Collection: Her family

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Meredith’s 29th: She Might Confidently Have Expected To Have Come Far By Now

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





A kind stranger sees it. From John Kercher’s fine book Meredith:

I had never heard of the ‘white feather’ phenomenon until some years ago. The story goes – or so I was told – that when somebody close to you dies, they occasionally send you a white feather to let you know that they are fine and thinking of you. Whether this was true or not, I could have no idea.

In the days after we were allowed to bring Meredith home and bury her, I went to the cemetery alone and, when I returned to my car, a small white feather was fluttering by the driver’s door. Soon after, I visited Meredith again – and again I saw a single white feather. After this, it happened on several occasions – but I always thought that it was simply a coincidence.

That was until, sometime later, Stephanie and I were sitting in the garden at a table, and as we talked, a pure white feather floated down and settled between us. I looked up into a clear blue sky. There were no birds. For the first time, I wondered if Meredith really was communicating with us. It was so easy to think that this was a stupid superstition, but I would not stop myself wondering if it was something more.

Then, quite recently, I had a coffee in London with one of Meredith’s friends from Perugia, Natalie Hayward. We had been talking generally and about Meredith. When we left and stood outside South Kensington Underground Station, to my amazement a white feather suddenly floated down between Natalie and myself and settled on her hand. I looked up. Once again, the sky was pure blue and there was not a bird in sight.

After Natalie left, I stood at that point for a full ten minutes, looking skywards, and not one bird appeared. Since then, I have heard and read of other people’s similar experiences. From this moment on, I like to think that, in some comforting way, Meredith truly is communicating with me. You may think me stupid or superstitious, but it is an experience I have never had before, and for every white feather I see, the feeling grows stronger.

Sometimes other people can say things better than you can yourself, because you are too close to events. This was certainly the case when a complete stranger, a middle-aged American woman whose name we do not know, wrote to us and managed to capture the entire essence of the person Meredith was. Her message, unsolicited but so appreciated, was so poignant that it made us cry. Here is what this American woman wrote about our daughter, which I am proud to publish.

    Meredith was an exceptional young woman, who was intelligent, friendly and loving, beginning the adventure of a lifetime. She emerged into the independence of young adulthood with a remarkable ability to make good on all of the advantages that life had given her: a loving family, physical beauty and vitality, intelligence, grace and wit and a desire to excel.

    Along with others, I have felt drawn to learn more about this extraordinary young woman, who did everything that she could, it seemed, to be happy, to achieve and to create goodwill among everyone that she encountered. By all accounts, she was conscientious and generous, possessing a grace and sense of responsibility unusual for her age, while retaining a youthful joy and spontaneity.

    Over time, I became aware of another, deepening aspect of her story working through me. I thought about how beautifully Meredith moved through the world: her dedication to her studies and focus on future goals; her commitment to family and the value that she placed on all relationships. These were qualities that became a touchstone for me, qualities that I aspired to strengthen in myself. I felt drawn to her radiance as a guiding force for good in my own life.

    Most of us will never enjoy, in such abundance, or with such seeming ease, the beauty, joy and success that Meredith possessed and achieved in her short life. But what Meredith knew, what Meredith was, can become a universal lesson. What Meredith, the woman and her life, can teach us, and has certainly taught me, is the value of moving in the world from a place of light and joy. Meredith has set an example, a standard that challenges and inspires us to live in the world differently. Every time that I think of her, I am reminded of this. For those of us who open ourselves to receiving the gift of her radiant beauty, she can serve as a source of inspiration, and a light toward which we can strive.

Upon reading this, I was overwhelmed. I wondered if this lady was clairvoyant, for she had somehow captured the essence of Meredith so perfectly. I could not have written anything better.

It is moments like this that make me believe that it is right that, as a family, we still vow to get justice for our Meredith – who, in death, has somehow changed the lives of so many people, without them having even known her. How these people are so perceptive about her, I do not know, but the fact that she has touched so many unknowns means that, in some way, she still goes on.




Posted on 12/27/14 at 11:36 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Favorite Videos To Honor Meredith’s Nice Embracing Town Perugia At Christmas

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Posted on 12/25/13 at 09:01 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

John Kercher’s Excellent Book “Meredith” On Meredith’s Friends Lloyd, Natalie, And Helen

Posted by Hopeful





Mr. Kercher’s biography of his daughter continues to charm and amaze.

It seems Meredith almost got married before she went to Italy. Her suitor was a dance teacher, named Lloyd Thomas. He was nineteen years old and they met at Leeds University on the dance floor. Mr. Thomas was teaching break-dance to the crowd and Meredith and her friends went out on the dance floor and began to dance. (p. 66)

Lloyd said, “I…thought that she looked like a movie star.” They had never spoken, but he had seen her once before, a month previously. Obviously the lovely lady had stayed in his mind. In the winter of 2006, at dance class, he struck up a conversation with her and called her later.

They decided to meet on the steps of Leeds University and began one of their many rich long talks, which later blossomed into going steady. “I was so taken with her amusing conversation,” he said. (p. 66) “After our third date, we saw each other about four evenings every week and we were always together, although she had a lot of university work to do.”

Mr. Kercher relates how Meredith was able to go with Lloyd and his parents to a hotel called Ponden House, “set in Charlotte Bronte country in West Yorkshire, for a weekend…She really loved it.” She rang Mr. Kercher to tell him how beautiful the scenery was.

Lloyd said (p. 67) that Meredith “never really spoke much about what she wanted to do when she graduated, but she had her heart set on going to Italy as part of her studies…”

About seven months into their relationship, Lloyd realized he wanted to marry Meredith. He booked a table at a Japanese restaurant in Leeds and proposed to her “with a ring that I had bought. I think that she was somewhat surprised and didn’t say yes or no. She kept the ring for a couple of days, but didn’t wear it, and then she politely returned it to me.”

(p. 67) Mr. Kercher explains that naturally things changed between Lloyd and Meredith after that decision, but that Meredith was just being practical. “Despite her obvious affection for Lloyd….She still had her current year at university to complete, a year in Italy studying, and then a further year of her degree, before she graduated. She was simply being sensible.

Yet the two of them remained friends and a couple of weeks later in January 2007, Lloyd joined our family and Meredith in an Italian restaurant in Croydon to celebrate her 21st birthday. Stephanie had arranged a special cake with a photograph of Meredith as a one-year-old superimposed on it…”.

“Who would have dared to think that this would be Meredith’s last birthday?” writes Mr. Kercher (p.67).  In retrospect, it seems appropriate that the young man who admired Meredith so much at Leeds University and wanted to marry her, should be at her final life celebration.

***

We know that Meredith a few months later in August flew to Rome, on wings of hope and dreams. She went from there to the University for Foreigners in Perugia. She settled in to her first home in Italy, the Via della Pergola cottage. Even before that while still at a Perugian hotel she was calling Mr. Kercher “enthusing to us how beautiful the city was.” As was her habit, Meredith called Mr. Kercher every evening and talked about how she was getting on. She also called her mom and sister with frequency.

(P. 69) In one call she elaborated to Mr. Kercher about the Eurochocolate Festival that stretched “from Rocca Paolina to the Carducci Gardens, Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza IV Novembre.” Meredith was fascinated by the chocolate statues and sculptures and all the candies sold at the stalls.

At the end of the festival the chocolate statues were happily broken up into pieces and given to the public. Meredith had bought some of Mr. Kercher’s favorite chocolates to give to him when she returned to England a few weeks later for Arline’s November birthday. That trip never happened, as tragedy intervened.

***

Meredith met Natalie Hayward while in Perugia. Natalie had gone to study in Perugia “because I had heard that it was beautiful and romantically old, in addition to being quite international.” (p. 70) Natalie had been studying history and Italian at the University of Sussex. She had found an apartment in Perugia with a couple of Italian girls, and began studying at the University for Foreigners where she met Meredith and Amy Frost.

Natalie said, “Because the three of us were the only English students in the class, we became known as ‘Little Britain’.”

Natalie said, “I was so encouraged by the fact that Meredith accepted me, because I wasn’t a particularly confident person. But she was always texting me to come out with her and other people and trying to include me in things, which I appreciated.”

Despite a known tendency to be late for lectures, Natalie says that Meredith “was exceptionally good at taking lecture notes. You might not have thought it, but she worked so hard. I was jokingly jealous of her note-taking. The Italian lecturers would speak so quickly and be quite complicated, but Meredith could keep up with them.”

More accolades from Natalie, (p. 71): ‘Socially, Meredith was wonderful to be with. She was always smiling and making us laugh. She was never judgemental. And she and Amy would walk miles for a low-price meal!” Mr. Kercher earlier says that Meredith asked him to check on rental rates to make sure the deposits for the Pergola cottage were a normal rate. Meredith seems to have been quite thrifty and not one to squander her resources.

After Meredith’s murder, Natalie went back to England to finish her studies there. No doubt she was desolate at the loss of this kind and tender friend who had sincerely reached out to her.

***

Helen Power was another British student who met Meredith September 1, 2007 in Perugia. Helen had finished a language course and had one day to relax in Perugia before flying back to England for a couple of weeks. Amy Frost had invited Helen Power out to dinner and Meredith met them by the fountain in the center of town.

(P.72) Helen said,  “As it was too early for us to eat, we sat outside and enjoyed some aperitivi from the cake shop on the main street. I remember that Meredith said she had forgotten to pack socks and that she hoped her dad would bring some out when he came to visit. Despite being tired from travelling, she was chatty, friendly, always smiling and making witty jokes. You only had to meet Meredith once to be struck by her beauty, quick wit, and infectious smile.”

The three girls ate a huge dinner at Il Bacio restaurant. Later in September, Helen’s mother visited Perugia and was introduced to Meredith at Piazza Italia as they waited for a minibus. She said, “Meredith made a lasting impression on me as we chatted. Not only did she show a genuine interest talking to us but she was so bubbly and full of life…I was so pleased to think that Helen had met such a delightful girl to be friends with during her Erasmus year.” (p. 73)

Meredith even noticed that Helen had gotten her hair cut and mentioned it at the Erasmus welcome meeting. Helen said, “I was surprised that Meredith had noticed. I thought that it was extremely observant of her, as she had only met me once, three weeks earlier. But that was the kind of girl she was; always making time for other people and taking note of even the smallest things.” Later they went out to dinner and dancing. Helen says, “...no one could out-dance Meredith.”  (p. 74)

Halloween night immersed in parties and excitement was the last time Helen saw her. She said (p. 75), “At the age of twenty, it never crossed my mind that it might have been the last chance to see a friend again. Those first two months were such a wonderful and happy time and, although I didn’t know Meredith for very long, I shall never forget her, and I have learnt so much from {her being} such a strong woman…I make certain that I enjoy and appreciate life and those around me and, most importantly, smile.”

Posted on 11/23/13 at 07:50 PM by HopefulClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

John Kercher’s Excellent Book “Meredith” On Meredith’s Employer And Her Circle Of Friends

Posted by Hopeful





Robyn Butterworth who had also been at Leeds University with Meredith, went to Perugia and roomed with Amy Frost. Often Meredith would go to their flat for lunch. She “often brought a kebab with her, which we found amusing; she loved them.”

(p. 77)  “Occasionally, we would go to see a British film at the cinema, and the one in Perugia was like an old theatre, a lovely place.” Robyn Butterworth was in some of the same Perugia University classes with Meredith.

Only a few days before her death, Robyn said that “Meredith had been talking to me during our evening phone call about a university trip to Turin, and we discussed the possibility that she might be able to see the famous Turin Shroud. Unfortunately, she discovered that the trip was fully booked, and so she was hoping to get on the next one. Meanwhile, I was urging her to go to Venice…”

(p. 78) On the first night Robyn met Meredith in Perugia, she and Meredith and Amy who already knew Meredith went out for pizza. Robyn said, “I instantly warmed to Meredith and she was really amusing…She and Amy were the witty ones….In the evenings we would sometimes go to the Merlin Bar in Via del Forno, a place which was a cross between a pizzeria and a bar.”

“Pasquale Alessi, a co-owner of Merlin’s, has said: ‘Meredith was a really nice girl. She liked to go out with her friends. But I never saw her with any problems; never saw her drunk. She always liked to go out with Sophie and Robyn, but she would watch out for them.

“She was the careful one. ‘Now we have to go home,’ she would say, ‘as we have to get up tomorrow and go to class.’”

(p.78) Sophie recalled going to the main street cafes to have a coffee or chocolate with Meredith. “Meredith loved her chocolate,” Sophie said. “There was also a kind of refectory at the University for Foreigners where you could get cheap lunches.”

Mr. Kercher begins Chapter 4 of his book with the heading “The Investigation”. He outlines how difficult it was due to the language barrier and the far distance in England to get news of what was really happening in Perugia.

Their lawyer Maresca spoke on the phone to Stephanie Kercher who understood Italian, or the family had to talk to him using his interpreter. (p.81) We were also getting fragmented details on the Internet of events as they unfolded, but these were difficult to trust and we did not know where the truth lay. At this stage, most of the web information we could find came through translations of the Italian media, particularly the newspaper “La Repubblica”.

(p. 82)  “How had Meredith died? How had she been discovered? Who was responsible?” These were the questions that our family was debating. Though we lived apart, we spoke to each other every day, if not to keep abreast of new developments, then only so that we could share our utter disbelief that this had happened. At this stage, we didn’t realize that Meredith’s housemate Amanda Knox and her boyfriend were becoming the police’s prime suspects. All we could think of was, who would have done this terrible crime and why? Meredith was the last person in the world that anyone would want to harm. Everyone loved her.”

...“Perugia…had not seen a killing for more than twenty years,” so the small town of Perugia was equally in shock.

(p.88) Sophie Purton and Robyn got a call from the police and were told to meet the police at the university. In the early confusion and aftermath of finding Meredith’s body, the police were saying the murdered girl was Welsh. Sophie, Amy, and Robyn then were driven to the police station in a plain police car. “We still didn’t know where we were going and still didn’t know what had happened to Meredith. This was about 6 o’clock in the evening. When we arrived at the police station we were put into a waiting room. That was Robyn, Sophie, and me (Amy). Then Meredith’s housemate, Laura, walked in. She was crying.” They then realized it was their friend Meredith Kercher who had been murdered.

Monica Napoleone (p.89) testified of Amanda’s behavior at the police station, ‘Amanda had complained that she was feeling tired…I told her that she could go if she wanted to, but she said that she wanted to stay and wait for Raffaele. A few minutes later, I walked past a room…and I saw Amanda doing the splits and a cartwheel.’

Monica Napoleone continued, ‘She and Sollecito had had a bizarre attitude throughout the whole time. They seemed completely indifferent to everything. They were lying down, laughing, kissing, pulling faces at each other, and writing notes to each other. They were talking to each other in low voices for the whole time. It was impossible that they were behaving like this when a dead body was in Amanda’s house.” (p.89)

(p.90) Robyn said, “I remember how Amanda kept going on about how she had found the body. It was as if she was proud to have been the one who found it….When I went into the waiting room, Amanda was talking at the top of her voice in English to everyone there.”

Later (p.92) Mr. Kercher describes how Amanda changed her stories and kept embellishing them with Patrick being the culprit and herself cowering in the kitchen. She said, “I coud hear Meredith screaming” in her written statement to police.

Amanda also said (p.92) about this scenario of her with ears covered in the kitchen: “These things seem unreal to me, like a dream. The truth is that I am unaware of the truth.” Then she goes on to say that she didn’t kill Meredith and adds, “In these flashbacks I’m having, I see Patrick as the murderer, but I do not remember for sure if I was at my house that night.”

The police then arrested Patrick Lumumba.

(p. 93)  “Back in England, this was the first big piece of news we had heard concerning the investigation…Pictures of Lumumba were being shown on television, and at our separate family homes we looked on in disbelief, not knowing whether to believe that we were seeing images of the man who killed our daughter. I spoke with Arline on the phone and neither of us could believe that we were looking at the killer. He did not look like a violent man…had short hair, ...a slightly plump face. I have never before had to question if I was looking into the eyes of a killer, and it struck me how normal he looked. He appeared to look confused when we saw film footage….I felt anger. ...Was this really the man who had taken Meredith’s life away?”

(p. 94) Lumumba told police he had never been to the house where Meredith lived. “I only saw Meredith about four times…” he said. “I had told her to come to the bar on the Friday where we could make her special mojitos”. It seems Meredith had spoken about making mojitos for the bar owner in an evening phone call to her dad. She had some bar experience and Mr. Kercher says “she could make wonderful mojitos. In fact, she knew how to make about twenty different cocktails.”

Lumumba pled with police that he was not the killer, that “It’s not true what Amanda says, that I wanted to be with (Meredith).... I shut the bar… I went home.”

“Suspicious of the conflicting stories being told to them by Sollecito and Knox, requests for their arrests…were made. Until this point, Knox and Sollecito had been regarded as ‘witnesses’....Five days after the horrific killing, Judge Claudia Matteini granted the request for their arrests…” (although they were not yet officially charged with murder but held as flight risks, while Lumumba was already being held.

The Kerchers were now being made aware that not only had Meredith been killed, but subjected to a sexual assault. (p.95) “It felt as if, with every news report or detail that was coming out of Italy, things were becoming more and more terrible. That Meredith was gone was tragedy enough…”

Two weeks later Lumumba was released by Mignini for lack of evidence. Lumumba said, (p. 97) “I believe that Ms Knox had the idea of implicating me when we had met outside the University for Foreigners…. I had been discussing with one of the university teachers whether I woud be a suitable person to act as a translator for reporters from Britain, who did not speak Italian. At this moment, I saw Amanda arriving and I asked her if she liked the idea. She said, “No” and went off smiling. Perhaps that was the moment when she decided to land me in it.”

(p. 97) “I think that Amanda wanted to derail the investigation. That’s what I think, ” said Lumumba. “she must have realised that the investigation was leading to her and thoguht that, if she mentioned me, then the investigators’ attention would shift to me.”

“I can tell you that she wants to be the centre of attention. I think that she is a person capable of doing anything to be in the spotlight.”

Lumumba said, “Amanda hated Meredith because people loved her more than Amanda. She was insanely jealous that Meredith was taking over her position as Queen Bee.” (p. 98)

(p. 99) The Kerchers begin to learn about Amanda Knox’s “double life”. Clint Van Zandt, who had been a long-serving employee of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, told NBC News’s Dennis Murphy: ‘Realise that this is a woman wearing two masks. One mask is Amanda the good girl, in a Catholic school, an athlete, does what her mother says. And then you’ve got the other mask that, when she gets to Italy, it’s “I’m going wild. I’m having fun. This is where i sow my wild oats.”

(p. 100) The double life of Raffaele Sollecito begins to reveal itself. Not only is he the quiet bespectacled student with a privileged background and prominent family with medical doctor father, but he describes himself as “sweet but sometimes absolutely crazy” on social networking sites, and posts photos of himself holding a meat cleaver. Police later find a collection of Japanese manga comics, some of which depicted acts of extreme violence. “One, which attracted particular attention, was concerned with the killing of female vampires on Halloween. It was not lost on police that Meredith had been dressed as a vampire to celebrate Halloween only one night before she was murdered, and they later went on to say that the scene they discovered at the cottage was reminiscent of the scenes depicted in Sollecito’s comics. Upon learning this, we could not help but wonder if Meredith’s murder had been premeditated….”

(p. 102) The Kerchers learn of a fourth suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede. He had arrived in Italy from the Ivory Coast in 1992 at age 5. His father had left him alone in Italy and returned to Africa when Rudy was 15. Mr. Kercher quotes the wealthy Italian, Paolo Caporali, who had taken Rudy in like an adopted son and tried to help him for years. “I thought that I could help him build a future, but I realised that I had made a mistake. He was a tremendous liar…”

Rudy fled toward Mainz, Germany when police detained him and extradited him back to Italy. It seems Rudy’s German stay along with Amanda’s German visit and Raffaele’s time in Germany as student were all scenes of foolishness and curtailed.

” All these events had been unfolding as we waited in England for the return of Meredith’s body.”  (p. 107)

Posted on 10/25/13 at 09:28 PM by HopefulClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

More About Meredith With Thanks To John Kercher and Stephanie

Posted by Hopeful




First, the letter in Italian from Stephanie to Judge Nencini at start of appeal.

Dear Dr Nencini,

We have talked a lot in our family in order to come to make the difficult decision not to come to Italy for the beginning of the trial. My mother is in dialysis three times a week and this has an enormous impact on her health. My father has had two strokes in the past. This period is particularly stressful for us all and we desperately want to discover the truth and find justice for Meredith, who was taken away from us so brutally and unnecessarily. We have thus decided to support each other in the family here in the UK and to follow the trial from here, keeping close contact with lawyer Francesco Maresca and his colleagues.

We are confident that the evidence will be re-examined and that all the other requests for tests will be allowed, so that all the unanswered questions may be clarified and that the Court may decide on the next actions in this tragic case. These have been the six most difficult years of our lives and we want to be able to find a conclusion and remember Meredith as the really marvellous girl who she was, rather than remembering the horror associated with her.

It is a continuous battle every single day, struggling with our emotions, happy memories and desperately sad ones, and the only way in which our pain and suffering can at least begin to to be alleviated is to come to a clearer understanding of the tragic events of November 1st, 2007. Nothing can bring back our beautiful Meredith, and we keep her in our hearts always and in our memory, but we need to know what happened and she deserves at least the dignity of the truth.

Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Kercher and Family

Second, more on Meredith from John Kercher’s fine book.

Italy had always been important to Meredith. Her Italian teacher from senior school, Lucia Mazzeo, remembers how much Meredith enjoyed learning Italian, right from the start of her lessons in Year Nine. She was already good at French—in fact Mrs. Mazzeo had noticed that both Stephanie and Meredith seemed to have a natural flair for languages—but Meredith had quickly shown a delight in Italian culture and language.

A year after beginning Italian, at the age of fourteen, the school organized a two-week exchange visit with Taddeo da Sessa school in the town of Sessa Aurunca, in the southern Italian region of Campania.  Built on the southwest slope of an extinct volcano, fifty miles from Naples, it is a beautiful, quintessentially Italian town, and has the ruins of a bridge with twenty-one arches and a Romanesque cathedral. The girls were to stay with Italian families whose daughters attended the Taddeo da Sessa school.”


Isn’t it wonderful how many rich experiences Meredith had in her young life? She seemed to cram a lifetime of treasures into a few years. Mr. Kercher goes on to say on Pages 50 and 51,

Mrs. Mazzeo noticed how quickly Meredith fitted in, getting on well with Italian staff and students alike. ‘They clearly feall in love with her smile, good nature and sparkling personlity,’ she told me. ‘Her sense of humour was a factor too…..

As part of this trip, and a subsequent one three years later, Meredith and her school travelled along the beautiful and picturesque Amalfi Coast. (oh, I am a bit jealous, having never seen Amalfi Coast.)  They also travelled to Monte Cassino and to Rome, where Meredith’s time management skills were put seriously to the test, fitting in visits to the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Forum and the famous Fontana di Trevi.” Yes, Meredith threw a coin in the fountain to assure a return trip to Rome!

The party of English and Italian students, with extra friends, staff and even some parents, also visited Pompeii on their final full day in Italy. Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79….It is a powerful place for anyone to visit, and it had a special meaning for Meredith because she knew Arline had done restoration work there in her youth.” (So I’m assuming Arline worked on archaeological sites?)

The spectacular Caserta Palace, with its wonderful symmetrical gardens and 1,200 rooms, built for the Bourbon kinds in the eighteenth century, also impressed her (Meredith). Italy was everything that Meredith had expected it to be.

These exchanges were more than just sightseeing holidays: they gave the girls a real experience of Italian life. For two days on each visit, they became pupils at the Taddeo da Sessa School, where they were expected to attend lessons with their Italian partners, and even participate in sporting activities and drama presentations. Many of the girls bonded with their host families and for Meredith it was a transformative experience.


Mr. Kercher next relates Meredith’s almost precognition that Italy will have immense meaning in her life. Page 52:

Mrs. Mazzeo tells a story that I find very poignant. ‘What I shall never forget,’ she goes on, ‘was the departure day from Italy, on Meredith’s first trip to Sessa when she was fourteen years old. Almost all of the girls on the coach were crying. This was a difficult moment every year on these trips, as after being a part of someone’s family for so long, saying goodbye was not easy.

Yet we all noticed that Meredith was smiling. She didn’t seem to be sad at all. I told her that she had the right attitude. Her reply was remarkable: “After this experience,” she said, “I know that Italy is going to be a part of my life for ever. I’m not sad because I’m coming back this summer and, some day, when I’m older, I know that I am going to live here.


During the following summer Meredith went back to Italy at age 15 with a school friend. She went back to stay with the same host family, She was truly in love with Italy, and at the most impressionable age. Page 53:

When she was in Year Thirteen, the modern languages and music departments at the school collaborated in a cross-curricular activity called “Light and Dark”. This was intended to celebrate the music and poetry of the respective languages studied at the school. The Italian Department contributed with three readings from Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

Meredith was due to read one extract only, in Italian, from “Paradiso”. But a younger girl, who was to deliver the “Purgatorio” reading, had a panic attack a few minutes before she was due to read, and so was unable to participate. In a very calm way, Meredith took over this reading and read it perfectly, without any practice at all


Later Mrs. Mazzeo lost the script of these readings, but five years later only a few weeks after Meredith’s death, she found the script and said that reading Dante’s “Paradiso” brought her comfort during the most difficult moments following Meredith’s tragedy.

It has been fun reading about Meredith’s work to promote Lynx products (she got part-time jobs to pay for schooling at Leeds and joined a couple of promotions agencies, one of which later liked her photo and got her the part in the Leontiou music video). They also got her a job at Gatwick Airport helping passengers find their gates for departure.

One day she politely asked some big rugby players to move so passengers could have access. When they ignored her she “laid into them verbally and onlookers were amused to see the musclebound sportsmen suddenly remember their manners.” (page 45)

Meredith was kind, but she was no coward.

Posted on 10/12/13 at 10:17 PM by HopefulClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Excerpts From John Kercher’s Fine Book “Meredith” #1 Including Her First Happy Ventures To Italy

Posted by Hopeful





This is a series we will continue throughout appeal to keep front and center who the real victim is here.

John Kercher in the foreward to his book, “Meredith”, said it had not been an easy book to write, but…“I hope it is a portrait of which she would have been proud.” Mr. Kercher has painted an excellent portrait, not only of “the enchanting, generous, kind person that Meredith really was”, but of a happy and vibrant family who showed Meredith all the joys of living during her 21 years.

Meredith’s love affair with Italy started at age 1 1/2 years old when Arline and John took her to Rimini which is north-east of Perugia on the Adriatic coast. That was the family’s first visit, and they pushed her and Stephanie through the streets in a double stroller (pushchair).

Then when Meredith was 8 years old, they returned to Rimini for another holiday and “she was much more aware of the place…. She was extremely amused at the way the Italian waiters always offered her and Stephanie the menu before the rest of us and treated them like young ladies rather than children. The waiters would often wink at us as they went about this sophisticated routine.”

Meredith was awed by real Italian pizza, “amazed at how the cooks made them in wood-fired ovens and retrieved them with long poles.”

(Page 17) “All of this must have made a big impression on her, because when she entered senior school at the age of 14, she elected to study Italian, and later went on to study the language at Leeds University.” (She also knew French.)

(Page 32) “what a happy child she had been”. She and Stephanie as children would open Christmas presents by the fireplace “in one of the living rooms in our old house in Coulsdon.” Mr. Kercher said “I would pull some ash into the fireplace and draw small footprints with my finger to show that Father Christmas’s boots had landed there as he climbed down the chimney. Meredith and Stephanie would put out a glass of sherry and a mince pie for him—” and even a carrot for the reindeer.

(Page 33) Meredith was born in London at Guy’s Hospital on a freezing cold day. Mr. Kercher driving to the hospital with the older children (ages 9, 7, and 2 at the time) found his car’s radiator frozen and had to abandon it for a train at Purley to take them to the hospital, where he warned the nurses she would be born within 20 minutes of Arline starting labor. He was right. She weighed only 4 lb. 12 oz and he could almost hold her in one hand.

Meredith loved winter “especially when it snowed and she could get her plastic sledge out and whizz down the slope in the garden, or make a snowman. Nor did she mind occasionally walking the mile uphill to school with her mother, beside three-foot snow drifts when it was impossible to drive her there. Or we would go to a large open area in Old Coulsdon called Happy Valley, a park with 1,500 acres of snow that Meredith loved to play in.”

(Snow fell in ethereal tenderness in the Kristian Leontieux music video “Some Say” as Meredith appears in the video.)

Careful to give Meredith a chance at some warm weather birthdays not possible on December 28th, her mom and dad would arrange an event for her in the summer similar to Stephanie’s birthday, so that Meredith could also invite her friends for games in the garden. They also gave Meredith a bit more birthday attention at the New Year, so as a child she wouldn’t feel overlooked due to the Christmas celebrations. What caring parents!

Meredith loved bedtime stories and Mr. Kercher would oblige. He used to make up stories every night for her and Stephanie. “One was about Meredith going to a forest where she would meet a fairy. The fairy would spin several times, then there would be a flash of light and Meredith would be transported with the fairy into an adventure.” (Page 35) Once as he started the story, Meredith’s quick humor surfaced as he asked her what would happen next. “She was sick because she was dizzy!”

“Stephanie’s own story was about being transported on a bird’s back across forests and fields. There was never any jealousy or animosity between them. They would lie there listening and giggling or adding bits to the stories. They really got on well together, and even as they grew older they would share confidences, along with clothes and cosmetics.” (Page 36)

The stories had stopped when Meredith was about 10 years old, but at age 14 she still asked for them. Mr. Kercher was living separately then and he would go back to his flat and write her a story and read it to her over the phone. He made Meredith the central character and she wanted him to do it every day. “Even when I went to Spain for a week, I would write some of it on the beach and then call her from a payphone in the evening and read it to her. Eventually, it became a 60,000-word novel, which I gave to her. It is called “The Strange Case of Miss Carla”.

Mr. Kercher’s “Miss Carla” was based on a sweet elderly neighbor lady who lived next door. Stephanie and Meredith visited her often. They adored her. Her name was Muriel Babot and she would invite them in to do jigsaw puzzles with her or visit them and bring photographs for the girls to look at. Mrs. Babot’s son-in-law Paul was a steam railway enthusiast. He lived a few miles away and he had “transformed his garden” with miniature railway tracks that ran all around it, “with proper signals and lights.

He had several trains powered by steam, and he would sit on the engine and people could sit on the back.” Several times a year he would open it up to the public and invite other enthusiasts to bring their engines to put on his tracks. Mr. Kercher says, “We were always invited, and Stephanie and Meredith loved riding around the garden.” (Page 37)

“In the novel Miss Carla is quite a mystical character, and she travels through time, becoming younger as Meredith becomes older.” (Page 37)

As a child Meredith went to junior school at Keston in Old Couldsdon and then to the Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon. She went on to Leeds University in Yorkshire and became an Erasmus scholar, then brushed up her Italian at Perugia’s University of Foreigners and then enrolled at the University of Perugia.

A two month happy beginning then ended in calamity, but I prefer the chapters in Mr. Kercher’s book that detail all the happy days, such as his taking a 15-year-old Meredith to shop at Selfridge’s on Oxford Street in London and laughing at himself for expecting her shopping spree to take only an hour. She shopped her heart out for four full hours while he finally waited on a chair, and after a respite for lunch, she wanted to return to shop for few more minutes which turned into another hour. It was her day and she loved all the beautiful fashions.

(Page 43) Mr. Kercher recounts another fruitful shopping spree when he took Meredith and Stephanie on the Eurostar to the French town of Lille. Meredith was about 14 and they lunched at a cafe when the girls discovered some clothes shops that sent them into serious retail therapy. They sent dad to the ATM to fund their whirlwind of buying and they all laughed when they had to pile all the coats, skirts, and shopping bags into a supermarket trolley to rush back to catch the Eurostar barely in time to return to England. He says they were all “laughing our heads off”.

Good times, good times! How refreshing to hear of the Kercher family’s good times! John Kercher has done the world a big favor by recounting them for us, and this excerpt is just a tip of the iceberg of Meredith’s many happy moments with a loving family.

The family loved the coast and Meredith did, too. “And as we were only a short drive from Brighton it was a place we visited regularly. Sometimes we had a picnic on the beach but at other times we would go to a restaurant that specialised in fish ‘n’ chips. Then there were the Lanes, a maze of narrow streets like a kasbah, filled with cafes, bistros and antiques shops. She was always fascinated by this place, and I often picture her there.”

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

To help the hard-pressed family there is a link to the Meredith Fund in our left column

Posted on 09/14/13 at 10:17 PM by HopefulClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Barbie Nadeau Interviews Meredith’s Mother On Her Continuing Hope For The Full Truth

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





From Barbie Nadeau’s interview with Arline by phone in the Daily Beast.

“It is always distressing to hear and read about the murder,” Arline told me by phone from England, where she lives. “We have to brace ourselves for another round of this nightmare.”

And yet, while at some level she is dreading the revival of the spectacle surrounding the case, she is also glad the pursuit of the truth is continuing. “We want justice for Meredith,” she told me. “We don’t want anyone who is innocent to go to jail, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that seem to have been ignored in the last trial.”

Arline is invariably stoic, patient, and nice. But the outcome of the annulled appeal in 2011 which we now know was bent was a tremendous shock.

[After the 2009 trial Arline] Kercher went back to London to begin that painful journey. But that process was disrupted when Knox and Sollecito’s convictions were overturned on October 3, 2011. Kercher was back in the courtroom again that night. When the not-guilty verdicts were read, tears streamed down her face.

Now Kercher will have to wait once more. There will be at least two more verdicts before the nightmare is over—one by a new appellate court, which will reconsider the case, and another by Italy’s high court, which must sign off on the appellate court decision, or send it back to trial once again. As the next chapter of the case unfolds, she will have to relive the media show that tends to focus on Knox as the main character and her daughter as a bit player. She will again hear the gruesome details of her daughter’s horrible death. She doesn’t know how she will handle another cycle of trials, or if she will attend the next one.

The unfeeling Judge Hellmann spread the anulled appeal over a full year in 2011 with sessions only about every second Saturday to suit defense lawyer Giulia Bongiorno and her baby.

He did not give a second thought to the immense travel and cost difficulties of the Kerchers.  The new appeal could and should fit in a space of two weeks. Chief decider once Cassation sets the ground rules (due in writing any time in the next few weeks) will be Fabio Massimo Drago.

Dr Drago (at center below) is Tuscany’s chief judge.


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Monday, March 25, 2013

After Bizarre Hellmann Outcome Hard Questions That Meredith’s Family Now Face

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Stepahnie Kercher at end of first appeal in late 2011 with Meredith’s second brother Lyle]


Judge Massei came out with a clear scenario for Meredith’s death after trial in 2009.

Judge Hellmann attempted to pick it apart but left no sensible scenario in its place. That is the toughest and legally most crucial argument of today’s prosecution appeal: that the 2011 appeal judges attempted to run a whole new trial - but essentially only listened to the defense.

In this context as Tom Kington reports the Kercher family lawyer in Perugia Dr Francesco Maresca has made this series of comments:

Francesco Maresca, a lawyer representing the Kerchers, claimed the acquittals of Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito were “defective” and “lacked transparency”, adding he was pushing for a retrial.

The appeal court rejected key evidence against Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito after ordering new expert analysis of traces of DNA found on a knife belonging to Mr Sollecito, and on Miss Kercher’s bra strap.

“There are many parts of the judge’s ruling that are defective,” said Mr Maresca. “For example, why did they only review those two bits of evidence? What about the blood in Miss Kercher’s bathroom and traces in the rest of the house?”

Mr Maresca also suggested the appeal court judge had buckled under pressure from supporters of Miss Knox in the US.

“There was a lot of external pressure and the judge showed a will from the start to acquit,” he said.

Dr Maresca also passes on a statement from Meredith’s sister Stephanie:

“We all still miss Meredith terribly… Unfortunately nothing will bring her back.”  Miss Kercher said her family continued to receive support from around the world and had set up a Meredith Kercher Fund to help pay their legal fees, adding the fund could be turned into a charity foundation when the case concludes in Italy.

“A beautiful young girl, my little sister, was taken from us far too soon in such a brutal way with too many unexplained factors,” she said.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Touched Me In John Kercher’s Excellent And Very Moving Book “Meredith”

Posted by Cardiol MD




Meredith

Our daughter’s murder and the heartbreaking quest for the truth

[Kindle Edition] John Kercher (Author)

Meredith Kercher was tragically murdered in November 2007, in Perugia, Italy. Since then, her murder and the subsequent trial have been a source of constant intrigue and media speculation all around the world, with the spotlight famously focusing on the accused, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Now, Meredith’s father John speaks out for the first time and tells the world about the beautiful daughter he and his family so tragically lost.

This book is a celebration of Meredith’s life. It is also a father’s story of losing a beloved daughter, and the first account of the torment the family have suffered and their ongoing quest for justice.

About the Author:  John Kercher has been a full time professional writer and journalist for more than thirty years, during which time he has published several thousand articles and interviews for the British and overseas newspaper and magazine markets. He is the author of The Film Biography of Warren Beatty and has written 24 children’s annuals and edited several magazines. He holds a BSc degree in Sociology from London University and lives in Surrey.



Look at that subtitle!  John Kercher is a wordsmith paterfamilias thrust into marshaling words to convey feelings – emotions – thoughts – experiences for which there are no adequate words.

A subtext, which Mr.Kercher addresses only briefly, is the opposing army recruited to marshal words of obfuscation, using bias, distortion, innuendo, deceit, imagined reasons-to-doubt, sheer-blind-ignorance, and outright lies to protect the obviously guilty from the foreseeable consequences of their criminal recklessness.

Key points that Mr. Kercher does address in detail are quoted below, using his balanced, descriptive, objective, fact-based, evidence-based, non-argumentative words.  To me his book is the very model of what such a family should convey in its heartbreaking quest for the truth. 

I have selected to highlight below the parts which to me were most moving. Others may choose differently and I hope they will, in the comments and their own reviews.

I have referenced the quotes by their Kindle-Location-Numbers, but the Chapter-Sources should be the same as those of a Print-Version:

1.    Learning that “It was the DNA found on and in Meredith’s body that convinced Italian police of Guede’s complicity in her killing. However, Guede’s lawyer at the time, Vittorio Lombardo, was quoted as saying: ‘We know about the DNA, … But it does not mean that he is the killer.’  (Chapter 4 The Investigation: Kindle Location 1468-1469)

The author is establishing his tone of objectivity.

2.    Learning at Guede’s fast-track trial under Judge Micheli’ (which included a “pre-trial” of Knox & Sollecito), what a crucial part Meredith’s, Amanda Knox’s, Sollecito’s, and Guede’s DNA, and Footprints, played in the evidence surrounding Meredith’s murder. (Chapter 6 Suspects: Kindle Locations 1816-1834)

The author shows that his thinking is fact-based, in spite of the emotional-price.

3.    Learning the evidence presented to Judge Micheli of the staged break-in of Filomena Romanelli’s room, where Meredith’s blood was found to have been cleaned-up. (Chapter 6 Suspects: Kindle Locations 1834-1846)

Evidence-based, too.

4.    Being told of Judge Micheli’s receipt during Guede’s fast-track trial, of 10,000 pages of evidence, including the finding of Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp. (Chapter 6 Suspects: Kindle Locations 1959-1982)

The author reminds the reader of the enormous amount of information-in-evidence available to the Court, but apparently not available outside the Court.

5.    Hearing Judge Micheli’s announcement in Italian (which the family had to have painfully translated for them) ruling that Guede was “guilty of complicity in Meredith’s murder,” and that Knox and Sollecito would stand trial on charges of Meredith’s murder and sexual violation. (Chapter 6 Suspects: Kindle Locations 2009-2015)

The author reminds the reader of the foreign-language dimension of the family’s ordeal; note the carefully-quoted phrase “guilty of complicity”.

6.    Not attending the Perugia Trial of Knox & Sollecito, before a jury including Judge Massei, beginning in early 2009, because of its projected length, in the Italian language, which they would not completely understand, and would be too distressed-by if they could completely understand.  (Chapter 7 The Trial: Kindle Locations 2137-2148)

A reeinforcing reminder to the reader of the foreign-language, distant country dimensions of the familys’ plights.

7.    Learning indirectly of the overwhelming evidence against Knox & Sollecito introduced at their trial, including only, but also both, Meredith’s and Knox’s DNA on the alleged murder-knife. This cumulative evidence rested ‘not only on the DNA evidence and the alleged break-in, but also on the conflicting alibis of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, which had changed on several occasions.’ (Chapter 7 The Trial: Kindle Locations 2149-2647)

Note the persistent use of “alleged”, “conflicting”, and “changed”. If both Amanda’s blood, and Meredith’s blood were found on the knife, but only their blood, the Author leaves it to the imagination of the reader the shock to come when Hellmann announces his imagined-reasons-to-doubt.

8.    Testifying at the trial: Asked whether Meredith would have fought-back against her attackers Stephanie said: ‘Absolutely. One hundred and ten per cent. Mez had a strong personality and, physically, she was very strong…She fought for her place here and she would have fought to the end.’  (Chapter 7 The Trial: Kindle Locations 2525-2550)

John Kercher wrote that, in response to a question he was asked about Meredith:  ‘I also mentioned that when she was seventeen years old she had trained in karate for a year, obtaining her third belt and that if attacked she would definitely have fought back’, and,

‘They asked me about whether she and Amanda had got on well, and I told the court that Meredith had often complained about Amanda Knox’s hygiene habits. At this point I looked towards Amanda, but once more there was no eye contact between us.’

The author quotes Stephanie’s testimony literally, but paraphrases his own with neutral words such as “mentioned”, and “told”. “often” is an understandable stretch, staircase-wit would substitute “repeatedly”, and “there was no eye contact” is powerfully descriptive.

9.    Not understanding the Verdict and Sentence when Judge Massei delivered his pronouncement “in an Italian I could not understand” but seeing the reactions of Sollecito, Knox, and her parents’ look of disbelief. (Chapter 8 The Verdict: Kindle Locations 2801-2805)

Still descriptive, and very powerful!

10.  Understanding from the interpreter sent by the British Embassy in Rome that the Massei Court had found Knox & Sollecito guilty of murdering their beloved Meredith and sentenced them to prison. (Chapter 8 The Verdict: Kindle Locations 2805-2810)

The author reminds reader how constantly the familys’ awarenesses are at second-hand.

11.  Reaching times for relief (KL 1731), exhaustion (KL 2831), for closure (KL 3728), and even for satisfaction, but not for elation (KL 2815), triumph or celebration(KL 2853).

Such balance!

12.  Reactions to the FOAK campaign from Seattle, the MSM one-sidedness, distortions and blind ignorance; the minor-celebrity status accorded-to Knox; internal family matters.  (Chapter 9 The Appeal: Kindle Locations 2946-3166)

Eminently-reasonable human-reactions.

13. Positive reaction-to, and understanding-of, Massei Report.  (Chapter 9 The Appeal: Kindle Locations 3167-3300)

Factual.

14.  Following from England the Appeal Proceedings before Judges Hellmann, Zanetti, and a 6-person jury. (Chapters 9&10: Kindle Locations 2946-3563)

Reminder of Family’s arms-length status.

15.  Reacting to Hellmann’s pronouncement that Knox & Sollecito were innocent, acquitted of Meredith’s murder, and walked free. (Chapter 10 Our Hope for Justice: Kindle Locations 3567-3573):

“I found the assertion that there had not been a simulated break-in astounding…”

16. (Chapter 10 Our Hope for Justice: Kindle Location 3632)

Human reaction.

17. “ Ever since the terrible day we learned of her death, my family and I have been convinced that more than one person had to have been present to overpower her.”  (Chapter 10 Our Hope for Justice: Kindle Location 3646)

Reminds the reader the family were convinced of this from the very beginning.

“For Judge Hellmann to refer to Knox and Sollecito as ‘two good youngsters’ sounds more like a defence summing-up, I thought ‘two youngsters’ would have been sufficient. (Chapter 10 Our Hope for Justice: Kindle Location 3656)

Judge Hellman completely forgot about the real victim.

Posted on 05/16/12 at 10:01 AM by Cardiol MDClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Good Review Of “Meredith” By Ryan Parry In Today’s Edition Of The UK Mirror

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





Click the image above for Ryan Parry’s full review. Excerpts here:

1. On Not Ever Wanting To Let Go

When heartbroken John Kercher wakes, he is greeted by a framed photo of his beloved daughter Meredith.

“It’s my favourite picture of Mez,” John says. “She has such a beautiful smile. It’s the first thing I see when I get up every day.”

The photo was taken a year before Meredith left for university in the Italian city of Perugia.

“When I see the photo it makes me smile, but also sad,” says John.

“I always think, why did it happen? Here’s this beautiful young woman – and I’m not just talking about looks – why would anyone want to kill her?”

2. On Why John Felt He Had To Write The Book

A book that John has written about Meredith was published on Thursday.

It details the painful court hearings but the main focus is the daughter he misses desperately.

“People have forgotten that a young girl has died,” he says.

Leeds University student Meredith – who was in Italy on an exchange programme – sparkles into life in the book.

John recalls the tiny baby who weighed just 4lbs 12oz. “I could practically hold her in one hand,” he says.

The dad adds: “People ask me, why when I talk about Meredith I always smile. It’s because she was always so witty and laughing.”

3.. And On The Highly Controversial Interim Appeal Verdict

“We’re still trying to make sense of it. It’s not as if someone broke in and killed her, there was no robbery or real motive,” John says.

He does not believe Guede acted alone. “Meredith had 47 bruises. Two knives were meant to have been used. Meredith did karate, for goodness’ sake.”

He adds: “We would never want innocent people put in prison.

“But when you’re presented with that whole body of evidence, by forensic investigators, and it is just overturned without question, it is very hard.”

The Supreme Court in Italy is now examining whether it was right to acquit Knox and Sollecito, with a decision not expected until the autumn.

Posted on 04/28/12 at 06:51 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Review Of “Meredith” By Barbie Nadeau In Tina Brown’s Influential “Daily Beast”

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click the image above for Barbie Nadeau’s full review. Excerpts here:

John Kercher writes in an easy, somewhat apologetic first-person voice, tucking in details about why Meredith chose to study in Perugia and how during a class trip in high school she decided she would one day live in Italy, a country she fell in love with as a young child when the Kerchers vacationed there.

He gives new details about Meredith that the press who followed the case never uncovered, including how Meredith’s former boyfriend Lloyd proposed to her in a Japanese restaurant shortly before she left for Perugia. She declined, but kept the ring for a few days before giving it back.

He also pays homage to each of Meredith’s close friends, both those from her hometown and those in Perugia, and describes in painful detail what it was like to read the cards on the flowers left in tribute both in Italy and England after her death.

But Meredith is more than memoriam; it is also a valuable textbook on the details of the criminal trial. Considering that he is writing about the murder trial of his daughter, Kercher manages to be surprisingly dispassionate when it comes to the evidentiary facts of the case….

In one of the book’s most heart-wrenching scenes, he describes the surreal night Knox and Sollecito were convicted of the murder and how the courtroom was silent when the judge read the guilty verdict. “I looked towards Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollectio: gone was the confidence and smile that Knox had displayed throughout the pretrial and trial.

Then, as the judge delivered his pronouncement, in an Italian I could not understand, I watched her collapsing forward. I saw her parents’ look of disbelief.”

Kercher also walks the reader through what their family considered the even more painful and confusing events that followed the guilty verdict, and how the American press and some British outlets embraced Knox’s claims of innocence during the appeal, sacrificing Meredith’s memory in the process.

Meredith’s name, he points out, was frequently left out of news stories, which became more and more focused on Knox during the appellate process. For the Kercher family, which had just begun their closure with the guilty verdicts, the process of retrying the case and reliving those painful details of their daughter’s murder all over again in the appeal was almost too much to bear.

Posted on 04/27/12 at 01:04 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Excerpts From Lucy Bannerman’s Interview With Meredith’s Father In Today’s UK Times

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





1. On First Impressions

I had never cried during an interview, until I met John Kercher. He presses a polite kiss to the cheek when we meet, smiling as he shakes my hand, before quickly apologising for wincing in pain.

His back has been giving him trouble — he thinks he might have put it out when he sneezed. Still, his manner is warm and engaging and, despite having suffered a stroke three years ago, there is only a slight hint of unsteadiness as we pick a table and order some drinks in the bland lounge of a Croydon hotel.


2. On Rudy Guede Plus… Who?

Rudy Guede, the Ivorian drifter who is the only one who admits being at the scene, and whose murder conviction still stands, is in jail, having had his sentence reduced to only 16 years in a fast-track trial.

Today, Mr Kercher refuses to believe that Guede was the sole killer.

“One person could not have done it.” Of that much, he is certain. “She had 47 bruises. Two different knives were meant to have been used. Meredith did karate, for goodness’ sake.”

Remove Knox and Sollecito, and the only theory left is that Guede was helped by other, as-yet-unknown, accomplices. Which leaves Mr Kercher with even more questions.

“Then why is there not evidence of these other people?” he asks.

The past six months have passed in limbo. He has used the time to write a book that is, in one sense, his attempt to lay out the vast and tangled body of evidence, detailed in 10,000 pages in the original trial, which was overturned by an appeal judge last October.

“As we have always said, we would never want innocent people put in prison. But when you’re presented with that whole body of evidence, by forensic investigators, and it is just overturned, without question — without question — it is very difficult.”


3.. On Why John Was Inspired To Write

Ultimately the book is a heartbroken father’s tribute to his daughter. She sparkles through the pages, thanks to anecdotes from friends and family, first loves and flatmates; from the teachers who taught her and even the boy who once proposed. It is instantly clear, and not at all surprising, that Meredith was never short of admirers.

Her father was encouraged to write the book, not just by those who loved the 21-year-old student, but also by strangers.

“I looked on the internet and saw there were so many people saying, ‘We love her smile, she seemed like such a beautiful person, but we don’t really know anything about her’.

“So, I wanted to give people a flavour of what she was like, of her witty one-liners, her kindness.”

He remembers the baby girl who, though not premature, was born at just 4lbs 12oz — “she was so small I could practically hold her in one hand” — and the teenager with appalling time-keeping.

He talks fondly of the London bus tour guide, whose tours would always end with a top deck of applause, and the girl who first fell in love with Italy on a school exchange.

“Her teacher told me how, at the end of the exchange, all the other girls were crying on the coach as they said goodbye, except Meredith, who had a big smile on her face. She said she wasn’t upset, because she knew she was going to come back and live here.”


4. On The Hellman Court Not Examing All Evidence

A lack of motive and unreliable forensic evidence led to Knox and Sollecito being cleared by a jury. Much of the case centred on disputed DNA evidence on a kitchen knife and a clasp from Meredith’s bloodied bra.

“That DNA evidence was rejected, but what about all the rest of it?” asks Mr Kercher, for whom so many questions remain unanswered.

“Knox and Sollecito changed their alibi, I think, nine times.”

He does not agree that someone broke into the cottage, as the defence claimed. He believes it was staged. “How could one judge turn around and say the break-in wasn’t staged, when another judge spent eight pages in his original report explaining that it was?

“It doesn’t make sense.”

What does he think happened?

“No idea,” he replies, flatly.

Does he believe Amanda Knox killed Meredith?

He sighs. “Look into my eyes.”

They are full of tears.

“Guess. I don’t want to be vindictive. All I know is that there’s no other evidence of any other people being in that flat at that time.”


5. On Those Profiteering From Meredith’s Death

One thing he makes plain: the Kerchers have never profited from their daughter’s murder. He is disgusted by those who have.

They have turned down countless lucrative media offers.

Any proceeds from the book will go to a foundation they are setting up in Meredith’s name. They are considering whether it might support bereaved relatives who find themselves, like they did, embroiled in financially draining legal procedures overseas.


6. On How Family Life Carries On

He split from Meredith’s mother, Arline, ten years before the murder, and lives on his own in a flat five miles from the former family home. Kidney problems mean that Arline must rely on dialysis three times a week. She and John are on amicable terms.

Meredith’s eldest brother, also John, works in electronics, and is father to his own family. Her other brother, Lyle, works in advertising, while Stephanie, the beautiful sister she so closely resembles, has a career in marketing.

He is not a religious man, Kercher says. But over the past few years he has taken great comfort in what he calls “the white feather phenomenon”.

“I had never heard of it before. But it’s meant to represent the deceased person. It first happened when Stephanie and I were sitting in the garden one summer, and an absolutely white feather landed between us. I looked up. There was not a bird in the sky.”

It happened again after meeting up with a friend of Meredith’s while he was collecting anecdotes for the book.

“We were just saying goodbye in South Kensington when a white feather floated down and landed on her hand. It was really weird. It was so perfect. I actually waited another 10, 12 minutes, after the girl had gone, looking up at the sky.” He laughs at himself for being so superstitious.

“I often look at photographs and say to her, ‘send me a white feather’.”


7. On John’s Continuing Journalist Career

Mr Kercher still works as a freelance journalist. Despite all the heartache, he remains good company, apparently enjoying talking about life as a journalist, sharing anecdotes about the famous people he has interviewed and the book of quotations he has compiled.

“Do you ever get lonely?” he asks, suddenly. The question seems to hang uncomfortably for a moment, before we move on to happier topics, such as the nine times that he ran the London Marathon, his love of jazz and the 70th birthday he will be celebrating later this year.

As the interview draws to a close, he says he has no plans for the rest of the day but to keep writing. “You work to occupy the mind.

“You just carry on. You can’t do anything. You have no influence over events. It’s very difficult.”

Posted on 04/26/12 at 01:39 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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John Kerchers Book “Meredith” Is Published In London; US + Italian Publishers Eager To Follow

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Above: Meredith’s birthplace. Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames. She very much reflected this spirit.

John Kercher’s book is available from today in the UK and on Amazon Kindle via the links at the top of the page here. We will be posting some excerpts and reviews. We would welcome submissions from anyone waiting for a good opportunity to to do their part. We are all volunteers here.

First glance at the Kindle version suggests this fine book was highly worth the wait and it will become definitive. A huge presence. It shows what a rising star of a woman was cut down, the victim of an arrogant cruel deed by people not even half of her stature.

Posted on 04/26/12 at 12:28 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

In Daily Mail, John Kercher Explains The Context of His Book “Meredith” Available From Next Friday

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This article below from the Daily Mail is only John Kercher’s fourth in over four years. His others are reposted in this series here.

In light of one of David Marriott’s negative campaigns already begun, it seems useful for us to frame it here.

In the UK, Meredith’s family have very rarely granted any interviews, and then only to book-writers they felt could be fair. In Italy, they have spoken up only in conjunction with key court milestones, and in one interview with John and Arline on national TV.

They have discouraged others who knew Meredith from speaking up because they felt Italian justice would unaided produce an outcome that was universally seen to be legitimate and fair, and an eventual book remembering the Meredith they knew would be their last word.

This book was not exactly rushed out for tactical reasons, as some of the misled media have implied.

The book was one of two John Kercher wrote three years ago, and he resisted book-agent and publisher requests to make much or most of the book on Meredith about the events in Perugia.

Even now, there is little mention of those events. The book is about what the title says it is about - about the high-achieving daughter and sister that was Meredith - and it is said to be superb.

Meredith’s family welcomed the trial verdict from Judge Massei in December 2009 and commiserated with the families of those found guilty.

They then experienced the periodic harsh quirkiness of the Italian system in seeing cursorily overturned late in 2011 what had seemed to just about every competent lawyer a legally extremely sound result back in late 2009.

Italy is perhaps the only country in the world that automatically makes available two appeal levels, the first of which can involve another jury.

Those second juries too often seem anxious to flaunt their chops, and many in Italy want them abolished. Often strikingly unfamiliar with the details of the evidence and most of the key witnesses, they too often advance a body of tortured reasoning as to why the first jury got it so wrong.

The Italian Supreme Court is known to greatly dislike this “jury wars” tendency, and for the illegal assuming of excessive scope (the scope of appeals is set out in Italian judicial code) a long series of appeal verdicts have been partially or fully thrown out and the cases referred back down to the lower court.

The formidable chief prosecutor for Umbria, Dr Galati, was previously a highly effective deputy chief prosecutor with the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.

His criminal-case experience is almost the exact opposite of Judge Hellman’s. While Judge Hellman is one of the least experienced in criminal cases (his normal beat is business and civil law) Dr Galati is one of the most experienced. He really does know how to do effective Supreme Court appeals, in sharp contrast to the present Sollecito-Mellas-Knox teams.

Dr Galati has filed a prosecution appeal with that same Supreme Court (translation due here soon) which targeted various ways in which he considers the first-appeal court to have got the evidence and the witnesses seriously wrong. Even more formidably:

  • He specifically appeals against what he considers the illegal very broad scope adopted by Judge Hellman against judicial code on the precise lines the Supreme Court doesn’t like.

  • And he specifically appeals against what he considers to be the illegal appointment by Judge Hellman of Conti and Vecchiotti as independent consultants at the first appeal stage.

If such a review was really needed, he reasons, the place for it was at trial - where the defenses, by then very seriously floundering, asked for it only very late in 2009. But they had already had months of opportunity to bring in even more DNA experts of their own - having already failed to show up to observe any of the key forensic tests in the police labs.

Dr Galati will probably like John Kerchers book on Meredith as much as anyone if and when he ever gets to read it. But in this coming third phase there has almost never been any sign that the Italian police, prosecution and judiciary here are doing anything except what the law requires and meeting their usual impressive norm.

Since the Hellman verdict, there’s been much more tracking of the squalid and offensive Knox PR campaign in Perugia and Rome. The idea being falaciously put around in the US and UK, that John Kercher or the family lawyer Francesco Maresca are somehow driving the bus, is considered by Italian lawyers to be ludicrous, and offensive to the Italian courts and Dr Galati in the extreme.

Meredith and her family are very greatly liked and admired in Italy - and it is because of an ABSENCE of manipulation and PR that the legal system is going the extra mile.

On “Meredith” by John Kercher in the Daily Mail. 

My daughter Meredith, aged 21, was murdered on November 1, 2007 in her bedroom in Perugia, Italy, where she was studying at the city’s University For Foreigners.

In the days that followed, one of her housemates, an American girl named Amanda Knox, a young Italian man named Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede, a Perugia resident originally from the Ivory Coast, were arrested on suspicion of her murder.

While Guede remains imprisoned for taking my daughter’s life, last October Knox and Sollecito had their convictions quashed on appeal.

My family and I now find ourselves in a limbo that, I suspect, might never end, wondering exactly what happened in those last moments of Meredith’s life, and how convictions that seemed to offer all the terrible answers two years ago have been so emphatically overturned.

With Knox and Sollecito now free, we find that we are still waiting for justice for our daughter and sister, and have to face up to the possibility that we might never have a satisfactory picture of what unfolded in Perugia on that terrible November night.

Despite everything that has happened since, it still seems as though nobody knows anything about the real Meredith.

The media’s glare throughout the trial and appeal process has been fixed almost entirely on Amanda Knox. Books have been written about her and there has even been a television film focusing on her. It has seemed as if Meredith has been all but forgotten.

In writing this book, I hope to go some way towards redressing the balance, for Meredith was a beautiful, intelligent and caring girl whom everyone loved, and her story deserves to be told.

My hope is that I can share with the world something of the wonderful girl who was our daughter and sister. I hope our telling the world about the enchanting, generous, kind person that Meredith was can help those whose lives she touched.

I also hope this book might help to keep Meredith’s case in the spotlight, and, in some small way, to keep alive the hope that we might yet know the truth about her death.

November 1, 2007, and I am in my local bank in Croydon, South London, when Meredith telephones from Perugia. It is 2.15pm, an unusual time for Meredith to call as we usually speak in the evenings.

But today she does not have to go to university, where she is studying European politics and Italian, as it is a public holiday in Italy.

The call is costing her money, so we don’t have a chance to say much.

I tell her I’ll call her when I get home, but she is going out for dinner with some English friends, so instead we arrange to speak tomorrow.

The next day comes and I find myself at home when Meredith’s mother, Arline, rings. It is 5pm and she has seen on the news that a female British student has been found murdered in Perugia.

I have been divorced from Arline for ten years, and she is living in Old Coulsdon, Surrey. I am worried, but I tell myself that there are many British students studying in Perugia.

Immediately, I call Meredith but all I hear is an automated message. For the next half-an-hour I try her number at least a dozen times, but every time the call goes through to the message.

Then suddenly, after what feels like an age of trying, her mobile starts to ring. I feel some relief and, for the first time, I am confident that my daughter is fine.

Yet, the phone rings on and on, and still there is no answer.

I have to get some information, so I call the foreign desk of a national newspaper. Having worked as a freelance journalist for Fleet Street newspapers and national magazines, it seems the logical thing to do. A man tells me that they have only sketchy details, but if I call back in an hour they might know more.

When I do, I am told by one of the foreign desk editors that Italian police have found the British girl’s mobile phone, and that they have been in touch with people in London.

Again, my hopes rise because this must mean that, whoever this unfortunate girl is, her family and the British police must have been notified.

I have not yet contacted our other children – Meredith’s older sister Stephanie, and brothers Lyle and John – because I do not want to worry them unduly.

For the next 30 minutes I sit by the phone, trying not to feel so apprehensive. Then the phone rings.

The call is from a young woman on the newspaper’s foreign desk. Hesitantly, she tells me they have a name for the victim. Though I ask for it, she is reluctant to tell me. She seems nervous herself and I have to persuade her to release the name. I shall never forget her words.

‘The name going round Italy,’ she says, ‘is Meredith.’

I drop the phone. I do not believe it. There has to be a mistake. I refuse to let the facts sink in.

I repeat it over and over to myself: ‘Not beautiful Meredith . . . Not beautiful Meredith . . .’

Numb with shock, I cannot even cry.

I arrive at Arline’s house within an hour. Stephanie, John and Lyle are there already. By now Arline has spoken to the Foreign Office. Officials have confirmed the worst. The dead girl is Meredith.

Everyone is crying. At 9pm, my daughter’s picture is on the news. I stare at it, registering its familiarity but unable to react.

It is as though my feelings have been folded up and removed from me, leaving my mind free to have pointlessly logical thoughts. I can’t say how I passed the night, except I don’t think I slept.

Nothing can prepare you for what it is like to have to travel to a foreign country to identify the body of your daughter. Meredith had told me how beautiful Perugia was.

Now, a little more than two months since she had first moved to the city, we were approaching it for the first time, and she was never coming home.

We met the Italian police at a roundabout, and they gave us an escort to the morgue. They did not speak English but consulate staff acted as our translators.

As we climbed up the steep roads, however, our talk petered out and we all felt the incongruity of the beautiful scenery and our purpose for being there.

There was a large number of officials inside the morgue, including the Chief of Police and the head of the homicide squad. Many of them were close to tears.

It was time to see my daughter. But I could not face going in. The brutal reality of having to see what had been done to Meredith had not really hit home. A small man from the mortuary approached Arline and Stephanie and, leaving me behind, they went through the doors. I could go no further.

For me, it would have put a full stop to my memories. I had seen her only a couple of weeks before when she had flown back to London to buy some winter clothes.

We had met for a coffee at a small Italian restaurant in Croydon, a place where we met often.

We would talk about books and music; the Italian film she had been to see to improve her language; the occasional dance she had been to with her new English friends and the wonderful pizzas she was eating.

On this occasion, Meredith was almost an hour late (this wasn’t unusual).

When she arrived, she talked eagerly about Perugia.

She said she was trying to buy a duvet for her bed, but nobody seemed to know where she could find one. I remember her saying she was determined to track one down. That this should be the duvet beneath which her body would be found is something that will always haunt me.

She had been laughing and was happy. It was the last time I had seen her and I wanted that to be the memory that I held in my mind for ever.

In the morgue, standing over her body, Arline had said: ‘Your father’s come all this way out here to see you, but doesn’t feel he can.’

Then she had smiled, for the last time, at our daughter.

‘But,’ she had whispered, ‘you know what your father’s like . . . 



Caption: Water babies: Meredith, left, aged ten, and her older sister Stephanie enjoying a day at the beach

The news that Amanda Knox was being held for the murder sent shockwaves through our family.

Arline could not comprehend that Meredith’s own housemate might have been involved in this terrible crime.

‘Amanda? Amanda?’ she kept repeating, in a state of utter disbelief.

We knew Meredith had not got on with Knox. Meredith had expressed irritation to us and to her friends in Perugia at Knox’s personal habits, because she frequently failed to flush the lavatory and Meredith had concerns over how Knox would ‘bring strange men back to the house’, but the idea that this irritation could lead to murder seemed preposterous.

We knew so little of the American girl and absolutely nothing of her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, whom Meredith had never mentioned.

The alibis of Knox and Sollecito kept changing.

At first, Knox claimed to have been at Sollecito’s flat all evening on the night of the murder.

Then Sollecito claimed that she had left his place at about 9pm and had not returned until 1am, during which time he had been on the internet.

Knox then changed her story to say that she had been at the cottage at the time that Meredith was killed.

It was during these first days of questioning that Knox claimed that Diya ‘Patrick’ Lumumba, the owner of a local bar called Le Chic, was the murderer.

Lumumba, of Congolese origin, had been living legally in Italy since 1988, running the bar where Knox had a part-time job.

Back in England, this was the first big piece of news we had heard. Pictures of Lumumba were shown on television, but I spoke to Arline on the telephone and neither of us could believe that we were looking at the killer.

Two weeks later, the chief prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, asked for Lumumba’s release, saying: ‘There are no longer any serious indications linking him to the crime.’

Lumumba was later quoted as saying: ‘I think that Amanda wanted to derail the investigation…

‘Amanda hated Meredith because people loved her more than Amanda. She was insanely jealous that Meredith was taking over her position as Queen Bee.’

Things became even more distressing. Although we knew Meredith had been killed by a knife wound to her throat, we had not realised it had been preceded by a sexual assault.

The post-mortem had revealed bruising on her lips and gums consistent with her face being crushed on the ground to hold her still. How could anyone do this to her, we asked ourselves? Why had she been singled out for this kind of treatment?

We tried to get our bearings by finding out more about Amanda Knox. I read that she was aged 20 and had been born in Seattle, the daughter of a retail executive and a primary-school teacher.

After only a few years, her parents divorced and Amanda went to Seattle Preparatory School, described as a strict Jesuit institution. Later, she attended Washington University.

Raffaele Sollecito remained a somewhat quiet, bespectacled figure. At the time of his arrest, he was aged 23. The son of a prominent urologist from Giovinazzo in southern Italy, he had led a privileged life. He described himself on a social networking site as being ‘sweet, but sometimes absolutely crazy’.

Sollecito appeared in pictures posted on the internet wielding a meat cleaver. It emerged that he was passionate about collecting knives.

After the murder, police searched his flat and discovered a collection of Japanese manga comics, some of which depicted acts of extreme violence.

One which attracted particular attention was concerned with the killing of female vampires at Halloween. It was not lost on police that Meredith had been dressed as a vampire to celebrate Halloween only one night before she was murdered.

Police later went on to say that the scene they discovered at the cottage was reminiscent of the scenes depicted in Sollecito’s comics.

A short while before Patrick Lumumba was released, the investigation took another decisive turn.

The police identified a bloodied fingerprint on Meredith’s pillow that belonged to one Rudy Hermann Guede, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast who had already been arrested for petty theft and drug dealing.

DNA taken from his toothbrush matched DNA found on and inside Meredith’s body.

This seemed to tie Guede to the scene of Meredith’s murder. Witnesses had already described a man of African origin fleeing the cottage on the night of the murder, later to be seen washing clothes in a launderette.

Guede had arrived in Italy from the Ivory Coast in 1992, aged five, with his father. When Guede was 15 his father had returned to Africa.

Extradited from Germany where he had been lying low, Guede was now concerned that Knox and Sollecito might attempt to pin the blame solely on him, so his defence team requested that he be tried on his own by a single presiding judge.

This ‘fast-track trial’ would take place during pre-trial hearings.

The request was granted. Armed with 10,000 pages of documentation, the judge, Paulo Micheli, heard evidence from forensics experts regarding the various DNA findings, Sollecito’s DNA having been discovered on Meredith’s bra clasp, and a bloodied footprint having been revealed as belonging to the young Italian man.

There was also the presentation of evidence that Knox’s bloodied footprints had been found in the cottage’s hallway and bathroom; that her DNA had been found in blood mixed with Meredith’s in the bathroom; and that her DNA had been shown to be on a knife handle, with Meredith’s on the blade – a knife that police had found at Sollecito’s apartment and which, the prosecution claimed, had been removed from the scene of the crime.

Judge Micheli also heard Knox’s and Sollecito’s defence teams attempting to refute much of the evidence, specifically the DNA evidence, which they blamed on contamination and poor forensics procedures.

This was to be a major contention in this pre-trial, the main trial and, later, the first appeal.

Regrettably, a key piece of evidence – the bra clasp – was not retrieved from the crime scene until 47 days after the murder because it had been hidden from view.

On October 28, 2008, Arline, Stephanie, Lyle and I returned to Perugia to hear the verdict on Guede.

After a nerve-racking wait, we were called to the court at 9pm. Photographers jostled at the entrance and we were guided in, individually, by police escorts.

I felt almost light-headed with lack of sleep; looking at Arline, Stephanie and Lyle, I saw the same strain on their faces. There was a tense silence.

Amanda Knox sat with her lawyers, as did Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede with theirs. They had been brought in under armed guard. Judge Micheli entered and everyone rose to their feet.

The chief of homicide, Monica Napoleoni, stood at my side, ready to convey the verdict.

As the judge began his statement, Ms Napoleoni looked at me, squeezing my hand, then concentrated on what the judge was saying. It was in Italian, so we had no idea what was being said.

The judge had been deliberating for 12 hours about his decision. This was the moment.

Suddenly, Ms Napoleoni turned to look at me and squeezed my hand again, nodding emphatically.

Rudy Guede had been found guilty of complicity in Meredith’s murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Knox and Sollecito had been indicted on charges of murder and sexual violence and would stand trial.

I did not know what to feel. It was certainly not relief because I knew that this was only the beginning.

After this, we would have to go through the main trial. I can only say that we were not elated – but we were satisfied that justice was progressing in the right direction.

It was not a moment any of us could relish. In our hearts, all we wanted to know was what had happened to Meredith and why she had to be taken so cruelly away.

As her sister Stephanie said at Meredith’s memorial service: ‘Anyone who was fortunate enough to have known her would testify that she was one of the most caring people you could ever meet.

‘Nothing was too much for her. She was a loyal daughter, sister and friend.’

It is not only our family and her friends who have lost her. So has the world.

I Will Always Love You, she sang in her haunting voice

During those days following Meredith’s death, I would immerse myself in photographs and lose myself in memories of her jokes, her wicked one-liners and her laughter.

Then recently while cleaning my home, I came across a shoebox containing roll after roll of undeveloped film. They have since been developed and I have seen that wonderful smile once again. In one picture I particularly love, Meredith is opening her Christmas presents by the fireplace.

On Christmas Eve I would pull some ash into the fireplace and draw small footprints to show that Father Christmas’s boots had landed there.

Meredith was due on December 25, 1985. But, as was to be the pattern of her life, she was late, and it was on December 28 that Arline was taken to Guy’s Hospital in London.

I set out in the car with John, Lyle and Stephanie to drive the 18 miles to the hospital. The weather was freezing and after about ten minutes, there was a rattling sound coming from under the car bonnet. I discovered the water in the radiator had turned to ice. We abandoned the car and dashed to the nearest station, Purley, to continue our journey by train.

I like to think that it was because of the season she was born in that Meredith loved winter, especially when it snowed and she could get out her plastic sledge.

In October 1987, when Meredith was nearly two, a 120mph hurricane came through Old Coulsdon. Arline and I huddled on the upstairs landing with the four children. That night, an 80ft tree slammed across the back of the house, a long branch smashing through the girls’ bedroom window. It was a fortunate escape.

Meredith liked going to the coast and we visited Brighton regularly. Sometimes we had a picnic on the beach. Then there were the Lanes, a maze of narrow streets filled with cafes, bistros and antiques shops. She was fascinated by this place and I often picture her there.

In 1997, Arline and I agreed to divorce, and I moved into a flat in Croydon.

During that first week of living apart, I came home to find Meredith had left a message on my answering machine, singing Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You.

Her voice was beautiful and haunting, and I think I cried on hearing it. I kept it there, playing it several times every day until the telephone service provider deleted it.

Meredith would come for dinner every Friday after school. I would cook and then we would watch videos of the hit comedy series Friends.

She also loved clothes, so one day I took her to Selfridges in Oxford Street. I thought she might like to spend half an hour there. How stupid of me! I should have taken a packed lunch. A more fruitful shopping spree was when Meredith, then 14, Stephanie and I travelled on Eurostar to Lille.

We had a wonderful lunch and then the girls discovered some clothes shops. I had to visit a cash machine a couple of times to pay for all their purchases.

Some memories, however, brought me back to Meredith’s final night. I could not help thinking of the hours Meredith had spent practising karate, and how she must have fought back on the night she was murdered.

Against one person, we were all certain, Meredith could have held her own.

Did stress cause my stroke?

During the summer of 2009, I suffered a stroke. I’d had bouts of dizziness, which my doctor thought might be attributable to an ear condition, but then in July, I was hit with the stroke.

I was in hospital for several days and had double vision for weeks afterwards.

I will never know whether the stress of Meredith’s death and the subsequent trial affected my health, but it made me question how many more times I could make the trip to Perugia, and how much more of the chaos I was able to bear.

How the Foreign Office let us down

We were surprised at the lack of financial help available from the British Government as we dealt with the aftermath of Meredith’s death.

We had received tremendous support from the British Consulate in Florence,  which arranged translation facilities and made transport arrangements, but despite our pleas, we did not receive any financial support from the Foreign Office.

A number of MPs campaigned on our behalf for some contribution towards our flights, but their efforts were to no avail.

Indeed, it seemed this was a policy decision, one that did not affect just us, but anybody who had suffered an ordeal such as ours. This lack of help was despite the fact that we were obliged to provide testimonies in court.

Nor could we expect any help from the Italian government. Before Meredith was murdered, EU states had said they would sign an agreement to compensate the families of foreign nationals who were victims of a violent crime committed in their country.

However, of all the states, Italy failed to sign the agreement in time.

Financially we were alone and it made the business of attending the trial, and seeking justice for Meredith, all the more problematic.

Posted on 04/21/12 at 07:22 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Stephanie Kercher’s Open Letter In Remembrance Of Her Sister And Closest Friend Meredith

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For us, this has only ever been about Meredith. She had been in Perugia for eight weeks and I had moved away from home only three weeks previously. We had stayed in touch updating each other with the exciting new things we were doing.

I had just got home from a training course when Mum called me, her voice trembling, relaying news that a 21-year-old English girl had been found under a mattress in Italy.

Trying to calm Mum down I began calling Mez on her mobile. I ended up leaving a voice message explaining what had happened, telling her to be safe and to call me as soon as she could.

I finished, as always, saying “I love you”. I even emailed her the news page so she knew what I was talking about… Little did I know I was already too late.

Dad’s was the next voice I heard. Through tears he told me the name he had been given by a newspaper was Meredith. I cannot remember what I thought – it was a mixture of disbelief and sheer pain. I did not know what to think or do and then my body just sunk.

When I arrived at Mum’s the pain in my chest was unbearable as I was told the few details of what had happened – the broken window, her door locked on the inside.

Thoughts and scenarios were racing through my head faster than I could comprehend and I collapsed into my parents’ arms, filled with the fear Meredith must have endured that night.

We stayed up all night watching the news, waiting for any concrete information. The Halloween photo of Meredith was the first to appear and I spun round to Mum and said ‘That’s not Mez! That’s not Mez, Mum!’

I was adamant it was not my little sister, but Mum stroked my hair and painfully submitted that it was.

I cried all night until I could barely see or breathe, everything just felt so empty. From the moment we received the call I knew we had to go and look after Mez.

We were told she was in a room with flowers either side of her and Mum said we had to go as soon as possible because she did not want to leave Meredith on her own. I cannot begin to imagine how my parents must have felt, I just know how numb I was and how Mum’s strength pulled us together.

We began our journey to identify her and bring her home. Arriving in Italy was surreal, everything happened so quickly. I still remember looking at Meredith lying there so still, no breath to be taken, a crisp white sheet pulled up to and over her neck.

She seemed peaceful, yet she bore a look of determination, of courage marred by defeat. It was a look that let us know how hard she had fought to be with us – and for that I am eternally grateful.

From that moment we knew we had to fight for her, too, not only for justice for her, but every day for ourselves, for her.

Others have given us the strength to continue since November 1, 2007 and we’d like to thank everyone around the world who has supported us and given us hope.

This is testament to a truly special sister, daughter and friend. She really did touch so many lives with her selfless compassion and loyalty, and continues to do so now.

Nothing was ever too much trouble for her. Mez never knew how effortlessly beautiful she was or how much of an impact she had on people. This was a quality of hers, which enabled her to make others laugh, help others when they needed someone, and become someone to aspire to.

She held such an incredible presence that the void she has left us with is noticeable every day. Marking the fourth anniversary of our loss, we now live without reason. No motive was found.

It is difficult to find any reason to want to hurt her and it terrifies me to think she may have left us that night not knowing either.

We still hope justice will prevail and, in the darkest times, the support given to Meredith and us as a family reminds us of why we are still here.

We are working with friends and colleagues to start a Trust Fund in Meredith’s name to help with the case and eventually support anyone else who may tragically find themselves in our position, so that her fight may continue and help others.

On November 1 at 9pm I will light a candle for my sister, may she rest in peace.

Posted on 11/02/11 at 12:07 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Friday, October 14, 2011

John Kercher’s Book “Meredith” To Be Published By The Second Largest Publishing Group In The World

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Giant publisher Hachette Livre’s headquarters is in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris to the right]


London-based publishers Hodder and Stoughton (image below) are an arm of the French publishing giant Hachette Livre.

Hodder and Stoughton have purchased the rights to “Meredith” from John Kercher’s hustling literary agent Ben Mason in very competitive bidding at the Frankfurt Book Fair.  From the Bookseller website:

Editorial director Fenella Bates bought world English rights from Ben Mason at Fox Mason. The book will be published in hardback in April 2012.

Billed as a “celebration of Meredith’s life”, the title is also a father’s story of losing his daughter, and will be the first account of the lives of the Kercher family since her murder four years ago.

Bates said: “Here at Hodder we feel this is an important story that needs to be told. We are privileged that John Kercher has entrusted us with his book, in which he’ll talk for the first time about the case and Meredith’s life.”


John Kercher has had a number of other books published. He completed two books about two two years ago as his literary tributes to Meredith, and his way of conveying her to the world.

We mentioned the other book early this year: The Strange Case of Miss Carla.  That book is a collection of children’s tales John created which Meredith loved to hear in her teens.

Her family prefer that proceeds from “Meredith” go toward an Italian remembrance of Meredith which they have not yet defined. They chose this as their goal as Meredith really loved Italy and because Italy is still obviously fascinated with her.

Her case in Italy is always referred to as the Meredith case, not the Amanda Knox case, and her Mediterranean looks, her wide range of talents and accomplishments, her strong sense of purpose, her empathy for other people, and her sense of humor are much admired.

Below: images of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and of the London headquarters of Hodder and Stoughton in Euston Street.




Posted on 10/14/11 at 10:02 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Andrea Vogt’s Interview With Meredith’s Family In The First Post

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click above for the interview with Arline, Stephanie and Lyle in Perugia yesterday morning.

They miss the most ordinary things - the way she used to come dancing into the living room or rugby tackle her brother… her quick-witted sense of humour.

“It’s so sad. At the age she was killed, there was still so much ahead. We had so many laughs and good times ahead that we will never have.”

Posted on 10/05/11 at 02:20 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Barbie Nadeau’s Interview With Meredith’s Family In The Daily Beast

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click above for the interview with Arline, Stephanie and Lyle in Perugia yesterday morning.

They say they haven’t had time to digest the news that Knox and Sollecito weren’t part of the scenario they’ve played over in their minds so many times. They say they will wait the 90 days until the appellate judge’s motivation for acquittal is released before deciding whether to alter what they really think happened that night. In the meantime, they remain in an unimaginable state of limbo, caught somewhere between the hyped celebrations of Knox’s release and their own bottomless void.

Posted on 10/05/11 at 02:11 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Monday, October 03, 2011

ABC News Reports On The Low-Key But Bewildered Reaction Of Meredith’s Family

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click image above for Colleen Curry’s report. An excerpt:

The Kercher family, who earlier in the day professed its belief that Knox was involved in Meredith’s death, remained behind in the courtroom long after the Knox family and its supporters poured into the streets in celebration. Arline Kercher was held upright by her daughter and attorney as she made her way through a crowd of reporters to a waiting vehicle.

The article mentions that Meredith’s family has issued this brief statement.

We respect the decision of the judges. But we do not understand how the decision of the first trial could be so radically overturned. We still trust the Italian judicial system, and hope that the truth will eventually emerge.

Posted on 10/03/11 at 08:58 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Awaiting Appeal Court Verdict, Arline And Lyle And Stephanie In First Press Conference:

Posted by Peter Quennell







The family was fair but firm that their priorities are justice for Meredith and her remembrance.

This first report on the press conference (probably the first of two) is from the Daily Telegraph.

Stephanie Kercher said her sister had been “hugely forgotten” in the furore around the appeal launched by American student Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito over the November 2007 killing in Perugia, Italy.

Sitting alongside her mother Arline and brother Lyle, she told a press conference: “It is very difficult to keep her memory alive in all of this.”

Miss Kercher said forgiveness “does not come into it” at the moment.  She went on: “It would be very difficult to forgive anything at this stage.

“What everyone needs to remember is ... the brutality of what happened that night, everything that Meredith must have felt that night, everything she went through, the fear and the terror, and not knowing why.

“She doesn’t deserve that, no-one deserves that.”

Meredith’s mother Arline refused to say whether she believed Knox killed her daughter but said she trusted the Italian justice system.

She added: “You have to go by the evidence because there is nothing else. What I want, what they want doesn’t come into it.

“It is what the police have found, what the science has found, what the evidence is and that’s all you can go on.

“It is to find out what happened to Meredith and to get some justice really.”

Posted on 10/03/11 at 01:04 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Terrible Weight On The Victim’s Family Because The Italian System Is So Very, Very Pro Defendant

Posted by Peter Quennell





The Italian prison population is proportionally perhaps the smallest in the western world.

Italy has an overall population about one-fifth that of the United States, but a prison population only about one-thirtieth the size of that in the US, below 100,000 as compared to 2.7 million.

It is true that Italy has a very low murder rate, and that most towns see no murders at all year after year. Even now outside the main cities many people still tend to leave their houses unlocked. There seems to be not that many crooks.

But even in light of this, two factors have resulted in sentences often amazingly light by international standards, with prison sentences under three years almost never served, and crooks often happily walk free.

  • The first factor is all the safeguards built into the post-WWII constitution to make sure that the kangaroo courts of the fascist era would never ever again reappear.

  • The second factor, now in the news,  is the manipulation of the justice system by the occasional politician over the years to soften the situations of their locked-up buddies. 

So prosecutors now have to jump through a large number of hoops and judge after judge has to check on their reasonableness. Mr Mignini noted this in court the other day when he said that 42 judges had come to see the case against Knox and Sollecito in essentially the same way he presented it. .

Defendants get to speak in court while not under oath whenever they want to. They get two automatic appeals, and verdict and sentence are not considered final until the Supreme Court of Cassation rules that way. The overturn rate on either level of appeal is not particularly high, but there seems a tendency for appeal courts to be more lenient than trial courts, though Cassation often does favor the rulings of the original trial courts.

Now Italian crime rates are creeping up, with the influx of drugs and immigrants, and majority opinion in Italy is that the system should definitely be a bit tougher. Various pro-victim TV shows and various books have shown that because of all the pro-defendant breaks, the toll on victims’ families can be really shocking.

We have posted on the pro-victim campaign of Barbara Benedettelli who is a prominent TV show hoster. She has just come out with a book telling of the sufferings of victims families in saddening detail.

One of the families she describes saw their baby snatched by defense witness Mario Alessi, who soon after killed the baby with a spade because it would not stop crying. Alessi and his wife are locked up now, but you would rarely see in the UK and the US the kind of suffering along the way that the family of baby Tommy went through.

Victims’ families may get some legal and social help but they often end up financially decimated and quite often in poor health. This seems to be the tragic predicament of Meredith’s family which their lawyer Francesco Maresca highlighted the other day.

“You will look Meredith’s family in the eyes only once,” Maresca said. “They could not always be here in court due to the mother’s health problems and siblings’ economic problems.”

In fact, he said, the family had trouble finding airline tickets for the verdict, which the lawyer contrasted with reports that the Knox family had a private jet ready to whisk the American student out of the country in the case of a not guilty finding. Knox’s family has denied the existence of such a plan.

John and Arline Kercher’s bills are said to to be pushing now toward $200,000 at a time in life when their earning powers are no longer at their peak and neither of them are in good health. They have to pay all of their own travel costs to and from Perugia and all of their own hotel bills, and also the fees of Mr Maresca and his team.

Kind attention has just been paid to their terrible plight and to the memory of Meredith by the Italian media, and also in the US and UK by Reuters and the Associated Press and Fox News and The Examiner.

But they deserve a great deal more.

Posted on 10/01/11 at 06:21 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meredith’s Sister And A Perugia Friend Share How Very Much This Funny Very Talented Girl Is Missed

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

[Above: TJMK main poster ViaDellaPergola’s video tribute to Meredith, first posted soon after the trial concluded[


From Ryan Parry’s interview with Stephanie Kercher in The Daily Mail:

“As I told a friend recently, my sister would have been 26 this year and I was in tears because I can’t even begin to imagine what she would have been like at that age. I can only remember her as 21 and before that.

“She would have finished university, maybe be working and with a boyfriend and I think of all the things we would have done together.

“We used to dance around our rooms together, watching films, going shopping. All the girly things that you do.

“We grew up together and there was only two-and-a-half years between us, so we were very close. When we were at uni we would send each other emails asking how each other was getting on. We’d also share responsibility of looking after and supporting Mum, who has been ill for a long time.

“As a sister I have missed out hugely on all of that. It’s something I am never going to know.”

For Stephanie, of Coulsdon, South London, it’s the little things which get her most upset.

The two sisters used to write secret notes to one another and pass them under their bedroom doors.

She adds: “I found a lot of the notes and they would make me smile or cry depending on what kind of mood I am in. We had photos developed the other day of when we were both little. They made me grin but I also felt sad.”

Stephanie has a silver bracelet she gave Meredith on her 21st birthday as a keepsake. Another gift to her sister, a pendant, was placed in with Meredith’s body at the funeral.

“I have also kept all the cards Mez has ever given me, teddies and things that she’s brought me back from places,” she says.

From Nick Squires’s interview with Natalie Hayward in The Daily Telegraph:

“When I got to Perugia, I was depressed. I’d broken up with the man I thought I would marry. Meredith was the only one who was totally non-judgmental. That was wonderful because I was feeling lonely.”

Miss Hayward remembers one of her tutors in Perugia warning her and Miss Kercher to be careful in the Umbrian hill town, saying hidden dangers lurked amid its rowdy student bars, cobbled piazzas and medieval passageways.

“We laughed about it. We were thinking ‘What’s to worry about? This is a tiny little town and we’re from London.’ It’s horribly ironic now.

“But Perugia can secretly be a dark place. It’s quite druggie.”

As for her friend, she said: “She was clearly intelligent and worked very hard. She was always talking about her family.

“She was very friendly – I still have text messages from her in which she persuaded me to go out in the evenings. She was generous and open and had a very big heart.

“She was a very fulfilled human being. She was happy and talked about her family all the time. She had lived life to the full. That gives me a great deal of comfort.”

Posted on 09/25/11 at 09:44 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Monday, September 05, 2011

In Good Italian Meredith’s Family Remind Italy Of Who Is The Real Victim Here

Posted by Peter Quennell

Stephanie Kercher writes an open letter (two of Meredith’s family are conversant in Italian, and Meredith had been fluent on arrival in Perugia) to Judge Hellman.

She questions the very strange slant of the DNA report in which Greg Hampikian seems to have had a suspect role.

The letter is very widely quoted from in the Italian media which has been highly sympathetic to Meredith and generally left cold by the antics of Knox, Sollecito, and their entourages.

CNN carries one of the few English-language reports. Generally a good one though it omits that Rudy Guede accused Knox and Sollecito to their faces in appeal court.

No English version was issued to our knowledge, and this is our main poster Tiziano’s translation, from TGCom.

In the last week we have been anxiously awaiting and in great agitation at the opinions being spread around about the original DNA tests.  It is extremely difficult to understand how the evidence which had been acquired with care and presented at the first grade trial as valid can now risk becoming irrelevant.

How can a quantity of DNA evidence be considered of little importance when the same experts do not give precise answers on the quantity which ought to be taken into consideration?

Furthermore, it should be remembered that both the parties, the prosecution and the defence, engaged their own respective teams of scientific experts in the first level trial, in addition to the consultants of the Scientific [Police] in Rome.

The [representatives of the] defence seem to be focussed on and to base themselves heavily on these two pieces of DNA evidence, but we want to remember for a moment who this case is about: my sister, a daughter brutally taken away from us almost four years ago and still not a day goes by when we can find a little peace or to put an end to all this.

All those who read this document or who are following this case, please remember our beautiful Meredith.  Her blood mixed with other samples spread around the bathroom, along the corridor and in Filomena’s room, and also so many other bloody prints.  Remember too all the other evidence which has been presented up till today in this trial, 10,000 pages of evidence.

We still have confidence in the Perugia police and all our trust in all those people from the court and the investigations.

We ask that Appeal Court weigh up every single piece of evidence, scientific and circumstantial, together with every witness heard and that [the court] do this independently of every other source of information and [independently] of the media.

In the midst of all the frenzy created by the media, Meredith has been forgotten, she is no longer with us, yet everything that should be for her and [done] in order to understand what really happened that tragic night. 

We have not forgotten her, and we will continue our struggle in order that justice be done with the continuing support of our lawyer Francesco Maresca and of his colleagues, the Police, the Public Prosecutor, the prosecution and all those taking part in this in Italy and also all those who in all the world still think of us and of Mez.

We would like to have the possibilty of working with Universty of Perugia on a project which would offer an annual place to a student in memory of Meredith.  Meredith loved Italy and its people and wanted to immerse herself in Italian culture.  We are well aware of the impact that all this has had on the city and we think that this is an appropriate way to commemorate Meredith in the beautiful place for which she left us to come and study.

Please do not let it be that Meredith died in vain, her courage and her strength continue to struggle and we shall look for justice so that she may rest in peace.  She did not stop struggling that November 1st, and we shall not stop now.

Stephy Kercher

 

Posted on 09/05/11 at 08:12 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Token Balance In The Italian System: The Voice In The Court For The Victim

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above: Francesco Maresca with the Lead Appeal Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliol and Ms Comodi]


We have often posted before on the pronounced tilt toward defendants’ rights in the Italian court system.

The Italian criminal justice system is just about the only one in Europe that has not yet adapted to the 2001 directive of the European Court that was asking for equality in criminal trials.

As we can see in this case, the system is extremely pro-defendant.

Police and prosecutors have to jump through a large number of hoops. Judge after judge combs through the evidence. Defendants can get up and talk in court at the nod of a judge without being cross-examined.

Defendants never have to take an oath to tell the truth. Judges in effect have to be part of the jury and to stake their reputation on the outcome of every case, the reasoning of which they must describe in writing.

No-one is conclusively declared guilty until two appeals have been concluded. The second appeal is to the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome, which seems to be sitting on more appeals now than the rest of the western world put together. Just about all prison sentences of under three years are waived. 

And that is just for starters.  One outcome is a prison population proportionally less than 1/4 that of the United States.

Many Italians feel that this fairness or leniency - call it what you will - has gone way too far, and Prime Minister Berlusconi’s attempts to press the fairness or leniency even further are wildly unpopular.

We posted recently on the tireless Italian campaigner for a stronger assertion of victim’s rights Barbara Benedettelli and she has a new book out on various cases. She has also sent us some background material on the generic issue which we intend to build into a post.

Against this tsunami of systemic pro-defendant bias in Meredith’s case, we really only have the fortitude of the police and the prosecutors involved, and the systemic presence of the lawyer representing the interests of the victim and her family: Mr Francesco Maresca, who practices law in Florence.

Although his English is said to be hesitant - which means the English media don’t usually track him down for any soundbites - he seems to us to be tirelessly aggressive in the court in standing up to the many impromptu interventions of the three perps and the fireworks of their six-plus lawyers.

Here is an interview with Mr Maresca in yesterday’s Umbria Left which was kindly translated by our poster Tiziano.

The lawyer for the Kercher family: Alessi and Avielli contradicted.

“Guede confirms the presence of the accused in the house of the crime. We have heard witnesses who contradicted Mario Alessi and Luciano Aviello.” Thus said lawyer Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the family of Meredith Kercher, at the end of the hearing of the appeal trial of Raffaele Sollecitoand Amanda Knox.

“Witnesses which,” he added “we could have however done without, heard only because it was necessary from a procedural point of view.” Lawyer Maresca claimed, “Regarding Rudy Guede, this person confirmed what he wrote in the letter to his defence lawyers. And to the specific question whether it was an opinion of his, he replied ‘no, it’s what I experienced that night’.

“In my opinion Guede once again confirmed the presence of all three accused at the site of the murder that night. It seems to me the truth of a co-accused already found guilty. To me it appeared absolutely clear,” Maresca concluded.

Another one landed for Meredith by her lone ranger in the court.


Posted on 06/28/11 at 08:01 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

New John Kercher Article: “As A Little Girl Meredith Was Funny, Clever And Extremely Self-Assured”

Posted by Peter Quennell





By Meredith’s father John in today’s Sunday Times:

To my knowledge nine books have been published about the Amanda Knox murder case, with one more on the way. There have been five television documentaries. A made-for-TV film was shown in America last month, and there are plans for a British film, possibly starring Colin Firth. The news media seem transfixed. Knox’s supporters post their views online and plan a “bowling fundraiser” next Sunday in Seattle, her home town.

There is someone missing from this obsession with “Foxy Knoxy”, as the 23-year-old student was quickly nicknamed in the press. Meredith Kercher, my daughter, was killed that night in Perugia, Italy, 3½ years ago. It’s time to tell her story — and the story of her family, for whom there are no appeals against Meredith’s death, but only a long, painful and extremely expensive emotional limbo as the Knox saga grinds its way through the Italian courts.

In December 2009 Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were sentenced to 26 years and 25 years respectively for killing Meredith. An Ivorian drifter, Rudy Guede, had already been convicted at a fast-track trial and sentenced to 30 years, reduced on appeal to 16. We attended the sentencing of Knox and Sollecito in Perugia. As Meredith’s brother, Lyle, said afterwards, it was not a moment for celebration; more one of satisfaction that some verdict had been reached. But our agony did not finish there.

We would like to be able to remember Meredith for the loving, humorous and caring person she was, rather than a murder victim. But under Italian law Knox and Sollecito have a right to two appeals: one to the court in Perugia, which is in progress, and, if that should fail, a further one to the Supreme Court in Rome.

The result of the current appeal is not expected until September. Should it go against them, then at least a year or even years could pass as the second appeal is heard. This is the stuff of nightmares, compounded by the way that Knox has been turned into a celebrity and the murder into entertainment.

I saw the trailer for the American TV film about her and was horrified by the scene that purported to depict the killing of my daughter. It was removed before broadcast but Meredith was still shown with a bloody wound in her neck. Mez, as we called her, should not be remembered by the way she died but by how she was for the 21 years of her short life.

As a little girl she was funny, clever and extremely selfassured, with a wonderful singing voice. At about five she told me she wanted to be a pop star. When a girl with whom she was meant to do a duet at junior school fell sick, Meredith performed the song alone. Other parents came up afterwards to compliment her nerve and ability.

She wasn’t a show-off. Her talents often surfaced spontaneously — such as when she picked up a toy guitar at home, stuffed a cigarette in her mouth, pulled her hair down over her face, stuck a hat on her head and did an impression of Slash from Guns N’ Roses. It was hilarious.

As she became older, she showed high academic ability, winning a place at Leeds University to study European politics and Italian. She was meant to be on a four-year course that included a year’s study at an Italian university, but she discovered that, because of a mix-up, she had been put on one with no year abroad. She was horrified and fought for months to be reinstated — successfully.

Meredith loved Italy, having been there several times with her school and a couple of times on family holidays. At the end of one exchange trip near Naples, most of the English students were in tears at having to say goodbye to the Italian families they had stayed with. Meredith, however, was smiling “because I know that I’m going to return and that, some day, I’m going to live here”.

She had a choice of three cities for her year overseas: Rome, Milan and Perugia. She chose Perugia because of its medieval quarter and the hope that it would be easier to make friends there than in a big city.

She flew out in late August 2007, checked into a family hotel for three nights and went to the University for Foreigners to look for accommodation in the town, eventually finding a room in a cottage. She rang to tell me about it, saying two Italian girls already had rooms there and an American girl would be joining them later.

Meredith had lived with Arline, her mother, since our divorce in 1997, but we had spoken every evening on the telephone and she came to dinner with me after school every week. We continued our conversations every evening when she was in Italy. She told me about her studies, the wonderful restaurants she had been to and the places she was hoping to visit.

She came back from Italy for a weekend to clean the house for her mother, who was suffering renal failure. That was the sort of person Mez was — very caring, not simply to family and friends but to strangers too. Once, working part-time in a restaurant, she saw that a female customer with a young child had had too much to drink. Meredith paid for a cab to get them home safely.

This was the person who was savagely murdered on November 1, 2007. I had spoken to Meredith that afternoon. It was Ognissanti, All Saints’ Day, a public holiday in Italy. She told me she would be out that evening but would talk to me the next day. My last words to her were: “I love you.”

The following evening her mother called, telling me that a British student had been killed in Perugia. I never dreamt that it was Meredith, and so I telephoned her number to see if she knew anything. At first I got an answering machine. After dialling a dozen times or more, I heard a ringing tone at the other end. That was a relief. I assumed that she wasn’t answering because she was in a different room.

An hour later, still getting no reply, I became worried and rang one of the national newspapers that I write for. Its foreign desk told me, after checking with Italy, that the police had found the dead girl’s mobile phones and had been in touch with people in London.

I was relieved. Whoever the poor girl was, she couldn’t be Meredith, because her family had presumably been informed. Half an hour later, however, I was told that the name going round Italy was Meredith. I was in shock. A friend drove me to Arline’s house. After a couple of hours Meredith’s picture came up on the television; by then the Foreign Office had confirmed that it was our daughter.

We flew to Italy to identify her. The press outside the morgue was crying, as were the police, and I couldn’t go in to see her. I wanted to remember her as she had always been. I had seen her only a few weeks earlier, when she had been on a shopping trip to London for winter clothes to take back to Italy. She had been so proud of her new boots. That was how I wanted to remember her.

Then the long legal process began: investigation, arrests, trials and now the appeal. The defence lawyers are contesting the DNA evidence from the alleged murder weapon, a knife found in a drawer at Sollecito’s apartment. They say the DNA samples — Meredith’s on the tip of the blade, Knox’s on the handle — are too small to be admissible as evidence. They also argue that DNA on a clasp from Meredith’s bra, found in her room six weeks after her body was discovered, could have been contaminated.

This is disputed by the top forensics team from Rome, led by Patrizia Stefanoni, an internationally respected forensic scientist. The fact that recently, in Britain, someone was convicted on 17-year-old DNA evidence is ignored by the defence.

Knox’s supporters in America, while concentrating on the DNA, do not seem to be aware of the huge body of other evidence that was given. Under Italian law a judge has to write an official report on how a verdict was reached. Judge Giancarlo Massei, who presided at the trial of Knox and Sollecito, produced a 400-page report.

It is quite revealing, showing that — although Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s genetic material were found mixed together in several locations in the bathroom — much more than the DNA evidence was responsible for the decision to convict. For example:

  • Sollecito claimed to have been working at his computer on the evening of the murder, but computer records show that it was inactive. Both Sollecito’s and Knox’s mobile phones were switched off that night.
  • A witness saw the couple several times in the vicinity of the cottage on the night of the killing, although they said they were at Sollecito’s home. Their alibis changed nine times, with Sollecito saying that he could not remember whether Knox was with him all evening. They even hinted at putting the blame on each other. Apart from Meredith, only Knox and two other flatmates, who were away at the time, had keys to the cottage.
  • Sollecito’s naked footprint was found on a bathmat in the cottage; and Knox’s footprints were found outside Meredith’s room, in the passageway and in another room, where police believe a break-in was staged. (These footprints were revealed with luminol, a chemical used by forensic investigators to detect traces of blood at crime scenes, as it glows blue in reaction with the iron in haemoglobin. It can show bloody footprints even after attempts to clean them away.) nAs for the “break-in”, the police immediately noticed that glass from a broken window was on top of clothes supposedly scattered by an intruder. The glass would have been under the clothes if the window had been broken before the room was ransacked. No valuables were taken, and a real burglar would have found far easier access to the house without breaking a window.
  • Sollecito told the police that nothing had been taken from the room supposedly broken into. But how would he know? It was used by an Italian girl, not present on the night of the killing, who had not yet checked it out for herself.
  • Knox described the position of Meredith’s body and how she had died, although she had not been able to see into Meredith’s room when the door was broken down by the police.

There are many more factors, almost 20 in all, among them the suspicion that there may have been something ritualistic about Meredith’s death. The prosecutor was criticised for mentioning this, but she was killed on the eve of the Day of the Dead, November 2. Sollecito was said to have Japanese manga comics that described the rape and killing of female vampires. Meredith had been dressed as a vampire to celebrate Hallowe’en.

In addition, the Supreme Court in Rome has recently issued its report on Guede’s appeal. Pointing out that there were more than 40 wounds on Meredith’s body, it found that he did not act alone and that two others were involved. There is also a suggestion that her body and the room were rearranged after the killing.

Guede, who admitted having been in the cottage on the night of the murder, fled the premises and went to a disco before escaping to Germany, where he was arrested. So who cleaned up the house in an attempt to remove all traces of their presence that night?

While not wanting to complain, I find it odd that the British government will not help us pay for travelling expenses to the courts in Italy, which we have had to attend on five occasions so far for the trial and appeal.

The British consul in Florence was marvellous, providing emotional support and translation facilities, and two MPs have tried to get us financial backup; but the Foreign Office says it does not pay for costs of attending court hearings abroad.

Each European Union country is supposed to provide some sort of compensation for the family of anyone from another EU nation killed on its territory; but Italy did not sign up to this, so nothing has been forthcoming from Rome. We have had to fund everything ourselves. It adds up — about £40,000 so far.

In court our lawyer demanded €21m (£18m) in compensation from the defendants, but this was a purely symbolic amount, seen in Italy as a way of demonstrating the severity of the case. Anyone assuming we received such a sum is under a misapprehension.

It is now into the fourth year since Meredith’s death, and the pressure of grief is still upon us. It has been constant torment, but the memory of Meredith will continue to stay with everyone. Leeds University planted an oak tree in her memory; and, with our family, students released balloons bearing messages for her. Her school, Old Palace in Croydon, planted a cherry tree for her. Every year, on the anniversary of her death, at Christmas Eve and on her birthday (December 28), our family and Meredith’s friends go to the cemetery to leave flowers and cards for her.

Recently I unearthed a book I wrote for Meredith. She was 14 and I was visiting her at her mother’s house. When the time came for me to leave, she suddenly asked me to tell her a bedtime story. I laughed and said I had told her one from when she two until she was 12, and I had run out of ideas. But she was insistent. So I told her I would go home, write something and read it down the telephone to her.

That’s what I did, with her as the lead character, and she loved it and wanted more. So I continued and it turned into a novel, The Strange Case of Miss Carla. I like to think that this is my tribute to a wonderful daughter.

Posted on 03/13/11 at 05:05 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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