Series Hoaxes against Italy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Mignini Interview Makes Doug Preston Look Increasingly Incompetent And Vindictive

Posted by Nicki





This is actor Tom Cruise above.

He may produce or star in Doug Preston’s “fact-based” story of the Monster of Florence investigation in which Giuliano Mignini played a very small part very late in the case.

Wow could HE be in for some surprises!! 

We do hope that he consults closely with Mr Mignini. A few true facts might not hurt - might keep him out of defamation court even. To say that Doug Preston’s uninvited venture into real-crime reporting in Italy was a disaster seems a gross understatement.

We know that good Italian reporters think Preston (who apparently speaks little Italian) got the facts of the Monster of Florence case seriously wrong. And his bizarre and overheated afterword in his MOF book on Meredith’s case, added opportunistically later, appears even more wrong.

And Preston’s very brief encounter with Mr Mignini probably ended up precisely as this nosy American really deserved - with Preston scared off Mr Mignini’s case, and reduced to whining childishly from across the Atlantic. 

Here are some of our previous posts on the sliming of Mr Mignini which all seems to have flowed from Preston’s frenetic endeavors.

  • Take a look here at Kermit’s amazing Powerppoints on the compelling evidence for The REAL Railroading From Hell where there are a number of slides illustrating Preston’s own satanic obsessions - believe it or not, Preston actually DOCTORED THEM before trying to shrug them off on his own site.

  • Take a look here and here and here on the sliming Preston seems to have inspired from Seattle - and how Amanda Knox’s own lawyers protested against it.

  • Take a look here at how the BBC interviewed Mr Mignini and found him competent, well-meaning, and quite sane.

  • Take a look here at how the administrative charges against Mr Mignini are slowed and seemingly all crumbling.

  • Take a look here at how Mr Mignini himself in a long email to Linda Byron defends his interrogation of Amanda Knox, and explains what is REALLY behind the one remaining administrative charge against him.

  • Take a look here at how the pro-Knox campaign again misfires in the attacks against him.

  • Take a look here at why Mr Mignini and other Italian prosecutors are actually rather popular.

  • Take a look here at how Mr Mignini and the police and prosecution team have done for Meredith the very best they can.

Now Mr Mignini has done an excellent interview with Claudio Paglieri in Il Secolo XIX.  Mr Mignini waited for a long time to respond to Preston’s falsities and here, after winning at trial, he speaks up to set the facts straight.

He does so with a surprisingly moderate tone, considering the amount and gravity of the offenses hurled at him by the FOA-fueled American media. Perhaps a lesson of civilization and class for Preston and the rest of the money-making gang.

[Claudio Paglieri: Concerning Doug Preston?]

Mr Mignini: I have been patient but now I’ve had it. This guy doesn’t know what he is talking about. I saw him for two hours in all my life, but for years he has been spreading on the Internet his reconstruction of a story of which he hasn’t understood a thing.

And now, perhaps to get even, he’s calling from overseas in the Kercher trial, saying things that are not true.

Giuliano Mignini, public prosecutor in the trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher, has gone in a few hours from accuser to accused. The Amercans didn’t like Amanda Knox’s sentence, and the journalist and writer Douglas Preston is making precise accusations.

Let’s start from the “pending issue” between the two of you. Preston who together with the journalist Mario Spezi was investigating the Monster of Florence, says that you interrogated them for two and a 1/ 2 hours . The next day he left Italy in order not to be arrested.

He hasn’t understood a thing. He is a writer but he doesn’t know the judicial procedures. Reality is different: While I was hearing him out as a person informed of some facts in a proceeding I was involved in, some circumstances emerged that threw suspicion on Preston, ie lying to the public prosecutor.

According to Article 63 of the penal code I told him that he had to get a lawyer, and that I could not continue the interview. I added that for that crime (lying to the prosecutor), based on article 371 bis, I should have waited for the end of the proceeding during which such declarations had been rendered.

He told me he understood Italian well, but obviously it wasn’t so. He claims that I told him to run to America and don’t come back, otherwise I would have him arrested.This is absolutely not true..

Surely Preston was shocked by the interrogation. He says you were quite hard on him

Shocked? What can I say? This is how interrogations are conducted, their purpose is also to accuse.

However, now it’s Preston accusing the methods of the interrogation of Amanda. Is it true she was pressured? And why doesn’t a recording exist?

The first time Amanda was heard as person informed of facts [a witness]. In these cases, because of the urgency, we never record. Then we suspended the interrogation as suspicion of crime emerges. I explained to Amanda that based on article 374 of the penal code - the one on spontaneous declarations - she would have been able to render a declaration [as a witness].

A lawyer should have been present only if I had asked her questions of complicity and/or accused her. But I didn’t asked a thing, practically I had only the function of a “notary public”.

You didn’t record it?

No. I usually do when for example I am in my office. I recorded the declarations of her roommates and of the witnesses. But that night, we were at the police station, there was agitation, and we had to go and arrest Lumumba, who had just been accused by Amanda. Lumumba was later cleared thanks to me

Preston in an article on the Guardian says you are the ones who suggested Lumumba’s name.

It is not true. During the trial, the presiding judge asked her about this, and Amanda clearly answered no.

During the first interrogation [as a witness] Amanda was without a lawyer and without an interpreter.

Another falsity. The interpreter was there, Dr Donnino. I am adding that during the first interrogation in front of the GIP she invoked her right to remain silent. The interrogation that took place in jail, with three attorneys present was recorded.

Let’s talk about HIV. Amanda in jail was told that she was HIV-positive and was asked to make a list of all her ex-lovers in order to tell them. Then the positivity turns out to be a false positive sample. The suspicion of a trick arises.

I never asked Amanda anything like that . We have the utmost respect for the suspect, and on top of it, what would have been the purpose of asking her?

Because the list ended up on the newspapers and contributed to giving a negative image of the girl, of an “easy” woman.

Nobody has depicted Amanda as an “easy girl”. Why would I do it? She was totally unknown to the police and the procura. Her sexual life is totally irrelevant in order to describe her personality, though it helps to explain the tense relationships with the other roommates.

Let’s conclude with the other issues by Douglas Preston. The DNA evidence is not convincing.

What can I say? The scientific police of the Ministry of the Interior have worked with it, that’s the best we have in Italy. I trust them, I am not a biologist, and neither is Preston.

What about the investigation on your abuse of office and wiretapping in Florence?

I still have to understand what I am being accused of.

However, the investigation has now ended. During this time the Tribunal of Riesame in Florence followed by the Cassazione have annulled all the proceedings initiated by Prosecutor Luca Turco against Dr Giuttari [who investigated the Monster case], my codefendant, as no evidence of the crime of abuse of office exists.

You will not   appeal the sentence and the Court of Appeals will acquit the defendants,  in America they seem sure of this i.e that the first degree sentence [sentence of the trial just concluded] serves the purpose of “saving face” in the Procura and “the truth will come out later?”

I don’t even want to comment on this. I will only say that a total of 18 judges among the Riesame, Cassazione, GUP and Assise courts have confirmed the prosecution’s theory. Did I deceive them all? This is a sovereign state, and there is a a sentence In the name of the Italian people that is in the name of all of us. Period.

This post is put together with the kind translation help of my fellow posters Jools and Tiziano.

[Below: Terminally confusing or just terminally confused? Doug Preston as wannabe true-crime reporter]


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Our Letter To Senator Maria Cantwell: Please Don’t Take Precipitate Action Till Full Facts Are In

Posted by Highly-Concerned Washington-State Voters


We are all regular voters who live in the Seattle area. We have signed the original of this letter to our US senator, Maria Cantwell, and sent it off to her Capitol office. 

We think we increasingly mirror a very large minority or even a majority of cool-headed but concerned Seattle-area voters who would like to see her speaking up for truth and real justice in this case.

And for the rights of the true victim.

We are not running a campaign. We don’t think Senator Cantwell needs hard persuasion. We think once she immerses herself deeply in the real facts, those facts will tell her the right thing to do.

Dear Senator Cantwell

A number of your well-informed constituents are wondering about your motivations for suddenly injecting yourself into the Meredith Kercher murder trial debate, immediately following last week’s unanimous guilty ruling for American Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy. 

We wonder because you said you were saddened by the verdict and had serious questions about the Italian judicial system and whether anti-Americanism had tainted the trial.  But then you went on to describe how you knew for a fact that the prosecution in the case did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Amanda Knox was guilty. 

We’re confused because it seems to us that if you had been following the case closely enough to be certain that not enough evidence had been presented by the prosecution that you would consequently have a very clear idea of how the Italian judicial system functioned and know whether or not anti-American sentiment had impacted the ruling. 

So, as a group of concerned Seattle area constituents who have been following every detail of this case since poor Meredith Kercher was murdered, we humbly offer you our assistance towards bringing things into proper perspective.

Were you aware that Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian from Giovinazzo, Bari was convicted right alongside Ms. Knox?  Mr. Sollecito received some of the best legal representation available in Italy, including senior lawyer and parliamentary deputy Giulia Bongiorno who won fame as a criminal lawyer when she successfully defended former Italian Premier Giulio Andreotti a few years ago. 

Ms Bongiorno has said nothing about anti-American sentiment having influenced the ruling against her client, nor has she complained about fundamental problems with the way this trial was run.  Instead, she is now completely focused on looking ahead to the appeal process as her next opportunity to mitigate sentences or argue for her client’s innocence. 

This should assuage some of your concerns.

But perhaps you are referring to the extra year Ms. Knox received in comparison to Mr. Sollecito’s 25-year sentence as a clear example of anti-American sentiment?  That’s a fair concern; however, in Italy the jury panel for a trial is required to submit a report within 90 days of a ruling describing in great detail the logic used to convict and sentence, or absolve a defendant. 

For example, in Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher last year Judge Paolo Micheli issued an exhaustive 106 page report outlining the panel’s labored decision-making process, in sometimes excruciating detail.  We can expect no less for the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, and when that report is issued we will have our best look yet at the evidence that was used to convict the pair.

We suggest that you seriously reconsider “bringing” Hillary Clinton and the State Department into the debate.

Consider that State Department spokesman Ian Kelly stated that the US embassy in Rome had been tasked with monitoring the trial and had visited Ms. Knox in jail, and several embassy representatives were known to have attended the reading of the ruling last week. In addition, an American reporter based in Italy who has followed the case from the outset said last night on CNN that the trial had been monitored from the outset.

Secretary Clinton has clearly been very busy with far more critical tasks than to have maintained a personal familiarity with the Kercher murder case; however, Kelly did state that in response to recent press reports Secretary Clinton had taken time to look things over and has yet to find any indication that Knox did not receive a fair trial.  You surely realize that Secretary Clinton will not be interested making public comments regarding an ongoing legal process in a sovereign, democratic nation that is a long-time ally of the United States.

Also note that on the Italian side of the equation, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told his countrymen that he has yet to receive any criticisms of the trial from the office of the US Secretary of State and that the fierce criticism of the case by the Seattle based Amanda Knox support group should not be confused as the position of the US government. 

And Luciano Ghirga, Knox’s own Italian lawyer, has stated that he does not question the validity of the trial and that he believes it was conducted correctly. Furthermore, regarding your desire to have Clinton become involved, Ghirga concluded, “That’s all we need, Hillary Clinton involved…this sort of thing does not help us in any way.” 

Perhaps he is referring to the heated discussions in the Italian press these days regarding the strong criticisms of Italy’s legal system coming from a country that supports Guantanamo Bay, the death penalty, and other perceived injustices of a far-from-perfect American legal system.

As these examples demonstrate, and from your own humble constituents’ well-informed perspective, there is nothing out of the ordinary or alarming about the Meredith Kercher murder trial process.  The prosecutors and defense teams will continue to debate the evidence throughout the appeal process, just as we should expect them to. 

If you do decide to go forward with your inquiry, despite significant opposition from your constituents, we recommend that you do so only after becoming more familiar with the evidence presented during the trial, as presented by a neutral source. The family and friends of the US citizen recently convicted are probably not neutral.

If you take a good look, you will see that there are checks and balances in the Italian way of achieving justice, just as there are in the American system. In the final analysis, it is completely as Beatrice Cristiani, deputy judge for the Kercher murder trial, put it: “As far as I am aware our system of justice does not make provision for interference from overseas.”

Fully signed by all of us in the original sent to Senator Maria Cantwell


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Most Important Italian Paper Balks At The Attempts In US At Intimidation

Posted by Commissario Montalbano



[Above: The Corriere Della Sera building in Milan]

The Corriere Della Sera is the Italian equivalent of the New York Times and the London Times.

It wields huge influence throughout Italy and reflects the popular mood in its reporting. It does NOT like the campaign of vilification against the trial and its outcome. Here is a translation of today’s blast by Beppe Severgnini.

The do-it-yourself verdicts and that wrongful U.S.A. cheering

Many Americans criticize the ruling, but have never followed the case. Why do they do that?

Judicial nationalism and media justice, when put together, form a deadly cocktail. We also have Reader-patriots and journalist-judges ourselves, but what is happening in the United States after the conviction of Amanda Knox, is embarrassing. Therefore it is highly worth pondered upon.

American television, newspapers and websites are convinced that Amanda is innocent. Why? No one knows. Did they follow all of the trial? Did they evaluate the evidence? Did they hear the witnesses who, moreover, testified in Italian? Of course not! They just decided so: and that’s enough.

Like Lombroso’s*** proselytes: a girl that is so pretty, and what’s more, American, cannot possibly be guilty. No wonder Hillary Clinton is now interested in the case: she’s a politician, and cannot ignore the national mood.

There are, as I wrote at the beginning, two aspects of the issue. One is judicial nationalism, which is triggered when “a passport is more significant than an alibi” as noted in yesterday’s Corriere’s editorial by Guido Olimpio. The United States tend to always defend its citizens (Cermis tragedy, the killing of Calipari) and shows distrust of any foreign jurisdiction (hence the failure to ratify the International Criminal Court). In the case of Italy, at play are also the long almost biblical timespans of our justice, for which we’ve been repeatedly criticized at the European level.

But there is a second aspect, just as serious as the first: the media justice operation. Or better: a passion for the do-it-yourself trial. It’s not just in the United States that it happens, but these days it is precisely there that we must look, if we want to understand its methods and its consequences.

Timothy Egan - a New York Times columnist, based in Seattle, therefore from the same city of Amanda - writes that the ruling “has little to do with the evidence and a lot with the ancient Italian custom of saving face.” And then: “The verdict should have nothing to do with medieval superstitions, projections sexual fantasies, satanic fantasies or the honor of prosecuting magistrates. If you only apply the standard of law, the verdict would be obvious “. 

But obvious to whom? Egan – I’ll give it to him - knows the case. But he seems determined, like many fellow citizens, to find supporting evidence for a ruling that, in his head, has already been issued: Amanda is innocent. In June - the process was half-way - he had already written “An innocent abroad” (a title borrowed from Mark Twain, who perhaps would not have approved this use).

To be sure, among the 460 reader comments, many are full of reasonable doubt and dislike journalists who start from the conclusion and then try in every way to prove it.

I did not know if Amanda Knox was guilty. In fact, I did not know until Saturday, December 5, when a jury convicted her. I do have the habit of respecting court judgments, and then it does not take a law degree – which I happen to have, unlike Mr. Egan - to know how a Court of Assizes works.

It is inconceivable that the jurors in Perugia have decided to condemn a girl if they had any reasonable doubt. We accept the verdict, the American media does not. But turning a sentence into an opportunity to unleash dramatic nationalistic cheering and prejudice is not a good service to the cause of truth or to the understanding between peoples.

A public lynching, a witch hunt trial? I repeat: what do our American friends know? How much information do those who condemn Italy on the internet possess? How much have those who wrote to our Embassy in Washington, who accused the magistrates in Perugia, and who are ready to swear on Amanda’s innocence, studied this case for past two years?

Have they studied the evidence, assessed the experts’ testimony, or heard the witnesses of a trial that was much (too) long? No, I suppose. Why judge the judges, then?

They resent preventive detention? We don’t like it either, especially when prolonged (Amanda and Raffaele have spent two years in prison before the sentence). But it is part of our system: in special cases, the defendant must await trial while in jail.

What should we say, then, about the death penalty in America? We do not agree with it, but we accept that in the U.S. it is the law, supported by the majority of citizens. A criminal, no matter which passport he has in his pocket, if he commits a murder in Texas, knows what he risks.

Before closing, a final, obligatory point: I also did not like the anti-Amanda crusade in the British media, for the same reasons. The nationality of Meredith, the victim, does not justify such an attitude.

For once - can I say it? - We Italians have behaved the best. We waited for and now we respect the ruling, pending further appeal.

I wish we Italians behaved like that with all other high profile crimes in our country - from Garlasco’s case and on - instead of staging trials on television and spewing verdicts from our couch.

***Note: Cesare Lombroso, was a 19th century Italian criminologist who postulated that criminality was inherited, and that someone “born criminal”’ could be identified by physical defects.

[Below: the distinguished Italian columnist Beppe Severgnini of Corriere]


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Prosecutions’ Closed-Court Reconstruction Of A Brutal And Prolonged Torture Attack

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Prosecution video not entered in evidence; this is from the fairly accurate Lifetime Movie

1. The Presentation In Closed Court

The time-line and reconstruction of the attack below were presented in court on Friday 21 November 2009 by the national crime-scene team.

From interviews Italian media reported an account of a premeditated and prolonged attack on Meredith. It included a very graphic computer simulation which upset many in the closed court.

This post relies on those media reports and documents later filed with the court. The simulation was deliberately not placed in evidence as there were fears that if uploaded to YouTube the expected highly negative public reaction could be too prejudicial to the accused.

2. Timeline For Night Of 1-2 Nov

The timing of all the events depicted were multiple-sourced except for the arrival of Rudy Guede, the timing of which is unknown but seems to have been late - maybe around 11:30 pm. Prior to that Knox and Sollecito are depicted as being on watch from the park above while a disabled car is removed. Meredith is inside from around 9:00 PM.

    15:48: Meredith texts to her English friends that she will be slightly late for her dinner meeting with them.

    16:00 - Meredith leaves the house in Via della Pergola to go to the home of her friends. A few minutes later Raffaele and Amanda leave the cottage in Via della Pergola to go Sollecito’s place.

    18:00 - Amanda Knox leaves Raffaele Sollecito’s house. This is indicated by cell phone records.

    18:27 - Raffaele Sollecito interacts with his laptop to watch the film “Amelie” alone at home.

    20:18 - Amanda Knox in Via Ulisse Rocchi receives a text message (sms) from Patrick Lumumba telling her not to come to work that night.

    20.30 - Amanda Knox goes back to Via Garibaldi to the apartment of Raffaele Sollecito.

    20:38 - Amanda sends a text message (sms) in reply to Patrick Lumumba.

    20:46 - Sollecito turns off his mobile phone. He is still at home in Via Garibaldi.

    20:45 – Meredith’s meal of pizza with her English friends ends. She starts off in the direction of Via della Pergola with a girlfriend who will leave her halfway to go to her own home.

    21:00 - Meredith is at home, she eats a mushroom, she lies down on her bed, and she reads some university lecture notes.

    21:10 - From this point on there is no more human interaction with Raffaele Sollecito’s computer.

    21:45 - Amanda and Raffaele leave his apartment and go to the Piazza Grimana. Less than 100 meters away from the house in Via della Pergola, the two talk and watch the house and decide what to do. They show a suspicious attitude which is reported in court by the witness Curatolo

    23:20 - Amanda opens the door of Via della Pergola.

    23.20 - Amanda, Raffaele and Rudy enter the house in Via della Pergola, where Meredith is already present in her room [On the court video there is no simulation of the meeting between Amanda and Rudy, because the reconstruction is based on testimony, the autopsy evidence and medical findings.]

    23:21 - Amanda and Raffaele go into Meredith’s bedroom, while Rudy goes into the bathroom.

    23:25 - A scuffle begins between Amanda, helped by Raffaele, and Meredith. The English girl is taken by the neck, then banged against a cupboard. Rudy Guede enters and joins in.

    23:30 - 23:45 [see Part 3 below] Depiction in the timeline and computer simulation of a prolonged struggle with Meredith at knifepoint, largely undressed, with her several times trying to regain her feet. She was not raped, though sexual humiliation occurred.

    23:50 - Amanda and Raffaele take Meredith’s mobile phones and they leave the apartment. Guede goes into the bathroom to get several towels to staunch the blood, then puts a cushion under Meredith’s head.

    00.10 - Meredith’s mobile phones are thrown into a garden in Via Sperandio.

    00.15 - From this moment, there are no certainties on the times for the rearrangement of the crime scene carried out by Amanda and Raffaele Sollecito. However according to the prosecution in the wee hours of the night Knox and Sollecito returned to the scene of their crime to try and clean up some footprints and to break the window glass of Filomena’s room. The aim was to simulate a robbery that ended in murder and they are charged with this too.


3. Reconstruction Of Attack

It must be emphasized that these EXCERPTS of SUMMARY notes by the crime scene team are only intended to accompany (1) extensive narrative descriptions by various members of the team,  (2) references to numerous items in evidence, (3) the simulation video, and (4) questions from the court.

It was made clear that the analysis indicates that Meredith put up a tremendous fight, over a period of approximately 15 minutes, with three strong attackers, before she finally succumbed holding one side of her neck to try to stop her lifeblood running out. She may not have died for as long as one hour.

Italian media reported that those in the closed court told them the Knox and Sollecito defenses raised no disputes or objections of any length except over having the video placed in evidence. Rudy Guede and his legal team had no standing in this court.   

RECONSTRUCTION OF ATTACK - FRIDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2009

Excerpts from pages 4 to 14 of the technical report on file with the court.

On the left door of the white wardrobe with sliding doors is found, at a height of approximately 50cm, a high concentration of blood traces.

It is reasonable to suppose that, at the moment of the assault, the victim was kneeling down, or in a similar position, in front of the same wardrobe.

The woman then dragged herself (or was dragged by the attacker or attackers) along the floor to the inside left shoulder of the same piece of furniture, and was later found dead in this same spot (this consideration is drawn from the presence of clear blood streaks).

This reconstruction is further confirmed from a technical scientific point of view, by the results of the technical report on B.P.A. (Blood Pattern Analysis) performed by the Principal Technical Director [D.T.P.] Physics, Dr. Francesco Camana, as a result of the site inspection on 18 December 2007…

On the left hand of the victim it is possible to observe numerous blood spots and, in particular, a larger patch on the tip of the index finger of the same hand.

The circumstances lead us to believe that the victim’s hand was near the wound when the blow was inflicted or was brought to that point a few moments later.

This consideration can lead us to think that the individual who was holding the victim still, immediately after this blow, struck in all likelihood by another person, relaxed his or her grip and the woman was able, at the same time, to put her left hand on the wound.

It is interesting to observe that there were no stains of a similar nature on the woman’s right hand.

It cannot be excluded, therefore, that the victim’s right arm remained in the grip of the attacker who, in so doing, probably held the body of the victim until the moment she fell onto the floor.

… The observation, in sequence, of the light blue sweatshirt, of the white T-shirt worn by the victim, of the type of stain in the breast area of the victim and of the bra, allow us to develop other important evaluations.

Firstly we must focus our attention on the characteristics of the stain on the aforementioned sweatshirt.

In fact, this appears to be soaked with blood on the right hand side, i.e., in correspondence of one of the lesions produced in the victim of the attack.

This aspect is a confirmation of the possibility that the garment was worn [by the victim] at the moment of the crime.

Further observations lead us to believe the garment was rolled towards the neck and that the zipper was open.

Further, it must be held that the aforementioned sweatshirt was removed in a second moment from the body of the victim who still wore it. …

The clear splashes of blood found on the central part of the breasts allow us to argue as follows.

At the moment the blow was struck the breasts were covered only by the bra and as the sweatshirt and the white T-shirt were rolled up towards the shoulders….

The victim’s bra was found near the feet of the dead body, both straps and the closing band appear to be neatly cut.

On the bra cups and on the breasts of the victim there are numerous traces of blood.

Therefore, the bra was certainly worn by the victim before the violent action by the attacker [started and] caused its removal, allowing blood spray to cover that part of the body. …

An analysis of the autopsy photographs shows the presence of bruises on both elbows and on the right forearm of the body, caused by the tight grip of one of more persons who in one or more stages of the event interacted violently with the arms of the victim.

Such lesions are, in fact, due to the rupture of subcutaneous capillaries following strong pressure on the point ….


Friday, November 20, 2009

The Summations: Perenially Fact-Challenged CNN Reports On Today Correctly

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for CNN’s report by Hada Messia.

CNN of course broadcast the notorious Larry King interview with lawyer John Q Kelly and the equally notorious legal screaming-match chaired by Jane Velez Mitchell. The YouTubes of both have been quietly disappeared. And all of its online reports on the case seem to contain bias and errors.

CNN gas been periodically updating this report of Hada Messia for some days, though it still contains wrong statements. The brief new component on today’s proceedings is in fact relatively accurate.

Accompanied by two smitten young men vying to impress her, a resentful Amanda Knox toyed with a knife and then plunged it into her roommate’s neck, killing her, an Italian prosecutor charged in closing arguments Friday.

The November 2, 2007, death of British student Meredith Kercher occurred during a twisted sex game in which Knox taunted Kercher, and the two men—boyfriend Rafael Sollecito and acquaintance Rudy Guede—sexually assaulted her, prosecutor Guilano Mignini said during his seven-hour closing.

The prosecutor said Knox hated and resented Kercher and had decided the time had come to exact revenge….  Mignini said Kercher died about 11:30 p.m. after she and Knox had quarreled—either over money or Guede’s presence at the house.

The prosecutor said the men pinned Kercher down by her arms while Knox played with the knife, prodding at her throat and saying, “Ah, you were pretending to be such a little saint. ... Now we are going to show you.”

Francesco Maresca, a lawyer for the Kercher family, said he was “very satisfied” with the prosecutor’s argument, adding that the crimes should bring a life sentence.


The Summations: More On How The Prosecution Launched Forth - And On Possible Motive

Posted by Tiziano



[Above: The two prosecutors today - click for larger image]

The TGCOM news service quoted this statement on the theory of the motive.

“Amanda Knox harbored hatred for Meredith… and so it was time for revenge rather than flirting….” According to the prosecutor Amanda wanted revenge on “that girl who was only with her English friends, and who reproached [Amanda] for her lack of cleanliness.” Thus was set under way “the calvary of Meredith.”

And this report from Umbria Journal adds details to the description posted below from Il Mattino

PM Giuliano Mignini spoke of a “unique event” of a trial which has “involved three continents”, opening his summing-up address in the trial of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox.

“A media trial in which the elements which emerged in court largely vanished,” the magistrate affirmed. “Detectives in search of notoriety, writers, bloggers, and mystery writers alternated with one another in a sort of parallel trial. But the trial is taking place only in this court room.”

Rudy Guede has been the “convitato di pietra” [literally, silent guest] in the trial of RF and AK according to Mignini. “In a way he has always been present,” the magistrate said referring to the Ivorian, already condemned to 30 years in prison by fast-track trial for complicity in the murder of Meredith Kercher with the two young people.

“Supporters of Sollecito and Knox” Mignini stressed “don’t stop at proclaiming their innocence, but they accuse him [Guede] too. They say that they were not at the crime house, but they also say the assassin is Guede. The accused wanted to create a parallel trial without his being able to defend himself.”

The PM then claimed that the breaking of a window in the bedroom of one of the Italian housemates of Knox and Meredith Kercher carried out according to the prosecution to mislead the investigations “is the special key to the event and the mystery. If it was simulated, as is evident, the authors are Knox, and Sollecito who always followed her. And the objective was to turn away suspicion.” The magistrate defined the break-in as “the nail on which the defences of the accused are hanging.”

“A nail” he averred “which has fallen down noisily and with it the the defences.” For Mignini the theft was simulated “from the inside, by someone who wanted to turn away suspicions and maybe direct them towards Rudy.”

Amanda Knox “knowingly accused an innocent man”... The reference is to Patrick Lumumba who, however, he did not expressly name, involved in the investigations of the murder of Meredith Kercher through the statements to the police of the young American and then absolved of any wrong-doing (he has actually nominated as a civil complainant against the American who is accused of defamation against him).

“Amanda” the [prosecutor] stressed “did not lift a finger while he was languishing in prison. Neither she nor her mother who was in her confidence. And what a coincidence” Mignini continued “it was a matter of a coloured person like Rudy”

 


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Take On The Case For The Prosecution: #5 Defendants’ Claims Shown To Be A Mass Of Contradictions

Posted by The Machine



[Above: Perugia’s central police station]

Preamble

This series is a summary of the prosecution’s case in about ten parts, with a commentary on matters of key significance.

The material has been reordered so that evidence presented at several points in the trial can be described in one post here. Sources used are the many published reports, some transcripts made of the testimony and the mobile phone records of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

The first four posts were on the DNA evidence, the luminol-enhanced footprint evidence, and Raffaele Sollecito’s and Amanda Knox’s various conflicting alibis.

Now we look at the many contradictory statements of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito brought out by the prosecution.

The prosecution showed that not only are they contradicted by one another. They are contradicted by telephone and computer records, by closed-circuit TV footage, and by the corroborated testimony of several witnesses.

One question that Judge Massei and Judge Cristiana and the six members of the jury will now be asking themselves is: if Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent and had nothing to hide, why did they lie so repeatedly?

Knox’s and Sollecito’s lawyers have had the unenviable task of trying to explain all their contradictions away.

Sollecito’s lawyers have argued that he lied out of confusion and fear. Knox’s lawyers have argued that she dramatically changed her version of events because she was hit and mistreated by the police on 5 November 2007.  Neither of these claims stood up to close scrutiny.

And the prosecution made it overwhelmingly apparent to the judges and the jury that Knox and Sollecito each lied deliberately and repeatedly to various people even before they were suspects and even before Knox was questioned on 5 November.

It was made intensely obvious that Knox and Sollecito’s versions of what they did on 1 November had very little in common with each other, especially in that part of the evening when they both claim they couldn’t remember very much because they were suffering from cannabis-induced amnesia.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that shows that cannabis can cause such dramatic amnesia. Skunk cannabis can cause extreme psychotic episodes and murders have occurred as a result. Long term use of cannabis can affect short-term memory and users might have difficulty recalling a telephone number. But wipe out whole chunks of an evening from anyone’s memory banks? The proof simply isn’t there.

1-A) The afternoon of 1 November 2007 according to Raffaele Sollecito

Sollecito told investigators that Knox and he had left the cottage on Via della Pergola at 6.00pm and that they went for a walk downtown. They passed through Piazza Grimana, Piazza Morlacchi and the main fountain in Corso Vannucci.

1-B) The afternoon of 1 November 2007 according to Amanda Knox

Knox told investigators it was an hour earlier at 5.00pm and that they went straight to Sollecito’s apartment.

2-A) The evening of 1 November 2007 according to Raffaele Sollecito

Raffaele Sollecito first claimed in an interview with Kate Mansey from the Sunday Mirror that he and Amanda Knox were at a friend’s party on the night of the murder.

Sollecito said that he downloaded and watched the film Amelie during the night. However, computer expert Mr Trotta said that the film had actually been watched at around 6.30 pm.

On 5 November Sollecito told police that Knox went to meet friends at Le Chic at around 9pm and that she didn’t return until about 1am:

“At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner.”

Sollecito claimed that he had spoken to his father at 11pm. Phone records show that there was no telephone conversation at this time. Sollecito’s father had called him a couple of hours earlier at 8.40pm.

Sollecito claimed that he was alone and surfing the Internet from 11pm to 1am. No technical evidence of this was introduced. computer specialists have testified that his computer was not used for an eight-hour period on the night of Meredith’s murder

The Kercher’s lawyer, Franco Maresca, pointed out that credible witnesses had really shattered all of Sollecito’s alibi for the night of the murder.

2-B) The evening of 1 November according to Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox told the police that she hadn’t replied to Diya Lumumba’s text message. The police knew full well that this wasn’t true because they already had her mobile phone records that proved that she had texted him.

“After that [finding out she wasn’t required at Le Chic] I believe we relaxed in his room together, perhaps I checked my email.” But no internet activity at all was proven at Sollecito’s apartment beyond the early evening.

“One thing I do remember is that I took a shower with Raffaele and this might explain how we passed the time. In truth, I do not remember exactly what day it was, but I do remember that we had a shower and we washed ourselves for a long time. He cleaned my ears, he dried and combed my hair.”

But Sollecito made no mention of taking a shower with Amanda Knox on the night of the murder.

In Amanda Knox’s handwritten note to the police she claimed that she and Sollecito ate around 11.00pm:

“One of the things I am sure that definitely happened the night on which Meredith was murdered was that Raffaele and I ate fairly late, I think around 11 in the evening”

But Knox testified at the trial that she and Sollecito ate around 9.30pm.  “After we ate Raffaele washed the dishes but the pipes under his sink broke and water flooded the floor.”

3) The early hours of 2 November

Both Knox and Sollecito claim that they woke up late on 2 November. However, their mobile phone records show the mobiles were turned on at approximately 6.02am. Sollecito also used his computer at 5.32am. The Italian Supreme Court remarked that his night must have been “sleepless” to say the least.

4) The afternoon of 2 November

At 1208pm, Amanda Knox called Filomena and said she was worried about the front door being open and blood stains in the small bathroom. Knox claims that she made this call from Sollecito’s apartment.

However, in his prison diary, Raffaele describes the same conversation as taking place at the cottage.

Knox claimed that when she called Meredith’s Italian phone it “just kept ringing, no answer”.

Her mobile phone records show this call lasted just three seconds, and the call to the UK phone lasted just four seconds. (Meredith’s WeAnswer Call service, which prides itself on how quickly it answers its customers’ calls, boasts that their average speed-of-answer is 5.5 seconds. There were no messages left.)

At 12.34pm Amanda and Filomena again spoke on their phones. Filomena said, “We spoke to each other for the third time and she told me that the window in my room was broken and that my room was in a mess. At this point I asked her to call the police and she told me that she already had.”

The prosecution introduced records to show that Knox and Sollecito didn’t actually call the police until 12.51pm.

In her email to friends in Seattle on 4 November, Amanda Knox says she called Meredith’s phones after speaking to Filomena. Knox’s mobile phone records prove that this was untrue.

In the email, Amanda also claims that she called Filomena back three quarters of an hour later – after Raffaele finished calling the police at 12:55pm. But cellphone records show that Knox never ever called Filomena back at all.

Sollecito and Knox both claimed they had called the police before the postal police had turned up at the cottage and were waiting for them. Sollecito later admitted that this was not true, and that he had lied because he had believed Amanda Knox’s version of what had happened.

He said he went outside “to see if I could climb up to Meredith’s window” but could not. “I tried to force the door but couldn’t, and at that point I decided to call my sister for advice because she is a Carabinieri officer. She told me to dial 112 (the Italian emergency number) but at that moment the postal police arrived.

He added: “In my former statement I told you a load of rubbish because I believed Amanda’s version of what happened and did not think about the inconsistencies.” (The Times, 7 November, 2007).

The CCTV cameras in the car park record the arrival of the postal police at 12.25pm which corroborates Sollecito’s admission that he had spoken rubbish.

Knox’s email to friends in Seattle describes the decision to call the police as something implemented by herself and Sollecito, after she had tried to see through Meredith’s window, and after Raffaele had tried to break down Meredith’s door.

Knox’s mobile phone records show that she called her mother at 12:47pm, but she makes no mention of this call in her email. (This call was very extensively analysed by fellow poster Finn MacCool and he showed a fascinating progression in both Amanda’s and her mother’s recollection of that call.) 

Edda Mellas claims that she told Amanda to hang up and call the police – but Amanda made no mention of this advice from her mother in describing their decision to call the police.

Amanda Knox testified that she couldn’t even remember phoning her mother, which will be very difficult for the court to believe. Phoning her mother when it is well after midnight in Seattle to tell her mother that she thought somebody had broken into her home and that her housemate was missing seems an unlikely thing to forget.

Amanda Knox told the postal police that Meredith always kept her door locked. Filomena strongly disagreed with her, and told the postal police the opposite was true.

The prosecution also made it obvious to the court that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, like Rudy Guede, changed their stories to fit new facts as they became known:

When Sollecito was confronted with the mobile phone records on 5 November, he immediately admitted that they hadn’t called 112 before the postal police arrived.

After initially denying it, Knox readily admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed when she found out that Sollecito had stopped providing her with an alibi.

Despite this changing of their stories to take into account the latest known facts, Knox’s and Sollecito’s versions still contained numerous contradictions. Sollecito’s final alibi contains several apparent lies, and Amanda Knox accused Diya Lumumba of killing Meredith while making no mention of Rudy Guede. 

In Conclusion

The reasons Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyers have given for them lying - namely false memories, confusion and fear – seem very unlikely to fly with the court.

Repeated evidence was introduced to show that Meredith’s other flatmates and friends all behaved radically differently, and told what were obvious truths that matched up repeatedly and resulted in not a single major contradiction. All were checked out in this careful fashion and then allowed to go on their way.

Only the defendants’ claims failed to coincide or match with everything else.

Again, and again, and again.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Newsweek’s Barbie Nadeau Has A Really Vital Piece On How The Evidence Stacks Up

Posted by Peter Quennell


And,  in short, it is ominous.

Click above for the full report. This really IS vital reading. A few key excerpts as follows.

Evidence: Rudy Guede

Who it hurts: Knox and Sollecito

Rudy Guede is the 24-year-old Ivory Coast native convicted in a fast-track trial last October for his role in Kercher’s murder. He is serving a 30-year sentence (his appeal begins on Nov. 19). Guede, who refused to testify in the Knox trial, has admitted that he was in the house when Kercher was killed. He says Kercher invited him there and that the two were making out when a stomach cramp from a bad kebab sent him to the bathroom. He was on the toilet with his iPod headphones on through four songs and, when he came out, Kercher was dying. He says he tried to save Kercher by using a towel to sop up the blood on her neck wounds, but he was scared after a man he says looked like Sollecito told him that “they’ll pin this on the black guy.” Guede fled to Germany, where he was later arrested for skipping a train fare. His feces (found in a toilet), along with his DNA and fingerprints from Kercher’s bedroom, link him to the crime scene. The sentencing judge who convicted him, though, did not see him as a lone assailant. Instead, the judge wrote in his sentencing report that he believed Guede acted with Knox and Sollecito.

Evidence: Murder dynamic

Who it hurts: Knox and Sollecito

One of the most complicated aspects of Kercher’s tragic death is how the murder itself played out. The prosecution believes that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede taunted Kercher in a sex game that quickly escalated to violence and ended in murder. Countless forensic experts, including those who performed the autopsies on Kercher’s body, have testified that more than one person killed her based on the size and location of her injuries and the fact that she didn’t fight back—no hair or skin was found under her fingernails. The defense has confused matters more: Knox’s forensic specialist testified that Kercher had been killed by only one person from the front, but Sollecito’s expert testified that Kercher had been killed by one person from behind.

Evidence: Knox’s confession

Who it hurts: Knox

On Nov. 5, 2007, Sollecito was called to the Perugia police station for questioning about Kercher’s murder. Knox testified last June that she did not want to be alone, so she accompanied him. During his interrogation, Sollecito admitted to police that he did not know for sure if Knox actually spent the night of the murder at his house, as she had told police earlier. Since Knox was at the police station, the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m., and, by 5:45 a.m., Knox had told police that she was in the house when Kercher died—and that Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the nightclub where she worked, was the assailant. She even described Kercher’s screams. She, Sollecito, and Lumumba were arrested. The next day, Knox wrote a five-page memorandum reiterating everything she said the night before. But since there was no lawyer present during her interrogation—and so far no one has produced an audiotape of the interrogation—Knox’s attorneys were able to have her verbal confession thrown out of evidence. The five-page memorandum still holds….

Evidence: Conflicting alibis

Who it hurts: Unknown

Knox maintains that she spent the night of Nov. 1, 2007, at Sollecito’s house. Sollecito did not take the stand during this trial, and his lawyer told NEWSWEEK that it was, at least in part, because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi….

So Sollecito did not take the stand in part because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi. Wow. That has to hurt.

Very much more in Barbie Nadeau’s original piece.  We recommend that you read it all.


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


Friday, July 31, 2009

Prosecutor Mignini Describes What Actually Happened At The Session With Knox Ending 5:45 AM

Posted by Peter Quennell


Linda Byron is an investigative reporter for a TV station in Seattle.

Her investigative exclusives seem almost exclusively to consist of long and unchecked quotes from the FOA camp together with two or three spaniel-eyed questions.

Which then become yet another shrill report on Seattle TV about what those dastardly Italians are doing to poor Knox. A typical report of hers can be seen here (try later if they are still hiding it).

These are a few of the facts of the case that Linda Byron seems NOT to have mastered.

  • That the Italian process of justice is actually very fair and very cautious, is tilted much more to the defense than in the UK and US, and requires prosecutors to jump through a number of hoops before they ever get their case to trial.

  • That a judge in Perugia last January issued an impressive 106-page report which explains in great detail why he decided Guede was guilty and why a great deal of evidence suggests that Knox and Sollecito might be too.

  • That there are TWO senior and respected prosecutors on this case, not just one, that the victim’s family has expressed full confidence in them, and that neither prosecutor has ever made any claims about a satanic motive here.

  • That the prosecution has just presented a formidable case with the help of Italy’s equivalent of the FBI and Scotland Yard, and the defenses seem to be gaining little traction in bringing it down or offering alternatives

  • That almost every prosecutor in Italy runs into administrative charges at some time in their career, they are so easy to file, and the charges against Mr Mignini always did look politically motivated and frivolous and likely soon to evaporate.

  • That the sliming of Mr Mignini has not been a success, that the FOA campaign in Italy has not been a success, and that Amanda Knox on the stand doesn’t seem to have been much of a success either.

And that above all there is a REAL victim here at the heart of this sad crime, known by the name of Meredith Kercher. And that her poor family is suffering for real here -  though of course many miles away from Linda Byron.

So. Instead of good journalism at long last in her latest report, what does Linda Byron have to offer?

No surprises here. Yet more of the sliming of Mr Mignini (this is an acrobat version).

“There are many parallels between the Monster of Florence case and the Knox case, I mean there are shocking parallels,” said American crime writer Doug Preston.

Preston says Mignini believes the monster was no lone psychopath, but part of a satanic sect. He suggested an eerily similar motive for Kercher’s murder, which took place on November 1, 2007.

“Which is right before the Italian day of the dead, and that this was some kind of satanic ritualistic ceremony that they were engaged in. That they killed Meredith Kercher as part of this satanic ceremony,” said Preston….

“He decides right up front with almost no evidence based on his gut feeling or intuition that you’re guilty and then sets out to prove it,” said Preston.

Actually, there seem to be no parallels whatsoever between the Florence and Perugia cases. For example Amanda Knox was interrogated only for two rather short periods - and Mr Mignini was not even present at the first of them.

And Mr Mignini was quite tangential to the Monster of Florence case. He was actually investigating a drowning to the west of Perugia. And when Preston and his partner interfered in Mr Mignini’s case in a particularly harebrained manner, a sharp response was inevitable.

Linda Byron invited Mr Mignini to provide a response to the heated claims in her piece. Either the response was completely over her head, or she did understand it and tried to bury it - it is ONLY only available in Italian, via a link, with a second link to Yahoo’s awful cut-and-paste translator.

Here now is Mr Mignini’s entire response put into good English, not by Yahoo, but by two of our own excellent native-Italian speakers.


Dear Ms Byron,

I hope we will be able to meet and discuss sometime in person, since some of the issues you have examined, specifically the Florentine proceedings against myself and Dr Giuttari, are way too complex to be described in just a few words. I will try to give a short answer here.

To begin with, there is no relationship between the events that are the subject of Spezi’s and Preston’s book and the murder of young Ms Kercher beside the fact that I am the one person dealing with both the Narducci proceedings (connected to the Monster of Florence case) and the Meredith Kercher murder.

These two are totally different events, as well as wholly unrelated to each other, and I am not able to see any type of analogy.

Furthermore, while the precautionary custody order for Spezi has been voided by the Tribunale del Riesame of Perugia, exclusively on the grounds of insufficient elements of proof, the precautionary custody order for Knox was firmly confirmed not only by the Tribunal of Riesame in Perugia,, but above all by the Sixth Section of the Court of Cassazione, which has declared the matter decided and closed.

About the “sacrificial rite” issue, I have never stated that Meredith Kercher was the victim of a “sacrificial rite”.

It should be sufficient to read the charges to understand that the three defendants have been accused of having killed Ms Kercher in the course of activities of a sexual nature, which are notoriously very different from a “sacrificial rite”.

The Monster of Florence investigations have been led by the Florentine magistrates Adolfo Izzo, Silvia della Monica, Pierluigi Vigna, Paolo Canessa and some others.

I have never served in Florence. I have led investigations related to the case since October 2001, but only with regard to the death of Dr Francesco Narducci, and just a superficial knowledge of those proceedings [Dr Narducci drowned or was drowned] would suffice to realize that I never spoke of a “sacrificial rite” which in this case doesn’t make any good sense.

About the defense lawyer issue.  Mr. Preston was heard as a person claiming information about the facts (in effect a witness), but after indications of some circumstances against him surfaced, the interview was suspended, since at that point he should have been assisted by an attorney, and since according to the law the specific crime hypothesis required the proceedings to be suspended until a ruling on them was handed down.

All I did was to apply the Italian law to the proceedings. I really cannot understand any problem.

In the usual way, Knox was first heard by the police as a witness, but when some essential elements of her involvement with the murder surfaced, the police suspended the interview, according to Article 63 of the penal proceedings code.

But Knox then decided to render spontaneous declarations, that I took up without any further questioning, which is entirely lawful. According to Article 374 of the penal proceedings code, suspects must be assisted by a lawyer only during a formal interrogation, and when being notified of alleged crimes and questioned by a prosecutor or judge, not when they intend to render unsolicited declarations.

Since I didn’t do anything other than to apply the Italian law applicable to both matters, I am unable to understand the objections and reservations which you are talking about.

Secondly, I have told you that explaining the nature of the accusations against me is a complex job.

In short, it has been alleged that I have favored Dr Giuttari’s position, who was investigated together with two of his collaborators for a (non-existent) political forgery of a tape recording transcription of a conversation between Dr Giuttari and Dr Canessa.

The latter was giving vent to his feelings, telling Dr Giuttari that the head prosecutor in Florence (at the time) was not a free man in relation to his handling of the Monster investigations.

A technical advisor from the prosecutor’s office in Genoa had tried to attribute that sentence to Dr Giuttari, without having previously obtained a sound test from him, only from Dr Canessa.

I decided, rightly and properly, to perform another technical test on that tape for my trial (I have a copy of it, and the original transcripts of the recording).

I had the technical test performed by the Head of the Sound Task Force of the RIS Carabinieri in Rome, Captain Claudio Ciampini.

If Giuttari had lied, Captain Ciampini would have certainly said so. But his conclusions from the analysis were that that sentence had been pronounced by Dr Canessa. And by the way, this is clearly audible.

I then deemed it appropriate to interrogate the technical adviser from Genoa, in the sphere of the investigations led by me, since the people under investigation were thoroughly but inexplicably aware of the development of the investigation of Dr Giuttari.

The technical advisor from Genoa had made some absolutely non-credible declarations, and I had to investigate him.

The GUP from Genoa, Dr Roberto Fenizia, by means of a non-contested verdict on 9 November 2006, acquitted Dr Giuttari and his collaborators, because the alleged crimes had never occurred.

Therefore, I am accused for doing a proper and due investigation, without even the consideration that I have spared some innocent people from a sentence. I leave any further evaluation up to you.

As for the phone tappings, they had been fully authorized or validated by the GIP. [Those charges are now thrown out.] Explain to me how they can be considered wrongful. I haven’t been able to understand this yet.

This is the story of that case in short, and I am certain the truth will prevail.

None of us is guaranteed not to be subjected to unjust trials, especially when sensitive and “inconvenient” investigations have been conducted.

When accusations are serious and heavy in Italy, a magistrate that has been investigated or charged suffers heavy consequences.

There are appropriate bodies in charge to intervene according to the current laws, but the Florentine penal proceeding so far hasn’t affected me at all, perhaps because everybody – and specifically those professionally working on the matter - have realized that such penal proceedings have been anomalous, to use a euphemism.

As to my possibility to appeal any conviction, the Italian law provides for it, and I don’t need to say more.

I will make some closing remarks on the different jurisdictions.

Indeed there are differences between the [UK and US] common law jurisdictions and those of continental Europe, including the Italian one, which like any other jurisdiction has its flaws but also its merits, of which I ‘m becoming more aware as I carry on.

Furthermore, both jurisdictions are expressions of the juridical culture of the Western world, and this is something that shouldn’t be disregarded.

I don’t think I need to add anything else, except that these issues would need to be discussed in a personal conversation in order to delve further into the matter.

Sincerely

Giuliano Mignini

No wonder Linda Byron seemed to want to bury this letter. Does anybody now not think that the charges against Mr Mignini are quite ludicrous?  Preston’s and the Florence prosecutor’s both? 

Mr Mignini seems to be suggesting to Linda Byron to hop on a plane to Italy and to try getting her facts straight once and for all. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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

Posted by The Machine



[above: Sollecito with his lawyer Giulia Bongiorno; click for a larger image]

The Sollecito Alibis: How They Conflict

The first two posts on the power of the case were on the DNA evidence, and the luminol-enhanced footprint evidence.

In this and the next post we will elaborate upon the testimony relevant to the multiple alibis given by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and the evolving circumstances in which they were given.

Following the discovery of Meredith’s body in her house, more than a dozen possible witnesses were quite expeditiously questioned: Meredith’s various English friends, her two Italian housemates, the four boys who lived downstairs, and Knox and Sollecito.

Meredith’s English friends, her two Italian housemates, and the boys downstairs fully cooperated with the police. They seemed to be telling the truth. They had one alibi each that could readily be verified. Those alibis never changed.

As a direct result they were all quickly eliminated from the investigation.

In stark contrast, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito appeared to be obfuscating. They appeared callous, impatient, arrogant, and reluctant to cooperate with the police.

These were attitudes first publicly noted as incriminating in mid 2008 by the judges at the Italian Supreme Court. Police and prosecution did not leak.

Knox and Sollecito each made three separate attempts to come up with credible alibis. All appeared desperate and semi-rehearsed. None of them made total sense or managed to get them off the hook. Neither helped the other at all. 

Today, we address Sollecito’s alibis.

The prosecution undermined them in various ways. Sollecito did not take the stand at trial to repeat any of them. His occasional interventions in the courtroom did not strengthen any of them. He made no attempt to corroborate the third alibi of Knox (that she was at his place all night) and immediately prior to arrest he said she had made him lie.

Everyone at and around trial knew of the wariness and extreme anger of the two (and their families) and how they knocked chips off one another whenever they could.

Innocent behavior? You decide. If each was not blaming the other for their plight this behavior would be unique in the history of crime.

 


Raffaele Sollecito’s first alibi

For his first alibi Raffaele Sollecito claimed, in an interview with Kate Mansey from the Sunday Mirror, that he and Amanda Knox were at a friend’s party on the night of the murder. It appears that this is the alibi that Sollecito also first told the police.

As there seems to have been no party, or in any case no party they attended, it would have been difficult for Sollecito to find any witnesses, and so this alibi was quickly superceded.

Raffaele Sollecito’s second alibi

For his second alibi Sollecito now claimed that he was at his apartment throughout the night with Amanda Knox.

This alibi was contradicted by the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution. According to the testimony of the scientific police from Rome, there were six separate pieces of forensic evidence that placed him in the cottage on Via Della Pergola on the night of the murder.

These included an abundant amount of his DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, and a bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in Meredith’s bathroom which appears to match the precise characteristics of his foot.

Sollecito’s claim that he was at his apartment the whole evening on 1 November was also undermined by Amanda Knox, who claimed in one of her own witness statements that he was also at the cottage when Meredith was killed:

Yes we were in the house. That evening we wanted to have a bit of fun. We were drunk. We asked her to join us. Diya wanted her. Raffaele and I went into another room and then I heard screams.

This alibi was also undermined by an eyewitness, Antonio Curatolo, the watcher in the park above the house, who testified that he saw Sollecito there. And it was undermined by Sollecito himself when he moved to the third alibi below.

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

Although Rudy Guede exercised his right to silence when he was called as a witness in the present trial, it should be noted that at his own trial last October and in the stated grounds for his appeal, he has claimed that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were both at the cottage on the night in question, and that they were responsible for Meredith’s murder.

Raffaele Sollecito’s third alibi

Sollecito was asked to return to the police station on 5 November to answer some more questions. He was at that time confronted with telephone records that proved that he and Amanda Knox had lied previously.

So for his third alibi, which now cut Amanda Knox loose and implicated her, Sollecito claimed that he was at his apartment all evening, and that for part of the evening Knox was out, from 9 pm to 1 am.

In my previous statement I told a load of rubbish because Amanda had convinced me of her version of the facts and I didn’t think about the inconsistencies….

Amanda and I went into town at around 6pm, but I don’t remember what we did. We stayed there until around 8.30 or 9pm.

At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner.”

He goes on to say that Amanda returned to his house at around 1am and the couple went to bed, although he couldn’t remember if they had sex.

This third alibi was undercut by Amanda Knox when she took the stand and testified. She stated that she was with Sollecito at his place all night.

It was also contradicted by the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution: the six separate pieces of forensic evidence that placed him in the cottage on Via Della Pergola on the night of the murder.

This third alibi was also undermined by the telephone records and by the data taken from his computer.

Sollecito claimed that he had spoken to his father at 11 pm. The phone records showed that to the contrary, there was no telephone conversation at this time, though Sollecito’s father had called him a couple of hours earlier, at 8.40 pm.

Sollecito claimed that he was surfing the internet from 11 pm to 1 am. Marco Trotta, a police computer expert, testified that the last human interaction on Sollecito’s computer that evening was at 9.10 pm and the next human activity on Sollecito’s computer was at 5.32 am.

Sollecito said that he downloaded and watched the film Amelie during the night. However, Mr Trotta said that the film had been watched at around 6.30 pm, and it was earlier testified that Meredith returned to the cottage she shared with Amanda Knox at about 9 pm.

Sollecito claimed that he had slept in until 10 am the next day. There was expert prosecution testimony that his mobile phone was actually turned on at 6.02 am. The Italian Supreme Court remarked that his night must have been “sleepless” to say the least.

This alibi was undermined by the eyewitness Antonio Curatolo, the watcher in the park above the house, who testified that he saw Sollecito there.

Sollecito’s difficult situation resulting

Sollecito does not seem to have done himself any favours by exercising his right to remain silent and not to testify at the trial.

As things now stand, he does not have any credible alibi or scenario for the night of the murder. Also it would appear that he has damaged his overall credibility irreparably, by giving three alibis that differed so considerably.

Judge Paolo Micheli had in front of him much of the same evidence. He wrote, in committing Raffaele Sollecito to trial last October, that he considered the triple alibis to be a clear indication of guilt.

There seems to be no obvious reason right now why the present judges and jury would conclude differently.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our Take On The Case For The Prosecution: #2 The Footprint Evidence

Posted by The Machine




1. Preamble

This series is a summary of the prosecution’s case in five parts, with a commentary on matters of key significance.

The material has been reordered so that evidence presented at several points in the trial can be described in one post here. Sources used are the many published reports and some transcripts made of the testimony. The first post, below, was on the formidable DNA evidence.

In this post we now elaborate the footprint evidence, some of which is easily visible and some of which is only apparent with the use of luminol.

We reported what happened in the court here and here.

Kermit in his Powerpoint series provided us with accurate prior analysis and post analysis of these flootprints and shoeprints, and Kermit also presented a Powerpoint map of the cottage.

2. About luminol

Luminol is a chemical that reacts with the microscopic particles of iron in the blood if a partial but incomplete attempt has been made to clean a bloodstain away.

The blood traces glow a bright blue quite fleetingly in the dark under luminol, just long enough to allow forensic investigators to measure and photograph it.

Luminol evidence can be among the most compelling. If bloodstains show up under luminol, but not to the naked eye, then it is almost a complete certainty that a crime-scene clean-up has been attempted.

Lorenzo Rinaldi is the director of the print-identity division of Italy’s scientific police, the Italian equivalent of Scotland Yard or the FBI. He testified that one visible and three luminol-revealed footprints and a visible shoeprint belonged to the present two defendants, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. (Another shoeprint belonged to Guede, convicted last October.)

3. Evidence Against Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox’s footprints were found set in Meredith’s blood in two places in the hallway of the new wing of Meredith’s house. . One print was exiting her own room, and one print was outside Meredith’s room, facing into the room. These bloody footprints were only revealed under luminol.

The fact that there was an absence of any visible bloody footprints from Meredith’s room where Meredith’s blood was to the visible bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom that Meredith and Knox shared strongly indicates that some prints were successfully cleaned away altogether.

A woman’s bloody shoeprint which matched Amanda Knox’s foot size was found on a pillow under Meredith’s body. Barbie Nadeau noted the significance of this evidence on The Daily Beast website:

“When the judge asked Rinaldi the size of an unidentified bloody shoeprint found on the pillow below Kercher’s body, he responded, “Between 36 and 38.” The judge then asked Rinaldi what size shoe Knox wears. “The Skecher shoe we sequestered belonging to Amanda Knox corresponds with size 37.”

The significance of the woman’s bloody shoeprint in Meredith’s room is considerable. By itself it debunks the myth that some had propagated for a while, that Rudy Guede acted alone. The bloody shoeprint was incompatible with Meredith’s shoe size.

4. Raffaele Sollecito

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.

Lorenzo Rinaldi excluded the possibility that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat was the right size or shape to belong to Knox or Guede instead of Sollecito: “You can see clearly that this bloody footprint on the rug does not belong to Mr. Guede, but you can see that it is compatible with Sollecito.”

Andrea Vogt’s report for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer shows just how meticulous and painstakingly detailed the analysis of the bloody footprints was:

“All the elements are compatible with Mr. Sollecito’s foot,” Rinaldi said, pointing with a red laser to a millimeter-by-millimeter analysis of Sollecito’s footprint projected onto a big-screen in the courtroom. He used similar methods to exclude that the footprint on the bath mat could possibly be Guede’s or Knox’s.

“Those bare footprints cannot be mine,” said Sollecito in a spontaneous statement…. But the next witness, another print expert, again confirmed Rinaldi’s testimony, that the print, which only shows the top half of the foot, matches the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot….

Rinaldi’s detailed PPT described methods of image analysis, metric and grid measurement of the ball, toe, heel and arch, as well the particular characteristics of the footprints and shoeprints as well as the actual shoes and feet of Knox, Sollecito and Guede. The three suspects gave their footprints and fingerprints at police headquarters.”

Another print expert also testified that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot.

Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, asked Dr. Stefanoni to confirm that other substances like bleach or fruit juice can also react to luminol.

Dr. Stefanoni acknowledged that they do, but pointed out that biologists who work regularly on crime scenes distinguish easily between the bright blue glow of a blood trace and the much fainter glow from other reactive substances


Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Take On The Case For The Prosecution: #1 The DNA Evidence

Posted by The Machine



[Above: Prosecutor Manuela Comodi, click for larger image]

1. Preamble

Nearly 200 hours over 23 days.

That is how long the prosecution took to present its voluminous case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, including time taken by the defense teams to conduct cross-examinations.

This series is a summary of the prosecution’s case in five parts, with a commentary on matters of key significance. The material has been reordered so that for example the DNA evidence presented at several points in the trial can all be described in one post here.

Sources used are the many published reports and some transcripts made of the testimony. All the main witnesses will be named in this series with a brief mention of who they are and their qualifications.

Two past posts that may aid in understanding the DNA testimony are Nicki’s post here and Fiori’s post here. All past DNA posts can be found in this area. 

2. The Large Double DNA Kitchen Knife

The double DNA knife is the knife that was sequestered from Sollecito’s apartment. Although there was an imprint of another knife at the scene, and one defense expert argued that there may have been yet another, it remains plausible that this is the weapon that was used to murder Meredith.

Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni was the leader of the forensic team from Rome that carried out all the forensic collections at Meredith’s house.  She testified unequivocally about the knife. A small sample of Meredith’s DNA was found to be in a groove on the blade, and Amanda Knox’s DNA was found to be on the handle.

Dr. Stefanoni noted that there were peculiar diagonal scrapes on the knife blade, which suggested that the knife had been vigorously cleaned.

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 defence teams’ forensic experts are not disputing that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife. Instead they are arguing that the knife was somehow contaminated for the DNA to actually be there.

Dr Stefanoni has firmly excluded this possibility of contamination in transit or in the laboratory. She testified that there hasn’t been a single instance of contamination in her laboratory for at least the last seven years, and every precaution was taken here to ensure that different traces were not mixed.

A police officer who led a search of Sollecito’s apartment added weight to the prosecution’s assertion that the double DNA knife had been cleaned with bleach. He testified that he had been struck by “the powerful smell of bleach”. 

When Raffaele Sollecito heard that the scientific police had found Meredith’s DNA on the double DNA knife in his apartment, he did not deny the possibility of the DNA being there.

Instead he made a claim about accidentally pricking Meredith’s hand whilst cooking at his apartment. “The fact that Meredith’s DNA is on my kitchen knife is because once, when we were all cooking together, I accidentally pricked her hand.’’

However Meredith had never been to Sollecito’s apartment and so it seems Sollecito could not have accidentally pricked her hand there whilst he was cooking. In attempting to explain the presence of Meredith’s DNA on the blade, he did so in a way easily disproved and seemed to further implicate Amanda Knox and himself.

3. Sollecito’s DNA On Meredith’s Bra Clasp

An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp, and Dr. Stefanoni has excluded the possibility of any contamination.

This is the bra clasp that was collected some weeks after the first forensic collection and it was conceded that it should have been collected earlier. It was also argued that valid DNA evidence in other cases is often collected weeks or months or even years after the crime when a suspect object is unearthed.

Sollecito’s lawyer Ms Buongiorno is perhaps not surprisingly claiming that this bra clasp was also contaminated in the laboratory. The problem for them is to explain precisely where such an abundant amount of Sollecito’s DNA could have come from, and how it was so firmly imprinted.

The only other instance of Sollecito’s DNA at the cottage was found on a cigarette butt in the kitchen, seemingly an unlikely source at best.

It would seem unlikely that the judges and jury will conclude that the bra clasp was contaminated in a strictly controlled laboratory where Dr. Stefanoni follows rigorous laboratory procedures.  She is an internationally renowned and very experienced forensic expert and was part of a Disaster Investigations Team which identified disaster victims via their DNA.

Alberto Intini is the head of the Italian police forensic science unit. Andrea Vogt reported as follows in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Mr Intini’s testimony about the possibility or otherwise of contamination:

“Alberto Intini maintained that the crime scene had not been contaminated and pointed out that laboratory testing revealed none of the investigators’ prints or biological traces. Mr Intini said “In fact, it is the results that tell you if it was done correctly, and I can tell you that in this investigation there was not even one trace of any of our operators.”

He also pointed out that unless contamination has been proved, it does not exist. “It is possible in the abstract that there could have been contamination, but until this is proved, it does not exist.”

The prosecution demonstrated on the final full day of testimony that Meredith’s bra was actually removed with a knife some time after she had been killed.

Judge Paolo Micheli presided over the fast-track trial of Rudy Guede and committed Sollecito and Knox to trial. In looking at the identical evidence he asked “Who had a reason to come back, cut off Meredith’s bra, and move her body some time later?”

The present judges and jury might conclude differently, but Judge Micheli concluded that it would only have been done by someone who knew about Meredith’s death and had an interest in arranging the scene in Meredith’s room to point away from themselves. He discounted Rudy Guede, who apparently went home, cleaned himself up, and then was seen out on the town.

4. Knox Blood With Meredith’s

There were five instances of Amanda Knox’s blood or DNA mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage in Via della Pergola: the bathroom, the hallway, and Filomena’s bedroom.

Amanda Knox’s blood was found mingled with Meredith’s blood in three places in the bathroom: on the ledge of the basin, on the bidet, and on a box of Q Tips cotton swabs.

Dr. Stefanoni testified that it would have been “strange” that three traces of blood with both Meredith’s and Amanda Knox’s DNA would have been left at different times.

Barbie Nadeau in Newsweek pointed out a reason why the blood stains must have been left on the night of the murder:

“Legal experts who follow this case have suggested that blood evidence cannot be dated and therefore could have been left weeks before the murder. But when Knox testified in her own defense in June, she conceded that there was no blood in the bathroom the day before the murder, effectively dating those blood stains to that night.”

Perhaps Knox had a bloody earring piercing, and maybe a drop landed on a drop of Meredith’s blood. But in three different places? Perhaps it is not surprising that the defence lawyers have not brought up the subject of the mixed DNA in the bathroom in their part of the trial.

Meredith’s blood was found on the top part of the light switch in the bathroom she shared with Amanda Knox. This suggests that it was deposited there when the light was switched on. Meredith’s blood was also found on the toilet lid. There were no DNA or other physical traces of Rudy Guede in that bathroom.

Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s DNA was also found mixed together in a bloody footprint in the hallway of the new wing of the house.

A mixture of Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s blood was also found in Filomena’s room. This seems to be compelling evidence because Knox had never claimed she entered Filomena’s room when she checked the cottage. This room was the scene of the alleged break-in, and there were glass fragments on the floor.

Meredith’s blood had been cleaned up in this room, but it was nevertheless revealed by luminol.

Barbie Nadeau concludes in a Daily Beast report that the mixture of Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s blood in Filomena’s room seems more incriminating than the double DNA knife:

“But perhaps more damning even than the knife was Stefanoni’s testimony that a mix of Knox’s DNA and Kercher’s blood was found on the floor in the bedroom of a third roommate, Filomena Romanelli.”


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: ABC News Reports On The Trial Happenings On Friday

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Overview

Click above for Rome-based Ann Wise’s report on what happened in court today.

2. Defense Witness Demonstrates Breaking Windows

Prosecutors say Knox and Sollecito staged a break-in to make the murder appear to be the result of a botched theft. A window in the bedroom of Filomena Romanelli, Knox and Kercher’s housemate, was broken, and glass shards and a 9-pound rock were found in the room.

The prosecution presented witnesses and evidence that suggest the window was broken from the inside.

Francesco Pasquali, a retired forensic police officer hired as a consultant by Sollecito’s defense, presented a video in court that included three different scenarios showing how the rock could have been thrown from the outside to break the window, located 13 feet off the ground.

According to Pasquali, the rock was thrown from a terrace across from the window, making the glass “explode” on the inside and spreading glass fragments everywhere on the inside and the outside of the windowsill.

Pasquali said that he had re-created the same conditions that were found in Romanelli’s room at the time of the break-in. Pasquali said he constructed a window of the same size, with the same paint and the same type of glass, and threw the rock through it into a room with the same characteristics as Romanelli’s room. Two video cameras—one inside and one outside—filmed the rock being thrown through the glass.

By analyzing the trajectory of the rock and the projection of the glass shards, Pasquali said he could “exclude that the glass could have been broken from the inside.”


3. But Pasquali Has To Back Down

Prosecutors, however, contend that shutters outside the window could have prevented a rock from breaking it….

The two prosecutors in the case, Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Comodi, made a number of objections when they cross-questioned Pasquali, who admitted that he had not taken into account the fact that there were shutters on the outside of the original window.

Prosecution witnesses have testified that the shutters were partially closed on the morning after the murder, and Pasquali conceded that the closed shutters would have prevented a rock from the breaking the window from the outside.

“It does not take a technician,” Pasquali said. “If the shutters were ajar then the rock couldn’t fit through.”

As we mentioned earlier, the prosecutors also got Pasquali to admit that, besides omitting those shutters, he had also omitted the mostly-drawn curtains in his simulation.

They could have radically altered the broken-glass pattern.

4. ATM withdrawal from Meredith’s bank account

The director of a local bank, Paolo Fazi, testified that 20 euros ($28) had been withdrawn from Meredith Kercher’s account Nov. 2—the day her body was found.

But he also said that the bank accounting date does not necessarily reflect the actual date of the ATM withdrawal, and that only Kercher’s British bank would have that date.

Someone from the British bank is expected to testify in upcoming hearings. Knox and Sollecito are… accused of stealing Kercher’s credit cards, her cell phones and 300 euros ($420) in cash…


5. Guede at disco early AM

A University of Perugia student told the Perugia court that he had seen Guede at a local disco in the early morning hours of Nov. 3, after Kercher’s murder.

Pietro Camplongo said Guede was dancing alone, and that people were keeping their distance from him, because he smelled “as if he hadn’t washed.”


6. Amanda Knox family in court

[Knox during a break] graciously accepted a chocolate from Sollecito, thanking him out loud. It is reportedly the second time he has given her a chocolate.

Knox’s younger sister, Deanna, 20, appeared in court for the first time on Friday, along with Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas… Deanna Knox had been to Perugia and visited Knox in jail, but she had not returned since the trial started in January.

Knox’s half-sister Ashley, 13, also came to court Friday morning but was asked to leave by the judge, because she is a minor.


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.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

How The Media Should Approach The Case If Justice Is To Be Done And SEEN To Be Done

Posted by Hellodalai


The American media are really playing with fire here.

This is one of the most seriously misreported cases in recent history, and a line really needs to be drawn.

Much of the media are doing no digging, consulting no Italians, repeatedly recycling discredited sources and those with a vested interest in the outcome, stating facts that are not facts, ignoring other facts that really are facts, revealing no understanding of how the Italian judicial process works, and often depicting the Italian professionals with contempt.

And so far no-one is really calling them on it.

From this perspective, I have been reading all the articles and information on this case for the past few days. I too was very disappointed in the NY Time pieces by Egan.  Rather than attempt to discuss the facts and evidence that are known so far, he painted “broad brush” strokes to argue that this trial is unfair.

The TIME magazine report just below - where the reporter basically allowed a Knox advocate to state her position unchallenged - is equally mediocre in terms of investigative and reporting quality. It was one of dozens that have done that.

Here is my own analysis of the case which I advance as the appropriate depth that EVERY reporter and print and TV analyst should aim to achieve before they start telling the rest of us what to think.

Motive

Egan points out that Amanda Knox had no motive to kill or participate in killing Meredith Kercher.

I agree that there seems to be little evidence on this issue.  One roommate testified as to tensions between Amanda and Meredith.  Roommate tensions are common, though, and rarely lead to murder.

Neither Rudy Guede, who has been convicted already, nor Raffaele Sollecito, who was Amanda’s boyfriend of less than two weeks, seemingly had motives, either.

All three were young adults who liked alcohol, music, marijuana, and sex (although Rudy has been described as a petty thief and small time drug dealer; other reports state he had no criminal convictions). None seemed likely to erupt into a murderous rage.

One of the downstairs male students testified that Guede expressed some interest in Amanda and said that Meredith was beautiful.  Sollecito wrote in a newspaper column that he was a 23 year old virgin when he met Amanda.

So Sollecito was vulnerable to Amanda’s influence.  Guede may have wanted to gain Amanda’s favor.  Add alcohol and drugs and group dynamics and - the threesome may have spun out of control.

Since the murder, Amanda’s behavior could certainly be questioned.  Who does cartwheels at a police station during an investigation of their murdered roommate?  What defendant wears a shirt to their murder trial that says “All you need is love” when the prosecution is trying to portray them as someone with out-of-control sexual behavior?

If this case rested solely on whether Amanda had a motive to kill Meredith, I would agree with Egan’s stance that the trial is unfair.  Egan seems to stop at that issue, however, and seems unwilling to examine all the evidence objectively.

DNA Evidence

One of the better reports on the case included this statement:

“But perhaps more damning even than the knife was Stefanoni’s testimony that a mix of Knox’s DNA and Kercher’s blood was found on the floor in the bedroom of a third roommate, Filomena Romanelli. While it might not be noteworthy to find mixed genetic traces of residents of the same house, Romanelli’s room is critical in this crime.

Her window was broken with a large rock that prosecutors believe was used to stage a break-in. The mixed Knox-Kercher trace was found after investigators used luminol, a substance used in forensic science to bring out blood that had been cleaned up.

In addition, Stefanoni testified that a mixture of Knox’s DNA and Kercher’s blood was found on the drain of the bidet, on the bathroom sink, and on a Q-Tip box in the girls’ bathroom.”

That is FOUR different blood samples with mixed Knox-Kercher DNA.  Yes, it does seem that the investigative methods were sloppy and not all samples may be reliable (I acknowledge that there are some problems with the prosecution’s case).

But I have yet to read even one article where a reputable DNA expert can explain why sloppy police procedures would result in four separate mixed blood samples.  I did read one explanation that Amanda bled from a pierced ear—thus providing some explanation, although weak, for why her blood may have been in the bathroom.  That doesn’t explain why her blood was in the bedroom of Filomena Romanelli (another of her roommates) or why her blood was found mixed with Meredith’s - or why her blood would be recoverable from an area that had been cleaned after the murder to eliminate evidence.

Similarly, the DNA evidence from Sollecito, found on Meredith’s bra clasp is not explained away by scientific reasoning.  True, the police left the clasp in Meredith’s room (which was sealed) for weeks and did not retrieve it, but DNA is not transferred by “flying DNA”; there is no “innocent” scientific explanation why Sollecito’s DNA (not sloughed dead cells, which do not contain DNA) would affix itself to a bra clasp worn by the murder victim after the clasp had been torn from her body.

As to the DNA evidence found on the knife located in Sollecito’s apartment,  the DNA sample from Meredith was very tiny, according to reports, and the DNA from Amanda could be explained by her using the knife at Sollecito’s apartment. (Sollecito explained Meredith’s DNA by stating she had come to his apartment for dinner with Amanda and that he had accidentally pricked her. But no witnesses have been found who remember Meredith ever talking about going to Sollecito’s apartment)

True, the knife is not the same size as most wounds on Meredith, but it is the same size as one wound. The knife showed evidence of bleach cleaning and some scratches (Sollecito’s apartment showed a lot of evidence of bleach cleaning, even though his maid did not use bleach to clean).

Clean up motives and evidence

I have yet to see a careful review of the testimony and possible conclusions that may be drawn from the known facts and circumstantial evidence, including the clean up after the murder—which, to me, are very compelling.

The neighbor has testified that she heard a very loud, long scream that night (presumably Meredith’s last), followed not long thereafter by the sounds of two to three different people running from the area (it was unusual to hear people running at that time of night).  The neighbor was 69 and could not remember exactly the date she heard the screaming, but she was firm that it was the night before Meredith’s murder was discovered.

It is not a stretch to link the screaming to Meredith, given that loud, long piercing screams are uncommon.  Also, a murderer or murderers would realize that Meredith’s scream may bring the police at any moment—so running from the crime would be expected. 

The uncontradicted testimony is that there was a fair amount of effort to “clean up” the crime scene (the defense merely claims that Knox and Sollecito were not involved). It also appears that whoever came back for the “clean up” also broke a window in Filomena’s bedroom (as mentioned, one of the two other roommates living upstairs; there were also four male students living downstairs in a separate unit), in an attempt to throw the investigating police off the scent. 

Filomena testifed that she found clothes strewn around her room the next day and that she had left the room tidy.  She testified that glass from the window broken in her bedroom was on top of those strewn clothes.  If the window was broken by someone entering the home who was intent on rape and/or robbery, then the glass would not be on top of the clothes as those clothes would not have been under the window then (Filomena also testified that she had valuables in plain view in her bedroom and that none were taken).

The evidence suggests that someone placed these clothes around the room and THEN broke the window to “stage a scene” (as there is no explanation for why anyone would have any motive to randomly take clothes and throw them around a room).

Let’s start with Guede first and the assumption that he came back to the home that night - either by himself - or with someone other than Amanda and Sollecito.

Guede’s motivation to come back to the crime scene would be to clean up the most incriminating evidence against him and to stage this crime scene to lead the police in a direction away from him.

Guede left DNA inside Meredith, bled on Meredith’s body, and left a bloody hand print on the pillow underneath Meredith’s head.  He also left feces in the bathroom toilet (the bathroom near Filomena’s bedroom - -not the “bloody” bathroom between Meredith and Amanda’s bedrooms).  He would know that if he came back to clean.  He would know that that evidence would be the strongest against him.

During this “clean up phase,” the DNA inside Meredith, Guede’s blood on Meredith’s body, the bloody hand print, and Guede’s feces in the bathroom toilet were all left untouched. 

The “clean up phase” spent a lot of time in the bathroom next to Meredith’s bedroom (it was also next to Amanda’s bedroom), the hallway, and Filomena’s bedroom, where the “break-in” was staged (it is possible at least part of this crime occurred in the bathroom, as Meredith’s blood was found on the bathroom light switch when it was in an up position - meaning it was touched when the light was on.  The bathroom had numerous droplets of her blood, some of which were commingled with Amanda’s blood.)

Despite the cleanup in Filomena’s bedroom, the police were still able to obtain DNA samples.  Guede’s DNA was not found in either the bathroom or Filomena’s bedroom.

Six bloody footprints from bare feet were identified.  One was visible to the naked eye in the bathroom and five were visible only after the police used luminol, which allows blood evidence cleaned by bleach to become visible under a special light.  The luminol did reveal five bloody footprints that had been cleaned up (one shoe print was also found under Meredith’s pillow - the print is consistent with the size of Amanda’s shoe).

None of the six bloody footprints are consistent with the size of Guede’s feet.  All six of these footprints are consistent with the size of Amanda and/or Sollecito’s feet.

Why would Guede concentrate his clean-up efforts on areas where there is little to no evidence from him and ignore the areas where there is substantial evidence of his involvement?  Wouldn’t he at least flush the toilet?

As to the staged “break-in,” would Guede be motivated to set this up?  If the police believed a “break-in” had occurred, would they then be led away from investigating Guede as a suspect?

If the police believed that a break-in had occurred, then they would focus on looking for someone who was either a complete stranger to Meredith or someone she would not readily admit to her home late in the evening if they knocked on her door unanounced.  Guede was not a complete stranger.  One of the four male students who lived in the separate unit downstairs testified that Guede sometimes came to the apartment of the four male students and met and talked to Amanda and Meredith there (the testimony is that Meredith dated one of those four male students).

The evidence suggests that Guede only slightly knew Meredith. So, Guede was not someone who could knock unannounced on Meredith’s door late at night (at least 9:30—after Meredith talked to her mother) and be readily admitted. 

Guede had no motivation to stage a “break-in” because a break-in would in no way lead the police away from his scent.  Plus, there is no evidence that Guede was ever in Filomena’s bedroom where the “break-in” was staged.  If he had participated in this staging, a footprint consistent with the size of his feet should have been illuminated by the police’s luminol.

It wasn’t.

Conclusions that jurors would normally draw from facts and the circumstantial evidence relating to the “clean up” and “break-in” point to someone OTHER than Guede participating in the “clean-up” and “staged break-in.”

Let’s now look at the assumption that Amanda and her boyfriend, Rafaelle Sollecito, were the ones who came back for the “clean up” and “staged break-in.”

If Amanda and Sollecito were with Guede when the murder occurred (accounting for the extra footsteps running away shortly after the last scream of Meredith) and then came back to get rid of evidence of their guilt, their motivation would be to clean up their blood and DNA evidence and lead police away from their scent.

As for whether Amanda bled that night, another roommate of Amanda’s and Meredith’s, Laura, testified that she saw a a mark under Amanda’s chin the day after the murder that was not there the day before the murder; Laura testified the mark was not a hickey as a hickey would have been purple and more round. 

I have read two different comments on this issue from Amanda’s father.  One stated that the mark was merely a hickey and is evidence she spent the night with her boyfriend.  Another was that a physician examining Amanda on Nov. 6th - -the murder occurred the evening of Nov. 1st - did not note a mark under the chin.  (Interestingly, the police interrogating Amanda the next day did not report such a mark, either).

I then found a photo that was posted online taken of Amanda the day after the murder.  It clearly shows a mark under her chin—and would account for her blood being found at the apartment.



[click for larger image]

If Amanda and Sollecito did the “clean up,” they would be motivated to leave evidence of Guede’s guilt and point the police in his direction.

Forensics don’t show either way whether bleach was used to clean up Meredith and Amanda’s apartment, though it was used in Sollecito’s apartment AND on the knife found in his apartment containing the DNA of Meredith and Amanda. 

The Conad store owner reported the presence of Amanda in the household cleaners part of his store early on the morning after the murder (when Amanda and Sollecito contend they were asleep) although rumored receipts for bleach were not presented at trial.

Meredith’s body, which contained Guede’s DNA and his blood (mixed with hers) was not cleaned and Guede’s feces was not flushed from the toilet.

The bathroom, which even after the cleaning, contained Amanda’s blood mixed with Meredith’s and a bloody footprint which is consistent with the size of Sollecito’s foot (trial testimony was that it was “likely” Sollecito’s footprint), had a lot of cleaning activity.

The hallway and Filomena’s bedroom, which even after the bleaching contained Amanda’s blood mixed with Meredith’s and bloody footprints, was the site of a lot of cleaning activity (these footprints were all consistent with the size of the feet of Amanda and Sollecito, but not consistent with the size of Guede’s feet) .

The “cleaning” evidence, and conclusions which may be drawn from it, point to Amanda and Sollecito as participants.

Would Amanda and Sollecito have a motive to stage a break-in?  Amanda obviously had a key to the unit and did not have to break into her own apartment.  If there was no sign of a break-in, police would probably focus on people who had a key to the apartment or friends of Meredith she would readily admit to her apartment at 9:30 at night.  If there was no sign of a break-in, police would question Amanda and Sollecito at length - and they would obviously know that.

Amanda and Sollecito had a strong motive to stage a break-in to focus police on looking for a stranger, or someone like Guede who only knew Meredith very casually.

What about the next morning?  Let’s first assume Amanda was innocent and she is being truthful when she testified that she did not come home until around 11:30 the next morning.

Amanda testified that when she came home around 11:30 a.m. that the apartment door was open, that there was visible blood in the bathroom (which would have been numerous scattered blood drops, a ten inch smear on the bathroom door, and a bloody footprint on the floor) and that there was feces in a toilet.  Amanda says that she called out for Meredith and no one answered.

She then took a shower and went to Filomena’s bathroom and used her dryer to dry her hair (this is the bathroom with Guede’s feces;  this toilet is different than American toilets in that it had a large flat area so that the standing water in the toilet did not submerge the feces) and returned to her boyfriend’s apartment.

If Amanda were truly innocent when she arrived that morning, wouldn’t she also try to open the door to Meredith’s bedroom after Meredith did not answer, even when she banged on her door more than once?  Amanda’s fingerprints were not found on the door knob and she has never testified that she tried to open the door.  Sollecito testified that when he arrived later with Amanda that he tried to open the door - and his fingerprints are on the door knob.

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she text Meredith, as she did several times two days before?  Wouldn’t she call both of Meredith’s cell phones and let them ring to see if they were in her bedroom? (Phone records show she called each phone one time; one for three seconds and the other for four seconds, despite Amanda telling Filomena that day that she had called Meredith’s cell phones and that the phones just kept ringing) 

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she also call out for Filomena and Laura - because she would not know for sure if they might have returned that morning (she knew Filomena had spent the night in town and that Laura was in a nearby town)?  Wouldn’t she look into their bedrooms (Filomena’s door was closed that morning, according to Amanda; Sollecito says it was open) and have noticed that Filomena’s bedroom window was broken and her clothes were strewn about? (When Amanda first called Filomena she did not mention that Filomena’s bedroom had been broken into).

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she have just flushed the exposed feces down the toilet?

If Amanda were innocent and truthful, wouldn’t her hair three hours later look like it had been washed and blow dried that day?  Look again at the photo posted above.  It was taken about three hours after the alleged washing and blow drying.  Is that the hair of a woman who washed and blow dried her hair three hours earlier?

Wouldn’t Amanda have noticed that the lamp in her bedroom, which was the only source of light for that room, was missing? (Police later found it in Meredith’s room).  Wouldn’t she have immediately noticed the missing lamp when she first entered her bedroom that morning so that she would have immediately either left the apartment without taking a shower or called the police to come over? (Police and phone records show that Sollecito didnt call them until 12:54, even though the Postal and Communications Police had been at the apartment with Sollecito and Amanda since 12:26 - the Postal Police unexpectedly showed up at the apartment because Meredith’s cell phones had been found.)

People react differently to unexpected happenings and Amanda may not have done all of those things, but surely she would have done at least one of them.

If Amanda were truthful about showering and drying her hair, wouldn’t her fingerprints be in both bathrooms? (Since these activities would have occurred AFTER the clean up).  The police only found one of her fingerprints in her residence - on a glass in her kitchen.

As to this time frame, what about the recent trial testimony of Amanda’s mother that Amanda told her in their first phone call that day that she thought someone was in her apartment?  Cell phone records place that call at 12:47, some 21 minutes after the Postal Police arrived. (A nearby video camera documents that time, as does Postal Police log records;  the defense has tried to argue that the Postal Police did not arrive until after 1:00 p.m., but do not have evidence for that position.  In fact, Filomena testified that she arrived back at her apartment before 1:00 and that the Postal Police were already there.)

Postal Police testified that both Amanda and Sollecito were in Amanda’s bedroom with the door closed at 12:47 - the bedroom with no lamp or overhead light (neither Amanda nor Sollecito mentioned to the Postal Police or Filomena when they emerged from that bedroom after many minutes that the only lamp in the room was missing).

Let’s keep assuming Amanda was innocent.  Would she have come back to her apartment with Sollecito, still not having called police, and then start a load of washing of Meredith’s clothes? (The Postal Police said the washing machine was running when they entered;  Filomena, who arrived a little later, said that the washing machine was still warm and contained Meredith’s clothes.)

Amanda has testified that she got out a mop and bucket the first time she went to her apartment that day and took it back to Sollecito’s because there was water on his apartment floor from water used in cooking pasta the night before (Sollecito said, however, that the water was from a broken pipe;  Sollecito’s diary written in prison talks of a dinner of stir fry mushrooms and vegetables).

Who has water spills from cooking pasta so large that the next day it is still puddled to the degree it needs to be mopped?  Who voluntarily carries a mop and bucket several blocks to clean up water from cooking pasta the night before? (Especially a person who has been labeled in trial testimony as messy and unkempt in their cleaning habits).

If Amanda were innocent, wouldn’t she and Sollecito have called the police after Sollecito tried to open Meredith’s locked bedroom door and couldn’t open it?

Instead of calling the police, Amanda and Raffaele went outside and stood next to the mop and bucket.  Why didn’t they just put the mop and bucket back up in the apartment when they first arrived?  Why leave it outside the apartment?  Why then go back out and stand next to the mop?

If Amanda and Sollecito were innocent, that means that Guede (and perhaps one or two accomplices) murdered Meredith, then ran away, and then came back at some point and cleaned up the crime scene PARTIALLY (but ignoring and leaving the most damning evidence against him) and THEN GUEDE CAME BACK that morning after Amanda had showered and left - so that GUEDE could do a LOAD OF WASHING of Meredith’s clothes - presumably blood stained, all the while ignoring his feces in the toilet and his bloody hand print on the pillow under Meredith’s body - only for GUEDE to then leave again right before Amanda and Sollecito arrived (so the washing machine would still be running when the Postal Police arrived a short while later).

What type of person or persons would come back to a crime scene to clean it up?

The most likely person to return to a crime scene for a clean up is someone who knows that they can do a clean up with little chance of being caught. 

Guede might have known that the four male students downstairs were all away due to his occasional appearances there.  But how would Guede know that Filomena and Laura, the other two upstairs roommates, would not come back either that night or in the morning?

Amanda and Sollecito, on the other hand, would know that everyone who lived in the house would be gone and that they could do a clean up that would take some time and have a good chance of not being caught in the act.  Only the unexpected appearance of the Postal and Communications Police interrupted the mopping and cleaning (as there was still a ten inch blood smear on the bathroom door near Meredith’s bedroom and numerous visible blood droplets).

No one else other than Amanda and Sollecito, and who may have been involved, had such knowledge.   

Conclusion

     

The facts, testimony, and conclusions that may reasonably be drawn from the evidence, including circumstantial evidence (that is what juries do all the time), lead me to believe that Amanda will be found guilty.

Let any reporter or analyst run the case through their minds at this depth and then make sure that at a minimum, they keep their cool and don’t misrepresent.

When I read an article or blog in the New York Times or Time magazine, I expect thorough, well-reasoned, well-researched, investigative journalism. Judicial cases DEMAND it.

Instead, here I have found articles that IGNORED the evidence and some very mediocre journalism. What happened to journalistic standards?  Where is the public outcry against the U.S. media’s handling of this case? 

For the sake of true justice, a line now needs to be drawn.


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.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

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

Posted by Nicki





Posting from Milan (image below) 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 (image below) where we have all 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.



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