexually assaulted Kercher with his fingers, Sollecito stabbed her in the neck. Kercher screamed “” a neighbour heard her “” and Knox stabbed her in the throat with a kitchen knife, the judges argued. She took several minutes to die as she inhaled her own blood.

THAT was the lurid and damning case that Knox had to fight when she returned to the Hall of Frescoes last November for her appeal.

Her demeanour had changed. Gone was smiling and self-confident “Foxy”, whose manner may have helped secure her conviction. After three years in prison, Knox was much more demure.

The appeal hearing began auspiciously for her when the deputy judge remarked: “The only certain and undisputed fact is the death of Meredith Kercher.”

The comment prompted prosecutors to complain that the court had already made up its mind, but it was a portent of what was about to be revealed.

The appeal court’s decision to grant a defence request for an independent review of two items of DNA evidence “” the kitchen knife and the bra clasp “” proved devastating for the prosecution’s case.

The two experts “” Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, from La Sapienza University in Rome “” said the DNA trace on the knife blade could not be attributed to Meredith because it was too slight. They said Sollecito’s Y chromosome was on the bra clasp, but it could have been the result of contamination by police mishandling of the evidence. From then on, the prosecutors fought a losing battle to discredit Conti and Vecchiotti.

Outside the courtroom the Knox camp’s media offensive exploited the experts’ conclusions.

Knox’s family “” her mother, father, stepfather and friends “” had come well primed for battle. Homes had been remortgaged and funds raised.

With the help of a PR company in Seattle, they dominated prime-time shows on the leading American TV networks, dramatically influencing public opinion there “” so much so that the prosecutor Mignini thundered in court that he had never seen a convict hire a PR firm to prove her innocence.

Mignini himself was a key target. In what appeared to have been a turf battle with prosecutors in Florence, he had been given a suspended 16-month prison sentence for abuse of office after tapping the phones of police officers and journalists in a separate investigation into a serial killer. It was a reflection of the fragmented and politicised condition of the Italian justice system.

The prosecutors tried but failed to switch the focus away from the forensic evidence by introducing Guede, the third party to the murder. He had been prosecuted separately because he had opted for a “fast track” trial that offers a lighter sentence as an incentive. Jailed for 16 years for murder, he had appealed to the Supreme Court in Rome “” Italy’s highest court “” which confirmed his conviction, ruling that Guede had sexually abused and murdered Kercher with “unidentified accomplices”.

This was an insight into the mystifying processes of Italian law. How could justice be served by trying Guede separately? Why had he not been brought to give evidence at the first Knox trial? Why were his accomplices “unidentified” when Knox and Sollecito had been convicted of joining him in the murder? The answers lay in the fact that his supreme court appeal started just after Knox’s appeal began in Perugia “” and the two cases overlapped, a bizarre way of seeking out the truth.

Once Guede’s Supreme Court appeal had been dismissed he was summoned to the witness box in Perugia, where his contribution was damning yet so limited that it did not sway the judges and jury.

Rather than taking him through the events of the killing, Mignini read out a letter in which Guede had written of “the horrible murder of a ... wonderful girl by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox”. Challenged by one of Knox’s lawyers, Guede stood by the letter, saying: “It’s not as if there is my truth, and the truth of Tom, Dick and Harry. What there is is the truth of what I lived through that night, full stop.”

A lawyer for the Kerchers detailed the injuries Meredith suffered, arguing it would have been impossible for Guede to hold her down, sexually assault her, try to suffocate her, try to strangle her and wound her with more than one knife.

But it was too late. The appeal panel of judges and jurors had made up their minds. A juror confided after the “not guilty” verdicts had been delivered that the court had decided to acquit because of doubts over the forensic evidence, and because it saw no motive for the murder.

Pratillo Hellman explained: “To convict, the penal code says you have to be persuaded beyond every reasonable doubt. The smallest doubt is enough to not condemn.”

But he added enigmatically: “Maybe Knox and Sollecito know what happened that night, because our acquittal verdict stems from the truth which was established in the trial. But the real truth can be different. They may be responsible, but there isn’t the evidence… So, perhaps they too know what happened that night, but that’s not our conclusion.”

The judge’s comments earned him a new nickname, which investigators texted to each other delightedly: “Pontius Pratillo”, after Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands of responsibility for the execution of Jesus Christ.

The prosecution scored one potentially significant victory. The court found Knox guilty of slandering the former bar owner Lumumba by initially claiming he had killed Kercher. It sentenced her to three years in prison, but released her as she had spent almost four years behind bars.

“That’s absurd, absurd,” Mignini fumed. “Knox accused Lumumba to throw the police off her tracks. Why else would she accuse him?” IN PERUGIA, at least, the prosecution can count on overwhelming backing. After the verdict, a crowd several thousand strong massed outside the courts, amid jeers at defence lawyers and chants of “Assassini, assassini!” (murderers, murderers) and “Vergogna, vergogna!” (shame, shame). In bars across the picturesque city, and on the main cobbled street, Corso Vannucci, many dissected the case for days afterwards “” the consensus was that Knox and Sollecito were at the cottage when Meredith died, but no one agreed on what role they played.

For the Kercher family no outcome could have been more bewildering. As Knox flew home, Meredith’s mother Arline, her brother Lyle and her sister Stephanie spoke to me.

“It almost raises more questions than there are answers now,” Lyle said, “because the initial decision was that [the murder] wasn’t done by one person but by more than that. Two have been released, one remains in jail, so we’re now left questioning: who are these other people or person?” Did they believe that Knox and Sollecito were guilty? “In a way we have to believe what the police say because they are the ones compiling the evidence,” Arline replied. “We haven’t a clue. I think that’s what he was saying. It’s the police “” it’s their job.”

“It’s difficult for anybody to make a valid opinion on any case, not just this one, unless you’re a trained expert,” Lyle echoed. “There are forensics, detectives, psychological profilers and so on, who are trained to do this and read the information and draw the hypotheses from that, which of course no lay person really is. So if that’s the conclusion they come to, then we’re happy to stand by that.”

“We have to accept, don’t we, just like now we have to accept this,” Arline said.

“And that’s why it’s so disappointing, because we don’t know,” Stephanie added.

It is not over for the Kerchers.

Last week’s acquittal is far from the last word on the case. The judges have 90 days to draft a report explaining the reasons for the verdict. Then the prosecution and the defence will have a further 45 days to lodge a new and last appeal. Only rulings by the Supreme Court are considered definitive in Italian justice.

Guede’s lawyers said he would appeal for a new trial if the Supreme Court confirmed Knox’s acquittal “” on the grounds that it would contradict the Ivorian’s conviction for killing Meredith alongside unidentified accomplices. “So I’m supposed to be Meredith’s only assassin?” Guede is reported to have told a prison visitor. “I’m supposed to have struck that poor girl with a knife 40 times? I confessed my responsibilities and I accused those who were in the house with me.

“I’m in prison, and the others are free and happy at home. If it wasn’t them in the house that damned evening, who are the other accomplices supposed to be? The money made available to Amanda and the media strategy helped to free her.”

Many investigators and lawyers admit privately that the Italian judicial system may simply never come up with a full and convincing explanation of Meredith’s death.

Italian justice is agonisingly slow. Judges and lawyers attend several trials in the same week, with the result that the appeal trial saw 20 days of hearings over no fewer than 10 months. It is also full of safeguards for defendants, including long preliminary hearings enshrined in the post-war constitution to eradicate the caricature of justice delivered by the courts under Mussolini.

Many of the most notorious cases in Italy’s post-war history have yet to be resolved in court. Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire prime minister, is embroiled in a string of corruption, fraud and sex offence investigations and trials, and claims that leftist prosecutors are plotting to oust him.

This week Berlusconi will push through parliament a bill banning publication of phone and other intercepts before a case reaches trial “” a measure that has become a priority for him, as investigators are expected to release within a few weeks dozens of intercepts of reportedly embarrassing conversations between Berlusconi and a convicted drug dealer.

In such a climate Italian justice itself is on trial. The truth of what happened to Meredith Kercher may emerge one day, but it’s no safe bet that it will do so in an Italian court of law.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fifteenth Appeal Session: Prosecutor Manuela Comodi Starkly Explains All The Forensic Evidence

Posted by Peter Quennell


This is a translation of key parts of a detailed report from the AGI news service - the excellent reporter is not named.

On Ms Comodi’s opening remarks to the court.

In Perugia the hearing of the appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, in the first instance [at trial] convicted for the murder of Meredith Kercher, has resumed. This morning, the prosecutor Manuela Comodi began her part of the indictment.

“Regardless of the scientific evidence, your decision can only be the confirmation of the decision at first instance [at trial],” the prosecutor said. During the day the prosecution will make its request for a tougher sentence for the ex-lovers who are present in the courtroom next to their defence teams.

Ms Comodi on the strength of the forensic evidence.

“Quite apart from all the scientific evidence, the outcome of this process can only be at least the confirmation of the conviction of first degree”...The prosecutor judge then began to attack the independent expert report on the traces of DNA ordered by the Court.

“That ploy may have led you to believe you do not trust the results for the knife proposed as the murder weapon and the hook of the bra worn by the victim when she was killed. Those conclusions are strongly challenged by the prosecution.” Then Comodi talked of “the awkward performance of experts who have betrayed your trust… [with] their absolute inadequacy and incompetence.”

She then mentioned the lack of experience in the field of the experts appointed by the Court. “Would you trust your daughter’s wedding to a cook who knows all the recipes but has never cooked?”. In the initial phase of her indictment the prosecutor also mentioned the process carried out in England to indict Danilo Restivo…

The Guardian has a good report on how Danilo Restivo was caught in part by incriminating DNA some TEN YEARS after his crime.

And Ms Comodi on the DNA on the knife and bra clasp.

“Who wielded the knife [that killed Meredith Kercher] was Amanda Knox.” The prosecutor said in court, mimicking the way according to the defense reconstruction that knife was contested by the murderer of Meredith.

“They will tell you, She used it at some other time while staying at Sollecito’s house, but Amanda’s DNA was found in the wrong place for normal use. Give it a try, you will see that in cutting bread or meat the hand rests on the back, not there.”

“Starch on the knife? It could come from the powder present on the “vast majority” of rubber gloves used by personnel involved in investigations.” The prosecutor was recalling the words of a senior advisor to the defense of Amanda Knox, according to whom the starch was derived from the cutting of food such as potatoes and is a sign of lack of washing of the blade on which should have been found traces of blood of the victim if it was used for the crime….

“Talc is present on most sterile disposable gloves, such as those used by the scientific and the Flying Squad in Perugia. It is totally unfounded, the thesis of the non-washing of the knife.”

“The hook of the bra collected 46 days after being found missing? What of the DNA of Elisa Claps [in the Danilo Restivo case] analyzed after nearly 20 years? There is no way this could be contamination because Sollecito had not since been in the house.

Here is a very strong report from Il Mattino which after mirroring the AGI report above adds this:

“In addition to the knife and the bra hook there are other tracks that connect the presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to the crime scene” said the prosecutor in her indictment.

“Traces of the mixed blood of Meredith and Amanda have been found in the bathroom, where there was an imprint of a foot of Raffaele Sollecito in Meredith’s blood. Footprints of Raffaele and Amanda in Meredith’s blood were found using Luminol in the hallway and the room of Amanda.”

The prosecutor pointed out that under the bed, in Meredith’s room, the lamp of Amanda was found. In Meredith’s room there already was one lamp. Amanda’s lamp was there “because they had to find something to take away, maybe a bracelet or a ring that Amanda might have lost.”

And the prosecution concluded by asking for life sentences and some solitary confinement for Sollecito and Knox as the crime was “aggravated - carried out for trivial reasons” and asking for the exclusion of the mitigating factors that Judge Massei had allowed.

Some of the Italian media reports carried headlines quoting Ms Comodi saying “They killed her for nothing”.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

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

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





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

4. Morning of November 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of pathology findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Cause of death

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

Time of death

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

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

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

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

6. Forensic investigation

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

Meredith Kercher

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

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

The Small Bathroom

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

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

The Large Bathroom

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

Traces Revealed by Luminol

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

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

Shoeprints

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

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

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

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

Other Evidence

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

The Court’s Analysis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part Three is here.


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

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





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

7. Double DNA knife and bra strap

Exhibit 36: The double DNA Knife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

To this central point, Dr. Stefanoni:

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

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

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

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

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






Exhibit 165 (Bra clasp)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. The staged break-in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part Four is here.


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.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Precise And Accurate Italian Wikipedia Article On Meredith’s Case, Now Translated Into English

Posted by Tom M and Skeptical Bystander


A recent post on TJMK by Gwaendar refers to Wikipedia and the current effort by the Fictitious Friends of Amanda to make her the focus of an article that has so far been devoted to the Murder of Meredith Kercher.

The Eclectic Chapbook blog often comments on the case. It has called this effort “tragically misguided and possibly somewhat demented,” describing it as an instance of “the Enchanted Glen Phenomenon, which is a psychological space wherein normal laws do not apply and all rules are magically suspended. “

We have now examined and translated the Italian Wikipedia article which was written in a space where the normal laws certainly are applied and no rules have been suspended. 

The main reporting and the voluminous records of the trial and the appeal are of course all in Italian, and Italians on the whole have a far better grasp of events and the legal context than do most observers in the US and the UK. Because there is so much source material, and so little misleading reporting, it would seem that If any Wikipedia in any language in the world is going to describe the case correctly, it will be the Italian one.

This translation below of most of the Italian Wikipedia article is not word-for-word, but it is intended to convey the substance of the Italian article as it would have been if originally written in English. 

The index, the sections on books and movie, and the citations were omitted.

The murder of Meredith Kercher, an English student in Italy enrolled in the Erasmus program at the University of Perugia, occurred during the night of November 1, 2007.  Meredith was found lifeless, with her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with other students in Perugia.  The cause of death was hemorrhage due to bleeding from a wound to the neck caused by a sharp object used as a weapon.

Two men and a woman were convicted as a result, of murder, sexual violence and theft.

Biography

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was born December 28, 1985 in Southwark, London, lived in Coulsdon, and was a student at the University of Leeds, where she was pursuing a degree in European Studies. She enrolled in the Erasmus program, and had arrived in Italy in September 2007 to complete her degree in European Studies.

Details and circumstances of the murder

Kercher was murdered at night between 1 and 2 November 2007, in the apartment she shared with three other young women, two Italian and an American, who were away that night. Based on the first examination of the autopsy, the pathologist who handled the case ruled that the death occurred between 22:00 and midnight on that day.

The following morning an elderly woman living near Via della Pergola where Meredith’s body was found, alarmed by the discovery of two abandoned mobile phones, called the police. From information obtained from one of two mobile phones the Postal Police of Perugia sent agents to the house of Meredith Kercher.  On their arrival the police found Amanda Knox (Seattle, USA, July 9, 1987), Meredith Kercher’s flatmate, and her Italian friend, Raffaele Sollecito (Giovinazzo, March 26, 1984), with whom she had recently started a relationship, outside the house.

The two young people said they were awaiting the arrival of the police; when asked why, they said they had found a window broken, the door open, and suspected a theft. Later, these claims were questioned by investigators, given that the Police Post arrived at the house on Via della Pergola at 12:35 and telephone calls to the Police were not made not until 12:51 and 12:54.  Entering, the Police found the bedroom of Meredith Kercher locked and decided to break down the door. Upon entering, they found a number of bloodstains, the room in disarray, and a foot sticking out from under the duvet which had covered the bed.

The Convicted:

The three convicted at the first stage are:

  • Raffaele Sollecito, who was born in Giovinazzo (BA), a university student of 23 years at the time of the murder;
  • Amanda Knox, a student originally from Seattle, U.S., 20, who had a relationship with Sollecito at the time of the crime;
  • Rudy Hermann Guede, born December 26, 1986 in the Ivory Coast, was arrested in Germany on November 20 and extradited to Italy on December 6, 2007.  At his lawyers’ request, Guede received from the court at a preliminary hearing an order granting expedited trial.

Knox and Guede were detained in Capanne prison, a 20-minute drive from Perugia. Sollecito, after also being held in Capanne, was transferred in early 2008 to the Vocabolo Sabbione prison in Terni.

The case also, initially, erroneously involved Patrick Lumumba, owner of the restaurant where Amanda Knox worked; her statement placed him at the crime scene on the night of the crime. The charges were later proved unfounded and demonstrated the unreliability of Knox as a witness. Implicating the Congolese man was also an incorrect translation of a text message sent to him in English by Knox (‘see you later’, which rather than a generic “Ci vidiamo,” was translated literally as “we will see each other later”[“ci vidiamo dopo”].

Thus, police thought that the two had an appointment for the evening of the crime). Patrick Lumumba was ultimately released and all charges against him were dropped.  Following the unjust detention lasting 14 days, Lumumba was awarded € 8000 as compensation, but this was deemed inadequate by his lawyer, who threatened to sue.

The Sentences

Knox, Sollecito and Guede were sentenced respectively to 26, 25 and 16 years in prison. Rudi Hermann Guede opted for an abbreviated trial and his conviction for complicity in murder and sexual violence was made final by the Court of Cassation, First Criminal Division, on December 16, 2010. For the other two participants, the case is on appeal. The decisions reconstruct in detail the manner and circumstances of the murder, a motive defined “violent, sexual, erotic.”

The conviction in the first trial of Sollecito and Knox, issued by the Court of Assizes of Perugia, is based on numerous expert opinions, objective evidence and testimony.

According to the reconstruction regarding Knox and Sollecito, on the evening of November 1, 2007, they met in piazza Grimana, where they had occasionally met Guede, an acquaintance of Knox, who decided to join them for the evening. They decided to go to Knox’s house, to which her roommate Meredith Kercher, after an evening with her English friends, had just returned. Kercher’s bedroom door was presumably ajar, and upon entering the house the three defendants immediately noticed her presence.

Going directly to another part of the house, Knox and Sollecito made love.  Guede, shortly after, went to the bathroom, where he left organic residues in the water of the toilet, as found in the investigation. According to the reconstruction, Guede left the bathroom, probably excited by the sounds of Sollecito and Knox making love, noted again the door ajar at Kercher’s room, and decided to approach. Then he entered Kercher’s room; but after her refusal, he became violent, attempting to rape her.

Kercher’s cries led Knox and Sollecito to go to her room, where they joined Guede’s criminal action, finding it an “exciting situation.” While the Guede violated Kercher, Knox and Sollecito tried to immobilize her: to do this Sollecito and Knox wielded knives to threaten the victim. The analysis shows that the knife wounds by Sollecito were probably quite small, while Knox wielded a kitchen knife, later found, and on which were found genetic traces of her mixed with those of Kercher.

The situation then deteriorated, partly because of the screams and resistance of Kercher: Knox then, with the kitchen knife, struck the victim in the neck, causing fatal injuries. The three defendants, shortly after the murder, fled with Kercher’s phones, fearing that if someone called her and got no response, they would be suspicious and the crime would be discovered: the cell phone was ultimately found in an embankment a few hundred meters from Kercher’s house.

Then they headed in different directions: Guede to a nightclub, Knox and Sollecito to the latter’s flat. The next morning Knox and Sollecito tried to clean up the crime scene and clean up their tracks; then they broke a window in the house to stage a mock burglary, hoping to throw the investigation off course.

Guede’s Supposed Confession

In March 2010 rumors spread of an alleged confession by Rudy Guede. The facts are as follows: it seems that Guede had revealed his complicity, with a friend, in killing Kercher, to Mario Alessi, an inmate housed in the same prison, a character already known to police and media for the murder of little Tommaso Onofri, Guede had invited Kercher to go to a party, she refused, and subsequently the friend of Guede tried to rape her. According to Alessi, Guede tried to come to Kercher’s aid, and Guede’s friend rebuked him, saying that he should just strike the final blow to end the girl’s misery, which is what Guede did.

Then Guede and his friend met again by chance in a nightclub, and Guede’s friend gave him money to flee to Germany, where he was at the time of the extradition and return to Italy for arrest. This reconstruction, which would completely exonerate Knox and Sollecito, was found by investigators to be totally unfounded.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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

Posted by SomeAlibi


Welcome

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

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

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

My own arrival

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

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

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

The unanimous jury

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

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

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

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

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

The voluminous evidence

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

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

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

The Massei Sentencing Report

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

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

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

The Knox PR campaign

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

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

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

Now for a quick tour of the evidence.


Some of the points of evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher. RIP.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ten Examples Of How The Former Campus Cop Steve Moore Serially Mischaracterizes The Case

Posted by The Machine




1. The Chronic Chest-Thumper

A couple of weeks ago Steve Moore was frogmarched out of his workplace on the campus of Pepperdine University and told not to come back.

Although Pepperdine apparently offered him a deal for his resignation, he refused, and so he probably departed with only the minimal severance entitlements in his contract. Now he is suing Pepperdine, presumably to see if he can get a little bit more. 

Steve Moore has been rather plaintively claiming since the firing that he did nothing wrong, except to avidly support the innocence of Amanda Knox in his own time. No mention of his confused take on the case or of Pepperdine’s exchange students in Italy who must rely on the police Moore delights in trashing.

We suspect that a lot of things about his confused, hurtful and ebullient campaign reached the front office of Pepperdine University and its Law School, and that some or many of these things may come out in the open when Steve Moore’s suit goes to court. Our next post will contemplate what some of these things may be.


2. Moore Adrift On Hard Facts

It’s not a secret at all to those involved in handling the case in Perugia and Rome (where Moore is much ridiculed) and presumably now at Pepperdine (which has a very good law school, one capable of correctly absorbing the Massei report) is how Steve Moore is serially unable to get the facts right.

His media interviews have followed the very familiar PR script. The presenter or journalist begins by really talking up Steve Moore’s 25-year career with the FBI as one of the FBI’s really big stars! Then going to to emphasize how Steve Moore has REALLY done his homework on this case! On the NBC Today Show, for example, it was claimed that Steve Moore has studied “every iota of evidence”! Reporter Linda Byron stated on Seattle’s King 5 TV that he had obtained the trial transcripts and the police and autopsy records! And Moore had all of them translated into English!

The intended message is clear: Steve Moore is an exceptionally credible professional expert in all the relevant fields! He knows this case inside out because he has researched it absolutely meticulously!

In this piece, we will compare just a few of the many claims that Steve Moore has made - here in interviews with Frank Shiers on Seattle’s Kiro FM Radio, with Ann Curry on the NBC Today Show, with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News, and with Monique Ming Laven on Seattle’s Kiro 7 TV - with the real facts, as described in the Massei report and the witness testimony from the trial.

3. Ten Of The Oft Repeated Lies By Moore


Frequent Moore Lie 1: The large knife doesn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

Steve Moore has repeatedly claimed in interviews with for example Frank Shiers, Ann Curry and Monique Laven that the double DNA knife doesn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

Untrue. Prosecution experts, multiple defence experts and Judge Massei in his report have all agreed that the double DNA knife DID match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

On these matters, the considerations already made must be recalled, which led this Court to evaluate the outcome of the genetic investigation as reliable, and this knife as absolutely compatible with the most serious wound. (The Massei report, page 375).

Barbie Nadeau reported directly from the courtroom in Perugia that multiple witnesses for the defence, including Dr. Carlo Torre, conceded that the double DNA knife was compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck.

“According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).

He (Dr. Carlo Torre, defence expert) conceded that a third larger wound could have been made with the knife, but said it was more likely it was made by twisting a smaller knife. (Barbie Nadeau, The Daily Beast).

For someone who has allegedly “studied every iota of evidence”, it seems that Steve Moore is doing nothing more than regurgitating a familiar FOA myth that has long been completely debunked.

He clearly hasn’t studied every iota of evidence. Very far from it.

Monique Ming Laven had a copy of the English translation of the Massei report. Warning bells should have gone off in her head as soon as Moore claimed the double DNA knife didn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck, and yet she didn’t challenge him.


Frequent Moore Lie 2: They want you to believe that Amanda Knox inflicted all three wounds on Meredith’s neck

Moore stated in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News that “they” claimed that Knox caused all three wounds on Meredith’s neck.

“What they’re having you, what they want you to believe is that in the middle of a life and death struggle, holding a girl who is fighting for her life. Amanda stabbing someone for the first time in her life, takes two stabs with a very small knife, throws it away and says give me the other one” (5.48 -  6.05)

Untrue. Neither the judges and jury nor the prosecution have ever claimed that Amanda Knox inflicted all three wounds on Meredith’s neck:

“Elements which lead one to consider that the 4cm in depth wound was inflicted by Raffaele Sollecito with the pocket knife that he was always carrying around with him, and was inflicted immediately after having cut the bra…” (The Massei report, page 374).

The following extract is from Mignini’s timeline, which was presented at the trial on 20 November 2009 by the prosecutors:

23.30 ...At this point, the two knives emerge from the pockets of Amanda and Raffaele: one with a blade of four to five centimetres, the other however a big kitchen knife. Meredith tries to fend off the blades with her right hand. She is wounded.

23:40 ...The three become more violent. With the smaller knife, Sollecito strikes a blow: the blade penetrates 4 centimetres into the neck.

The timeline presented by the prosecutors during their summation was published in Il Messagero and other Italian newspapers. It was translated by main poster Tiziano and our other Italian speakers and posted on PMF and TJMK here.


Frequent Moore Lie 3: Meredith had no defensive wounds on her hands

Steve Moore told Frank Shiers on Kiro FM that Meredith had no defensive wounds on her hands.

Untrue. Moore clearly hadn’t read the autopsy report, or its summary in the Massei Report.

“They consist also in some tiny defensive wounds: one on the palm of her [396] right hand of a length of .6cm showing a tiny amount of blood; another on the ulnar surface of the first phalange of the second finger of the left hand, also of length .6cm; another on the fingertip of the first finger with a superficial wound of .3cm, and another tiny wound corresponding to the fourth radius.” (The Massei report, pages 369-370).


Frequent Moore Lie 4: Rudy left his hair and fluid samples on Meredith’s body.

Steve Moore has made this claim in interviews with Frank Shiers and George Stephanopoulos.

Untrue. Rudy Guede did not leave any hair or fluid samples on Meredith’s body. There is no mention of Rudy Guede leaving his hair or fluid samples on Meredith’s body in either the Micheli report or the Massei report.

Steve Moore is simply making things up or relying on false information.


Frequent Moore Lie 5: Amanda and Raffaele didn’t step in blood and that can’t be avoided

In his interview with Frank Shiers, Steve Moore claimed that Knox and Sollecito didn’t step in Meredith’s blood.

Untrue. The Massei report completely contradicts this claim. It notes that Amanda Knox stepped in Meredith’s blood and tracked the blood with her feet into her own room, the corridor, and Filomena’s room:

Even the traces highlighted by Luminol therefore show the existence of evidence against Amanda, making [the Court] consider that she, having been barefoot in the room where Meredith was killed and having thus stained her feet, had left the traces highlighted by Luminol (which could have resisted the subsequent action of cleaning, on which more will follow) and found in the various parts of the house which she went to for the reasons shown above (her own room, the corridor, Romanelli’s room). (The Massei report, page 382).

Judge Massei attributed the visible bloody footprint on the bathroom mat to Raffaele Sollecito and categorically ruled out the possibility that it could have belonged to Rudy Guede:

“Also from this viewpoint it must be excluded that the print left on the sky-blue mat in the little bathroom could be attributable to Rudy.  A footprint that, for what has been observed in the relevant chapter [of this report] and for the reasons just outlined, must be attributed to Raffaele Sollecito…” (The Massei report, page 379).

The bare bloody footprint in the corridor, referred in the Massei report as trace 2, was attributed to Raffaele Sollecito:

In this particular case, they lead to an opinion of probable identity with one subject (Sollecito with respect to trace 2, Amanda Knox with respect to traces 1 and 7) and to the demonstrated exclusion of the other two. (The Massei report, page 349).


Frequent Moore Lie 6: None of the luminol prints or stains contained Meredith’s DNA

Steve Moore told Frank Shiers that Meredith’s DNA wasn’t found in any of the luminol prints or stains.

Untrue. Meredith’s DNA was found in the luminol traces in the corridor and in Filomena’s room.

Amanda (with her feet stained with Meredith’s blood for having been present in her room when she was killed) had gone into Romanelli’s room and into her [own] room leaving traces [which were highlighted] by Luminol, some of which (one in the corridor, the L8, and one, the L2, in Romanelli’s room) were mixed, that is, constituted of a biological trace attributable to [both] Meredith and Amanda…” (The Massei report, page 380).


Frequent Moore Lie 7: The prosecutor through fierce interrogation coerced Amanda into implicating someone else in the case

Steve Moore has made this claim on a number of occasions

Untrue. The prosecutor wasn’t even present when Amanda Knox first accused Diya Lumumba.

Dr Mignini was called to the police station after she had ALREADY admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed and after she had ALREADY made her false and malicious accusation against Lumumba.

Her implication of Lumumba was triggered by sight of a phone message she had denied. She had an interpreter with her at all times, and she had a lawyer present at all times after her status moved to that of a self-proclaimed witness.

Her own lawyers never ever claimed the interrogation was anything out of the ordinary (Italian law requires that lawyers report real claims of abuse), or that for a suspect she was treated less than kindly.

They never filed any complaint, contributing to her calunnia conviction, and making her situation at her slander trial in Florence in November one that is dire and untenable. 


Frequent Moore Lie 8: Amanda Knox wasn’t given food or drinks when she was questioned by the police.

Steve Moore claimed on the Today Show and ABC News that Amanda Knox wasn’t given food or drinks when she was questioned.

Untrue. Monica Napoleoni testified that Amanda Knox was given things to eat and drink.

“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.” (Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009).

Amanda Knox even herself confirmed during her testimony at the trial that she was given something to eat and drink.


Frequent Moore Lie 9: Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian on 5 November 2007

Steve Moore stated in his interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News that Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian, a language he says she barely knew, on 5 November 2007.

Untrue. Interpreters were present at all sesions on 2, 3, 4 and 5 November and their names appear in the records Knox signed. Knox was provided with an interpreter, Anna Donnino, on 5 November 2007, who translated all the police officers’ questions into English for her and translated her answers back.

In Amanda Knox’s own testimony on the stand in June 2009, she even referred to this interpreter - she claimed the interpreter seemed to give her some advice at one point.


Frequent Moore Lie 10: Amanda Knox recanted her accusation against Diya Lumumba as soon as she got some food

Steve Moore has made this claim in numerous interviews and articles.

Untrue. Amanda Knox didn’t retract her accusation as soon as she got some food at all. In fact, she reiterated her allegation in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007 which was admitted in evidence:

[Amanda] herself, furthermore, in the statement of 6 November 2007 (admitted into   evidence ex. articles 234 and 237 of the Criminal Procedure Code and which was mentioned above) wrote, among other things, the following: I stand by my - accusatory - statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrick…in these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrick as the murderer…”.

This statement, as specified in the report on it of 6 November 2007 at 2:00pm, by the Police Chief Inspector, Rita Ficarra, was drawn up, following the notification of the detention measure, by Amanda Knox, who “requested blank papers in order to produce a written statement to hand over” to the same Ficarra. (The Massei report, page 389).

The Massei court took note of the fact that Amanda Knox didn’t recant her false and malicious allegation against Diya Lumumba during the whole of the time he was kept in prison. Later courts noted that she told her mother she felt bad about it.

4. Verdict On Steve Moore

He is either an incompetemt or a phoney. Either way he is not to be trusted.

His various surfacings smack of a Walter Mitty character making things up as he goes along, with an expression and a tone of voice that suggests he is thinking “Yes, folks, this REALLY is all about ME.” 

He will save Knox! He will save Knox! Come what may!

Steve Moore has never ever addressed the numerous smoking-gun issues, like Knox’s and Sollecito’s many lies before and after 5 November 2007. It seems that perhaps he’s not even aware of them - he certainly seems to think Amanda Knox only lied on 5 November 2007.

Italian authorities worked hard and professionally in Perugia and Rome to get this case right. If he is ever to speak up again with any credibility at all, Steve Moore needs to read and actually understand the Massei report in its entirety.

It’s unforgivable for him to get so many facts wrong on so many occasions in front of large audiences, and then use those wrong facts to make multiple highly unprofessional accusations against the authorities in Perugia and Rome.

He would never have got away with this about a US case. He would have been held in contempt of court for trying to poison the jury pool.

And the journalists who get to interview him REALLY should have alarm bells going off when he comes out with his many fictions.

It was very remiss of Monique Ming Laven and Ann Curry not to challenge Moore over any of his false claims, such as the double DNA knife being incompatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck. George Stephanopolous did at least make some small attempt to push back.

Steve Moore is not only oblivious to many facts about the case.

He seems totally oblivious to the real hurt that his cowardly, dishonest, self-serving campaign from across the Atlantic is inflicting on Meredith’s family and her friends.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Why The Media Are Wrong To Rely On Amanda Knox’s Family For Impartial and Accurate Information

Posted by The Machine


1 False claim-making endemic in support of Knox

In many posts we have been addressing the myriad false claims of Knox & family that, lies that now number up in the hundreds.

And here are 150 questions for the two perpetrators posted by our great Powerpoint creator, Kermit, just prior to their conviction. If reporters had sought answers to all of those, they might have once and for all nailed down the truth from the two, and made clear what REALLY happened.

Edda Mellas is already charged along with Curt Knox with making things up, in that pending case about slandering Amanda Knox’s interrogators. And as Finn MacCool seems to have got all the facts right in this post on Amanda Knox’s calls with Edda Mellas, it seems surprising that she is not also charged with perjury.

It’s a great pity that not more media people have put aside their emotions, and actually analyzed the numerous wild claims that come pouring out of Edda Mellas. The fact that so many professional journalists have given her a free pass and never challenged, cross-checked, or probed her claims is especially shameful.

Why has Edda Mellas been able to make so many false claims in the media without being challenged? 

One primary reason according to the Daily Beast is because journalists are required to give certain guarantees about positive coverage in order to gain any access to Amanda Knox’s family: “Of the handful of American journalists in Perugia in late 2007 and early 2008, none got access to the Knox family without certain guarantees about positive coverage.”

And another reason why Edda Mellas has been able to get away with repeatedly propagating the same core false claims is that the journalists in the US who have interviewed Edda Mellas are almost completely ignorant of the basic facts of the case. They haven’t bothered to find out enough about the case to be in a position to challenge what she says.

In fact any journalist - in fact, anyone interested in the case - can check the veracity of her claims against the official court documents, including the Micheli Sentencing Report of January 2009 (summarised on TJMK in English) and the Massei Sentencing Report of March 2010 (very soon available on PMF and TJMK in English).

And they can check the claims against the objective reporting of the various respected Rome-based journalists who speak fluent Italian and who actually attended the trial - the only Rome-based English-language reporter who has ever filed biased reports was Peter Popham, who seemed reflexively anti-Italy, and who was withdrawn two years ago.

2. Numerous False Knox-Family Claims

This analysis focuses on the claims that Edda Mellas has made in interviews with Larry King on CNN, Chris Wragge on CBS, Linda Byron on King 5, and The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone. There are other videos and text interviews that we could have drawn examples from.

We start with Edda Mellas on CNN’s Larry King Live.

Edda Mellas and Curt Knox appeared on Larry King Live shortly after the verdict last December. You can see them in the videos above and below. The timing here corresponds to the time counter at bottom-left of the video.


False claim 1 “The prosecution had changed the motive four times during the trial. and at the end they finally had to say we don’t have a motive but it doesn’t matter.” (minute 4.22 above)

Barbie Nadeau pointed out that the prosecutors had changed their theory, but only rather slightly:

“The prosecution lawyers began their case in January 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. When it came time for closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred” A sex attack was still involved.

Prosecutor Mignini also suggested that a hards drug like cocaine might have been involved, and certainly never said that they didn’t have a motive. Co-Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said that she didn’t know precisely what the motive was, but certainly never claimed that there was none.


False claim 2:  “He (Rudy Guede) all of a sudden had money that he didn’t have earlier in the day” (minute 3.22 above)

Edda Mellas is plucking “facts” out thin air with this claim. No evidence was presented at any court hearing that showed that Rudy Guede suddenly had money that he didn’t have earlier in the day on 1 November 2007.


False claim 3:  “There is no murder weapon.” (minute 4.32 above)

Judge Massei indicates in the sentencing report that Amanda Knox’s judges concluded that the double DNA knife, the larger of the two indicated by Meredith’s autopsy, is indeed the murder weapon.

It is totally compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck, and according to a number of independent forensic experts, it contained Meredith’s DNA on the blade..

 


False claim 4:  “The Italian Supreme Court found the interrogation illegal” (minute 7.54 above)

Though this claim has been repeated in different ways, the Italian Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that Amanda Knox’s interrogation either as a witness or a suspect was illegal. In the suspect interview, she had both a lawyer and interpreter present.


False claim 5:  “They admit to the fact they really have no physical evidence” (minute 7.54 above)

As it took the prosecutors four or five months to present it, they have never admitted that they have no physical evidence. The stop-start-stop nature of the defense phase of the trial showed how very telling the evidence was.


False claim 6:  “They believe Meredith was killed at about 9.30pm” on Larry King Live (minute 0.54 here)

The prosecutors didn’t claim this at the trial. According to Mignini’s timeline, which he used when presenting his scenario for what happened to the judges and jury at trial, Meredith was killed at about 11.50pm.


False claim 7:  Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede (minute 1.02 here)

Unbelievably, Edda Mellas claimed that Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede despite the fact that Amanda Knox testified IN COURT that she had met Rudy Guede on several occasions.

Here’s the actual court transcript:

Carlo Pacelli (CP), Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer: In what circumstances did you meet him (Rudy)?

Amanda Knox (AK): I was in the center, near the church. It was during an evening when I met the guys that lived underneath in the apartment underneath us, and while I was mingling with them, they introduced me to Rudy.

CP: So it was on the occasion of a party at the house of the neighbors downstairs?

AK: Yes. What we did is, they introduced me to him downtown just to say “This is Rudy, this is Amanda”, and then I spent most of my time with Meredith, but we all went back to the house together.

CP: Did you also know him, or at least see him, in the pub “Le Chic”, Rudy?

AK: I think I saw him there once.

CP: Listen, this party at the neighbors, it took place in the second half of October? What period, end of October? 2007?

AK: I think it was more in the middle of October.


False claim 8:  Rudy Guede’s DNA was in Meredith’s purse (minute 3.16 here

Edda Mellas’s claim that Rudy Guede’s DNA was in Meredith’s purse is completely untrue. According to the Micheli report, which was made available to the public in January 2008, Guede’s DNA was found on the zip of Meredith’s purse and not inside it.


False claim 9:  “Even the Italian Supreme Court ruled that her rights were repeatedly violated.” (minute 5:32 above

The Italian Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that Amanda Knox’s rights were repeatedly violated. Not even her own lawyers claimed that, and no complaint was ever lodged.

The first of Knox’s two written statements couldn’t be used against her simply because she wasn’t represented by a lawyer when she made it - and she volunteered that statement, in a seeming state of panic, when she was told Sollecito was no longer supporting her alibi..

We continue next with Edda Mellas making claims in an interview for the CBS Early Show.

Whilen Edda Mellas was in Perugia, she was interviewed by CBS’s Chris Wragge. (Embedding of this CBS video YouTube on sites like TJMK is disabled, which suggests that CBS might be worried that the claims made were wrong and they should have been challenged on-air.) 


False claim 10:  The double DNA knife is incompatible with the wounds on Meredith’s body. (minute 0.16 above)

In the interview Edda Mellas made the following claim: “The knife they think is the murder weapon is way too big and demonstrated how it had to have been a much smaller knife that caused all the wounds.”

Edda Mellas’s claim above is simply not true.

Barbie Nadeau reported directly from the courtroom in Perugia that multiple witnesses for the defence, including Dr. Carlo Torre, conceded that the double DNA knife was compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck.

“According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).

“He (Dr. Carlo Torre) conceded that a third larger wound could have been made with the knife, but said it was more likely it was made by twisting a smaller knife.” (Barbie Nadeau, The Daily Beast).

Judge Massei categorically states in the judges’ sentencing report that the double DNA knife was compatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck.


False claim 11:  Meredith’s room was so tiny, there wasn’t enough room for four people in some kind of tussle. (minute 0.27 above)

In the same interview with Chris Wragge, Edda Mellas asserts that there couldn’t have been an attack on Meredith involving three assailants.

“The space available this crime happened is so tiny you can’t have had four people in that room in some kind of tussle.”

The Violent Crimes Unit itself used detailed images at the trial to show that there was more than enough room for an attack involving three attackers.


False claim 12:  There is no evidence of Amanda Knox at the actual crime scene. (minute 2.06 above)

“Its the fact at the actual crime scene there is no physical evidence of Amanda; not a hair, not a fingerprint, not a nothing.”

The crime scene involves the whole cottage and it isn’t limited to Meredith’s room. Knox and Sollecito were both CONVICTED of staging the break-in and tampering with the crime scene.

Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence actually placing Amanda Knox in Meredith’s room on the night of the murder: the double DNA knife, and the blood she tracked into the bathroom, the hallway, Filomena’s room, and her own room.

According to two imprint experts, there was a woman’s bloody shoeprint on the pillow under Meredith’s body which matched Knox’s foot size.

Even Sollecito’s forensic consultant, Professor Vinci, claimed that he had found Amanda Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra.


False claim 13:  “The DNA is so insignificant. It’s this tiny spot. It’s not blood.” (minute 2.16 above)

Three independent DNA experts -  Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, and Professor Francesca Torricelli - confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was definitely on the blade of the double DNA.

The DNA charts themselves show a clear and unmistakable match. Edda Mellas doesn’t seem to understand that DNA evidence almost always involves only microscopic traces of DNA.

Dr. Stefanoni testified at the trial that the DNA on the blade could indeed have come from Meredith’s blood.

We continue next with Edda Mellas in an Interview with Linda Byron on Seattle TV station King 5.


False claim 14:  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito maintained the same story (minute 3.17)

Edda Mellas claimed in this interview with Linda Byron that Amanda Knox had maintained the same story for over a year when she was asked whether her daughter had lied.

In another interview with Linda Byron in November 2009, Edda Mellas bizarrely claimed that Amanda Knox hadn’t changed her story. KING 5 Investigator Linda Byron asked her: “Did she change her story?”

Edda Mellas responded: “No, no. For this whole year they have maintained the story - what they did that night. They stayed at Raffaele’s, they made dinner, they watched a movie. That’s it, that’s the story.”

Edda Mellas’s statement that Amanda Knox didn’t change her story and that she and Sollecito maintained the same story is yet another incorrect and misleading claim.

Knox and Sollecito both gave three different alibis. The posts on their alibis are linked-to up at the top here. Knox gave at least three different times for when she and Sollecito had dinner on the night of the murder.

Knox gave different reasons for writing her handwritten confession, and she gave different accounts of seeing the blood in the bathroom which contradict each other.

And most devastating of all, Sollecito stopped providing Knox with an alibi on 5 November 2007.

Sollecito is STILL nearly three years later refusing to corroborate her alibi. He clearly hasn’t maintained that Knox was with him at his apartment - actually he claimed that she went out for four hours.


False claim 15 : Amanda Knox wasn’t provided with an interpreter (minute 2.37)

Edda Mellas made this false claim, which has been widely propagated by Knox groupies, in an interview with Linda Byron on King5.

It’s not difficult to prove that this claim is completely false. Knox’s interpreter on 5 November 2007, Anna Donninio, even testified at the trial. And Amanda Knox herself spoke about her interpreter when she gave testimony at the trial.

We continue next with the claims of Edda Mellas on ABC TV.


False claim 16:  “Amanda Knox is incredibly honest” (minute 11.25)

In an interview with ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas Edda Mellas claimed that her daughter is “incredibly honest”.

And Edda Mellas told The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone that “Amanda doesn’t know how to lie.”

In fact, Amanda Knox’s mobile phone records, data recovered from Sollecito’s computer, and corroborative testimony of numerous witnesses, provide irrefutable proof that Amanda Knox has lied - again and again.

For example, her lies about him directly led to Diya Lumumba, an innocent man, spending two weeks in prison - even though as recorded in prison she told her mother Edda Mellas that her claims were not true. .


False claim 17 : Amanda Knox could have left Italy, but she chose to stay and help the police.

In an earlier interview with Larry King in October 2009, Edda Mellas told him that Amanda Knox could have left Italy, but she chose to stay and help the police:

“After the murder, Mellas said, friends and family told Knox to leave Italy—to either come home or stay with relatives in Germany—but Knox refused because she wanted to help find the killer and prove that she had nothing to do with it.”

“Many people asked her to leave, but she said no. ‘I’m going to stay. I’m going to try and help. I’m going to try and finish school,’ ” Mellas said.”

Edda Mellas’s claim is flatly contradicted by Amanda Knox herself, in the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007:

“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”

And along with one of Meredith’s friends who walked home with Meredith on the night, the police told Amanda Knox pretty promptly that as her status was (then) a primary witness, she was not to go anywhere.

The fact that Knox did stay was of little help to the investigation - in fact, she seemed to work hard to derail it - and one of her main concerns at the time, a pretty callous one, was whether she would be staying or moving out of the house and getting a rent refund.


False claim 18:  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were not under the influence of drugs on the night of the murder (BBC Radio)

In an interview with BBC Radio after the verdict, Edda Mellas apparently stated that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were not under the influence of drugs on the night of the murder.

This is despite the fact that both Knox and Sollecito had both themselves actually claimed they had smoked cannabis. The prosecution believed they might have been on a hard drug like cocaine, which also seems the general belief around Perugia.


3. And Some Conclusions

The fact that Edda Mellas has been able to propagate so many wrong claims in the media for so long without being challenged seems to speaks volumes about the naivety and unprofessionalism of her interviewers, and of the media organisations they work for.

As they usually do,  ABC News, CBS News, CNN, King 5, and other media outlets should have interviewed objective crime-case professionals, who don’t have a vested interest in the case.

Instead they have relied again and again on Amanda Knox’s mother and other family members as primary sources.

Amanda Knox is not an innocent political prisoner who was railroaded in some Third World country for some very murky reason. She was unanimously convicted after a lengthy trial at which the evidence was absolutely overwhelming. 

As the Christian Longo and Scott Peterson cases that we posted on below go to prove, seemingly quite normal people commit horrific murders. Probably the vast majority of murders are committed by people who to many seemed normal.

It seems downright perverse that some of the journalists who have interviewed Edda Mellas treat Amanda Knox as a victim, and with cloying sympathy ask “How is Amanda doing?”  They wouldn’t dream of asking Charles Manson’s mum how the Manson girls are doing.

It is time for the sake of the truth, the legitimacy of the verdict, the relations between the US and Italy, and the peace of mind of Meredith’s family and friends, that from now on they hold Edda Mellas’s feet to the fire..


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Chilling Killing Propensities Of Sollecito’s Various Knives

Posted by SomeAlibi



[click for larger image]

The few rather puerile websites trying to make the case that Knox and Sollecito were framed all have this one thing in common.

They are all of them a mile or more wide on the facts of the evidence - but only a millimeter or so deep.

Time and again on some point of evidence TJMK and PMF have gone far, far deeper than they have - and from then on, on that particular point, deafening silence is quite usual. Here is one very good example, on TJMK, highly incriminating in itself, and highly suggestive of when and how Edda Mellas first realised her daughter was guilty.

On that point of hard evidence, almost enough to incriminate Amanda all by itself, there has never been any real comeback. The PR campaign’s Wizard of Oz moves on. 

Now we advance another in-depth analysis. This time it focuses on the really deadly nature of Sollecito’s various knives, and we’ll await the comeback if any with interest.

In effect, the deniers’ argument made is that Sollecito is not a collector or an aficionado, just a young man who might need to cut an apple with a pocket-knife. And he’s certainly not a hardcore knife collector, collecting fantasy-wish-list knives.

Carrying a pocket-knife above a certain size in public is illegal in Italy. But ignoring that technicality for a minute, let’s examine the knives of Raffaele Sollecito which were impounded during his arrest. Three knives, moving up in degrees of interest, not counting the very large knife prosecution witnesses identified as the murder weapon.

Knife Three

Take a look at the image up the top here. This knife actually hung above Sollecito’s bed.

It is a replica combat knife. The heavy t-bar protection is designed to protect the hand of the knife-user from slipping onto the blade when being used to stab another person, as well as to protect the user against another blade.

Blood grooves exist for only one purpose - as they imply, they are there for when one stabs someone deeply with the knife: they allow the blood to run out down the grooves. This breaks the seal and suction of the enclosing wound around the blade which makes the knife far easier to withdraw

That knife is specifically designed for stabbing people as well as cutting sentries’ throats etc. The female arm in the picture is Amanda’s by the way (you can find the zoomed-out version showing all of Amanda in the PMF gallery), as it was taken when she was being shown the knife in court.

She must have recognized it, of course, since it was from Raffaele’s bedroom, and would have been a rather noticeable discussion piece within view whenever Knox was in the room or laying on the bed.

Many teenagers and young adults put the objects of their highest interest and infatuation, from bands to film-stars, on their walls. Raffaele chose to put a knife designed for killing people on his wall.

It would be a lurking and incongruous presence on a small student-sized bedroom wall in the minds of the vast majority of people. The question of Raffaele’s degree of attraction to knives such that he actively chose to mount a replica combat knife on his bedroom wall doesn’t appear to need much further discussion.

And yet, it’s actually only less than a third of the equation as it was only a replica. Now let’s turn to two real knives - his so-proclaimed pocket knives - which Raffaele confirmed in his own words that he carried on him every day for years, and which tell a more subtle and deeper story.

First, consider what is the meaning of a pocket knife to you.

The phrase “˜pocket knife’ has been translated from the Italian from the transcripts / press coverage. For many, including myself, this will have conjured a mental image of a Swiss Army type knife or a simple blade and indeed this is the prevalent definition of a conventional pocket knife.

Let’s actually have a look at Raffaele’s “pocket knives” courtesy of pictures posted by poster Jools on PMF. These knives were impounded, one from the apartment and one, unbelievably, from Raffaele’s person at the Questura.

In the case of the latter, even Raffaele saw this as a devastating “own-goal” as we can read from his diary entry of 7 November 2007; “I’m not even able to offer guilt, given my deep fu**ing stupidity for the fact that I smoke cannabis I even forget what I have eaten and also for that I carry behind a knife to nock the tables and the trees and I carry it so often that I brought it also to the police headquarters.”

Knife Two



[click for larger image]

This is a 2.9 inch blade drop point, near spear point knife. At first glance (apart from the mark on the clip which should be ignored and was benign), the deniers camp might say “Well, look at it - it’s just a pocket knife even if it looks a bit sharp and so on ““ look, it’s even got a cute clip for the pocket, like on a pen.”

Let’s start there. The clip is actually a reversible one ““ it can be taken off and re-screwed to the knife to the user’s side / orientation of preference. This is already a proper knife rather than a cheap shop pick-up.

More obviously, the half-serrated edge to the blade for cutting is an active design (and purchase) feature.

Third, the “˜grind’ on the top the blade shows an aesthetic sensibility to the design but also serves a functional purpose for a cutting or stabbing use in terms of reducing friction.

Fourth, the serrations or (quite aggressive) “˜jimping’ on the top of the handle, just behind the blade are there to provide thumb grip.

Quite a lot of design features on this knife for a casual “pocket knife” one might think.

Which leaves us with the odd bar code thing at the top edge of the blade and the indistinct logo on the blade. Let’s see what that logo is with a little enhancing;



[click for larger image]

“˜Brian Tighe Design’. Brian Tighe?? Google sets us straight on who he is.

“You’d need a calculator to count the number of custom knife-makers who have jumped into the tactical fray over the past five years. You can tally the cream of the crop on two hands, being sure to earmark one of those digits for knifemaker Brian Tighe. In a matter of just a couple of years Tighe (pronounced “Tie”) has risen from the rank and file of edged weapons artisans to the rarefied air of the top 10 elite.”

A look at Tighe’s site shows that his own company’s knives sell for 500 dollars and up. He is a globally feted knife designer whose wait list for his knives was as high as seven years at one point.

So the design of the knife here is actually that of a noted master knife maker. Almost something one might collect, one might say. As loaded as Papa Doc Sollecito is, did Raffaele really spend over 500 dollars on such a knife?

Well no, actually, he didnt need to. This is a Columbia River Knife & Tool produced 811x series knife bearing Brian Tighe’s name. CRKT are a dedicated knife company who specialise in working with the world’s leading knife designers and producing the knives for a bigger market but still as proper aficionado pieces.

At this level of knife, there are extensive magazine, web and “˜user’ reviews. Knives like this are tested for resilience and sharpness including things like edge-on paper-cut tests where paper is cut through just like a razor from the side of a piece of paper held by one hand.

Such a knife is able to catch the edge of the paper and then slice straight through the width of the paper side-on without any tension in the paper. That’s what a knife like this is capable of. A “pocket knife” to me sounds like something picked up for 10 or 20 euro. The current model that replaced Raffaele’s now out-of-series model sells for about $80 at retail. Here’s the actual 2004 model that Raffaele had i.e. the same as the one above;



[click for larger image]

Worth looking at that for a second or two… Oh the bar code? It’s not a bar code, it a rectangular thumb stud you flick the knife open with. When you do, the knife goes to a locked position unlike many “pocket-knives”. In English speaking knife circles, these knives are not generally referred to as pocket-knives but are called “Tactical Knives” which are a cross-over of usage knives for outdoors / cutting etc but also for personal “protection”.

So, in addition to the wall-mounted replica combat knife, one of Raffaele’s daily carries (see diary / testimony) was a designer thumb-flicked locking tactical knife with jimping, top blade grind, switchable clip and a razor sharp edge costing about 80 bucks. That you can only carry in your pocket. Illegally. Some apple-cutter.

Let’s take a look now at the most worrying knife of all…

Knife One

At first glimpse, this “pocket knife” looks quite martial arts like, given the hole and the weird top edge of the blade and the spider logo.



[click for larger image]

The logo marks this as a Spyderco knife ““ a large premium knife manufacturer of tactical and many other types of knives. This particular model is a Delica4 Emerson Opener retailing for about $109.95rrp. Of particular note about this knife is the hole and the top edge. The hole, a Spyderco feature, allows a thumb to flick the blade open very quickly. This knife is about speed.

But actually the thumb hole is not the real speed feature ““ that is reserved for the top edge curl.

This is a truly specialist feature known as an Emerson Opener or “wave”. The idea is that the curl in metal catches on the edge of a pocket edge on drawing the knife and opens it immediately (see videos below).

This is a speciality feature licensed from Emerson knives ““ Emerson being another feted “˜name’ knife designer. The wave is only present on two of Spyderco’s 330 knives listed on their website ““ the Delica and the ¾ inch larger sister knife the Endura (“the best self defence knife in the world” according to one enthusiastic teenager on youtube). That’s how specialist it is.

The job of the wave feature is to provide the fastest opening knife in the world bar none ““ faster than a flick or spring knife in fact. This video (many similar to be found) gives a rather disturbing insight into what the real attraction of owning this knife is to a hardcore knife knut like Raffaele; (remember when you watch this for the first time that the knife is closed inside that pocket and also enable the sound on the embedded player below by clicking off the mute)

If I thought my son had a penknife, but then actually saw him with this, we would be having a very long chat..

“Enough!” the deniers say?! “You’ve still got it in for Raffaele haven’t you?” they say?! Despite the replica combat knife on the bedroom wall, the designer Brian Tighe Design CRKT drop-point and the Spyderco Delica4 with wave design)?  “You’ve used prejudicial phrases like “hardcore knife knut” haven’t you?” they say?!

Sorry, but don’t look at me. They’re not my words.

They’re the words of Spyderco itself on its own webpage. See here and below. 



[click for larger image]

Raffaele was out to impress Amanda and by his own admission both obsessive about her and a hardcore stoner. He also thought knives - proper knives with exclusive features by name knife designers not pocket knives were fascinating.

As with all of this case and any case, you REALLY need to look at the detailed evidence.

The overwhelming prevalence of skin-deep level of analysis / downplaying of this case by much of the deniers camp will lend and always has lent itself to people dismissing serious evidence as inconsequential based on their lack of understanding of what actually is in question.

The “mere pocket-knife” impression of Raffaele’s interest in knives is a clear case in hand. Raffaele’s father testified in court that his son carried a pen-knife. Some pen-knives or pocket-knives these really were…

As always with this case, when you take the time to look at the real detail, the reality you find is something far more disturbing…..


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sentencing Report: Barbie Nadeau Quotes The Motive, Physical Evidence, And Alibis

Posted by Peter Quennell


Please click above for Barbie Nadeau’s full report on the Daily Beast website. Key excerpts.

1) The motive

“One can hypothesize that the bad decision came after the consumption of stupefying substances.”

But they disagreed on the motive. The prosecution lawyers began their case in January, 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. By closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred. The jury rejected both theories, and the reasoning document declares that “the killing was carried out with no planning, no animosity and no revenge against the victim.

“The two young lovers, interested in each other and in the intellectual and cultural world around them, would not have made a conscious decision to kill Kercher. Instead, the judge wrote, they killed spontaneously under the influence of drugs. “One can hypothesize that the bad decision came after the consumption of stupefacente””stupefying substances””that Amanda verified in her testimony.”

As the jury saw it, Knox, Sollecito and Rudy Guede, the Ivory Coast native who was convicted for his role in Kercher’s murder after a fast-track trial in 2008, came to the house the two girls shared in order to get high. Guede used the toilet, then became aroused when he saw Knox and Sollecito making out. He went to Kercher’s room and made sexual advances toward her. The reasoning refers to evidence presented at Knox’s trial that Guede was the type of guy that “bothered women” when he was under the influence.

Then, according to the reasoning, Kercher cried out for help, but instead of helping her, Knox and Sollecito, their judgment impaired, decided instead to help Guede. The killing was based on “sexual-erotic violence” but not with Knox as the mastermind. The jury felt that it was Guede who led that attack, and the other two, too high to know better, joined in.

2) The physical and forensic evidence

The judge’s reasoning also underscores what the jury believed to be the most important elements of the prosecution’s forensic case. They believed that a kitchen knife with Knox’s DNA on the handle and a trace of Kercher’s on the blade was the weapon that made the large fatal wound in Kercher’s neck. They also referred to Sollecito’s “knife habits,” surmising that, as an admitted collector of blades, he likely used his own knife to make the second wound. The jury agreed that Sollecito and Knox conspired to stage a break-in in another bedroom to cover their tracks.

And they attributed an unidentifiable bloody shoeprint found on the pillow under Kercher’s body to Knox, even though the prosecution only implied that it was compatible with a woman’s shoe size. A spot of Knox and Kercher’s mixed blood in one of the bedrooms, found using Luminol, and four additional spots in the small bathroom the girls shared also swayed the jurors.

“These were left when Amanda was cleaning her hands and feet of Kercher’s blood,” the judge wrote.

3) The Knox and Sollecito alibis

The judge also wrote emphatically about the lack of credible alibi. Although Knox and Sollecito claimed to be at his apartment all night, “Not one phone call, not one meeting, no computer activity or any other element proved that they stayed at that apartment.” And the judge was particularly hard on Knox for accusing Patrick Lumumba, an innocent man, of the murder “knowingly and deceivingly.”

Overall, however, it appears that the jury was sympathetic to the two suspects, but ultimately felt that they committed a crime for which they must pay a hefty price.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trial: Defense Returns To Weapon While Most Of Prosecution Case Still Not Contended

Posted by Peter Quennell





Journalists were asked to leave the courtroom today during a weak repeat of the contention that the large knife was not THE weapon.

But the prosecution had already indicated months ago that they believed at least one other knife was involved.

Click above for Nick Squires on one report from the press room outside the court.

The black-handled knife, with a 6.5 inch long stainless steel blade, was shown for the first time to the court in Perugia where the 22-year-old American student and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 26, are accused of sexual assault and murder.

A court official brought out the knife in a shallow white cardboard box marked “Evidence ““ handle with care” and showed it to the judge and eight jurors.

Miss Knox, of Seattle, who was wearing blue jeans and a red sweatshirt with a Beatles design, appeared impassive as the purported murder weapon was shown during the testimony of a forensic expert, Prof Giancarlo Umani-Ronchi.

She looked away when police photographs of Miss Kercher’s bloodied body were projected onto a giant screen in the courtroom.

Mr Sollecito, in a white jacket and rimless glasses, bit his fingernails as the alleged use of the knife in the killing was discussed by experts and lawyers.

A forensic consultant, Mariano Cingolani, said that of the three wounds on Miss Kercher’s neck, at least one was not compatible with the size and dimensions of the knife.

“Many other knives in general are more compatible with that kind of wound,” said Prof Cingolani. The wound was too narrow to match the knife, he said.

He added, however, that no firm conclusion could be drawn without knowing the exact angle of Miss Kercher’s neck, or the elasticity of her muscle tissue…

The former lovers, who could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty, looked tired and nervous.

So there is a question mark over the role of the large knife but again, nothing definitive. No defense attempt to prove that no other knife was used.

Meanwhile, whole other universes of very damning prosecution evidence against Sollecito and Knox remain uncontested, like a herd of elephants in the room.

For example the very damning mobile calls.  And also the highly confused alibis.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Trial: Italian Reporting On Autopsy Consultant Seems Brief And Unswayed

Posted by Peter Quennell


]

We had long been led to believe the testimony of Carlos Torre might be a blockbuster which could energize a lackluster defense.

Click above for the longest report of the day that we can find in Italian. Even ASCA’s report seems relatively brief and restrained. No sense of a breakthrough there.

ASCA reports that Mr Torre interpreted the wound pattern on Meredith to mean that a smaller knife was used for the final blow “with a blade of 8 cm which was partially extracted and plunged in at least 3 times”.

As the size of the wound is large, he claimed a repeated partial in-out action of the small knife, rather than blows from the larger kitchen knife with a blade of 16 cm found in the kitchen of Sollecito, on which traces of the DNA of both Meredith and Amanda Knox were found.

Also that the final blow occurred while Meredith was lying on her back, that there were no signs of three aggressors, that Meredith could not have cried out after the stab wounds, and that bloody footprints revealed under luminol were not the shape of Knox’s foot.

Mr Torre conceded under cross-examination that a wound of the size of the larger knife was also present, and he left the DNA evidence of Knox and Meredith on that larger knife unchallenged, thus undercutting his claim of a single perpetrator.

The prosecution team had presented extensive evidence that the bruise patterns and cut marks indicated that Meredith was kneeling face-down at the time. And that they all pointed to three attackers, rather than a single attacker wielding two knives with only one hand free both to hold her and to inflict bruises all over her body.

Judge Micheli in seeing most of the same evidence concluded in his report convicting Guede and sending the two to trial that a scream heard by witnesses in the houses above was probably Meredith’s last act before she was stabbed, not right after.

And last month, Sollecito’s defense team essentially went along with the prosecution experts’ claims for the autopsy and attack scenario, so for the first time the defense teams significantly differ.

Thankfully, besides being terse, the reporting was not very graphic, in this the most painful of all areas for those who mourn Meredith the most.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

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

Posted by Hellodalai


The American media are really playing with fire here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DNA Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean up motives and evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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



[click for larger image]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

     

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

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

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

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

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


Trial: Defense Witness Makes A Claim About The Second Knife

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click above for the report from an unnamed BBC correspondent. The key parts are quoted below.

The issues today were the role of the second smaller knife which the prosecution had already proven part of the crime; and the size of Meredith’s room.

The stab wound in the neck of a British student killed in Italy was from a shorter knife than the one thought to be the murder weapon, a court was told.

A coroner said that Meredith Kercher was killed with a 3ins to 3.5ins knife, a lawyer for the Kercher family said. But prosecutors say a 6.5ins knife found at the home of one of the accused matched Ms Kercher’s wounds…

Coroner Francesco Introna was called to give evidence for the defence, according to a lawyer representing the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca.

Prosecutors say a 6.5ins knife found at Mr Sollecito’s house matched the wounds and could be the murder weapon. They also say the knife had Ms Kercher’s DNA on the blade and that of Ms Knox’s on the handle.

As well as questioning the length of the knife, Mr Introna also said that no more than a single attacker could have assaulted Ms Kercher, according to Mr Maresca.

However, when cross-examined by prosecutors, Mr Introna conceded he had never been to the house where Ms Kercher was killed and used forensic data to work out the size of the bedroom.

Mr Maresca said that when the court went to inspect the scene of the crime in April, six or seven people could fit into the room.

The reporting today as the defense launches into its portion of the trial to attempt to rebut the evidence seemed thinner than earlier in the trial.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Trial: Friday’s Testimony Bolsters The Prosecution’s Case

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]

Andrea Vogt now reporting for The Independent.

Upon arrival, the Kercher family quietly took seats in the courtroom behind their Florentine lawyers, Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna, who opened their case with two expert witnesses: a coroner, and a leading forensic geneticist from a Florence hospital.

Mr Maresca told the court that the expert witnesses “sustained the prior results and valuations of the coroner who performed the autopsy and the forensic evidence specialists who already testified”. He added: “And for the first time today, we also heard that the bruises on the victim’s hips were consistent with a sexually violent approach.”

Professor Gianaristide Norelli testified that the multiple lesions on Ms Kercher’s body were consistent with being held and attacked by more than one person. He said she died of suffocation and interpreted her stab wounds as having been inflicted as threats during a struggle. The wounds, mostly on the side of her neck, were possibly inflicted by two different knives, he said, but noted that one of the stab wounds was compatible with the alleged murder weapon.

Professor Francesca Torricelli told the court that she believed the samples of Mr Sollecito’s DNA found on Ms Kercher’s bra clasp was a significant enough amount that it was unlikely to have been left by contamination. She also sustained a previous forensic biologist’s findings that Ms Knox’s DNA was found on the handle and the victim’s on the blade.

Alessandra Rizzo reporting for the Associated Press:

Forensic expert Gianaristide Norelli, a witness called by the Kercher family, said the main cause of Kercher’s death was suffocation.

Court documents have said suffocation was caused by the hemorrhage following the neck wounds. But Norelli said suffocation was also aided “manually” by forcing the victim’s mouth and nose shut and by strangling her.

This, Norelli argued, showed a clear intent to kill, while the neck wounds may have been inflicted with the intent to scare or threaten the victim. He said that Kercher’s own movement may have inadvertently contributed to making the stab wounds deeper.

The wounds were compatible with a kitchen knife the prosecution says might have been the murder weapon, Norelli said. The knife, which was found at Sollecito’s house, has a 17-centimeter (6.69-inch) blade….

Prosecutors say Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the kitchen knife, and Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade. Francesca Torricelli, a DNA expert also called by the Kercher family, confirmed the findings of the prosecutors.

“I have no doubt” the traces are compatible, she told the court Friday. Torricelli also confirmed the prosecutors’ finding that DNA compatible with Sollecito’s had been found on the clasp of Kercher’s bra.

And an unnamed writer reporting for the Daily Sun.

The parents of Meredith Kercher “” Arline and John “” spent their first day in court yesterday under the unwavering stare of her alleged killer Amanda Knox.

One witness said: “It was very unusual. I’m not sure if she was looking for sympathy or trying to offer it, but Meredith’s parents never looked at her.”



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]


Friday, May 29, 2009

Trial: More On The Violent Crimes Unit’s Reconstruction Of The Violent, Prolonged Attack

Posted by Peter Quennell



Grim-faced expert witnesses from the Violent Crimes Unit in Rome enter court

1. Reconstruction Of The Attack On Meredith

Judge Massei closed the court for much of the time. No English-language reporters were there.

Nevertheless, reports in La Nazione and other Italian media described the reconstruction of the final attack on Meredith in the court with the aid of many photographs and graphics.

Giuseppe Codispoti, Director of the Analysis of Violent Crime Unit, said in his deposition that the evidence pointed to three subjects in addition to the victim being present in the room at the time.

The evidence included the many wounds on Meredith, the state of her clothing, and the locations and shapes of the bloodstains on the walls, the wardrobe, and the floor.

Wounds to Meredith’s right hand pointed to a desperate attempt to ward off one or several attackers with knives while she was being held by her other arm.

The director of the Violent Crime department, Edgardo Giobbi, told the court that when, on the day after the murder, he handed Knox (not yet a suspect) a pair of shoe covers before entering the apartment below hers, she swiveled her hips and said “oopla.” This attitude made him turn his “investigative attention” on her, he said.

This was dramatic and telling testimony, and for some in the courtroom apparently quite hard to take.

Below: One of the images used in their detailed reconstruction of the final frenzied act in Meredith’s bedroom that suggested three people had to be involved.




2. Prior Testimony That Relates

Judge Micheli summarized the same forensic evidence and concluded for purposes of convicting Rudy Guede and of sending Knox and Sollecito to trial that it did point to three people being involved.

Judge Micheli also concluded that, as part of a cover-up, Meredith was later moved from the location below (by the wardrobe and the window) to where she was found, several feet to the left (by the bed).

3. Defensive PR Reaction To This Tough Talk

In their attempt to ridicule and undermine this compelling evidence, CBS News (48 Hours) in their recent very slanted report repeatedly showed bizarre caricatures of this scene by an Italian cartoonist.

None were remotely correct. That was not, we think, CBS News’s finest hour. They have been very silent on it since.

The paid Candace Dempsey defense blog on the Seattle PI website took a shot at ridiculing the reconstruction image above.

Something rather incoherent to do with not being specific enough about the figures. But the image above was one of a number that the witnesses used.

As real crime experts in the field would all know, it was deliberately not more specific because it incorporated only the known hard evidence.

Contacts of ours in NYC associated with law enforcement are giving the reconstruction an A. It was a careful and clever bit of work.


DNA Evidence: The Myths Start To Come Crashing Down

Posted by Nicki

[click for larger image; rule and annotations by Kermit]


The DNA evidence is proving to be as well-handled and as incriminating as DNA evidence ever is at such trials.

The last two hearings have very publicly exposed several of the key myths which have been aggressively propagated over the Internet and through other media for many months.

Let’s first speak about the double knife DNA. It has now become pretty obvious that:

  • It doesn’t match half of Italy as falsely claimed
  • It doesn’t have a 20% chance of being Meredith’s as falsely claimed
  • Stefanoni never declared herself that the DNA “was unreliable” as falsely claimed
  • The DNA has not been amplified “500 times” as falsely claimed

Patrizia Stefanoni has not stated that Meredith’s DNA was extracted 500 times from the knife sample, as some people with what seemed a google-level knowledge of molecular biology were claiming to muddy the waters.

The DNA was actually extracted 50 times from Meredith’s specimens and was used to compare it to other biological traces, including the one found on the knife. And it provided the forensic team with good samples to be compared to the traces found on the knife.

Two genetic profiles are identical and therefore belong to the same individual if a) they are in the same position, and b) they have identical shape and dimension. In this case, each peak produced in the original samples exactly corresponds to the peaks yielded by the knife sample, position, shape and dimension”¦ Say so long to the “matching half of Italy” myth!

Furthermore, Stefanoni excluded any possibility of contamination in the lab, stating that it had never once occurred in her lab for at least the last seven years, and every precaution was taken in order to exclude possibility of contamination so that different traces are not mixed. 

Contamination during the collection phase was also excluded: the forensic team that found the knife was a different one from those who searched the cottage, so how could Meredith’s DNA possibly have been “transferred to the knife”? 

Furthermore, the knife was put in a shoe box after it was bagged, and it stayed there until it reached the lab. And once again… DNA doesn’t fly, it doesn’t creep, and it sure doesnt penetrate a plastic bag!

Now let’s speak about the bra clasp.

The DNA found on the clasp has been defined as abundant and identified as belonging to Sollecito without any doubt. It should have been collected earlier in the process, but DNA evidence is often collected weeks or months after the crime when an object involved is unearthed.

The chances that it has been contaminated are at zero: the sample was found under the pillow on November 2, during the first search, and collected on December 18th when the second search took place by a different team.

During this entire time, the clasp was laying on the floor of what has been testified to have been a completely sealed crime scene. So when and how could any contamination occur?

Excluding a spontaneous migration of Sollecito “˜s DNA on the clasp from some unidentified location in the murder room or in the cottage, it could have only taken place during either the first or the second handling of the sample, so the fact that the clasp was recovered weeks later really bears no relevance.

And additionally, where could any abundant amount of Sollecito “˜s biological matter come from, if besides that on the bra clasp, the DNA corresponding to his genetic profile was only found on a cigarette butt? 

Perhaps this is why Sollecito’s lawyer Ms Buongiorno is now claiming that the bra clasp was contaminated in the laboratory. She is reduced to having to claim that in effect Dr Stefanoni applies strict laboratory procedures when testing Guede”˜s or other peoples’ specimens, but somehow miserably fails when the samples belong to Sollecito and Knox.

Finally, let’s not forget that Rudy Guede’s DNA was not found “all over” the victim, but only on the right side of her bra, on the left cuff of her jumper, and inside her body. If passive transfer of DNA is so easy to happen, and if Guede is the only one who physically attacked Meredith, how comes his DNA was found only in these three places on the victim’s body?

DNA is NOT easy to transfer. Dr Stefanoni is absolutely correct when she says that “transfer of DNA must not be taken for granted nor it is easy to happen, and more likely to take place if the original trace is aqueous, not if it is dry”.

About the possibility of contamination having taken place in the lab, this is a risk that everyone working with PCR is well aware of. It is certainly not probable that it could occur every time a biological sample is tested. In fact, it is very unlikely to happen when the routine strict precautions are taken.

And there is no doubt that Dr Stefanoni was extremely cautious when handling any of these samples. 

I can see the reason for the improbable reach of the defense teams: since their clients deny any involvement, the positive DNA results “must” be contaminated - what else could they possibly say? Regarding this evidence, it is the only argument that they have available.

Finally, Dr Stefanoni has an international reputation and is considered one of the best in the field today. Questioning her credentials really makes no sense at all. But those too have come under attack.

Edited to add: On the issue of DNA transfer, from today’s hearing (La Nazione)

“The contamination theory has been discussed again today: Ms Bongiorno repeatedly asked the forensic witnesses information regarding the techniques used to collect the samples found in Meredith’s house, but PM Manuela Comodi showed the Court that contamination did not occurr by asking the forensic witnesses: “Using the same gloves, you have touched the victim’s socks after working on other samples. Could you tell me what the result of the sock analyses was?”

The witness answered:  “No foreign DNA nor genetic traces have been found”. Another demonstration that DNA passive transfer just doesn’t occur so easily.  Differently, the probabilities of obtaining a contaminated sample would be so high that DNA testing would hardly be of any use in crime investigations.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Understanding Why The DNA Is On The Knife

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]




Our DNA poster Nicki has been careful not to exaggerate the impact as evidence of the DNA on the knife found in Sollecito’s apartment.

She accepts that in the eyes of the court there could be question marks over the size of the sample and the fact that the tests could not be repeated.

However, as the knife appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned with bleach, some remain intrigued that any DNA at all was found.

Here is a short piece explaining why. This article by Juliet Lapidos was posted on the Slate site in November 2007. But we haven’t seen better, and it is still often referred to.

Slate 20 Nov 2007
How To Clean a Bloody Knife: Does DNA come off with soap and water?
By Juliet Lapidos NYTimes Staff Writer

Investigators in Perugia, Italy, have found new evidence linking a 20-year-old American exchange student, Amanda Knox, to the brutal stabbing death of her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher. According to the latest reports, Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raphael Sollecito, cleaned the alleged murder weapon””an 8-inch black-handled kitchen knife””with bleach. Nevertheless, police discovered Kercher’s DNA on the tip and Knox’s DNA by the handle. Is it possible to clean DNA off a knife?

Yes, if you know what you’re doing. Knox and Sollecito were on the right track: Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, an extremely corrosive chemical that can break the hydrogen bonds between DNA base pairs and thus degrade or “denature” a DNA sample. In fact, bleach is so effective that crime labs use a 10 percent solution (one part commercial bleach to nine parts water) to clean workspaces (PDF) so that old samples don’t contaminate fresh evidence. Likewise, when examining ancient skeletal remains (PDF), researchers first douse the remains in diluted bleach to eliminate modern DNA from the surface of bones or teeth.
Advertisement

So, why did Knox and Sollecito’s bleaching gambit fail? It’s difficult to swab a knife thoroughly. Dried blood can stick to the nooks and crannies in a wood handle, to the serrated edge of a blade, or become lodged in the slit between the blade and the hilt. With help from a Q-tip, it’s possible to eliminate most stains, but what’s not visible to the naked eye might still be visible to a microscope, and sophisticated crime labs need only about 10 cells to build a DNA profile.

Bleach is perhaps the most effective DNA-remover (though evidently no methodology is failsafe), but it’s not the only option. Deoxyribonuclease enzymes, available at biological supply houses, and certain harsh chemicals, like hydrochloric acid, also degrade DNA strands. It’s even possible to wipe a knife clean of DNA-laden hair follicles, saliva, and white blood cells with generic soap and warm water. The drawback to this last method is that the tell-tale cells don’t just disappear once off the knife. They linger on sponges, in drains, and even in sink traps, where wily investigators search for trace evidence.

There appears to be a great deal more DNA evidence than merely what is on the knife, of course, and early in the trial the known luminol-evidence universe also expanded.

The court was told that AK-sized and RS-sized footprints appeared under luminol on the floor of Filomena’s room.

Nicki’s two Powerpoints on the DNA can be seen here and here and Kermit’s Powerpoint (pre the new evidence) on the luminol can be seen here.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trial: Another Objective Report From ABC News

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Images above and below: the lay judges and lawyers tour the crime scene]

Rome-based Ann Wise reports.

1) More on the issue of the second knife.

With journalists unable to attend the hearing, information on what Dr. Bacci said in court today came from lawyers as they emerged from the courthouse and, as always, interpretations differed.

Francesco Maresca, who represents the family of Meredith Kercher, is a firm believer in the prosecution’s theory that the murder was the result of a sex game gone wrong between all three defendants—Knox, Sollecito and Guede. He told journalists outside the courthouse that Dr. Bacci told the court that whoever attacked Kercher first tried to strangle her, and then stabbed her in the throat, possibly with two different knives.

Bacci said that the knife the prosecutors believe is the murder weapon is compatible with the largest and deepest cut in Kercher’s throat but is not compatible with another, smaller wound. This is the first time a witness for the prosecution has mentioned the possibility that more than one knife might have been used…

Maresca also told reporters that according to Dr. Bacci “injuries suggest” that Kercher had probably participated in a nonconsensual sexual act before she died.

Luca Maori, one of Sollecito’s lawyers, told journalists that based on Dr. Bacci’s conclusions, the knife prosecutors believe is the murder weapon is “only abstractly compatible” with the wounds found.

2) And more on the visit by the judges, jury and lawyers to the house - sadly, extremely disarrayed, it seems..

The afternoon was the occasion for the court in its entirety—minus the two defendants, who chose not to attend—to visit the scene of the crime. A small crowd, comprised of the two judges, six jurors and their substitutes, the prosecutors and a bevy of lawyers, gathered outside the charming cottage-with-a-view on the edge of old-town Perugia. On the road just above, another crowd of journalists and photographers and some hangers-on watched as policemen activated a generator (the electricity in the house has been cut off) and opened the door to the house.

“The court looked closely at the inside and the outside of the house,” [Prosecutor] Comodi said. The court spent a good amount of time in the room where the murder took place and discussed the position of the corpse. Carlo Dalla Vedova, a lawyer for Amanda Knox, told reporters the house “was a mess, and it was important that the jurors see this. Amanda’s clothes were thrown all over the place.”

There have been many press reports of bad forensic work and bad handling of the scene of the crime on the part of investigators, and this is expected to be an important part of the case the defense will make. The house where the crime took place has also been subjected to two break-ins in recent months, adding to the sorry state of the premises. The house is in “terrible condition,” Bongiorno said. “The mess made by the searches was compounded by the two beak-ins.”

 


Trial: The Lone Wolf Theory Takes Yet ANOTHER Huge Hit

Posted by Peter Quennell

Judge Micheli devoted many pages to eliminating the possibility that just one perpetrator (a lone wolf) could have carried out such a violent and prolonged crime.

He based his analysis both on the overwhelming signs from the autopsy of a group struggle and the overwhelming signs of a clean-up, which he concluded only Knox would have had a motive for.

The independent consultant, Mauro Bacci, has now testified at trial that there were attempts to strangle Meredith, and that TWO knives were used in the attack on her. The large knife found at Sollecito’s house with DNA on it is compatible with the final, irrevocable blow.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Trial: More Testimony On Knox Acting Weird After Meredith Was Murdered (2)

Posted by Peter Quennell




Testimony of Chief Inspector Oreste Volturno

This post spills over from the post immediately below.

Translation here is by Catnip. As mentioned in today’s court report, Chief Inspector Oreste Volturno took part in the search of Raffaele’s place; and investigated when and where the bleach found there was purchased.

He investigated the 20 euro withdrawal reported on Meredith’s account, and tried to track down Raffaele’s school and police records. He also participated in the seizure of material from the Telenorba TV station after their broadcast had gone to air.

Transcript of testimony given in the hearing of 13 March 2009, pp 177-211

Depositions of the witness Oreste Volturno

The witness, admonished pursuant to Article 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code, reads the oath.

Particulars: Chief Inspector Oreste Volturno, in service with the Flying Squad, Perugia Police; born at Montegabbione (TR), 12 June 1956.

President: Please.
Public Prosecutor, Dr Mignini
QUESTION: You have carried out investigations on the death of Meredith Kercher?
ANSWER: Yes.

Q: Do you remember what type of investigative tasks you carried out? First list them, then describe them.
A: In practice the first investigative task that I carried out was as regards two containers of Ace bleach that had been seized at Raffaele Sollecito’s house on 16 November 2007. Immediately after the seizure I went around the shops in the environs of Raffaele Sollecito’s place of residence trying to understand from where they could have been purchased from, and for this purpose I was showing people the photograph of Raffaele Sollecito, the photograph of Amanda Knox. After a couple of days we tracked down the shop which was a Conad-Margherita shop situated right at the start of Corso Garibaldi, where both the owner and the shop assistants were to identify, from the photographs that we placed before them, [178] Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. Raffaele Sollecito was a usual customer of this shop, while the girl had been seen two or three times in his company.

Q: Together with Sollecito?
A: Yes, yes, in his company. In this shop we asked also if by chance they had noticed in the days immediately prior to the murder or straight after if they remembered whether these persons had acquired this product, although they didn’t remember. I have to preface this with the shop is subdivided into two levels, one is higher up where the entrance is and the other is lower down. The one higher up is where all the products are that people take and then go straight to the cashier, while the one below is the delicatessen, cheeses, etc etc where there were two girls working, in addition to the owner, who I think I remember was called Quintavalle. One in particular, an Ecuadorian girl, at the time I recall that it was interesting, she said to us that she had a friend who was doing the cleaning at Raffaele Sollecito’s house and she indicated the cellular device with which we then contacted her, although as for the bleach nothing came out of it, either a person or a mention of something. We were checking that”¦

Q: What was this woman called?
A: (Kiriboga) “¦ the rest I don’t remember. It was actually through the mobile phone number that she furnished that led us to the person who was then doing the cleaning at that time, up until 5 November, the last day that she did the cleaning, and another Ecuadorian girl who was called Natalia. This one was interviewed on the record but she wasn’t able to tell us anything about this bleach. Then subsequent to this episode (Kiriboga) was also heard, she furnished us a version where she said actually that this bleach had been seen by her in Sollecito’s house and that in any case a container [179] had been said, had been bought by Raffaele Sollecito at her request. I asked her why she hadn’t mentioned it at the time that I asked her, the first day, in the days immediately after the search, that is between 16 and 19 November, and she said to me that the same questions had been asked at the firm of Counsellor Maori and that at the time she didn’t recall this fact, but after having been at Counsellor Maori’s she remembers having bought this bleach. However the investigations proceeded onwards because I asked the owner of the shop if by means of the product barcode it was possible to go back to the period in which it was handed over or sold or at the least ordered and which company was the supplier of this bleach. He told me that the company was a Ponte San Giovanni company I believe, the PAC, and I contacted the person responsible in the detergents department who was a Mr Cicognola, I think, who told me that being a product without an expiry he was not obliged by law to memorise it, that is computerise it, and so he was not able to uncover precisely the shop at which it had been sold, at the time. He furnished us information however, namely the boxes were of 18 containers each and had been consigned to Quintavalle’s shop which was a Conad-Margherita, the same label that was on the container seized at Sollecito’s house dated 1 October, 11 November and 5 November the last consignment. Another box of the same product had been consigned to another Conad-Margherita shop which is located about 50 metres further up from Raffaele Sollecito’s place of residence, whose owner now I don’t remember. Until 11 October the recommended PAC price for this product was 0.85 euro, while from 11 October onwards the recommended price was 1.09 because he says that before there was a more favourable market and [180] so they had a lower price, although no one was able to rule out that in any case the product being at the old price might have been among the others and then purchased for 0.85, the price that then turned out to have been applied to the container seized from Sollecito’s house. As regards this investigation about the bleach, nothing else was done.

Q: You were in Sollecito’s house?
A: Yes, I had been on two occasions. The first occasion was on the 8th of November during a search when different types of apparel were seized, I seem to recall. On a second occasion on the 16 November”¦

Q: Let’s go in order; the 8th, did you all have footwear and gloves?
A: Yes, yes, we always have footwear and gloves because we’ve got them in the car, they’re from the office.

Q: New?
A: Yes, they’re taken from the boxes as needed from time to time.

Q: So you’d entered on the 8th?
A: We had entered the first time on the 8th and I remember that numerous items of apparel were seized, underwear, jumper”¦

Q: Was there a particular smell there on the 8th?
A: Yes, there was a smell of bleach permeating the inside of the apartment because it was sealed and we broke the seals because it had been sequestered prior.

Q: These items of clothing, where had you put them?
A: The items of clothing were pointed out to our colleagues from the Scientific Police who were taking them and putting them into paper envelopes, one by one and then they were sealed and catalogued inside a big box.

Q: So they actually also had overalls?
[181] A: Our colleagues from the Scientifica yes, we only had the footwear and gloves.

Q: And then, the second time?
A: The second time was the 16th of November although I had not gone inside the apartment because the footwear had run out and I stayed outside on the landing cataloguing the items of evidence that were being handed over to me in envelopes and I was putting them into a big box.

Q: You had gloves on, though?
A: Yes, yes, I had gloves on.

Q: Other investigative tasks?
A: One other investigative task had been carried by me personally on Ms Kercher’s credit cards, because from an account statement extract that had been faxed to us by her parents there was a 20 euro withdrawal at the IMI-San Paolo in Perugia. I contacted them, I believe around the first part of the month of December 2008, I think the 8th, the 9th or the 10th, I don’t recall now precisely, I contacted the manager of the bank, of the IMI-San Paolo in the person of Dr Farsi and I asked him if it were possible to trace back the person who had made this withdrawal or at the least verify that this withdrawal had been made. I also asked him if there were security cameras and he said to me: “Yes, there are, although the security camera only covers the bank entrance and not the ATM, but in any case the video cassettes are reset each week”, time had already passed because the account extract had been faxed to us towards the end of the month of November by the Kercher family, I did the first investigations on it on the 10th of December, or on the 8th of December, so from the 2nd of November more than a month had gone by and the recordings had already been reset multiple times. Mr Farsi examined the funds journals of all four ATMs, of the head office and the branches that there are in Perugia and responded to me by [182] letter that according to the journals there was no withdrawal of that kind neither on the 2nd of November nor in the days preceding”¦

Q: Do you recognise it?
A: Yes, it’s this one.

Q: I don’t know if it is in the evidence file, otherwise I ask for its production.

President: What is it?
A: It’s the reply of the San Paolo bank corporation as regards the investigations on the withdrawal of the 20 euro.

Defence ““ Ghirga: What date is this letter?
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: 4 January 2008
A: Actually he in his letter was telling me that that 20 euro withdrawal, that sum hadn’t been done neither on the 2nd of November nor in the days immediately preceding and that practically at this point the investigations were at a standstill because there being no withdrawal there was no”¦

Q: I ask its production then.
Defence ““ Bongiorno: Mr President, it’s a finding on what we have done, as everyone will recall, a question the other time to a witness and the reply was given that there were no further investigative activities. Up until today, that letter was not in the file, we want to peruse it and give our opinion tomorrow maybe.
President: Certainly. We can proceed in the meantime.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: Other investigative activities that you all had carried out and that you yourself had participated in?
A: Other investigative activities that had been carried out by me personally were activities concerning an authorization or power of attorney, a authorization of his as regards Giovinazzo, at the [183] schools attended by Sollecito.

Q: What had you found out in particular? Was it an activity integral with the investigation?
A: Yes, actually from examining the class rolls, the boy’s personal file and everything what we were looking for was not found, that is, a fact that had happened at school. Amongst other things it wasn’t possible to verify it because the class rolls from 2003, which is the last year that Raffaele Sollecito attended secondary school, every five years they’re sent for pulping and so we had arrived when they had already been pulped, for this reason this investigative task was not able to be carried out.

Q: What were you supposed to have been doing?
A: Whether there had been the wounding of a girl on the part of Raffaele Sollecito during the course of school lessons. I preface this with the headmaster of the middle school, at the time the headmaster of the middle school attended by Raffaele Sollecito, that he had also been interviewed for summary information [SI] by me personally, he provided a certain resistance, as if he wanted to hide something. This I believe I also had him”¦

Defence ““ Bongiorno: Mr President, these are”¦
President: Maybe if you can refer to the behaviour he had displayed.
Defence ““ Bongiorno: Mr President, also as to the modality, for heaven’s sake, I don’t believe it’s a prohibition that they are referring to things heard in interview, but if they are however witnesses heard in interview, then they have to be heard or not or he gives us a summary and then we hear them or else he really avoids commenting every time.
A: Counsel, I have said in summary what I have heard and [184] in my view it was omertoso {=mafia code of silence}.

Defence ““ Bongiorno: No, look that this cannot be put into the transcript!
President: Please! The parties will direct”¦
A: He was a little bit reticent.

President: Let’s avoid this, “in my opinion” introduces an evaluation and therefore he cannot express it, only the behaviour that he dsiplayed, maybe if he has answered all questions or else some question he hasn’t.
A: He has answered all questions, but in a very vague manner.

President: Please.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: What other things had you found out specifically?
A: We had found at the Carabinieri station in Giovinazzo, in Sollecito’s file, there was a precedent signalled by the Carabinieri station at Castellaneta, in Taranto province, relating to the year 2003 I believe, when he had been stopped together with another two boys because they were in the possession of the quantity of two and half grams net of narcotic substance, in the form of hashish.

Q: Then other things?
A: Then there were investigative tasks carried out in relation to the death of his mother. Investigations were made at the pathologist’s, at 118 [=the medical emergency number].

President: Excuse me, pertinent matters.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: Well, this one about the substance”¦
[185] President: Yes, the substance yes, but he was introducing other things.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: Other investigations that you have carried out?
A: I did phone and ambient intercepts.

Q: What investigative leads emerged from the ambient and telephonic intercepts?
A: Investigative leads actually hardly any although all the activity that had been done had demonstrated that, on the part of the family, there was an intention to quicksand, to derail”¦

Intervention: It’s not possible!
President: Excuse me, excuse me everyone. If you’re able to say the facts, the specific circumstances.
A: There are several things”¦

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: Those are facts though, it’s not an opinion, then if it’s true or not”¦
President: By what thing was this behaviour manifested that you are now summarising, but the summary constitutes an evaluation.
A: Actually they wanted to eliminate the personnel who were carrying out the investigations, whether professionally or physically.

President: What emerged under that aspect?
A: Menaces, political contacts, those Honourables currently in Government, like the Honourable Nania, the Honourable Formisana, the Honourable Mastella who were going to have to intervene to find a way to put an end to this thing and this before Cassation’s decision, then evidently, after Cassation’s decision, these [186] persons detached themselves, I don’t know, however the names were”¦

President: Cassation’s decision relating to the Re-examination Hearing?
A: Yes, to the Re-examination Hearing. These persons were named and they’re in the phone intercepts, with the records, the transcripts and everything.

President: Please.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: You carried out other investigative tasks?
A: No.

Q: Do you recall a dossier that was acquired, was it acquired relative to everything an investigative task that had been effected?
A: Yes, the dossier had not been acquired, it had been seized and is still under seizure.

President: If you can be more precise about this thing that we know nothing about”¦ what does it concern?
A: It concerns a dossier where actually the Sollecito family, with this dossier, wanted to carry out a media attack on the investigations under way, on the Public Prosecutors who were following up on the case and everything else and it was given to the Telenorba television station and also to the Panorama newspaper, and even on this matter there are the phone intercepts that we have been talking about. Then it had been seized because a warrant writ had been made and our personnel went to the Telenorba headquarters and seized this dossier with the video-cassettes.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: And on the occasion of the publication of the images?
A: Yes, the images had been”¦ On the occasion of the publication of the images in a transmission, which now I don’t remember the name of, which had been transmitted by [187] Telenorba.

Q: Images that portrayed?
A: Portraying the body of Ms Kercher completely naked in the middle of the room and other things.

Q: No other questions.

President: The Civil Parties? No other question. The defence, please.
Defence ““ Maori: Counsellor Maori, Sollecito defence. Inspector Volturno, let’s start in order: investigation that you did in relation to the infamous bleach. You made service notes?
A: Yes.

Q: Can you tell us which ones they are?
A: There’s one for the 19th”¦

Q: Pick it up if you have it. And one from the 28th.
A: Yes.

President: You are authorised to consult your documents.
Defence ““ Maori: Let’s start from the 19th; so you make this service note where you refer to the activity that you carried out a couple of days before?
A: From the 16th to the 19th, from the day the two containers had been seized to the 19th on which I make the note.

Q: Exactly. You took various people’s witness statements.
A: No, I had questioned them informally at the shop, not as for a statement.

Q: Who did you question?
A: Quintavalle, (Kiriboga) because she’s his shop assistant and the other girl whose name I don’t recall now.

Q: This Natalia.
[188] A: No, Natalia was not at the shop as a shop assistant, Natalia was the friend of (Kiriboga) who was doing the cleaning in Sollecito’s house, but she wasn’t working in the shop.

Q: You have said earlier that you had photographs of Amanda and Raffaele.
A: Exactly.

Q: And you had shown them to the persons who were to be found inside the food store?
A: Yes.

Q: So therefore both the owner and the shop assistants.
A: Yes.

Q: And you had asked if these persons had presented themselves or not inside the shop in the preceding days.
A: No, I had asked if they were customers of the shop, because I did that with all the shops in Corso Garibaldi, not only with Quintavalle, showing them the photos I was asking them if they were customers.

Q: You though say different things in your notations, not different, in the sense that you specify that you had questioned the owner, Mr Quintavalle, and he mentioned that Sollecito was one of his usual customers and that Ms Knox had come into the shop only on a couple of occasions together with the boyfriend.
A: Yes.

Q: You confirm this?
A: Certainly, it’s written in the notation.

Q: Shortly we will ask for the acquisition, the production of the two notations. Therefore in these words Mr Quintavalle made it known that Sollecito and Amanda Knox “¦ so, Amanda Knox had entered into the residence always in the company of Sollecito?
A: Yes, into the shop, on those two occasions on which she had entered she had entered always in the company of Sollecito.

Q: How come these were not annotated, an SI statement was not done?
[189] A: Because the notation is enough for me.

Q: They’re two different things.
A: Yes, but as regards the investigative tasks I informally question them and put in annotations, that’s also investigating.

Q: On that occasion, that is I’m still talking of the 19th, had (Kiriboga) been asked if she had been Sollecito’s maid?
A: No, although given that I had asked”¦ wait, I had asked the owner and both the two assistants if they had ever seen these persons in the shop and they said to me: “yes, they’re usual customers, only that he comes more often and she’s come on a couple of occasions”. Then I asked if they had bought bleach in the days prior to the murder and nobody said to me: “no, I can’t say” and (Kiriboga) said to me: “I’m less able to say than Quintavalle because I’m located in the small goods section which is downstairs, while the bleach is on the side of the shop above under Mr Quintavalle’s supervision”.

Q: But you hadn’t asked (Kiriboga) whether she had been Sollecito’s maid?
A: No, I hadn’t asked if she had been a maid.

Q: You then had spoken of the fact that (Kiriboga) subsequently, when interviewed, had made it known that she had in her turn been interviewed by me.
A: Yes.


Q: This statement, that I had then immediately deposited and afterward it was reviewed by my learned friend, have you read it?
A: (Kiriboga)‘s statement?

Q: My statement which I deposited.
A: No, I haven’t read it, I have mine.

Q: You haven’t read it?
A: No, I’ve read mine, the one that I’ve taken from [190] (Kiriboga), I haven’t read yours.

Q: (Kiriboga) during the course of the statement says that: “the same questions that were being put by you”¦” by you the police officers, were also being put by me.
A: Yes, she says, in fact it’s written in the statement.

Q: Therefore you again confirm not having read the statement that I’ve deposited?
A: No, I haven’t read your statement. She says to me: “Counsellor Maori asked me the same questions” and I’ve put it into the statement.

Q: Very good, there’s congruency between the questions on my part first and on your part subsequently. Let’s go the second; on what relates to the bleach, you on the 16th November effected a domestic search.
A: Yes, I was present at the search but I had not entered into the apartment.

Q: Yes”¦
A: And on the 16th November the two containers of bleach were seized.

President: In the house used by Raffaele Sollecito?
A: Yes.

Defence ““ Maori: I see in the seizure record signed by you that as regards the Ace brand bleach “on the cap there was a small sticker Conad brand bearing the numbers 085”.
A: Yes.

Q: Therefore signifying what?
A: 85 cents.

Q: Therefore referring to the price.
A: To the price.

Q: And how was this sticker?
A: Conad ““ Margherita.

Q: But was it faded, was it old, was it new?
[191] A: This I don’t remember, there was a sticker, the price was visible and”¦

Q: Who redacted the record actually?
A: Perhaps”¦

Q: Pick it up so that at least we can see”¦
A: Yes.

Q: Go to page 3, it’s the first item of evidence, exhibit RS3.
A: Yes.

Q: Here it says: “digits ““ after the numbers 085, which you have clarified as being the purchase price ““ digits barely visible with a magnifying lens.”.
A: Yes.

Q: Therefore signifying what?
A: That it was faded but the amount could be read.

Q: Therefore it was an old sticker?

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: No!
Defence ““ Maori: Pardon me, I am asking the questions because you Madam Prosecutor want to suggest”¦
President: Counsellor, please!
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: You’re right because the no came out too loudly.
President: Here though we can’t hear even the witness, but everyone is asked to not do so.
A: 085 the sticker was barely legible.

Q: Therefore was does it mean.
A: That it was a bottle”¦

Q: You remember now this sticker that we’ve identified?
A: Yes, yes, definitely.

[192] Q: Therefore was it an old sticker or a new one?
A: Old.

Q: Therefore surely prior to the 11 October as you have indicated?
A: Definitely, but prior as a price.

Q: As a purchase as we will see. In relation to the credit card the police had received the letter of 4 January 2008, in this letter the owner, manager Paolo Farsi, tells you that it is not possible to effect a check, a check relative to the fact that there had been withdrawals with that card on 2 November at the ATM in Perugia or environs, and this thing needed to be asked of the issuing bank directly.
A: Yes, not exactly.

Q: I’m reading it here.
A: Mr Farsi says that on the 2nd November and in the days immediately following there was no withdrawal of that amount made at that bank. If we want to know something more precise it was necessary to go to the English bank issuing the credit card, which was not done because from the moment that he tells me that no withdrawal of that amount was made neither on the 2nd day nor in the preceding days I had not considered it advisable to carry out this investigation.

Q: I’ll read out what has been written in this letter: “our central accounting, suitably appraised, informs us that”¦”
A: I have it.

President: Yes, also to facilitate the witness’s listening. Continue Counsel.
Defence ““ Maori: “Our central accounting, suitably appraised, informs us that the only way to find out the information for that withdrawal [193] (branch involved, date and time) is to ask for this information from the English bank issuing the card itself, seeing that each issuing bank is certainly able to retrieve all the activity performed on each of its issued cards”. Then to my question, which you have already partially replied to, seeing that the 2nd of November, it was the 2nd of November from at least from the indications that had been given to you, that an ATM withdrawal had been made from the San Paolo bank, and seeing that the San Paolo bank had said to you: “it is necessary to ask the issuing bank to be certain who had made this withdrawal” why hadn’t you felt it within your scope to ask the English bank who had made this withdrawal at what time, on what date and at which branch?
A: Because I hadn’t thought it useful, because the period before this which you have read out tells me that on the 2nd of November nor on the days immediately preceding there was no 20 euro withdrawal either at the IMI-San Paolo bank in Perugia or from the other three branches in the province of Perugia.

Q: And if this withdrawal were to have been made somewhere else, in the province of Terni, you know perfectly”¦ you’re an experienced police officer”¦
A: No because the account statement”¦

President: Wait until the question is finished.
Defence ““ Maori: You’re an experienced police officer and you well know that all the ATMs have a security camera and therefore who, and if it were to have been withdrawn effectively on that 2nd of November by means of that credit card, the person who would have made the withdrawal [194] would have surely been captured by the camera. You’d never thought of this?
A: Counsel I have already said before that the check had been made, that the camera covers the entrance to the bank and not the ATM and we had received the account extract at the end of November and the bank resets the video every week. If I need to repeat it again just tell me!

President: Don’t worry, it could also be useful to us because these are particularly technical subjects and therefore maybe sometimes”¦
Defence ““ Maori: Apart from which there’s the memory in the camera by which it is possible to effect”¦
President: Counsel we will take notice.
Defence ““ Maori: An experienced person like you would have had to effect”¦
A: In fact.

President: Let’s only ask questions please.
Defence ““ Maori: I show you now this letter from National Wide, a fax from 30 November 2007, referring, precisely, to Miss Kercher, with the reference “cash San Paolo ““ IMI, Perugia, 20 euro of the 2nd November, AT 1440”, it’s information naturally in your possession.
A: I have it too in fact it’s IMI-San Paolo Perugia, not Terni, Counsel.

Q: I never said Terni, I only said”¦
A: No, you said: “if it were to have been made at Terni”, I can tell you that for Perugia the investigations had been [195] made both at the central IMI-San Paolo office and at the three branches in the province of Perugia and the day journal of all four ATMs had no trace of this 20 euro withdrawal, neither on the 2nd nor the days before.

Q: Therefore you didn’t feel it within your scope to ask the issuing bank”¦
A: No, for me that line of enquiry had finished.

President: Counsel he has already given a reply to this, perhaps”¦
Defence ““ Maori: Maybe the face of the killer could have been found if things had proceeded differently! We take notice on this, it wasn’t done and therefore I’m not able to ask further questions on the point.
President: Please Counsel.
Defence ““ Maori: Investigations at Giovinazzo. You have spoken before in response to the Public Prosecutor’s question of the fact that you had investigative leads in relation to a wounding done by Sollecito at school and therefore you had gone to effect a transfer of these investigations. Had you seized the class rolls?
A: No, we had photocopied them and did authentications of various notes on various class rolls.

Q: And which were the notes in relation to Sollecito, these serious notes?
A: No, they weren’t serious notes, they were notes in relation to Sollecito that we had however photocopied because we had considered it advisable to do so.

Q: For example, “Sollecito plays with his pen notwithstanding [196] being reprimanded [196] for it”.
A: It was a note.

Q: Therefore when a person is accused of murder you”¦
President: Excuse me, Counsel, let’s avoid opinions though! Let’s stay on circumstances of fact!
Defence ““ Maori: Another note: “Sollecito is throwing paper pellets at his classmate”.
A: Another note Counsel.

Q: These are the notes that you have”¦
A: They are notes however that I had had the disposition to acquire, to verify, I had photocopied them and I had them authenticated.

Q: You hadn’t found one note that Sollecito had wounded”¦
A: No, because”¦

Q: Allow me to finish.
President: Excuse me, let’s always wait for the question to finish. Please Counsel.
Defence ““ Maori: You hadn’t found notes that Sollecito had wounded a classmate, boy or girl?
A: No because as I have already said before the school rolls of Molfetta Middle School, Einstein High School, Via Togliatti, had been sent for pulping because every five years they are sent for pulping and we found no trace in those rolls where maybe there was this note that we were looking for, but we had not been lucky.

President: You were looking for this on the basis of what?
A: There was an investigative lead that there had occurred, an incident during Sollecito’s scholastic attendance, [197] where there had been a girl injured with scissors and we were looking for a note of the sort, but the rolls had been sent for pulping and we had not found it.


Defence ““ Maori: What does “lead” mean?
President: What were you aware of? That a girl had been injured with scissors?
A: Exactly, during Sollecito’s school attendance and we had gone to see if the class rolls, during middle school and high school, were holding a note that would have referred to this incident, but unfortunately the class rolls had been pulped.

President: It could have been anyone in the class who could have occasioned this fact, not necessarily”¦
A: No, no, we had gone to see if there were a trace of this fact.

President: And who it might have been?
A: Exactly.

President: The hypothesis was that it could have been Raffaele Sollecito.
A: And we had gone to check, but the rolls were at the pulpers and so it had not been possible to look them up.

President: You had not been able to find neither the truth of the fact nor the author?
A: Definitely.

President: Please Counsel.
Defence ““ Maori: Just to clarify Mr President, seeing that your curiosity is also ours”¦
President: No it was a question pertinent to the question and the answer otherwise it would not have been able to be understood, it was not a curiosity. Please.
[198] Defence ““ Maori: This investigative lead what does it mean? Someone had said to you: “there was a wounding with scissors in Sollecito’s class”?
A: There had been report of this incident and we had gone to find out about it.

Q: But what does “there had been report” mean? An informant?
A: An informant.

Q: And this informant how”¦
A: I am not obliged to discuss informants.

Q: The informant’s name no, this is true, but you are obliged to tell us in what manner this information had arrived, by phone, through a person who turned up at the Police Station and had made known that a boy or a girl had been injured, this you can say.
A: By word of mouth, an encounter on the street with a person who was aware of certain things and this fact had been mentioned to him and we had gone to find out.

Q: And you found out that Sollecito was throwing paper pellets!
A: We had found out nothing because the rolls no longer existed.

Q: And he was disrupting the lesson!
President: No, excuse me Counsel. Let’s stay solely on the questions. Please.
Defence ““ Maori: You before had made reference to ambient intercepts, quicksanding, etc”¦
A: Yes.

Q: And there was reference to a proceeding in Cassation?
A: To an appeal in Cassation.

Q: A proceeding before the Supreme Court of [199] of Cassation, therefore an appeal for Cassation. Given that neither myself, Counsel Maori, nor my learned friend, Counsel Bongiorno, were the defenders at the time of the proceedings in Cassation, I was only in on the phase on the merits, not for the proceedings in Cassation, and Counsel Bongiorno had not even been nominated for any kind of proceedings, can you explain what type of quicksanding would have been carried out by these gentlemen and then if there had been any final outcomes in relation to these intercepts?
A: I have not spoken about quicksanding, I spoke of attempts to derail and quicksand and tamper.

President: Maybe these aspects can be circumstantiated.
A: There were intercepts Mr Justice on which I am not able to refer.

President: Therefore we are directed to the contents of the intercepted conversations?
A: Exactly.

President: Following these conversations however intercepted, about which you say you are not able to refer to, were you able though to carry out investigations, from succeeding investigative activity?
A: Yes, also following these intercepts the famous seizure was made of the dossier that had been made by the Sollecito family and that had been broadcast by Telenorba and by Panorama.

Defence ““ Maori: Were criminal proceedings begun?
A: Yes, criminal proceedings were begun which however I don’t believe form part of these proceedings, they are different proceedings.

Q: Do you know if the subjects have been investigated?
A: This I don’t know.

[200] Q: One other point Inspector. You in your experience have you done, not only in these proceedings but also in others, any activity directed with the prison for acquiring documents? In these proceedings you have acquired documents like memoirs, notebooks, from any of the accused?
A: No.

Q: You are certain of this?
A: I don’t remember, show me the record but I haven’t acquired”¦

Q: I’m not speaking of records, I’m speaking of”¦
A: If it was acquired there’s a record.

Q: I am speaking of whether if you have ever received from a non-commissioned officer of the Penitentiary Police a notebook, a memoir of Raffaele Sollecito’s from around the middle of the month of November 2007?
A: No.

Q: The notebook, this photocopied notebook, prison of Perugia, travel notes, which were the reflections of Raffaele Sollecito and which should have been handed over to us lawyers, were photocopied inside prison and they were handed over by whoever.
A: To me?

Q: Can you confirm this circumstance or not?
A: I’m telling you no.

President: Excuse me, Counsel. He has already twice replied no.
Defence ““ Maori: Let’s formalise his negative response in a more forceful manner, and then we will see in the course of the proceedings if his declarations are truthful or not. I ask its acquisition, or rather I would like to produce therefore I ask acquisition into the documents of the court file of the two annotations of the 19 November 2007, [201] of the 28 November 2007 of Inspector Volturno, as well as a copy of Raffaele Sollecito’s class rolls from Molfetta High’s third class, as well as a copy of the San Paolo corporation letter of 4 January 2008, signed by the manager Paolo Farsi.
A: Sorry for interrupting, those photocopies are from the Giovinazzo middle school, not from Molfetta High.

Q: Yes, from the middle school.
President: So they’re from the middle school?
A: Yes, from the middle school because as I’ve been saying those from the high school”¦

President: And how come, do they have a different practice?
A: They have a different archival philosophy.

President: On these requests? But the Public Prosecutor had asked for the production of the San Paolo corporation letter.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: But why are we always making triplicate productions, we have already produced it.
Defence ““ Maori: It’s your letter.
President: The Public Prosecutor has produced the letter.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: Then it’s Public Prosecutor production.
President: Yes, it’s Public Prosecutor production and the others are Raffaele Sollecito Defence productions.

Notice is taken that, given the absence of opposition, they are to be acquired for the purposes of utilisability.


Defence ““ Bongiorno
[202] Q: Counsel Bongiorno. Respecting the three politicians to which you have made reference to in the ambient intercepts, you have carried out subsequent investigations yourself personally, or did others, to see if these politicians had committed breaches, were they enrolled on the notification of crime register; or were they politicians, these three to which you have referred, mentioned in the ambit of conversations, and then that’s it, finished?
A: Mentioned in the ambit of conversations as persons to be looked at.

Q: Have you investigated if then effectively these politicians had been contacted, had they pressured Cassation?
A: No.

Q: Respecting instead the Telenorba thing”¦

President: Excuse me Counsel, you hadn’t investigated or else there were no”¦
A: No, I hadn’t investigated, they only emerged from the intercepts as persons who”¦

Defence ““ Bongiorno: Because then confusion is created, in the intercepts there are these names, those that I have understood and he has confirmed to me, then they haven’t followed through on investigations on these matters and that’s it, finished. Instead the fact of Telenorba is a fact on which investigations do exist or don’t they.
A: There are investigations, the dossier had been seized.

Q: Who’s following up on the investigations?
A: Bari I think.

Q: The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bari?
A: Yes.

Q: With respect to these investigations, do you know what outcome they’ve reached?
A: No.

Q: When were they begun?
A: I think after the seizure of the dossier, of the [203] video cassettes, of the materials.

President: Therefore what period are we in?
A: This I don’t know, I don’t remember.

Defence ““ Bongiorno: Do you know if case archivation was requested, or of remand to trial? You don’t know anything about this?
A: No, I don’t know.

Q: That is you at that point, in terms of jurisdictional competency as to what was relating to the Telenorba matter, Bari was dealing with it. Is this the idea?
A: Definitely.

Q: And so then you don’t know what”¦
A: No.

Q: No other questions.


Defence ““ Dalla Vedova: Counsel Dalla Vedova for Ms Knox. I wanted two clarifications, the first in relation to the activity that you had carried out in dealing with the Marco Quintavalle matter.
A: Yes.

Q: You have said that you had asked the manager of the commercial enterprise if he had ever seen the two accused.
A: Exactly.

Q: Exactly what was the response?
A: He said that Sollecito was a usual customer while Amanda Knox had been seen on a couple of occasions in company with Sollecito.

Q: You asked this question of the other managers?
A: Yes, I went round all the shops in the street, but the others hadn’t recognised them.

Q: In Corso Garibaldi?
[204] A: Yes. The only other one who had recognised Sollecito’s photo was the other Conad above his place, where he had been seen one or two times, rarely however.

Q: And Amanda?
A: No, Amanda no.

Q: You carried out other investigations in the surrounding zones or just in Corso Garibaldi?
A: Corso Garibaldi and surrounding zones but I did not”¦

Q: But still all business concerns?
A: Yes, business concerns that had that product on sale, the famous bleach that then had been seized, it was done due to that.

Q: Therefore only business concerns that were selling this product, not in general?
A: Exactly, no.

Q: In relation to another activity where you appear to have participated in, that is the 16 November search of Sollecito’s house, in the objects collected there appear the entire contents of the topmost drawer of the kitchen cupboard, specifically 6 spoons, 4 knives, 5 (..) , 2 ladles, 1 breadknife with serrated edge 35 cm in length in total. You are aware that there already had been, a seizure had been made from that same drawer of another knife?
A: This no because I had gone back to work on 7 November and the day after I did the first search in Sollecito’s house where the clothing and intimate apparel were seized and then the second time, the 16th, the one that you are referring to, I participated in the search but I didn’t enter inside the house and they were bringing me the envelopes that I was putting into a big box about which I’m not able to tell you what there was in the envelopes, I can see from the subsequent record.

Q: I wanted to know whether you had already been ordered on a seizure”¦
[205] A: No, because I had come back to work on the 7th and that day when that seizure was done I wasn’t there.

Q: Because it appears that”¦
A: The seizure of that knife that you are talking about had been done when I was still not back at work, I came back on the 7th.

Q: However you knew that already”¦
A: No, I became aware gradually that investigations were going forward but I did not know that.

Q: Therefore when did you come to know of it? On the 16th you had gone at 16:30”¦
A: Yes.

Q: At 16:30 you already knew that in the case in hand Dr Chiacchiera and his assistants had already organised the seizure of a single knife on the 6th November.
A: I on the 16th knew what we had seized that day, not what had been seized prior because given that there were multiple apartments and a whole flood of”¦

Q: No, I was not asking you if you knew.
A: No, I didn’t know.

Q: I was asking if you knew if there had been a seizure already done at that house.
A: No I didn’t know, I came to know about it subsequently.

Q: Therefore after your one?
A: After.

Q: All the same you are aware that there exists a seized 31 cm knife with a 17cm blade retrieved from the same drawer?
A: If it’s that one in the kitchen yes.

Q: You know today.
A: No, not today, I knew about it before but in any case not on the date you’re saying, subsequently.

[206] Q: Thank you.


Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: You are aware of an article appearing in Panorama recently on the case containing an interview with members of the Sollecito family.
A: No, I am not aware of this.

Q: Thank you.


Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: Let’s go back for a moment to the bleach. You have perfectly described the investigations that you did, including on the items, the various items that had been sent from PAC 2000 to the two shops in Corso Garibaldi, therefore I won’t go back to that because I imagine the Court has understood perfectly. You have also said that the bleach found, one of the two?
A: Yes.

Q: One of the two containers found in Sollecito’s house had”¦ you can repeat it, a sticker?
A: The Conad-Margherita sticker with the price.

Q: With the price?
A: 0.85.

Q: Which therefore corresponded according to your investigations to what item?
A: To a consignment of bleach to one or other shop before the 11th of October.

Q: And had they been sold out before the 11th?
A: No, usually the shopkeeper puts an order in for a new box when he sees they are getting close to finishing.

Q: When was the subsequent reorder?
A: The subsequent consignment was the 5th of November and from the 11th of October the PAC-recommended price was €1.09, while up until the 11th of October it was €0.85.

[207] Q: When you had spoken of an old sticker what did you mean?
A: That it was a bit worn on top.

Q: And that the price was old?
A: No, the price was legible, with the magnifying lens you could in fact read it was corresponding to the price that was in force prior to the 11th of October.

Q: When you had interviewed Raffaele Sollecito’s cleaning lady”¦
A: (Kiriboga) or Natalia?

Q: The one you had asked”¦ let’s put it this way: what questions did you ask both of them as regards the bleach?
A: If they had ever used bleach inside Sollecito’s residence.

Q: And what had they replied?
A: Natalia, who is the one who actually did the last cleaning, up to Monday 5th”¦

Defence ““ Maori: Can we have the other two answer directly when they are heard?
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: There is no prohibition on this because they are on the witness list.
Defence ““ Maori: I ask for the contents of the declarations!
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: Yes, but they are on the witness list therefore there is no prohibition, the important thing is that the main witnesses are then heard.
Defence ““Maori: No, the member of the Prosecutor’s Office cannot answer on this.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: No, I can refer to it [208] then, why not?

President: Excuse me, everybody”¦.
Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: We’re arguing a point of procedure, but you can mention the main things that were said to you and have been said to you.

President: Therefore you had interviewed”¦
A: Yes, both the two girls who were doing the cleaning at Raffaele Sollecito’s house. Natalia, who was the one who had actually done the cleaning until 5 November 2007, had said that she had never used bleach because Raffaele Sollecito asked her to use Lysoform, that is she was using Lysoform inside Sollecito’s house, Viakal and other products but never bleach and she didn’t remember seeing the two containers under the sink. While (Kiriboga), when she was interviewed, subsequent to the meeting at the Maori law firm, said that a container had been used by her to wash the floor rags and for this reason she had asked Sollecito to buy some bleach, he went out and came back with another container which was likewise Ace bleach, same as the first, and with which she then washed those rags and remembered well that under the sink there were two containers, one half full and the other full.

Q: And this washing when would it go back to?
A: So then (Kiriboga) told us she had been working as a cleaning lady at Sollecito’s house until the end of September, then due to the state of her pregnancy she sent her friend.

Q: And how had you found these containers when you had seized them?
[209] A: One was half full and the other was full.

Q: Therefore the woman, let’s repeat this again one more time, the woman who instead did the cleaning subsequently?
A: Subsequently to this she said she had never seen the two containers in the house.


Civil party ““ Maresca: Counsel Maresca for the Kercher family. Inspector a clarification if you can tell us the people who were placed under telephone intercepts.
A: So then there was Francesco Sollecito, Vanessa Sollecito”¦

Q: Tell us also the”¦
A: Francesco Sollecito is the father, Vanessa Sollecito is the sister, then there was Francesco Sollecito’s current wife, Marisa Papagni, then there was the uncle, Giuseppe Sollecito, then there were still more people forming part of the family but I don’t remember the names.

Q: These phone intercepts were all carried out by you?
A: Yes, by me and by my colleagues.

Q: They were all authorized with the relative writ obviously?
A: Yes, they weren’t only telephonic, they were also ambient.

Q: You have mentioned earlier about attempted pressuring of political personages etc. Can you tell us the names of these political personages?
A: Yes, I have already said them before”¦

Q: And then they became the object of intercepts themselves, that is I’ll frame the question like this, did you also intercept the phone call of the political personage or else was it just as matter of choice?
A: No, it was a matter of choice, phone [210] calls to these people had not been intercepted and in any case the politicians were the Honourable Nania, the Honourable Formisano and the Honourable Mastella.

Q: Do you remember”¦
A: Persons who were named by them as possible”¦

Q: When you say “by them”, by everybody or by some members in particular?
A: By some members of the family, above all by the father and the sister.

Q: Do you remember if the lawsuits by the Kercher family for the Telenorba incident and for the Panorama incident had been filed at Perugia or at Bari?
A: This I don’t remember, in any case I know that Bari is proceeding as regards concerning the seizure of the material broadcast by Telenorba.

Q: Thank you.


President
Q: But the two people who were working at Raffaele Sollecito’s house, you took their witness statements [the SIs]?
A: Yes.

Q: Therefore those circumstances you were referring to them on the basis”¦
A: Yes, of the SIs.

Q: The house in use by Raffaele Sollecito how big is it? If you remember?
A: So then I seem to recall that it gives out onto a landing on the ground floor, there is the front door, there’s the kitchen on the right, a room used as a kitchen, then there is the bathroom immediately to the left of the front door, then stairs go up and there’s the bedroom upstairs.

Q: Therefore it covers these environments?
A: Yes.

[211] Q: And you before have hinted at the presence of the odour of bleach when”¦
A: Yes, when you go in there’s the kitchen and you could smell the odour of bleach.

Q: Where was it, was there a place where there was more”¦
A: Yes, the kitchen because there’s the tiled floor and given that the apartment was placed under sequestration and sealed when I went for the first time on the 8th of November to do the search this bleach odour was still permeating the inside.

Q: And the bleach in the kitchen environment?
A: In the kitchen environment.

Q: Although the kitchen was tiled.
A: It was tiled.

Q: The other environments instead, what type of flooring was there?
A: Look I think there might have been parquetry in the bedroom but I’m not sure.

Q: Very well, you may go.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Understanding Micheli #4: The Staged Scene - Who Returned To Move Meredith?

Posted by Brian S




1. Where We Stand

Just to recap. Judge Micheli presided over Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing and the final hearing that committed Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox to trial.

Late January he made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. These posts are examining key areas of the report so that we too may decide on the rationales.

2. The Final Position Of The Body

Why this matters so much is that if the evidence holds firm, all by itself it will prove that there was a major rearrangement of the crime scene, to try to throw investigators off the trail.

This is as near to an 80,000 pound gorilla in the room as we are likely to see in this trial. And it may even be on the trial agenda for this coming Friday and Saturday.

Reports by the crime-scene investigators and Dr Lalli are summarised in Judge Micheli’s report. They describe the detail of the scene discovered in Meredith’s room. The investigators measured and photographed the position and state of everything, including blood, as it was in the room before anything was moved.

Amongst the items noted was a white bra. Some parts were soaked in blood, particularly the right shoulder strap and the outside of the left cup. They also noted that a portion of the backstrap with its clasp fixings was missing. Meredith herself was lying on her back midway between the wardrobe and the bed, without her jeans, a pillow under her buttocks and her top rolled up to reveal her chest.

Following this survey, Meredith’s body was then turned and moved by the investigators. This revealed the other items on which her body had lain. A tennis shoe, a white sheet from the bed and a blue zipped top, all with blood stains. Also a green bath towel and an ivory bath towel, both soaked in blood, and underneath the pillow was the missing clasp section of the bra back-strap.

Judge Micheli notes that Amanda’s defence claimed that “the small round spots of blood” apparent on Meredith’s chest indicated that she was not wearing her bra when she was killed. He agreed that it was likely that these spots fell from Meredith’s gasps for breath as she lay on her back after she had been stabbed. However, he could not agree with their conclusion that her bra had been removed before this time, as similar small round spots were also found on Meredith’s bra.

Micheli reasoned that this indicated that Meredith was still wearing her bra as she gasped for breath, but that her top was rolled up and the bra moved also. Thus indicating the sexual nature of the original attack, but also allowing the small round spots to fall on both chest and bra. Furthermore, other blood evidence involving the bra indicated that it wasn’t removed until some time after Meredith had died.

He said that Meredith’s bra was found by investigators away from other possible blood contamination on the floor, near to her feet. Photographs of Meredith’s body show clear white areas where the bra prevented blood from falling onto Merediths body. These white areas corresponded to those areas where blood was found on her bra. This was particularly true in the area of the right shoulder strap which was soaked from the wound to Meredith’s neck.

Micheli said that evidence showed that Meredith had lain on one shoulder near the wardrobe. She lay in that position long enough for the imprint of her shoulder and bra strap to remain fixed in the pool of blood after she was moved to the position in which her body was finally found. Photographs of blood on her shoulder matched the imprint by the wardrobe and her shoulder itself also showed signs that she had remained in that position for some time.

Based on all this, Judge Micheli concluded that there could be no doubt that Meredith’s body was moved away from the wardrobe and her bra removed quite some time after her death.

Neighbor Nara Capezzali had testified that people fled from the cottage within a minute of Meredith’s final scream. There was no time for any alteration of the crime scene in those very few moments.

Judge Micheli asks in his report, who could have returned later and staged the scene which was found? Who later moved Meredith’s body and cut off her bra? He reasons it could only be someone who had an interest in changing what would become a crime scene found at the cottage. Who else but someone who lived there, and who wanted to mislead the coming investigation?

It couldn’t have been Laura, she was in Rome. It couldn’t have been Filomena, she was staying with her boyfriend. It was very unlikely that it was Rudy Guede, all proofs of his presence were left untouched.

The culprits ran from the cottage in different directions and there is no reason to believe they met up again before some or one of them returned. Judge Micheli stated that, in his opinion, this just left Knox who would seem to have an interest in arranging the scene the police would find.

Bloody footprints made visible with luminol in Filomena’s room contain Meredith’s DNA. This indicated to Judge Micheli that the scene in Filomena’s room was also staged after Meredith was killed.

In Micheli’s opinion the scene in Meredith’s room was probably staged to point the finger at Rudy Guede. All evidence related to him was left untouched, and the pillow with a partial palm print was found under Meredith’s repositioned body.

But whoever later arranged that scene in Meredith’s room also unwittingly indicated their own presence at the original sexual assault. Who else could have known that by staging an obvious rape scene, they would inevitably point the investigators towards Rudy’s DNA which they knew could be found in Meredith?

Micheli asks: Seemingly, who else could it have been but Amanda Knox? And this in part is why she was committed to trial, for her defense to contend this evidence.


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.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Understanding Micheli #2: Why Judge Micheli Rejected The Lone-Wolf Theory

Posted by Brian S


And so decided that Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox should face trial.

First, just to recap: Judge Micheli presided over both Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing to 30 years and the final hearing that committed the two present defendants to trial.

Ten days ago, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. This is a public document, and in the enviable Italian legitimizing process, the public is encouraged to get and read the report and to understand the full rationales. Excellent analyses have already appeared in Italian in Italy, but no English-speaking sources on the facts of the case have either put the report into English or published more than the most superficial analysis.

These posts are examining several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales. The translations into English used here were by native-Italian speakers and fellow posters Nicki and Catnip.

Right at the outset of his Sentence Report on the conviction of Rudy Guede, Judge Micheli stated that it was neither the place nor his intention to make the case against either Raffaele Sollecito or Amanda Knox. He said he must necessarily involve them to the extent that they were present at the discovery of Meredith’s body. He said he must also examine evidence against them where he saw it as indicating that Rudy Guede was not a lone wolf killer and implicated them as his possible accomplices in Meredith’s murder.

Judge Micheli described the sequence of events laid out by the prosecution which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body:

Early on the morning of November 2nd, Signora Lana Biscarini received a bomb threat call made to her home at 5A Via Sperandio. (This later transpired to be a hoax.)

Some time later Signora Biscarini found a mobile phone in her garden. She “had heard” that bombs could be concealed in mobile phones and so she took it to the police station arriving at 10:58am as recorded by ISP. Bartolozzi

The postal police examined the phone and following removal of the SIM card, discovered at 11:38am that it belonged to a Filomena Romanelli who lived at the cottage at 7 Via della Pergola. Following a call by Signora Biscarini to check with her daughter who was still at home, it is in the record at 11:50am that neither say they know the Filomena in question. At around noon Signora Biscarini’s daughter rings her mother at the police station to say she has found a second phone.

The second phone (Meredith’s) is collected from Via Sperandio and taken to the police station. Its receipt there is logged by ISP. Bartolozzi at 12:46pm. During its examination Meredith’s phone is also logged as connecting to the cell of Strada Borghetto di Prepo, which covers the police station, at 13:00pm. At 13:50pm both phones, which have never left the police station following their finding, are officially seized. This seizure is entered in the log at 14:00pm.

Separately, as part of the bomb hoax investigation, agents of the postal police are dispatched to make enquiries at Filomena’s address in Via della Pergola.

They are recorded in the log and filmed on the car park camera as arriving at 12:35pm. They were not in possession of Filomena’s phone, which remained at the police station, nor of Meredith’s which at this time was being taken from Via Sperandio to the police station for examination as part of the bomb hoax enquiry.

Judge Micheli said that some confusion was created by the evidence of Luca Altieri (Filomena’s boyfriend) who said he saw two mobile phones on the table at the cottage. But, Micheli said, these two phones either belonged to the others who arrived, the postal police themselves or Amanda and Raffaele. They were NOT the phones of Filomena or Meredith.

On their arrival at the cottage, the agents of the postal police found Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox standing outside the front door.

The two seemed surprised to see them (the postal police had come to talk to Filomena about a bomb hoax which potentially involved her phone, plus they had recently been informed of the discovery of second phone in the same garden), but then they explained they had discovered suspicious circumstances inside the cottage.

Raffaele said he had already phoned the police and they were awaiting their arrival in connection with that. Elsewhere in his report Micheli points out that Raffaele did, in fact, make a call to his sister at 12:50pm, followed by two calls to “112” reporting a possible burglary at 12:51 and 12:54pm, 15 minutes after the arrival of the postal agents.

Judge Micheli said the postal police were shown into the cottage by Raffaele and Amanda. They pointed out the traces of blood around the apartment, the state of the toilet and the disturbance to Filomena’s room. They said they didn’t think anything had been taken. They pointed out that Meredith’s door appeared to be locked, Raffaele said he had tried to open it, but Amanda said Meredith used to lock the door even when she was going to the bathroom to shower.

Shortly afterwards Luca Altieri and Marco Zaroli arrived. Luca said he had just been contacted by his girlfriend Filomena, who in turn had just been contacted by Amanda Knox about the possible break in. A few minutes later, Filomena herself arrived with Paola Grande. Micheli noted that Filomena had immediately contradicted what Amanda had told the postal police and she said that Meredith never locked her door. She also told the postal police that the phone found with a SIM card in her name was in fact Meredith’s 2nd phone, that she had given Meredith the SIM as a present. The postal police said that they didn’t have the authority to damage property and so the decision was made that Luca would break down the door.

This he did. The scene when the door flew open was instantly obvious, blood everywhere and a body on the floor, hidden under a duvet except for a foot and the top of Meredith’s head. At that point ISP Battistelli instantly took charge. He closed the door and forbade anyone to enter the room before contacting HQ.

Following his description of the events which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body, Micheli then dedicates quite a few pages of his report to detailing the exact locations, positions, descriptions and measurements of all the items, blood stains, pools and spots etc.etc. found in her room when the investigators arrived. He also goes into precise details on the injuries, marks, cuts and bruises etc. which were found by Lalli when he examined Meredith’s body in situ at the cottage before she was moved. Despite their extent, it is obvious these details are only a summary of the initial police report and also a report made by Lalli on the 2nd November.

It is these details which allowed the prosecution to lay out their scenario for the events which they say must have happened in the room. It is also these details which convince Micheli that it was impossible for this crime to be carried out by a single person. In his report, he dismisses completely the scenarios presented by the defences of Amanda and Raffaele for a “lone wolf killing”. Micheli says that he is convinced that Meredith was sexually assaulted and then murdered by multiple attackers.

Judge Micheli also explains in his report how the law will decide on sexual assault or rape where the medical report (as was Lalli’s) is somewhat inconclusive. Else there would be no point in a woman reporting rape unless she had serious internal injuries. His conclusion: Meredith was raped by Rudy Guede manually.

So why does Judge Micheli believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollicto were possible accomplices of Rudy Guede and should be tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher?

In his report, he doesn’t look at the evidence which involves just them, nor does he analyze their various stories in his report. He doesn’t look at events involving them which occurred between the 2nd and 5th November. He does note a few items here and there, but these aren’t given as the major reasons for his decision to indict them.

He notes Raffaele’s apparent lies about the time he made the 112 phone calls. He dismisses Raffaele’s defense claim that the disposal of Meredith’s phones didn’t allow time for Raffaele to get to the cottage after watching his film, kill Meredith, and then dispose of the phones in Via Sperandio before the aborted call to Meredith’s bank. He noted that the cell which picked up the brief 10:13 call to Meredith’s bank also picked up most of Meredith’s calls home.

He asked whether it was possible for anybody to believe that each time Meredith wanted to phone home, she walked down to Via Sperandio to make the call. He notes that the police found Amanda and Raffaele’s behaviour suspicious almost straight away. He notes that Filomena said that the relationship between Amanda and Meredith had deteriorated by October. He says he doesn’t believe at all that cannabis caused any loss of Amanda’s and Raffaele’s memories.

Judge Micheli says he bases his decision on the following points of evidence:

[Note: The following paragraph numbers form no part of Micheli’s report. They are used in the context of this summary to identify the points of evidence contained in his report which will be examined and summarised in greater detail in follow-up posts]

1) Judge Micheli, after hearing both prosecution and defense arguments about Meredith’s and Amanda’s DNA on the knife and Raffaele’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, accepted the prosecution argument that that both were valid evidence. He did note, however, that he fully expected that the same argument would be heard again at the full trial. In his report, Micheli dedicates several pages to explaining the opposing arguments and how he made his decision to allow the evidence. It is a detailed technical argument, and it is not proposed to examine it any closer in this post.

2) Judge Micheli explains that blood evidence proves that Meredith was wearing her bra when she was killed. Nor is it just the blood on her bra which demonstrates this. It’s also where the blood isn’t on her body. He says that Meredith was wearing her bra normally when she laid in the position in which she died, and she was still wearing it for quite some time after she was dead. Her bra strap marks and the position of her shoulder are imprinted in the pool of blood in that position. Meredith’s shoulder also shows the signs that she lay in that position for quite some time.

He asks the question: Who came back, cut off Meredith’s bra and moved her body some time later? It wasn’t Rudy Guede. He went home, cleaned himself up and went out on the town with his friends. Judge Micheli reasons in his report that it could only have been done by someone who knew about Meredith’s death and had an interest in arranging the scene in Meredith’s room. Seemingly who else but Amanda Knox?

She was apparently the only person in Perugia that night who could gain entry to the cottage. And the clasp which was cut with a knife when Meredith’s bra was removed was found on November 2nd when Meredith’s body was moved by the investigators. It was right under the pillow which was placed under Meredith when she was moved by someone from the position in which she died. On that clasp and its inch of fabric is the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. Micheli reasons in his report that Raffaele and Amanda seemed to have returned to the cottage some time after Meredith was dead, cut off her bra, moved her body, and staged the scene in Meredith’s room.

3) Judge Micheli explains his reasoning on the method of Rudy’s entry into the cottage. He says that Rudy’s entry through the window is a very unlikely scenario and the evidence also indicates otherwise. He says the height and position of the window would expose any climber to the full glare of traffic headlights from cars on Via della Pergola. He asks, why wouldn’t a thief choose to break in through a ground floor window of the empty house? He says the broken glass and marks on the shutter both demonstrate the window was broken from the inside, some of the glass even falling on top of Filomena’s clothes which had been thrown around the room to simulate a robbery.

But his major reasoning for believing Rudy’s entry was through the front door are the bloody bare footprints which show up with luminol and fit Knox’s and Sollecito’s feet. These suggest that they entered Filomena’s room and created the scene in there after Meredith was killed. Allessandra Formica witnessed Rudy run away shortly after Meredith was stabbed. Someone went back later, left those footprints and staged the scene.

This, when considered in combination with the knowledge that person demonstrated of Rudy’s biological involvement with Meredith when they also staged the sex assault scene in Meredith’s own room indicates that that person was present when Meredith was assaulted and killed. He said it also demonstrated an attempt by someone who had an interest in altering the evidence in the house to leave the blame at Rudy’s door. Micheli reasoned, the only person who could have witnessed Rudy’s earlier sex assault on Meredith, could gain entry via the door and had an interest in altering the crime scene in the house appeared to be Amanda Knox. In his report, Micheli states that this logic leads him to believe that Amanda Knox was the one who let Rudy Guede into the cottage through the front door.

4) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Antonio Curatolo. He says that although Curatolo mixes up his dates in his statement, he does have a fix on the night he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana sometime around 11:00 to 11:30pm. Curatolo is certain it was the night before the Piazza filled up with policemen asking if anyone had seen Meredith. In his evidence, he says they came into the square from the direction of Via Pinturicchio and kept looking towards the cottage at Via della Pergola from a position in the square where they could see the entrance gate.

Judge Micheli reasons in his report that their arrival from Via Pinturicchio ties in with the evidence from Nara Capazzali that she heard someone run up the stairs in the direction of that street. He also reasons that they were likely watching the cottage to see if Meredith’s scream had resulted in the arrival of the police or other activity.

5) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Hekuran Kokomani and finds him far from discredited. His says the testimony is garbled, his dates and times makes no sense but…. that Hekuran Kokomani was in the vicinity of the cottage on both 31st Oct. and 1st Nov isn’t in doubt. Furthermore, Micheli says that when he gave his statement, the details which he gave of the breakdown of the car, the tow truck and the people involved weren’t known by anyone else. He must have witnessed the breakdown in Via della Pergola. The same breakdown was also seen by Allessandra Formica shortly after Rudy Guede collided with her boyfriend.

This places Hekuran Kokomani outside the cottage right around the time of Meredith’s murder and he in turn places Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox and Rudy Guede together outside the cottage at the same time. His evidence also places all three outside the cottage at some time the previous night.

Judge Michelii found that all this evidence implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as accomplices of Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Defendants’ High-Stakes Blame Game: Key Moves By Rudy Guede Explained

Posted by Michael




The blame game

For many months now, the defendants and their lawyers, and for that matter the prosecutors, have been playing a fascinating game of three-dimensional chess.

None of the three have fully broken from the other two - so far.  But each has been making chess-like moves that seem to be attempts to make sure they aren’t the ones - or the only ones - hung out to dry.

It is even possible that Rudy Guede’s stiff thirty-year sentence was such a move, to squeeze him to come clean at the Knox/Sollecito trial - though he may not have much to bargain with any more, if the physical and witness evidence is as encompassing as it seems. 

Guede’s first story

In November 2007, shortly before his arrest, Rudy Guede had a Skype conversation with his friend Giacomo Benedetti over the Internet. It was his second, and recorded by police.

He told his friend that he knew Meredith and Amanda and he had been to the cottage on a couple of previous occasions, visiting the boys who lived downstairs. But that he wasn’t at the cottage on the day of Meredith’s murder.

Guede’s second story

This story later changed, after his arrest in Germany. It was whilst awaiting extradition back to Italy in late November 2007, that he wrote his so-called German Prison Diary.

In this diary Guede related a second version of events.

He admitted to being at the cottage the night of the murder, supposedly on a date with Meredith. But on emerging from the bathroom to the sound of screams, he was confronted by an unknown Italian male, standing over a dying Meredith, knife in hand.

After a brief struggle, the man fled, with an unseen accomplice Guede said he heard but could not see, lurking outside the cottage.

Guede’s third story

Later, in April 2008, Guede requested an audience with the prosecutor, where he gave a third account. It was essentially the same account as the second - but with key differences.

He now stated that it was Raffaele Sollecito that he saw wielding the knife in the cottage that night. And it was Amanda Knox who was the unseen accomplice outside the house, as he had recognized her voice.

A false interpretation

According to one or two Amanda Knox defense sites, this apparently damning testimony by Guede is in reality evidence for the innocence of Knox and Sollecito.

Their argument is that because Guede did not mention the other suspects in his Skype conversation, his diary, or his initial interrogation by the Italians, instead waiting until April, this serves as evidence of the duplicity of a lone-wolf criminal taking advantage of an opportunity to pass the blame onto two innocents.

However, the logic of this blame-passing argument does not stand up to close scrutiny. There was actually more going on.

RS and AK alibi problems

Amanda Knox had been arrested on 6th November, after claiming to have been in the kitchen of the cottage whilst Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the bar where Amanda worked, entered Meredith’s bedroom, and raped and then killed her.

But meanwhile, in his own interrogation, Sollecito had admitted to police that his first account (that they were together at his place all evening) had been a lie, and that Amanda had left his apartment mid-evening, not returning until the early hours of the next morning.

A court hearing then confirmed the status of Knox and Sollecito as official suspects, and denied them release or house arrest whilst the investigation unfolded. The reasons given being that there may be a flight risk, and a high potential that they may interfere with evidence and witnesses.

Case against RS and AK strengthens

From that point onwards, the case against the suspects only grew stronger, with more evidence against them emerging almost by the day. The police claimed they could place them both at the scene of the murder, and that they had what could be the murder weapon.

A large knife, found seemingly hidden in Sollecito’s apartment. Sollecito had a liking for knives, owning a collection, and admitting to having always carried one on his person since he was fourteen.

Despite Knox’s later retraction of the statement in which she had falsely accused Lumumba, their situation was steadily looking bleaker.

Rudy Guede’s new advantage

With Guede’s arrest in Germany, about three weeks after the crime, he must have known his own game could be up. Forensic evidence could link him directly to the crime scene.

At that point, he had an advantage that few suspected murderers ever have; two patsie, Knox and Sollecito, already sitting in jail and ripe for taking the fall for him.

But despite the fact that there was a case against them, and that they could not account for their whereabouts, Guede went out of his way not to actually name them.

Instead, he wove that yarn above, one that had little credibility and was widely ridiculed on the internet. Even the judge at his hearing told him his story was just not credible.

Guede still holds back

But still he avoided naming Knox and Sollecito - who if really innocent could hardly have said anything in response that would have made his situation worse. They would not have been present at the murder, and therefore, would have no counter-evidence to offer.

At that point, Guede would have had nothing at all to lose by naming them, and possibly a very great deal to gain.  So why didn’t he?

It only makes any kind of logical sense that he didn’t name names if in fact Knox and Sollecito actually were at the scene of the crime.

They would then have been able to respond to Guede’s accusations with allegations of their own, which could have jeopardised any hope he may have had of being acquitted of Meredith’s murder.

Guede suddenly reverses

So why did he suddenly change his statement, and name names, and why did he wait so many months before doing so?

The answer, it would appear, lies in a change of the tactics in this chess game being pursued by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence team.

Anxious to show that a Nike footprint found in Meredith’s room was not that of their client’s, Sollecito’s team began arguing that it was in fact Guede’s.

Other noises from Sollecito’s lawyers suggested that they were readying to point the finger at Rudy Guede as a sole perpetrator, as part of their defence strategy.

Why Guede names names

For Guede, it would not have been lost on him which way the wind was blowing. Fearing that he was going to be railroaded into taking all of the blame, he responded by naming names.

Even then, though, he did not go as far as he might have. He did not claim that he actually saw Amanda, for example, only that he heard her.

However, the move did serve as a warning shot across the bows of the other suspects.

And it was an important move in the game of chess still being played out among them.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wow! Ground Really Disappearing From Under Knox-Sollecito Defense

Posted by Peter Quennell





Judge Paolo Micheli has now been interviewed by Messaggero Umbria, a newspaper published in Perugia.

The judge really seems to have arrived at a very clear conception of how the cruel, senseless deed took place.  Observe in particular these findings below.

All of them are devastating to the talking-points of Friends Of Amanda recently parroted in dozens of news outlets.

Three attackers were present

I took the opposite approach to that of the defence teams. The lawyers claimed that there was no proof of conspiracy between the three because they didn’t know each other and Kokomani’s testimony wasn’t reliable. They also said that it would have been impossible for them to have organised the crime since they had previous commitments which then fell through. My starting point was the three’s presence in the room where the crime was committed.

DNA on the bra clasp was RS’s

I don’t believe [the bra clasp] was contaminated. The dna either came from outside or it was in the room. It’s not possible that Raffaele Sollecito’s dna was in that room. He had no reason to go there.

No contamination of the knife DNA

It’s true that Amanda’s dna was also on another knife found at Sollecito’s home but there can’t have been contamination. I checked both the objects seized from the cottage in via della Pergola and Sollecito’s apartment in corso Garibaldi. Only once, on Nov6 last year, were objects taken from both locations on the same day and the officers who entered the two buildings were not the same.

Guede was not unknown to other two

The fact that there were no calls [with Rudy] is easy to explain; since Oct27, Rudy hasn’t had a mobile phone. It was taken off him by the police. One of the couple knew Rudy. Meeting people in Perugia is easy, it could have been a chance meeting too.

There was definitely sexual assault

There are some doubts about the dynamics and the position of the victim’s body when she was stabbed. These are however not sufficent to repudiate the hypothesis of sexual assault…. Sexual assault is also an “˜invasion’ of the body as was described in the autopsy. It is certain that the rapist pulled the victim’s top up. Some blood had also run down onto the trousers. It’s therefore plausible to think that whoever violated the victim put their hand down her trousers.

Why there was no rape

Why didnt they complete a rape?] Because she screamed. Also with a knife at her throat and being held down it’s likely that she shouted out. There is a witness, Nara Capezzali, who said she woke up and was shocked by this scream.

Meredith was restrained while taunted

On the victim’s right-hand there was one small cut, a few milimetres long, in between two fingers. On the left-hand, there were four clearly visible cuts. Also the tip of the finger had blood on it. This indicates that the victim’s right-hand was being held as she tried to defend herself with the left. After the fatal stab, she put her hands on the wound.

That last remark really drives home the true horror of Meredith’s incredibly cruel last few minutes. Someone was ferociously slashing away at Meredith like a maniac with a knife. And then did nothing at all to save her.

Walked out on her while she was still alive, clutching her neck to stop the life-blood flowing out of her.

After months of murky semi-silence from police and prosecutors, now the sentencing dossier quoted below and this interview seem like a fire-hose of information.

Is the judge signaling to the defense that a long-form trial will not work to their advantage? That they should simply cave now? Plead guilty, and hope?

And if they don’t, how on earth can they fight THIS sad, sick, depraved stuff?


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Devastating New Information On What Was Probably The Killers’ Weapon

Posted by The Machine

[click for larger image]

This above is the suspect knife found in Sollecito’s apartment.

Kermit analyzed this shot to obtain the precise measurements. As Kermit remarks in the caption, this is no potato peeler, as absurdly claimed by the defense.

It appears that the knife has Amanda’s DNA on the handle and Meredith’s DNA on the blade, and it was cleaned with bleach and then placed in a cutlery drawer at Raffaele’s apartment.

This has now been independently confirmed by forensic scientists Patrizia Stefanoni and Renato Biondo,

On the box in which the knife was sent to the forensic police were the words “˜Balestra’.” says Luciano Ghirga. (”¦d) Amanda’s defence has focused on the small amount of Amanda’s dna (on the handle) and Meredith’s (on the blade) on the presumed murder weapon found at Raffaele’s house. The prosecution is certain the knife was cleaned with bleach.

However, the knife is said to have been kept in a box for bags, wallets or shoes, before it was sent to the forensic police, upon which was written the name of the famous stylist from Trieste. A box which in turn, was kept at Sollecito’s appartment. Anything could have been in that box previously; personal objects, ornaments, Amanda’s things. And so contamination in this case too, is more than likely…

You can read more of the CU translation on Damian’s blog

There has been a concerted effort by Amanda Knox’s supporters in particular to discredit the work of the forensic scientists, claiming that their work was shoddy and the results were not reliable. However, Renato Biondo, completely refuted these allegations:

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.

When Raffaele Sollecito was informed that Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade of the knife that was hidden in a shoe box at his apartment. He very tellingly did not argue that Meredith’s DNA couldn’t be on the blade. Instead, he lied about accidentally pricking Merdith while cooking:

The fact there is Meredith’s DNA on the kitchen knife is because once when we were all cooking together I accidentally pricked her hand. I apologised immediately and she said it was not a problem.

It’s important to point out that Meredith had never been to Raffaele’s apartment. So where did Raffaele accidentally prick Meredith with the knife? There’s another important question that needs answering: Who does the knife belong to? The two Italian housemates, Filomena and Laura, categorically denied that the knife was from their kitchen.

According to Vanity Fair (May 2008), the knife came from the cottage:

And, as Amanda informed her parents during a jail visit, she has no idea how that large knife managed to migrate from her own kitchen to her boyfriend’s house.

Does the double DNA knife found hidden in a shoe box at Raffaele’s apartment actually belong to Amanda Knox? If the is answer is yes, why did she take it to Raffaele’s apartment?

There’s another question that needs to be answered: Why wasn’t Raffaele’s DNA on the knife? It was, after all, found at his apartment.


Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2