Series Knox-Mellas team

Monday, December 07, 2009

US Overreaction: State Department (Foreign Office) Rebuts Senator Cantwell’s Claims

Posted by Peter Quennell


If Senator Cantwell or her staff come by looking for something to convince them fast please read this.

The same people who set the hapless John Q Kelly up (he has never been heard from again since that post) seem to have set Senator Cantwell up too.

Now Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that her precipitate involvement in the case seems to be hitting a brick wall.

WASHINGTON, USA - The US government said Monday it had no signs that a court in Italy failed to follow the country’s laws when it found American Amanda Knox guilty of the murder of her British housemate.

However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will discuss the verdict with Senator Maria Cantwell, who said it raises ‘serious questions’ about the Italian justice system, Clinton’s spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

‘I don’t have any indications to the contrary,’ Kelly said when asked if Knox was treated fairly under Italian law. ‘We haven’t received any indications necessarily that Italian law was not followed.’

He added: ‘I do know that our embassy in Rome was very closely involved in this. They visited Amanda Knox. They have monitored the trial.’

Kelly said he preferred to limit comment as the legal process continues, recalling that Knox has the right to appeal in 45 days.

Posted on 12/07/09 at 08:24 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015The wider contextsSeattle contextN America contextExtradition issuesKnox-Mellas teamMore hoaxers
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (6)

US Overreaction: Amanda Knox’s Own Lawyer Groans “That’s All We Need, Hillary Clinton”

Posted by Peter Quennell


This is from an earlier report by Beth Hale and Daniel Bates in the Daily Mail

Hillary Clinton has been drawn into the battle to overturn Amanda Knox’s conviction. Amid a growing U.S. backlash against the verdict, the American Secretary of State has agreed to meet a senator from 22-year-old Knox’s home state of Washington.

[Senator Cantwell] said she was concerned there had been an ‘anti-American’ feeling at the trial and said she would be raising her concerns with Mrs Clinton…

Luciano Ghirga said: ‘That’s all we need, Hillary Clinton involved. I have the same political sympathies as Hillary but this sort of thing does not help us in any way.’

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said: ‘This senator should not interfere in something she has no idea about. I am happy with how the trial went.’

And this below is from a new report by Nick Pisa in the Daily Mail

It quotes the prosecutor as saying that the case was taken before NINETEEN Italian judges. Such caution is not an everyday occurrence in US justice, that is for sure.

Italy reacted with anger today as a transatlantic war of words broke out with the United States over the Amanda Knox murder trial.

Prosecutors involved in the case were outraged that their handling and the Italian judicial system had been called into question, while newspapers published front page editorials saying they would not take ‘lessons from America.’

It came as it emerged US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had said she would look into Knox’s case after Marie Cantwell, a senator in the jailed student’s home state of Washington, said she was ‘concerned’ about the trial.

In a front page editorial headlined ‘Passport and Justice’ Corriere Della Sera stormed: ‘Once again here we have rule number one for an American accused of a crime abroad - it doesn’t matter if they are innocent or guilty all that counts is their passport.’

Inside it continued under the heading: ‘When an American passport is as valuable as an alibi,’ and recalled an infamous incident in 1998 when a US pilot escaped justice, despite flying through a cable sending a ski gondola crashing into a mountain and killing 20 people at Cermis in the Italian Alps.

It added: ‘Amanda was tried abroad so her defence campaign have enlisted the help of the State Department. This same administration can’t close Guantanamo but it can find the time to attack the sentence in Perugia.’

Its story on Mrs Clinton’s involvement added America had been reacting as if Knox had ‘ended up in the hands of some despotic regime,’ and said: ‘America is just waiting to send a platoon of Marines over to rescue the poor girl.’

Il Messaggero also ran an editorial on its front page under the headline ‘Unacceptable Lessons’ and also compared it to the Cermis incident.

It wrote: ‘If there is any ground upon which our country will not be taught lessons on civility and respect from anyone, the United States included, then it is the penal process.

‘The United States allows the death penalty for minors in some states, as does countries where the high level of civic justice found in Italy is unheard of, such as Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen.

‘If Hilary Clinton wants to meet these “doubters” then maybe she can also find the time to look into the cases of numerous Italians held in American prisons for non existent motives and crimes they have not committed.’

There was also criticism of Senator Cantwell’s suggestions the trial was anti-American as many pointed out that ‘an Italian Raffaele Sollecito, was also jailed.’...

Knox prosecutor Giuliano Mignini also hit out at the criticism and said: ‘I am happy. In my conscience I know I have done my duty. It is never easy to ask for a life sentence.

‘That’s especially true in this case where the accused were in their twenties. I have three children who are more or less the same age. Asking for life was the right punishment for the crime.

‘I am not prepared to take criticism from the Americans on how the prosecution and investigators carried out their work.

‘The case went before 19 judges in the end at various levels from a preliminary hearing, through to three levels of re-examination (bail hearings) and all found in the prosecution’s favour.’

Here is some highly recommended reading for the Senator and (f they need it) the State Department. 

Posted on 12/07/09 at 04:03 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesHoaxers from 2008Knox-Mellas teamThe wider contextsN America context
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (12)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More On Investigation Of Family For Possible Defaming Of Perugia Flying Squad

Posted by Tiziano


It is worth recalling that Amanda Knox herself may be investigated for so-far-unsubstantiated claims that the police forced her to point to Patrick Lumumba as the possible murderer.

There were various witnesses to at least parts of the two interrogations of Amanda Knox on 6 November including a high-ranking police official from Rome who watched from behind one-way glass.

Here is a translation of what Repubblica is reporting 

The parents of Amanda Knox have also been investigated for defamation by the Prosecutor of the Republic in Perugia.

Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, who arrived in the Umbrian capital yesterday in order to follow the last stages of the trial of their daughter, accused with Raffaele Sollecito - her ex-boyfriend - and Rudy Guede, (already condemned to thirty years last year at a fast-track trial) of having murdered Meredith Kercher, her English housemate, found themselves notified of an accusation of having defamed the Flying Squad of Perugia.

In an interview granted months ago to the Sunday Times, Curt Knox and his ex-wife in fact declared that their daughter had been brutally ill-treated during an interrogation on November 6th, 2007 at police headquarters, which ended up in the confession in which she accused Patrick Lumumba, now an injured party in the trial.

Reporting what Amanda had told them when they had visited her in prison, the two had accused the Italian police of having extorted her confession with threats and even with several blows. “And when she asked for a lawyer she was told that the intervention of a legal advisor would have worsened her situation,” Edda Mellas and her ex-husband said to the Sunday Times.

Inspector Monica Napoleoni, head of the Murder Branch of the Perugia Squad and her men, after reading the couple’s affirmations, decided to lodge a complaint.

Amanda Knox herself, during the questioning before the judge of the Court of the Assizes, repeated that she was the object of heavy pressures in the course of that night at police headquarters. “They kept repeating to me that I would spend thirty years in prison if I did not confess,” she said in court, adding that she had received a “cuff” to the neck. These accusations have always been denied by the Perugian police and they finally decided to take legal action.

The interrogation on the night of November 6th, 2007 was furthermore at the centre of the hearing yesterday in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, which has now reached its last stages.

It was reconstructed by lawyer Pacelli, the representative of Patrick Lumumba, who was arrested on November 6th after Amanda had indicated him as the murderer of Meredith Kercher. Lumumba is now an injured party in the debate, after having been absolved of all accusations, thanks to the testimony of a Swiss teacher who gave him a cast-iron alibi.

Pacelli, in an address judged by many as over- the-top, accused Amanda of being “dirty inside and out” and described her as “half Maria Goretti and half demon”.

By the way some of our own commenters and emailers also found Mr Pacelli’s religious imagery applied to Amanda Knox (he asked if she is a “she-devil”) to be way over the top.

Posted on 11/28/09 at 09:23 AM by TizianoClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe wider contextsAmanda KnoxKnox-Mellas team
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (8)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smart Lawyers Are Asking: What On Earth Possessed Lawyer John Q Kelly?

Posted by The Machine



[click for larger image]

Many very smart lawyers have been dropping by TJMK for over a year now to get a good take on the case.

Many of them email to us, some of them post comments, and several have posted front-page posts. They appear to appreciate the dispassionate tone here, the huge caring for the real victim and her family and friends, and the genuine appreciation for how the case is being handled in Italy.

And many of them really like how we have presented the evidence,  technically and logically. Some have even said that they would love to have the likes of Kermit, Brian, Nicki, Finn, and Pete and, well, myself at their elbow when preparing their own trial arguments and presentations.

Without any exception now they are remarking to us that, yes, there really IS a strong case against Knox and Sollecito, and the defenses have left dozens of questions unanswered.

So it was a jaw-dropping experience for them to see John Q Kelly, a respected Manhattan defense lawyer and strong proponent of victims’ rights, bound onto Larry King’s show on CNN and make wild-eyed accusations like this one.

KELLY: “My thoughts, Larry, it’s probably the most egregious international railroading of two innocent young people that I have ever seen. This is actually a public lynching based on rank speculation, and vindictiveness. It’s just a nightmare what these parents are going through and what these young adults are going through also.”

John Kelly then, seemingly rather nervously, tries hard to paint Amanda Knox as the victim. The name of the real victim, the one who died very slowly and painfully, clutching her neck while the life-blood ran out, barely passes John Kelly’s lips.

John Kelly appeared to know little of Italy’s very careful pre-trial process or the very damning Micheli report. or the strong case the prosecution presented or the real facts about Mr Mignini or anything about Amanda Knox’s lifestyle in Perugia or her disastrous stint on the stand that persuaded nobody in her favor.

And he seemed to know nothing at all about the amazing and hyper-talented young woman who went by the name of Meredith Kercher.

Let us examine each of John Kelly’s claims on Larry King’s show to see if they make any sense.

KELLY: “Well, as I said, it’s almost because Amanda showed too much stoicism after the death of her roommate, who she barely knew. These were two girls living together less than eight weeks.”

“And, you know, Larry, you’ve always seen this in these murder cases and things like the husband didn’t cry enough, or they weren’t upset enough when the children went missing. This is one of these things where, I guess, under the Italian culture, she did not respond the way they wanted her to respond. And they sort of put together a case with, you know, gum and toothpicks to try to make a case against her. And it is outrageous.”

I do recommend that John Kelly actually takes the time to read the eyewitness accounts of Amanda Knox’s behavior in the days following Meredith’s murder. There were a LOT of odd actions. For example mere moments after Meredith’s lifeless and mutilated body was discovered, Knox and Sollecito were kissing and caressing each other.

Many have come to feel that her bizarre and callous actions then point to a psychological disorder, perhaps a form of psychopathia, and they were certainly something that Prosecutor Mignini rightly and understandably found very strange:

“When those present go outside after the body is found, Knox and Sollecito are also outside, intent on kissing and caressing each other, as they did subsequently during police searches.

“A very strange way of behaving which started the very moment the victim’s body was found . . . and at a time when all the other young people were literally overwhelmed by that discovery,” said Mignini

(The Times, 18 January 2009).

It wasn’t just Mr Mignini or the Italian officials who found the behavior of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito strange:

“I found Amanda’s behaviour very strange,” said Robyn Butterworth… “I found it difficult to be with her because she showed no emotion when everyone else was really upset. We were all crying but I didn’t see Amanda cry,”

“She and Raffaele were kissing and joking together, there was laughter at some point, I remember Amanda stuck her tongue out at Raffaele. She put her feet up on his lap and they were kissing and cuddling and talking.”

“Amanda kept saying ‘I found her, how do you think I feel?’...She seemed proud to have found the body. I heard her say that Meredith was in the closet with a blanket over her. I also remember her talking on the phone and she was saying things like ‘It could have been me.’”

Another friend, Natalie Hayward, had expressed the hope that Miss Kercher had not suffered when she died. Miss Knox allegedly replied: “What do you think? She fucking bled to death.”

Amy Frost, another witness who had flown in from Britain, testified that at the police station Ms Knox was “giggling” and kissing Mr Sollecito. “I remember Amanda sticking her tongue out at him. She had her feet on his lap,” the court was told. Ms Frost said that Ms Knox’s behavior at the police station was “inappropriate”, as if she had “gone crazy”....

This was no behavior just slightly out of the ordinary. It was nothing remotely like stoic. John Kelly’s assertion that the Italian authorities fabricated a case against Amanda Knox simply because she didn’t respond the way she was expected to in Italy seems pretty ridiculous.

Amanda Knox actually made herself into a suspect because she admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed, and she voluntarily admitted that she was involved in Meredith’s murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007.

The police already strongly suspected that Knox and Sollecito were involved in Meredith’s murder because they had given contradictory and conflicting witness statements and their telephone records proved that they had told the police what Sollecito himself described as “a pack of lies”.

Now for John Kelly’s next claim.

KELLY: “There’s no forensic evidence. There’s no physical evidence…. There’s no substantive evidence whatsoever against Amanda….”

“I think the only forensic evidence they had was a small portion of Amanda’s DNA on the handle of a knife in Raffaele’s apartment, where she was all the time. And it’s not even consistent with the murder weapon that was used.”

“The murder weapon was a three and a half inch knife. This is a six and a half inch knife that had a minute portion of Amanda’s DNA on it, and inconclusive tests that on the tip of it there was some of Meredith’s blood.”

There are so many factual errors in John Kelly’s comments above that it is hard to know where to begin. For starters, John Kelly contradicts himself by saying there is no forensic evidence, and then saying that the knife is the only forensic evidence.

The knife sequestered from Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment is in fact compatible with the deep puncture wound on Meredith’s neck. This was a point that even the defence forensic experts conceded.

The tests on the DNA found on the blade of the knife were not inconclusive. Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni testified at the trial that the DNA on the blade of the knife has been reliably identified as Meredith’s

Both Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA Unit of the scientific police, and the Kerchers’ own DNA expert, Professor Francesca Torricelli, provided independent confirmation that this forensic finding is accurate and reliable.

The double DNA knife is far from the only piece of incriminating forensic evidence.

There were five instances of Amanda Knox’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage, including in Filomena’s room where the break-in was staged.

Furthermore, there was a woman’s bloody shoeprint compatible with Knox’s foot size on a pillow in Meredith’s room. This bloody shoeprint was not compatible with Meredith’s own foot size.

An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp.

Two bloody footprints were attributed to Raffaele Sollecito. One of them was revealed by luminol in the hallway, and the other one was easily visible to the naked eye on the blue bathmat in Meredith’s and Knox’s shared bathroom.

Now for John Kelly’s next claim.

KELLY: “There’s no opportunity.”

Actually there was. Plenty. Amanda Knox’s and Raffale Sollecito’s mobile phone activity on the night of the murder point to their making an opportunity. They both turned off their mobile phones at approximately at 8.40 pm, shortly before Meredith was killed and turned them on again the following day at around 6.00 am - although they claimed they slept in late.

They both claimed conveniently that they couldn’t remember much about the period during which Meredith was killed because they claimed they were suffering from cannabis-induced amnesia (whatever that is) though what they actually did claim to remember differed wildly between the two of them.

Even now after the defense phase of the trial the defendants STILL don’t have credible alibis - despite three attempts each. Sollecito is still refusing to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment all that night - in Sollecito’s last alibi, he claimed that Knox left his apartment at 9 pm and returned only at around 1.00 am.

Now for John Kelly’s next claim.

KELLY: “There’s no confession.”

Actually there is. John Kelly clearly hasn’t read Amanda Knox’s handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007 which was entered in evidence. In that, she voluntarily admitted that she was present at Meredith’s murder: “Everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith’s death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.”

Strong victims-rights proponent John Kelly appeared on the Larry King show to rant and make wild claims without seeming to have even a basic grasp of the facts. Really that was a pity.

The real victim here, Meredith Kercher, could use a heavyweight like him in her corner right about now.


Posted on 10/27/09 at 10:59 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2008Knox-Mellas teamMore hoaxersHoaxers: media groupsCNN Network
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (20)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reporters: Seven Areas To Pinpoint With Curt Knox, Edda Mellas And Chris Mellas

Posted by Kermit




Tough questions for reporters to get beyond the incessant spin

Area To Pinpoint #1

Don’t you think that Amanda’s latest of several defence positions is weakened by the fact that her new alibi - that she was with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito all night - does not coincide with the alibi of Raffaele?

He has used his right to not declare in their trial but stated just after the crime that he was at his apartment all night, and that Amanda left between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. on the night of the murder?

(Raffaele’s defence lawyers and his father have confirmed to journalists covering the trial that while they have some defence issues in common with Amanda - for example, questioning the DNA analysis - Raffaele’s defence is not necessarily supportive of or in line with Amanda’s.)

Area To Pinpoint #2

Why did Amanda cut short a questioning session (where she was accompanied by her lawyer) in December 2007, near the beginning of the investigation, and maintain silence - as is her right under Italian law - until the trial was well underway in 2009?

Area To Pinpoint #3

Why do you need a costly, professional PR campaign aimed at an American audience, when your daughter is in an Italian trial? Some observers feel that since the legal case against Amanda is strong, your only hope is to influence the State Department and obtain its political intervention in this case.

However, American diplomats - beyond providing basic, standard consular support - don’t want to touch this case with a ten-foot pole.

Area To Pinpoint #4

Why do you question the honor and professionalism of the Prosecutor of Amanda’s murder trial through your Amercian focused PR campaign, when Amanda’s Italian defence lawyer had to apologise to Prosecutor Mignini for this campaign?

This campaign extrapolates the slight that an American fiction author (Douglas Preston) felt when he was momentarily arrested after ensnaring himself in a police sting operation to do with planting false evidence when he was using a false name.

This arrest was recently rejected for separate legal action against Mignini. On the basis of Preston’s bad feelings, the PR campaign tells us that Mignini has a “history” of inappropriate behaviour.

Do you agree that this smells of “spin”? Why can’t you fight Amanda’s legal battle on the basis of a solid, coherent alibi?

Area To Pinpoint #5

Why would Amanda call you in the middle of the night in Seattle to tell you about what was still supposedly only a break-in in her house (before Meredith Kercher’s door was broken down by the police who soon arrived), when Amanda was accompanied by her Italian boyfriend who would know better than her how to react?

Why to your great surprise at Capanne Prison could Amanda not even remember making that call? And why on the witness stand did it take you many minutes to summarize that 88-second call?

Area To Pinpoint #6

Before the trial started, Amanda’s Italian defence lawyer publicly stated that Amanda had not been hit by police during her questioning on 5 November 2007.

During that session she stated she was in the cottage when Meredith was murdered, and she falsely accused Patrick Lumumba of being the murderer - an accusation which has given rise to an additional charge against her).

Once the trial had started, and coinciding with the arrival of Amanda’s stepfather Chris Mellas in Perugia, Amanda made a spontaneous statement in court that she had been slapped on the back of her head during this questioning, and her Italian lawyer had to incorporate these statements into her testimony.

Are you satisfied with the Italian defence team? Are they aligned with the talking points of the PR campaign?

Area To Pinpoint #7

The justification that Amanda has been held in preventive custody since she became a suspect is due to the possibility that she may flee Italy (in addition earlier on in the investigation to the possibility that evidence may be tampered with).

On various occasions you have publicly regretted not getting Amanda out of Italy before she was arrested.

Also, Seattle King County Judge Heavey (associated with the “Friends of Amanda” campaign) sent a letter to the Italian judiciary on State of Washington letterhead where he decried alleged irregularities and illegalities in the investigation (nobody knows what he based these allegations on).

Such an official letter would suggest to Italian authorities that were Amanda ever to find herself in the United States before her legal processes have finished, that it could be difficult or impossible to extradite her back to Italy.

Are some of the public statements made on behalf of Amanda counterproductive to obtaining her early freedom?

Posted on 10/15/09 at 06:36 PM by KermitClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2008Amanda Knox 1.0Knox-Mellas teamHeavey, BremnerHoaxers from 2012Knox BookHoaxers: media groupsCNN Network
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (37)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Croydon Guardian The Kerchers’ Hometown Paper Continues To Report Objectively

Posted by The Machine


Click above for the factual report. The Croydon Guardian has posted way over 100 stories and regular readers will be among the best-informed in the UK.

The Croydon Guardian was the first newspaper anywhere to mention True Justice For Meredith Kercher, which helped put TJMK on the map in November of 2008.

It is also good to see the journalist Kirsty Whalley doing what so many journalists covering the case have failed to do, namely sticking to the facts. No spin. She writes a balanced account and is not afraid to unequivocally state that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife and Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra clasp.

It’s no secret that Amanda Knox’ family and supporters have tried to exert a stranglehold over the media and angrily control what journalists can and cannot write. So it’s refreshing to read an article in a small local paper that hasn’t been hijacked for once by Curt Knox, Edda Mellas, Anne Bremner or Doug Preston.

Incidentally, Anne Bremner needs to prep up on Italian law after getting a basic fact wrong in a recent interview on ABC News when she claimed that the Italian legal system has eight jurors and two judges. Bremner seems to have the unfortunate habit of messing up whenever she’s interviewed about the case.

Who can forget her stridently analyzing entirely the wrong crime scene on NBC last year?

The editors of two of the newspapers in Seattle - the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the West Seattle Herald - could also learn a thing or two from reading Kirsty’s article. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will not now allow any of its readers to comment about the case - something that online reporter Monica Guzman was commendably unhappy about.

Italy has been portrayed as being a backward country by elements in the US media and especially by a vociferous minority in Seattle. Perhaps the people of Seattle should be more concerned about being denied the right of freedom of speech, a basic constitutional right, by one of their main newspapers.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s readers deserve to know whether Amanda Knox’s family was behind the decision to ban all comments about the case. It has already been well-documented on TJMK that the Seattle-Post Intelligencer hosts a strident and highly inaccurate “reader’s blog” which has had a record of trashing poor Meredith and her silently-grieving family.

The West Seattle Herald hasn’t fared much better with bumbling reporter Steve Shay covering the case. Shay’s pieces are more like Knox family newsletters than newspaper articles. Shay landed The West Seattle Herald in hot water by making unfounded comments about Mignini, which resulted in Mignini suing the newspaper

If it relies on its own local paper, Croydon essentially knows the truth of what is going on. And Seattle unfortunately doesn’t if it relies on its own dismal reporting.

Posted on 10/14/09 at 05:41 PM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesGreat reportingKnox-Mellas team
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (4)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Dan Norder “Crime Historian” Makes Over A Dozen Mistakes In A Very Short Piece

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for all of Dan Norder’s offensive and wildly misleading post. Some excerpts below.

The commenters below his absurd piece pretty well nail him to the wall. He makes a couple of flustered responses that only dig him in deeper, and then he goes (hopefully forever) silent.

And so yet another Doug Preston sock-puppet bites the dust. Where does Preston FIND these suckers?!

Italian investigators formed a rather unusual theory to explain the murder. Amanda Knox — Kercher’s American roommate, who was then 20 — and Raffaele Sollecito — an Italian who was Knox’s 23-year-old boyfriend at the time — were accused of being sex maniacs who wanted Kercher to participate in an orgy, raping and killing her when she refused.

Police apparently came up with this explanation because they thought it was strange that the two, while being held for routine questioning, were seen cuddling and occasionally kissing. Somehow the public displays of affection went from being considered merely inappropriate behavior under the circumstances to evidence of a lust murder.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Giuliano Mignini, at first argued that Kercher was killed by Knox and Sollecito as part of a Satanic ritual [he didn’t] involving an orgy or sacrifice, but later decided to tone things down a bit and focus solely on the idea of extreme sexual perversion.

Mignini has made similar accusations in the past [he hasn’t] most notably in the Monster of Florence case. After American author Douglas Preston and Italian reporter Mario Spezi criticized him for blaming that unsolved series of murders on a shadowy group of devil worshippers, Mignini responded by accusing them of being part of this Satanic conspiracy. Spezi was imprisoned on suspicion of murder and Preston was driven out of Italy after being threatened with prosecution.

Mignini’s preoccupation with the idea of Satanic cults [he has none] is one that is shared by a number of people in various countries over the years. For example, in the 1980s the United States legal system was full of alleged incidents of groups of people engaged in sexual molestation and murders based upon shoddy and manufactured evidence…

Unfortunately these kinds of accusations often are accepted at face value. The moral outrage at the idea of such crimes is so overwhelming that things like lack of evidence and the sheer absurdities of the claims being made never sink in. Similarly, the idea that Knox and Sollecito were perverts capable of murder was leaked by the police to the press and took on a life of its own.

When Knox was unable to obtain her clothes after the cottage became a crime scene and went to buy new underwear, the news media painted it as inappropriately rushing off to buy lingerie after the murder. Tabloid papers in England and Italy have continually referred to her as “Foxy Knoxy” and “Angel Face,” reinforcing the idea that she is a siren instead of a student. Whenever a photographer captures Knox smiling at a family member or friend who she has not yet seen during the two years she’s been incarcerated, the public just sees that she’s always smiling in court and concludes that there’s something wrong with her.

But what evidence has been presented in court that would support the idea that Knox is a homicidal sex maniac? Kercher’s friends from England testified that she resented Knox for bringing men over to the house and for having condoms and a vibrator in a bag in the bathroom.

The actual evidence points to a more simple solution [actually it does’nt] . DNA tests show that Rudy Guede, a 20-year-old acquantance of the students who lived downstairs at the time of the murder, had sex with Kercher the night she was killed. His DNA was also found in the bathroom. Bloody shoe prints matching his foot size were discovered by the body. He fled to Germany shortly after the murder. In fact, he’s even already been convicted of the crime.

But apparently Mignini couldn’t let go of his theory. Guede gave conflicting stories after his arrest, originally claiming that Kercher and he had consensual sex, that she had been killed while he was in the bathroom, and that he saw an unknown Italian man over the body. But he eventually told the police what they wanted to hear: that Knox and Sollecito were responsible for the whole thing….

Posted on 10/09/09 at 10:52 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2008Knox-Mellas teamMore hoaxersNews media & moviesTerrible reporting
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (8)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Report By Bob Graham In The Daily Express Close To Breaking New Record For Inaccuracy

Posted by The Machine


Here is a short list of the competition for most misleading reporter on the case: Peter Popham, Peter Van Sant, Simon Hattenstone, Steve Shay, Timothy Egan, Linda Byron, Candace Dempsey, and Jan Goodwin.

Typically after their report they disappear, hopefully shamed into never being heard from again (Popham, Egan, Van Sant, Goodwin, and Hattenstone). And the others seem to have become more innocuous and one or two close to strange mutterings (Byron, Shay, and Dempsey).

Now another hapless reporter, one Bob Graham, has floated an ill-conceived and ill-researched report, this time in the UK’s Daily Express. There is no Bob Graham who writes regularly for that paper, so the one reporting here might be an America freelancer - if not, apologies in advance. 

False claim 1

Endless leaks of court documents, private conversations, diaries and correspondence paint a picture of Amanda as a cold-blooded killer.

There is well over 10,000 pages of evidence. There have not been many leaks and almost all of those have come from the defenses. In fact Sollecito’s father may soon be under indictment, for leaking a video showing Meredith’s body to a Bari TV station. In the course of the trial there have been many small surprises which were never leaked in advance. And Edda Mellas here is blaming the prosecution and authorities for leaking documents when Knox’s family and team seem to have done much or more.

False claim 2

Yet if the prosecutors and gossips are wrong and Amanda was, as she claims, at Sollecito’s house at the time of the murder, she has been subjected to a staggering injustice.

Amanda Knox admitted that she was at the cottage on the night in question on four separate occasions (once to police officers now in evidence, twice to interrogators but ruled inadmissible, and once to the prosecutor in a handwritten note now in evidence). Sollecito has claimed she wasn’t there at his apartment for part of the night and he has never reversed that position. It’s not only the prosecutors and gossips who think she was at the cottage - Judge Micheli, who indicted her after reading the 10,000 pages of evidence, also thought so, and so did the scientific police.

False claim 3

They claim they took part in the murder in a tiny room, that after the murder they returned, still under the influence of drink and drugs, and managed to erase every trace of their own DNA and fingerprints without removing any of Guede’s DNA or fingerprints or other DNA that has not been identified. Is that credible? Of course not.

Edda Mellas seems to have told a deliberate lie. The prosecutors have never claimed the defendants removed every trace of their own DNA. Sollecito left an abundant amount of his DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp. Knox can be placed in the murder room by way of the double DNA knife and the woman’s bloody footprint on the pillow plus footsteps in blood outside. Professor Vinci also claimed he found Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra.

False claim 4

The name [Foxy Knoxy] has returned to haunt her, implying something altogether less innocent.

It is well-known that Knox herself pushed that nickname out on the internet. It rarely appears in a derogatory way in any of the reporting these days, and it is hard to see how the few mentions demonize her. Amanda Knox would have been aware from the age of four that Foxy has sexual connotations, especially as she was an “A-grade student”.

False claim 5

In September 2007 Amanda, then at the University of Washington, was awarded a year-long scholarship to further her Italian studies at Perugia’s university for foreigners.

This is not true. Knox paid for her trip abroad herself by working part-time jobs in Seattle. The University of Washington in Seattle had no role in her registration for the Perugia language school, and did not agree to accredit her scores. UW did not play a larger role. Her arrangements in Perugia look to have been under-organized, under-supervised and under-funded. She seems to have been running very low on funds, and had no work permit, just when Meredith may have been under consideration to replace her as a waitress at a bar.

False claim 6

Financially, it’s been devastating, the cost already in excess of $1 million.

Curt Knox and Edda Mellas chose to hire an expensive Seattle PR firm and two expensive Italian lawyers, and to fly large family presences to Perugia. Those were their choices to make, and it is suspected that at least some of the media have made payments in kind or cash to gain exclusive access. The PR campaign has been spinning its wheels for 18 months, and seems to us to have been a huge waste of money and quite damaging to Amanda Knox’s own best interests.

False claim 7

In the first hours after she was arrested she made a statement, later retracted, suggesting she and Raffaele had been present at the murder, and wrongly implicating Congolese barman Patrick Lumumba.

The statements were in fact made at the police station on 5-6 Nov under no police pressure after Sollecito had whipped the rug out from under her first alibi. She made three statements categorically accusing Diya Lumumba and spelling out some imaginary details. She said in all that she went out on the night. And she didn’t just “suggest” that she and Raffaele were there, she categorically claimed that she was indeed there.

False claim 8

Her defence team says she was threatened into making it. Amanda claims she was slapped around the head. Curiously, a tape-recording of the initial interviews have “disappeared”.

The defense never claimed that. There were many witnesses to the interrogations at the police station, including a senior police officer from Rome, and not one has corroborated this testimony. We have seen no evidence that any tapes were made or have disappeared. One statement cannot be used against Knox not because she was banged around but because she didn’t have a lawyer at the time. She later repeated it in writing when she was certainly not being banged around - she was under no pressure to speak up at all.

False claim 9

No less bizarre is the fact that chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is facing criminal charges for allegedly abusing his powers to question suspects in a separate murder case. He denies the allegations.

This is not true and it is possibly libelous. There is plenty of information on TJMK here that points to Mr Mignini being a competent, popular and hard-working prosecutor, who only faces an administrative charge because he seems to have guessed right on some of the murky details of the Monster of Florence case. At issue was not “abusing his powers to question suspects” it was a taped recording approved by a judge that caught the prosecutor saying damning things.

Peter Popham, Peter Van Sant, Simon Hattenstone, Steve Shay, Timothy Egan, Linda Byron, Candace Dempsey, and Jan Goodwin? Please now welcome Bob Graham to your misleading company.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Vilification Of Prosecutor Mignini Clearly Continues To Misfire

Posted by Peter Quennell


In this recent post we included an amazing statement from Mr Mignini.

A number of sources then confirmed that he and we had it exactly right in that post and that the claims of the American writer of the lurid “Monster Of Florence” are nasty, mischievous, and simply don’t check out.

Sources tell us Mr Mignini may have sharp elbows - but he is also very fair and careful, rarely leaks or does anything just for the publicity, does a great job for Perugia (where he is rather popular), and really respects the victims of crimes and and their families - in this case, Meredith and her family who repeatedly sound like they respect him.

Now La Nazione is reporting that Mr Mignini is again aggressively fighting back against the so-far-fruitless campaign to vilify him. 

He is planning to sue a Joe Cottonwood, seemingly a publicity-hungry carpenter and occasional journalist in California whose knowledge of the case would apparently not even cover a postage stamp. And who seems to feel he has a license to shoot his mouth off slanderously in Italy, regardless of who actually gets hurt.

The publisher of his uninformed take on the case in Il Giornale will apparently also be sued,

From La Nazione:

According to the American writer [Cottonwood] among other things, “perhaps in Italy there is a hatred of American college students who give joy to madness. Amanda will pay not for her guilt or innocence, but because of popular resentment towards rich and superficial Americans. The murder of Meredith Kercher is one of those mirrors that reflect the prejudices of the investigators.”

The last time that the prosecutor had moved for legal action was in January, when the West Seattle Herald described him as “inadequate” and “mentally unstable”. In that case, in a move that many had regarded as completely understandable as well as justified, the prosecutor saw fit to start concrete legal action.

And now the same judge [Mr Mignini] is preparing for a new legal battle after suffering yet another attack from the disparaging “‘stars and stripes”. Mr Mignini and his colleague Manuela Comodi are preparing an indictment for after the conclusion of the trial, which resumes in mid-month this month.

Nice going by the fatuous Joe Cottonwood. For those of a less xenophobic frame of mind here actually is the evidence. A series still far from complete.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Justice V Jingoism: UK’s Sky News Tells Us They Are Seeing Hypocrisy

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

Sky News (controlled from NYC when last we looked! by Rupert Murdoch, above, on Sixth Avenue) says what a lot of Europeans are thinking.

A lot of New Yorkers too. A mean-spirited and dishonest PR campaign and a lazy dishonest media have colluded for far too long on this case.  And on too many similar examples.

It is quite different in the US when it comes to foreign treatment of one of their own citizens.

Amanda ‘Foxy’ Knoxy, is the young American woman now on trial in Italy for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

I was astonished to see her whole family, parents and children, invited on [ABC’s] Good Morning America and treated with cloying sympathy for all the world as if they were victims of a miscarriage of justice.

Sky News and the other Murdoch vehicles (the London Times, for example) have been among the MOST dispassionate about the case and among the MOST compassionate about Meredith.

Good on you, Rupert. For this, we salute you.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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

Posted by The Machine




The Knox Alibis: How They Conflict

The first three posts on the power of the case were on the DNA evidence, the luminol-enhanced footprint evidence, and Raffaele Sollecito’s various conflicting alibis.

Now we look at the various conflicting alibis that Amanda Knox has given for the night in question. We dont yet have full transcripts and have to rely on what was reported in the UK press.

Click here for more


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Best-Informed Global Audience Is Now Becoming VERY Strongly Pro-Meredith

Posted by Peter Quennell

Mainstream media really should take note of this.

The smarter, better-educated, better-informed, more pro-active, more influential, and more successful component of the global audience for any one issue is widely recognized now as shifting over here to the internet.

And the global audience for Meredith’s sad case case is clearly swinging now to being very strongly pro-Meredith - one that is becoming stronger and more passionate day-by-day as the deliberate fog blows away.

Meredith didn’t win her final battle against a depraved pack of knife-wielders in her own home. But she sure is winning the hearts and minds of the world in a big way. 


Chart 1 above shows that TJMK is already in THE TOP 10 PERCENT of all 6-plus million websites in the world - a feat almost unheard of for a non-commercial website that refuses all income, and that is run on a shoestring by its posters as a tribute to Meredith as a much loved, admired and lamented victim of a very cruel crime. 
 

Chart 2 above shows that the Perugia Murder File forum is pretty well neck-and-neck with TJMK - a predecessor version of the PMF began soon after Meredith was so cruelly murdered, and the commenters there have sustained their efforts and their deep respect, longing and sadness for Meredith through some very dark days.


Chart 3 above shows that the relatively new and specialized Miss Represented website is remarkably close in its readership to TJMK and the PMF - the M-R site is run by a professional psychologist who is deeply insightful into violent crimes, including crimes against young women, and who has posted on TJMK about the backlash to the Knox campaign in Italy.   


Chart 4 shows that the Perugia Shock blog is way at the back - it now has only about 1/8 of the attractiveness of TJMK although it is twice as old - and its ugly trademark attitudes of being sarcastic toward the police and prosecution, uncaring toward Meredith, and often seriously vicious toward those who would like to see justice for Meredith, remain real losers.

The several other pro-defendant websites are even further back again and fading.

Rest in peace, Meredith. So very many now wish that they had known you. And our commiserations, as always, to your amazing and so-deprived family.

Posted on 07/28/09 at 09:04 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingKnox-Mellas teamSollecito team
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (16)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trial: Nick Pisa Reports Knox Sisters’ Macabre Posing Where Meredith Was Killed

Posted by Peter Quennell



Deanne, left, and Ashley Knox at the cottage in Perugia where Meredith Kercher was killed


From Nick Pisa’s report in the Daily Mail today.

The sisters of murder suspect Amanda Knox have posed for photographs outside the cottage where British student Meredith Kercher was brutally killed.

Americans Deanne and Ashley Knox were taking part in a photoshoot for an Italian magazine.,,,

Francesco Maresca, the lawyer representing Meredith’s family, said: ‘Amanda Knox’s sisters posing for photographs outside the house where the murder took place is macabre.

‘I accept that the Knox family has a right to give interviews. But there are other places where they could have been photographed. Outside the prison where Amanda Knox is being held would have been better.’

The behaviour of Knox’s sisters was criticised earlier in the case when they attended court wearing shorts and ‘revealing’ tops.

One observer in court at the time said: ‘It’s not what I would choose to wear if my sister was in court accused of a sex murder. It was very revealing.’

 

Posted on 07/13/09 at 12:02 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Knox on standHoaxers from 2008Knox-Mellas teamThe wider contextsPerugia context
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (0)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Why Defendants Mostly DONT Testify? Those Devils That Lurk In The Details

Posted by FinnMacCool




Preamble

We have always pressed very hard for the truth to come out. WHY did poor Meredith have to die? And why and how in such a cruel and depraved way?

It now looks almost overwhelmingly certain that the truth did NOT come out when Amanda Knox took the witness stand in the court on 12 and 13 June.

No media organization seems to have made even the slightest effort to analyze Amanda Knox’s testimony, to see if it hangs true with past statements and known timelines.

But the judges and jury will do this for sure.

We have also begun to cross-check the testimony, and the first results look quite devastating for the defense. 

1. A phone call before dawn

The phone is ringing in Seattle. Edda Mellas wakes up – it is long before dawn, on a Friday morning early in November. (To be precise, it is 0447 on November 2, 2007.)

Her daughter is calling from Italy – Amanda doesn’t usually call at this hour, she’s usually more careful about time zones.

Speaking to ABC’s 20/20 show a few weeks later, Edda described the content of that call as follows:

[Amanda] goes, “I’m back at my house, and I want you… first I know I’m okay.” And I said, “Okay, you know, what’s goin’ on?” And she said, “Well, I was at Rafael’s last night… and I’ve come home now and I think somebody’s been in my house…” And she told me, “We can’t find Meredith. We can’t get a hold of Meredith. And her room is locked.” And I said, “Hang up and call the police.”

Phone records show that the call lasted a minute and a half. Amanda is concerned enough to wake her mother before five in the morning. First, she reassures her mother that she herself is okay. She explains what will later become her alibi for the murder of Meredith Kercher – that she spent the night at Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment.

Then she explains why she is calling in the middle of the night – there are signs that someone has been in the house, that Meredith’s door is locked, and that she and Raffaele have been unable to make contact with Meredith.

Edda’s reply is simple, and plainly it is good advice: hang up, and call the police.

Phone records show that a minute and a half after this call ended (at 1250) Raffaele made a call to his sister Vanessa, who is a lieutenant in the carabinieri.

We don’t have too much detail about the content of this call (since Vanessa hasn’t testified and Raffaele is exercising his right to silence) except that it appears to have been similar to Amanda’s call to her mother. Raffaele briefly explains the problem at the cottage and Vanessa advises him to call the police.

A minute later, Raffaele calls the police. After a phone problem – he has to call back after being placed indefinitely on hold – he calls them a second time and explains the problem. Since these calls were recorded, we know exactly what was said.

Raffaele claims that someone has broken into the house through a broken window and caused a lot of disorder. There is a lot of blood, but nothing has been stolen, and the main problem – as he sees it – is that there is a locked door. The police say that they will send a patrol to verify the situation.

Edda’s testimony, supported by the police and phone records, shows a straightforward link from the call she received at 0447 Seattle time (1247 in Perugia) to the calls that Raffaele makes to his sister (1250) and the police (1251 and 1254). That whole process takes just eight minutes.

At 0524 (1324 in Perugia), Edda receives a second phone call from her daughter. Amanda explains that the police have now arrived and found Meredith’s dead body.

2. Two days later: an email

The murder makes the international news. Several phone calls follow. Over the weekend, Amanda is one of several people being interviewed by the police, alongside others who knew Meredith, or who arrived at the crime scene before the discovery of the body.

At home in Seattle on Sunday, Edda Mellas receives an email from her daughter, which is copied to multiple recipients (friends, family, and staff at the University of Washington). 

Amanda describes how, on the Friday morning, she went home, showered, noticed some problems, returned to Raffaele’s apartment, went back to the cottage with Raffaele, and became increasingly alarmed about the various signs that an intruder had been in the house.

Then there is a part that Edda finds strange. Amanda describes the following events, as regards calling the police:

“in the living room raffael told me he wanted to see if he could break down merediths door. he tried, and cracked the door, but we couldnt open it. it was then that we decided to call the cops. there are two types of cops in italy, carbanieri (local, dealing with traffic and domestic calls) and the police investigaters. he first called his sister for advice and then called the carbanieri. i then called filomna who said she would be on her way home immediately. while we were waiting, two ununiformed police investigaters came to our house.”

Something is missing from this account. There is no mention at all of the pre-dawn call that Amanda made to her mother – the one in which Edda herself told Amanda to call the police. Naturally Edda trusts her daughter. But there is something about this part of the email that troubles her, because it doesn’t square with her own memory of what had happened on Friday morning.

3. The next weekend: visiting Amanda in prison

Edda decides to travel to Perugia to support her daughter in the aftermath of her housemate’s murder. She leaves Seattle on Monday, November 5, planning to meet Amanda in Perugia first thing on Tuesday morning.

However, by the time Edda arrives, Amanda has already been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

In fact, it seems that Amanda has accused a local man, Patrick Lumumba, of committing the crime, while she herself was in the kitchen of the cottage, covering her ears so as not to hear Meredith’s screams.

Amanda has also written a subsequent document in which she partly stands by this accusation and partly withdraws it, claiming that it now seems “less real” than her previous statement that she spent the night of the murder at Raffaele’s apartment.

Although she has never been to Italy before, Edda does have some contacts in Perugia, since the town is twinned with Seattle. These contacts advise Edda about finding a lawyer for Amanda, so that she can dismiss the court-appointed attorney and appoint a local lawyer (Lucian Ghirga) who remains Amanda’s legal representative to this day.

Mr Ghirga explains the difficulties of Amanda’s having told several versions of events, and advises specifically of the dangers of accusing an innocent man. He hopes that Edda will be able to help Amanda resolve these difficulties, and to tell the clear truth about what happened.

On Friday, November 10, Judge Claudia Matteini finds sufficient grounds for continuing to hold all three suspects (Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox and Patrick Lumumba) pending further investigation.

On Saturday, November 11, Edda Mellas visits her daughter in jail. It is now eight days since Edda received that phone call before dawn in Seattle.

One of the points she wants to help Amanda resolve is that puzzling omission from the email of the pre-dawn phone call. How could it be that Amanda has forgotten making that call? Here is a transcript of the conversation between Edda and Amanda about that pre-dawn call:

Edda (surprised): But you called me three times.

Amanda: Oh, I don’t remember that.

Edda: Okay, you called me first to tell me about some things that had shocked you. But this happened before anything really happened in the house.

Amanda: I know I was making calls. I remember calling Filomena, but I really don’t remember calling anyone else. I just don’t remember having called you.

Edda: Why would that be? Stress, you think?

Amanda: Maybe because so many things were happening at once.

Edda: Okay, right.

 




4. “I really don’t remember this phone call…”

Edda is not the only one who finds it surprising that Amanda could simply forget making the call.

Judging from the records, and from Edda’s testimony, that forgotten call appears to have triggered Raffaele’s calls to the police.

Prosecutor Manuela Comodi focused specifically on this point when questioning Amanda in court on June 13, 2009.

Initially, Amanda claimed that she was still unable to remember having made the pre-dawn phone call. She reported that the first call she remembered making was the one at 1324 (0524 in Seattle), which followed up the forgotten call with an account of how the police had arrived and had now found Meredith’s body.

Comodi:  You said that you called your mother on the morning of Nov 2.

Amanda: Yes.

Comodi: When did you call her for the first time?

Amanda: The first time was right away after they had sent us out of the house. I was like this. I sat on the ground, and I called my mother. (Note: This is the 1324 call.)

Comodi: So this was when either the police or the carabinieri had already intervened.

Amanda: It was after they had broken down the door and sent us outside. I don’t know what kind of police it was, but it was the ones who arrived first. Later, many other people arrived.

It’s hard to know what to make of Amanda’s account here. It’s one thing to have forgotten making that pre-dawn phone call. But Amanda is now expecting the court to believe that she has also forgotten this prison conversation with her mother, along with the suggested reason (“stress”) for forgetting the call.

As Comodi presses her further about this phone call, Amanda’s only response is that she simply doesn’t remember making it.

Comodi: But from the records, we see that you called your mother – not only from the billing records but also from the cell phone pings – that you first called your mother at twelve. (Note: this is the 1247 call – actually much later than 1200.) At midday. What time is it at midday? What time is it in Seattle, if in Perugia it is midday?

Amanda: In Seattle it’s morning. It’s a nine hour difference, so, ah, three in the morning.

Comodi: Three o’clock in the morning?

Amanda: Yes.

Comodi: So your mother would certainly have been sleeping.

Amanda: Yes.

(Note: because of a difference in when Daylight Savings Times changes, the actual difference on November 2, 2007, would have been just eight hours. Midday would be four o’clock in Seattle. 1247 in Perugia would be 0447 in Seattle.)

There is imprecision both from Comodi and from Amanda with regard to the pre-dawn phone call. The call was not made at midday in Perugia, but at 1247. The gap between Seattle and Perugia was in fact – unusually – only eight hours during that particular week.

The prosecutor is drawing attention to the earliness of the hour – or at least, the earliness of the hour as Amanda understood it to be. 0447 is getting close to a time when it might be acceptable to call an early riser, whereas 0300 certainly isn’t. Perhaps this is the reason for Comodi’s allowing the time to shift earlier at this point in the conversation.

The next section of dialog makes it clear that Comodi’s main aim in this line of questioning is to establish what was Amanda’s motive in making this call.

It’s one thing to call your mother in the middle of the night because the police have just discovered a dead body in your house. But it’s another thing entirely to call your mother at three in the morning because you think there might have been a break-in at your house the previous night.

The obvious implicit question here is: “Why call your mother, who’s fast asleep on the other side of the world, before you’ve even called the police?”

There are credible answers that an innocent person might provide to this question – for example, by claiming that she was faraway, in a foreign country, and she just wanted to hear a friendly, comforting voice.

But Amanda doesn’t say anything of the kind. Instead, she anticipates and wards off the question, by insisting that she simply has no memory of making the call in the first place.

Comodi: But at twelve o’clock, nothing had happened yet. That’s what your mother said…

Amanda: I told my mother…

Comodi: …during the conversation you had with her in prison. Even your mother was amazed that you called her at midday, which was three or four o’clock in the morning in Seattle, to tell her that nothing had happened.

Amanda: I didn’t know what had happened. I just called my mother to say that [the police] had sent us out of the house, and that I had heard something said about…

Comodi: But at midday nothing had happened yet in the sense that the door had not been broken down yet.

It’s worth noting here that, although Amanda has estimated midday as 0300 in Seattle, Comodi silently corrects her by saying “0300 or 0400”. Comodi knows perfectly well that the difference in Daylight Savings Times affected the time difference.

But the prosecutor’s intention is to clarify why Amanda made that phone call to her mother, not when she made it.

We’ve seen that, in Amanda’s email, she claimed that she and Raffaele had reached a point where they had decided they would have to call the police. In the courtroom, Amanda sticks to that story.

But the cellphone records show that before Raffaele called the police, Amanda called her mother in Seattle. Comodi wants to know why she did that.

In the following brief exchange, Amanda repeats five times that she cannot remember making that call.

Amanda: Hm. Okay. I don’t remember that phone call. I remember that I called her to tell her what we had heard about a foot. Maybe I did call before, but I don’t remember it.

Comodi: But if you called her before, why did you do it?

Amanda: I don’t remember, but if I did it, I would have called to…

Comodi: You did it.

Amanda: Okay, that’s fine. But I don’t remember it. I don’t remember that phone call.

In the above exchange, Amanda sounds irritated (“okay, va bene”) to be reminded of this phone call, and insists that she simply doesn’t remember it. For her part, Comodi reminds Amanda that this is not a “he said/she said” scenario. (“Lo ha fatto.” “You did it.”) There is no possibility of denying that the call took place. This is a phone call that is recorded on the billing records and by the cellphone pings.

5. Why is this phone call important?

We might wonder about why it is important whether or not Amanda could remember calling her mother at 1247, before the body was discovered.

It’s important because that police records show that the communications police had already arrived at the house, and had spoken to Amanda and Raffaele, at the point when this phone call was made.

What really happened during those few minutes appears to be as follows.

- CCTV footage in the car park shows a black Fiat Punto (the same as the model driven by the policemen) arriving at 1225. The police themselves recorded their arrival at the cottage at 1230.

- Filomena calls Amanda at 1234 – Amanda doesn’t mention that the police are already there, but she does say (for the first time) that a window is broken in Filomena’s room.

- Filomena then calls her boyfriend, Marco, and asks him to go to the cottage, because she knows that he will be able to get there more quickly than herself.

- Marco and his friend Luca arrive at the cottage and find that the police are already there, that they have spoken to Amanda and Raffaele and that Amanda has written down some phone numbers.

- Raffaele and Amanda then go into Amanda’s bedroom. A few minutes later, Filomena herself arrives, with her friend Paola Grande. Paola testified that she saw Raffaele and Amanda emerging from Amanda’s bedroom just before one o’clock.

- It would appear that Amanda and Raffaele went into Amanda’s bedroom at around 1247 and made four phone calls: the first to Edda Mellas, the second to Vanessa, and the third and fourth to the police.  In other words, while Luca and Marco were talking to the communications police, Amanda went into the bedroom and phoned Edda Mellas.

The explanation Amanda gave her mother as the reason why she forgot the call was that there were so many things happening at that moment. And in fact, there would appear from this reconstruction of events that in reality there were a lot of things happening at once.

But in Amanda’s own version (given in her email) she claims that there actually weren’t many things happening at that point. There were just two people in the house – herself and Raffaele. She claims the police arrived later, after Raffaele dialled 112, and Marco and Luca arrived later still. 

In other words, at this point - when Amanda and Raffaele’s version conflicts with the testimony of the other witnesses, with the phone records, with the police records, with the CCTV footage from the car park, and even with the testimony of Amanda’s own mother - they need some kind of coherent story.

Raffaele has exercised his right to silence.

Amanda claims she can’t remember the phone call she made to her mother. And the reason she gives for not remembering the phone call contradicts her own story about what was happening at the time.

6. Judge Massei intervenes

At this point in the trial, the chair of the panel of judges decides to intervene.

He picks up on the issue of the forgotten phone call. He is concerned that Amanda is suggesting that maybe the phone call did not even take place, when in fact it is quite plain that it did.

Politely, he interrupts this part of the questioning.

Massei: Excuse me. You might not remember it, but the Public Minister [prosecutor] has just pointed out to you a phone call that your mother received in the small hours.

Commodi: At three o’clock in the morning.

Massei: So, that must be true. That did happen. Were you in the habit of calling her at such an hour? Did you do this on other occasions? At midday in Italy, which corresponds in Seattle to a time when… It’s just that we don’t usually call each other in the middle of the night.

Amanda: Yes, yes, that’s true.

Massei: So either you had a particular reason on that occasion, or else it was a routine. This is what the Public Minister is referring to.

Amanda: Yes. Well, since I don’t remember this phone call, although I do remember the one I made later, ah. But. Obviously I made that phone call. So, if I made that phone call, it’s because I had, or thought that I had, something I had to tell her. Maybe I thought even then that there was something strange, because at that moment, when I’d gone to Raffaele’s place, I did think there was something strange, but I didn’t know what to think. But I really don’t remember this phone call, so I can’t say for sure why. But I suppose it was because I came home and the door was open, and so for me…

Even to the chair of judges, in other words, Amanda continues to insist that she cannot recall making the phone call that looks to have triggered the self-incriminating 112 calls.

A neutral observer might think of those phone calls as a botched attempt to gather more witnesses to their having innocently stumbled upon the crime scene and then called the police.

The phone records show that Amanda had made one phone call to Filomena (at 1208) before the arrival of the police, and three calls to Meredith Kercher’s phones (at 1207, 1211 and again at 1211). (Amanda claimed that Meredith’s Italian phone “just rang and rang” – but phone records show that it rang for just three seconds.)

So, if it were not that Amanda was trying to strengthen her alibi, and gain another witness to her having innocently stumbled across the crime scene, why exactly did she call her mother?

Amanda’s answer is, “I don’t remember this phone call, so I can’t say for sure why.”




7. Edda Mellas’s testimony in court

On June 19, a week after Amanda had testified, Edda Mellas provided a much fuller version of the phone call that Amanda had unfortunately forgotten.

Edda provided far more detail than she had provided to the ABC 20/20 show. The Seattle TV station, Kiro TV, summarized her evidence as follows:

- In the first phone call, Amanda said, “I know it’s early,” but she called because she felt someone had been in her house. She had spent the night at Raf’s. She came back to have a shower and the main door was open. She thought it was odd but it has a funny lock and it did not close well.

- She went to have a shower and when she came out she noticed some blood but she thought maybe someone had her menstrual cycle and did not clean afterwards. She then went to her room and then went to the other bathroom to dry her hair and saw there were feces in the toilet. Amanda thought that was strange because normally girls flushed the toilet.

She went back to Raf’s and told him about the things she found strange. Sometime later she got hold of one of the other roommates. She tried to call Meredith several times but there was no answer.

- They came back to the house and she showed Raf what she found and then they also noticed the broken window. And now they were pounding on Meredith’s room trying to wake her.

Edda had provided so much detail that she was asked to confirm whether all this information was indeed in the first call. She confirmed that it was:

Yes, [Amanda spoke] very quickly. I told her to call the police. She said Raf was finishing a call with his sister and then was going to call police. This was the first call.

This first call lasted just 88 seconds, so Amanda must have spoken very quickly indeed.

Edda has also managed to answer the question that her daughter failed to answer the previous week, about why she had called her mother at such an unearthly hour: “Amanda said I know it’s early but she called because she felt someone had been in her house.”

If we accept Edda Mellas’s testimony at face value, we find ourselves wondering how a person who could have crammed so much detail into a phone call could possibly forget making that phone call at all?

We notice also that Edda has confirmed once again that she did advise her daughter to call the police. (And we know that her daughter’s boyfriend did exactly that, shortly after Amanda put the phone down.) Yet Amanda claims that she cannot remember that advice, nor can she even remember making the phone call.

At the end of her written document on November 6, Amanda wrote:

“All I know is that I didn’t kill Meredith, and so I have nothing but lies to be afraid of.“

As the trial progresses, it looks increasingly as though Amanda was indeed involved in the killing of Meredith Kercher – and she has nothing but lies to protect her.

Sources:

1. 20/20 transcript of interview with Edda Mellas published in the Seattle Times for February 2, 2008:

2. Recording and transcript of Raffaele Sollecito’s second 112 call.

3. Transcript of Amanda Knox’s email to multiple recipients on November 4, 2007:

4. Cellphone records for Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox for November 1 and 2, 2007 (case files)

5. Transcript of conversation between Edda Mellas and Amanda Knox on November 11, 2007, cited in court on June 13, 2009

6. Transcript of Edda Mellas’s testimony in court, June 19, 2009


Friday, July 03, 2009

Trial: Prosecution Giving Defense Expert Hard Time Over Guede Break-in Theory

Posted by Peter Quennell


Italian media are reporting on a tough cross-examination of a defense expert this morning.

Francesco Pasquali, a former marshall, showed a video to the court, with three simulations of a large rock being thrown through Filomena’s window, and a theory of how a burglar could have scaled the 4-meter wall and entered the room through the window, leaving no body evidence or any blood where the glass was broken.

For the experiment, the consultant explained, a window and bedroom similar to those of the house (same size, same material and same paint) were constructed. Shots were made with two cameras, one external and one internal to the room, which is in same size and the same decor as Ms Romanelli’s….

The prosecution, represented by Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Comodi, presented a number of objections to the thesis of the expert, such as that in the reconstruction of the events the presence of curtains on the window were not taken into account.

The curtains would have presumably stopped any glass fragments from flying into the room.

It is also being remarked that the defense has not, either for-real or in today’s simulation, had anyone actually climb the 4-meter-high wall and enter through the window, and then place the glass fragments on TOP of Filomena’s clothes scattered around the room. 

As Kermit explained there are actually FIVE easier entry-points to the house, each of which would have required less in the way of acrobatics, and probably no noise or broken glass.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Doug Preston’s Nasty Ant-Italy Anti-Mignini Campaign To Stir Bigotry Hits A Wall

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



[click for larger image]

The Daily Beast has an excellent article on the unrelated case against Mr Mignini.

A final verdict has now been postponed, pending testimony from four other witnesses. This charge has been a huge part of the US PR campaign waged by Marriott and the FOA (of which Doug Preston is a member).

I came away from the article thinking that Doug Preston’s limited knowledge of Italian and excessive reliance on Spezi have not helped matters.

For example, in his Monster of Florence book - to which Preston has added an afterword about Meredith Kercher’s murder, even though the two cases are unrelated except for the fact that the prosecutor in both is Mignini - Preston relates that the crazy bloodied man in the square on Nov 2 was shouting “I killed her”, when in fact witnesses have testified that he shouted “I will kill her” (he was referring to his girlfriend and it was determined that he had nothing to do with the murder of Meredith).

In addition, Preston has claimed that Mignini told him he could not come back to Italy when in fact Mignini says he said no such thing, though he did suggest that Preston get an attorney, in part because his understanding of the Italian language (and certainy Italy’s laws) was limited.

It is also important to note that Mignini has been cleared of the illegal wiretapping of journalists charge. The pending trial is not about this at all, as the article explains quite clearly. The Daily Beast article actually provides invaluable facts for anyone who really wants to put the abuse of power charge against Mignini into perspective. I say “really wants” because I sometimes suspect that this is the last thing those stuck in “delirium” mode want.

Although the article only touches on the financial stakes - mentioning that Tom Cruise has optioned the MOF book - I came away feeling that there is a ferocious battle going on behind the scenes, and that the battle itself is part of the money-making drama.

The murder of Meredith Kercher has been caught up in this vortex, and I believe we have mainly Doug Preston to thank for that.

Poor Meredith.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Trial: Amanda Knox’s Mother Talks To The Media Of The Costs To The Family

Posted by Nicki



[courtesy AP; click for larger image]

Italian media are reporting upon the Knoxes’ financial strains:

Today’s Il Messaggero offers so far the most complete report in Italian. Here’s a translation of today’s article

AMANDA’S MOTHER: WE HAVE MORTGAGED THE HOUSE IN ORDER TO ATTEND THE TRIAL

She has used all her vacation time, she is currently not receiving a salary and she has also mortgaged her house, in order to stay close to Amanda. Edda Mellas has travelled at least ten times back and forth from the USA to Italy. “Our life is no longer a normal one”- she says, recalling the day of Amanda’s arrest on November 6th 2007. Mellas works as a schoolteacher in Seattle and she explains she has already used up all her vacation time in order to stay close to her daughter. She adds “now I’ve given up my salary in order to be here.. Every time I come, I stay from two to seven weeks . We have even mortgaged our house in order to be close to Amanda”.

When they are in Perugia, Mellas, her husband Chris and Curt, Amanda’s father, live in an apartment in the outskirts of town. It’s the place where Mellas spends most of her time, reading books and using her pc, waiting to go visit he daughter in jail. Chris is able to continue working using the Internet –he’s a computer engineer-as Curt Knox used to do, but recently –his ex -wife says-he lost his job since he hasn’t accepted to move from Seattle to San Francisco, as he had been asked to do by the department store chain he worked for .

Amanda has a sister in Seattle, Deanna. “She has been here two or three times” - Mellas explains –“for the rest of the time, she’s trying to concentrate on her biology studies at WWU”.  Mellas says that in Italy and Perugia “people are nice and friendly and ready to help”.  Now that we are hearing defense witnesses”- Mellas concludes with a little smile-“we are all starting to feel better”

Posted on 06/26/09 at 06:42 PM by NickiClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe wider contextsSeattle contextAmanda KnoxKnox-Mellas team
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (5)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Second Misleading New York Times Comment On The Case

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



No prizes for guessing that this is Italy’s wonderful Venice.

1. Seattle-ite Egan Gets It Bady Wrong, Again

Timothy Egan of the New York Times came back with a follow-up justification to his first post.

The cat was out of the bag at that point, of course, and the first post was being widely ridiculed as untrue and unfair both in the US and in Italy.

Egan’s second post makes me wonder if he actually even read the comments under his first post before firing off his second round. It also makes me wonder if Egan has any idea of how badly his “contribution” was received in Italy, let alone why.

Frankly, I was surprised that a “Pulitzer prize winning” journalist would make these basic mistakes and write such a shockingly bad article to boot.

I posted this NY Times comment on that second post addressed at his first piece, lamenting the number of basic factual mistakes he made, though without enumerating all of them.

From memory, there are at least five major errors in Egan’s blog entry still not corrected

1. Egan claims that no translator was present for the Nov 5 questioning. This is false. Granted, Edda Mellas and others have made this false claim on the record, repeatedly, even after the Italian police formally challenged it. (Note to Egan: check the CNN world news website once in awhile.) Finally, Edda and others had to change their tune in light of the undisputed facts, but they did so by shifting the claim from no interpreter to no “professional” interpreter. This too turns out to be false. How can Egan continue to claim that no interpreter was present when at three were called upon by the prosecution to testify under oath as witnesses to the session of questioning where Egan wants us to believe there were no interpreters? Incidentally, they—like all of the other relevant witnesses—have stated under oath the Knox was not physically abused or maltreated. Conversely and as a reminder, Knox is not testifying under oath.

2. Egan also claims that there is forensic evidence against Guede only, and not the other two suspects. This, as everyone else except official FOA spokespeople know, is false. For anyone who is interested in knowing what it is, this non-profit website would be a good place to start. It is too bad that Mr. Egan did not do more than just consult the new afterword to Doug Preston’s Monster of Florence book. In fact, Egan’s blog entry serves as a friendly review in a way.

3. Egan stated that a 6-person jury, with two judges among them, would decide the fate of Knox and Sollecito. Ii shows Egan’s sweeping and sweepingly ignorant indictment of the Italian criminal justice system. In fact, the correct numbers are 6 lay jurors and 2 judges, for a total of 8 individuals - and thereafter two automatic appeals. Does this make a difference? Only insofar as it is definitely better to demonstrate a grasp of the basics of the system one seeks to criticize. Instead of quoting Rachel Donadio, who was in fact talking about Italy’s Prime Minister, Egan would have been better off trying Wikipedia or, better still, a comparative law website. There are tons of them out there.

4. Egan states that Amanda Knox only suggested that Patrick Lumumba maybe killed Meredith Kercher. In fact, Knox did far more than that. She firmly accused him of killing her roommate, twice orally, and then three times in writing. The written statements were not coerced, and testimony from half a dozen other people (again, under oath) refutes Knox’s claim that her oral accusation was coerced. An investigation is underway, ordered by one of the two prosecutors. In fact, Knox admitted on the stand that her third written statement was not made because she was hit - it was a “gift” to the police who supposedly tortured her, whatever that means!

5. Egan failed to point out that two prosecutors are working side by side on this case. If Mignini has to step down because of the verdict in a pending matter, the case will go forward in the able hands of Manuela Comodi who is handling more than half the testimony. I hear she is clean as a whistle: not so much as a slap on the wrist during her career. Instead of just repeating what Doug Preston writes, Egan could have told us in more detail about the charge pending against Prosecutor Mignini.


2.  Enabled By Heavey, Bremner and Ciolino

Allegedly, some individuals—like Paul Ciolino, whom Egan quotes in his rebuttal (?) entry—speak of a “pattern” of misconduct, but I have been unable to find any other example of possible “abuse of office” except for the one related to the Monster of Florence case.

Wouldn’t it be great if an investigative journalist of Pulitzer prize caliber were to take the time to find out what the facts are in the longstanding feud between Mignini and Spezi, Doug Preston’s friend and associate? That would really add substance to this fake debate.

Paul Ciolino’s paid work for 48 Hours on this very case has been laughably poor. Forgive me for not taking the time to count the ways.

In a Seattle fundraiser for Knox he stated that legal experts in the US and Italy believe Mignini is “mentally unstable”.

What this really boils down to is the following: one quote in Italian by an Italian judge that was taken out of context (that’s the Italian legal expert (singular)), and statements made by two people from the Seattle legal community, Anne Bremner and Judge Michael Heavey, who have never set foot in an Italian courtroom but who happen to be members of FOA (Friends of Amanda).

Heavey, a neighbor of Knox’s, actually wrote a letter to the authorities in Italy asking for a change of venue. That letter – which incidentally was written on Heavey’s official Superior Court Judge letterhead—was so full of errors, and was so embarrassing to Knox’s own defense team, that Heavey is said to have written a second letter in apology.

The first letter, after being prominently displayed on Anne Bremner’s website, was then quietly removed. As if it had never existed. Never apologize, never explain, as Flaubert said. Where is that letter of apology? Why is it not displayed on Bremner’s website? Was it too written on official letterhead? As a King County taxpayer, I’d sure like to know.

Where are those Pulitzer Prize winning journalists when you need them?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How The New York Times Caused Unneccesary And Unhelpful Anger In Italy

Posted by Miss Represented



[click for larger image]

Another beautiful view of Italy. This one is of Portofino.

How could THE NEW YORK TIMES of all papers enable the ridiculing of this civilized and humane country for its handling of the case?

The Times may deny it because Timothy Egan’s rancid piece was “just” a blog. But ask any good lawyer - all content is ultimately the Times’s. They presumably have rules, and if they don’t have them, then they should.

Let’s look in depth at the content of Egan’s piece, which a huge audience in Italy has now read and found wanting. 

Aside from the very suggestive title “An Innocent Abroad” what becomes immediately apparent is not only the lack of objectivity (surely an essential tool for any self respecting journalist), but also the lack of any in depth discussion about the actual basis of the prosecution’s case.

A case that has been presented in detail twice a week for nearly half a year now.

Instead of discussing the factors leading to the arrest and trial of the defendants, Egan brings up the old, clichéd and unsubstantiated “mad fanatical prosecutor” charge as a reason for the trial. He muses thus:

The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.

My, my, feeling ethnocentric today aren’t we? Egan continues to bandy the “this would never happen in America” claim and appoints himself judge, jury and excuser, in order to make the assertion that he alone knows what the outcome of this trial would be in good old USA.

Egan is clearly suggesting to his readers that the conviction of Amanda Knox would be tantamount to a miscarriage of justice. Can anyone say objective reporting? Nope? I really didn’t think so.

Egan fails to mention that both Knox and Sollecito had many court hearings prior to the trial, and were afforded many legal advantages and some excellent legal representation.

If even one of the judges who presided over the initial hearings had decided there was insufficient evidence to hold or charge them, they would have been released. Every single judge that heard the evidence suggesting their involvement in the murder denied their release - some in very sharp terms.

It’s hardly as if they were at a disadvantage or even in the position to be railroaded. Knox and Sollecito actually incriminated themselves long before the police even got a sniff of Rudy Guede by way of their repeated lying.

Egan also fails to mention neither Knox nor Sollecito have a firm alibi that holds up for the night of the murder. Rather telling.

It seems Egan has opted to pass on the option of providing his readers with an interesting and objective piece, in favor of bandying the PR agenda surrounding the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their possible role in the murder.

The victim here is of course an afterthought. Egan briefly gushes about Meredith being “high-spirited” before comparing how “high-spirited” (what?!) both girls were. Then he essentially explains that we should forget about Meredith, and focus on poor old Amanda whom this case obviously revolves around:

But it is also about Amanda Knox, an equally high-spirited student whose life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution – “the railroad job from hell,” as one outside expert hired by CBS News concluded.

Knox’s life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution? Most unfortunate. How inconvenient. Meredith of course now has no life to be interrupted.

Egan forgets to mention that the “outside expert” here is Paul Ciolino, a P-I for hire, whose objectivity and expertise have on several occasions been called into question. His several public forays into the case (Perugia for CBS and Salty’s for FOA) were disasters. 

The following statement is again pretty misleading:

Knox may not feel the same way. She spent nearly a year in jail without being charged. This, despite the fact that the only physical evidence found on the murder victim’s body was from someone else – a drifter with a drug problem named Rudy Guede.

Knox and Sollecito spent a year in jail whilst the police built a case, as they are legally entitled to do, while the accumulating evidence was gradually becoming massive.

There were repeated judicial hearings on the evidence, any of which could have released them.

The second statement, about Guede, is technically true, but Egan fails to go into any depth concerning the considerable other forensic evidence - something even the most banal reporter on the case has managed to do.

Equally telling is this:

After being questioned all night without an attorney or a professional translator, Knox said some things in response to a series of hypothetical questions. This was initially trumpeted as a contradiction, or worst – a confession. A higher court later threw out the most damning statements.

Egan at least fails to trumpet once again the accusation that Knox was hit by police, an accusation that has angered much of Italy (see several posts below) and got her into hot water with the Italian authorities.

Amanda was not questioned all night by Mignini, and she freely offered the police Patrick Lumumba’s name. She even made up details about how they had met and when they went to the cottage together.

Egan also attempts to gloss over the significance of the false confession with what is perhaps my favorite euphemism in the whole post:

Knox raised the possibility that a bar owner with an airtight alibi could have been involved.”

You don’t “raise the possibility” that someone was involved in a murder. You either accuse them or you don’t.

If the subject weren’t so serious and the potential for real harm and misinforming the public so great, it could almost be funny. In fact Knox accused Lumumba flat-out, in great detail, and later confirmed it in writing when certainly not under duress.

And Knox was certainly not questioned for 14 hours, it was four or five hours at most, between midnight and sunrise. She was offered refreshments, and she willingly signed a statement.

A lawyer was not present and therefore this statement cannot be used against her. But Egan forgets to mention a handwritten note Knox gave to police detailing her “confession” explaining how she would “stand by” her accusation of Patrick (that she knew was false) which, unlike her first statement, has not been thrown out of court and will be used as evidence in the slander case against her.

Egan further mentions (on details of Amanda’s sex life being leaked):

The Brits, in particular, had a field day. Locked from her house in the first days after it became a crime scene, Knox went to a store one day with Sollecito to buy emergency underwear. The British tabs bannered this as a g-string celebration of remorseless killers.

Emergency underwear that consists of a g-string and a camisole top? Hardly “emergency underwear” would you perhaps agree? Add this to the spectacular scene Amanda and Raffaele made in the Bubbly lingerie store, and it seems the British tabloids were perhaps not far from the truth.

The British papers were certainly not the only papers to have published details about Amanda’s sex life (which in the grand scheme of things is not important). But the press were always going to try and find out this sort of information about her because it’s what all of the press do.

Egan, as a journalist himself, should know this, and attempting to portray Amanda as a sweet and innocent ray of sunshine by criticising those who uncover evidence that she is in fact the opposite is a blatant attempt at shooting the messenger.

Some of you may be asking what the point of Egan’s article is? After all, it sheds no new light at all on the ongoing trial or the evidence that has come out over the last few months.

Well, hidden in Egan’s article is what seems a badly disguised advert for Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s book “The Monster of Florence” and as these little “promos” often are, the result seems a transparent endorsement written in extremely poor taste.

Has anyone noticed that whenever any criticism of the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito surfaces, the same name usually pops up? Often introduced by the synoptic tagline “the prominent best-selling American author” Douglas Preston?  I seriously rather doubt that Douglas Preston could give a fig about Amanda Knox.

Indeed, the only linking factor between Preston and Amanda Knox’s “plight” is the presence of Giuliano Mignini. Preston seems to harbor a grudge and to be using his “experience” of being questioned by Mignini to peddle his book.

Whilst people like Douglas Preston keep bleating on about the “backward” Italian justice system, the Italians have actually presented a very solid case. If people like Timothy Egan now choose to cover it irresponsibly and unethically, sadly, it’s up to them.

But there’s no reason at all for the New York Times to provide him with a vehicle.

Egan explains how ‘haunted’ he is by an observation made by a former Times colleague in Rome:

In Italy, the general assumption is that someone is guilty until proven innocent. Trials – in the press and in the courts – are more often about defending personal honor than establishing facts, which are easily manipulated.

I too am haunted by this statement.

Haunted by the fact that Egan has apparently based his entire article and his understanding of the complex and very fair Italian legal system on the opinion and hearsay of one other journalist.

And one who was absurdly in the wrong, as any observer with a brain can see.


Monday, June 15, 2009

It Seems Italy’s Anger Only Grows: Read La Nazione’s Editorial Today

Posted by Nicki



[above: Lake Como north of Milan, click for a larger image]

Posting again from Milan. This looks like becoming an international incident. Perhaps the US State Department should step in.

Timothy Egan, a Seattle journalist, wrote an offensive and largely fact-free blog about the innocence of Amanda Knox on the New York Times website last Wednesday.

This blog by Egan was widely quoted in Italian television and print-media reports and dozens of Italian blogs are now acidly commenting.

We are sure the New York Times will be reporting on what they have provoked. Today La Nazione has this editorial.

Timothy Egan is a former journalist, currently accredited as an authoritative New York Times editorialist, a self-proclaimed “Honorary Italian Citizen” to the point of sending his children to school in our country - how kind of him - a true hero.

Sustained by this pandering premise, the day before his compatriot Amanda Knox’s first deposition, on trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Egan elaborated a sober editorial with a “balanced”  title “An Innocent Abroad” where Egan doesn’t show the slightest doubt when having to choose between national pride and his shaggy fondness for Italy and its democratic principles, let alone judicial.

Amanda is innocent, a victim of an obsessed, powerful and hotshot Italian prosecutor. She is been persecuted and ruined by “vulture journalism and a careless prosecution”.

If this is the balanced approach of someone who is not risking 30 years in jail and has retirement money stacked aside, it is no surprise that Amanda, a student supported by her family, and with a very uncertain future, is holding on to her defense line, and even claiming that she was beaten at the Questura

Leaving aside details of the trial development, in this event there are all the cultural contradictions of an unresolved national tendency to self-harm, which authorizes many foreign observers to look at Italy still wearing the blinkers of mafia, pizza and mandolin.

Shall we try for once to get rid of the oh-so-lovely parodies by Sordi and Villaggio [see explanation at bottom] and declare that we can’t take it anymore?

Prosecutor Mignini did well to decide not to react to the provocations. And the Police Union did even better in reacting, to announce legal action against Miss Knox.

Yesterday Florence woke up with the terrible nightmare of an eighteen year old student, another American, who during the night had reported having been raped next to Piazza della Signoria, furthermore right under the eyes of the city police.

The red alarm only lasted for a few hours. In the end the girl, after recovering from the last effects of the amounts of alcohol she had ingested, fell apart and retracted everything.

Far from wanting to indulge in stupid generalizations, as Egan in his furious attack against Italy does, the story of the young drunk Americans caught urinating in the Nettuno Fountain, right in Piazza della Signoria, has become an example of unbearable lack of respect.

If we really must accept lectures from the Americans, at least they should be lectures in civilization, and not in imported Wild West culture. Differently, we too may use a very, very sober title, in order to stress our reply to Egan’s patriotic reflections:

“An Indecent Abroad”

A.Sordi and P Villaggio are famous comedians known for satirizing Italy’s country’s social mores in pungent black comedies, farcical tales and grim drama in post-war cinema through the 80’s.

Posted on 06/15/09 at 12:28 PM by NickiClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesTerrible reportingThe wider contextsItalian contextKnox-Mellas teamMore hoaxers9 Mignini v Knox hoax
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (16)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Italy Shrugs: Why Amanda Knox’s Testimony Seems To Have Been A Real Flop

Posted by Nicki




Posting from Milan (above) where we also have been watching Knox testify in Italian.

Here are just three of the disbelieving headlines on the testimony that have been appearing in the Italian press.

  • All of Amanda’s wrong moves (La Stampa)

  • Amanda growls but Patrick bites (Il Giornale)

  • Amanda: I am innocent. But many “I don’t remembers” start popping up (ANSA)

As many of us were expecting, Amanda’s testimony has backfired. She came across not as confident but arrogant, not as sweet but testy, not as true but a fake who has memorized a script, an actress who is playing a part but not well enough to fool the public.

It is true that the Italian media and public opinion in general have not been very benign with Knox. But not for the reasons that the American media seem to want to push.

Let’s make it clear, Amanda Knox is not on trial because Italians are unaccustomed to or even “jealous” of her freedom and lifestyle… The first time we read these “explanations” we found them quite laughable.

But for many or most Italians the initial amusement has now given way to a profound irritation. Amanda Knox’s lifestyle is shared by hundreds of thousands of Italian girls, who like partying and sex as much as she does - or even more - and they live a happy carefree life with no fear of being perceived as “bad girls.” They behave no differently from any other girl of the same age in America or in any other Western country.

Dear American media, welcome to the 21st century and to globalization!  Please put aside pseudo-romantic and passè vision of a country where all men chase American girls because Italian women are not as approachable for “cultural” reasons: Italian men are into foreign girls no more but no less than Italian girls are into foreign boys.

They generally greatly like Americans because of their great interest and curiosity for a country and its people that many Italian youngsters have only known through books or movies. Amanda Knox is not on trial because she is American and therefore too “emancipated”. She could even be from the North Pole as far as Italians are concerned.

What really matters to them is to find the truth about Meredith’s murder and to do real justice for her terrible death. Italians don’t much like Amanda primarily because they perceive her as a manipulative liar, who is suspected of having committed a heinous crime for which there is a whole stack of evidence - and they perceive this even more-so after this last week’s court hearings.
 
In addition, the US media’s seemingly endless bashing of the Italian justice system, and of the whole country, most recently by CBS and ABC, has definitely made things worse.

The Italian police are NOT known to be particularly violent - although, agreed, it may happen when they’re dealing with violent males suspects from Eastern Europe or Africa, or in the streets when they have to deal with a riot. Violence is NEVER used with white, female college students from Italy, America or elsewhere.

And Italy is a sovereign state with a great juridical tradition. Receiving condescending lectures by the media of a country where the death penalty is still applied in many states comes across as more than insulting - it is utterly ridiculous. Before you judge the “backwardness”  of the Italian justice system, you should at least first read Cesare Beccaria’s amazingly humane Of Crimes And Punishments (written in 1764) and perhaps you’ll reconsider.

If the American media just cannot understand that there are alternatives to the “American way ”, that may not be so bad after all. But they should at least show some respect for a foreign, sovereign state and its people.

If the media can’t even manage to do so - and they really want to help Amanda - the best thing to do now is to go quiet and let the Italian justice work at its pace and according to its own principles. If Amanda is only guilty of arrogance, callousness and narcissism, she will be free soon.

Dear American followers of Meredith and, for that matter, also friends of Amanda Knox. May I speak right to you, and right past the media?

There has been no character assassination, no demonization, no great wave of hate and revenge, no mad prosecutor, no Satan theory of the crime, no invented evidence, and no massive bumbling.

What there has been is a whole stack of evidence and a VERY careful process. Kernit in effect described all the evidence in his extraordinary 150 questions.

And on Friday and Saturday, Amanda Knox for better or worse chose to answer NONE of them.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Knox Testimony Does Not Seem To Have Gained Much Traction Here In Italy

Posted by Fiori





Posting from Florence (above) where we have been watching Knox testify in Italian.

I don’t believe her. It is interesting to see Amanda Knox being cool and self-confident, but testifying about how disturbed she became when the police became pushy during her interrogation. It doesn’t fit.

And it comes across as untrustworthy and contradictory that when asked about her drug use, she puts on a “schoolgirl”’ attitude: In effect “Sorry, daddy judge, I was bad, don’t punish me for being young”.  This seems definitely out of order with the rest of her performance.

“Performance” is the impression I get from viewing the segments shown from the court - a well-rehearsed performance. I suppose that the jury will wonder how this cool person can forget whether she has replied to a sms-message, how she can get so confused that she names Patrick, afterwards “is too afraid to speak to anyone but her mother”, and so on.

Most striking is that Amana Knox’s defence seems to stick firmly to the strategy of “mistreatment”; in effect that the only reason for AK being arrested is false statements produced under “illegal” pressure from the police.

By making “the ethics of police interrogation” the core question of her testimony, the defence - probably deliberately - creates a lot of associations to recent public debates of torture and interrogation techniques applied at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq.

By doing so they seem to want to try to turn the jury’s attention away from the point that AK knowingly participated in a murder investigation, and that any person with her intelligence will know that anyone who is called as a witness is required to show respect for the authorities - regardless of their nationality!

With reference to a variety of public materials from the US (“48 Hours” by CBS and many other reports), the way in which the Italian police have conducted Knox’s interview does not significantly differ from similar type interrogations made by US police. (This is not a stamp of approval, but removes the reason for any serious critique of the conduct of the Italian police.)

Her calmness and cool attitude, including her performing in two languages, does not, in my view - contrary to what the defence and her father expect - help to bring about an image of “another Amanda Knox” or a “more true Amanda Knox”.

Mostly her performance seems to contribute to shaping her image as complex, manipulative, intelligent, attention-seeking, and with only vaguely defined limits of identity.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Powerpoints #13: 150 Questions For The Defendants They Have Incessantly Avoided

Posted by Kermit





Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is the Viewer download.

We who offer this site in memory of Meredith want above all for the truth and the whole truth to come out.  The full story behind this horrific crime of great violence in Italy, and why such a wonderful girl had to die.

Meredith’s terribly suffering family in London have repeatedly said, to them it’s the truth that matters most. They want to know why their daughter and sister was deprived of a lifetime of promise, and why the violence to her had to be so great.

Meredith’s many sad friends in London and Leeds, and in other places in England and around the world - many of whom may now have a life-time of loss and adjustment - also absolutely deserve to get to know.

And millions of decent people in Italy and in England and throughout Europe and increasingly the US are now also seriously asking: why? Exactly what happened that night in Perugia, and need it ever happen again?

These 150 questions, truthfully answered, should bring out all there is to know about this case. They may or may not mirror what the prosecutor has in mind, but we think they would provide all of the picture.

Please go for it, Amanda? For Meredith’s sake. And for her ever-deprived family. And for all those others sadly affected. Whether or not you were actually involved, truthfully tell us now all that you know.


Friday, May 29, 2009

DNA Evidence: The Myths Start To Come Crashing Down

Posted by Nicki

[click for larger image; rule and annotations by Kermit]


The DNA evidence is proving to be as well-handled and as incriminating as DNA evidence ever is at such trials.

The last two hearings have very publicly exposed several of the key myths which have been aggressively propagated over the Internet and through other media for many months.

Let’s first speak about the double knife DNA. It has now become pretty obvious that:

  • It doesn’t match half of Italy as falsely claimed
  • It doesn’t have a 20% chance of being Meredith’s as falsely claimed
  • Stefanoni never declared herself that the DNA “was unreliable” as falsely claimed
  • The DNA has not been amplified “500 times” as falsely claimed

Patrizia Stefanoni has not stated that Meredith’s DNA was extracted 500 times from the knife sample, as some people with what seemed a google-level knowledge of molecular biology were claiming to muddy the waters.

The DNA was actually extracted 50 times from Meredith’s specimens and was used to compare it to other biological traces, including the one found on the knife. And it provided the forensic team with good samples to be compared to the traces found on the knife.

Two genetic profiles are identical and therefore belong to the same individual if a) they are in the same position, and b) they have identical shape and dimension. In this case, each peak produced in the original samples exactly corresponds to the peaks yielded by the knife sample, position, shape and dimension… Say so long to the “matching half of Italy” myth!

Furthermore, Stefanoni excluded any possibility of contamination in the lab, stating that it had never once occurred in her lab for at least the last seven years, and every precaution was taken in order to exclude possibility of contamination so that different traces are not mixed. 

Contamination during the collection phase was also excluded: the forensic team that found the knife was a different one from those who searched the cottage, so how could Meredith’s DNA possibly have been “transferred to the knife”? 

Furthermore, the knife was put in a shoe box after it was bagged, and it stayed there until it reached the lab. And once again… DNA doesn’t fly, it doesn’t creep, and it sure doesnt penetrate a plastic bag!

Now let’s speak about the bra clasp.

The DNA found on the clasp has been defined as abundant and identified as belonging to Sollecito without any doubt. It should have been collected earlier in the process, but DNA evidence is often collected weeks or months after the crime when an object involved is unearthed.

The chances that it has been contaminated are at zero: the sample was found under the pillow on November 2, during the first search, and collected on December 18th when the second search took place by a different team.

During this entire time, the clasp was laying on the floor of what has been testified to have been a completely sealed crime scene. So when and how could any contamination occur?

Excluding a spontaneous migration of Sollecito ‘s DNA on the clasp from some unidentified location in the murder room or in the cottage, it could have only taken place during either the first or the second handling of the sample, so the fact that the clasp was recovered weeks later really bears no relevance.

And additionally, where could any abundant amount of Sollecito ‘s biological matter come from, if besides that on the bra clasp, the DNA corresponding to his genetic profile was only found on a cigarette butt? 

Perhaps this is why Sollecito’s lawyer Ms Buongiorno is now claiming that the bra clasp was contaminated in the laboratory. She is reduced to having to claim that in effect Dr Stefanoni applies strict laboratory procedures when testing Guede‘s or other peoples’ specimens, but somehow miserably fails when the samples belong to Sollecito and Knox.

Finally, let’s not forget that Rudy Guede’s DNA was not found “all over” the victim, but only on the right side of her bra, on the left cuff of her jumper, and inside her body. If passive transfer of DNA is so easy to happen, and if Guede is the only one who physically attacked Meredith, how comes his DNA was found only in these three places on the victim’s body?

DNA is NOT easy to transfer. Dr Stefanoni is absolutely correct when she says that “transfer of DNA must not be taken for granted nor it is easy to happen, and more likely to take place if the original trace is aqueous, not if it is dry”.

About the possibility of contamination having taken place in the lab, this is a risk that everyone working with PCR is well aware of. It is certainly not probable that it could occur every time a biological sample is tested. In fact, it is very unlikely to happen when the routine strict precautions are taken.

And there is no doubt that Dr Stefanoni was extremely cautious when handling any of these samples. 

I can see the reason for the improbable reach of the defense teams: since their clients deny any involvement, the positive DNA results “must” be contaminated - what else could they possibly say? Regarding this evidence, it is the only argument that they have available.

Finally, Dr Stefanoni has an international reputation and is considered one of the best in the field today. Questioning her credentials really makes no sense at all. But those too have come under attack.

Edited to add: On the issue of DNA transfer, from today’s hearing (La Nazione)

“The contamination theory has been discussed again today: Ms Bongiorno repeatedly asked the forensic witnesses information regarding the techniques used to collect the samples found in Meredith’s house, but PM Manuela Comodi showed the Court that contamination did not occurr by asking the forensic witnesses: “Using the same gloves, you have touched the victim’s socks after working on other samples. Could you tell me what the result of the sock analyses was?”

The witness answered:  “No foreign DNA nor genetic traces have been found”. Another demonstration that DNA passive transfer just doesn’t occur so easily.  Differently, the probabilities of obtaining a contaminated sample would be so high that DNA testing would hardly be of any use in crime investigations.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Damage That Is Now Flowing From A Needlessly Hard-Line PR Campaign

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Andrea Vogt’s extraordinary report in today’s online Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Added: Also, in case it scrolls away, this valuable take is copied here.

Police are investigating complaints from a Seattle woman who says she was intimidated and threatened online because of comments she made about the Amanda Knox case.

The unredacted Seattle Police Department report, obtained by seattlepi.com, names a primary suspect and quotes the woman as saying that that the suspect “is engaging in tactics meant to intimidate,” along with “the tacit consent” of Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas. The report names Mellas, but he is not a suspect.

According to the report, the tactics include “veiled threats” and attempts to disable a Web site dedicated to the criminal case in Perugia, Italy.

The development marks an escalation in a ferocious “blog war” that has been brewing for more than a year as Knox faced a murder charge, then went on trial. The blog war has recently become particularly vicious and personal in Knox’s hometown of Seattle.

The battle in the blogosphere has divided the online community into two factions: those who question Knox’s innocence, and those who do not. In Italy, the media have dubbed them “innocentisti and colpevolisti,” or “the innocents and the guilties.”

Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are currently standing trial in Perugia for the slaying of Meredith Kercher. Kercher, a college student from England, was studying in Italy, as was Knox, a University of Washington student. The two shared an apartment.

Seattle police Sgt. Mark Worstman has confirmed that an investigation into cyber-harassment is still open and cautioned those who are concerned for their security to consider avoiding online debates and community forums where aggressive behavior is being allowed.

When seattlepi.com interviewed him, Mellas denied any involvement and said he is not connected to and does not know the person named in the complaint. In fact, he said he and his family also have been harassed online.

“I have not approved or disapproved because I don’t have any part to play in it,” said Mellas, who is a computer-network manager at Bellevue-based real estate development company.

“There’s a bunch of idiots on both sides of this whole silly blogworld. It has degenerated beyond belief, and frankly an article that is going to highlight this is only going to make it worse. But I don’t really care, because I don’t pay attention to it,” Mellas said.

Seattlepi.com is not naming the suspect because he has not been charged with any crime. He did not respond to seattlepi.com efforts to reach him by phone or by the e-mail addresses listed in the police report.

West Seattle resident and professional translator Peggy Ganong, who moderates the discussion site Perugia Murder File under the online name “Skeptical Bystander,” complained to police two months ago, saying she was being harassed for her involvement and for comments she has posted on sites that question Knox’s innocence.

“I am supposed to somehow get behind the home team. It is as simple as that,” said Ganong, who lives just a few blocks from the Mellas and Knox families. “But I had ongoing doubts, I continued to express that opinion, and that’s when I became a target. But the fact that it has spilled over into real life, well there’s something scary and terribly wrong about it.” The sites that question Knox’s innocence and defend court proceedings in Perugia are Perugia Murder File, a discussion board co-moderated by Ganong, and True Justice for Meredith Kercher, founded last September by New Jersey financier Peter Quennell.

“The True Justice site was created because Kercher had become so intensely forgotten, as the huge and well-funded effort gathered speed to paint Knox as the ‘real’ victim,” Quennell said. Quennell said more than 20,000 people have visited his site.

A number of individual bloggers also write about the case. There are two main blogs in defense of Knox. One is Italian Woman at the Table, a seattlepi.com reader blog by Seattle freelance writer Candace Dempsey. Dempsey’s blog was initially about cooking but added true crime to its menu as the debate picked up steam.

Dempsey was one of the first U.S. bloggers to post key court documents. She is now writing a book on the case. The other defense site is Perugia Shock, the first blog about the case, which started Nov. 2, 2007. Perugia Shock’s comment threads are home to some of the most heated Knox-related exchanges online.

Perugia Shock is hosted on a California server and financed by an American firm, according to the Perugia-based blogger who covers the case and operates the site under the alias “Frank Sfarzo” (a stage name, real name Sforza).

While fans say his blog poses alternative theories rarely discussed in the mainstream media, critics say his minimalist moderation results in an out-of-control comment section where posters “out” those who wish to remain anonymous, track their ISP addresses to reveal their physical locations, pose as people they are not—someone posted as Kercher, the victim, once—and make threatening posts about each other, as well as about the major players in the case, including Knox, her family, journalists, lawyers and prosecutors.

“Sometimes I briefly let my guard down, but I try to cancel when the comments are offensive or if people request it,” he told seattlepi.com.

While Italian Woman at the Table and Perugia Murder File require registration to post, Perugia Shock allows anonymous postings. There, people who leave anonymous comments have launched threats and accusations that cut both ways. A number of women associated with this case have been attacked online, not only for their opinions, but also for real or imagined physical traits.

Ganong and Seattle trial lawyer Anne Bremner have been targeted with a particular zeal, although Bremner said the positive feedback she has received has far outweighed the catty remarks. Ganong chalks it up to the fact that they are both outspoken, albeit on different levels. Bremner has appeared regularly on national television as a legal analyst for high-profile cases such as Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson and Mary Letourneau. On this case, she has been a vocal supporter of Knox, posted a letter on Perugia Shock and often represents the ad hoc Friends of Amanda group in media appearances.

“I am not a public personality,” Ganong said, “but I do somehow represent the other side—this whole other class of people in Seattle who are not on the bandwagon and are not buying the ‘railroad job from hell”’ argument that Knox is being wrongly prosecuted. Ganong told seattlepi.com that it wasn’t just months of targeted, rude remarks that pushed her to file the report. She finally went to police after posters published her husband’s first and last name, the approximate location of their home, information about their family life, as well as shopping and personal habits, much of which had been gleaned from public-records searches, Facebook and other online portals.

Before filing the report, she repeatedly requested that the profane comments and posting of personal information stop. Her exasperated husband, a Seattle accountant, even met Mellas for a beer in a Seattle tavern to talk face-to-face about various messages that had been posted.

But Mellas said he had no control over the blogosphere and actually had much bigger things to worry about.

“I told him I have nothing to do with it. I said proceed with whatever it is you are doing, find out who it is and at that point you’ll know I am not doing anything, and it is not coming from my network either, as far as I know,” said Mellas, who helps manage a network with more than 400 computer users. “Granted, I don’t sit around all day and audit all the network traffic.”

“Those people are not going to get the answer until they get the authorities involved and get some logged ISPs and find out where it is really coming from. I hope that when they do that they make that known.”

It is not the first time Mellas’ name has surfaced in a blogging controversy, however.

Before Perugia Murder File existed in its current form, it was moderated as a message board called The True Crime Weblog Message Board by one of the nation’s foremost true crime bloggers, Steve Huff. Huff now blogs professionally for the Village Voice Media’s True Crime Report. At one point the posts became so aggressive that Huff decided to do something he rarely does—post the IP address of the person commenting. The IP traced to a block of IP addresses managed by Mellas, and Huff took him to task publicly, claiming he had written or authorized the comments himself. Mellas, however, says that his work as a network manager overseeing an IP gateway means several hundred people are using computers (and IP addresses) that are linked to his name. He said someone could easily be impersonating him, pretending he or she is associated with him or writing messages without his knowledge, since several hundred people could access the Internet using the block of IP addresses he manages. An Internet Protocol address is an identifying number assigned to computers participating in an internet network.

Huff said one of the intimidating private messages accusing him of slander was sent to him via the contact form by “Mr. Anonymous,” who claimed to own the e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The contact form captured the IP address of the sender and was traced to a block of Internet Protocol addresses managed by Mellas, Huff said. While the message could have from anyone within his large network, Huff said he believes it was sent or approved by Mellas.

A similar address, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), which is cited in the police report, was also used to send two vulgar messages to a Newsweek reporter covering the case in Perugia. The message, sent from a Blackberry device, ended with the postscript, “You sound like you were abused as a child.”

According to Ganong, the threats online and to her own personal inbox are originating from the same Hotmail and Gmail addresses.

Another Seattle area couple, Kathleen and Randy Jackson, are also considering filing police reports. Both post under aliases on the Perugia Murder File site and have been criticized for attending a recent fund-raiser for Knox. Jackson, who said she is a former victim of sexual assault, said she went to the event because she felt Kercher’s memory was being overlooked in the effort to raise money for Knox.

“It had been announced everywhere as this high-profile fund-raiser, so I wanted to go where this big news was happening and show a different side of Seattle, because I grew up there, and I was embarrassed,” Kathleen Jackson said.

But after the couple did an interview on a local Seattle television station covering the event, the negative attention grew fiercer, but oddly, just toward Kathleen, who posts on Perugia Murder File as “Professor Snape.” Randy, an educational technology professional at the University of Washington who posts as “Fly By Night,” is just as active on the forum. “Both Kathleen and I talked to the reporter, but only she’s been called out,” Randy Jackson said. “These individuals seem to more frequently target women.”

Kathleen Jackson said using an anonymous online identity allowed her to express her strong views on the case. But when other anonymous posters began speculating about where she lived and worked, she began having second thoughts.

“Now that they want to find out who we are and tell the whole world, well, why do they want to do that?” she said. “I think they are trying to intimidate us to stop posting.” Supporters of Knox also have been targeted. Participants at Italian Woman at the Table spar, but controversial comments are often resolved briskly with Dempsey’s delete key. Until she began requiring commenters to register, she says, she received chilling death threats from anonymous posters certain of Knox’s guilt. Posters have inaccurately described her credentials, said Dempsey, and “outed” personal information about her family.

After seeking advice from local police, she implemented behind-the-scenes safety measures, but has not filed a formal report. Dempsey warned that those who blog using their real name should expect to have their privacy violated on the “no-rules Internet.” “Anybody who writes about a murder case will attract angry posters who are sure they know who did it,” she said.

That is exactly what happened to Huff, who decided it wasn’t an online community he wanted to court. “I’ve been a little shocked—but not that shocked—all along at the way the Knox/Kercher case has broken down to something more akin to a pitched political argument than a debate about a terrible, violent crime and the possible guilt of one of the accused,” Huff told seattlepi.com in an e-mail. He’s been particularly surprised by the network newsmagazines’ “pro-active efforts” to smear the prosecutor while painting Knox as “some innocent pixie college girl.” “There’s some larger statement afoot in that about American views and our culture of looks over authenticity, in my opinion,” Huff said. Huff said his opinion about guilt or innocence in the case is still flexible—he can see both sides and thinks the case could go either way, but the vicious online harassment—present from the onset but particularly intense just prior to the start of the trial—prompted him to dial back his participation.

“It was so pervasive and distasteful to me that as a blogger and now as a journalist I’ve all but washed my hands of covering the case,” Huff said.

A number of individual bloggers also write about the case. There are two main blogs in defense of Knox. One is Italian Woman at the Table, a seattlepi.com reader blog by Seattle freelance writer Candace Dempsey. Dempsey’s blog was initially about cooking but added true crime to its menu as the debate picked up steam.

Dempsey was one of the first U.S. bloggers to post key court documents. She is now writing a book on the case. The other defense site is Perugia Shock, the first blog about the case, which started Nov. 2, 2007. Perugia Shock’s comment threads are home to some of the most heated Knox-related exchanges online.

Perugia Shock is hosted on a California server and financed by an American firm, according to the Perugia-based blogger who covers the case and operates the site under the alias “Frank Sfarzo.”

While fans say his blog poses alternative theories rarely discussed in the mainstream media, critics say his minimalist moderation results in an out-of-control comment section where posters “out” those who wish to remain anonymous, track their ISP addresses to reveal their physical locations, pose as people they are not—someone posted as Kercher, the victim, once—and make threatening posts about each other, as well as about the major players in the case, including Knox, her family, journalists, lawyers and prosecutors.

“Sometimes I briefly let my guard down, but I try to cancel when the comments are offensive or if people request it,” he told seattlepi.com.

While Italian Woman at the Table and Perugia Murder File require registration to post, Perugia Shock allows anonymous postings. There, people who leave anonymous comments have launched threats and accusations that cut both ways. A number of women associated with this case have been attacked online, not only for their opinions, but also for real or imagined physical traits.

Ganong and Seattle trial lawyer Anne Bremner have been targeted with a particular zeal, although Bremner said the positive feedback she has received has far outweighed the catty remarks. Ganong chalks it up to the fact that they are both outspoken, albeit on different levels. Bremner has appeared regularly on national television as a legal analyst for high-profile cases such as Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson and Mary Letourneau. On this case, she has been a vocal supporter of Knox, posted a letter on Perugia Shock and often represents the ad hoc Friends of Amanda group in media appearances.

“I am not a public personality,” Ganong said, “but I do somehow represent the other side—this whole other class of people in Seattle who are not on the bandwagon and are not buying the ‘railroad job from hell”’ argument that Knox is being wrongly prosecuted. Ganong told seattlepi.com that it wasn’t just months of targeted, rude remarks that pushed her to file the report. She finally went to police after posters published her husband’s first and last name, the approximate location of their home, information about their family life, as well as shopping and personal habits, much of which had been gleaned from public-records searches, Facebook and other online portals.

Before filing the report, she repeatedly requested that the profane comments and posting of personal information stop. Her exasperated husband, a Seattle accountant, even met Mellas for a beer in a Seattle tavern to talk face-to-face about various messages that had been posted.

But Mellas said he had no control over the blogosphere and actually had much bigger things to worry about.

“I told him I have nothing to do with it. I said proceed with whatever it is you are doing, find out who it is and at that point you’ll know I am not doing anything, and it is not coming from my network either, as far as I know,” said Mellas, who helps manage a network with more than 400 computer users. “Granted, I don’t sit around all day and audit all the network traffic.”

“Those people are not going to get the answer until they get the authorities involved and get some logged ISPs and find out where it is really coming from. I hope that when they do that they make that known.”

It is not the first time Mellas’ name has surfaced in a blogging controversy, however.

Before Perugia Murder File existed in its current form, it was moderated as a message board called The True Crime Weblog Message Board by one of the nation’s foremost true crime bloggers, Steve Huff. Huff now blogs professionally for the Village Voice Media’s True Crime Report. At one point the posts became so aggressive that Huff decided to do something he rarely does—post the IP address of the person commenting. The IP traced to a block of IP addresses managed by Mellas, and Huff took him to task publicly, claiming he had written or authorized the comments himself. Mellas, however, says that his work as a network manager overseeing an IP gateway means several hundred people are using computers (and IP addresses) that are linked to his name. He said someone could easily be impersonating him, pretending he or she is associated with him or writing messages without his knowledge, since several hundred people could access the Internet using the block of IP addresses he manages. An Internet Protocol address is an identifying number assigned to computers participating in an internet network.

Huff said one of the intimidating private messages accusing him of slander was sent to him via the contact form by “Mr. Anonymous,” who claimed to own the e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The contact form captured the IP address of the sender and was traced to a block of Internet Protocol addresses managed by Mellas, Huff said. While the message could have from anyone within his large network, Huff said he believes it was sent or approved by Mellas.

A similar address, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), which is cited in the police report, was also used to send two vulgar messages to a Newsweek reporter covering the case in Perugia. The message, sent from a Blackberry device, ended with the postscript, “You sound like you were abused as a child.”

According to Ganong, the threats online and to her own personal inbox are originating from the same Hotmail and Gmail addresses.

Another Seattle area couple, Kathleen and Randy Jackson, are also considering filing police reports. Both post under aliases on the Perugia Murder File site and have been criticized for attending a recent fund-raiser for Knox. Jackson, who said she is a former victim of sexual assault, said she went to the event because she felt Kercher’s memory was being overlooked in the effort to raise money for Knox.

“It had been announced everywhere as this high-profile fund-raiser, so I wanted to go where this big news was happening and show a different side of Seattle, because I grew up there, and I was embarrassed,” Kathleen Jackson said.

But after the couple did an interview on a local Seattle television station covering the event, the negative attention grew fiercer, but oddly, just toward Kathleen, who posts on Perugia Murder File as “Professor Snape.” Randy, an educational technology professional at the University of Washington who posts as “Fly By Night,” is just as active on the forum. “Both Kathleen and I talked to the reporter, but only she’s been called out,” Randy Jackson said. “These individuals seem to more frequently target women.”

Kathleen Jackson said using an anonymous online identity allowed her to express her strong views on the case. But when other anonymous posters began speculating about where she lived and worked, she began having second thoughts.

“Now that they want to find out who we are and tell the whole world, well, why do they want to do that?” she said. “I think they are trying to intimidate us to stop posting.” Supporters of Knox also have been targeted. Participants at Italian Woman at the Table spar, but controversial comments are often resolved briskly with Dempsey’s delete key. Until she began requiring commenters to register, she says, she received chilling death threats from anonymous posters certain of Knox’s guilt. Posters have inaccurately described her credentials, said Dempsey, and “outed” personal information about her family.

After seeking advice from local police, she implemented behind-the-scenes safety measures, but has not filed a formal report. Dempsey warned that those who blog using their real name should expect to have their privacy violated on the “no-rules Internet.” “Anybody who writes about a murder case will attract angry posters who are sure they know who did it,” she said.

That is exactly what happened to Huff, who decided it wasn’t an online community he wanted to court. “I’ve been a little shocked—but not that shocked—all along at the way the Knox/Kercher case has broken down to something more akin to a pitched political argument than a debate about a terrible, violent crime and the possible guilt of one of the accused,” Huff told seattlepi.com in an e-mail. He’s been particularly surprised by the network newsmagazines’ “pro-active efforts” to smear the prosecutor while painting Knox as “some innocent pixie college girl.” “There’s some larger statement afoot in that about American views and our culture of looks over authenticity, in my opinion,” Huff said. Huff said his opinion about guilt or innocence in the case is still flexible—he can see both sides and thinks the case could go either way, but the vicious online harassment—present from the onset but particularly intense just prior to the start of the trial—prompted him to dial back his participation.

“It was so pervasive and distasteful to me that as a blogger and now as a journalist I’ve all but washed my hands of covering the case,” Huff said.


Page 13 of 15 pages « First  <  11 12 13 14 15 >