Heads-up. Next main post comparing justice systems by Chimera late Monday. Then more on the RS & Gumbel book trial (next court session this thursday), then Cardiol MD on more hard facts. Post on first Italian law article critical of Marasca outcome coming up. Catnip finishing English Micheli Report. Much soon on myriad false claims of Interrogation and other Hoaxes. Master Evidence List in update soon. Biggest cliffhanger: which lawyers will handle Knox calunnia #2 and how. Note Ghirga and Dalla Vedova lost on Knox calunnia #1 in 6 pretrial hearings and 5 courts, including Hellmann, and Cassation twice. This time evidence is huge.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

Columbia University Journalism School Blasts Fabricated Story - But What Of Hundreds In Our Case?

Posted by Peter Quennell


1. The Damage From False Media Reports

Once a false meme is put out there it can do immense harm and be almost impossible to turn around.

Public relations houses try to propagate memes, and if they are false that is sleazy and unethical but usually does not contravene criminal law.

But serious media spreading such memes have a very strong moral mandate and at times a legal mandate to check, double-check, and check again.

Often the real damage extends way beyond immediate victims and witnesses and families and friends. It can chill and distort right across law enforcement and the justice system and deeply affect paranoia-prone minds.

2. The Rolling Stone Article Report

What was misreported in the fortnightly Rolling Stone is described chronologically today by Rolling Stone itself here.

Essentially, an experienced reporter with a valid story did not go the extra mile to check if her highly inflammatory flagship claim was true.

There seems no question now that it was not.

The first report that the story did not smell right was posted by a respected reporter here. A week later, the Washington Post reported serious discrepancies here and here.

A few days later Rolling Stone itself cautiously began to ‘fess up. The story was indeed untrue. Neither the reporter nor the editor had checked, double-checked, and checked again.

Its owner Jann Renner contracted with the Columbia University Graduate Journalism School to publish an in-depth report.  The supposed victim was increasingly contradicted by her own friends and shown to have changed stories a lot. On 23 March local police reported that their investigation turned up no sign of a crime.

Yesterday the journalism school published their conclusions on “What Went Wrong” and they will make available and summarise the full version of their report on April 8th.

Damage has rippled on and on not least to women who have a huge interest in being taken seriously when they have a complaint.

The University of Virgina is in full damage control mode (that campus is about one hour’s drive southwest of Washington). Who could now be charged or sued is discussed here in the Washington Post. Many reputations have come out looking worse.

3. Relevance To Meredith’s Case?

On 27 June 2011 (right in the middle of the Hellmann appeal) Rolling Stone published one of the least accurate and most damaging and defamatory of literally hundreds of inaccurate reports.

Nathaniel Rich reported only in English, of course, from safely across the Atlantic, and there was zero due diligence by the editor at Rolling Stone (the same editor as today). His false claims were very widely quoted elsewhere. See here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Rolling Stone inflamed public opinion through false claims.  It added to the perception that an extradition battle could drop two governments in the soup. That may have impacted the Supreme Court.

Yes, this case of mass misreporting seems every bit as bad. 

Posted on 04/06/15 at 10:59 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Did The State Department Really Offer Assurances To Amanda Knox She Never Would Be Extradited?

Posted by Ergon



US Sec of State Kerry (foreground, on Edward Snowden) really needs extraditions to work

1. The Current Italy/US Extradition Treaty

As repeatedly explained here by posting lawyers the Italy/US treaty is deliberately written to exclude any politics.

If either nation has arrived at a guilty verdict of someone currently in the other nation by following its own laws, then the other nation deliberately has no legal option but to extradite them to serve their term.

So far neither nation has ever refused to do what the treaty says and so far politics has never intervened. That helps both nations in pursuing other extradition cases around the world.

2. Claims By An Anonymous Source

“Will Amanda Knox Be Dragged Back to Italy in Murder Case?” This was by Nina Burleigh in a cover story in Newsweek on March 19, 2015 quoting an anonymous source.

A State Department source tells Newsweek that diplomats in both Italy and the U.S. expect an extradition request to be denied: “I don’t think either Italy or the U.S. wants a major burr under our saddle in terms of relationships between our countries, and this would be that, if the Italians pushed it.” If they do, the source adds, there “is not any way” the U.S. will arrest Knox, nor will it have her declared a fugitive.

The elected Italian government in Rome is separate from the judiciary, and traditionally the two branches do not have warm relations. “I know the Italian government was rolling its eyes” over the prospect of the case reaching this phase, the State Department source says, adding that Rome faces “a real political problem” if the judiciary requests extradition. The American diplomat predicts the Italian court won’t ask to extradite.

It seems that ever since Amanda Knox was wrongfully acquitted by the Hellmann appeals court of Perugia in 2011 we have been inundated with unsourced reports that “the United States would never extradite Amanda Knox.

Going back several years to the Daily Mail, Guardian, The Express and various American media, they all seemed to be reading from the same script:

  • She hadn’t received a fair trial.

  • American public opinion would ‘never allow her to be sent back’.

  • The Secretary of State would quietly prevail upon his counterpart in Italy to not request extradition.

And, as the final appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito came up to the last stretch it seemed that these same hacks were repeating the same talking points, even though much has changed since 2011.

These were the basic points, reported over and over in the main stream media till it almost seemed like a guarantee. So I have been looking for the last three years to verify the truth of that. And, who made that promise, if any were made? These were the basic parameters of my search, and I had to tune out the background noise of ‘double jeopardy’ and ‘dueling extradition experts’.

Then I had to look for the ‘unnamed source’ quoted in all the news reports.

These possibilities came up: 

  • WA US Senator Maria Cantwell spoke to her colleague Sen. John Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who spoke to his brother in law David Thorne, the former US Ambassador to Rome, who passed on a quiet message to the Italian Foreign minister. But would they ever speak on or off the record to reporters or like it very much if it was going to be bruited about?

  • Mid-level Friends Of Amanda Knox like Anne Bremner and Judge Heavey had received vague assurances from Senator Cantwell; somehow extrapolated as iron clad guarantee that Knox would never be extradited, never mind there has not been any precedent I can find that would apply to a similar case like this.

  • Someone in the Department of Justice and/ or State is feeding them shite.

  • The FOA are making it all up. That last was my favourite, given that they are led around by people like Steve Moore, Bruce Fischer, and J. Michael Scadron.


3. My Search For The Truth

This has been an interesting journey, and as always, things seem to just come together at the last moment. It has helped that I have been watching diplomatic activity up-close all my life.

My father was in the Pakistani Foreign Service stationed in London, so, shortly after I was born, lived in the UK from age 0-3, then with the Pakistan Embassy in Tokyo from age 3-8. We were a cosmopolitan group of embassy brats going to St. Mary’s International School. My friends were American, Iranian, Turk, Indian, East German, Canadian, New Zealand, points all over. Their parents were all diplomats and I made lifelong friends. My father could have received a posting as assistant to the ambassador to Washington D.C. after that but fate prevailed as he’d been stationed out 8 years and had to be rotated back to Pakistan.

Since that time I kept in touch with my friends and also developed this passion for International Relations and Geopolitics. Travelling to the US and other countries but also meeting over the internet, made many more friends at various levels of the State Department. Saw the changes there as respected career diplomats got replaced by interest groups and major donors to political parties. Such only went to choice postings, of course, but not second or third world countries, so I had many interesting discussions with them over the years.

The Wikileaks cables were a revelation as Embassy intercepts showed the thousand different ways diplomacy led to but also tried to prevent, war. I’d been reading them ever since they first came out so started searching for links to secret discussions with Amb. Thorne. Couldn’t find anything except what already was reported, so reporter Andrea Vogt’s FOI request find was a goldmine:

NEWLY RELEASED EMBASSY CABLES SHED LIGHT ON STATE DEPT HANDLING OF AMANDA KNOX CASE

By Andrea Vogt

FEBRUARY 13 “Newly released state department documents show the U.S. Embassy in Rome declared the Amanda Knox matter “Case Closed” in a cable to Washington just days after the American’s clamorous 2011 acquittal.  The memo reveals wishful thinking on the part of some U.S. diplomats, who were only too eager to see the thorny case come to a clean close.”

In Update March 23, 2015 posted today, Andrea Vogt says this:

In a 2011 Italian embassy cable released as part of several Freedom of Information Act requests I’ve filed on this case (first published Oct 11, 2011) [US] diplomats in Italy mistakenly thought Knox’s acquittal in 2011 would bring to a close this complex and divisive international case. Italy’s Court of Cassation would prove them wrong, overturning her Perugia acquittal and ordering a second appeal in a different venue (Florence) which ended last year with a guilty verdict.

So is a political fix being attempted or already in? See my Conclusion, Part II to be posted tonight.

Posted on 03/23/15 at 05:08 AM by Ergon. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rogue Juror Genny Ballerini, Translated: She Misled, Oggi Misled More, UK Media Misled Even More

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Interpretations Of The Interview

In reading the translation by Miriram these points may be worth bearing in mind. They are largely based on advice from Yummi in Italy.

Genny Ballerini comes across to Italians as someone not especially educated who is more than a bit lost on the law and the case. She herself admits she may be naive and had not followed Meredith’s case. She was surprised to end up on the jury for Knox’s and Sollecito’s “trial”. She voices no concern for Meredith or her family.

A former factory worker, she had been unemployed for some months, and she appreciated the small fee the court paid her for jury duty and apparently also a fee that Oggi paid her for the interview. She had to be persuaded by Oggi to do the interview, and she seems unaware that it may have been illegal.

The lead judge and side judge, the professionals, remained neutral and impartial and promoted no particular outcome. There were no arguments among the jury. She seems to be drawn toward Sollecito without any very logical reason. (Hmmm. Sollecito had addressed her and the others directly and he was standing right in front of her looking at her.)

She repeatedly refers to a “trial” and to previous “trials” for example “when the trial started” and “I formed my beliefs studying the three files of the previous trials. Not only. During the trial I kept a diary for every hearing”. She never once uses the word for “appeal” or wonders why there were no prosecution exhibits and witnesses.

The Oggi headline is misleading. Almost of her doubts are described in the past tense and she admits she voiced them to the other jurors early in the “trial” because things were not clear to her. She had folders of evidence to poke though; these may have related only to the appeal points the defenses had filed.

At one point she says “we discussed to reach an agreement” and at another point she says she voted against the verdict. It is not clear in what order, and she may finally have joined in a total consensus. She seems to connect the punishment to the supposed amount of evidence rather than the barbaric nature of the attack.

Please see Part 3 below for how the UK media has managed to report this even more confusingly.

2. The New Translation By Miriam

Miriam has carefully translated the original interview in Oggi for us.

“Not Enough Evidence For Such A Heavy Sentence”

On January 30th of last year, the appeal Court of Florence sentenced Amanda Knox to 28 years and 6 months of imprisonment and Raffaele Sollecito to 25 years for the murder of Meredith Kercher. 12 hours of deliberation were needed for the eight judges - two professional judges (the President Alessandro Nencini and Doctor Liliana Cicerchia)  and six Lay Judges - to wrap up that decision.  Among the lay judges was Genny Ballarini, a 48 year old,  worker from Prato. After long negotiations and courteous refusals, on the eve of the decision by Corte di Cassazione, she accepted to speak to Oggi.

Twelve hours, half a day: a lifetime for who judges and for who is judged. Without entering into detail, as not to violate the secrets of the “camera del consiglio”, what can you tell us?

We went through all the documents, drew the conclusions, in order to arrive at an agreement.

And then?

I certainly had many doubts about the guilt of the two young people. I wasn’t an upholder the defendant’s innocence, but I thought and said to the others: “The evidence we have is not enough to inflict all these years of prison. Where is the evidence to send them to prison? Maybe I was naïve, but before pronouncing such a heavy sentence I wanted to see clearly. There was not enough, according to me, to justify a such a heavy sentence: questionable proof, odd testimony and uncertain evidence”. 

And of the motive, what ideas did you arrive at?

“That of the inadequate cleaning of the house? Nonsense. You do not massacre a girl because she complained about a bit of a smell in the bathroom. Anyway, at the end of every hearing we would sit down and discuss, we would reconstruct the facts on the basis of the timing, the cell phones, the statements of the accused that indicated how Amanda and Raffaele could be at the scene of the crime. I would ask “ But is it enough to convict them?” Against Raffaele, beyond the hypothesis, remained the discussed trace on Meredith’s bra clasp. How could you not have doubts? “What was the motive that could have pushed Raffaele to participate in the massacre of that poor girl”?  I asked.

The prosecutor in the first trial described Sollecito as “depraved”, putting him inside of the erotic game ending in a tragedy and he was depraved, argued the prosecutor, because he was a fanatic of Manga, the Japanese comics that mix eroticism and violence. 

“But if he is a murderer you need to prove it!” I noted. “It is not enough to read comics or watch cartoons. And then it was the same prosecutors that reminded that Amanda was not a tranquil young lady because she once received a fine for nocturnal racket. It seemed to be, excuse me, more nonsense”.

One of the controversial points is that in that small room in which Meredith was murdered, there was not even one trace of Knox. How do you explain that?

“They claimed that Knox had removed her traces by cleaning. Who knows! Today when I think about it again I have even more doubts”, she said. When the trial started the atmosphere in the “camera del consiglio” was accusatory. Maybe I am naïve, but I had doubts. I thought: what we have in our hands it’s not enough to send them to prison for all those years.  May be Amanda was there, but she didn’t participate. I listened to Raffaele and he seem to me a fine young man, he seemed to me sincere… At the beginning I had no opinion: I have never liked crime news and I had read just a bit on the case. I formed my beliefs studying the three files of the previous trials. Not only. During the trial I kept a diary for every hearing. I wrote down everything that was happening and at the end I would add my impressions.

How did you interact with the Court’s President?

He and the side Judge did not express an opinion till the end. During all those months I never managed to understand what they thought about the case.

So they did not influenced the Lay Judges?

Absolutely not. They would explain only the things that we could not understand. I understood what they thought only when the verdict was decided, but my doubts remained. At a certain point, I stressed that Rudy Guede left on the crime scene more traces than Raffaele and Amanda and yet he was given 16 years instead of 25. They explained to me that he was judged through a fast track trial, that provides a reduction of the sentence. 

And what do you think of Guede?

I think that he gave three different versions of the facts and he never said that Amanda and Raffaele were with him. How can you take into consideration Rudy to establish the guilt of the other two?

What did you think when the verdict was decided?

Right away I said that I did not agree and it was noted. On the increasing on the sentence even other Lay Judges did not agree, but it was explained to us that it could not be any different.

Did you ever fight among yourselves?

No, never.

You said that you do not like crime news and the speculations on blood related crimes? Why than did you accept to became part of the Lay Judges of a trial so complicated and a such media driven event?

I was drawn. I could only refuse only for health reasons. I accepted even for economic reasons since at that time I was on unemployment check. On the other hand they had told me that in that session, from July to September, usually the “Corte d’Assise” has scheduled trials of less importance. I would have never imagined that we were going to end up with Meredith’s murder.

You implied to economic reasons. You worked seven months from July to January with burdensome hearings. How much did you received?   

In all 1.500 Euro: 200 Euro a month! I received them from the Department of Justice seven months after the conclusion of the trial. Not much, but needed: I spent them for a sensitive surgery.

3. How The UK Press Reported This

The Mirror and Daily Mail cherrypick the most sensational claims, make them sound current rather than nearly 18 months old,  and dont publish the whole interview.

In effect they leave out almost all of the context in Par 1 above, dont explain why Italians are unmoved, and omit the essential point that this was NOT a new trial and the jury did NOT hear the case presented in depth with exhibits and witnesses as the trial jury did.

Posted on 03/22/15 at 05:38 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Rogue Juror Genny Ballerini: A Sign Oggi Sees Its Conviction For Parroting Knox As Inevitable?

Posted by Peter Quennell



Umberto Brindani, the editor of the weekly Italian magazine Oggi

1. Explaining The Broad Context

A rogue juror has mischaracterized the outcome of the Nencini appeal in Oggi.

Very odd, as the consequence of this very unusual action is that she could be charged with vilipendio, with an illegal action to poison public opinion to lean upon a court process to affect its outcome. To help explain what may be going on here, think of Italy as two factions.

  • A very large faction which is comparatively very law-abiding and very forgiving and which greatly admires Italian law enforcement and judges and prosecutors.

  • A relatively tiny faction consisting of such unsavory elements as corrupt politicians and businessmen, the mafias, rogue masons, satanists (yes there are some) and others who, by any means fair or foul, seek unfair breaks for themselves and their associates.

The Perugia courts, being close to Rome, and the Florence courts, being very large and very competently staffed, have particular roles in matters of national-level justice. Anyone who manages to throw sand in the wheels of those court systems may have won one for some in the small and unsavory faction at the cost of the very large pro-justice faction.

MP Rocco Girlanda is a great example of how this works. The member from Gubbio once of Berlusconi’s party used his parliamentary privilege to “check Knox’s conditions” in Capanne dozens of times. Apparently even the Knox-Mellases found Girlanda’s advances pretty creepy, and someone from the family is said to have headed for Italy in a hurry.

Girlanda not only wrote a creepy book about Knox and took a creepy position on panels of the Italian-American Society in Rome which he once headed. He also tried to monkey with Meredith’s case by petitioning the President, and by attempting to reduce the national Department Of Justice budget. But some of his closest political colleagues from Gubbio are on trial now and may entangle him, and see Andrea Vogt’s tweet the other day that Florence prosecutors are investigating Girlanda, for corruption at a national level.

The Sollecitos also incline toward murky incitement outside the courtroom. Think of the bag of cash the witness Aviello said was offered. Think of conversations caught on tape discussing the capturing of politicians who might lean on the Perugia justice officials. For this Vanessa lost her job and the Sollecitos may still face charges.

The Sollecitos seem to have made a beeline in 2008 for Giulia Bongiorno, a longtime defender of some of those in the smaller faction, for her political clout, although some of her actions in handling the case, such as shrieking at Judge Nencini with a knife in her hand (the same judge who will execute Cassations decisions) seem daft in the extreme.

The Sollecitos may - may - now be a party to some strange media developments in Italy, such as the fawning Porta a Porta show of a few days ago. 

2. The Court Pressure Oggi Faces

The editor of Oggi Umberto Brindani seems to take malicious glee in Oggi’s reports to its weekly readership that put Italian justice in a bad light, perhaps to bring Italian justice down a peg and win one for some in the small faction.

Now although no other Italian media would risk repeating in Italian the lurid conspiracy theories of the Knox PR in English in the United States, Oggi did choose to go there - and was slapped with charges as a result.

Our posts here and here explain how Brindani’s taunting has bitten him in the tail. Oggi quoted defamatory and inaccurate claims from Knox’s book which are a magnet for diffamazione and vilipendio charges, as Brindani found out.

If Brindani goes down against the Bergamo prosecutor for this, as seem inevitable, both the Oggi house of cards and the Knox-Mellas-Sollecito house of cards are put at risk. Oggi may face fines and civil damages for a lot of Euros. More especially, Oggi’s credibility and future would take a knock.

3. Enter The Rogue Juror

This Daily Mail report is in fact 100% quoting the latest edition of Oggi. (Gee, thanks, Daily Mail; for obvious reasons Oggi try hard never to put their own scurrilous stories online.)

Essentially Genny Ballerini is complaining that it was an unfair “trial” and she didnt see a case being made or a motive explained.

On the face of it, this makes absolutely zero sense.

What happened in Florence just over a year ago was an APPEAL by RS and AK, not a new trial, and it was tightly focused on a couple of points the defenses wanted to quibble about (unsuccessfully, as it happened).

The prosecution presented next to nothing of its own case as already presented in great detail in 2009. There were no similar summations, no recreations of the attack on Meredith, no witnesses of its own examined in court, and almost no exhibits.

And guess what? Genny Ballerini didnt even set eyes on Amanda Knox or Rudy Guede!!

Working under strict instructions from Cassation, Judge Nencini guided his lay judges to examine and vote on ONLY the points the defense had tried to prove to their advantage.  They all knew, or should have known, even this rogue juror Genny Ballerini, that any attempt to act as a second trial jury on the lines of the Hellmann appeal jury would be illegal, and was not why they were sitting there.

Unless she is seriously daffy the surprise surfacing of Genny Ballerini in Oggi of all places only makes sense in the light of what Part 1 above explained. Genny Ballerini seems to be being used to muddy the waters to the hoped-for advantage of some in the smaller faction. 

4. The Guts Of Ballerini’s Claims  

Our main poster Chimera checked out Genny Ballerini’s individual claims, and at that level also shows that Genny Ballerini is either out to lunch or working as a tool for Oggi and by extension some in the small faction.

(1) The juror did not ‘‘help convict’’ Knox/Sollecito at the 2013/2014 Florence appeal.  The court merely confirmed the trial verdict of Giancarlo Massei (2009).

(2) ‘‘She slams the prosecution’s case, citing questionable proof, flimsy evidence, and bizarre testimony’‘.  This was only a defence appeal, which is a HUGE detail to omit.

When the defense files an appeal, essentially they are saying there is something wrong with the prosecution’s case as presented back at trial.  The prosecution PROVED their case, they don’t have to again.  So yes, the burden is on the defense.

If she does not know this (and these comments may be deliberately misquoted), then Ms. Ballerini doesn’t understand the purpose of an appeal or her role in it.

(3) Knox was 20 at the time of the murder, not 19.

(4) The article says they served 4 years before being freed on appeal, but it leaves out the fact that they had been convicted at trial.  While technically correct, it implies something that is not the case.

(5) The article says that Knox rebuilt her life finding love with Colin Sutherland, and working as a journalist.  While true, they were only recent developments (late 2014).  Knox had been released 3 years prior to that.

(6) The appeal court reinstated the guilty verdict?  Wrong.  Again, the March 2013 Cassation ruling annulled Hellmann’s ruling, but it left Massei’s trial conviction intact. The appeal court actually confirmed it.

In other words, AK and RS weren’t forced back to Florence for a new trial.  They themselves chose to redo their own appeal, rather than accept the 26 and 25 year sentences.  Big difference.

(7) ‘‘The evidence is not there to inflict all these years in prison’‘?  Frightening, if she actually made these statements.  The appeals court is ONLY to look at errors, not to retry the case.  Did she not read her job description?

(8) Ms. Ballerini says of Sollecito: What possible motive could he have for participating in that murder? 

A better question would be: why he did refuse Judge Nencini’s invitation to testify?  Come on, he just did a freaking book tour.  And Ms. Ballerini was there in court ... did she not have an urge to ask him questions?

(9) ‘‘She insisted that the 2 professional judges had not tried to sway the jury.’’  Can you think of why that may have done so? Perhaps back in late 2011?

Part of me thinks this story is a plant, her words and conclusions sound almost verbatim from the FOAK crap that has been coming out for years.

If it is true (a big if) it is frightening that someone so limited could be on a appeal jury.  Either she does not understand the purpose of an appeal, or she is being used as a sockpuppet.


5. Present Conclusions

This aint over. Investigators will already be checking out Genny Ballerini to see what makes her tick and decide if she should face charges. We will keep you posted.


Genny Ballerini is the lay-judge on the left

Posted on 03/20/15 at 12:14 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2015Florence appealThe many hoaxesItalian justice hoaxNo-evidence hoaxReporting on the caseV bad reporting
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Paul Ciolino Hit With A $40 Million Suit For Real Railroad Job From Hell

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Paul Ciolino And Meredith’s Case

Investigator Paul Ciolino provides expertise for the CBS Network’s 48 Hours crime unit.

The staffing of that unit are all obsessively supportive of Amanda Knox and all unquestioningly channel the PR. Despite claims such as “16 months of investigation” they seem to have never settled down to do reality checks or due diligence of their own.

They include the talking head Peter Van Sant (from Seattle), producers Doug Longhini, Sara Ely Hulse, and Joe Halderman (fired for attempted blackmail) and the serial fabricator Doug Preston who with major CBS help has perpetrated various damaging hoaxes

In late 2008 Paul Ciolino helped to get the Perugia reporting by CBS off to a very unpromising start.

As Kermit showed Ciolino made a huge mistake in a gotcha attempt upon witness Nara Capezzali.

She had reported to the police that she heard footsteps on gravel by the house and directly below her window on the top deck of the parking facility and then clanging footsteps on the steel stairs a few yards to her right. She also reported seeing several figures on the run.

She would not talk with Ciolino, who got the locations very wrong and also ignored altogether what Madame Nara saw. His replication of the footsteps was by runners down on the bitumin street, which is about three times as far away as Madame Nara heard some steps, with a surface nothing like the gravel drive by the house. Then Ciolino reported that he couldnt hear anything. Hardly a surprise.

In 2009 Ciolino was the main speaker at the infamous Knox fundraiser at Salty’s in West Seattle. His presentation was shrill even by their standards. He was apparently the first ever to describe the case as a “railroad job from hell”.

That inspired this extended rebuttal by Kermit.

Included in Ciolino’s presentation at Salty’s was an angry demonizing rant about Dr Mignini’s sanity. This rant was widely reported, not least in Italy.

In Perugia Knox’s own legal team protested the PR thrust. The BBC interviewed Dr Mignini and in a report on their website concluded the precise opposite to Ciolino’s claim.

In April 2009 CBS 48 Hours with biased takes by Ciolino and Preston aired American Girl, Italian Nightmare, the most misleading major US TV report as of that point, and Peter Van Sant aired his own misleading take.

Later still in 2009 CBS 48 Hours Producer Joe Halderman was arrested and charged with blackmail. Halderman had to resign after pleading guilty and is long gone.

In 2011 CBS 48 Hours aired the so-called untold story of Knox. CBS 48 Hours also aired numerous other short segments (you can find them on YouTube) simply regurgitating the tales by Knox and her PR gang whole, absent any checking of facts.

CBS attempt no balance, nobody with a deep knowledge of the case ever appears. No Italians are ever interviewed. PR shills repetitively appear without being introduced as such. Almost all hard facts are simply left out; the lies by omission are huge.

CBS has done zero translation of major documents, or even reported on them in summary when released. Peter Van Sant and Doug Longhini have posted several dozen of the nastiest and least truthful analyses of the case on the CBS website. A really huge effort, simply channeling the PR.

Although quieter now, Paul Ciolino didnt quite dry up on the case. After the Nencini appeal in Florence he was quoted as saying:

Amanda is a political football, and not so much a murder suspect….They know she didn’t do it. Anyone with half a brain knows she and Raffaele weren’t involved in this thing. This is about national pride, about showing who’s boss in Italy. They are sending the message that, ‘You cannot bigfoot us. You can’t outspend us. We’re going to show you who runs this country and it’s not some little American twit from Seattle.

Italy really awoke to the Knox PR and the biased reporting of CBS etc only late in 2011 in conjunction with the highly evident hijacking of the Hellmann appeal and moreso in 2012 with the defamatory Sollecito book.

2. The $40 Million Lawsuit Against Ciolino And Protess

The news video above and this Chicago Sun-Times report explain the main thrust of the $40 million lawsuit which Ciolino along with Northwestern University’s journalism school and a former professor now faces.

Prosecutors in 2014 in releasing an innocent man after 15 years in prison blamed that group for false evidence and a false confession and for letting the real murderer walk free. Here thanks to our main poster Jools is the lawsuit document itself, an amazing read if you need more proof of how sleazy Amanda Knox’s help can be.

Here are the lawsuit’s opening paragraphs.

1. In 1999, Plaintiff Alstory Simon was wrongfully incarcerated for a double-murder he did not commit. Arrested at the age of 48, Simon spent more than 15 years in prison before he was ultimately exonerated on October 30, 2014.

2. The horrific injustice that befell Simon occurred when Defendants, Northwestern University Professor David Protess, Northwestern University private investigator Paul Ciolino, and attorney Jack Rimland, conspired to frame Simon for the murders in order to secure the release of the real killer, Anthony Porter.

3. As part of a Northwestern University Investigative Journalism class he taught in 1998, Protess instructed his students to investigate Porter’s case and develop evidence of Porter’s innocence, rather than to search for the truth. During that investigation, Northwestern, through its employees and/or agents Protess and Ciolino, intentionally manufactured false witness statements against Simon and then used the fabricated evidence, along with terrifying threats and other illegal and deceitful tactics, to coerce a knowingly false confession from Simon.

CBS is mentioned half a dozen times. It helped in the framing with nationally broadcast segments. In paragraph 85 we are told CBS got an exclusive. What a real surprise THAT is…  The lawsuit document paints Ciolino’s behavior as dishonest and ruthless and possibly criminal as well.

Protess, Ciolino and Northwestern Medill students repeatedly attempted to get the eyewitness to change his testimony, with Protess offering him $250,000 and 20% in “upfront” money for his rights in a book and movie deal;

Protess also told the eyewitness that he could have sex with either of two Northwestern Medill students if he would change his testimony.

Quoted in the lawsuit is this about Ciolino. It is actually written by Protess.

On March 15, Charles McCraney’s appearance was anxiously awaited at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kankakee, Illinois. Paul Ciolino’s hair was slicked back. The private investigator wore a sharkskin suit and white-on-white shirt with gold cuff links, his tie secured by an ornate pin. Sitting opposite him were David Protess and Rene Brown, dressed down for the occasion…  Protess introduced himself [to McCraney] and then Brown. ‘And this is Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood producer I was telling you about,’ said Protess as Ciolino extended his hand….

In paragraph 94 Ciolino’s alleged threatening of Simon into a confession is described as follows. .

Ciolino and a fellow private investigator “bull rushed” (in the words of Ciolino) Simon in his home with their guns drawn; 

Ciolino told Simon that he was a police officer;

Ciolino showed Simon a videotape of a man, who is now known to be an actor, falsely claiming that he saw Simon commit the murders;

Ciolino threatened Simon that they could do things the “easy way or the hard way” and mentioned that he would hate to see Simon have an accident;

Ciolino showed Simon what Ciolino described as a “devastating” five minute CBS-TV broadcast of Protess and Inez claiming Simon committed the murders;

Ciolino falsely told Simon that he was facing the death penalty and that the Chicago police were on their way to Simon’s house to arrest him;

Ciolino told Simon he could avoid the death penalty by providing a statement that he shot the victims in self defense but that Simon had to act quickly because Ciolino could no longer help him once the police arrived;

Ciolino promised Simon that he would be provided a free lawyer if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon that Protess would ensure he received a short prison sentence if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon would receive large sums of money from book and movie deals about the case if he agreed to give a statement.

Believing he had no other viable option, and acting under extreme duress and the influence of narcotics, Simon was knowingly and intentionally coerced into providing a false statement implicating himself in the murders.

It is this supposedly forced confession that above all cost Simon 15 years.

There is so much more. This may be a very tough lawsuit for Ciolino to beat as well as a career-killer. Northwestern University is no friend of Ciolino and may choose to go hard against him.

They do have a favorable track record.  The students of the journalism school had for years been questionably used by Protess’s arm of Barry Sheck’s Innocence Project to gather defense evidence slanted to getting supposed innocent prisoners released.

Protess was fired for this by the university several years ago as hangers-on tried to defend him.

The Innocence Project again… This is all too reminiscent of Greg Hampikian in Boise, Idaho, who corrupted Hellmann’s DNA consultants to try to frame people, and misrepresented hard evidence to try to allow guilty people to walk free.

And all broadcast by your local CBS station. 


Friday, November 14, 2014

In A New Italy Case Involving A Foreign Student The UK Media Is Not Reporting The Full Facts

Posted by Peter Quennell



Above: Serena Bowes seen taking a selfie

Overview Of The Case

Rape is a devastating crime and if someone DID rape Serena Bowes in Florence he must be put away.

Apart from this the UK media seems to be reporting her claims cautiously and unemotionally. But if they had checked with the Italian police, or even checked out Italian media reports, they would have found that Serena Bowes is leaving out key facts.

The Claims By Serena Bowes

The Daily Telegraph reported what Serena Bowes claims.

The incident unfolded when Miss Bowes, who is in the second year of her fashion course, joined other students on a trip to Florence.

She explained how she and a group of friends had been in a local nightclub when she began chatting to a man.

She alleged that they had been heading to the VIP area when she was guided towards the unisex bathroom where the attack happened.

Miss Bowes alerted staff from Newcastle College who accompanied her to the police station and to the local hospital.

After returning to the UK she attempted to put the incident behind her as no one was charged in relation with the alleged offence.

When she received a letter in Italian from the Florence Police she assumed it was an update on the case, but when she got it translated, was stunned to discover that she herself was facing charges.

She said: “I thought it was done with and I could get on with my life. I didn’t think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back.

“It doesn’t feel what actually happened is the problem anymore – it feels like that has actually been forgotten about.”

The Daily Mail report additionally added this.

‘I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there.  ‘If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over.’


Real Facts In Italian Media

The Italian media seems much further down the road and more fully informed.

They have reported the details of the case the police have put before the supervising magistrate, and they have done some poking around of their own.

The police are said to have investigated the allegations very diligently, but so far it is only his story that is holding up and not at all hers. CCTV cameras throughout the club (even apparently in the restroom) show no sign of her fighting off an attack.

He is seen inside and exiting a restroom, but she does not appear to be in that room or at that same door with him. Many staff and customers in the club were interviewed, but none of them seem to have backed up her report.

Medical examinations apparently showed no physical evidence on either of them of an attack.  And DNA swabs apparently showed none of his DNA on her or her DNA on him.

Serene Bowes’s reasons for not going to a mere hearing to explain the question marks above do seem pretty lame. She has placed a big cloud over the guy who she fingered who has been in suspect status ever since.

But now she shrugs off further help to the Italian police to nail him or clear him as being inconvenient or risky merely to her?

“I just wanted to get on with my life.” Where have we heard that before?

Update By Popper On The Rules

Popper in a comment now explains this, which even more suggests that Serene Bowes would be advised to head back to Florence, that the letter she received (still not released) said nothing about 4-12 years, and that foreign press are too gullible or worse.

On the case of Serena, we certainly need more details.  Simulation [of a crime] and calumny [accusing someone you know innocent of having committed a crime] are serious matters.

If she is investigated magistrates have elements that obligated them to inform her of their suspects, it is an act for her protection. If video material exists I fear it must be explicitly against her version, but we do not know enough to be able to give an informed opinion.

Version presented by some UK papers is uninformed and biased, as we have seen often in MK’s case.  Worst of all, it is exaggerated. An investigation is not a conviction, and if I were Serena [and a victim] I would certainly go there with a lawyer and explain the facts to exculpate myself and get the guilty convicted.

In any case, the risk she ends up in jail is quite low.  It is fairly likely that, even if convicted for the above crimes [after a trial and 2 appeals], her sentence will be suspended, if statute of limitations does not kick in first.  It follows that her justification for not going back to explain herself to a judge is ridiculous.

If she is lying and is guilty of simulation and calumny, it will be one of many cases, certainly not a surprise or uncommon.  Unfortunately many crimes are simulated every day, which makes more difficult and expensive the prosecution of real crimes.

Posted on 11/14/14 at 02:21 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Italian justice v othersOther legal processesOthers elsewhereReporting on the caseV bad reporting
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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Another Highly Misleading Associated Press Report Already Appears on 700 Media Websites

Posted by Peter Quennell



{Above: the AP headline. At bottom: the AP reporter, Colleen Barry; will she correct the report]


Read here what Colleen Barry of the Associated Press (image below) falsely claims.

How exactly does a second proven DNA trace of Amanda Knox on the knife prove that Meredith’s proven DNA on the knife wasn’t there?  The correct facts on the three DNA samples were posted here.

Nothing - nothing - that was said yesterday in court affected that. Two samples of Knox and one sample of Meredith on the knife are confirmed. All three are there.

In fact, Judge Nencini leaned hard on the bumbling Amanda Knox lawyer Dalla Vedova to make him stop. Dalla Vedova was repeatedly trying to trap the Carabinieri experts Dr Barni and Dr Berti into saying that Dr Stefanoni did something wrong in her test of Meredith’s DNA.  Judge Nencini had not even instructed the Carabinieri labs to look into that.

Dalla Vedova and Colleen Barry of the AP have apparently forgotten that defense observers were there at the Scientific Police labs test and testified that they saw Dr Stefanoni do nothing wrong. Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Giuesppe Novelli, Professor Francesca Torricelli, Luciano Garofano, Elizabeth Johnson and Greg Hampikian all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was indeed found on the blade of the knife..

Judge Nencini clearly believes that firm evidence of Meredith’s DNA is there in front of his court, and that Dr Stefanoni and Judge Massei got it right. Meredith’s DNA really was proven to be on the knife. He would not allow a clumsy red-herring argument from Dalla Vedova which lacked the slightest bit of proof.

Unlike Reuters, the Associated Press is not a public company. It issues no stock.

It is instead a co-operative jointly owned by about 1000 media groups, and its reports are carried on up to 1000 sites. It is financially not very well off, and many of its media owners are in the same boat. The AP and many of its owners are increasingly cutting corners to save a buck. Increasingly they are under-researching, failing to check, and so their viewers and their readers are ending up misled.

Does financial strain excuse the AP for hyperbole and seriously wrong claims, for reprinting of false public relations handouts and false lawyer claims as hard fact? As it has too often done before?

Would it not be better when facts are in doubt and justice on the line to not report at all?


{Below: Colleen Barry of AP Germany was the writer of the misleading piece]

Posted on 11/07/13 at 11:15 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Very Appropriate Casting Of Doug Preston As The Fredo Corleone Wannabe

Posted by Kermit




Preston as Fredo

In the image above, from the first Godfather movie, Michael’s brother Fredo watches his father Don Corleone get into a Mafioso tussle.

Fredo, after fumbling, juggling, and dropping his revolver without firing a single shot, proves himself useless and incapable of achieving the basic objective of taking care of his kindred souls.

In the same manner, as Douglas Preston fumbles about protecting the interests of his “Family” (and taking care of his own income), he shows the public that the sci-fi writer can’t load his own pen with Truth - or even Believable Lies.

Whenever I see an article published by the sci-fi thriller novelist and pro-Amanda Knox “point-of-view journalist” (his own words) concerning either the murder of Meredith Kercher or the Monster of Florence case, I can’t avoid being reminded of “Fredo” the bumbling brother who lets his family down.

Whoever set Douglas Preston up for his histrionic defense of Amanda Knox, or his attacks against the personal and professional integrity of Deputy Prosecutor General Giuliano Mignini, or his defense of his hapless friend Mario Spezi’s curious “investigative” techniques in uncovering “dirt” on the decades old “Monster of Florence” case should have found a much better soldado than Preston.

Preston’s histrionic pamphlet

Douglas Preston has recently posted an article on The Slate website, promoting a pamphlet that in the end he had to self-publish through Kindle since no one else would publish it (he had told me at the end of last year in an unsolicited email that he was hoping The New Yorker or The Atlantic would print it as an article).

I seriously thought of writing this TJMK post as a self-published Kindle article that could be downloaded for 99 cents, but I refrained from doing so for two reasons:

    1) I wanted it to get more exposure than Preston’s nickel-and-diming effort has

    2) I will never want to earn any blood money off the backs of crime victims, even if it’s only the grand total of 99 cents from the Kindle copy my mother buys

Preston’s The Slate article and Pamphlet are basically an attempt to undermine the PMF and TJMK websites which have taken a pro-victim posture in the online discussion concerning the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007.

As such he stumbles and fumbles with the Truth in promoting his “Family” causes, with as much dexterity and morality as the low-grade Mafioso “Fredo” from The Godfather, unable to load his writer’s gun properly, in a comic show of futility.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #1: Tell Favorable, Out-of-Date news from the Past

Novelist Preston starts telling his unconvincing twisted half-truths before he even finishes the title and subtitle of The Slate promotional article:

Burn Her at the Stake - Amanda Knox was acquitted of murder. Why do so many people still hate her so much? (Source: The Slate)

That title has as much truth as Preston writing another self-promotional article today announcing to the world “I turned 21 years old” … it may be true that years ago in the past he was 21 years old, but that is hardly a current truth for readers.

While it may be the case that accused murderer Amanda Knox was acquitted of that charge in 2011, it is now an old truth, after the Supreme Court of Italy in March chastised the appeals verdict of Judge Hellman (now forcibly retired from the judiciary) and annulled that acquittal, putting her status back to the conclusion of her initial murder trial.

(Later in the article Preston makes a brief mention that she will be retried, barely associated with the headline message he sends to the world in the title to his article. Knox’s current situation is the polar opposite of being acquitted; rather, she is still fully charged with murdering Meredith.)

Preston, the public wants you to start broadcasting the truth, the current, real truth, in messages that are for once free of highly misleading insinuations.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #2: Use Weak Statistics To Support Insinuations

Preston does a number of Google searches and becomes shocked, shocked that he gets hundreds of thousands of hits with combinations like “Amanda Knox” and “pervert”, or “Amanda Knox” and “slut”.

Preston knows full well, as do the readers of The Slate (and the handful of persons who have read the long version of The Slate article, paying 99 cents for the 10 minute read), that you always get hundreds of thousands or millions of Google hits for just about any Google search, however shocking the search terms may be.

Preston says “The extreme viciousness of the anti-Amanda commentariage is startling”.

Let’s do a fast test, and do the same Google searches that Preston did, replacing “Amanda Knox” with “Hillary Clinton”. Here are the results:


Here are two public figures: Knox on the left has been in the news for 6 years … she would probably be a forgotten figure, just another semi-anonymous American abroad with problems if it hadn’t been thanks to the expensive corporate PR campaign that her own family has waged. That PR campaign has propelled the number of overall appearances of her name, and has pushed Internet commenters of all types to opine on her.

Hillary Clinton on the right has been in the news for 3 decades or so, as reflected in the proportionally higher number of Google hits on her name. In spite of not being accused of sexual assault and murder, she still receives a relatively high number of sexual/sexist descriptors.

Knox is not in the news because she has worked on public health reform, or because she has been a Secretary of State, or because she lived in the White House with her husband. Knox is accused of sexual assault and murder. She is also a convicted felon, having served 3 years in an Italian prison (no further appeals) for falsely accusing her boss of murdering Meredith, in Knox’s presence.

Knox outdoes Hillary in percentage of hits for “bitch” and “slut”, but Hillary betters her for “pervert”. Who cares? In Internet, any public person can get Google hits for just about any descriptor, especially if you are accused of a sexual crime.

Let’s extend our test a moment, and do an additional Google search: “Douglas Preston” “slut” –“Knox”  . By eliminating references to “Knox” we eliminate any testing contamination from Amanda’s Perugia murder charges and the ensuing online discussion and reporting. Preston shouldn’t be surprised to learn that compared to Amanda Knox’s 380,000 “slut” hits, Preston has 73,400 of his own “slut” hits. Not bad. Of course, all of these results require analysis, which is exactly what Preston doesn’t provide in his pamphlet.

Here’s one of Preston’s “slut” Google returns, his own sci-fi novel texts:

“The town slut. She was in this cell just last month, wasn’t she, on a drunk and disorderly. Like mother, like daughter. Guess the apple never falls far from the tree. Or in your case, the shit never falls far from the asshole … the murderer might be local. Maybe a devil worshiper. You fit the bill, with that fucked-up purple hair and black eye makeup. Is that what you do at night? Go out and do mumbo-jumbo? … Bitch,’ Brad muttered … ‘no man would ever want to screw you, you freak.’” …  (Poor tormented Preston; that’s from his book Still Life with Crows that he curiously dedicated to Mario Spezi.)


Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #3:  Tell Contrasting Stories About Personal Suffering at the Hands of An Abusive Prosecutor

In an interview in The Atlantic in 2006, well before Meredith’s murder, Douglas Preston was asked about Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini:

Question: “Judge Giuliano Mignini, the public prosecutor who interrogated you, is another important player in the case. Was Mignini just doing his job? How much weight do you give to the idea that Mignini had it in for Spezi and you?”

Preston: “…. As for Mignini himself, I think he’s a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge. I don’t think that he’s a bad man …. I think he was doing his job the best he could. I think in many ways he was badly misled by Giuttari, the police officer who was running the investigation.”

Source: The Atlantic

At that point in time, the Bad Guy for Spezi and Preston had been and still was Police super-inspector Michele Giuttari. But that didn’t seem to sell. They needed something to spice up their tales about the Monster of Florence, which weren’t achieving whatever objective they may have set themselves. The breakthrough for Preston and Spezi came with Meredith’s murder. Preston today with his Pamphlet admits to being recruited early on by the pro-Amanda Knox movement just after Meredith’s murder:

A few days after Amanda Knox was arrested for murder, I got a call from a man named Tom Wright … a well-known filmmaker … (who) knew her family … (he) begged (Spezi and me) for help …. I felt like I had to become involved.” (Source: Preston’s Pamphlet on Kindle)



[Image above: Thomas Wright’s “famous” screenplay skills seem to rival only Preston’s writing skills that we’ve seen.]

Preston has never admitted this early recruitment contact before. In his Afterword to the English-language version of their tale The Monster of Florence, Preston writes about a different call that he got just after Meredith’s murder:

A few days after the crime, I got a call from Niccolò Capponi … ‘My dear Douglas … I bet you a bottle of ’97 Chianti Classico that before the week is out someone will connect this poor girl’s murder with Monster of Florence’”.

Capponi, whose relation with Spezi and Preston deserves its own tome, couldn’t have been more astute. The Friends of Amanda movement didn’t need anyone other than Douglas Preston to crow out to the world that Mignini wasn’t actually a benign, “sincere”, “honest” and “incorruptible judge”  (Preston’s own prior words up until then). Instead, Preston rewrote his own storyboard and retroactively turned the Mignini of early 2006 into one really nasty guy:

The police then picked me up on the streets of Florence and hauled me in before Mignini, where he interrogated me for hours, with no attorney or interpreter present. He demanded I confess to a string of crimes, including being an accessory to murder, and when I refused, he indicted me for perjury and obstruction of justice and suggested I leave the country.”  (Source: Preston’s Pamphlet, on Kindle)

Preston has changed his tune about how his Perugian questioning in 2006 was arranged. In his earlier book from five years ago he described a different ambience that pleasant day on his way to Perugia, with a notable absence of jackboots “hauling him in”, originally stating that it was actually a family-outing:

…. “The next day I drove to Perugia with Christine and our two children, passing the shores of Lake Trasimeno on the way. Perugia, a beautiful and ancient city, occupies an irregular rocky hill in the upper Tiber valley ... Christine planned to sightsee with the kids and have lunch while I was interrogated”. (Source: Preston and Spezi, The Monster of Florence)

Driving down to Perugia with your wife and family contrasts with being “hauled in” after being picked up in the streets of Florence, yet Preston, it seems, adapts the truth and insinuations to the required needs and circumstances.

By the way, Mr. Preston, what murder did Prosecutor Mignini accuse you of being an accessory to?  You keep repeating it, and we’re still waiting to hear. What murder?

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #4:  Use illogical deduction and dodgy Internet sources for your facts

Preston makes some amazing logic relationships in his pseudo-scholarly study of pro-victim Internet voices. When describing a book that the pro-Knox forces seem to find against their interests, Preston says:

“While the book included no footnotes or bibliography, it appears to have used information sourced from anonymous bloggers — identifiable as such because it was incorrect.”  (Source: Preston’s 99 cent pamphlet)

I don’t think that the reasonable public out there requires any analysis of this fatally flawed “if-then” logic. Preston-Fredo needs to go back to school, either to grade school to do basic maths, or to the Daisy Hill School of Influencing People and Spreading Convincing Propaganda.

This is an important lesson for Preston, who often relies on the daisy-chaining, circular, internal feeding of “facts” amongst pro-Knox promoters. Preston himself, like a post-modern journalistic alchemist, turns wishful opinion into “fact”, using as raw material the opinion posts of “Friends of Amanda” anonymous bloggers who use various identities.

Let’s take a look at three of the most active and factually flawed pro-Knox bloggers who people like Preston have helped turn into Knox-Urban-Legends, dragging along their pro-Knox fictions.

The photo below comes from a FOA-Fest last summer on Vashon Island where Amanda could thank all her limited number of close supporters for their help in springing her from prison. On the left is Bruce Fisher, or Bruce Fischer (depending on the day). One of his most hilarious affirmations which he vehemently defended until it was impossible to continue to do so, was that a box of Dixan detergent that he spotted in a photo of Sollecito’s sink would explain why Sollecito’s cutlery may have smelled of bleach … except that Dixan is clothes washing detergent!


The hilariousness of Fisher/Fischer’s Internet postings can also take on sinister results when passed on to the hands of either an inexperienced or ethically challenged journalist or a “point-of-view” journalist. Preston refers to a post by Fischer as if it were fact when he publishes in his 99 cent Kindle pamphlet that a prominent pro-victim blogger “had a restraining order placed against him” for a non-existent harassment of a ballet dancer.

Why doesn’t Preston also say that the web-site where this post was placed by Fisher/Fischer quickly removed it when it received the corresponding complaint? Why didn’t Preston ask Fisher for any proof of the “restraining order”? Why didn’t he cross check his facts/falsehoods?

Why should a best-selling sci-fi novelist stoop so low? Money? Anger? Envy?

Another of Preston’s anonymous or multi-alias bloggers whom he has quoted or protected is Francesco (“Frank”) Sfarzo / Sforca / Sforza. Take your pick of the last name as he has used them all in public documents.

“Frank’s” supposed beating at the hands of a squad of goon cops beholden to Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini was curiously covered by the Committee to Protect Journalists in prominent website posts and a public letter to the President of Italy, with no effort whatsoever to investigate the claims or speak with the local Italian authorities.

CPJ’s reputation remains tarnished as they refuse to this day to recognize their massive screw up. Shame on Joel Simon, director of the CPJ! Is there no governance in that organization?

Should a financial contributor to CPJ such as Preston also be permitted to be a figure in the anti-Italian judicial lobbying that CPJ has consciously or unconsciously ended up participating in?

Preston’s role in this laughable attempt to frame Mignini is only made all the more tragic by the fact that “Frank’s” arrest in Italy (which Mignini had nothing to do with) was related to a complaint of domestic violence.

He left Italy, and – staying at Amanda’s family home in Seattle for a couple of months, then travelling to Canada, Hawaii, then back to a shared residence in Seattle - racked up an impressive set of arrests and police interviews related to further domestic violence complaints during his travels.

He currently has an arrest warrant issued, and Preston has suddenly stopped talking about his and Spezi’s prized asset who was supposed to be the living demonstration of the Bad Mignini.


[Image above: Preston’s pet blogger “Frank” is not at all a victim of violence, but rather to the contrary, has an arrest warrant out to face charges for instigating it]

Amongst “Frank’s” contribution to the “point-of-view” journalism supporting Amanda Knox has been his visit to Piazza Grimana, the square near the cottage crime-scene, where “Frank” took a photo that supposedly demonstrated that Knox and Sollecito could not have monitored the entrance to the cottage from there on the night of the crime, since you can’t see the cottage gate according to “Frank”.


Any person who goes to Piazza Grimana in Perugia knows perfectly well that if you step just a couple of metres to the left, you have a perfect view of the cottage gate, barely hidden in “Frank’s” photo behind the corner of the house on the right.

Yet another case of the danger of Preston using pro-Knox bloggers and friends as sources of unreliable information is that of the G-Man, ex-FBI agent and ex-college security guy, Steve Moore.

In the sake of honesty, of the three pro-Knox bloggers referred to in this post (we could go on forever about the menagerie of Knox Internet personalities), Moore is the least anonymous, although it should be said that his “G-Man” aura he promotes is perhaps self-deprecating humour (think of an adult guy using a nickname like “GI Joe”).

G-Man has developed an elaborate tale of how he became interested in the case and began to study detailed documentation and images to come to the forensic conclusion in his living room that the Italian investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder was flawed and that Amanda Knox was innocent. (Moore’s experience before he left the FBI as far as I’m aware is escorting suspects to court, sniper training, and flying helicopters … I don’t believe he has worked as a forensic specialist.)

Like in the case of Bruce Fisher/Fischer, there are semi-comical aspects to G-Man’s appearances on the Internet supporting Amanda Knox. This happens when you get someone who is not a forensics specialist looking at photos and making conclusions:


Unfortunately, Steve Moore was analyzing an image that was not “Amanda and Meredith’s sink”! This example of errors in G-Man’s contributions to FOA finding Amanda innocent is far from being the only one.

In Preston’s Pamphlet, he presents the anecdote of a pro-victim Internet commenter who made what Preston claims is a “threatening” comment concerning the quality of G-Man Steve Moore’s daughter’s song lyrics. In the light of honesty and telling all the truth, Preston should have stated that after Mom and Dad Moore, the next most prolific pro-Knox poster of the Moore family is their daughter, who has made posts on both pro-Knox and pro-victim sites, on Twitter and on Facebook, including posts with coarse language.

She seems to be an adult, but if she isn’t, then Mom and Dad Moore should start acting like better parents, being aware of their offspring’s internet activity, putting a filter on their home router and telling her to not make posts on sites that deal with a sexual assault and murder case. Nor should they allow their daughter to leave her own pages open for comments and or to post videos about the murder. And if their daughter is an adult, then Preston shouldn’t insinuate to his few readers otherwise.

By the way, the “threatening” post was a return of a phrase used by a pro-Knox poster that “Steve Moore plays for keeps” after a playful criticism of the quality of lyrics written by Miss Moore.

This is a lesson to Douglas Preston: any journalist, even that special lobbyist category of “point-of-view journalist” such as himself, is only as credible as his sources.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #5:  Claim That You Have Already Made Any Needed Explanations

Preston says in his Slate article: “Like a fool I waded into the (Internet) fray, defending Amanda and myself. I attacked my attackers and countered their criticisms.”

(Why does Preston have to “defend” Amanda? I thought he was now presenting himself as a journalist. Oh, I forgot, he wrote that he now considers himself a “point-of-view journalist” – his terminology - which sounds a lot like “lobbyist”.)

Actually, Preston has never countered any serious criticism. I ask readers to take a fast look at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ comment page concerning the CPJ’s fiasco accusing Prosecutor Mignini of directing a vicious, violent attack on “Frank” the blogger by a squad of rogue police beholden to the prosecutor.

Preston went wacko when he saw the Internet world laughing out loud at the CPJ’s allegations, and when he saw that the Internet provided different proofs to show that the now fugitive blogger was at best making up his story, or had other persons close to the action making it up for him.

Take a look at Preston’s emotional replies to CPJ readers’ comments.


[Image above: on the left we see CPJ’s director Joel Simon, who accused Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini of sending a police squad to beat up “Frank” the blogger (second from left). “Frank” is a family friend of the Knox-Mellas families, taking care of much of their logistics in Perugia, setting up photo shoots, etc. “Frank” stayed at the Mellas home (Chris Mellas, second from right) for a couple of months during his arrest-ridden trip out of Italy, when his domestic violence trial started up there. On the right, Preston, the glue that links “Frank” to the CPJ.]

On the web pages of CPJ, we see that not only does Preston not reply to the contradictions and lies that the Internet world points out in his words and actions, but he also puts conditions on doing so.

The best “countering” of criticism that Preston provides online is pretty pathetic. He says that the demonstrated errors in his and the CPJ’s texts “are distortions, falsehoods, and crackpot opinion presented as settled fact.”  Period. No explanations of why he says one thing in one place and something completely different in another. No transparency concerning his documented relationship with the CPJ. No honesty concerning the real, sad domestic violence case that “Frank” has had before him, brought on by his own family in Italy (in addition to his U.S.A. problems).

We’re still waiting for any real clarifications of Preston’s serious problems with the truth, the whole truth, the current truth and nothing but the truth.

I personally don’t need to see more verbiage from Preston, but I would have thought that he would be concerned about the public’s view of his credibility. It will probably help future “True Story” book sales if he were to clear up the confusion he causes about both the Monster of Florence case and aspects of the investigation and trials related to the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #6:  Write Any Incorrect Gibberish That Doesn’t Get Error-Checked If You Think that Unknowledgeable People Will Swallow Your Errors

Preston once crowed concerning the quality of his texts:

Before publication, it 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.”  (Source: Preston on CPJ)

I once suggested to Preston that he ask his five error-checking lawyers for his money back, after the multiple mistakes and falsehoods of The Monster of Florence came to light and it became apparent that it should be reclassified to “Fiction”.

It seems that both Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox used the same error-checking lawyers in their memoirs, and that once again Preston and Spezi have employed them for their underwhelming, unknown tome in German Der Engel Mit Den Eisaugen (The Angel With Icy Eyes). No other market seems to have wanted to hear more from the Dynamic Duo of murder “point-of-view journalism”. As you can expect, their book about the murder of Meredith Kercher is not about the victim, but about the star, from their point of view, Amanda Knox.

I believe that never in the history of “True Story” lobbying, has a book taken so little time to rack up so many factual errors.


[Image above: Preston and Spezi are sure bets for winning The Novelists’ Error Marathon, especially given the finish line they’ve set for themselves. (By the way, I will state the obvious here, that this satirical image is the only photo that has been “photoshopped” in this TJMK post)]

In the Forward to their limited market book, Preston kicks off the marathon, asserting first of all that Perugia is surrounded by … the hills of Tuscany (“In der schoenen alten Stadt Perugia, umgeben von del Huegeln der Toskana”). Where’s a smiley when you need one? To all readers of this post, I ask you that we keep the secret, and let Preston and Spezi figure out by themselves what’s wrong with their statement. I guess the Duo were in a hurry to get the book to market.

Slightly further down the same first page, Preston falsely asserts that the Prosecutor Office (“Staatanwaltschaft”), understood to be Mignini, called a triumphant press conference where “case closed” was victoriously declared to the microphones of the Press.

Of course, neither Mignini nor any other prosecutor held such a press conference, nor was he present at any other press conferences at that time. My only explanation for this error by Preston is that he is so obsessed to assign just any supposed bad behavior to Mignini that he sees visions of the prosecutor doing wrong and turns those visions into “True Story” words.

The problem with that explanation of “visions” is that it is how Amanda Knox justified her false accusation against Patrick Lumumba for murdering Meredith, and that false accusation got her three years in the Capanne Prison Spa.

Just another 4 lines below that, Preston claims that within those immediate days after the arrests, Prosecutor Mignini put forward a scenario of Satanic sexual rites for describing the human dynamics on the night of the crime (“das eine amerikanische Studentin namens Amanda Knox mit zwei anderen Personen in den Mord verwickelt sei, den die Staatsanwalt als eine Art sexuelles-satanisches Ritual unter Drogeneinfluss bezeichnete”).

Again, Preston got confused. Or, maybe he wrote exactly what he was wanting to write, even if it was wrong.

Let’s not leave Mario Spezi out of the Novelists’ Error Marathon. Spezi tries to keep up with Preston in the home stretch, in Chapter 1: when emphasizing how isolated he feels that Perugia is from the outside world, he describes Umbria as “the only Italian region that does not border with the sea”. Spezi must have had a football scholarship at school, because it seems that he forgot about Lombardia, Piemonte, Val d’Aosta and Trentino & South Tirol. These regions account for about a quarter of Italy’s population and include large cities such as Milan and Turin.

We’ve barely started looking at their Icy Eyes book, but we’ll leave a more exhaustive review for the future.

Maybe Preston and Spezi hope that the few German readers of the book (who may have received their copies as free review copies) won’t know or care. It’s possible that they won’t even finish the book.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #7:  Apply Your Own Words to Others in Order to Distract from the Central Issue

Preston claims in The Slate article about pro-victim Internet posters: “Almost all the nasty comments about (Knox) follow a pattern. Even though she did nothing to them, they are all demanding her punishment.”

Personally, I don’t “demand Knox’s punishment”. Preston and the rest of FOA know that by now. What the pro-victim Internet posters want is for the Italian Justice system to be left to do its job, without any outside interference by a corporate, multimillion dollar public relations campaign, or – if we get to the point where Italy asks for Knox’s extradition – non-juridical or non-treaty political interventions to interrupt this normal administrative procedure.

Of course, those persons who are found guilty of sexually attacking and murdering Meredith should get the punishment that the Italian legal system foresees in such cases.

The pro-Knox camp has been outraged that Rudy Guede may be released from prison as early as 2014, insinuating that he has struck a deal to frame Knox. Any honest and informed opiner on this case would know that Rudy has only followed the well established legal and penitentiary procedures in Italy that apply to all convicts, and had Knox followed the fasttrack trial as he did, she also could have been looking at early freedom.

If the pro-Knox camp is so outraged that Guede may get free in 2014, I would suggest that they lobby that sentence reduction procedures be changed so that murder convicts serve their whole prison sentence. Somehow, I don’t think that the pro-Knox camp will undertake such lobbying.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #8:  Don’t be transparent or precise

Preston describes in his Pamphlet how in 2000 he moved to Italy with his family and soon after became fascinated with the Monster of Florence serial killings case and teamed up with journalist Mario Spezi to investigate the case and write a book.

“Giuliano Mignini did not like our investigation”, he states as the start of a series of supposed abuses they suffered at the hands of the prosecutor.

Maybe Preston should state that after moving to Italy in 2000, he didn’t meet Spezi until 2001, and up until 2004, over the course of three years, it seems he drank a lot of coffee with Spezi, drove to a couple of the decades old Monster crime sites in the country roads around Florence, spoke to the mother of one of the victims, kept a scrap book of what the real, active reporters on the case were doing … and not much more.

Only after almost four years following his arrival in Italy, does it seem that Preston’s active “investigation” suddenly started and kicked into high gear in January of 2004 when Spezi’s friend Francesco Calamandrei, the pharmacist of San Casciano, was drawn into the Monster of Florence investigation. Spezi woke up on the Monster case, did an interview with Calamandrei, and got it published in La Nazione within 24 hours on 23 January 2013. Without mentioning that he was a friend of Calamandrei.


It should be noted that the prosecutor who ordered this “wake-up call” for Spezi wasn’t Prosecutor Mignini from Perugia, but rather Prosecutor Paolo Canessa from Florence, the central prosecutor for the Monster of Florence case.


Preston’s rewriting of history and intertwining fiction and half-truths related to the Monster of Florence case and fiction and half-truths related to Meredith Kercher’s murder in Perugia has brought him time and time again to present Mignini as the key figure in the Monster of Florence case:

Mignini theorised that this satanic cult consisted of powerful people – noblemen, pharmacists, journalists and freemasons – who ordered the Monster killings because they needed female body parts to use as the blasphemous wafer in their black masses. Putting himself in charge of the investigation, Mignini became so obsessed that he crossed the line of legality, wiretapping journalists and conducting illegal investigations of newspapers. (Source: The Guardian)

(It should be said that Preston really should clean up his old message, and tell readers that any and all abuse of office accusations against Mignini were thrown out: he has neither been found, nor now even been accused of any wrongdoing in relation to the Monster of Florence case - quite the opposite, the rogue Florentine prosecutor who initiated the cancelled proceedings against Mignini may have some questions to answer).

Again, Preston’s own words belie his transformation of Prosecutor Mignini. Remember that before Meredith’s murder, Preston’s Bad Guy with satanic theories wasn’t Mignini, but Police Inspector Michele Giuttari.

You can imagine that had Mignini not been the prosecutor of Meredith’s murder case, but Giuttari had been involved in the police investigation into Meredith’s murder, that Preston and Spezi could have saved their whole effort in demonizing Mignini, because they were already halfway there with Giuttari.


Why did Spezi and Preston suddenly get on the case and start sculpting their Monster of Florence tale in early 2004 following Calamandrei getting caught up in the police investigation? I would love to know.

Why did they apply a pre-existing Monster of Florence theory developed by English fiction writer Magdalen Nabb many years before?

Nabb was referred to as “Ethel”, a Belgian writer, in the Italian version of Spezi and Preston’s tale, while Nabb was still alive.  Preston simply eliminated Nabb completely by the time they translated and published the tale in English, after Nabb’s death. In an eerie and weird manner, some of the years-old Nabb-Spezi, Master-Apprentice conversations in the Italian version of MoF seem to be transformed into current Spezi-Preston Master-Apprentice conversations in the English version of their “True Story” tale, almost as if they took on her personality.

I guess they weren’t too worried about presenting as their own, current “investigation”, ideas and theories (correct or not) that had been floating around for a decade and developed by other – now unacknowledged - much better writers.


[Image above: In Preston’s and Spezi’s English language book The Monster of Perugia they morphed English author Magdalen Nabb’s Carabinieri contacts, as well as Nabb’s theories and conversations concerning the MoF into their own, with neither direct nor indirect recognition of Nabb’s existence, nor her work done nearly 10 years earlier. Maybe they felt that since she had passed away, the world wouldn’t notice their intellectual theft.]

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #9:  Use corporate media as a means to legitimize false claims

The CPJ’s false and unverified accusation against Mignini for supposedly sending a goon squad to beat up the Perugian blogger is exactly the sort of feed that the Friends of Amanda and the Gogerty&Marriott corporate PR campaigns needed. These groups repeated the invented injustice wherever they could within the ongoing campaign.

That’s where we find a link between the PR campaign and the “mainstream” American media and showmen. If you Google “Doug Longhini” and go to the CBS News site associated with him, you’re not quite sure at first glance if he’s an ethical traditional journalist, a “point-of-view” journalist, a CBS producer, or an external businessman. What is clear is that it seems that most of whatever it is that he does at CBS is dedicated to Amanda Knox and, in second place, in general the crime in Perugia.

However, when you start reading some of his articles or news reports, like the one below, you realize that he’s not a traditional journalist who checks his facts and tries to get all angles on a news story.


I used to be impressed with the effort that went into the 48 Hours type of investigative programs. Not any more. Describing “Frank” Sforca/Sforza/Sfarzo as an “independent journalist” when this pro-Knox blogger acted as the logistics manager for the Knox-Mellas clan in Perugia, including organizing photo shoots for the daughters, stayed with the Knox-Mellas family a couple of months in Seattle, and was the beneficiary of ongoing funding from pro-Knox circles even after he was a no-show for his latest court session last December in Seattle, is stretching the definition of “independent”.

This Longhini article almost reads as if Douglas Preston had written it …  I would have hoped that Longhini might have made some reference to his sources for his description of “Frank” being handcuffed and beaten, or that Longhini would have looked into the true reports of “Frank” being arrested, not on orders of Mignini, but simply because he bit a police officer who was responding to a domestic violence complaint.

Doug Preston is no stranger to Longhini’s CBS 48 Hours pro-Knox shows, having appeared together with another shared acquaintance, a certain Paul Ciolino. Paul’s role in the Knox CBS shows was supposed to be the implacable investigator who knows the truth that the Italian authorities want to hide.

However, Ciolino’s on-screen antics for many viewers are in detriment to the argument he tries to make.

For example, what serious television detective in the world, not speaking the local language, would go calling at the door of unsuspecting murder witnesses at nighttime, vehemently exhorting them to reply to questions? Paul did:


Where does this leave the state of modern megamedia journalism in America? It has been transformed into entertainment, into a vaudeville show. The confirmation comes in Paul Ciolino’s own self-advertising:


The only thing missing is Liza Minnelli singing “Cabaret” in her black stockings.

Back in America, Preston’s friend Ciolino smears the good name of Signora Nara Capezzali, the elderly lady who he tried to interview under the cloak of darkness (if he really needed to interview her, couldn’t he have arranged to meet her through prior arrangement, during the daytime?):


After describing Prosecutor Mignini as a “convicted felon”, Paul Ciolino speaks of Signora Capezzali at the 1h42’47” mark of a Seattle University pro-Knox forum on 4 April 2011:  “The crazy woman (Capezzali) who had ... I don’t think she ... did she ever testify? They never did bring her in because she is crazy.”  (Source: Seattle University FOA panel video.)  Ciolino’s speech was notable if only for the almost complete absence of any truths.

In fact, yes, Signora Capezzali did testify in court in Knox’s and Sollecito’s murder trial, two years earlier in March 2009 (Source ABC News ).  It’s not necessary to add that in spite of Ciolino’s vaudeville show affirmations, witness Signora Capezzali is not crazy.

My Concluding Suggestions

1. To Joel Simon, the director of the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Rather than doing false posts that are never retracted or corrected about benign regional Italian prosecutors in Italy, the CPJ should realize that there is a much, much greater, real and true threat to journalists and journalism due to the transformation of the profession in America into a concentration of commercial enterprises with links to lobbying groups, who use vaudeville-style “entertainers” to wake up murder witnesses in the dark of night and then publicly call them “crazy”.

Mr. Simon, really, it’s time for you to implement some governance in your organization. Here are some common sense suggestions that I humbly submit:

    1) Don’t allow your financial benefactors to be part of the cases that you take special interest in, except with independent review of your analysis and claims.

    2) If you’re a journalism organization, follow basic journalistic ethics by checking your facts and contrasting allegations, especially when you are making claims that seriously affect the reputations of persons.

    3) When you realize that you have made a terrible mistake and have falsely accused someone of sending a goon squad to beat up someone else, then be man enough to admit it and correct your false accusation. Start now and apologise to Prosecutor Mignini for the slanderous gift you made to Amanda Knox PR campaign.

    4) Take some time as a collective representative organization, to consider and reconsider whom you represent and why … are self-described “point-of-view journalists” (lobbyists) part of the body of professionals you wish to represent? Will they cause you a conflict of professional or moral interest at any point? Do you want these people giving money to your organization?


2. To Douglas Preston, an amateur crime fighter obviously out of his league.

My impression from what we’ve seen is that your attempts at playing in the big lobbying leagues have all ended up with pie in your face, or a “kick-me, I’m stupid” yellow Post-It on your back:

    1) As we have seen in this post, ethical, traditional journalism gives way in your recent The Slate post and Kindle 99 cent pamphlet, to obvious and ineffective pro-Knox lobbying. In my opinion, the propagandistic shots you’ve fired have neither been convincing nor contain real, true facts unfettered from insinuation and half-truths and falsehoods.I

    2) In prior TJMK posts, we’ve seen how you have told two completely different beginnings to your Monster of Florence tale, complete with quoting different persons at different times in different places. You have ended the story with a confusion of errors and falsehoods. See my posts on this here and here.

    3) It seems you’re famous in Italian judiciary circles for having lost control of your sphincter in your questioning in Perugia years ago. Is that one of the reasons you’re so mad at Prosecutor Mignini and say just about anything about him, regardless if the message to your readers is true?

    4) Like Fredo, you were always the last member of the gang to find out what was going on. Your supposed “5 year” investigation with Spezi into the Monster of Florence seems more like a rehash of old theories developed by others, done in a short period of time by Spezi only from 2004 onward (notwithstanding your scrapbook of other reporters’ work), who would inform you at the last minute of his larvae studies, his TV appearances, or of his “A-Team” investigative squad comprising an ex-con and an ex-cop, who you realized existed only when their months of work had finished.


Fumbling Fredo’s handlers in The Godfather realized the terrible damage he was doing to the Corleone Family’s interests. Is Preston damaging the true, long-term interests of Amanda Knox? 

What about his other interests, in the Monster of Florence case … is he truly aware of all of the interests in that case, beyond his own – repeatedly voiced – hope of seeing George Clooney play Preston?


Posted on 05/23/13 at 07:48 AM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Diversion efforts byFrancesco SforzaMore sockpuppetsReporting on the caseV bad reporting
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Monday, April 01, 2013

One Final Word On Nina Burleigh In Response To Those Saying She Got It Right And We Wrong

Posted by The Machine





Actually Burleigh didnt get very much right. I’ve dipped into the book and read various articles and they all stray from the truth.

Here is our review of one major aspect of the book which shows what damage to the truth it does.

Many of the pro-Burleigh commenters on the Time website and also many reviewers on Amazon dont seem to realise just how hard and fast Burleigh played with the facts.

Poor understanding of the evidence, poor grasp of the law, terrible fact checking, emotions run wild, and zero grasp of the Italian language, account for her very inaccurate work. This really is her Achilles heel.

As our responses scroll fast in comments at Time and we have only so many hours in the day, here below are ten quick examples for Burleigh supporters of how easily she screws things up.

The book is being officially examined and Nina Burleigh will surely in due course be confronting a much longer list.

    1. She falsely claimed in her book The Fatal Gift of Beauty that Meredith Kercher was born on 28 December 1986 (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, Dramatis Personae).

    According to the Massei report, her actual birthday is 28 December 1985 (p23).

    2. She falsely claimed in her book that Rudy Guede was on 26 December 1983 (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, Dramatis Personae).

    According to Rudy Guede’s sentencing report, he was born on 26 December 1986 (p2).

    3. She falsely claimed that Rudy Guede’s DNA was inside Meredith’s purse (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, p14).

    According to the Massei report, his DNA was found on Meredith’s purse (p43). The Micheli report specifies that his DNA was found on the zip.

    4. She falsely claimed that Rudy Guede’s prints were on Meredith’s walls (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, p14).

    The Scientific Police were unable to identify any fingerprints on Meredith’s walls. Guede was identified by a bloody palm print on a pillow case. (Micheli report, pages 10-11, The Massei report, p43, Rudy Guede’s sentencing report, p5).

    5. She falsely claimed on the Sound Authors website that Mignini charged Knox with participating in a satanic rite.

    Mignini has never claimed Meredith was killed during a satanic rite. In fact, he has specifically denied ever claiming this. In his letter to LInda Byron, he stated the following:  “On the “sacrificial rite” question, I have never said that Meredith Kercher was the victim of a “sacrificial rite”.

    Mignini told Drew Griffin the following in an interview on CNN:  “I have never said that there might have been a satanic rite.”

    6. She falsely claimed that Amanda Knox described a “vision” in her handwritten note to the police (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, XXIV Timeline).

    Amanda Knox never claimed she had a “vision” in her handwritten note or any of her witness statements.

    7. She falsely claimed in an article for Time that there were only two elements of “material evidence” against Knox and Sollecito - Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp and Meredith’s DNA on Sollecito’s kitchen knife.

    According to the prosecution’s experts, there were five instances of Knox’s DNA or blood mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage. Even Amanda Knox’s lawyers conceded that her blood had mingled with Meredith’s blood.

    In other words, Meredith and Amanda Knox were both bleeding at the same time.

    According to the imprint experts, the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot, but couldn’t possibly belong to Guede.

    Knox’s and Sollecito’s bare bloody footprints were revealed by Luminol in the hallway.

    8. In the same article, she falsely claimed that the knife was picked at random.

    Armando Finzi was the police officer who bagged the knife. He testified that he thought it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound on Meredith’s neck.

    9. Another false claim from the article was that Rudy Guede left fingerprints at the crime scene.

    He didnt. None at all.

    10. In an article for the Columbia Chronicle  she falsely claimed that freedom of speech doesn’t exist in Italy.

    Pretty bizarre. She should learn to read some Italian. They have as many freedoms as those in the US and UK. And the incarceration rate is 1/7 that of the US.

    11.She falsely claimed in a Time article that the prosecutors painted Amanda Knox as an “angel-faced she-devil”.

    It wasn’t prosecutors who painted who Amanda Knox as a “she-devil”, it was Carlo Pacelli, the lawyer who represents Diya Lumumba, at the trial in 2009.

    Carlo Pacelli’s comments were widely reported by numerous good journalists who were present in the courtroom, so this would have been really easy to check. .

    Barbie Nadeau describes the moment he referred to Knox as a she-devil in some detail in Angel Face: “Who is the real Amanda Knox?” he asks, pounding his fist in the table. “Is she the one we see before us here, all angelic? Or is really a she-devil focused on sex, drugs, and alcohol, living life on the edge?”

    “She is the luciferina-she devil.” (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, page 124).

 

Posted on 04/01/13 at 12:59 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Diversion efforts byThe Knox-MellasesNina BurleighReporting on the caseV bad reporting
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Unmasking What Is Behind The Angry Virulence Of Bruce Fischer And False Claims Of Elina Miettinen

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. What TJMK Is All About

TJMK came online late in 2008 nearly a year after the rabid pro-Knox vilification of the case, the justice officials, and especially the real victim and her family began.

TJMK essentially does what the crimeshows do on CNN and other cable-news channels: explain the case from the point of view of “the people”. You can see Nancy Grace and Wendy Murphy doing the same any night of the week, though usually in much more fiery terms.

Here it matters much more, because the case was tried in Italy under Italian law, and US and UK media have failed to translate vast tracts that explain the case. With several fine exceptions they never interview justice officials, and often impugn a great justice system and Italy itself.

The theory of the crime we lean toward is simply the official one - that all three were involved, with Knox starting and finishing the attack - held by all the Italian courts except for the Knox & Sollecito appeal before the Hellmann court in 2011 which was meddled with by the defense.

It is also held by 90% at least of Italians who could follow the case in Italian on the excellent Italian media. We have posted taking down many posturing wannabees at length, but attacks on purely personal grounds is something we avoid.

So in systematically laying out the truth, we came to be demonized too, along with many fine reporters and experts who attempted to present the overwhelming case for guilt.  This post rebuts one instance of that.

2. Who Knox supporter “Bruce Fisher” really is

“Bruce Fisher” is notorious for rabid demonizing, even among his own people. Lately he has lost many supporters he demonized after he misled them about Frank Sforrza who has a whole row of trials in his future. 

Fisher’s real name, hidden with great effort for more than two years so that he could defame freely, turned out on professional investigation to be Bruce Fischer and he was recently laid off as a floor assistant at York Furriers, a store in a mall 35 miles north-west of Chicago. 

We are told his education is very basic and his professional skills relevant to elaborating on the Perugia are zero. Also that Fischer had declared personal bankruptcy twice and now possibly has done so a third time to try to escape big debts. His sole income is from his wife’s family and what he panhandles from his naive group..

We are also told that when his house was repossessed for default on mortgage payments he was reduced to taking his family to live with his mother. Also that from his schooldays he has been known as a hothead with poor people skills and thinking skills.

When “reporter Bruce Fisher of New York” first surfaced online in obsessive support of Amanda Knox in the year after trial (which he appears not to have followed or know much about) eyebrows of all our psychologists went up at the blatantly obvious perversion.

We are told that he called himself “Bruce Fisher” to attempt to hide this from his wife and that our “outing” his real name and identity did a lot to push him to the deep end. He doesn’t seem to have any friends willing to say that they respect him. Some regard him as a rather dim and very angry redneck who has yet to make any positive contribution in life.

Fischer along with Frank of Perugia Shock has duped many others into thinking there is no case against Knox - only a huge conspiracy in which half of Italy is involved. David Anderson, Karen Pruett, Saul Kassin, Michele Moore, Steve Moore, Michael Wiesner, on and on.

3. The correct facts about help to Elina Miettinen

As many have remarked, “Bruce Fisher” is notorious for rabid demonizing, even among his own people. One of the main ways he has demonized is to lie about about the histories and credentials of those who stand for the truth - all a lot better qualified and successful than Fischer himself.

My wife and I have helped many in ballet over the years and all the other help went well. In this case a Russian dancer who walked off with $15,000 highly misrepresented a business relationship that was about to come right which would have set her up nicely for life and provide a success model for many others.

Did Fischer in turn misrepresent that? Judge for yourself.  In essence his meddling cost Miettinen a very possible $1 million or more.

Miettinen’s desperate situation

When (Russian-born) Elina Miettinen and I first talked very briefly in July 2009, at the Metropolitan Opera House stage door in New York, she had just then been laid off very suddenly and shockingly.

The ballet company she worked for (American Ballet Theater) could no longer pay its bills. Other companies were also hit. About 10 junior dancers were simultaneously laid off by each of New York’s two main companies (ABT and NYCB) none with many savings or alternative gigs.

Some like Miettinen were foreign, with only a short-term dance viza to allow them to remain and work in the US.  Miettinen was panicky and decimated and I was the ONLY one who offered her any help.

Assistance we provided

Loans I advanced her, as part of a carefully worked out business deal with many observing, allowed her to (1) stay on in the United States, (2) pay her rent and keep rehearsing, (3) find two interim dance assignments, (4) become featured on a highly popular website, (5) activate interest in NBC in reporting her life story, and (7) eventually be available when the ABT’s finances came right at years end, when they could offer her a new contract.

She has never repaid any of the $15,000 despite dozens of promises to do so. To repeat: without the money we loaned her (for various work requirements all of which she skipped out of) Mietteinen would not even be in the US now.

She and I talked for many hours about the problems of dancer promotion. We decided to try a new “personalizing” website and we worked out a plan and a contract over several meetings for which we both kept copies in ring binders.

I didnt go looking for her in particular for this experimental dancer site, an intended model for many others, so she may not have been the best potential candidate of whom there were many others. A senior staff member of her former company wrote saying she was a poor choice as they did not see her going far in her career.

But she just came along and was desperate and interested and seemed to show promise, so I tried work with what she was.

Her initial promising start

When I first met her, she was hyper-anxious about almost everything, her future, her men (or lack of them), her dance and her looks included.

She was very cooperative for the first four months, attending our meetings 1-2 times a week, telling me her stories for the site, providing video and shots of herself, and meeting in San Francesco to accumulate more and apply for gigs.  We both worked on the design of the site which for its purpose looked cool and professional, and she suggested such ideas as bringing in her best friend and teacher on the project, and also a photographer back home. .

Her teacher, her room-mate and some others all saw us getting along just fine. They were willing to join the project so I had several separate meetings with the teacher and best friend to gather material on them too. I pressed her to consult her parents on the site and the contract and several weeks later she told me they said it should really be her site.

Her emerging troubled personality

She increasingly revealed a strange habit, of ranting on at agents and photographers and so on who she endlessly supposed wanted to rip her off. (Actually they did - she had never got paid for any modeling done.)

In direct response I made quite sure to involve my wife and four Swiss girls who were staying with us at the time. They had all seen her dancing and it was one of them that first pointed her out. For the record they were all smarter (they all have good college degrees now), taller and prettier than Mietttinen (they all dance and model). In Geneva I know all of their parents and we all get along really well.

Also she shared a number of personal concerns especially about boy friends and I tried to give her the best advice. We were good friends in a business sense, and there was nothing more as everybody involved in the project could see.

I email all my business partners about the rate I emailed her, and we set up a separate email account so she only needed to read when she wanted. The emails the Swiss girls send me and vice versa are no different in tone or subject. She was fully aware that at any time at a moment’s notice she could arrange something different or stop the emails or meetings or contract.

The agreed pioneering website

So within three months the website was created. She provided all the materials we posted and repeatedly promised many more, especially videos. As agreed in the business plan the website (“Exciting Arrivals”) was intended

(1)  to give Miettinen a shot at new ballet gigs and long term contracts and a ballet future, and also at promoting herself commercially as a model, and to be able to stay on in the US for which she had only a dance viza,

(2) to personalize her rather than to glamorize her, telling her stories which are in fact very interesting (she was born in deep poverty on the edge of the Arctic circle in the terrible economic era of Gorbachev);

(3) to be a pioneering model website to help many other dancers to promote themselves career-wise and financially also. The company and web property to that end would become hers and I keep the model and cover my costs only.

By the autumn of 2009 the website already showed we had got it right. It rose up to be briefly the most popular dancer website in the world. The story approach clearly worked. We already had offers on the horizon equivalent to maybe one million dollars factored forward.

Her breaking of contract

The only demands I was making were for video and shots and interviews for the site and for her to follow up on our leads. I thought she would give our project 3-4-5 months of work for that money, but it actually only added up to maybe two weeks.

Instead of following up our excellent leads with NBC TV (who may have profiled her life) and the Finnish Embassy (who may have sponsored her) she increased her classes (which was fine), danced several roles in the Staten Island Nutcracker (which was fine), and began to spend many days with photographers (not so fine, they paid her nothing, and we got nothing new for the site which was still only half complete.).

In November her ballet company, the ABT, found they could take her back on contract and even offered her a raise. We were with her teacher when she told us and her teacher didnt seem to think this was entirely for Miettinen’s best.

Teacher gives strong warning

Miettinen wanted the project to go on but her increasing narcissim and suspicion were evident. Her teacher at two separate meetings, and her room-mate at one, warned me she had an extraordinary knack for misunderstanding people and becoming paranoid and ranting on.

Her teacher was so unhappy at this attitude, which she saw at the start of every class, that she refused to say on the site that Miettinen would have a great future as a dancer.

Miettinen promises not to defraud

With $15,000 at stake, my wife and the Swiss girls who followed everything now began to suspect her. We found out that young Russians had been running a series of scams in Manhattan, acting desperate and getting hep and money, and then turning nasty and walking off.

She promised she was not part of a scam or planning to walk off. Right up to our last meeting in mid December, when we put the project on hold while she returned to work, she agreed the site should stay up. It remained way short of done, of course, and never ever became that model that so many dancers needed.

Miettinen walks off with $15,000

The deal between us, a generous one, was always that we would keep the site up as a model and work on it when we could, and take it down only if she paid me back half the money which would be around $7500 now. It was never agreed that she could simply have all the money and I would end up with nothing.

Final exchanges show relationship fine

There were a few emails and Facebook messages in 2010. She sounded okay and there was no evident problem. This exchange below is the one and only time Miettinen ever asked to have the website taken down. She hardly sounds in wild-eyed terror. It is dated 16 June 2010 exactly six months after we had last met.

1) My message to Miettinen

Subject: Ashton Ballets tonight

Tonight was absolutely amazing.  I liked the Birthday and Awakening and loved the Thais and the Dream. So did everybody around me. I just posted this on my Facebook + the ABT Facebook.

“American Ballet Theatre dancers LOVE Ashton! Tonight they could hardly stop grinning. DH and HC and GM did grin! Ashton presses them to absolute limits, theres NO WAY they could keep that up for one big ballet. Corps too was pressed way beyond normal. Plus we got to see half the principals and soloists.”

2) Miettinen’s response

Subject: Ashton Ballets tonight

“Good that you are enjoying our season and having fun in creating websites about abt! I think the website of me doesn’t make much sense anymore because I’m not working for it with you. Maybe it’s better for you to concentrate on the other sites. I’m sure people are more interested in reading about the whole company than just about one dancer.

Have fun with the sites and have a great summer.”

3) My response

[There is no copy. I wrote back on Facebook and Miettinen has deleted that message. Presumably because I reminded her of the deal. I gently repeated the purpose and pluses of the model site, and observed the site was still doing her and the company a lot of good. But if she wanted to pay 1/2 the money back as often agreed, then we could be done.]

Then there were just 1-2 quick messages between us in the next eight months, not about this. She did not ask again. The project was extremely promising for her and for others and I hoped she’d resume - it is very common for people experiencing rapid change and jealousy from others to sit it out on the side for a while.

Fischer prompts false accusation to police

And then, on the prompting of Fischer and Steve Moore, a NYPD detective phoned us in March 2011.  He was angry to find that he had been misled (as he has agreed with our lawyers) into thinking the site represented extortion and stalking.

He didnt know that Mietinen was in the US only because of our funding. He didnt know that we had a contract and business plan. He didnt know that she had provided all material for the site. He didnt know that she owed me half of $15,000. He didnt know that she is known to have a paranoid tendency to rant on.

Still, I took the site down, and decided to wait till Miettinen returned to Planet Earth. I am in no hurry. Will she, one day? Miettinen continues to owe us the $15,000 that we loaned her to allow her to stay on in the US and to get back on her feet and rebuild confidence.

The emails Fischer posted and misrepresented give no idea of what was really going on, what Miettienen was saying at our many meetings, or what others who observed were saying and in several cases warning about.

She has since joined in substantial harrassment online. She posts as “Jane”. Many people who know her only as “Jane” despise her. Many women who have read the emails have observed “what the hell?!”

Fischer misrepresents the project, and is unaware of the contract.  That Fischer is a disaster in his own business deals is no reason for him to damage others. Inciting false reports to the police is a crime, of course.

In essence Fischer’s meddling cost Miettinen a very possible $1 million or more, and legally we could easily take her down, though at a probable cost of leaving her jobless.

Posted on 04/01/13 at 07:20 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, March 29, 2013

More On The Ill-Considered Campaign of Vilification By The Sour Knox PR Shill Nina Burleigh

Posted by Peter Quennell





REALLY not a good time for the sour PR shill Nina Burleigh to be entering into attack mode. Much better to be covering her tail.

One book is already being investigated by the chief prosecutor of Florence (the same one that will oversee the repeat appeal) for contempt of court in attempting to interfere with an ongoing legal process.

Sollecito and his team might face years in court and millions in awards - and Burleigh’s defamation-riddled The Fatal Gift Of Beauty which flatly accuses many Italian officials of crimes is already a candidate for a similar outcome. 

Good luck with that one. She could be paying out for years. Nina Burleigh now seems to me a tad delusional - making things up, not for the sake of lying for an advantage, but simply because her mind sorta works that way, and so she shoots herself in the foot.

Skeptical Bystander of PMF has already rebutted Burleigh’s claims against her, in this post immediately below. This was my own experience with Nina Burleigh.


Request for assistance from Nina Burleigh

Burleigh really didnt have any good cause to pick a fight with me as I have always treated her extremely well.  I met her personally only once - in August 2009 - but we emailed frequently though most of 2009.

The meeting grew out of this post.  I emailed the link to that post to Nina Burleigh via her blog;  and also to John Follain, who thanked me politely.

She emailed back that she was surprised to have landed the assignment, as she had no expertise in that area, but her publisher had recommended it. She said she could use any help. I said I would see if our contacts in Rome and Perugia could help her.

She moved to Perugia in the spring for a month or two and as she has no Italian some arrangement was made for an interpreter. She attended some of the court sessions. As agreed, I emailed various contacts asking if they might want to help her.

The reaction across the board however was no. 

Burleigh was being seen constantly in the Knox-Mellas entourage and was already regarded as a doubtful reporter at best, one who had already lost her cool.


Burleighs request for a meeting

She returned to New York, after Knox had been two days on the stand, to rustle up more money and take her family back with her. She emailed me for a meeting to share tips and information, and was hoping we might open a way to the Kerchers. (We never do.)

I asked her if she was neutral and independent, or working for the PR scheme. I would not have met with her if she hadn’t promised by return that her mingling with the Knox-Mellas crowd was for show, just an act, really she was secretly neutral.

Based on that guarantee, she and I met for an afternoon and evening at her summer place in the Delaware gorge two hours west of New York.

We had lunch in the village, when she presented me with a signed book, and then we moved to the kitchen of her house, a converted schoolhouse. Her children were playing in there so we moved upstairs to sit at a table in her bedroom.


Burleigh says Knox seemed psychopathic

I explained the case from the prosecution side and she seemed to do her best to follow along, busily generating notes. She VOLUNTEERED that she had concluded that Knox was a psychopath during Knox’s stint on the stand. She said the realization had kept her awake at nights some.

I didnt prompt her or make that up - how would I have possibly known? In fact until then I didnt even know she’d been in the court.

She did tell me this assignment would be a financial strain. None of her books had covered their costs. The publishers’ advance was a small one, Italy is expensive, and she joked that she might have to give up her Manhattan apartment.

Oddly, she managed to stay in Perugia for most of a year. Wonderful how those savings stretched out so.


Subsequent emailing between us

We kept in touch for a few months after she went back to Perugia with her family. She asked me for some more help in making contacts. Here below is an email exchange late in October - ten weeks after we had met.

This is also six week after she claims she questioned the bucket and mop claims on this site and concluded we had facts wrong and were not to be trusted (she never actually emailed a question, and we never did make the “bucket and mop” claim she invented). 

1 MY EMAIL 21 OCTOBER

>>    Long time no talk. I still owe you some stuff and my knowledge seems to grow daily. I just drove to Seattle, and had nearly a week getting in deeper there.
>>
>>    Are you staying on there in Italy until the whole thing is done?  The other publishers’ publicists have been emailing me, and we have talked several times.
>>
>>    I could be in London soon and if so in Perugia.
>>
>>    Pete

2. BURLEIGH REPLY 21 OCTOBER

>> Hey {Pete
>>
>> I’ll definitely be here for the verdict! Send me any stuff you want to share. I am still hoping to talk to the British friends at some point, but only if they want to, I don’t want to bother them.

>> cheers,
>> n

3. MY REPLY 21 OCTOBER

> Thanks Nina! How nice.
>
> How much do you actually have on Meredith? Its not just (I hope!) only all about La Knox? The friends might talk but I’d need assurances on this angle.
>
> And what is the title and the publish date now? We foresee now three okay books coming out in January with no firm date on John Kercher’s about Meredith.
>
> Pete

4. BURLEIGH REPLY 21 OCTOBER

> Meredith. Not much at all! Really just what’s been in the press and that’s not good because I want to bring her character into the story, who she was, what the world has lost. It is a big hole in my repoirting. Anything you can do would be so appreciated.

> As for date, its really dependent on when I get key interviews. I am more interested in getting the good, true story than beating quickie crime book competition in january.

> So grateful to you for keeping up with me, and it will be really nice to see you here.

> All best
> Nina



Rebutting claims in Burleighs Time attack

Actually it has never had a down day: the Knox-hating websites have been passing along innuendo and cherry-picked factoids for six years now.

What innuendo and cherrypicking? What hate? Let us see some examples. We deal in hard facts and key documents and Italian translations here. Dozens of reporters and lawyers read. And TJMK was created only four and a half years ago, in direct response to the hyper-aggressive PR scheme. 

The other acronym you will encounter is TJMK, which stands for “True Justice For Meredith Kercher”—the young British woman murdered in this case–and is run by a New Jersey-based Englishman who claims that at one time he consulted at the United Nations.

I dont claim that. I was on the permanent staff of UN development for over 20 years, and then I left to consult with governments on growth directly. Burleigh KNEW that by the way. An example of this supremely under-qualified womans’ attempts in her article at personal put-downs of others.

These sites host extremely active avatars, many proclaiming to be lawyers, forensic experts, criminologists, but who never reveal their true identities.

Anyone can tell at a glance that real names are used here where they can professionally tolerate personal put-downs like Nina Burleigh’s.  They ARE lawyers and experts, they state their experience, and nobody else questions this. They all have better qualifications than Burleigh’s.

In 2009, I sat down with TJMK founder Peter Quennell, who has always claimed he started the site to make sure that no one forgot the victim.

We sat down only at her pleading request. There was really little in it for me. And TJMK DID make sure Meredith is not forgotten. I didnt just claim that.

A stout, ruddy Englishman living in New Jersey, he had been holding out the carrot of introducing me to the elusive Kercher family.

I am not stout, ruddy or English, and I live looking across to Manhattan. What carrot? She hoped for contact with Meredith’s family, and I offered and promised nothing.

After a month in Italy doing reporting, however, I realized that some of the “facts” on Quennell’s website didn’t seem to be in the police record in Italy. I emailed him to ask where he had found out that Knox and Sollecito met police standing outside the murder house with a mop and bucket in hand. That damning incident was nowhere in the record, not even the prosecutor would confirm it, nor had Italy’s Polizia Scientifica ever tested such items, which would surely have offered up some useful DNA evidence, had they been used to clean blood.

So where is that famous email? This would be two months BEFORE the emails quoted above. Does she sound questioning or suspicious or rejecting in those?

Try searching “bucket” on this site and see what you find. Did we really make the bucket a big deal? There is ONE mention in a media report of someone’s evidence of a bucket having been at the door. All the other mentions are of the bucket in Sollecito’s flat.

Quennell then accused me by email of being on the Knox family payroll, informed me that his sources in Perugia had seen me consorting with Amanda’s mother (I had in fact met with her once, in a public place, by then) and eventually started writing about how he was going to “train his scope” on my apartment in Manhattan, and closing emails with “how are the kiddies?”

That joke email preceded all of those emails above. I didnt accuse Burleigh then of being on the Knox payroll. She is presumably thinking of the question I put to her months ago, before we ever met.

To which she had promised me she WAS neutral. Not just a PR shill.

Posted on 03/29/13 at 11:51 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Diversion efforts byThe Knox-MellasesNina BurleighReporting on the caseV bad reporting
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What’s Nina Burleigh Got Against Women? A Bizarre Time Report Suggests Deep Problems In Her Psyche

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





We depart from our scheduled posting for a few hours to contend with a bizarre attack by Nina Burleigh. 

I get up quite early because my clients have a nine-hour head start on me.

Today I woke up to the usual flurry of work-related emails plus a message directing me to Nina Burleigh’s Time blog post devoted to the “haters” – i.e., the many people around the world who have expressed their support for the family of Meredith Kercher and who are convinced that Italy’s first instance court got things right when it convicted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their role in Meredith’s brutal murder.

Italy’s highest court has just overturned the acquittal and definitively upheld Knox’s conviction for the felony offense of falsely accusing an innocent man of murdering Meredith Kercher. In that false accusation, Knox placed herself at the scene of the crime. 

In her blog post, Burleigh once again misquotes an off-the-record conversation with me, though I set her straight the first time she did it and asked her to cease. She also wrongly asserts that I am a “housewife” and “former” translator.

For those who may have missed them the first time around, the two blog posts I wrote that got Nina Burleigh all riled up can be found at TJMK or at my personal blog (http://skepbystander.blogspot.com/), under 2011 posts.

First, a bit of background: Burleigh spent a lot of time in her book maligning two of the best reporters covering the case, one of whom, like Burleigh, wrote a book about it. Since I wrote my review of Burleigh’s book and then pointed out that the New York Times was critical of her advocacy masquerading as journalism, time has passed.

According to her online news site (thefreelancedesk.com), which focuses on current events in Italy, where she lives, Andrea Vogt has been working as a reporter for 20 years and writes for, among others, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Seattle Times and The BBC.

As for Barbie Latza Nadeau, in addition to her frequent reporting for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, she is also a regular contributor for CNN. Both are excellent journalists whose work speaks for itself.

But what’s up with Nina Burleigh? I honestly don’t know what she was thinking when she decided to belittle their accomplishments in print, not to mention her decision to misrepresent my own rather more modest ones. Is she just angry because she got this case so wrong? Is this a simple case of sour grapes from a sore loser?

It probably doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things. But I would caution anyone who talks to a reporter off-the-record to beware. I have talked to many reporters off-the-record, and they have all respected this agreement, except for Nina Burleigh. In addition to breaking a promise, she misrepresented what I said.

And now that she has had her public snit, may I suggest that the focus now shift from these petty personality clashes - between Knox’s fan base and anyone who doesn’t share their views - and onto the facts? I think the tone needs to change as well: facts are best discussed rationally, calmly and respectfully.

And for the record, I have nothing at all against women who choose to be homemakers.

In the final analysis, however, Nina Burleigh has done Meredith Kercher and the truth a huge favor by attacking her supporters as “haters” and, in doing so, giving our efforts a plug. It is too bad that she could not resist plugging Knox’s upcoming book as well, and thus proving the point made by the New York Times: that Ms. Burleigh has been treading what she must know - as a seasoned reporter - to be a very dangerous line, that which separates journalists and advocates

She seems to have lost her way and, instead of figuring out how to get back on track, has decided to lash out at those advocating for truth in reporting.

Posted on 03/29/13 at 03:08 PM by Skeptical Bystander. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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.



Posted on 10/25/12 at 05:11 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Crime hypothesesKermit PowerpointsDiversion efforts byThe many hoaxesSpezi/Preston hoaxReporting on the caseV bad reportingThe wider contexts
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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
Posted on 10/23/12 at 01:02 PM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Diversion efforts byFrancesco SforzaReporting on the caseV bad reportingThe wider contextsSpezi/Preston hoax
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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.

Posted on 10/21/12 at 06:23 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Crime hypothesesKermit PowerpointsDiversion efforts byThe many hoaxesSpezi/Preston hoaxReporting on the caseV bad reportingThe wider contextsItalian contextAmerican context
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Strong Trend: Increasingly The Good Lawyers Are On One Planet And The PR Shills Are On Another

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Prominent lawyer Wendy Murphy reflects many in saying the evidence is very strong] 


In the post below Jane Velez Mitchell of CNN can be watched staking her legal reputation on Sollecito.

This may surprise you. Jane Velez Mitchell is not herself a lawyer. In fact, she has only a possible journalism degree awarded by New York University.

She claims she was hooked after she “read his book until 2:30” and encountered him in some elevator - we have been puzzling over which elevator and when, for if it was an elevator in the Time Warner building in New York why was he not right there in the studio?

Of the three lawyers she had on the show, the two who did know the case (Wendy Murphy and the crime blogger Levi Page) came down very decisively against Sollecito. The third (Joey Jackson) knew nothing about the case, though even he thought the book was terribly timed.

In effect, Jane Velez Mitchell was carrying on like another PR shill. She really wasn’t any less amateurishly invested than Saul Kassin. Another non-lawyer - Saul Kassin is actually a psychologist.

Where ARE the lawyers for Knox-Sollecito?

All of them seem to have gone awol. Our main poster James Raper, himself a lawyer, sent out this invitation to speak up. In the five months since he posted that, not ONE lawyer has come forward.

Well, except for one strange burble from Anne Bremner, about RS and AK watching Amelie and that being their alibi - though the watching of Amelie took place three to four hours earlier. Even RS and AK didnt claim that.

Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon sounds rattled every time he talks, which he hasnt done since late in 2011. And poor lost Michael Heavey still can’t get to grips with the facts.

In contrast, we now have two of the foremost legal talking heads in the US - Wendy Murphy (a former prosecutor) and Nancy Grace (a former prosecutor) - saying the evidence is overwhelming.

In Italy the Sollecito lawyer Giulia Borngiorno, in face of the Galati appeal and possible legal trouble of her own over Aviello and judge-shopping, has become seriously silent. And Sollecito lawyer Luca Maori just had to distance himself from Sollecito, in conceding that Sollecito in his book had been lying.

Where are the PR shills for Knox-Sollecito?

Though they seem to have shadow-written much of the Sollecito book ostensibly shadow written by the real shadow writer, Andrew Gumbel, Curt Knox’s hatchet men have become so nasty and so distanced from the real facts that they now repel classy media company.

To her great credit, a week ago Katie Couric was repelled - and she showed it. 

However there are still a few out there shilling for Knox and Sollecito. We would include in the active shill group Andrew Gumbel, Sollecito book agent Sharlene Martin, and maybe the publisher’s own promoters (if any).

Also Jane Velez Mitchel of course now. Saul Kassin (a flagship shill who may have gone silent). And the shrillest of all the shills, David Anderson, Bruce Fischer, Frank Sforza, Nina Burleigh, and Candace Dempsey.

They all seem to have big chips on their shoulders, and of course financial stakes. Maybe that is what it takes to be a shill here? Sort of the opposite of a degree in law?


[Below Two Sollecito shills: ghost writer Andrew Gumbel and literary agent Sharlene Martin]

Posted on 09/24/12 at 10:43 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Diversion efforts byThe Knox-MellasesThe SollecitosFrancesco SforzaMore sockpuppetsReporting on the caseV good reportingV bad reporting
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Correcting Saul Kassin’s Massively Inaccurate Description Of Amanda Knox’s So-Called Confession

Posted by brmull




Conflicts between Kassin’s academic and court personas

Saul Kassin is a psychologist with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He tries to advance the notion academically and in court that many confessions are coerced by the police and thus false.

In writing about American cases of confessions, Kassin would normally be very sure to interview all the parties to the confession. Police would not simply be sidelined, and the confessor’s tale would not be the only narrative he pays attention to. His academic pieces would normally be peer-reviewed and any claims which were questionable would be examined by the academic peers or the readership.  False claims by Kassin could result in criminal complaints and civil lawsuits.

It is quite clear from online postings that Saul Kassin was taken on as a hired gun for the Knox defense in the Knox/Sollecito trial in Perugia. He was being paid NOT to simply be academic and objective, he was being paid to give the police witnesses and prosecution as hard a time as possible.

Although he seems to have flown to Perugia at one point he definitely did not encounter let alone interview even one police officer, even one prosecutor or even one judge. He made no visit to the questura where the Knox questioning took place. He doesnt speak or read Italian so he would not be able to get to grip with original evidence.

He does not reveal if and when he interviewed Amanda Knox herself. She makes no mention of any meeting with Kassin in her book. Kassin was definitely not in court in mid-2009 when Amanda Knox was cross-examined for two days on the witness stand about her false allegations against Patrick Lumumba. Her stint on the stand was regarded as a disaster for her by most of those present.

Conflicts consequentially plaguing Kassin’s academic judgments

During the Hellmann appeal in 2011 [subsequently annulled by the Supreme Court in 2013] Kassin started to use his academic standing and ostensible objectivity to propagate to American and later global audiences his hired-gun take for the defense. He had still not interviewed anyone in the Perugia police or prosecution.

He never made clear that his description of Knox’s interrogation was already UNIVERSALLY discredited in Italy - and that even Knox had admitted that the police treated her fairly. He never explained what peer review process his many pieces went through. Not one police officer or prosecutor in Perugia was contacted by any peer reviewer seeking confirmations. This suggests either that there was no peer review or it was unethically cooked in some way.

Our own peer reviews of Kassins proliferating claims

One month ago my fellow poster the Machine took apart ten claims which Saul Kassin made last year in a Seattle radio interview. As the Machine showed, every one of those claims fall apart once one refers to official documents and the more objective case books and websites. 

Another post one month ago by my fellow poster Fuji showed that Amanda Knox is NOT likely to issue false confessions in the heat of an interrogation moment.

That is Kassin’s key claim here, and in effect Fuji used Kassin’s own “science” against him.

Then we were warned by a John Jay colleague critical of Kassin that he had repeated these same spurious claims live on television - and that Kassin had made even more wrong claims in a keynote speech to a conference of the elite John Jay College in June in New York, in front of an influential international audience.

And he did so again in a paper, possibly peer-reviewed, which the respected journal American Psychologist has placed online. This post provides the truth on the Knox-related claims at the front and back ends of that American Psychologist paper.

Saul Kassin still appears to want to argue that Amanda Knox was convicted ONLY based on a false confession (as the Machine and numerous posts on TJMK show, she wasn’t - and in fact, Knox didn’t even confess) and he now makes almost 50 erroneous assertions about the case.

You can see highlighted in the first box-quote below those misleading and erroneous passages of PR shill Kassin which I correct in the second box-quote below.

(1) SAUL KASSIN’S ORIGINAL VERSION WITH WRONG STATEMENTS HIGHLIGHTED


As illustrated by the story of Amanda Knox and many others wrongfully convicted, false confessions often trump factual innocence. Focusing on consequences, recent research suggests that confessions are powerfully persuasive as a matter of logic and common sense; that many false confessions contain richly detailed narratives and accurate crime facts that appear to betray guilty knowledge; and that confessions in general can corrupt other evidence from lay witnesses and forensic experts—producing an illusion of false support. This latter phenomenon, termed “corroboration inflation,” suggests that pretrial corroboration requirements as well as the concept of “harmless error” on appeal are based on an erroneous presumption of independence among items of evidence. In addition to previously suggested reforms to police practices that are designed to curb the risk of false confessions, measures should be taken as well to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions…. 

Meredith Kercher was found raped and murdered in Perugia, Italy. Almost immediately,  police suspected 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates—the only one who stayed in Perugia after the murder. Knox had no history of crime or violence and no motive. But something about her demeanor—such as an apparent lack of affect, an outburst of sobbing, or her girlish and immature behavior— led police to believe she was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Raffaele Sollecito, her new Italian boyfriend, that night. 

Armed with a prejudgment of Knox’s guilt, several police officials interrogated the girl on and off for four days. Her final interrogation started on November 5 at 10 p.m. and lasted until November 6 at 6 a.m., during which time she was alone, without an attorney, tag-teamed by a dozen police, and did not break for food or sleep. In many ways, Knox was a vulnerable suspect—young, far from home, without family, and forced to speak in a language in which she was not fluent. Knox says she was repeatedly threatened and called a liar. She was told,  falsely, that Sollecito, her boyfriend, disavowed her alibi and that physical evidence placed her at the scene. She was encouraged to shut her eyes and imagine how the gruesome crime had occurred, a trauma, she was told, that she had obviously repressed. Eventually she broke down crying,  screaming, and hitting herself in the head. Despite a law that mandates the recording of interrogations, police and prosecutors maintain that these sessions were not recorded. 

Two “confessions” were produced in this last session,  detailing what Knox called a dreamlike “vision.” Both were typed by police—one at 1:45 a.m., the second at 5:45 a.m. She retracted the statements in a handwritten letter as soon as she was left alone (“In regards to this ‘confession’  that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”). Notably, nothing in the confessions indicated that she had guilty knowledge. In fact, the statements attributed to Knox were factually incorrect on significant core details (e.g., she named as an accomplice a man whom police had suspected but who later proved to have an ironclad alibi; she failed to name another man, unknown to police at the time, whose DNA was later identified on the victim). Nevertheless, Knox, Sollecito, and the innocent man she implicated were all immediately arrested. In a media-filled room, the chief of police announced: Caso chiuso (case closed). 

Police had failed to provide Knox with an attorney or record the interrogations, so the confessions attributed to her were ruled inadmissible in court. Still, the damage was done. The confession set into motion a hypothesis-confirming investigation, prosecution, and conviction. The man whose DNA was found on the victim, after specifically stating that Knox was not present, changed his story and implicated her while being prosecuted. Police forensic experts concluded that Knox’s DNA on the handle of a knife found in her boyfriend’s apartment also contained Kercher’s blood on the blade and that the boyfriend’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp. Several eyewitnesses came forward.  An elderly woman said she was awakened by a scream followed by the sound of two people running; a homeless drug addict said he saw Knox and Sollecito in the vicinity that night; a convicted drug dealer said he saw all three suspects together; a grocery store owner said he saw Knox the next morning looking for cleaning products; one witness said he saw Knox wielding a knife. 

On December 5, 2009, an eight-person jury convicted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of murder. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively. Finally, on October 3, 2011, after having been granted a new trial, they were acquitted. [Actually they still stand accused - and facing a tough fact-based prosecution appeal] Ten weeks later, the Italian appeals court released a strongly worded 143-page opinion in which it criticized the prosecution and concluded that there was no credible evidence, motive, or plausible theory of guilt. For the four years of their imprisonment, this story drew international attention (for comprehensive overviews of the case, see Dempsey, 2010, and Burleigh, 2011).1

It is now clear that the proverbial mountain of discredited evidence used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito was nothing but a house of cards built upon a false confession. The question posed by this case, and so many others like it, is this: Why do confessions so often trump innocence? ...

Third, it is important to realize that not all evidence is equally malleable or subject to corroboration inflation. Paralleling classic research indicating that expectations can color judgments of people, objects, and other stimuli that are ambiguous as opposed to those that compel a particular perception, forensic research indicates that ambiguity is a moderating condition. Asked to report on an event or make an identification decision on the basis of a memory trace that cannot be recovered, eyewitnesses are particularly malleable when confronted with evidence of a confession (Hasel & Kassin, 2009). This phenomenon was illustrated in the case against Amanda Knox. When police first interviewed Knox’s British roommates, not one reported that there was bad blood between Knox and the victim. After Knox’s highly publicized confession, however, the girls brought forth new “memories,” telling police that Kercher was uncomfortable with Knox and the boys she would bring home (Burleigh, 2011). ... 

In recent years, psychologists have been critical of the problems with accuracy, error, subjectivity, and bias in various types of criminal evidence—prominently including eyewitness identification procedures, police interrogation practices, and the so-called forensic identification sciences,  all leading Saks and Koehler (2005) to predict a “coming paradigm shift.” With regard to confessions, it now appears that this shift should encompass not only reforms that serve to minimize the risk of false confessions but measures designed to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions—as in the case of Amanda Knox and others who are wrongfully convicted.


(2) MY REPLACEMENT VERSION WITH CORRECT FACTS AND CONTEXT NOW INCLUDED


On November 2, 2007, British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found sexually attacked and murdered in Perugia, Italy. The next day, 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates, became a person of interest, along with Meredith’s downstairs neighbors and several of her other acquaintances. Interviewing close contacts is a cornerstone of police work. Two of Meredith’s close English friends, who were so scared they couldn’t sleep alone, left Perugia in the immediate aftermath of the murder. Everyone else stayed on.

Months before arriving in Perugia, Knox received a citation for a noise violation when a going-away party she’d thrown for herself in Seattle got out of hand. One of the officers described it as a “scene from Baghdad.” Within about three weeks of moving into the cottage in Perugia, Knox was ejected from a nightclub for pouring her glass on the head of a disc jockey.

It’s often said that Knox had no motive to kill Meredith, but it was Knox’s claim of drug use which indicated a possible motive: a drug-fuelled assault. There are various others, though a motive is not actually required for conviction. In crime scene videos from the day Meredith’s body was discovered, Knox can be seen outside the cottage glancing furtively around. Still, it was not this and other odd behavior, but rather the many conflicting witness statements by Knox and her new Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, that led police to believe Knox was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Sollecito at his home continuously on the night of November 1.

Police interviewed dozens of witnesses in the days after the murder, some more than once. All witness statements were written down and signed for, not recorded. The police interviewed Sollecito for the third time beginning at 10:40pm on November 5. Knox later testified that she voluntarily accompanied her boyfriend to the station, because she didn’t want to be alone. The police did not summon her. To the interviewers’ surprise, Sollecito repudiated his earlier alibi when shown phone records, and now said Knox had left his apartment for much of the evening. Some time after 11:00pm the police asked if they might interview Knox. An interpreter was called and by 1:45am Knox had given a signed statement that she had witnessed the sounds of her employer, bar owner Patrick Lumumba, murdering Meredith at the cottage.

In that statement she acknowledged that she had been given an interpreter, and that she herself was now officially a suspect. Knox later testified that she was treated well. She was offered snacks and drinks during the interview and afterward. Made aware that she could not be interrogated without a lawyer, but still anxious to put out as much information as possible, she then requested a chance to make a spontaneous statement without any questioning. Dr Mignini, the magistrate on duty, was called from his home, and she gave a statement in front of him very similar to her witness statement from hours earlier. He asked no questions.

Knox and the police gave different accounts of how the 11:00 to 1:45 am interview was conducted. Police said Knox was told Sollecito now no longer confirmed her alibi and he had called her a liar. She now had no alibi. Sympathetic to her because Knox was freaking out, the interpreter urged her to try to remember at least something.  Shown a text she had sent to Lumumba at 8:35pm saying “See you later. Have a good evening!” she was asked to explain this. The police describe how Knox started to cry and burst out, “It’s him! It’s him!”

Both Knox’s witness statement at 1:45 a.m and her voluntary suspect statement at 5:45am were written out in Italian and translated back to her before she signed. After Knox was formally taken into custody at midday on November 6, she asked for paper and wrote a slight modification of her earlier statements, adding: “In regards to this ‘confession’ that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”

Lumumba was arrested along with Knox and Sollecito. Knox and her mother held out on his non-involvement for weeks, but he was eventually determined to have a solid alibi. Another man, Rudy Guede, was identified through a hand print in Meredith’s bedroom. Knox appeared to have substituted Lumumba for Guede in her statements, and several details of the crime in her so-called confession were later corroborated by witnesses.

Because police had not needed to provide Knox with an attorney at the impromptu witness interview after 11:00, the Supreme Court ruled that statement inadmissible in the murder case against her. However both statements were ruled admissible in court for the purpose of establishing the crime of defamation against Patrick Lumumba. Knox’s November 6 letter was also ruled admissible.

Guede, the man whose DNA was found on the victim, told a friend while he was still on the run that he had found Meredith stabbed and that Knox had nothing to do with the murder. However, in the same conversation, which was recorded by police, he speculated that Knox and Sollecito might have been at the cottage. In a letter dated March 7, 2010, while his sentence was awaiting final confirmation by the Supreme Court, Guede wrote that Knox and Sollecito murdered Meredith. He reiterated this claim as a witness during Knox and Sollecito’s appeal.

Forensic police from Rome concluded that a kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s apartment had Knox’s DNA on the handle and Meredith’s DNA on the blade. Sollecito’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp in Meredith’s locked bedroom.

Several eyewitnesses came forward. Three neighbors testified that they heard a disturbance around 11:30pm in the vicinity of the cottage. A homeless man who at appeal admitted heroin use was reading a newsmagazine at the basketball court near the cottage. He testified that he saw Knox and Sollecito four or five times that night. An Albanian, a possible drug dealer. who the Massei court deemed unreliable after the Micheli court accepted him, said he had seen all three suspects together, and that Knox had accosted him with a knife. A grocery store owner testified he saw Knox at his shop early on the morning after the murder.

The conflicting alibis of the two were never resolved during trial. On December 4, 2009, an eight-person panel consisting of two professional judges and six lay judges found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder aggravated by sexual assault, simulation of a burglary, unlawful carrying of a knife and, in Knox’s case, criminal defamation of Patrick Lumumba. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively….

Knox’s mother later described her daughter as “oblivious to the dark side of the world.” Knox herself wrote that, on the night of the murder, she and Sollecito were talking about his mother’s suicide. She told him her philosophy was “life is full of choices and that these choices are not necessarily between good and evil, but between what’s better and what’s worse.”...

Results of our own peer-group analysis

Kassin asserted that the witnesses in this case imagined “new memories” unfavorable to Knox because of her highly-publicized confession. He referenced an experiment in which an unknown actor walked into a classroom and stole a laptop. The students were asked to try to identify the thief from a line-up. Two days later, the students were told which person in the line-up had confessed. Many changed their minds when told of the confession, although in truth the thief was never in the line-up at all.

Obviously this contrived scenario has nothing at all to do with Amanda Knox or people who had met her.

In his book, Meredith, the victim’s father John Kercher recalls his daughter complaining about Knox’s poor hygiene and how she brought home strange men several weeks before the murder. Numerous witnesses recounted specific anecdotes of Knox’s sharp-elbowed and offputting behavior. Her circle of friends quickly diminished only to Sollecito.

Really, could all these be “new memories”?

Psychologists studying eyewitness testimony, interrogation techniques and false confessions need to be circumspect. Even DNA testing, considered the best of the forensic sciences, requires a thorough understanding of circumstances in order to be interpreted correctly.

Kassin’s continued stonewalling and legal risks

I really wonder who agreed to publish him. I work in a science-based field. When I first learned Kassin had been recruited by Curt Knox’s hatchet men as a PR shill, had been put directly in touch with Knox herself, and had been provided with pre-selected reading materials, I wrote to ask him why he hadn’t disclosed all this to his readers.

Still no reply.

It’s true that numerous talking heads have exaggerated their qualifications and concealed their conflicts of interest and financial stakes when speaking in support of the defense. Judge Mike Heavey abused his oath of office to try to sway the process.

What’s different about Kassin is that, using his John Jay College aura, he has corrupted the scientific record with misinformation.

And he has done this, at least in part, with the goal of misleading an Italian court.  These dirty tricks are especially dangerous because most people, including judges, expect that what’s stated as fact in prominent academic journals is objective and true.

Kassin looks to us nothing like an academic here. He looks instead like a defense hired gun who (only in English and only in America) has repeatedly falsely accused police officers of serious felonies in how they questioned Knox as a witness.

If even a single complaint is lodged in Italy and Kassin cannot prove his 50 or so seemingly-spurious and very damaging claims, he could find himself facing years in an Italian prison for attempted obstruction of justice.

Kassin’s peers need to press him for the truth once and for all, and to stop him using his academic mantle illegally and academically unethically as a cloak for a sleazy defense campaign.

Posted on 08/09/12 at 01:41 AM by brmull. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedDiversion efforts byThe Knox-MellasesThe "profilers"Reporting on the caseV bad reportingThe wider contextsAmanda Knox
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