Friday, November 05, 2021

Tip For Good Reporters: Trial Lawyer Explains How To Cut Through Smoke To A Very Compelling Guilty Case

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


This is the second in a multi-part series focused on provable realities in response to an inflammatory three-page report in the New York Times almost exclusively channeling dishonest and repeatedly-refuted Knox PR.

1. Narrative Of My Own Arrival

The image above is of Dr Comodi who presented more than half the case at trial which I followed with a professional eye. There is a note at the bottom here on who I am and how this originated.

All of us who come to this case have one key question: did they do it? On the internet, you will find people who are passionate in their defence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and you will find people who are passionate in their support of the prosecution. 

Placing my own cards on the table here: as a twenty-plus year practising trial lawyer, I am firmly a part of that latter camp. 

But it wasn’t always that way. It was mastering the vast array of damning information on the evidence that changed my views.

What became very clear to me, early on, was that very few people in the English-speaking world are aware of anywhere near all of the evidence in this case.

I had thought I had grasped the core of the case, but I did not.  The case is deep and complex, and like many criminal cases, the complete facts behind it have been only sketchily reported in the media. 

I summarise below what I have found most compelling and of high potential in court.

2. Four Telling Contexts

1 The unanimous jury

I am sure that we all agree that no jury, in any murder case, given the awesome responsibility of adjudicating on (young) people’s lives for a multi-decade period of imprisonment, condemns people lightly.

It should be a matter of logic that the evidence presented against the accused must have been deep and satisfied the 6 lay jurors and 2 judges on the case for them to pronounce that huge judgement. That doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be the possibility of a mistrial, but clearly the evidence presented must have been substantial.

In this, we’ve already hit the first problem.  Some supporters of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito will tell you there’s no evidence against them. 

This is patently silly.  No jury ever convicts people and sends them to prison for 24 plus years without being quite convinced of the case against them.  Miscarriages of justice do happen, but the idea that there is “no evidence” can be summarily dismissed. 

The only question is whether the evidence is sufficient, true and accurate.

2 The voluminous evidence

So is the evidence enough to convict beyond a reasonable doubt?  The six lay jurors and two professional judges thought so, clearly.  What you realise, when you come to the facts of the case, is that the evidence is based not around a single key event but on multiple points. 

It can be astonishing to realise that the case is based not only on DNA evidence but also on cellphone evidence and computer records and further yet on multiple conflicting and contradicting versions of what happened that night from the mouths of the accused, not to mention falsely accusing an innocent man of responsibility for murder causing his incarceration. 

The wealth of evidence is actually extremely unusual. It goes way beyond the quite similar Scott Peterson case.

3 The Massei Sentencing Report

What is absolutely new to the English speaking legal world is that the reasoning for the conviction can be read in an extremely detailed 440+ page report available online.  Bilingual posters at the Perugia Murder File Forums many of whom who are also key posters at TJMK translated the entire document into English over several months in 2010. 

It was my privilege to play an extremely small part in that work.  People from four different continents with backgrounds in forensic science, law, academia and a host of other disciplines participated. 

You can download and read the full Massei Report here. There is an effective executive summary in the conclusions from page 388 onwards, and an excellent short version starting here.

4 The Knox PR campaign

If you are new to this case, you will likely be shocked how much evidence there is against the convicted parties.  Amanda Knox’s family have spent over $1m and involved a professional PR agency called Gogerty Marriot to suggest otherwise in the English-speaking media. 

You might wonder why an innocent person needs a million dollar PR campaign on their part.  Make yourself a coffee and read the conclusions of the judge’s report. It will take you about 15 minutes.  Up until you read this report, almost everything you watch, hear and read is PR spin and is quite deliberately positioned to make you believe there is no case.

When you complete it,  I believe you will have a very different take. That 15 minutes could change your ideas about everything you thought you knew about the murder of Meredith Kercher.

3.  Scan Of Evidence Highpoints

Consider as you read these what is your own possible explanation for each of the following:

  • the fact that the wound pattern and the reconstruction of the attack, each presented at trial in extensive closed-court sessions, showed this absolutely had to be a pack attack; 

  • the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito on Meredith’s bra-clasp in her locked bedroom;

  • the almost-entire naked footprint of Raffaele on a bathmat that in *no way* fits that of the other male in this case - Rudy Guede;

  • the fact that Raffaele’s own father blew their alibi that they were together in Raffaele’s flat at the time of the killing with indisputable telephone records;

  • the DNA of Meredith Kercher on the knife in Raffaele’s flat which Raffaele himself sought to explain as having been from accidentally “pricking” Meredith’s hand in his written diary despite the fact Meredith had never been to his flat (confirmed by Amanda Knox);

  • the correlation of where Meredith’s phones were found to the location of Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guedes’s flats;

  • the computer records which show that no-one was at Raffaele’s computer during the time of the murder despite him claiming he was using that computer;

  • Amanda’s DNA mixed with Meredith Kercher’s in five different places just feet from Meredith’s body;

  • the utterly inexplicable computer records the morning after the murder starting at 5.32 am and including multiple file creations and interactions thereafter all during a time that Raffaele and Amanda insist they were asleep until 10.30am;

  • the separate witnesses who testified on oath that Amanda and Raffaele were at the square 40 metres from the girls’ cottage on the evening of the murder; and the fact that Amanda was seen at a convenience store at 7.45am the next morning, again while she said she was in bed;

  • the fact of Knox’s claim that she was aggressively interrogated for days, although she did not even have the status of a witness, and signed every page of every typed record of her mild, mundane and quite limited questionings;

  • the accusation of a completely innocent man by Knox again and again when under no pressure which she insisted on putting in writing;

  • The fact that Knox and her mother, in whom she confided that the accusation was untrue, left Patrick imprisoned for a full two weeks;

  • the fact that during Knox’s very unconvincing performance on the witness stand in July 2009 she admitted she was treated well and was not abused;

  • the lies of Knox on the witness stand about how their drug intake that night (“one joint”) is totally contradicted by Sollecito’s own contemporaneous diary;

  • the fact that when Amanda Knox rang Meredith’s mobile telephones, ostensibly to check on the “missing” Meredith, she did so for just three seconds - registering the call but making no effort to allow the phone to be answered in the real world

  • the knife-fetish of Raffaele Sollecito, and his formal disciplinary punishment for watching animal porn at his university so far from the wholesome image portrayed;

  • the fact that claimed multi-year kick-boxer Raffaele apparently couldn’t break down a flimsy door to Meredith’s room when he and Amanda were at the flat the morning after the murder but the first people in the flat with the police who weren’t martial artists could;

  • the extensive hard drug use of Sollecito as told on by Amanda Knox;

  • the fact that Amanda knew details of the body and the wounds despite not being in line of sight of the body when it was discovered;

  • the fact that after a late evening’s questioning, Knox wrote a 2,900 word email home which painstakingly details what she said happened that evening and the morning after that looks *highly* like someone committing to memory, at 3.30 in the morning, an extensive alibi;

  • the fact that both Amanda and Raffaele both said they would give up smoking dope for life in their prison diaries despite having apparently nothing to regret;

  • the fact that when Rudy Guede was arrested, Raffaele Sollecito didn’t celebrate the “true” perpetrator being arrested (which surely would have seen him released) but worried in his diary that a man whom he said he didn’t know would “make up strange things” about him despite him just being one person in a city of over 160,000 people;

  • the fact that both an occupant of the cottage and the police instantly recognised the cottage had not been burgled but had been the subject of a staged break-in where glass was *on top* of apparently disturbed clothes;

  • the fact that Knox and Sollecito have feuded quite publicly ever since November 2007 and have shown far more anger toward one another than either has ever shown toward Guede;

  • the fact that Knox and Sollecito both suggested each other might have committed the crime and Sollecito TO THIS DATE does not agree Knox stayed in his flat all the night in question;

  • the fact of the bizarre behaviour of both of them for days after the crime;

  • the fact that cellphone records show Knox did not stay in Sollecito’s flat but had left the flat at a time which is completely coincidental with Guede’s corroborated presence near the girl’s flat earlier in the evening;

  • the fact that Amanda Knox’s table lamp was found in the locked room of Meredith Kercher in a position that suggested it had been used to examine for fine details of the murder scene in a clean up;

  • the unbelievable series of changing stories made up by the defendants after their versions became challenged;

  • Knox’s inexplicable reaction to being shown the knife drawer at the girl’s cottage where she ended up physically shaking and hitting her head despite being joyful earlier at the police station.


4. My Concluding Advice

This list is not exhaustive. It goes on and on and on, And yet, those supporting Knox will tell you that’s all made up, all coincidental. 

Really?  Does the enormous weight of all that evidence look made up to you?

If so, it must be the most over-rigged criminal case in the history of crime.  Unlikely beyond all and any reasonable doubt.

The judge’s report explains why the jury found the defendants guilty. I truly expect you will be astonished at the amount of evidence if all you’ve done is watched a film or read a few press reports. 

This advice by the experienced trial lawyer SomeAlibi was posted at the start of the first appeal by Sollecito and Knox, the one that was corrupted and annulled and then repeated in Florence. Posted before the enormous Knox PR moved into crazed overdrive. It remains one of the best “landing places” for good reporters and others curious to know why Knox more-and-more frantically tries to shake the tenacious black cloud hanging over her.

Comments

As said, this is not an exhaustive list. I would like to draw attention to Knox’s blood on the washbasin faucet in the small bathroom right next to Meredith’s room.

This was undoubtedly blood and it belonged to Knox because the only DNA in it was Knox’s.

There was other blood in the bathroom which was undoubtedly blood and which belonged to only Meredith because only her DNA was found there i.e the footprint on the mat, on the door and on the light switch.

Then there was the mixed DNA of Knox and Meredith found in other blood, undoubtedly blood, i.e from the washbasin, the bidet and the cotton bud box.

Knox’s blood is in close proximity to the mixed DNA samples. So that may be how there is mixed blood there. Indeed, the electropherogram readings for the mixed samples show that Knox’s alleles, in many cases, are not just high but higher than Meredith’s. Blood is, of course, a rich source of DNA. The prosecution experts contended that in their experience this showed there was a mixture of blood in the mixed DNA. Disputing that, the defence contended that since it was a shared bathroom there were many innocent explanations for the presence of Knox’s DNA which could pre-date the deposit of Meredith’s blood, and that as to Knox’s undoubted blood on the faucet this, and perhaps elsewhere, was due to her ear piercings.

However there is a problem for the defence. Knox herself testified that there was no blood in the bathroom when she used it the day before the discovery of the murder, and in her e-mail she mentions no bleed at the time of her alleged shower on the morning of the discovery and opines that the blood she noticed was unlikely to be from her ear piercings given both the amount and that, as to the faucet, it was caked on.

Accordingly, we are entitled to infer, on the basis of the above information and observations, that Knox’s blood was deposited on the faucet in the period of time intervening between the two occasions when she freely admits to having used the bathroom. That is, overnight between the 1st and 2nd Nov, when Meredith was murdered and when, according to Knox, she was not there. That is a lie exposed by the science and her own account.

Posted by James Raper on 11/04/21 at 06:11 AM | #

Very well explained. This is evidence item 9-12 in our evidence masterlist.

https://tinyurl.com/w3at6vb4

Actually, it’s almost certainly courtesy of Meredith, trying so hard to fight back.

The scrape on Knox’s neck or a cut on her hand?

That was one extra question from the prosecution we could have used, though they did do so well.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/04/21 at 12:21 PM | #

Working links to the Massei report, long version and short version, have been added to SomeAlibi’s post in part 2/3.

Impressive report, though some find it not quite as straight and unbending as the earlier Micheli report.

Judge Micheli of course was acting alone. Judge Massei had a co-judge and jury to manage like herding cats.

Maybe the “mitigating circumstances” in Massei’s verdict (leading to a reduced sentence) were to buy off an emotional jurist, maybe lamenting that the defendants were so young. (In 2014 Nencini’s appeal jury threw those out, and the reduced sentence was no more.)

Trials and appeals happen at a measured pace in Italy, average 1-2 days a week. One main reason is to try to get very smart jury members with high income and education. That sure puts US juries in the shade - one reason jury trials are dwindling fast).

Big problemo though. Juries at the first appeal level (there were two here, at the Hellman and Nencini appeals) are really a fifth wheel. They bring zero extra quality to the judicial process.

In fact they are a TERRIBLE idea because the same defense team invariably shows up at every appeal, smartening up just like Groundhog Day, whereas the original trial prosecutors almost never do, and complete neophytes have to carry on.

So much of a problem is this, known to every Italian who has seen too many brilliant trials and too many scandalous appeals, that Dr Mignin and Dr Comodi were at hand for the Hellman appeal. (At the repeat appeal in Florence Prosecutor Crini did put on a dazzling show.)

What if the original Massei trial prosecutors, or even the Nencini appeal prosecutors, had explained the real, tough case against Knox and Sollecito to Supreme Court judges Marasca and Bruno, in front of the whole world? All the evidence, properly explained?

Knox and Sollecito would still be locked up.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/04/21 at 12:45 PM | #

A hairdresser on Vashon Island where Knox lives is said by those close to her to have quite a crush on Curt Knox. Both are married of course. Now the hairdresser Pruett (to what end?!)  has published on Kindle a 700-page conspiracy theory of a book, in which of course all of Italy is involved.

To help book sales, or maybe not, I posted on Amazon the first review. If approved it will show up soon. 

https://tinyurl.com/3hpew6c2

Up to about 20 years ago the mafias simply assassinated the brave judges and prosecutors of Italy but then they found more mileage in tainting them instead. The Ndrangheta were trying to get a grip on the Perugia drug trade, quite large at the time, throughout this judicial process and the lead prosecutor at trial who would be the lead also in mafia trials was their main judicial target right then.

Raffaele Sollecito’s Uncle Rocco was the most powerful mafioso in the world throughout the period of the judicial process, and Raffaele sought him out for help at least twice. He had a hand in bending the 2011 and 2015 appeals.

At trial the evidence presentations showing that this was a pack attack (and not Guede alone) went on for days behind closed doors. The many wounds on the body and the recreation by perhaps the best crime scene recreation team in Europe left defense counsel with no comeback at all (three nearly walked off the case) and Knox & Sollecito both turned green.

The central hoax of Pruett’s book that Guede killed Meredith ALONE is so utterly ludicrous, and such a total fail at the 2009 trial, that EVEN THE DEFENSES abandoned it from then on.

In 2011 they fully accepted that it had been a pack attack, and to try to show that Knox & Sollecito were not part of that pack, they brought in not one but two witnesses from separate prisons, Aviello (a mafioso) and Alessi (a baby killer), to claim they had “proof” others had done the crime.

Alessi got so scared he was going to be charged with perjury and get more jail time that he was sick and could barely speak. And Aviello (a mafioso) turned on the defense lawyers and roared at them! He claimed they had been offering bribes around his jail.  One lawyer threatened to sue but (surprise surprise) never did.

Amazon might be well advised not offering this deeply irresponsible nonsense; in fact Pruett might be well advised too.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/07/21 at 10:42 AM | #

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