Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trial: Report From The Courtroom On Four More Eeyewitnesses

Posted by stewarthome2000

[click for larger image]

On Saturday the court heard from Antonio Curatolo, Fabrizio Giofreddi, Antonio Aiello, and Hekuran Kokomani, and Sollecito made another statement.

1) Antonio Curatolo (above)

He is a fixture in Perugia. He is a vagrant that spends most of his time hanging around Corso Garibaldi (the street where Sollecito lived) and Piazza Grimana (the piazza in front of the School for Foreigners within eyeshot of the gate of Meredith’s house on Via della Pergola).

The crowd murmured as he was helped in by court assistants, uncleaned and dressed in an old jacket and winter knit hat. His skin was dark against his long un-groomed white hair, beard and mustache. But once he opened his mouth, you knew that this guy was no slouch. He spoke clearly, concisely and directly, and was very certain of what he saw.

His testimony never swayed and was consistent even under cross examination. In short, his appearance was one thing, his articulate convincing testimony was another.

He stated that he has been a regular hobo (for lack of a better term) around that part of Perugia for about 8-9 years. He testified that he was in Piazza Grimani around 9:30-10:00pm when he saw across the piazza two people, a man and a woman. He described them as a couple from the way they were sitting next to one another.

He was asked to describe them and he turned and looked at Amanda, just a few feet away, and said calmly, “it was her”, and then looked at Sollecito and said “and him.” He stated that having been in that area he had seen them before separately, but this was the first time he saw them together. But he was certain it was them.

He said also that, although he did not watch them all the time, he did see them again “poco prima di mezzanotte” or “just before midnight” at the same place. He originally said that they were there from 9:30 through midnight, but clarified that they were there at 9:30-10:00pm and may have left around 11-11:30 and then returned to be there just before midnight.

After midnight, he left the piazza to go to the park and sleep.

The next day, he arrived at his faithful piazza around 12:00pm, and eventually, around 1:30 or so, he saw the carabinieri pass by, and the police and crime scene staff, and stated that he watched them at the scene, including the CSI people dressed in the full-white suits.

Under cross-examination, Sollecito’s lawyer Ms Buongiorno may have thought she had an easy target. But in fact he held up extremely well. She asked, “how could you possibly know it was 9:30?” and he responded “Because the sign next to the piazza has a digital clock. I look at it often to check the time”.

He stated that “when I sat on the bench to read I looked at my watch and it was just before 9:30pm”¦.and I saw them shortly afterwards.” He said he knows what he saw, and he saw those two! No more questions.

2) Fabrizio Giofreddi

He was also a pretty good witness, confident and unwavering in his testimony. He stated that on October 30th he parked his car right at the junction where Via Della Pergola begins and the street leads up to the piazza Grimana, which he described as being across from the pub “contropunto”.

He was sure of the date because when he was leaving he scratched the car next to him and left a note for the driver of the other car and wrote down the information (license plate etc.) and the date and time. He said that he arrived and parked around 5:00pm and saw four people coming from the driveway of the house walking on to the road.

He said that he saw Amanda, Raffaele, Meredith, and a black man which he believes was Rudy as he had seen him before, but could not be 100% sure. He did say he was 99% sure, but could not say “cento per cento” or “without any doubt”. He stated that he noted them so well he could even state what they were wearing.

He said that Meredith had jeans and a dark coat and high heels, Amanda had a red coat with large buttons (which he described as 60’s style) and jeans, and Raf had on a long dark jacket and dark pants. He stated that because the black person was behind the rest, he saw his face but did not see well what he was wearing. He then locked his car and went on his way. He pointed to both Knox and Sollecito in the courtroom and stated it was “him and her”.

(Note: oddly, he said he had seen Rudy before, giving out flyers in front of the University, but few have seen Rudy do that while many have seen Patrick do that many times)

Under cross-examination, he was also asked as with other witnesses “why did it take so long for you to come and tell police this information?” He stated that he was not following the homicide, and had no idea his testimony had any bearing on the case.

He told his Spanish professor, who was following the case religiously, what he had seen. and she told him to go and talk to the police immediately, which he did, albeit nearly a year later.

3) Raffaele Sollecito

There was a break and upon everyones’ return, Sollecito made a spontaneous statement. He addressed the court and stated that it was impossible that Giofreddi had seen him with Rudy Guede that evening.

He had never met Rudy Guede, let alone spent any time with him. He also stated that he has never seen Amanda wear a red jacket ever. Grazie. His statement was short and to the point.

4) Antonio Aiello

He is a lawyer and close friend of Hekuran Kokomani and was testifying as a character witness for Mr Kokomani. He explained the he has known Mr Kokomani for many years and although he is in jail right now for beating his girlfriend, he is really a “decent person”. Mr Aiello came to testify on his behalf about the circumstances which led to Mr Kokomani’s desire to talk to the police and his original testimony.

He said that shortly after the murder, around the middle of November, Mr Kokomani contacted him and said the he wanted to talk before he left for Albania. Mr Aiello was very busy at the time and said that if it was urgent, he would address the issue now, else he asked Mr Kokomani if it could wait till his return from Albania in January. Mr Kokomani agreed it could wait.

Upon his return, in January, Mr Kokomani told Mr Aiello everything that he observed that night, which as it turns out was most likely October 31st as we will later see based on Mr Kokomani’s testimony. Mr Kokomani went to Mr Aiello first because he is an attorney and close friend, and Mr Kokomani did not want to have any problems and asked Mr Aiello’s advice and if he would go with him to the “questura” (police station) to make his statement. Mr Aiello naturally agreed.

In trying to explain what Mr Kokomani recounted, Mr Aiello stated that even he had difficulty understanding Mr Kokomani as to what actually happened that night.

5) Hekuran Kokomani

Note: This is the one witness where I must add some personal commentary to his testimony. It has to be placed in the context in which it was given. Mr Kokomani stated he was born in Albania in 1969 and has been in Italy for 15-16 years. Even having lived in Italy for so long, he needed an interpreter, especially during the difficult questions of cross examination.

I will say right from the start that I really don’t know what to think of Mr Kokomani’s testimony. It was all over the place, contradictory, and if I use the word jumbled, I am being kind. It seems it was a combination of his inability to understand the question and his eagerness to make rushed statements that later diverged from things he said just minutes before. It was painful to get through his testimony, but also entertaining. Something tells me he tried his best.

In the end, after quite a few laughs and a lot of frustration, the court seemed to manage to distill what he wanted to say overall. If I have got this wrong, I could barely understand his Italian myself.

Basically he said that he was on the road heading out to a bar, and it was around 9:30pm or so. He was driving along Via della Pergola and at a speed of about 40-50 km/hr (about 25-30 mph) he approached what looked to be a black sack in the middle of the road. He stopped suddenly to discover that the dark object was in fact Raffaele and Amanda lying down.

First Sollecito came to the driver’s side of the door, and winding his window down, Mr Kokomani hit Sollecito, complaining that he himself was almost hit. Amanda Knox then appeared on the passenger’s side of the car and pulled out a large knife, which he described as the same as the one he saw in the paper sequestered from RS’s apartment.

She raised it above her head with both hands, holding both the handle and blade, and began to curse at him in Italian, uttering various threats. He then proceeded to throw olives at Amanda’s face, and then he threw his old Nokia phone and managed to hit her in the forehead. He took a snapshot of Amanda and Raf with his other phone (an Ericsson) and then moved along a bit.

He next saw Rudy Guede at the top of the driveway, and at the same time he could hear yelling, one person. yelling by herself or himself, perhaps moaning about something. He asked Guede what that was, and he responded it was just music at the house and that Knox had the knife because they had used it to cut a cake at a party at the house.

Mr Kokomani looked at the house and saw that a light was on. He then proceeded on his way, shaken by what just happened. He showed the picture to people at the bar, and they said “oh it’s just the Pugliese kid…. no worries” and since the picture was dark he deleted it.

He also apparently testified about seeing Amanda and Raffaele together in a bar or café in August or later, most probably late September, with her uncle who was described as robust and 50-60 years old. I could not make heads or tails if that was what was actually said or not. Mr Kokomani’s testimony took forever to extract, and had to be interrupted by a break.

Ms Buongiorno seemed to see a fish in a barrel here and she began to shoot. To give you an idea of how all over the place the questions and answers were, when asked “what color is your car” his response literally “black blue”. When asked again he said “I paid only two hundred Euro for it”. When asked at what time do you usually eat dinner, he said “when I get hungry”.

When asked what color Amanda’s eyes were, forgetting the fact that she was sitting 5 feet away, he says “occhi bianchi” (white eyes). When asked how he knew the time when he was on the street, he stated, “I have a clock on my dashboard”, but when asked what time it said, he responded, “it does not work”. When asked if he spoke to reporters, he said “NO”, then “maybe”, then “I dont think so”. The defense then showed him being interviewed by a Canale 5 reporter, and his final answer was “yes”.

Who knows quite what he saw that night, which he described as raining. In the end we deduced that since he worked that day and the next day was a holiday (November 1st was the “Fest dei Morti”) this incident must have occurred in one form or another on the 31st of October (Halloween) and not on the 1st of November. Exit this witness in handcuffs.

Note: His testimony cannot be completely dismissed though, I just dont know quite what to make of it. I am surprised the defense did not request his testimony be completely eliminated, given what occurred in court, and given the fact that even Judge Paolo Micheli blocked him out of the equation when deciding if there was enough evidence against Knox and Sollecitto to proceed to trial.

6) Coming up next week

It appears that next Friday, April 3rd, the court will hear the medical examiner Dr Lalli testifying, and on Saturday the 4th supposedly Rudy Guede himself. Then on the 18th the court may arrange for the jury to visit Meredith’s house, without the presence of Sollecito and Knox. This may not yet be firmly decided.


Posted by stewarthome2000 on 03/29/09 at 07:00 PM in Evidence & WitnessesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009


Comments

Interpreting Witnesses’ Testimony

Very fine job of describing the events of the day.  Nicely done.

The trial’s testimony has entered an interesting phase ion which civilians are testifying as to what they saw and heard at the time of the crime.  I have no special insight into what the truth may be, what are lies, and what is mis-remembered.  I am sure everyone who reads the testimony from Friday and Saturday will have their own interpretation.

But what of the jury.  There is an article in the Yale Law Journal (George Fisher, Volume 107, 1997) on the Jury’s role as a Lie Detector.  It states, among many other things, that, “lie detecting is what our juries do best. In the liturgy of the trial, we name the jurors our sole judges of credibility and call on them to declare each witness truthteller or liar.(1) All hierarchies of rank, learning, and technical prowess give way in the face of this asserted power of common jurors to spot a lie: In most jurisdictions today, no trial judge may advise the jury that a witness has lied.(2) No psychiatric expert may comment on a witness’s credibility(3) Rarely may a polygraph technician lecture to jurors about a witness’s pulse and pressure, tension or temperature.(4) The job of lie detecting belongs to the jurors alone. Nor may we later, once the jurors have done their job of sifting truth from falsehood, review how they did it. In a trial process in which we hide so much of the law and evidence from the jurors, this they hide entirely from us.”

Considerable information on what is called evidential inference can be found at http://tillers.net/theories/lit2.html. These articles discuss how, in a controlled environment, a jury can sift through the evidence and select what might be accurate and then use it in their decision process.  Witnesses are only allowed to answer specific questions and it can be difficult to get the right picture without knowing exactly what a witness was asked.

This article does a very fine job of keeping the questions and responses in context.  This is also why it is probably not a mistake for the prosecution to have brought “inconsistent” witnesses to speak.  For whatever reason, people like to hear other speak about events as can be observed 24x7 on the news channels.  I don’t know why forensic evidence is not enough.  Human observation seems to be a necessary ingredient when it comes time to interpret the facts of the case.

Arnold Layne

Posted by Arnold_Layne on 03/30/09 at 08:08 AM | #

Very interesting observations above by Arnold on the assessing of witnesses and perceptions of juries..

The Kerchers’ lawyer Mr Maresca has just sharply spoken out against the extreme ridiculing of witnesses that seems a main prong of the defense campaign here.

****************

The deposition of Antonio Curatolo before the Corte d’assise di Perugia “confirms the falsity of statements” made by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox and their alibi claiming they were in the house of the young Italian on the evening of murder, according to the lawyer Francesco Maresca, who is representing the family of Meredith Kercher as a civil party.

The lawyer said he was “surprised” by the statements of both defendants and one he describes as “the irony about the homeless man.”

“I think that in a process that concerns the murder of a girl of twenty years” he added “no-one can afford to be ironic. Those who knows the code of procedure know that the conduct of the process serves to focus and to point out all the evidence suggesting guilt.”

“So all the evidence must be acquired during the process that we are going through, testimonial and documentary, which will serve to highlight the full protection of the procedural position of the prosecution and defense, and those points in favor and against any party, the personalities of the accused, their behavior in the days in such a situation, the time of death, the causes thereof, feedback, and biological and medical conditions. These are the main topics to be tested”.

According to the lawyer, Mr Maresca “Mr Curatolo, in seeking the truth, confirmed the falsehood of the statements made by both defendants as to their presence at home during the evening of murder, and has given us, as will other witnesses and medico-legal advisers, more detail on the timing of the death of Mez and the movements of the defendants on the evening.”

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/30/09 at 02:32 PM | #

Guede’s lawyers Biscotti e Gentile will be meeting with him during the next few days to find out how he wants to play things in the next hearings. It is likely he will make use of his right to say nothing and wait for his appeal to held.

Meanwhile, they are launching an appeal to find the blonde girl who Guede claims was at the disco, the night before the murder, when he met Meredith. They say they are will to travel anywhere in the world to meet her.

L’Uniona Sarda

Posted by Kevin on 03/30/09 at 02:40 PM | #

Rudy Guede’s lawyers who were at the trial of Sollecito and Knox on Friday and saturday are speaking up about his forthcoming appeal strategy.

In part it is reported that they are appealing for a blonde girl to come forward that they say on the evening of October 31 2007 may have seen Rudy speaking with Mez in a disco.

Also that they must now meet with Guede in prison to decide his position next Saturday as a witness in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Almost certainly he will choose not to answer questions, and he is allowed to remain silent.

Added: I see Kevin beat me to it on this news in his comment just above. Thanks Kevin.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/30/09 at 02:44 PM | #

La Naizone is reporting on another journalistic effort just published by Sollecito.

It seems that he is a big fan of the Liverpool soccer team, he doesn’t like to be photographed with his hair long, and he had a frustrating and largely unsuccessful love live until Amanda Knox came along.

Note that it has several times previously been reported (we don’t know if this is true) that Sollecito was still a virgin when he met Amanda Knox and she deflowered him.

The actual date of their first encounter is not certain, by the way. He has put it at just a few days, at a play, but they may have seen one another around previously in Perugia.

The Italian “City” website remarks that he is looking more emaciated and pale at every court hearing.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/30/09 at 02:56 PM | #

Peter,

Sollecito’s interest in ‘sex with animals’ porn kinda ruins the picture of an angelic, polite young man?. I’m wondering how the jurors reacted to that. Not quite Harry Potter?.

Posted by Kevin on 03/30/09 at 03:28 PM | #

You made me laugh here. Stew had included the fact that videos on sex with animals were reportedly in his room at Onaosi in what he sent us to post, but he asks us to edit as appropriate if anything might get chat going in the wrong areas.

But maybe that is indicative. Sollecito does seem to have been a horny little virgin. He must have been the only 23-year-old male virgin in Italy. Heady stuff, an affair with Knox, to say the least. He must have felt like all his Christmases had come at once.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/30/09 at 03:50 PM | #


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