Why The Count Of Discredited Prosecution Witnesses Even Now Remains Down Around Zero
Posted by James Raper
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Just sifting through the latest drivel on Injustice in Perugia today and I came across this statement from one of their main posters.
“It was physically impossible for Capezalli to have heard any sounds from Meredith’s residence”.
Note : not that she was mistaken or that her evidence was unreliable but the bald statement that it was physically impossible for her to have heard anything.
Was she profoundly deaf then? If not, then why this assertion? Without some basis for this assertion then it is simply a dismissive slur on the credibility of the witness.
This happens to be the same poster who wowed that board with his claim that the Prosecution suppressed exculpatory evidence that would have cleared Knox and Sollecito.
Not that he supplied any proof. How could he? It is axiomatic, of course, that if there was suppressed evidence then what it was would not be known. Nevertheless it was a ready springboard for calls from mindless idiots to have the Prosecution fully investigated and charged with perverting the course of justice!
Anyway, to move on, the purpose of this post is just to revisit (with pictorial assistance) Capezalli’s testimony (I shall call her Nara from now on) and see if there is even a scintilla of justification for the claim.
Now to be fair, Nara did say in her evidence that she had double glazing and maybe that is what he is referring to although for the life of me I don’t see why that would make it impossible for her to hear a scream outside.
But it’s worth investigating because it’s the sort of thing that does get repeated without further analysis and I have read others taking that remark at face value and doubting whether she did hear a scream and, perhaps more credibly, whether she would have heard the sound of someone running on the gravel of the cottage forecourt and up the metal steps from the car park.
Here is what she said -
“What happens is that getting up I’m going past the window of the dining room, because the bathroom is on that side, and as I am there I heard a scream, but a scream that wasn’t a normal scream. [A terrifying and agonising long scream as she describes it elsewhere] I got goose bumps to be truthful. At that moment I no longer knew what was happening, and then I went on to the bathroom. There is a little window with no shutters, none at all.”
Mignini then asks -
Q—Well, you go by the window and you hear this cry?
Ans – Yes.
Q – Then you continue to go towards the bathroom, you told me?
Ans – Yes.
Q – Do you open the bathroom window?
Ans – No.
Q – Explain what happened for us.
Ans – I haven’t any shutters on that window, I only have double-glazing so I can look straight out
Q – So you looked out of the bathroom window?
Ans– I didn’t open up because I had all the little succulent plants there for the light.
A little late in her testimony Mignini seeks to clarify her evidence -
Q– So you hear the scream, go to the bathroom, look out the window and you don’t see anything?
Ans – No.
Q – Then you go back to the bedroom?
Ans – Yes.
Q – When is it that you hear the noises you described, and then we will see what they are?
Ans – I hear the noises I described when I was closing the bathroom door, then I heard running, because that steel there [the metal stairs] makes a tremendous noise at night, then when you don’t hear cars going by or such like, I looked out but there was nobody there.
Q – From which way?
Ans – To the left and the right, and there was nobody there.
Q – Then you heard the scuffling?
Ans – The same, in the meantime I heard running on the stairs, from the other direction they were running in the driveway.
Much later Nara is helpfully (perhaps) cross examined by Dalla Vedova on her remark that she has double glazing, as follows -
CDV - How are your windows made?
Ans - My windows are made of wood. They have double glazing and they have a shutter.
CDV - When you say “they have double glazing” do you mean that every single window has two panes, or are there two windows, one in front of the other?
Ans - No, two panes in each side and opening in the middle.
Confused? What is she really describing?
Many moons ago Kermit put together a very helpful Powerpoint lambasting the behaviour and claims of Paul Ciolino, the American PI who appeared on CBS rubbishing the suggestion that Nara would have been able to hear anything. It is obviously Ciolino’s disreputable work that is the basis for the claim.
I am going to lift some stills from Kermit’s excellent Powerpoint and add to them some more from a (somewhat infamous) Channel 5 documentary, from which it will be clear that
(a) Nara doesn’t have double glazing, nor shutters, at least not at the back of her property overlooking the cottage. However there are shutters at the front and, for all I know, double glazing there but that is not of concern to us.
(b) There is little reason to doubt that she would have been able to hear sounds outside quite well.
Here’s a picture of the back of Nara’s property immediately above the car park.
Here it is again in relation to the cottage
In the first picture Nara’s first floor flat is shown circled. In the second, it is obvious that only the roof of the cottage would be visible from the first floor, as indeed she said in her testimony.
There are two further floors above. The top floor is the one to which Ciolino (and Pater Van Sant) gained access, having tried but failed to interest Nara. Nara in her evidence said that there was an apartment above which she rented out and I suspect that this was the top floor. The top floor undoubtedly had double glazing or double casements.
Below is one of the top floor windows. (We can see Ciolino’s reflection in the glass)
And here he is, standing in front of the same window whilst conducting his experiment with a couple of kids running along the road outside -
As we shall see it really was quite pointless conducting off-the-cuff sound experiments from there with the double casement shut tight
Nara said that her daughter also lived in the building so either the second floor was a separate conversion for her daughter or first and second were shared and the second was where their bedrooms were. That’s actually immaterial as it is the first floor that really interests us.
Here is a close up of the first floor. We can be sure because we can see Nara and the co-presenters of the Channel 5 documentary standing on the balcony.
We can see how large the windows are on either side of the balcony. As to the window on the right it is also apparent that this has been blocked up save as to four panes in the middle so that now there is only that smaller window there.
Clearly then she is standing inside her bathroom and the bathroom window looks over the car park. Indeed we can see her succulent plants on the inside window ledge as she stated in her evidence. Also, if we look closely, we can see that her wall is tiled or wall-papered with a tile design befitting a bathroom. Probably that wall is also made of little more than plasterboard.
One thing is quite certain though and that is that the window, which opens in the middle, is not double glazed.
Nara’s understanding however seems to be rather different. To her “double glazing” is (as she said to Dalla Vedova) “two panes in each side and opening in the middle”.
We can also infer that the large window to the left of the balcony belongs to her dining room. What she said, in effect, was that she was traversing the first floor (from left to right) from her dining room to her bathroom (being both on the same side, as she says). She heard the scream in her dining room.
The window there does not appear to be blocked off as it is to the right. Indeed I think we can see full length drapes or net curtains but certainly one would expect a larger window there and again, clearly, it is not double glazed.
So again, why would it be physically impossible for her to have heard a sound, particularly a scream, coming from the cottage?
It couldn’t be because it was too far away. We can see that from the pictures but also here is a handy GoogleMap calculation of the distance from her place to the far side of the cottage.
So that’s, say, 45 metres. Or 49 yards. Not far at all. Thanks to Yummi for bringing that up on pmf.org.
We should also remember that it was the 1st November which is a religious holiday in Italy in remembrance of the dead and therefore background noise was quieter than usual. It was also probably sometime around 11pm and the back of Nara’s property looks out on what is a natural amphitheatre in which noise will echo.
Nara Capezalli in fact came across as a compelling witness to what she heard that night and there is no way at all that it was physically impossible for her not to have heard that scream. Nor the metal stairs (“..makes a tremendous noise at night”….) just off to the right of her property and immediately below it.
On a personal note I was recently driven nuts by a manhole cover that had come loose in the road outside my bedroom window. Cars constantly drove over it and the noise kept me awake. The top floor of the car park would probably also act like a sounding board and the noise made by the stairs may also have come up through the stairwell we see immediately in front of her property. I am not so sure about the sound of gravel on the cottage forecourt being crunched underneath but already I am more than prepared to believe Nara on that score as well. Why not?
Finally, as we await the Cassation Motivation (whenever!) I seem to remember that at least one appeal point was the failure of the lower courts to accede to a defence request for audio tests to be conducted from Nara’s property.
Bearing in mind that Judge Marasca reportedly has stated that the ground for overturning the Nencini convictions was insufficient and contradictory evidence one wonders whether Cassation will say that a test was required, in the absence of which Nara’s testimony can be thrown into a pot along with other evidence somehow deemed “insufficient”?
If they do then watch out for them getting the double glazing issue quite wrong as well.
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