Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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

Posted by Peter Quennell


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Posted on 06/23/09 at 10:09 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (1)

Trial: Defense Witnesses On Scream On The Night And On Relationships.

Posted by Peter Quennell


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

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

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

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

Posted on 06/23/09 at 08:51 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (1)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

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

Posted by Hellodalai


The American media are really playing with fire here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DNA Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean up motives and evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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



[click for larger image]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

     

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Trial: Defense Witness Makes A Claim About The Second Knife

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 06/20/09 at 05:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesMedia news
Permalink for this postTell-a-Friend • Click for Trackbacks (0) • Comments here (0)

Time Weekly Joins The Fair And Objective Wing Of The US Media Coverage

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

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

We mentioned Nina Burleigh and her book here.

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

Or, of course, maybe not….

Posted on 06/20/09 at 04:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesMedia news
Permalink for this postTell-a-Friend • Click for Trackbacks (0) • Comments here (2)

Friday, June 19, 2009

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

Posted by Peter Quennell



[courtesy AP, click for larger image]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shortly after, Amanda again called her mother in Seattle.

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

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

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

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

Posted on 06/19/09 at 11:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesCellphone activityTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
Permalink for this postTell-a-Friend • Click for Trackbacks (0) • Comments here (16)

Trial: Early Report By Nick Pisa On What Was Expected To Be Heard Today

Posted by Peter Quennell

This SkyNews video was just posted. The TV news report in the UK was broadcast earlier today.

Posted on 06/19/09 at 09:29 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesGreat reporting
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (4)

Trial: The Testifying Parents Of The Defendants Arrive At The Courthouse

Posted by Peter Quennell



[courtesy AP, click for larger image]



[courtesy ANSA, click for larger image]

Posted on 06/19/09 at 08:49 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009
Permalink for this postTell-a-Friend • Click for Trackbacks (0) • Comments here (2)

Trail: TGCOM Reports On The First Of Edda Knox’s Testimony

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report in Italian. A quick translation of the first testimony of Mrs Mellas:

After the murder of Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox never thought of leaving Italy. So said the mother of the young American, Edda Mellas, testifying before the Court of Assizes of Perugia.

The woman is responding assisted by an interpreter. She reported that her daughter had a good relationship with Meredith and the other flatmates…

Edda Mellas spoke of the conversation with Amanda in prison November 10. “She was feeling badly for the fact that Patrick had been dragged into this brutal story,” she explained. “She felt badly for having advanced the name of Patrick”...

Posted on 06/19/09 at 08:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnessesCellphone activityTrials 2008 & 2009
Permalink for this postTell-a-Friend • Click for Trackbacks (0) • Comments here (1)

Trial: Dr Sollecito Testifies About The Human Qualities Of His Son

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click image above for the first brief report from the Associated Press.

The father of an Italian man accused of killing a British student in Italy says his son was never violent and would not “hurt a fly”...

Francesco Sollecito told the court Friday that his son is not violent. He said his son liked to carry “small knives” in his pockets, a habit he picked up when he was younger.

This testimony is of less interest, perhaps, in the UK and the US than the Knox-Mellas testimony coming up. But Italy is following this with some fascination.

Why the interest?

Well, in part because Dr Sollecito and several of his family might come under indictment for interfering with the case.

Added: A quick translation of the testimony from TGCOM

He spoke of “gross errors that are causing his son to be in prison… [He] referred in particular to a shoe imprint attributed initially to his son but then found to be a Rudy Guede print.

“We were always convinced as to the absolute innocence and total strangeness of the allegations against Raffaele. We have been in compliance with the law, to find any way to help him.”

[he] referred to a dossier prepared to show that the scene of the crime was amended by the forensic teams between the first and second visit.

Some images, such as those of the victim’s body were then distributed by Telenorba and that possible illegal action is being investigated by the prosecutor of Perugia for breach of privacy and abetting.

Raffaele pampered Amanda Knox like a baby…. According to the Pugliese doctor “there was a nice story” between the two ex-lovers. “Raffaele talked with Amanda as he had never done with other girls.”

And Nick Pisa reports further in the Evening Standard:

Mr Sollecito, from Giovinazzo near Bari, told the court: “Raffaele told me he had just started a beautiful love story with Amanda. He loved her and he adored her.

“He spoke to me about her in a way that he had never done about other girls. Raffaele had a certain affection towards Amanda.”

Mr Sollecito also told the court that his son had a habit of carrying knives. When he was arrested in connection with the murder a flick-knife was found in his pocket.

He said: “It’s a habit he has had since childhood. He grew up in the country and he always carried a knife. He is not violent, he would not hurt a fly. I had told him not carry a knife around.”

The knife found on Sollecito is not the murder weapon.

Instead, a 30cm kitchen knife found at his house with DNA from Meredith on the blade and DNA from Knox on the handle is said to be compatible with the wounds to her neck.

Mr Sollecito is himself under investigation for leaking material relevant to the investigation to journalists in Bari and defended his actions in court.

He said: “To me and my family it is obvious that some very big mistakes have been made and my son is innocent. He has spent nearly two years in jail for something he did not do.

“Everything I did was in complete respect of the law. Once I saw the film of the scene from the first search after the murder and the subsequent one in December it was clear that mistakes had been made.”

Mr Sollecito also said he knew his son had taken drugs in the past, adding that he had received a letter from police in Giovinazzo advising him about his son’s drug habit.

Posted on 06/19/09 at 07:02 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesEvidence & witnessesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009Raff SollecitoSollecito team
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (0)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Second Misleading New York Times Comment On The Case

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



No prizes for guessing that this is Italy’s wonderful Venice.

1. Seattle-ite Egan Gets It Bady Wrong, Again

Timothy Egan of the New York Times came back with a follow-up justification to his first post.

The cat was out of the bag at that point, of course, and the first post was being widely ridiculed as untrue and unfair both in the US and in Italy.

Egan’s second post makes me wonder if he actually even read the comments under his first post before firing off his second round. It also makes me wonder if Egan has any idea of how badly his “contribution” was received in Italy, let alone why.

Frankly, I was surprised that a “Pulitzer prize winning” journalist would make these basic mistakes and write such a shockingly bad article to boot.

I posted this NY Times comment on that second post addressed at his first piece, lamenting the number of basic factual mistakes he made, though without enumerating all of them.

From memory, there are at least five major errors in Egan’s blog entry still not corrected

1. Egan claims that no translator was present for the Nov 5 questioning. This is false. Granted, Edda Mellas and others have made this false claim on the record, repeatedly, even after the Italian police formally challenged it. (Note to Egan: check the CNN world news website once in awhile.) Finally, Edda and others had to change their tune in light of the undisputed facts, but they did so by shifting the claim from no interpreter to no “professional” interpreter. This too turns out to be false. How can Egan continue to claim that no interpreter was present when at three were called upon by the prosecution to testify under oath as witnesses to the session of questioning where Egan wants us to believe there were no interpreters? Incidentally, they—like all of the other relevant witnesses—have stated under oath the Knox was not physically abused or maltreated. Conversely and as a reminder, Knox is not testifying under oath.

2. Egan also claims that there is forensic evidence against Guede only, and not the other two suspects. This, as everyone else except official FOA spokespeople know, is false. For anyone who is interested in knowing what it is, this non-profit website would be a good place to start. It is too bad that Mr. Egan did not do more than just consult the new afterword to Doug Preston’s Monster of Florence book. In fact, Egan’s blog entry serves as a friendly review in a way.

3. Egan stated that a 6-person jury, with two judges among them, would decide the fate of Knox and Sollecito. Ii shows Egan’s sweeping and sweepingly ignorant indictment of the Italian criminal justice system. In fact, the correct numbers are 6 lay jurors and 2 judges, for a total of 8 individuals - and thereafter two automatic appeals. Does this make a difference? Only insofar as it is definitely better to demonstrate a grasp of the basics of the system one seeks to criticize. Instead of quoting Rachel Donadio, who was in fact talking about Italy’s Prime Minister, Egan would have been better off trying Wikipedia or, better still, a comparative law website. There are tons of them out there.

4. Egan states that Amanda Knox only suggested that Patrick Lumumba maybe killed Meredith Kercher. In fact, Knox did far more than that. She firmly accused him of killing her roommate, twice orally, and then three times in writing. The written statements were not coerced, and testimony from half a dozen other people (again, under oath) refutes Knox’s claim that her oral accusation was coerced. An investigation is underway, ordered by one of the two prosecutors. In fact, Knox admitted on the stand that her third written statement was not made because she was hit - it was a “gift” to the police who supposedly tortured her, whatever that means!

5. Egan failed to point out that two prosecutors are working side by side on this case. If Mignini has to step down because of the verdict in a pending matter, the case will go forward in the able hands of Manuela Comodi who is handling more than half the testimony. I hear she is clean as a whistle: not so much as a slap on the wrist during her career. Instead of just repeating what Doug Preston writes, Egan could have told us in more detail about the charge pending against Prosecutor Mignini.


2.  Enabled By Heavey, Bremner and Ciolino

Allegedly, some individuals—like Paul Ciolino, whom Egan quotes in his rebuttal (?) entry—speak of a “pattern” of misconduct, but I have been unable to find any other example of possible “abuse of office” except for the one related to the Monster of Florence case.

Wouldn’t it be great if an investigative journalist of Pulitzer prize caliber were to take the time to find out what the facts are in the longstanding feud between Mignini and Spezi, Doug Preston’s friend and associate? That would really add substance to this fake debate.

Paul Ciolino’s paid work for 48 Hours on this very case has been laughably poor. Forgive me for not taking the time to count the ways.

In a Seattle fundraiser for Knox he stated that legal experts in the US and Italy believe Mignini is “mentally unstable”.

What this really boils down to is the following: one quote in Italian by an Italian judge that was taken out of context (that’s the Italian legal expert (singular)), and statements made by two people from the Seattle legal community, Anne Bremner and Judge Michael Heavey, who have never set foot in an Italian courtroom but who happen to be members of FOA (Friends of Amanda).

Heavey, a neighbor of Knox’s, actually wrote a letter to the authorities in Italy asking for a change of venue. That letter – which incidentally was written on Heavey’s official Superior Court Judge letterhead—was so full of errors, and was so embarrassing to Knox’s own defense team, that Heavey is said to have written a second letter in apology.

The first letter, after being prominently displayed on Anne Bremner’s website, was then quietly removed. As if it had never existed. Never apologize, never explain, as Flaubert said. Where is that letter of apology? Why is it not displayed on Bremner’s website? Was it too written on official letterhead? As a King County taxpayer, I’d sure like to know.

Where are those Pulitzer Prize winning journalists when you need them?


Prominent Political Commentator Takes Strong Exception To American Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell


Clicka above for the report.

There is a political angle here. The fiery and controversial right-wing broadcaster and writer Ann Coulter regularly takes potshots at the more-liberal New York Times.

But her takes on the case and the problems the Knox PR campaign and the biased component of the media (which is most of it) are creating are definitely well-informed.

Her reference to the Duke lacrosse case is of course satirical. The New York Times took a notoriously wrong position on that case, and stuck with it to the end.

Friends in Italy, please note?

Ann Coulter is THE most prominent and influential American commentator so far on this case. She is much more prominent than CNN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Her column is syndicated in about 500 American newspapers. And she is on TV here every night.

Posted on 06/18/09 at 08:16 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesMedia newsThe wider contexts
Permalink for this postTell-a-Friend • Click for Trackbacks (0) • Comments here (10)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Now CNN Gets It All Wrong - What Will They Make of THIS In Italy?

Posted by Peter Quennell

Part one

Part two

We might given time (a lot of time!) separately list each wrong claim with a correction underneath. Our readers sure could assist us here, by creating their own lists in the Comments.

Added: These lists in the Comments below are really quite amazing. There is a great deal to be learned about the case and the contexts from taking the time to read through them.

We know for a fact (because they kindly told us) that some of the commenters are in Italy and that several are themselves Italian. And at least one is in Perugia - this site is accessed quite a few times a day from Perugia, and so the muddled CNN hatefest is already being seen there.

We wait to see if La Nazione or one of the other fine Italian newspapers takes exception to the CNN broadcast (which is seen by millions) in the way they did to the Tiimothy Egan report in the New York Times (which was read by, at most, a few thousands).

This Jane Velez-Mitchell hatefest does not originate in New York by the way! These YouTubes would and will be highly offensive to all New Yorkers, as well as to all Italian—Americans, and many, many Americans across the country.

As with all cultures, there is a fringe, and somehow CNN USA sees its new role in the US as pandering to this fringe. But they seem to take care that such red-necked radicalism does not spill over into the global broadcasts.

Well, welcome to YouTube, CNN.

Posted on 06/17/09 at 05:21 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Massei prosecutionKnox on standMassei defenseHoaxers: media groupsCNN Network
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (26)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How The New York Times Caused Unneccesary And Unhelpful Anger In Italy

Posted by Miss Represented



[click for larger image]

Another beautiful view of Italy. This one is of Portofino.

How could THE NEW YORK TIMES of all papers enable the ridiculing of this civilized and humane country for its handling of the case?

The Times may deny it because Timothy Egan’s rancid piece was “just” a blog. But ask any good lawyer - all content is ultimately the Times’s. They presumably have rules, and if they don’t have them, then they should.

Let’s look in depth at the content of Egan’s piece, which a huge audience in Italy has now read and found wanting. 

Aside from the very suggestive title “An Innocent Abroad” what becomes immediately apparent is not only the lack of objectivity (surely an essential tool for any self respecting journalist), but also the lack of any in depth discussion about the actual basis of the prosecution’s case.

A case that has been presented in detail twice a week for nearly half a year now.

Instead of discussing the factors leading to the arrest and trial of the defendants, Egan brings up the old, clichéd and unsubstantiated “mad fanatical prosecutor” charge as a reason for the trial. He muses thus:

The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.

My, my, feeling ethnocentric today aren’t we? Egan continues to bandy the “this would never happen in America” claim and appoints himself judge, jury and excuser, in order to make the assertion that he alone knows what the outcome of this trial would be in good old USA.

Egan is clearly suggesting to his readers that the conviction of Amanda Knox would be tantamount to a miscarriage of justice. Can anyone say objective reporting? Nope? I really didn’t think so.

Egan fails to mention that both Knox and Sollecito had many court hearings prior to the trial, and were afforded many legal advantages and some excellent legal representation.

If even one of the judges who presided over the initial hearings had decided there was insufficient evidence to hold or charge them, they would have been released. Every single judge that heard the evidence suggesting their involvement in the murder denied their release - some in very sharp terms.

It’s hardly as if they were at a disadvantage or even in the position to be railroaded. Knox and Sollecito actually incriminated themselves long before the police even got a sniff of Rudy Guede by way of their repeated lying.

Egan also fails to mention neither Knox nor Sollecito have a firm alibi that holds up for the night of the murder. Rather telling.

It seems Egan has opted to pass on the option of providing his readers with an interesting and objective piece, in favor of bandying the PR agenda surrounding the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their possible role in the murder.

The victim here is of course an afterthought. Egan briefly gushes about Meredith being “high-spirited” before comparing how “high-spirited” (what?!) both girls were. Then he essentially explains that we should forget about Meredith, and focus on poor old Amanda whom this case obviously revolves around:

But it is also about Amanda Knox, an equally high-spirited student whose life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution – “the railroad job from hell,” as one outside expert hired by CBS News concluded.

Knox’s life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution? Most unfortunate. How inconvenient. Meredith of course now has no life to be interrupted.

Egan forgets to mention that the “outside expert” here is Paul Ciolino, a P-I for hire, whose objectivity and expertise have on several occasions been called into question. His several public forays into the case (Perugia for CBS and Salty’s for FOA) were disasters. 

The following statement is again pretty misleading:

Knox may not feel the same way. She spent nearly a year in jail without being charged. This, despite the fact that the only physical evidence found on the murder victim’s body was from someone else – a drifter with a drug problem named Rudy Guede.

Knox and Sollecito spent a year in jail whilst the police built a case, as they are legally entitled to do, while the accumulating evidence was gradually becoming massive.

There were repeated judicial hearings on the evidence, any of which could have released them.

The second statement, about Guede, is technically true, but Egan fails to go into any depth concerning the considerable other forensic evidence - something even the most banal reporter on the case has managed to do.

Equally telling is this:

After being questioned all night without an attorney or a professional translator, Knox said some things in response to a series of hypothetical questions. This was initially trumpeted as a contradiction, or worst – a confession. A higher court later threw out the most damning statements.

Egan at least fails to trumpet once again the accusation that Knox was hit by police, an accusation that has angered much of Italy (see several posts below) and got her into hot water with the Italian authorities.

Amanda was not questioned all night by Mignini, and she freely offered the police Patrick Lumumba’s name. She even made up details about how they had met and when they went to the cottage together.

Egan also attempts to gloss over the significance of the false confession with what is perhaps my favorite euphemism in the whole post:

Knox raised the possibility that a bar owner with an airtight alibi could have been involved.”

You don’t “raise the possibility” that someone was involved in a murder. You either accuse them or you don’t.

If the subject weren’t so serious and the potential for real harm and misinforming the public so great, it could almost be funny. In fact Knox accused Lumumba flat-out, in great detail, and later confirmed it in writing when certainly not under duress.

And Knox was certainly not questioned for 14 hours, it was four or five hours at most, between midnight and sunrise. She was offered refreshments, and she willingly signed a statement.

A lawyer was not present and therefore this statement cannot be used against her. But Egan forgets to mention a handwritten note Knox gave to police detailing her “confession” explaining how she would “stand by” her accusation of Patrick (that she knew was false) which, unlike her first statement, has not been thrown out of court and will be used as evidence in the slander case against her.

Egan further mentions (on details of Amanda’s sex life being leaked):

The Brits, in particular, had a field day. Locked from her house in the first days after it became a crime scene, Knox went to a store one day with Sollecito to buy emergency underwear. The British tabs bannered this as a g-string celebration of remorseless killers.

Emergency underwear that consists of a g-string and a camisole top? Hardly “emergency underwear” would you perhaps agree? Add this to the spectacular scene Amanda and Raffaele made in the Bubbly lingerie store, and it seems the British tabloids were perhaps not far from the truth.

The British papers were certainly not the only papers to have published details about Amanda’s sex life (which in the grand scheme of things is not important). But the press were always going to try and find out this sort of information about her because it’s what all of the press do.

Egan, as a journalist himself, should know this, and attempting to portray Amanda as a sweet and innocent ray of sunshine by criticising those who uncover evidence that she is in fact the opposite is a blatant attempt at shooting the messenger.

Some of you may be asking what the point of Egan’s article is? After all, it sheds no new light at all on the ongoing trial or the evidence that has come out over the last few months.

Well, hidden in Egan’s article is what seems a badly disguised advert for Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s book “The Monster of Florence” and as these little “promos” often are, the result seems a transparent endorsement written in extremely poor taste.

Has anyone noticed that whenever any criticism of the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito surfaces, the same name usually pops up? Often introduced by the synoptic tagline “the prominent best-selling American author” Douglas Preston?  I seriously rather doubt that Douglas Preston could give a fig about Amanda Knox.

Indeed, the only linking factor between Preston and Amanda Knox’s “plight” is the presence of Giuliano Mignini. Preston seems to harbor a grudge and to be using his “experience” of being questioned by Mignini to peddle his book.

Whilst people like Douglas Preston keep bleating on about the “backward” Italian justice system, the Italians have actually presented a very solid case. If people like Timothy Egan now choose to cover it irresponsibly and unethically, sadly, it’s up to them.

But there’s no reason at all for the New York Times to provide him with a vehicle.

Egan explains how ‘haunted’ he is by an observation made by a former Times colleague in Rome:

In Italy, the general assumption is that someone is guilty until proven innocent. Trials – in the press and in the courts – are more often about defending personal honor than establishing facts, which are easily manipulated.

I too am haunted by this statement.

Haunted by the fact that Egan has apparently based his entire article and his understanding of the complex and very fair Italian legal system on the opinion and hearsay of one other journalist.

And one who was absurdly in the wrong, as any observer with a brain can see.


Page 94 of 115 pages « First  <  92 93 94 95 96 >  Last »