Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weighing The Ten Points On Which The Perugia Chief Prosecutor’s Supreme Court Appeal Is Based

Posted by brmull



[Above: the Supreme Court of Italy seen from the south-east across the River Tiber]


The Chief Prosecutor and Deputy Chief Prosecutor of Umbria base their formidable appeal on ten points repeated here from ZiaK’s excellent translation below.

The reasons for the appeal to Cassation which Perugia’s General Prosecution presented today against the acquittal verdict of Amanda and Raffaele are based on ten points of the second-level verdict.

The first is the lack of grounds for the decision, in the decree of 18 December 2010, to allow the forensic testimony/expert witness in the appeal judgement.

The second, in contrast, concerns a contrary decision: the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

The other points deal with the decision by the Appeal court of Assizes of Perugia to not hear the witness Aviello, also the definition of “unreliable” [in the Hellman Report] with reference to the witnesses Roberto Quintavalle and and Antonio Curatolo, also the time of death of Meredith Kercher, also on the genetic investigations.

As well as the analyses of the prints and other traces, also the presence of Amanda and Sollecito in via della Pergola, also the simulation of a crime [the staged break-in], and also the exclusion of the aggravating circumstance of the crime of “calumny”.

1. I agree that the appointing of the independent experts was unjustified, because they were essentially just another opinion, a sort of tie-breaker, applying 2011 standards to 2007 evidence, who were revealed to have pre-existing biases about the questions posed to them.

Independent experts should be a piece of evidence, not a final arbiter. I know the Kerchers opposed the appointment of these experts (I don’t know about the prosecution) so clearly they weren’t a consensus choice, as is preferred whenever independent experts are employed.

2. I agree that if Conti and Vecchiotti were allowed to judge the scientific police by 2011 standards, then the court should have allowed testing using highly sensitive 2011 technology. Furthermore Dr. Stefanoni was left to defend her work against the academic experts, without any back-up from Dr. Novelli who is more than a match for the independent experts in terms of credentials.

3. I’m on the fence as to whether the court should have recalled Aviello to discuss why he had recanted his testimony. I don’t know what the legal procedure is when a witness recants while the trial is still underway.

4. I strongly agree that the decision to recall the man in the park, Curatolo, and then determining that the old man’s memory was unreliable four years after the fact, was completely inappropriate. Curatolo’s testimony at the first trial was more than adequate. Nothing was learned from this exercise except that his memory has become worse with time (whose hasn’t?) and that he subsequently got in trouble with the law, which is overly prejudicial.

5. If the court insisted on recalling Curatolo to try to assess his reliability, they should have done the same for the store owner Quintavalle. Instead he was deemed unreliable based on a cherry-picked selection from his 2009 testimony.

6. On the time of death, I’m one of those who believe Hellmann got it right, but it has no bearing on the defendants’ guilt or innocence, since they have no alibi for either time. I look forward to the prosecution’s argument on this.

7. I agree that Hellmann’s decision to accept the defense explanation for the footprints was arbitrary and not justified by his motivations report.

8. The luminol traces in Filomena’s room were improperly determined to be footprints. They were then lumped in with the footprints in the hall without any separate attempt at explanation.

9. I agree that the Court’s determination that the defendents would not lie about being at the cottage, simply because they were “good kids” is outrageous. (In the U.S. you can’t use character evidence to decide innocence or guilt, and doing so would mean a mistrial. I’m not sure about the situation in Italy.)

10. I agree Hellmann’s explanation for the simulation of a crime was a sham, in which he accepted all of the defense arguments and showed no curiosity at all about whether this scenario could actually happen. The court had clearly made up its mind about the case already and decided to just shove the staged break-in, a crucial part of the case, under the rug.

***

*The prosecution also wants to add “aggravating factors” to the charge of calumny. This is a freebie. I don’t know if it will have any bearing on the appeal.

**The fact that Hellmann seems to have applied the “reasonable doubt” standard to individual pieces of evidence, when this should only apply to the case as a whole, seems like a huge basis for appeal. I’m glad to see the prosecution bringing this up.




Comments

\Yummi on PMF has remarked that the prose of the 111 page appeal is elegant and it reads like the work of a master.  Not surprising as Chief Prosecutor Galati was previously an Assistant Chief Prosecutor at the Supreme Court where he is greatly respected.

Supreme Court work is very specialized and already the defense teams seem very rattled as they are none of them experienced in this. Mr Galati has them very seriously outclassed.

Our own lawyers say that if the Knox and Sollecito families want to defend their loved ones to the best of their abilities, they should now fire both of the existing legal teams, and start over with legal experts who know the Supreme Court ropes.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/15/12 at 11:10 AM | #

I would add to BRMull’s excellent list above the whole overriding context that was explained in yesterday’s press conference in Perugia. This is that Judge Hellman is seen to have severely over-reached, but in a very incompetent way.

That in itself is a red rag to the Supreme Court in Rome and it is rare to the point of never that the Supreme Court just lets such a sloppy outcome ride.  It is enough on its own to get the first-level appeal outcome annulled and the appeal tried again in Perugia, hopefully without besotted and lazy judges and jury members this time around.

If Sollecito and Knox fail to turn up in court in Rome or Perugia it will be they who will lose one of the few good cards in their hands. Sollecito is not really very warm and fuzzy, but Knox apparently comes across like a lost soul in a world of her own and even when she grates it is not easy for jurists to say that 26 years in Capanne is the fair way to treat her, though prison in itself can cause cures.

But her family and lawyers have long had the option to advance any mitigating circumstances and mental conditions and they haven’t. They could have taken the short form trial back in 2008 and seen short sentences half-served by now and have their lives move on.

The problem here is Curt Knox: he was an angry pig of a father to Amanda Knox growing up and had again and again to be sued to pay her child support. He sure doesn’t want that to come out more than it has, or the cry could become for him to be locked up as a co-contributor to Meredith’s death.

I was surprised while cruising West Seattle a while back. Curt Knox and his family live in a pretty cute house in a pretty cute neighborhood. Edda and Chris Mellas and AK and Deanna live in an okay house but in a gray dingy downbeat neighborhood with empty lots and old cars and drug dealers not far away.

And Curt Knox turned his back to his own two daughters living there? No wonder Amanda is, to say the least, odd. Nice going, Curt Knox. To hide your cowardly bullying, you put the Kerchers and your own daughter with probable mental damage done through all this.

Not to mention half the world that you have at one anothers’ throats.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/15/12 at 11:30 AM | #

Giovanni Galati and Giancarlo Costagliola pointed out to reporters that Amanda Knox could be extradited:

“We are extremely convinced that Knox and Sollecito were coauthors in Meredith’s murder,” they said, pointing out that Knox could be extradited under an agreement between the United States and Italy. (Barbie Nadeau, 15 February 2012, The Daily Beast).

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/15/amanda-knox-verdict-appealed-will-she-go-back-to-italy.html

Posted by The Machine on 02/15/12 at 01:51 PM | #

Each of the ten points is worth a full post in itself. We need first to see the appeal which Yummi and Clander have obtained and are readying it for translation on PMF.

An explanation of point three about Aviello. This could explode. Read here for most of the story about this seriously weird witness:

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/C466/

The mafia supersnitch made quite a scene in court and it descended into broad farce. (Hellman several times lost control of his court and seems very doddery from afar.) He withdrew the claim that his brother did it with one other, probably in the face of a threatened perjury charge.

Then he told the world that Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno had been funneling an offer of funds from the family to the prison in exchange for false testimony to get RS off. He himself wanted to pay to change sex.

Then Giulia Bongiorno said she would sue him. So far there has been no suit.

And a few weeks ago the Perugia prosecutors said they were going to charge Aviello with perjury. Their complaint is that Hellman completely ignored perjury right in front of his nose.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/15/12 at 02:16 PM | #

Good lawyers are usually great writers and master orators. They really do not care for the evidences, they just hypnotise the judges and the juries. Of course they command commensurate fees!

You are absolutely right to say that “Knox apparently comes across like a lost soul in a world of her own” and just pure and distilled vanity stopped her claiming “any mitigating circumstances and mental conditions”. In some sense her condition is no better than Guede’s.

But I do not agree that “pretty cute house in a pretty cute neighbourhood” is really better (intellectual quality of life) than the “grey dingy downbeat neighbourhood”. When I lived in the US, I lived in a similar “grey dingy downbeat neighbourhood” (it was cheap): shouting, beating and quarrels were regular daily affairs as well as regular physical violence. Even murder. Police had a great sense of indifference. But even today I will not call them bad fellows: they are just lost souls. They have lost faith in the system.

Maybe we have failed our God. Let Him deliver His justice.

Please forgive me if, in the heat of battle, I sometimes forget which side I’m on.

Posted by chami on 02/15/12 at 02:48 PM | #

Hi Chami. The mechanism of interest here is the unusually heavy-handed and ongoing rejection by one very angry parent. I guess that is not what caused you to live where you lived? Still, as I did, you mentioned lost souls.

There is a whole backstory to this which is periodically unearthed and kicked around on PMF. It is about the arcane geographical pecking orders in Seattle and where one lives and goes to school. All of that city looks to me pretty good by the way, compared to places you and I both know. And anyway I seriously love some of the least “developed” spots on earth.

By the way there were several occasions not long after Meredith’s murder where AK seemed ready to sing. Guess what? He mom and dad shut her down (the Supreme Court in Guede’s sentencing report took special note of that) whereas her own narrow best interests could have been to go for the short form trial like Guede, with an attempt to persuade a judge that Meredith’s death was unintentional and driven by drugs and mental states.

My guess is the whole inner circle in Seattle may be starting to think that. No way to demonize Mr Galati. That would really bite them in the tail.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/15/12 at 03:23 PM | #

Thank you, Machine, for the reference to Chief Prosecutor Galati’s statement that Amanda Knox could be extradited to Italy.  It is too distressing to accept the widely assumed view that if her original guilty verdict is ultimately reaffirmed, Knox would not be forced to return.  Four years in prison is simply an inadequate punishment for such a vicious crime.  It also seems a terrible injustice for Rudy Guede alone to be paying for the murder of Meredith Kercher when the theory of a solitary killer contradicts so much of the physical evidence.

Posted by Tullia on 02/15/12 at 07:47 PM | #

Hi Tullia,

There is no point in America and Italy having an extradition treaty if it’s not honoured. The American government must do what is right and not what is popular. If they refuse to extradite Knox, they would be condoning sexual assault and murder.

Posted by The Machine on 02/15/12 at 08:04 PM | #

The latest developments and information contained in the prosecution appeal to the Supreme Court are all very interesting and one can only speculate on the next steps, such as extradition.  In the USA it seems like 90% of people believe the case over and done with and that AK was ‘unfairly jailed for four years’ and ‘deserves to make whatever money she can” off her book.  I wonder what the reaction will be to this news.  I’m sure this is why AK and RS have kept relatively low profiles for the last six months.  It will be very different now having Galati in charge and showing such a strong position against the decisions made in the Hellman court.

Posted by believing on 02/15/12 at 09:04 PM | #

Thanks for posting this. If I’d known it was going to be front-paged I’d have cleaned it up a bit!

Yummi agrees that there are major problems with the independent experts. I’ve asked him to expound on this some more, as this is the most important issue in the appeal.

My (evolving) lay-person opinion is that C-V exceeded their brief (which was in any case slanted toward the defense from the start). They were not impartial (an independent expert is supposed to educate the court, not grandstand before the judges). They were not even clear in their conclusions (was Sollecito’s DNA on the clasp or wasn’t it?) The prosecution could not aggressively cross-examine C-V when their statements called into question their competence, because of the risk of offending the court. A more thorough discussion of the probability of contamination—the crucial issue in the case of the bra—should have been permitted. There are other obvious objections which I mentioned above, such as the fact that the report relies on references that didn’t exist in 2007, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to raise these issues in this appeal.

TomM at PMF points out that #9 above is not technically correct in that U.S. law permits *the defense* to present evidence of the defendant’s good character. I’m still very interested in what Cassazione will say about Hellmann repeatedly impugning Guede’s character and hypothesizing about his actions, after he stated that his court would confine itself to the guilt or innocence of Knox and Sollecito. The theme of black versus white pervades Hellmann’s ruling and clearly it was a factor in the decision. Whether or not this is considered judicial error under Italian law, it is certainly immoral.

Posted by brmull on 02/16/12 at 04:49 AM | #

Hi BRMull. Check for an email and message via PMF I sent you early yesterday morning NY time? It explained how to edit your posts should you so wish as you are a first-time main poster. (Welcome. We now have over 60.)  Feel free to edit point 9 if you wish?

This was a fine post which very speedily built on ZiaK’s post just below with your very informed grasp of the case and it is standing up well after 24 hours. We skimmed through a lot of Italian media reports on Tuesday and what ZiaK translated was the first and perhaps only report that day to list Dr Galati’s 10 points. Over on PMF they had not picked up on that yet.

Our own posting Italian lawyers Commisario Montalbano and Cesare Becaria have been snowed and on the road in recent months, as have many of our usual posters, and there hasn’t been much new on the legal front for them to post on. With luck they offer us new commentary now. Stay tuned.

Yummi over on PMF is now stating that Dr Galati concludes that the new DNA tests should never have been done and directly contravene Italian law. Of course they would never have been “required” if the defense teams had responded to Dr Stefanoni’s invitation to attend the one-time-only testing of the knife in Sollecito’s apartment late in 2007. 

At the end of the appeal a prosecution expert said that with new techniques it should now be possible to test what remains of that DNA on the knife. The prosecution requested this but Judge Hellman unaccountably refused.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/12 at 08:08 AM | #

Repeating a test has its own problems. Let me try to explain.

Samples are collected from several articles. The idea is that some of them may contain information that may be useful. At the time of collection of the samples, we have no idea which one may have usable information and therefore we tend to collect several samples carefully. This process is crude but experience and judgement is essential in this step.

When the samples arrive in the laboratory, the technician decides, depending on his or her experience and judgement, which part of the sample to test. It does matter very much if we suspect that the amount of the sample to be tested is very small (as it was in the case of the DNA on the knife; it was collected from a scratch on the blade that had a speck of sample).

Modern techniques can be used to detect even a single molecule of DNA or haemoglobin. In this case of the knife blade, DNA was found but no blood. This was clearly due to the experimental limitation of the test. The test carried out for blood was not just sensitive enough.

If we have to repeat the test de novo, the test may fail. We may not be able to find another speck of DNA on the knife blade or the second sample does not contain the DNA.

I understand that the defence did not attend most of the tests (when they were carried out): this was of course with a purpose. I do not know why this point was never raised.

Repeating the test is not recommended: the best samples are used up already. There is no point in carrying the tests on the saved partial batch of solutions.

Some of these things are still bothering me.

Footprint analysis can be done again but only on the saved copy of the photograph. The test cannot be repeated.

One photo that shows plenty of red colour in the bathroom is actually an evidence of cleanup; I understand that the test solution used was phenolphthalein and it does not detect blood (yes, that is right!). It shows where excessive amount of detergent has been used. It also can suggest whether the cleanup was recent or old (that can be somewhat subjective).

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.

Posted by chami on 02/16/12 at 01:59 PM | #

Great explanation Chami.

It now looks like the whole DNA independent consultants thing may be tossed as having been against the law (Mr Mignini argued that all along and even more strongly now, so does Dr Galati) and the appeal outcome could be annulled by the Supremos just for that huge legal error alone.

If what remained on the knife (or in a vial, does anyone know?) is ever to be retested using the latest DNA techniques it will be in a re-run of the appeal back in Perugia.

I too am doubtful that it will matter. Once all the smoke that was introduced in 2010 and 2011 is removed as Dr Galati is insisting we get back to the very clearcut view of the case late in 2009 that the Massei judges and jury were looking at. RS and AK hung themselves by their own words, and there is all that other forensic evidence, and overwhelming evidence of a staging. 

Absurd that Hellman let the CSI Effect and the charms of a young white girl get to him.

We have a post coming up that will explain how Dr Galati and his appeal statement really are the defenses’ worst nightmare. He is a brilliant guy who has done a brilliant job totally aimed at what he knows are the hot buttons of the Supreme Court.

If they are honest the defense teams will tell the Sollecitos, Knoxes and Mellases that they are thoroughly outclassed (as they were in 2009) and it would be best to appoint someone else for the appeal.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/12 at 03:19 PM | #

@brmull

Thanks that was great.

@Peter

Media is reporting 4 million for Knox’s book.

Posted by Miriam on 02/16/12 at 03:49 PM | #

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/harpercollins-is-said-to-acquire-rights-to-amanda-knox-memoir/?scp=4&sq=amanda knox&st=cse

Posted by Miriam on 02/16/12 at 04:02 PM | #

Hi Miriam. Seriously bad timing. That will only make the Italian officials even more determined - as if they needed that.

It was only very late in the day that it began to hit home it Italy what a xenophobic campaign had been run against Italy and its officials. It was really only when Mignini complained at the end of the appeal about a million dollar PR campaign.

She cant repeat any defamatory claim or she and Harper Collin will be faced with calunnia suits (she and her parents are already). And it was already announced that any book would skip the events of the night and the trial.

So what will the hook be again?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/12 at 04:17 PM | #

it’ll be interesting to hear what, if anything, Raf will have to say about Amanda’s windfall.

Posted by mojo on 02/16/12 at 04:45 PM | #

How do they think that they will ever get a return on their investment? You would have to sell a hell of a lot of books!

Wouldn’t put it past her to take off for Brasil, with the money and leaving her parents high and dry.

Posted by Miriam on 02/16/12 at 05:14 PM | #

Harper Collins maybe should have looked at the dozens of open questions on this site and tune in to what Dr Galati is saying - that her appeal outcome was based on illegalities.

Also they should tune in to what calunnia is. This looks to be a seriously boring book absent a confession. Contrary to the claim that no-one had heard from Knox she in effect talked her head off in the courtroom. It was all a grating yawn.

After taxes and overdue fees and all those new fees headed her way it is doubtful she comes out ahead. And she may be largely unemployable for a lifetime.

The book “Meredith” will be out soon. She represented qualities people actually like.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/12 at 05:19 PM | #

If the book deal actually includes various media platforms, I wonder how she will do under the spotlight.

Then again, why would anything be less controlled than it has been all this time?

Posted by Jeff Friend on 02/16/12 at 06:10 PM | #

I find suggestive the statement of Harper’s publisher, Jonathan Burnham, who opens his press release by saying: “No one has yet heard Amanda Knox’s own account of what happened, and this book will give Knox an opportunity to tell the story in full detail, for the first time…”

Burnham would wipe the slate clean: Anything we may have heard from Ms Knox so far is “not yet her own account.”  Now at last she will have the opportunity to tell her story in full detail. For the First Time.

See what is at work here—I won’t try to explain. She begins de novo: it’s almost like being given a whole new life.

Castles in air.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 02/16/12 at 06:50 PM | #

Hi Ernest,

Someone should tell Jonathan Burnham that Amanda Knox has already given at least three different accounts of what happened and that none of them were true.

Posted by The Machine on 02/16/12 at 08:12 PM | #

Most reactions to the news article about the book appear to be negative rather than positive, about her profiting from her roommate’s death or having been involved in her murder.  There are the usual people saying ‘good for her” and “there was no evidence” too but I was surprised at how many people were responding negatively and saying they would not buy the book.  Harper may well lose money on this deal.

Posted by believing on 02/16/12 at 10:32 PM | #

chami,

I agree that re-testing the two items could be indecisive, but it should still be attempted using the latest technology. If something were to be found it would have a profound impact on the case. If not, at least there can be further discussion of why the defense should have raised objections at the time of initial testing.

Posted by brmull on 02/17/12 at 05:35 AM | #

Hi everyone, as my name suggests I have been lurking here for a very long time.  I’m an American living in the UK and I am sick over this case.  I could not believe it when they released AK and RS.  I also cannot believe Harper is going to pay her $4million for this book.

Both events made me sick to my stomach.  My heart truly goes out to the Kerchers who are now being abused in online comments (I have been trying to chime in under Andrea Vogt’s article- but a disturbing comment is still the ‘most popular’).  It’s one thing that people believe she is innocent due to the biased US media reports but it is just cruel to attack a family who has obviously been through hell. This $4million book deal must be further torture for them.

I am hoping for justice at the supreme court level and I hope the US extradites her.  Her PR campaign will have a field day if that happens!  If only the US media would start paying attention to the facts of the case instead of just repeating the explanations and excuses for Knox’s bizarre behaviour.  Why won’t the media report the actual facts?

I’ve seen only a handful of people willing to speak about the facts of this case (Barbie Nadeau, Jeanine Pirro, Nancy Grace, Anne Coulter- who blames the liberals which makes no sense to me but she was at least knowledgeable on the case!)  Maybe now that AK has the book deal the media won’t be competing for her first interview anymore and the truth will finally be relayed to the American public?  I hope so.

Just wanted to thank all of the contributors to this site, it was where I came for comfort after they were acquitted.

Posted by Formerlurker on 02/17/12 at 05:42 AM | #

All I hear is that there is a book deal and a global figure which may or may not be true. I think that people should be wary about the idea that Knox is walking away with a big bag of swag, which is what some people seem to be thinking.

It makes no commercial sense for publishers to to give away 4 million, or whatever it is, just like that, before the book has even been written.

There will be an advance, yes, probably a conservative amount, which will be Marriott’s first installment.

Then after that, once (and if) the book is published, there will be big payments only as and when the book hits pre-set sales targets, and after that royalties. At least that’s what I would assume. As a businessman I wouldn’t countenance any other sort of deal.

But will the book ever hit those targets? It sounds like it might not be at all what people really want to read, and whatever it is there will be a lot of criticism over it, and after an initial rush, book sales may flop.

Furthermore, to hit pre-set sales targets, the Knox/Mellas clan will have to go into overdrive with the media, which means AK herself which, for obvious reasons they have all being trying to avoid to date, and which I think they will continue to want to avoid in the future, however obsequious the media may continue to be.

I don’t think that even confirmation of an acquittal would affect this. We shall see, but I think that people, even in the USA, are basically just fed up with hearing about Amanda Knox. They know that she is just dead lucky to have her liberty.

Posted by James Raper on 02/17/12 at 05:49 AM | #

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
A man…
A man who?
A man that knocks!
Oh..Amanda Knox! ..Actually, I’m not here at the moment!....in fact, I’m on holiday…..for a very long time….don’t get in touch…......I’ll send you a postcard…...

Posted by starsdad on 02/17/12 at 07:50 AM | #


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