Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Appeal’s Outcome: What The Judges Allowed And What They Didn’t Might Be Telling Us A Lot

Posted by TomM



[Above: the Massei court deciding whether to buy the spiderman theory in May 2009; they didn’t]


As a California lawyer familiar with trials and appeals in my state, watching the Meredith Kercher murder trial wind its way through the Italian legal system has been a learning experience.

It is a system with more protections than the one I know first-hand. The case is now in its first appeal phase, and proceeds far differently from the way it would in the US.

If Knox and Sollecito had been convicted in an American court (which an American court would have had no difficulty in doing) less helpful presumptions would be applied to their appeal. 

In Italy they are convicted, and for that reason they are imprisoned and the visitation privileges they had before the jury’s verdict have been reduced. But for purposes of weighing the evidence in the appeal, they are presumed innocent.

In the US, the court of appeal would not presume them innocent or guilty; it would regard them as having been adjudged guilty.

In Italy, they can ask for the court of appeal to hear testimony from new witnesses and seek to introduce additional evidence.

In the US, the appeal would be on the basis of the clerk’s and reporter’s transcripts of the trial. In the US the jury at the original trial would have been instructed that if an item of evidence can be interpreted two ways, one favoring guilt and one favoring innocence, they should accept the interpretation that favors innocence.

But not so on appeal; the court of appeal would interpret all the inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution.

An American court of appeal would not consider an attack on the credibility of a witness unless the testimony was such that no reasonable person would believe the testimony.

Thus, an attack on the testimony of Curatolo would have no chance of success on appeal. In fact, jury instruction in the US would give the jury blessing to believe him even absent disco buses running that fatal night. From a form jury instruction on how to judge witness credibility:

“Do not automatically reject testimony just because of inconsistencies or conflicts. Consider whether the differences are important or not. People sometimes honestly forget things or make mistakes about what they remember. Also, two people may witness the same event yet see or hear it differently.”

The Italian appeal is described as a “trial de novo”.

In common law jurisprudence, a trial de novo is simply a new trial, and the jury in a new trial would not even be told of the existence of the first trial. It would be done as if the first trial never happened.

Not so in Italy.

The jury and lay judges have full access to the case dossier, the Massei Motivazione, and the briefs of the parties. They decide which parts of the case should receive new evidence, and the parts where none is needed. If that were not the case, they would not know how to respond to the defense requests.

What the jury has not reopened is, to me, more telling than what is.

It is significant that there is no re-visit on the staging of the burglary. This charge is not just one of the things used to prove the murder, it is also a separate charge which does not require that a person also have participated in the murder.

Let’s suspend disbelief a moment. Suppose AK and RS had not been present during the murder, having ducked out briefly to get more drugs, but returned to discover Meredith’s body.

Suppose they thought they would be suspects because they had let Rudy in and feared they would be blamed, so they staged the burglary to divert suspicion from themselves. In this hypothetical situation, they are still guilty of staging a burglary even if they didn’t otherwise participate in the crime.

So, what to make out of the fact that no further evaluation will be made of the staging?

This seems like the easiest of the charges to prove and the most difficult to defend. Staging is a recognized phenomenon in criminal investigations and the defense expert did not fare well under cross-examination. I don’t see how the court would reverse the judgment on this issue given the state of the record.

Defense criticized the way the dna was collected from the bidet, but there will be no review of that evidence - or of any other of the mixed blood/dna evidence - only the knife and the bra clasp.

If the appellate jurors’ inclination were to think there is reasonable doubt on the dna, there is plenty of defense expert testimony to hang that hat on. That only two of the exhibits will be studied shows that they do not question the work of the scientific police as a whole.

I see evidence of a pattern of sorts in these rulings.

From my own experience, I firmly believe that Hellman has not made up his mind on the final outcome. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he thinks the jury will do with the case.

He clearly knows the case, and I think he knows if there are areas in Massei’s reasoning that have vulnerabilities (not necessarily fatal) that could attract attention in the Court of Cassation.

I think he knows whether the prosecution’s case is a house of cards, or if it is a good case with some curable cosmetic flaws.

To me, the rulings look like the judge has reviewed the case, thinks it is fundamentally sound, and believes it will be backed up by unbiased expert opinion - and if it doesn’t,  he will assess what impact that has on the case.

The issue with respect to the scientific police is not that they were biased in the sense of falsifying evidence to wrongfully convict, but that the video of the crime scene investigation showed non-textbook acts, Stefanoni didn’t leave a complete paper trail in testing the knife,  and they failed to collect and correctly bag the bra clasp at the beginning.

All of which left an opening for the defense to claim the dna evidence is suspect. There is a reason why teachers don’t let students grade their own papers, I think that concept is behind Hellman’s decision to seek an unbiased review of these two items.

I don’t see signs of exoneration in these rulings.

If Rudy Guede testifies and gives a believable narrative, it may not matter what the two dna reviews say, and it might also undermine the jurors’ inclination to accept the theory of remorse from the covering with the quilt that persuaded Massei to reduce the sentence. 

An increased sentence is not out of the question.

I really do not understand why the defense and the family are so happy with this review, which is very limited and not complete in any sense - other than, perhaps, the “any port in a storm” phenomenon.

The bra clasp evidence is not going to go away, and there is the risk that increased technical sophistication could result in identifying a complete dna profile of Amada Knox on it. If they disassemble the knife, there could be abundant blood between the handle and the blade.

From my view in the bleachers, there are way more risks to the defense than to the prosecution from Saturday’s rulings.

Posted on 12/21/10 at 08:55 PM by TomMClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Limited DNA Reviews - What We Believe Are The Hard Facts On The Double DNA Knife

Posted by ViaDellaPergola

A pre-Massei version of this video was posted on TJMK in March 2010. Essentially nothing has changed in its fact base with Massei. The Machine in his meticulous post below explains what further independent tests were also done.

The wild claims of the conspiracy theorists have morphed back and forth. But the facts remain that Italy has a fine DNA lab system and Dr Stefanoni is internationally respected - and she had no vested interest in a particular outcome.

Sollecito coolly explained that Meredith’s DNA SHOULD be on the blade of the knife because he pricked her while cooking at his place. She had never ever been to his place - in fact, she had only set eyes on him once or twice, very briefly.

But Sollecito still lets that incriminating statement stand. The truth, obviously, is worse. Very much worse.

Posted on 12/21/10 at 09:27 AM by ViaDellaPergolaClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Limited DNA Reviews - Why They Probably Won’t Help Defense And May At A Stroke Be Game Over

Posted by The Machine



[Above: Dr Stefanoni at trial respoding to a question from Sollecito’s defense team]

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and their families were jubilant at Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman’s decision to allow an independent review of some key forensic evidence.

Two experts from Rome’s Sapienza University - Professor Stefano Conti and Professor Carla Vecchiotti - have already been nominated by the appeal court (they will be confirmed in January) to do an independent review of the forensic evidence.

Late saturday and sunday many of the journalists covering Meredith’s case saw Judge Hellmann’s decision as a major victory for the defence teams. Several giddy journalists even reported that somehow Amanda Knox had won her appeal.

However, two very important facts were lost in all the hullaballoo surrounding Judge Hellmann’s decision about this independent review..

First, the original forensic investigation and tests already were carried out by independent experts. Dr. Stefanoni and her team were from Rome, and they worked for another arm of the government. They weren’t hired by the prosecution to blindly confirm their suspicions that Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Diya Lumumba were involved in Meredith’s murder.

And many people seem to be unaware of the fact that it was not Amanda Knox recanting her false accusation, but the DNA testing work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team that led to the release of Diya Lumumba. In this case Dr Stefanoni has high credibility.

Second, a number of experts have ALREADY carried out independent reviews of the DNA and forensic evidence and some of them have testified at court hearings in the course of 2008 and 2009.

In this post, we will take a look at some of the experts involved in the original DNA tests and the subsequent reviews and consider the implications of the new review, including some possible unexpected stings in the tail.

1) The Original Tests

Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni is one of the leading forensic experts in Italy and she was part of the the Disaster Investigations Teams sent to identify victims of the south Asian tsumani in 2004. She had to pass a series of stringent state tests to join the scientific police in Rome. She led the forensic investigation into Meredith’s murder and was responsible for carrying out the DNA tests and interpreting the results.

The Double DNA Knife

Dr. Stefanoni found seven traces of human flesh (human tissue cells) on the large kitchen knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen. There was only enough DNA for one test. However, the results of non-repetitive tests are allowed to be entered as evidence in Italy.

The defence teams are notified of the date and time of all non-repetitive tests to make sure that they can be present to observe that correct procedures are adhered to. If they miss the tests or don’t stay for the full (often long) duration they have not carried out their full mandate to their client (they might even be liable for malpractice) and the defense has no right to claim wrong procedures or lab contamination.

Dr. Stefanoni testified at the trial that the one test she did “reliably” identified the DNA as Meredith’s.

Italian TJMK poster and DNA specialist Nicki explained in May 2009 why the DNA on the blade of the knife was a definite match to Meredith’s DNA:

Two genetic profiles are identical and therefore belong to the same individual if a) they are in the same position, and b) they have identical shape and dimension. In this case, each peak produced in the original samples exactly corresponds to the peaks yielded by the knife sample, position, shape and dimension.

[Below: DNA on the blade of the knife(top chart), Meredith’s DNA(second chart), and the two superimposed]



The Bra Clasp

Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp was identified by two separate DNA tests. Judge Massei rejected defence claims that Sollecito’s DNA was LCN DNA and noted that there was no reason to doubt the reliability of the result:

It has already been said that Dr. Stefanoni had reported that on the [bra] hook (Exhibit 165B) the mixed genetic profile attributable to the victim and to Raffaele Sollecito was found; looking at the electropherogram, the ratio had been estimated in the proportion of 1 to 6 (the victim’s DNA being six times that of Sollecito); the quantity of DNA found could not be considered terribly small because there were several peaks that easily exceeded 1000 RFU, and no [317] repetition of the analysis had been carried out because the peak height of the smaller fraction of DNA was good, such that there was no reason to doubt the reliability of the result.

2) Independent Reviews

Dr. Renato Biondo

There was an independent review of the forensic evidence in 2008.

Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA unit of the scientific police, reviewed Dr. Stefanoni’s investigation and the forensic findings. He testified at Rudy Guede’s fast track trial in October 2008 and confirmed that all the forensic findings were accurate and reliable.

He also praised the work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team. “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

Professor Francesca Torricelli

The Kercher family hired their own DNA expert, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and asked her to examine the DNA evidence.

Professor Torricelli is the Director of a genetic facility at Careggi University Hospital and has been working in genetics since 1976. She testified at Knox’s and Sollecito’s trial last and she also confirmed Dr. Stefanoni’s findings.

She told the court that the significant amount of Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp meant that it was unlikely that it was left by contamination. She also agreed with Dr. Stefanoni that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the double DNA knife.


General Luciano Garofano (image above)

Distinguished DNA expert and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano analysed the DNA and forensic evidence for the early 2010 book “Darkness Descending”.

He has more than 32 years of forensics experience and is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. In his section of the book he explains at length why he too thinks that Knox and Sollecito are guilty of Meredith’s murder.

In an interview with The Sun’s Nick Francis, he said that the right people had been convicted:  “I believe the police have prosecuted and convicted the right people, even if they got some of the details wrong.”

He told reporter Andrea Vogt that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn Knox’s and Sollecito’s convictions:  “I do not believe that there is enough evidence to convince an Italian magistrate and jury to overturn this conviction”.

Dr. Anna Barbaro

Rudy Guede’s defense lawyers hired their own forensic expert, Dr. Anna Barbaro, and asked her to examine the DNA evidence.

She didn’t dispute the DNA evidence against Guede, Knox or Sollecito. Guede’s lawyers claim that there was an innocent explanation for his DNA being at the crime scene and that Knox’s and Sollecito’s DNA implicated them.

Guede lawyer Walter Biscotti noted that the evidence against Knox was particularly strong.

3) The original prosecution team

Both Prosecutor Mignini and Prosecutor Comodi said after the appeal session on saturday that they are are confident that the independent review of the DNA and forensic evidence will confirm the sentences and verdict.

Mr Mignini

:

I don’t agree with the request and I see it as a waste of time. The judge did not criticise the methods that were used to collect and test the DNA….. The review was granted because the jury needed help to interpret the findings as they are difficult to understand. I don’t see how it is a victory for the defence, as the methods were not criticised in the ruling. The review will confirm the sentence and the verdict will stand.

Ms Comodi

As far as I am concerned this independent review will just confirm the excellent work carried out by the police scientific unit. The judge did not actually explain why he was allowing this review and although I do not agree with it I am sure it will underline the job originally done.

4) Two possible game-overs

Re-examination of the knife

In “Darkness Descending” the former Carabinieri General Garofano wrote that the police should have separated the plastic handle from the knife and checked for blood there.

The defence teams will regret having asked for the independent review if the new experts do this and they find there a testable quantity of Meredith’s blood.

Re-examination of the bra clasp

According to the authors of “Darkness Descending” Dr. Stefanoni found highly suggestive evidence of Amanda Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra. Raffaele Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Torre, also claimed that he had found Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra strap.

It seems that another forensic expert Vincenzo Pascali ALSO found Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra. The reporter Barbie Nadeau wrote the following:

Vincenzo Pascali, the chief forensic consultant who was set to give expert testimony about the possible contamination of the bra clasp, walked off the case last month, reportedly leaving a €50,000 bill. Back in September, Pascali, who declined to comment for this story, hinted that the clasp also contained Knox’s DNA.

And so in conclusion

One to two years later DNA testing techniques have improved, and also there is the sleeper of what is under the handle of the knife.

The defence teams’ insistence on an independent review could really explode in their faces if the new experts confirm more of Meredith’s DNA on the knife (Knox’s DNA is there very strongly) and that Knox’s DNA is on Meredith’s bra.

Posted on 12/20/10 at 09:48 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Meditation On The State Of Play In The Search For Justice For Poor Meredith

Posted by Hopeful


I hope the Rome experts take the knife and bra clasp and find more evidence on them, clear and undeniable even to the prejudiced.  I don’t want to see Meredith’s killers walk, but with the same vehemence I desire no innocent parties to be persecuted. So should all honest people.

Rudy Guede is such a compulsive liar that he would have to be hooked up to a polygraph for me to believe him. Yet I still hope he makes more statements. Perhaps the truth can be separated like gold from the dross.

Something entirely unexpected may be the key to this case. Meredith’s followers around the world will breathe a sigh of relief when the truth is unveiled.

Mr. Kercher’s new thoughts turn towards Meredith’s December 28th birthday and the sad events that took her life in her last November (2007), and now this jangling December 2010 appeal, the ongoing debate about her killers.

The Christmas holiday is an added clash of joy versus sorrow. It’s a holiday that is surely imbued with the fondest memories of Meredith’s early years in her Christian family. It’s a holiday of great pathos and confusion for a lot of people.

It’s hard to balance the sudden shining ideal of every hope and promise in all its spiritual implications with the stampedes in malls, the greedy merchandising, its basis supposedly charity, Santa specials blasting on TV with the manger and Wise Men less in evidence, the spirit renewed by the carols, bells ringing, beauty and decorations everywhere, but the roads bristling with traffic, bad weather.

Then we come to the impossible personalities in the family who must now gather at one table, the minor frustrations of more food to prepare, cards to send, more housework to do, decorations to assemble.

Extra party giving, high expectations. Be stylish, new clothes, harder yet make sure all the children do while providing tons of toys, games and requests. Mix this with lifelong animosities in extended family or friends that one tries to forgive for at least a season, the guilt if one can’t, the sudden calls on one’s private purse to give and give sacrificially while more social events and church events jostle for one’s limited finances and strength. Alcohol is flowing.

Hey, it’s too much. So let’s stop it, less is more.

Love and salvation are the theme while the sad realities and failures of life by contrast battle in one’s mind for prominence. To complain of this state of affairs is to be called a Scrooge.

It can be very unrestful, very disturbing. Many people get sick.  Where is peace? People get blue, even without such tragedy as the Kerchers face.

Think of the long ordeal they’ve endured from November 2, 2007 until today, December 18, 2010 from the first shock with news of Meredith’s murder, then the long wait for her autopsy, the worldwide speculation that swirled around the case, the financial pressure for the Kerchers to travel to Italy and face courtroom trial in Perugia, the media frenzy with the spotlight of world press on their humble and now grieving family. What terrors.

Soon there was the necessary introduction of lawyers. They had to learn legal matters and deal with them in a foreign country and a foreign language. The trial had people’s nerves built up to a fever pitch. The GUILTY verdict came last December, now this December a pivotal appeal and later when the lumbering court case is finally over perhaps years from now there will still be the ongoing anniversary of Meredith’s funeral at every Christmas season.

At a point fairly late in life for Mr. and Mrs. Kercher they’ve had this intense and unexpected nightmare appear. Perhaps in some ways it has unexpectedly infused them with new unity and energy as a family. One day when this is all over we hope to hear that it did. Their stories can be fully told. They have been brave and suffered in silence. Let’s hope they find strength for the journey and learn to take it one day at a time, knowing things do get better with time.

Consolation to the Kerchers:

Meredith is always linked in my thoughts (and I believe others’ thoughts) with sweetness, beauty, and intelligence, with fine and noble sensitivities. She will be remembered always as a person of high honor, a bright light. She is never mixed or soiled in any way with the events that took her life. Those black marks attach only to her murderers, like a gigantic X over their faces and souls, like a gallon of black paint sloshed over their heads. CONDEMNED!!! They are not outside God’s forgiveness, but not outside man’s punishment either.

In every recollection of her, Meredith is not sullied in the least. She rose above it to become more pristine than ever.

The Kerchers might like to know that most people remember their youngest daughter not in her final hours in the midst of a crime scene but as a marvelous human being, dancing through life with a song and a smile, bringing joy and normalcy to others throughout her brief years, a superlative student, a go-getter with vigor and drive, yet always a gentle lady. To sum it up, a dignified human being with astounding qualities.

I’ve quoted this before, but an English poet said it best: “It is not growing like a tree in bulk, doth make man better be, nor standing long an oak 300 year, to fall at last a log dry, bald and sere. A lily of a day is fairer far in May. Although it die and fall that night, it was the plant and flower of light. So in proportion we just beauties see…

“AND IN SMALL MEASURE LIFE MAY PERFECT BE…”

A poem by “oh rare Ben Jonson”, apologies for any misquote of his work This poem applies to Meredith Kercher.

She was that bright lily, perfect in its own way.

Posted on 12/18/10 at 05:10 PM by HopefulClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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First Reports On Scope Of Appeal Sounds Like Maybe A Setback For The Defenses

Posted by Peter Quennell


The first full reports are not out yet. This is a first quick take on the Italian reporting and may be subject to correction.

Some of the Cassation’s hard-line decision for rejecting Rudy Guede ‘s 10 appeal grounds in Rome on thursday will indeed be accepted into this appeal for the judges’ consideration.

The judges are agreeing to the defense request for a review of the testing of the DNA on the bra clasp and the large knife, though of course nobody - nobody - so far has ever proved contamination as the prosecutors today pointed out.

Two Rome experts in DNA have already been nominated.

Apparently none of the other very extensive forensic evidence at the scene of the crime - which is the entire apartment, not merely Meredith’s bedroom - is to be retested. That has always been very tough to explain away.

Apparently only one or two of the previous witnesses whose testimony is described in the Massei report will be heard from again. Possible Guede confidant Alessi will be allowed and maybe Aviello who claimed his missing brother really did it.

And apparently ninety days is added to the allowed duration of this appeal, because the Massei Report took 90 days to produce. The deadline now is next September, although if it lasts through to the spring we will be surprised.

The defense doesn’t seem to have many strong hopes going forward. No more Spiderman attempts on Filomena’s window. They found no room for appeal with regard to the various contradictory alibis, the various peculiar phone calls, and assorted bizarre behaviors.

Remember that even Knox and Sollecito themselves have claimed they were zonked out of their skulls on the night - though magically they seem to have managed a major cleanup and rearrangement of the entire crime scene, minus evidence pointing to Guede.

The astute commenter Piktor posted this on PMF

The expert review would be needed if the scientific results were the only evidence that convicts.

What if the DNA evidence was thrown out. Could you convict without it?

You have the staging, the lies, the false accusation, the police testimony, the defendant’s multiple alibis that don’t mesh, Mrs. Mellas testimony in court exposing Knox’s willful “confusion”, the email and diaries.

You add it up and it all points in one direction. No doubt about the result.

The prosecution narrative makes sense. The defence has no narrative.



UK’s Sky News Carries A Pre-Session Report from Nick Pisa In Perugia This Morning

Posted by Peter Quennell

Courtroom images are from the session last Saturday.

Posted on 12/18/10 at 09:57 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Stinging Guede Final Appeal Rejection Spells Serious New Trouble For Sollecito And Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell


Rudy Guede’s appeal is rejected on all ten grounds.

His appeal grounds were ugly and dishonest and he has no further appeal. He will serve his 16 years, with maybe some time off, for being a savage willing party to the cruel stupid murder of Meredith.

Rudy Guede will go down in infamy for his sex crime against a defenseless victim, for being a party to a taunting torturing knife attack, for claiming Meredith invited him in for consensual sex, and for not calling for help for Meredith and maybe saving her life while it was still possible.

Cassation continues the fine Italian court tradition in this case of taking a firm and unblinking position, and for being utterly oblivious to the vile over-the-top campaign of Curt Knox, Edda Mellas and David Marriott which may now haunt Amanda Knox all of her life..

This is clearly not a final court of appeal that is now going to turn on a dime and say when they hear the final appeals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, oh, of course, we got that previous decision wrong, and of course Guede did it alone.

Here is the cool clear report of Andrea Vogt, this time being published in the UK’s First Post. The highlights:

1) On rejecting Guede’s ludicrous tale.

Put simply, no judge or magistrate has believed Guede’s story that he was in the bathroom of the apartment the two girls shared in Perugia, listening to music on his iPod while someone else stabbed Meredith.

According to Guede’s story, when he came out of the bathroom he found Meredith bleeding to death and tried to staunch the flow of blood – hence the discovery of his DNA by investigators.

2) On the huge new risk now for Sollecito and Knox.

Under Italian law, all documentation from Guede’s various hearings can now be introduced into the appeal trial of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, which reconvenes in Perugia tomorrow.

The problem for Knox and Sollecito is that Guede’s trial documents will include the judges’ reasons for convicting Guede and denying his appeals: namely, that they believe all three – Guede, Knox and Sollecito - killed Meredith together.

3) On Kercher family lawyer Maresca possibly demanding Guede testify

“Guede can now be called to testify and we are considering, along with the prosecutors, if we will request that Saturday or not,” said the Kercher family’s attorney Francesco Maresca in Rome.

“We will ask that the high court decision be admitted, as it stabilises the facts and is an important point of reference, with judges confirming the reconstruction of events and the involvement of the other two suspects in this dramatic ordeal in which a young woman lost her life.”

If Guede is called, it is unclear whether he would be considered a reliable witness given that no court has believed his story so far. And the situation is further complicated by conflicting stories about Guede’s take on Knox and Sollecito.

4) On the prospects for requested defense witnesses Alessi and Aviello

Guede is also the subject of a mysterious 10-page letter from prison, written on blue notepaper in the feathery script of convicted child murderer Mario Alessi, and now sitting in a lawyer’s office in Parma.

Alessi claims to have heard the real story of what happened while stuck in a prison cell across from Guede. Three other inmates signed each page of Alessi’s letter bolstering his story - that Guede said repeatedly in his cell and the prison yard that Knox and Sollecito had nothing to do with the crime. (Guede denies the conversations)...

Will the judge overseeing Knox and Sollecito’s appeal in Perugia request it? If he does, it could be entered into evidence alongside further controversial letters, these from a Neapolitan mafia snitch named Luciano Aviello. Aviello claims that his own brother killed Kercher…

Since Knox and Sollecito were convicted and jailed a year ago.. these stories of intrigue have found their way out from behind the prison walls across Italy, from the sex offender ward in Viterbo to the high security penitentiaries in Prato and Turin.

5) And on John Kercher’s recent strong protest against the profiting from Meredith’s death

Meredith Kercher’s bereaved family this month broke a three-year silence to speak out against Knox’s “minor celebrity” status and the high-profile publicity campaign her family and supporters have been waging to claim wrongful conviction.

Posted on 12/17/10 at 08:41 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

As Amanda Knox Via Her Statement Has Now Placed “Will She Testify?” Front And Center…

Posted by Cardiol MD





She sure has created an interesting cliffhanger.

Last Saturday Amanda Knox spoke from her seat beside her defense team and she was not subjected to cross-examination.

If she does choose to mount the stand to back up her claims with some testimony, she will be subject to cross examination, as will Raffaele Sollecito. 

What may the judges and lay judges be allowed to deduce if neither of them mount the stand, or alternatively refuse to answer?

This involves the legal concepts of the Privilege against Self-Incrimination, the Right to Silence, and the Right to Lie.

In the US prosecutors are prohibited from commenting adversely on a defendant’s Exercise of the Right to Silence at trial, on the argument that doing so would violate the privilege against self-incrimination.

But this may be circumvented as demonstrated in the Duke lacrosse-team rape frame-up by the prosecutor.

The DukeLax prosecutor (echoed by many others in Durham and elsewhere) falsely alleged, publicly, a lacrosse-player “wall-of-silence” as persuasive evidence in favor of guilt, even when he knew full-well that the Laxers had transparently cooperated with prosecutorial investigators.

So much for “enshrinement” of the right to silence in the US.

There is no argument that in all three countries, Italy and the US and the UK, criminal defendants have the right to remain silent. This means that they do not have to speak in their own defence, if they choose not to do so.

However, Italy takes the privilege against self-incrimination such a giant step further that a guilty defendant, if given the choice, might be wise to choose trial in Italy, in preference to trial in either the US. or the UK.:

First, there is a significant difference between the use of the word “testify” in Anglo-American common law and its use in Italian law. Iin the former a testifying-defendant is sworn to tell the truth under oath and pain of perjury. Iin the latter, a defendant, when called to the stand, is not even “a witness”, and is not under oath:

According to the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure a defendant can be called to speak, but may refuse to “bear testimony”

Technically, a defendant does not “bear testimony”, or testify; a defendant is not even “a witness” ; in Italian, a witness is interrogato, whereas a defendant is esaminato and may refuse to answer many questions.

A defendant, in Italy, can also lie without fear of legal sanction.

Since a defendant does not take an oath and since a defendant is not technically a witness, if a defendant tells a lie, the defendant is not committing perjury.

A defendant can choose to make spontaneous statements to the Judge; and can tell whatever she/he wishes to tell and can choose not to answer any questions. In the Perugia case too, a defendant can lie without legal sanction.

So, if Amanda Knox speaks at her trial, neither the Judges, the Prosecutors, nor Defendant’s Counsel neccessarily expect her to speak the truth - they may expect her to lie her head off.

Prosecutors will not try to directly expose her lies so much as they will try to expose the contradictions in her various statements.

Amanda Knox’s prepared statement-to-the-court at her trial [as opposed to her testimony] restricted itself to the subject of the false accusations she made against Patrick Lumumba. This unsworn statement could not be submitted to cross-examination. Such unsworn statements are also possible in the other jurisdictions.

In the case of the Meredith;s murder there seems to be an ample supply of evidence showing their guilt, such as the multiple contradictions both between and within their statements.

Furthermore, even if no one, ever, comments adversely on these defendant’s exercise of the right to silence, think of Simon and Garfunkel’s famous “Sounds of Silence”

That song reminds us that finders-of-fact, at least subliminally, can hardly avoid being influenced by accused defendants’ silence.

Posted on 12/16/10 at 10:36 AM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedEvidence & witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+Amanda Knox15 Single alibi hoax
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Michelle Moore Lets Slip How Conspiracy Nut Bruce Fischer Brainwashed Steve Moore

Posted by SomeAlibi




1. The Rabid Moores

Michelle Moore is a vocal member of the Twitterati and blogging wife of Steve Moore, claimed FBI helicopter pilot.

Judgement has not been the Moores’ strongest suit. Steve Moore has been punting his “expertise” around the media for quite some time. One could pick numerous examples of wild exaggeration, such as:

  • Examples in The Machine’s fine post rebutting numerous false claims; see also the many great comments there.

  • Steve Moore’s frequent hyperbole that Amanda Knox was “beaten” - though she cant name by whom and Knox herself at most claims she was clipped twice over the head, her own lawyers and the courts did not believe her.

  • And that her interrogation was “just short of waterboarding”, and of course his proud boast that he didn’t need to read Judge Massei’s 425 page judgement of the case - he could divine the answers himself… 


2. Steve Moore’s Phony “Conversion”

Michelle Moore has revealed their true cynical colours online.

Note how Michelle Moore responded to an elaborate wind-up on Twitter from someone posting as “Archangelogab”.  In response to repeated tweets, Michelle let rip that she believes the tweeter is “sick and perverted” just like, in her opinion [prosecutor] Mignini.

Note the folksy god-fearin’ props the Moores put up behind them for a recent television interview, which were, to name them: a Bible, an ammo-clip and a mortgage statement (no seriously),

Note especially how Moore is fond of telling interviewers that he believed in the prosecution of Amanda Knox - until his wife challenged him to look at the evidence again because she was concerned about the case having watched a CBS documentary on the case.

This homely story has been repeated at various times. Except for that’s not actually how it happened at all. 

What actually happened as Michele Moore has let slip (see image below) how thrilling it was that Steve Moore was approached by one Bruce Fischer who runs the conspiracy website Injustice In Perugia.


What nice people! It was a thrill huger than anyone can imagine to be able to populate their empty lives with Fischer’s absurd conspiracies and anti-Italy bigotry and enter into years of defaming people!

This slip was quickly spotted and posted publicly on the pro-justice PMF forum. At which point the Michelle Moore blog mysteriously disappeared for the day.

It was returned to the net only after the damning screen-captures had already been posted on PMF. Therefore making the taking of the website down rather ineffective.

The blog limped sheepishly back under a new title.  Under a changing alibi, if you like. And Bruce Fischer confirmed that he had addled the Moores in getting them to join him.


3. Some Conclusions

Steve and Michelle Moore debased themselves by not checking out Fischer and the case better.

They might like now to reflect that credible supporters of people with strong causes have zero need to exaggerate and use hyperbole and rain invective.

The fact that they do so all the time raises serious questions about their judgement.  Their attack on Prosecutor Giuliani Mignini on false grounds is just another unveiling of the true colors of the people Knox attracts.

Posted on 12/15/10 at 12:46 PM by SomeAlibiClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2007Knox-Mellas teamHoaxers from 2009Steve Moore
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What We Might Expect From Rudy Guede’s Second And Final Appeal Starting In Rome On Thursday.

Posted by James Raper


Rudy’s final appeal is going to start this Thursday.

This is his last appeal, having already been convicted and having already had his sentence reduced to take in to account the same extenuating circumstances accorded to Amanda and Raffaele, and the reduction which is accorded as a result of his opting for the fast track trial.

The Supreme Court of Cassation will not be hearing the evidence all over again or taking fresh testimony. Its function is to review the case and satisfy itself that the verdict of the lower court was sound. It can not overrule the trial court’s interpretation of the evidence, rather, it corrects a lower court’s interpretation or application of the law.

Accordingly it is difficult to see what we are going to get out of this last appeal.

Guede’s conviction (affirmed on first appeal) rests to a large extent on DNA evidence which looks particularly strong. As regards sentence it seems that he has already had all the reduction to which he is entitled.

If Amanda and Raffaele have their sentences increased (unlikely but possible) then it may follow that Rudy will have his sentence increased, and that might be a reason why his appeal is kicking off after the other two, though of course it is likely to conclude well before.

Most of us would of course like Rudy to tell us how it really was, simply because we believe that we already know what this would amount to and that it would totally undermine Amanda and Raffaele. However it would probably undermine Rudy even further and he is already serving for aggravated sexual assault and his lawyers’ advice might be that 16 years is not that much more than he would get for that anyway. In England the maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years.

I think that Rudy has already had the benefit of a tactical victory and that he will leave it at that. Also Amanda and Raffaele have benefited from this.

I appreciate the reasons for fast track trials but the effect in this instance seems to be to preclude the evidence from one trial from being heard (where relevant) in the other trial ( where, in all fairness, it would have to be tested again by those adversely affected).

It would be normal in the UK for three defendants on the same charge relating to the same incident on much the same evidence to be tried together on their “not guilty” pleas, without some good reason as to why there should be separate trials.

In that scenario, assuming that if Rudy had testified the other two would have done so too, then we would have had a three way cutthroat defence, which would have been interesting to say the least.

We may have got a little further in to motive. In fact we already have Rudy’s testimony (his spontaneous statement at his previous appeal) that Amanda and Meredith were arguing in the cottage over Meredith’s missing money and that this developed into a fight.

He did not say that at his fast track trial but I am pretty sure he would have during a trial of all three together. Also, here in the UK, you only get as much as a third off if you plead guilty. He got a third off even though he pleaded not guilty.

So overall there seems to be no advantage to him now to tell it as it was.

That is a matter between him and his conscience. He has already been called once to testify at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial where he refused to.  I think that is highly unlikely that there are going to be any explosive developments as far as Rudy is concerned.

That was an opportunity lost in the system. Amanda’s and Raffaele’s appeal is the real focus of interest now

To me a third off just for a fast track seems to be a lot, especially given the system of automatic appeals. It was a very smart move by his lawyers - playing the system - but it also had the adverse effect, for the rest of us, of being unhelpful at getting at the truth.

Posted on 12/14/10 at 04:05 PM by James RaperClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Guede appeals
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video Of The Last Scenes Poor Meredith Saw In Her Life Before She Arrived Home Fatefully

Posted by SomeAlibi

Also posted on our new Case Videos page. Meredith of course made this walk at night and the video gives an example of that after first showing the route. Essentially it is a z-shaped route.

North and then west, and then north again down the stairs and across the parking building, to the presumed safety of her home. 

Posted on 12/12/10 at 10:09 AM by SomeAlibiClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer memoryEvidence & witnessesThe timelines
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kercher Family Lawyer Walks Out As Amanda Knox Engages In What Looks Like Yet Another Stunt

Posted by Peter Quennell


The other day Meredith’s father John made a strong plea for the cruel and callous PR games to stop.

John Kercher made it pretty clear that he disbelieves EVERYTHING now that Amanda Knox and her parents say in their endless media quotes and appearance.  The English version of John Kercher’s letter is here and the Italian version is here.

Amanda Knox’s mother Edda Mellas was almost immediately reported as reacting to John Kercher thus:

Mellas also addressed the issue today on KIRO Radio in Seattle saying the Kerchers do not “know the whole story.” She said they were not in court except for a few days during Amanda’s trial and feels that they fell “hook, line and sinker” for what their lawyer and prosecutors told them. “They may not have the whole picture,” she said.

That callous and inaccurate reaction did Edda Mellas no good at all. Many who were still cutting her a little slack were appalled by this dishonest and smearing attack.

In fact the Kercher family have been extremely well informed and they have remained singularly cool-headed, dignified and truthful throughout. .

Unlike Edda Mellas they have actually read the Massei Sentencing Report. Unlike Edda Mellas they show no signs of having swallowed anything hook line and sinker. Unlike Edda Mellas they do not again and again lie about basic facts of the case. Unlike Edda Mellas, they did not hide the fact that an innocent man, Patrick Lumumba, was in jail because Amanda Knox lied to put him there. 

And unlike Edda Mellas their view of Amanda Knox’s guilt is no different from maybe 95 per cent of the Italian population. They do get the whole picture.

Time for damage control?  Today in court, Amanda Knox seemed to set out to try something completely different. A limited qualified evasive emotional non-explanation of an explanation. An “I didnt do it but I am so sorry for Meredith and her family anyway” kind of hangout.

To underline his contempt for this ploy, Mr Maresca conspicuously walked out of the court when Amanda Knox started her rambling nervous statement. If the statement actually won any new sympathy for her among the case-watchers in Italy, we are not seeing this reflected in the Italian media reports.

Here is Nick Pisa reporting objectively from Perugia in the Daily Telegraph - in his final para below, it seems he has the same interpretation of the real purpose of Amanda Knox’s statement as we do. 

Knox, 23, broke down several times as she delivered an emotional 20-minute address to the court hearing her formal appeal against conviction, her voice sometimes quavering as she claimed that she had nothing to do with Miss Kercher’s brutal death.

The American dismissed the prosecution’s view of her, saying she was not the “dangerous, diabolical, jealous, uncaring and violent” person depicted during her original trial, telling the court: “That girl is not me.”

Knox also expressed her sympathy towards’s Miss Kercher’s family and friends and said through tears: “I am very sorry that Meredith is no longer here. I have little sisters as well and the thought of being without them terrorises me.

“What you are going through and what Meredith went through is unacceptable and incomprehensible. I remember Meredith and my heart breaks for you. I am honoured to have known her. I don’t know how you must feel, your suffering over a lost life.”

Knox’s words appeared to be in response to John Kercher, Meredith’s father, who recently complained that Knox had been accorded the “status of a minor celebrity” while his daughter was a forgotten victim.

Amazingly, all three of the largest US networks had Ella Mellas on their breakfast shows, unchallenged and fawning, to claim that Amanda Knox’s performance was amazing. Edda Mellas of course speaks no Italian.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Italian reporting highlighted Mr Maresca walking out and reported his highly critical statement verbatim. NO media website today carried a majority of pro-Knox comments.

And in making herself so obviously the center of the universe in her statement, Amanda Knox may have already cooked her own goose with the new judges.

[Below: This now is a full audio recording of the full statement of Amanda Knox with court images ]

 

Posted on 12/11/10 at 02:43 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedVictims familyTrials 2008 & 2009The wider contextsHellmann 2011+
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The Two Convicted Seen Arriving For Their Weekly Date In Appeal Court

Posted by Peter Quennell



Posted on 12/11/10 at 09:53 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Proposed Defense Witness Aviello Cell Searched: Could Be Setback For Defenses

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: So-called supersnitch Luciano Aviello as he looked maybe 20 years ago]

The defenses could be about to find that neither of their requested key witnesses will be willing to mount the stand. 

The Italian media are reporting that the prison cell of Luciano Aviello has just been searched. Aviello is the supersnitch from Naples who has a history of falsely accusing others to try to give himself a break.

We have been remarking for a while that both Aviello and the baby killer Mario Alessi could face perjury charges and another few years on their sentences if the police can uncover evidence that if either testify, they committed perjury on the stand.

Both prospective witnesses were interrogated in prison by both the defense teams and the prosecution. The defense claims after their interrogations always sounded pretty desperate. The prosecution have never ever revealed what they heard.

The purpose of the Aviello search was stated to be related to a possible charge of calunnia which in effect is criminal defamation of others. Possibly Aviello’s cellmate snitched. That sure would be ironic.

Let us take a leap in the dark here. Do Italian authorities REALLY not like people who lie in the course of criminal proceedings? Whether on the stand or in the mass media?

Posted on 12/11/10 at 09:06 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnesses31 Aviello hoax
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Andrea Vogt Provides Her Heads-Up On What May Be Heading Perugia’s Way In The Appeal

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: The view as you exit Perugia’s railway station - Meredith’s first view of her longed-for Perugia]


Another of the many very informative reports that have appeared on the Seattle PI website.

A mild quibble up front about the piece is that we would have liked it mentioned that the prosecution have also initiated an appeal, to throw out the “mitigating circumstances” outlined in the Massei Report.

A reversal on the mitigating circumstances, which we too have always found problematical, could result in all three serving longer time. What the prosecution will come out with in that phase is a real sleeper in this appeal.

1) On John Kerchers article protesting the over-the-top PR campaign

The Kerchers have maintained their silence since their daughter’s murder, even as Knox’s parents appeared on national television in the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Italy. But that could change, as negotiations are under way with at least one national network to hear the Kerchers’ side of the story.

Correct and accurate. More on Meredith would be so welcome to an American audience. We reposted John Kercher’s hard-hitting article here in English and (as the Italian media mostly don’t yet know about it) here translated into Italian.

Biased reports like those of the ill-researched Nikki Batiste of ABC, which mis-stated and ridiculed John Kercher’s claims, omitted to say what Andrea Vogt says: this is THE FIRST TIME that John Kercher has gone public, in an attempt to stop the depraved multi-million-dollar deluge.

2) On the chances of an overturn of the December 2009 verdicts.

American pundits are quick to predict Knox could walk, but Italian legal experts say the chances of completely overturning her conviction aren’t good. More likely, they say, are the prospects of a sentence reduction.

“The Knox trial is one of the few, in the history of Italian criminal justice, in which over 25 judges have agreed—at different stages—on the adverse impact of the collected evidence against the positions of both Knox and Sollecito. In this respect, the case is rather unusual, as Italian justice is often characterised by conflicting decisions of courts on the same case,” said Stefano Maffei, an Oxford-educated professor of criminal law in Italy interviewed by seattlepi.com.

“What I can confirm is that courts of appeal are generally more lenient than courts of first instance, and I would not be surprised if the decision on appeal could bear a lower sentence for both defendants.”

The point is made up at the top here that this report does not mention the appeal of the prosecution for tougher sentences , which would seem to effectively balance out the probabilities that Mr Maffei and all the defenses now claim.

The sheer number of judges that all of them agreed on the evidence in this case is particularly damning. Our own Italian lawyers between them know of ZERO cases where so many judges in succession have found no reason to reverse any part of the process.

We have posted a number of good descriptions of how the Italian process actually works (these go beyond the descriptions in ANY British or American reporting, another sign of how sloppy it has mostly been), and our key posts can be seen here and here and here.

3) On the requested defense witness Mario Alessi

In a file tucked neatly under a polished glass paperweight in Laura Ferraboschi’s Parma law offices is a carefully guarded letter that Knox and Sollecito hope will set them free.

It is 10 pages, handwritten in the small, tilted script of Mario Alessi, a convicted murderer who had the prison cell across from Rudy Guede in the sex crimes ward of a tough prison just north of Rome….

Alessi mailed his statement to her for safekeeping after becoming concerned it might “disappear,” she said…. Sollecito’s lawyers, eager to have the letter at their disposition, asked Ferraboschi to share it, but she has refused, saying she did not feel it would be ethical to do so.

“Alessi sent the statement to me for protection, and I do not feel it is appropriate to give it to other lawyers who might drag him into a case that could negatively impact him,” Ferraboschi said. “If a judge requests the statement or his presence, then we will provide it.”

Good luck on that one. We doubt Alessi ever makes the stand.

Here is our most recent post on Mario Alessi which links back to several that went before.  Prosecutors Mignini and Comodi ALSO interviewed Alessi and have never made publoc what he said.

Investigators and prison staff would have checked Alessi out very carefully.  Laura Ferraboschi seems to be hanging firm on not sharing the letter, out of concern that Alessi could incure a charge of perjury.

4)  On the requested defense witness Luciano Aviello

The second series of jailhouse “revelations” are from Luciano Aviello, a Mafia turncoat from Naples who shared a cell in Terni with Raffaele Sollecito. Knox’s lawyers went to videotape a statement from him in prison near Turin in March, a month after Bongiorno had videotaped Alessi’s statement in Viterbo.

He wrote several letters to the court last year. In the most recent statement, he claims he can prove all three people in jail for Kercher’s murder are innocent. It was his own brother, he says, who killed her. Aviello…

Aviello said his brother killed Kercher in a robbery gone awry, then asked Aviello to hide a bloody knife and set of house keys. Kercher’s set of house keys have not been found.

Good luck on that one too. We doubt that Aviello too ever makes the stand.

In our most recent post on him here we remarked that, with this guy, the defense was already seriously grasping at straws. We are amazed that they still want to wheel him out. That weak move does not bode well for Knox and Sollecito.

5) On the requests for more testing of the DNA

Repeatedly, judges have rejected defense arguments about the forensic evidence despite the slipshod way it was processed and Italy’s reputation of lagging behind the rest of Europe in DNA certification, handling protocols and databasing.

Many outside observers believe the court should allow for such an independent review, given the number of protocol mistakes revealed in the first trial.

Defense attorneys and their expert witnesses heavily criticized the work of police biologist Patrizia Stefanoni and the Perugia and Rome forensic teams working under her direction for such missteps as not changing gloves after picking up evidence, poor collection methods and incomplete records of how evidence was handled and in what exact order during later laboratory testing….

Two of the primary pieces of evidence against Knox and Sollecito are highly contested: A bra clasp originally catalogued in the first days after the murder that was picked up in a sweep of the crime scene 46 days later, and the kitchen knife with Knox’s DNA found on the handle and the victim’s DNA found on the blade. The bra clasp is said to contain Sollecito’s DNA. The amount of Kercher’s DNA found on the blade was such a trace amount it registered with a “too low” reading when analyzed.

Our DNA section on TJMK is very complete and to a very high standard. The three posts here and here and here are particularly worth a very careful read. 

More tests had already been denied by Judge Massei. Defenses tend to like to do this, to keep insisting on more and more testing, until finally with luck an expert breaks their way.

The defense now “highly contests” the testing but they also attempted that throughout the trial and several of their experts under cross-examination had to take a step back.

Experts were invited to the one-time-only DNA testing of the knife and then (surprise, surprise) on the day of testing not all of them showed up.

And on whether Italy lags behind the rest of Europe on standards, see below (Italy doesn’t)..

6) On the standards of the laboratories that did the testing

A top geneticist at one of Europe’s top forensic labs at the University of Salzburg confirmed in an interview with seattlepi.com that it is possible to amplify such a small amount of DNA, as Stefanoni did, until DNA can be identified. But the expert added that it would not be allowable unless the result could be reproduced, something police biologist Stefanoni said under cross-examination could not be done.

The Salzburg geneticist, who does forensic testing for police agencies in neighboring Austria, said that in the university’s certified lab (which has the highest certification available in Germany and Austria) different operators are required to handle suspect and victim DNA and that the various phases of DNA analysis happen in different labs along a “one-way street” to avoid the possibility of contamination.

Such protocols were not in place in Rome. In fact, Italy is noted for being behind on international forensic standards. For example, it is one of the last (and only) European countries to have not yet become part of the Prum convention, which sets basic guidelines for sharing of DNA data and other security information.

The top geneticist at Salzburg University is unfortunately not named, presumably at his request, and there have been so many claims by both anonymous and unqualified self-proclaimed experts throughout this case that we wish he had said that yes, he could be named.

The Rome labs were in fact being operated to international standard and they had followed the European protocols for years. When they were only recently certified to European standards, none of the procedures or the training or the layout of the labs had to be changed.

Perhaps the top geneticist should have mentioned this. 

7) And on the views of renowned forensic scientists Luciano Garofano

One of Italy’s top forensic biologists, retired Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano, is at the forefront of the push to introduce a national database and DNA certification standard in Italy. Garofano (a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences who collaborated frequently with the FBI over the years as a high-ranking Caribinieri military officer) analyzed the forensic evidence in the Perugia case for a book released shortly after the trial was complete.

He believes Knox was involved in the murder, but he disagreed with the court’s conclusion that Kercher was sexually assaulted—he is convinced Kercher’s death was a fight that degenerated, then later staged as a rape.

Interviewed by seattlepi.com, Garofano said his read of Knox’s appeal was that it was mostly a rehashing of “points that have already been debated…. The knife is a weak element . . . they could argue it should be thrown out because the amount of DNA does not meet international forensic standards. But that still leaves a lot of other evidence,” Garofano said.

“I do not believe there is enough there to convince an Italian magistrate and jury to overturn this conviction.”

Terrific comments. Hard to see why either Knox or Sollecito deserve even the slightest reduction of their sentence. Neither of them has come up with a consistent explanation, both of them seem to have shown some glee, and neither has shown the slightest sign of repentance.

If they tortured and killed Meredith in a particularly cruel and barbaric way, as it seems, then they both seriously need to serve the time.

[Below: Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano]


Posted on 12/07/10 at 11:14 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, December 06, 2010

Will Sollecito And Knox Finally Want To Take The Stand? Why Our Betting Is Against

Posted by Kermit


The Massei Report makes nothing of the fact that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito did not rise under oath in their defense.

But if that made zero impact on the perceptions of the judges and lay judges, we would be very surprised. There are VERY few cases in the US or Europe where an INNOCENT defendant (1) rose to testify, (2) was then found guilty and sentenced, and (3) and was later found to be innocent after all.

Raffaele Sollecito never ever took the stand. He confined himself to some spontaneous remarks not under oath which is permitted in Italian courtrooms. They seemed not at all effective and they sure didn’t eliminate at all the 80,000 pound gorilla of evidence that the prosecution had let loose in the room.

Amanda Knox made similar spontaneous remarks, none of which seemed very helpful - the first was to jokingly explain why her bunny vibrator was always on view in the bathroom that she and Meredith shared.

The Knox testimony seen here was not a part of the main trial - it was offered ONLY to explain why Knox implicated Patrick Lumumba, and under the agreed rules for that testimony, the prosecution’s questioning was very circumscribed and curtailed.

Despite that, Amanda Knox seemed to do herself little real good on the stand, and in her second day there she sounded amused and very callous about the death of Meredith.

Please click here for 150 questions for Amanda Knox which should open in Powerpoint in half a minute. They show how blistering a full-blown prosecution cross-examination really could be.

Actually it could be even tougher. Those questions were assembled 18 months ago - and in the months after, we had the hesitant and nervous defense phase, the very strong prosecution summation, and the implacable Massei Report.

We could probable triple the questions for Knox now, and create a similar list for Sollecito. If he is given the chance to cross-examine the two, Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola very well may triple them.

The defenses have very few rounds of ammunition going into this appeal - the anti-Guede witness Alessi is a joke, and the DNA and forensic tests were all done fine the first time and have never been proved - despite all the smoke being blown - to be false or falsified.

So will they or wont they take the stand?

They seem cooked if they do - and cooked if they don’t. Tough call.

Posted on 12/06/10 at 10:36 AM by KermitClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Meredith’s Europe #3: The City Of Brussels Where She Was Eager To Start Work

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 12/05/10 at 09:27 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, December 03, 2010

The Toxic Pro-Knox PR Campaign And Media Circus That John Kercher So Rightly Complained About

Posted by Hammerite





The following is a personal observation on the state of play of the Seattle driven PR campaign and resultant Media involvement in the first appeal stage of dear Meredith’s murder trial.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were unanimously convicted of involvement in her barbaric torture and murder by the Court in Perugia in December 2009.

As far as I am aware nether the Court of Assisi or the Kercher family (or their agents) are actively engaged in presenting any PR information whatsoever on the part of the ongoing trial process to any media outlets anywhere.

On the other hand, we know for a fact that the Knox/Mellas faction have engaged in and continue to use the services of a national brand public relations firm to “put their spin ” of events into the public arena.

Their areas of focus have primarily been the USA electronic and print media with secondary efforts attempted with the UK media.

What the USA and UK public are witnessing in the present media output therefore is the culmination of the intense and bought (paid for if you like) “reporting” solely on behalf of and in the interest of Amanda Knox (they are not bothered for now to include that waste of media space Raffaele).

The USA and UK media have little to zero interest in this case as a newsworthy story and consequently will not get off their seats to report on it. It was a seven day wonder that dragged on too long and now no longer sells newspapers.

They will however accept handouts in the present form of biased and prejudiced propaganda press releases from the Knox/Mellas camp and print it as “reporting”. It fills column inches and can be “tarted up” to a degree of sensationalism for occasional use and increased circulation.

The PR campaign would have us believe that the AK/RS appeals submissions have debunked the existing evidence and discredited the witnesses.

This of course is what they are paid to say even when it is not the case. It may have an agreeable ring to it for the accused supporters but holds little sway with the eight person judicial adjudicating panel comprising two professional Judges and six lay volunteers..

It is the job of the defence legal team to say that they have turned a corner in terms of exonerating their clients. However turning a corner is not such a big deal when you are right bang in the middle of a maze.

The sheer volume of evidence that exists and the undeniable interconnections that links it all to AK & RS constitutes that maze; someone should remind their supporters that you can turn many corners in a maze and still not get out.

It must be remembered that holding this appeal is an automatic function under the Italian Judicial system.

The PR campaign would (wrongfully) have its audience believe that this appeal is happening as a result of faults in the prosecution case uncovered during the first trial; because this is the practice in the USA and UK where an appeal would only be granted if there were discernible strong grounds and on merit.

The spin is capitalising on the (wrongful) perception by the media and the public in the USA and UK that there must be strong grounds for an appeal.

This is not the case here. It is an automatic appeal.

The prosecution case was solid and the conviction was unanimous in the first trial. Nothing has changed. The prosecution case is still the same and the outcome is therefore likely to be the same.

Make no mistake; the Judges involved in the appeal process are not fickle or weak-minded individuals that are easily swayed by media spin, insults or bullying attempts. Neither are they bought or in the pocket of the Knox/Mellas PR apparatus.

It is likely they are unaware of much or indeed any of the “spin” that is being generated by the Knox/Mellas faction in the media outlets in the USA and UK.

Most likely they have real lives to get on with themselves and see (rightfully) this appeal trial as simply another task they will perform correctly out of hundreds of others they come across in the course of their career; it is no more or no less important than every other case they have or will work on.

This is likely the same scenario that the Judges in the initial trial undertook when they carried out their duty in a fair and honest fashion.

They came to a unanimous decision based entirely on the evidence presented to them that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty of compliance in the murder of dear Meredith. The same can be stated for every Professional judge that sat on every AK&RS court appearance since dear Meredith’s murder.

Just because a blog or PR fed news outlet in the USA or the UK proclaims that the tide is turning in favour of the accused doesn’t mean that the Judges in Italy are even aware that there is a tide there in the first place at all; not to mention even considering that it is turning.

These Judges by their very nature are genuine and conscientious people.

They will not favour PR fed media coverage and disregard the evidence presented before them in court. And they certainly are not in anyone’s pockets. They will do their duty in the same upright manner and with the same exemplary scruples as was carried out by the Judges in the first trial.

Based on the case presented in the first trial and now to be re-presented in the appeal (and once you remove the PR hype) there is every reason to believe the convictions of AK&RS will stand. This is how I see this second trial going.

Rest in Peace dear Meredith.


Explaining The Massei Report: Establishing The Time When Meredith Passed On

Posted by Storm Roberts




Why This Matters So Much

Perhaps the hardest parts of the Massei Report for compassionate readers to take are those concerning Meredith’s wounds and time of death.

Those passages commence early in the report and, as with our translation of much of the Micheli report, left our translators and many readers disturbed and a few of them at least in tears. 

This is an abbreviated overview of how forensic medicine helped the court to establish the time of Meredith’s death.

Click here for more

Posted on 12/03/10 at 12:29 AM by Storm RobertsClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesDNA and luminolTrials 2008 & 2009The Massei Report
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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

John Kercher: “Its Despicable That The Girl Jailed For Killing My Daughter Has Become a Celebrity”

Posted by Peter Quennell





Meredith’s father John passionately speaks out against the making of convicted killer Amanda Knox into a celebrity.

He is stridently critical of the utterly contemptible antics of Amanda Knox’s parents Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, and of the callous self-promotion of narcissistic limelight-seekers like Hayden Panettiere and Rocco Girlanda.

Enough is enough, he now says. His article appears in the Daily Mail.

It’s utterly despicable that the girl jailed for killing my daughter has become a celebrity

From Meredith Kercher’s father, a passionate attack on the cult of ‘Foxy Knoxy’

By John Kercher

Last week, I switched on my television to see the parents of the young woman convicted of ­taking my daughter’s life proclaiming her innocence. And, once again, I felt the pain and the anger and the raw grief resurface.

Amanda Knox was found guilty of ­killing my daughter Meredith at the house they shared in Italy three years ago. Yet since that act of horrific ­violence, Knox, it seems, has been accorded the status of a minor celebrity.

Sometimes it seems that there is no escape from her or her jaunty nickname, ‘Foxy Knoxy’ (doubly hurtful, for the way it trivialises the awfulness of her offence).

Cherished memories: John Kercher misses daughter Meredith every day

Last week, Knox’s parents were given star billing on the ITV breakfast show Daybreak, where they had free rein to profess their conviction that their daughter is not guilty.

Kurt Knox and his ex-wife Edda ­Mellas have never expressed their condolences to our family for our grievous loss. There has been no letter of sympathy; no word of regret. Instead, I have watched them repeatedly reiterate the mantra of their daughter’s innocence.

Alas, I fear there is more yet to come. Their TV appearance last week, trailed for two days as if it were some exclusive media coup, coincided with the resumption of Knox’s appeal against her conviction.

This appeal, like the initial court case, will drag on for months, while the dark tunnel between my family and our ­ability to grieve for Meredith in peace becomes ever longer.

If Knox doesn’t get the result she wants, our agony will be even more ­protracted: she may then take her case to Italy’s Supreme Court in Rome. Put simply, our ordeal could go on for years.

‘To many, Knox seems an unlikely killer. Yet to my family she is,  unequivocally, culpable’

Knox is one of three people convicted of killing my beautiful and talented daughter. It was a brutal murder. Meredith’s throat was slit, and she was stabbed to death.

Knox and her former boyfriend, ­Italian Raffaele Sollecito, are serving jail sentences of 26 and 25 years ­respectively for their heinous crime. A third person, drifter Rudy Guede, convicted with them, is also in prison.

Yet it is Knox who still exerts such a hold over the media. As a journalist myself, I know the reason why. Knox is young, attractive and female. To many, she seems an unlikely killer.

Yet to my family she is, unequivocally, culpable. As far as we are concerned, she has been ­convicted of taking our precious Meredith’s life in the most hideous and bloody way.

And the sadness is, the nature of that death too often prevents us from celebrating her life. She has become ‘Meredith Kercher, ­murder victim’, not Meredith Kercher, our lovely, intellectually curious daughter.

So, today, I’d like to redress the balance and tell you about our irredeemable loss. About the ­Merdeith we knew and loved.

Our girl was 21 when she died; a bright, sweet-natured and engaging young woman. She had been studying for a degree in European Studies and Italian at Leeds ­University when she had opted to spend some time in the medieval Italian town of Perugia, at the ­university there, improving her knowledge of the Italian language and culture.

On November 1, the third anniversary of her death, I gathered with the rest of the family in the cold, grey cemetery where she is buried. One by one, we laid bright flowers on her grave and left messages. Mine said simply, ‘I miss you’.

Along with our own handwritten notes, there were dozens from Meredith’s friends.

They write as if she’s still with us, telling her about their new jobs, their boyfriends.
They remind her of all the wonderful times they had, of the shared laughter. And like us, they hope — really, they do — that Meredith might somehow know what they have written.

None of us, you see, wants to forget her for even one second. So she is here, among us, everywhere. She lives on in the public memorials, with trees planted in her ­honour at her old school and university, and in the private ones, too.

At her home in Surrey, where she lived with her mum during the university holidays, her room remains as it always was. It is not a shrine; but neither will it ever be disturbed.

‘All we want now is the peace to be able to celebrate her life. Is that so much to ask?’

Her clothes remain in the wardrobe, her posters on the wall. Study books are piled on the table, make-up arranged beside them. It is just as she left it — and sometimes I even convince myself that one day she will return to it.

I wait to hear the cheerful cadence of her laughter. Even now, the memory of it has the power to make me smile.

People also always remember Meredith’s kindness and caring nature. She never gave the impression of being studious, but she was. She worked quietly and assiduously for her degree. But she was generous too. Several friends commented that she would lend out her lecture notes to ­anyone who asked: to her, it was second nature.

But Meredith, of course, was not perfect. Punctuality was never one of her qualities.

The last time I saw her, during a weekend trip back to London, she breezed into the Italian restaurant where I was waiting for her a full hour late. Yet when I saw her, wreathed in that famous smile, my annoy­ance instantly evaporated.

The vision of her delightedly showing me the new boots she’d bought that day is one I continue to hold dear.

The next thing we knew, we were travelling to Italy to identify her body.

And then there was the ordeal of the court case, the details of which have been picked over too often to bear repeating here.
Glamorised: Actress Hayden Panettiere is playing Knox in a new film about the events of Meredith’s death

Glamorised: Actress Hayden Panettiere is playing Knox in a new film about the events of Meredith’s death

But still, the hurt wasn’t over. I’ll share one small example.

Two years after her death, we were told that we could finally take Meredith’s possessions home with us. I expected a large suitcase full of her belongings, which we could all cherish.

Instead, I was given a small, ­battered case. Her beloved clothes had all been taken for forensic tests. Not even her treasured ­possessions were sacrosanct.

Who knew?

Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede received a total of 67 years in prison for Meredith Kercher’s murder

So we concentrate on the happy memories instead. Meredith was a Christmas baby, and as the festive season approaches, we hold in our hearts the memory of her 21st birthday, celebrated in a local Italian restaurant. None of us could have dreamed it would be her last.

Meredith meant so much to us all. Our lives have, of course, moved on, but not a minute passes when she is not in our thoughts. And the question that nags insistently at us is: ‘Why?’ Why was she taken from us prematurely and with such horrific brutality?

Like all grieving parents, we sometimes wonder what she would be doing now if she were still with us. She would have graduated with her degree from Leeds University in 2009. But, of course, we were never able to share her pride in reaching that milestone.

She was, however, awarded a posthumous degree, and her ­sister, Stephanie, collected it for her. Every student in the vast hall rose to their feet to applaud her that day. The standing ovation lasted a full minute, and my eyes brimmed with tears.

Sometimes, even now, I find it hard to believe she is not still with us. Her passing is easier to bear if I pretend she has just gone away for a while; that some day soon she will ring me — her voice ­bubbling with laughter and enthusiasm — to tell me about her ­latest adventure.

Meredith was the baby of the family, the beloved youngest child. Her mum, her siblings and I ­cherish every memory of her short life. It is her untimely and horrific death we would all prefer to obliterate from our minds.

All we want now is the peace to be able to celebrate her life. Is that so much to ask?

Posted on 12/01/10 at 11:24 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer memoryHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyThe wider contextsN America contextKnox-Mellas team
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report: The Timeline For Events Before, During, And After The Night #1

Posted by catnip




The Masssei Timeline To Midnight 1 Nov

These two posts list all of the events precisely timed in the Massei Report. Page numbers shown in brackets are those in the original Italian version.

This timeline will be reposted over on the TJMK Massei Report summaries and highlights page as we populate that page further starting this week.

There are plenty of mentions of imprecise occasions and general time periods, such as when Rudy told Giorgio Cocciaretto about liking Amanda (p26) or when lawyer Palazzoli found out their stolen computer had been recovered in Milan (p33), but they are not listed here.

nts_before_during_2/”>Post #2

Click here for more


Explaining The Massei Report: The Timeline For Events Before, During, And After The Night #2

Posted by catnip




The Masssei Timeline After Midnight 1 Nov

We continue here from Post #1 These two posts list all of the events precisely timed in the Massei Report. Page numbers shown in brackets are those in the original Italian version.

There are plenty of mentions of imprecise occasions and general time periods, such as when Rudy told Giorgio Cocciaretto about liking Amanda (p26) or when lawyer Palazzoli found out their stolen computer had been recovered in Milan (p33), but they are not listed here.

Click here for more

Posted on 11/29/10 at 12:00 AM by catnipClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesVarious scenariosEvidence & witnessesThe timelinesTrials 2008 & 2009The Massei ReportHoaxes re Guede33 Sole attacker hoax
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

More On Motive: Some Of The Cases Of “Nice” Girls Who Killed With Little Or No Motive At All

Posted by The Machine



[Above: One of the Manson girls’ murder victims, Hollywood film star Sharon Tate]

The conspiracy theorists trying so hard to spring Amanda Knox now have about zero credibility - because they can’t field even one good expert that any other expert respects. 

The various claims of their various faux experts about this or that aspect of the evidence having been mishandled or misread or contaminated lack the one really crucial element. ANY real evidence.

And NOT ONE Italian interrogator or investigator or prosecutor has been proved to have done even one thing wrong with intent.  Which seems these days to be making the conspiracy theorists more and more shrill in their claims.

An ex campus security guard Steve Moore is now one of the shrillest faux experts - but the conspiracy theorists still seem to think he is their great ace in the hole.

Steve Moore is not exactly what we might call competent as a real-crime-scene investigator. He seemingly can’t get even one core fact right and his knowledge of the Micheli and Massei reports are absolutely abysmal.

Few of this faux expert’s claims arouse more ridicule and sardonic contempt than one sweeping claim made to any lazy and gullible reporter who will listen - Ann Curry, Linda Byron and Steve Shay, for example.

The claim that there is some standard profile for women who kill. And that well-bred educated middle-class girls like Amanda Knox do not fit “it”. That profile.

So it is impossible that they would ever kill.

In an interview with Anne Curry on NBC the faux expert actually claimed: ““This was an honor student; she is not a violent person….  What they are alleging is that she not only helped assault the roommate, but stabbed her in the throat. That kind of deviant, violent behavior doesn’t go unnoticed for 18, 19, 20 years. Some things leak out; you see some episodes, some indication that this person has issues.”

Actually she DID have issues.

Their faux expert clearly does not know the history of Amanda Knox very well. She seems to have started putting out warning calls for help from around the age of four, and there are a number of stories about her quirks and her drugs up to when she left for Perugia.

In this piece, we will look at some some high-profile murder cases in America, Italy and New Zealand involving seemingly normal young women with profiles not unlike Amanda Knox who suddenly committed horrific and senseless murders.



[Above: Laurie Ann Swank’s victim, hotel night clerk Janet Chandler]

USA: Laurie Ann Swank

If anyone thinks the idea that a woman would arrange for men to sexually assault and murder her friend and roommate is totally far-fetched and beyonds the realms of possibility, they should read about the Janet Chandler case.

In January 1979, Laurie Ann Swank held a position of responsibility, working as the manager of the Blue Mill Inn in Holland, Michigan. She was also the roommate and friend of Janet Chandler, a 23-year-old student who worked as a desk clerk at the hotel. 

Laurie Ann Swank lured Janet Chandler to a “party” where she was tied to a chair and raped and tortured for hours by five security guards who were staying at the Blue Mill Inn. After Janet Chandler had been gang raped, she was strangled and her body was dumped on the side of Interstate 196.

The officers involved in the case concluded that Laurie Swank orchestrated the attack on Janet Chandler out of envy and jealousy “to teach her a lesson.” The motive behind this vicious murder was actually admitted by Swank to have been petty jealousy, especially over a boy. She actually watched while Janet was raped and then strangled with a belt.



[Above: Two more of the Manson girls victims Leno and Rose Labianca ]

USA: Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel

Steve Moore seems to think that honor students are incapable of committing murder. His apparent refusal to believe that someone who is from a respectable background and well-educateed could be involved in murder is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Vincent Bugliosi was the chief prosecutor in the Manson trial. He has pointed out that the backgrounds of the Manson killers terrified America precisely because they were from fairly good backgrounds and that many people refused to believe they could be involved. Vincent Bugliosi, chief prosecutor in the Charlie Manson case:

The other thing that terrified the nation so much is when the identity of the killers became known. And who were they? Young kids from average American homes with fairly good backgrounds. There was a feeling that this could be our own children.

Tex Watson, Manson’s “chief lieutenant” at the murder scene, was from Farmersville, Texas, hometown of World War II hero Audie Murphy. Watson was a football, basketball, and track star. He had almost an A average in high school. And when the people in Farmersville learned he was being charged with these murders, the general consensus was this is absolutely impossible, it must be a case of mistaken identity.

Patricia Krenwinkel—another one of the main killers—her father was an insurance executive; she sang in the church choir; got good grades in school; at one time she even wanted to attend a Jesuit college in Alabama. Leslie Van Houten—another killer—she was a homecoming princess at Monrovia High School here in L.A.



[Above: Manson girl Squeaky Fromm attempted to murder President Gerald Ford]

Leslie Van Houten was an honor student and a homecoming queen. She came from a middle class background; her father was an auctioneer and her mother was a school teacher.

In 1968, she joined Charlie Manson’s family. She was not involved in the vicious killings at Roman Polanski’s home - which upset her - but she took part in the savage murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  She along with Patricia Krenwinkel attacked and stabbed Rosemary LaBianca. Van Houten tied the electrical cord from a lamp around La Bianca’s neck and put a pillow case over her head before stabbing her 16 times in the lower back.

Patricia Krenwinkel came from a fairly normal background. Her father was an insurance salesman. She graduated from high school and then attended a Catholic college for a semester before moving in with her sister. In 1967, she met Charles Manson when he was visiting her sister.

Krenwinkel participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders. She stabbed Abigail Folger more than 70 times. When the police found Folger’s body, they thought she was wearing a red dress.

Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel are currently serving life sentences for the Tate and Labianca murders. They are still being denied parole 40-plus years later.

USA: Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, inventor and mother of four, went on a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama. 

Amy Bishop had already shot and killed her 18-year old brother, with a shotgun, during an argument in 1986. Bishop claimed it was an accident and no charges were filed then - but 24 years later, charges were indeed filed.

According to witnesses, Amy Bishop later killed three professors and wounded three others during a meeting at the University of Alabama. They said that she sat through the first 30 minutes of the meeting and then pulled out a 9mm handgun and opened fire until the weapon jammed or ran out of bullets.



[Above: Karla Homolka murdered her own sister Tammy and and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French]

Canada: Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo

Karla Homolka was the oldest child of three. She was regarded as well-adjusted and intelligent. She was a popular child who received plenty of love and attention from her family and friends. She loved animals and after high school she went to work at a veterinary clinic.

When she was 17, Karla Homolka attended a pet convention and met 23-year-old Paul Bernado. They soon discovered they shared the same sado-masochistic tendencies.

On 23 December 1990, Homolka and Bernado gave alcoholic drinks spiked with halcyon to Homolka’s 15-year-old sister, Tammy, at a Christmas party. They took her to the basement and Homolka held a cloth soaked with Halothane to Tammy’s mouth until she became unconscious. Bernado and Homolka then raped her. Tammy choked on her own vomit as she was being raped.

On 15 June 1991, Bernado kidnapped Lesle Mahaffy and took her to the couple’s home, where they repeatedly raped over a number of days. The couple videotaped many of the assaults. They then killed Mahaffy and cut her body into pieces and encased the pieces in cement.

On 16 April 1992, they kidnapped 15-year-old Kristen French and took her to their home and videotaped themselves torturing and sexually assaulting her. The couple killed French before they left for Easyer Sunday dinner with Homolka’s family.

Karla Homolda was convicted for her role in the raping, torturing and killing her own sister, Tammy and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. She was released from prison after serving 12 years in prison. Paul Bernado is still in prison.

There are videos on the seeming normality of very dangerous people like these two here and here.



[Above: Julet Hume who with Pauline Parker battered Pauline’s mother to death]

New Zealand: Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker

Juliet Hulme was the daughter of Dr. Henry Hulme, an eminent physicist and a rector at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 1954, Juliet Hulme and her friend, Pauline Parker, battered Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper, to death with half a brick in a lisle stocking. At the trial, it was revealed that Honora Rieper had been subjected to a sustained and brutal attack. Hulme and Parker had planned to murder Parker’s murder because they didn’t want to be separated.

After the murder, Parker and Hulme ran to a nearby tea shop, upset and covered in blood, claiming that Pauline’s mother had slipped and fallen.

Honora Rieper had 45 separate wounds on her head. The torn blood-soaked stocking with the brick in it was found nearby.

Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker were found guilty of murder.



[Above: Kelly Ellard was convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk]

Canada: Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski

Kelly Ellard came from a middle class family and lived in a well-to-do neighborhood.

In 1997, she and Warren Glowatski murdered convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk, who was the 14-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants. Ellard and six other teenage girls beat up Reena under a bridge. Ellard and Glowatski then dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge and beat her for a second time. It is believed that Ellard forced Reena’s head under the water and held it there until she stopped struggling.

Kelly Ellard was sentenced to life imprisonment for the second-degree murder of Reena Virk on 20 April 2000. . A second trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury. The Supreme Court of Canada reinstated the second degree murder conviction against Ellard in 2009. Warren Glowatski was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999. Six girls aged between 14 and 16 were sentenced in 1998 for their roles in the initial attack.

Next year Kelly Ellard will apply for parole. Reena’s parents are still waiting for any sign of remorse or sorrow for their loss.



[Above: Nadia Roccia was murdered by her friends Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica]

Italy: Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica

Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica lured their school friend Nadia Roccia to Botticelli’s home with the excuse of doing homework together and then they killed her. It was their second attempt as The Independent reports.

They turned off the lights and Sica began strangling her with a scarf. Botticelli urged her to pull it tighter and kicked Roccia in the stomach. Once satisfied she was dead, they looped a rope around her neck to simulate hanging…

The mother of Nadia Roccia yelled “Bravi ... finally justice for Nadia” as the sentences were read out. In imposing the toughest sentence, the court accepted the prosecution argument that the crime had been “premeditated, ferocious and for futile motives”.

Investigators are still at a loss to uncover a motive for the murder - with theories ranging from Satanic sects to prostitution rings. The pair appeared in court only once, but refused to answer questions and never showed any repentance.

It was discovered that the pair had tried to murder Roccia several months earlier. They offered her a cola drink laced with rat poison, but she refused to drink it. They made her sign a blank sheet on which they later typed a fake suicide note. “I am lesbian and in love with my best friend, that is you, my sweetest Anna Maria ... unfortunately you like men but soon you won’t have to worry about my jealousy any more,” read the note found by Roccia’s body.

Anna Maria Botticelli and Sica, both now 20, heard the sentence on television from their cell in Foggia, 90 miles from Naples. In jail they have completed their high-school leaving exam and are now studying law and economics.

Before Wednesday’s verdict Botticelli’s father pleaded: “I beg you on my knees to give these two girls a chance.”

There was widespread disbelief that Botticelli and Mariena Sica could be guilty of such a horrific murder because they were normal girls from respectable backgrounds. It was only after they were recorded admitting that they were involved, that many people acknowledged their guilt.



[Above: Erika de Nardo at letf with dark hair murdered her mother and brother]

Italy: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro

Erika de Nardo came from a wealthy middle class family - her father was a factory manager and her mother was an accountant - and she grew up in an affluent part of Novi Ligure in Italy. From Wikipedia:

The crime scene, indeed, didn’t suggest a robbery: doors and windows weren’t forced and nothing precious had been stolen. Neighbours noticed nothing unusual and De Nardo’s dogs didn’t bark all evening long. Moreover, Susy and Gianluca had been over-killed (medical examiner counted almost 100 brutal wounds on their corpses), while young Erika was safe and didn’t exactly seem shocked.

She immediately described the presumed aggression she faced, but her version of the facts was full of contradictions. Policemen showed her several mugshots and she “recognized” without any doubt an Albanian teenager named Cezar: the boy was immediately interrogated but proved he had an alibi. Erika stated that she ran away from the garage’s door, but police easily observed that her footprints didn’t mark a run: in fact, she had walked quietly.

Some close friends described the 16-year-old girl as a neglectful, pampered girl, recalled she often squabbled with her parents because of her bad school marks and because her new boyfriend, a bully named Omar Favaro, was someone her mother disliked.

Investigators found Erika’s diary in her bedroom. It was full of terrible sentences such as “That damn child (her brother) made me angry today and I beat him… ” or “This is the end, Mommy, I hate you” or “However we know that everything will be finished by death” and so on. Two days later, Erika and Omar Favaro (a 17-year-old) were left alone in a room at the police station where some hidden microphones and a camera recorded their shocking confession.

It is reported that Erika even performed the very scene of the stabbing and whispered: “I hit her (referring to her mother) right here…” and recalled: “My brother was so strong, he didn’t want to die… he fought so much… was as strong as a bull… oh my God, he was my little brother! He was just eleven years old!” and later ironically asked Omar: “You enjoyed yourself by killing them, didn’t you?”.

But Omar was upset: “You don’t understand, Erika, this is not a game… two people have died… we do risk a life sentence for this!” whispered “Come here, you, murderer!” the boy screamed while shaking her. The girl stated: “I hate my mom, I hate my brother and if you keep on saying this I’ll hate you too! They (policemen and judge) can’t do anything, there are no evidences, they are to believe me!”

De Nardo’s false claim about Albanians (shades of Amanda Knox) caused immense collateral damage. There was an anti-immigrant outcry with Italian newspapers articles demanding a crackdown on illegal immigrants, and anti-immigration demonstrations.

Erika de Nardo drew only a short sentence as a minor and is due to be released in 2012. Omar Fasaro was released a few months ago.



[Above: Erika de Nardo murdered her mother and brother, above]

*******

There are some clear parallels between the Meredith Kercher case and the cases above. There was widespread disbelief that some of the highlighted killers were capable of committing brutal murders.

Like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, many of these killers attempted to derail the police investigation. And nearly all these murderers came from respectable, middle class backgrounds, were well-educated and had no previous history of violence.

Real experts know that it is indisputable that murderers come from all walks of life. The motives behind the horrific murders described above are beyond the comprehension of any normal person, and in some of these cases a motive was never uncovered.

The claims of faux experts like Steve Moore that Amanda Knox is innocent because she doesn’t fit the profile of a someone who would kill in a violent rage are in fact the complete opposite of true.



[Above: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro after their arrest in Italy]

Posted on 11/25/10 at 11:10 PM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe psychologyPondering motiveOther legal processesItalian relatedThose elsewhere
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1st Appeal Session: A Roundup Post On Points of Significance In The Italian, UK And US Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell


The full cycle of court session reporting usually takes quite a few hours, so new items will be added periodically at the bottom of this post.

1) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on the court dates.

Presiding judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman (with assistant judge Massimo Zanetti) swore in the jury of five women and one man, then promptly made his first decision: hearings just once a week—on Saturdays—to accommodate Sollecito’s high profile attorney Giulia Bongiorno (a key Italian parliamentarian and head of the justice commission who recently revealed she is several months pregnant).

Lead Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola noted it was out of the ordinary to build a trial around one lawyer’s personal and political engagements, adding that while everyone wants Bongiorno’s pregnancy to go forward regularly, “we must also ensure the trial goes forward regularly.”

But the judge said in order to start the trial “in a serene atmosphere,” he would grant the request, and fixed hearing dates for Dec. 11, 18 and Jan. 15….

2) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on the defense strategy for the appeal.

Knox’s appeal is built largely around a request for an independent review of forensic evidence (in particular the DNA evidence from the knife that prosecutors say was the murder weapon)...

The appeal also cites a lack of motive,and a series of inconsistencies in witness testimony. Put together, that lawyers say, the arguments establish reasonable doubt.

In particular, the appeal introduces new questions about the reliability of testimony of Antonio Curatolo, a homeless man who placed Knox and Sollecito near the scene of the crime the night of the murder.

Sollecito’s appeal also includes an evidentiary review (in particular of the DNA found on the victim’s bra clasp) but also aims to introduce new evidence, such as pillow stains not tested by forensic police, and expert testimony about Sollecito’s computer mouse, whichlawyers say proves he was home when prosecutors claim he was at the murder scene.

3) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on the outcome possibilities.

Prosecutors are also appealing the extenuating circumstances granted to Knox and Sollecito, in hopes that they’ll be handed down a life sentence.

Under Italian law, anything can happen in the appeals process, from complete acquittal, to conviction on lesser charge such as manslaughter, to an even harsher sentence if convicted again.

4) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on changes to Knox’s mood and PR strategy.

Knox did not appear the same carefree Seattle girl who in her first public court statement giggled as she explained that her rampant rabbit vibrator was just a joke, or who would often turn to smile and wave at friends and family during courtroom breaks.

Three years in the Capanne penitentiary have taken their toll—the gravity of her situation has set in, and recent months have been particularly fraught with tension and worry.

“She feels the weight of all of this on her shoulders,” Ghirga said. “She has lost some faith.”

Her family’s approach has also changed. In sharp contrast to the criticisms directed at the Italian judiciary during her first trial, Knox’s stepfather Chris Mellas, told reporters outside the courthouse that the family had “full faith in the Italian justice system,” adding that “after all, Italy’s judiciary has a long and rich history.”

“Amanda is happy to finally get this process going, we have a new jury and new judges. Unfortunately we have the old prosecutor, but you can’t have everything.”

Yet that most controversial figure, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, was not even present in court. Only co-prosecutor Manuela Comodi donned the black robe to help lead prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola.

[Below: Broadcast media equipment outside the court last night mixed in with the seasonal funfair in the piazza]

Posted on 11/24/10 at 12:35 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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1st Appeal Session: Kercher Lawyer Maresca Says Verdict Perfect, Seems Optimistic This Soon Over

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Kercher family lawyer Maresca with Knox defense lawyer Ghirga]

Dario Thuburn of the AFP reports remarks by Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca and Meredith’s father John.

A lawyer for Kercher’s family, Francesco Maresca, said the original sentence against Knox was “perfect” and said he would “call for justice again.”

He said the Kercher family is eager “to close this chapter.”...

Kercher’s father, John, meanwhile sent a letter to the mayor of Perugia through his lawyers to thank local authorities for setting up a scholarship in her name at the university where she was on an exchange programme.

“Meredith loved Perugia and had made a lot of friends there,” John Kercher wrote, adding that the family was “moved” by the scholarship decision.

Also included in Dario Thuburn’s report on today’s short session:

A nervous-looking Amanda Knox began her appeal on Wednesday against her conviction for the gruesome sex-murder of a British student in the medieval Italian city of Perugia in 2007….

“We feel as though we have a very good case,” her step-father, Chris Mellas, told AFP ahead of the hearing. “She’s going to go home,” said Mellas, who has been living in Perugia since September to help Knox prepare for her appeal….

Wednesday’s hearing lasted only a few minutes and the appeal court judge scheduled the next hearings for December 11, December 18 and January 15…

[Knox defense lawyer] Ghirga said the defence would focus on DNA evidence linking Knox to the crime scene that he said had been questioned by three scientific opinions. The lawyer said Knox’s mother and father would be at the hearing on December 11 and said he expected the trial to conclude in February or March.

Asked about her health, he said: “She looks terrible. She’s very thin.”.. Prosecutors have said they will seek a life sentence for Knox—their original request in her first trial—if the conviction is upheld.

Note what Mr Ghirga said about the appeal maybe being over in February or March. The judge decided on sessions only once a week (Saturdays to suit the pregnant lawyer Giulia Bongiorno) which suggests it’s all over in 10 sessions or less.

We believe the only way it can conclude as soon as that is if all or most of the requested DNA re-testing and new witnesses are refused. DNA re-testing alone could take months.

That makes the 11 December appeal session into quite a cliffhanger.

We can see no overwhelming reason yet for the verdicts to be overturned, and if there is going to be one it can only come from that retesting and any new witnesses if allowed.

Posted on 11/24/10 at 11:55 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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