Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Summations: Ghirga Finishes, Mignini Wraps Up. And Knox May Speak Tomorrow

Posted by Peter Quennell

The conclusion of Mr Ghirga’s remarks from Alan Pizzey’s report for CBS

A lawyer for Amanda Knox wrapped up her defense in the Italian murder trial today with an emotional, at times tearful, appeal to the court to acquit her of charges that she murdered roommate Meredith Kercher.

The lawyer appealed for sympathy for Kercher, but also for Knox. “We suffer for what happened to Meredith,” Ghirga told the jurors, referring to the murder victim, “but also for the future of Amanda.”

Ghirga teared up at the end of his summation and apologized for a little “emotion.” Turning to Knox’s parents, he told the court, “Amanda’s parents ask you for her acquittal. There is no Knox clan, just two desperate parents.”

“The prosecutor is right about one thing, you should not forget the victim, Meredith,” he said. “And there is one thing the prosecution should have done for Meredith, and that is an investigation done well from the beginning, with rigor.”

Ghirga concluded by saying, “Amanda asks you for her life. Give Amanda her life back, by acqutting her.”

And Mr Mignini’s remarks translated from Il Giornale

The Rudy Guede is guilty ploy “does not relieve Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, his co-defendants” in the reconstruction of the murder of Meredith Kercher made by the prosecutor of Perugia….

The magistrate said that “Rudy has been tried” by Knox’s and Sollecito’s lawyers. “Accused of everything without the ability to defend himself…. ”  Amanda and Raffaele claim that they were not in Via della Pergola but that they know everything about how Rudy has smashed a window with a rock as he climbed and as he raped Meredith.

Their defenses have claimed contamination of biological traces that match them but insist they match Guede one hundred per cent. There ‘s been a selective contamination? “.

Amanda was like a compressed spring and “felt resentment” toward Meredith Kercher. “Raffaele Sollecito always followed Amanda and tried to please her. And they were full of drugs and alcohol on the night.”

The defense is allowed to have the last word and Amanda Knox may speak in her defense tomorrow.


if amanda speaks, does that open her up to cross examination or because the prosecution has rested, is that impossible?  having read only excerpts of the trial, do we know if she was questioned about the inconsistencies?

Posted by gramjan on 12/02/09 at 07:54 PM | #

Hi Gramjan. Mignini has completed his rebuttal (of what seemeed to us some very weak defense summations, leaving dozens of elephants still in the room) so Amanda can say what she likes tomorrow. She could have the very last word.

Amanda has never been fully cross-examined on the stand, because she only got up there in her own defense to answer Lumumba’s case against her - though she sure talked a lot about a lot once she got started.

Mignini says he had that same experience with Amanda in the pre-dawn hours of 7 November 2007. He couldn’t ask questions - but he sure didnt bother to stop her from talking. (It was that statement that was thrown out. Hardly coerced.) 

Migini and Comodi probably smiled at her dropping herself in it while on the stand. Fiori and Nicki here wrote very scathing reviews of her performance, as did many Italian newspapers.

We see no sign that her interventions have ever helped her. One does not want to get up and sound tough and even hectoring if the basic defense line is that she is a timid wee thing.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/02/09 at 08:28 PM | #

I haven’t written on here in a while but as the verdict draws near I need some things clearing up if someone has the time.

If we’re going to be perfectly honest, the physical evidence isn’t strong enough on its own to convict. The knife couldn’t be retested and the bra clasp was kicked around a room for 46 days. If in fact contamination didn’t occur, something we’ll never know, then the Italian forensic team could have cost Meredith’s family justice as their actions have given the defence a lifeline.

As for the witnesses, they simply aren’t reliable in a lot of cases. We had a case in the UK where the body of a girl was never found but the man responsible was still convicted on circumstantial evidence. Witnesses however claimed they’d seen the girl in the town after the date she went missing. The judge told the jury they could dismiss those claims in reaching a verdict as people get confused.

One thing I’m still pretty unclear about is what’s fact and what’s fiction here:

Did Sollecito tell the police that he’d pricked Meredith’s hand whilst cooking when confronted with the DNA evidence? I’ve read that that claim came in a letter to a friend, not at the police station.

Did they test the mop and bucket? Why hasn’t it come up in court if one of the main points for the prosectution was evidence of a clean up?

Did Knox and Sollecito give two differing reasons for the need for the mop and bucket? One being water they spilt and the other a broken pipe? I’ve read the email and couldn’t the spilt water be the pipe? Could that be what she meant? Has a broken pipe even been mentioned or was that one of the early reports that has now stuck as fact.

Is Sollecito still maintaining that Knox was out between 9pm and 1am? I haven’t seen this reported. Mignini didn’t seem to make that point. Quite a big one to miss when the other defendant isn’t even giving his co-accused an alibi.

A lot of pro defence make the point that if the footprints had been cleaned up the marks revealed by luminol would be smeared. Is this the case? I haven’t heard the defence make that argument. Just that other substances could account for the marks.

I’d appreciate someone clearing this up for me.

Posted by mikeyverve on 12/02/09 at 10:25 PM | #

Hi Mikey,

The forensic evidence is enough to convict both Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on:

1. On the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stenoni, Dr. Renato Biondo and Professor Francesca Torricelli - categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade.

2. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the ledge of the basin.

3. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the bidet.

4. Mixed with Meredith blood on a box of Q Tip cotton swabs.

5. Mixed with Meredith’s blood in the hallway.

6. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the floor of Filomena’s room.

7. On Meredith’s bra according to Raffaele Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Vinci.

Amanda Knox’s footprints were found set in Meredith’s blood in two places in the hallway of the new wing of Meredith’s house. One print was exiting her own room, and one print was outside Meredith’s room, facing into the room. These bloody footprints were only revealed under luminol.

A woman’s bloody shoeprint which matched Amanda Knox’s foot size was found on a pillow under Meredith’s body

The significance of the woman’s bloody shoeprint in Meredith’s room is considerable. By itself it debunks the myth that some had propagated for a while, that Rudy Guede acted alone. The bloody shoeprint was incompatible with Meredith’s shoe size.

An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp, and Dr. Stefanoni has excluded the possibility of any contamination.

Alberto Intini, the head of the Italian police forensic science unit, pointed out that unless contamination has been proved, it does not exist:

“It is possible in the abstract that there could have been contamination, but until this is proved, it does not exist.”

Please note that the bra clasp wasn’t kicked around the room for 46 days. Your comments were very misleading.

The bra clasp was found under the pillow on 2 November 2007, during the first search, and collected on 18 December when the second search was carried out by a different team.

During this entire time, the clasp was lying 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.

Furthermore, where could any abundant amount of Sollecito‘s DNA have come from, if besides that on the bra clasp, the DNA corresponding to his genetic profile was only found on a cigarette butt in the kitchen?

Raffaele Sollecito’s bloody footprint on the blue bathmat will be important evidence.

Two independent imprint experts categorically excluded the possibility that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat could belong to Rudy Guede.

Lorenzo Rinaldi stated:

““You can see clearly that this bloody footprint on the rug does not belong to Mr. Guede, but you can see that it is compatible with Sollecito.”

The other imprint expert print expert testified that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot.

You wrote:

“As for the witnesses, they simply aren’t reliable in a lot of cases.”

You won’t find a better example of witnesses who aren’t reliable than Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

They have both given multiple conflicting alibis and lied repeatedly.

Their deliberate and repeated lies were exposed by telephone and computer records, and by CCTV footage.

One question Judge Massei and Judge Cristiana and the six members of the jury will now be asking themselves is: if Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent and had nothing to hide, why did they lie so deliberately and repeatedly?

The answer really isn’t very difficult to work out.

If you are still not sure what the answer is, this sentence from Amanda Knox’s handwritten note on 6 November 2007 should help you:

“Everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith’s death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.”

Posted by The Machine on 12/03/09 at 12:36 AM | #

Mikey, I’m no expert on this trial, and I think The Machine’s answers are better and more complete than I could ever do. However, I have a couple comments on specific questions:

“Is Sollecito still maintaining that Knox was out between 9pm and 1am? I haven’t seen this reported. Mignini didn’t seem to make that point. Quite a big one to miss when the other defendant isn’t even giving his co-accused an alibi.”

That is my understanding. Sollecito did not take the stand so his previous story still stands. I’m not sure whether Mignini mentioned this or not. Remember, we may not have the full closing arguments translated into English yet.

“A lot of pro defence make the point that if the footprints had been cleaned up the marks revealed by luminol would be smeared. Is this the case? I haven’t heard the defence make that argument. Just that other substances could account for the marks.”

I’m no expert in forensics, but my understanding is that luminol exposes such minute quantities of blood that it usually doesn’t matter if a clean-up has been attempted; if blood had been there in the past week or so (or longer?), it will be exposed.

In the case of bloody footprints on tile, the blood will no longer be visible after cleanup (after all, that is the point of the cleanup and the cleaner will not stop until the blood is no longer visible, if at all possible). Therefore, any smearing of the footprints that might happen during the cleanup phase will be gone. What will remain is minute particles of blood embedded in tiny grooves in the tile, invisible to the eye but detectable by reaction with the chemical substance luminol. Once these particles react with luminol, they will exhibit photoluminescence (i.e., they will glow in the dark, like fireflies). WHERE these minute quantities of blood are located will still correspond to where the blood was originally laid down, i.e., they will not be significantly smeared. This is because these areas are hard to get at when cleaning - i.e., embedded down in the carpet or, in this case, the tile.

Here are a couple of sites that explain luminol usage better than I can:

Note the photo at the second link that shows a luminol-exposed shoeprint on carpeting that looks quite detailed and un-smeared.

Hope that helps.

Posted by Earthling on 12/03/09 at 08:23 AM | #

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