All our posts on Others elsewhere
Friday, December 20, 2013
Multiple Provably False Claims About “Forced Confession” Really Big Problem For Dalla Vedova & Knox
Posted by FinnMacCoolClick here to go straight to Comments
The Breaking News
This post goes live just as the news breaks that it was Knox lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova who filed these patently false claims against the justice system of Italy with the European Court.
1. “There would be no need for these theatrics.”
Amanda Knox has not been present for any part her latest appeal against her own murder conviction. Nevertheless, she has made two meretricious contributions to the proceedings.
First, on the day that the prosecution opened its presentation of the case against her, she announced that her lawyers had filed an appeal against her slander conviction to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). ECHR hears only allegations of human rights abuses, which must be reported within six months of the alleged incident (or within six months after all local avenues have been exhausted; in this case none has even been explored).
This out-of-date application to an inappropriate body in pursuit of a groundless allegation is therefore bound to fail.
Knox’s second publicity stunt came on the day that her own defense lawyers began their own presentation. She sent a five-page email in English and Italian, with grammatical mistakes in each language, protesting her innocence and affirming that the reason she is not present in the court is because she is afraid of it.
There are many comments that could be made about the email, but perhaps its most grievous legal error comes in the aside where she claims that the “subsequent memoriali (sic), for which I was wrongfully found guilty of slander, did not further accuse but rather recanted that false ‘confession’.”
That singular document does not recant her previous statements (“I stand by what I said last night…”), but does contain further accusations against Patrick Lumumba (“I see Patrik (sic) as the murderer”), as well as seeking to cast suspicion on Sollecito (“I noticed there was blood on Raffaele’s hand”) and an unnamed “other person”.
However, by claiming that she has been “wrongfully found guilty” on that charge of calunnia, she is refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Italian Supreme Court, which has definitively found against her on that count, and also of the Hellmann appeal court (the only court to date that has not found her guilty of the main charge of murdering Meredith Kercher).
Dr Alessandro Crini presented the prosecution’s case on November 25th/26th. It was not a particularly theatrical performance, but rather a very long summary of the many items of evidence against Sollecito and Knox.
The most theatrical element of the case so far has been when one of the defendants insisted that the judge should read out five vacuous pages of her email immediately before her own lawyers presented their case on her behalf.
This gives a certain dramatic irony to Knox’s claim, “If the prosecution truly had a case against me, there would be no need for these theatrics”.
Such ironies appear to be lost on Knox, however, since she seems incapable of reading back over her own work for solecisms or contradictions. (In the email itself, for example, in consecutive sentences she writes: “I had no contact with Rudy Guede. Like many youth in Perugia I had once crossed paths with Rudy Guede.”)
One of the many errors she makes in the email is to put in writing some of the wild claims that she and/or her supporters have previously made regarding the witness interview she gave on the night of November 5th/6th 2007.
The purpose of the current post is to consider that interview in greater detail, using as source material primarily Knox’s memoir “Waiting to be heard” (2013) and Raffaele Sollecito’s memoir, “Honor Bound” (2013), abbreviated here to WTBH and HB respectively.
2. “When we got there they said I couldn’t come inside.”
Amanda Knox was not even supposed to be at the police station on the evening of November 5th, 2007. She should have been attending a candlelit vigil, in which Meredith Kercher’s friends, classmates and supportive well-wishers met at eight o’clock at Corso Vannucci to process through to the Duomo, carrying candles and photographs of the victim.
A friend of Meredith’s – a young Polish student – texted Amanda Knox to invite her to this vigil, but Knox had better things to do. (WTBH: 82) She accompanied Sollecito to his friend Riccardo’s house for a bite to eat (HB: 29) where she absent-mindedly strummed a ukulele. (WTBH:82)
Knox writes of the vigil: “I wanted to be there but… the decision was made for me” because “Raffaele had somewhere else to be”. (WTBH: 82)
One consistent feature of her narrative is her refusal to accept responsibility for anything, including her failure to turn up for her murdered roommate’s vigil, but we should note also that the vigil (eight o’clock) and the dinner (nine o’clock) both take place within the timeframe of her supposed series of interrogations, which according to her email involved “over 50 hours in four days”.
By her own account, when she ignored the police’s request not to accompany Sollecito to the Questura and just came anyway, it was the first contact she had had with the police in well over 24 hours.
Let us consider what was happening in the early part of the evening of November 5th, 2007.
The police are at the station studying the evidence; Meredith’s friends are proceeding downtown with candles and photographs of the victim; and Knox is playing the ukulele at Riccardo’s house.
Far from taking part in a lengthy coercive interview, Amanda Knox had gone to her University classes as normal, had bumped into Patrick Lumumba, whom she would later accuse of Meredith’s murder, and had later skipped the vigil to have dinner with Sollecito. (WTBH:83)
Meanwhile, back at the Questura, the police could see that Raffaele Sollecito’s stories simply did not add up.
They therefore called Sollecito and asked him to come into the station for further questioning. They told him that the matter was urgent; that they wanted to talk to him alone; and that Amanda Knox should not accompany him. (HB: 29)
Sollecito responded that he would prefer to finish eating first. (The same meal is used as an excuse for not attending the vigil at eight o’clock, and for delaying their response to the police request at around ten.) By his own account, Sollecito resented being ordered what to do by the police (HB: 29), and so he finished eating, they cleared the table together, and Amanda Knox then accompanied him to the station. (HB:30; WTBH: 83)
Naturally the police were both surprised and disappointed to see her. Their civilian interpreter, who had worked flat out through the weekend accompanying not only Amanda Knox but also the rest of Meredith’s English-speaking friends, had gone home. The only person they were planning to speak to that night was Sollecito, and even he was late. According to Knox, the police were not expecting their interview with Sollecito to take very long:
When we got there they said I couldn’t come inside, that I’d have to wait for Raffaele in the car. I begged them to change their minds. (WTBH: 83)
The police were not prepared for an interview with Amanda Knox. They had asked her not to come, and they tried to send her away when she got there. It was late on a Monday evening and there were no lawyers or interpreters hanging around on the off-chance that someone might walk into the police station and confess.
However, that’s what happened. And it is on that basis that Amanda Knox is now claiming that the interview which she herself instigated was improperly presented by the police:
I was interrogated as a suspect, but told I was a witness. (Knox email, December 15, 2013)
But she wasn’t a suspect. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to be there.
3. “Who’s Patrick?”
We will now examine Knox’s claim that “the police were the ones who first brought forth Patrick’s name” (Knox blog, November 25th, 2013).
She has already admitted in court that this is not true. In fact, it is clear from her own book that the police did not even know who Patrick Lumumba was, at that point.
If they had suspected him or anybody else, they would have brought them in for questioning, just as they had already questioned everyone else they thought might be able to throw some light on the case.
The police plan that evening was to question Sollecito in order to establish once and for all what his story was. They would perhaps have brought Knox back the following day (together with the interpreter) to see how far Knox’s story matched Sollecito’s. In the event, their plan was disrupted first because Sollecito delayed coming in, and second because when he finally arrived, he had brought Knox with him.
“Did the police know I’d show up,” Knox asks rhetorically, “or were they purposefully separating Raffaele and me?” (WTBH: 83) She does not offer a solution to this conundrum, but the answer is (b), as the patient reader will have noticed.
She thus turned up to the police station despite being expressly asked not to come. The police asked her to wait in the car and she refused, complaining that she was afraid of the dark. They allowed her inside.
Today, she might complain that she “was denied legal counsel” (Knox email, December 15th 2013) as she entered the Questura, but there was absolutely no reason for a lawyer to be present, since by her own account, all the police were asking her to do is go home.
Knox did not go home. According to WTBH, while Sollecito is in the interview room, she sits by the elevator, doing grammar exercises, phones her roommates about where to live next, talks to “a silver-haired police officer” about any men who may have visited the house (she claims to have first mentioned Rudy Guede at this point, identifying him by description rather than name) and does some yoga-style exercises including cartwheels, touching her toes and the splits.
It is at this point – somewhere between 1130 and midnight – that Officer Rita Ficarra invites Knox to come into the office so that they can put on record Knox’s list of all the men she could think of who might have visited the house.
Knox takes several pages (WTBH 83-90) to explain how she went from doing the splits to making her false accusation against Patrick Lumumba. Like much of her writing, these pages are confused and self-contradictory.
One reason for the confusion is that Knox is making two false accusations against the police, but these accusations cannot co-exist. First, she attempts to demonstrate that the police made her give the name of Patrick Lumumba. Second, she wants us to believe that Officer Ficarra struck her on the head twice.
This is denied by all the other witnesses in the room, and Knox did not mention it in her latest story about applying to ECHR. In her memoriale (WTBH: 97), she claims she was hit because she could not remember a fact correctly.
But in her account of the interview (WTBH: 88), Knox explains that Ficarra hit her because, the fourth time she was asked, “Who’s Patrick?”, she was slow in replying, “He’s my boss.” This is the exact opposite of not remembering a fact correctly. Knox is so keen to make both false charges against the police stick that she fails to notice that one contradicts the other.
Knox at least provides us with two fixed times that allow us to verify the start and finish times of the formal interview. It began at 1230, when Anna Donnino arrived to interpret, and ended at 0145 when Knox signed her witness statement.
Bearing in mind that this statement would have needed to be typed up and printed before she signed it, the interview thus took little over an hour, and was not the “prolonged period in the middle of the night” that her recent blog post pretends. (We might also remember that Knox’s regular shift at Le Chic was from 9 pm to 1 am, meaning that the interview began during her normal working hours.) (WTBH:31)
WTBH also flatly contradicts Knox’s own claim that her accusation of Lumumba was coerced by the police.
According to her own account, she first mentions her boss (although not by name) in the less formal conversation, before the interpreter’s arrival, telling the police : “I got a text message from my boss telling me I didn’t have to work that night.” (WTBH: 84)
The police appear to pay no attention to the remark (which undermines Knox’s argument that the police were pressing her to name Lumumba) but instead keep questioning her on the timings and details of what she did on the night of the murder. And Knox finds those details difficult either to recall or to invent.
Donnino arrives at half past midnight, and the formal interview begins.
Again, the focus is on the timings of Amanda Knox’s movements on the night of the murder, and again she is having difficulty remembering or inventing them. Ficarra picks up Knox’s cell phones and observes: “You texted Patrick. Who’s Patrick?” and Knox answers, “My boss at Le Chic.” (WTBH: 86)
There is a short discussion about this text message, and then a second police officer asks her: “Who’s Patrick? What’s he like?” This time Knox answers: “He’s about this tall… with braids.” They then continue to discuss the text message, and then the police ask her a third time, “Who’s this person? Who’s Patrick?” Knox again replies: “Patrick is my boss.” (WTBH: 87)
Donnino then makes the intervention about how traumatic events can sometimes affect memory. Such events certainly seem to have an effect on the memory of the police, because one of them asks Knox a fourth time: “Who’s Patrick?” At this point, Knox claims in her memoir that Ficarra struck her on the head. (WTBH: 87)
This is nothing to do with failing to remember a fact correctly, because the fact is correct: Patrick Lumumba is indeed her boss.
The police continue to believe that she is hiding something, and they ask her who she is protecting. After a few minutes of questioning along those lines, Knox has an epiphany in which she claims that the face of Patrick Lumumba appeared before her and she gasps: “Patrick – it’s Patrick.”
If we believe one of Knox’s other stories, that the police were cunningly trying to get her to name Patrick Lumumba, we might expect them to be quite pleased to have succeeded at this point. But according to Knox, their response is to ask her a fifth time, “Who’s Patrick?” The whole room must have wanted to chorus at this point, “He’s her boss!”, but according to Knox, it is she herself who simply repeats: “He’s my boss.”
4. “I was also hit in the head when I didn’t remember a fact correctly…”
Shortly after lunch on Tuesday November 6th, Knox wrote a piece of paper (known as her “memoriale”) in which she makes her first accusation that the police hit her. She hands this memoriale to Rita Ficarra, the very person she would later name as doing the hitting. We have noted above that in her account of the interview, the context Knox provides for this alleged blow is as follows:
This singularly repetitive catechism is supposed to have taken place at around one o’clock in the morning.
However, writing the following afternoon, Knox describes the event like this:
Not only was I told I would be arrested and put in jail for 30 years, but I was also hit in the head when I didn’t remember a fact correctly. I understand that the police are under a lot of stress, so I understand the treatment I received. (WTBH: 97)
This makes no sense as a reflection on the interview as she has earlier described it. In her version of the interview, she claims that the police kept asking her the same simple question, to which she keeps replying with the same factual answer, and the blows to the head take place in the middle of all that. Yet in her “memoriale”, she claims that the blow was because she could not remember a fact correctly.
In case two mutually contradictory accounts of that false allegation are not enough, Knox also provides a couple more explanations for why she was hit. Her third bogus claim is that the police said they hit her to get her attention, which makes for a dramatic opening to Chapter 10 of WTBH:
Police officer Rita Ficarra slapped her palm against the back of my head, but the shock of the blow, even more than the force, left me dazed. I hadn’t expected to be slapped.
I was turning around to yell, “Stop!”—my mouth halfway open—but before I even realized what had happened, I felt another whack, this one above my ear. She was right next to me, leaning over me, her voice as hard as her hand had been. “Stop lying, stop lying,” she insisted.
Stunned, I cried out, “Why are you hitting me?” “To get your attention,” she said. (WTBH: 80)
This is a direct allegation against a named police officer, and not surprisingly it has resulted in another libel charge against Amanda Knox. It is a strong piece of writing, too: on its own, isolated from context, it reads like a trailer for the movie version. The trouble is, that when Knox later tries to set it in context, it makes no more sense than “because I didn’t remember a fact correctly” as an explanation as for why the blow came.
They pushed my cell phone, with the message to Patrick, in my face and screamed,
“You’re lying. You sent a message to Patrick. Who’s Patrick?”
That’s when Ficarra slapped me on my head.
“Why are you hitting me?” I cried.
“To get your attention,” she said.
“I’m trying to help,” I said. “I’m trying to help, I’m desperately trying to help.” (WTBH: 88)
This makes no sense. They already have Knox’s attention, and she is having no difficulty giving them a factual response to their repeated question, “Who’s Patrick?”
It is difficult to explain any logical motivation for that slap in terms of any of the three suggestions Knox has made so far: (1) because she couldn’t remember a fact correctly; (2) because she failed to answer the repeated question “Who’s Patrick?” quickly enough; or (3) to get her attention. She’d got the fact right, she’d answered the question, and they already had her attention.
Knox then provides us with a fourth version of possible reasons for the alleged slap. She describes the following encounter between herself and Rita Ficarra on their way to lunch at around two o’clock on Tuesday afternoon:
With my sneakers confiscated, I trailed [Ficarra] down the stairs wearing only my socks. She turned and said, “Sorry I hit you. I was just trying to help you remember the truth.” (WTBH: 94)
Once again, this makes no sense in the context of a blow to the head while waiting for a reply to the question, “Who’s Patrick?” It is perfectly true that Patrick Lumumba was Amanda Knox’s boss, and she had already correctly answered the same question twice, by her own account.
These are the four main WTBH versions of how Amanda Knox was struck on the head by Rita Ficarra. Perhaps she hopes that readers will choose the one they like best and will ignore its discrepancies with the others.
When testifying in court, however, Knox provided three further versions of the same alleged incident.
First, when asked to explain why she had stated in her witness account that Meredith Kercher had had sex before she died, Knox answered that the police had suggested this to her and that they hit her to make her says so in her statement (Knox testimony, June 12 2009).
Second, a few minutes later during the same testimony, she claimed that the police hit her twice before she gave the name of Patrick, to make her give a name she could not give. (WTBH: 227-8; Knox testimony, June 12 2009)
Third, later still, she tells her own lawyer that the police were screaming at her “You don’t remember”, she was struck from behind, and when she turned around she was struck again. (WTBH:227; Knox testimony, June 12 2009)
These are seven different stories Knox has told about how she was hit during her interview. Even her most generous supporters would have to admit that at least six of them must be false. Everyone else in the room at the time has testified that it did not happen.
When Knox published her fantasy claim about appealing to ECHR last month, she neglected to mention that she was hit. This essentially confirms what has been obvious for some time: Rita Ficarra did not hit Amanda Knox during the interview.
Nobody did. All seven stories are false.
5. “She was screaming in Italian, ‘Aiuto! Aiuto!’”
However, Sollecito provides an ear-witness account of Knox’s traumatic interview, claiming that he could hear her shouting from where he was being interviewed in a nearby room. Here’s his version:
Then came a sound that chilled my bones: Amanda’s voice, yowling for help in the next room. She was screaming in Italian, “Aiuto! Aiuto!” I asked what was going on, and Moscatelli told me there was nothing to worry about. But that was absurd. I could hear police officers yelling, and Amanda sobbing and crying out another three or four times. (HB:33)
If Sollecito’s aim here is to invent a story even more ridiculous than Knox’s, he has succeeded.
For one thing, it does not match any of Knox’s seven stories about how her interview went. But even on its own terms, Sollecito’s story makes no sense. If we imagine for a moment an Italian witness or suspect being interrogated in Italian by Italian officers in an Italian police station, what possible motivation could such a woman have for shouting “Aiuto!”? Who could she be hoping might conceivably respond to her call?
How much more absurd, then, to suppose that an American woman accompanied by an interpreter would shout “Aiuto!” when by her own account she was trying to help the police with their inquiries at that point.
Perhaps Sollecito wants us to believe that Knox was offering to help the police with their inquiries, and Donnino was loudly translating it to “Aiuto!” at this point. Or perhaps, as is often the case with Sollecito, he has given so little thought to his lies that he has not made the slightest effort to make them believable.
There are other occasions when Sollecito is cavalier with the credibility of his explanations for the evidence against him. For example, when confronted with evidence that the victim’s DNA is on his kitchen knife, he suddenly remembers an occasion when he accidentally pricked her while cooking.
(Astonishingly, he repeats this absurd fiction on page 49 of Honor Bound, although he shifts the pricking to Via della Pergola and makes it a knife local to there, since it is obvious that the victim had never visited his own apartment.)
Or again, on being confronted with the (incorrect) evidence that his shoeprints have been found at the scene of the crime, he speculates to Judge Matteini that someone might have stolen his shoes and committed the murder in them. (HB:42)
Even today, Sollecito is currently making a public appeal for funds for his defense, pleading financial hardship, while taking lengthy vacations in the Caribbean, with photographs of his tropical lifestyle appearing in Oggi.
In his book, Sollecito also decides to make a claim of his own that the police struck him:
One of my interrogators opened the door noisily at one point, walked over, and slapped me. “Your father is a fine upstanding person,” he said. “He doesn’t even deserve a son like you, someone who would stand by a whore like Amanda.” (HB:36)
This is actually one of his more plausible stories. He has not named the officer, and he has created an incident to which there are no witnesses; he gives the impression that he was alone in the interview room when this officer came in.
Of course, he has made no formal complaint about this, nor has he mentioned it before publishing it in his book, nor has he named the officer or given any clue as to his identity. Nevertheless, these details simply stand in contrast to Knox’s libelous allegation, in which she named the officer, gives several contradictory accounts of how the blow occurred, and there are several witnesses all of whom deny that any such blow took place.
6. “Maybe a cappuccino would help.”
Finally, it seems only fair to speak up for Anna Donnino, the much-maligned interpreter who was given the task of accompanying Knox as she made her slanderous accusation of Patrick Lumumba.
Knox describes her arrival at the station like this:
The interpreter sat down behind me. She was irritated and impatient, as if I were the one who had rousted her from bed in the middle of the night. (WTBH:86)
While someone else must have done the rousting, by Knox’s own account it is indeed her fault that Donnino was called into the police station that night. Knox was the only English-speaker present, and she had ignored the police’s request that she stay home while they interviewed Sollecito.
Although Donnino must have had every right to feel irritable and impatient, Knox gives little evidence of it in her transcript of the interview. On the contrary, Donnino patiently volunteers an explanation that might attribute Knox’s self-contradictory stories to trauma and stress rather than deliberate lying.
Amanda Knox has often repeated her assertion that police called her a liar during that interview. For example, in the movie-trailer-type excerpt at the beginning of Chapter Ten, she writes:
They loomed over me, each yelling the same thing: “You need to remember. You’re lying. Stop lying!” (WTBH:80)
However, in the more detailed version that she gives on pages 83-90, she does not mention a single police officer calling her a liar. Only once do the police even ask her “Why are you lying?” (WTBH:88) The only person to call Knox a liar, in her account, is Anna Donnino, in the following passage:
“In English, ‘see you later’ means good-bye. It doesn’t mean we’re going to see each other now. It means see you eventually.”
In my beginner’s Italian, I had had no idea that I’d used the wrong phrase in my text to Patrick—the one that means you’re going to see someone. I’d merely translated it literally from the English.
The interpreter balked: “You’re a liar.” (WTBH:87)
The verb “balked” makes no sense here, and so let us charitably call it a printer’s error for “barked”. However, that is the only instance of Knox being called a liar her entire remembered account of the interview.
It seems that she is so reluctant to admit to having said anything that her readers might think sounds like a lie that she forgets this gives the police no context for calling her a liar. This in turn means that the only “lie” she can be accused of is her demotic interpretation of the English phrase “see you later”, in which she presents herself as correct and Anna Donnino getting it wrong.
Ironically, Anna Donnino’s next intervention, for which there are several witnesses including Amanda Knox herself, is clearly intended to suggest that failing to remember the details of a traumatic event properly may NOT be an indication of lying, but instead may be the result of the stress of the trauma:
The interpreter offered a solution, “Once, when I had an accident, I didn’t remember it. I had a broken leg and it was traumatizing and I woke up afterward and didn’t remember it. Maybe you just don’t remember. Maybe that’s why you can’t remember times really well.”
For a moment, she sounded almost kind. (WTBH:88)
“Kind” is a key word for Amanda Knox, and she continually judges people by whether they are kind to her. On this occasion, she is quite right: Anna Donnino does sound kind and helpful in volunteering this intervention. It is not a kindness that Knox would repay, however. On the contrary, in her later account of the trial, she is scathing of prosecutor Mignini’s description of Donnino as “very sweet”:
As for my interrogation at the questura, Mignini described the interpreter— the woman who had called me “a stupid liar” and had told me to “stop lying”—as “very sweet.” “I remember that evening how she behaved toward Amanda,” he said. (WTBH:244)
Knox has evidently forgotten that she has failed to mention anybody at all calling her a “stupid liar” during the interview, or that anybody told her to “stop lying”. Even her claim that Donnino called a liar over a translation error is illogical and is out of keeping with Donnino’s subsequent intervention.
Knox has also forgotten that the only other mention she makes of Donnino at the questura is in the following passage, from the day before the interview. While Knox is going over the events of the night of the murder in her mind, she reports:
“…the interpreter walked by, looked at me, and said, ‘Oh my God, are you okay?... You’re pale… Maybe a cappuccino would help. Come with me.” (WTBH: 76-77)
Once again, Knox unwittingly provides evidence that supports Mignini’s description of Anna Donnino, and undermines her own. Once again, she unwittingly provides evidence that her human rights were perfectly safe at Perugia police station.
7. “What does this say about my memory?”
The accounts of all three defendants in this case are so obviously fictitious that the subject should no longer be open for discussion. Any level of reasonable doubt that might have been acceptable to the Hellman appeal court has been removed not only by the Italian Supreme Court but even more so by the self-penned accounts published by Knox and Sollecito themselves.
Their bizarre and delusional writings will appear incredible to any objective reader who troubles to read them. The physical evidence against them - the DNA, the footprints, the knife, the faked burglary, and so on - only serves to confirm the most likely explanation for their wildly unbelievable stories - namely that they are lying to cover up their involvement in a brutal murder.
Given that his own account was patently fictitious, Guede has been fairly well advised to opt for a fast track trial which offers a reduced sentence and an abbreviated process. (Better advice might have been to plead guilty, but that is for him to choose.)
As a result, he will be eligible for parole relatively soon, even as the longwinded trials of Knox and Sollecito grind toward their conclusions. Whether or not it is right and fair for Guede to be given that parole is a separate question that will be considered in due course - even his expressions of remorse sound false and are undermined by his continuing refusal to give a plausible and honest account of what happened that night.
However justice systems all over the world are obliged to balance the rights of victims against the rights of defendants, with resultant compromises that are often uneasy and unsatisfying. Victims’ families may want the truth, but the perpetrators don’t always want to tell it.
The situation for Knox and Sollecito is different because their preposterous stories have been shored up by a coterie of supporters who in the long run have done the two defendants no favors whatsoever.
The pair have chosen the full trial process which may have postponed the final decision for several years, but which is also likely to result in much lengthier prison sentences.
It is too late now for Knox and Sollecito to opt for a fast track process, and everyone, no matter how ill-informed, can surely agree at least that the path they have chosen has been painfully slow and longwinded.
But there were many other options that, although previously open to them, have now been closed down by their supporters’ stubborn insistence that the case against them was first concocted by a vindictive prosecutor who took an early dislike to them and was subsequently supported by a vast conspiratorial network of police, judges, journalists, shopkeepers, students, friends and relatives of the victim, and so on.
This conspiracy theory is not only daft, but it provides no help at all for the two people at its core whose words and actions remain delusional and psychotic.
Amanda Knox wrote in her memoriale, “Is the evidence proving my pressance [sic] at the time and place of the crime reliable? If so, what does this say about my memory? Is it reliable?”(WTBH 98-9). These words are a clear cry for help.
Whether or not this cry was genuine, or was simply a cunning attempt to diminish punishment, is a matter that could and should have been determined at the time by a qualified psychiatrist. Instead, Knox was provided with a set of lawyers and a PR firm both of whom were set the task of claiming and proving their client’s innocence.
Her false allegation against an innocent man was then explained as resulting from a coercive police process - another ludicrous claim, contradicted by all the available evidence, including the self contradictory accounts published by the defendants themselves.
Knox and Sollecito are damaged individuals whose grip on reality is loose and whose delusional ramblings suggest that they need urgent psychiatric help. Instead, their fantasies have been cocooned by highly vocal supporters who have enabled the fantasists to maintain a series of fictions that, in the final analysis, will almost certainly fail to stand up to legal scrutiny.
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, The defenses, Diversion efforts by, The Knox-Mellases, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (48)
Friday, November 22, 2013
US Judge Startles Legal Watchers By Overturning A Unanimous Verdict: Is This Hellmann Part Deux?
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
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]
Archived in Appeals 2009-2014, Hellmann appeal, Hellmann outcome, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (21)
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The Considerable Number Of Suspected Perps That Countries Extradite Daily To Other Countries #2
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
Extradition: a hardball game.
Complete refusals of extradition by any countries other than Russia and China seem increasingly rare, as that can cause a rebound effect and economic retaliation in response. The United States very rarely refuses to extradite.
If anything, the US is stepping up the pace of its extradition cases - both ways. The US at federal and state level is at any one time processing hundreds of requests, and transporting suspected perps back and forth.
These are some of the high-profile extradition cases in today’s news:
The US/Italy Robert Lady case
The twists and turns in the story of the fugitive from Italian justice and former CIA chief in Milan Robert Lady were last posted on here. He scampered out of Central America back to the United States mid-2013.
But now official Washington seems to be giving Mr Lady a very hard time which may have him voluntarily headed to Italy to seek a break.
When the anniversary of 9/11 came around this year, Robert Seldon Lady was moving between low-end hotels around Miami. An international arrest warrant keeps him from returning to his home in Panama. He says he’s flirting with personal bankruptcy, fears for his life, and is “getting pretty desperate.” His marriage is broken. He blames this hard luck on his former employer, the Central Intelligence Agency
Mr. Lady helped CIA contractors and agents snatch an Egyptian Islamist off the streets of Milan and deliver him to an interrogation cell in Cairo. This so-called extraordinary rendition—one of 130 or so carried out by the Bush administration—set in train events that soured America’s relations with Italy and upended the life and career of Mr. Lady and other CIA agents.
Saying “I’m fed up with all this,” Mr. Lady has some extraordinary steps in mind to change his fate. His actions and outspokenness are going to add to the discomfiture of his former bosses at Langley over this messy episode from the early days after 9/11.
If the muddle-headed Knox and Sollecito enablers can find any solace in that, good luck. Mr Lady was a top government employee, who claims he was doing only what he was told.
The Brazil/Italy Henrique Pizzolato case
Believe it or not the former director of the Bank of Brazil has fled to Italy to ensure a fair trial.
Sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison for bribery, embezzlement and money laundering, Pizzolato announced in a letter that he fled to have, according to him, a new trial in Italy “removed from politics and electoral motives” and in “a court not subject to the impositions of the media”.
Brazil might ask Interpol for a “red notice” which is the highest form of international arrest warrant and often has the same wanted result as formal extradition.
A red notice chills renegades’ possibilities worldwide.
In fact so tough is life on the lam under a red notice that perps often simply cave before too long, and head back to defend themselves or pay their dues without any court moves or official transport required.
The US/Italy Raoul Weil case
Finfacts reported on this case last month.
Raoul Weil, a former UBS wealth management chief, was arrested last weekend in Italy and faces extradition to the United States to answer charges of aiding and abetting tax evaders.
Weil left Switzerland’s biggest bank in 2009 after he was declared a fugitive from US justice by ignoring a criminal indictment issued in 2008. UBS was forced to pay a $780m fine in 2009 after admitting to actively assisting US tax evaders to break US law.
Several Swiss bankers and lawyers have since been indicted in the US for their alleged role in helping wealthy US citizens hide their assets from the tax authorities.
Weil is one of the most high-profile of the accused as a then head of UBS’s wealth management and he is now a temporary resident of an Italian prison, likely fearing a longer spell in a US one.
A Florida court indictment charged Weil with having a prominent role in aiding UBS’s US clients to hide around $20bn in undeclared assets between 2002 and 2007.
He however has strongly denied the allegation but would not risk defending himself in a US court.
Italy is giving Mr Weil a pretty hard time and accedes to all American extradition requests except where the death sentence might be involved.
The US/Russia gangsters case
The US is trying hard to get some Russian gangsters (okay, alleged gangsters) extradited from countries around the world and Russia is resisting this “extraterritorial application of America law”.
U.S. organized crime experts say Russian criminals working overseas often have connections within the Russian government, and that the Russian government’s defense of them is designed to keep those links from emerging in public light….
In the past six months, Russians have been a frequent target of arrest warrants executed at the request of U.S. prosecutors.
On Aug. 1, the Dominican Republic extradited 24-year-old Aleksandr Panin to stand trial in federal court in Atlanta on charges related to cyberscams using SpyEye malware, which enables the theft of online banking information. Panin is accused of stealing $5 million from U.S. banks.
In mid-August, Lithuania extradited an alleged arms dealer, Dmitry Ustinov, to stand trial in the United States for allegedly negotiating to sell restricted night-vision goggles. He faces a 20-year sentence.
Another Russian, Dmitry Belorossov, was arrested at the Barcelona airport Aug. 17 upon triggering an Interpol fraud alert. Belorossov’s extradition to stand trial in the United States is pending.
When U.S. prosecutors seized Liberty Reserve in late May, they said the company had laundered “more than $6 billion in criminal proceeds.” Liberty Reserve allowed clients anonymity and offered them a digital currency, known as an LR, to facilitate payments for criminal activity.
The US/Spain Javier Martin-Artajo case
Banker Javier Martin-Artajo now in Spain is refusing to be extradited to the United states - because the crime he is accused of took place in England. Good luck with that one. JP Morgan Chase Bank has just paid a huge fine in the US so THEY accept the crime took place there.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2014, Extraditions, Other legal cases, Others Italian, Others elsewhere, The wider contexts, American context
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (20)
Monday, March 18, 2013
Like Amanda Knox, Jodi Arias Forgets, Sings, Jokes, And Does Headstands In Interrogation Context
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (8)
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Psychiatrist Dale Archer Suggests Jodi Arias Fits Sociopath Profile Except For No History Of Quirks
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
In his opinion (he has not had direct access to Jody Arias) she appears to accord to 6 of the 9 the symptoms below. He thinks she doesnt fit the key last one, no past history of anti-social or odd behavior going back prior to her affair with Travis Alexander, which he considers to rule out sociopathy.
We noted in the previous post that Jodi Arias had a turbulent family history and job history, and she made a good case on the stand that her boyfriend was debasing her. But absent actual signs of prior symptoms, Dr Archer doesn’t find that enough.
• Failure to conform to societal norms: Jodi has no respect for the law or the rules of society. She not only viciously killed another person, she openly and unabashedly sneers at the prosecuting attorney and the courtroom proceedings.
• Pathological lying: Ms. Arias has no problem lying. We’ve all seen it and know she’s good at it. Sociopaths lie easily and keep their cool because a lie is not considered wrong or immoral. It’s merely a way to get what they want. In the early stages of the investigation, Arias came up with three different lies for the police which explained what happened, changing her story as they disproved each.
• Manipulation, deception, and cunning: Arias hacked into Alexander’s email and Facebook accounts. He found her hiding in his closet when he returned home from a date. She introduced him to sex, playing the submissive partner though she was actually dominant in order to control him. It is the prosecution’s speculation Arias eventually filmed and recorded Alexander in compromising situations to blackmail him if he tried to leave her.
• Impulsiveness: A co-worker claimed Arias continuously called Alexander from work. If there was no answer, she would drop everything and leave to track down Alexander. She didn’t care if she lost her job, as long as she didn’t lose Alexander. Another point: while in the act of murdering him, Arias dropped a camera, and incredibly it snapped a picture of the murder taking place. Instead of taking the camera with her, along with the rope, the gun, her bloody clothes….. she impulsively threw it in the washing machine and ran it through a cycle. Miraculously, the images remained on the film.
• Irritability and aggressiveness: Arias was becoming increasingly irritable and when Alexander started seeing another woman she turned up the heat. She stalked, vandalized, plotted and then murdered. Twice she slashed the tires on his car. She sent a threatening email to Alexander’s new love interest.
• Reckless disregard for safety of self or others: We do not have record of Arias disregarding anyone else’s safety at this point other than Alexander- she killed him or herself; threatening suicide when Alexander would try to cut the ties. Ultimately the person she killed wasn’t herself, but Travis Alexander, the one person who consumed her thoughts, her life.
• Persistent irresponsibility: In her 20s, Arias worked at several dead-end jobs and was in and out of relationships, but nothing stands out. No convictions, jail time or other legal issues.
• Lack of remorse or guilt. In Arias’ mind, Alexander was not a person but her possession. He took her to interesting places, and she introduced him to sex. When he tried to pull away, she would reel him back with ever more outrageous sex practices. Eventually she killed him so no one else could have her possession. At the funeral, she did not shed one tear. Since the murder, the investigation, the arrest and the trial, not once has she said “I’m sorry.”
• Before age 15 and continuing, a history of antisocial behavior. Here is the real problem with labeling Arias as a sociopath. This condition starts in the young teen years, if not before. It is a persistent and consistent behavior over the first three to four decades of the individual- some say for a lifetime. No one has come forward with any prior behavioral issues, legal issues, problems with work, family or friends. She was reportedly a very “good girl” in high school and very “normal.” At this time there are no known problems with previous boyfriends.
Jodi Arias has one or two more days on the witness stand, and then defense experts will try to account for her behavior and blackout at the time Travis died in a non-incriminating way. This trial is being shown live on American TV (the HLN channel).
Arias somewhat withered under very tough questions from the jury. Would Knox? Plenty of still-unanswered questions for Knox here.
Archived in Other legal cases, Others elsewhere, On psychology
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (17)
Friday, March 08, 2013
FBI Reporting Close Co-operation With Italy In Arresting And Soon Extraditing A Fugitive Swindler
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
A new FBI report in the news.
It is still more confirmation in line with many previous posts here that US and Italian crime-fighters respect one another and work closely together - and don’t turn a hair at requests for extradition.
The fugitive fund manager Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm could face 25 years in prison. The FBI explains what he is accused of:
Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm, a German hedge fund manager who was on the run for more than five years, has been arrested in Italy on federal fraud charges that accuse him of orchestrating a market manipulation scheme designed to artificially improve the performance of his funds, a fraud that led to at least $200 million in losses to investors around the world….
Homm was the founder and chief investment officer of Absolute Capital Management Holdings Limited, a Cayman Islands-based investment advisor that managed nine hedge funds from 2004 until September 2007. The criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Homm directed the hedge funds to buy billions of shares of thinly traded, United States-based “penny stocks.” Homm caused many of the purchases of penny stocks to be made through Hunter World Markets Inc., a broker-dealer in Los Angeles that Homm co-owned. Homm also allegedly obtained shares of the penny stock companies through various businesses he controlled.
And the FBI credits the role in arresting Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm of the Italian authorities.
Homm, 53, was arrested at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday (local time). Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles obtained an arrest warrant on Wednesday, March 6, after filing a criminal complaint that charges Homm with four felony charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud. Homm was arrested by Italian authorities after the United States submitted a request for a provisional arrest with officials in Rome.
Archived in Italian justice v others, Appeals 2009-2014, Extraditions, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (5)
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Family Of Reeva Steenkamp Find A Big-Bucks PR Campaign Seeking To Drown Them Out
Posted by The MachineClick here to go straight to Comments
On Valentine’s Day, Reeva Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, was shot three times by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius while she was in the en-suite toilet. She died shortly after the emergency services arrived at the scene.
There are a number of parallels between the Reeva Steenkamp case and the Meredith Kercher case.
Both cases have generated an intense media frenzy. The following headline was published on The Guardian website: “South Africa prepares for its own OJ-style trial of the century”
Similarly, Barbie Nadeau writing in the Daily Beast referred the trial of Knox and Sollecito as the “media trial of the century”.
Both Oscar Pistorius and Amanda Knox have received widespread support from around the world.
Peet van Zyl, Oscar Pistorius’ agent quoted in the Guardian said that “international fans from literally all over the world” have sent their good wishes to Pistorius.
Amanda Knox also had widespread from people around the world. A number of books have been written claiming she is innocent and a couple of mainstream media organisations such ABC News and CNN have consistentyly reported only from the defense point of view. .
One of the saddest aspects of both cases is how increasingly both the real victims have come to be overlooked.
Gina Myers, a friend of Reeva Steenkamp, stated in an interview with the BBC that she feared Reeva Steinkamp was being overlooked.
Stephanie Kercher stated in an interview with the BBC in September 2011 that Meredith had been completely forgotten:
“Meredith Kercher has been “completely forgotten” in the four years since she was murdered on a study year abroad in Italy, her grieving sister has said.”
The most significant parallel is that both defendants are represented by PR consultants.
Oscar Pistorius has hired Stuart Higgins a London-based PR expert who worked in the newsroom of The Sun and then worked as the editor of the newspaper. Curt Knox hired David Marriott a PR consultant with over 30 years’ experience to represent his daughter.
According to Barbie Nadeau, Marriott “spoon-fed the Knox-approved message to American outlets who couldn’t afford to send correspondents to Italy”
If you read the countless articles in the media by journalists who push the notion that Amanda Knox is innocent, it’s quite clear they have been given the exact same false information from Knox’s family or their PR strong-armer David Marriott or their hatchet men such as Bruce Fischer, without any fact-checking at all.
There are some slight variations, but the basic account of the case is as follows.
Amanda Knox had never been trouble with the police. In days following Meredith’s murder, she voluntarily stayed behind to help the police in Perugia, but all Meredith’s friends left immediately. She was called to the police station on 5 November 2007 where she was subjected to an all-night interrogation. She wasn’t provided with an interpreter or given anything to eat or drink. She was beaten by the police and asked to imagine what might have happened.
During her questioning, Knox made a statement that said she had a “vision” she was at the cottage when Meredith was murdered. There were only two tiny pieces of DNA evidence that implicated her, but they were probably contaminated. The knife from Sollecito’s kitchen doesn’t match any of the wounds on Meredith’s body. Prosecutor Mignini claimed Meredith was killed as part of a satanic ritual and he called Amanda Knox a “she-devil”.
Rudy Guede was a drifter and drug dealer with a criminal record. He left his DNA all over Meredith and all over the crime scene. Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede.
The problem with the FOA fantasy version of events is that NOT ONE of these statements is true. And yet it was unquestioningly accepted as the gospel by numerous journalists in the mainstream media and it generated sympathetic media coverage.
Adam Boulton, the Political Editor of Sky News observed in an article that Amanda Knox’s family were treated with cloying sympathy when they appeared on Good Morning America:
Amanda ‘Foxy’ Knoxy, is the young American woman now on trial in Italy for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.
I was astonished to see her whole family, parents and children, invited on Good Morning America and treated with cloying sympathy for all the world as if they were victims of a miscarriage of justice.
It was noted by Joan Smith in an article for The Independent that the initial coverage of the case was initially sympathetic towards Pistorius:
“I didn’t hear this context mentioned on Thursday when it was reported that a woman had been shot dead at the home of the South African Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius. Radio 4’s Today programme suggested that Pistorius had killed his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder, a theme that was taken up elsewhere.
I listened with astonishment as broadcasters advanced what is almost certain to be Pistorius’s defence, citing the fear of crime which leads the wealthy in South Africa to live on estates with armed guards. The initial coverage was so sympathetic that it seemed to come as a shock when Pistorius was charged with murder later in the morning, prompting a screeching U-turn and the discovery of a “darker” side to his character.
There is a real problem in prosecuting famous people. It was pointed out to me by an experienced barrister that it’s almost impossible to convict someone who is famous.
OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dog, R Kelly, Ken Dodd, Steven Gerrard and John Terry were all very surprisingly acquitted of the various charges that they faced. You could argue that Casey Anthony should be included in that list.
I hope that justice is finally served for both Meredith Kercher and Reeva Steenkamp and those responsible for their deaths receive lengthy custodial sentences for their brutal and cruel crimes.
I also hope that journalists covering the case don’t act as witless cheerleaders for the murder defendants, but make sure they meet the most basic of journalistic standards to ensure that their coverage of the cases is objective, balanced and factually accurate.
And that the real victims should not ever be forgotten.
Archived in Diversion efforts by, The Knox-Mellases, The Sollecitos, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (18)
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Admitted Killer On The Witness Stand In Arizona Is Resonating And Polarizing In Familar Ways
Posted by SailorClick here to go straight to Comments
It is the weeks-long examination and cross-examination on the stand of Jodi Arias, who is accused of killing her ex-boyfriend and continuing sex partner Travis Alexander with at least 29 stab wounds and a slashed throat. In a few days she could be stuck with a death sentence, or conceivably even walk free.
We have often wondered how Knox would perform unfettered on the stand, as she may feel compelled to do if Cassation requires a reworking of the appeal verdict and sentence arrived at at the end of 2011.
There are some similarities and some differences.
The similarities involve her lying and her seeming callousness and attempted cover-up which suggest her mental acuity and balance are okay. The quotes below come from the ABC News account of Arias’ trial:
Arias “eventually confessed to killing her ex-boyfriend, but insisted it was self defense.”
And “the main reason (for lying) is because I was very ashamed of what happened. It’s not something I ever imagined doing. It’s not the kind of person I was. It was just shameful,” she said. “I was also very scared of what might happen. I didn’t want my family to know that I had done that, and I just couldn’t bring myself to say that I did that.”
The other parallel to Amanda Knox is Arias’ behavior after the murder. To avoid calling attention to herself, Arias carried on as if nothing had happened.
“Arias drove on to Utah where she was supposed to meet up with friends and a new romantic interest, Ryan Burns, for the rest of her roadtrip, she testified. There, the pair kissed and cuddled on Burns’ bed just 24 hours after Arias had stabbed and shot Alexander.”
The differences involve her family and the nature of Travis’s connection with the fervent local arm of the Mormon Church, which is especially fervent about no sex before marriage. .
Unlike Knox, whose father shut her up when she seemed to be getting close to confessing in Capanne Prison soon after her arrest, Arias credits her loving family with giving her the support that allowed her to finally admit what she had done.
“My family remained very supportive, and told me ‘it doesn’t matter what happens, we love you anyway.’ I realized even if I told the truth they would still be there and wouldn’t walk away,” she testified.
“By the time spring, 2010, rolled around, I confessed. I basically told everyone what I could remember of the day and that the intruder story was all BS pretty much.”
Travis Alexander was not only a fervent mormon - he was an elder in his local church where any pre-marital sex would taint both partners for life.
Having secretly slept with Jodi Arias for a long time, he discarded her as a “tainted” girlfriend (who he himself tainted) in favor of a virgin Mormon girlfriend - but continued to chase Arias down for sex anyway.
This is a take by an insightful reader calling herself Janine on the website Wild About Trial which seems to resonate with many, especially women.
Since Travis’s emails were read in court and the phone sex tape was heard in open court, it shows Travis’s personality in a dating situation. He had a Madonna Whore complex… the Mormon girls he would not touch because they were pure, then putting Jodi into the Whore category in which no form of sex or degradation was denied. IMO Travis should have paid for sex and not manipulating and degrading women who had fallen in love with him.
He treated her horribly. Her self esteem was obviously very low or she would not have permitted nor enjoyed being treated in this manner. He was chasing her as well, if only for a booty call. He was playing mind games when surely he must have known the person whose mind he was messing with was unstable. He didn’t care, as long as he could get the kind of sex he wanted when he wanted it and with no strings attached.
She slashed his tires, watched him, read his emails and he is still reeling her in and playing mind games a week before the murder. He messed with the wrong girl. She is guilty but not of murder one or two. I believe crime of passion or manslaughter. He had some culpability here even though I believe he did not deserve what happened. After a year of Travis’s form of abuse, she just snapped. He pushed her over the edge. And, yes, you would have to be unstable to be pushed over the edge but I believe he knew that she was.
She certainly gave him plenty of evidence that she was.
Even though Arias is now fighting to avoid the death penalty, she exudes a sense of peace that seems to have eluded Amanda Knox. The truth shall set you free!
First image below: this shot was taken by Jodi just minutes before Travis’s death
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere, On psychology
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (13)
Monday, February 11, 2013
Funny Talented Very Smart Woman, 21, Killed By Another Woman With No Record Of Crime Or Violence
Posted by devorahClick here to go straight to Comments
The stabbing death of Susan Sarkis is believed to have happened in a spiral of anger and violence on Saturday night, in Brighton Le Sands, a southern suburb of Sydney Australia,
The woman arrested is the apartment’s 31-year-old owner who is now being held in custody. A video and the story so far are included in this report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Details about Ms Sarkis are still emerging but she was clearly talented, warm, and admired. Messages posted online by her cousins are quoted as follows.
“RIP little cousin. When I received that phone call on New Year’s Day and u were wishing me a happy birthday I was almost in tears seeing as you always remembered my birthday,” he wrote.
“Well now I’m in tears remembering you. We miss you. Your life was cut too short, but your in a better place. Love you cuz and we will definitely see you later.”
Another cousin wrote: “RIP Suzie.. A life cut short but the memory of a beautiful young girl will live in our heart forever. May God give your parents, Chrissy & Anthony the strength to get through this very difficult time. Love you cuz xx”...
“Sweetie, habibi susie my little sister. I’m shattered you’re a beautiful sweet angel sweetness,” another wrote.
Archived in Other legal cases, Others elsewhere, Pondering motive
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (11)
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Casey Anthony Might Have Escaped Guilty Verdict Because An Incriminating Web Search Was Missed
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
This has been sensationalized news in the United States for two weeks and many people are still grinding their teeth.
As the video explains it seems pretty certain that it was Casey Anthony on her Firefox browser that googled “‘Foolproof Suffocation’” on the day her daughter Caylee disappeared and/or died.
The defense lawyer Jose Baez knew of the hit throughout the trial but, apparently under no legal compulsion to assemble the prosecutor’s case, he simply held his breath on the evidence until the “not guilty” verdict came in. He now suggests to universal disbelief that Casey was thinking of suicide.
Several of our lawyers are inclined to doubt that an American judge would have allowed an appeal in the Knox and Sollecito case given the very weak grounds - and had he or she done so, the appeal court would have had no second-guessing jury, and its brief would have been very circumscribed. With or without appeal granted, in the US the pair would probably still be serving their time.
So the uber-cautious Italian system favored them so far. But two of the prosecution appeal grounds at Supreme Court level seem at least as damning as searching “foolproof suffocation”. One is that the Conti-Vecchiotti consultancy was illegal, and the other is that the failure to test a remaining sample on the knife was also illegal.
So if they eventually do go down, Casey Anthony may still end up laughing at Sollecito and Knox. It has been announced that Casey Anthony is getting her own Lifetime movie (airing early next year) and can pretty well say and write anything and take any money offered that she wants.
But Casey Anthony is still appealing convictions for lying to police, a long shot at best, and after that the nanny whose name she gave to police as “the kidnapper” will get her day in court.
So Casey Anthony, who sounds psychologically untethered, might not end up laughing too much after all.
Archived in Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (10)
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
DNA Proof 40 Years After A Cowardly Murder Shuts Down A Fact-Fogging Campaign For The Murderer
Posted by The MachineClick here to go straight to Comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
Archived in Officially involved, Supreme Court, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Appeals 2009-2014, Hellmann appeal, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (9)
Friday, July 27, 2012
Heads-Up To The Amanda Knox Forces: A Case Showing How Closely The US and Italian FBIs Co-operate
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
Meet Doctor Mark Weinberger.
That report about his arrest in Italy was broadcast in 2009. We last posted on him here.
Weinberger was apparently a wildly successful doctor who ran a sinus clinic in Indiana and lived a wildly affluent lifestyle a few milers north outside Chicago. In 2004 he disappeared off his large yacht which was then anchored at a Greek marina, and for six years his (very impressive) wife Michelle presumed he was dead.
In the meantime she had found out that he had actually been running a huge fraud, scamming health insurance and the US government via false billing and unnecessary surgery (often botched) for many millions. And that far from being left comfortably off, she was financially wiped out.
In 2006 in absentia she divorced Weinberger and started over.
In 2009 Weinberger was captured in the Alps by the Italian equivalent of the FBI and returned to the United States as soon as his extradition was requested. In perhaps 99 percent of all US-Italian extradition cases, the fugitives are handed over by both governments very promptly. This sure wasn’t any exception.
Weinberger began to lose the first of numerous civil suits a year ago, and on wednesday he pleaded guilty to 22 criminal charges in federal court.
His prison term is set at ten years.
One moral of the tale apparently still not learned by Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer and their hapless ship of fools, so desperate for approbation, is this: much or most of the time it is the fine Italian equivalent of the FBI that they are misrepresenting and defaming.
In the past two weeks alone, we have seen new ramblings by Saul Kassin and Nigel Scott (engineered by Bruce Fischer) that to any informed lawyer are quite crazy. Kassin and Scott clearly didnt have the slightest idea WHO they were defaming or accusing of crimes.
Or how much more determined thier defaming makes the Italian FBI and other law enforcement agencies and the courts to give Amanda Knox (or Curt Knox or Edda Mellas) no special breaks.
The daffy Steve Moore first introduced this confusion way back here. And of course Bruce Fischer, Curt Knox’s hotheaded chief hatchet man, sustains it up to this day.
Eighteen months ago, Chris Mellas (whose business in Seattle is doing well) sensibly recommended from Perugia that the Knox campaign should finally acquire some cool heads and some REAL experts, and toss the trouble-making grand-standers they had acquired over the side.
Perhaps predictably, Curt Knox (whose business in Seattle is doing badly) reacted red-faced and steaming, and shot this seemingly quite smart idea down. So the abrasive, misleading, very amateur campaign goes on.
Added. We are now told that Frank Sforza and David Anderson are in Seattle, and Sollecito will be there soon, to actually jack up the level of defaming in the RS and AK “we were the victims” books being written.
Wow. THAT is Curt Knox’s end-game?l He ran that one past Chris Mellas? It seems universally believed in officialdom in Rome and Perugia that Curt Knox KNEW all along that Amanda did it. Apparently with good evidence.
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Police and CSI, Appeals 2009-2014, Extraditions, Diversion efforts by, The Knox-Mellases, Francesco Sforza, More sockpuppets, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (21)
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Very Ominous Development For Sollecito And Knox: A DNA Conviction Based On A Tiny Sample Of DNA
Posted by The MachineClick here to go straight to Comments
[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]
Archived in Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Appeals 2009-2014, Hellmann appeal, Hellmann outcome, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (35)
Friday, June 15, 2012
In Trial For Killing Of 77 Norway Very Complexed About Whether Admitted Perpetrator Is Barking Mad
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
[Above and below: this is the courthouse in central Oslo where Anders Breivik is currently been tried]
In Norway a judge and jury and those tens of thousands personally affected by the bombing and shooting deaths of 77 people, mostly in their teens, are trying to calibrate the personality of Anders Breivik.
The self-confessed killer has under Norwegian court procedures been allowed to say a lot about himself during his trial. And to mount a defense which in effect implies that he is the one who is normal, and that everybody else in Norway is either stupid or blind.
There is a sort of Catch 22 situation here.
If the judge and jury and those affected accept that Breivik really IS normal and merely a common or garden Nazi-type fanatic, he can only be sentenced to 21 years x 77 with the sentences to run concurrently. He could be out of prison at only 54.
Even Breivik has said that is pathetic and he would be joyously executed rather than be diminished like that.
But if they accept that he is insane, then he can be sent away to a prison for the criminally insane, and unless he in effect grows a totally new brain, he could be kept locked up for the rest of his natural life.
So if prosecution psychologists can prove him to be what the British like to call barking mad, he could get in effect the maximum time behind bars: life. But blame for a deed which most see as pure evil would in effect be dilute.
Breivik of course is trying very hard to prove that he is NOT mad. But he is not being helped by the testimony of either his mother or his father (who separated in great anger in London a few months after he was born) who have each thoroughly rejected his defense. His mother says he simply lies all the time, and his father says he should have committed suicide.
Nor is he helped by the 1517 page manifesto that he wrote (in English) and emailed to everybody in his address book a few hours before he set out on his attack.
Dr Avner Falk lives in Jerusalem, Israel, and he is perhaps the most published in the world in the fields of long-distance psychohistory and political psychology.
On his personal website Dr Falk has just posted this long and deeply researched essay exploring Breivik’s psychology.
Although of course the analysis was done 1/4 of the way around the world, it is difficult to read this essay without concluding that these really are the main facts about what is in Breivik’s head - and that he really is barking mad.
More scientifically, his psychology seems situated somewhere between borderline personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenic.
Dr Falk shows how Breivik may have got that way, and what was driving him to kill (don’t laugh, read the essay first: he became psychotically angered over repeated shows of lack of love by his father, who when Breivek was 16 cut him right off, and too much love by his mom, which Breivek thinks sissyfied him).
And why it would seem to be the safest thing to do to put Breivek away for life.
First off, it seems that nobody holding any point of view about Knox or Sollecito can see the makings of a credible insanity defense.
One reason many dont want to go down that road is that Italian prosecutions are always facing long odds, and they fear that it could too easily at the end of the legal process leave the accused-perps off the hook and free to go, and to publish whatever they will.
Some fear the same could happen with a defense based on too much alcohol or psychosis-causing drugs.
But at the same time, many also believe that AK and RS were not the social and psychological paragons that many in the obfuscatory PR campaign have tried for a long time to make out.
Even those eager henchmen in Curt Knox’s campaign have had to turn cartwheels to explain why Knox did cartwheels and so quickly put so many people in Perugia right off her, or to explain why Sollecito was so friendless and so obsessed with violent comics and porn and always carried a concealed knife.
And yet despite that, a sort of stealth psychological defense DOES seem to have been mounted, and with Judge Hellman’s interim appeal verdict it does seem to have helped them to be provisionally sprung.
In a process a little reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day where the “villain” has to keep repeating the same day over and over until he gets certain things just right, the public audience and the judges and juries were presented with several different Amanda Knoxes and Raffaele Sollecitos and the 2011 versions seem to have worked.
- In 2008 the images that dominated were of two cold-hearted or hot-headed jealous abusers who had gone way too far in the remorseless 15-minute struggle with Meredith. Magistrate Matteini and Judge Micheli both firmly took this view, which was confirmed by psychological tests on RS and AK in Capanne Prison that concluded that Perugia would be safer if they stayed behind bars pending their trial.
- The images that dominated the trial in 2009 was of a mild and slightly daffy Sollecito and a mostly milder and decidedly daffier Amanda Knox, strongly supported by their large and loving families spread out all around the court. That seems to some extent to have worked on Judge Massei, and RS and AK were rewarded with some years off their sentence for a supposed kindness to Meredith’s dead body. In the sentencing report, Rudy Guede became the somewhat villainous initiating attacker of Meredith on the night.
- The image that dominated the appeal in 2011 was of two serious studious very normal bambinos falsely being tied together with an extremely villainous Rudy Guede, now a notorious drifter and drug dealer who carried knives. The accused in effect dressed in shades of grey, and there were never any smiles or jokes in court. Italian judges and juries and watching audiences have a reputation for leniency toward bambinos, and Judge Hellman’s report suggests that attitude did intrude.
The Italian Supreme Court doesnt usually get to set eyes on those who are appealing or (as in this case) appealed against. More often than not they calibrate a legal and psychological position about as hard-line as the investigating magistrate (Matteini) or the judges at the first level (Micheli and Massei).
Now Knox and Sollecito might not return to the court for any re-run of the appeal trial. But if they don’t, the original images of themselves, those advanced in 2008 which a clear majority of Italians still hold to, could be the version of their personalities that a second appeal judge and jury get to “see”.
Tough call for Knox and Sollecito and their tribes. Their Catch 22.
But either way, assuming a level playing field, a fair outcome seems reasonably assured.
Below: a crowd of 40,000 gathered in central Oslo to sing a song “Children of the Rainbow”.
That is the song by Norwegian folk singer Lillebjoern Nilsen (based on Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Race”) which Breivek claimed in his manifesto shows the decadence of Norwegian youth.
Archived in Crime hypotheses, On psychology, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (8)
Friday, June 08, 2012
A Case In Which The Accused’s Team Used A Psychological Condition Maybe Similar To AK’s Or RS’s
Posted by Grahame RhodesClick here to go straight to Comments
Robert Durst is one of the heirs of the founder of the Durst Organization who died in 1995 and his brother Douglas now runs the company with a cousin. Here is a brief summary of Robert’s early life from Wikipedia.
Durst grew up, one of four children, in Scarsdale, New York and attended Scarsdale High School. He completed his undergraduate degree at Lehigh University and attended graduate school at UCLA.
Durst reportedly witnessed his mother’s apparent suicide at age seven; she either fell or jumped off the roof of the Scarsdale family mansion.
According to Reader’s Digest, Durst underwent extensive counseling because of his mother’s death, and doctors found that his “deep anger” could lead to psychological problems, including schizophrenia.
Durst went on to become a real estate developer in his father’s business; however, it was his brother Douglas who was later appointed to run the family business. The appointment in the 1990s caused a rift between Robert and his family, and he became estranged. His earlier schizophrenia diagnosis was incorrect.
In 1982 a seeming dark side to Robert Durst began to appear. Also from Wikipedia:
In 1973, Durst married Kathleen McCormack, who disappeared in 1982. Her case remained unsolved for eighteen years when New York State Police reopened the criminal investigation.
On December 24, 2000, Durst’s long-time friend, Susan Berman, who was believed to have knowledge of McCormack’s disappearance, was found murdered execution-style in her Benedict Canyon California house. Durst was questioned in both cases but not charged.
According to prosecutors, he moved to Texas in 2000 and began cross-dressing to divert attention from the disappearance of McCormack.
From the Galveston Texas Daily News here is a timeline for the movements of Robert Durst for late 2001 and early 2002.
Sept. 30 — A 13-year-old boy spots a man’s torso floating near the shoreline of 81st Street and Channelview Drive. Nearby, police find garbage bags containing human limbs, along with a number of items investigators later trace to an apartment house in the 2200 block of Avenue K.
Oct. 5 — Officials identify the body parts as the remains of Morris Black, a 71-year-old South Carolina native who lived at the apartment house.
Oct. 9 — Police arrest Robert Durst, 58, who lived in an apartment across the hall from Black. Durst is charged with murder and possession of marijuana, but leaves jail that night after posting $300,000 bond.
Oct. 16 — Durst becomes a fugitive when he fails to appear at a court hearing in his case. A grand jury indicts him on charges of murder and jumping bail.
Oct. 17 — A man in Mobile, Ala., rents a red Chevrolet Corsica, using the name Morris Black.
Nov. 30 — Police in Pennsylvania arrest Durst and charge him with the shoplifting theft of a small bandage, a sandwich and a newspaper.
Dec. 5 — Galveston detectives leave for Philadelphia, armed with a search warrant for the red Chevrolet Corsica police seized from the parking lot of the Pennsylvania grocery store where Durst was arrested.
Dec. 7 — A search of the car reveals numerous pieces of identification in the name of Morris Black, an undisclosed amount of marijuana, two handguns and about 80 bullets.
Dec. 17 — State District Court Judge Susan Criss issues a gag order in the murder case, barring officials, attorneys and potential witnesses from talking about the case.
Jan. 25 — Durst waives his right to an extradition hearing, agreeing to return to Galveston to face charges.
Jan. 27 — Durst arrives at the county jail.
New York Magazine adds this bit of color.
At the time of Black’s death, Durst was living as a deaf-mute woman known as “Dorothy Ciner” who communicated with the landlord via handwritten notes. During the trial he startled jurors by growling loudly like a dog and snorting like a pig.
Later, in prison, he became known for doing nude calisthenics in his cell.
In 2003 he was found not guilty of the murder of Morris Black. From Wikipedia:
During cross-examination, Durst admitted to using a paring knife, two saws and an axe to dismember Black’s body before dumping his remains in Galveston Bay. The jury acquitted him of murder.
Specifically he was found not guilty because the jury bought into the idea of a mental condition. CBS News describes how the jury saw it.
Is Durst a cold-blooded killer with a string of victims over more than 20 years? Or is he somehow a victim himself?
Last spring, Correspondent Erin Moriarty talked to Durst’s closest friends and the defense psychiatrist who examined him. The Durst fortune, valued at more than $2 billion, is in the same league as Donald Trump’s fortune. And it’s certainly more than enough for the best legal defense that money can buy.
His high-powered defense team - Dick DeGuerin, Mike Ramsey and Chip Lewis – say that early on, they had difficulty communicating with Durst. So they hired Dr. Altschuler, a well-known Houston psychiatrist, to find out why.
Altschuler says he met with Durst almost on a weekly basis, and spent more than 70 hours examining him. His conclusion: Durst suffers from a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a fairly uncommon disorder that leaves a victim’s intellect intact, but limits his ability to interact socially.
“Emotion is very difficult to him. He doesn’t know what happy is,” says Altschuler. “He can feel it, but almost as if he were feeling it as we would feel fingers through a glove. It’s very dulled, at best, to him … His whole life’s history is so compatible with a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder.”
The jury apparently bought it. They were convinced that Durst, in a panic, dismembered Black’s body.
Many people with Asperger’s self-diagnose themselves and learn to adjust and most have good lives and careers, many in computers and math-based professions. (Probably a coincidence but Knox’s parents are both in math-based professions, as is Chris Mella.) But some apparently do have flash rages when they yet again encounter in themselves an inability to connect or to win people over. So there are some murders that have been ascribed to this condition.
Both Knox and Sollecito may have had childhood trauma which their families, naturally, seem not too keen to have exposed. Or one or other might have been born wrong-headed.
Note how both of them in Perugia had isolated themselves from just about everybody else when Meredith died - Sollecito with his dark sullenless and Knox with her sharp elbows and brash, grubby, offputting ways.
Note Sollecito’s sordid history of beasty porn, and his knife fetishes, and violent manga comics and films, and lack of close friends, and endless drugs, and slow school progress, and attempted close supervision by a struggling father, and a loyal sister who he has left decimated and jobless without even a shrug.
Note how Amanda Knox seems to have tried all her life to be liked and has never understood why she is so often successful for just a short time. Note the reported riotous behavior off campus in Seattle, the shortage of school and college friends who speak up for her, the strange tale of her walking off the intern job in the German parliament, and the searching for love in all the wrong places
Note her willingness to let Patrick Lumumba rot in jail for weeks. Note how she bought hot underwear while giggling, and how she chose to miss the remembrance service for Meredith in favor of a pizza. Note how the prison tests in 2008 seem to have found both her and Sollecito to be continuing dangers. Note her flippant narcissistic demeanor at the trial, and her various bizarre statements. Note her reported self-imposed isolation and odd deportment and hygiene while in prison.
Note how her sense of right and wrong seems to be completely at odds, comparatively speaking, with the rest of the human race. Note how she seems unable to exhibit any emotion, or take any responsibility for her actions, even when challenged directly and her veracity called into question.
Finally, note her seeming never-ending lack of empathy for Meredith and her family, observed and remarked on both when Meredith was found and at trial and in the months and years afterwards. Meredith came from a hard working loving family who encouraged her to work hard and gave her every break and certainly never brutalised her. She was talented and made friends easily because of her wonderful sense of humor and her positive view of life.
Meredith was the complete antithesis of Knox. Well adjusted, liked, highly intelligent, very diligent and disciplined, and driven to succeed. A remarkable success story in process, whicht Knox seemingly could not even begin to relate to.
So are Robert Durst and either of the still-presumed-guilty perps in any way similar? Were either of them born wrong in the head or made that way by childhood trauma?
Or was a mental defense simply an easy way for the entitled but awkward Robert Durst to have got off the hook for a cruel murder, and one that the Hellman jury (and those in the FOA) subliminally bought into for Knox and Sollecito as well?
Archived in Crime hypotheses, On psychology, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (39)
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
A Smug Killer Who Thought Perhaps He’d Escaped Justice Was Brought Down In The UK Today
Posted by The MachineClick here to go straight to Comments
[Above and below: Arlene Fraser and husband Nat who today was again convicted for her murder]
Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Nat Fraser has been been found guilty for the second time of murdering his estranged wife Arlene in 1998.
He was originally was found guilty in 2003 and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. However, after a long appeal process, his conviction was quashed last year by five judges at the Supreme Court in London.
They sent the case back to the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal, where the jurors have just taken approximately five hours to reach a majority verdict after a six-week trial.
It’s not the first time this year that someone in Britain has been finally found guilty of murder after initially escaping justice.
In January, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey. Dobson had been acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996 but the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. (The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.)
David Harvie the director of serious casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, said:
The Crown is absolutely determined to ensuring that criminals are brought to justice for crimes they have committed, no matter the passage of time nor the legal complexities involved.
I have no doubts that Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola are just as determined to ensuring that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are brought to justice.
The cases above are a reality check for anyone who assumes that Knox and Sollecito are innocent simply because they were provisionally acquitted. It’s a fact of life that killers are sometimes acquitted. It’s also a fact of life that for them things often come full circle.
And if anyone thinks that cases of people being convicted of murder after escaping justice don’t happen in Italy, they are seriously mistaken. Barbie Nadeau outlined the case of Angela Birikova, who was convicted of murder after being acquitted at her first trial, in a November 2010 article for the Daily Beast:
In the meantime, the Seattle native’s lawyers say she is anxious to get back to court. She has reportedly been getting to know a new cellmate, Moldovian native Angela Biriukova, herself a celebrity criminal in Italy. Dubbed the Black Widow by the Italian press, Biriukova was tried for murdering her wealthy older husband by stabbing him 16 times.
Her DNA was found on a cigarette butt near the corpse, but nowhere else at the murder scene. Unlike Knox, however, Biriukova was acquitted during her first trial. Knox might take comfort in what happened next: The prosecutors appealed and Biriukova’s acquittal was reversed—after being set free, she was convicted during the appellate process. Should Knox’s appellate trial yield the same dramatic reversal, it will be a stunning conclusion to a trial whose narrative has often sharply turned on twists of fate.
It should noted that there is considerably more undisputed evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito than there is against the various convicted killers that are mentioned above.
Apologist journalists like Nick Pisa and Nick Squires, and especially Michael Day, would do well to remember this, before glibly dismissing the case against the still-accused pair.
Archived in Crime hypotheses, On psychology, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (4)
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
After Five Years, Heavy Police Resources Still Assigned To The Case Of The Missing Madeleine McCann
Posted by Peter QuennellClick here to go straight to Comments
The case of Madeleine McCann.
In one respect, there’s this parallel to Meredith’s case. After five years police are still assigning major resources to close to their own complete satisfaction a vexatious and divisive case.
Unfortunately, the parallels end there.
In this case, it is the British police still assigning the resources (now close to four million pounds), in parallel to the relentless Italian effort for Meredith, because they fear that in light of cases like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard the Portuguese police may have dropped the ball far too soon.
The Portuguese, in face of a confusing situation on the night when Madeleine disappeared, where the parents say they had left her home with younger twins while they had dinner 100 yards away, and a nervous Portuguese vacation industry, declared the parents as under suspicion in Madeline’s death and (see video above) aggressively furthered that meme. They may have closed off kidnapping possibilities which in this day and age are far too real.
It may be that one day the British police eventually do conclude that her parents had a role in Madeleine’s disappearance and possible death, or simply declare that they have hit a brick wall. But as Time and other UK and US news services are today reporting, they are concerned that the little girl is still out there, alive, and a kidnapper may be getting a free pass - and the opportunity to do it again.
The British police have released the two images below, showing how Madeleine looked back then and could now look at age nine. These are the latest developments according to the NY Times.
Scotland Yard released a statement saying its investigators had uncovered what they believed to be “genuinely new material,” as well as nearly 200 new opportunities for further inspection. Investigators said that they “now believe that there is a possibility Madeleine is still alive,” and have called for the investigation by Portuguese police to be reopened after an almost four-year hiatus….
While the initial investigation by the Portuguese authorities was roundly criticized, the British inquiry has been aided by the fact that, for the first time since Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom in the family’s rented apartment in the Algarve region of Portugal, investigators have been able to review material generated by three independent investigations, all in one location.
The detective leading the review said that having access to the Portuguese investigation, inquiries by British law enforcement agencies and the work of private investigators hired by the McCann family presents the team with “best opportunity” of finally solving the mystery of what happened in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz.
Rewards totaling millions of dollars were offered by wealthy Britons, including J. K. Rowling, the billionaire author of the Harry Potter series, and Richard Branson, the airline tycoon. But the Portuguese police identified only one suspect, a 33-year-old Britain living with his mother in a nearby apartment….
Detectives have been painstakingly sifting through “every single piece of paper” — approximately 100,000 pages — generated by the original investigation, on the basis that sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what was always there….
Mr. Redwood rejected the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Madeleine’s parents’ involvement. He said that the girl’s disappearance was the result of “a criminal act by a stranger.”
It will come as renewed encouragement to the McCann family, whose ceaseless energy and reluctance to call off the search have been fundamental in keeping the case in the international spotlight. Since their daughter’s disappearance they have traveled to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who blessed a photograph of Madeleine, published a book and even appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Archived in Italian justice v others, Other legal cases, Others elsewhere
Permalink for this post • Tell-a-Friend • Case Wiki • PMF Org Forum • PMF Net Forum • Comments here (10)