Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moved By Italian Justice: Doing The Very Best It Can For Meredith And Her Poor Family

Posted by Hopeful

Crestfallen and broken, Amanda and Raffaele react in visible distress in the latest courtroom photos.

Amanda looks sad, smitten, perplexed, astounded, with anger not far under the veneer, yet overall truly sorrowful for the first time in 2 years. Raffaele is weeping as the court denies more evidence do-overs. He feels the weight of this blow.

These two are probably guilty, but it still makes me sad to see what prison can do to human beings. Why, oh why, couldn’t they have let Meredith live and simply enjoy her sweet life? Mercy to her would have been multiplied back to them so very many times over.

I believe Prosecutor Mignini and his assistant, Mrs. Comodi, and all the Perugia homicide cops want to see JUSTICE done above all.

Surely they take no pleasure in the misery that native-son Sollecito is undergoing. They had to arrest him to redress a huge evil. I’m sure they regret the repercussions this has meant to his father, a fine medical doctor, an upstanding citizen of Italy. Despite this, and America’s loud outcries, they have proceeded.

I think the Italian police and prosecutors have acted with more intense caution and discretion in handling the evidence against Amanda because of her U.S. citizenship. I don’t think this is a case of two innocents being railroaded.

If the Italian police had wanted to score points politically, they could have closed the case after the arrest and conviction of Rudy Guede. The police saw undeniable proof to their practiced eyes that Amanda and Raffaele were very guilty.

And I don’t think forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni of the Polizia Scientifica in Rome is in the prosecution’s back pocket. I believe she acted in good faith. Patient and careful analysis of forensic lab samples requires real intelligence and excludes quick passion.

“To Be or Not To Be”. Methinks Amanda does look a little Danish.

It wasn’t fish blood or cat’s blood or pierced ear blood on their hands, it was the blood of honor. Meredith was defenseless in a foreign land. She was a great asset to her own family, to the Erasmus program, to Italy, and eventually to the world. She deserves the best efforts of her host country, and she’s receiving them here.

It now feels like justice is not only happening here - it’s convincingly SEEN to be happening. We all owed you this one, sweet Meredith. May you rest in peace.

Posted on 10/11/09 at 06:56 AM by HopefulClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe officially involvedPolice and CSIThe prosecutorsThe judiciaryVictims family
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trial: Further Expert Examinations Denied: The Report From Andrea Vogt

Posted by Peter Quennell


Excerpts from the report of Andrea Vogt (above) in the Seattle P-I.

An Italian jury rejected Amanda Knox’s multiple requests for an independent review of contested evidence Friday, bringing the end in sight to the Seattle student’s contentious murder trial….

Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito, asked the court to approve an independent review of several contested pieces of forensic evidence, most notably the kitchen knife with Knox’s DNA on the handle and what prosecutor’s argue is the Kercher’s on the blade, and a bra clasp with Sollecito’s DNA.

Knox’s lawyers also asked for a review of the luminol-enhanced footprints, the mark on the pillowcase that the prosecution argued was a woman’s shoeprint, but which the defense argues is simply a bloody crease, and several other traces of DNA found in the flat Knox and Kercher shared….

The Kercher family’s attorney, Francesco Maresca of Florence, argued, however, that the court already had plenty of material to review. “We all know that in all trials of this nature there are different analyses of forensic evidence made by the various expert witnesses,” he said. “The court must now consider the seriousness and integrity of the experts’ testimony.”

Prosecutor Manuela Comodi went a step farther, saying while she did not believe a review was necessary, she would she would “almost be pleased” to see the results with regard to the prosecution’s footprint expert analysis.

The eight-member jury, which includes two professional judges, flatly rejected all defense requests at 9:30 p.m. after deliberating just under two hours.

Immediately after the judge’s announcement, Sollecito bowed his head and briefly wept, as lawyers began haggling over court dates for closing arguments.

Knox glanced worriedly at her lawyers, who patted her on the back and insisted confidently after the hearing that the outcome was not unexpected, nor necessarily negative for their client…

“This doesn’t change anything,” said Knox’s Perugian attorney, Luciano Ghirga. “We wanted to clarify the evidence, but obviously the judge doesn’t feel he needs additional information. We are ready to argue.”

The judge was careful to note that the jury’s decision did not indicate a presumption of guilt and left open the possibility that the court could call for additional review of evidence after closing arguments and before a verdict.

Nonetheless many court observers expressed surprise at the fact that the jury chose to not review even a single element of the controversial forensic evidence. For Knox, however, the complete rejection of a third-party review could have a silver lining—effectively positioning her better for an eventual appeal.

Our legal watchers doubt the validity of that last remark - that somehow the judges and the jury have messed up here, and that this is a get-out-of-jail-free card for Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeals.

They note that Italy has a “smart jury” system which is encouraged to take a very broad birds-eye view of the case. The multi-alibis testimony and the mobile-phone testimony and the eye-witness testimony and the various mixed-blood traces and the various bloody footprints are considered almost impossible to account for if the defendants are in fact not guilty. The DNA on the knife and the bra-clasp are not make-or-break issues in this case and never were.

The sleeper in this trial of course as in the Rudy Guede trial is the huge and very detailed report that the judges must prepare and release within three months of their verdict. The astounding level of profesionalism of those reports - unique in the law world - leaves American lawyers in real awe.  In the case of Guede, the report by Judge Micheli was absolutely damning.

If the verdict here also is guilty, those unconvinced by that report will probably all fit neatly into one Volkswagen.

Posted on 10/10/09 at 11:52 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesEvidence & witnessesDNA and luminolTrials 2008 & 2009
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Trial: Further Expert Examinations Denied - The Report From Nick Pisa

Posted by Peter Quennell


Excerpts from Nick Pisa’s report in the UK’s Daily Mail.

A judge last night rejected defence requests for an independent review of evidence in the Meredith Kercher murder case.

The decision means that a verdict in the trial will come by early December as an independent review could have taken up to a month delaying the decision….

Yesterday lawyers for Knox and Sollecito argued that the review should be held because of errors in the police investigation and the way evidence was collected.

Key to the case is a 30cm black handled kitchen knife on which DNA from Knox was found on the handle and that of Meredith on the blade.

Prosecutors say the knife, which was found in the kitchen of Sollecito’s flat, is compatible with the murder weapon - which has never been found.

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Della Vedova said that too many discrepancies had emerged in the examination of the knife by forensic scientists….

Sollecito’s lawyers had also asked for a review of a bloodied bra clasp found at the scene which had his DNA on it.

They pointed out that the clasp had been found during an initial police search in one point and then ‘lost’ for six weeks before being found else where in the room….

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini had argued that: ‘There is no need for a review as the evidence was gathered in a very professional way by qualified persons.’

In his ruling judge Massei said: ‘The court has heard from several consultants who have brought several elements and which rule out the need for any further proof.’...

As the judge read out his decision Knox, who earlier had been laughing and joking with guards, closed her eyes and looked upwards.

Sollecito rubbed his eyes and was in tears as the decision would seem to indicate the court has already made up its mind over their guilt.

Posted on 10/10/09 at 11:44 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesEvidence & witnessesDNA and luminolTrials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reporting
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Dan Norder “Crime Historian” Makes Over A Dozen Mistakes In A Very Short Piece

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for all of Dan Norder’s offensive and wildly misleading post. Some excerpts below.

The commenters below his absurd piece pretty well nail him to the wall. He makes a couple of flustered responses that only dig him in deeper, and then he goes (hopefully forever) silent.

And so yet another Doug Preston sock-puppet bites the dust. Where does Preston FIND these suckers?!

Italian investigators formed a rather unusual theory to explain the murder. Amanda Knox — Kercher’s American roommate, who was then 20 — and Raffaele Sollecito — an Italian who was Knox’s 23-year-old boyfriend at the time — were accused of being sex maniacs who wanted Kercher to participate in an orgy, raping and killing her when she refused.

Police apparently came up with this explanation because they thought it was strange that the two, while being held for routine questioning, were seen cuddling and occasionally kissing. Somehow the public displays of affection went from being considered merely inappropriate behavior under the circumstances to evidence of a lust murder.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Giuliano Mignini, at first argued that Kercher was killed by Knox and Sollecito as part of a Satanic ritual [he didn’t] involving an orgy or sacrifice, but later decided to tone things down a bit and focus solely on the idea of extreme sexual perversion.

Mignini has made similar accusations in the past [he hasn’t] most notably in the Monster of Florence case. After American author Douglas Preston and Italian reporter Mario Spezi criticized him for blaming that unsolved series of murders on a shadowy group of devil worshippers, Mignini responded by accusing them of being part of this Satanic conspiracy. Spezi was imprisoned on suspicion of murder and Preston was driven out of Italy after being threatened with prosecution.

Mignini’s preoccupation with the idea of Satanic cults [he has none] is one that is shared by a number of people in various countries over the years. For example, in the 1980s the United States legal system was full of alleged incidents of groups of people engaged in sexual molestation and murders based upon shoddy and manufactured evidence…

Unfortunately these kinds of accusations often are accepted at face value. The moral outrage at the idea of such crimes is so overwhelming that things like lack of evidence and the sheer absurdities of the claims being made never sink in. Similarly, the idea that Knox and Sollecito were perverts capable of murder was leaked by the police to the press and took on a life of its own.

When Knox was unable to obtain her clothes after the cottage became a crime scene and went to buy new underwear, the news media painted it as inappropriately rushing off to buy lingerie after the murder. Tabloid papers in England and Italy have continually referred to her as “Foxy Knoxy” and “Angel Face,” reinforcing the idea that she is a siren instead of a student. Whenever a photographer captures Knox smiling at a family member or friend who she has not yet seen during the two years she’s been incarcerated, the public just sees that she’s always smiling in court and concludes that there’s something wrong with her.

But what evidence has been presented in court that would support the idea that Knox is a homicidal sex maniac? Kercher’s friends from England testified that she resented Knox for bringing men over to the house and for having condoms and a vibrator in a bag in the bathroom.

The actual evidence points to a more simple solution [actually it does’nt] . DNA tests show that Rudy Guede, a 20-year-old acquantance of the students who lived downstairs at the time of the murder, had sex with Kercher the night she was killed. His DNA was also found in the bathroom. Bloody shoe prints matching his foot size were discovered by the body. He fled to Germany shortly after the murder. In fact, he’s even already been convicted of the crime.

But apparently Mignini couldn’t let go of his theory. Guede gave conflicting stories after his arrest, originally claiming that Kercher and he had consensual sex, that she had been killed while he was in the bathroom, and that he saw an unknown Italian man over the body. But he eventually told the police what they wanted to hear: that Knox and Sollecito were responsible for the whole thing….

Posted on 10/09/09 at 10:52 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2008Knox-Mellas teamMore hoaxersNews media & moviesTerrible reporting
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Trial: The Agenda For Today’s Evidence Hearing In The Court

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for La Nazione’s report in Italian. The translation, with thanks to PMF’s Tiziano

[Today’s] sitting of the trial of RS and AK for the murder of MK before the Court of the Assizes of Perugia , the examination of the witnesses having been completed, will be dedicated to final investigative requests which will be presented by the parties.

This sitting is being prepared for by the prosecution and the defence with the greatest discretion.

However it is taken as given that the lawyers for the accused will ask for an impartial expert report on the DNA traces at the centre of the investigation. The court will begin to examine these requests tomorrow from 3.30 PM. The time to arrive at a verdict will then depend upon the decision, which could arrive on Saturday. The trial could lengthen if in fact expert reports or eventual other witnesses should be be permitted. If this is not so, however, the final phase with closing arguments and addresses will ensue.

The defences for Sollecito and Knox have already announced that they intend to ask for an expert report on the DNA traces found on the bra clasp of the victim, attributed to the young man from Puglia, and on the traces on the blade of the knife, considered to be the weapon used in the crime, which belong to the American and to MK. The lawyers have in fact challenged the means by which the items were collected and the way that they were analysed, advancing the hypothesis of accidental contamination.

Thus [today] a formal request for the expert report should be made, but the possibility of a surprise request is not ruled out. On the other hand, it does not appear that the PMs Manuela Comodi and Giuliano Mignini will be making any particular requests. They have spoken of a “solid prosecution picture” emerging from the witnesses. The lawyers for the civil complainants, the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna, seem to be following the same line, having highlighted the “quality” of the work done by the investigators.

The court’s decision should be announced tomorrow Saturday.  It can of course turn these requests for more tests down. If that happens, we would see the closing arguments (summations) from the prosecution and defenses and a verdict all happening in the next several weeks.

With the court only in session from mid-afternoon today, we guess if there is any report it will be a late one. The report tomorrow will be the biggie.

Posted on 10/09/09 at 03:24 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009
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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Newsweek’s Barbie Nadeau Has A Really Vital Piece On How The Evidence Stacks Up

Posted by Peter Quennell


And,  in short, it is ominous.

Click above for the full report. This really IS vital reading. A few key excerpts as follows.

Evidence: Rudy Guede

Who it hurts: Knox and Sollecito

Rudy Guede is the 24-year-old Ivory Coast native convicted in a fast-track trial last October for his role in Kercher’s murder. He is serving a 30-year sentence (his appeal begins on Nov. 19). Guede, who refused to testify in the Knox trial, has admitted that he was in the house when Kercher was killed. He says Kercher invited him there and that the two were making out when a stomach cramp from a bad kebab sent him to the bathroom. He was on the toilet with his iPod headphones on through four songs and, when he came out, Kercher was dying. He says he tried to save Kercher by using a towel to sop up the blood on her neck wounds, but he was scared after a man he says looked like Sollecito told him that “they’ll pin this on the black guy.” Guede fled to Germany, where he was later arrested for skipping a train fare. His feces (found in a toilet), along with his DNA and fingerprints from Kercher’s bedroom, link him to the crime scene. The sentencing judge who convicted him, though, did not see him as a lone assailant. Instead, the judge wrote in his sentencing report that he believed Guede acted with Knox and Sollecito.

Evidence: Murder dynamic

Who it hurts: Knox and Sollecito

One of the most complicated aspects of Kercher’s tragic death is how the murder itself played out. The prosecution believes that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede taunted Kercher in a sex game that quickly escalated to violence and ended in murder. Countless forensic experts, including those who performed the autopsies on Kercher’s body, have testified that more than one person killed her based on the size and location of her injuries and the fact that she didn’t fight back—no hair or skin was found under her fingernails. The defense has confused matters more: Knox’s forensic specialist testified that Kercher had been killed by only one person from the front, but Sollecito’s expert testified that Kercher had been killed by one person from behind.

Evidence: Knox’s confession

Who it hurts: Knox

On Nov. 5, 2007, Sollecito was called to the Perugia police station for questioning about Kercher’s murder. Knox testified last June that she did not want to be alone, so she accompanied him. During his interrogation, Sollecito admitted to police that he did not know for sure if Knox actually spent the night of the murder at his house, as she had told police earlier. Since Knox was at the police station, the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m., and, by 5:45 a.m., Knox had told police that she was in the house when Kercher died—and that Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the nightclub where she worked, was the assailant. She even described Kercher’s screams. She, Sollecito, and Lumumba were arrested. The next day, Knox wrote a five-page memorandum reiterating everything she said the night before. But since there was no lawyer present during her interrogation—and so far no one has produced an audiotape of the interrogation—Knox’s attorneys were able to have her verbal confession thrown out of evidence. The five-page memorandum still holds….

Evidence: Conflicting alibis

Who it hurts: Unknown

Knox maintains that she spent the night of Nov. 1, 2007, at Sollecito’s house. Sollecito did not take the stand during this trial, and his lawyer told NEWSWEEK that it was, at least in part, because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi….

So Sollecito did not take the stand in part because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi. Wow. That has to hurt.

Very much more in Barbie Nadeau’s original piece.  We recommend that you read it all.


Law Enforcement All Over Italy Demonstrating Over Berlusconi Cutbacks Going Too Far

Posted by Peter Quennell


Prime Minister Berlusconi now has his own huge problems so it seems like a good time to demonstrate.

Many Italian cities have just seen demonstrations by law enforcement and there was a large one in Perugia (not these images here).

Leaderships of the law enforcement unions gathered this morning in front of the Prefecture of Police in Perugia to protest against cuts in public security by the government.

Representatives of SIULP, WIS, SIAP, SILPA, UGL and COISP distributed leaflets to people to explain their difficult position as a result of “the Berlusconi government’s political promises to operators of private security,” the “lack of recruitment to compensate for deficiencies in staffing “, the” non-renewal of contracts that expired up to two years ago” and “the inadequate resources being allocated by the government.”

Despite all this, states the flier given out by the union leaderships, the police have quietly continued to work, and to achieve great successes against the Mafia, terrorism, and “widespread crime’....

The president of Umbria provence, Marco Vinicio Guasticce, spoke up on their behalf. “There can be no safety for the citizens if you cut the organs and means that underlie both the prevention and punishment of crime”.

There seems to be a popular theory not unrelated to the facts in Italy that those politicians who move against the police and judiciary always seem to have a lot to hide.

Not much room these days in the overcrowded and underfunded Capanne prison, Mr Berlusconi. Perhaps pick one of the others.


 

Posted on 10/08/09 at 07:35 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contexts
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Italian Tourism Bouncing Back: Perugia Becoming More Visited

Posted by Peter Quennell

That above is one of Perugia’s four-star hotels right off the great Corso Vanucci. It is two or three minutes walk from the courtroom.

Towns in Italy in mid-summer are always pretty quiet, because so many are away at the beach. But there is a report out now that despite the recession, hotels in Perugia and Italy generally are moving back to very high occupancy.

Italy is the second most-visited country in Europe after France. And rightly so.

Posted on 10/07/09 at 09:43 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer PerugiaThe wider contextsPerugia context
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

And Now An Excellent Report By Andrea Vogt On The University Of Washington Reforms

Posted by Peter Quennell


Andrea Vogt posts this important story on the Seattle PI website.

Ever since we posted this excellent analysis last February of Amanda Knox’s extremely unstructured and underfunded arrangements in Perugia (read also the comments), we have been waiting for the University of Washington and others to move to stop it ever happening again.

Finally, it seems, they have.

Mirroring a nationwide trend, the University of Washington is overhauling how its students and professors interface with foreign countries….

The UW study abroad experience today involves much more oversight than it did two years ago when Amanda Knox left on an unsupervised European adventure that quickly degenerated into a nightmare.

When Knox, who is on trial for murder in Italy, left her familiar U-district environs in late summer 2007, she embarked on her own independent study in Umbria with very few guidelines or institutional oversight.

She arrived in the tolerant student melange of Perugia, a vibrant college town with temptation at every turn and many paradoxes (drug deals and party plans are often made on the steps of the cathedral).

A month later, the honor student’s pub-crawling, pot-smoking college shenanigans had taken a very serious turn and she was being hauled off to the Capanne penitentiary, where she remains today, pleading her innocence as the trial and controversial accusations against her plod forward.

Once her troubles began, the university tried to offer support, but had very few official guidelines to follow for responding to the kind of complicated legal-judicial matter Knox faced.

It’s different now….

In the wake of several negative overseas episodes, officials are busy raising awareness about the positive impact the UW is having worldwide and taking steps to improve communications, regulation and emergency preparedness for its students abroad.

Compared with two years ago, international education officials are more closely tracking who, where and what study-abroad programs involve. The university has new rules:. The department chair has to sign off on the program. Insurance is required. So is a cell phone. No program money can be used to buy alcohol, just for starters.

“There’s a much more formal process now,” said Taso Lagos, a UW professor who teaches international communication and manages a study-abroad program in Greece. “With administrators that are very aware, with lines of communication open and policies in place if something happens.”...

The UW’s growing commitment to international education—- even in a budget crisis—is reflected in some developments. [UW Vice Provost for Global Affairs Stephen Hanson] was named a vice provost in January, and in the spring, the UW dedicated an entire wing of the Gerberding Hall administration building to growing an international mission and profile.

This year, a travel security and information officer is coming on board to oversee emergency response and preparedness, as is Peter Moran, a new director of international programs and exchanges who previously worked at the Fulbright Commission office in Katmandu, Nepal.

New guidelines are being put in place to streamline communications, ease financial transactions and institute mandatory training for faculty taking students abroad. The Global Support Project, a rapid-response team with one person from each branch of the central administration, takes on cross-disciplinary international challenges.

Such reforms aren’t unique to UW.

Universities across the country are examining how better to organize study abroad to meet blossoming demand from students (and prospective employers) for foreign experience. Many are turning to independent service providers whose business it is to contract housing, health care or niche risk management services dealing with legal, financial or public relations crises when things go haywire abroad…..

Though the university bore no responsibility for any of the events Knox became entangled in, media across the world continued to mention the University of Washington—whether it was because of character witnesses who were her college buddies, reports of wild off-campus parties Knox attended in Seattle or her studies while in prison.

They really should be given a name. The Meredith Kercher reforms.

Posted on 10/06/09 at 08:33 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe wider contextsSeattle contextN America contextAmanda Knox
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Monday, October 05, 2009

Seattle: The University Of Washington Area - Where Amanda Knox Lived And Worked

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

Three scenes here that would have been much of the rest of what Amanda Knox saw daily in her second student year before heading for Europe.

The first four shots are of the small house that Knox lived in just north of the university campus and then there are two shots of the neighbors. It is here that an infamous party took place which ended with threats to the neighbors and some rock-throwing, and a summons and fine for Knox. She seemed to take the whole thing very lightly.

The next five shots are of the coffee shop (the World Cup) where Knox waitressed for money for Perugia. It went out of business last year, and is now Tango, a dance studio. This shop is quite near to her house, but the street and the block and the store are all pretty unprepossesing. There is little foot traffic nearby, and low wages and low tips might have contributed to Knox being under-funded in Perugia. .

The final two shots are of the street where, had she waitressed here, Knox could have made some real money. She would know this street for sure. It is just one block west of the main campus.

It is known as the U-Distrct Ave or just The Ave,  and it is full of bookstores and restaurants and clothes stores that cater to U-W students with a little money. The shots were taken late in the day and few students were around, but it is for most fo the year extremely lively.

Shots above and just below: Amanda Knox’s rental house in her second year just north of the university



Two shots below: the street and the neighbors of Knox’s house shown in the shots above


Five shots below: The black windows of a former coffee shop where Amanda Knox waitressed to make money for Perugia





Two shots below: the lively “U-Distrct Ave” which Knox presumably walked, shopped, and ate meals along


Posted on 10/05/09 at 09:22 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe wider contextsSeattle contextAmanda Knox
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Seattle: The University Of Washington’s Surprisingly Pretty Main Campus

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

As we have been showing, this very sad tale is playing out in a number of beautiful locations.

We’ve had many photo spreads on Perugia and various other places in Italy, including where Sollecito came from, and spreads on Meredith’s exiting hometown of London and her spectacular university town of Leeds.

Now we turn to Seattle.

Amanda Knox came from West Seattle, a very large and surprisingly high plateau south-west of the downtown of Seattle, and she studied for two years at this university several miles north-east of the Seattle downtown.

The top shots here are the most significant from Knox’s perspective, for they are the libraries and lecture halls she would have frequented almost daily. The other shots show other departments and some of the attractive landscaping where she might have sat out with friends.

Why surprisingly pretty? Well, this is a publicly funded American university run by the State of Washington and the public universities, while often very good, can be mind-numbingly utilitarian.

This is not a private Ivy League institution like Harvard or Stanford or Princeton or Yale. But it sure looks like one of them.

As always, click for the larger images.















Posted on 10/04/09 at 09:46 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe wider contextsSeattle contextAmanda Knox
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Meredith’s Perugia #17: Another Spectacular Coast That Meredith Might Have Loved

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[click for larger images]

Meredith could easily have reached here by car down the autostrada in three or four hours.

This is the Amalfi coast. Again a very beautiful place that many foreigners in Italy hit in a hurry.

It is the south shore of the peninsula across the bay from Naples - in effect, it has its back to Naples. At the end of the peninsula is Sorrento, and just out to sea beyond is the Isle of Capri.

Improbably, there are towns all the way along. More improbably, there is a two-lane highway all the way along too, very high up on the side of the hill - you can see one shot of it below.

And even more improbably, full-sized buses and coaches head along that road. Mostly they are easy to squeeze past, but periodically in tight places, negotiations have to take place.

Quite often with considerable humor. Italy is never ever short of friendly smiles and laughs. Perhaps one reason Meredith was so attracted. .

These are the previous posts in this series. Many peoples’ favorite.















Posted on 10/03/09 at 08:38 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer Perugia
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Friday, October 02, 2009

Apartment Below Meredith’s Is Re-Tenanted And Hers Will Be Too Soon

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click above for larger image]

The Italian news service AGI has a report on the re-renting of the house that includes this:

Apparently annoyed but amused. one new tenant [of the basement apartment] did not want to talk to reporters. A few days ago, he rented the apartment with two other students…

‘‘No money, no declaration. I want three thousand euros” said the boy in imperfect English when jokingly speaking to reporters who were waiting outside the house on Via della Pergola…

He knows of the attention that will be paid to him by journalists because he has chosen not to live inside the Perugia old sity in an ordinary house, but instead in one that became the scene of a heinous crime for which a trial still proceeds.

The boy, about twenty years old, perhaps Spanish, went out in the afternoon and returned home at around 4:00 pm bringing a small bag, a trolley with two bags, a bag for PC and a backpack.

After closing the green gate behind him which gives access to the house, he stayed home for about ten minutes and then went out again.

Dressed in jeans and a red and blue shirt with a “9” printed on the back and the word ‘‘Espana’’ on the front, he seemed more amused than intimidated by the presence of the journalists. The young man reiterated his unwillingness to speak…

Then, along with three friends, probably all Spanish, he headed out again for a nearby bar to get some coffee takeaways to bring back to the new apartment.

On entering the house the four young men dragged the kitchen table and some chairs outside and they then set to talking quietly, with some amused glances reporters in the garden opposite the front door.

And the Italian news agency APCOM has a report that a Perugia estate agency is in several ongoing negotiations to rent out Meredith’s apartment, now extensively refurbished.

The house is owned by a retired woman who lives in Rome and who seems to be dependant on income from it to pay her way. We believe the Italian government made a payment to her for the period the house was sequestered - for most of the time it was sequestered at the request of the defenses. 

That one of the apartments is again tenanted by students suggests there was no hike in the rent. But the value of the property seems certain to zoom soon in light of this proposal and might one day come down to make way for more parking in the area.

Our poster Kermit created a great Powerpoint show on the house’s rather strange history.

Posted on 10/02/09 at 09:36 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedEvidence & witnessesOther witnessesThe wider contextsPerugia contextAmanda Knox
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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Why The Prosecutors In Italy Are Relatively Popular

Posted by Peter Quennell


Italy’s a tough country with, albeit dwindling now, a legacy of violent crime, and many brave prosecutors over the years have been assassinated.

And the Italian legal system is not particularly weighted in their direction, with a large number of hurdles they have to climb over before a case ever gets to trial.

And the Italian prison system is relatively lenient, heavily pro-prisoner-remediation and early release, and proportionally only 1/10 the size of the US’s.

So the endemic attempts to undermine Prosecutor Mignini have invariably won only MORE popular support for him and his case in Perugia and Italy in general.

And the only “criminal charge” against him (it isn’t) seems to flow from his guessing right in the Monster of Florence case - and apparently no charge of this kind has ever won a “conviction”.

Above is Milan Prosecutor Armando Spataro.

He is in the news now because he has demanded prison sentences for TWENTY-SIX Americans.

Between them they seem to have colluded in grabbing Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, an Egyptian in Italy, back in President Bush’s day, and taking him off to be tortured.

Not to the United States where torture is not legal, but to Egypt where it more-or-less is.

Human rights advocates charge that renditions were the CIA’s way to outsource the torture of prisoners to countries where it was practiced.

The CIA has declined to comment on the Italian case, and all the Americans are being tried in absentia and are considered fugitives.

As we remarked in this post it is pretty hard for a foreign government and especially now the American government to throw sand in the Italian wheels of justice. 

The American government is really just sitting this one out. And it may be covertly delighted when Amanda Knox and her clan fade to silence.

Posted on 10/01/09 at 12:36 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe officially involvedThe prosecutorsTrials 2008 & 2009The wider contextsItalian system
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Time’s Nina Burleigh Has A Take On Some Of The Courtroom Participants

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Nina Burleigh’s interesting report from the courtroom.

Nina Burleigh is researching a book on the case. She is an experienced and objective researcher with several excellent books to her name, who is unlikely to be swayed by the strong emotions and spin in Perugia.

Posted on 09/30/09 at 11:05 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2008Nina BurleighHoaxers: media groupsTime weekly
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Why Perugia Is At Less Risk Of Earthquakes Than Its Neighbors

Posted by Peter Quennell


See Perugia and you will agree. Any earthquake damage to this truly wonderful town would be a great tragedy in itself.

Here was our previous post. Now an American expert has made public the finding that Perugia is very unusually kind of riding the waves, which explains why it has not seen a major earthquake in 2000 years.

U.S. researchers say they’ve determined some slow-moving faults may help protect some regions of Italy and other parts of the world from earthquakes.

University of Arizona postdoctoral researcher Sigrun Hreinsdottir said until now, geologists thought when a crack between two pieces of the Earth’s crust was at a very gentle slope, there was no movement along that particular fault line.

“This study is the first to show that low-angle normal faults are definitely active,” Hreinsdottir said.

Assistant Professor Richard Bennett, who led the study, said scientists can now “show that the Alto Tiberina fault beneath Perugia is steadily slipping as we speak—fortunately, for Perugia, without producing large earthquakes.”

Perugia is the capital city of Italy’s Umbria region.

Creeping slowly is unusual, Bennett said. Most faults stick, causing strain to build up, and then become unstuck with a big jerk that translates into a big earthquake.

Hreinsdoottir and Bennett say they have shown the gently sloping fault beneath Perugia is moving steadily at the rate of approximately one-tenth of an inch a year.

They said Perugia has not experienced a damaging earthquake in about 2,000 years because the fault is actively slipping and might not be collecting strain.

“To have an earthquake, you have to have strain,” Hreinsdoottir said.  The research appears in the August issue of the journal Geology.

Posted on 09/28/09 at 04:19 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contextsItalian context
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Trial: Italian-Language Reporting Now Faster And More Objective Than English-Language

Posted by Peter Quennell


It is no secret that the English-language reporting increasingly seems all over the map these days.

This is being much-discussed behind the scenes, and informed commenters like MacK MacK are being quite open about it. Some English-language reporters seem too anxious to keep on the good side of the FOA while they seem to have no pipeline at all to Meredith’s family, or her friends, or her supporters.

Meanwhile, all of the major TV networks in New York are concluding that the FOA line is basically non-credible and history as far as they are concerned - and that the REAL emerging story is to be Meredith.

We think they have the much smarter take here. A lot more attention needs to be given to Meredith now, and a lot less attention to the highly over-exposed mantras of the FOA.

None of the English-language reporting on the trial today is out yet. But here is some of today’s Italian-language reporting - straight reporting without spin:

1) From TGCOM

The computer consultant appointed by the defense of Sollecito has tried to show that during the time of the death of Meredith Kercher the accused was at his house and was using his laptop to watch a movie on DVD.

Between 9.30 and 11:00 he would have seen a film “The Wonderful World of Amelie” in the company of Amanda Knox. The expert analyzed the computer and the internet data of the young Pugliese.

Next will be heard a computer consultant appointed by the defense of Amanda Knox, who has analyzed the same computer. With the testimony of these two experts, the defense depositions before the Court of Assizes of Perugia draw to a close..

TGCOM then includes several objective, low-key paragraphs on yesterday’s testimony about why Knox was freaking out at the police station.

She was freaking out but not we think for the bizarre reason the expert provided.

2) From the Italian AP

Proving that Raffaele Sollecito at the time of the death of Merdith Kercher was in his house and was using his laptop to watch a movie on DVD was the purpose of the technical analysis of a computer consultant for the defense, a Mr Giovinazzo. He was asked to give evidence today in court for the trial over the death of Meredith Kercher that occurred on November 1, 2007 in the house on Via della Pergola.

He claimed that Sollecito between 9.30 and 11 would have watched a film, “The Wonderful World of Amelie” in the company of Amanda Knox. This has been claimed for almost two years by the defense of the boy from Puglia.

Here is the Machine’s meticulous description of the prosecution’s take on Sollecito’s alibis which directly contradicts this.

Posted on 09/26/09 at 07:19 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reportingThe wider contextsItalian context
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Trial: Today And Tomorrow Are To Be The Final Two Days Of Defense Testimony

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for La Nazione’s story in Italian. In brief:

The court timetable for today and tomorrow provides for the testimony of the last four witnesses listed by the defense. They are to be another coroner, a neuropathologist, a geneticist, and a computer expert.

There will be court hearings on 2 and 3 October for more expert examination of the prosecution’s evidence. It is virtually certain at this stage that the defenses will ask for a new report on the traces of DNA on the knife considered as the possible murder weapon.

It should then be clearer when the verdict can be expected. It could be several months away, which pushes the date past the date (November 18) set for the start of Rudy Guede’s appeal.

A comment here. As we have observed several times previously, requests for more time for more examination of evidence is really a high-risk strategy by the defenses. If Guede decides to sing and actually tells the truth, all of that would get ported straight over to the Knox and Sollecito trial.

This is posted at mid-afternoon Perugia time and there is still no English-language report out for today and only two brief Italian-language reports. In the circumstances, we will have to wait a few hours, possibly though to tomorrow, to post a wrap-up report for today.

Added: The Associated Press now has this report out on the morning’s testimony.

The woman accused of murdering British student Meredith Kercher in Italy may have have been confused about what really happened because of stress, a doctor has told her trial.

American Amanda Knox gave conflicting statements to police in the wake of 21-year-old Miss Kercher’s death in Perugia, Italy. Neurologist Carlo Caltagirone was giving evidence on behalf of Knox, who is on trial with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito….

Dr Caltagirone told the court that Knox was under stress after long police questioning, which might have led to her confusion. “To be questioned for long hours in a foreign country without fully realising the situation one is in… can lead to a lot of stress,” he said.

Knox initially accused Diya Lumumba, a Congolese man who owns a pub in Perugia where she worked, of being the killer…. Knox, 22, of Seattle, Washington, has since maintained that she spent the night of the murder at Sollecito’s house.

Posted on 09/25/09 at 08:51 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesTrials 2008 & 2009
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

How This Cable Car In The Dolomites Hangs Over The Trial In Perugia

Posted by Peter Quennell


The Dolomites (image below) are a spectacular range of mountains east of the Alps in north-east Italy.

In 1998 a squadron of American Prowlers (image at bottom) based in Italy as part of the US NATO presence was roaring up and down those valleys, when one cut the cable of the cable car shown above. Twenty people in a gondola died when it crashed to the ground 350 feet below.

The US military has a huge presence in Italy (scroll down to “Conditions in Italy”) and good US-Italian relations are extremely important as a result. But in this case, the airmen were yanked back to the US, under NATO rules, tried by other military officers - and found not guilty of anything except destroying a videotape.

Outrage in Italy and across Europe and even in the US was intense. There have since been very, very few US interventions in any judicial process in Italy.

Now suddenly there is a new US intervention and Italian emotions are getting stoked.

If the FOA campaign ever thought the US government would spring Amanda using political pressure, they could not have picked a worse country in Europe to ridicule and try to strong-arm.




Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Well-Informed New Voice On The Relevant Italian Law

Posted by Peter Quennell


[click for larger images]

Above: the street up from the station - probably the first road in Perugia Meredith ever traveled, just a few short weeks before her death.

Informed foreign commentary on the Italian legal system has been very thin on the ground in this case and we have posted what still remains one of the best.

Now in the the Comments section of a post on The Daily Beast that in passing compares the Italian system negatively with the American system, a new commenter, MacK MacK (not registered on TJMK in that name) has posted a number of informed comments worth reading before they scroll away.

Here is the first of MacK MacK’s comments - right under another which reads “I really do hate this perception that America has the highest legal system in the world” - and several of the responses, including his or her own.

MacK-MacK

This is not a very well though out article, poorly written by an author who assumes that a civil law system (i.e., Italy) should be like a common system, i.e., the US.

First, the presumption of innocence does apply since Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, to which Italy is a signatory, and which is enforced by the European Court in Strasbourg provides detailed rights (1) to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, (2) the presumption of innocence, and (3) other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence (adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence, (4) access to legal representation, (5) right to examine witnesses against them or have them examined, and (6) right to the free assistance of an interpreter) - which makes Italy better than say Texas with appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Second, in a civil law country trial is a two step process. There is a preliminary proceeding conducted by an investigating magistrate (in some civil law countries called a juge d’instruction) who is like a grand-jury in the US system, but with added powers, since he/she can cross examine the police and prosecutor and will only allow a case to go to trial if there is prima facie evidence that the defendant has a case to answer - and which point the defendant gets a trial with the presumption of innocence.

The confusion among bad reporters that leads to the idea that when on trial one is “guilty until proven innocent” is because the investigating magistrate only lets a case go to trial if he/she thinks the defendant is guilty, but the trial is a fresh one - that is what is going on now.

The Knox family, who are fairly well off in fact, are being badly advised by Washington based criminal lawyers to use publicity in her case, and the publicists they have hired have decided to put the Italian justice system on trial. They have spread potentially libelous stories about the prosecutor and tried to muddy the waters in public. The problem for Knox is that this may well antagonize the court - it is a stupid tactic, being used by people who are trying Seattle court tactics in Italy.

The civil trial system is heavily run by the judges, who have to make the decisions. What this means in practice is that they ask a lot of the questions and will when there are problems with evidence keep recalling people to get to the bottom of the issue. This is in contrast to the US system where a witness is heard, examined and cross-examined, and the defense and prosecution tries to score some points during that testimony. In the Italian system, if a question mark is raised, the judges will often call a few witnesses back to ask for explanations.

Knox and Sollecito to me, and I have read most of what has come out in this case, have very serious problems. The trouble Knox has is that ab initio she told the police a pack of lies, implicating an innocent black man (and demonstrably so) as the killer (by the way her choice of Mr. Lumumba is particularly telling since in a country with a smallish black population she chose someone of the same race as Guede - why?) Her alibi is to put it mildly piss-poor and in both her and Sollecito’s case they don’t match facts that can be established (e.g., cell phone records, computer use.) Sollecito has avoided supporting her alibi in court.

The only reasonable conclusion that can be reached is that she and Sollecito were in some way present or involved in at least part of the events on the fatal night - the nature of that involvement is not clear, but the confessions seem to be a starting point for working out what it might be.

It is this inescapable involvement that presents the huge problem - Knox is not telling the truth and Sollecito has stopped really talking at all - however, what Knox now says and Sollecito’s lawyers argue are inconsistent with some known facts—why? What you see the court heading towards is that Knox is trying to tell a false story because the truth must be worse.

I do notice by the way that the fact that Knox fingered Lumumba as the murderer, and that he had a solid alibi is simply not mentioned in this or other press accounts in the US.

citivas

Best post I have read here on this subject.

AmericanPravda

MacK-MacK:

A fine post, indeed! It’s not often on TDB that a post is actually more informative than the original article.

You seem to know what you’re talking about. So, correct me if I’m wrong, but does civil law not focus more on answering the three questions: what happened? Why did it happen? And how did it happen? as opposed to our common law where prosecuting lawyers and defence lawyers rely more on precedent.

I absolutely buy into your point that the Knox family are being badly advised by Washington- based criminal lawyers to use American-style negative publicity in her case and this potentially will backfire on them. It is a stupid tactic, as you say!

Sample of one here, but I think she is very guilty and should pay the price.

mblips

This is an excellent post - in fact much better than the original article.

I have followed this case from the beginning, and I am certain that they are guilty. Here are some details that came out early in the story, but now seem to have been forgotten:

1. In the early hours of the morning after the murder, Knox and Sollecito made two separate trips to the store to buy a bottle of bleach. Why would they be consuming so much bleach if they weren’t trying to scrub forensic evidence?

2. Knox originally said that she was at the crime scene and covered her ears to block out the sound of the victim’s screams. Then she changed her story and said that she wasn’t there at all. How is it possible to be mistaken about this?

3. Their behavior immediately after the discovery of the body was bizarre. Firstly police found both of them at the crime scene when they turned up to investigate the victim’s found mobile phone, but the accused hadn’t contacted police. Surely, upon discovery of a body, it is something you would do immediately. Secondly, at the crime scene, the accused made-out in front of police - surely a misguided attempt to act innocent. Immediately after this, they went lingerie shopping, and then at the police station, Knox passed the time, but doing the splits.

They are guilty, and I think they will not escape this.

The most interesting thing to wait for is Guede’s appeal, which will be heard after the Knox/Sollecito trial is over. I think some fine dirt will be dished at that one.

AmericanPravda

mblips:

No…I remember these details, which you itemize in your post. Regarding your second point, I believe that she’s (Knox) claiming that she gave the statement ‘under duress’. I don’t believe that she, or her legal team, mentioned what caused the duress; perhaps she was in a state of duress, because she had just murdered somebody!

Regarding your third point, her bizarre behaviour on her shopping trip directly after the initial police investigation, was caught on tape, so it’s around for perpetuity.

I suspect that we haven’t been hearing about these issues on this side of the Atlantic because her father’s attempts, via professional media relations firms that he has hired, to obfuscate the key issues has indeed been working, at least with the US public. (The strategy here is to create a over swell of public opinion in the US in favour of her innocence so that the Italian justice system will be somehow intimidated into either letting her go, or allowing her to be tried in the US, where she would, presumably, get a more lenient trial.)

I hope that the Italians stick to their principals and give her the deserved punishment.

MacK-MacK

There is also in a lot of the reporting a misunderstanding about rules of evidence in the common law system versus the civil law system.

To explain, rules of evidence in common law cases, generally heard for the most part before lay-jurors, that is to say ordinary non-legally-trained people, are very very strict, with principles such as the hearsay rule, high requirements for scientific evidence before it will be considered, etc. This is because of a concern that lay-jurors may be unable to place proper weight on evidence - that they will regard things as unduly prejudicial. Thus in a US case “motions in limine” have a big role - these are motions before trial to exclude evidence - and the usual argument is that evidence is more prejudicial than probative. To explain in a US case the argument would be that this individual piece of DNA evidence should be excluded because there might be something wrong with it, or this statement to the police should be excluded because it makes the defendant look bad and proves less than the prejudice it might create.

The evidence about Knox’s sex life, sex toys and vibrators, etc., relevant to explain her problems with her roommates (who were uncomfortable with an apparent parade of men at the breakfast table) would have been excluded in the US, because even though they had at least some relevance to the circumstances of the murder and Knox’s risky behavior, also make her look bad. In an Italian court they take the view that they can exclude the issue of her morality as a matter of sexual behavior (i.e., do they not like her) from the question of her guilt or innocence.

In a civil law system the jurors are in effect professionals. They are expected to know things like eyewitness identifications are inherently unreliable and the system trusts them to weigh the evidence and its reliability in toto, so for example hearsay is usually allowed. Thus if there is an issue about say this bloodstain - yes they take account of that, but they do not exclude the bloodstain, they simply regard it as less reliable - but they consider it in context. So the defendants are disputing multiple examples of DNA evidence - the judges will consider each separately, but also collectively - as in how likely is that that all of these separate bloodstains would exist, each supporting Knox and Sollecito’s presence. Knox made a statement - she says it was under duress; OK, maybe it was, maybe that makes it unreliable - but some of this physical evidence found after the statement supports the story in the statement - maybe it is reliable. A US court might simply exclude Knox’s confession absolutely, and then not consider it in the context of the other evidence.

If you are used to the common law system where evidence is attacked and excluded in isolation you write this sort of [Daily Beast] article, where you talk about the Sollecito’s hammertoe, but not how that matched in with other things. If you understand the civil system you consider it in the context of Knox’s challenged confession and you wonder does each corroborate the other.

In effect everything is relevant and most things admissible, they are just given different weights as evidence. Things like including Knox’s weird behavior in court may have an impact - this continued until someone told her she was not doing herself any favors. Now this [Daily Beast] article has a demure photo of Knox (presumably from the Knox family publicists)—other articles, often in the British press (who want to present her as guilty) show her with weird grins on her face and wearing flippant slogans on T-shirts.

You are in effect talking about a fundamentally different system. The most important thing to know is that if a case is brought against you in a civil system, although you have still the presumption of innocence, you have in effect already been tried by the investigating magistrate, who after seeing all the evidence has already concluded that you are guilty. That does not mean that you do not have the presumption of innocence at trial, just that if you do go to trial you have lost once already before an impartial pro (the investigating magistrate) - by contrast in the US New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously observed that district attorneys have so much influence over grand juries that “by and large” they could get one to “indict a ham sandwich.”

By the way, does it occur to anyone that given all the publicity, Sollecito’s well connected family, a US citizen, etc., the path of least resistance for the Italians would have been to do what Knox’s lawyers want them to do, and simply to have accepted that Guede acted alone—that is what most criminal justice systems might have done, avoiding the headache of trying these two as well. They had their “goat” why go for more unless they did think Knox was guilty?

Posted on 09/22/09 at 04:24 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesGreat reportingItalian system
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trial: Defense Returns To Weapon While Most Of Prosecution Case Still Not Contended

Posted by Peter Quennell





Journalists were asked to leave the courtroom today during a weak repeat of the contention that the large knife was not THE weapon.

But the prosecution had already indicated months ago that they believed at least one other knife was involved.

Click above for Nick Squires on one report from the press room outside the court.

The black-handled knife, with a 6.5 inch long stainless steel blade, was shown for the first time to the court in Perugia where the 22-year-old American student and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 26, are accused of sexual assault and murder.

A court official brought out the knife in a shallow white cardboard box marked “Evidence – handle with care” and showed it to the judge and eight jurors.

Miss Knox, of Seattle, who was wearing blue jeans and a red sweatshirt with a Beatles design, appeared impassive as the purported murder weapon was shown during the testimony of a forensic expert, Prof Giancarlo Umani-Ronchi.

She looked away when police photographs of Miss Kercher’s bloodied body were projected onto a giant screen in the courtroom.

Mr Sollecito, in a white jacket and rimless glasses, bit his fingernails as the alleged use of the knife in the killing was discussed by experts and lawyers.

A forensic consultant, Mariano Cingolani, said that of the three wounds on Miss Kercher’s neck, at least one was not compatible with the size and dimensions of the knife.

“Many other knives in general are more compatible with that kind of wound,” said Prof Cingolani. The wound was too narrow to match the knife, he said.

He added, however, that no firm conclusion could be drawn without knowing the exact angle of Miss Kercher’s neck, or the elasticity of her muscle tissue…

The former lovers, who could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty, looked tired and nervous.

So there is a question mark over the role of the large knife but again, nothing definitive. No defense attempt to prove that no other knife was used.

Meanwhile, whole other universes of very damning prosecution evidence against Sollecito and Knox remain uncontested, like a herd of elephants in the room.

For example the very damning mobile calls.  And also the highly confused alibis.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Trial: Defense Expert Tries To Claim Sollecito-Sized Footprint Is Guede’s

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for the Daily Express’s full report. The relevant section:

A bloody footprint found at the house where a British student was killed in Italy was wrongly attributed to one of the defendants in the case, a forensic expert has testified at the murder trial.

The footprint was found on a bathroom rug in the house in Perugia where Meredith Kercher was killed in November 2007.

Prosecutors have attributed it to Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who is on trial on murder charges with Amanda Knox, his girlfriend at the time. Both defendants deny wrongdoing.

In his testimony, expert Francesco Vinci compared detailed pictures of the footprint on the rug with images of Sollecito’s feet, arguing that the sizes and shapes “absolutely don’t match”.

“Differences, one by one, can be seen,” said Vinci, who is a witness for Sollecito’s defence.

According to Vinci, the footprint is “compatible” with the foot of a third man, Rudy Hermann Guede, who was convicted in a separate trial last year and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In effect then, the claim is that Guede was participating with bare feet in the cleanup of the crime scene some time after the death of Meredith - although precisely what he cleaned up is unclear, as strong evidence of his presence remains.

Like many of the defense’s attempts at rebuttals, this sounds to us like a tragedy that is now playing out as farce.

In one of his clinically precise powerpoints Kermit already refuted this claim

Posted on 09/18/09 at 11:06 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedEvidence & witnessesDNA and luminolOther witnessesRaff SollecitoSollecito team
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Report By Bob Graham In The Daily Express Close To Breaking New Record For Inaccuracy

Posted by The Machine


Here is a short list of the competition for most misleading reporter on the case: Peter Popham, Peter Van Sant, Simon Hattenstone, Steve Shay, Timothy Egan, Linda Byron, Candace Dempsey, and Jan Goodwin.

Typically after their report they disappear, hopefully shamed into never being heard from again (Popham, Egan, Van Sant, Goodwin, and Hattenstone). And the others seem to have become more innocuous and one or two close to strange mutterings (Byron, Shay, and Dempsey).

Now another hapless reporter, one Bob Graham, has floated an ill-conceived and ill-researched report, this time in the UK’s Daily Express. There is no Bob Graham who writes regularly for that paper, so the one reporting here might be an America freelancer - if not, apologies in advance. 

False claim 1

Endless leaks of court documents, private conversations, diaries and correspondence paint a picture of Amanda as a cold-blooded killer.

There is well over 10,000 pages of evidence. There have not been many leaks and almost all of those have come from the defenses. In fact Sollecito’s father may soon be under indictment, for leaking a video showing Meredith’s body to a Bari TV station. In the course of the trial there have been many small surprises which were never leaked in advance. And Edda Mellas here is blaming the prosecution and authorities for leaking documents when Knox’s family and team seem to have done much or more.

False claim 2

Yet if the prosecutors and gossips are wrong and Amanda was, as she claims, at Sollecito’s house at the time of the murder, she has been subjected to a staggering injustice.

Amanda Knox admitted that she was at the cottage on the night in question on four separate occasions (once to police officers now in evidence, twice to interrogators but ruled inadmissible, and once to the prosecutor in a handwritten note now in evidence). Sollecito has claimed she wasn’t there at his apartment for part of the night and he has never reversed that position. It’s not only the prosecutors and gossips who think she was at the cottage - Judge Micheli, who indicted her after reading the 10,000 pages of evidence, also thought so, and so did the scientific police.

False claim 3

They claim they took part in the murder in a tiny room, that after the murder they returned, still under the influence of drink and drugs, and managed to erase every trace of their own DNA and fingerprints without removing any of Guede’s DNA or fingerprints or other DNA that has not been identified. Is that credible? Of course not.

Edda Mellas seems to have told a deliberate lie. The prosecutors have never claimed the defendants removed every trace of their own DNA. Sollecito left an abundant amount of his DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp. Knox can be placed in the murder room by way of the double DNA knife and the woman’s bloody footprint on the pillow plus footsteps in blood outside. Professor Vinci also claimed he found Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra.

False claim 4

The name [Foxy Knoxy] has returned to haunt her, implying something altogether less innocent.

It is well-known that Knox herself pushed that nickname out on the internet. It rarely appears in a derogatory way in any of the reporting these days, and it is hard to see how the few mentions demonize her. Amanda Knox would have been aware from the age of four that Foxy has sexual connotations, especially as she was an “A-grade student”.

False claim 5

In September 2007 Amanda, then at the University of Washington, was awarded a year-long scholarship to further her Italian studies at Perugia’s university for foreigners.

This is not true. Knox paid for her trip abroad herself by working part-time jobs in Seattle. The University of Washington in Seattle had no role in her registration for the Perugia language school, and did not agree to accredit her scores. UW did not play a larger role. Her arrangements in Perugia look to have been under-organized, under-supervised and under-funded. She seems to have been running very low on funds, and had no work permit, just when Meredith may have been under consideration to replace her as a waitress at a bar.

False claim 6

Financially, it’s been devastating, the cost already in excess of $1 million.

Curt Knox and Edda Mellas chose to hire an expensive Seattle PR firm and two expensive Italian lawyers, and to fly large family presences to Perugia. Those were their choices to make, and it is suspected that at least some of the media have made payments in kind or cash to gain exclusive access. The PR campaign has been spinning its wheels for 18 months, and seems to us to have been a huge waste of money and quite damaging to Amanda Knox’s own best interests.

False claim 7

In the first hours after she was arrested she made a statement, later retracted, suggesting she and Raffaele had been present at the murder, and wrongly implicating Congolese barman Patrick Lumumba.

The statements were in fact made at the police station on 5-6 Nov under no police pressure after Sollecito had whipped the rug out from under her first alibi. She made three statements categorically accusing Diya Lumumba and spelling out some imaginary details. She said in all that she went out on the night. And she didn’t just “suggest” that she and Raffaele were there, she categorically claimed that she was indeed there.

False claim 8

Her defence team says she was threatened into making it. Amanda claims she was slapped around the head. Curiously, a tape-recording of the initial interviews have “disappeared”.

The defense never claimed that. There were many witnesses to the interrogations at the police station, including a senior police officer from Rome, and not one has corroborated this testimony. We have seen no evidence that any tapes were made or have disappeared. One statement cannot be used against Knox not because she was banged around but because she didn’t have a lawyer at the time. She later repeated it in writing when she was certainly not being banged around - she was under no pressure to speak up at all.

False claim 9

No less bizarre is the fact that chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is facing criminal charges for allegedly abusing his powers to question suspects in a separate murder case. He denies the allegations.

This is not true and it is possibly libelous. There is plenty of information on TJMK here that points to Mr Mignini being a competent, popular and hard-working prosecutor, who only faces an administrative charge because he seems to have guessed right on some of the murky details of the Monster of Florence case. At issue was not “abusing his powers to question suspects” it was a taped recording approved by a judge that caught the prosecutor saying damning things.

Peter Popham, Peter Van Sant, Simon Hattenstone, Steve Shay, Timothy Egan, Linda Byron, Candace Dempsey, and Jan Goodwin? Please now welcome Bob Graham to your misleading company.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New York’s The Daily Beast Reports Knox’s Lawyers Preparing Her For A Guilty Verdict

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click above for a larger image]

Barbie Nadeau reports on the fallouts from yesterday.

On a mistrial for the withholding of some of the DNA evidence.

Denied their request for a mistrial due to mishandled evidence, Amanda Knox’s lawyers promise “bombshells” in the murder trial—but prep her for a guilty verdict….

The defense requested that the indictments against Knox and her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, be thrown out—essentially asking for a mistrial…..  But the request proved futile.

After more than an hour of deliberation, the judge ruled that the trial should go on as scheduled, dealing a crushing blow to the defendants. Even though the defense’s gambit was a legal long shot, the lawyers hoped that, at very least, it might have triggered a mistrial….

Although the defense’s request was denied, they risked nothing by making the request. In fact, the judge’s denial could set the stage for an appeal if the two are convicted. In Italy, an appeal is an automatic part of criminal trials.

And on the down-to-the-wire situation triggered by Guede’s appeal dates.

Rudy Guede, who was convicted for his part in Kercher’s murder, is appealing his guilty verdict, and the race is on now to finish the Knox trial before his appeal begins November 18.

Because his appeal is pending, Guede chose not to testify in this trial, but anything he says at his own appeal hearing can be considered as evidence in the Knox-Sollecito case—and Guede has indicated several times that he was in the house when Kercher died but that he did not kill her.

He has said through his lawyer that Knox and Sollecito were also there that night.

Guede has several times hinted that in his appeal that he will finally tell all. Presumably a self-serving version, but we suspect any confession might be much-hoped-for by Meredith’s family and her Perugia friends.

We have heard conjecture that Guede offered to tell it like it really was at the present trial of Knox and Sollecito but the prosecutors rejected a deal. Perhaps feeling that his proffered version then did not add very much to what they felt was an already-strong case. And seeing no reason why Guede should not serve his full 30 years.

If Rudy Guede does now finally tell all, we sure hope that he does know the meaning of “all”.

Posted on 09/15/09 at 12:51 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Trial: Judge Massei Rejects Feeble Defense Bid To Throw Out DNA Evidence

Posted by Peter Quennell


So the trial has resumed, amid conjecture that it might last for additional months if the DNA evidence is to be independently assessed.

That possibility seems to have disappeared in a hurry. Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Buongiorno (above) made a request that some of the DNA evidence be thrown out.

Judge Massei speedily and very firmly ruled against. He clearly appears to consider the evidence and the procedures that were followed to be sound.

First, the DNA analyses in question were performed in the presence of defense experts, who did not make any comment at the time. And second, no substantive DNA information was wrongly withheld from the defenses and so the defendants’ rights were not violated.

[Judge Massei] added that relevant documents had been made available a month-and-a-half ago, suggesting that defence teams had enough time to review the DNA findings.

Our takes on the DNA component of the case (which our legal watchers say is far from being make-or-break evidence in this case) can all be found here.

Posted on 09/14/09 at 11:02 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesEvidence & witnessesDNA and luminolTrials 2008 & 2009
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