Thursday, July 30, 2009

Case For The Prosecution: #3 Raffele Sollecito’s Multiple Conflicting Alibis

Posted by The Machine

[above: Sollecito with his lawyer Giulia Bongiorno; click for a larger image]

The Sollecito Alibis: How They Conflict

The first two posts on the power of the case were on the DNA evidence, and the luminol-enhanced footprint evidence.

In this and the next post we will elaborate upon the testimony relevant to the multiple alibis given by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and the evolving circumstances in which they were given.

Following the discovery of Meredith’s body in her house, more than a dozen possible witnesses were quite expeditiously questioned: Meredith’s various English friends, her two Italian housemates, the four boys who lived downstairs, and Knox and Sollecito.

Meredith’s English friends, her two Italian housemates, and the boys downstairs fully cooperated with the police. They seemed to be telling the truth. They had one alibi each that could readily be verified. Those alibis never changed.

As a direct result they were all quickly eliminated from the investigation.

In stark contrast, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito appeared to be obfuscating. They appeared callous, impatient, arrogant, and reluctant to cooperate with the police.

These were attitudes first publicly noted as incriminating in mid 2008 by the judges at the Italian Supreme Court. Police and prosecution did not leak.

Knox and Sollecito each made three separate attempts to come up with credible alibis. All appeared desperate and semi-rehearsed. None of them made total sense or managed to get them off the hook. Neither helped the other at all. 

Today, we address Sollecito’s alibis.

The prosecution undermined them in various ways. Sollecito did not take the stand at trial to repeat any of them. His occasional interventions in the courtroom did not strengthen any of them. He made no attempt to corroborate the third alibi of Knox (that she was at his place all night) and immediately prior to arrest he said she had made him lie.

Everyone at and around trial knew of the wariness and extreme anger of the two (and their families) and how they knocked chips off one another whenever they could.

Innocent behavior? You decide. If each was not blaming the other for their plight this behavior would be unique in the history of crime.


Raffaele Sollecito’s first alibi

For his first alibi Raffaele Sollecito claimed, in an interview with Kate Mansey from the Sunday Mirror, that he and Amanda Knox were at a friend’s party on the night of the murder. It appears that this is the alibi that Sollecito also first told the police.

As there seems to have been no party, or in any case no party they attended, it would have been difficult for Sollecito to find any witnesses, and so this alibi was quickly superceded.

Raffaele Sollecito’s second alibi

For his second alibi Sollecito now claimed that he was at his apartment throughout the night with Amanda Knox.

This alibi was contradicted by the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution. According to the testimony of the scientific police from Rome, there were six separate pieces of forensic evidence that placed him in the cottage on Via Della Pergola on the night of the murder.

These included an abundant amount of his DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, and a bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in Meredith’s bathroom which appears to match the precise characteristics of his foot.

Sollecito’s claim that he was at his apartment the whole evening on 1 November was also undermined by Amanda Knox, who claimed in one of her own witness statements that he was also at the cottage when Meredith was killed:

Yes we were in the house. That evening we wanted to have a bit of fun. We were drunk. We asked her to join us. Diya wanted her. Raffaele and I went into another room and then I heard screams.

This alibi was also undermined by an eyewitness, Antonio Curatolo, the watcher in the park above the house, who testified that he saw Sollecito there. And it was undermined by Sollecito himself when he moved to the third alibi below.

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

Although Rudy Guede exercised his right to silence when he was called as a witness in the present trial, it should be noted that at his own trial last October and in the stated grounds for his appeal, he has claimed that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were both at the cottage on the night in question, and that they were responsible for Meredith’s murder.

Raffaele Sollecito’s third alibi

Sollecito was asked to return to the police station on 5 November to answer some more questions. He was at that time confronted with telephone records that proved that he and Amanda Knox had lied previously.

So for his third alibi, which now cut Amanda Knox loose and implicated her, Sollecito claimed that he was at his apartment all evening, and that for part of the evening Knox was out, from 9 pm to 1 am.

In my previous statement I told a load of rubbish because Amanda had convinced me of her version of the facts and I didn’t think about the inconsistencies….

Amanda and I went into town at around 6pm, but I don’t remember what we did. We stayed there until around 8.30 or 9pm.

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.”

He goes on to say that Amanda returned to his house at around 1am and the couple went to bed, although he couldn’t remember if they had sex.

This third alibi was undercut by Amanda Knox when she took the stand and testified. She stated that she was with Sollecito at his place all night.

It was also contradicted by the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution: the six separate pieces of forensic evidence that placed him in the cottage on Via Della Pergola on the night of the murder.

This third alibi was also undermined by the telephone records and by the data taken from his computer.

Sollecito claimed that he had spoken to his father at 11 pm. The phone records showed that to the contrary, there was no telephone conversation at this time, though Sollecito’s father had called him a couple of hours earlier, at 8.40 pm.

Sollecito claimed that he was surfing the internet from 11 pm to 1 am. Marco Trotta, a police computer expert, testified that the last human interaction on Sollecito’s computer that evening was at 9.10 pm and the next human activity on Sollecito’s computer was at 5.32 am.

Sollecito said that he downloaded and watched the film Amelie during the night. However, Mr Trotta said that the film had been watched at around 6.30 pm, and it was earlier testified that Meredith returned to the cottage she shared with Amanda Knox at about 9 pm.

Sollecito claimed that he had slept in until 10 am the next day. There was expert prosecution testimony that his mobile phone was actually turned on at 6.02 am. The Italian Supreme Court remarked that his night must have been “sleepless” to say the least.

This alibi was undermined by the eyewitness Antonio Curatolo, the watcher in the park above the house, who testified that he saw Sollecito there.

Sollecito’s difficult situation resulting

Sollecito does not seem to have done himself any favours by exercising his right to remain silent and not to testify at the trial.

As things now stand, he does not have any credible alibi or scenario for the night of the murder. Also it would appear that he has damaged his overall credibility irreparably, by giving three alibis that differed so considerably.

Judge Paolo Micheli had in front of him much of the same evidence. He wrote, in committing Raffaele Sollecito to trial last October, that he considered the triple alibis to be a clear indication of guilt.

There seems to be no obvious reason right now why the present judges and jury would conclude differently.


Thank you Machine for yet another fine piece which clearly lays out (in a clear & chronological order) Sollecito’s various attempts at finding an alibi, and how the prosecution and witness statements have undermined each of them.

The conclusion about Sollecito’s diffuclt situation is simply inevitable, and he has dug himself a hole larger than I had realised. I didn’t know about his first alibi. It’s astonishing to see how many times he’s changed his story & how considerably different each time, and yet he expects the court to believe his innocence - shocking!

I was particularly interested in AK’s claim that they were both at the cottage on that night, having fun & getting drunk and that Diya (replace this with RG) wanted her. This could very well explain many motives involved in the crime, and supports the prosecution’s scenario: three of them there, taking drugs and drunk, seeking fun, which then led to the assault & consequently murder. Especially if what she meant by “wanted her” implies that Diya (which we now know actually means Rudy Guede) wanted MK.

Also, their being drunk would to some extent account for their aggressive behaviour and their memory lapses which followed in the course of the evening. This is very damning testimony, and I hope it’s not the written statement which was excluded from the case on appeal to the High Court. Did she give this statement to the police at the very first interrogation on November 2nd? Or is this from the written statement on 5th November?

If it’s the former, then she probably had less time to structure it, and it is probably closer to the truth than later statements (with the exception of the Diya part, which she lied about to distract the police from her real accomplice RG, whom if caught by the police, she thought would most probably testify against her & RS).

Posted by Scooby on 07/30/09 at 03:38 PM | #

Hi Scooby. Other readers and the followers of the case that I chat with around Manhattan are also saying this is proving a very effective way of setting out a quite complex and confusing but actually pretty compelling case with the smoke for once thankfully absent.

Mitigating factors like those you mention have long been suspected by many, including Miss Represented, and one of the ironies of the hardline PR campaign is that it has placed the defendants in an “all or nothing” posture, where “all” now looks like cloud-cuckoo land, and “nothing” now looks like a train-wreck is headed their way.

Frustrating for those who seek explanations and expressions of repentance and possibly some clinical treatment perhaps more than they do lifetime sentences.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/30/09 at 08:15 PM | #

why has tjmk not been referenced and referred to in the american media?  furthermore, it seems that there is hardly any mention made of this trial on our national news.

Posted by gramjan on 07/30/09 at 08:37 PM | #

That’s a good question.  I have never seen a media interview with ANYONE with an objective and analytical take on the issues.  It would be great if a major media outlet interviewed someone from the prosecution team or sat down with Machine or Kermit to take a look at the various issues.

The horrifically one-sided television media coverage of the case notwithstanding, there are a few things that are troubling to me about the investigation and prosecution case.  First is that the investigating officers didn’t simply video and/or audio tape their questioning/interrogation of Knox and Sollecito(having those available might have made a great deal of their arguments totally baseless and removed a lot of the hot air from the FOA/PR balloon).  I would think most experienced investigators would want such a record, knowing that one of the first fall-backs a guilty person who admitted something will take is to say they were mistreated or threatened.  I would also note though that I find Knox’ version of what occurred (in her substantive court testimony and in her demeanor as a witness) to be entirely unpersuasive.

Second is the confusion over access to counsel during the interview process and resulting exlusion from evidence of at least one of the statements Knox gave.  Mignini has offered an explanation for this, but there is no question that it somewhat taints the process.

Third is the fact that, while I have the impression that the prosecution witnesses adequately described and justified their methods of collection as to the principal DNA evidence, I have yet to hear a good reason for why the bra clasp evidence (or any other physical evidence for that matter) was left sitting around the house for weeks and weeks.  Given the stated abundance of DNA and quality of the sample, the jury may find this to be a non-issue, but again…it unnecessarily clouds the issue.

I hope that the prosecution will effectively address these in closing their case so that the jurors can make a reasoned determination as to the merits of the claims.

Posted by Sierra1049 on 07/30/09 at 09:08 PM | #

Gramjan, I think this site hasn’t been mentioned due to the fact that it makes our American Press look just like the idiots they are. For the most part (with a few exceptions Barbie Nadeau/Andrea Vogt), instead of actually doing their research and writing objectively, they have just been regurgitating the words of the FOA. Machine, thank you for an excellent article. For some of us who haven’t been around very long, you are able to put the evidence and information into perspective!

Posted by tigger34 on 07/30/09 at 09:10 PM | #

Hi Pete. I didn’t mean, when I referred to AK, RS & RG’s being drunk, drug fuelled and seeking fun, to sound like “mitigating” circumstances. May be some would like to consider them so, but I certainly don’t. I think they knew what they were doing. I also think they desrve a life-time sentence more than clinical treatment. Although I think they are abnormally cruel and perverse, I don’t think they are insane.

Posted by Scooby on 07/30/09 at 09:58 PM | #

Hi Scooby. Would enabling factors or conducive factors work better than mitigating factors? 

Miss Represented has suggested a probable three different mindsets and motives at work here, and in her interpretation at least one of the perps enjoyed inflicting cruelty on Meredith, and looked forward to it or fantasized it. She does not incline toward giving any breaks at all for whoever committed this crime.

Nor did the Italian judges in the pre-trial hearings, who read the results of the psychological tests done in prison and then denied the defendants bail on grounds they represented a risk to others. Those judges seemed very icy-cold after reading whatever they read.

And since Guede was sentenced to his 30 years, nobody in the system has seemed inclined to lighten his load regardless of what tale he now offers to tell. Sollecito and especially Knox could attract longer sentences than that. Guede is in a sex-offenders’ wing, by the way, and if convicted the other two would end up in such wings too.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/30/09 at 11:06 PM | #

You’ve certainly done a great job putting these summaries together. The question I have is from what sources they are gathered.
Are they based on actual trial records or are they the results of what was reported by the media at various phases of this saga. There have been multiple news reports, often conflicting, about the facts of this case. In the end what is going to count in the court’s decision is only the evidence presented in the trial, not the evidence published in the newspapers at various times during the past nearly 2 years. I had not read about the first of Sollecito’s alibis (the one about the party). If that story is really in the police interrogation records is one thing, but if it’s just one of the leaked stories to the press that is not corroborated by police records which are part of the trial evidence, then it’s a totally different matter.
I wish there was a site that reported absolutely the entire body of evidence (police interrogations, scientific evidence, testimonies etc.)presented at the trial and stay totally away from everything else (like the news stories)

Posted by Commissario Montalbano on 07/31/09 at 03:26 AM | #

Hi C-M. Your question is answered in Machine’s second para: the best of the reports plus some transcripts. He qualified the first alibi as you can see. These posts have been weeks in the works and a lot of checking has been done.

We too would like more straight court reporting but I doubt any group would allocate the resources it would require. Some reporters try to be there for all the trial days bit it is not easy for them as they mostly dont live in Perugia.

The equivalent for the present case of the Micheli report for the Guede case should be an interesting read. That is one of the fine aspects of the Italian system most of us are still learning about!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/31/09 at 04:37 AM | #

Hi Peter. Thank you, I’ve now read the Miss Represented article. It is very illuminating. I think Miss Represented’s expert analysis is the most authoritative on this matter, and her opinions very well informed.

My point about AK’s testimony being very damning is from the point of view of the FOA line of defence which the Knox Clan have been putting forward, to the effect that AK is a ‘nice’ girl & therefore incapable of committing such a horrible crime.

Her testimony “we were getting drunk, smoking marijunana, seeking fun” (in combination with other very inappropriate statements she’s made & behaviour she’s displayed) is evidence of the fact that she’s not as ‘nice’ a girl after all. Nice people have a civilized dinner and watch a film with friends, then go home early to do their home-work (like MK); and even if they were to party, they don’t do so in wild, uncontrolable, and inappropriate ways which lead them to being confronted by the police (as was the case with Knox before her leaving the US when she threw a party which ended in chaos). I think her statement just re-enforces the fact that (although not insane) she isn’t a very nice person; and people who are not nice are capable of some very cruel behaviour, should the circumstances arise in which their behaviour is further encouraged. I think that this testimony (added to everything else the prosecution presented about her inappropriate character) back-fires against her own claim: “but, I’m a nice girl - I would never do such a thing”. You’re definitely right when you point out that FOA could abuse this statement (perhaps in an appeal stage) to suggest that it indicates lack of culpability. Thankfully, as you pointed out, the judges aren’t going to buy that line of defence, as evidenced by RG’s conviction.

Posted by Scooby on 07/31/09 at 03:36 PM | #

The equivalent for the present case of the Micheli report for the Guede case should be an interesting read. That is one of the fine aspects of the Italian system most of us are still learning about!
Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/30/09 at 09:37 PM | #

Yes, we will get to read such report.
The feature of the Italian judicial system that you call “Micheli’s Report” is actually known in the Italian jurisprudence as “SENTENZA” (Sentence).
The Italian constitution art.111 requires that all sentences be ‘motivated’:

art. 111 c. 6: “Tutti if provvedimenti giurisdizionali devono essere motivati” (All judicial acts must be motivated).

This constitutional requirement is reiterated in art. 125 c.3 of the Italian Code of Penal Procedure:
“Le sentenze e ordinanze sono motivated, a pena di nullita’” (All sentences and ordinances are motivated, or will be nullified).

All the requisites of the “Sentenza” (sentence),  are dealt with in the art 525 through 548 of the Italian Code of Penal Procedure.

Posted by Commissario Montalbano on 07/31/09 at 08:04 PM | #
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