Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Trial: Italian Reporting On Autopsy Consultant Seems Brief And Unswayed

Posted by Peter Quennell


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We had long been led to believe the testimony of Carlos Torre might be a blockbuster which could energize a lackluster defense.

Click above for the longest report of the day that we can find in Italian. Even ASCA’s report seems relatively brief and restrained. No sense of a breakthrough there.

ASCA reports that Mr Torre interpreted the wound pattern on Meredith to mean that a smaller knife was used for the final blow “with a blade of 8 cm which was partially extracted and plunged in at least 3 times”.

As the size of the wound is large, he claimed a repeated partial in-out action of the small knife, rather than blows from the larger kitchen knife with a blade of 16 cm found in the kitchen of Sollecito, on which traces of the DNA of both Meredith and Amanda Knox were found.

Also that the final blow occurred while Meredith was lying on her back, that there were no signs of three aggressors, that Meredith could not have cried out after the stab wounds, and that bloody footprints revealed under luminol were not the shape of Knox’s foot.

Mr Torre conceded under cross-examination that a wound of the size of the larger knife was also present, and he left the DNA evidence of Knox and Meredith on that larger knife unchallenged, thus undercutting his claim of a single perpetrator.

The prosecution team had presented extensive evidence that the bruise patterns and cut marks indicated that Meredith was kneeling face-down at the time. And that they all pointed to three attackers, rather than a single attacker wielding two knives with only one hand free both to hold her and to inflict bruises all over her body.

Judge Micheli in seeing most of the same evidence concluded in his report convicting Guede and sending the two to trial that a scream heard by witnesses in the houses above was probably Meredith’s last act before she was stabbed, not right after.

And last month, Sollecito’s defense team essentially went along with the prosecution experts’ claims for the autopsy and attack scenario, so for the first time the defense teams significantly differ.

Thankfully, besides being terse, the reporting was not very graphic, in this the most painful of all areas for those who mourn Meredith the most.

Posted on 07/07/09 at 06:07 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesDNA and luminolThe two knivesTrials 2008 & 2009
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Saturday, July 04, 2009

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

Posted by FinnMacCool




Preamble

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

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

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

But the judges and jury will do this for sure.

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

1. A phone call before dawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Two days later: an email

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. The next weekend: visiting Amanda in prison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda: Oh, I don’t remember that.

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

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

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

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

Edda: Okay, right.

 




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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comodi: Three o’clock in the morning?

Amanda: Yes.

Comodi: So your mother would certainly have been sleeping.

Amanda: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda: I told my mother…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comodi: You did it.

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

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

5. Why is this phone call important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raffaele has exercised his right to silence.

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

6. Judge Massei intervenes

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

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

Politely, he interrupts this part of the questioning.

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

Commodi: At three o’clock in the morning.

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

Amanda: Yes, yes, that’s true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




7. Edda Mellas’s testimony in court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trial: Testimony Of Sollecito’s Childhod Friends From Giovinazzo

Posted by Peter Quennell


The defense DNA experts Carlo Torre and Gino Sara have been postponed into next week.

Testifying today instead were five friends of Sollecito’s. He was born in Giovinazzo on the flat and underpopulated south-eastern coast. Giovinazzo (images) is just north of Bari, where his father practices medicine.

Four childhood friends from there testified along with one who knew him in Perugia. Some translated excerpts:

Raffaele is a romantic, shy, kind, and always available, and honest with everyone…. The television described him as a womanizer, in fact he was shy and introverted. 

He typically carries a knife in his pocket. For him it was a decorative object to be matched to his clothes. He was once wrapped in toilet paper with a meat cleaver and photographed for a joke.

He occasionally smoked a joint, but was not a habitual consumer of hashish, and would not use other drugs. The joints had a sedative effect and made him want to sleep,

Concerning his first sexual intercourse, he had told one of his friends he had been with a girl from Brindisi who lived in Perugia in 2004 or 2005.

Sollecito then issued a correction. “It was actually in 2007” he said through his lawyer.

The civil lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, made it clear that he was skeptical of much of the testimony.

Perhaps with good reason. Sollecito wrote in his occasional newspaper column in Bari that he was a virgin when he met Amanda Knox.



Trial: The Two Defendants Arrive For Another Day In Court

Posted by Peter Quennell



[courtesy AP; click for larger image]



[courtesy AP: click for larger image]

Posted on 07/04/09 at 07:09 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, July 03, 2009

Trial: ABC News Reports On The Trial Happenings On Friday

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Overview

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

2. Defense Witness Demonstrates Breaking Windows

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

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

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

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

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

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


3. But Pasquali Has To Back Down

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

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

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

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

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

They could have radically altered the broken-glass pattern.

4. ATM withdrawal from Meredith’s bank account

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

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

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


5. Guede at disco early AM

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

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


6. Amanda Knox family in court

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

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

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


Trial: Sky News Italy Report In Italian

Posted by Peter Quennell

As always with the Italian reports we see, a fast, precise, fair, and very accurate report

This Sky TV report provides the main facts of Meredith’s murder, and an accurate summary in half a dozen sentences of what happened in court yesterday.

These videos are always worth a look for the new visuals, even if one lacks the Italian to understand them.

Posted on 07/03/09 at 07:54 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Trial: Prosecution Giving Defense Expert Hard Time Over Guede Break-in Theory

Posted by Peter Quennell


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trial: Not Even These Days Will Be Easy For The Defense Teams

Posted by Kermit



[Sollecito’s lawyers Buongiorno and Mauri last October]

I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the upcoming defence “experts”, unless there’s some statement like “and then the investigator picked up the bra clasp after picking his nose”.

If I were on the jury, the first thing I would ask myself is “why are there Carabinieri - who are part of the state police structure - declaring against their brethren’s work, the investigation done by the Polizia?”.

Why? for two reasons: the different state police units all compete with one another for historical reasons. We have the same thing here in Spain between the Guardia Civil and the National Police. Organizations with different historical roots and overlapping roles which compete between themselves.

Something else to consider in the Perugia case - and probably more significant than competitiveness between police branches - is that Raffaele’s sister is a Carabinieri, and the taped Sollecito Family phone conversations show her to be one of the most active members in behind the scenes “making water flow uphill” activities.

if I were Mignini, in my turn to cross-examine the Carabinieri witnesses, the first and only question I would have is: “are you aware that the sister of Raffaele Sollecito is also a Carabinieri like you, and that the immediate famly of the accused is under investigation for perverting the course of justice?”.

It doesn’t matter how they answer.

As regards Carlo Torre, for as respected as he is, I see him simply as an “outside defense expert”, who is to be expected to counter the prosecution forensics. Carlo Torre is not a surprise figure who the Defence have just found, but he has been making comments in the press on behalf of Amanda’s team for months now. I recall - I believe - that he has also been on Matrix or another TV show opining on the case.

The jurors know it and may well take the attitude of “well even though he’s a respected scruffy old professor, he has been making PR noise for some time now in favor of Amanda, from months before the detailed technical data was released with the final investigation report”.

Mignini could have one question for Torre: “Professor Torre, please tell the jury the first time you appeared on television or you were quoted in an article concerning this crime, where you expressed an opinion on the evidence”.

He would give a date from over a year ago. In the John Follain The Times interview with Curt and Edda, they refer to Torre saying that Meredith’s DNA on the Double DNA knife “could belong to half the population of Italy”

Okay, next week may be tough. It wouldn’t be any other way, as it’s the Defences’ turn to bamboozle the jury with their smoke and mirrors show. But the jury knows that behind the curtain, there’s a meek, weak Wizard pulling a few cables and levers.

The same creaky levers we’ve been hearing over and over for over a year and a half now.



[Knox’s lawyers Sollecito’s lawyers Ghirgha and Vedova last October]

Posted on 07/03/09 at 05:00 AM by KermitClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Trial Resumes: The Court Agenda For Friday, Saturday And Monday

Posted by Peter Quennell

On Friday and Saturday Raffaele Sollecito’s defense will interrogate several of the Carabinieri who will explain how they think the police made mistakes at the crime scene. 

And on Monday the forensic scientist Carlo Torre will testify for Amanda Knox’s defense team. Dr. Torre is one of the most prominent forensic scientists in Italy and some of those he has testified for have walked.

These witnesses may make a dent or they may not. It is common to have experts from within law enforcement who say, well, they would have done it another way.

Mr Torre may be more impressive but the forensics are only a fraction of the case and no-one else has undermined them so far.

And there is the endlessly confounding question hanging over Knox: who moved Meredith later - much later? 

A whole day of prosecution evidence on the final day was offered on this belated rearrangement of the crime scene.

It may leave Mr Torre pretty stuck for an answer.

Posted on 07/02/09 at 08:03 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedPolice and CSIEvidence & witnessesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009
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Doug Preston’s Nasty Ant-Italy Anti-Mignini Campaign To Stir Bigotry Hits A Wall

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



[click for larger image]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poor Meredith.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Some Sad Rail-Accident News Out Of Central Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell

Viareggio (image below) is about two hours west of Perugia, on the other side of Tuscany.

It is a pretty modern town on the main coastal autostrada from Rome to the north and northwest, and a few miles south of the Italian Riviera and the coastal mountains that extend all the way to the Alps.

Two things you will quickly notice about Italy when you visit that wonderful country:

  • Their autostradas are astonishingly good, with thousands of tunnels to keep them relatively straight, and elevated sections like giant works of art in concrete.
  •  
  • Their rail system is one of the fastest and best engineered in the world and some of the Italian high-speed passenger trains approach speeds of 200 mph.

Eighteen are now reported dead in this extraordinary freak accident. Our commiserations to those suffering this sad tragedy.


Posted on 07/01/09 at 08:00 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contextsItalian context
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

University Of Washington Daily Continues To Not Get It Right

Posted by Peter Quennell


An unbroken record of mediocre reporting.

Facts wrong, opinions biased, and of course U-W students by the thousands misled. Consider the two latest efforts by these wonderful U-W Journalism majors.

These are really our future news professionals? No wonder the blogs are taking over.

Posted on 06/30/09 at 12:07 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesMore hoaxers
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trial: Defense Testimony Today On Guede In Milan And Knox In Seattle

Posted by Peter Quennell




Another short day in court

The defenses continue to seem rather rudderless and despondent. Only Maria Del Prato from Milan and two Knox friends testified in court.

A statement to police by Christian Tramontano was introduced; he claimed Guede once broke in and threatened him. But he was not called for cross-examination, and Judge Micheli had not believed him.

This was all of the testimony for today, in yet another short day for the defense side.

1) First report

This is the translation from Italian media of testimony of Maria del Prato, a nursery-school principal from Milan.

The director of a nursery school in Milan surprised Rudy Guede in the school on 27 October 2007.The woman reported that she visited the classrooms in the morning, around 9.15, as she had an appointment with a blacksmith who was supposed to do some work in the garden. “When I entered I saw a guy who was later identified as Rudy Guede. He seemed quiet and relaxed. He told me he was from Perugia and he had arrived in Milan by train, and that at the train station a boy had told him he could sleep there”

She looked in the cupboard and opened the money box, which lacked a few coins. The principal testified that she then called the police, and they opened the knapsack of Guede. “Inside was one of our kitchen knives used to cut the meat.” She said that Guede also had a computer, later claimed to have been removed from an office in Perugia on the night of 13 October.

2) Second report

This is the translation of testimony by friends of Amanda Knox from back in Seattle.

One testified: “She was studious and ‘conscientious, and held three jobs for a while, to save to come to Perugia.  She liked to do yoga, learn languages and read.”

Another testified that Knox “was very studious, a good student, and had the highest grades. She often went out with her friends and she loved to write. She chose to come to Perugia because she wanted to immerse herself in the culture of this country and learn the language. She said she liked the house she found to live in in Perugia.”

(3) Third report

This is a much longer report by Ann Wise of ABC on the ABC News site

The owner of a Milan nursery school took the stand Saturday in the ongoing murder trial of U.S. college student Amanda Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia, Italy, telling the court that Rudy Guede, convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering British student Meredith Kercher Nov. 1, 2007, had broken into her school and stolen a big kitchen knife.

Kercher, 21, was found dead in her bedroom, with a large knife wound to her throat.

Knox, 21, and Sollecito, 25, have been on trial in Perugia since January. Knox, Sollecito and Guede all say they are innocent, and Guede’s appeal trial is scheduled to start Nov. 18.

Nursery school owner Maria del Prato testified in court today, with Knox’s and Sollecito’s parents looking on, that she had stopped by her school Saturday Oct. 27, when it was closed, and came upon Guede in her office.

“I asked him who he was,” she told the court, “and he replied perfectly calmly, even though I had caught him red-handed.” Del Prato said he told her he was “a kid from Perugia” who had arrived the night before and had nowhere to sleep.

Stolen Kitchen Knife, Stolen Laptop, Fingerprints

Del Prato doubted his story, as her locker had been opened, and she said she believed Guede was looking for something to steal. Some small change was missing, and Del Prato noticed Guede had a laptop, but he told her it was his.

When police arrived at the school, they searched Guede’s backpack and found a large knife with a 16-inch blade that had been taken from the school kitchen.

Guede was later booked at a Milan police station and accused of theft, receiving stolen goods, and in possession of a weapon. He was also fingerprinted and then released.

It was those fingerprint records that eventually nailed Guede to the scene of Meredith Kercher’s murder. His bloody palm print was found on a pillow under Kercher’s dead body.

Stolen Knife Testimony Comes on Heels of Previous Testimony About Stolen Laptop

The episode that Maria Del Prato recounted in court Friday followed Friday’s testimony by Perugia lawyer Paolo Brocchi, who said a computer and cell phone had been stolen from his law offices in October 2007, weeks before Kercher’s murder. The computer from Brocchi’s office matched the one Guede had brought to Milan.

Luca Maori, the lawyer for Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s former boyfriend also on trial for Kercher’s murder, told reporters in Perugia that more evidence had emerged that indicated Kercher might have been killed in the course of a theft gone wrong, a theft he believes Guede committed.

A statement that was admitted as evidence in the trial Friday seemed to offer more proof that Guede was a knife-carrying thief.

Perugia resident Christian Tramontano, who will not be testifying in person, made a statement to Perugia police Jan. 1, 2008, two months after Kercher’s murder, saying that he had recognized Guede from newspaper photographs as the person who had broken into his house and threatened him with a knife four months earlier.

In the statement to police, Tramontano said he and his girlfriend were awakened by noises in their apartment early on Sept. 1 or 2, 2007. When Tramontano looked down from his loft bed, he saw a young man going through his belongings. Tramontano chased the man downstairs as he tried to escape, but the front door was locked. The thief—who Tramontano later claimed as Guede—first used a chair to keep Tramontano at a distance, and then pulled out a switchblade knife. Guede, who escaped, had stolen a 5 euro bill and three credit cards.

Two friends of Amanda Knox were the only other witnesses to testify in Perugia Saturday.

Catsius Spyridon, a Greek student studying in Perugia, said he met Knox in October 2007 at the Internet shop where he worked as a supervisor.

Spyridon told the court that he and Amanda had gone out together a number of times; the last time was Oct. 31, 2007—Halloween. After hitting a couple of night spots together, Knox asked Spyridon to accompany her to the Fontana Maggiore—the fountain in the heart of old Perugia—where she was meeting Raffaele Sollecito, whom she had just started seeing.

Seattle Friend Testifies for Knox

Seattle student Madison Paxton, a close friend of Knox, was the final witness Saturday. Speaking in English with the help of an interpreter, Paxton said she had met Knox in college, and they had become friends in their sophmore year. She described Knox as “very conscientious,” and said she did yoga, liked to read and study languages and bicycle, and had come to Perugia to immerse herself in Italian culture.

In response to a question from Knox’s lawyer, Paxton said she had never seen Knox carry a knife in her bag. She said that Knox smoked marijuana occasionally, perhaps twice a month, and that she said she got along with her Perugia roommates. 

Posted on 06/27/09 at 08:29 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxRudy GuedeTrials 2008 & 2009Massei defenseHoaxes re Guede33 Sole attacker hoaxThe wider contextsSeattle context
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Friday, June 26, 2009

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

Posted by Nicki



[courtesy AP; click for larger image]

Italian media are reporting upon the Knoxes’ financial strains:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 06/26/09 at 06:42 PM by NickiClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe wider contextsSeattle contextAmanda KnoxKnox-Mellas team
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Trial: ABC News Posts A Wrap-Up Report For The Day

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the story from Rome correspondent Ann Wise.

1) Testimony on Rudy Guede

A defense witness testified that just two weeks before British exchange student Meredith Kercher was murdered his law studio was broken into and a computer and cellphone were stolen. The stolen objects were later found in the possession of Rudy Guede, who has already been convicted for his role in Kercher’s murder….

Brocchi explained in court that about two weeks after the theft, on Oct. 27, the he received a call from the police saying that they had found the stolen computer and a cellphone belonging to him (which he had not realized had gone missing). The objects had been found on a person who was picked by police up in Milan, but they did not specify who that person was.

But two days later a young black man showed up on the steps to Brocchi’s office in gym shorts and a tank top (though it was cold) holding a basketball.

Brocchi said the man spoke perfect Italian with a Perugia accent and told him that he had been caught with some things that Brocchi had reported as stolen, and just wanted to tell Brocchi that he had bought those things and paid for them at the Milan train station.

“I told him, ‘look, I have no idea who you are’,” said Brocchi in court. “And he answered, ‘I don’t know who you are either.’” Brocchi then told the young man he just wanted his things back, and shut the door…

2) And testimony from Sollecito’s cleaning lady

In what was a relatively short hearing at the trial, the judge and jurors also heard testimony today from Sollecito’s former cleaning lady.

Marina Ciriboga, from Ecuador, answered questions regarding the use of bleach as a detergent at Sollecito’s house.

Prosecutors believe Knox and Sollecito used bleach to clean up blood and other evidence on the crime scene after the murder. A number of prosecution witnesses have been questioned regarding purchases of bleach and bottles of bleach found in Sollecito’s house.

Ciriboga today said that she usually washed the floors with another detergent, but that she had asked Sollecito to buy bleach. When she stopped working for Sollecito in September one and a half bottles of bleach were still in the house, Ciriboga said.

Ciriboga also works at the small supermarket down the street from Sollecito’s house where a witness—the owner of the store—has testified he saw Knox early on the morning after the murder, when Knox says she was asleep.

Ciriboga told the court that she had never seen Knox or Sollecito at the supermarket.

Posted on 06/26/09 at 06:02 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009
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Trial: One Of The Defendants Arrives For The Trial Today

Posted by Nicki


Posted on 06/26/09 at 12:41 PM by NickiClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
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Trial: The Defenses Continue To Pursue The “Rudy Did It Alone” Angle

Posted by Peter Quennell


Only the Italian media are reporting today’s happenings so far.

Click above for the first AGI report in Italian. Here is a quick translation.

The proceedings in the court began today with the testimony of two lawyers from Perugia, who stood firm in their claim that Rudy Guede stole a laptop and a mobile phone from their offices which were later seized by the police.

The two professionals explained that the theft happened overnight between 13 and 14 October 2007 when an unknown person entered the law firm premises after having broken a glass window with a rock.

The lawyer Paul Brocchi described the entrance window, located about three to four meters above the ground, as ‘‘not easy to enter’’ and he said that the alarm usually switched on in the evenings was not activated.

On that occasion, among other things stolen were a laptop computer and a mobile phone seized by police on October 27 when Rudy Guede was caught sleeping in a nursery school in Milan.

Mr Brocchi also testified that on 29 October 2007, hew saw a “boy of color” later recognized as Guede from the newspapers presenting himself on the news as being a stranger to these facts, and stating that he had purchased the computer on a regular basis at the train station in Milan.

Posted on 06/26/09 at 11:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Amanda KnoxRaff Sollecito
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Powerpoints #14: The Telling Case Of The Doctored Footprint

Posted by Kermit





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

At a guess maybe half of the defense-campaign resources have gone into public relations. Money well spent? We rather doubt it. P-R and legal watchers of the case we consider impartial have noted three problems with the campaign:

  • It seems to be addressed to the wrong country, and the only one, Italy, that really matters, now seems totally lost.
  • It seems to have started with a very raw-knuckle message which was bound to polarize, and only got harder ever since.
  • It doesn’t seem to be particularly competent with the evidence, taking potshots, but never really shaking the whole.

And this unprecedented campaign may have buoyed Amanda Knox herself into taking the stand, where neither her demeanor nor her claims seem to have done her any good (see here and here).

This Powerpoint analyzes a new claim on the FOA campaign website about a key piece of evidence (footprint evidence against Sollecito, not against Knox) which seems straight out of cloud-cuckoo land.

The size of the footprint had been doctored to make a footprint that is clearly the same size and shape as Sollecito’s NOT into Guede’s as intended - but into Knox’s!

Hmmm. An unusual way to help Knox, that is for sure!

Posted on 06/24/09 at 06:53 AM by KermitClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Overviews PowerpointCrime hypothesesDefendants in courtRaff SollecitoThe officially involvedEvidence & witnessesDNA and luminol
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Trial: Defense Witness Testifies To Occurence In Nearby Piazza The Next Day

Posted by Peter Quennell


AGI is reporting the testimony of the final witness for today. A quick translation:

Alessia Ceccarelli, the girlfriend of the owner of the newsstand in Grimana Square (above and below; house is down the hill) stated that she had noticed a “boy” on the morning of November 2 around 7:00-7:30 who shouted on his cellphone “kill you bitch’.”

She remembered that the boy was wearing a white wool cap, a dark jacket and jeans, and had “dirty blood on the right hand.”

AGI adds that this is a fact that already emerged in the past but which, according to investigators, was found to have no connection with the crime.

On the Perugia Murder File Forum our poster Brian has posted this comment.

This guy is a total red herring. He’d just had an argument with his girlfriend. She, somewhat forcibly, threw him out of the house and he shouted “kill you bitch” into his mobile phone.

He was seen by lots of people cursing and swearing while washing his bloody arm in the fountain. He was soon picked up by an ambulance and taken to hospital. He was a known junky.



Posted on 06/23/09 at 10:09 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009
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Trial: Defense Witnesses On Scream On The Night And On Relationships.

Posted by Peter Quennell


Today a Tuesday is for the first time a trial date as the momentum speeds up before the summer break. A verdict has been predicted for the end of October. 

L’Unione Sarda and AffarItaliaNI are reporting the testimony of the first two defense witnesses for the day.

Pasqualino Coletta from Rome was the driver of the car that would not start on the street above the house on the night in question and had to be towed away. He stated that he heard no scream or any sound of broken glass. He explained that he was on via Pergola between 10.30 and 11:00 pm and “was not attracted to anything in particular.”

And Marzana Marco, a student who lived downstairs, stated that he noticed no friction between Meredith and her flatmate. He also described the two times that Rudy Guede had slept on the sofa of their apartrment.

Posted on 06/23/09 at 08:51 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

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

Posted by Hellodalai


The American media are really playing with fire here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DNA Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean up motives and evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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



[click for larger image]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

     

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Trial: Defense Witness Makes A Claim About The Second Knife

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click above for the report from an unnamed BBC correspondent. The key parts are quoted below.

The issues today were the role of the second smaller knife which the prosecution had already proven part of the crime; and the size of Meredith’s room.

The stab wound in the neck of a British student killed in Italy was from a shorter knife than the one thought to be the murder weapon, a court was told.

A coroner said that Meredith Kercher was killed with a 3ins to 3.5ins knife, a lawyer for the Kercher family said. But prosecutors say a 6.5ins knife found at the home of one of the accused matched Ms Kercher’s wounds…

Coroner Francesco Introna was called to give evidence for the defence, according to a lawyer representing the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca.

Prosecutors say a 6.5ins knife found at Mr Sollecito’s house matched the wounds and could be the murder weapon. They also say the knife had Ms Kercher’s DNA on the blade and that of Ms Knox’s on the handle.

As well as questioning the length of the knife, Mr Introna also said that no more than a single attacker could have assaulted Ms Kercher, according to Mr Maresca.

However, when cross-examined by prosecutors, Mr Introna conceded he had never been to the house where Ms Kercher was killed and used forensic data to work out the size of the bedroom.

Mr Maresca said that when the court went to inspect the scene of the crime in April, six or seven people could fit into the room.

The reporting today as the defense launches into its portion of the trial to attempt to rebut the evidence seemed thinner than earlier in the trial.


National Public Radio Joins The Fair And Objective Wing Of The US Media Coverage

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

This audio report from Barbie Nadeau on PBS may have reached the widest US audience on the case ever.

The program that included it is listened-to by an audience that can be in the many millions. It is broadcast late in the afternoon, when people are either commuting in their cars or at home preparing the dinner.

Talk radio is pretty big in the US as so many people have to spend hours in their cars. Meredith’s case seems a natural for more radio commentary.

We hope that it is the fair and objective wing that predominates.

Main-media reporting on the trial on Saturdays consists of one report from each reporter present quite late in the day Perugia time. We will be posting the best of it then.

Posted on 06/20/09 at 05:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesMedia news
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Time Weekly Joins The Fair And Objective Wing Of The US Media Coverage

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

The reporter on this short but fair piece on the case is Nina Burleigh. She may also do a book on the case at the request of her publishers.

We mentioned Nina Burleigh and her book here.

And we’re pleased she is in the fair and objective wing.  For a crazy contrast, you might want to check out CBS.

Or, of course, maybe not….

Posted on 06/20/09 at 04:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesMedia news
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Trial: Defendant’s Mother Recounts Her Version Of Phonecalls The Day After

Posted by Peter Quennell



[courtesy AP, click for larger image]

Click for the report by La Nazione in Italian. A quick translation:

Edda Mellas said three phone calls were made to her by Amanda on the morning of November 2 Perugia time when Meredith’s body was discovered without life in the house on via della Pergola.

“The first call arrived at 4 am, I do not know that time in Italy. Amanda told me that she had a suspicion that someone could be in the house because the door was open. It was just a suspicion as the main door had a troublesome lock and sometimes it did not not close. “

Mrs. Mellas recalled that Amanda had said in the first call that she found unusual things while taking a shower,

“There was blood in the bathroom, and I thought it could be from the cycle of one of the girls who then did not clean up well, but I suspect more it could have come from the edge of the bath,”

Amanda then said she had come from Raffaele’s where she had spent the whole night.

“The second call came an hour I think after the first. Amanda was completely desperate because in the room of Meredith, the inspectors had found her body.”

Shortly after, Amanda again called her mother in Seattle.

“A few minutes later she called again. She was crying that they had found her body in the room of Meredith. She was completely distraught.”

On a recent post here on TJMK Finn McCool tried hard to make sense of the timing and content of those calls to Seattle. 

Today, the description and timing of those calls still seems to remain a problem. 

On the Perugia Murder File Forum Michael is pointing out that Mrs Mellas might have dropped her daughter in the soup.

Posted on 06/19/09 at 11:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesCellphone activityTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
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