Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pseudoinnocence: Is This Possibly The Predicament Of Amanda Knox?

Posted by Vivianna

In a dissertation titled Pseudoinnocence ““ An Invitation To Murder, Barbara Shore explores the phenomenon of “pseudoinnocence” in American culture as an inadequate response to the “conflagration of violence that encircles us today.” These are her introductory words:

“America is a country long haunted by its pseudoinnocence, by its blinding prolonged naivete. We are a culture that closes our eyes to all that is too painful to see, persuading ourselves that we have escaped, that we are neither interdependent nor vulnerable, or that we are victims.

We cannot come to terms with our own unwitting complicity in the destructiveness brought to ourselves or others. Capitalizing on such naivete, we fail to see how such “˜innocence that cannot include the demonic becomes evil’ (Rollo May 50).” (Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences Mar, 2001 Vol 61(9-A))

Ms. Shores’ words, although published six years before the murder of Meredith Kercher even took place, represent an eerily accurate description of Amanda Knox’s predicament, even reflecting some of the terminology employed in Attorney Carlo Pacelli’s exposition on September 26, during the closing portion of the first appeal trial.  As a reminder, Pacelli, who represents Patrick Lumumba in his civil suit against Knox, pointed out that Knox “has a split personality, fresh-faced, the daughter everyone would like, Saint Maria Goretti, and then with her histrionic side [she is] an impostor, she is a she-devil, satanic, diabolic, addicted to borderline behaviour.”

Although Pacelli’s words have been seen by some as too harsh, they carry a heavy implication mirrored in the above quote from Shore ““ that “innocence that cannot include the demonic becomes evil”; in other words, that if Knox cannot reconcile her two sides and seek atonement, she has no hope of redeeming herself as a human being.

I have argued before, in a comment posted here on the TJMK board, that Knox is not likely to make a confession in the near future due to the pressures exerted by her family’s innocence campaign. The innocence campaign is, in my opinion, just one of the factors which prevent Knox from admitting her direct involvement in the crime against Meredith Kercher.

The other factors may include her failure to reconcile the two parts of her persona (innocent, carefree, kind, compassionate young woman versus “diabolical” murderer) and perhaps a culturally-engrained inability to accept involvement in a destructive act. The discussion of these latter factors is perhaps best left to someone with formal training in psychology or sociology.  What I would like to enlarge upon is my conviction that there is a direct correlation between the strength of the innocence campaign and Knox’s unwillingness to admit guilt.

I would like to draw your attention to a conversation between Knox, her mother (Edda Mellas), and her father (Curt Knox) which took place in the early days of the investigation, when Amanda had already been detained.  This conversation will be well-known to those who have been consistently following this case as evidence that, in the early stages, Knox may have been inclined to give a confession.  I have chosen not to include it, but it is readily available on both TJMK and PMF. 

The reason why I believe this conversation to be so important is not only because it might contain the beginning of the confession, but also because it highlights the involvement of her family in defining her position.  I would argue that, had Knox been left to her own devices, she might have cracked in the early stages and given an accurate description of that night’s events, saving both herself, her family, the victim’s family, and anyone involved in the trial considerable grief, time, money, and effort.

At that particular point in time, she may not have been as psychologically divided and conflicted, and she may have had an easier time accepting her criminal side and perhaps moving on to experience positive changes.  It is, however, her parents’ firm belief in her innocence and in her inability to commit such a heinous crime that has consistently mired her in a difficult position.

As we well know, the Knox-Mellas family hired a PR firm, Gogerty-Mariott, to clean up Amanda’s image after unflattering stories started appearing in European tabloids.  The PR campaign has grown exponentially from a few stories about Amanda’s childhood, complete with baby pictures, to what I consider to be a falsification of public opinion. 

On the one hand, there is a concerted effort to offer inaccurate information about existing evidence (limiting the crime scene to Meredith’s room, stating that there is no evidence linking Amanda and Raffaele to the murder, pushing Rudy Guede as the “lone wolf” assassin, etc.), which is then fed to news outlets unwilling to do their own research and pushed upon the unsuspecting public via books, blogs, and forums. Then comes the even more insidious effort to falsify the public’s response to these stories, by hiring posters to write positive reviews for FOA books, post positive comments to inaccurate stories, and shout down any reasonable opposition.

Of course, this entire effort does not come cheaply, and rumors say that the PR campaign’s tab is around one million.  This is an enormous debt to place on the shoulders of a young woman who already needs to contend with the guilt of having committed an incomprehensible, heinous, violent crime.  While it is difficult to feel sympathy for any of Meredith’s killers, I find it impossible not to feel a certain amount of compassion for Amanda, who most likely never asked for this campaign to be initiated.  How could she admit her role in this crime when a million dollars has already been spent to trumpet her innocence?

In addition to the material aspects, there are social and psychological aspects to contend with.  While many of the FOA members are paid for their public appearances and statements (and may not harbor any personal opinions about the case), there seem to be individuals who are supporting Amanda’s innocence out of personal conviction.  Some of them may have even donated money to help her family.  How could she disappoint everyone who invested money and time into supporting her, from her own family to charitable strangers? How could she look them in the eye, after four years of lies and obfuscation, and admit that she was terrified of being punished, or incapable of seeing herself as a murderer?

Peter Quennell has suggested to me that this may be an example of “path dependence,” a concept used in both economics and social sciences to describe a scenario in which current actions and decisions are inexorably determined by past decisions. While my personal knowledge of path dependence is limited, I think that it is certainly applicable in this case and that it can be traced back to the prison conversation discussed before.  During the conversation, Amanda’s parents indirectly communicated to her that the course had been set ““ that the legal team would handle all questions and that she was not to communicate her thoughts without supervision; also that a confession would be unacceptable because she was undeniably innocent. 

As to why her family took this position, I think we can find the answer in the concept of pseudoinnocence ““ the inability to accept responsibility for and involvement in a terrible event, accompanied by a forced distancing from anything that could be considered troubling. 

It is not a coincidence that Amanda has been consistently portrayed as a victim of the supposedly corrupt, medieval Italian justice system, as someone who has been “railroaded” in a “third-world” country, as her supporters want us to believe. It is more comforting to become a victim than to accept responsibility and acknowledge that Amanda’s problems may have started at home, long before she was on a plane for Perugia. I believe that the innocence campaign is not only meant to exculpate Amanda, but to also exculpate her family from any perceived contributions to the formation of a murderer. 

As long as Amanda’s family continues to invest so much money and effort into supporting her innocence, and to maintain so much publicity around her case, I believe that any professional attempts to help Amanda admit her involvement will prove ineffective. This entire undertaking, combined with her own psychological dividedness and any cultural influences, is placing an enormous amount of unnecessary responsibility on Amanda and displacing a more appropriate type of responsibility. 

Amanda, at this point, should feel responsibility towards Meredith and Meredith’s family primarily.  While the murder itself cannot be reversed and no true solace offered, a confession would offer a certain amount of closure to those who knew and loved Meredith. Instead, Amanda’s sense of responsibility is being artificially redirected to not disappointing her own family and supporters, and to not betraying the trust they have placed in her innocence. Aside from being hurtful to the victim’s family, this situation is also damaging for Amanda herself, as it’s setting her on a path of continued “evil” rather than one of heal


Vivianna, thank you for this powerful post. Yes, I agree Amanda’s parents persuaded her to cling to the innocence posture, to deny all involvement, and to gamble on a big escape.

It’s the punishment for the crime that pushes them to this. If the punishment Amanda faced were only two or three years, her folks might have encouraged her to confess IF (as they would tell her) she had any guilt at all. Those early conversations at police headquarters with Amanda where she almost broke, Curt and Edda hushed her up very fast.

As rattled parents, they didn’t have time to go home quietly and think through the overall strategy. This was further complicated by Edda and Curt’s own long estrangement. Confusion reigned supreme, and they were probably embarrassed to death in front of Amanda’s lawyers, unsure of everything, the cost, or what was being proposed by the attorneys. So they acted in haste to cover over the broken mess rather than seek to repair it. They might have been too terrified to even discuss the possibility of Amanda’s guilt with her, fearing wiretaps or surveillance traps. Or too fearful to face her guilt, knowing it would unnerve them completely.

It has been a case probably of Amanda saying, “Mom, Dad, please believe me, I swear I didn’t do it.” Then her folks would be hoping she didn’t but not sure, but too afraid to tell Amanda they’re not sure. Then everybody hides the truth and goes with the easiest route: deny, deny, deny. Clap arms around one another, group hug, this is their self-comforting formula for “support”. Truth is forgotten. Consciences console themselves with, “Well, we’re stopping further suffering. Amanda’s life will be ruined in prison, and nothing can restore Meredith’s life. Why ruin more lives? We’re saving Raf, too.  Any other parent would do the same. Look at Dr. Sollecito, he has vowed to move water uphill and throw money at it to help his son, can we do any less for our daughter? Maybe we owe her, since the divorce.”

It is the big life sentence that they cannot face, not even one or two decades. Five or seven years, she might have confessed and done the time.

You’re right. It’s family face-saving going on at Amanda’s expense. The repurcussions are way down the road, yet to be seen. If the gamble works, they’re teaching her another bad life lesson: truth doesn’t count, never did. Money and pluck are everything.

The fundraisers and the loving supporters now must get their money’s worth. Right or wrong has ceased to matter. It’s finances now, and hoping for big lawsuits and media sales, all predicated on a win whether the win is from truth or lies. But I wouldn’t worry too much about this crushing responsibility of payback being a big burden on Amanda. She will shrug it off in a heartbeat.

Posted by Hopeful on 09/28/11 at 08:30 PM | #

Vivianna, this is a very good piece on the pressures Amanda must feel because of the ‘pseudoinnocence’ of her father’s PR campaign, purchased as it almost seems with thirty pieces of silver.

Not the least value of your essay arises from the humane sympathy which deepens your insight. You remark also the heavy pressure Amanda feels lest she disappoint friends, contributors, supporters who have no role in the PR payroll & simply believe in her innocence.

“How could she look them in the eye, after four years of lies and obfuscation, and admit that she was terrified of being punished, or incapable of seeing herself as a murderer?”  Well said & very much to the point.

This will be my last post before the verdict, regardless.  I predict (also with a certain measure of sympathy) that the sentences of the two appellants will be reduced.

It is not because the court will respond to pressures, as if intimidated.  The verdict of guilt will stand: both of those already convicted will be retained in prison, firmly.

I make no effort to predict how much these sentences will be reduced or to say what would be fair or not in either case.  That’s the court’s determination.  We ought however to greet respectfully any such action by the Italian court.

Could be that my predictions turn out to be wrong: I am no prophet & make no claim to psychic powers, such as in truth some people do possess. My claim is only to have said nothing that I do not believe in.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 09/28/11 at 08:52 PM | #

Good post Vivianna, thank you.
I have always thought Knox would have ‘coughed’ years ago if it wasn’t for her parents intervention, and as you mention she almost did - a couple of times in fact, the last time being when her then legal rep stopped her in her tracks.

I have said before that she is in a position where she has been painted into a corner by her family and it is why in the early days (and still do now) I viewed her mother with nothing but vitriol.

Whether she likes it or not Amanda Knox is actually the figure head of the Knox industry - a cash cow for many people it seems.
Filthy lucre indeed.

I would seriously question the tired mantra of hiring a PR firm to counter the negative press Knox intially received though. I dont believe it for one minute.

The use of the Gogerty Maarriot PR firm is an attempt to subjugate and/or subvert justice and the rule of law and cash in on the process, in my opinion.

If negative press was the problem the so called cash strapped Knox/Mellas axis would have dispensed with them years ago.

Posted by Deathfish2000 on 09/28/11 at 09:16 PM | #

Thank you for the kind words.  I hope no one sees it as an apologetic piece for Amanda, because I do think that what she did was terrible.  But I also think that her family has made things much harder for her. I’m not a parent and I don’t know if I would have had the strength to press my child to do the right thing.  However, I know that I would not have initiated this circus; I would have been too ashamed and too guilt-ridden.  But maybe that’s because I, personally, have tremendous issues with the finality of consciousness and I see taking someone’s life as the ultimate taboo.

Ernest, The_Machine predicts the same thing.  I think that regardless of sentence, a guilty verdict would still do justice to Meredith’s memory, as a symbol that her death will not be easily forgiven and forgotten.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/28/11 at 09:22 PM | #

Vivianna thank you for your post. It has value and merit. The last paragraph is where I find myself stubbornly disagreeing. AFter all this time that she has masked what she has done and the evil it took..including the lies, blaming Lamumba, more lies, using men and an obvious upbringing void of caring parents and caring for others. You bring this point out in your post that if the parents REALLY cared for her they would seek the truth and encourage her to tell the truth but instead they seek publicity and want her to continue the farce of innocence. They are obvious bottom feeders and have failed miserably at child raising. AK has had no remorse, and by now she has to know the pain that she has caused the Kerchers but only thinks of herself and her plight.I don’t believe she could be rehabilitated. I think she is evil to the core and see nothing in her eyes except darkness. I want her where she is, society is safe and will remain safe as long as she stays there. I don’t want my children or grandchildren living next to her and that’s how I judge people.

Posted by friar fudd on 09/28/11 at 09:58 PM | #

I understand where you’re coming from, Friar. I wasn’t suggesting that she be released, but that she spend her time in prison not sinking further into darkness.  What I mean by “rehabilitation” is not immediate reintegration, but change - understanding the gravity of this crime, feeling remorse, wanting to seek atonement.  I think she could do that in prison.  Of course, it’s quite possible that she wouldn’t respond to treatment - I can’t argue with you because I have no certainties.  I think it would have done her more good if her family spent all that money getting her a good sex-offender therapist.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/28/11 at 10:08 PM | #

i’ve often wondered to what degree her parents believe in her “innocence”.

i allow for the possibiity that amanda’s claiming to be innocent was accepted by them and the shriller their claims of amanda’s innocence became (not to forget her friends and the rest of the family who must be taking their cues from curt and edda) the smaller the possibility for her to come clean.

she’s painted herself into a corner and the only recourse she has is to continue to claim her innocence and hope for the best rather than shatter the self image of the victimized foreigner that’s been crafted by all around her.

Posted by mojo on 09/28/11 at 10:14 PM | #

Let’s also not forget her strong vengeful streak. I can see her convincing herself that she deserves to get off because the prosecution was mean to her. Or she deserves to have a fake media persona because the tabloids were mean to her. Or she has a right to lash out at so-and-so because they said something she didn’t like. Etc.

Posted by brmull on 09/28/11 at 11:05 PM | #

Hi Vivianna, your post is most timely and articulate – beautiful!

AK is so enmeshed in the web of denial that it is unrealistic to expect her to confess - in the short term.

Pete addressed this on Friday, February 25, 2011, in his Post “Very Hard Language Of Supreme Court In Rejecting Guede Appeal, Confirming Three Did It”, commenting: 

“[She] may eventually have a career” …. If…  “above all conceding that” [she] erred and [has] learned from [her] mistake.”

As has previously been commented, there is a precedent for this, in New Zealand, in 1954:

“Two girls, aged 15 yrs, and 16yrs, respectively bludgeoned to death Honora, the mother of the 16 year old with half a brick enclosed in an old stocking.”

“After committing the carefully planned murder, the two girls fled, covered in blood, back to the tea kiosk where the three of them had eaten only minutes before They were met by .... the owners of the tea shop, whom they told in a horrified panic that Honora had fallen and hit her head.”

“The body of Honora was found .....where she had been killed by the girls. Major lacerations were found about Honora’s head, neck, and face, with minor injuries to her fingers. Police soon discovered the murder weapon in the nearby woods. The girls’ story of how Honora was killed by a slip and fall quickly fell apart.”

“The girls were convicted on August 30, 1954, and each of them spent five years in prison. They were released with the condition that they never contact each other again.”

“After her release from prison, [the younger of the two girls, now women] traveled to the United States and went on to have a successful career as a historical detective novelist under her new name, Anne Perry.”

“....She now lives in Scotland.”

There should be hope - but only if:

She eventually “Admit[s] to [her]crime, with no ifs, ands, blanks, or buts; undergoes appropriate treatment; and then establishes an exemplary in-prison track-record.”

Ann Perry was interviewed on being forced to face-up to reality by being sent to jail for the murder:

It’s stunning.

Amanda Knox should watch it - over and over again.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 09/28/11 at 11:51 PM | #

There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the parents of Amanda Knox know full well she is guilty.

Posted by Deathfish2000 on 09/29/11 at 12:07 AM | #

Could anyone on this site believe at this point that AK’s parents would give up on her innocence any time soon after they built a project around it for 4 years not counting the time and effort and money they invested in it??? I don’t think so. And they are Americans, they think they entitled to her innocence after they paid so much money for the people involved…
(They hired the PR firm BEFORE they hired an attorney for her according to my knowledge.)
I am afraid they will do really bad things after they will hear the verdict again, even with a reduced sentence, which I don’t understand at this point for AK (maybe for RS), because either she is guilty as charged or innocent but there is no way in between…

Posted by Hungarian on 09/29/11 at 12:42 AM | #

@Hungarian - Apparently the tab is closer to 2 million, as I read today, so no, not likely. They desperately need Amanda to be acquitted because her post-release interviews will pay that giant bill.  Like someone else pointed out, if she gets out, she’ll be an indentured servant for years to come.

What they should consider is that in one and a half years, that tab will be closer to 3 million and the press will lose interest due to no further appeals. With Amanda still in jail, I don’t see how they could possibly hope to pay for this campaign.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/29/11 at 12:57 AM | #

I’m concerned about who’s paying whom behind the scenes.  We’ve seen the overt money in the Knox camp but what about the payola for judges, lawyers, what about things like that which go on in any trial where much is riding on it? Could there be sudden reversals and gobsmacking decisions by the judicial team?

Posted by James Higham on 09/29/11 at 01:06 AM | #

I’m not sure what you mean, James.  Dr. Sollecito is paying Bongiorno and Maori, Knox-Mellas family is paying Dalla Vedova and Ghirga (presumably from donations and interview fees), and the Italian state is paying Hellman and the other professional judge.  Jurors, I assume, receive minor compensation for their duty like elsewhere.  I don’t think any of the people on the state payroll would dare take a bribe in such a highly publicized case because it would amount to professional suicide.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/29/11 at 01:21 AM | #

Wonderful insightful post Vivianna
                As usual I wish to interject a possible negative thought aimed at Knox’s parents plus Chris Mellas of course who seems to be behind so much nastiness and hate without actually exposing himself. ( No pun intended.) My take on him is that he is not the healthiest of humans anyway.

So here goes.
Is it at all possible that Knox’s parents are terrified of the backlash should Knox have ever pleaded guilty?
Somebody mentioned somewhere of Knox as a ‘Cash Cow’ not an unheard of term I may add. But how about the idea that Edda, Curt and Chris would be terrified when, and if a plea of guilty had been rendered by Knox herself could bring about the family being asked to give the contributed money back.
People just hate to be made fools of particularly if it’s after the fact. So is it at all possible that they painted themselves into a corner? 
Of course we can conjecture that if her family decided to just abandon Knox then using her as a ‘cash cow’ would be all the more relevant.
Yes! I know it’s far fetched but consider it anyway.
As for me the family Knox/Mellas are bottom feeders at best hence my thought.
Thank you Vivianna once more.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 09/29/11 at 02:36 AM | #

Lets not forget the Knox family’s American attourney. He apparently is receiving 500,000 US dollars for his services, (per year?).
Such an employ is not allowed under Italian law apparently, but thats another issue.
He’s been awfully quiet of late.
It was he who initially voiced his “whack a mole” analogy regarding the evidence against Amanda Knox, and then curiously changed his mind altogether somewhat.
There is video of this that I am sure The Machine posted on here before - just to illustrate a valid point.
Ahhhh… Ted Simon.. I remember now.

Posted by Deathfish2000 on 09/29/11 at 02:44 AM | #

It’s the cynic in me but just as we had the Grahame Rhodes’ mention here of the cash cow, it seems that money might be a motivator. How were the jurors selected?  I’m not suggesting that anything is untoward but have we looked in depth at all the possible things which might go wrong?  If it would not be a possibility, then we could rest more easily.

Posted by James Higham on 09/29/11 at 02:47 AM | #

@Grahame - You’re raising an excellent point regarding returning the money.  I suppose admitting guilt at this point would be tantamount to bankrupting her family.

I fully agree with the bottom feeder part.  Lauowolf made a very enlightening post on PMF about how everyone has been benefiting from her circumstances.

@James - This exact issue (juror selection process) has been very recently discussed on PMF. Check out page 3 of the current discussion thread.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/29/11 at 03:33 AM | #

And I’m invisible…
Something doesn’t smell right here.

Posted by Deathfish2000 on 09/29/11 at 03:54 AM | #

i am having a hard time finding out what takes place each day in court.  today?  even the news reports are a day old.  is amanda speaking tomorrow?

Posted by gramjan on 09/29/11 at 03:54 AM | #

I agree, AK will never confess,  she cannot see at her face her parents, sisters and her loyal friend who moved to Italia. If she do it it will surprise me a lot. I do not know if I misunderstood about the cash cow; but I do not think Knox/Mellas are getting rich with the case, the only who has been benefited is the Public Relations Company, and of course the media. I believe they are using the money to support their daughter. Although they receive more money than the amount they need, I really don’t think they are happy getting a positive net margin through this manner.  I still believe they believe her, probably they receive all news by AK lawyer, who probably digest to them the information not objectively at all. 

I have read/heard when the verdict comes too quickly is in favor of the defendant. In this case they can’t have their decision yet (I mean on Saturday), they should evaluate all new and past evidence. They are not planning a party, they will decide the involvement of two defendants in such a horrible murder. For me it is a little weird that judge will try to bring a verdict so quickly, a least the reporters mentioned that possibility.

Posted by lulupr on 09/29/11 at 04:13 AM | #


A verdict coming early could also mean that the jury is impatient, and Hellman has definitely seemed impatient the last few weeks. It’s not worth losing sleep over. We’ll have the verdict soon enough.

Obviously we at TJMK are bucking the conventional wisdom by believing that the original sentences will be upheld. A media network (probably ABC News, since they’ve been running interviews with the Knox camp daily) is providing the private jet. The FOA party is set to begin. I’m betting there will be an unpleasant (for them) surprise and a lot of long faces come Saturday afternoon.

Posted by brmull on 09/29/11 at 04:55 AM | #

As has been stated here before, Judge Hellman denied challenges to all of the evidence except the knife and bra clasp.  How are the lay judges supposed to study or evaluate the unchallenged evidence if it was not presented or discussed at length in the appeal? Have the lay judges been given time and access to study the trial documents? It would be a cruel irony if the unchallenged “solid” eveidence were given less weight in the eyes of the jury than the two pieces of contested evidence. Because of these issues will the professional judges take a strong leadership stance and summarize and evaluate the evidence for the lay judges?  If so, that puts a lot of power in the hands of the professional judges.  Is this issue one of the reasons the FOA crowd seems confident of acquital or do you think they are just shrilly singing the PR song? All of this is hard to understand since appeals in the United States don’t cover the value of evidence, only procedural issues.

Posted by Sailor on 09/29/11 at 06:30 AM | #

Trying to guess the verdict from Hellmann’s pronouncements or juror body language is like reading tea leaves.

It is not surprising that Hellmann is able to say when the verdict will come: the eight judges (two professional and two lay) have been moving toward it for ten months now. It would be a mistake to assume that they will be discussing evidence for the first time when court is adjourned on Saturday.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 09/29/11 at 07:49 AM | #

P.S. If people in the FOA really know already what the verdict is, that means they heard it from Hellmann and the judges have been bought. I truly doubt that is the case and I hope that is not what anyone would ever call justice. What an absurd thought.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 09/29/11 at 07:51 AM | #

Sceptical Bystander - that’s exactly what I was referring to.  Hellman’s [Helmann’s?] actions in this seem quite strange, denying this and that and what has been denied is exactly what the prosecution needed presented.

In fact, wasn’t there one moment when the prosecution was asked to move on and not reopen the case?  I should have written it down at the time.

If he hasn’t been bought [and/or any juror and thanks, Vivianne - shall read it], then he is impatient because all that evidence not admitted is taken as read and the only question is whether the disputed evidence is enough to overturn all the other evidence.

I’d say it’s not, if he’s not prejudiced.  But look at Mignini’s manner - it is possible to dislike that manner and humans being humans .....

The single item which worries me the most is those “independent experts”.  They were Hellmann appointees.  He has a vested interest in their opinions.

So as SB said, it’s like reading tealeaves.

Posted by James Higham on 09/29/11 at 10:59 AM | #


Regarding the independent experts, I think Hellmann’s instructions to them were odd. They were asked: (1) can the items be retested, and (2) are the results obtained by Dr. Stefanoni reliable. The latter was an academic assessment given without considering details of the case.

For instance a sample contaminated with multiple DNA profiles is obviously not sufficient for a paternity test. But the question in this case is whether Sollecito’s DNA could have gotten onto the bra clasp by hitching a ride on an investigators’ shoe. The prosecution made a convincing argument that the testing was still quite incriminating.

Hellmann seems pretty smart so I’m hoping he’ll see it that way and not be swayed by the unusually harsh language used by the experts. To acquit because he’s been persuaded that the scientific police are incompetent would be very irrational.

Posted by brmull on 09/29/11 at 12:28 PM | #


You are very visible!

This Ted is a sin buyer. He can live with it. He didn´t do the crime. He just gets paid for it. That must be a terrible life.

Posted by Helder Licht on 09/29/11 at 01:36 PM | #

I would hold off judgement on Hellman, until he delivers his verdict. These are the possible outcomes:

1. Hellman upholds the convictions, and extends the sentences. (Recommended)

2. If he just confirms these safe convictions, with no extension, then congratulations to the Italian justice system for being fair to Meredith.

3. If he reduces the sentences, but upholds guilt, this indicates severe US government pressure, and as someone here pointed out…just who the hell is paying for Knox’s PR campaign - probably ABC News.

4. If Hellmen acquits these two convicted killers, then it’s straight out political corruption. Dirty bribes will have changed hands, dirty backroom deals have been done, causing an egregious WHITEWASH. We could still thank Italy for trying to be fair this past 4 years, but in the end, America may prove too powerful.

In the last instance, if Knox is let out of America back to Italy, and the prosecutors try to appeal, they will never get her extradited back.

@Ernest Werner - you have sympathy if Knox gets her sentence reduced? Are you serious, after the way she slaughtered Meredith Kercher.

Posted by proud-american on 09/29/11 at 02:44 PM | #

The BBC is reporting that Judge Hellman said the verdict would be delivered on Monday.

Posted by Janus on 09/29/11 at 03:07 PM | #

@Ernest Werner - you have sympathy if Knox gets her sentence reduced? Are you serious, after the way she slaughtered Meredith Kercher.

I have the greatest respect for Ernest and ran a post using his name in the title and a quote below.  I do see also that the wisdom of years does count.  Sometimes it’s wise to choose your battles and let the rest go by.  Also, there are two sides to a question.

With great respect, not here.  There are two issues here:

1.  It was a murder and a gruesome one too.  We’re now getting political, without using the word.  There is one side which says that if a sentence says life, it should mean life.  If someone takes a life, then at a minimum, they should be put away for life.

These people are not necessarily “hang ‘em high” types but there is such a thing as right and wrong.

2.  One side in this case have been making a mockery of the justice system and thinking that PR and money can buy freedom.  They can in many cases in the Anglo-Saxon west.  But we’d like to think not in Italy.

All that this mockery has done is added “stick” to the issue.  I agree that if she’d been considering confessing, that’s now gone by the board and in this sense I feel some sympathy on account of those appalling parents and her poor upbringing.

Yet at the end, it is still a murder and one girl is lifeless as a result of it.

Posted by James Higham on 09/29/11 at 03:22 PM | #

@Deathfish - Certainly not invisible! But I don’t think there’s anything mysterious about how the American lawyer is getting paid (probably a combination of donations, interview fees, bank loans, etc.).

@Gramjan - If you are still watching this conversation, I recommend several options:

1. Twitter.  Go to!/search-home and look up these 2 journalists.  They are both reporting from the courtroom, both are fluent in Italian, and both have provided solid, neutral coverage of this case:

- BLNadeau
- AndreaVogt

At your risk, you can search for #amandaknox, but be warned that it’s absolutely spammed with FOA material (i.e. links to their blogs and to biased US media reports, like E. Vargas’)

2. The PMF board. A lot of people there are working relentlessly to post links to news stories as soon as they go up.

@Proud-American - I too have the greatest respect for Ernest and I don’t think it’s wrong to show some compassion. None of us can ever understand how terrible it must be to have committed such an unspeakable crime and live with that knowledge for the rest of our lives.  Just because the trio showed Meredith no mercy, it doesn’t mean we need to follow their example.  For me, it would be a huge disappointment if they were acquitted, but let’s hope that it won’t be the case.

@Everyone wondering about Hellman: I think we should just wait for the verdict before we start speculating. This appeal is not a re-trial, and all evidence that wasn’t subjected to reexamination is solid; the jury is aware of it and has had months to review it.  FOA has done enough jumping to conclusions.  Let us keep a neutral approach and allow events to unfold first.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/29/11 at 04:30 PM | #


I don’t see that Helman has a vested interest in these two independent experts unless, that is, he has some personal ties with any of them. Had that been the case he would have had to disclose an interest and they would not have been appointed. I would seriously doubt that he had anything to do with the appointment of these two individuals. It is far more likely that the courts have a list of experts willing to fulfill the task of conducting reviews and that it is for the court staff to select two purely as an administrative function. It may well be that some other experts on the panel would have been asked but due to commitments had to turn the job down. Who knows?

Helman is not personally responsible for the quality of these experts either. Indeed there is some talk that Vechiotti has already had one of her reviews rubbished by a court in a different case.

I don’t see it as his problem if some of these experts’ reports are not up to scratch. That is more of a problem for the experts concerned and no doubt their names on the panel will be under review.

Posted by James Raper on 09/29/11 at 04:41 PM | #

Some more astrological coincidences: OJ Simpson, born July 09, was acquitted on the charge of murder on October 03, 1995.

Amanda Knox, born on July 09, will find out if she’s been found guilty or innocent on October 03, 2011.


Posted by Ergon on 09/29/11 at 04:43 PM | #

Thank you for this Vivianna, your words are coloured in a golden hue because of your humanity to Amanda.  No one is irredeemably bad.  No one.

I have to (shamefacedly) confess that all that Barbara Shore stuff went far above my head.

My hope was that they wouldn’t televise the decision on TV.  These are not footballers (and I hate post match interviews anyway) or practised politicians.  What is involved here, whether we like them or not, are real, feeling human beings.  It is not a spectator sport or a spectacle.

My sense is that the American networks are on a cruel win win.

Win one is acquittal and they beam smiling faces and the new Princess Royal of the United States returns home in triumph.

Win two is a guilty verdict.  Tears, dismay, emotion, anger, bile … part of me thinks that this win is the bigger win in visceral “TV drama” terms.  What a cruel deal the Knox clan have made with the dollar devil.

Either way I sense that the Kerchers will act with their customary restraint and inherent class.


Posted by Peter Oliver on 09/29/11 at 04:50 PM | #

Seems that verdict will come on Monday after all.

Barbie Nadeau tweets:

Still more schedule rumors. Latest: rebuttals on Fri AND Sat, then statements by #amandaknox & #sollecito, deliber, verdict on Monday.

@Peter Oliver - I think you are absolutely right about this being a win/win situation for the media.  I hope the Kercher family will continue to stay strong, and that the Knox family will show some restraint regardless of the verdict.  I feel very sad for those two little girls they keep putting in front of the cameras, because they’ve been encouraged to feel hopeful and will likely see their hopes dashed again in a few days.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/29/11 at 05:40 PM | #

i have gone back to the beginning of tjmk and re-read the early accounts of the murder.  it is apparent to me that, while there is much disagreement over DNA evidence and blood evidence, at no time have i heard the defense explain the lies AK told in the beginning.  no where have i heard a defense explanation concerning the inconsistencies between AK and RS’s accounts of that tragic night. even the timeline is specific in pointing out the deception that took place the morning after the murder. so argue the blood “drops”, argue the bloody footprint, argue the “breakin”. if one is truly innocent, there is no reason to lie. period.

Posted by gramjan on 09/29/11 at 06:04 PM | #

I just read Maundy Gregory’s fine article on Italian sentencing.  Seems to indicate that the court cannot convict on a lesser charge or reduce the sentence below 21 years.  They have to either uphold the verdict or acquit.  Then I read an Italian article that seems to say that the court is not constrained, and can make whatever verdict they want.  This doesn’t sound right.

Posted by Pbelsinger on 09/29/11 at 08:57 PM | #

there’s a new article by Amanda Vogt of the about Thursday’s hearing and media circus.

Posted by Sailor on 09/29/11 at 10:07 PM | #

Thank you so much Vivianna,
Your intelligence on this sorry affair is very warming to me.
I firmly believe the convictions will be upheld.
If not, god help us - and I am an atheist!

Posted by Deathfish2000 on 09/29/11 at 10:43 PM | #

This tweet has been attributed to Andrea Vogt:

#amandaknox laughs as Ghirga mocks prosecution’s case. She and her family seem moved.

It would be unfortunate if she did do that in front of the jurors, it’s very telling though.  This girl has no remorse, and I don’t think redemption is even a remote possibility in this case.  She lacks empathy, plain and simple.

Hopefully she will stop laughing on Monday.

Posted by Intuition on 09/29/11 at 11:14 PM | #

Hello dear Viviana,I want to thank you for what
you are doing.May I know where you are from?
I am italian,and I am very interested in this
case since the beggining.
I want to go to Perugia on this weekend.
As italian,I am angree with my
Government,because he doesn’t do anything to
defendes Minnini and the police for all the
insults they recieved.Soon,the american media
will say that Minnini and the Police killed
Meredith,they are in so bad faith,that I
wouldn’t be surprise.
I am praying a lot Viviana,and friends.I want
to see justice prevail.I am so scared,so scared.
Viviana,and freinds pray with me,too,please.
We must pray a lot,a lot NOW.

Posted by Matteo_65 on 09/29/11 at 11:29 PM | #

Intuition there is a similar post by Daniel Sandford of the BBC —Ghirga has #amandaknox giggling several times as he mocks prosecution witnesses. Slightly questionable taste given what trial is about.

Posted by mojo on 09/30/11 at 12:01 AM | #

I’ve just been going back over the locked door - what’s the current state of play on that?  If they say “locked from the inside”, does that definitively mean the key was in the lock?

Posted by James Higham on 09/30/11 at 12:03 AM | #

Hi Matteo.  I’m not too worried about Mr. Mignini.  He’s in a tough profession and I’m sure he’s used to being hated and demonized by people he has to prosecute.  He’s not quite Corrado Cattani yet and I hope that he’ll never have to worry about his life.  American media calling him “evil” is water off the duck’s back.

@Intuition and Mojo - I am so curious to know what Ghirga was saying that had them in stitches. I know Dalla Vedova made some nasty remarks about Ms. Capezzali and the other witnesses, somehow forgetting that their own witnesses are convicted criminals.  I know that it’s their job, but making it a laughing matter is beyond tasteless.

@James - The door could not have been locked from the inside.  In that case, the attacker(s) would have had to leave via Meredith’s window and we know that never happened.  Someone just locked the door and tossed the keys, to make it seem like Meredith had gone out.  The problem was that they forgot Amanda’s lamp inside, on the floor ...

Posted by Vivianna on 09/30/11 at 12:30 AM | #

Barbie Nadeau’s article from today:

Posted by Vivianna on 09/30/11 at 12:41 AM | #

I think Knox and Sollecito believed they had all weekend to clean up the flat and stage it and were just arriving to do so when the postal police showed up with Meredith’s phones. They had locked Meredith’s body in her room as if she were away for the weekend in case any of her friends might wander by looking for her.
There was evidence that the flat had been wiped clean of prints so much so that Knox’s were virtually absent in her own flat. What killer would stick around and clean and stage but one who knew there was no risk of anyone coming home because she knew they were all on vacation.

Posted by jennifer on 09/30/11 at 02:41 AM | #

Jennifer, how would you explain AK’s phone call to Filomena 20 minutes before the police arrived?

Posted by Spencer on 09/30/11 at 02:56 AM | #


About the court examining the evidence and hearing witnesses.
Keep in mind that this is not an entirely new trial.
It is an appeals-level trial, whose mission is to examine the initial finding.
When they indicated what exhibits and witnesses they would take up, it means that they had no remaining questions about what the lower court had passed onto them.
That is - they started off by examining the entire earlier proceedings.
They can, of course, accept or reinterpret the materials they did not agree to re-examine in court- I think.
But the main point is that they walked into the courtroom already masters of the materials available to the first court.
Their decision to look again at a witness, the bra strap and the knife doesn’t mean that they find these the most important elements of the case, rather that they seemed to perhaps remain somewhat in question after the first trial.
These few questions have clearly been answered, and there is no reason to think they would require a long deliberation period at this point.
Btw, I believe the first court reached that unanimous guilty verdict rather speedily.

Posted by lauowolf on 09/30/11 at 03:02 AM | #

Hello Vivianna

As I said before “Lovely post as always.” let me interject a thought here regarding Ghirga having them all in stitches. Given my jaundiced and pessimistic view of the goings on of the defense. (the defense witnesses etc;) My take on it is that it’s all staged. Ghirga wants Knox to laugh or giggle at some point, after all ‘Why would a guilty person laugh?’
Was Sollecito laughing too I wonder?
So roll on Monday.

As an after thought. It is very easy to get caught up in the hysteria of the moment. (I hope the conviction stands etc;) so don’t worry about it since there is nothing to be done either way because just like the FOA we are powerless and we are only able to hope.
Hope springs eternal.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 09/30/11 at 03:07 AM | #

Grahame, I hadn’t thought of that possibility, but if that was Ghirga’s plan, boy, did he miss the mark.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/30/11 at 03:17 AM | #

Jennifer—I don’t think Knox thought she had all weekend. The weekend was almost over, and in any case Meredith’s friends would try to call her and get worried. Knox made the calculation that it would be better to recheck the crime scene than go out of town with Sollecito. Once she walked back to the cottage in broad daylight however she couldn’t be sure no one had seen her. So she constructed the story of how she had seen blood spots and ran back to get Sollecito. The arrival of the postal police was certainly a surprise to them, but whether Sollecito called 112 before or after is still unclear to me.

The lack of fingerprints suggests that the scientific police were very selective about where they looked, not necessarily that the police work was inadequate as the defense contends. Massei made no comment about the fingerprint evidence or lack thereof in his report.

As far as the luminol, Stefanoni testified she only took photographs where there were full non-overlapping footprints. So there was a lot more luminol evidence than what was presented in court. To me the picture below is suggestive that someone spot cleaned with a wet sponge. I’m can’t confirm this—there’s a surprising lack of information about luminol prints on the web.

Posted by brmull on 09/30/11 at 05:05 AM | #


What the luminol reveals most, to me, is that someone was walking around in bare feet after the murder.  We know Rudy had his shoes on because, when he made tracks, he left tracks.

I never bought Knox’s explanation of the events of the morning on which Meredith’s murder was discovered.

If Knox went back to her house, as she says, and saw the door open, blood, etc., it isn’t believable that she walked all the way back to Sollecito’s house to tell him about it.  She would have called him on his cell and told him to come over right now, then asked him to call the police or called them herself.

My inference is that they wanted to check the scene in daylight to make sure it was clean.

We will never know what would have happened if the postal police had not arrived unexpected.

Posted by jamesepowell on 09/30/11 at 07:12 AM | #


I’m guessing they took off their shoes to wash them. It also made it easier to distinguish their footprints from Guede’s shoeprints during the cleanup.

I too have wondered why Knox went back to Sollecito’s apartment rather than call him. Maybe she didn’t want to seem too alarmed by what she had seen. But it could also be that she had something besides a mop to take back to Sollecito’s—I’m guessing clothing or cleaning supplies. Both Knox and Sollecito mentioned a plastic bag in their statements and their explanations don’t completely make sense, so I suspect this bag was the transport vessel.

Posted by brmull on 09/30/11 at 09:22 AM | #

in my opinion instead we know: today they would be respected graduate professionals.

Posted by ncountryside on 09/30/11 at 09:49 AM | #

Jamesepowell - good point re the footprints. Rudy showed an expected response of a murderer at the scene - who was not a resident of the flat. He bolted from the flat leaving his shoeprints going out the door.

Footprints in blood after the murder can only be explained by person/s who knew the flat would be vacant that night and who had the incentive to clean the scene and stage a cover up.

All roads lead to Amanda Knox, like most of the evidence.

Posted by gabster1971 on 09/30/11 at 10:20 AM | #

I remember Mignini saying that one of the pieces of evidence that proves the break in was staged is that there was nothing put aside to be taken…

So the burglar breaks in and starts rummaging around in Filomena’s room - but does not put anything aside to take and just creates a mess?!!? Then he goes to the toilet to take a poop - this burglar is really taking his sweet time! At this stage Meredith comes home and he jumps of the toilet runs into her bedroom and kills her and runs straight out. The only thing he has the foresight to steal is the contents of Meredith’s bag, her mobiles, her money and her keys.

This relaxed burglar now locks Meredith’s door just to make sure ***** (refer to AK defense, I cant remember but its all very logical)

Posted by Giselle on 09/30/11 at 10:45 AM | #

Yes, Giselle -He smashed the glass, athletically scrambled up the wall, wrenched open the sticky shutters, had a casual look around the valuables carefully replacing the glass on top of the clothes, decided there was nothing worthy of interest, went to the loo and Meredith sat there calmly reading, knowing the house was supposed to be empty not making any attempt to run away.

The next day when Miss Amanda was doing some selective cleaning she expressed alarm when she thought at first the contents of the toilet bowl had been flushed but Phew! there it still was, thank God for that!

On another subject, some posters have remarked on her laughter. Well she has a very inclusive sense of humour. Shoe covers at a crime scene? Opla! Compensation for Patrick? Who m? Ha ha ha! Sexy underwear after a murder? Hilarious! All you need is love? You bet! My people killed your people? Excuse me while I fall down laughing!

Inappropriate laughter and, in general, backwards responses to events are thought to be a huge red flag in the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, a pathology which some suggest AK may suffer from. A narcissist will revert attention to him/herself whenever it strays away. eg When everyone at the police station was crying, Amanda giggled and flirted and did a few circus tricks. This is not normal and cannot be passed off as eccentricity or cuteness or coming from Seattle.  What also struck one as repulsive was ‘I only knew her for a month’ a truly monstrous remark that her defense must have cringed at. I don’t think all the coaching in the world can paper over the fissures in her personality. Everyone time she opens her mouth, she reveals her fatal flaw.

Posted by pensky on 09/30/11 at 11:49 AM | #

I do not agree that “no one is iredeemingly bad”. Let us look at the faces of evil throughout history. Manson, Scott Peterson, Richard Speck, Bin Laden, Hitler, Idi Amin. You get the idea. When one is left alone to raise themself, when one is abused or neglected in childhood, when ones parents have no moral compass the outcome can mean that as an adult (s)he veers from society and does whatever he or she feels like with no guilt,conscious or knowledge that the act was wrong. I would ask have you seen anything at all but darkness in ak’s eyes? Her actions since the murder have ONLY been worry that she got caught, no regret or remorse. Am I wrong?

Posted by friar fudd on 09/30/11 at 01:35 PM | #

Pensky I am glad that you are beginning to see the logic in Knox and Sollecito defense.

Regarding her laughter you must agree this poor girl is so innocent and naive that she doesnt realise she is the defendant at a murder trial. It only goes to prove how these medieval prosecutors managed to manipulate her into a confession and lock her away. These guys wanted to get back to their pasta - Knox was a good choice.

Excuse my sarcasm but the more I hear about, read about and observe this case the more I am lost for words.

Come to think of it, it would be a very interesting exercise to go over to some of these FOA sites and submit my comments - I am sure I will be applauded!

Posted by Giselle on 09/30/11 at 01:40 PM | #

They wouldn’t understand you Giselle, you’re too eloquent. Remember they’ve only got half a dozen brain cells between the lot of them.

Posted by Spencer on 09/30/11 at 04:09 PM | #

Alas you are right Spencer, its not that I am too eloquent, its really about where you set the benchmark…

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

Friar, the people you mention have not been stopped at a relatively impressionable age.  I wouldn’t go as far as to argue that everyone can redeem themselves, without any help, although some may be able to do it (and I think they should be considered exceptional, regardless of what they may have done before, in that other life).

But a situation like AK’s is different.  She is in a structured environment and has access to counseling.  If her family backed off with the media circus and stopped reinforcing her ideas that it’s all about her and that she could do nothing wrong, she might be able to make some progress.  She’s young and has a lot of time ahead of her.  Maybe she won’t be able to deal with the darkness until after the appeals have been exhausted and there is nothing else to do at that point.  The media will lose interest - in three or four years she will be forgotten. That’s one of the best things that could happen to her.

I guess I’m of the opinion that functional people (i.e. who are not mentally ill to a high degree) can be helped and humanized.  I know a lot of people would think, and maybe rightfully so, that helping murderers is a waste of time.  But I think that it’s exactly those who are at their most wretched that need to be helped.  If we let them wallow in darkness, knowing their situation, we are not any more compassionate than they were to their victims.  Theirs is not an example I would follow.

That’s why I have a lot of admiration for people who work in rehabilitation - mostly mental health professionals.  I probably couldn’t do it - I couldn’t isolate my own moral judgments, my instinctive recoiling from the darkness in them, my disgust for their past actions, maybe even my fear of them.

Posted by Vivianna on 09/30/11 at 10:22 PM | #
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