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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Afternoon Of June 12 2009 (1)

Posted by Peter Quennell





[This excerpt covers the questioning by Luciano Ghirga and the next will cover the questioning by Carlo Dalla Vedova]

The afternoon session began at exactly 1:38p.m., as declared by the presiding judge, Giancarlo Massei, who called Knox’s defense team for further examination. Knox took the stand again as her lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, stepped forward to begin his questioning.

Mr. Ghirga began by asking Knox the last time that she saw Meredith alive. Knox began by reiterating her previous version: which began around noon on November 1st, just before Meredith went to Robyn Butterworth’s apartment. This time, her answers were clear and concise. Knox further explained her first meeting with Raffaele Sollecito, the configuration of the living arrangements at the cottage (including who lived there with her and Meredith), and how the rent was paid.

Ghirga then began discussing Knox’s relationship with Meredith, trying to establish that there was no problem between them. Knox claimed that she and Meredith were close friends, but she did mention briefly that Meredith had expressed her discontent over her [Knox’s] cleaning habits; although she made excuses and downplayed the discussion. Knox snickered a bit and claimed that she “wasn’t the cleanest person in the house,” speaking of herself.

Going further into the night of the murder, Knox testified that she and Sollecito read a bit of the book Harry Potter, listened to music, watched the movie Amelie, and then ate a fish dinner around 9:30-10:00p.m. After dinner Knox told the court that Sollecito began doing the dishes. It was then that Knox claims that the sink began leaking water all over the floor. Sollecito was “displeased” she said, because he had recently had the sink fixed.

Sollecito didn’t have a mop, so they found some rags and let the water soak in, and Knox told him that she would go and get the mop she had at the cottage in the morning and bring it back to his place to clean the mess. Once that was determined, Knox says that they went into his room and smoked a joint (marijuana cigarette). After that she said that they had sex and then fell asleep.

From there Ghirga stepped back a few hours to the text message from Lumumba.

Knox said that she received his message “just before or right after” the movie had started. Knox claimed that she was so excited that she didn’t have to go into work that night that she jumped into Sollecito’s arms and screamed, “Woo!” Knox then reiterated her previous version in which she woke up the next morning around 10:00-10:30a.m etc (similar version in her November 4, 2007, email to family and friends).

Knox claims that they had plans to go to Gubbio, so she left his flat, went home to take a shower, and return to Raffale’s so that they could go to Gubbio. After noticing the blood in the bathroom and taking a shower, she returned to Sollecito’s flat.

There, Knox claims that they cleaned the floor in his apartment with the mop she retrieved from the cottage, and then ate breakfast and had coffee at Sollecito’s apartment. Knox then proceeded to testify that she called Meredith’s phone first, then she called Filomena, both from Sollecito’s apartment.

This varies from her 4 November 2007, email to family and friends, because in that email she wrote that she called Filomena first, and then Meredith. Also during her testimony, Knox never mentions running outside and banging on a neighbor’s door, which she writes about in her November 4th email.

Before the breaking of the door into Meredith’s room, Knox testified, “Yes, because I told them, look, the door is locked, and Filomena was going ‘Mamma Mia, it’s never locked, it’s never locked,’ and I said no, it’s not true that it’s never locked, but it is strange.” Knox testified that when Meredith’s door was broken down she was near the entrance.

Yet in her 4 November 2007, email to family and friends she claimed that she was “in the kitchen, having really done my part for the situation.” It also contradicts all other versions of those who were there at the time who claim that Knox was in the kitchen when the door was kicked-in.

Knox also claims that while in the car with Paola and her boyfriend, on the way to the police station, they informed her and Sollecito that Meredith’s throat had been cut.  This statement is suspect, however, as Paola testified that because of the “penumbra” (or “lack of light”) in the room, only a foot could be seen, no blood or anything else.

Knox claims that after she was told that Meredith’s throat was cut she cried. According to Luca and Paola’s testimony, Knox did cry in the car, and they also testified that they told Sollecito and Knox what they knew about how Meredith had died before they had gotten to the police station.

The questioning then switched to 4 November 2007 questioning when Knox was brought back to the crime scene.

Knox explained that the police requested her presence at the police station. Knox testified that she had requested to meet them at the cottage, but police asked her to meet them at the station first. She was driven there by Sollecito and the police then took her over to the cottage.

To her surprise, her other roommates, Laura and Filomena, were there; but they arrived without a police escort. Knox then briefly discussed her mental breakdown at the cottage when she was shown the knives. She claimed that she was very scared when shown the knives and that she was in shock; she claimed that she was just beginning to understand what exactly had happened there.

Luciano Ghirga then shifted questioning to what Knox had told police on November 4th about a man nicknamed “Shaky.”

On that date police had asked Knox to remember if there were any males who had visited the cottage that seemed like they could be dangerous. She could only think of one man who had made a bad impression on her since she had been in Perugia and his name was Shaky. Knox said that they called him Shaky because of the way he danced.

Amanda Knox: one time I had a, he [Shaky] went for example to the place where I worked, at the time when I was supposed to go home, it was very late, and he offered me a ride home on his motorbike. But during the ride, he insisted that I go have some dessert with him, and I said, “Look, I really want to go home,” and he said “No, look, I’m giving you a ride, a bit of dessert is nothing,” and he took me to have it, and then he took me to his house, which to me… 

I kept telling him again and again, “Look, I really want to go home, it’s really late, I’m really tired,” and he kept saying “No, no, relax, relax, come on, sit down on my bed, relax, make yourself comfortable.” I said “No, look, take me home.”

So he finally brought me home, and that was it, but it left me with an ugly impression because I thought he wanted to somehow try something, and he was the only person that had made an impression of strangeness on me, like he had intentions that were different from what I wanted. So he made that impression on me, but that’s all, because everybody else I met was nice.

Mr. Ghirga then switched question back to the November 4th, when police brought Knox to the cottage.

Mr. Ghirga asked Knox what conversations there were between her, Laura, and Filomena. Knox said that they discussed how stunned they were about what had happened, why nothing was stolen during the break-in, and the overall situation that had transpired thus far. Knox said that they also discussed future living arrangements, as the girls were staying with friends and Knox was staying with Sollecito.

On that day the three girls were talking about possibly moving-in together at a different location. Mr. Ghirga then said that he wanted to ask Knox about the evenings of the 5th and 6th, but he was cut-short by Judge Massei, who suspended the proceedings. The time was 2:30p.m., and judge Massei announced that they would have a break in the action and reconvene at 3:00p.m.

The trial picked-up again at 3:00p.m. Judge Massei called for silence and Luciano Ghirga resumed questioning. As Ghirga began to speak crowd noise could still be heard. Judge Massei again called for silence and Ghirga repeated his question, asking Knox about when she first came to Italy.

Amanda Knox had first moved into the cottage in Perugia in late September of 2007. She had previously been in Germany at her aunt’s house with her sister Deanna, and both Amanda and Deanna had gone straight to Italy afterwards.

Ghirga then asked Knox how many piercings that she had in her ear, as he pointed out that he counted eight on the left ear and four on the right ear; Knox agreed. It had appeared as though Mr. Ghirga was going to try to establish that the blood found at the scene of the crime that belonged to Knox came from the piercings. Yet, without warning, Ghirga said that he had exhausted the topic and went back to Knox’s interrogation on 5 November 2007.

Mr. Ghirga then asked Knox about her allegations that she was struck in the head by police:

Amanda Knox: So, during the interrogation, people were standing all around me, in front of me, behind me, one person was screaming at me from here [she points in front of her], another person was shouting ‘No no no, maybe you just don’t remember’ from over there [points to her left], other people were yelling other things, and a policewoman behind me did this to me [Knox mimics the sound of two whacks to the back of her head].

Luciano Ghirga: Once, twice?

Amanda Knox: Twice. The first time she did this, I turned around to her, and she did it again.

Luciano Ghirga: I wanted to know this precise detail.

Amanda Knox: Yes.

Luciano Ghirga: After all that, that whole conversation, that you told us about, and you had a crying crisis, did they bring you some tea, coffee, some cakes, something? When was that exactly?

Amanda Knox: They brought me things only after I had made some declarations. So, I was there, they were all screaming at me, I only wanted to leave because I was thinking that my mother was arriving, and I said look, can I have my telephone, because I want to call my mom. They said no, and there was this big mess with them shouting at me, threatening me, and it was only after I made declarations that they started saying “No, no, don’t worry, we’ll protect you,” and that’s how it happened.

Ironically, just moths earlier — at Rudy Guede’s trial — Luciano Ghirga undermined and contradicted his own client’s (Knox’s) story when he said, “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”

Knox then recalls being brought several papers to sign: arrest warrant, declarations, etc. She claimed that she wasn’t sure what the papers were, and that she just signed everything because she wanted to go home.  However, these papers were brought to her after she had been informed that she was under arrest, which she doesn’t make reference to during this exchange.

After repeated questioning about her unpleasant interrogation—in an effort to show that she made the confessions out of exhaustion, intimidation, and miscommunication—Knox claimed to have asked for a piece of paper and a pen so that police could be sure that they understood her. “Look, I’ll give you a present,” Knox claims to have told police, as she lets out a small laugh.

Knox then speaks about the second letter which she wrote when she was first taken to jail.

Amanda Knox: So in prison I again asked for paper, because that’s how I’m used to expressing myself, the way I succeed best, also to organize my thoughts,  I needed to write them down. I needed to reorganize all my thoughts, because at that point I was still confused, I still had these images in my memory that finally I understood were a mixture of real images in my memory from other days mixed with imagination. So I needed those pieces of paper, so I could take everything and put it in order.

Knox’s answer even seemed to confuse Ghirga, who responded by saying, “All right, I’ve finished the subject of the night in the Questura.”

Knox testified that she lost track of the hours and was unsure of any of the times involved. That is quite common when a suspect is initially confined. There had been some confusion after the murder as to why Knox did not leave the country when she had the chance. Knox claims that she had worked hard to get to Perugia and that she wanted to stay and finish her studies.  However, she also said that she asked police if she could leave the country and they said “No.”

Mr. Ghirga then attempted to clear-up the statement made by Knox (on November 17th of 2007), which she made to her mother and father. The calls were from prison and were recorded by police.

There was a long pause as Ghirga flipped through the transcript of the calls and found the quote on page eight. Once he found the page, he read Knox’s comments aloud to the court. Knox said to her mother and father, “I was there. I can’t lie about this. I’m not scared of the truth. It would be stupid to lie about this because I know I was there.” Knox responded by claiming that when she said, “I was there,” she meant that she was at Sollecito’s flat during the murder, not at the cottage.

Mr. Ghirga then pulled out a letter that was written by Knox on 9 November 2007, which was addressed to him; Ghirga claimed to have received it on November 12th. In the letter Knox writes in English that she “felt upset about mentioning Patrick Lumumba’s name.” The letter was not known at the time by any other party and that along with the fact that it was written in English and transcribed into Italian by Knox’s other lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, brought an objection by Prosecutor Manuela Comodi.

A small argument ensued over the translation of the letter from English to Italian. Prosecutor Comodi stated that she did not trust that the translation was accurate. Judge Massei settled the argument by letting the interpreter, who was there translating for Knox, translate the two lines in the letter that Mr. Ghirga was referring to.

After Ghirga had established that Knox had informed him that she was upset about falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba—which slightly clarified an earlier question posed by Lumumba’s lawyer—he then switched questioning to the morning after the murder.

Mr. Ghirga wanted to establish that Knox was not at the Conad Store on Sollecito’s street at 7:45a.m., the morning after the murder. These statements were made earlier in the trial by Mr. Quintavalle, who owned the store, and had testified that Knox was in his store at that time.

Knox denied being at the store at that time or on that day. She did admit to being in the store a couple of times on other occasions, but with Sollecito—never alone. Knox also denied ever owning a red coat or anything resembling a red coat, which Mr. Gioffredi had testified that she was wearing when he saw her.

The last questions from Mr. Ghirga were regarding the scratch on Knox’s neck, which was clearly visible in a picture of Knox outside the cottage just after Kercher’s body was discovered. As indicated by prior testimony, the scratch was also seen by two others who had testified to its presence. Knox told the court that it was a hicky from Sollecito.

In the background, Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, called out, “Is it a scratch from Meredith?” Knox responded, “A hickey from Raffaele.” With that, Mr. Ghirga said, “For now, I’ve finished,” and he took his seat.


_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive

Posted on 04/16/11 at 07:59 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Another US-Italian Case Shows The Utter Futility Of Trying To Strongarm The Italian Justice System

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Father Michael McCarty and baby Liam McCarty. Below: Mother Manuela Antonelli.]

Italy and the US get along exceptionally well on the political, economic, military and cultural fronts.

They get along on the justice front too, if neither side tries to pull the rug out from under the other. This case and this case are festering instances of where the Italians did not think the Americans played quite fair.

Typically therefore the US State Department likes to take any mutual justice matter below the radar. Way, way below the radar.

Despite what Knox conspiracists like Steve Moore and Candace Dempsey and “Bruce Fisher” may think, their rabid campaign is only making any effective intervention by the State Department that much more unlikely.

Knox family advisor Ted Simon and US Senator for Washington State Maria Cantwell seem to have been told that or figured it out. The Knox-Mellas family seems to have cooled it on the surface in recent month, even if Chris Mellas appears to sustain support for his hardline internet faction just below that surface.

Michael McCarty is a New York photographer who publishes fine art prints, and Manuela Antonelli was a producer and reporter for Italian TV. They were married in New York’s Central Park in 1992, eight year later their son Liam was born, and some time after that they divorced.

In 2007 in the midst of a nasty custody battle in New York between Manuela and Michael over Liam, Manuela suddenly took off with Liam, then aged six, and headed back to her home country of Italy. Once the custody of Liam was awarded by a New York judge to the father, a governmental legal campaign began to try to get Liam and his mother back.

From the Examiner.

Antonelli had made numerous allegations of abuse against McCarty but investigations by the NYPD, New York District Attorney’s Office, Children’s Services, and numerous court-appointed mental health professionals all found the accusations to be “unfounded,” “baseless,” and “false.”

Antonelli was diagnosed with severe personality disorders and was determined to be an unfit parent. Sole legal and physical custody was awarded to McCarty, an order was issued that Liam not be taken out of the United States, and a judicial finding of parental alienation was made against the mother….

In Italy, Manuela Antonelli was also diagnosed with psychiatric problems, and Liam was placed in an orphanage, and later in the custody of an Italian uncle in Rome, where he is now. At one point early on, Manuela briefly snatched Liam back.

Italy usually takes the position of the mother getting automatic custody, or at minimum having easy access to her children. If Liam is returned to New York, his mother Manuela would get neither, so the Italian judicial approach has been very cautious on this one. More-so because she is clearly unwell.

In 2009 the American campaign to get him back suddenly became very public and quite nasty, with several US TV networks jumping on the bandwagon and contributing to an emotional campaign. Video examples of this can be seen here and here and here.

Rather suddenly, that public campaign went quiet again, and the State Department very gently got back into the act of trying to get Liam back to New York and Manuela extradited back to the US to face charges.

The latest news is that both the Italian judicial position and the mood of the Italian public have moved over to conceding that Liam really should be sent back to New York to his father. The question of the extradition of the mother remains open.

The case remains much in the Italian news and many online comments remark scathingly how very unhelpful in all this the rabid Knox campaign has been. 




Posted on 04/15/11 at 07:53 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015Other legal processesThose elsewhereExtradition issuesItalian system
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: How Motive For The Crime Is Addressed By Judge Massei

Posted by James Raper





The Massei Report in the main I thought was excellent. He was incisive with his logic, particularly, though not exclusively, with regard to the staging of the break in and how that necessarily meant that Amanda was present at the scene when the murder was committed.

However, I thought that he was rather feeble in his coverage of the defendants’ motives as to the attack which led to this brutal murder. Perhaps he thought it better to stick with the indisputable evidence. Since this pointed to a sex attack he surmised that Guede had a go at Meredith first, and then - because the stimulation was too much for them - he was joined by Amanda and Raffaele. This works but does seem a bit weak.

Micheli, the judge who committed Amanda and Raffaele to stand trial, was more certain in his mind as to the roles played by these three. He said that there was “an agreed plan”, “to satisfy sexual instincts” with “murderous intent” and that effectively Amanda was the instigator and catalyst.

Motive is largely an area of speculation but it is surely possible to draw inferences from what we know?  As Micheli did.  The Appeal Court and ultimately The Supreme Court of Cassation may well adopt the same reasoning and conclusion – maybe go further.

And there were, to my mind, undoubtedly many factors at work, and it is these which I wish to address. I have always been interested in the possible dynamics of just how these three came to murder poor Meredith. Pro-Knox campaigners once made much of “No Motive”. Now not so much because the issue draws people in to a discussion of the evidence and of Amanda’s personality.

For instance, Massei asks, though he says we can not know, had Amanda egged Guede on as to the “availability” ( my word, not his) of Meredith during or prior to their presence at the Cottage?

Frankly the answer to that has to be “yes” since it is a bit difficult to figure out why Amanda and Raffaele would otherwise wish Guede to join them at the cottage. I doubt that Amanda and Raffaele would have wanted Guede around if they were just going there to have an innocent cuddle and sex and to smoke cannabis, as Massei implies. The evidence is that Raffaele hardly knew Guede and in the presence of Amanda was very possessive about her. If he had known of Guede’s interest in Amanda he would have been even less keen to have Guede around.

Also, if all was so innocent beforehand, then why would Guede have tried it on with Meredith and then pressed the situation in the face of her refusal to co-operate, knowing that there were two others there who could have come to her assistance?

The answer is of course that Guede knew full well in advance that there would be no problem with Amanda and Raffaele. He had been invited there and primed to act precisely in the way he did, at least initially. Why? Well there is plenty of evidence as to why Amanda, in her mind, may have been looking for payback time on Meredith. Come to that later.

What does not get much attention in the Massei Report, other than a terse Not Proven at the end, is the matter of Meredith’s missing rent money and credit cards and whether Amanda and Raffaele stole them. It is as if the Judge ( well the jury really) felt that this was a trivial issue that brought nothing much to the case and thus it was not necessary to give it much attention. And indeed there is no summation of or evaluation of that evidence.

Now that does surprise me. Of course there may have been some technical flaw with the charge and the evidence. But in the absence of any comment on this then we do not know what that may be.

What I do know is that the matter, if proven, is not trivial. A theft just prior to the murder significantly ups the stakes for Amanda and Raffaelle and produces a dynamic, which, threaded together with a sexual assault, makes for a far more compelling scenario to murder. It also leads one to conclude that there was a greater degree of premeditation involved : not premeditation to murder but as to an assault, rather than the more spontaneous “ let’s get involved” at the time of the sex attack as postulated by Massei.

What is the evidence? What evidence was before the court? I do not have access to trial records. Therefore I stand to be corrected if I misrepresent the evidence or if my interpretation of it does not met the test of logic.

There were two lay witnesses to whom we can refer. The first was Filomena Romanelli, the flatmate and trainee lawyer. If there was anyone who was going to ensure that the rent was paid on time, it would have been her. She gave evidence that the rent being due very soon she asked Meredith about her contribution of 300 euros and was told by Meredith that all was OK because she had just withdrawn 200 euros from her bank. Filomena assumed from Meredith’s reply that the balance was already to hand.

Is there a problem with this evidence? Is it hearsay and thus inadmissible under Italian law?

Perhaps it is not enough by itself because of course had Meredith not in fact withdrawn the money from her bank, or sufficient funds to cover the stated amount, then that would be a fatal blow to that part of the theft charge. Her bank manager was summoned to give evidence, essentially to corroborate or disprove Filomena’s testimony. I do not know what exactly that evidence was. One would assume that at the very least it did not disprove her testimony. Had it done so that would, as I have said, been fatal. It is also unbelievable that Massei would have overlooked this in the Report. I am assuming that Meredith did not tell a white lie and that the bank records corroborate this.

There may of course be an issue of timing as I understand that the bank manager told the court that transactions at a cash machine are not necessarily entered on the customer account the same day . However that does not seem to me to be significant.

One must also think that the bank manager was asked what other cash withdrawals had been made if the credit cards were taken at the same time as the money.

I understand that there is of course a caveat here: my assumptions in the absence of knowing exactly what the bank manager’s evidence was.

It would be useful also to know how and when the rent was normally paid. It sounds as if it was cash on the day the landlord came to collect.

We do know that the police did not find any money or Meredith‘s credit cards. Had Meredith, a sensible girl, blown next month’s rent on a Halloween binge? Unlikely. So somebody stole it. And the credit cards. Again, just as with the fake break in, when according to Amanda and Raffaele nothing was stolen, who and only who had access to the cottage to steal the money? Yes, you have guessed it. Amanda, of course.

Does the matter of missing rent money figure anywhere else? There is the evidence of Meredith’s phone records which show that a call was placed to her bank late on the evening of her murder just prior to the arrival of Amanda, Raffaele and Guede. Why? I have to concede that there is no single obvious reason and that it may be more likely than not that the call was entirely unintentional.

But if, as may seem likely, the credit cards were kept with her handbag, and the money in her bedroom drawer, then on discovering that her money was missing she may have called her bank in a funk only to remember that the cards were safe and that no money could be withdrawn from her account.

The missing money also figured in the separate trial of Guede. He made a statement which formed the whole basis of his defence. Basically this was that he had an appointment with Meredith at the cottage, had consensual foreplay with her and was on the toilet when he heard the doorbell ring etc, etc. What he also added was that just before all this Meredith was upset because her rent money had disappeared and that they had both searched for it with particular attention to Amanda’s room.

Now why does Guede mention this? Remember this is his defence. Alibi is not quite the right word. He had plenty of time to think about it or something better. His defence was moulded around (apart from lies) (1) facts he knew the police would have ie no point denying that he was there or that he had sexual contact with Meredith : his biological traces had been left behind, and (2) facts known to him and not to the police at that stage ie the money, which he could use to make his statement as a whole more credible, whilst at the same time giving the police a lead. He is shifting the focus, if the police were to follow it up, on to the person he must have been blaming for his predicament, Amanda.

If all three, Amanda, Raffaele and Guede, went to the cottage together, as Massei has it, then Guede learns about the missing rent money not in the circumstances referred to in his statement but because Meredith has already discovered the theft and worked out who has had it and challenges Amanda over it when the three arrive. Perhaps this is when Guede goes to the toilet and listens to music on his Ipod. After all he is just there for the sex and this is all a distraction.

Although Micheli thought Guede was a liar from start to finish, he did not discount the possibility that Guede was essentially telling the truth about the money. Guede expanded upon this at his appeal, telling the court that Amanda and Meredith had an argument and then a fight over it. It is a thread that runs through all his accounts from his Skype chat and initial statements in Germany to his final appeal.

Guede’s “evidence” was not a factor in the jury’s consideration at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial. Although he was called to give evidence he did not do so. Now his “evidence” and the findings and conclusion of the courts which processed his case come in to play in the appeal of Amanda and Raffaele.

When were the money and credit cards stolen?

I have to accept that as to the money at any rate a theft prior to the murder is critical to sustain the following hypothesis. The credit cards were in any event probably taken after the attack on Meredith.

According to Amanda and Raffaele they spent Halloween together at Raffaele’s and the next day went to the cottage. Meredith was there as was Filomena.  Filomena left first, followed by Meredith to spend the evening with her friends, and Amanda and Raffaele left some time afterwards.

So Amanda and Raffaele could have stolen the money any time after Meredith left and before she returned at about 9.30pm - the day of her murder. Incidentally Filomena testified that Meredith never locked the door to her room except on the occasions she went home to England. Meredith was a very trusting girl.

What motive had Amanda for wanting the money apart from the obvious one of profit?

There are numerous plausible motives.

To fund a growing drugs habit which she shared with Raffaele? Not an inconsiderable expense for a student. Both Amanda and Raffaele explained during questioning that their confusion and hesitancy was due to the fact that they had been going rather hard on drugs. Mignini says that they were both part of a drugs crowd.

Because her own financial circumstances were deteriorating and to fund her own rent contribution?  She was probably about to be sacked at Le Chic where she was considered by Lumumba to be flirty and unreliable and to add insult to injury would likely be replaced by Meredith. In fact Meredith was well liked and trusted by all whereas Amanda’s star was definitely on the wane. 

But maybe Amanda just also wanted to get her own back on Meredith.

Filomena testified that Meredith and Amanda had begun to have issues with each other.

Here are some quotes from Darkness Descending.

Filomena – “At first they got on very well. But then things began to take a different course. Amanda never cleaned the house so we had to institute a rota ….then she (Amanda) would bring strangers home….Meredith said she was not interested in boys, she was here to study”.

“Meredith was too polite to confront Amanda, but she did confide in her pal, Robyn Butterworth. Robyn winced in disbelief when Meredith said that the pair had quarreled because Knox often failed to flush the toilet, even when menstruating. Filomena began noticing that Amanda could be odd, even mildly anti-social.”

It seems that Amanda did not like it when she was not the centre of attention. It was observed that, comically if irritatingly, she would sing loudly if conversation started to pass her by and when playing her guitar would often strum the same chord over and over again.

On the evening of Halloween Amanda texted Meredith enquiring as to whether they could meet up. But Meredith had other arrangements. Meredith appeared to be having a good time whereas Amanda was not.

Indeed there has been much speculation that Amanda has always had deep seated psychological problems and that just after several weeks in Perugia her fragile and damaged ego was tipping towards free fall.


With Meredith’s money both Amanda and Raffaele could have afforded something a little stronger than the usual smoke and I speculate that they spent the late afternoon getting stoned.

Of course Amanda was still an employee of Lumumba and she was supposed to turn up that evening for work but perhaps she no longer cared all that much for the consequences if she did not.

Again I speculate that she, with or without Raffaele,  met Guede at some time -  perhaps before she was due at work, perhaps after she learnt that she was not required by Lumumba -  discussed Meredith’s “availability” and agreed to meet up again on the basketball court at Grimana Square.

The notion that Amanda and Guede hardly knew each other seems implausible to me. We know that they met at a party at the boys’ flat at the cottage. Guede was friends with one of those boys and was invited there on a number of occasions. He was an ever present on the basketball court in Grimana Square which was located just outside the College Amanda and Meredith attended, and just metres from the cottage. He was known to have fancied Amanda and Amanda was always aware of male interest.

What else did Amanda and Raffaele have in mind when arranging the meeting or when thinking about it afterwards? Guede was of course thinking about sex and that Amanda and Raffaele were going to facilitate an encounter with Meredith later that evening. However Amanda and Raffaele had something else on their minds. The logic of their position vis a vis Meredith cannot have escaped them. They had taken her money whilst she was out. Had she not already discovered this fact then she would in any event be back, notice the money was missing and would put 2 and 2 together.  What would happen? Who would she tell? Would she call the police? How are they going to deal with this? Obviously deny it but logic has it’s way and the situation with or without the police being called in would be uncomfortable.

They decided to turn the tables and make staying in Perugia uncomfortable for Meredith. Now the embarrassing, for Meredith, sexual advances from Guede were going to be manipulated by them in to a sexual humiliation for Meredith. Meredith was not going to be seriously harmed but as and when they were challenged by Meredith over the missing money, as inevitably they would be, she was to be threatened with injury or worse. Knives come in useful here. Amanda may have fantasized that Meredith would likely then give up her tenancy at the cottage, perhaps leave Italy. Whether that looks like the probable and likely outcome I leave you to judge, but the hypothesis is that they were starting to think and behave irrationally and that this was exacerbated by the use of drugs.

In the event there came a point when neither Amanda nor Raffaele had any other commitments anyway. They got to the basketball court. They waited for Guede.

We know Amanda and Raffaele were on the basketball court the evening of the 1st November. This is because of the evidence of a Mr Curatolo, the second lay witness. He was not precise about times but thought that they were on the basketball court between 9.30pm and 10pm and may have left around 11.00 – 11.30pm and then returned just before midnight. In any event he testified to seeing Amanda and Raffaele having heated arguments, and occasionally going to the parapet at the edge of the court to peer over. What were they looking at? Go to the photographs of Perugia on the True Justice for Meredith website and you will see. From the parapet you get a good view of the gates that are the entrance, and the only entrance as I understand it, to the cottage.

So why the behaviour observed by Mr Curatolo? They may have been impatient waiting for Guede to arrive. Were they actually to go through with this?  Was Meredith at home, alone, and had she found the money was missing and had she called the police or tipped off someone already? Who was hanging around outside the entrance to the cottage and why? There was, apparently, a car parked at the entrance, a broken down car nearby with the occupants inside awaiting a rescue truck, and the rescue truck itself, all present around 11.00pm. Amanda and Raffaele did not wish to be observed going through the gates with these potential witnesses around.

We, of course, cannot know for certain what went on in the minds of Amanda and Raffaele between the time of them leaving the cottage and their departure from the basketball court to return to the cottage. It has to be speculation but there is a logical consistency to the above narrative if they had stolen Meredith’s money earlier that day, and their meeting up with Guede just before leaving the basketball court does not look like a co-incidence.

From there on in to the inevitable clash between Amanda and Meredith over the money.

It is my opinion that at the cottage Amanda came off worse initially: that she got caught in the face by a blow and suffered a nose bleed.
Stefanoni and Garofano both say that there was an abundant amount (relatively speaking) of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom washbasin, and to a lesser extent the bidet.  Whereas most of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom was mixed with Meredith’s, the blood on the washbasin tap was Amanda’s alone. Both of a quality and quantity to discount menstrual (from washed knickers) or bleeding from ear piercing. Their conclusion was that Amanda bled fairly profusely though perhaps briefly at some stage.

Possibly Amanda may have cut her feet on glass in Filomena’s bedroom but if so it’s difficult to see how blood from that ends up as a blob on the basin tap and in the sink and cut feet are painful to walk on and she did not display any awkwardness on her feet the next day.

Amanda’s blood may have come from a nick by a blade to her hands. I think the nick would be obvious the next day .If so, she was not hiding it. She was photographed the next day outside the cottage waving her hands under the noses of a coterie of vigilant cops.

She might have got a bloody nose during the attack in Meredith’s bedroom save that there is no evidence of her blood there.

On the other hand if she got into a tussle with Meredith (say in the corridor outside their rooms and where there was little room for other than the two to be engaged) and was fended off with a reflex blow that accidently or otherwise connected with her nose, Amanda’s natural reaction would be to disengage immediately and head for the bathroom sink and staunch the flow of blood.

A nose bleed need not take too long to staunch especially if not serious and there is no cut (certainly none being visible the next day).  Just stuff some tissue up the offending nostril. A nose bleed is not necessarily something of which there would be any sign the next day.

Raffaelle fusses around her whilst Rudy briefly plays peacemaker. But Amanda is boiling. As furious with Raffaelle and Guede as she is with Meredith. She eggs Guede on and pushes him towards Meredith.  Raffaele proudly produces his flicknife, latent sadistic instincts surfacing.

Is a scene like this played out inside the cottage or outside? I think of the strange but sadly discredited tale told by Kokomani.

In any event motive is satiated and the coil, having been tensed, is sprung for the pre-planned, but now extremely violent, hazing of poor Meredith.

I am also thinking here of Mignini’s “crescendo of violence” and where a point is reached where anything goes – where there is (from their warped perspectives) almost an inevitability or justification for their behaviour. A “Meredith definitely needs teaching a lesson now!” attitude.

Psychology is part of motive and there is much speculation particularly with regard to Amanda and Raffaele. They have both been in prison for well over three years now and during this time psychological assessments will certainly have been carried out.

Based on specific incidents and and general patterns of behaviour, speech and language, and demeanour, some preliminary conclusions will have been reached correlated with the facts of the crime.

If their convictions are upheld these assessments may be relevant to sentence in so far as they shed light on mitigation and motive.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Morning of June 12 2009

Posted by Peter Quennell

Unlike Sollecito, who has exercised his right to silence, Amanda Knox had volunteered to take the stand. As we have seen, the Italian justice system has several differences from that of the United States Justice system. One of those differences is that in an Italian trial witnesses must swear to tell the truth. However, defendants do not.

Defendants can also interrupt the questioning at anytime or even choose not to answer certain questions, in theory of course, though in practice it would be a bad move (incriminating) if a defendant chose not to answer. One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, told reporters a week earlier that Knox would be answering all of the prosecution’s questions.

Knox’s defense team, however, would offer-up objection after objection on even the simplest questions, and this came on the day that was scheduled just for defense questioning (aside from Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer). Every time Knox was caught in a contradiction, a fight would break-out between defense and prosecution. Knox’s vague answers along with her lawyer’s objections distracted lawyers and made it very hard for them to extract anything substantial out of her.

It was apparent early on that this was going to be a long drawn-out examination with nothing substantial provided toward her defense. Not only was Knox vague, but she seemed annoyed and not necessarily eager to tell her story; even using sarcasm on a few occasions and snapping at prosecutors. In the end, her testimony hurt her more than it helped her, because it did not help clear up her whereabouts at the time of the murder, and it lent to the notion that she was lying….

The schedule for the day was going to be questioning from her own defense team, along with questioning from Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer, Carlo Pacelli. Knox entered the courtroom with her hair tied back with a light-blue scrunchy, a white short sleeve collared top, pale trousers, and what appeared to be a large cold sore on her upper lip. She looked tired and pale as she took her seat, and looked around nervously as reporters jockeyed for position at the back of the courtroom.

The beginning of the session was held up a bit as Judge Massei discussed with lawyers whether to allow cameras in the courtroom. The final decision was to exclude cameras, allowing cameras to roll during only the first 20 minutes of Knox’s testimony. Questioning began with Carlo Pacelli, who would get the first crack at Knox as part of Lumumba’s civil lawsuit. Seated immediately to Knox’s left was a heavy-set, brunette interpreter. Knox understood most questions that were thrown at her and the interpreter mostly translated to the court what Knox was saying as opposed to what Knox was being asked by Italian litigators.

Mr. Pacelli started by asking Knox if she knew Rudy Guede. Knox admitted meeting Guede before the murder, claiming that she met him while she was mingling with the boys that lived in the apartment underneath her. Knox said that they were in the center, near the church, when the boys introduced her to Guede. On that occasion, Knox says that she spent most of her time with Meredith, as they all (including Guede) went back to the cottage and had a party on the first floor. This party apparently took place in mid-October of 2007, a little more than a month before the murder. Knox also admitted seeing Guede at Le Chic (Lumumba’s restaurant) at least once.

Knox said that at the party she and others smoked a “spinello” (“marijuana joint”). Pacelli then focused on Knox’s relationship with Lumumba. Knox testified that Lumumba never mistreated her, always treated her with respect, their relationship was good, and she was not scared of him. Mr. Pacelli then brought Knox back to the night of the murder, asking her if she knew what time it was when Lumumba sent her the first text message on 1 November 2007. Knox said “around 8:15-8:30p.m.”

When asked, “When you answered Patrick’s message, where were you?”

Knox replied, “In the apartment of Raffaele, I think, yes.” Pacelli indicated that Knox answered the message 25 minutes later from another location. “It seems from cell pings that you were out of the house when you answered, in the center. Where were you?” asked Pacelli. This question was met by a stream of objections and a heated discussion between defense and prosecution. When the dust cleared Knox stated that she was at Sollecito’s apartment when she responded to the message.

Knox had deleted all received text messages on her cell phone at some point after receiving the last message from Lumumba. Knox claimed that this was because she had limited space on her cell. When asked why she did not delete the text messages that she sent, she answered very sarcastically, “I’m not a technical genius, so I only know how to delete the ones that I receive when I get them.” Knox told the court that she didn’t have an appointment to meet Lumumba at the basketball court on the night of the murder.

When asked why she wrote in her statement to police that she met him at the court that night, Knox responded, “It was a complicated situation. I can explain it if you want me to go into it.” Knox then proceeded to explain her version of what occurred and why she wrote what she did in the spontaneous letter to police after her arrest. She proceeded to explain what she claimed was a long grueling interrogation where police began asking the same questions over and over.

Then, in a long, drawn-out, drab tone that only an American could understand (due to the prosodic — rhythmic, intonational aspect of human speech — nature of the tone), Knox said that they kept asking her questions such as “w-h-o k-i-l-l-e-d M-e-r-e-d-i-t-h,” that sounded as if she was down-playing the question, because she had heard it so many times. Knox began to show several glimpses into the bizarre behavior that was previously testified to by others.

Although it may sound trivial, the response was strange; and coupled with the multiple accounts her of odd behavior, it only added to the quandary. During this monologue, Knox stated that police called her a “stupid liar,” several times when she asserted that she had been at Sollecito’s flat all night. Knox then quoted her interpreter during the interrogation, claiming that she had said that Knox was “traumatized and couldn’t remember the truth.”

Knox then continued with her confusing explanation of what happened during her interrogation/arrest:

So what ended up happening was that they told me to try to remember what I apparently, according to them, had forgotten. Under the amount of pressure of everyone yelling at me, and having them tell me that they were going to put me in prison for protecting somebody, that I wasn’t protecting, that I couldn’t remember, I tried to imagine that in some way they must have had, it was very difficult, because when I was there, at a certain point, I just, I couldn’t understand why they were so sure that I was the one who knew everything.

And so, in my confusion, I started to imagine that maybe I was traumatized, like what they said. They continued to say that I had met somebody, and they continued to put so much emphasis on this message that I had received from Patrick, and so I almost was convinced that I had met him. But I was confused.

The next few questions were met with objections by Knox’s lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, and banter between he, the judge, and Pacelli. More objections came when Pacelli asked Knox why she claimed to hear Meredith scream, with now several different lawyers arguing and trying to plead to the judge their reasons why the question should or should not be answered. The argument centered on what was and was not admissible according to the Supreme Court decision at the beginning of trial. Judge Massei then declared that they would take a short recess and he would consult with the lawyers in private on the matter.

When they returned, Judge Massei overruled the objections and stated that the question is permitted because it comes from Knox’s spontaneous statement, which was ruled as admissible during the first week of trial. Knox then switched to speaking Italian upon Judge Massei’s approval. Finally, Knox was able to answer the question, which she replied, “No,” I did not hear Meredith scream.

The following sequence occurred next:

Carlo Pacelli: In the interrogation of November 6, 2007, at 5:45, you declared that before she died, you heard Meredith scream. How could you know that Meredith screamed before she was killed? Who told you?

Knox: So when I was with the police, they asked if I heard Meredith’s scream. I said no. They said “But if you were there, how could you not hear her scream? If you were there?” I said “Look, I don’t know, maybe I had my ears covered.” So they said “Fine, we’ll write that down. Fine.”

Carlo Pacelli: [louder] But I can tell you that on November 6, the police did not know that Meredith screamed before she died, so why would they suggest it to you?

Knox: I imagine that maybe they were imagining how it might have been.

Knox asserted that police were not telling her what to say but suggesting paths of thought. “I kept following their suggestions,” Knox stated. “They asked me if I was in her room when she was killed. I said no. They said but where were you? I said I don’t know. They said, maybe you were in the kitchen. I said, fine.”

Knox testified that she went to the police station with Sollecito the night that they were arrested because she was scared and didn’t want to be alone. She verified that she was not called-into the station that night. Knox also confirmed that the spontaneous statement that she made was her idea, and not the result of pressure from police. Knox said that she asked for a piece of paper and a pen, and that she wrote it to explain her confusion to the police.

Knox then said several times that while at the police station after her arrest she “really wasn’t sure” what had happened on the night of Kercher’s murder. Knox told the court that she gave the written statement to the police freely, voluntarily, and that police did not suggest the content nor pressure her into writing the statement.

The following sequence occurred next:

Carlo Pacelli: Listen, in this memorandum, you say that you confirm the declarations you made the night before about what might have happened at your house with Patrick. Why did you freely and spontaneously confirm these declarations?

Knox: Because I was no longer sure what was my imagination and what was real. So I wanted to say that I was confused, and that I couldn’t know. But at the same time, I knew I had signed those declarations. So I wanted to say that I knew I had made those declarations, but I was confused and not sure.

Carlo Pacelli: But in fact, you were sure that Patrick was innocent?

Knox: No, I wasn’t sure.

Carlo Pacelli: Why?

Knox: Because I was confused! I imagined that it might have happened. I was confused.

Then the questioning turned to when Knox realized that Patrick Lumumba was innocent. Several fights and objections broke out over this line of questioning. The defense seemed to know that Pacelli was onto something and they were trying at all ends to block him or throw him off. Pacelli explained that in Knox’s 7 November 2007, memorandum, Knox wrote, “I didn’t lie when I said the murderer might be Patrick.”

However, Pacelli said that during a phone call with her mother on November 10th (three days later) Knox stated that she felt horrible because she (Knox) got him [Lumumba] put in prison and she knew he was innocent. Knox, then speaking like a politician, led Pacelli -and even the judge - around in circles; not giving a straight answer to the question: when did you inform police that Patrick Lumumba was not the killer?

Pacelli was trying to show that Knox had written that Lumumba was the killer on the 7th, told her mother that Lumumba was innocent on the 10th, but never informed the police at anytime after the 10th that Lumumba was innocent. He was subsequently released three weeks after his arrest, and at no time during the three weeks did Knox inform police that she falsely accused Lumumba. Knox’s final reply on the matter was, “I had explained the situation to my lawyers, and I had told them what I knew, which was that I didn’t know who the murderer was.”

So, Knox never really did answer the question why she never informed anyone - besides her mother on November 10th - that Patrick Lumumba was not the murderer. This was important because Pacelli already knew what Knox’s mother had told investigators about the call and what the basis of her testimony would be. Pacelli knew that her mother’s testimony was coming up the following week, and he wanted to get Amanda’s version on the record knowing that her mother would clarify and contradict - or at least not help - her (Amanda’s) story. Knox also revealed that she never actually said she was sorry to Patrick for her false accusations that put him behind bars for three weeks.

With that, Carlo Pacelli ended his questioning. Judge Massei then announced a break in the action and that the court would reconvene at 1:30p.m.

_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive


[Below: Falsely accused Patrick Lumumba and his lawyer Carlo Pacelli]

Posted on 04/10/11 at 08:02 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedEvidence & witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox15 Single alibi hoax
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Friday, April 08, 2011

A Witness Icognito: Could Outnumbered Knox And Sollecito Defenses Be Forced To Resort To This?

Posted by Peter Quennell





Luciano Aviello is the so-called Camorrah Supersnitch from Naples. He has not been photographed in two decades.

When he testifies in court, he does so from behind a curtain, so that back in his cell he can sleep easier. Perhaps make that: can stay alive.

The beautiful scene below is of Alba, north of Genoa and south of Turin in northwest Italy, where Luciano Aviello may or may not be in the prison there. Nobody seems to know for sure.

We first described what is know of Luciano Aviello back here in June of last year, along with some excellent satire.

Aviello explosively emerged as a possible key defense witness - the US and UK media made a really huge deal out of this - when he claimed that his missing brother was the real murderer, along with two others.

And that Aviello knew where some evidence was hidden (not yet actually unearthed).

As with the hapless Mario Alessi, on whom we posted earlier this week, Luciano Aviello was interviewed not only by the defenses, but also by Prosecutor Mignini and Ms Comodi.

The Italian police also investigated his claims - and they did a surprise search of his prison cell. Nothing is known of what the police and prosecution found out, which makes Aviello something of a one-man minefield.

Even in the middle of last year, Luciano Aviello did not sound too credible.

Here now is an excellent new profile of Aviello and the credibility of snitches like him. It is by Mike La Sorte,  a professor emeritus at the State University of New York. Mr La Sorte includes this:

On November 1, 2007, in the Italian city of Perugia, Meredith Kercher was murdered. A trial was held and Amanda Knox was found guilty of the crime and imprisoned. At the time of the murder Luciano Aviello was out of prison and living in Perugia with his brother, Antonio. Returning to prison for extortion, Luciano from his cell in the Spring of 2010 came forward to announce that the true slayer of the victim was Antonio.

“Yes,” he declared, “it was my brother who killed Meredith during the commission of a break-in. I can produce the weapon of the crime and the keys to the house.” This generated international attention and got Avellino into the newspapers. His confession gave the defense the excuse to reopen the case to review the evidence. [Actually the mandatory appeal was already pending.]

Camorra expert Gigi di Fiore said of him: “Aviello is a strange person. He has had several contacts with the Anti-Mafia Commission and was judged to be less than truthful, a confused youth in search of publicity. He would want to exchange information for protection but had little to offer. His story is an emblematic event of no merit.”

Why could Luciano Aviello’s testimony on his claimed murderous brother (who presumably does know what he looks like) really, really matter to the besieged Knox and Sollecito defenses if it is believed? 

These are the reasons:

    1) The Supreme Court of Cassation has already accepted that overwhelming evidence proves THREE people - Guede and two others - all attacked Meredith.

    2) There are literally hundreds of evidence points pointing to Rudy Guede and Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito - in fact MORE point to Knox and Sollecito.

    3) Despite the absurd claims of the dispirited conspiracy panel at Seattle University Monday night, not one evidence point - NOT ONE -  points to anyone else.

The defense lawyers actually get along well with Mr Mignini, and they know that the justice professionals have really done an okay job. They have never once claimed that any evidence was fabricated, or that investigators made things up, or beat or starved Amanda Knox, or performed any other criminal act. They seriously need to finger other perps.

So. Look forward to welcoming the colorful if invisible Mr Aviello. We sure do look forward to seeing you.  Or not, as the case may be.


Posted on 04/08/11 at 02:26 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnesses31 Aviello hoax
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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sollecito Family Trial: On The Component About Their Alleged Attempt At Political Interference

Posted by Jools





Almost nothing is showing up in the English language media on the court case Raffaele Solecito’s family are facing for allegedly trying to throw the murder investigation.

In the Italian media (as so often in this case) the reporting on this is franker, fuller, and on the whole way more honest. I previously posted articles that focussed mainly on the Telenorba TV video component of the trial.

This now is a translation of a June 2008 writeup of official wiretaps on a police association website of the political-influence component of the trial. The police association would be interested because it was some of their members allegedly being impugned. 

Perugia Flying Squad: other interceptions published.

The role of Carabinieri lieutenant, Vanessa Sollecito, becomes stronger from the latest interceptions published by the daily newspaper LIBERO…

THE TELEPHONE CALLS OF THE SOLLECITOS’ TO POLITICIANS FOR RAF

The relatives are accused of manipulating the investigation. The sister a lieutenant: “I break a finger and I move to the civilian personnel this is how I’ll get him out”

Murder in Perugia. This is the sister of Raffale Sollecito, the student from Giovinazzo charged with the murder of the young English girl Meredith Kercher, who in a telephone call to her father Francesco tells him that she is prepared to break a finger just to transition into a civilian role in the carabinieri and succeed like this to pursue an “illicit” scheme to get her little brother out of prison and help him to get out of this sh**… country.

Vanessa Sollecito is 31 years old and she is a lieutenant of the Carabinieri armed forces in the Lazio Region. She too, like her father and the rest of the relatives (uncle/aunt, a brother in law, cousins, dad’s second wife), try to gain favors from well known “excellent” people in order to exonerate Raffy and to remove the “real culprits”. These (“real culprits”) would be the police officers that have placed him under investigation and the magistrates who don’t want to know about freeing him.

The Sollecito “clan” (this is how who’s investigating the murder of Via Della Pergola defines Raffaele’s family) is written in the logbook register on the occasion of a second line of police investigation on the murder of November 2 last. The alleged offences are: defamation, invasion of privacy, and publication of arbitrary acts of a criminal case.

The time is 18:20 hours March 3 last [2008] when Vanessa phones her father (a well-known cardiologist [sic] in Puglia) and announces: “I’ve met a man, he is from the penitentiary police who works at the Ministry of Justice. He says that a union leader has explained to him that there is one way for transitioning into the carabinieri civilian staff role, although it is not very legal. And that is for me to break a finger, if things were to go down badly for Raffy, in order to lose the (fit to serve) eligibility” and move to the authority in control of civil service roles.

Francesco Sollecito gets very angry. Not about his daughter breaking a finger, but because he knows that his phone is being intercepted, and screaming he says: “You mustn’t speak on this phone, it is intercepted.” And Vanessa says: “Yours might be intercepted, but not mine!”

Two weeks later, it’s the morning of March 17 - at 10:59, Vanessa tries to phone the ‘Idv’ party - Senator Domenico Formisano - in order to go to meet him. And conveys to her father “He is our friend. He asked me a favor for a young man who must stay in Rome. He’ll be in his office Wednesday at 12:30, I hope to please him so afterwards I make use of the favor owed and will help Raffaele. He is the number two to Di Pietro.”

It’s [a date in] May at 10:23 and aunt Sara Achille (wife of Francesco Sollecito’s brother, Giuseppe) says: “Listen Francesco, Senator Domenico Nania told me to call him to arrange for a meeting in Rome. You know, it’s always better to have a nice… And Sara wanted to involve in the affair even the honorable Renato Schifani.”

Three days before, at four in the afternoon, Vanessa also spoke to her father in a “sarcastic” tone: “That lot are still going to take the foot prints… Colonel De Fulvio, who is the one from RiS, says that they are still at this point… and he’s offered himself to meet up with lawyer Bongiorno in terms of friendship, to see the scientific police material…”

[Her father Francesco] Sollecito interrupts her: “About these things you must not speak on this telephone, THIS ONE IS BEING MONITORED! Call me later.”

Uncle Giuseppe Sollecito, on July 30, utters offensive phrases toward the magistrates in Perugia because they haven’t gone in-depth into investigating the trail of the junkie found covered in blood near the victim’s house the day of the murder… “and this is just on purpose to keep Raffaele in prison”. His brother Francesco responds: “I’ll skin them alive those… and they’ll hear from me as well.”

Raffaele’s stepmother Mara Papagni, puts her complete trust in lawyer Giulia Bongiorno: That one “Ms Thirtyballs” will fix everyone… She knows how to behave on certain occasions.

The strategy of Sollecito’s relatives appears to be clear in other wiretappings: they want to put pressure on the judges of the Supreme Court of Cassation so that they’ll agree to accept the appeal presented by the defenders of the young man, they prefer that some investigators whom they regard as inconvenient be removed from the investigation.

In their targets above all are Commissioner Monica Napoleoni, head of the [Perugia] Homicide Section, and Giacinto Profazio, head of the Flying Squad. In their phone calls, the Sollecitos call them bastards, pigs, sons of whores. And they all agree: “We must find someone to intervene at any rate. As written in the logbooks: Its necessary to stop police from doing other vileness.”

The “clan” accuses them of falsifying evidence to frame Raffy. And for this reason they contact journalists and television networks to supply documents and images for broadcasting (such as those depicting the tortured body of poor Mez after the murder and aired by a local television in Puglia).

They wanted to demonstrate that the scientific police played dirty to frame Raffaele.  Now the Sollecitos’ and their respective wives are under investigation.

Posted on 04/07/11 at 08:04 AM by JoolsClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtRaff SollecitoThe officially involvedOther legal processesItalian relatedSollecito team
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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Seattle University Panel: Some Of The Ways In Which Steve Moore Got His Analysis Wrong

Posted by James Raper


I have watched the clip of Steve Moore’s address at the University of Seattle seminar.

1.  Scenario of the crime

Steve Moore starts with the assertion that it is obvious what happened. Guede broke in via Filomena’s window and went to the loo.

Meredith comes home and is attacked, raped and murdered by him. Naturally he did not show a photo of Filomena’s window from outside the cottage. I wonder why?

Meredith came home at 9.30pm. She died some time after 11pm. Steve Moore does not elaborate as to what Guede was doing all the time in between. He sat on the loo for a long time and/or the sexual attack went on for a long time?  Both unlikely hypotheses.

2.  Concerning bleach

Then Steve Moore turns to what he states is “The Lie over the Bleach Cleaner”.

Whether or not the police/prosecution ever said that they thought bleach cleaner had been used is not clear to me.  Whether or not they had, it was not something that they continued to insist on. No one smelt bleach at the cottage on the 2nd November.

In any event Steve Moore has his own argument (which, to be fair, I did follow) to demonstrate from the pictures of the luminol traces that there could have been no bleach used as a cleaning agent.

“No bleach, no clean up!” The fact that one can wipe away relatively recent blood/bodily fluids without bleach escaped him. 

Having established that there was no bleach used he explains the luminol glow as being due to ..yes.. bleach!

3.  The luminol footprints

Drawing on his claimed considerable FBI experience (yet to be validated by anybody) he asserts that luminol reacts to bleach as strongly as blood.

Experienced forensic experts say that they can often tell the difference because the strength of a reaction all depends on the concentration in bleach – bleach which was not used in a clean up and which no one detected by sense of smell.

He then goes on to say that bleach is commonly used as a household cleaner. Yes, the main constituent of bleach is chlorine or chloride, commonly used, diluted with other ingredients, in some household cleaning fluids, though of course bleach can be bought as bleach.

Steve Moore says that Amanda Knox took a shower on the morning of the 2nd November, standing in the shower basin in diluted bleach (very diluted after a shower, one would think) and then traced that around, accounting for the luminol glow.

You do not have to be terribly clever to see that if that was the case then the luminol glow would not be all that bright due to the dilution. One can see from the photos that the glow was in fact very bright.

One also has to wonder why straight from the shower she stepped in Meredith’s invisible blood (in fact she says she scooted from the bathroom to her room on the bathmat) without the diluted bleach degrading Meredith’s DNA.

4.  Concerning TMB tests

Steve Moore asserts that Stefanoni lied about TMB tests. TMB is tetramethylbenzadine and it is used to establish whether a detected trace is blood or not.

The reactive process is the same as with luminol which has to be used to detect a trace in the first place. It is to do with the peroxadase-like activity of heme. The results look different however, TMB produces a change of colour whilst luminol produces a glow in the dark.

Steve Moore was initially appalled to think that Stefanoni did not use the TMB test on the luminol revealed traces, but then it was discovered that she had and the results were negative as to blood.

Conclusion : she lied about the TMB tests. Why?  According to Steve Moore because she knew the luminol test did not reveal blood. And was trying to conceal this fact.

I would be surprised if Steve Moore has read the trial records.  What does Massei say?  All I can find are the following:

Stefanoni did say that she could not be positive that what the luminol revealed was blood. Here I think that she was speaking very carefully as a scientist and leaving others to their conclusions. 

I do not see that she was specifically asked about TMB tests re luminol so I cannot comment on that.

However Massei quotes Amanda Knox’s expert, Dr Gino, in the following terms :

With respect to the luminol positive traces found in Romanelli’s room, in Knox’s room and in the corridor, she (Gino) states that by analysing the SLA cards “we learn, in contradiction to what was presented in the technical report deposited by the Scientific police, and also to what was said in court, that not only was the luminol test performed on these traces, but also the generic process for the presence of blood, using tetramethylbenzadine .. and this test … gave a negative result.

On being asked as to why generic tests like luminol and TMB might produce different results:

She added that in her own experience, analyses performed with TMB on traces revealed by luminol give about even results : 50% negative, 50% positive.

I would have thought that Gino’s statement is statistically meaningless unless we assume that we are talking about blood traces revealed by luminol. 

So, in other words, the fact that the TMB tests were negative does not establish that the luminol-revealed trace was not blood.

From which I assume, since luminol and TMB have the same reactive process, that the prior luminol test takes precedence, be it that of course the trace might be vegetable or fruit juice, or bleach!- none of which, of course, are capable of producing a human DNA read out, whereas blood does.

Also I would have thought that if the reactive process is the same for both then the reactive process engendered by the luminol may not leave much for a subsequent TMB test – but then that’s just speculation.

I am no scientist, but then neither is Steve Moore really qualified to talk of the actual scientific process despite being in the FBI for 25 years ( he says). I think that the closest he gets to science is how to use an aerosol can.

5. Other claims

The following topics were also then discussed by Steve Moore : Bathroom photos, staged break in, murder weapon versus knife mark, and contamination. More of the same.

Posted on 04/06/11 at 08:51 PM by James RaperClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxes against Italy3 No evidence hoax4 No firm DNA hoaxHoaxes re Guede33 Sole attacker hoax34 Bad guy hoaxHoaxers from 2007Steve Moore
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Harsh Language For Possible Defense Witness Mario Alessi From The Supreme Court Of Cassation

Posted by Peter Quennell


Mario Alessi is the jailhouse snitch who claims that Rudy Guede told him that Guede and two others murdered Meredith.

That if believed would leave Knox and Sollecito in the clear. But if the Knox and Sollecito defenses put him on the witness stand, it might destroy their appeal like a hand grenade.

Why? Well, the prosecution interviewed both Alessi and Guede in prison and they further investigated Alessi’s claims - and have never made those results public. Alessi’s own lawyer does not believe him and she has publicly urged him not to get on the stand to repeat his claims.

She presumably fears he might get slapped with perjury charges and end up spending even more years behind bars - he is already serving a life sentence at Parma Prison which normally means 30-plus years.

The Supreme Court has just issued a ruling on the appeal of Alessi’s wife wife Antonella Conserva. It says that as she was not present at Mario Alessi’s horrific killing of Baby Tommy when the baby would not stop crying, her 30 year sentence is not properly supported in law.

Her case is referred back to the Appeals Court in Bologne where the first-level appeal must be repeated. Meanwhile Alessi looks even more disreputable.  And the other possible witness with an alternative theory is Luciano Aviello who has a well-established record of lying. 

More and more it is looking now like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito may be forced to take the witness stand in last-ditch efforts against their appeals totally failing and their getting awarded even tougher sentences.

Little else is going their way these day - the DNA review and and Mr Curatolo’s testimony are expected to still remain creditable, and even if they don’t they are only two drops in a large evidence bucket.

If either do take the stand (and if they don’t, much will be made of that, even though Italian law says it shouldn’t) Kermit’s cross-examination questions are waiting.

Posted on 04/06/11 at 01:14 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Other witnesses30 Alessi hoax
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Monday, April 04, 2011

The Precise And Accurate Italian Wikipedia Article On Meredith’s Case, Now Translated Into English

Posted by Tom M and Skeptical Bystander


A recent post on TJMK by Gwaendar refers to Wikipedia and the current effort by the Fictitious Friends of Amanda to make her the focus of an article that has so far been devoted to the Murder of Meredith Kercher.

The Eclectic Chapbook blog often comments on the case. It has called this effort “tragically misguided and possibly somewhat demented,” describing it as an instance of “the Enchanted Glen Phenomenon, which is a psychological space wherein normal laws do not apply and all rules are magically suspended. “

We have now examined and translated the Italian Wikipedia article which was written in a space where the normal laws certainly are applied and no rules have been suspended. 

The main reporting and the voluminous records of the trial and the appeal are of course all in Italian, and Italians on the whole have a far better grasp of events and the legal context than do most observers in the US and the UK. Because there is so much source material, and so little misleading reporting, it would seem that If any Wikipedia in any language in the world is going to describe the case correctly, it will be the Italian one.

This translation below of most of the Italian Wikipedia article is not word-for-word, but it is intended to convey the substance of the Italian article as it would have been if originally written in English. 

The index, the sections on books and movie, and the citations were omitted.

The murder of Meredith Kercher, an English student in Italy enrolled in the Erasmus program at the University of Perugia, occurred during the night of November 1, 2007.  Meredith was found lifeless, with her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with other students in Perugia.  The cause of death was hemorrhage due to bleeding from a wound to the neck caused by a sharp object used as a weapon.

Two men and a woman were convicted as a result, of murder, sexual violence and theft.

Biography

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was born December 28, 1985 in Southwark, London, lived in Coulsdon, and was a student at the University of Leeds, where she was pursuing a degree in European Studies. She enrolled in the Erasmus program, and had arrived in Italy in September 2007 to complete her degree in European Studies.

Details and circumstances of the murder

Kercher was murdered at night between 1 and 2 November 2007, in the apartment she shared with three other young women, two Italian and an American, who were away that night. Based on the first examination of the autopsy, the pathologist who handled the case ruled that the death occurred between 22:00 and midnight on that day.

The following morning an elderly woman living near Via della Pergola where Meredith’s body was found, alarmed by the discovery of two abandoned mobile phones, called the police. From information obtained from one of two mobile phones the Postal Police of Perugia sent agents to the house of Meredith Kercher.  On their arrival the police found Amanda Knox (Seattle, USA, July 9, 1987), Meredith Kercher’s flatmate, and her Italian friend, Raffaele Sollecito (Giovinazzo, March 26, 1984), with whom she had recently started a relationship, outside the house.

The two young people said they were awaiting the arrival of the police; when asked why, they said they had found a window broken, the door open, and suspected a theft. Later, these claims were questioned by investigators, given that the Police Post arrived at the house on Via della Pergola at 12:35 and telephone calls to the Police were not made not until 12:51 and 12:54.  Entering, the Police found the bedroom of Meredith Kercher locked and decided to break down the door. Upon entering, they found a number of bloodstains, the room in disarray, and a foot sticking out from under the duvet which had covered the bed.

The Convicted:

The three convicted at the first stage are:

  • Raffaele Sollecito, who was born in Giovinazzo (BA), a university student of 23 years at the time of the murder;
  • Amanda Knox, a student originally from Seattle, U.S., 20, who had a relationship with Sollecito at the time of the crime;
  • Rudy Hermann Guede, born December 26, 1986 in the Ivory Coast, was arrested in Germany on November 20 and extradited to Italy on December 6, 2007.  At his lawyers’ request, Guede received from the court at a preliminary hearing an order granting expedited trial.

Knox and Guede were detained in Capanne prison, a 20-minute drive from Perugia. Sollecito, after also being held in Capanne, was transferred in early 2008 to the Vocabolo Sabbione prison in Terni.

The case also, initially, erroneously involved Patrick Lumumba, owner of the restaurant where Amanda Knox worked; her statement placed him at the crime scene on the night of the crime. The charges were later proved unfounded and demonstrated the unreliability of Knox as a witness. Implicating the Congolese man was also an incorrect translation of a text message sent to him in English by Knox (‘see you later’, which rather than a generic “Ci vidiamo,” was translated literally as “we will see each other later”[“ci vidiamo dopo”].

Thus, police thought that the two had an appointment for the evening of the crime). Patrick Lumumba was ultimately released and all charges against him were dropped.  Following the unjust detention lasting 14 days, Lumumba was awarded € 8000 as compensation, but this was deemed inadequate by his lawyer, who threatened to sue.

The Sentences

Knox, Sollecito and Guede were sentenced respectively to 26, 25 and 16 years in prison. Rudi Hermann Guede opted for an abbreviated trial and his conviction for complicity in murder and sexual violence was made final by the Court of Cassation, First Criminal Division, on December 16, 2010. For the other two participants, the case is on appeal. The decisions reconstruct in detail the manner and circumstances of the murder, a motive defined “violent, sexual, erotic.”

The conviction in the first trial of Sollecito and Knox, issued by the Court of Assizes of Perugia, is based on numerous expert opinions, objective evidence and testimony.

According to the reconstruction regarding Knox and Sollecito, on the evening of November 1, 2007, they met in piazza Grimana, where they had occasionally met Guede, an acquaintance of Knox, who decided to join them for the evening. They decided to go to Knox’s house, to which her roommate Meredith Kercher, after an evening with her English friends, had just returned. Kercher’s bedroom door was presumably ajar, and upon entering the house the three defendants immediately noticed her presence.

Going directly to another part of the house, Knox and Sollecito made love.  Guede, shortly after, went to the bathroom, where he left organic residues in the water of the toilet, as found in the investigation. According to the reconstruction, Guede left the bathroom, probably excited by the sounds of Sollecito and Knox making love, noted again the door ajar at Kercher’s room, and decided to approach. Then he entered Kercher’s room; but after her refusal, he became violent, attempting to rape her.

Kercher’s cries led Knox and Sollecito to go to her room, where they joined Guede’s criminal action, finding it an “exciting situation.” While the Guede violated Kercher, Knox and Sollecito tried to immobilize her: to do this Sollecito and Knox wielded knives to threaten the victim. The analysis shows that the knife wounds by Sollecito were probably quite small, while Knox wielded a kitchen knife, later found, and on which were found genetic traces of her mixed with those of Kercher.

The situation then deteriorated, partly because of the screams and resistance of Kercher: Knox then, with the kitchen knife, struck the victim in the neck, causing fatal injuries. The three defendants, shortly after the murder, fled with Kercher’s phones, fearing that if someone called her and got no response, they would be suspicious and the crime would be discovered: the cell phone was ultimately found in an embankment a few hundred meters from Kercher’s house.

Then they headed in different directions: Guede to a nightclub, Knox and Sollecito to the latter’s flat. The next morning Knox and Sollecito tried to clean up the crime scene and clean up their tracks; then they broke a window in the house to stage a mock burglary, hoping to throw the investigation off course.

Guede’s Supposed Confession

In March 2010 rumors spread of an alleged confession by Rudy Guede. The facts are as follows: it seems that Guede had revealed his complicity, with a friend, in killing Kercher, to Mario Alessi, an inmate housed in the same prison, a character already known to police and media for the murder of little Tommaso Onofri, Guede had invited Kercher to go to a party, she refused, and subsequently the friend of Guede tried to rape her. According to Alessi, Guede tried to come to Kercher’s aid, and Guede’s friend rebuked him, saying that he should just strike the final blow to end the girl’s misery, which is what Guede did.

Then Guede and his friend met again by chance in a nightclub, and Guede’s friend gave him money to flee to Germany, where he was at the time of the extradition and return to Italy for arrest. This reconstruction, which would completely exonerate Knox and Sollecito, was found by investigators to be totally unfounded.

Posted on 04/04/11 at 08:49 PM by Tom M and Skeptical BystanderClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe two knivesNews media & moviesGreat reportingMedia newsThe wider contexts
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Today An Obsessional Group Rant About “No Evidence” By A Stacked Panel At Seattle University?!

Posted by Peter Quennell


Seattle University is a small Jesuit college just this side of Seattle’s downtown.

Today at 4:00 pm in the Pigott Auditorium, in what seems to us a seriously dopey and un-academic exercise, some of the most obsessed of the conspiracy theorists will assemble to peddle their illusions.

Two of the panelists, Paul Ciolino and Steve Moore, have been exhaustively debunked on TJMK in the past, and sooner or later we will probably turn our attention to debunking the other two: Mark Waterbury, and Candace Dempsey.

Our posts on the hotheaded faux detective Paul Ciolino are here, here, and here, and our posts on the hotheaded faux FBI murder investigator Steve Moore are here, here, here, and here.

The other two panelists, Mark Waterbury and Candace Dempsey, have authored slow-selling books which studiously ignore 95 percent of the evidence and mis-state the other 5 percent. Tom Wright of the Friends of Amanda Knox group will be presiding.

Would you like to attend, well-equipped with some questions? Ask these questions and these questions and these questions. Around 400 in all. Any reports would be appreciated.

Below: Seattle University President Father Steve Sundborg. Does he know what his film department is getting up to?


Posted on 04/04/11 at 12:48 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2007Knox-Mellas teamHeavey, BremnerPaul CiolinoMore hoaxersThe wider contextsSeattle contextSteve Moore
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Friday, April 01, 2011

First Excerpt From Will Savive’s “Study Abroad Murder” The Best Book Yet On The Hard Evidence

Posted by Peter Quennell


Will Savive is a New York area criminologist, concerning whom a reviewer on the book’s Amazon page said “Savive is quickly becoming a juggernaut of the true crime industry.”

This looks to be the best book yet on the hard evidence in the case, and on what people actually said both before trial and throughout trial. Will writes just like a criminologist (“just the facts ma’am”) and he has little interest in the absurd notions that Italian professionals fell down on the job or pulled off an enormous cover-up. 

This first excerpt, a proof copy from “The Study Abroad Murder”, is about the arrest of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at Perugia’s central police station on the night of 5-6 November 2007. 

While police questioned Sollecito, Knox waited in a side room. Policewoman Lorena Zugarini walked into the room to check on Knox and caught her doing cartwheels and the splits. Zugarini told Knox that it was “not the right place for such activities.”

At around 11:30p.m., Inspector Chief of Perugia police’s narcotics unit, Rita Ficarra, came out of the lift into the waiting room of the city’s Flying Squad on the third floor of the police station and witnessed Knox “showing off her gymnastic ability,” turning cartwheels and doing back bends. This angered the inspector, and she scolded Knox, telling her “This is the police station, not a dance theater!”

Knox and Ficarra began talking about the night of the murder, and Ficarra told Knox that the answers she and Raffaele had given don’t add up and are filled with several contradictions. Ficarra tried to explain to Knox, “If you tell me a lie one time, that is comprehensible, but if you lie again—even if it is a small lie—it makes you less credible.” One reason for the officer’s warning was that Knox had originally told police that she had not smoked cannabis, but then said that she had, according to Rita.

Ficarra then decided that since Knox was already present, she would like her to detail a list of people that had visited the house in the two months since she’s been there. Knox agrees, takes out her cell phone, and begins to go through the list of names. ‘He’s been there; he hasn’t been there, etc.’

Rita begins taking notes, but soon realizes that she needs an interpreter. When the interpreter arrived shortly after, Knox again began giving Ficarra names of people who had visited the flat, including “a South African man” she had met at a party in the flat underneath hers. Knox said that she didn’t know his name or phone number, and had never seen him again after that night (Rudy Guede).

At this point, Knox willingly hands over her phone to Ficarra, who begins scrolling through Knox’s text messages and asking her who these people were and when she had met them—she wanted to know everything: “Peter, Juve, Spiros, Shaggy…” Ficarra continued, rattling-off names and quizzing Knox. Inspector Lorena Zugarini enters the room and begins observing silently.

Suddenly, the head of the Perugia homicide unit, Monica Napoleoni, enters the room and says, “He [Sollecito] doesn’t cover her anymore, so you’d better ask Amanda again her whereabouts on the evening of the murder.”

It turns out that Raffaele Sollecito had changed his story, claiming that he was with Knox only until 9:00p.m., on the night of the murder. Sollecito claims that he and Knox left the cottage at 6:00p.m., at which time they went into the centre. “At 9:00p.m., I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends,” Sollecito told police.

“We said goodbye and I went home, I rolled myself a spliff [Marijuana cigarette] and made some dinner.” Sollecito goes on to say that Knox returned to his flat at around 1:00a.m., at which time the couple went to bed.

Amanda Knox’s alibi had abruptly evaporated! As Ficarra continued through Knox’s messages, she came to a text that Knox had sent to her boss, Patrick Lumumba. Ficarra shows her the message and asks, “Who is this person?” Ficarra believed that the message read like a date—to meet up later that night. “Did you go out with him that night?” Ficarra asked.

Unexpectedly and without warning, Knox put her head in her hands, started shaking her head, as tears streamed down from her eyes. “He’s bad, he’s bad…”—Amanda says as if she is in a trance—“He’s the murderer…I can hear him in Meredith’s room…I can hear him killing Meredith!”

Knox was a waitress at the bar Le Chic, which was owned by a Congolese man by the name of Diya Patrick Lumumba [37]. Lumumba was also a musician who was married to a Polish woman named Ola, with whom he had a baby boy named David.


On the night of the murder Knox said that she had originally sent him a text message asking him if he wanted her to come into work that night. Patrick sent a reply back at 8:19p.m., saying that she was not needed. Knox then replied back to Lumumba at 8.35p.m., “Certo. Ci vediamo piu` tardi. Buona serata!”

There has been many discrepancies as to what this statement actually means in Italian, or what Knox meant by the statement; particularly the “più tardi” in the sentence. A rough translation of this phrase in English is “Certainly. See you later. Good evening!” However, “più tardi” in Italian actually indicates a schedule or an appointment.

This expression in Italian assumes that after a lapse of time, with many actions in between, we will meet up later. If you use the words “più tardi” it is assumed that you are going to meet-up with someone on the same day or evening, not tomorrow or at another time. It is possible to suppose that Knox did not understand the language well enough and this is just a simple misunderstanding, but police did not give her the benefit of the doubt; axiomatically because she had already stated that Lumumba was the murderer.

Once Knox had made this accusation, police immediately notified the Pubblico Ministero (Public Prosecutor) of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, who gives the order to “Stop.”

Questioning for the evening was then suspended at 1:45a.m., as is prescribed by Italian law—in articles 386 & 566 of the Italian Codice di Procedura Penale [Code of Criminal Procedure] (CPP).  Knox signs a one-page statement that recounts her new story, and she is then informed that her status has officially changed from witness to suspect.

Italian law differs from the law here in the United States in several respects (civil law system vs. common law system), but many aspects are strikingly similar. Italian criminal law, which is codified in the CPP, states that Defense counsel’s presence is mandatory during the interrogation of the accused. One way around this, however, is to not officially change the status from witness to a suspect until after getting a sufficient amount of information out of her/him during questioning or to get a confession before changing the status. This is a common police ‘trick,’ per say, in Italy as well as in America.

Italian law does, however, have several differences. According to a provision introduced in 1978, it is not compulsory for the defense counsel to be present when the continuation of an investigation requires the immediate and urgent interrogation of a suspect. The statements made by the suspect, however, may not be minuted for use in judicial proceedings.

Basically, this can be seen as a loop-hole that gives Italian police more leeway to do as they see fit in order to extract what information they need from a suspect. In Knox’s case, she obviously did not have a lawyer as she was not even called into the police station, let alone was she under the impression that she would be arrested at some point during that evening.

In any event, it was Knox that allegedly waived her right to an attorney at that time, according to police. Nevertheless, the absence of a defense attorney during interrogation does not guarantee that the information provided by the suspect will be admissible in court. This decision will later be up to the two judges and six jury members upon trial in Italy, or the Italian Supreme Court.

The officers were completely astonished and dumbfounded by Knox’s admittance. Here was a girl who hadn’t even been asked to come in for questioning, and has not only declared to have been at the house during the time of the murder, but identified the killer!

Mignini headed over to the questura (police headquarters) to witness and question Knox further. Once he arrived—at 3:30a.m.— Knox repeats her story for Mignini, but this time she goes into great detail… The session is halted at 5:45a.m., at which time Knox signs a five-page statement detailing the events of the interrogation.

In the report, regarding the text message that Knox sent to Lumumba, police changed the text to read:  “Ci vediamo.”(“See you later”). Mignini later used this statement to persuade the judge that Knox and Lumumba met up just before the murder. This information was then fed to the press, who reported the half-text “See you later” (by no fault of their own). An example of this is the story in the London Times on 13 November 2007, entitled, “Meredith Kercher murder: why the timings are critical.” It wasn’t until Lumumba’s subsequent release that the full message was correctly reported to the public.

In any case, police theorized from the text message, and Knox’s statement, that the two met-up shortly there afterwards at the basketball court at Piazza Grimana before heading to the cottage. Shortly after signing the report, Knox is formally arrested then taken for breakfast. Sollecito had also been formally arrested and retained.


Meanwhile, a police task force had already been assembled and sent to arrest the dangerous murderer, Patrick Lumumba. At 6:30a.m., Patrick Lumumba sat in his fourth-floor apartment when he heard his doorbell ringing. Before he could even respond he heard a woman’s voice outside demanding that he open the door…

With Lumumba in custody, the procession headed to Perugia’s police station with sirens blaring. The worst was yet to come for Patrick, who then had to sit through a ten-hour interrogation…

“You did it, you did it!” Patrick was confused and scared, and police would not even tell him what he had just been arrested for. It was only after several hours that police showed Patrick a picture of Meredith’s lifeless body. It was only after seeing the picture that Patrick had made the connection between his arrest and Meredith’s death. “You think I killed Meredith?” Patrick uttered. Lumumba had been handing out flyers publicizing Meredith Kercher’s candlelit vigil just one day earlier…

After Lumumba’s arrest, Knox calls over Ficarra and asks her for a pen and paper. Knox says to her, “I want to give you a gift.” Knox then proceeds to write a two page statement, confirming what she said earlier; but this time she posed her accusations against Lumumba and her presence during the murder as a “vision.”

Her statement is legally known as a voluntary, spontaneous statement, referred to as ‘The Memoir’ (Memorial or Two Page Note). When she is done she hands the memoir to Ficarra and says that it will help them in case they have some doubts. Little did Knox know at the time, but it would be the most damaging ink she would ever inscribe!

Key points in Knox’s statement (‘The Memoir’):

“This is very strange, I know, but really what happened is as confusing to me as it is to everyone else.”

Knox starts off claiming that she was at Sollecito’s flat “smoking marijuana, having sex,” and “might even have fallen asleep.”

“The next thing I remember was waking up the morning of Friday November 2nd around 10am and I took a plastic bag to take back my dirty cloths to go back to my house.”

As she goes on, she begins to tell a different story of what might have happened, in which she claims her boss, Patrick Lumumba, was probably the murder. According to this version of events Knox met Patrick Lumumba at around 9:00p.m., on the night of the murder at the basketball court in Piazza Grimana then went to her house. This is significant, because a homeless man later testified that he saw Knox on that very basketball court at around that time.

“In my mind I saw Patrik in flashes of blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming…these things seem unreal to me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in my head and the questions I am being asked.”

The following statement is telling because Knox does not rule out the possibility that there may be evidence against her at the crime scene. Here she contradicts and back-tracks as she tries to talk her way out of trouble.

“The police have told me that they have hard evidence that places me at the house, my house, at the time of Meredith’s murder. I don’t know what proof they are talking about, but if this is true, it means I am very confused and my dreams must be real.”

In his account to police that night, Sollecito tried to distance himself from the murder, telling police that Knox asked him to lie for her and say that she was with him the whole night.

“In my previous statement I told a load of rubbish because Amanda had convinced me of her version of the facts and I didn’t think about the inconsistencies,” Sollecito told police

Knox responds to this by writing, “I also NEVER asked him to lie for me. This is absolutely a lie…What does he [Sollecito] have to hide? I don’t think he killed Meredith.”

Knox then acknowledges that her story seems far fetched, yet she stands by both of her stories, each contradicting the other.

“I also know that the fact that I can’t fully recall the events that I claim took place at Raffaele’s home during the time that Meredith was murdered is incriminating. And I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrik, but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder.

“I’m very confused at this time. My head is full of contrasting ideas and I know I can be frustrating to work with for this reason. But I also want to tell the truth as best I can. Everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith’s death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder, and that Patrick may have been the killer.

“In these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrik as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night.”

Knox then asks herself a very puzzling question, which is basically like saying that she was not there unless they have proof that she was, and if so then she doesn’t remember.

“Is the evidence proving my pressance [sic] at the time and place of the crime reliable? If so, what does this say about my memory? Is it reliable?”


It wasn’t until 5:30p.m., that day—still handcuffed and bruised—that Patrick was informed of the evidence against him.

Police showed Patrick the hand written statement of Amanda Knox accusing him of being Meredith’s killer. It was only then that Patrick had realized just how mad Knox was with him for considering firing her. Patrick filled-up with rage and contempt toward Knox, but continued to keep himself calm and composed in front of police. After Patrick was fingerprinted and his blood was taken, he sat in a holding cell awaiting his first hearing.

Police then turned their investigation to Raffaele Sollecito’s flat on Corso Garibaldi. Police entered the premises looking for a pair of shoes that matched any of the bloody prints left at the crime scene, and a possible murder weapon.

Armondo Finzi, an assistant in Perugia PD’s organized crime unit, entered the home and immediately noticed a “strong smell of bleach.” As police beagn the inspection of the flat, Mr. Finzi opened a drawer in the kitchen and noticed a shiny knife lying on top of the silverware tray. The Marietti knife with a 6 ½ inch stainless steel blade, was the first knife that he saw and his investigative intuition led him to believe that it might be the murder weapon.

Officer Finzi grabbed the knife, with gloved hands, and placed it into an envelope and taped it shut, and then placed it into a folder. No other knife was taken into evidence. Back at police headquarters, homicide unit captain, Stefano Gubbiotto, removed the knife from the envelope—with gloved hands—and placed it into a cardboard box, and it was scheduled to be sent to Rome for further analysis.

During the search, police also found a pair of Sollecito’s sneakers (Nike size 42½) that they announced was a perfect match with the footprint left at the crime scene. Police also discovered a receipt in Sollecito’s flat for cleaning products from a local supermarket, which they claimed included bleach. This bleach, police then believed, was used to clean the knife found in his apartment.

Police also examined Sollecito’s car (an Audi) for any traces of blood on the pedals, but found nothing. They confiscated Sollecito’s collection of violent Japanese comic books as well. Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba all spent the next two days and nights in isolation—behind bars in Capanne prison, about a ten-minute drive from Perugia.

_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive

 

Posted on 04/01/11 at 12:00 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesGreat reporting
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post-Trauma Example Of Italy As One Of The Fastest-Learning And Adjusting Societies

Posted by Peter Quennell


Here is an image of Elisa Benedetti whose sad death after crashing and then disabling her car in deep mud our poster Catnip profiled back here.

Two other post-accidents traumas have been much in the news in Italy as Il Giornale today describes.

Two drivers were in traffic accidents in which they feared they had caused the death of others, and both are now dead.

One after dying of cold in the woods after wandering aimlessly for days, and the other after jumping off a bridge. In the case of the first, nobody was even hurt, and in the case of the second, the child who was slightly knocked by the car was released from hospital the same day.

As one would expect in Italy, these incidents have been the subject of much public discussion and several TV chat shows, similar to those for missing people that we learned about in the case of the missing or murdered Sonia Marra.

Now hospital emergency rooms and police forces are moving to beef up their capacity to provide psychological support to those similarly traumatized.

In the case of Elisa Benedetti, the cops tried really hard to help her in the times when she called them for help on her cellphone. Next time they might have psychological knowhow on their side.

Few other countries in the world come close to Italy for a caring population driving constructive effects like these.

Posted on 03/30/11 at 12:31 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Other legal processesItalian relatedThe wider contextsPerugia contextItalian system
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Evolution Of The Wikipedia Article On The Murder Of Meredith Kercher

Posted by Gwaendar





It’s been mentioned by several Seattle media outlets - but none nationally - that the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (above) was considering somehow intervening to tilt the article on Meredith after “Bruce Fisher” started an online petition.

This post looks at how articles evolve under various checks and balances and the prospects for Jimmy Wales if he can indeed have any effect on the editing process - set up so that even he essentially can’t. 

1) The principles of Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the online Encyclopedia that anyone can edit, is and has always been a fascinating case study on the strengths and weaknesses of Crowd Sourcing.

Its arcane and often byzantine rules that have evolved over a decade are often difficult to follow, and have produced an environment with a steep learning curve, one that renders submission of new articles very difficult for novices - a situation often commented upon in the media.

For all their complexity, Wikipedia’s core rules provide a framework sustaining over 3 million articles today just for its English edition. It has its flaws, but in the grand scheme of things it works out quite well for the majority of articles.

Wikipedia’s English language website is right now the eighth most visited in the world and there are various versions in other languages.

2) How Wikipedia articles are built

Any article must stand on two core concepts, neutrality and verifiability.

  • Neutrality implies that the topic is described in as objective manner as possible, covering the relevant aspects while giving each the due weight they deserve.
  • Verifiability is the embodiment of an implicit compact between Wikipedia and its readers, the assurance that we aren’t just making things up. This is illustrated by the statement “Wikipedia is about Verifiability, not Truth”.  To that effect, any claims in an article must be verifiable through external reliable sources - If nobody made a claim before it appeared on Wikipedia, it will eventually be removed as “Original Research”.

For a source to be considered reliable, it must be either peer-reviewed or reported by a media outlet with a solid track record for fact checking and accuracy. In the final section of this piece, we will look at the shortcomings of that policy.

The three core content policies, “Neutral Point of View”, “Verifiability through Reliable Sources” and “No Original Research” are summed up in another guideline, the often misunderstood and maligned concept of Notability.

In Wikipedia-speak, Notability isn’t an indication of fame or importance, but refers to the notion that an article’s subject has been noted by others - that is, commented upon by multiple third party reliable sources in a non-trivial manner so that it is possible to verify that a Neutral Point of View is being maintained and no Original Research finds its way into the article.

Last but not least, articles involving living people are subject to particular considerations, called “BLP”  (Biographies of Living Persons), here to ensure Wikipedia is particularly careful to avoid libel. The smearing of the prosecutor, or the portrayal of Guede as a lone wolf when the judicial truth established by the Italian courts makes him one among three participants are both violations of the BLP policy.

3) Consensus: How conflicts are ironed out

As appears evident, those policies are put to the test everytime an article addresses a contentious issue.

Quite often, the available reliable sources present multiple sides of a same story. The requirement of Neutrality is often confused with the notion of balance (the simple representation of all sides of an issue). The challenge arises when it becomes necessary to determine what weight to give to a specific point of view.

For example, the population’s sentiment regarding nuclear power generators today can be presented in two different manners by a news organization interviewing people in the street: presenting three persons extremely worried about nuclear power, and three persons expressing confidence in the technology.

It is a balanced presentation, but if 90%  of the population is actually worried, the presentation doesn’t give the appropriate weighting to the issue, whereas interviewing 5 worried people and one unworried would have been closer to the reality.

In order to determine what an article should contain and to what extent, volunteers will often discuss matters and reach a consensus on an article’s talk (or discussion) page.

The English Wikipedia is home to a multitude of regular and occasional contributors hailing from every single country and culture of the globe. For this extraordinary melting pot to work out, participants in any discussions are expected to, first, assume that other participants are acting in good faith, second, treat each other with respect, and third, to accept that a compromise will have to be found that may not match their personal convictions.

The blogosphere and comment forms of newspaper reporting on the Murder of Meredith Kercher are packed full with contributors who believe that bullying and intimidation, outlasting and outshouting the opposition will win over other people.

Needless to say, this attitude is frowned upon in Wikipedia, and it is the reason why several contributors sympathetic to the Knox cause have been blocked from editing over the past two years.

In determining consensus, Wikipedia operates in a manner combining civil law and adversarial prosecution: arguments are heard based on established policies and guidelines, and prior decisions on similar situations are not taken into consideration.

The final call is usually made by an uninvolved editor who will review all arguments and try to determine what the strongest arguments representing the existing policies. This is also transient, as it is accepted that consensus can change and prior decisions can be revisited later on.

4) A little history of the Murder of Meredith Kercher article

Originally created as an article on Amanda Knox in late 2007, it was swiftly renamed to its present title and started to grow. And as the controversy around the case grew, more and more editors turned up trying to ensure that it presented “the Truth” as they understood it.

The FOA core arguments are familiar to readers of TJMK, of course: Amanda Knox was railroaded by the kangaroo courts of a third world country, a victim of rampant anti-americanism, by a corrupt and insane prosecutor and a brutal police force who convicted her out of thin air.

During early 2010 in particular, the regular Wikipedians trying to maintain a neutral coverage were subjected to heaps of abuse from some particularly aggressive Knox supporters.

After numerous reports on the administrative noticeboards, uninvolved admins stepped in, tried to get these users to conform to the acceptable norms of discourse, and eventually blocked them after they demonstrated their inability to do so.

At that stage, the FOA crowd started organizing their activity: a certain PhanuelB showed up and started arguing, supported by a string of new users who had never edited on anything else before.

This lasted for another three months, until PhanuelB got himself banned for the same atrocious behaviour, along with several of his supporters, while the others vanished without a trace at the same point. They all came back once, when a discussion was started around some content PhanuelB had intended to turn into an article before he got banned.

Through all this, the article has undergone several stages. In Spring 2010, it was a long laundry list of prosecution arguments countered by defense arguments - balanced certainly, but essentially useless. In early Summer, the article underwent a rewrite that almost halved its size and tried to prune much of those arguments.

At regular intervals, the article had to be protected due to excessive edit-wars, and is currently still “semi- protected”, that is, locked off to new accounts and anonymous contributors.

From the point of view of a Wikipedian without direct stakes in the case (I am an editor) the article was certainly perfectible,  but did a reasonable job at presenting the main facts of the case, the judicial situation at present, and the nature of the controversies surrounding the case.

5) The FOA appeal to Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales has abandoned most of his leadership functions over the course of the years, but still carries the prestige attached to his name.

The Open Letter published by “Bruce Fisher” was swallowed line, hook and sinker, and Wales entered the Murder of Meredith Kercher article rather like an elephant in a china shop,  essentially accusing established editors who had laboured for years to try and maintain the article of having conspired to suppress and censor other points of view.

His point is aided, obviously, by the scores of media coverage generated by the Knox PR campaign, in publications and reports matching the letter of a “Reliable Sources”. See, there is a loophole in the policy in the sense that anything appearing on, say, CNN, is considered Reliable because CNN is a network with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.

As CNN’s own disclaimers state, though, opinions offered by people appearing on their talk shows are explicitly not endorsed by CNN. But the loophole in policy doesn’t address this nuance, and this is mostly where Wales is trying to give much more prominence to the Knox story.

Fortunately, Jimbo is also increasingly seen as out of touch with the rest of the Wikipedia community, and in practice enjoys no particular privileges. Concerns have been raised on his manner of refusing to hear to the other side of the story.

The article’s talk page is unlikely to quiet down for a while.

But while the FOA perspective is given additional weight at present, the aspect that Wales hasn’t acknowledged is that the article, at the time of this writing, has not just minimized certain aspects of the arguments presented by the Knox PR campaign, but conversely toned down much of the debunking of those same claims.

At this stage, neutrality can be preserved or even improved by providing additional sources.

The sentencing reports for instance are what is qualified as a primary source and can only serve to verify the letter of the courts’  decision. More valuable are media reports or scholarly works (in any language, by the way) that analyze and comment on Massei and its critics.

It is important however to remember that polite discourse is required. If a contributor is subjected to personal attacks, it is better to request politely but firmly that the attack be struck or redacted and move on. Treading lightly and arguing on content with conviction rather than condescension will help guarantee that any contributor can at least be heard.

***********

Gwaendar has been a wikipedia editor for several years.

 

Posted on 03/29/11 at 09:36 AM by GwaendarClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesMore hoaxers
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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Sollecito Family Criminal Trial And Civil Trial For Leaking Evidence Will Both Start On 29 April

Posted by Peter Quennell


The Sollecito family face charges for releasing an evidence video to the Bari TV station Telenorba showing Meredith’s body unclothed.

Also for attempting to influence some politicians to get some cops investigating the case moved on. Several Telenorba TV Bari staff-members will also also face charges. The trial was postponed five weeks ago as the judge was still on another case.

It is now reported in Italy by the news service Adnkronos that at today’s brief hearing a Kercher family civil suit against the Sollecitos for this disrespecting of Meredith will run in parallel.

The Sollecito defense team want to dispute the Perugia court’s jursidiction as the alleged crimes took place in Bari and Rome. That seems unlikely to fly as the evidence leaked was taken from Perugia.

The next court date for the Sollecito family will be Friday 29 April.


Sixth Appeal Hearing: Andrea Vogt On The Testimony Of The Witness In The Square

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: north side of Piazza Grimana showing the benches where Mr Curatolo normally sits]

Click here for Andrea Vogt’s report for the Seattle PI from the appeals court.

One of the case’s most colorful and controversial characters, Curatolo, 53, has spent many a day sitting in the small public Piazza Grimana square near the university where college students come to play basketball, buy hashish and hang out….

When questioned by prosecutors, he said he remembered seeing Knox and Sollecito having “an animated discussion” in the square, which overlooks the villa where Kercher’s body would be found the next day. It was not raining that night, he said, when asked about the weather. The following day the Carabinieri came around to ask him if he had seen anything, he recalled, and he had watched as forensic crime scene investigators worked around the house.

“Are you sure that the day after you saw those two discussing in an animated way you were questioned by the Carabinieri and saw the police at Via della Pergola in their white suits?” asked Mignini.

“Very sure,” Curatolo said. “As sure as I am that I am sitting here.”

But minutes later, in questioning by Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, Curatolo also said he had seen young people in masks and getting on buses to go to the discos. The distinction is important because Halloween was Oct. 31 and there were likely students in costumes, getting on shuttles to go to the discos on the outskirts of town.

Kercher, however, was killed on the evening of Nov. 1, 2007, which is All Saints Day, a somber holiday in Italy, when it is less likely there were any festivities.

“I think it is clear that he does not have a lucid memory,” said a member of Knox’s legal team, Maria del Grosso, after the hearing. “And I think it was demonstrated today that he is not a credible witness.”

However, prosecutors and the lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, maintained the testimony was in line with previous statements.

“He repeated exactly what he said during the first trial. We still believe he is reliable.”

Good neutral report, as you’d expect, from Andrea Vogt who is the American reporter most consistently in the courtroom. All the other reports in English seemed to include a lot of fluff from the defenses.

We’ll have an analysis post on this hearing and the DNA testing in Rome later today or tomorrow.

**********

Below: Mr Curatolo’s preferred benches are at the far left there. If Sollecito did watch the gate of the house on the night he’d need to be to the far right there. The gate can easily be seen from there.


Posted on 03/28/11 at 09:23 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009The Massei ReportHellmann 2011+
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