Sunday, June 19, 2011

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

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





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

9. Conclusions reached by the court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 




Comments

Skep,

This summary is truly terrifying to read.

Any of the FOA hangers on who go through these summary posts will have a hard time refuting where the overall weight of the evidence points to.

Many, many thanks (again) to the original Massei report translators; and many, many thanks to those of you who have had the patience and criteria (and intestinal fortitude) to summarise the report.

From what I see, the appeals process isn’t going to modify radically the judicial considerations and decisions already made.

Posted by Kermit on 06/17/11 at 05:58 PM | #

Hi Kermit,
The report summary was done by a group of volunteers, to whom I am very grateful. It went through several rounds of editing as well, with the help of experienced editors who are also familiar with the case. I am about to post the entire summary in pdf form on PMF as well.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 06/17/11 at 07:24 PM | #

ABC News have announced the launch of their new book The Amanda Knox Story: A Murder in Perugia the day before tomorrow’s court hearing.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that the book features exclusive interviews with Amanda Knox’s family, Knox’s own video and rarely-seen photos:

“Taking readers deep inside this fascinating mystery, THE AMANDA KNOX STORY is packed with video—including exclusive interviews with the Knox family and Knox’s own home video, as well as rarely-seen photos, and documents from the case files. This unique book also includes excerpts from Knox’s prison diary, and a video foreword and endnote from 20/20 Anchor Elizabeth Vargas, who has been covering the case since 2007.”

http://abcnews.go.com/International/amanda-knox-story-ebook-abc-news-exclusive-video/story?id=13857997

The only surprise would be if Elizabeth Vargas had interviewed anybody else apart from Amanda Knox’s family and supporters.

Posted by The Machine on 06/17/11 at 11:23 PM | #

Thanks to Skep and all those who were involved in making available this important Italian court document summary.

All of the headliners out of the Italian media today include convict Mario Alessi’s name in them. Convicted baby killer prisoner Mario Alessi is one of five prisoners who is expected to testify in court tomorrow on behalf of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Prisoner Mario Alessi is despised throughout Italy by all Italians for brutally murdering a defenseless toddler, Tommaso Onofri.

And so the DNA review experts are to submit their final conclusions to the appeal court on June 30th. Since last March when the DNA review on the knife and bra clasp first began, all of the objective low-key reports from the Italian media indicate that the review findings have been in favor of the prosecution. The original findings regarding the DNA tests on the knife and bra clasp from the first trial will most likely stand for this appeal trial.

Apparently, both the defense teams for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have conceded on the findings as well. This is evidenced by the two defense teams’ last remaining and most futile defense ploy yet.

Posted by True North on 06/18/11 at 12:22 AM | #

Thank you for these excellent summaries of the evidence!  I keep reminding myself that the appeals judges will be reviewing the actual evidence rather than the slanted and out of proportion claims made by Knox’s supporters.

Posted by Sailor on 06/18/11 at 01:43 AM | #

I have a scenario that finally makes sense to me - I came up with this after reading the summary…

I think that after AK got the text from Patrick to say that she would not be working that evening she went back to RS’ place. They were there when RS’ friend told him she does not need his help for her suitcase that evening.

At this point it would make sense that RS had some sort of drugs on him and the two of them thought it was a good time to take some drugs and have a fun evening…then they decide to go to AK’s place (perhaps to pick up her clothes for Gubbio the next day).

On the way they bump into RG and he probably had some drugs on him and so they invite him over to continue the fun…

Back at the house Meredith is studying and in no mood to be disturbed

I imagine that when Guede recalls he heard AK and Meredith argue he is partially telling the truth. I have two theories; 1) AK wanted to borrow money for the drugs 2) Meredith was not impressed with their behavior and took it up with AK

Either way an argument proceeds and RG comes out of the toilet and comes over to see what the noise is about…trying to make the situation better he tries to get close with Meredith and she further rejects him

Now all of them are high on drugs and Meredith being sober is telling them off, rejecting them and asking for her privacy

The situation gets out of hand with RS taking out his knife ... AK deems it necessary to murder Meredith because she would be in deep trouble if anyone were to know about their behavior (expelled from Uni, sent back etc)

RG runs out of the house (AK and RS tell him that they will clean up the place). RS and AK put their heads together and think its a perfect opportunity to place the blame on RG.

They stage the break in and leave the shoe prints while cleaning the bare foot prints.

I dont think AK covered Meredith because of remorse, I think she had to clean the room and could not bare too look at her lifeless body!

The next day AK comes early to check things out,goes back and tells RS everything is in order and they both come back - while she also calls her flatmates and starts making her alibis and story…

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Posted by Giselle on 06/18/11 at 03:49 PM | #

@Giselle, I do think Amanda did most of the cleanup, and covered Meredith with the duvet. And her reading lamp in the room? Left behind in the exhaustion of post adrenalin rush and drug come down.
@Kermit, the FOA are True Believers, and that subset has no problem arguing up is down, and fitting the facts to agree with their conclusions.

Posted by Ergon on 06/18/11 at 06:41 PM | #

A masterly report in its selection of essential data bearing on the crime as well as in its lucid, skillful writing.

I disagree with that aspect of the court’s reconstruction of the crime which credits initiative to Rudy Guede.  Grant that this drug-dealing drifter is on his way to becoming a lowdown robber, armed at least with a (stolen) knife. His contempt for his victims, his perverted humanity are in evidence in this report.

But it wasn’t he who broke in through a widow—an absurd theory in supposing that he could make all that noise & mess before an active young woman thought to make her escape?

It is Amanda who conceived the rape in a manner which required Meredith’s death to silence accusation. Her own published fantasy of rape, her chosen nicknames (Foxy Knoxy & something about a Nazi), even her disorderly party at an American university when rock-throwing in the street brought the police—facts none of which are mentioned in the judges’ report because not admissible as legal evidence—do nonetheless as facts widely publicized & well-known indicate her disposition & the quality of her mind.

Granted also that these cited facts were unnecessary to the just & prudent verdict arrived at, thanks to the quality & sufficiency of evidence. But they do point to Amanda Knox as the culprit who conceived & carried out the deed, impulsively enough & with helpers.

Suffice it that a judgment has been reached which cannot in reason be reversed. It may well have been wisdom on the part of the court not to try them for premeditated murder, however much implicit in the crime.

Given the brutal unconcern of a Guede, the latent psychopathy of the main assailants, Amanda’s growing resentments & frustrations (which were also financial) & the lowering of inhibitions by the taking of drugs—we see the result in Meredith’s piteous brutal murder.

I see no hand of Providence helping Meredith here, no evidence of a Heavenly Father who sees even a sparrow fall—but when has that ever been the case in our survey of the world’s tragedy?  A Spinoza would warn against rash assumptions & I find it uncanny that a prank call threatening a bomb should have led to the discovery of Meredith’s discarded phones in the very garden where someone (Sollecito probably) threw them away. 

That same uncanny coincidence led the police to the cottage where Amanda & Sollecito were resting briefly afterward & very much to their surprise. They pretended at once to have called the police (a lie) & Sollecito happened to remark, concerning the break-in, that nothing was stolen. How should he have known that?  Meredith’s door was locked as Amanda says it always was when she left the room, even for showering: but a flatmate contradicted that in no uncertain terms.

All the mishaps & bungling which occurred during a stupid crime & afterward began to entrap the perpetrators quite from the beginning.

I find no reference in this report to the livid bruises once mention on the inside of Meredith’s thighs & have supposed, on reflection, that Meredith’s resistance was more vigorous than described.  She might even at one point have wrestled an assailant violently to the floor.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 06/22/11 at 06:46 PM | #

Correcting a fault in my statement above to avert a misconception:

I am well aware that the judges do not accept the idea of Rudy Guede’s break-in through the window & was intending only to comment on the absurdity of the view of those who would limit this combination Rape-murder to Guede alone.

No, the judges have stated explicitly that Rudy had to be let into the cottage by someone who had a key.  All of Knox’s flatmates upstairs & down were absent & accounted for.  She alone possessed the necessary key & was present at the time.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 06/22/11 at 08:30 PM | #


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