Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Series 8 No motive hoax

Friday, September 02, 2011

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

Posted by Peggy Ganong





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 1 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander




Why This Long Summary

The full Massei Report can be found here.

The wiki page controversy surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher rages on in a tiny corner of the online universe, here is our own contribution to the debate.

It is a 4-part summary of the Massei report, the document that sets forth and explains the Court’s reasons for unanimously convicting Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their role in the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox’s roommate, after a long, thorough and fair trial.

Click here for more


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 2 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

4. Morning of November 2

Accounts of the events of the morning of 2 Nov do not agree. According to Knox’s statement, she and Sollecito slept until around 10-10:30 am.[67] After a while, she decided to go back to her house to take a shower and change her clothes, and to fetch a mop to clear up some water from a leaking pipe in Sollecito’s kitchen.[65] Her intention was that when she returned they would leave for a planned trip to the nearby town of Gubbio.[70]

When she arrived at her apartment, she was surprised to see that the front door was open. She entered the house, leaving the door open in case it had been deliberately left ajar by one of her flatmates, who might have gone out briefly, to get some cigarettes for example. She then went to her own room, undressed and went into the bathroom that she shared with Meredith. She took out her earrings and cleaned her ears - a regular necessity because the piercing in one ear had become infected. She noticed drops of blood in the sink, and thought this strange but continued to take a shower. Getting out, and not having remembered her towel, she decided to use the bath mat to shuffle into her own room. At that moment, she noticed the blood stain on the mat but thought it might be from some menstrual problem that hadn’t been cleaned up.[70]

Having returned the bathmat, she put her earrings back on, brushed her teeth, dressed in clean clothes and then went in the other bathroom (the one used by Romanelli and Mezzetti) and dried her hair with their hairdryer. She then noticed that there were feces in the toilet, which was strange as Romanelli and Mezzetti were very clean. She left her apartment, locking the front door, and went back to Sollecito’s, where they made breakfast and she told him what she had seen.[70]

In contrast to this account, forensic examination of Sollecito’s computer showed that it had been used for about half an hour from 5:32am to listen to music. After this, he turned on his mobile phone and, at 6:02 am,  received an SMS message which had been sent to him by his father the previous evening when the phone was switched off. Phone records also confirmed a call made at 9:30am to Sollecito by his father. There was no mention of any of this activity in Amanda’s statement.[82]

According to the testimony of Marco Quintavalle, the owner of a small supermarket, he opened his shop at 7:45am on the morning of November 2 and almost immediately a young woman, whom he identified as Amanda Knox, went into the store department that had groceries, detergents and toilet paper on sale. He saw her leave again but did not know if she bought anything. Quintaville did not present this information to the police until some months after the crime and explained that, although he had previously been questioned about the morning after the murder, he had not been specifically asked about Knox. Another of the shop’s employees stated that she had not seen Knox in the store.[83-84]

The court highlighted the discrepancies between Knox’s account and the evidence of the computer and phone records and the testimony of the shop owner. It also doubted the credibility of Knox going back home to change her clothes, take a shower and fetch the mop to dry the floor. Since Knox and Sollecito had planned a trip to Gubbio that morning, she could well have brought the clothes with her that would be needed. It was also noted that Knox had already showered and washed her hair at Sollecito’s house, the previous evening: there was no obvious need for her to repeat those actions and, if there were such a need, there was no reason why she couldn’t do so at Sollecito’s. Fetching the mop to dry the floor was also deemed to be scarcely credible, considering that Sollecito employed a cleaner and, in any case, everything needed to clean up some water was already there.[85]

What is certain is that, around midday, Knox called Filomena Romanelli to say she had arrived at the apartment and had found the door open: she had taken a shower and it had seemed to her that there was some blood in the apartment. She said that she was going to Sollecito’s place but did not know the whereabouts of Meredith. Romanelli rang Knox back and Knox (now at Sollecito’s) told her that the window in Romanelli’s room was broken, everything was in a mess, and that she should come back home.[30]

Knox and Sollecito went back together to the house in Via della Pergola. According to their accounts, they looked in Romanelli’s room where there had apparently been a burglary, and checked the other rooms, but found nothing missing. They were worried that Meredith’s door to her room was locked and, when she was called, there was no answer. Sollecito made an attempt to force open Meredith’s door (described by the court as a ‘timid’ attempt, given that it was easily forced open later).[31] After that, they left the house, partly to look at the broken window from the outside.

Earlier that morning, two mobile phones had been discovered in the garden of a house located in Via Sperandio, a short distance from 7 Via della Pergola (the shortest route would be distance of about 5-7 minutes on foot, according to one witness).[25] The owner of the house had contacted the Communcations Police with regard to a telephoned bomb threat which she had received and then discovered the two phones. One of the phones was registered to Romanelli (although both were in fact Meredith’s phones - one given to her by Romanelli for use in italy).[26][30]

The Communications Police traced Romanelli’s address and arrived at the girls’ apartment some time between 12:30pm and 1pm. Outside the house, they found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito – who said that they were waiting for the carabinieri, whom they had called because they had been away for the night and had come back to find the entrance door open and then a window broken.[28]

Romanelli, her friend Paola Grande and their boyfriends, Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri arrived around 1pm.[28] Romanelli made a quick check of her room, discovering that, although it was in a complete mess with the windowpane broken and clothes thrown around the floor, nothing was missing.[31] Nonetheless, she was concerned that the front door had been found open, bloodstains had been found in the small bathroom, and there was no news of Meredith. Furthermore, Meredith’s bedroom door was locked.[31]

The significance of this fact subsequently became a point of disagreement, with Knox saying that even when she went to the bathroom for a shower Meredith always locked the door to her room (the fact that she said this being confirmed by Zaroli and Altieri). Romanelli, on the other hand, said she was aware of only one occasion when the door had been locked and this was when Meredith had returned to England for a few days.[31]

The Massei report notes Knox’s apparent lack of concern at the locked door, both in the presence of the Communications Police and in her earlier telephone conversation with Romanelli. This was at odds with an email that Knox sent to her friends and family a few days after the murder (November 4, 2007) in which the locked door acquired a central importance and Knox described herself as “panicking” when she first discovered it.  Massei concludes that panic at the locked door would be a logical reaction if Knox had been uninvolved in the murder, but according to Romanelli and the Communications Police, there was no such panic.

Knox and Sollecito, in fact remained in the living room, some distance away from Meredith’s room, while Romanelli and her friends were so concerned that they decided to force the door open. One of Romanelli’s friends broke down the door and the bloody body of Meredith Kercher was found.[32] The Communications Police sealed the area and called the Carabinieri, who arrived a short time later.[33]

5. Pathology: Injuries, time and cause of death and Conclusions

Massei observes that the injuries Meredith Kercher sustained were the subject of intense analysis and speculation in the courtroom, yet his summary and conclusions are clear and concise.  Many of Meredith’s injuries appear to have been caused by the actions of restraining, whereas some were obviously inflicted by a knife or knives and showed great diversity in both dimensions and overall harmfulness.  Massei found that one point was particularly significant: the knife wounds from the attack to Meredith’s neck came from both the right and the left sides.[371]

Massei believes Meredith’s injuries lie at the heart of the debate over the single attacker versus the multiple attacker scenarios.  The hypothesis of a single attacker requires that the single attacker continually modify their actions, first by exercising a strong restraining pressure on her, producing significant bruising, and then for some reason switching to life threatening actions with a knife, thereby changing the very nature of the attack from that of subjugation to that of intimidation with a deadly weapon, and finally to extreme violence by striking first from the right penetrating to a depth of 4cm (1.5 inches) and then from the left to a depth of 8cm (3 inches) into the neck.[371]

Massei describes the first knife blow coming from the right by saying that it was apparently halted from going any deeper by hitting the jawbone. The Court considered that this blow was an effort to force Meredith to submit to an action against her will. The Court also considered that the penetrating knife wound from the left was preceded by the action of running the knife over the surface of the skin on the same part of Meredith’s neck, just a few centimeters below the eventual strike zone where the serious, deeper second wound was inflicted.[371]

What surprised Massei about Meredith’s wounds was that in spite of all the changes in approach during the attack she somehow remained in the same vulnerable position, leaving the same part of her neck fully exposed to an attacker.  If this were a solo attacker then this person released a firm restraining grip on Meredith to somehow bring a knife into play, then striking her first from the right and then switching the knife-holding hand to somehow float a knife in an intimidating manner across her neck on the left, before finally stabbing her in that same location on the left with a final debilitating blow.[371-372]

Massei concludes that throughout the attack Meredith remained virtually motionless, and he cites the almost nonexistence of defensive wounds on other parts of her body in comparison to the number, distribution, and diversity of impressive bruises and wounds to her face and neck.  Massei finds this disproportion to be a significant factor, particularly when considering Meredith’s physical and personality characteristics.[370,371]

Meredith’s physical build was described as being slim and strong; possessing a physique that would have permitted her to move with agility.  In addition, Meredith was described as being athletic and one who practised football, karate, and boxing.[369]  Therefore, the court found it unlikely that only one person performed the attack against her, and inevitable that several people had acted together against Meredith; a group who forcibly restrained Meredith in movement so that she could not defend herself in any way nor shield herself with her hands in order to avoid the repeated attacks to her neck.[371]

Meredith’s defensive wounds were found to be minimal and consisted of a 0.6cm (quarter inch) long superficial slice on the palm of her right hand showing only a trace of blood and another 0.6cm (quarter inch) slice on the second finger of her left hand, along with several highly superficial cuts to the fingertip of the index finger.  Massei finds this remarkable considering that the normal and instantaneous human reaction to that first violent knife stab to the neck would have been to protect the area of attack, along with a strong desire to escape even if it meant receiving a blow to another part of the body.  However, Meredith remained in the same standing position while continuously offering her exposed neck to the actions of the person(s) striking her, with the peculiar distinction of striking first from the right and then from the left.  Massei believes that a scenario as such seemed inexplicable, unless one accepts the presence of more than one attacker who, as a group, forcibly restrained the athletic Meredith’s movements while intimidating and striking her from multiple angles.[369]

Massei also believes that evidence demonstrated Meredith was still dressed and awake when the attack began on her and that the violence against her could not have taken place as it did if Meredith were lying on her bed.  Massei concludes that Meredith was sober and fully conscious since no traces indicating either the use of drugs or the abuse of alcohol were found; all of which, if present, might have contributed an inability to firmly resist an attack.[369]

Furthermore, Massei finds it impossible to imagine a scenario in which a single person could have removed the clothes that Meredith was wearing (shoes, pants and underwear) while inflicting the sexual violence revealed by the vaginal swab.  Massei finds it highly unlikely that one person could have caused all of the resulting bruises and wounds cited above in addition to removing her sweatshirt, pulling up her shirt, and bending her bra hooks by force before finally tearing and cutting the bra. The actions on the bra alone, during which a small piece of material with hooks was cut off and thrown to the floor, were necessarily conducted from behind Meredith and required the attention of both hands of an attacker, and thus Meredith would have had her own hands free to attempt actions of self-defense.[370]

Massei concludes there was very little evidence of any defensive maneuvers on the part of Meredith, which to him was a strong indication that several attackers were present, each with a distribution of tasks and roles: either holding Meredith and preventing her from any significant defensive reaction, or actually performing the violent actions.  Massei concludes that the rest of the body of evidence came in full support of such a scenario, recalling that a biological trace of Rudy was found on one of the cuffs of Meredith’s sweatshirt indicating a gripping in order to prevent any reaction.  In drawing together all of the elements mentioned above, both circumstantial and forensic, Massei concludes that the diverse morphology of the injuries, their number, and their distribution mandated that the violence against Meredith was performed by multiple attackers.[370-371]

Summary of pathology findings

Massei describes the significant injuries discovered during the post-mortem examination and states that there were no noticeable injuries in the chest or abdomen areas, two areas of slight bruising on one elbow, small wounds on the hands indicative of a minimal defensive response, very slight bruising on the front of the left thigh, minor bruising on the front middle of the right leg, and a slight area of bruising just below the top of the head.[111-112]

Massei cites compelling evidence of recent sexual activity having the characteristics of non-cooperation on the part of the female participant.  Non-spermatic biological material belonging to Rudy Guede was discovered during the course of a gynecological examination of the corpse. This, in conjunction with a distinct pattern of abrasions, was interpreted by the court as being strong evidence of sexual violence.[157-158]

The head and neck injuries were the most significant and included small spots inside the eyelids indicative of asphyxiation, a bruise to the cheek possibly caused by a knife point, bruising on the nostrils and trauma to the lips suggestive of silencing or suffocation efforts, biting injuries to the tongue, bruising and abrasions on the lower jaw indicative of a hard compression by hand, and neck swelling and hemorrhaging with pools of blood left inside the lungs as a result of two significant knife wounds.[111]

Dr. Lalli, the Perugia Coroner, who performed the autopsy on Meredith at the morgue of the Perugia Polyclinic, reported that the hyoid bone, located at the back of the tongue muscle had been “severed”.[145: Professor Torri quotes Dr. Lalli’s comment]

The most significant wounds Meredith sustained were inflicted by knife-stabs and thrusts occurring very quickly from the right and from the left, severing the right superior thyroid artery and the hyoid bone.[139] The largest of these was inflicted by a knife high on the left side of the neck near the jawbone which penetrated to a depth of 8cm (3 inches).[111]

Another significant knife wound, 4cm (1.5 inches) deep, was noted on the right side of the neck, above which were found superficial parallel scratches.  The wound from the right crossed the path, inside the neck, of the wound from the left. The Court concluded that these knife wounds were made by single-bladed, pointed cutting tools and that Meredith’s injuries might be consistent with a virtually infinite number of instruments, provided they had a blade with only one sharpened edge that was not serrated.[111-113]

The Court held that it is self evident that should one conclude during forensic pathology investigations that a knife is not compatible with any of the wounds inflicted on the victim, it would be pointless to give that knife further consideration, including DNA testing.[166]

The experts and consultants who were examined during the course of the trial, taking into examination the various wounds present on the neck, did exclude the compatibility of Raffaele’s knife with the smaller stab wound inflicted on the right side of the neck, and the Court agreed.  However, the Court did not agree with arguments that the knife confiscated from Raffaele’s flat was incompatible with the deep wound on the left.  The Court concurred with expert testimony proclaiming that the knife presented by the prosecution as the murder weapon, with the DNA of both Meredith and Amanda on it (ie the “double DNA knife”), is clearly compatible with the large fatal neck wound.[169-173]






Cause of death

The Court found that the death of Meredith Kercher was asphyxia caused by the neck-wound which severed both the hyoid bone and the right superior thyroid artery. The severing of the hyoid bone opened Meredith’s airway directly through the skin to the atmosphere, and the severed right superior thyroid artery was the main source of the blood which asphyxiated her when she then inhaled blood directly through her severed airway down into her lungs.[162]

Time of death

In order to preserve the crime scene, a thorough examination of the corpse was not performed until approximately 11 hours after the body was discovered.  Relying upon the criterion of body temperature and the influences of various other factors such as blood loss, the corpse being covered with a duvet, and other environmental conditions the time of death was initially placed approximately between 8:00 pm November 1, 2007 and 04:00 am November 2, 2007.  An intermediate value for such a time range is considered of value, and the actual time of death was suggested by the coroner as being approximately 11.00 pm on November 1, 2007.  The combined criteria of temperature, hypostatic stains, and rigor mortis all supported this range for the time of death, but for a variety of reasons were unable to accurately define a more narrow time of death range.[113-116]

Massei notes that the state of digestion of Meredith’s stomach contents provided significant additional information towards establishing a more accurate estimate for the time of death.  Meredith’s stomach contents included apple, cheese, and floury fragments of the apple crumble she ate while visiting friends, which had not yet entered into her the small intestine.  In addition, a piece of mushroom was also found in Meredith’s esophagus.  This could not have been consumed during the meal with friends, which did not include mushrooms, since it was in a different less digested state.[115, 178-179]

Testimony during the trial established that an emptying of the stomach into the small intestine under typical conditions starts between two and four hours after the start of a meal.  A complicating factor is that Meredith apparently ate additional food at home after her earlier meal which, according to statements made by the British friends of Meredith, occurred sometime between 6 pm and 8 pm.  Nevertheless, it becomes possible to propose a time of death as being 3 to 4 hours beyond the time frame of the initial eating event: therefore, this could reasonably range between 9pm (around the time she arrived home) and midnight of November 1, 2007.  This timeframe remains consistent with all other indicators.  It is important to note that the beginning of the attack would have been a moment of tremendous stress for Meredith that may have arrested her digestive process. However, Massei notes that this, like many other variables concerning the behavior of the digestive tract, remains in the realm of speculation.[178-179]

The various consultants and experts heard in court regarding the time of death all emphasized the difficulty of establishing a precise time.  Regarding time of death, there can be no doubt that Massei relied upon the evaluations of a variety of evidentiary sources, including the consideration that Meredith would not have been able to make any vocalizations following the final fatal stab wound to her neck, which lends importance to witness statements regarding when they may have heard a scream on the night of the murder.  However, the Court concluded that testimony regarding the pathology alone made it possible to suggest that the time of death that was, in fact, within a range of tens-of-minutes either before or after 10:50 pm November 1, 2007.[131]

6. Forensic investigation

The forensic evidence included the analysis of DNA in various samples taken, of footprints revealed by Luminol, and of foot prints and shoe prints.

Meredith Kercher

The fatal wound was swabbed in order to obtain the profile of her DNA for comparison with other samples. [190] One of two swabs of her vagina produced genetic material, the DNA of the Y chromosome of Rudy Guede. [189] Samples taken from under her fingernails yielded only her own DNA. The court noted that her finger nails were very short and probably would not inflict significant scratches on an attacker. [190]

Rudy Guede’s Y chromosome was also found mixed with Meredith’s blood on Meredith’s handbag and on the left cuff of her sweatshirt.[192]

The Small Bathroom

Blood was found in seven locations in the small bathroom that Knox shared with Meredith. [192]

• The Door Frame: blood was found on the right, inside door frame containing Meredith’s DNA. [192]
• The Light Switch Plate: Meredith’s blood was also found on the light switch. [192]
• The Sink: Blood was found in two places. There was dried blood near the faucet that had the DNA of Knox. [192] A streak from the left part of the sink toward the drain containing Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
• The Bidet: Meredith’s blood was found mixed with the DNA of Knox.[192]
• The Toilet Lid: Meredith’s blood.[192]
• Q-tip Box: Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
• The Bathmat: Three samples taken from the bathmat yielded Meredith’s blood.[192] The bloodstains on the bathmat were studied and compared with footprints taken of the right foot from Knox, Sollecito, and Guede, and found to be that of Sollecito. [351-355]

The Large Bathroom

Toilet paper and faeces were found in the toilet. Testing the toilet paper found the DNA of Rudy Guede.[192]

Traces Revealed by Luminol

Various surfaces were sprayed with Luminol, which fluoresces brightly when applied to blood. The fluorescence was then swabbed and tested for DNA. Nine traces were found; two were Meredith’s, three were Knox, and two were mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox.[281-286]

• Romanelli’s Bedroom: One sample of Meredith, and one of Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[282]
• Hallway: Three footprints matching, based on measurements, Knox’ right foot were found, two facing the exit, and one oriented toward the doorway of Meredith’s room.[247]
• Knox’ Bedroom: Footprint of Amanda Knox’ right foot, also identified by measurements.[247]

Shoeprints

Shoeprints made in Meredith’s blood and visible to the naked eye led from Meredith’s bedroom to the exit, becoming fainter toward the exit. [193] These were determined to be incompatible with Sollecito’s shoe size 9, and to be compatible with a Nike Outbreak 2, size 11.[334-336]

Although the shoes were never found, a box for Nike Outbreak 2, size 11 was found in Guede’s apartment.[334]

A left shoe print was found on Meredith’s pillow, estimated to be between size 36 and 38.[342]

Knox wears a size 37.[343] A defense expert made a comparison of the sole pattern with Guede’s right shoe, and argued that the print could have been made by him. The court noted the conflicting theories without expressing a specific opinion,[343-344] and noted that Knox seemed to have been moving about the scene in her bare feet.[344]

Other Evidence

• A small trail of drops of Meredith’s blood from the small bathroom to the kitchen/living room.[193]
• A cigarette butt found in the kitchen had mixed DNA of Sollecito and Knox.[197]
• A jack knife belonging to Sollecito was found to have the DNA of Sollecito and Knox, but no blood.[195]

The Court’s Analysis:

The defense did not contest the mixed DNA test results, but instead argued that they were irrelevant: that mixed DNA would be expected since Meredith and Knox lived in the same house and shared the small bathroom. [378] They suggested that Knox’s DNA could be exfoliated skin cells. Dr. Stefanoni (for the prosecution) testified that exfoliated skin cells are keratinized and contain no DNA. [202]

The court concluded that Knox’ DNA became mixed with Meredith’s blood from vigorous scrubbing of the hands and feet, and that this is how the mixed DNA sampled came to be found in the sink and the bidet.[279]

DNA testing cannot, by itself, determine when biological material has been deposited, or in the case of mixed DNA, which was deposited first or whether it was simultaneous. [211] However, the court noted that Knox told the court in her answer to questioning that the bathroom was clean when she left the house on the afternoon of November 1.[278]

The court concluded that Meredith’s killers had gotten blood on their hands and elsewhere on their bodies, and that they needed to clean off the blood. Accordingly, they tracked blood on their feet to the small bathroom, where Meredith’s blood was transferred to the doorframe and light switch plate when they turned the light on in order to use the bathroom.[279] Sollecito tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom, leaving a partial print of his right foot in blood.[379]

Knox was not wounded.[280] The trace of her blood on the tap was different in appearance from the mixed DNA samples, and was explained by her as having come from her own ear having been pierced. [280] The mixed trace in the sink and the bidet appeared to have been diluted with water, constituting a single trace placed there by Knox when she was cleaning Meredith’s blood from her hands and feet.[378]

The defense experts did not specifically attack the accuracy of the findings on the trace evidence revealed by Luminol.[285] Dr. Gino noted that a generic test for blood was negative on the sample, and that the DNA test was low copy number. She also noted that substances other than blood can cause Luminol to fluoresce.[282]

The court observed that there was an abundant quantity of Meredith’s blood on the floor of the bedroom to be tracked around the house.[279] The fact that DNA testing revealed the presence of genetic material in the samples indicates the presence of biological material that reacts with Luminol. The court said that attributing the fluorescence to fruit juice, rust, bleach, vegetables, etc. could not explain the presence of reactive trace in so many parts of the house, whereas the walking in blood and subsequent cleanup easily accounts for the findings.[283-285]

The defense’s “low copy number remark” was rejected because Dr. Stefanoni had testified that the sample had been processed according to standards and procedures necessary for international quality certification, and noted that the certification was granted by the international certifying body in 2009; the quality certificate was an acknowledgement of what already existed, and had already been done.[285]  Further, the court noted that the criticisms of Dr. Gino and Dr. Tagliabracci were hypothetical, and all concerned specific findings and a small portion of the specimens.[285]

The footprint on the bathmat was partial, missing the heel. [339] Based on the dimensions of the big toe, the plantar arch, and the shape and location of various “bumps”, Inspectors Rinaldi and Boemia concluded that the print was made in Meredith’s blood by Sollecito’s right foot, that it was consistent with Sollecito’s wider foot and inconsistent with Guede’s longer, narrower foot, and well as being inconsistent with Knox.[339-342]

The measurements from the bathmat: big toe–33mm wide, 39mm long. Metatarsus–99mm wide, 55mm long. [339]

Footprints taken with printer’s ink resulted: Big Toe—Sollecito: 30mm wide, 37mm long. [339] Guede: 23mm wide, 43mm long. Knox: 22mm wide, 41.8mm long.[339] Metatarsus–Sollecito: 99mm wide[339]

Rinaldi and Boemia used the so-called L.M. Robbins grid, which is marked in centimeters, lining the vertical axis with right-hand outline of the foot, and the horizontal axis with the tip of the big toe. [340] By comparing the samples with the bathmat, they concluded that the shape of Guede’s plantar arch and the alignment of his “bumps” could not be reconciled with the print on the bathmat, whereas Sollecito’s bumps align consistently between his sample and the bathmat. [340-341] The primary distinctions between Guede’s right foot and Sollecito’s are: the width of the big toe, the shape of the metatarsus, differences in the plantar arch, and the shape of the left side of the foot.[341]

Professor Vinci, Sollecito’s expert attempted to show that the foot print was actually that of Guede. He argued that the morphology of Sollecito’s foot was such that his second toe made no contact with the paper, but that a portion of the mark on the right side of the big toe print on the bathmat is actually from the second toe. He thus measured the big toe print as being 24.8 mm wide.[352]

The court rejected this theory. It noted that the photograph appeared to show the opposite of what was claimed, i.e., it showed the blood had been deposited as a single unit on a decorative flourish of the mat. Moreover, the court noted that, by comparison, Guede’s foot is generally longer and more tapered, and that the second toe print falls quite far from the big. [354] Finally, the court discounted the idea that Guede had ever been in his bare feet that evening. The visible shoe prints clearly showed that he walked directly from Meredith’s room, down the hallway, and out the door.[379]

Part Three is here.


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 4 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

9. Conclusions reached by the court

The court concluded that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had colluded with the main protagonist, Rudy Guede, in murdering Meredith Kercher and that this was in the context of a sexual assault.[390-393]

The evidence that Guede was involved in the murder included his bloody handprint found on a pillow in Meredith’s room, and his DNA found on a vaginal swab taken from Meredith, as well as on the cuff of Meredith’s sweatshirt and on a strap of her bra and on her purse. Further biological traces of Guede were found on the toilet paper in the larger bathroom. His bloody footprints were found in the corridor leading out from Meredith’s room to the front door of the apartment. All this evidence pointed to Guede having been in the apartment, crossing the living room to the larger bathroom (where he used but did not flush the toilet), passing back through the living room and the corridor to Meredith’s room, where he committed the murder, then exiting directly along the corridor and through the front door.[43-44]

The court next considered whether Guede had entered the apartment through the broken window in Romanelli’s room.[45] The defense had argued that Guede had previously been found uninvited inside a Milan nursery school and had been in possession of items stolen from a Perugia law office which had been burgled by someone who broke a window with a rock. He had also been identified as the person who had broken into a house and threatened the occupant with a knife. The court noted this evidence but also highlighted some marked differences from the current case, and also the fact that there was no direct evidence that linked Guede to the law office burglary. In addition, the court made a detailed analysis of the evidence of the ‘break-in’ and concluded from many pieces of evidence (see section 8) that the ‘break-in’ had been staged and that no-one had entered the house through the broken window. In fact, the conclusion drawn by the court from this staging was that it had been done in order to throw suspicion onto a supposed intruder who did not have a key to the front door.[46-55]

The court next considered whether Guede might himself have staged the break-in, which might have happened if Meredith had let him in through the front door and he intended to throw suspicion onto a supposed burglar. The court rejected this hypothesis: if Guede was alone in the apartment, following the murder, it is improbable that he would have stayed longer than necessary, faking a break-in, when the other occupants, who would recognise him, might return at any moment. Further doubt is cast on this scenario by the fact that some aspects of the ‘break-in’ are superficially similar to other crimes associated with Guede, so might lead investigators directly to him. Finally, the court doubted that Meredith, alone in the apartment, would have let Guede, whom she barely knew, in through the front door, let alone waited in her own bedroom while he used the bathroom.

The conclusion of the court was that Guede was let into the apartment by somebody, other than Meredith, who had a key to the door and that the ‘break in’ was likewise staged by someone who had a door key. Laura Mezzetti was away from Perugia on the night of the murder and Filomena Romanelli was staying elsewhere, at a birthday party. This left Amanda Knox who had a key to the front door and lacked an alibi for the time of the murder. She, according to the court, was the only person who could have let Guede into the apartment and who also would have a motive for staging the ‘break-in’ to simulate the forced entry of an intruder.[56-58]

The court noted the ‘intense’ relationship between Knox and Sollecito, and the fact that they were both using drugs.[365] After Patrick Lumumba sent Knox a text, shortly after 8 pm on November 1, 2007, telling her that there was no need for her to go to work that evening, the pair of them were free of any commitment that evening. By 9:15pm they had eaten dinner and washed up (as witnessed by Sollecito’s father’s earlier phone call), turned off their mobile phones and made no further use of Sollecito’s computer. The court’s conclusion was that this point, they both left Sollecito’s apartment and were seen by the witness Curatolo, several times, around the Piazza Grimana.[359]

Guede already knew Knox and was attracted to her. The court believed that around 11pm, on the night of the murder, Knox, accompanied by Sollecito, let Guede into her apartment, possibly having first met him in the nearby square.[361] The reason for Guede’s visit to the apartment could not be known for certain: perhaps he was going to spend the night there as had happened on another occasion, although in the downstairs apartment; perhaps to hang out with Amanda and Raffaele for a while and to use the bathroom; maybe he had come to look for his friends in the downstairs apartment, and finding them absent, called on the upstairs apartment.[363] What is certain is that Guede used the toilet in the larger bathroom.[364]

Meredith had arrived home, alone, earlier in the evening and was most likely reading or studying in her own bedroom. The court found it probable that, having used the bathroom, Guede went into Meredith’s room, intent on making sexual advances, which were rebuffed. It was probably at this point that Knox and Sollecito joined Guede.[365-366]

The court concluded from the presence of Guede’s DNA in her body, that Meredith’s attack involved a sexual assault: the evidence that it was not consensual sex was deduced from other specific injuries as well as the obvious violence. Based on factors such as Meredith’s strength and physical fitness, and the way she had been undressed, they believed that she was the victim of multiple attackers.[369-372]

Based on the forensic evidence, the court believed a sequence of events in which Meredith refused to accept an invitation of an erotic-sexual nature and was then grasped by the neck by her assailants, for the purpose of intimidating her. When this intimidation was unsuccessful, it led to an escalation of violence, which involved the small stab wound to the neck.[164]

It is likely that it was at this point that Meredith’s trousers and underwear were removed by her assailants and that she was sexually assaulted. Her top was lifted up and rolled up towards her neck and there was an attempt to unfasten her bra which, despite her resistance, was eventually cut off. A pillow was placed under Meredith to allow further sexual activity: from Guede’s bloody hand print on the pillow, it was deduced that Meredith was already bleeding at this point. Part of the bra, including the clasp which bore Sollecito’s DNA, was found under the pillow, which indicates that this was cut off before the pillow was placed.[164-165]

It was, the court believed, around this time that Meredith screamed loudly, as confirmed by the evidence of Nara Capezzali and Antonella Monacchia, which placed the time around 23:30 pm. The response of the assailants was the compression of the upper airways, by pressing a hand over Meredith’s mouth and nose, and then inflicting the deep knife wound to the right side of the neck. Their conclusion was that death occurred a few minutes later, and was caused by asphyxia resulting from the major neck wound from which there was bleeding into the airways, impeding respiratory activity. This was exacerbated by the severing of the hyoid bone – also attributed to the knife wounds.[165]

In the court’s opinion, the initial attempt had not been to kill Meredith, but there was “a crescendo of violence” in which the assailants simply accepted the risk of death, constructively transforming their initial non-homicidal intent into a pro-homicidal intent characterised by reckless malice.[171]






Regarding the murder weapon, the court found it difficult to accept that the wounds of various sizes were all made by the same assailant and the same knife. Their conclusion was that the smaller wounds were made with a pocket knife that has never been identified, but the largest (and fatal) wound was made with the knife which was subsequently recovered from a drawer in Sollecto’s house and which bore traces of Meredith’s DNA on its blade and Knox’s on the handle (the “double DNA knife” discussed in section 7.1).

The court believed that, following the murder, the murderers went into the smaller bathroom to wash off some of the blood as witnessed by the traces of blood found there. They rejected the possibility that these were older traces, left from some previous incident, as Knox had testified that that bathroom was clean when she left on the afternoon of November 1.[278] In the process of cleaning themselves, the murderers must have touched the door and the light switch, leaving a dribble of blood on the former and stains on the latter.[281] The bloody footprint on the bathmat (which matched the size of Sollecito’s foot), indicates that whoever went into this bathroom was barefoot, and must also have been barefoot in Meredith’s room.[279] While in the bathroom, it was deemed likely that the murderers scrubbed their hands, thus leaving mixed traces of Meredith’s blood and their own DNA in the sink and the bidet.[279] The court noted that the traces found in the small bathroom not only tested positive for blood, but also included a mixture of Knox’s and Meredith’s DNA. They concluded it was Knox who, on the night of the murder, had washed off Meredith’s blood in the sink and in the bidet.[280]

The court considered the traces shown up by Luminol tests in Romanelli’s room, Knox’s room and the corridor. Luminol tests positive for blood but can give false positive readings for other substances, including fruit juice, rust and bleach. Other tests for blood were applied to the same traces and proved negative, but were noted to be less sensitive than Luminol. The court considered the alternative interpretations of the Luminol results: it found it improbable that the traces were caused by such things as fruit juice or rust - particularly as there was no explanation for why such substances would be in all three locations. The possibility of bleach having been spread through the three rooms was more feasible, but in that case, the court wondered why it would not appear elsewhere in the apartment. Also there was no evidence (smell for example) that bleach had been used.

Furthermore, the traces contained biological material, although it could not be proved to be blood. Considering all the possibilities, and the fact that there were copious amounts of blood at the murder scene, the court believed that the Luminol traces were indeed blood. They noted that the traces tested positive for Knox’s DNA and, in two cases, also included Meredith’s DNA. Their conclusion was that Knox had washed her bare feet in the bathroom, but some residue of Meredith’s blood had remained on the soles, and she had then walked into her own room, into Romanelli’s room and passed through the corridor, leaving the traces which were discovered.[281-286]

The conclusion of the court was that Guede had left immediately, but Sollecito had then brought in a big stone from the surrounding area and he and Knox had broken the window in Romanelli’s room with it and attempted to fake a break-in. They had gone back into Meredith’s room, covered her body with a duvet, then locked her door.[381] The court believed that the murderers took Meredith’s mobile phones, left the apartment and dumped the phones in a nearby garden. This must have happened before about half past midnight, as can be deduced by the phone records.[383] Knox and Sollecito returned to his apartment where he made a very brief (4 second) use of his computer at about 1am.

Contrary to the statements of Knox and Sollecito, his computer was in use for half an hour from about 5:30am the following morning, and he turned on his mobile phone at about 6am. The court believed that Knox and Sollecito returned to the murder scene that morning, with Knox perhaps having bought cleaning materials from Quintavalle’s shop at about 07:45.[384] There was evidence that cleaning had taken place: for instance the bath mat marked with a bloody footprint could only have been reached by taking steps that should also have left other footprints. None were found, so the logical conclusion is that they had been cleaned up. Even the drip of blood left on the internal edge of the bathroom door was said to seem like the remainder of a much larger trace.[384]

In conclusion, the court stated that all of the elements put together, and considered singularly, create a comprehensive and complete framework without gaps or incongruities and lead to the inevitable and directly consequential attribution of the crimes to both the accused.[388]


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Current Court Reporting: Seattle Post Intelligencer Still Posts The Best, Least Bias, Most Detail

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Seattle waterfront just north of downtown - Seattle PI building is at front center with globe]

Witness Andrea Vogt’s excellent report on the proceedings today in Appeal Court.

1). On the assorted criminals testifying today. 

The dramatic day of testimony, requested by the defense, brought together a gang of criminals of whom Hollywood scriptwriters could only dream, including a convicted rapist and childkiller, a mafia snitch and other hardened long-timers with little to lose.

Their riveting testimony (complete rubbish or explosive and key new revelations, depending on your point of view) led jurors down some of Italy’s darkest alleys, from the desperate gangster neighborhoods of Naples to the powerful masonic lodges of Umbria and tough Italian prison wards with their own code of honor….

Only one of the five had no connection to Sicily or Naples and that was a Romanian who claimed on the stand that his signature had been forged on a document presented by the defense and that he knew nothing about anything….

2) On the testimony of Mario Alessi

Alessi took the stand around noon, after a sharp drop in his blood pressure required a nurse’s attentions (the stress of testifying had caused him to lose 15 pounds over he last 10 days, his lawyer told seattlepi.com). Alessi said he earned Guede’s trust while they were incarcerated together.

One day, Guede took him by the arm and led him to a corner of the prison yard where they would be out of view of closed-circuit cameras, he said. Then, Guede told him that the real truth was that a drunkard who had gone to Kercher’s flat with Guede from the disco had sexually assaulted her and then killed her to avoid “rotting in prison” for the rape….

Toward the end of Alessi’s story, the lawyer for Meredith Kercher’s family, Francesco Maresca, branded him a repeat liar. Maresca held up a photo of “Tommy,” whose high-profile disappearance and slaying in 2006 shocked Italy….  In response to the photo of Tommy, Alessi said no, he didn’t recognize the boy, to which Maresca said, “That’s OK, we do.”

3) On the testimony of Luciano Aviello:

But on the night of Kercher’s murder, Nov. 1, 2007, Aviello testified, his brother came home with a ripped, bloodied jacket and was covered in scratches on his arms. He eventually said he had stabbed a young woman after surprising her during a break-in to steal a painting, Aviello said…

The brothers had then hidden the murder weapon and keys to the house in a nearby wall and covered the hole with mortar. “Go and see for yourselves. Verify it! You’ll find I am telling the truth,” said Aviello. “Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent.”  Police and prosecutors have never publicly confirmed that such a search was done. Aviello’s brother’s whereabouts are unknown.

When prosecutors asked him about his connection to Alessi and the other cons, Aviello took offense, saying he had nothing to do with those “pedophiles and rapists,” but was rather just an “honest” gangster from Naples doing time for routine organized crime.

Toward the end, Aviello’s testimony grew increasingly aggressive toward prosecutors and police with whom he had collaborated. At one point guards held his shoulders as he yelled accusations through the gap where two front teeth should be. “You are a klan, not the judiciary!” he yelled.

4) And on the prosecution’s many new rebuttal witnesses.

... the court agreed to call a number of counter-witnesses requested by the prosecution, including two more prisoners and two police officials. The court also agreed to hear Giacomo Benedetti, the friend of Rudy’s whose Skype conversation with Guede while Guede was on the lam in Germany led to his arrest, as well as Guede himself.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why The FOA’s Increasingly Hapless Steve Moore Should Probably Stay Well Away From TV

Posted by SomeAlibi

 

Steve Moore’s presentation in the recent Case for Innocence forum in Seattle to a small bunch of undergrads and other parties left me nearly speechless. 

I consider that the number of errors in Moore’s presentation were so numerous that it was quite astonishing that this was the work of a man who claims he has been involved on this case for a year and who claims he has professional experience in law enforcement. 

A big statement but it’s not one that’s hard to justify.  Steve Moore will be our principal witness.  He will repeat for you, if you watch the above youtube video, at least six absolute howlers of misstatement, misunderstanding and exaggeration and many other medium sized ones.

Worst of all of these, he states a core aspect of the prosecution case (proof of the staged break-in at the cottage due to broken glass being on-top of clothes that had already been tossed on the floor) completely upside down. 180 degrees wrong and back to front… and he does it repeatedly in a way that makes it impossible to conclude anything else than he doesn’t actually understand central and important points of evidence against the person he would seek to help.  For a law enforcement or legal professional, that is a serious issue.

Let’s begin:

Steve opens by asserting he has been involved with sticking away nine people to a sentence of life without parole. Crassly, and I think he thinks it is humorous, he states that “two of them have completed that sentence” (think about it - he means they are dead and is seeking to have a laugh about it) “..and seven remain in prison.” He is met with not a single titter. Steve gets really crass by having another go at the same joke: “Actually the other two remain in prison too, they’re just not aware of it.” Deafening silence.

Remember Steve is the guy who positioned a bible, an ammo clip and a mortgage statement behind him in interview (seriously) and whose wife Michelle likes to remind people he’s a sniper? All part of the tough-god-fearing-guy image.  The dead-convicts thing is part of the same swagger. I’m really impressed myself. How about you?

In passing, shall we reflect that if you’ve been in the FBI for nearly 25 years and were a “supervisor”, nine sentences of life without parole is really rather surprisingly low?

At 41:20 of the YouTube clip, we start to see an old line used before: “Just prior to the conviction my wife said ‘I’ve seen some things that concern me’”. Steve goes on to say that he said to Michelle “I will prove within a day that she’s guilty” but that this turned into two months of investigation where he concluded “she” *(Amanda) was not. Three issues with this:

  • I don’t know a single law enforcement professional or lawyer who would ever say to you that they could prove someone was guilty or not guilty in a single day review of a capital crime case. It’s just not feasible and anyone who does this for a living knows this. The hyperbole is off the charts, as per usual.

  • Steve’s story about Michelle’s challenge and the “one day” proof doesn’t match anything he wrote on the Injustice in Perugia website where instead he said “But then I began to hear statements from the press that contradicted known facts” which led him to investigate.  Which one is it?  A one day challenge or a gradual accumulation of knowledge and investigation? 

  • In fact, as we know, Michelle herself let slip that the Moores were “approached” by Bruce Fisher, a pseudonym for the person who runs Injustice In Perugia, and when this was pointed out on PMF.org that it flatly contradicted the previously announced statement (a wifely challenge to a husband with no prior contact), that same day, she deleted her entire “Michellesings” blog from the web – all of it – to remove what she had said in what bore a remarkable resemblance to a panicked action.

It was further underlined when Michelle subsequently re-created her blog with just a single letter difference in the title.  That give away on the internet undermines the whole story of how Steve Moore, from LA, got involved in this case which he has told many times (in various versions admittedly) in public. 

At 43:22 Moore makes a baseless overstatement – “[Rudy Guede] was a known burglar who had 5 to 6 burglaries in the last month”. We have to stop the clock here and be very serious: this is an exaggeration which neither I nor anyone I know who has a good handling of the facts of this case has ever stated.  It was once stated by a Daily Mail journalist many moons ago, the same Daily Mail the Friends of Amanda revile for other articles but *it never made it into evidence* because of course it wasn’t true.  And by this time, in 2011, one needs to know the *evidence* not repeat baseless conjecture because it supports “your” case.  Please reflect for a second…

Guede is accused of being in a school without permission for which the police didn’t even bother to prosecute, so it wasn’t a burglary. Bzzt. We all know he handled a stolen laptop but there was no suggestion of a burglary related to it, as much as one can see the hypothesis.

We know that another witness said someone like Guede was in his house but he was discounted as unreliable.  I am a vociferous critic of Guede but one cannot take a law enforcement professional seriously who massively inflates evidence. “5 or 6 burglaries in a month”? NO-ONE in the case, in the official body of evidence, has ever suggested that.

Such a suggestion from a law enforcement professional is hugely undermining if it can’t be proven, and it can’t.  Nor has it been ever suggested by Amanda or Raffaele’s own legal counsel. If this was stated in court without proof (and, again, there is none), we would all rightly expect that to destroy the credibility of that law enforcement professional. Baseless assertion is a serious issue.

Moore then suggests that Meredith came home after Guede broke in. Sounds prima facie reasonable, but again, anyone who knows the evidence and is familiar with the scene knows that the green outer shutters were open and the gate and the walk up the drive faced that window. And Meredith didn’t see the broken-into window? Oh really? 

Rudy Guede, a burglar standing directly in front of an open window apparently half-pulled one shutter to, but left the other open three open and himself clearly visible from the drive when “tossing” Filomena’s bedroom - without taking anything? Then how about Amanda Knox, walking in day-light up to the house the next morning who claims she didn’t see the open shutters. 

It is over one hundred feet from the gate to that window, and on the 2nd of November, the shutters were open on the left as we look in and marginally more shut on the right.  This is consistent with the police statements at the time and it is trite to say, no, they haven’t been opened by the police. 

The left hand one (right as Massei relates from a direction of looking *out* from the house) is “half-closed in the sense that fully open is with it pushed against the outside wall.  The right hand one as you can see is marginally more shut. 

Can you really imagine a burglar who has climbed up to the shutters to open them, then climbed down and gone up to the drive to find a rock, then climbed down under the window and up again before miraculously getting in without a scratch, nick or spot of DNA would turn round inside and partially close the right hand shutter but not close the left hand one?  It makes literally no-sense.

Amanda Knox asks you believe that as she walked 100+ feet up the drive she didn’t notice it either.  That’s the first time.  The second time she returned to the cottage she was already “panicked” about the open door, the evidence of blood and unknown faeces and was returning to the cottage.  And she walked up the hundred feet again and didn’t notice… again.  Nor did Raffaele who was so concerned he suggested they return notice?

I suggest to you there’s more than enough reason Amanda has her hand to her face looking at the open shutters in this picture taken on 2nd November!  (Please note, this image has IBERPress logo on it.  I am linking it on another website, not created by us, which is publicly available and presumably asserts fair-use, but all rights are acknowledged by this site).

You’d leave that open as a burglar would you, facing the gate and the road?  Total nonsense.  And no, again, it hasn’t been moved.

Steve then suggests, in contravention of every banking security protocol I’ve ever heard of, that Guede, while having just murdered someone and held two towels to her neck in panic at that, then completely relaxed and phoned Meredith’s bank with her own mobile phone to try to get an ATM number *while still in the cottage* based on the mobile cell records.

Have you ever heard of a bank that will give you your pin number over the phone without substantial cross-checking of private passwords / other information that Guede couldn’t possibly know about Meredith?  Moore also neglects to mention that Rudy would also have to have phoned Meredith’s voicemail two minutes before, something the call records show.

The reason for this suggestion is that Steve is trying to support the defence case for a time of death for Meredith that is incompatible with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s involvement. Steve neglects to mention that Amanda and Raffaele tried to establish an alibi for a time of *11pm* for their dinner at Raffaele’s flat which was destroyed by Raffaele’s own father who stated that Raffaele mentioned matters relating to having completed dinner at around 8.30pm.  No-one at this panel talk ever heard of *that*...

Steve and others suggest Amanda and Raffaele dated for 2 weeks. The only people who disagree with this are Amanda and Raffaele’s team, who state one week. Ho hum.  Not really important.  Just sloppy.

Steve suggests that what the prosecution alleged in the trial was that Amanda and Raffaele “Decided for the first time that they are going to do a threesome” with Rudy Guede. Again, anyone with the slightest knowledge of this case knows the prosecution never alleged this “threesome”.  They alleged a sexually aggravated murder of Meredith Kercher.  A threesome? Where does Moore get this stuff from?

Again, totally undermining of his credibility. How many black marks are we up to? I’ve lost count. To be fair, Paul Ciolino the P.I. who has worked on the case and belongs to the FOA started covering his mouth during Steve’s presentation.  In body language terms, that’s not terribly supportive… 

On this topic of the threesome he’s invented in his head that no-one else mentioned, Steve states: “They decide to choose a burglar whom they don’t know real well – they’ve only met once. Raffaele had only met him that day. Raffaele said ‘that’s a great idea, lets bring this guy who is a burglar whom I don’t know and he can have sex with my girlfriend’”.

Rather inauspicious logic, Steve. If they didn’t know him, they would not have known he was a burglar? Yet you transplant those words into the mouth of a fictional Raffaele Sollecito to make a cheap, but ultimately beautifully self-defeating, point. Amanda, of course, says she met Rudy many times in passing, as did Rudy about Amanda. I’m very interested that Steve also stated “Raffaele had only met him that day” because of course Raffaele and Amanda never admitted that. Where does that come from? Please tell…. Bzzt, bzzt, bzzt.

Moore then states that the prosecution case is that “Rudy goes in first and then Meredith screams. Then Amanda comes in and sides with the rapist.” Again, anyone with a perfunctory knowledge of this case knows that is not the prosecution case. This is hugely undermining because once again he is misinforming a public gathering on the case presented against Knox.

You can disagree with the case against Knox, but actually fundamentally misstating it?  At this point, with so many marks on the board, I started asking myself… how is it possible that he doesn’t know all this? 

And that question I still don’t have an answer to. 

But it gets worse…

Now we get to one of the most egregious sections of the whole presentation and misleading of the audience: concerning the blood spattered apartment, Moore makes a major case that Perugian police released the picture of the vividly pink Phenolphthalein stained bathroom as being the *blood* stained bathroom where Amanda Knox showered.

Please watch the video and see how nakedly this is suggested. He juxtaposes the picture of the sink as it was on November the 2nd with the post-phenolphthalein shot and says that the prosecution alleged “that’s what Amanda saw, that’s it.. that’s what was really there. That’s when you start saying ‘oh my god’. Knowing that the jurors are not sequestered… they released this and said ‘that’s blood’”.

Here’s how Moore presented it:


The fact that the ACTUAL pictures of the scene *he himself uses on the left* were in the core evidence bundle in front of the jury as prime exhibits as any lawyer or serious law professional should immediately appreciate is ignored. It must be ignored because of course otherwise no-one could come up with such a patently incoherent line of logic. I’m losing count of the pieces of lack of knowledge and logic by now. How about you? 

Re the staged break in – “one of the most incredible lies I have ever seen in a court-room outside of Iran.” Have you been involved in an Iranian court proceedings Steve? No. Mo(o)re hyperbole.

Next, a baffling and possibly funny line of reasoning if the matter wasn’t so serious. Moore proceeds to state that it was “very obvious the stone was thrown from outside and busted the shutter open.” So far so normal as an FOA meme – no issue. Except he then goes on to state more than once “The Perugian police said that a rock was thrown inside the house [to] outside the house.”

Huh? To “outside the house”? Are you perchance suggesting that the prosecution were saying the rock was thrown from “inside to outside” the house, then they went down and recovered it and replaced it in the bedroom where it was found and photographed which you would have seen if you had a sound knowledge of the case? Because no-one else has ever said that ever Steve! Not once! Huh? Outside the house? My head hurts. Does anyone have any pills?

Then Steve makes a point of highlighting some embedded glass in the wooden frame of the interior shutter as evidence of a rock thrown from the outside-in, when, again, it is blindingly obvious to anyone that the broken window could have been actioned from inside with exactly the same result. He’s so carried away with himself that he doesn’t even notice. It’s not that unsurprising I guess because he hasn’t noticed the legion other mistakes he’s made so far.

Next statement “Anyone who thinks the rock was thrown from inside out is either an idiot or lying”. It’s simply not logical Steve; as anyone can see it would have been possible to smash the window from inside, whether you actually agree that happened or not. Again, baseless exaggeration. You don’t have to agree but stop with the hyperbole!

56 minutes in we get to a huge howler where Moore completely misstates the prosecution case on the staged break-in and doesn’t appear to have even thought about it enough to see the obvious logical hole in what he is about to say.  In my original notes to this talk I jotted down “Amazing and astounding – doesn’t understand the clothes / glass point:”.

Moore says:

They [the prosecution] say that the reason they know that this was staged is because when they got there, there was clothes on top of the glass, the broken glass in the room. Well you’d think that the glass would be on top of everything wouldn’t you? Unless a burglar came in and started throwing things on the floor after the glass was broken. If you look on the bed you’ll see a purse. You’ll see the contents of the purse all over the floor, all over the bed. You will see that he went through her clothes hamper there, her clothes cabinet there, threw everything on the floor. That is why there are clothes on top of the glass. Why is that so hard?

Steve, you’ve stated this 180 degrees completely wrong.  The prosecution case is that both the police and Filomena, Amanda’s flatmate, stated there was glass on top of clothes which had been apparently tossed by a burglar (not vice versa) and on top of a laptop that was closed but which had previously been open.  The point is that it shows that the room was ransacked and *then* the glass was broken, proving the staging of the burglary. 

In any court of law I have seen, if you can show a supposedly authoritative witness, who shall we not forget has been on this case for a *year*, has such a bad handle on the evidence, you can get a jury laughing and that witness completely discounted.  This is, in my opinion, what Moore did to himself somewhat prior to this point, but by the end of this point, absolutely comprehensively.  How is it possible to misunderstand the case so clearly?  Ciolino and Waterbury both look very uncomfortable at this point.

Next point: a pearly Steve quote: “When is a murder weapon not a murder weapon? When the Perugian police say it is.”

Uhhh… think about it…. That’s not actually what you meant to say, is it? What you meant is “When is a non-murder weapon, a murder weapon? When the Perugian police say it is”. Given Steve’s penchant for getting things upside down and arse-backwards, perhaps we should not be surprised, but call me a stickler for suggesting people get their arguments right.  Steve compounds this 180-degree misstatement in the Q&A session by stating that the defence will try and throw a million things against the wall in the appeal and see if something will stick.  The defence?  Like those representing Amanda Knox, Steve?  Huh?  With the glass, the “murder weapon” and “defence” points, Moore appears to not be able to listen to what he himself is saying.  It’s just… bizarre…

Steve then makes a big point about the Raffaele cooking knife being the wrong shape for the mark on the bedsheet without mentioning the fact that two knives were posited in the case. Nice and misleading. Still not representing the basics of the case to those assembled.

As we approach the end of this car-crash, Moore makes a big point that “they say Amanda was in front of her and stabbed her like this”. He then mimics a vertical stabbing motion and makes a distinction of the lateral cut compared to vertical method of attack. But no-one ever said this definitively in court and Massei clearly states the blood spurts on the wardrobe (i.e. facing away from the attackers) are from the neck injury. Mo(o)re fabrication. How many is it now?

There is a chuckle-worthy moment where Moore uses the different exposures of pictures of the bra-clasp on the original investigation versus that taken on December 16th as clear evidence of “contamination”. A 2 second glance shows this is an exposure issue unsubstantiated by other pictures which again are in front of the jury.

Unsurprisingly, he then goes on to make the standard declaration that the gathering of the bra-clasp with Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on it on December 16th “delay” as “apparently not important” to the prosecution.  He neglects to mention that it was a sealed crime scene where the passage of time can have no effect on the forensic value of evidence *if no-one is within the sealed crime-scene*.  He also neglects to mention the delay was due in substantial part to the requirement to invite the defence to attend…

To finish, a damp whimper after these major trumpetings of lack of knowledge and/or understanding: a statement about a pillow under Meredith’s body: “Guess what they found on there – semen and the police refused to test it”. It has been suggested but without testing, we obviously can’t know it’s semen. Again, serious legal professionals don’t make absolute statements like this about unproven evidence.

Amanda Knox is incarcerated for 26 years.  As someone who has been involved in many defences of individuals charged with serious criminal matters, it is unacceptable to me that people willing to hold themselves out as prominent supporters of an imprisoned person who have experience in the law or law enforcement show that they don’t know, appreciate, or are able to process core aspects of the case against that person.

In my opinion, this performance was inexcusably weak and must raise serious questions about the judgement of those seeking to help Amanda.  Would you want this sort of standard of knowledge held out as adequate, as representing a member of your core Home team?  I sincerely hope not.  Only the lack of knowledge of the case and the partisan support in the room stopped Moore from being extremely badly shown up in the Q&A session. 

There’s a meme in the supporters of Amanda camp that says that pro-prosecution commentators cost Moore his job at Pepperdine.  It’s nonsense. Moore got himself removed before most of us had ever heard of him.

Neither I nor anyone else I am aware of ever wrote to his *former* employer before he was fired.  Nor did I write to them afterwards either because I considered they had a simple case against him and he’d like it if we were involved. Once I did write that I wanted to take down Steve Moore, by which I meant stop him posting misleading statements about the Meredith Kercher case using his career as credentials. 

But following this performance at the Case for Innocence forum, in my opinion, it is quite evident that Steve Moore has done it comprehensively and totally to himself.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: How Motive For The Crime Is Addressed By Judge Massei

Posted by James Raper





The Massei Report in the main I thought was excellent. He was incisive with his logic, particularly, though not exclusively, with regard to the staging of the break in and how that necessarily meant that Amanda was present at the scene when the murder was committed.

However, I thought that he was rather feeble in his coverage of the defendants’ motives as to the attack which led to this brutal murder. Perhaps he thought it better to stick with the indisputable evidence. Since this pointed to a sex attack he surmised that Guede had a go at Meredith first, and then - because the stimulation was too much for them - he was joined by Amanda and Raffaele. This works but does seem a bit weak.

Micheli, the judge who committed Amanda and Raffaele to stand trial, was more certain in his mind as to the roles played by these three. He said that there was “an agreed plan”, “to satisfy sexual instincts” with “murderous intent” and that effectively Amanda was the instigator and catalyst.

Motive is largely an area of speculation but it is surely possible to draw inferences from what we know?  As Micheli did.  The Appeal Court and ultimately The Supreme Court of Cassation may well adopt the same reasoning and conclusion – maybe go further.

And there were, to my mind, undoubtedly many factors at work, and it is these which I wish to address. I have always been interested in the possible dynamics of just how these three came to murder poor Meredith. Pro-Knox campaigners once made much of “No Motive”. Now not so much because the issue draws people in to a discussion of the evidence and of Amanda’s personality.

For instance, Massei asks, though he says we can not know, had Amanda egged Guede on as to the “availability” ( my word, not his) of Meredith during or prior to their presence at the Cottage?

Frankly the answer to that has to be “yes” since it is a bit difficult to figure out why Amanda and Raffaele would otherwise wish Guede to join them at the cottage. I doubt that Amanda and Raffaele would have wanted Guede around if they were just going there to have an innocent cuddle and sex and to smoke cannabis, as Massei implies. The evidence is that Raffaele hardly knew Guede and in the presence of Amanda was very possessive about her. If he had known of Guede’s interest in Amanda he would have been even less keen to have Guede around.

Also, if all was so innocent beforehand, then why would Guede have tried it on with Meredith and then pressed the situation in the face of her refusal to co-operate, knowing that there were two others there who could have come to her assistance?

The answer is of course that Guede knew full well in advance that there would be no problem with Amanda and Raffaele. He had been invited there and primed to act precisely in the way he did, at least initially. Why? Well there is plenty of evidence as to why Amanda, in her mind, may have been looking for payback time on Meredith. Come to that later.

What does not get much attention in the Massei Report, other than a terse Not Proven at the end, is the matter of Meredith’s missing rent money and credit cards and whether Amanda and Raffaele stole them. It is as if the Judge ( well the jury really) felt that this was a trivial issue that brought nothing much to the case and thus it was not necessary to give it much attention. And indeed there is no summation of or evaluation of that evidence.

Now that does surprise me. Of course there may have been some technical flaw with the charge and the evidence. But in the absence of any comment on this then we do not know what that may be.

What I do know is that the matter, if proven, is not trivial. A theft just prior to the murder significantly ups the stakes for Amanda and Raffaelle and produces a dynamic, which, threaded together with a sexual assault, makes for a far more compelling scenario to murder. It also leads one to conclude that there was a greater degree of premeditation involved : not premeditation to murder but as to an assault, rather than the more spontaneous “ let’s get involved” at the time of the sex attack as postulated by Massei.

What is the evidence? What evidence was before the court? I do not have access to trial records. Therefore I stand to be corrected if I misrepresent the evidence or if my interpretation of it does not met the test of logic.

There were two lay witnesses to whom we can refer. The first was Filomena Romanelli, the flatmate and trainee lawyer. If there was anyone who was going to ensure that the rent was paid on time, it would have been her. She gave evidence that the rent being due very soon she asked Meredith about her contribution of 300 euros and was told by Meredith that all was OK because she had just withdrawn 200 euros from her bank. Filomena assumed from Meredith’s reply that the balance was already to hand.

Is there a problem with this evidence? Is it hearsay and thus inadmissible under Italian law?

Perhaps it is not enough by itself because of course had Meredith not in fact withdrawn the money from her bank, or sufficient funds to cover the stated amount, then that would be a fatal blow to that part of the theft charge. Her bank manager was summoned to give evidence, essentially to corroborate or disprove Filomena’s testimony. I do not know what exactly that evidence was. One would assume that at the very least it did not disprove her testimony. Had it done so that would, as I have said, been fatal. It is also unbelievable that Massei would have overlooked this in the Report. I am assuming that Meredith did not tell a white lie and that the bank records corroborate this.

There may of course be an issue of timing as I understand that the bank manager told the court that transactions at a cash machine are not necessarily entered on the customer account the same day . However that does not seem to me to be significant.

One must also think that the bank manager was asked what other cash withdrawals had been made if the credit cards were taken at the same time as the money.

I understand that there is of course a caveat here: my assumptions in the absence of knowing exactly what the bank manager’s evidence was.

It would be useful also to know how and when the rent was normally paid. It sounds as if it was cash on the day the landlord came to collect.

We do know that the police did not find any money or Meredith‘s credit cards. Had Meredith, a sensible girl, blown next month’s rent on a Halloween binge? Unlikely. So somebody stole it. And the credit cards. Again, just as with the fake break in, when according to Amanda and Raffaele nothing was stolen, who and only who had access to the cottage to steal the money? Yes, you have guessed it. Amanda, of course.

Does the matter of missing rent money figure anywhere else? There is the evidence of Meredith’s phone records which show that a call was placed to her bank late on the evening of her murder just prior to the arrival of Amanda, Raffaele and Guede. Why? I have to concede that there is no single obvious reason and that it may be more likely than not that the call was entirely unintentional.

But if, as may seem likely, the credit cards were kept with her handbag, and the money in her bedroom drawer, then on discovering that her money was missing she may have called her bank in a funk only to remember that the cards were safe and that no money could be withdrawn from her account.

The missing money also figured in the separate trial of Guede. He made a statement which formed the whole basis of his defence. Basically this was that he had an appointment with Meredith at the cottage, had consensual foreplay with her and was on the toilet when he heard the doorbell ring etc, etc. What he also added was that just before all this Meredith was upset because her rent money had disappeared and that they had both searched for it with particular attention to Amanda’s room.

Now why does Guede mention this? Remember this is his defence. Alibi is not quite the right word. He had plenty of time to think about it or something better. His defence was moulded around (apart from lies) (1) facts he knew the police would have ie no point denying that he was there or that he had sexual contact with Meredith : his biological traces had been left behind, and (2) facts known to him and not to the police at that stage ie the money, which he could use to make his statement as a whole more credible, whilst at the same time giving the police a lead. He is shifting the focus, if the police were to follow it up, on to the person he must have been blaming for his predicament, Amanda.

If all three, Amanda, Raffaele and Guede, went to the cottage together, as Massei has it, then Guede learns about the missing rent money not in the circumstances referred to in his statement but because Meredith has already discovered the theft and worked out who has had it and challenges Amanda over it when the three arrive. Perhaps this is when Guede goes to the toilet and listens to music on his Ipod. After all he is just there for the sex and this is all a distraction.

Although Micheli thought Guede was a liar from start to finish, he did not discount the possibility that Guede was essentially telling the truth about the money. Guede expanded upon this at his appeal, telling the court that Amanda and Meredith had an argument and then a fight over it. It is a thread that runs through all his accounts from his Skype chat and initial statements in Germany to his final appeal.

Guede’s “evidence” was not a factor in the jury’s consideration at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial. Although he was called to give evidence he did not do so. Now his “evidence” and the findings and conclusion of the courts which processed his case come in to play in the appeal of Amanda and Raffaele.

When were the money and credit cards stolen?

I have to accept that as to the money at any rate a theft prior to the murder is critical to sustain the following hypothesis. The credit cards were in any event probably taken after the attack on Meredith.

According to Amanda and Raffaele they spent Halloween together at Raffaele’s and the next day went to the cottage. Meredith was there as was Filomena.  Filomena left first, followed by Meredith to spend the evening with her friends, and Amanda and Raffaele left some time afterwards.

So Amanda and Raffaele could have stolen the money any time after Meredith left and before she returned at about 9.30pm - the day of her murder. Incidentally Filomena testified that Meredith never locked the door to her room except on the occasions she went home to England. Meredith was a very trusting girl.

What motive had Amanda for wanting the money apart from the obvious one of profit?

There are numerous plausible motives.

To fund a growing drugs habit which she shared with Raffaele? Not an inconsiderable expense for a student. Both Amanda and Raffaele explained during questioning that their confusion and hesitancy was due to the fact that they had been going rather hard on drugs. Mignini says that they were both part of a drugs crowd.

Because her own financial circumstances were deteriorating and to fund her own rent contribution?  She was probably about to be sacked at Le Chic where she was considered by Lumumba to be flirty and unreliable and to add insult to injury would likely be replaced by Meredith. In fact Meredith was well liked and trusted by all whereas Amanda’s star was definitely on the wane. 

But maybe Amanda just also wanted to get her own back on Meredith.

Filomena testified that Meredith and Amanda had begun to have issues with each other.

Here are some quotes from Darkness Descending.

Filomena – “At first they got on very well. But then things began to take a different course. Amanda never cleaned the house so we had to institute a rota ….then she (Amanda) would bring strangers home….Meredith said she was not interested in boys, she was here to study”.

“Meredith was too polite to confront Amanda, but she did confide in her pal, Robyn Butterworth. Robyn winced in disbelief when Meredith said that the pair had quarreled because Knox often failed to flush the toilet, even when menstruating. Filomena began noticing that Amanda could be odd, even mildly anti-social.”

It seems that Amanda did not like it when she was not the centre of attention. It was observed that, comically if irritatingly, she would sing loudly if conversation started to pass her by and when playing her guitar would often strum the same chord over and over again.

On the evening of Halloween Amanda texted Meredith enquiring as to whether they could meet up. But Meredith had other arrangements. Meredith appeared to be having a good time whereas Amanda was not.

Indeed there has been much speculation that Amanda has always had deep seated psychological problems and that just after several weeks in Perugia her fragile and damaged ego was tipping towards free fall.


With Meredith’s money both Amanda and Raffaele could have afforded something a little stronger than the usual smoke and I speculate that they spent the late afternoon getting stoned.

Of course Amanda was still an employee of Lumumba and she was supposed to turn up that evening for work but perhaps she no longer cared all that much for the consequences if she did not.

Again I speculate that she, with or without Raffaele,  met Guede at some time -  perhaps before she was due at work, perhaps after she learnt that she was not required by Lumumba -  discussed Meredith’s “availability” and agreed to meet up again on the basketball court at Grimana Square.

The notion that Amanda and Guede hardly knew each other seems implausible to me. We know that they met at a party at the boys’ flat at the cottage. Guede was friends with one of those boys and was invited there on a number of occasions. He was an ever present on the basketball court in Grimana Square which was located just outside the College Amanda and Meredith attended, and just metres from the cottage. He was known to have fancied Amanda and Amanda was always aware of male interest.

What else did Amanda and Raffaele have in mind when arranging the meeting or when thinking about it afterwards? Guede was of course thinking about sex and that Amanda and Raffaele were going to facilitate an encounter with Meredith later that evening. However Amanda and Raffaele had something else on their minds. The logic of their position vis a vis Meredith cannot have escaped them. They had taken her money whilst she was out. Had she not already discovered this fact then she would in any event be back, notice the money was missing and would put 2 and 2 together.  What would happen? Who would she tell? Would she call the police? How are they going to deal with this? Obviously deny it but logic has it’s way and the situation with or without the police being called in would be uncomfortable.

They decided to turn the tables and make staying in Perugia uncomfortable for Meredith. Now the embarrassing, for Meredith, sexual advances from Guede were going to be manipulated by them in to a sexual humiliation for Meredith. Meredith was not going to be seriously harmed but as and when they were challenged by Meredith over the missing money, as inevitably they would be, she was to be threatened with injury or worse. Knives come in useful here. Amanda may have fantasized that Meredith would likely then give up her tenancy at the cottage, perhaps leave Italy. Whether that looks like the probable and likely outcome I leave you to judge, but the hypothesis is that they were starting to think and behave irrationally and that this was exacerbated by the use of drugs.

In the event there came a point when neither Amanda nor Raffaele had any other commitments anyway. They got to the basketball court. They waited for Guede.

We know Amanda and Raffaele were on the basketball court the evening of the 1st November. This is because of the evidence of a Mr Curatolo, the second lay witness. He was not precise about times but thought that they were on the basketball court between 9.30pm and 10pm and may have left around 11.00 – 11.30pm and then returned just before midnight. In any event he testified to seeing Amanda and Raffaele having heated arguments, and occasionally going to the parapet at the edge of the court to peer over. What were they looking at? Go to the photographs of Perugia on the True Justice for Meredith website and you will see. From the parapet you get a good view of the gates that are the entrance, and the only entrance as I understand it, to the cottage.

So why the behaviour observed by Mr Curatolo? They may have been impatient waiting for Guede to arrive. Were they actually to go through with this?  Was Meredith at home, alone, and had she found the money was missing and had she called the police or tipped off someone already? Who was hanging around outside the entrance to the cottage and why? There was, apparently, a car parked at the entrance, a broken down car nearby with the occupants inside awaiting a rescue truck, and the rescue truck itself, all present around 11.00pm. Amanda and Raffaele did not wish to be observed going through the gates with these potential witnesses around.

We, of course, cannot know for certain what went on in the minds of Amanda and Raffaele between the time of them leaving the cottage and their departure from the basketball court to return to the cottage. It has to be speculation but there is a logical consistency to the above narrative if they had stolen Meredith’s money earlier that day, and their meeting up with Guede just before leaving the basketball court does not look like a co-incidence.

From there on in to the inevitable clash between Amanda and Meredith over the money.

It is my opinion that at the cottage Amanda came off worse initially: that she got caught in the face by a blow and suffered a nose bleed.
Stefanoni and Garofano both say that there was an abundant amount (relatively speaking) of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom washbasin, and to a lesser extent the bidet.  Whereas most of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom was mixed with Meredith’s, the blood on the washbasin tap was Amanda’s alone. Both of a quality and quantity to discount menstrual (from washed knickers) or bleeding from ear piercing. Their conclusion was that Amanda bled fairly profusely though perhaps briefly at some stage.

Possibly Amanda may have cut her feet on glass in Filomena’s bedroom but if so it’s difficult to see how blood from that ends up as a blob on the basin tap and in the sink and cut feet are painful to walk on and she did not display any awkwardness on her feet the next day.

Amanda’s blood may have come from a nick by a blade to her hands. I think the nick would be obvious the next day .If so, she was not hiding it. She was photographed the next day outside the cottage waving her hands under the noses of a coterie of vigilant cops.

She might have got a bloody nose during the attack in Meredith’s bedroom save that there is no evidence of her blood there.

On the other hand if she got into a tussle with Meredith (say in the corridor outside their rooms and where there was little room for other than the two to be engaged) and was fended off with a reflex blow that accidently or otherwise connected with her nose, Amanda’s natural reaction would be to disengage immediately and head for the bathroom sink and staunch the flow of blood.

A nose bleed need not take too long to staunch especially if not serious and there is no cut (certainly none being visible the next day).  Just stuff some tissue up the offending nostril. A nose bleed is not necessarily something of which there would be any sign the next day.

Raffaelle fusses around her whilst Rudy briefly plays peacemaker. But Amanda is boiling. As furious with Raffaelle and Guede as she is with Meredith. She eggs Guede on and pushes him towards Meredith.  Raffaele proudly produces his flicknife, latent sadistic instincts surfacing.

Is a scene like this played out inside the cottage or outside? I think of the strange but sadly discredited tale told by Kokomani.

In any event motive is satiated and the coil, having been tensed, is sprung for the pre-planned, but now extremely violent, hazing of poor Meredith.

I am also thinking here of Mignini’s “crescendo of violence” and where a point is reached where anything goes – where there is (from their warped perspectives) almost an inevitability or justification for their behaviour. A “Meredith definitely needs teaching a lesson now!” attitude.

Psychology is part of motive and there is much speculation particularly with regard to Amanda and Raffaele. They have both been in prison for well over three years now and during this time psychological assessments will certainly have been carried out.

Based on specific incidents and and general patterns of behaviour, speech and language, and demeanour, some preliminary conclusions will have been reached correlated with the facts of the crime.

If their convictions are upheld these assessments may be relevant to sentence in so far as they shed light on mitigation and motive.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Report Students Studying Abroad on Average Double Or Triple Their Alcoholic Intake

Posted by Peter Quennell


American embassies and other nations’ embassies abroad get to hear of hundreds of cases a year of students who got in over their heads.

In the past couple of years, there have been TWO notorious murders by foreign students in Florence alone. Florence is about one hour’s drive north of Perugia. The embassy simply shrugged and moved on as Italian justice worked its careful process through.

Both perps happened to be American, and both were high. There were no cries in those cases of anti-Americanism. Howvever, there was some troubled talk in Italy of the excesses foreign students go to.

And a lot of tightening up by the colleges who send a lot of students abroad, including the University of Washington (Amanda Knox’s college) and Pepperdine University (Steve Moore’s former college - this helped to seal his firing.)

Amanda Knox is one of the rare ones who shrugged off all home-college supervision, presumably with the okay of her parents. Meredith was closely watched over by the Erasmus scheme, which sadly did not save her life.

Now the University of Southern California’s student newspaper carries this report on one root cause of students facing foreign judges.

Students traveling abroad can keep glass half full

By Kelsey Clark of the Daily Trojan

According to researchers at the University of Washington, American college students who study abroad are likely to increase — even triple — their alcohol consumption while traveling internationally.

Students over the age of 21 doubled their intake of alcohol from an average of four drinks per week on campus to eight drinks per week abroad, according to a study published in the October issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The overall increase in surveyed students’ alcohol consumption was 105 percent, while those underage students tripled their drinking with an increased consumption of 170 percent….

By consuming alcohol in excess, particularly in an unfamiliar country, the risks for students are greater than those traditionally associated with a night of drinking at USC.

Though instances of injury, crime and sexual abuse do occur as a result of binge drinking at USC, such severe ramifications are comparatively rare within the university’s party culture. Some of the more prevalent woes are students who slept through class because of a hangover or ruined a cell phone by jumping in a pool.

But students who travel abroad must take additional precautions as the heightened risks include becoming lost, getting pick-pocketed or otherwise taken advantage of.

And of course bumping some poor innocent person off.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Why The Media Are Wrong To Rely On Amanda Knox’s Family For Impartial and Accurate Information

Posted by The Machine


1 False claim-making endemic in support of Knox

In many posts we have been addressing the myriad false claims of Knox & family that, lies that now number up in the hundreds.

And here are 150 questions for the two perpetrators posted by our great Powerpoint creator, Kermit, just prior to their conviction. If reporters had sought answers to all of those, they might have once and for all nailed down the truth from the two, and made clear what REALLY happened.

Edda Mellas is already charged along with Curt Knox with making things up, in that pending case about slandering Amanda Knox’s interrogators. And as Finn MacCool seems to have got all the facts right in this post on Amanda Knox’s calls with Edda Mellas, it seems surprising that she is not also charged with perjury.

It’s a great pity that not more media people have put aside their emotions, and actually analyzed the numerous wild claims that come pouring out of Edda Mellas. The fact that so many professional journalists have given her a free pass and never challenged, cross-checked, or probed her claims is especially shameful.

Why has Edda Mellas been able to make so many false claims in the media without being challenged? 

One primary reason according to the Daily Beast is because journalists are required to give certain guarantees about positive coverage in order to gain any access to Amanda Knox’s family: “Of the handful of American journalists in Perugia in late 2007 and early 2008, none got access to the Knox family without certain guarantees about positive coverage.”

And another reason why Edda Mellas has been able to get away with repeatedly propagating the same core false claims is that the journalists in the US who have interviewed Edda Mellas are almost completely ignorant of the basic facts of the case. They haven’t bothered to find out enough about the case to be in a position to challenge what she says.

In fact any journalist - in fact, anyone interested in the case - can check the veracity of her claims against the official court documents, including the Micheli Sentencing Report of January 2009 (summarised on TJMK in English) and the Massei Sentencing Report of March 2010 (very soon available on PMF and TJMK in English).

And they can check the claims against the objective reporting of the various respected Rome-based journalists who speak fluent Italian and who actually attended the trial - the only Rome-based English-language reporter who has ever filed biased reports was Peter Popham, who seemed reflexively anti-Italy, and who was withdrawn two years ago.

2. Numerous False Knox-Family Claims

This analysis focuses on the claims that Edda Mellas has made in interviews with Larry King on CNN, Chris Wragge on CBS, Linda Byron on King 5, and The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone. There are other videos and text interviews that we could have drawn examples from.

We start with Edda Mellas on CNN’s Larry King Live.

Edda Mellas and Curt Knox appeared on Larry King Live shortly after the verdict last December. You can see them in the videos above and below. The timing here corresponds to the time counter at bottom-left of the video.


False claim 1 “The prosecution had changed the motive four times during the trial. and at the end they finally had to say we don’t have a motive but it doesn’t matter.” (minute 4.22 above)

Barbie Nadeau pointed out that the prosecutors had changed their theory, but only rather slightly:

“The prosecution lawyers began their case in January 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. When it came time for closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred” A sex attack was still involved.

Prosecutor Mignini also suggested that a hards drug like cocaine might have been involved, and certainly never said that they didn’t have a motive. Co-Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said that she didn’t know precisely what the motive was, but certainly never claimed that there was none.


False claim 2:  “He (Rudy Guede) all of a sudden had money that he didn’t have earlier in the day” (minute 3.22 above)

Edda Mellas is plucking “facts” out thin air with this claim. No evidence was presented at any court hearing that showed that Rudy Guede suddenly had money that he didn’t have earlier in the day on 1 November 2007.


False claim 3:  “There is no murder weapon.” (minute 4.32 above)

Judge Massei indicates in the sentencing report that Amanda Knox’s judges concluded that the double DNA knife, the larger of the two indicated by Meredith’s autopsy, is indeed the murder weapon.

It is totally compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck, and according to a number of independent forensic experts, it contained Meredith’s DNA on the blade..

 


False claim 4:  “The Italian Supreme Court found the interrogation illegal” (minute 7.54 above)

Though this claim has been repeated in different ways, the Italian Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that Amanda Knox’s interrogation either as a witness or a suspect was illegal. In the suspect interview, she had both a lawyer and interpreter present.


False claim 5:  “They admit to the fact they really have no physical evidence” (minute 7.54 above)

As it took the prosecutors four or five months to present it, they have never admitted that they have no physical evidence. The stop-start-stop nature of the defense phase of the trial showed how very telling the evidence was.


False claim 6:  “They believe Meredith was killed at about 9.30pm” on Larry King Live (minute 0.54 here)

The prosecutors didn’t claim this at the trial. According to Mignini’s timeline, which he used when presenting his scenario for what happened to the judges and jury at trial, Meredith was killed at about 11.50pm.


False claim 7:  Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede (minute 1.02 here)

Unbelievably, Edda Mellas claimed that Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede despite the fact that Amanda Knox testified IN COURT that she had met Rudy Guede on several occasions.

Here’s the actual court transcript:

Carlo Pacelli (CP), Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer: In what circumstances did you meet him (Rudy)?

Amanda Knox (AK): I was in the center, near the church. It was during an evening when I met the guys that lived underneath in the apartment underneath us, and while I was mingling with them, they introduced me to Rudy.

CP: So it was on the occasion of a party at the house of the neighbors downstairs?

AK: Yes. What we did is, they introduced me to him downtown just to say “This is Rudy, this is Amanda”, and then I spent most of my time with Meredith, but we all went back to the house together.

CP: Did you also know him, or at least see him, in the pub “Le Chic”, Rudy?

AK: I think I saw him there once.

CP: Listen, this party at the neighbors, it took place in the second half of October? What period, end of October? 2007?

AK: I think it was more in the middle of October.


False claim 8:  Rudy Guede’s DNA was in Meredith’s purse (minute 3.16 here

Edda Mellas’s claim that Rudy Guede’s DNA was in Meredith’s purse is completely untrue. According to the Micheli report, which was made available to the public in January 2008, Guede’s DNA was found on the zip of Meredith’s purse and not inside it.


False claim 9:  “Even the Italian Supreme Court ruled that her rights were repeatedly violated.” (minute 5:32 above

The Italian Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that Amanda Knox’s rights were repeatedly violated. Not even her own lawyers claimed that, and no complaint was ever lodged.

The first of Knox’s two written statements couldn’t be used against her simply because she wasn’t represented by a lawyer when she made it - and she volunteered that statement, in a seeming state of panic, when she was told Sollecito was no longer supporting her alibi..

We continue next with Edda Mellas making claims in an interview for the CBS Early Show.

Whilen Edda Mellas was in Perugia, she was interviewed by CBS’s Chris Wragge. (Embedding of this CBS video YouTube on sites like TJMK is disabled, which suggests that CBS might be worried that the claims made were wrong and they should have been challenged on-air.) 


False claim 10:  The double DNA knife is incompatible with the wounds on Meredith’s body. (minute 0.16 above)

In the interview Edda Mellas made the following claim: “The knife they think is the murder weapon is way too big and demonstrated how it had to have been a much smaller knife that caused all the wounds.”

Edda Mellas’s claim above is simply not true.

Barbie Nadeau reported directly from the courtroom in Perugia that multiple witnesses for the defence, including Dr. Carlo Torre, conceded that the double DNA knife was compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck.

“According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).

“He (Dr. Carlo Torre) conceded that a third larger wound could have been made with the knife, but said it was more likely it was made by twisting a smaller knife.” (Barbie Nadeau, The Daily Beast).

Judge Massei categorically states in the judges’ sentencing report that the double DNA knife was compatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck.


False claim 11:  Meredith’s room was so tiny, there wasn’t enough room for four people in some kind of tussle. (minute 0.27 above)

In the same interview with Chris Wragge, Edda Mellas asserts that there couldn’t have been an attack on Meredith involving three assailants.

“The space available this crime happened is so tiny you can’t have had four people in that room in some kind of tussle.”

The Violent Crimes Unit itself used detailed images at the trial to show that there was more than enough room for an attack involving three attackers.


False claim 12:  There is no evidence of Amanda Knox at the actual crime scene. (minute 2.06 above)

“Its the fact at the actual crime scene there is no physical evidence of Amanda; not a hair, not a fingerprint, not a nothing.”

The crime scene involves the whole cottage and it isn’t limited to Meredith’s room. Knox and Sollecito were both CONVICTED of staging the break-in and tampering with the crime scene.

Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence actually placing Amanda Knox in Meredith’s room on the night of the murder: the double DNA knife, and the blood she tracked into the bathroom, the hallway, Filomena’s room, and her own room.

According to two imprint experts, there was a woman’s bloody shoeprint on the pillow under Meredith’s body which matched Knox’s foot size.

Even Sollecito’s forensic consultant, Professor Vinci, claimed that he had found Amanda Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra.


False claim 13:  “The DNA is so insignificant. It’s this tiny spot. It’s not blood.” (minute 2.16 above)

Three independent DNA experts -  Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, and Professor Francesca Torricelli - confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was definitely on the blade of the double DNA.

The DNA charts themselves show a clear and unmistakable match. Edda Mellas doesn’t seem to understand that DNA evidence almost always involves only microscopic traces of DNA.

Dr. Stefanoni testified at the trial that the DNA on the blade could indeed have come from Meredith’s blood.

We continue next with Edda Mellas in an Interview with Linda Byron on Seattle TV station King 5.


False claim 14:  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito maintained the same story (minute 3.17)

Edda Mellas claimed in this interview with Linda Byron that Amanda Knox had maintained the same story for over a year when she was asked whether her daughter had lied.

In another interview with Linda Byron in November 2009, Edda Mellas bizarrely claimed that Amanda Knox hadn’t changed her story. KING 5 Investigator Linda Byron asked her: “Did she change her story?”

Edda Mellas responded: “No, no. For this whole year they have maintained the story - what they did that night. They stayed at Raffaele’s, they made dinner, they watched a movie. That’s it, that’s the story.”

Edda Mellas’s statement that Amanda Knox didn’t change her story and that she and Sollecito maintained the same story is yet another incorrect and misleading claim.

Knox and Sollecito both gave three different alibis. The posts on their alibis are linked-to up at the top here. Knox gave at least three different times for when she and Sollecito had dinner on the night of the murder.

Knox gave different reasons for writing her handwritten confession, and she gave different accounts of seeing the blood in the bathroom which contradict each other.

And most devastating of all, Sollecito stopped providing Knox with an alibi on 5 November 2007.

Sollecito is STILL nearly three years later refusing to corroborate her alibi. He clearly hasn’t maintained that Knox was with him at his apartment - actually he claimed that she went out for four hours.


False claim 15 : Amanda Knox wasn’t provided with an interpreter (minute 2.37)

Edda Mellas made this false claim, which has been widely propagated by Knox groupies, in an interview with Linda Byron on King5.

It’s not difficult to prove that this claim is completely false. Knox’s interpreter on 5 November 2007, Anna Donninio, even testified at the trial. And Amanda Knox herself spoke about her interpreter when she gave testimony at the trial.

We continue next with the claims of Edda Mellas on ABC TV.


False claim 16:  “Amanda Knox is incredibly honest” (minute 11.25)

In an interview with ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas Edda Mellas claimed that her daughter is “incredibly honest”.

And Edda Mellas told The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone that “Amanda doesn’t know how to lie.”

In fact, Amanda Knox’s mobile phone records, data recovered from Sollecito’s computer, and corroborative testimony of numerous witnesses, provide irrefutable proof that Amanda Knox has lied - again and again.

For example, her lies about him directly led to Diya Lumumba, an innocent man, spending two weeks in prison - even though as recorded in prison she told her mother Edda Mellas that her claims were not true. .


False claim 17 : Amanda Knox could have left Italy, but she chose to stay and help the police.

In an earlier interview with Larry King in October 2009, Edda Mellas told him that Amanda Knox could have left Italy, but she chose to stay and help the police:

“After the murder, Mellas said, friends and family told Knox to leave Italy—to either come home or stay with relatives in Germany—but Knox refused because she wanted to help find the killer and prove that she had nothing to do with it.”

“Many people asked her to leave, but she said no. ‘I’m going to stay. I’m going to try and help. I’m going to try and finish school,’ ” Mellas said.”

Edda Mellas’s claim is flatly contradicted by Amanda Knox herself, in the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007:

“i then bought some underwear because as it turns out i wont be able to leave italy for a while as well as enter my house”

And along with one of Meredith’s friends who walked home with Meredith on the night, the police told Amanda Knox pretty promptly that as her status was (then) a primary witness, she was not to go anywhere.

The fact that Knox did stay was of little help to the investigation - in fact, she seemed to work hard to derail it - and one of her main concerns at the time, a pretty callous one, was whether she would be staying or moving out of the house and getting a rent refund.


False claim 18:  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were not under the influence of drugs on the night of the murder (BBC Radio)

In an interview with BBC Radio after the verdict, Edda Mellas apparently stated that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were not under the influence of drugs on the night of the murder.

This is despite the fact that both Knox and Sollecito had both themselves actually claimed they had smoked cannabis. The prosecution believed they might have been on a hard drug like cocaine, which also seems the general belief around Perugia.


3. And Some Conclusions

The fact that Edda Mellas has been able to propagate so many wrong claims in the media for so long without being challenged seems to speaks volumes about the naivety and unprofessionalism of her interviewers, and of the media organisations they work for.

As they usually do,  ABC News, CBS News, CNN, King 5, and other media outlets should have interviewed objective crime-case professionals, who don’t have a vested interest in the case.

Instead they have relied again and again on Amanda Knox’s mother and other family members as primary sources.

Amanda Knox is not an innocent political prisoner who was railroaded in some Third World country for some very murky reason. She was unanimously convicted after a lengthy trial at which the evidence was absolutely overwhelming. 

As the Christian Longo and Scott Peterson cases that we posted on below go to prove, seemingly quite normal people commit horrific murders. Probably the vast majority of murders are committed by people who to many seemed normal.

It seems downright perverse that some of the journalists who have interviewed Edda Mellas treat Amanda Knox as a victim, and with cloying sympathy ask “How is Amanda doing?”  They wouldn’t dream of asking Charles Manson’s mum how the Manson girls are doing.

It is time for the sake of the truth, the legitimacy of the verdict, the relations between the US and Italy, and the peace of mind of Meredith’s family and friends, that from now on they hold Edda Mellas’s feet to the fire.. 


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oprah Winfrey Still Snowed: Still Helping To Advance The Fiction That A BLACK Guy Did It Alone

Posted by Peter Quennell


Sad but true. A black commentator helping to revile Rudy Guede. Certainly a historic first for Oprah - though the US media is unlikely to notice.

Oprah’s emotional fawning over the Knoxes and the Mellases (with copious shots of their kids, and some misleading statements by Ted Simon) is being rebroadcast on the ABC network this afternoon.

Click here for our previous comment - plus plenty by our insightful readers.



Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Transcript Of Today’s Online Chat Session With Barbie Nadeau Of The Daily Beast

Posted by Peter Quennell


Lucas Wittmann:
Hi, I’m the Books Editor at The Daily Beast and I’m delighted to welcome Barbie Latza Nadeau and our readers to discuss her new book, Angel Face…

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I’m Barbie Latza Nadeau. Welcome.

[Comment From kcolorado: ]
how was your sense of who she is affected by seeing her in court everyday? Have you spoken with her directly?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Seeing Amanda Knox walk into the courtroom every day was very important in understanding how she interacted with her lawyers and her family, and in understanding how the jury perceived her. Amanda has not yet given any one-on-one interviews so no, I have not spoken to her directly.

Lucas Wittmann:
Just so you know we see your comments and will publish them live as Barbie is ready so please keep them coming…

[Comment From Kevad: ]
You have also stated in tv coverage that “we still do not really know what happened in that room”, is that how you still feel?

[Comment From stint: ]
Great job with book, Barbie. I really enjoyed it.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Yes, after over two years following this case, none of us know exactly what happened in Meredith’s bedroom that fateful night. No one has confessed to the crime, so until someone does, we will not have a clear understanding of the exact dynamic of the murder.

[Comment From Guest: ]
How do you think your journalism during the trial affected its outcome?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Thank you. I’m glad you liked the book. My hope is that it provides perspective of this complex case.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I don’t think that any of us who covered this trial as journalists had a direct impact on the jury’s decision. We were not in the deliberation room.

[Comment From Wade: ]
Why in your opinion did the seattle media frame the events as they did

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that many of my colleagues in the Seattle market did the best job they could with the information they had. Their primary source was the Knox family, so their coverage was affected by that. When members of the Seattle press came to Perugia, they did not speak Italian and had a difficult time following the court sessions because there was no translator. Those of us who live and work here in Italy often helped the American press as best we could.

[Comment From stint: ]
Regarding earlier comment. Since Knox Family PR firm *very* closely controls any and all media contact with themselves, and they have reportedly blackballed any reporters even seen *near* you, do you really think you might interview Amanda in the future

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I have hope that Amanda might want someone objective who understands Italian to conduct an interview with her at some point down the road. But because I have been skeptical, I am fairly sure I am not high on the list of interview candidates.

[Comment From mnh12121887:
But why did the American media take the Knox family version so much on face value without even trying to look deeper?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that the economic crisis has played a role. Many bureaus have been closed across Europe and it would have been a major expense to send a correspondent to Italy for such a long trial. I think that had there been a larger Italian based press corp it would have made a difference in coverage.

Lucas Wittmann:
Let’s explore now the facts of the case.

[Comment From Guest: ]
Do you believe Knox’s assertion that she was abused during her final interrogation?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think it depends how you define “abused.” If you mean to ask if she was flicked on the back of the head (which is a cultural norm here in schools and in criminal investigations), then yes, that very likely happened. If you mean to ask if she was abused in the way the American police have been caught on CCTV abusing detainees, then no, I do not think she was abused.

[Comment From Guest: ]
You seem to have made some strange claims in your book - about AK and RS actually NOT remembering what happened. How on earth did you reach that conclusion?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I gave my hypothesis about the crime based on sitting through 11 months of a trial. I believe that if Amanda and Raf would have remembered exactly what happened, whether they were involved or not, their explanation of the evening of November 1 would have been more clear. A lie is often very black and white. Their confused responses seemed to me to be more consistent with a hazy memory or no memory at all.

[Comment From hattie: ]
I still believe that Amanda Knox is innocent, and I read your book to get another point of book. Thank you for that. My concern is that there is so much more DNA evidence against Rudy. How was Amanda able to clean up and not leave more DNA evidence in Meredith’s room?

Lucas Wittmann:
Don’t have Angel Face yet? Order it now as an e-book or paperback: http://bit.ly/chDjIX

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think it is important to remember that the same scientific police and laboratories tested the DNA for all three suspects. That is to say, if the DNA matches Rudy and is accepted, then the DNA that matches the other two should also be accepted. How she may have left so little DNA if she was actually in the room is very hard to square. Whether some of the 14 unidentified fingerprints belong to her is a big question in this case. There were very few fingerprints on any flat surfaces belonging to Rudy either. Is it possible to pick and choose how to clean up DNA? Maybe not, but it is possible to wipe up fingerprints and footprints that you know are your own.

[Comment From Guest: ]
If they didn’t remember then why did they do the clean up? They clearly knew they had ‘something’ to hide!

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
That is a very good question. Perhaps waking up in a house with a dead body makes one act irrationally. Perhaps because they might not have remembered what they did the night before, they panicked. We do not know, but that is one question I will ask Amanda if I ever get a chance.

[Comment From Guest: ]
After 11 months viewing the trial, do you believe that Amanda joined in any sort of sex game with Meredith? It seems that Amanda did, bt then went to her room BEFORE and DURING the murder.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
There is no forensic evidence that Amanda had sexual relations with Meredith. I have a hard time accepting that it started as a sex game. I believe that if they were involved it was because they could not stop themselves from an aggravated escalation of violence. In essence, they could not tell agony from ecstasy and did not realize that Meredith needed their help. Instead, they may have helped Rudy and that is when things got out of control.

[Comment From Lisa: ]
I see that some folks her responded to the question “Who Killed Meredith Kercher” with “Amanda and Raffaele” only. No Rudy. How could that be? Do you think journalism had anything to do with that?

Lucas Wittmann:
We’re going to wrap this up in 10 minutes so please contribute any final questions now.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that the fact that Rudy’s trial was sewn up before Amanda and Raffaele’s began is the reason many people separate them in this crime. But Rudy was convicted for his role in the murder, not as a lone assailant. His judge’s reasoning clearly states that he felt Rudy acted in tandem with Amanda and Raffaele.

[Comment From mhm12121887: ]
What is happening now—in Italy?

[Comment From Noel: ]
How do you see the appeal going?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Right now lawyers for both Amanda and Raf are preparing their appeal briefs. Those will be filed within a few weeks and then the date will be set for the appeal hearing, likely in the fall.

[Comment From Kermit: ]
Hi Barbie. Your journalism has opened up transparency and debate from an Iron-Curtain situation of control in the American press. Where do you see each of the three convicted (pending appeal) murderers 10 and 20 years from now?

[Comment From stint: ]
Thanks so much for this opportunity, and again thanks for all your objective coverage in “Angel Face”.... great read.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that the appeal will result in a few years taken from the sentences of both Amanda and Raffaele.

[Comment From Guest: ]
hasn’t her real beauty complicated this hugely from day one?

[Comment From hattie: ]
Thank for an excellent book. I read it in one day, and it gave me a different side of the story. I hope that both pro- and anti-Amanda sides will take an opportunity to read this book.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that it is very likely that all three of the convicted murderers of Meredith Kercher will return home one day.

Lucas Wittmann:
Here is the link if you’d like to order the Angel Face e-book and paperback: http://bit.ly/chDjIX

[Comment From mhm12121887: ]
Thanks also for the book and for the “on the spot” reporting and objectivity

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that Amanda’s beauty has increased the interest in this case, but I do not think that it dictated the outcome.

[Comment From Patty: ]
Thanks for answering questions Barbie.

Lucas Wittmann:
Down to our final question…

[Comment From somealibi: ]
(For the end) Compliments on the presentation and technology with the poll-type questions

[Comment From Patty: ]
Do you think any of them will ever confess?

[Comment From Guest: ]
You’ve been a real heroine in this case Barbie. Well done for your objective reporting.

Lucas Wittmann:
Thanks for answering the polls!

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that one day we will have a confession, yes. But not while they are in prison.

Lucas Wittmann:
Wait…one more!

[Comment From Guest: ]
Can you give your reactions to the 2 op-ed pieces in the NYTimes (Seattle writere)?

[Comment From Guest Guest: ]
Can we have another session please????

Lucas Wittmann:
Re: another session. So many great comments and questions, we’ll keep it in mind.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I was in Perugia when those op-ed pieces came out and they were not helpful to Amanda. The prosecutor was angry, the jury members were insulted and Amanda’s own lawyers were not happy. Op-ed pieces are by nature controversial, but they should be weighed to see whether they will impact the topic. That sort of journalism likely had more impact on this case than what anyone wrote with a Perugia dateline.

Lucas Wittmann:
Thanks everyone for participating!
And thanks Barbie for answering all these great questions.

[Comment From ricardoricardo: ]
which ‘op-ed’ pieces > do you have a link ?

Lucas Wittmann:
Here is the link: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/10/an-innocent-abroad/

[Comment From Guest: ]
Cheers Barbie! Will raise a glass to you tonight…

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Thank you. I want to also thank Andrea Vogt, of the Seattle P-I who was a voice of reason in Seattle during the trial based in Italy. The op-ed pieces are by Timothy Egan.

[Comment From Guest:]
Thank you. This is nice technology and nice pace. Could have been twice as long smile

[Comment From somealibi: ]
Keep it going Barbie - thanks - we value an objective take

Lucas Wittmann:
Thanks again to everyone and we’ll definitely keep this in mind the next time.

[Comment From ricardo: ]
many thanks…

[Comment From Patty: ]
Thank you, and Andrea, for your coverage of the trial. Invaluable.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Thanks to everyone who sent question.

[Comment From Clander: ]
Ciao from Roma !! You ROCK Barbie !


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tomorrow In Rome: Italian American Foundation Panel - May Be Tilted Anti Truth

Posted by Cesare Beccaria



The venue Palazzo Marini above and at bottom

1. Notice Of The Panel

[See at bottom for a report]  Strange panel. Perhaps we are wrong, but none of these names seem to have surfaced before in connection with Meredith’s case.

Nobody seriously acquainted with the facts to be there? The introducer and organizer Rocco Girlanda blatantly pro-Knon?

This is the notice of the panel posted on the Italian American Foundation website. And these are the experts who will speak.

  • Anthony Sistilli, lawyer, Novastudia Law Firm

  • Catherine Arcabascio, Dean of Nova Southeastern University Law Center of Fort Lauderdale FL, and a co-founder of the American organization The Innocence Project

  • Rebecca Spitzmiller, Faculty of Law University Roma Tre

  • Patricia Thomas, Associated Press

The chairman will be Moreno Marinozzi, Sky Tg24 journalist. And the meeting will be introduced by the President of Italy-USA Foundation Hon. Rocco Girlanda.

2. Andrea Vogt Reports

Excerpts from the Seattle PI 18 March

In Rome, a discussion of Amanda Knox tries to improve U.S.-Italian relations

Amanda Knox sits in a prison in Italy, convicted of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher.

But in Rome on Thursday, lawyers and professors gathered to consider what would have happened if Knox, a Seattle native and University of Washington student, had been tried in the U.S.

The gathering was not so much an exercise in legal theorizing as one to smooth the hard feelings between Italy and the United States over the trial of one American college student. It’s a case that has spawned books, Websites and congressional involvement.

In fact, experts decided they couldn’t say what would have happened in an American trial.
globe

“The only answer is, it is impossible to answer this question,” lawyer Anthony Sistilli told the audience, according to ANSA Italian wire services that covered the forum. “We do not want to retry the case. We want to help bridge the gap of understanding, which is our mission for this meeting.”

The debate, held at a parliamentary annex in Rome, was sponsored by the Italy-USA Foundation. The panelists included Sistilli and two American law professors, Catherine Arcabascio, dean of the Nova Southeastern University Law Center in Fort Lauderdale and Rebecca Spitzmiller, who teaches at the Roma Tre University, as well as the American University in Rome.

“Trial outcomes are unpredictable. You really can’t guess what the outcome would be,” Arcabascio, who is co-director of the Florida Innocence Project, told the crowd.

“But reasonable doubt is a standard of proof we use in both countries.”

Arcabascio also noted that sequestered juries are still used in the United States, but less and less common due to the high cost.

The forum’s aim, organizers said, was to bridge the widening gap between observers of the case in Italy and in the United States, where Washington state politicians in particular have made their voices heard on the case.

“No-one had any intention of bringing up criticisms,” said Rocco Girlanda, president of the U.S.-Italy Foundation told seattlepi.com. “Our scope was simply to compare the judicial systems and trial processes of Italy and the U.S.”

Girlanda ended the evening on a light note, saying that perhaps after the case’s expected appeal, the association would even have the chance to have a “special honored guest,” meaning Knox.

He also mentioned that the association is continuing to meet regularly with Knox in prison. Italy-USA Association officials said that prison authorities have called Knox’s behavior in Capanne “exemplary.”

Though she had requested work in the prison laundry, she has been given a less menial task with the prison commissary. Her job, according to foundation officials who meet with her, is to take orders from the various cellmates about what they want from the prison store. Inmates are able to buy items such as candy, cheese, soda or other small shopping items….

The Italy-USA Association, which works closely with the U.S. Embassy in Rome, has waded into the Knox debate before.

When angry reactions criticizing the Italian justice system flared after Knox’s guilty verdict, Girlanda, the association’s current president, used his position in the Italian parliament to arrange for a visit to Knox in the Capanne prison.

Parliamentarians are able to request access to the prisons at any time to review prison conditions. Girlanda, is from a small Umbrian town of Gubbio, near Perugia.

Girlanda has spoken with Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini about concerns raised over the case. He works in public relations.

Behind the scenes, a few observers speculated that Girlanda might become the Italian version of David Marriott., the Seattle public relations expert who represents the interests of Amanda Knox and her family and who has coordinated media appearances of Knox’s family and friends in the U.S.

Marriott is also the gatekeeper for Italian journalists who have wanted to interview friends and family of Knox’s in Seattle.



Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sentencing Report: Barbie Nadeau Quotes The Motive, Physical Evidence, And Alibis

Posted by Peter Quennell


Please click above for Barbie Nadeau’s full report on the Daily Beast website. Key excerpts.

1) The motive

“One can hypothesize that the bad decision came after the consumption of stupefying substances.”

But they disagreed on the motive. The prosecution lawyers began their case in January, 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. By closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred. The jury rejected both theories, and the reasoning document declares that “the killing was carried out with no planning, no animosity and no revenge against the victim.

”The two young lovers, interested in each other and in the intellectual and cultural world around them, would not have made a conscious decision to kill Kercher. Instead, the judge wrote, they killed spontaneously under the influence of drugs. “One can hypothesize that the bad decision came after the consumption of stupefacente—stupefying substances—that Amanda verified in her testimony.”

As the jury saw it, Knox, Sollecito and Rudy Guede, the Ivory Coast native who was convicted for his role in Kercher’s murder after a fast-track trial in 2008, came to the house the two girls shared in order to get high. Guede used the toilet, then became aroused when he saw Knox and Sollecito making out. He went to Kercher’s room and made sexual advances toward her. The reasoning refers to evidence presented at Knox’s trial that Guede was the type of guy that “bothered women” when he was under the influence.

Then, according to the reasoning, Kercher cried out for help, but instead of helping her, Knox and Sollecito, their judgment impaired, decided instead to help Guede. The killing was based on “sexual-erotic violence” but not with Knox as the mastermind. The jury felt that it was Guede who led that attack, and the other two, too high to know better, joined in.

2) The physical and forensic evidence

The judge’s reasoning also underscores what the jury believed to be the most important elements of the prosecution’s forensic case. They believed that a kitchen knife with Knox’s DNA on the handle and a trace of Kercher’s on the blade was the weapon that made the large fatal wound in Kercher’s neck. They also referred to Sollecito’s “knife habits,” surmising that, as an admitted collector of blades, he likely used his own knife to make the second wound. The jury agreed that Sollecito and Knox conspired to stage a break-in in another bedroom to cover their tracks.

And they attributed an unidentifiable bloody shoeprint found on the pillow under Kercher’s body to Knox, even though the prosecution only implied that it was compatible with a woman’s shoe size. A spot of Knox and Kercher’s mixed blood in one of the bedrooms, found using Luminol, and four additional spots in the small bathroom the girls shared also swayed the jurors.

“These were left when Amanda was cleaning her hands and feet of Kercher’s blood,” the judge wrote.

3) The Knox and Sollecito alibis

The judge also wrote emphatically about the lack of credible alibi. Although Knox and Sollecito claimed to be at his apartment all night, “Not one phone call, not one meeting, no computer activity or any other element proved that they stayed at that apartment.” And the judge was particularly hard on Knox for accusing Patrick Lumumba, an innocent man, of the murder “knowingly and deceivingly.”

Overall, however, it appears that the jury was sympathetic to the two suspects, but ultimately felt that they committed a crime for which they must pay a hefty price.


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.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Trial: Friday’s Testimony Bolsters The Prosecution’s Case

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]

Andrea Vogt now reporting for The Independent.

Upon arrival, the Kercher family quietly took seats in the courtroom behind their Florentine lawyers, Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna, who opened their case with two expert witnesses: a coroner, and a leading forensic geneticist from a Florence hospital.

Mr Maresca told the court that the expert witnesses “sustained the prior results and valuations of the coroner who performed the autopsy and the forensic evidence specialists who already testified”. He added: “And for the first time today, we also heard that the bruises on the victim’s hips were consistent with a sexually violent approach.”

Professor Gianaristide Norelli testified that the multiple lesions on Ms Kercher’s body were consistent with being held and attacked by more than one person. He said she died of suffocation and interpreted her stab wounds as having been inflicted as threats during a struggle. The wounds, mostly on the side of her neck, were possibly inflicted by two different knives, he said, but noted that one of the stab wounds was compatible with the alleged murder weapon.

Professor Francesca Torricelli told the court that she believed the samples of Mr Sollecito’s DNA found on Ms Kercher’s bra clasp was a significant enough amount that it was unlikely to have been left by contamination. She also sustained a previous forensic biologist’s findings that Ms Knox’s DNA was found on the handle and the victim’s on the blade.

Alessandra Rizzo reporting for the Associated Press:

Forensic expert Gianaristide Norelli, a witness called by the Kercher family, said the main cause of Kercher’s death was suffocation.

Court documents have said suffocation was caused by the hemorrhage following the neck wounds. But Norelli said suffocation was also aided “manually” by forcing the victim’s mouth and nose shut and by strangling her.

This, Norelli argued, showed a clear intent to kill, while the neck wounds may have been inflicted with the intent to scare or threaten the victim. He said that Kercher’s own movement may have inadvertently contributed to making the stab wounds deeper.

The wounds were compatible with a kitchen knife the prosecution says might have been the murder weapon, Norelli said. The knife, which was found at Sollecito’s house, has a 17-centimeter (6.69-inch) blade….

Prosecutors say Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the kitchen knife, and Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade. Francesca Torricelli, a DNA expert also called by the Kercher family, confirmed the findings of the prosecutors.

“I have no doubt” the traces are compatible, she told the court Friday. Torricelli also confirmed the prosecutors’ finding that DNA compatible with Sollecito’s had been found on the clasp of Kercher’s bra.

And an unnamed writer reporting for the Daily Sun.

The parents of Meredith Kercher — Arline and John — spent their first day in court yesterday under the unwavering stare of her alleged killer Amanda Knox.

One witness said: “It was very unusual. I’m not sure if she was looking for sympathy or trying to offer it, but Meredith’s parents never looked at her.”



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]


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