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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Might Come Up In The Final Days Of The Current Appeal

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


There have been nine appeal hearings since last November and there might be a further half a dozen.

Court will meet on July 25 and 31 and August 1. Then will come the August break, and then further hearings and an appeal verdict. At the last hearing on 27 June, Judge Hellman assigned the next three court dates for the DNA report and its rebuttal.

The only other sure thing accepted for discussion is the prosecution’s intention to revisit the mitigating circumstances Massei allowed and argue that they should be disallowed and the sentences of RS and AK increased.

The judges and jury have available to them not only the Massei and Micheli reports but all of the 10,000 plus pages of evidence from both trials plus all the court transcripts.

Our main posters James Raper, a lawyer, and Kermit will be posting a Powerpoint presentation after the DNA court sessions which will explain all of the tough questions that are still lurking in plain sight.

If the appeal court is to overturn the original verdict Judge Hellman would have to convince the Supreme Court of Cassation that Massei, Micheli, Guede’s first appeal judge and the Supreme Court itself that they all got it wrong and that the evidence suggests there was either only one perpetrator or another two.

But the existing evidence including the mixed blood, the mismatched alibis, and the strange pattern of phone calls does not fit either scenario.

Each of the discussion items in the appeal so far seem to have been quasi-disappointments for the defenses, and Giulia Bongiorno seemed to signal that at the June 27 hearing when her frustration over the failure of either Alessi or Aviello to convince became obvious.

Guede on the stand saying that Sollecito and Knox murdered Meredith had to have been a hard blow, and there would be no reason obvious to the court why he would lie.

Our Italian lawyers think the defense on appeal has been misconceived and too hard-line, too zero-sum-game, not very smart.  In the appeal hearings Knox and Sollecito have not had the opportunity to exercise either any innocent charm or any show of repentance, and Knox’s statement on 11 December blaming a whole lot of others could have seemed to the jury rather unpleasant.

Our lawyers don’t see an acquittal in the cards barring some huge surprise, such as Sollecito or Knox getting up on the witness stand and surviving withering cross-examination in convincingly putting across one or other of their alibis.

If they don’t get up on the stand, the judges and jury are meant to not make anything of that. But they surely would wonder why.

Posted on 07/19/11 at 07:09 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Respected Journalist Carl Bernstein Criticizes “Murdochism” For Debasing News Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell

Carl Bernstein was one of the two intrepid Washington Post reporters who helped to bring down President Nixon over the illegalities of Watergate.

He is being seen daily on American TV now and (as above) on British TV decrying the reporting methods and culture which are now being exposed in London, and the manufacture of false news and sensationalism which have left audiences falsely angered and concentrating on all the wrong things.

And which are now resulting in a large popular backlash, and the fleeing of advertisers from the Murdoch newspapers.

On the whole, the UK Murdoch media vehicles reported fairly on Meredith’s case (Sky News, London Times, London Sunday Times, The Sun) but the New York Post stirred things up (see here and here) as did especially Geraldo Rivera on his talk show on Fox TV News.

And the aggressive sensationalist culture did spread far and wide.  The much milder competitor to the New York Post, the New York Daily News, has this to say::

The question now is whether the scandal will bring down the most successful propaganda fount in the world, Fox News, or if it will simply continue to sell factoids as “fair and balanced” fact.

This is much more serious than merely hurling mud at a target who has long helped Republicans by slinging loads of mud. The basic problem is, as Carl Bernstein points out in Newsweek, Murdoch became terribly influential with a simple way of doing things:

Just reduce every issue to a child’s level of perception with sensational headlines leading only to black and white, bad and good. In the practices of his mammoth News Corp., Murdoch always sent ethics and fact flying out the window in favor of profits. .

The New York Times has posted a good history of how and why Rupert Murdoch evolved his media culture in Troubles That Money Can’t Dispel here.

As of today, it looks like Rupert Murdoch and possibly his two sons and daughter may all have to stand down in face of anger from News Corps’ nine independent directors on its board of sixteen. News Corps stock value has been hemorrhaging half a billion a day for two weeks.

The directors may also pull the plug on more newspapers and maybe make News Corp exclusively an entertainment company - and get out of faux news.

Posted on 07/18/11 at 09:18 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contextsMedia news
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Repeat Of The Powerpoint Guides To The Relevant Locations And Events On Meredith’s Fatal Night

Posted by Kermit

Click on the two images below for the two Powerpoints which will take a few seconds to load.

First posted late in 2008. We re-post them now in response to questions we’ve received from the many new arrivals to Meredith’s cause.






Posted on 07/17/11 at 08:33 AM by KermitClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesReal crimescene
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Analysis Suggests The Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Is Weak, Tendentious, Cites Non-Existent Standards

Posted by Fly By Night


Background

In light of the huge fanfare two weeks ago over the release of the court-ordered independent expert review by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti (image above, more in post below) on the forensic science methods and findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni as part of the Knox/Sollecito appeal, we start this analysis of that report by summarizing a few hard facts:

  • The DNA samples currently under review by the court are NOT the only DNA samples used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.  In fact, the five mixed samples (not just DNA – there was the fresh blood of both women in four of them) of Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher constitute the strongest, most damning physical evidence of the case. This is why they have not been subjected to independent review during the appeal, along with the great majority of the evidence Judge Massei and the jury considered in convicting Knox and Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

  • In reviewing the findings of Dr. Stefanoni, Technical Director/Principal Biologist with the Polizia Scientifica in Rome (image below), the expert report is also critiquing the findings and opinions of an entire well-regarded forensics agency along with the personal views of many prominent forensics experts. They include Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and the nationally prominent General Luciano Garofano who in support of Dr. Stefanoni’s own open descriptions have provided lengthy statements describing in great detail their reasons for agreeing with Stefanoni’s methods and findings.

  • The use and acceptance of LCN DNA analysis techniques in the USA lags behind that of other countries in the world, as documented in the numerous publications on the topic now seen in US professional journals.  Enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are routinely relied upon in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe to provide sound evidence for courtroom arguments.  So the expert report’s overbearing reliance upon AMERICAN sources including the controversial opinions of Bruce Budowle (image below) of the University of North Texas, in questioning Stefanoni’s LCN DNA testing techniques, is highly questionable. Budowle has been strongly criticized by a number of distinguished researchers including Theresa Caragine and John Buckleton for his non-scientific opinions and for allegedly engaging in unethical practices and maintaining serious conflicts of interest.

  • Claudio Pratillo Hellman, the judge presiding over the Knox and Sollecito appeal trial, appointed Vecchioti and Conti to provide an independent assessment for the court regarding the handling and analysis of several pieces of evidence that played a role in the conviction of Knox and Sollecito.  Using the expert report as a focus, on Monday July 25th these independent experts will appear in court along with various expert witnesses for the prosecution, the defense teams, and the Kercher family to discuss the only pieces of DNA-related evidence that have been subjected to review in the appeal trial. They are (1) the DNA on the kitchen knife accepted by the Massei court to be the murder weapon, and (2) the DNA on a bra clasp torn from Meredith’s body.

The findings of the expert report itself in all their 145 pages of depth appear to boil down to two primary debates: (1) Issues surrounding the Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA analysis techniques employed by Dr. Stefanoni, and (2) Issues surrounding the probability of excluding all possible sources of contamination from the evidence.

The Expert Report

When the supposed findings of the independent expert report were first leaked, international media ballyhooed them as a sure sign that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito would soon be cleared of murder charges, claiming that the prosecution’s DNA arguments had now been shown to be based upon substandard DNA testing practices, and that the evidence might have been contaminated.  Knox herself was said to have sung and danced with joy upon hearing the news.

But a closer look at actual contents of the report, and its supporting documents, suggests that such celebrations are premature and ill-advised.  The expert report exists to serve only as the focal point for upcoming courtroom arguments, including arguments over the validity of Dr. Stefanoni’s claim to have identified Meredith Kercher’s DNA on the blade of the kitchen knife.  The report explains why a complete repeat of the testing Stefanoni performed on both the knife and bra clasp was not possible and how DNA on the bra clasp had deteriorated beyond testability. 

The expert’s attempts to perform repeat tests on the knife were unsuccessful in identifying cellular material on the blade. This was not a surprise, considering that Stefanoni had previously reported that additional testing would be impossible due to the minimal amount of DNA originally found there.  The expert’s testing did, however, firmly conclude that Amanda Knox’s DNA was located on the handle of the knife.

The expert report will steer upcoming courtroom debates towards a complete review of Stefanoni’s crime scene management practices, the DNA analysis methods she employed, and the reasoning and protocols she used to reach her conclusions.  The expert report provides one of several frames of reference for these debates and in part focuses upon criticisms not only of Stefanoni’s use of LCN DNA testing techniques to identify Kercher’s DNA on the knife blade but the entire LCN DNA analysis methodology itself.  As noted above, Vecchioti and Conti confirmed the presence of Amanda Knox’s DNA on the handle of the knife but suggest that the very small sample of Meredith’s DNA located on the blade, identified by LCN DNA testing, is the result of contamination.

The Potential For Contamination

Contamination of evidence might occur in the evidence collection phase of an investigation, or it might occur as the result of improper laboratory testing procedures once a sample has arrived securely at the forensic laboratory.  Before digging deeper into laboratory contamination potential, including associated LCN DNA analysis issues, we first take a look at the expert report’s evaluation of evidence collection protocols and the potential for contamination in that phase of the criminal investigation.

The expert report attempts to establish that international standards for crime scene management practices exist. However, their approach raises the same question raised by the assignment of Bruce Budowle, a controversial and opinionated LCN DNA commenter, as the foundation for their DNA analysis critiques.  Namely, why does the expert report find it necessary to over-rely upon inappropriate and highly questionable American resources to support its most critical arguments?

As strange as it may seem, the Italian expert report references quite a few relatively obscure, and often outdated, editions of American resources. They include the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory Manual, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Handbook, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Evidence Guide, the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory Manual, the New Jersey State Police Evidence Manual, and even introductory college textbooks covering criminal investigations at the level of “please wash your hands.”

If the intent of the expert report was to establish that a standard set of international protocols exists, and then to compare that set of protocols to protocols used in the Meredith Kercher murder case, then why not cite the international body that establishes and upholds such standards, if that body actually exists?

Instead, the approach taken by the expert report only serves to underscore the notion that there may, in fact, be no such thing as international standards for evidence collection and handling.  What the report actually establishes is that they are citing from a selected list of extremely diverse regional “best practices” manuals in support of theoretical and abstract concepts or points.  In doing so the expert report authors its own set of ad hoc “international standards” as it moves along. 

It would have been far more effective to put the focus on creating an objective and fair analysis of the real-world crime scene management procedures employed in this case, and then comparing and contrasting those findings with the successful, or unsuccessful, management practices of other similar case-study investigations providing appropriate citations from relevant literature along the way.

As a result of the independent experts’ approach, the contamination risk concerns cited in the expert report during the evidence collection phase appear to be largely a rehash of arguments over protocol that were thoroughly vetted during the course of the trial itself, such as how often investigators changed their gloves.

What we are left with is a report that only theoretically suggests that contamination cannot be ruled out, while completely failing to provide concrete examples of precisely when and how contamination could have entered into the evidence management chain.  For the appeal, this will result in a repeat of the same attacks upon investigative methods and processes, and all of the related arguments, that the court entertained during the trial, albeit this time with a new judge and jury.

The expert report apparently confirms that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on the bra clasp in an amount that would be difficult to attribute to contamination.  Dr. Stefanoni found about 4 nanograms of Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp, which is a substantial amount of DNA considering that research suggests that contaminated samples usually contain sub-picogram amounts of DNA, or around 1000 to 10,000 times less DNA than attributed to Sollecito on the bra clasp.

That fact that Raffaele’s DNA on the clasp appears to be mixed with additional DNA should NOT lead to conclusions that his profile cannot be effectively isolated and identified, or must be the result of contamination.  In fact, Italy’s premiere forensic science expert Luciano Garofano testified that Stefanoni’s analysis of the bra clasp was “perfect.”  It is also not plausible to suggest that contamination is the source for Sollecito’s abundant DNA on the bra clasp in the absence of significant environmental traces for Sollecito anywhere else in or around Meredith’s home, or in the Rome laboratory for that matter.


LCN DNA Testing

LCN is a DNA profiling technique employed when available DNA is limited to very small quantities.  A DNA sample might be as small as a millionth the size of a grain of salt, amounting to only a few cells of skin or sweat left in a fingerprint.

Using LCN testing techniques the small sample can be successfully evaluated and attributed to an individual.  LCN DNA testing has been in use since 1999 and is rapidly gaining worldwide acceptance in both legal and forensic science communities.  For example it has now been used in more than 21,000 cases in the UK since being approved for use in criminal cases in 2008, following a period of stringent testing and evaluation.

The increased sensitivity of LCN testing techniques does increase the potential of contamination to impact analyses of small DNA samples in the laboratory.  Since LCN techniques can accurately amplify DNA samples having as little as just a few cells it has been suggested that even breathing on such a small sample has the potential to render the resulting profile useless.  Contamination is particularly problematic for LCN samples because both sample and contaminant DNA are amplified, resulting in a complex mixed profile with related stochastic effect impacts. 

But, as evidenced in the expert report itself, Dr. Stefanoni is well-versed in the appropriate methods for dealing with these concerns, since she is quoted as already having admonished the court experts Vecchioti and Conti for not making use of a fume hood to ensure the absence of contamination as they conducted their retests on the evidence.

In recent years numerous professional publications have addressed the scientific, technical, and legal issues surrounding LCN DNA sample testing, outlining the stochastic effects and artifacts such as peak imbalances between alleles and loci, as well as allele and locus drop-out, or allele drop-in, along with making a variety of suggestions for both avoiding contamination and making error-free evaluations of stochastic effects. 

On the basis of these publications, including the proceedings of the biannual world congresses of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, it is clear that enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are now routinely in use in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe.  This is strong evidence that the scientific community is now actively engaged in an effort to document all LCN DNA methods in use and is working towards developing standard biostatistical tools for evaluating LCN DNA typing results. 

It also appears as though the USA is lagging behind other regions in research, practice, and acceptance in this discipline.

In this relatively new field of study it is not surprising that researchers have yet to establish anything approaching standards for LCN DNA testing and analysis.  Even so, this has not prevented the results of LCN DNA testing from being successfully and routinely introduced as viable evidence in courtroom arguments. 

For example, on February 8, 2010, Judge Robert Hanophy of the Supreme Court of Queens County, New York ruled that results of LCN DNA testing, as performed by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City, is now generally accepted as reliable in the forensic scientific community, it consistently yields reliable results, it is not a novel scientific procedure, and it is therefore admissible at trial (People v. Megnath, Supreme Court of New York, Queens County, 2010 NY).

Although the current Wikipedia article on the topic maintains that LCN DNA has only been adopted for evidential purposes in the UK, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, this unreferenced claim stands in ignorance of the fact that inquisitorial court systems in numerous European countries do not typically require formal publication and peer review of analytical methods in scientific journals as a justification for their methods. 

And as we have seen in the current Knox/Sollecito trial, in Europe it has become customary to have independent experts attempt to convince the court of the validity, or invalidity, of the LCN typing results that have been presented in a trial.  To be successful, it is essential that an independent expert provide the court with evidence of expertly-conducted retests of available evidence, relevant citations of appropriate research, and meaningful evaluations of protocols employed in outlining their objective and balanced set of opinions for the court. 

In this regard, it appears that the independent expert report for the Knox/Sollecito appeal has completely missed the mark.

Their report gives the strong impression that Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti were overtly attempting to invalidate the findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the Polizia Scientifica in Rome, and the wealth of supportive testimony provided in court during the trial.  The tone of their report strongly indicates that they have lined up with Sollecito defense experts Adriano Tagliabracci and Valerio Onofri of the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Ancona, and Knox defense experts Sara Gino, Walter Patumi and Carlo Torre from the University of Turin.

We will see in court on the 25th if they are really across the figurative aisle from the prosecution witnesses Dr. Stefanoni and Dr. Giuseppe Novelli, a highly esteemed professor of biomedicine at Tor Vergata in Rome who is considered to be the “father of police forensics” in Italy, along with the expert witnesses for the Kercher family Professor Torricelli, and Dr. Emiliano Giardina, who is a colleague of Professor Novelli at Tor Vergata University.

This appears to establish grounds for a formidable courtroom battle if all experts can provide solid grounds for their opinions. However, the Kercher’s lawyer Francesco Maresca was already quick to point out that those on the prosecution’s side of the aisle have substantially more practical experience and years of work in the forensic science field.

An in depth reading of the expert report uncovers allegations that Dr. Stefanoni has not followed internationally established forensic science management standards and that in doing so she has committed analytical errors, such as the misattribution of peaks in her bra clasp DNA analysis.  What the report fails to mention, however, is that no such standards exist and that there are currently multiple perspectives from which a scientist might argue their case regarding the proper interpretation of DNA data, as evidenced in any sampling of current forensic science journal articles. 

For example, the expert report cites a 2006 International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) publication as an example of a standard for determining which stutters should be considered as alleles in the assessment of mixed DNA samples.  But this alleged “standard” stands in contrast to direct testimony from Dr. Stefanoni while defending her lab protocols in comparison to the ISFG “recommendations” which she claims in no way qualify as authoritative standards.  The difference between recommendations and standards is a critical distinction in scientific fields.

A closer look at this discrepancy reveals that in 2007 Dr. Stefanoni and her immediate supervisor, Dr. Renato Biondo, hosted a meeting in Rome of the European DNA Profiling Group (EDNAP) in which these same 2006 ISFG recommendations were discussed.  At that meeting papers were presented from the UK and Germany that contested a number of the ISFG recommendations that the expert report now attempts to establish as mandatory standards. 

In the midst of this ongoing debate over ISFG recommendations, it is quite remarkable that the expert report, citing that 2006 ISFG document, chooses to assert that Stefanoni made erroneous interpretations of chart peaks simply because her interpretation of the data did not respect the controversial ISFG recommendations. 

The experts report consequently admits that they confirmed Stefanoni’s awareness of the ISFG recommendations, and that she expressed a personal view that they should simply be viewed as “guidelines.”  Yet they STILL insist on continuing to label her conclusions as erroneous since she did not “correctly” and “explicitly” adhere to the ISFG “recommendations.”

In light of all this, it is highly unlikely that Judge Hellman will dismiss Dr. Stefanoni’s knowledge and expertise on this matter as readily as Vecchioti and Conti have in their expert report.

An in depth analysis of the expert report also indicates that the citations from scientific journals are incomplete and often “cherry-picked” to directly support specific criticisms brought against Dr. Stefanoni’s methods. 


For example, the expert report appears to base its entire argument against Stefanoni’s reliance upon LCN DNA analysis techniques upon one paper, authored by Bruce Budowle et al entitled “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance.”  The expert report then goes on to cite a paper by Gill and Buckleton where these authors appear to support a few claims made by Budowle (image above) in his article, but the report completely ignores the fact that Gill and Buckleton then go on to air strong criticisms of many other claims made by Budowle.

In fact, in 2010 John Buckleton and Peter Gill authored a scathing criticism of Bruce Budowle’s entire “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance” article; the very article that the expert report relies exclusively upon in bringing Dr. Stefanoni’s methods into question.  In their article, published in Forensic Science, Buckleton and Gill state:

[Budowle’s] article is not peer reviewed. The proceedings of the ISFG Congress are prefaced by the message: “the manuscripts were neither reviewed nor edited in detail.  The articles reflect the opinions of the authors.”

It contains neither new data nor any novel scientific findings. Rather it represents public advocacy and is an expression of alternative opinion by the three authors concerning observations that are largely common ground. There is a place in the scientific literature for advocacy but it must be soundly based on proven facts.

We have some considerable difficulty in actually determining just exactly what the authors are indeed advocating. This is because of their inconsistent use of terminology and inconsistent recommendations. In our opinion, the views presented are inadequately precise, demonstrate a lack of appreciation of underlying principles and are not aligned with broader scientific opinion.

The title of the paper appeared to have one eye on future Frye or Daubert hearings and again we question whether such a title has a place in the learned literature. It takes upon itself, inappropriately, the role of gatekeeper of what constitutes “general acceptance” (The Frye test).

The article itself appears to be a rather inappropriate continuation of a debate arising from a court case in New York (People v. Megnath). Again we would question whether this journal is the correct forum to air this debate.

In other words, Buckleton and Gill are suggesting that Bruce Budowle acted unethically by publishing his non-peer reviewed opinions in a professional journal for the purpose of using the article to support his work as a paid consultant, and as an expert witness in court cases such as People v. Megnath in New York. 

Incidentally, Budowle was unsuccessful in advocating his opinions as an expert witness for the defense in People v. Megnath in his battle with Theresa Caragine of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York over her submission in court of data obtained using LCN DNA testing techniques.

Theresa Caragine herself authored a powerful rebuttal of Budowle’s article claiming that when Budowle’s “opinions” were published he failed to disclose that he had, in fact, been retained by the defense counsel for Mr. Megnath, and that he had already testified as a paid expert witness regarding the opinions he expresses in the journal article that the expert report relies heavily upon in attempting to substantiate its points.  And even though Bruce Budowle’s opinions had previously been delivered as a paid expert witness in a judicial setting, he made the claim of ‘No Conflict of Interest’ when applying to publish this non-peer reviewed article.

Caragine’s remarks go even further in criticizing the Budowle et al LCN DNA article by pointing out that it is not even a research article, but a non-peer reviewed submission that had purportedly been presented in the context of the 23rd Biennial Worldwide Conference of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, 2009 in Buenos Aires. 

Caragine claims that, while Budowle had in fact submitted a similar paper at that meeting, it was not under its current title, nor did it have the same the list of authors, and the abstract submitted to the conference organizers for their selection process does not align with the content of the paper now cited in the Italian experts’ report submitted to the court in the Knox/Sollecito appeal.  In her rebuttal, Caragine strongly questions whether or not such a circumvention of all standard principles of scientific publishing is in any way acceptable or appropriate.

Conclusions

In light of all of the above, the upcoming July 25th court hearing in the Knox/Sollecito trial should be considered as anything but a foregone conclusion.  The rationale behind the exuberant remarks noted in recent press releases regarding content allegedly favorable to defense efforts and anticipated impacts appears to be baseless. 

For an Italian report, it gives the appearance of being remarkably Amero-centric, and we find it ugly and unprofessional that the expert report chooses to attack Dr. Stefanoni and her colleagues by citing nonexistent international standards and by relying upon extraordinarily questionable resources in doing so. 

The report’s final conclusion that contamination cannot be completely ruled out is remarkably weak considering that there are relatively few real-world cases in which contamination of evidence might be completely ruled out.

It becomes clear, then, that well informed prosecution interrogators will have no problem in identifying and attacking the report’s multiple weaknesses.  We should expect Dr. Stefanoni and the prosecution’s team of experts to present precise counter arguments for the challenges expressed in the expert report, strongly defending the forensic science capabilities of Stefanoni and her team.

Posted on 07/13/11 at 08:10 AM by Fly By NightClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesDNA and luminolAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+Hoaxers from 2007More hoaxersPeter Gill
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Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti In Perugia Seen Enjoying Their 15 Minutes Of Fame

Posted by Peter Quennell








Posted on 07/13/11 at 07:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesDNA and luminolOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Chief Enforcer Of The Constitution And The Rule Of Law is Wildly Popular Throughout Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell


President Giorgio Napolitano’s popularity rating is at 80% and rising. In sharp contrast, Prime Minister Berlusconi’s is at 30% and falling

Italians invariably take their constitution and their justice system very seriously and they have good reason to be proud of those institutions. Although the President’s daily duties are mostly ceremonial David Willey of the BBC explains his very key powers in those areas.

He is the person who has to appoint a new prime minister every time there is a government crisis. And he is the guarantor of Italy’s constitution, hammered out immediately after World War II by the founding fathers of the republic following two decades of Fascist rule.

He is said to receive dozens of petitions a day and in certain cases he does act to get things done. Significantly, two that he chose to ignore recently concerned the ongoing Sollecito-Knox appeal process.

Of two pretty blatant attempts to bias the Perugia process, one came from Joel Simon of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, and one came from the junior Berlusconi-party MP Rocco Girlanda.

President Giorgio Napolitano simply ignored both of them.

The Italian prime minister also seems to be sitting this one out, as the painstaking process of justice for Meredith rolls on.

Posted on 07/12/11 at 09:52 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009The wider contextsItalian system
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another Look At Meredith’s Fine School And What It Says About Her And Her Family

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for our post of April last year on Meredith’s happy schooldays as described in Paul Russell and Grahame Johnson’s Darkness Descending.

This school explains a lot about Meredith. The United Kingdom has on the whole pretty good government-run schools. But its various public schools (its name for private schools) offer real renaissance educations where almost every hour is given to yet another area of formation.

Read Plato’s extraordinary Republic on education for the principles on which all of these schools are based. Not only was Meredith exceptionally focussed, ambitious, and hard-working. She also had the great confidence and poise that comes only from excelling in a lot of pursuits.

For the fourth child in a family it was remarkable that her family saw early what she needed and put forward all they could for her to get it.

Posted on 07/10/11 at 08:14 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning Meredith
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Friday, July 08, 2011

Jury Sequestration Coming Under Fire From Those Who Question The Casey Anthony Verdict

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: The jury’s Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando; there are more images here].

The jury was imported for the Casey Anthony trial from a Gulf of Mexico town 100 miles west.  They stayed in this hotel for nearly seven weeks.

Now they are rather defiantly starting to speak out (see the ABC News video posted below) to explain that, given big gaps in the evidence against Casey Anthony, and the dubious scenario presented (that she put the baby she loved to sleep with chloroform and duct tape in the trunk of her car while she went off to have a good time), they did what they had to do: unanimously vote no on the charges of murder and manslaughter.

There seem to be no signs that during the trial a hue-and-cry media had any pro-guilt effect on their thinking - in Tuesday’s post we suggested that if anything it seemed to do quite the opposite.

But it is now being suggested that while staying all together in this hotel the 20 jurors became just a little too chummy.

The former Los Angeles prosecutor Marcia Clark, who is critical of both the verdict and the prosecution, argues in the Daily Beast that jury members themselves are signaling that their sequestration was a very big factor.

I’m going to start by saying that, for those who thought the jury came back awfully fast—less than eleven hours spent in deliberation, you should now wonder what took them that long. Because from the very first vote, this jury was already close to a unanimous verdict of acquittal - at least as to murder: ten to two for not guilty. That’s an impressive show of solidarity for a first vote. And it shows they were almost unanimously inclined to acquit right from jump.

It’s the fact that this jury was already in sync in a case that posed so many debatable issues is what’s so noteworthy. And it has everything to do with sequestration. This jury was sequestered for more than two months. When jurors are forced to spend day and night with each other, apart from their families and friends, they become a tribe unto themselves. Because they only have each other for company, and because most people prefer harmony to discord, there’s a natural desire to cooperate, to compromise in order to reach agreement. And they have no safe retreat. If they disagree with their fellow jurors, they can’t go home to a husband, a wife, a friend, where they can regroup and marshal their energies. Make no mistake about it, sequestration is no picnic and I have sympathy and respect for the jurors who put up with that incredible hardship.

But we can’t ignore the mental and emotional impact it has on the jurors—an impact that likely thwarts the whole point of drafting twelve individuals to decide a defendant’s fate. The point of having twelve jurors is to have an array of differing points of view. The belief is that people of different backgrounds and experience will naturally bring a variety of attitudes to bear, and thus produce a more balanced view of the evidence. What one juror doesn’t get, another one does, and each of them sees different aspects to each witness and piece of evidence. The idea is for them to share differing views and reach a greater understanding—not to have them shave off their square corners so they can all roll together.

Unfortunately—and psychological studies bear this out—a group that is kept together for any length of time becomes more and more alike, more in sync, as time goes on. (By the way, this phenomenon is also in play with regard to proximity to the defendant. The longer the jury is in contact with the defendant, the less sinister he or she appears. In this way, familiarity with Casey Anthony turned her from a potential murderer to an abused, perhaps disturbed, but certainly nonthreatening, child.) Add this phenomenon to the natural desire to avoid contentiousness and seek harmony and you can see how individuality begins to erode in a sequestered jury.

Now add to that the psychology of group dynamics—a subject well known to trial lawyers and jury consultants. In every group there will be leaders and followers. Listening to Juror Jennifer Ford, who was very likely a leader, it became abundantly clear that the leaders on the Anthony jury were cheerleaders for the defense.


Posted on 07/08/11 at 10:49 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Jennifer Ford Is The First Juror To Speak Out On The Casey Anthony Acquittal

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 07/08/11 at 09:30 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Thinking About Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito, and Amanda Knox: What Might Have Been

Posted by Ergon





This is my post on my website Man From Atlan of June 26, 2011 cross-posted here at the invitation of TJMK.

Due to my Scorpionic nature, I think, I come across a great many criminal and legal cases that grab the public attention.

It seems, also, that I get involved in the case in one way or the other, and, a great number of coincidences seem to er, follow me. Psychologists call that the ‘I was there syndrome’ and that’s fine, it’s a form of mental illness, and you can decide if I have it, or not!

But I have spent a lifetime studying the fine line between Psychic Sensitivity and Schizophrenia, and what interests me here is not only how we identify with the crime and the individuals involved, but how these cases establish themselves in the public consciousness.

And yes, I want to write about the lives wasted, and what might have been.

Whenever a person dies, there is a break in the fabric of consciousness, and all of humanity is affected. Most people learn to ignore it; some, more sensitive, get consumed by it, but we are all affected by it at some level.

A murder case may be just one individual; the devastation of an earthquake or tsunami may affect hundreds of thousands. As for me, I am an observer, but also in a way, a catalyst.

Look, you know my spiritual claims. Forget that for a moment. What I do is warn people about the fateful consequences of the psychic and spiritual damage done to our souls (or psyche) and environment, and if you don’t listen, if you don’t change, then so be it. What will be, will be. But a part of me, having seen what would happen, mourns for what might have been.

One of my patients was a girl who had Rhett’s Syndrome, a severe form of Autism. She came to my clinic and the treatments really helped, yet it was the mother who also needed help. In the end, suffering from depression, she killed her child and tried to commit suicide.

A woman two streets down from us, suffering from post partum depression, killed her husband and stabbed her two children as well. My son used to play with their dog at the local park, but curiously, I never met them.

I worked on a mayoralty campaign. The candidate, a lovely soul, came second. At the farewell party I saw something dark around him. I told his partner that he needed help, and offered. It wasn’t heard because they were, I think, already caught up in their karma. A year later he jumped off a bridge and killed himself.

Then, going from the personal to the ‘famous’ cases, and the ‘coincidences’ and lessons thereof.

I wrote in “Michael Jackson, the Drowning Man” about how I helped a famous musician with his Parkinson’s Disease in 1994 but when I asked him to introduce me to Michael Jackson, he didn’t. I was too controversial. Pity, I could have helped him before he descended into his inappropriate behavior.

OJ Simpson was the first criminal case. I lived in Santa Monica almost equidistant between him and his ex-wife Nicole Brown. I had driven around the neighborhood enough times to know the story had some inconsistencies, but I believed he was guilty. I also accepted the jury’s verdict of Not Guilty, because the principle of reasonable doubt, in American law, had to be upheld.

There also was the fact I had closed my practice in Toronto and moved to Los Angeles just to help people there, arriving in 1993 in time for the Malibu Fires and Northridge Earthquake (written in “A Spiritual Journey To The United States”) and once I knew my work was done left for Texas. And a few months later, the murder, the White Bronco slowly driving down the freeway, the media circus and all of LA enjoying a mass catharsis.

After I left the US in 1995 I shifted my focus to Europe, though Canada remained my home base. I still looked back to the US with fondness, and sadness for what was yet to come.

I was in England in 2005 when the Terri Schiavo case gripped the nation. She was in a lengthy coma, with most of her brain destroyed. Her parents were fighting to keep her on life support, while her husband wanted to pull the plug and let her die.

I tried to stay uninvolved, even though I knew her spirit wanted to be free. I felt this was wrong, for parents to keep holding on to their child. So one day, when Chloe called me about the latest developments, I said enough was enough, and helped her spirit pass on. She died that evening. And shortly after I left England, there was the London Tube bombing. Coincidence, or catharsis?

Madeleine McCann, a little girl from the U.K., disappeared from her holiday bedroom in Portugal just a few days before her 4th birthday, in May of 2007. Her parents were dining some distance away with their friends and inexplicably had left the children unattended and the door to their villa unlocked. The investigators never found Madeleine. The conclusion, absent a body, was that she had been kidnapped. There were many false sightings after that, as people assumed she had been kidnapped by child traders.

This was two months before I went to the UK with my family on holiday. I was asked what I thought about Madeleine. Would she be found? I replied that she had died that first night, and the parents were involved in a cover up. The person who asked me that question then consulted a psychic, who of course said what everyone wanted to hear: Madeleine was alive.

Then further reports came out, and we found that special police dogs, trained to sniff for evidence of death, had indicated she had died inside the bedroom that very night. Nothing further came to light, as political interference corrupted the whole process, and police investigators were sacked for ‘unfairly blaming the parents’

Yet, there’s a website that does just that; you be the judge. See here and here and here.

This was another example of a case that would consume the public, as so many identified with the missing child, or the parents. And, as always, my presence seemed coincidental to a whole series of events. A few weeks before we arrived in Glasgow, bombers hit Glasgow airport with a van loaded to the top with propane cylinders, the rains hit the whole country for three months straight, and the biggest floods in over a century inundated large parts of Southern England. Yet wherever we went, there was sunshine…This is the dichotomy of healing, that there can be sunshine, but also, darkness.

I had already arranged to go back to the UK for a month as a consultant. I returned to Canada on October 31.

The very next day, on November 1, 2007, British student Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, was murdered in Perugia, Italy. Her roommate, Amanda Marie Knox, was convicted of the murder, as was her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Hermann Guede, a drifter from the Cote de Ivoire in Africa.

I hadn’t read much about the case and trial, but came across it on the pages of Huffington Post, the social news website. Here was a full blown narrative: Amanda Knox was innocent of the crime, she was the victim of a corrupt Italian prosecutor, and Rudy Guede was the sole perpetrator (All untrue, btw)

What piqued me was the fingerprints of an extensive PR campaign to manipulate public opinion so as to influence the outcome of a trial in another country. Appearances by Knox’s family on Oprah, calls to boycott Italy, politicians trying to intervene in a judicial process, oh my.

And the comments on the numerous Amanda threads were funny, and so sad. These people were, in a word, disturbed. They were even foul mouthed about the victims parents, for daring to say they felt justice had been served. And they had no compunction about blatant lying and slander either.

I’d seen this so many times, the ease with which people could be led to believe, on the basis of something they saw or read, the most outlandish things.

Now I really do believe that trying to convince True Believers is a waste of time. (But arguing with them can be er, illuminating:) I’m interested in the process by which they come to that belief, but any good book on mob psychology can give you the basics, and of course, you must always read Orwell’s 1984. The same principles of propaganda used to create support for war can also be used to support a position, no matter how wrong it might seem to the intelligent observer.

So I looked at the facts of the case. Amanda Knox had falsely accused her black boss, Patrick Lumumba of the crime, she and her boyfriend had provided alibis that were later disproved, there was a staged break in to mislead the investigation, and there was sufficient DNA, blood and foot prints to prove the complicity of the other two accused.

Two courts, led by Judges Micheli and Massei, had already looked at over 10,000 pages of evidence to conclude that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had also been involved in the murder. And, the most compelling DNA evidence, Raffaele’s DNA on the victims bra, and Amanda’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s on the murder knife found in Raffaele’s flat.

The Supreme Court of Italy, while affirming Rudy Guede’s conviction, had already established that more than one attacker had been involved, and that DNA attributed to Knox and Sollecito had already been found.

I also noted that the Wikipedia page on Meredith Kercher, once reflecting the findings of guilt against all three accused, had now been hijacked by, let’s say, Amanda Knox partisans.

I have to thank the two websites TJMK and PMF for the fine work they have done compiling and translating the vast volume of Italian language transcripts of the trial and summaries of evidence. Without them, my technical knowledge of the case would have been quite inadequate. I can’t recommend them highly enough for anyone interested in learning about the case.

But I formed my opinions way before I found their sites, and I say this out of respect: I don’t want their work compromised by association with my own views.

What I write about here is first and always, spiritual in nature. I may use logic to confirm something, I will look at evidence, but ultimately I look at disturbances in the fabric to search out imbalance and untruth. And I learn to trust my instincts. It is only afterwards that I look at other factors, and if I need to adjust my views, so be it. But the patterns and the coincidences, are fascinating.

First, the Astrology. Meredith Kercher, born Dec. 28, 1985, and Rudy Guede, December 26, 1986, are both Capricorns. Raffaele Sollecito, March 26, 1984, is Aries, and Amanda Knox, July 09, 1987, a Cancer. Their signs form a T-Square, at 90 degrees to each other, which are widely seen as indicators of stress and incompatibility. The day of the murder saw widespread stressors on all their horoscopes which would lead to murder, detection, conviction and imprisonment. The Astrology even shows Raffaele’s drug dependency and mental confusion on the night of the murder, the conflict between Amanda and Meredith, and the violence and rage that simmered just below the surface of Amanda Knox’s psyche.

And the night of the murder, November 1, 2007, saw Saturn and Venus in the house of emotional excess, Uranus in the house of sudden death, and Jupiter/Pluto, in the sexual house, in an almost exact T-Square to each other. The close conjunction of Pluto to the Milky Way’s Galactic Center shows the potency of this murder in attracting the public imagination, and also, the trigger for the murder.

But Astrology is just one of many tools in Humanistic psychology. It shows patterns, yes, but mainly it gives a picture of motivations and stages of development. And sometimes, it tells us what might happen. For me, there are many tools: Psychism to know, and other tools to understand.

So I will say this about all four:

Amanda Knox’s profile is that of the self destructive individual who will fall from ‘the shattered tower’ due to her associations with others. Btw, her July 09 birthday is the same as OJ Simpson’s and they Both Wielded Knives, hmmm!

Raffaele Sollecito has powerful friends who won’t be able to help him. He almost had it too easy, and his drug use took him into some deep dark spaces. Note he wasn’t just using cannabis, but more likely a potent form called skunk weed, plus heroin and cocaine.

Rudy Guede may actually turn out to be a sympathetic individual. His is the one chart I see that leads to redemption and indescribable potential. He is, quite frankly, the most believable of the three, even though he did lie, and he was rightly found guilty.

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was greatly loved, had the intellectual capability to go far, and would have, if she hadn’t been murdered, been a bright blazing star. RIP Meredith.

I hate to make predictions. Human beings will always have the capacity to alter the future (though truth be told, not as much as they like to think) My prophecies have to do with the future of this planet and humanity’s ability to survive and regenerate itself.

But on June 27, Rudy Guede will face Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in their appeals trial, and for the first time, be forced to answer questions directly. I believe this will be the day he begins to redeem himself.

(Update: And on that day, he placed Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the crime scene)

On June 30th, the DNA experts will present their findings. This will be one day before the solar eclipse in Cancer. I predict bombshells in court.

(Update: the expert’s report was presented a day earlier, on June 29, and it was interesting, to say the least. It disputed some of the DNA findings accepted by the previous court and one would think from the media reporting they prove Knox and Sollecito’s innocence. From my reading of the report, it does no such thing, only places ambiguities on some of the evidence. There definitely will be fireworks in court, as the prosecution tears into the many errors of the report)

I am struck by the coincidences of the cases I outlined: allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, disputed forensic and DNA evidence, racism and political interference, your standard trial. But they all, held a special place in the public imagination.

But in spiritism we see that it is the unquiet spirit of the victim that calls to us, and we can only hope and pray for their peace. Justice is always done.

And one can only look back at them with sadness, for what might have been.

Posted on 07/06/11 at 01:36 PM by ErgonClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Interesting Tilts Of Marcia Clark And Alan Dershowitz Toward Educated, Informed Italian-type Juries

Posted by Peter Quennell



Neither of these heavy hitters are saying to abolish the common-law system of not placing professionals in the jury room.

Or for that matter to swing over to a semi-professional and seemingly less error-prone system like Italy’s, where the judges stake their own reputations on their verdict and the written explanation that must follow.

But both found the Casey Anthony non-guilty jury verdict a bit peculiar, and Alan Dershowitz specifically suggests that semi-professional jury systems (like Italy’s) tend to be more accurate. 

Above, the former prosecutor Marcia Clark commenting a couple of weeks ago on why the media boosted the Casey Anthony trial into such a “fry her” phenomenon. And here in the Daily Beast she comments on why that media angle had no sway over the jury.

For one thing the evidence and scenario had some major gaps. And for another:

[American] jury instructions are so numerous and complex, it’s a wonder jurors ever wade through them. And so it should come as no surprise that they can sometimes get stuck along the way. The instruction on circumstantial evidence is confusing even to lawyers. And reasonable doubt? That’s the hardest, most elusive one of all. And I think it’s where even the most fair-minded jurors can get derailed.

How? By confusing reasonable doubt with a reason to doubt. Some believe that thinking was in play in the Simpson case. After the verdict was read in the Simpson case, as the jury was leaving, one of them, I was later told, said: “We think he probably did it. We just didn’t think they proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.” In every case, a defense attorney will do his or her best to give the jury a reason to doubt.

“Some other dude did it,” or “some other dude threatened him.” But those reasons don’t necessarily equate with a reasonable doubt. A reason does not equal reasonable. Sometimes, that distinction can get lost.

Former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz went deeper into jury principles on the Piers Morgan interview show on CNN last night.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, if you want justice, don’t look to the criminal law system. That’s not its job. Its job is not to produce a just result. Its job is to produce a legally correct result.

We have a system that says better 10 guilty go free than one innocent be wrongly confined. If you have a 60 percent likelihood a person did it, you must acquit. If you think he probably did it, you must acquit. If you think he almost surely did it, you must acquit.

We acquit lots of guilty people, and that’s the right thing to do. When we convict an innocent person, that’s the wrong thing to do. That’s our system of justice. Many people don’t like it. Many people think the opposite, that we have too much popular justice, too much dependent on elected prosecutors, elected judges, elected officials.

The French, for example, don’t understand our stem with a case that’s going on now with the rape in New York. They don’t understand our system. They say it’s much too popular. In France, there’s a professional system. They have professional judges, professional prosecutors, professional jurors.

We’ve opted for a much more democratic system, and it means that in the end you’re going to be dissatisfied with a lot of verdicts. Just don’t expect too much from our legal system. Don’t expect truth. Don’t expect justice, because that’s not what it’s supposed to give you.

It’s supposed to give you a legal process that only convicts if admissible evidence proves the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you don’t like that system, I’ve got plenty of other systems for you that are more accurate. The Chinese system, the military justice system, the Russian system. Many European systems. But the American system errs on the side of freeing the guilty instead of convicting the innocent.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Casey Anthony Verdict Not Guilty Despite Three Years Of One-Sided Media Presuming Guilt

Posted by Peter Quennell





One thing that LA Times headline above means is that media bias against the defendant made not one whit of difference.

The seriously ailing CNN network’s Headline News channel (legal anchors Nancy Grace and Jane Velez Mitchell) have very stridently promoted the notion that Casey Anthony probably killed her toddler Caylee almost nightly for three years, to drive up their viewership ratings.

It had zero effect on the Florida jury. Now Headline News looks like a toothless tiger, and one prone to dangerous mistakes.

The jury studied the evidence and made up its own mind (in 11 hours) and so that is that. Mainstream media is outraged but looking puny. Here is a scathing comment from the defense lawyers saying they got it seriously wrong.

Anthony’s defense attorney, Jose Baez, said this verdict proves, “You cannot convict someone until they’ve had their day in court.”

A second defense attorney for Anthony, Cheney Mason, blasted the media in a statement, saying, “I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who have indulged in media assassination for three years, bias, and prejudice, and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and how to be.”

The few early media reports about “Foxy Knox” are like a candle to the blowtorch of this seeming never-ending pro-guilt commentary.

The usual couple of examples waved around are from the UK. In fact Italy saw next to no anti-Knox commentary, and one of the ways Italy looks rather fine in the Knox case is their media have been so restrained.

Read the Massei Report 10 times and you will be lucky to find one sentence that suggests “The media made us declare her guilty”.  It just didn’t happen. The jury studied the evidence and made up its own mind (in a few hours) and so that is that.

In contrast to the Casey Anthony trial, the full spectrum of evidence in the Knox-Sollecito trial is very strong and even redundant, violence obviously was done (no signs of violence were found on Caylee Anthony) and there are no other likely scenarios or perps.

Okay, media guys. For starters, report the facts from Perugia correctly. And do some translation - or read ours. Surely that cannot hurt more than this.

Posted on 07/05/11 at 06:54 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Sunday, July 03, 2011

A Deeply Ugly, Inaccurate And Callous Piece Of Junk By Nathaniel Rich In “Rolling Stone”

Posted by The Machine





Who is Nathaniel Rich?

According to Wikipedia, Nathanial Rich is an American author and essayist.

He is also the son of the New York Times columnist Frank Rich, and various online commentaries about him credit that.and not talent or ethics or hard work for any success he might have had.

Still, you would think that being the son of a high-profile journalist, Nathaniel Rich would try hard to write a fair, factually accurate and balanced report. One carefully checked out, with the Italians he impugns and with no sign of obsessive pro-female-perp bias. 

But instead Nathaniel Rich and his editor Sean Woods (image below) have come out with an xenophobic, defamatory,  highly inaccurate report..

In this piece Rich comes across like the notorious Stephen Glass who simply made stories up and whose editors never cross-checked until it was too late. Except Stephen Glass that never actually showed bigotry or defamed.

It does not seem too much to ask to expect anybody writing an article about the shocking sexual assault, torture and murder of Meredith Kercher for them to have done their due diligence? And to made sure that every single claim presented has been verified by the official court documents or independently corroborated by objective and reliable sources?

And for Sean Woods and other New York-based Rolling Stone editors even in their decline to check out their writers’ claims, especially with those impugned?

In this piece we analyze just some of the numerous wrong claims by Nathaniel Rich in his article The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox and compare them (as he should have done) to official court documents such as the Micheli report, the Massei report, Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report by the Supreme Court, and testimony at 2009 trial and 2011 first appeal [later annulled].




Above: Nathaniel Rich’s editor at Rolling Stone Sean Woods

Claim 1: There were bloody fingerprints all over the apartment

Wrong. Nathanial Rich gets his first basic fact wrong in just the second sentence of his article with his claim that Guede left bloody fingerprints all over the apartment.

There was in fact not even one. According to the Micheli report, the Massei report and Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report, Guede was identified by a single bloody palm print, not a whole lot of bloody fingerprints:

b) traces attributable to Guede: a palm print in blood found on the pillow case of a pillow lying under the victim’s body – attributed with absolute certainty to the defendant by its correspondence to papillary ridges as well as 16-17 characteristic points equal in shape and position…  (page 5, Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report).

It is confirmed that Guede was identified by a bloody palm print in the Micheli report (pages 10-11) and the Massei report (page 43). There was not a single fingerprint of his or Sollecito and almost none of Knox at the crime scene - which consists of the entire apartment.

Rich’s “her killer” in his opening implies there was only one killer but FOUR courts including the Supreme Court insisted there had to have been three. The lone wolf theory has long been dead. This is why the defense had to drag Alessi and Aviello into court two weeks ago, to try to prove Knox and Sollecito were not the other two.


Claim 2: A provincial police force botched one of the most intensely observed criminal investigations in Italy’s history

Wrong. A Knox cult myth. Nathaniel Rich attempts to disparage the investigation in Meredith’s murder with the smearing claim that it was seriously botched (it wasn’t) and by a provincial police force. Nathaniel Rich is trying to insinuate that that the police officers involved in the investigation were unsophisticated. However, again he only succeeds in revealing his ignorance of even the most basic facts of the case.

Two separate police departments from the Italian equivalent of the FBI in Rome were heavily involved in the investigation into Meredith’s murder: a forensic team from the Scientific Police led by Dr. Stefanoni, and the Violent Crimes Unit, led by Edgardo Giobbi.


Claim 3: Sollecito finally stated that Knox could have left his apartment for several hours on the night of Kercher’s murder while he was asleep

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich’s claim that Sollecito said that Knox “could” have left his apartment for several hours while he was sleeping is simply not true. You can read Sollecito’s various alibis here. Sollecito categorically stated in his witness statement that Knox DID leave his apartment, while he was wide awake. He said she went to Le Chic at 9:00pm and she came back at about 1.00am.

“At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner.”(Aislinn Simpson, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2007

“Police said Raffaele Sollecito had continued to claim he was not present on the evening of the murder. He said: “I went home, smoked a joint, and had dinner, but I don’t remember what I ate. At around eleven my father phoned me on the house phone. I remember Amanda wasn’t back yet. I surfed on the Internet for a couple of hours after my father’s phone call and I stopped only when Amanda came back, about one in the morning I think.” (The Times, 7 November 2007).

So Sollecito never said Knox “could” have left his apartment “while he was asleep”. The source for Nathaniel Rich’s embarrassing factual error is almost certainly the conspiracy theorist Bruce Fisher, who has repeatedly made the same false claim on his conspiracy website, a site riddled with invented claims.

Shame on Nathaniel Rich for gullibly believing another Knox cult myth, propagated by the likes of Moore and Fisher, and for being too lazy to independently verify this information.


Claim 4: Amanda Knox was slapped on the back of the head

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. Nathaniel Rich employs the same tactic as the conspiracists Bruce Fisher and Steve Moore who are trying by all possible means to rescue Amanda Knox from those dastardly Italians.

Namely, to give what appears to be a very detailed eyewitness account of what happened at the police station on 5 November 2007 despite the fact he wasn’t even there.  He makes all of this up, including “verbatim” quotes from some unnamed police officers.

Two female officers, who had been chatting informally with Knox, invited her to an interrogation chamber.

“Let’s go back over what you did that night,” they asked her. “Start with the last time that you saw Meredith.”

“Again?”

“Again.”

But they went slower this time.

“What did you do between 7 and 8 p.m.?” they asked. “What about between 8 and 9?”

“I don’t know the exact times,” said Knox. “But I know the general series of events. I checked my e-mail, I read a book, we watched a film, we ate dinner….”

More officers kept entering the room. An interpreter showed up. The tone sharpened.

“But Raffaele says that you left his house that night.”

“What? That’s not true. I was at his apartment all night.”

The interrogators became angry.

“Are you sure? Raffaele said you left his house.”

“I didn’t.”

“If that’s a lie, we can throw you in jail for 30 years.”

“I’m not lying.”

“Who are you trying to protect? Who were you with? Who was it? Who was it?”

This bit went on for hours.

There was now chaos in the room. The Italians were shouting at her, arguing with one another, calling out suggestions.

“Maybe she really can’t remember.”

“Maybe she’s a stupid liar.”

“You’re either an incredibly stupid liar,” said Knox’s translator, who was sitting right beside her, “or you’re someone who can’t remember what you know and what you did.” The translator, changing tactics, explained that she had once been in a gruesome car accident in which she broke her leg. The event was so traumatic that she suffered amnesia.

“Amanda,” said the translator, “this is what happened to you. You need to try to retrieve those memories. We’ll help you.”

Knox, ever-credulous, started to ask herself what she might have forgotten.

“C’mon,” said the interrogators. “You were going to meet Patrick that night.” “Remember. Remember. Remember.”

“We know it was him.”

Knox shook her head.

“Remember.”

Boom — someone slapped her on the back of the head.

So Nathaniel Rich includes the false claim that Knox was slapped on the back of the head. All the witnesses who were present when she was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at trial in 2009 that Amanda Knox was NOT hit even once.

Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda Knox had not been hit: “There were pressures from the police, but we never said she was hit.”  He never ever lodged an official complaint.

Nathaniel Rich should have pointed out that Knox claimed this hitting only long after, when she was trying to explain why she had framed Patrick Lumumba. He should not have repeated it as if it were incontrovertible truth.

And he should have pointed out that both Amanda Knox herself and both her parents are enmeshed in separate trials for doing that. 




Above: Rolling Stone aggravates defamation - this tweet was sent March 2013

Claim 5: Amanda Knox finally broke down and accused Diya Lumumba of murder at 5.45am

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich clearly does not know the chronology of events at the police station on 5 November 2007. His false claim that Knox finally broke down at 5.45am gives the impression that she had been subjected to a continuous all-night interrogation.

In fact Amanda Knox very rapidly “broke down” and claimed that Lumumba was “bad” and had murdered Meredith when she was still only a witness, not a suspect, and was told Sollecito had pulled the rug from under her alibi. She signed a statement at 1.45am, not at 5.45am, when she repeated the claim voluntarily. (She also repeated it later that same day in writing.)

Amanda Knox’s questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect. She wasn’t actively questioned again that evening. However, several hours later she decided to make an unsolicited spontaneous declaration. Mignini was called at 3.30am and he observed her declaration. Knox makes it explicit in her witness statement that she was making her statement spontaneously:

“I wish to relate spontaneously what happened because these events have deeply bothered me and I am really afraid of Patrick, the African boy who owns the pub called “Le Chic” located in Via Alessi where I work periodically.” (Amanda Knox’s 5.45am witness statement).

Claim 6:  The knife was selected at random by a detective from Sollecito’s kitchen drawer

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich regurgitates another prevalent Knox-cult myth with his claim that the double DNA knife was selected purely at random. However, the person who actually selected the knife, Armando Finzi, testified in court that he chose the knife because it was the only one compatible with the wound as it had been described to him.

“It was the first knife I saw,” he said. When pressed on cross-examination, said his “investigative intuition” led him to believe it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound as it had been described to him. (Seattle PI,



Claim 7: The confession, in violation of Italian police policy, was not recorded

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. The police weren’t required to record Amanda Knox’s interrogation on 5 November 2007 because she was being questioned as a witness and not as a suspect. Mignini explained that Amanda Knox was being questioned as a witness in his letter to reporter Linda Byron:

“In the same way, Knox was first heard by the police as a witness, but when some essential elements of her involvement with the murder surfaced, the police suspended the interview, according to Article 63 of the penal proceedings code.”

She came in to the central police station voluntarily and unasked that night when Sollecito was summoned for questioning, and police merely asked her if she could also be questioned as a witness. She did not have to agree, but she did. No recording of witnesses is required, either in Italy or the United States.


Claim 8: Amanda Knox refused to leave Perugia

Wrong. This Knox cult myth is actually contradicted by Amanda Knox herself. In the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007 she said she was not allowed to leave.

“i then bought some underwear because as it turns out i wont be able to leave italy for a while as well as enter my house”

Knox actually knew on 2 November 2007 that she couldn’t leave Italy. Amy Frost reported the following conversation.

” I remember having heard Amanda speaking on the phone, I think that she was talking to a member of her family, and I heard her say, No, they won’t let me go home, I can’t catch that flight’” (The Massei report, page 37).





Above: Rolling Stone aggravates defamation - this tweet was sent September 2013

Claim 9: Mignini suggested that the victim had been slaughtered during a satanic ritual

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. He did no such thing. Mignini has never claimed that Meredith was slaughtered during a satanic or sacrificial ritual, and that’s the reason why neither Nathaniel Rich - or anybody else for that matter - has been able to provide a verbatim quote from Mignini.

Mignini specifically denied claiming that Meredith was killed in a sacrificial rite, in his letter to the Seattle reporter Linda Byron:

“On the “sacrificial rite” question, I have never said that Meredith Kercher was the victim of a “sacrificial rite”.

Mignini also made it quite clear that he has never claimed that Meredith was killed as part of a satanic rite in his interview with Drew Griffin on CNN:

1’03” CNN: You’ve never said that Meredith’s death was a satanic rite?

1’08” Mignini: I have never said that. I have never understood who has and continues to say that. I read, there was a reporter – I don’t know his name, I mention it because I noticed it – who continues to repeat this claim that, perhaps, knowing full well that it’s not like that.

I have never said that there might have been a satanic rite. I’ve never said it, so I would like to know who made it up.

In fact Mignini has zero history of originating satanic-sect claims despite Doug Preston’s shrill claims. The notion of a secret satanic sect in Florence goes way back into history and many had declared the Monster of Florence murders satanic because of the nature of the mutilation long before Mignini assumed a (minor) role.


Claim 10: Mignini referred to Knox as a sex-and-drug-crazed “she-devil”

Wrong. Another laughable wrong fact. It wasn’t Mignini who called Amanda Knox a “she-devil”, it was Carlo Pacelli, the lawyer who represents Diya Lumumba, at the trial in 2009.

Carlo Pacelli’s comments were widely reported by numerous journalists who were present in the courtroom. Barbie Nadeau describes the moment he referred to Knox as a she-devil in some detail in Angel Face: 

“Who is the real Amanda Knox?” he asks, pounding his fist in the table. “Is she the one we see before us here, all angelic? Or is really a she-devil focused on sex, drugs, and alcohol, living life on the edge?”

“She is the luciferina-she devil.” (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, page 124).



Conclusion

Nathaniel Rich has published a sloppy callous error-ridden piece of pure propaganda straight out of the Knox cult handbook, complete with a gushy fawning reference to Amanda Knox in the title.

The piece includes an inflammatory mischaracterization of the extreme caution of the Italian justice system and the various officials working on the case.

There is no mention at all of the never-ending nightmare of Meredith’s family or the fact that she is NEVER coming back. Rich doesn’t seem to have the requisite emotional intelligence or reporter skills to realise that he may have been duped and used by the money-grubbers and killer-groupies of the Knox-cult campaign.


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sentiment Runs Deep In Perugia For Meredith But Not At All For Sollecito, Knox, Or Guede

Posted by Peter Quennell


Here are two examples of how the sentiment for Meredith stays alive.

The Perugia lawyer and law professor Francesco Bastianelli often comments online pro-Meredith and pro-prosecution. He first became active in irritation over the Perugia-Seattle twin cities arrangement, reacting to the disparaging comments in the Seattle media about Perugia.

He was pushing for the twin-cities thing to be abolished.

With the comment “that sucks” he linked a couple of days ago to a cynical disparaging post on how the defense lawyers are fattening their lot in life by way of this case. The post is on a Perugia blog called Pulchritudo Est Veritatis Splendor (Latin for “Truth is Beautiful”).

The Pulchritudo post is kindly translated below by our main poster Jools.

inCERTAINTY

I know a few things about the process that is celebrated in my city to shed light on the Kercher murder:

I know what were my impressions in the immediacy of the news;

I know that the President of a parliamentary commission [Bongiorno] should be acting as President of the commission, and not requiring fees up to 5 zeros to attend yet another show-trial, and forcing a whole tribunal to do court hearings on Saturdays and having to pay extra respective fees to judges, clerks and ushers;

I know there’s a convicted man in the final phase (we want to call him a murderer) for “complicity in murder” (but in complicity with whom?);

I know that lawyers in Perugia have been slaughtering each other in order to join the defence team, go on TV, and be the posers in front of the cameras of CNN;

I know that lawyer Bongiorno [beforehand] disclosed the results of the [DNA] experts that had to be secreted;

I know that five relatives of Raffaele Sollecito and two journalists, in adjournment after adjournment of court, thanks to the statute of limitations, will never be held accountable for the [Telenorba] broadcasting of the infamous video of the forensic police;

I know that DNA evidence has become “the only evidence” and “the key proof” only just now that it is in favor of the defendants. But what about other “evidence” that came out during the course of the trial;

I know, in the end, that in case of acquittal the same tribunal will be giving birth to an aberrant sentence with two people acquitted, and acquitted despite their peculiar behavior over a murder that was vociferously committed in the room right next to the room that one of them happens to live in.

Posted on 07/02/11 at 08:27 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, July 01, 2011

Now France Is Ticked At The American Main Media For Mindless Assumptions About Another Case

Posted by Peter Quennell


Above is the former French head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn with US Treasury Secretary Ben Bernanke.

The New York police were indeed hard on Mr Strauss-Kahn when an African maid in a hotel who is here on a work viza accused him of rape. He was paraded before the camera several times in handcuffs, and he spent time in New York city’s tough prison on Rikers Island.

But he did get to be released on bail, and the cautious police investigators did continue to dig.

Now they have announced that the maid in question is engaged to a major drug dealer, that huge sums have passed through her bank account, that she called someone several nights later to ask them how to play her claim for maximum gain, and that she lied repeatedly in her testimony to police.

Mr Strauss-Kahn is already having his bail conditions reduced to near-zero, and he is likely to be a free man later this month, and presumably then back in France as a popular hero.

Statements throughout by the New York police on the hard facts were in fact always fairly cautious but the media here really had a field day.

They ran new reports almost daily on what a monster this foreigner Mr Strauss-Kahn really is. A lot of the reporting seemed prissy and prudish, even by American media standards, but damage was indeed done. Mr Strauss-Kahn’s American and IMF friends backed off, and were refusing to be quoted in his support.

Though the US main media all knew who the accuser was they did not dig into her very questionable background at all. The police alone did all of that and the “responsible media” including the New York Times none at all.

No wonder that today the French sound ticked.

[Below: an ABC News report six weeks ago]

Posted on 07/01/11 at 09:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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