Headsup. Netflix has perpetrated something unique: it has defamed a fine justice system worldwide based on seriously wrong claims and myriad omissions. We expect there to be political and legal repercussions. For our part we plan about half a dozen more omissions posts and movie reviews and thereafter a major propagation of the real facts.

Collection: Hellmann 2011+

Friday, November 22, 2013

US Judge Startles Legal Watchers By Overturning A Unanimous Verdict: Is This Hellmann Part Deux?

Posted by Peter Quennell

Martha Moxley’s murder 1975

Martha Moxley’s is a case with quite a few similarities to Meredith’s case - and after 38 years it has once again flashed back into the US news.

Greenwich, where 15-year-old Martha lived, is a few minutes drive up the Long Island Sound shoreline from New York City. Great wealth resides there. It is the US zip code with the highest family income and net wealth, and there are many mansions set in large estates.

The brutal murder of Martha happened on Halloween Night of 1975. She was beaten to death with a golf club by someone around 10:00 pm soon after leaving a Halloween party at the Skakel house across the street. No physical evidence ever tied anyone to the crime.

The main suspects in the case

Michael Skakel was a close neighbor (with his large family, he lived in a mansion diagonally across Walsh Lane from Martha’s smaller one-storey house) and a school classmate of the same age as Martha. He had a troubled record of misbehavior and substance abuse (he was later sent to a special school) who Martha’s diary later revealed had a history of pestering her. The golf-club came from the Skakel house.

He was not the only suspect. A new tutor at the house was long considered. And Greenwich police first interviewed and polygraphed his brother Tommy, who was very friendly with Martha, and with whom she was seen flirting at the party at the Skakel’s house the same night. Between the two brothers, there was bad blood.

Read here the final entries in Martha’s diary which seem to show her attraction to Tommy but none at all to a jealous Michael.

Michael Skakel’s conviction in 2002

Michael Skakel over the years (seemingly proud of himself, and sounding quite like Sollecito) came to hint and even openly claim more and more that he was the one that killed Martha. Skakel also claimed to have been up in a tree or a treehouse peeping through windows on the same night. An alibi that he was across town during the party at his house fell through.

In 2002, after these pointers to himself reached critical mass in police investigations and various books and reports, he was put on trial and unanimously found guilty by a jury, and then (controversially) sentenced as an adult to 20 years to life. As with Sollecito and Knox in Italy, the vast majority of the population thought it was a fair cop.

There are of course some differences between the two cases.

In Perugia the police and prosecutors really did do a good job and didnt blink under the considerable pressure of TWO families and TWO defense teams playing all manner of dirty tricks. They never backed off, whereas the Greenwich police (who never called for outside help) seem to have become timid and indecisive and simply wanting the case to go away. And in Martha’s case DNA has not yet reared its intrusive head.

But the two cases also have a lot in common.

Commonalities of Martha and Meredith cases

1) Martha was younger than Meredith but given time would have emerged to be a very similar girl. She also was ambitious, talented, hard-working, eye-catching, witty, and the apple of their eye of various boys which might have sparked jealousies in some.

2) The attack involved a number of ferocious blows over several or some minutes with a golf-club, suggesting not a burglar or prowler who did not know Martha but someone who did know her who was in a considerable rage. The golf-club broke, and the shaft was thrust through her neck. She was then dragged alternatively face up and face down quite a few feet to a place under a tree. There was a lot of blood, and as some of her clothes were down there may have been a simulation of a sex crime.

3) The rich and connected Skakel family (among which Michael did not stand out as the major achiever) was not especially helpful in the investigation, and they blocked certain important moves by the Greenwich police. They have spent huge sums of money (possibly up in the millions) on lawyers and detectives and still do. Theirs was a fairly sharp-elbowed media campaign and it looks as if it was driven more by family reputation (the Skakels are related to the Robert Kennedys by marriage) than by deep conviction that Michael was a good boy.

4) The evidence presented was a mosaic that had been accumulated over time. Alibi and behavior mattered a lot. It required very close attention to absorb it all and to assemble it into an incriminating pattern. At trial prosecutors did a good job. In this case no incriminating DNA was found at all, although it is possible that for the new trial new tests will be done on Martha’s clothes.  The conviction by 12 jurors was unanimous. They did a very careful job, and their deliberations lasted four days. Those who seek to argue that they have it wrong usually pick on isolated points. 

5) Various books have been published to explain the case. The most-read book is by ex-police-detective Mark Fuhrman titled Murder in Greenwich published by HarperCollins (Amanda Knox’s publisher) in 1999. He claimed he broke the case though police said they needed no help.

6) There are several websites like PMF and TJMK with no vested interest at all which seek to keep the victim’s presence alive, and to seek justice for her in face of many attacks and dirty tricks.  See the forum Campy Skakel here and the website MarthaMoxley dot com which is or was being run by Tom Alessi who was a classmate of Martha at school.

And the sudden new situation

Now Connecticut’s Judge Bishop has decided that Skakel didnt get the best of defenses by the high-profile legal talking head Mickey Sherman (who back then seemed to be hired for his high public profile) and noted several things Sherman could have done. Also the evidence seemed to Judge Bishop to be slim (what, no DNA?!). So he has ordered that Skakel can face a new trial.

A second judge has just released Michael Skakel on $1.2 million bail and he must wear an electronic bracelet in case he decides to skip. He will apparently head for a secret location to wait for the new trial to begin.

Although Judge Bishop is well qualified (unlike Hellmann) and seems impartial and detached, he has startled the legal community and crime followers by going against both a well-informed trial jury which really saw a lot of evidence and against a whole row of previous judges who had considered and declined Skakel’s requests for appeal.

Judge-shopping till the “right one” appears is often how big money wins out, and the general US reaction to the annulled verdict seems to be “What?! Not again?!”

Michael Skakel may perhaps win at a new trial with new lawyers and a new strategy - there is still a theory that his brother Tommy really did the crime, though the Skakel lawyers may not be allowed to play that card.

However, as in Meredith’s case, legal and public opinion is against him, and Martha’s mother and the victim websites still fight on bravely. 

[Below: Michael Skakel(right) with defense lawyer Mickey Sherman in 2002 who he now says let him down]

[Below: Directly ahead is where the crime took place; a new mansion has replaced the Moxley home ]

[Below: The Skakel mansion, which is diagonally across Walsh Lane from the old Moxley home]

[Below: Mark Furman’s diagram of his scenario of the murder in “Murder in Greenwich”]

[Below: Judge Bishop of the Connecticut courts who has ordered a new trial for Skakel]

Posted on 11/22/13 at 06:50 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+Other legal processesThose elsewhere
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Differences Between Micheli, Massei, Hellmann and Nencini Courts Pointing To Almost Certain Outcome

Posted by Peter Quennell

What are the biggest differences? In fact the Supreme Court already pointed them out: science, scope, and balance.

Judge Micheli, Judge Massei and Judge Nencini all have a very extensive criminal-case background. All three have handled many cases of murder, many cases against the mafia, and many cases involving criminal science. All three have remarkable success records and have hardly ever been overturned on appeal. 

Judge Hellmann and his court are the extreme outliers. Until forced into early retirement by the Council of Magistrates, he had been a (quite good) business judge. His one major criminal case, years ago, had led to a farcical outcome, and he was ridiculed for this at the time.

Cassation made it very clear that he simply did not reflect a knowledge of the precise Italian law on scope and balance at the appeal level, and that he mishandled the science. In fact, as he actually said, the reason he appointed two independent DNA consultants was that he was at sea on the science.

That left Judge Hellmann’s panel of judges like a rudderless ship, bereft of the kind of good guidance from the lead judge on science, scope, and balance that comes only from many years of experience.

Which, given a level playing field, the pathbreaking Italian system enforces competently like almost no other.

Above all as the Hellmann Report makes extraordinarily plain, his court came to be swayed by the CSI Effect, with the help of two tainted consultants and probably the irresponsible Greg Hampikian in Idaho.

The CSI Effect is a phenomenon very, very unlikely to happen in Judge Nencini’s court.  First, take a look at this good explanation of what the CSI Effect is in the Fox Kansas City video.

Many crime shows such as the BBC mysteries and the Law & Order series and spinoffs show investigators solving their crimes in the old-fashioned way. Lots of witness interviews and alibi and database checking, and walking around and loose ends and lying awake at night puzzling. And often there’s a big stroke of luck. 

But if you watch the very popular CSI Las Vegas series and its spinoffs in Miami and New York, and the various clones on other networks, you will see something very different indeed.

When those shows first began airing worldwide in the late nineties, the producers explained that audiences increasingly appreciate learning something new when watching a show, and it is true, one sure can load up on the trivia.

But you will also see the US equivalent of Dr Stefanoni and her forensic team in those shows, roaming far beyond the narrow crime scene, interrogating witnesses and checking alibis and finding a lot of non-forensic evidence, and even at times drawing guns.

Most unreal is that, time and again, the forensic evidence testing is clearcut and takes just a few minutes and instantly clinches the case.

  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the Casey Anthony jury was affected by a shortfall in the starkness of the forensics when the behavioral evidence seemed so strong.
  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the appeal verdict outcome in Perugia might be affected in the same way.
  • There are many articles like this one and this one and this one and especially this one saying there is a tough added burden on investigators and juries without a commensurate improved outcome.

With conviction rates declining in the US and Europe, professionals are taking a scientific look at whether the CSI Effect is one big cause of that decline.

At the macro level in the US this writer doubted that the CSI Effect is fatally unbalancing takes on the wider evidence. The same conclusion was reached in this first major study at the micro level.

But the belief in the CSI Effect continues. Articles like this one on an Australian site talk of a backlash against too many acquittals. Some articles like this one argue that maybe lay juries are out of their depths.

And judges and prosecutions are taking countermeasures.

In Ohio and many other states prosecutors and judges are acting against a possible CSI Effect in their selection and briefing of juries. And an NPR report came up with these findings.

Some states now allow lawyers to strike potential jurors based on their TV habits. Judges are issuing instructions that warn juries about expecting too much scientific evidence based on what they see on TV.

In the field, Shelton says death investigators sometimes run useless tests, just to show they went the extra CSI mile.

“They will perform scientific tests and present evidence of that to the jury. Even if the results don’t show guilt or innocence either way, just to show the jury that they did it.”

This is coming at a time when death investigators in America have no resources to spare. An investigation by NPR, PBS Frontline and ProPublica shows some states have already opted not to do autopsies on suicides, others don’t autopsy people who die in traffic accidents, and many don’t autopsy people who die over the age of 60.

But Murphy, the Clark County coroner, expects things to get worse.

“You know, we’re in budget cuts right now. Everybody’s in budget cuts. Las Vegas is no different than anybody else. We’re hurting. We’re going to feel that same crunch as everybody else,” he says.

One of Zuiker’s great disappointments is that, for all its popularity, his fictional Las Vegas crime lab didn’t generate more political support to fund death investigation.

“I’ve done my job. You know, we’ve launched three shows that cater to 73.8 million people a week and is a global phenomenon and the largest television franchise in history. We hoped that the show would raise awareness and get more funding into crime labs so people felt safe in their communities. And we’re still hoping that the government will catch up.”

None of the science in Meredith’s case has ever been discredited in court. Even in Judge Hellmann’s court the agenda-driven independent consultants Conti and Vecchiotti failed - and under cross-examination admitted it.

Also remember that the Hellmann court did not get to see two very key closed-court scientific presentations (the stark recreation of the attack on Meredith, in a day of testimony, and later in a 15 minute video) which had a very big balancing effect on the Massei court. 

Right now the reputation of not one defense-campaign stooge who has attacked the science remains intact.

Greg Hampikian has headed for cover. He had widely proclaimed that he clinched the Hellmann court’s outcome, in an act which may well have been illegal. Unsurprisingly, he is now trying very hard to hide his own claimed “proof ” of shortfalls in the science, as Andrea Vogt has been showing in her Boise State University investigation, and as we will soon post more on. 

Saul Kassin is another defense-campaign stooge who falsely claimed that he clinched the Hellmann court outcome by “proving” a false confession by Knox - in an interrogation that never even took place.

Despite all of this, maybe as straw-snatching, we can again see an organized attempt to confuse American opinion on the science of the case.

Whether she did this intentionally or not, that is what the PR tool Colleen Barry of the Associated Press was doing when she omitted that the trace of Meredith on the knife is undisputed hard evidence.

Judge Micheli and Judge Massei handled the science, scope, and balance with some brilliance. In all three dimensions Judge Hellmann fell short abysmally.

What is your own bet on the outcome under the exceptionally experienced Judge Nencini?

Parts of this post were first posted in 2011 after the disputed and much examined outcome of the Casey Anthony murder trial..

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DNA Proof 40 Years After A Cowardly Murder Shuts Down A Fact-Fogging Campaign For The Murderer

Posted by The Machine

[Above: the murder victim Michael Gregsten and Valerie Storie who survived]

Relevance to Meredith’s case

You maybe thought journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities campaigning on behalf of someone who evidence strongly suggested was guilty was peculiar to Meredith’s case?

Think again. Exactly the same thing has happened more than a few times. This is one. The UK’s notorious A6 murder of 1961.

On the evening of 22 August 1961, Michael Gregsten, a government scientist, and his girlfriend Valerie Storrie, a laboratory assistant, were sitting in his car next to a cornfield in Berkshire, just west of London, when a masked gunman tapped on the car window. He demanded Gregsten’s wallet and Storie’s handbag.

He then forced Gregsten to drive 60 miles to Deadman’s Hill at Clophill in Bedfordshire where he shot the scientist twice in the head, killing him instantly. Next, he raped and shot Ms Storie five times. She survived the attack, but was left paralysed from the waist down.

[Above: Convicted murderer James Hanratty and his campaigning father]

Trial and evidence

James Hanratty, a petty thief, was arrested after cartridge cases from the murder weapon were found in a London hotel where he stayed the night before the murder. Valerie Storie picked out Hanratty at an identity parade from her hospital bed and she also made a voice identification of him. 

At the trial at Bedford Assizes, James Henratty changed his original alibi that he was staying with friends in Liverpool on the day of the murder and said that he had gone to Rhyl, in north Wales, and stayed two nights in a boarding house. The jury didn’t believe him and James Hanratty was found guilty of murdering Michael Gregsten.

The families of the victims (one dead, one crippled for life) expressed relief that a unanimous verdict was reached.

Hanratty was hanged at Bedford Prison on 4 April 1962. The day before he was hanged, he told his family: “I’m dying tomorrow but I’m innocent. Clear my name.” 

The pressure for an appeal

After James Hanratty was hanged, his father launched a campaign to clear his name. A number of high-profile public figures lent their support to the campaign, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and prominent politicians David Steel and Norman Fowler.

In 1971, a hundred MPs signed a petition demanding a public inquiry. The Conservative government refused to open such an inquiry.

Three years later the Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, commissioned a report from Lewis Hawser QC who sat in secret and came to the conclusion Hanratty was guilty.

In 1999, the case was sent back to the Court of Appeal. In March 2001, Hanratty’s body was exhumed and DNA tests were carried on it to see whether his DNA matched DNA traces found on Valerie Short’s knickers and her handkerchief that was found wrapped around the gun.

DNA tests confirm a right verdict

Forensic scientists from the Forensic Science Service (FSS) found that there was a perfect match and concluded that the DNA found on these exhibits was 2.5 million times more likely to belong to Hanratty than anyone else.

A report from the Daily Mail.

James Hanratty was guilty of the notorious A6 murder for which he was hanged, sensational scientific evidence has revealed. A DNA sample taken from his exhumed body has been matched by forensic experts to two samples from the crime scene.

They now believe that there is only a 1-in-2.5million chance Hanratty was innocent.  The results of the tests, released to Hanratty’s defence team, are a crushing blow to campaigners who have insisted he was not guilty.

In 2002, James Hanratty’s conviction was upheld at the Court of Appeal and a bid to take the case to the House of Lords was rejected. Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, who with two colleagues - Lord Justice Mantell and Mr Justice Leveson - considered the posthumous appeal, said the DNA evidence established Hanratty’s guilt “beyond doubt”.

Lord Woolf for the Supreme Court on 10 May 2002:

We have already stressed the importance of looking at a case such as this in the round. The grounds of appeal are of differing significance and although we have dealt with them individually it is also necessary to consider them collectively in asking ourselves the critical question is the conviction of James Hanratty of murder unsafe either on procedural or evidential grounds?

As to the evidential issues they all ultimately relate to the single issue which dominated the trial and this appeal, the identity of the killer. In our judgment for reasons we have explained the DNA evidence establishes beyond doubt that James Hanratty was the murderer.

The DNA evidence made what was a strong case even stronger. Equally the strength of the evidence overall pointing to the guilt of the appellant supports our conclusion as to the DNA.

[Above: journalist campaigners Paul Foot and Bob Woffinden]

The 40-year media campaign

Forty years of excruciating hell for the families and friends of the victims, one dead, one crippled for life .

Investigative journalists such as Bob Woffinden and Paul Foot wrote articles and books about the case, stubbornly certain that James Hanratty was innocent and that the case was a miscarriage of justice.

Paul Foot was a highly-respected campaigning journalist who worked for Private Eye, the Daily Mirror and The Guardian. However, his reasons for believing that James Hanratty was innocent were flimsy to the say the least.

From the BBC obituary for Paul Foot:

Beyond his obvious triumphs, Foot sometimes got it terribly wrong.

The Hanratty affair is a case in point. Twenty-five-year-old James Hanratty was hanged in 1962, after being found guilty of killing scientist Michael Gregsten and raping and shooting his mistress Valerie Storie.

Foot’s interest began in 1966 and, for the next 34 years, he consistently and eloquently demanded justice for Hanratty.

The case was finally reopened in 2000 and, after Hanratty’s body was exhumed, so DNA samples could be scraped from his bones, his guilt was proved beyond doubt.

The main crux of his argument for innocence was that James Hanratty was in Liverpool and Rhyl on the day of the murder. There were no positive identifications of Hanratty, just a couple of people who claimed that they had seen a man who looked like him.

[Above: John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Hanratty’s parents]

A report of John Lennon’s involvement.

On Side One of John & Yoko’s “Live Jam” album (recorded on 15th December 1969) Yoko can be heard to shout “Britain, you killed Hanratty you murderer!”, she then chants Hanratty’s name throughout the opening bars of Don’t Worry Kyoko.

As the [1960s] progressed, the view that Hanratty had in fact been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice began to gather momentum, another man was even seen to confess to the murder on British Television in 1967. Together with Hanratty’s parents, John and Yoko discussed the idea of making a film to back the campaign for an enquiry and this was announced at an Apple press conference on December 10th 1969.

The one and only public screening of the 40-minute colour result was eventually shown in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London on 17th February 1972.

29 years later DNA evidence from the exhumed body of Hanratty was said to prove that he DID commit the murder, although it has been argued that the retained evidence may have been cross contaminated in storage.

Supporters of James Hanratty have come out with the predictable excuse that the DNA evidence must have been contaminated. However, the forensic scientists who worked in the case said this highly unlikely and pointed out that they had found no other DNA profiles on the two exhibits.

Implications for PR campaigns

The DNA tests carried out by the FFS that finally provided definitive proof that James Hanratty killed Michael Gregsten and raped and shot Valerie Storie more or less stopped the bandwagon dead in its tracks.

But there had been for decades almost fanatical and very vociferous support for someone who’d been unanimously convicted of murder, many of whom stood to gain, though it didnt have too much effect except to have the case looked at and found solid twice.

James Hanratty’s supporters claimed that he had no motive, that the police framed him, and that the DNA evidence was contaminated by the government’s experts. NONE of this was proved. Unless there is actual proof of dastardly plots and contamination, these claims against the authorities are unfruitful and unfair.

The most important lesson to be learnt from the A6 murder case is that a bandwagon of journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities being absolutely convinced of someone’s innocence does not make him or her innocent in fact.

Even intelligent and well-intentioned people like Paul Foot and David Steel can mistakenly believe a killer is innocent and shrug off the pain the victims’ families must feel.

Implications for Curt Knox’s campaign

There are a number of parallels to the campaign against justice for Meredith. The families of the victims for one were put through years of hell, the real evidence was wildly distorted, and many good justice professionals and reporters were impugned. .

Hopefully the judges at the Italian Supreme Court will order a new appeal trial early next year, and the new tests the prosecution requested at the appeal on the remaining sample from the large knife can now be carried out.

Professor Novelli testified that it is possible to extract, amplify and attribute DNA with just 10-15 picograms of DNA using cutting-edge technology.  Conti and Vecchiotti extracted approximately 100 picograms of DNA from the blade of the knife.

Sollecito seemed to know there could be incriminating DNA evidence on that knife, and Knox had an extreme reaction not yet accounted for in an innocent way when she was shown a drawer full of knives.

There is enough DNA for more than one test. If Meredith’s DNA is indeed identified once again, the already strong case against Knox and Sollecito can be closed once and for all. And Curt Knox’s PR will be gone.

[Below: the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf]

Posted on 08/23/12 at 04:39 AM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ominous Development For Sollecito And Knox: A DNA Conviction Based On A Tiny Sample Of DNA

Posted by The Machine

[Burgess, image below, murdered Yolande Waddington and, above, Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams]

There is a HUGE dagger hanging over Sollecito and Knox. A UK case resolved this week indicates why.

New tests on the DNA sample on the large knife found in Sollecito’s house which the independent DNA experts refused to do, and the judges failed to re-order despite a strong prosecution request, could result in Knox and Sollecito being ultimately convicted and secure Knox’s extradition to serve out her term.

Lawyers consider it a dead certainty that the Supreme Court will order those tests -  that is if they dont throw out the entire Hellman/Zanetti judgment for illegal scope, or throw out the DNA report for illegally having been ordered in the first place.

(1) Summary of the UK case

David Burgess this week was convicted in Reading of murdering Yolande Waddington, 17, some 46 years after the crime was committed, thanks to all the advances in DNA technology. Back then, he was already convicted of killing Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams.

Burgess is the latest person in Britain to have been finally found guilty of murder years after his crime was committed. Nat Fraser, Gary Dobson and David Norris had been convicted of murder this year after evading justice for a number of years.

In September 2010, Thames Valley Police reviewed the case and with advances in DNA techniques finally gathered the evidence which resulted in Burgess being convicted of Yolande Waddington’s murder.

Forensic experts obtained a partial DNA profile from the blood samples using a new technique called MiniFiler. It differs from previous methods as it can obtain information from smaller pieces of DNA. This is ideal for older cases where samples have degraded over time.

According to the manufacturer’s website

[The MiniFiler kit] increases your ability to obtain DNA results from compromised samples that previously would have yielded limited or no genetic data. This means cold cases can come off the shelf for re-analysis and new, challenging samples have a better chance of delivering interpretable results.

When David Burgess attacked Yolande, he left blood on a number of Yolande’s items, including her hair band and comb. Tests showed the chances of the DNA found on the comb and hair band not being Burgess’s were not more than one in a billion.

[Below: David Burgess then and now who had taunted the police a year ago to “prove it”]

(2) Here are the implications for RS and AK

It puts the 46-day delay (caused by the defenses) in retrieving the bra clasp into perspective.

It’s not the first case of somebody being convicted of murder decades after the crime took place on the strength of DNA evidence. Ronald Castree was convicted of murdering Lesley Molseed 32 years later.

It also highlights the arrogant negligence of the DNA consultants Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti who had refused to carry out ordered test on the knife for flimsy reasons (“the technology is experimental” when it wasn’t) that no US or UK court would have accepted. They had been specifically instructed to do the tests if possible by Judge Hellmann.

At trial in 2009 it was accepted that Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen. There still is no argument about that.

And a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano - had all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade.

Even Greg Hampikian, a forensic expert who argues Knox is innocent, concedes that Meredith’s DNA was definitely found on the blade.

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti didn’t know that Dr Stefanoni analysed the traces on the knife a long six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. Contamination couldn’t possibly have occurred in the laboratory after so long a gap.

At the appeal, Professor Guiseppe Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories that now have the latest accepted technology to carry out a new test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The fact that Judge Hellmann denied the prosecution the opportunity to present evidence to the contrary was a violation of the procedure code. Italian law states the following:

If new evidence about a point is admitted, evidence a contrario proposed by the opposing party must always be admitted too.

Dr Giovanni Galati has now argued in his appeal to the Supreme Court that Judge Hellmann should have allowed a new test to be performed because the technology is NOT experimental but cutting edge. Summary here:

The second [point concerns] the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

As remarked at the top, if the entire judgment or the DNA report are not thrown out for illegal scope, Judge Hellman’s refusal to allow the prosecution’s request to allow a new test on the knife will be the main reason why his verdict will be revoked.

Under Italian law RS and AK still stand accused until the Supreme Court signs off. Anyone who is concerned with the truth and justice and what Meredith stood for and the good name of Italy will want to know whether the remaining DNA on the knife is Meredith’s.

If Meredith’s DNA is identified on the knife it should make conviction and extradition a slam dunk..

[Below: ViaDellaPergola’s video first posted 18 months ago and still relevant]

Posted on 07/21/12 at 04:51 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Evidence & witnessesDNA and luminolAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+Cassation 2013Other legal processesThose elsewhere
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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Action On Dr Galati’s Appeal To The Supreme Court Today Moved Ominously Closer

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation is the large structure at right background]

The ANSA news service is reporting today that Dr Galati’s appeal was formally accepted by the Supreme Court on 15 May.

The case has just been assigned to the First Criminal Division of the Supreme Court which is responsible for appeals involving murder. A hearing and outcome which could involve the appeal being punted back to Perugia to be done again properly might be expected in about seven months.

Still no word from Sollecito or Knox or their teams about the exceptionally tough appeal Dr Galati filed against Judge Hellman’s interim verdict releasing them. Our Italian lawyers are surprised that there has been no announcement of any new legal help.

Do the still-accused or their families understand what is about to hit them? Cassation appeals are considered very specialised and certain Rome lawyers make a good living doing nothing but handle them. 

Dr Galati was a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court and would seem to have the Knox and Sollecito teams who are inexperienced at that level thoroughly out-matched. If Knox fails to appear at any appeal trial re-run she would lose the advantage of personalising her own plight with the help of her flash-mob in the court.

In Italy there is enormous suspicion that politics and money played roles in bending the outcome the last time around. The prosecution clearly felt that, and there seems a good chance the full story will not remain hidden.

We also hear that the continued rabid postings of Curt Knox’s hatchetmen are increasingly under the microscope. No sign their campaign does anything but hurt. It sure put real resolve into this appeal.

Posted on 06/06/12 at 09:37 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Those officially involvedThe prosecutorsThe judiciaryAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+
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Monday, April 30, 2012

Does ANY Competent Lawyer Believe RS And AK Are 100% Innocent? If So See These Questions

Posted by James Raper

[Above: Knox defense legal advisor Ted Simon increasingly seems to have some explaining to do]

After 3 days and growing, unfortunately no sign that pro-innocence lawyers (if any) want to respond.  Mr Simon? Mr Barnett? Ms Nancy Grace? (Well perhaps not you)

The Italian, US and UK lawyers who guide TJMK (of which I am one) look around and wonder: why are genuinely-convinced pro-Knox lawyers (if any) still not comprehensively answering all the open questions?

I contrast this with the various media talking heads who have offered drive-by comments without a really deep understanding of the facts of the case or Italian law.

In the law of all three countries, defense lawyers don’t need to KNOW either way whether their client is guilty or innocent. They don’t have to come out with a complete scenario to account for all the facts and point to innocence that would be the counterpart to my scenario (powerpoints - wait a few seconds to load) seemingly accounting for all the facts, which is still an unchallenged case for guilt.

But a comprehensive rebuttal would do the hard-pressed Sollecito and Knox factions a big favor, and provide a much-needed framework for the media (which is posting many incorrect legal claims), and make the Cassation appeal and the book-writing by Knox and Sollecito so much easier.

Consider the ups-and-downs of the defense legal teams on the case,

It was clear in 2008 that her lawyers absolutely didnt like Knox speaking out, offering different versions that between them made her look distinctly guilty. They didnt like the anti-Mignini campaign run from Seattle and they publicly said so - when Mr Mignini was attacked by a main speaker at an event at Salty’s they actually spoke up and publicly defended him.

In December 2008 NBC TV aired an excellent Dateline report. The main legal talking head, Ted Simon, explained that this was a really tough prosecution case to beat, and that whacking down individual points of evidence would not win the case in the public eye (justice would not be seen to be done) and that only a complete alternative explanation of the crime would do.

At trial in 2009 the defense teams did what they could with a torrent of facts and two unpredictable clients. The cross-examination of Amanda Knox on the stand mid-year in the context of Patrick Lumumba’s alleged framing must have seemed a real low-point for them, as she came across as rather flippant and chilling, and she said a number of things that all defense lawyers would probably prefer that she hadn’t.

Through the publication of Judge Massei’s report the defenses seem to have been faced with an uphill battle.

In 2011 an experienced criminal-case judge was initially appointed to preside over the first appeal. But quite suddenly, to the surprise of many in Italy and the alleged unhappiness of the judge himself, he was removed from the case, and Judge Hellman was appointed in his place. 

Defence counsel would of course have had no role in that surprise change of lead judges for the first appeal, but from Day One of the appeal (spaced out to one session a week by Judge Hellman to suit one of them) the defenses seemed much happier.

The prosecution were now on occasion publicly hinting that they were now stuck with the uphill battle. The defenses now seemed the side energized and confident. But please note these three things which suggest that they knew they were not all-powerful.

    1)  They appealed on very narrow grounds, essentially on some witness testimony and a small part of the forensic evidence, and they kept well away from the multiple alibis, mobile phones and computers, and forensic evidence in the hallway, bathroom, and Filomena’s room.

    2) They never argued that Rudy Guede was the lone-wolf killer in the case (the surprise preference in his report of Judge Hellman) and even put their own witnesses Alessi and Aviello on the stand to in effect try to prove otherwise.

    3) Knox legal advisor Ted Simon was reduced to arguing on TV that there was no evidence of Knox and Sollecito IN the bedroom, while never accounting for the mishmash of alibis or all the mixed-blood and footprint evidence just outside the door.

As Dr Galati’s appeal and public opinion in the three countries are showing, the defences may have mostly won the second battle, with Judge Hellman’s interim verdict and sentence (Knox was still sentenced to three years), but they seem to be falling far short of winning the war for the two clients.

Now the defences again face an uphill battle.

So here we go. An opportunity for any good pro-innocence lawyer to help to win the war for Knox and Sollecito. Forget the forensics for now. I offer these several dozen questions for you and/or Amanda Knox which, truthfully answered, might put many concerns to bed.

I will be happy to post here any real attempt at answering all of these questions by any qualified lawyer who is thoroughly on top of the case - or of course any attempt by Amanda Knox herself.   

    1. Why did you not mention the 16 second 12.07 phonecall to Meredith’s English phone on the 2nd November in your e-mail?  When explaining why you made this call, please also explain why it was to the English phone rather than Meredith’s Italian phone which you knew Meredith used for local calls?

    2. Why did you not mention this call when you phoned Filomena immediately afterwards?

    3. Why did you make so little effort to contact Meredith again after being told by Filomena to do so. Remember the logged 3 and 4 second phone calls?

    4. Why did you tell Filomena that you had already phoned the police when neither you, nor Raffaele, had.

    5. Can you and will you explain the contradiction between your panic at the cottage (as described in the e-mail) and the testimony of all the witnesses who subsequently arrived that you appeared calm, detached and initially unconcerned as to your friend’s whereabouts or safety?

    6. Why did you tell the postal police that Meredith often locked her bedroom door, even when it came to taking a shower, when this was simply not true, as Filomena testified?

    7. Can you and will you explain why you did not try either of Meredith’s phones at the cottage if you were indeed in such a panic about Meredith’s locked door?

    8. Can you and will you explain how you knew that Meredith’s throat had been cut when you were not, according to the witnesses’s testimony, a witness to the scene in Meredith’s bedroom after the door had been kicked in and, with the exception of probably a postal police officer or the ambulance crew, no one had looked underneath the duvet covering the body when you were there?

    9. What made you think that the body was in the cupboard (wardrobe) when it was in fact to the side of the wardrobe? Were you being flippant, stupid, or what, when you said that? Do you think it just a remarkable coincidence that the remark bears close comparison to the crime scene investigators conclusions, based on the blood at the scene, that Meredith had been shoved, on all fours, and head first,  at the door of the wardrobe? She was then turned over on the floor and moved again. How did you know that there was any position prior to her final place of rest?

    10. Will you ever be able to account for the 12.47 pm call to your mother in Seattle ( at 4.45 am Seattle time)? Do you remember this now because it was not mentioned in your e-mail nor were you able to remember it in your court testimony?

    11. Why do you think Raffaele told the police – contrary to your own alibi that you had spent the whole time with Raffaele at his apartment – that you had gone out at 9 pm and did not return until 1 am?

    12. Did you sleep through the music played for half an hour on Raffaele’s computer from 5.32 am?

    13. Were you telling the truth when you told the court that you and Raffaele ate dinner some time between 9.15 and 11 pm? Can you not narrow it down a bit more? The water leak occurred, you said, whilst washing up dishes after dinner. Why then did Raffaele’s father say that Raffaele told him at 8.42 pm about the water leak whilst washing up dishes?

    14. What was the problem about using the mop, rags, sponges etc already at Raffaele’s apartment, to clear up a water spill? Why was the mop from the girl’s cottage so essential and if it was, why not collect it immediately since it was just a short distance away?

    15. Why, when you knew that you were going to Gubbio with Raffaele on the 2nd November, did you not take a change of clothing with you, if needed, when you left the cottage on the afternoon of the 1st?

    16. Why did you need a shower at the cottage when you had already had one at Raffaele’s apartment the previous evening?

    17. If you had needed one again why not have it at his apartment, in a heated apartment, before you set off, or on your return, rather than have a shower on a cold day, in a cold flat?

    18. Why did you not notice the blood in the bathroom, and the bloody footprint on the bathmat, until after your shower? If the blood you then observed was already diluted and faded, how do you explain this?

    19. Do not ignore your blood on the faucet. In your own testimony you said that there was no blood in the bathroom when you and Raffaele left the flat on the afternoon of the 1st.  What is your considered take on this now? Did your ear piercings bleed when having that shower or drying afterwards? If so, why were you not perfectly clear about the matter in your e-mail?  But then again you said that the blood was caked dry, didn’t you?

    20. Why did Raffaele say that, on entering the flat with you, Filomena’s door was open and he saw the damage and mess inside, but you said, in your e-mail, that Filomena’s door was closed when you returned at 10.30 am? Did you subsequently look inside on that occasion, or not? It’s just that if you did, then why did you not mention the break in to Filomena prior to you and Raffaele returning to the cottage?

    21. You are a creative writer so please explain. What is the point of the word “also” in the following extract from your e-mail? “Laura’s door was open which meant that she wasn’t at home, and Filomena’s door was also closed”.

    22. In your trial testimony you mentioned shuffling along the corridor on the bathroom mat after your shower. From the bathroom to your room.  Because there was no towel in the bathroom. You had left it in your bedroom. Then back again. Why is this not mentioned in your e-mail?

    23. In your e-mail you stated that you changed for your shower in your bedroom, and then afterwards dressed in your bedroom. That makes sense. What you don’t explain is why, if you towelled and dressed in your bedroom, there was any need to shuffle back to the bathroom on the bathmat. Why not just carry it back?

    24. But why, in the same testimony, did you then change your mind as to where you had undressed for your shower? Not in your bedroom - saying so was a mistake you said - but you did not say where. Some people might think, uncharitably, that your change of mind was necessary to incorporate the double bathmat shuffle.

    25. Were there any things that you disliked about Meredith? Be honest because we know from her English friends and other sources that there were things that she disliked about you.

    26. Why are pages missing from your diary for October?

    27. Once again, and this time so that it makes some sense, please explain why you permitted the police, on your say so, to believe that poor Patrick Lumumba was involved in Meredith’s murder.  Clearly, had you been at the cottage you would have known that he was not, and had you not been there you could not have known that he was.

There are actually over 200 open questions on this site, and I can think of others, but I consider these between them to be the core several dozen that relate to the quirks,contradictions, omissions and inconsistencies in Amanda Knox’s own account and behaviour. Answer all of these and in the public eye Amanda Knox really could be home free.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Typical Of Dozens Of Cool Italian Reports On Mr Galati’s Appeal - This One By Cronaca

Posted by ziaK

My translation. Please click above for the original.

Meredith: the appeal in Cassation Court has been lodged against the acquittal of Amanda and Raffaele

The appeal agains the acquittal of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox for the murder of Meredith Kercher was lodged this morning by the Prosecutor General. The appeal is contained in 111 pages, signed by the Prosecutor General Giovanni Galati and by the deputy [prosecutor], Giancarlo Costagliola.

In a meeting with journalists, Mr Galati and Mr Costagliola themselves explained that the appeal originates from their firm conviction that Sollecito and Knox are “co-perpetrators” in the murder of Meredith Kercher. Referring to the appeal verdict, Galati and Costagliola spoke of a verdict “needing to be revoked” which has “omissions and a great many errors”.

In their appeal the magistrates therefore call for the reversal of the second-level (Hellman) verdict and thus for a new appeal trial for the two young folk.

Inconsistency of the Reasoning Report  Mr Galati described as “unfortunate” the opening words of the associate judge, Massimo Zanetti, who began the introduction of the report with the claim that “the only certainty” was the death of Meredith Kercher.

“A resounding forecast of the judgement”, the chief prosecutor claimed, “before even having heard the accounts of the prosecution and of the defence”. For Mr Galati, the appeal verdict “seems to be a second first-instance verdict, but in which the judges read the arguments of the defence beforehand [i.e. before hearing the prosecution’s case]”.

He then spoke of “inconsistency” in the reasoning report, of a “useless reasoning which achieves nothing”. In contrast, the Reasoning Report of the first-instance [Massei] trial was, to his mind, “complete and thorough, based on [elements of] evidence that were compatible with each other”.

Levelling to the defences’ stance “I immediately had the feeling that the appeal verdict was profoundly unjust” Costagliola then added, “and I am now convinced that it should be revoked. It is as if the judges had made an ex novo decision - tilting everything to the direction of the defence.”

Rudy Guede [who was definitively sentenced to 16 years through the fast-track trial system - editor’s note] was [in effect] put on trial again, even though he was not a defendant in these proceedings.

It leads one to think that, because the Court held that Guede was guilty of the break-in [of the window of the room belonging to one of the flatmates in via della Pergola - editor’s note], Sollecito and Knox should [therefore] be acquitted of the charge of executing a crime.”

Sollecito: “A 4-year Calvary” In the meantime, Raffaele Sollecito also remarked on the news, and spoke of “hounding against him”. “It is a never-ending story. For me, it is a real Calvary [nightmare] which has lasted 4 years”, he said, after having learned of the appeal lodged against his acquittal and that of Amanda Knox.

He was told the news by one of his defence attorneys, the lawyer Luca Maori. “I agree with him”, the lawyer said, “and to me it seems almost that the prosecutors are hounding him.”

Posted on 02/14/12 at 09:03 PM by ziaK. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Italian Report That Prosecution Appeal Against Knox-Sollecito Appeal Verdict Could Be Filed Tomorrow

Posted by Peter Quennell

Italian media are widely reporting that the prosecution appeal will be filed for sure this week with the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.

We have previously posted on the pending filing of the appeal documents here  and here and here. The well-infomed website Perugia Today now reports that the prosecution appeal may very well be lodged tomorrow, Tuesday.

The report goes on to sardonically remark that, based on media shots like the above, the “supermodel” seems to be losing her charms amid the hard realities that faced her back in Seattle.

The hair in a ponytail is not shining, and the absence of the usual pantsuit indicates that with freedom and the return to the US a few pounds have accumulated on the flanks.

The denim jacket takes away the rest of the charm that this girl had aroused in many in Seattle during the process. Away from the stage lights, the banality of being back daily hits home.

The report goes on to say that the prosecutors and police have never stopped believing in Knox’s guilt, even though Judge Hellman swept many strong indicators under the rug.

Hmmm. Finally Knox and Sollecito really might now want to return and take the stand. Lie detector tests and brain scans might also prove of help.

Posted on 02/14/12 at 01:26 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Amanda Knox Team to Appeal Conviction And 3-Year Sentence For Fingering Patrick Lumumba

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Above: the Supreme Court of Cassation]

Appeals against Judge Hellman’s rulings must be lodged in Rome by 18 February.

Now Reuters is reporting a Knox-team appeal apparently announced by David Marriott. The Knox team probably had little choice but to lodge this seeming long-shot of an appeal.

Judge Hellman’s ruling left her “half pregnant” facing a hard-line and unbendable Supreme Court and it left her mom and dad more vulnerable in their own trial for calunnia for claiming in a UK interview that Knox only “confessed” in fingering Patrick because of duress.

Explanation of calunnia

The charge of calunnia (art. 368) has been commonly translated as “slander” in the English/US media. This translation is incorrect, however, as calunnia is a crime with no direct equivalent in the respective legal systems.

The equivalent of “criminal slander” is diffamazione, which is an attack on someone‟s reputation. Calunnia is the crime of making false criminal accusations against someone whom the accuser knows to be innocent, or to simulate/fabricate false evidence, independently of the credibility/admissibility of the accusation or evidence.

The charges of calunnia and diffamazione are subject to very different jurisprudence. Diffamazione is public and explicit, and is a more minor offence, usually resulting in a fine and only prosecuted if the victim files a complaint, while calunnia can be secret or known only to the authorities. It may consist only of the simulation of clues, and is automatically prosecuted by the judiciary.

The crimes of calunnia and diffamazione are located in different sections of the criminal code: while diffamazione is in the chapter entitled “crimes against honour” in the section of the Code protecting personal liberties, calunnia is discussed in the chapter entitled “crimes against the administration of justice”, in a section that protects public powers.

Judge Hellman essentially contradicted Cassation’s ruling on Guede which agreed strongly that Guede and two others did it (Judge Hellman of course went for the very tenuous lone wolf approach which Judge Micheli and Judge Massei both shot down in some detail) which had many lawyers in Italy doing double-takes. 

Knox in fact fingered Patrick when she was merely a witness who had not even been invited to Perugia police headquarters for the evening and who had volunteered for the questioning.

The interrogators have all claimed she was under no duress except the duress of hearing that Sollecito in the next interrogation room had just called her a liar and destroyed the latest of her various alibis.

Then she had several weeks (as did her mom) to move to spring a devastated Patrick from an adjacent wing in Capanne prison, but of course she didn’t.

Her lawyers never lodged a complaint against the claimed duress and on the witness stand at trial in mid-2010 the prosecutors actually got her to admit that she was treated well.

Key at this stage may be that Knox cannot use her natural advantages of being young and rather dopey and of being able to speak up in court at any time, not under oath or cross-examination, which she used twice in front of Judge Hellman (with lusty sobs and tears for herself and no caring for Meredith).

Cassation works like Supreme Courts elsewhere in Europe and the United States They receive the written appeals and then months or even years later hold very brief hearings, and then almost immediately issue a ruling. It looks to us like the case almost certainly gets bounced back to Perugia - and a new judge - for re-working.

Judge Hellman may have found Patrick’s highly aggressive lawyer impossible to overrule, and he would have been wildly unpopular in Italy to leave Patrick without even his small settlement. If Patrick’s lawyer does not somehow react to this appeal it will be a surprise. He may have the opportunity for rebuttal.

This case has thrown up a lot of possibilities for shortening the Italian process in murder cases and leveling the playing field in favor of victims and families. We’ll round up and post ideas for such reforms already being pushed in Italy by reformers such as Barbara Benedettelli.

Reforms might include no right to defendant statements in court without the possibility of cross-examination, the limiting of judges’ scopes in first appeals, and no jury being required for those appeals.

But everybody sure appreciates those judges’ and juries’ written statements. A precedent the whole world could use.

Posted on 02/07/12 at 04:31 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Don’t Be Fooled By The Recent Claim That The Knox-Sollecito Case Imperils Perugia University

Posted by Peter Quennell

At first glance this headline looks terrible: Perugia: Less Money And Students; University Is at Risk Of Closure

Something has gleefully been made of this in some quarters to the effect that those meanies who prosecuted Knox and Sollecito have seriously dissuaded other students from enrolling and now put the whole university and town at risk.

Look into the cries of risk of closure more closely though, and a rather different and more innocuos explanation emerges.

Google this phrase “università a rischio chiusura” and for all of Italy you will get nearly three MILLION hits.  Three million claims is an awful lot of gloom and doom - and in fact Perugia only came very lately (and very mutedly) to the sobfest.

Universities all over Italy (map of just some above) have been forcefully claiming for several years that this or that faculty or department or program risks closure. This intensified when one year ago the Rome Parliament capped university staff costs.

Articulate academics are hardly famous for simply taking their medicine and keeping quiet about it. Especially as staff cutbacks are also happening in corporations and other institutions all over Italy (and all over Europe, for that matter).

And there are not a lot of empty seats in the lecture halls and seminar rooms in most Italian universities including Perugia.. Most programs still get more applications than there are places.

The number of foreign exchange students headed for Perugia may have dropped slightly, but with current uncertain economic conditions they have also dropped somewhat all over. Perugia continues to attract more and more Chinese students.

Budget wars all over the world are the same. In the best way they know how, the universities are putting in their bids for resources, and trying to show the world how they in particular in the bigger scheme of things really matter. Very healthy.

There are no signs the town or university of Perugia are arguing against the prosecution’s Cassation appeal going forward.

Posted on 01/25/12 at 05:04 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+The wider contextsPerugia contextItalian context
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Translation Of Today’s Corriere Newspaper Report On The Hellmann Motivation Document

Posted by ziaK

Click image above for the original. This is today’s straight reporting. In-depth commentary should start appearing soon.

The appeal court: “There is no proof of offence” : Amanda and Raffaele are good kids

The report contradicts the first instance judgment: “The motive - of an unplanned choice of evil without purpose by two good youngsters, who were well-disposed towards others - is improbable”

MILAN - The board of appeal judges, which acquitted the two young folk of the charge of having murdered Meredith Kercher, talks of the “essential baselessness” of the elements upon which the Court of the first instance based their conviction of Raffaele Sollecito and of Amanda Knox.

“There is no proof of guilt” with regard to Amanda and Raffaele, writes the judges of the Appeal court of Perugia, in the “reasoning” report on the second-grade acquittal ruling, which was published on Thursday. This baselessness, according to the report, “takes precedence over even the equivocality of those same elements”.

“BUILDING BLOCKS” OF THE CONSTRUCTION - In the 144 pages which must be lodged before 3 January, the judges who wrote the report claim that “those same building blocks” which led the first-instance judges to convict Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox “had failed”. “The Assizes Court of the first instance felt the need to seize upon a motive which, however, while it was not corroborrated by any element of proof, was in itself entirely improbable”, says the report, which demolishes, brick by brick, the structure upon which the judges of the first instance based their verdict of guilt.

GOOD KIDS - “The unplanned choice, by two good young folk, who were well-disposed towards others, of evil for evil’s sake, without any other purpose, is even more incomprehensible because it was aimed at upholding the criminal acts of another youth, Rudy Guede, with whom they had no relations, and is unlike their own personal histories, character and human condition.”

RUDY GUEDE - The judges set out these considerations, reflecting briefly on Rudy Guede’s definitive sentence to 16 years of incarceration for his participation in Meredith Kercher’s murder. In the reasoning report, they explain that the hypothesis of the participation of several people in carrying out the crime had been set out in the Ivorian’s appeal-court conviction [which had] “basically upheld all the arguments put forward by the prosecutor”.

According to the judges who acquitted Sollecito and Knox, however, “an analysis of every single element on which the hypothesis of joint contribution [to carrying out the crime] leads one, at the least, to doubt the necessary participation of several people in perpetrating the crimes in question”. The Assizes court of appeal therefore stated that they could “concur with” the appeal court conviction with regard to Guede’s responsibility, without “assuming that this conviction has any probatory relevance” as far as determining the responsibility of Sollecito and Knox is concerned.

“The only evidentiary elements which remain unopposed (the crime of “calunnia’ towards Patrick Lumumba) but without the aggravating circumstance, the incompletely demonstrated truth of the alibi, and the dubious reliability of the witness (Quintavalle), when taken as a whole, do not even allow us to hold that the guilt of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito has in any way been clearly demonstrated”.

AMANDA UNDER STRESS - “Over and above the formal aspect”, the judges write, “the context in which those declarations were made was clearly characterized by psychological conditions which had become, for Amanda Knox, a truly unbearable burden. In that context, it is understandable that Knox, yielding to the pressure and to fatigue, had hoped to put an end to the situation, by giving to those who were interrogating her what they, at heart, wanted to hear: a name, an assassin.

By giving “the news” of that name to those who were interrogating her so harshly, Amanda Knox hoped, no doubt, to put an end to that pressure, by then - after many hours - a real torture, while adding details and building a brief story around that name was surely not particularly difficult, since many of the details and many conjectures had already appeared the previous day in many newspapers, and were in any case doing the rounds of the town, given the small size of Perugia”.

According to the judges, furthermore, for Amanda “it would have been easier to name the real author of the crime” because “basically, she lived in that house, and to have been there at the time the crime was committed, in her own room, perhaps entertaining [herself with] Raffaele Sollecto, would have been a completely normal circumstance, to the extent that it would certainly not entail responsibility for a crime committed in the room beside [hers]”.

WHO MUST JUDGE - “Having excluded the existence of the proof of guilt which the two current defendants are charged with”, the judges write, “it is not up to this Court to suggest how the affair [the crime] might really have been carried out. Nor whether the author of the crime was one or more than one person, nor whether or to what extent other investigative hypotheses might have been neglected.”

Posted on 12/16/11 at 08:33 PM by ziaK. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Breaking News Thursday: Judge Hellmann’s Sentencing Released In Italian; Responses From Italy Follow

Posted by Peter Quennell

Quick summary of main points of the 150 page report by our Italian poster ncountryside below. 

We will have a roundup post on the reporting and takes of the Italian media on Friday and a full translation courtesy of the fluent Italian speakers on PMF in due course.

At first glance our lawyers in three countries are not at all impressed. Any seamless legitimizing is seemingly not obvious to them.

Page 8
Lumumba was arrested following “spontaneous” Knox’s statements.Please note: Court’s quote.

Page 11
The previous report is long even (italian: “ben”) 425 pages.

Page 12
Quintavalle: testimony, however, after one year

Page 27
Guede and sentence of Supreme Court. The sentence is not binding for the Appeal Court mainly because: defendants would be judged on the basis of evidence obtained in their absence during Guede’s trial; Guede’s trial was fast Track (“abbreviato”).

Page 28
Bra clasp, knife, wounds, break-in: examining separately all these facts is strengthened the hypothesis of the presence of an only one person in the house.

Page 30
In page 30 cartwheels are recognized as “gymnastic maneuvers“ ( italian: “manovre ginniche”).

Page 30-35
Calunnia. AK accused Lumumba because exhausted by obsessive interrogations without lawyer. She was well aware of accusing an innocent person, so she is guilty but without aggravating circumstances. Anyway her guilt cannot be used as evidence to the murder.

Page 40
Guede surprisingly has never been questioned .... follows the description of the well known hearings ... conclusion: Guede is unreliable also for this trial, in particular during the hearing of 27 June and also his letter. Instead the chat from Germany with his friend Benedetti is considered reliable.

Page 42
Aviello, Alessi, Castelluccio, De Cesare, Trincan. Called by defense are considered unreliable but the prosecution can not exploit them as witnesses against the defendants.

Page 44 and following.
Curatolo. He is a tramp, now held in prison, with a decline of his mental faculties. Unreliable.

Pages 51-55
Quintavalle. One year later.

Pages 56-58
Capezzali. Unreliable
Monacchia. Not clear.

Pages 58-61
Phone calls. For the Court, Bongiorno’s considerations are valid while Massei is wrong, so the time of death is fixed not later than 22,30

Page 64
Murder weapon.The arguments of defense consultants seem more convincing than the prosecution’s.

Page 87
The clue represented by presence of Meredith’s dna on the knife cannot be considered valid/existing

Page 92
Bra clasp. Contaminated before gathering

Page 100
Footprint on the bathmat. Probably belongs to Guede

... Mixed blood ...

Pages 114-123
Staged break-in. Real and not staged.

Pages 123-130
Alibi. Erroneous conclusions drawn by the Court because based on erroneous scientific expertise .

Page 129
The shower. Not implausible

Page 131
Phone call to Meredith at 12.07. Nothing of suspect.

Page 137
Remain; 1) calunnia 2) non completely proved alibi.

Posted on 12/16/11 at 06:33 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Nancy Grace’s “Miscarriage Of Justice” Observation Goes Viral, Google Says It’s On 38,000 Sites

Posted by Peter Quennell

Amanda Knox will be lucky if CNN’s popular legal commentator Nancy Grace doesn’t get on her case the way she still is on Casey Anthony’s.

Nancy Grace says there is NO innnocent explanation for Knox’s second written confession placing her at the house (with Patrick Lumumba) and including observations that only someone who really was there could have known.

We have noticed that time and again commentators have come out batting for Knox, read the evidence, and then gone quiet. Nancy Grace’s CNN colleague Jane Velex-Mitchell had swallowed the Kool Aid at one point, but now she is ambivalent and careful.

Here is Huffington Post Media’s version of what Nancy Grace said last night.

Nancy Grace issued a typically blunt verdict on Amanda Knox during a Monday interview.

The outspoken HLN host and fierce ‘Dancing with the Stars’ competitor declared her true feelings about Knox when she spoke to Access Hollywood following her waltz performance Monday night.

“I was very disturbed, because I think it is a huge miscarriage of justice,” Grace said. “I believe that while Amanda Knox did not wield the knife herself, I think that she was there, with her boyfriend, and that he did the deed, and that she egged him on. That’s what I think happened.”

In Knox’s final plea, she told an Italian appeals court that she was not present the evening her British roommate Meredith Kercher was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered in their shared apartment. Grace said she did not think Knox is telling the truth. “I believe her original statement to the police - that she was there in the home when her roommate was murdered was true,” Grace told Access Hollywood.

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook exploded with celebratory messages on Monday as the judge proclaimed Knox’s innocence, allowing the study abroad student to finally return home to Seattle, Washington after four years in an Italian prison.

Grace was not one of those supporters, saying that while she would love to believe Knox innocent, “I just happen to know the facts.” Grace was even harsher when asked if her show would compete with other networks to get the first Knox interview.

“I’m not trying to get Amanda Knox’s first interview because… my show does not pay for interviews…Second, I don’t think she’s going to tell the truth anyway, so what’s the point?” Grace responded.

THAT will get the noses of thousands of new followers firmly into the REAL evidence. Not all that made-up stuff. Other legal commentators may follow Nancy Grace’s lead, because she is the real pace-setter and power broker in that community.

The equally popular Fox News political and legal commentator Bill O’Reilly discussed the verdict on Monday night with Judge Andrew Napolitano, another prominent commentator. This is from the the summary on Bill O’Reilly’s website.

]Bill O’Reilly] concurred that Amanda Knox likely knows what happened on the night British student Meredith Kercher was murdered; therefore, we shouldn’t really be happy with this outcome since a terrible crime is unsolved.

Pity that Judge Napolitano claimed that Amanda Knox was interrogated as a suspect for 56 hours without an attorney. That did NOT happen. She had an attorney present at all times. Someone please correct him. .

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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 09:11 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Understanding Yesterday’s Knox/Sollecito Verdict

Posted by Maundy Gregory

For those who have been reading my blog Maundy Gregory it will not come as a surprise when I say I am less then wholly satisfied with yesterday’s acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

I’m very much with the unruly mob shouting “shame!” outside the courthouse this evening. In spirit, you understand.

I don’t even believe this is a case where a court has erred with two left feet on the wrong side of the fine line between technical and reasonable doubt. I’ll not go into the detail of the evidence, since, over the next few days, that will undoubtedly be done thousands of times with greater inaccuracy than I could ever achieve. But perhaps it suffices to give the view that it is such that no acquittal could have been possible under normal circumstances.

It won’t be possible to know how the decision of the court was reached until it publishes its detailed motivation report. But I find it hard to imagine how it will make sense. The disheartening expectation I have, which I think others will share, it that it will offer the reasoning of a court that has crumpled under the pressure of a public relations campaign. A humiliating day for Italy.

And, of course, a heartbreaking tragedy if you are able to spare a thought for the Kercher family. Tomorrow, one of their daughter’s murderers will fly home to ticker-tape and a small fortune. Another, like the drummer in successful rock band, will take a smaller share of the royalties, but the proceeds, taking into account possible government compensation, may still be enough so that he is at liberty to choose whether or not he ever wants to work in his life or not. Merdith Kercher’s death seems almost reduced to the level of a smart career move.

Yesterday’s verdict will undoubtedly, however, be appealed. That’s more than a speculative exercise, since it does happen than people are acquitted at first appeal and then found guilty by Italy’s supreme court. But the focus of the second appeal will be much narrower, restricted only to questions of law and logic. Although that is construed fairly widely in the Italian system, what it means is that the decision of the appeal court can’t be corrected simply because it is wrong.

It will have to be shown to be legally unsound before any evidence can be re-examined. Until the motivation report from the appeal is published, it is impossible to say what the chances of the prosecutors succeeding in a further appeal might be.

The case, because it has had such a high profile, may have ramifications in Italy for two reasons.

Firstly, even though the reasons for the decision will not officially be known for a few weeks, it can be assumed that the court has rejected entirely the forensic evidence provided by the police. That’s not a small matter. As in most European countries, forensic testing in Italy is centralised, so an implication of the verdict may be that the entire forensic science set-up in the country is simply not fit for purpose or, at least, it wasn’t at the time of the investigation.

A modern forensic science service ought to be able to handle DNA evidence that, as in this case, comes from a very small sample or from an item that had lain in situ for some weeks without difficulty. The Italian police would undoubtedly claim that their forensic teams are as capable as any in the world. I’m not in a position to deny that. But, from a practical point-of-view, if the whole of the scientific aspect of a prosecution is capable of simply crumbling in court, it must be important to try to understand why that happened.

Secondly, reform of the judicial system in Italy is a very live issue, in no small part because Silvio Berlusconi stands accused of various crimes and so he has made judicial reform a priority. I think it is unlikely that Italian public opinion will be behind yestrerday’s verdict and it will be seen by many as an example of how Italian justice is far too lenient with defendants.

Personally, I think Italy should take caution before making too reactionary an interpretation of the Knox/Sollecito case. It may be fair to point out that Italian appeals can tend to be slanted so that the focus for live examination is selected aspects of the defence case, so that much of the prosecution case takes a back seat. And there may be some room for quibbling about certain evidentiary rules applied in the case (the exclusion from evidence of Knox’s false allegations against Patrick Lumumba, for example).

But the decision yesterday can’t just be about a systematic problem. The automaticity of appeals in Italy may indeed favour defendants. But, surely, a guilty person ought to remain guilty regardless of how may re-trials are granted.

If, like me, you’re disheartened by yesterday’s verdict, then I don’t really have much to offer by way of consolation, except the observation that justice is not always done and that’s something we have to live with. And at least you know, next time you kill someone, to think about who is going to do your PR before you think about who your lawyer is going to be.

Posted on 10/05/11 at 02:24 AM by Maundy Gregory. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Media Reaction Commences: What Is It About Amanda Knox…

Posted by Peter Quennell

Media can be a fickle friend. Big bucks may now be dictating a U-turn. One early indicator?

We should be happy for her, the innocent victim of this terrible miscarriage of justice.

Yet there is something disquieting about Amanda Knox, something that slightly chills the blood. Those piercing blue eyes, as cold as the steel of the knife that slit Meredith Kercher’s throat, have hardly flinched during her court appearances.

Not since Lindy-the dingo-did-it-Chamberlain was cleared of murdering her baby has a woman so divided public opinion.

Amanda’s prison diaries reveal an astonishing calmness and self-belief. While most 20-year-old girls falsely accused of a vile sex murder would be in pieces, she was planning her 21st birthday party, right down to the guest list.

There is hardly a mention of the brutal murder of her friend in the bedroom next to her. It’s all about Amanda.

Even The Independent’s Peter Popham is pouring cold water on the parade. Helping to find “the real killers” may be a way to help stem this tide.

Posted on 10/04/11 at 03:22 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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 10/04/11 at 03:58 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, October 03, 2011

Knox And Sollecito Declared Not Guilty But With Angry Booing Outside The Courtroom

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 10/03/11 at 11:57 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Van Watch: Around 8:00 PM Perugia Time And The Vans Are Reported Still At Capanne

Posted by Peter Quennell

The BBC and other news services are keeping a close eye on the gates of Capanne Prison.

When the vans carrying Sollecito and Knox exit and head back for Perugia (at the top of the massif in the shot below) the judges and lay judges will have something to announce.

Added: the two blue vans are on their way back to Perugia from Capanne and they should be arriving at the court about now.  The defendants may enter at the level of the street tunnel that runs right under the court. If so then they walk up or catch an elevator.

When they were found guilty in 2009 they exited that same way.  The court is one level below street level but if the windows had clear glass in them the views to the east would be terrific. The court is NOT underground as some of the media commentators have claimed.

Posted on 10/03/11 at 09:54 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, 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 08:04 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Twentieth Appeal Session: Translated Transcript Of Amanda Knox’s Final Plea To The Court

Posted by Peter Quennell

The image above and Knox’s remarks below are from one of the live broadcasts of the pressroom feed.

Members of the court. Many times people have said I am some other person, people don’t understand whom I am. The only thing different from four years ago is what I have suffered. I lost a friend, a girlfriend, in the most brutal way in the most unexplained manner.

My trust in the police authorities has been betrayed. I have had to dealt with unfair and unfounded charges. I have paid with my life for things that I did not commit.

Four years ago I did not know what tragedy was. I have never faced so much anger before. I didn’t know how to interpret it. How did we react when we found out Meredith had been killed? I did not believe it. How was it possible?

Her bedroom was next to mine. She was killed in our home. If I had been there that night I would have died. The only difference is, I was not there. I trusted the police’s sense of duty and trust. I trusted them completely. I was betrayed on the night of November 5. I was manipulated.

I am not who they say I am. I am not violent. I don’t have a lack of respect for life. And I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn’t there at the crime scene.

I had good relationships with everyone who lived in my flat. We all had good relationships. We helped each other. I shared my life, particularly with Meredith. We were friends. She was worried about me. She was very kind to me.

I have never run away from the truth. I insist after four desperate years, that our innocence is true and needs to be recognized. I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I don’t want my life and my future taken away from me for something that I didn’t do.

I am innocent. We do not deserve this. We never did anything to deserve this. I have the utmost respect to this court and the care that it has shown. Thank you.

Posted on 10/03/11 at 04:14 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Twentieth Appeal Session: Inside The Court This Morning Before The Procedings Started

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 10/03/11 at 03:54 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Twentieth Appeal Session: The TV Media Assembled At Front Entrance Of The Court Today

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 10/03/11 at 03:20 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Nineteenth Appeal Session: The Prosecution Seems To Be Looking Confident In Court

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 09/30/11 at 04:54 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pseudoinnocence: Is This Possibly The Predicament Of Amanda Knox?

Posted by Vivianna

In a dissertation titled Pseudoinnocence – An Invitation To Murder, Barbara Shore explores the phenomenon of “pseudoinnocence” in American culture as an inadequate response to the “conflagration of violence that encircles us today.” These are her introductory words:

“America is a country long haunted by its pseudoinnocence, by its blinding prolonged naivete. We are a culture that closes our eyes to all that is too painful to see, persuading ourselves that we have escaped, that we are neither interdependent nor vulnerable, or that we are victims.

We cannot come to terms with our own unwitting complicity in the destructiveness brought to ourselves or others. Capitalizing on such naivete, we fail to see how such ‘innocence that cannot include the demonic becomes evil’ (Rollo May 50).” (Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences Mar, 2001 Vol 61(9-A))

Ms. Shores’ words, although published six years before the murder of Meredith Kercher even took place, represent an eerily accurate description of Amanda Knox’s predicament, even reflecting some of the terminology employed in Attorney Carlo Pacelli’s exposition on September 26, during the closing portion of the first appeal trial.  As a reminder, Pacelli, who represents Patrick Lumumba in his civil suit against Knox, pointed out that Knox “has a split personality, fresh-faced, the daughter everyone would like, Saint Maria Goretti, and then with her histrionic side [she is] an impostor, she is a she-devil, satanic, diabolic, addicted to borderline behaviour.”

Although Pacelli’s words have been seen by some as too harsh, they carry a heavy implication mirrored in the above quote from Shore – that “innocence that cannot include the demonic becomes evil”; in other words, that if Knox cannot reconcile her two sides and seek atonement, she has no hope of redeeming herself as a human being.

I have argued before, in a comment posted here on the TJMK board, that Knox is not likely to make a confession in the near future due to the pressures exerted by her family’s innocence campaign. The innocence campaign is, in my opinion, just one of the factors which prevent Knox from admitting her direct involvement in the crime against Meredith Kercher.

The other factors may include her failure to reconcile the two parts of her persona (innocent, carefree, kind, compassionate young woman versus “diabolical” murderer) and perhaps a culturally-engrained inability to accept involvement in a destructive act. The discussion of these latter factors is perhaps best left to someone with formal training in psychology or sociology.  What I would like to enlarge upon is my conviction that there is a direct correlation between the strength of the innocence campaign and Knox’s unwillingness to admit guilt.

I would like to draw your attention to a conversation between Knox, her mother (Edda Mellas), and her father (Curt Knox) which took place in the early days of the investigation, when Amanda had already been detained.  This conversation will be well-known to those who have been consistently following this case as evidence that, in the early stages, Knox may have been inclined to give a confession.  I have chosen not to include it, but it is readily available on both TJMK and PMF. 

The reason why I believe this conversation to be so important is not only because it might contain the beginning of the confession, but also because it highlights the involvement of her family in defining her position.  I would argue that, had Knox been left to her own devices, she might have cracked in the early stages and given an accurate description of that night’s events, saving both herself, her family, the victim’s family, and anyone involved in the trial considerable grief, time, money, and effort.

At that particular point in time, she may not have been as psychologically divided and conflicted, and she may have had an easier time accepting her criminal side and perhaps moving on to experience positive changes.  It is, however, her parents’ firm belief in her innocence and in her inability to commit such a heinous crime that has consistently mired her in a difficult position.

As we well know, the Knox-Mellas family hired a PR firm, Gogerty-Mariott, to clean up Amanda’s image after unflattering stories started appearing in European tabloids.  The PR campaign has grown exponentially from a few stories about Amanda’s childhood, complete with baby pictures, to what I consider to be a falsification of public opinion. 

On the one hand, there is a concerted effort to offer inaccurate information about existing evidence (limiting the crime scene to Meredith’s room, stating that there is no evidence linking Amanda and Raffaele to the murder, pushing Rudy Guede as the “lone wolf” assassin, etc.), which is then fed to news outlets unwilling to do their own research and pushed upon the unsuspecting public via books, blogs, and forums. Then comes the even more insidious effort to falsify the public’s response to these stories, by hiring posters to write positive reviews for FOA books, post positive comments to inaccurate stories, and shout down any reasonable opposition.

Of course, this entire effort does not come cheaply, and rumors say that the PR campaign’s tab is around one million.  This is an enormous debt to place on the shoulders of a young woman who already needs to contend with the guilt of having committed an incomprehensible, heinous, violent crime.  While it is difficult to feel sympathy for any of Meredith’s killers, I find it impossible not to feel a certain amount of compassion for Amanda, who most likely never asked for this campaign to be initiated.  How could she admit her role in this crime when a million dollars has already been spent to trumpet her innocence?

In addition to the material aspects, there are social and psychological aspects to contend with.  While many of the FOA members are paid for their public appearances and statements (and may not harbor any personal opinions about the case), there seem to be individuals who are supporting Amanda’s innocence out of personal conviction.  Some of them may have even donated money to help her family.  How could she disappoint everyone who invested money and time into supporting her, from her own family to charitable strangers? How could she look them in the eye, after four years of lies and obfuscation, and admit that she was terrified of being punished, or incapable of seeing herself as a murderer?

Peter Quennell has suggested to me that this may be an example of “path dependence,” a concept used in both economics and social sciences to describe a scenario in which current actions and decisions are inexorably determined by past decisions. While my personal knowledge of path dependence is limited, I think that it is certainly applicable in this case and that it can be traced back to the prison conversation discussed before.  During the conversation, Amanda’s parents indirectly communicated to her that the course had been set – that the legal team would handle all questions and that she was not to communicate her thoughts without supervision; also that a confession would be unacceptable because she was undeniably innocent. 

As to why her family took this position, I think we can find the answer in the concept of pseudoinnocence – the inability to accept responsibility for and involvement in a terrible event, accompanied by a forced distancing from anything that could be considered troubling. 

It is not a coincidence that Amanda has been consistently portrayed as a victim of the supposedly corrupt, medieval Italian justice system, as someone who has been “railroaded” in a “third-world” country, as her supporters want us to believe. It is more comforting to become a victim than to accept responsibility and acknowledge that Amanda’s problems may have started at home, long before she was on a plane for Perugia. I believe that the innocence campaign is not only meant to exculpate Amanda, but to also exculpate her family from any perceived contributions to the formation of a murderer. 

As long as Amanda’s family continues to invest so much money and effort into supporting her innocence, and to maintain so much publicity around her case, I believe that any professional attempts to help Amanda admit her involvement will prove ineffective. This entire undertaking, combined with her own psychological dividedness and any cultural influences, is placing an enormous amount of unnecessary responsibility on Amanda and displacing a more appropriate type of responsibility. 

Amanda, at this point, should feel responsibility towards Meredith and Meredith’s family primarily.  While the murder itself cannot be reversed and no true solace offered, a confession would offer a certain amount of closure to those who knew and loved Meredith. Instead, Amanda’s sense of responsibility is being artificially redirected to not disappointing her own family and supporters, and to not betraying the trust they have placed in her innocence. Aside from being hurtful to the victim’s family, this situation is also damaging for Amanda herself, as it’s setting her on a path of continued “evil” rather than one of heal

Posted on 09/28/11 at 08:29 PM by Vivianna. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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