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Friday, November 27, 2009

The Summations: Court Session Concludes After Lawyer Speaks For Meredith’s Family

Posted by Peter Quennell


Above: Mr Maresca is getting robed in court this morning.

His stark and very moving remarks for the family were the last item for the day. Mr Maresca spoke extensively of the remarkable qualities of Meredith, the supreme dignity and discretion of her family, and the enormous damage done by this very callous crime.

Listening to these remarks were various members of Amanda Knox’s family and the father of Raffaele Sollecito. Meredith’s family were not present in court. It is never seems easy for them to be there.

The Italian papers still only have short-form descriptions of Mr Maresca’s speech, and the English-language media dont yet have any. We will post again later, when all stories are filed and online.

Saturday update: We are gathering all the reports of Mr Maresca’s remarks - each has one or two points the others do not - and will post on them on Sunday.

Posted on 11/27/09 at 01:44 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moved By Italian Justice: Doing The Very Best It Can For Meredith And Her Poor Family

Posted by Hopeful

Crestfallen and broken, Amanda and Raffaele react in visible distress in the latest courtroom photos.

Amanda looks sad, smitten, perplexed, astounded, with anger not far under the veneer, yet overall truly sorrowful for the first time in 2 years. Raffaele is weeping as the court denies more evidence do-overs. He feels the weight of this blow.

These two are probably guilty, but it still makes me sad to see what prison can do to human beings. Why, oh why, couldn’t they have let Meredith live and simply enjoy her sweet life? Mercy to her would have been multiplied back to them so very many times over.

I believe Prosecutor Mignini and his assistant, Mrs. Comodi, and all the Perugia homicide cops want to see JUSTICE done above all.

Surely they take no pleasure in the misery that native-son Sollecito is undergoing. They had to arrest him to redress a huge evil. I’m sure they regret the repercussions this has meant to his father, a fine medical doctor, an upstanding citizen of Italy. Despite this, and America’s loud outcries, they have proceeded.

I think the Italian police and prosecutors have acted with more intense caution and discretion in handling the evidence against Amanda because of her U.S. citizenship. I don’t think this is a case of two innocents being railroaded.

If the Italian police had wanted to score points politically, they could have closed the case after the arrest and conviction of Rudy Guede. The police saw undeniable proof to their practiced eyes that Amanda and Raffaele were very guilty.

And I don’t think forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni of the Polizia Scientifica in Rome is in the prosecution’s back pocket. I believe she acted in good faith. Patient and careful analysis of forensic lab samples requires real intelligence and excludes quick passion.

“To Be or Not To Be”. Methinks Amanda does look a little Danish.

It wasn’t fish blood or cat’s blood or pierced ear blood on their hands, it was the blood of honor. Meredith was defenseless in a foreign land. She was a great asset to her own family, to the Erasmus program, to Italy, and eventually to the world. She deserves the best efforts of her host country, and she’s receiving them here.

It now feels like justice is not only happening here - it’s convincingly SEEN to be happening. We all owed you this one, sweet Meredith. May you rest in peace.

Posted on 10/11/09 at 06:56 AM by HopefulClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe officially involvedPolice and CSIThe prosecutorsThe judiciaryVictims family
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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Trial: Sky News Italy’s Video Report On Saturday’s News In Italian

Posted by Peter Quennell

Mr Maresca remarks here that Meredith’s father had commented to him on how strong she was.

She had of course trained quite extensively in judo. Yet another blow to the notion that less than three committed this brutal crime.

It appears that the crowds in the piazza have lessened and that the photographers are trying to give the Kerchers plenty of space.

And that the defendants are arriving at court by way of the front entrance, and not by way of the tunnel underneath the complex.

Posted on 06/06/09 at 10:29 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009
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Trial: Mother Confirms Meredith Had NO Appointment With Guede On The Night

Posted by Peter Quennell


The family testified for just over one hour. There was no cross-examination, and the court was adjourned early, through to next Friday.

Knox seemingly exited the court pensively and with her head down. Sollecito seemingly exited the court rather shrill and defensive.

The convicted killer Rudy Guede has consistently maintained that he was at the house by appointment. He had a legitimate reason to be there - Meredith wanted to be with him.

Judge Micheli never believed him, and sentenced him to 30 years

And today her mother stated that Meredith told her that, though tired after a late night on Halloween, she would be going home early on the night to complete an essay that she had to get done.

Click above for a report from the BBC.

Addressing the court on Saturday, Mrs Kercher described the last telephone conversation she had with her daughter, who was planning a trip back to Britain for her mother’s birthday.

“She rang to let me know when she was coming back,” Mrs Kercher said.

“She said she was really tired because they had been out for Halloween the night before and they had come back very late and she was going to see some friends to see a film.”

She added: “She was coming back early - she had an essay to finish.”

Rudy Guede’s appeal has been set for November. His entire defense narrative has always flowed from the claim that he was at the house because Meredith invited him to be there.

Apparently a lie, and one quite devastating to be revealed. Should he now crack, and turn on the other two? Again (he already did at his trial) but this time much more-so?

That issue might be keeping Rudy Guede and his lawyers up late.

Posted on 06/06/09 at 10:12 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Trial: Meredith’s Family Recounts The Terrible Pain Of Her Loss

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

Italy has an intense sympathy for Meredith and her family, and already today many DOZENS of reports have appeared in Italian.

The combined detail vastly exceeds what is appearing in English. We will try to capture the sense of some of these and report on this later.

Nick Pisa on Sky News has the most detailed report so far in English:

The mother of British student Meredith Kercher fought back tears in court as she described how her family would never get over the “brutality” of her daughter’s death.

Close to tears, Mrs Kercher, 63, told the court: “It was unbelievable, unreal and in many ways it still is - I am still looking for her.

“It’s not just her death, it’s the nature of it, the brutality, the violence and the great sorrow it brought for everyone - it was such a shock.

“You send your daughter away to study and she doesn’t come back. We will never, ever get over it”...

Her sister Stephanie, 25, told the court how they had last spoken two weeks before her death but exchanged texts two days before she died.

When asked if her sister would have fought for her life Stephanie added: “110% yes. She would have defended herself.

“Physically she was very strong and she would have fought to the end.”

Last to give evidence was Miss Kercher’s father John, 68, who told the court how he heard she had died.

“It was 5pm on November 2 - Meredith’s mother phoned me to say she had heard a British student had been murdered in Perugia.

Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox in court in Perugia

Sollecito and Knox were in court to hear the Kercher family’s testimony

“I tried ringing Meredith on her mobile and I must have tried 12 times but I kept getting her answer phone.

“Then at 5.30 it started ringing but there was no answer.

“I work for a number of national newspapers so I rang the foreign desk of a paper and they said they didn’t have any details.

“Two hours later when I spoke with them they said they had the name of a British student and the name was Meredith, that’s how I found out.”

Posted on 06/06/09 at 08:55 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009
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Friday, June 05, 2009

Trial: Friday’s Testimony Bolsters The Prosecution’s Case

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]

Andrea Vogt now reporting for The Independent.

Upon arrival, the Kercher family quietly took seats in the courtroom behind their Florentine lawyers, Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna, who opened their case with two expert witnesses: a coroner, and a leading forensic geneticist from a Florence hospital.

Mr Maresca told the court that the expert witnesses “sustained the prior results and valuations of the coroner who performed the autopsy and the forensic evidence specialists who already testified”. He added: “And for the first time today, we also heard that the bruises on the victim’s hips were consistent with a sexually violent approach.”

Professor Gianaristide Norelli testified that the multiple lesions on Ms Kercher’s body were consistent with being held and attacked by more than one person. He said she died of suffocation and interpreted her stab wounds as having been inflicted as threats during a struggle. The wounds, mostly on the side of her neck, were possibly inflicted by two different knives, he said, but noted that one of the stab wounds was compatible with the alleged murder weapon.

Professor Francesca Torricelli told the court that she believed the samples of Mr Sollecito’s DNA found on Ms Kercher’s bra clasp was a significant enough amount that it was unlikely to have been left by contamination. She also sustained a previous forensic biologist’s findings that Ms Knox’s DNA was found on the handle and the victim’s on the blade.

Alessandra Rizzo reporting for the Associated Press:

Forensic expert Gianaristide Norelli, a witness called by the Kercher family, said the main cause of Kercher’s death was suffocation.

Court documents have said suffocation was caused by the hemorrhage following the neck wounds. But Norelli said suffocation was also aided “manually” by forcing the victim’s mouth and nose shut and by strangling her.

This, Norelli argued, showed a clear intent to kill, while the neck wounds may have been inflicted with the intent to scare or threaten the victim. He said that Kercher’s own movement may have inadvertently contributed to making the stab wounds deeper.

The wounds were compatible with a kitchen knife the prosecution says might have been the murder weapon, Norelli said. The knife, which was found at Sollecito’s house, has a 17-centimeter (6.69-inch) blade….

Prosecutors say Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the kitchen knife, and Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade. Francesca Torricelli, a DNA expert also called by the Kercher family, confirmed the findings of the prosecutors.

“I have no doubt” the traces are compatible, she told the court Friday. Torricelli also confirmed the prosecutors’ finding that DNA compatible with Sollecito’s had been found on the clasp of Kercher’s bra.

And an unnamed writer reporting for the Daily Sun.

The parents of Meredith Kercher — Arline and John — spent their first day in court yesterday under the unwavering stare of her alleged killer Amanda Knox.

One witness said: “It was very unusual. I’m not sure if she was looking for sympathy or trying to offer it, but Meredith’s parents never looked at her.”



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]


Trial: Knox Parents Again Not In Court While The Kerchers Are Present

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger images, courtesy AP]

Amanda Knox’s parents have still never encountered Meredith Kercher’s parents.

At the Rudy Guede trial last October Knox’s parents were in Perugia but they chose to stay away from the courthouse itself.

This week they are not even in Perugia. They are represented by an unnamed Knox relative (above) and a former Knox boyfriend (below).


Posted on 06/05/09 at 07:00 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
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Meredith’s Father John Describes How The Family First Found Out

Posted by Peter Quennell



[courtesy Getty; click for for larger image]

Above, John and Arline Kercher and Stephanie in Perugia on 6 November 2007 lighting candles for Meredith.

And below, John describes in the Daily Mirror how the terrible news of her death first reached him in south London.

I am at the counter in a bank in Croydon when my mobile phone rings.

It is 2.15pm on November 1 and Meredith is calling from Perugia to see how I am. It’s an unusual time for her to ring. We usually speak most evenings, but rarely during the day.

But today she doesn’t have any classes at university, where she’s studying European Politics and Italian. It’s a public holiday. We chat for two minutes, I tell her I love her and that I’ll call her later. She says she is going out, so it will be the next day.

That will be the last time I ever speak to Meredith. The next day at 5pm I am at home when Meredith’s mother Arline calls to say she’s heard reports that a British girl student has been murdered in Perugia. Obviously, there is concern. But there are thousands of British students in Perugia and you try to use that as a calming influence.

I ring Meredith but get an automated message telling me her mobile is switched off.

For the next half hour I try at least a dozen times before it suddenly starts ringing.

Relief sets in as I believe she’s switched it back on. But still there is no answer. I keep trying for a further half hour.

By now my instincts have kicked in. I have to get information fast.

I call the foreign desk of the Daily Mirror, a paper I have worked with for many years as a freelance journalist.

They tell me they only have sketchy details of the incident but if I call back in an hour they might have more.

It’s an agonising wait, but when I call back I’m told Italian police found the girl’s phone and they have been in touch with people in London. Again, my hopes rise. This must mean that whoever this unfortunate girl is, the family and British police have been notified by now.

But then my worst fears are realised. Thirty minutes later the Mirror calls to tell me they have a name. There’s some initial reluctance from the woman on the phone to give me the information. But I shall never forget her words: “The name going around Italy is Meredith.”

I drop the phone. I don’t believe it and think there must be a mistake. But I know it’s probably true. I can’t cry. I’m numb with shock.

A friend drives me to Meredith’s mother and on the way, I phone the Foreign Office to see if they can confirm what I’d been told.

They say they don’t have full details and I shouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions.

Within an hour our family - Meredith’s sister Stephanie and brothers John and Lyle - have gathered at the house.

We’re all distraught. By now, Arline has spoken to the Foreign Office who confirm the worst. At 9pm, Meredith’s photo comes on the news. The room falls silent. We all hug.

The next day we learn some of Meredith’s old school friends plan to lay flowers at her former school in Croydon.

We go to meet them, expecting half a dozen - but there are more than 70.

It’s unbelievably touching. Some have come from universities around the country.

A small service is held in the school gardens.

Nothing prepared us for having to fly to Italy to formally identify her body and we had no idea how much her death had touched the world.

At the morgue, journalists, Italian chief of police and many others are close to tears. Arline and Stephanie go in to see Meredith. But I can’t because it would have put a full stop to my memory of her.

I had last seen her a couple of weeks before, when she flew home to buy winter clothes. We met for a coffee and she showed me some boots she had bought.

I want that to be the one memory of my daughter I hold in my mind for ever.

It’s dreadful having to wait six weeks before we can lay Meredith to rest, while police investigate. The funeral stuns me.

I didn’t expect the more than 500 people who attend. Her friends have flown in from Canada, Europe and Japan.

Afterwards, hundreds of messages flood the internet. Many are from as far as Australia and Brazil, people who never knew her but are touched by her tragic passing and who loved her smile.

Even in death she seems to reach out to people. Arline has helped me with our fond memories of Meredith as a tot. How Meredith enjoyed many things from an early age.

She went to ballet and in her teens did karate, reaching her third belt.

At school she loved reading. She wrote poetry and stories.

She was always good company and her sense of humour always had us and others laughing. The sense of the ridiculous stayed with her. She had such life and vitality and made friends wherever she went. Meredith really enjoyed Halloween.

As a youngster she would make a costume from bin liners, put candles in the pumpkins with faces, tie them to sticks and then we would visit neighbours.

It is ironic and tragic that she would die so terribly only one day after Halloween.

As Arline puts it, Meredith leaves a void that can never be filled. But wonderful memories of her live on in our hearts. All of us who knew her know what we lost.

Meredith is not only a terrible loss to her family and friends, she is also a huge loss to the world.

Posted on 06/05/09 at 04:59 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009
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Meredith’s Family Is Welcomed By Lawyer Maresca To The Court

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image; courtesy Getty Images]

Father John, mother Arline, and sister Stephanie arrive for the afternoon session.

Neither of Meredith’s brothers are shown here, although we believe that one or both are also now in Perugia. They may have entered the court by way of the route for the public.

Posted on 06/05/09 at 08:38 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009
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Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Kercher Family Prepares To Testify Friday PM And Saturday

Posted by Peter Quennell


[click for larger images; shots from earlier hearings courtesy of AP]

The Italian news service AGI is reporting that the Kercher family will arrive in Perugia around mid-day on Friday.

They are expected to be on the witness stand for all of Friday afternoon and possibly for all of Saturday. This will be their second face-to-face encounter with the defendants, and possibly their first encounter with a member of Amanda Knox’s family - at Rudy Guede’s trial, Knox’s parents chose to wait at a certain distance away from the courtroom.

Prior to their testimony, on Friday morning, the prosecution team will examine one final witness - Luca Lalli - on the wounds on Meredith’s body. Then the legal team for the Kerchers, Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna, will examine their first witnesses, the medical-legal expert Gianaristide Norelli and the forensic geneticist Francesca Torricelli.

In the afternoon the team will lead each member of the Kercher family who takes the stand - most probably John, Arline, and Stephanie - through their testimony, and they can then be cross-examined by the lead judge and the defense teams for Knox and Sollecito.

Their testimony will focus on their memories of Meredith, on her decision to come and study in Perugia, on any cellphone calls received or not received by her mother, Arline Kercher, from Meredith on the night in question, and on what Meredith may have related on the relationship between Meredith and Amanda Knox.

Their testimony is awaited with great interest as they have given almost no interviews in the past year and a half, and they have never made any statements about their theory of the crime or their takes on the two defendants. In contrast to the friends of Amanda Knox, they have repeatedly expressed confidence through Mr Maresca in the Italian judges, prosecutors, police teams, and justice system as a whole.

Italy seems to be treating Meredith’s family with an outstanding display of kindness and support. This post might help to explain why.

Plus they are enormously admired for their own grace, dignity and discretion. And their obvious sense of huge loss. 

   

Posted on 06/04/09 at 09:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009
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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Newsweek Interviews The Kercher Family Lawyer Francesco Maresca

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for another fine report by Barbie Nadeau.

Ms Nadeau is one of only two Rome-based Amercan reporters (the other is Andrea Vogt, see post below) on the case. In contrast, there are half a dozen British reporters on the case, at least one (Nick Pisa for Sky News) with a cameraman, and there are rarely less than several dozen Italian reporters.

This report nicely positions where we are now in the course of the trail.

Now, 17 months after Kercher’s brutal murder, the theatrics are over. The two judges and six jurors are finally getting to the meat of the trial: the scientific evidence.

Experts say it will make all the difference in this case against 21-year-old Amanda Knox and 25-year-old Raffaele Sollecito, who stand accused of sexual assault and murder.

Francesco Maresca, the attorney representing the Kercher family, equates the prosecution’s case so far to preparing a fine meal. “Up to this point, we have seen the equivalent of the side dishes,” Maresca told NEWSWEEK in his office in Florence. “From this point we will start to see the real substance”...

With the theatrics now out of the way, this scientific evidence will finally bring the circumstances of this murder into better focus. The prosecution has always maintained that Knox, Sollecito and Guede tried to initiate a sex game that went awry.

Maresca says that while he is sure the accused did not go into Kercher’s room with the intent to kill her, there is ample evidence proving that what started as a game ended in her tragic murder.

“Kids this age are all into quick thrills,” he told NEWSWEEK. “What started as a threat or a game to scare Mez escalated to violence and ended in murder.”

We suspect that here, Mr Maresca may be reflecting what the Kerchers also think: that nobody in the world would have knowingly set out to murder someone so precious as Meredith.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Formal Kercher Request That Trial Be Behind Closed Doors

Posted by Peter Quennell

The Kercher family have now formally filed the request that the trial of Knox and Sollecito be held behind closed doors.

The Kerchers’ request was filed by their extremely capable court-appointed lawyer, Francesco Maresca, with the Court of Assizes in Perugia.

The Court will announce its decision on this at the first, public, session of the Knox/Sollecito trial on 16 January.

The trial of Rudy Guede - which was also behind closed doors - largely hinged on evidence from Meredith’s bedroom and from her autopsy.

That evidence was said to have been extremely disturbing to many inside the court-room, and resulted in Guede’s very stiff 30-year sentence.

If the evidence not yet in the public domain really is as sickening as is rumored, it is hard to see the defense teams resisting the request.

And the Italian system hardly needs to prove publicly its extreme caution, carefulness, and fairness. Despite some absurd claims to the contrary.

Posted on 12/05/08 at 08:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So The Trial Date IS Postponed, Now It’s 16 January

Posted by Peter Quennell


This is a translation of the report from La Stampa.

Meredith process, hearing postponed

Amanda and Raffaele have to answer to the charge of murder

The case against Amanda and Raffaele is postponed to allow for the reading of additional investigations carried out by the Public Prosecutor

Postponed to January 16, 2009, is the hearing for the murder of Meredith Kercher, which initiates the trialproceedings against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, who are accused of murder in the taunting and violence against American student (Rudy Guede has already been sentenced to 30 years jis trial having been expedited, ed.)

The presiding judge, Giancarlo Massei, deferred the opening session to enable the parties to get to know the contents of the additional investigations carried out by the prosecutor of Perugia. Tomorrow is the deadline for the submission of lists and texts that will amount to a total of about a hundred.

And a brief summary of some of the other recent developments in the case….

  • A witness who knew her claims to have seen Amanda Knox in a supermarket early on the day after the crime

  • A second witness claims to have heard a scream on the evening of the crime, this one stating a precise time

  • A witness claims to have seen Knox, Sollecito and Guede together previously - if so, they did know one another

  • A cut was apparently seen on Knox’s neck by another house resident; autopsy and scenario are being reviewed

  • A fund-raising event in Seattle apparently raised $11,000 to help defray Knox’s parents’ defense and travel costs

  • And a Kercher family request for a closed-door trial - permitted in Italy for sex crimes - is now being reviewed

One of the great areas of conjecture is whether the alleged defendants actually pre-planned an assault on Meredith.  Or whether it was perhaps just a taunt, one that took on a deadly spiral.

There was an apparent simultaneous switching-off of their mobiles earlier in the evening, for a reason not so far explained. And now an apparent prior three-way relationship between the two charged and the one sentenced? This does not look good. 

Posted on 11/25/08 at 08:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedVictims familyEvidence & witnessesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda KnoxRaff Sollecito
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