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Saturday, November 23, 2013

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

Posted by Hopeful





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, September 14, 2013

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

Posted by Hopeful





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Powerpoints #17: On Contradictions, Here Preston Contradicts Preston

Posted by Kermit



[James Frey, Stephen Glass and Clifford Irving; writers caught playing fast-and-loose with the truth]


This is the second in a new Powerpoint series. Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is the Viewer download.

In the first question that we posed to fiction thriller writer (and now, self-described “point-of-view journalist”, whatever that euphemism means) Douglas Preston a few days ago, we asked him about his and Spezi’s Afterword to their book The Monster of Florence.

It appears to be full of errors and insinuations in linking the MoF to the Meredith Kercher murder case. A book that is based on a “True Story” should not be found to be derelict in presenting errors or fiction as true fact, neither at its end, nor in its beginning, nor in any other point between.

In this, the second question that we pose to Preston (and Spezi, if he’s available for replies), we go to the start of the story, where Preston recalls how he met Spezi, in the smoky haze of a backroom of the Caffè Ricchi in the centre of Florence and first learned of the existence of the monster … or did he? 

The problem is that in equally emphatic terms, you can also hear Preston on an NBC Dateline documentary describe how a few months earlier (I calculate) than the Caffè Ricchi tête-a-tête, he describes hearing about the Monster of Florence for the first time from his neighbours in the town he lived in in Italy.

And this, in an interview with Stone Philips of NBC with a camera crew and their equipment on-site in Italy in front of his old rented house. At a time when Preston was already telling the rest of the world that he couldn’t return to Italy, banned by Mignini! In my opinion, things can’t get much more cynical than that.

The contrast between Preston’s two clear, explicit and totally mutually-exclusive descriptions of how he learned of the Monster of Florence may seem like a trivial point, but it really is not.

Every writer knows that the key factor at the start of a book is engaging and maintaining the reader’s interest so that it lasts to the very end. A fiction writer is free to use whatever mechanism he may need to make that engagement. However, authors who describe their tale as a “True Story” as do Preston and Spezi should realize that reader trust is – poof! – lost if you load the start of the True Story with something that isn’t so.

Recent history has seen a number of writers who push and cross the limit of the Truth and rush headstrong into Truthiness, Mistruth, or Lies, peddling stories that attract our interest and are human, daring .... yet end up being exposed as blends of truths and half-truths.  Together with insinuations and a lot of out and out fibs:

  • Clifford Irving went to jail for his unauthorised and totally false “autobiography” of Howard Hughes, see the Richard Gere movie poster below..
  • The New Republic magazine fired Stephen Glass after determining that at least 27 of 41 stories written by Glass for the magazine contained fabricated material.
  • James Frey’s publisher has had to reimburse those purchasers of “A Million Little Pieces” who bought it believing it true (it was commercialized as such).

Where will Spezi and Preston take us with The Monster of Florence? All it takes is for one reader to question: could this really have happened as they are making us think it happened? Why when I read the Italian version of the book do I understand something completely different? Why in Italy is Il Mostro considered the better, much more accurate book?

From there the truth in the story starts to unravel. As we already see in the Powerpoint presentations, the start and end of the English-langage MoF book don’t exactly encourage us to take any of its contents at face value.

Now that the Meredith Kercher murder case approaches its final appeal, it looks like Preston and Spezi are moving to develop some sort of MoF sequel that could be titled The Monster of Florence: The New Generation starring Amanda Knox and of course Preston and Spezi. And including fresh new “True Stories” by the pair. 

Personally, I feel that they could spare both us and Amanda’s cause their “truth” – Amanda and her legal team have more than enough to think about right now, with the Supreme Court appeal and the mess the Raffaele Sollecito book dams them in.

I believe that the shrillness of Preston’s and Spezi’s tales of “truth” will increase its pitch as we approach the March final appeal of Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as suspects in the murder of Meredith (Knox has already been found guilty of one crime and has served her prison sentence for falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba of murdering Meredith). 

This is going to be a very tough appeal – I urge readers to take a look at the English translation of Prosecutor Galati’s request for the appeal. It is surprising in its strength and balance. The Knox and Sollecito legal teams must be busy (will either defendant dare to be in Italy at that time?) and they know they are going to have a rough time of it in March.

How nice for all concerned if all the fictions now drop dead.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Doug Preston’s Wrong Claims In His MOF Afterword Were Often Contradicted In The Past

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above: Said to be Doug Preston’s nice workshop in coastal Maine where he apparently makes his stuff up]


This is our own “afterword” to Kermit’s Powerpoint post below on Preston’s Afterword in which Kermit quoted original sources to back up all his claims.

Our profuse quoting of original sources, including many translated ONLY by PMF and TJMK from the original Italian, is what gives PMF and this site such strength as points of reference used regularly by media on both sides of the Atlantic.

Preston doesn’t really seem to be able to provide references for his own work.

In his deeply anti-Italy MOF book, he offers no bibliography, no footnotes, no overview of key documents, few sourced quotes, and interview quotes that often seem stretched and maybe flat-out wrong (as with the one with Madame Bene in the Afterword, about the claimed non-investigation of the screaming drug addict in the square). 

In a rather self-congratulatory comment Preston posted on the CPJ website 18 months ago, he claimed this.

Before publication [The Monster of Florence] was minutely vetted by no less than five attorneys in two languages in Italy, the U.K., and the United States. Since publication, it has been read by millions of people in many European languages. In all that time, and with all the millions who have read the book, not one significant error of fact came to light. Mario Spezi and I stand by every single assertion of fact in that book today just as strongly as we did when it was first published three years ago.

Really? Well, without sources to check, what exactly did all those lawyers do?  The Afterword claims were published only in English, so that very few Italians who do know Italy and the case ever got a chance to provide alternative points of view - a few did, though, and there are several sarcastic Italian reviews on Amazon. In Italy, the more credible Guittari version outsells it 10-to-1. 

Preston’s lurid and under-researched claims then of course went viral.

You can see his claims about Rudy Guede and the “14 hours” interrogation and the meanie Mignini and junk Italian reporting and the incompetent Italian justice system and anti-Italianism generally disseminated all over the web. Read things by Candace Dempsey and Nina Burleigh and Michael Heavey and Saul Kassin and Bruce Fischer and Nigel Scott and Joel Simon and you will see the Preston claims parroted there.

Even in Raffaele Sollecito’s book we are turning up some of the claims!

And yet literally dozens of correct statements of fact that contradict Preston’s MOF Afterword have been posted on PMF and TJMK and other sites and in various books over the past four years. These are just a few on the 14-page Afterword posted on this site alone.

1) Contradicting Preston’s claims about the incompetence of the Italian System.

    Click “They Were Held For A Year Without Even Being Charged!!”

    Click Why The Italian Judiciary’s Probably Less Prone to Pressure Than Any Other In The World.

    Click Why The Prosecutors In Italy Are Relatively Popular.

    Click The Chief Enforcer Of The Constitution And The Rule Of Law is Wildly Popular Throughout Italy.

    Click Italian Campaigner For Victims And Their Families Says The System Is Denying Them Justice.

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

    Click Compared To Italy, Say, Precisely How Wicked Is The United States?

    Click Why The Totality of Evidence Suggests Knox And Sollecito Are Guilty Just As Charged.

    Click An Overview From Italy Of The Galati-Costagliola Appeal To The Supreme Court Of Cassation


2) Contradicting Preston’s claims about the Knox “14 hours” interrogation

    Click Our Take On The Case For The Prosecution: #3 Raffele Sollecito’s Multiple Conflicting Alibis.

    Click Our Take On The Case For The Prosecution: #4 Amanda Knox’s Multiple Conflicting Alibis.

    Click This Testimony Does Not Seem To Have Gained Much Traction Here In Italy.

    Click Italy Shrugs: Why The Defendant’s Testimony Seems To Have Been A Real Flop.

    Click Dr Galati: Note An Example Of How Curt Knox’s Campaign Is Misleading American Experts And Audiences.

    Click Dr Galati: Attacks On Prosecution By Curt Knox’s Hatchet Men Becoming Shriller, More Fictional #1


3) Contradicting Preston’s claims about Rudy Guede and his central role in the events

    Click Understanding Micheli #2: Why Judge Micheli Rejected The Lone-Wolf Theory.

    Click A Visual Guide To The Staged Break-In Via Filomena’s Window.

    Click Powerpoints #6: Trace Evidence Seems To Confirm More Than One Perpetrator At Scene.

    Click Powerpoints #7: Forced Entry Via Filomena’s Window Fails The Giggle Test.

    Click Powerpoints #10: Telling Evidence Against Sollecito The Experts Seem To Have Got Absolutely Right.

    Click Powerpoints #12: The Telling Case Of The Doctored Footprint

    Click The New 80,000 Pound Gorilla In The Room Introduced By The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation.


4) Contradicting Preston’s claims about the large knife and DNA in the house

    Click Understanding Why The DNA Is On The Knife.

    Click What We Believe Are The Hard Facts On The Double DNA Knife.

    Click Setting Out What We Know About The Mixed Blood Evidence Samples From The Massei Report.

    Click Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Is Weak, Tendentious, Cites Non-Existent Standards

    Click An Overview From Italy Of The Galati-Costagliola Appeal To The Supreme Court Of Cassation


5) Contradicting Preston’s claims about an evil Mignini and satanic illusions

    Click BBC Interview: Mignini Comes Across As Fair, Decent, Funny, And Quite Sane.

    Click Prosecutor Mignini Offers Some Helpful Advice To A Factually Challenged Reporter

    Click New Mignini Interview Makes Doug Preston Look Increasingly Incompetent And Vindictive.

    Click What His Florence Conviction Means For Giuliano Mignini And The Case.

    Click That Widely Watched LA7 TV Interview With Giuliano Mignini

    Click Open Letter To CNN Head Ken Jautz: Reports As Terrible As Drew Griffin’s….

    Click Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected

    Click Mignini’s And Giuttari’s Florence Convictions Are Overturned As Florence Court Had No Jurisdiction.

    Click Dr Galati: Please Check Out What Looks Like A Mischievous Defense-Inspired Global Hoax.

    Click A Ten Part Series Showing How Mignini Was Misrepresented By Preston, Sforza and CPJ.

    Click Powerpoints #13: We Now Examine The Compelling Evidence For The REAL Railroading From Hell

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Powerpoints #16: Placing The Noisy Claimant Doug Preston In The Hot Seat

Posted by Kermit





This is the first in a new Powerpoint series. Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is the Viewer download.

This curious incident instigated this series:

A week or two ago I received an unexpected email from Douglas Preston, co-author with Mario Spezi of The Monster of Florence (Spezi also wrote an Italian version that seems to conflict at points with the English version) and a heated champion of the attempt to free Amanda Knox, who is stlll accused pending Supreme Court appeal of the murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia on 1 November 2007.

Preston explained that he wanted to write a “piece” about the “Knox case” and that he would like to do a 10 question email interview with me.  I got the hunch that Preston and Spezi are going to be active over the next few months in the media as their cause is increasingly thrown in disarray. Along with, I presume, their possible movie based on the Monster of Florence book.

I was surprised that Preston said he would “quote you accurately, honestly, and in context, and represent your views respectfully and accurately”. 

Hmmm. We all have in our memory Preston accusing me (see his comment April 28 2011 at 6:57 pm) of “distortions, falsehoods, and crackpot opinion presented as settled fact. Kermit’s open letter contains many out and out lies”.

He also claimed, erroneously, that I hide behind a “screen of false IP addresses and various other hacker tricks” (what, has Preston tried to hack me?) and that I had “demonstrated a long history of falsehood and dishonesty” (I have?!).

Given that past experience, would you trust Preston? Silly me, I’m ready to give anyone another chance.

In return I proposed that the interview be two-way, and that we each proceed question by question on the issues that we wanted to clarify for us to publish in due course. I included a first question on seeming significant errors and mistruths in the “Afterword” or epilogue chapter of his and Spezi’s Monster of Florence book.

Very disappointingly, he didnt respond in kind. Nothing useful came back. He concluded “as for my (Preston’s) ‘objectivity,’ I am a point-of-view journalist in this case. People know where I stand and they know my bad history with Mignini. I don’t pretend to be objective”.

Should Preston really call himself a journalist or an opinion maker, or a lobbyist?  Why can’t people just respect the Italian legal process, which right now is not (and never was) firmly in the hands of Prosecutor Mignini, Preston’s perceived nemesis?

As we seem set to be subjected once again to seeing Preston and/or Spezi regularly sharing their rancid opinion of Prosecutor Mignini and Italians officials on the case with the public, I decided to get out in front, with this series pre-emptively checking their versions of the “truths”.

The Monster of Florence book is labeled (see above) a “True Story”, and while it does include historical facts related to the MoF murders in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s,  the two authors also personally intrude themselves into events.

This series should help the public to decide how seriously (if at all) they should accept Preston’s and Spezi’s opinions expressed in their media appearances where they interject themselves into Meredith Kercher’s murder case.

And to see if any of Preston’s self-described “point-of-view journalism” truths he shares with Spezi really stand up.

Please check back to TJMK every few days as we pose new questions to Preston and his co-author Spezi.


Monday, May 21, 2012

My Review Of John Kercher’s Great Book “Meredith”

Posted by Jeffski1




Having just recently finished reading the excellent book by John Kercher “Meredith” i felt compelled to write a review.

From the start as John describer’s the first phone call he received while in a bank, that a young English woman in Perugia had been found murdered, to the desperate hours waiting for information regarding the identity of the victim, to the realisation that it was in fact Meredith, you can feel the pain and the despair in his words.

This book takes you on an emotional roller coaster of a ride, from laughter at some of the antics Meredith got up to as a child, to the chilling account of her brutal murder, then again on to the many personnel messages that John prints at the end of the book.

Messages from complete strangers to the family, a heart warming message the family received from a American woman, that will leave you in tears. And the many accounts of the lasting impression Meredith has left on all who had the pleasure to meet her.

You read for yourself how very close Meredith was to her whole family, that she worried constantly about her mother Arline’s health, that she kept in daily contact with her mother, how very close she was to her sister Stephanie, and that smile, that beautiful smile that we have all come to recognise and be ever so familiar with.

The bubbly out going personality, the witty intelligent young woman that John so proudly describes. It is so very very hard to understand, as John puts it, how anyone could do harm to such a person.

One of the things i found quite heart-warming and funny was that Meredith was always running late. As John puts it it was her trademark, when reading this you can imagine her running around in a mad rush.

The book covers quite extensively the trial, the verdict and also the appeal. You get a true feeling of all the pain, the agony, and the difficulties the family had, not only with there unbearable loss, but also their failing health, the long painful trips to Italy for the court hearings, John lays it all out.

It is a testament to the family’s steely determination for justice for Meredith, what they have had to endure over the last 4+ years. It is at times heart breaking to read, but also you will be so pleased to read thing’s about Meredith that have never been printed before.

Thank you, Mr Kercher.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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

Posted by Cardiol MD




Meredith

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

[Kindle Edition] John Kercher (Author)

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

The author is establishing his tone of objectivity.

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

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

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

Evidence-based, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still descriptive, and very powerful!

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

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

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

Such balance!

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

Eminently-reasonable human-reactions.

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

Factual.

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

Reminder of Family’s arms-length status.

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

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

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

Human reaction.

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

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

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

Judge Hellman completely forgot about the real victim.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Media Starting To Take A Closer Look At The Knox PR Shills, Starting Out With Nina Burleigh

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





Click on the image above for the report on the PR role of Nina Burleigh by the New York Times’s Kate Zernike.

In the news media’s frenzy surrounding an Italian court’s decision last week to free Amanda Knox, the American exchange student convicted of killing her roommate in Perugia, the journalist Nina Burleigh was a near-constant television presence. Her face looped in and out of shows like “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and “Anderson Cooper 360.” She made appearances on NPR, the BBC and MSNBC.

With her emphatic defense of Ms. Knox (criticizing the “appalling” treatment of her by the Italian courts and news media, insisting “the evidence didn’t exist,” that the “jury rubber-stamped a conviction”), Ms. Burleigh seemed at times to move from journalist to advocate, treading what she knew, as a longtime reporter and author, was a dangerous line.

Nina Burleigh has certainly had a busy, busy week - playing advocate for Amanda Knox, plugging Burleigh’s own book on the case, and helping CBS sell the first of many (many more than anyone wants to see) pre-packaged Knox pieces that dutifully toe the Marriott Party line.

Those looking for facts are advised to watch major league baseball on Sunday night.

Burleigh found herself facing a dilemma before she penned the first paragraph of her book: Team Marriott, firmly in place by then, would only allow access to advocacy journalists. So Burleigh took that path, a disastrous one for everything but television exposure and perhaps book sales.

Burleigh jumped on board late, does not speak Italian, attended only a handful of trial sessions, and even got the birthdate of the victim, Meredith Kercher, wrong. Worse, she used the Knox’s friendly translator as her interpreter! That trail is a loop that leads to a predictable place.

For authors claiming to be journalists, this excellent NY Times piece should serve as a warning: Advocacy is not journalism. It leads to conflict of interest and turns journalists into shills. And this is bad for all of us.

This book should be on the bedside table of anyone who aspires to be a journalist.



Friday, September 02, 2011

Nina Burleigh: View From A Broad Who Doesn’t Seem To Like Broads Or Being Abroad

Posted by Peggy Ganong





In Burleigh’s shoddy book on the murder of Meredith Kercher, she gets the victim’s birthday wrong. But that’s not all she gets wrong. From what I can tell, Burleigh simply skips over much of the key evidence in favor of gossiping about and criticizing other journalists who have covered the case.

She is particularly hard on female journalists, which is odd given that she prides herself on being a modern feminist. I find it very telling, for example, that she indicates what Barbie Nadeau and Andrea Vogt’s husbands do for a living (one works for the UN and one is a university professor), but does not see fit to provide us with any information on what the wives of any of the male journalists do.

The implication is clear: these two “females” took up writing as a sort of hobby after trailing behind their menfolk to Europe. Worse, Burleigh notes that though they are both American born, they are more European in “style” and “craft” which, aside from being absolute nonsense, remains unsubstantiated by any analysis whatsoever. It amounts to saying “they’re sooooo European”. What does that mean?

Well, once you know that Burleigh is a relentless and mindless cheerleader for the superiority of all things American, it becomes clear that what she means is that they are inferior journalists because all things European are inferior to all things American. Burleigh also claims that what she calls Nadeau’s “cosmopolitan speech affect” is an attempt to hide her Middle American roots (in Burleigh’s words, her “rural South Dakota accent”). She says the “statuesque redhead” Vogt looks like she could play the role of Brenda Starr.

In other words, Burleigh is trying to suggest that these two are imposters, merely playing at journalism by dressing up like a cartoon journalist or putting on airs and trying to talk like a big city slicker instead of a sharecropper.

In fact, Vogt has been a working reporter for fifteen years, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in journalism, is trilingual and has published in English, German and Italian. I don’t know much about Nadeau’s academic training, but she currently writes on a variety of topics for both Newsweek and the Daily Beast. And the excellent Christopher Dickey thinks quite highly of her.

Meanwhile, back to Burleigh and her seemingly endless supply of sour grapes. At one point in her book, she mentions an Italian female reporter, but only to comment on her boots! One starts to wonder what she has against women, especially her professional peers.

Her male peers do not get a free pass, either, at least those who work in that dreadful country Italy where, according to Burleigh, freedom of speech does not exist. She criticizes foreign journalists based in Italy, basically calling them a bunch of cowards, so fearful of the Mafia that they confine themselves to writing about la dolce vita—food, wine and bunga bunga. This is absolute bollocks, of course.

John Follain, who has covered the case for the Times, has written two books about Italy in the fifteen or so years he has lived there: one is about the Mafia, while the other takes on the Vatican. Vogt investigated the White Supremacy movement in Idaho and has written an excellent book about it, not without exposing herself to danger. As for Nadeau, she has covered Italy’s garbage crisis, and in one gritty, unforgettable article for Newsweek describes walking through some of the most dangerous Mafia neighborhoods.

All three have been viciously attacked by Knox supporters. Meanwhile, Nina Burleigh is happy to fixate on what her fellow journalists are wearing and eating and drinking. Come to think of it, when she was a correspondent in France, she was obsessed with complaining about and criticizing French women, probably for not instantly recognizing her innate superiority.

It is too bad Burleigh opted to focus on this kind of crap instead of actually discussing much of the real evidence against Knox and Sollecito. Frankly, hers is the most disappointing and surely the nastiest book on the tragic murder of Meredith Kercher that has been published to date. After reading what Burleigh wrote about Nadeau and Vogt, I was left wondering why she has such an ax to grind with them.

Is it because they are at least a decade younger than she is? Is it because they live in Europe and she doesn’t? Is it because they are fluent in foreign languages and she isn’t? I really don’t know, but the book sure has a bitter stench to it.

The good news is I didn’t even have to buy it. In fact, I don’t want to be seen reading it in public. Thanks to Google books, I was able to find many of the offending passages on line. In addition, I can discreetly skim at my local bookseller’s. All in all, I have found it a pretty dull exercise. The book is glib, superficial and gossipy. One walks away feeling dirty and sad, wondering where one would be placed within Burleigh’s social and class hierarchy. Hopefully at least a hair above middle class.

I almost forgot to mention the pièce de résistance in Burleigh’s sliming of the two female journalists who did not roll over for the Knox family PR supertanker. Burleigh also asserts that these two small-town American imposters, after acquiring their polished “style” and “craft” by living in Europe, were “appalled” by the way AK and her family “flouted” Italian mores, implying that this snobbery tainted their reporting.

While I recall both journalists providing good analysis of how and why some of the antics of AK and her family were not good strategy under the circumstances – for example, AK’s decision to turn up in court one day wearing an over-sized “all you need is love” t-shirt or her sister Deanna’s choice of courtroom attire on July 4 (red-white-and-blue hotpants outfit) – I have never read anything suggesting they personally disapproved of or were appalled by the American and her family.

Since this snide and non-sourced aside appears on the same page as Burleigh’s claim that Nadeau tried to hide her “rural” accent with a “cosmopolitan speech affect”, it is fair to say that Burleigh’s real goal is to discredit them as objective reporters. It is almost as if she - Burleigh - were taking dictation from Doug Preston! And if Burleigh finds this to be a sexist remark, then I suggest she take a long, hard look in the mirror.

In the same section of the book, Burleigh describes John Kercher as a tabloid reporter and notes that neither he nor his family even “attempted” to learn Italian, relying instead on their lawyer to tell them what was going on.

Yes, you read that right: Burleigh thinks that the grieving Kercher family should have set aside their grief and contacted Berlitz straight away! And she implies that it is a mistake to rely on their legal counsel for information or advice. (At least Italy gives the victim’s family a legal voice.) I guess Burleigh would prefer that the Kercher family turn to people like Amanda’s stepfather Chris Mellas, or the various profiteers riding the PR supertanker: David Marriott and Doug Preston to name just two. This is apparently what Burleigh did.

It is clear from what I have read that Burleigh is not concerned with the victim Meredith Kercher or her family. She seems more interested in passing judgement on those she considers inferior in station to herself (just about everyone),complaining about life in Italy and taking pot shots at other journalists. My guess is that deep down she likes Italy about as much as she liked France, which is to say not much, maybe not at all. Burleigh is that quintessential Ugly American. I saw early signs of it in her reporting on this case for Time.

Incidentally, she did not begin until June of 2009, when the trial was well under way and almost two years after the murder itself. I had never heard of Burleigh, so I decided to have a look at her earlier work, especially that on life in France. I truly was flabbergasted by her utter inability to cope in a strange land.

She took an instant dislike to the French in general and was unable to understand the culture, in part because she was unable or unwilling to learn the language. I find it ironic – and appalling – that she faults the Kerchers, of all people, for not learning the language of the country where their daughter/sister was murdered when she herself could or would not learn the language of the country she was residing in under happy circumstances.

Is it class or gender or nationality that Burleigh most has a problem with?

Hard to say, since she seems to have a sense of superiority that encompasses all three. Speaking of disapproval, Burleigh treats the Knox women and Meredith’s British friends in the same haughty, catty manner as she treats her professional peers. In fact, she refers to the Knox clan collectively as “a hair on the low side of middle class”. I guess from the throne upon which she has placed herself, Burleigh is able to make these fine distinctions and, in addition, finds it necessary.

And how about this fine value judgement on page 33? “Amanda was the sole member of the gaggle of menstruating, jealous, bitchy, angry, loving, needy females around Curt who could keep her emotions in check”. I’m not making this up; Burleigh actually wrote those words. One pictures hapless Curt surrounded by the seven dwarves (Jealous, Bitchy, Angry, Loving, Needy, Bloody and Amanda).

While I believe that Amanda Knox was rightly convicted for her role in Meredith Kercher’s death, and though I have been critical of her family’s decision to hire a PR firm that has attempted to manipulate public opinion, I certainly think they are entitled to a little more respect and empathy than this. Speaking of entitled, that is how Burleigh herself comes off throughout this book.

Moving on to Meredith’s British friends, Burleigh dismisses them en masse with this tightly packed bundle of sexism and stereotyping: “tweedy peaches-and-cream complected sylphs who moved as a pack”. How Burleigh would even know how they moved is beyond me, since she was not covering the case in the days or even months that followed this brutal murder. Perhaps, if they did stick together, it was for mutual comfort. That’s what the little people do, Nina.

Italian women are not spared either. In addition to her fixation on a local reporter’s boots (perhaps because she could not read her work?), Burleigh describes Police Chief Monica Napoleoni’s style as “part dominatrix, part donatella Versace with a badge” and another Italian policewoman as a “thick-bodied woman”. Nina’s motto: When in Rome and unable to follow what’s going on, focus instead on making disparaging comments about the way other women look.

Burleigh pretentiously dedicates her book to the victims of sexual violence, an odd choice since she does little more here than perpetuate the sexist and sexual stereotypes that underlie this phenomenon. I am all for supporting the victims of sexual violence and will do so by not buying Burleigh’s nasty piece of work, which adds nothing to our knowledge of the case anyway.

Anyone who really wants to read a good book on the murder of Meredith Kercher should try Darkness Descending and/or Angel Face, both out for some time now. In addition to these works, John Follain, who has lived in Italy since the mid-90’s and covered the case from the outset, has a book coming out soon. I seriously doubt he will be focusing on women’s boots.


Friday, April 01, 2011

First Excerpt From Will Savive’s “Study Abroad Murder” The Best Book Yet On The Hard Evidence

Posted by Peter Quennell


Will Savive is a New York area criminologist, concerning whom a reviewer on the book’s Amazon page said “Savive is quickly becoming a juggernaut of the true crime industry.”

This looks to be the best book yet on the hard evidence in the case, and on what people actually said both before trial and throughout trial. Will writes just like a criminologist (“just the facts ma’am”) and he has little interest in the absurd notions that Italian professionals fell down on the job or pulled off an enormous cover-up. 

This first excerpt, a proof copy from “The Study Abroad Murder”, is about the arrest of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at Perugia’s central police station on the night of 5-6 November 2007. 

While police questioned Sollecito, Knox waited in a side room. Policewoman Lorena Zugarini walked into the room to check on Knox and caught her doing cartwheels and the splits. Zugarini told Knox that it was “not the right place for such activities.”

At around 11:30p.m., Inspector Chief of Perugia police’s narcotics unit, Rita Ficarra, came out of the lift into the waiting room of the city’s Flying Squad on the third floor of the police station and witnessed Knox “showing off her gymnastic ability,” turning cartwheels and doing back bends. This angered the inspector, and she scolded Knox, telling her “This is the police station, not a dance theater!”

Knox and Ficarra began talking about the night of the murder, and Ficarra told Knox that the answers she and Raffaele had given don’t add up and are filled with several contradictions. Ficarra tried to explain to Knox, “If you tell me a lie one time, that is comprehensible, but if you lie again—even if it is a small lie—it makes you less credible.” One reason for the officer’s warning was that Knox had originally told police that she had not smoked cannabis, but then said that she had, according to Rita.

Ficarra then decided that since Knox was already present, she would like her to detail a list of people that had visited the house in the two months since she’s been there. Knox agrees, takes out her cell phone, and begins to go through the list of names. ‘He’s been there; he hasn’t been there, etc.’

Rita begins taking notes, but soon realizes that she needs an interpreter. When the interpreter arrived shortly after, Knox again began giving Ficarra names of people who had visited the flat, including “a South African man” she had met at a party in the flat underneath hers. Knox said that she didn’t know his name or phone number, and had never seen him again after that night (Rudy Guede).

At this point, Knox willingly hands over her phone to Ficarra, who begins scrolling through Knox’s text messages and asking her who these people were and when she had met them—she wanted to know everything: “Peter, Juve, Spiros, Shaggy…” Ficarra continued, rattling-off names and quizzing Knox. Inspector Lorena Zugarini enters the room and begins observing silently.

Suddenly, the head of the Perugia homicide unit, Monica Napoleoni, enters the room and says, “He [Sollecito] doesn’t cover her anymore, so you’d better ask Amanda again her whereabouts on the evening of the murder.”

It turns out that Raffaele Sollecito had changed his story, claiming that he was with Knox only until 9:00p.m., on the night of the murder. Sollecito claims that he and Knox left the cottage at 6:00p.m., at which time they went into the centre. “At 9:00p.m., I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends,” Sollecito told police.

“We said goodbye and I went home, I rolled myself a spliff [Marijuana cigarette] and made some dinner.” Sollecito goes on to say that Knox returned to his flat at around 1:00a.m., at which time the couple went to bed.

Amanda Knox’s alibi had abruptly evaporated! As Ficarra continued through Knox’s messages, she came to a text that Knox had sent to her boss, Patrick Lumumba. Ficarra shows her the message and asks, “Who is this person?” Ficarra believed that the message read like a date—to meet up later that night. “Did you go out with him that night?” Ficarra asked.

Unexpectedly and without warning, Knox put her head in her hands, started shaking her head, as tears streamed down from her eyes. “He’s bad, he’s bad…”—Amanda says as if she is in a trance—“He’s the murderer…I can hear him in Meredith’s room…I can hear him killing Meredith!”

Knox was a waitress at the bar Le Chic, which was owned by a Congolese man by the name of Diya Patrick Lumumba [37]. Lumumba was also a musician who was married to a Polish woman named Ola, with whom he had a baby boy named David.


On the night of the murder Knox said that she had originally sent him a text message asking him if he wanted her to come into work that night. Patrick sent a reply back at 8:19p.m., saying that she was not needed. Knox then replied back to Lumumba at 8.35p.m., “Certo. Ci vediamo piu` tardi. Buona serata!”

There has been many discrepancies as to what this statement actually means in Italian, or what Knox meant by the statement; particularly the “più tardi” in the sentence. A rough translation of this phrase in English is “Certainly. See you later. Good evening!” However, “più tardi” in Italian actually indicates a schedule or an appointment.

This expression in Italian assumes that after a lapse of time, with many actions in between, we will meet up later. If you use the words “più tardi” it is assumed that you are going to meet-up with someone on the same day or evening, not tomorrow or at another time. It is possible to suppose that Knox did not understand the language well enough and this is just a simple misunderstanding, but police did not give her the benefit of the doubt; axiomatically because she had already stated that Lumumba was the murderer.

Once Knox had made this accusation, police immediately notified the Pubblico Ministero (Public Prosecutor) of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, who gives the order to “Stop.”

Questioning for the evening was then suspended at 1:45a.m., as is prescribed by Italian law—in articles 386 & 566 of the Italian Codice di Procedura Penale [Code of Criminal Procedure] (CPP).  Knox signs a one-page statement that recounts her new story, and she is then informed that her status has officially changed from witness to suspect.

Italian law differs from the law here in the United States in several respects (civil law system vs. common law system), but many aspects are strikingly similar. Italian criminal law, which is codified in the CPP, states that Defense counsel’s presence is mandatory during the interrogation of the accused. One way around this, however, is to not officially change the status from witness to a suspect until after getting a sufficient amount of information out of her/him during questioning or to get a confession before changing the status. This is a common police ‘trick,’ per say, in Italy as well as in America.

Italian law does, however, have several differences. According to a provision introduced in 1978, it is not compulsory for the defense counsel to be present when the continuation of an investigation requires the immediate and urgent interrogation of a suspect. The statements made by the suspect, however, may not be minuted for use in judicial proceedings.

Basically, this can be seen as a loop-hole that gives Italian police more leeway to do as they see fit in order to extract what information they need from a suspect. In Knox’s case, she obviously did not have a lawyer as she was not even called into the police station, let alone was she under the impression that she would be arrested at some point during that evening.

In any event, it was Knox that allegedly waived her right to an attorney at that time, according to police. Nevertheless, the absence of a defense attorney during interrogation does not guarantee that the information provided by the suspect will be admissible in court. This decision will later be up to the two judges and six jury members upon trial in Italy, or the Italian Supreme Court.

The officers were completely astonished and dumbfounded by Knox’s admittance. Here was a girl who hadn’t even been asked to come in for questioning, and has not only declared to have been at the house during the time of the murder, but identified the killer!

Mignini headed over to the questura (police headquarters) to witness and question Knox further. Once he arrived—at 3:30a.m.— Knox repeats her story for Mignini, but this time she goes into great detail… The session is halted at 5:45a.m., at which time Knox signs a five-page statement detailing the events of the interrogation.

In the report, regarding the text message that Knox sent to Lumumba, police changed the text to read:  “Ci vediamo.”(“See you later”). Mignini later used this statement to persuade the judge that Knox and Lumumba met up just before the murder. This information was then fed to the press, who reported the half-text “See you later” (by no fault of their own). An example of this is the story in the London Times on 13 November 2007, entitled, “Meredith Kercher murder: why the timings are critical.” It wasn’t until Lumumba’s subsequent release that the full message was correctly reported to the public.

In any case, police theorized from the text message, and Knox’s statement, that the two met-up shortly there afterwards at the basketball court at Piazza Grimana before heading to the cottage. Shortly after signing the report, Knox is formally arrested then taken for breakfast. Sollecito had also been formally arrested and retained.


Meanwhile, a police task force had already been assembled and sent to arrest the dangerous murderer, Patrick Lumumba. At 6:30a.m., Patrick Lumumba sat in his fourth-floor apartment when he heard his doorbell ringing. Before he could even respond he heard a woman’s voice outside demanding that he open the door…

With Lumumba in custody, the procession headed to Perugia’s police station with sirens blaring. The worst was yet to come for Patrick, who then had to sit through a ten-hour interrogation…

“You did it, you did it!” Patrick was confused and scared, and police would not even tell him what he had just been arrested for. It was only after several hours that police showed Patrick a picture of Meredith’s lifeless body. It was only after seeing the picture that Patrick had made the connection between his arrest and Meredith’s death. “You think I killed Meredith?” Patrick uttered. Lumumba had been handing out flyers publicizing Meredith Kercher’s candlelit vigil just one day earlier…

After Lumumba’s arrest, Knox calls over Ficarra and asks her for a pen and paper. Knox says to her, “I want to give you a gift.” Knox then proceeds to write a two page statement, confirming what she said earlier; but this time she posed her accusations against Lumumba and her presence during the murder as a “vision.”

Her statement is legally known as a voluntary, spontaneous statement, referred to as ‘The Memoir’ (Memorial or Two Page Note). When she is done she hands the memoir to Ficarra and says that it will help them in case they have some doubts. Little did Knox know at the time, but it would be the most damaging ink she would ever inscribe!

Key points in Knox’s statement (‘The Memoir’):

“This is very strange, I know, but really what happened is as confusing to me as it is to everyone else.”

Knox starts off claiming that she was at Sollecito’s flat “smoking marijuana, having sex,” and “might even have fallen asleep.”

“The next thing I remember was waking up the morning of Friday November 2nd around 10am and I took a plastic bag to take back my dirty cloths to go back to my house.”

As she goes on, she begins to tell a different story of what might have happened, in which she claims her boss, Patrick Lumumba, was probably the murder. According to this version of events Knox met Patrick Lumumba at around 9:00p.m., on the night of the murder at the basketball court in Piazza Grimana then went to her house. This is significant, because a homeless man later testified that he saw Knox on that very basketball court at around that time.

“In my mind I saw Patrik in flashes of blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming…these things seem unreal to me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in my head and the questions I am being asked.”

The following statement is telling because Knox does not rule out the possibility that there may be evidence against her at the crime scene. Here she contradicts and back-tracks as she tries to talk her way out of trouble.

“The police have told me that they have hard evidence that places me at the house, my house, at the time of Meredith’s murder. I don’t know what proof they are talking about, but if this is true, it means I am very confused and my dreams must be real.”

In his account to police that night, Sollecito tried to distance himself from the murder, telling police that Knox asked him to lie for her and say that she was with him the whole night.

“In my previous statement I told a load of rubbish because Amanda had convinced me of her version of the facts and I didn’t think about the inconsistencies,” Sollecito told police

Knox responds to this by writing, “I also NEVER asked him to lie for me. This is absolutely a lie…What does he [Sollecito] have to hide? I don’t think he killed Meredith.”

Knox then acknowledges that her story seems far fetched, yet she stands by both of her stories, each contradicting the other.

“I also know that the fact that I can’t fully recall the events that I claim took place at Raffaele’s home during the time that Meredith was murdered is incriminating. And I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrik, but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder.

“I’m very confused at this time. My head is full of contrasting ideas and I know I can be frustrating to work with for this reason. But I also want to tell the truth as best I can. Everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith’s death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder, and that Patrick may have been the killer.

“In these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrik as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night.”

Knox then asks herself a very puzzling question, which is basically like saying that she was not there unless they have proof that she was, and if so then she doesn’t remember.

“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?”


It wasn’t until 5:30p.m., that day—still handcuffed and bruised—that Patrick was informed of the evidence against him.

Police showed Patrick the hand written statement of Amanda Knox accusing him of being Meredith’s killer. It was only then that Patrick had realized just how mad Knox was with him for considering firing her. Patrick filled-up with rage and contempt toward Knox, but continued to keep himself calm and composed in front of police. After Patrick was fingerprinted and his blood was taken, he sat in a holding cell awaiting his first hearing.

Police then turned their investigation to Raffaele Sollecito’s flat on Corso Garibaldi. Police entered the premises looking for a pair of shoes that matched any of the bloody prints left at the crime scene, and a possible murder weapon.

Armondo Finzi, an assistant in Perugia PD’s organized crime unit, entered the home and immediately noticed a “strong smell of bleach.” As police beagn the inspection of the flat, Mr. Finzi opened a drawer in the kitchen and noticed a shiny knife lying on top of the silverware tray. The Marietti knife with a 6 ½ inch stainless steel blade, was the first knife that he saw and his investigative intuition led him to believe that it might be the murder weapon.

Officer Finzi grabbed the knife, with gloved hands, and placed it into an envelope and taped it shut, and then placed it into a folder. No other knife was taken into evidence. Back at police headquarters, homicide unit captain, Stefano Gubbiotto, removed the knife from the envelope—with gloved hands—and placed it into a cardboard box, and it was scheduled to be sent to Rome for further analysis.

During the search, police also found a pair of Sollecito’s sneakers (Nike size 42½) that they announced was a perfect match with the footprint left at the crime scene. Police also discovered a receipt in Sollecito’s flat for cleaning products from a local supermarket, which they claimed included bleach. This bleach, police then believed, was used to clean the knife found in his apartment.

Police also examined Sollecito’s car (an Audi) for any traces of blood on the pedals, but found nothing. They confiscated Sollecito’s collection of violent Japanese comic books as well. Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba all spent the next two days and nights in isolation—behind bars in Capanne prison, about a ten-minute drive from Perugia.

_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive

 


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tina Brown Of The Daily Beast Extols Barbie Nadeau’s Book On Knox’s Descent Into Hell

Posted by Peter Quennell


Our previous post on Tina Brown of New York’s Daily Beast who is publishing and championing Barbie Nadeau’s new book.

Tina Brown is certainly sounding more up to speed on the case than a ludicrously misinformed Oprah Winfrey and likely to be a much-needed balancing voice. Excerpts from her new piece, starting with a kind gesture to Meredith’s family.

“It’s such a shock to send your child to school and for them to not come back.”

That was the brokenhearted testimony of the mother of Meredith Kercher, the 22-year-old British student killed in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007, at the trial of her daughter’s alleged killers two years later. “We will never, never get over it.”

As the mother of a 19-year-old myself, I shuddered at her words.

Hers is the nightmare that haunts every parent who sends a son or daughter off to one of the “gap year” or study-abroad programs that have become a rite of passage for educated Western youth. But the rapid growth of such programs can be credited, in part, to parents’ woeful—or is it willful?—ignorance about what can happen when students suddenly find themselves in a foreign land, free from parental or college oversight, and surrounded by a new set of peers, all of them eager to experiment….

Only with Meredith’s horrific death did it become clear that she and her roommate had been mixing with a crowd that was headed not just for trouble, but, in Amanda’s case, a descent into evil….

[Barbie Nadeau’s]  objective dispatches also earned her the enmity of ferocious pro-Knox bloggers, who hurled insults and threats, hoping to discredit her professionally. Instead, her reputation has been enhanced by her diligent pursuit of a story that most of the U.S. media, including The New York Times, badly misread….

Mining diaries, social-networking sites, exclusive interviews, and telling moments in the courtroom, Nadeau paints the first full portrait of a quirky young woman who is neither the “she-devil” presented to an Italian jury nor the blameless ingénue her parents believe her to be. What Nadeau shows is that Amanda Knox is, in fact, a 21st-century all-American girl—a serious student with plans and passions—but is also a thrill-seeking young woman who loves sex and enjoys drugs and who, in the wrong environment with the wrong people, develops a dark side that takes her over and tips her into the abyss.

In short, every parent’s worst fear…

We strongly endorse Tina’s uncomplimentary crack at the New York Times. The Times did nothing to advance the truth here. Instead it hosted the xenophobic blogging of Knox slobberer Timothy Egan.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Der Spiegel Reporting Meredith’s Father Is Writing A Book To Cover Their Considerable Costs

Posted by Peter Quennell


We knew that a book by Meredith’s father John is in the works. We did not know the real reason why.

This news is frankly pretty heartbreaking.

Alexander Smoltczyk in Perugia reports on the health and financial hurt descended upon Meredith’s family..

The announcement of the verdict is expected at the end of this week, after a long trial that has taken its toll on everyone involved, not just the defendants….

Kercher’s mother only manages to cope by taking psychiatric medication, while her husband, a journalist, has been forced to write a book about the case to cover their legal fees.

The publishers’ grapevine has been hinting in fact that the book will be all about Meredith.

Meredith’s family have said through their lawyer that they expect never to see any financial return from the financial awards made by the Italian court against those who are found guilty.

Multi-million-dollar awards are common now in the US and Europe if there is a danger of profiteering from inside a prison cell. And in Italy, those sitting in prison cells often get easy access to the media.

Many of us here - many readers too - have long wanted to organize something financial for Meredith’s memory and for her family by way of this website for Meredith. Maybe now is a good time to begin.

Mind you, if the book IS all about Meredith this could be truly huge. Pent-up demand to find out more about Meredith, which we encounter every day, is now really enormous.

After being overshadowed for so long by obnoxious others, Meredith deserves her day in the sun.



Friday, December 12, 2008

Considerable Outrage In Italy Over Death Profiteering

Posted by Peter Quennell


Richard Owen of the Times reports.

A film starring Amanda Knox, the American student awaiting trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher, has caused a political row, with rightwing politicians claiming the Perugia prison where Ms Knox is held is “like a holiday camp”.

Pietro Laffranco, a Parliamentary deputy in the ruling centre-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi, said he was tabling a question in Parliament to the Minister of Justice to demand an explanation over “this extremely serious incident”.

Follow the Italian press coverage for any length of time, and you will soon realize one thing.  Meredith is an intensely loved and very-much-missed person, to many, many Italians.

She hungered to be there, worked hard to get there, spoke very good Italian, knew much of the politics and culture, and just loved being in Perugia with its fine School for Foreigners.

And with her Mediterranean beauty, her kind consideration for others, her chaste behavior, and her zeal for hard work, she seems very, very easy for Italian moms and dads to identify with as one of their own.

So not surprisingly, the public outrage over the prison movie reflected in today’s Italian press is considerable, and it seems likely to create real repercussions.

The movie itself is unlikely to ever see the light of day. Those involved have been seriously thrown on the defensive, and they are likely to see career repercussions. The rules may be tightened for defendants and prisoners interacting with the media. The leniency that some feel Umbria shows to its prisoners may become less-so.

And Amanda Knox (who, to be fair, did not initiate this exposure, and should have been warned by her lawyers and family) may find herself more secluded if she is eventually found guilty.

In sum, this looks like a humane and perhaps overdue tilt in the system and the media toward Meredith, the silent victim in this case. And toward all silent victims like her.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Grief-For-Profit Industry Is Not So Busy, Today, Perhaps…

Posted by Peter Quennell

Hard to believe the sordid money-grubbing “friends” industry is not now bothering even the defendants’ families. Hard to believe the wannabe author is today on the same terms with the Knoxes and the Mellases as two days ago.

Hard to believe the Kercher family will allow her within many miles of themselves now, if they can possibly help it. Hard to believe she will still have a free hand to roam around Perugia, and to “objectively” report on the trial.

Hard to believe any putative insider contacts will not go quiet now, and keep her at very extreme arms’ length. Hard to believe the fiasco of the book-deal is not seriously bothering Penguin, and chilling some other book deals.

Yes. Perhaps we have won one here. For Meredith. And for the Kerchers.


Monday, November 17, 2008

How COULD You Stuart Agency? How COULD You Berkley Books?

Posted by Peter Quennell




A book by one of the worst of the PR shills. The dishonest and incompetent Candace Dempsey. Click above for the announcement. In part:

Seattle reporter Candace Dempsey’s MURDER IN ITALY: The Story Behind the Murder of Meredith Kercher, the Case Against Amanda Knox, and the Strange World of an Italian College Town, a gripping account of the notorious 2007 murder of a British exchange student in Perugia, Italy, and the American girl accused of the crime, to Shannon Jamieson Vazquez at Berkley, for publication shortly after the trial concludes, by Andrew Stuart at The Stuart Agency

We seriously doubt that this will be nice news for the much-grieving family of Meredith Kercher.

Andrew Stuart of the Stuart Agency and Leslie Gelbman of Berkley Books might like to check out this post. And this one.

Seems a sordid tale of anti-victim bias there. The Stuart Agency and Berkley Books both have very fine reputations.

We hope Andrew and Leslie are kind enough now to consult with the Kerchers.


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