Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Correcting NY Times 16: How Jessica Bennett Lied To Readers About The REAL Leaks

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

Curt Knox spins the day in court; prosecutors cannot correct him or explain “their side”

Further rebuttal of this misreporting: “wild theories from the prosecution… it is common for police and lawyers to leak information to the press… a lot of it leaked straight from the prosecution… [Prosecution leaking] help explain the leak of Ms. Knox’s jailhouse journal”. First posted in January 2015.

1. When The Supposed Leaks Began

On 6 November 2007 investigators into Meredith’s death thought they had caught a big break.

That was when Knox herself snapped and claimed to be an eyewitness to Meredith’s killing on the night. From 1:30 am to about noon on 6 November Knox many times repeated that claim, and she emulated her huge fear of Patrick Lumumba again and again.

She proved hard to shut up, though police did repeatedly try gently, calmed her with refreshments, and encouraged her to sleep pending her Miranda-rights session.

Three times in those ten or so hours Knox herself insisted on writing her claims down, including a claim that she did go out alone and another claim that Sollecito might have been there. She was repeatedly warned she should have a lawyer present first, but pressed on.

False claims to have witnessed a murder are rare, but not entirely unknown - there can be fame and big bucks in it, played right.  But in Knox’s case, this did not seem to apply - she snapped explosively under no pressure, and she had already to some extent implicated herself - she had said she had seen a crime she did not try to stop and did not report.

This post reports on the arrest warrants of 6 November which reflect that; and the subsequent assessments by the supervising magistrate and by a double-checking senior judge (both sessions with defense counsel present and ready to complain about undue force; they didn’t) as summarized here below. 

On 8 November, supervising magistrate Claudia Matteini reviewed police and psychology reports and what Knox and Sollecito had claimed - including Sollecito’s memo to Dr Matteini that he never wanted to see Knox again.

Judge Matteini assessed them both to be seemingly bad news. She ordered them to remain locked up. Judge Ricciarelli then assessed Dr Matteini’s assessment, and confirmed that all was correct.

It was the arc created by Knox herself which inspired the more voracious of the UK media and the relatively mild Italian media to get their paid snoops to Perugia fast. All of them were lobbying to get an edge.

Police and prosecutors had zero reason to inflame the media further. In fact, investigators had some difficulty performing their tasks, because they were getting so many calls and were being crowded-around in the streets.

For the first few days, while the situation was murky, the media coverage of Knox and Sollecito was pretty sympathetic.

What caused it to to turn increasingly against them were (1) reports of the pair’s uncaring callousness; and (2) an ever-growing perception that the two had committed a torture-murder, with a sex-crime element.

Add to that after two weeks news of (3) Knox’s framing of Patrick, (4) the arrest of Rudy Guede, (6) Knox’s close relationship with a drug dealer (who she later caused to be put away), and (7) Knox not even being in Perugia for serious study and only enrolled in a walk-in language school which offered no credits toward a degree.

2. Did The Police Or Prosecution Ever Leak?

The Italian rules are quite clear. Unlike the US, cases for and against the accused must be fought only in court, and when the prosecutor or judge speaks, it will mostly be in a document that has been cleared.

How many proven examples do you think there are of police and prosecutors slipping reporters leaks and tips and inside tracks to advance their case?

In fact NONE. Not one.

Among the frustrations we picked up from the excellent Italian-speaking foreign reporters who were actually there was how under Italian rules there was so little that police and prosecutors were allowed to share.

In the UK it is also a bit like this. But in contrast in the US there would typically be daily press conferences and prosecutors (85% of them are elected in the US) appearing on the cable-news crime shows like that of Nancy Grace.

And Dr Mignini himself famously never leaks. The few things he ever says are on the record and they always prove accurate, low-key, and very fair. From 2007 right up to today he continues to maintain that Knox had no advance intention to kill. A softer line than some of the judges settled upon.

3. Did The Defenses And Families Leak?

Sure. This case must have broken all records for defense-biased leaks. Finding themselves in a vacuum of police and prosecution information and pushback, the Knox PR grew to an angry and often abusive and dishonest roar.

The sharp-elbowed Knox-Mellas presence was constantly “available” in Perugia and Burleigh and Dempsey among others got totally taken in. Ann Bremner and Judge Heavey and Paul Ciolino became more and more shrill. Heavey wrote to the president of the Italian Republic on his official letterhead. Senator Cantwell issued many unfounded claims. 

And through 2008 and 2009 one can spot increasing leaks from each defense team, often to try to advantage their client against the other two. We were offered some of those leaks, among others “the truth” about the autopsy and “the knife”.

The Perugia Shock blog by PR shill Francesco Sfarzo (now on trial in Florence for making things up, and wanted by police in the US) came to be a main conduit for defense lies and misleading information, possibly some from a disgruntled cop. 

Here is one easily proven leak from the Knox defense that was intended to hurt the police and prosecution in the case.

But putting police so overtly on the spot was a dangerous game. More often each perp and their defense team took whacks at the other two as a Rome lawyer showed here and we showed here.  In the past few posts we have been showing how many things about Rudy Guede were made up (more to come).

4. Fabricating Things For Fame And Profit

In 2007 and 2008 various unsavory characters surfaced in Perugia, to try to win fame and make a buck (though the Knox PR campaign soon surpassed them in money-grubbing; see Part 5 below). This quote is from our post directly below.

Christian Tramontano, who had claimed someone threatened him in his house in the dark with a knife who looked like a shot of Guede in the papers two months later, was not even called, perhaps because at a hearing in October 2008 Judge Micheli denounced him as having made things up.

Tramontano is right now a jobless bouncer, as the mafia was found to have some involvement in his club. Judge Micheli scathingly repudiated his tale as it simply did not ring true. For dubious reasons he made no police report about it at the time, admitted he got no good look at the claimed intruder, could not explain why the doors and windows were locked and intact, and had seen Guede’s image in a paper.

But worse, he looked like one of quite a few around Perugia (and later in the US) who were seeking global fame and big bucks from the media for “inside knowledge” and claimed close connections to one or other of the alleged perps.

Despite this Tramontano’s self-serving claims are repeated as gospel by the PR shills all over the place. Those claims appear as gospel in every one of their books; we will have another post on them.

This about another opportunist is from Tom Kington of the Guardian in a report posted 27 September 2008:

The trial in Italy of Rudy Guede, one of the three suspects accused of sexually assaulting and murdering British student Meredith Kercher, was thrown into disarray yesterday when a judge stopped proceedings after learning that one of the main character witnesses had allegedly tried to sell his story to Italian television.

Abuker Barro, known as Momi, a Somalian acquaintance of Guede, was due in court in Perugia yesterday to repeat claims made to investigators that he had seen Guede rifling through women’s handbags in clubs in Perugia and making aggressive advances to women when drunk.

But the judge, Paolo Micheli, blocked him from completing his testimony after lawyers for Guede showed a video of Barro meeting journalists to allegedly negotiate payment of E2,000 (£1,588) for revealing his testimony on Italian television. Micheli will ask magistrates to decide whether Barro should be prosecuted for abusing his role as a witness, which could exclude his testimony.

The incident, described by Guede’s lawyer, Walter Biscotti, as ‘an assault by the media’, follows a series of leaks to the press of evidence and even jail diaries by suspects [eg teams] during the investigation into the brutal slaying of Kercher… [bold added]

We have many posts elsewhere on ways in which the media and their reporters divided. Few real reporters were unethical enough or incompetent enough to accept and report such biased and unconfirmed claims as Tramontano’s or Barro’s.

But you can find these false claims hyped pervasively throughout the flood of pro-Knox books as if they were gospel.  Among others: Dempsey’s, Burleigh’s, Moore’s, Preston’s, Hendry’s, Waterbury’s, and of course Fischer’s.

5 Role Of The Money-Grubbing Public Relations

[As posted January 2015] We dont yet have a handle on all of the money that changed hands. But it was clearly at world-record levels.

A lot of greedy hands were outstretched, and not only in Perugia - Ergon turned up proof of the greedy hands of Sforza and Fisher, and there were the astronomic sums paid for the RS and AK books

Media who had no interest in special access to RS or AK have told us that for those who did have interest a greedy hand would be outstretched every time.

In US media one can see real demonization of perps (and even ex-perps like Casey Anthony who was found not guilty) for hours a day on the cable-news crime shows.

Knox supporters have worked hard to come up with examples of demonization of Knox but have only a tiny handful of 2007 reports in UK tabloids to show for this.

These had zero effect on the 2009 trial. Knox’s showing-off at trial and her two arrogant, callous days on the stand are what hurt her. Sollecito was always disliked in Italy, and his remaining semi-chained to Knox proved the foolish place to be.

Elements of the US TV networks ABC and NBC (breakfast show) and CBS (20/20) all tilted heavily pro-Knox as did CNN until recently; all seem a lot less eager now though, and Marriott’s tips and offers of access seem to have lost most of their traction.

A number of reporters are way better informed and believe it or not are actually reading the Nencini Report and other documents that the PMF team has translated.

We have reason to believe that in 2007 and 2008 both defense teams wanted to go the way the prosecution hinted: plead limited responsibility because of drugs and impaired mental capacity and an unpremeditated homicide.

But neither team was allowed by families to do so, and so the 2009 trial sentences were much stiffer.

Maybe just as well Marriot is retiring. Hard to believe there will ever again be a long line of those accused of murder wanting his services.

But ultimately though. it was Curt Knox and the Mellases who made all the wrong calls, blinded by hubris.

Some in the Knox forces say all in the families have chilled a bit on Amanda.

The much smarter Dr Francesco Sollecito tried to play a better game. But his leaking of a photo of Meredith’s body to Telenorba was nasty, and anyway his loose-cannon son kept disrupting him. There were half a dozen examples where he was openly frustrated. See this one.

Here is perhaps the most extreme example of Raffaele acting dopey, though his book which accused police and prosecution of crimes and his attempts to answer questions about it on TV probably equal it and had his father separating from him.

Of course for their excesses and lie-telling Curt and Edda, Sollecito, Sforza, and others have trials ahead of them. Amanda Knox faces at least two more trials, both for calunnia, hardly smart as that was what she served three years for.

Italy is not a vengeful place, far from it, but ignoring or over-ruling the best advice of defense lawyers about pushing the system too far has not proved fruitful.

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters on 01/04/22 at 01:04 PM in

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The Times’s complete ignoring of the Marriott PR in the Jessica Bennett piece is one of the remaining things we have to rebut before getting in touch with their editors and lawyers direct.

There’s some mention of the PR at the end of this 2015 post above, but we came to know a lot more about how it operated, mostly below the radar of course. Here’s a link to the comments under that post.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/04/22 at 02:54 PM | #

The NY Times is something of a bible to me, I’ve had home delivery for years. But sadly it was a major disrupter here. Of the 40 or so reports on the case online just about all fall short, or omit major developments, or get it flat-out wrong.

Along with the Associated Press the Times really set the wrong tone on the case.

The Times editors or lawyers will very likely be willing to reverse on the case and look into it anew. Even a single mistake in the paper normally gets corrected in print the next day, and there have been dozens and dozens here. There are dozens in Bennett’s article alone.

This plus Dr Mignini’s book in the spring and growing pressure in Italy to simply shut Knox up and end the smears should finish our original task and see some justice done and some systems overhauled.

You presumably know all about Rocco Sollecito by now and the pressure on the courts from his angle in 2011 and 2015.  We’ve hinted now and then at another problem we’ve also known about since 2015.

It’s that both Trump and Obama (or his people) got involved for Knox. This despite numerous cables from the US Rome Embassy released by the State Department saying Italy’s treatment of Knox was just fine.

Attitudes pro or anti Knox dont fall along political lines and some of all hues have come out on either side. As this is a justice matter involving a key ally, and a deliberate fraud, we have rather thought it best that we don’t disturb that hornet’s nest at all.

Trump came down hard for Knox after trial (his estranged first wife lives in Italy) but what he said did not sound too clued-up.

The problem for Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s people (no proof Mr Obama or Mrs Clinton themselves were in this loop) pre-election in 2015 was that they could be facing an unpopular extradition request for Knox just as Trump was ramping up to run.

We have been told there was diplomatic pressure from some level on the President of Italy in 2015 which was fed through at the very last minute to the court.

It sure caught Bongiorno unawares! We could see her reaction live on TV. Her murky pressure was actually aimed at a repeat appeal separately just for RS with AK to be thrown under the bus.

So, there you have it. And quite soon you will see all of this dumped in the Times’s lap. 😊

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/05/22 at 09:55 AM | #

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