Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Donald Trump Wants to Boycott Italy until Amanda Knox is Free

Real Estate mogul Donald Trump writes in his Trump University blog today:

What’s really going on over there? Nothing has been made clear -- except that Amanda Knox is now in an Italian prison for perhaps her whole life. Is that the easy solution? One solution is to boycott Italy until they decide to get serious and let her go.

continue here..


Personally, I think these calls for boycotts are quite silly because they won't accomplish anything. Furthermore, Americans gladly buy plenty of of products from China (along with borrowing enormous loans) even though the human rights abuses there are staggering. Regardless, maybe he can help as an advocate for her and ease some of the defense costs that Amanda's family has been burdened with. So there you have it.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom

From LessWrong.com:

Followup to: You be the jury: survey on a current event

All three of them clearly killed her. The jury clearly believed so as well which strengthens my argument. They spent months examining the case, so the idea that a few minutes of internet research makes [other commenters] certain they're wrong seems laughable

- lordweiner27, commenting on my previous post

The short answer: It's very much like how a few minutes of philosophical reflection trump a few millennia of human cultural tradition.

Wielding the Sword of Bayes -- or for that matter the Razor of Occam -- requires courage and a certain kind of ruthlessness. You have to be willing to cut your way through vast quantities of noise and focus in like a laser on the signal.

But the tools of rationality are extremely powerful if you know how to use them.

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's not about Italy

(Jim Lovering)

She was, is, and always will be innocent, but the system refused to see that. Her persecutors, with help from a frenzied media, turned a wholesome, fresh-faced American girl into a sexually depraved monster. They constructed a cartoon caricature so far from her real nature that it would be laughable if not for the fact that her life and her freedom were at stake.

The idea that she would commit the crimes for which she was charged is ridiculous to anyone who really understands the nature of sex crimes and sex offenders. But reason did not prevail in this case. Instead, public authorities looked to their own interests and reputations. Their goal was to win at any cost. To compensate for evidence that was weak and contrived, they whipped up hysteria inside and outside of the courtroom. They fed the worst impulses of human nature. They made the public hate her.

And when the long trial reached its conclusion, Margaret Kelly Michaels was convicted.

It happened in 1988, in a US court in the state of New Jersey. Michaels was convicted on 115 counts of child sex abuse and sentenced to 47 years in prison. She was absolutely innocent. The US criminal justice system, with all its supposed protections, reached a verdict that was absolutely wrong.

Hers is far from the only case. There are countless others in the US. In DuPage County, Illinois, police and prosecutors in the Jeanine Nicarico murder case schemed and connived for over a decade to keep two innocent men in jail, long after they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt who the real killer was.

In Wenatchee, Washington, a psychopathic police detective named Robert Perez conducted a witch hunt that put more than 20 innocent men and women behind bars. It took years for a team of lawyers, working pro bono, to clean up the mess Perez created for no better reason that to glorify his malignant ego.

And for most of that time, Perez had the citizens and institutions of Wenatchee thoroughly behind him. Like the lead prosecutor in Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, Perez was a shrewd operator. He knew how to manipulate the public and play to their emotions.

The case of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito does not reflect a problem unique to Italy. It reflects the shortcomings of human nature. It shows how badly any justice system can err when local authorities reach the wrong conclusion in public and then try to save face at all costs.

These cases take time to unravel, but eventually, they do. In the end, Kelly Michaels, the innocent men in the Nicarico case, and the innocents of Wenatchee Washington were all vindicated and set free. Someday the world will understand that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are likewise the victims of an injustice. I have no doubt that the Italian public, led by brave individuals like Frank Sfarzo of Perugia Shock, will play the lead role in bringing that understanding to pass.

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell Clarifies Position in Amanda Knox Trial




Today on the Stranger Website (a Seattle weekly alternative newspaper), the Stranger asked Cantwell 4 questions:

1. Does Senator Cantwell believe that Amanda Knox is innocent?

2. How closely did the senator follow the trial?

3. Can you describe further what she means by her suggestion that "anti-Americanism" may have tainted the trial? (The other two convicts in the case are Italian and African.)

4. What does she plan to say to Secretary of State Clinton when she meets with her to discuss the Knox case?


Here answers to these questions are linked here.

Madison Paxton, one of Amanda Knox's best friends also has a featured article in the Stranger this week called "She Didn't Do it".

The Magical Bra Strap Found 47 Days Too Late



This video looks into the circumstances surrounding the discovery of Raffaele Sollecieto's DNA on a Bra Clasp that was collected from the crime scene 47 days after the murder of Meredith Kercher.
It is an addendum to the video "Unassailable Evidence".

Saturday, December 5, 2009

May they find peace

(Jim Lovering)

Meredith Kercher's parents and siblings have behaved impeccably ever since her death. They have spoken rarely, and when they have done so, they have chosen their words carefully and tactfully.

Meanwhile, those of us who are certain of Amanda's innocence are mixed up in a raucous debate. We are outraged, and we are mobilized. We're going to get Amanda out and exonerated.

But by doing so, do we add to the pain felt by the Kerchers, who support the prosecution? Do we create the impression that we think the death of their daughter is secondary in importance to Amanda's freedom?

These are concerns I take seriously. I believe Amanda is going to come out of this ordeal with her head high and her exuberant personality fully intact. She has a great future ahead of her. Meredith does not, and I am deeply conscious of that essential fact whenever I write or think about this case.

I am also conscious of what I believe is the worst kind of bad faith on the part of the Perugian authorities. Giuliano Mignini and his associates have fed the Kercher family an account of what happened that is even more painful than the truth. The evidence at the crime scene shows that Meredith was ambushed in a lightening attack by someone she barely knew. It left her unconscious within a few minutes. It was a terrible death, a monstrous injustice, but it was nothing like the protracted ordeal that Mignini laid out in the trial, in which Meredith was taunted and tortured by someone she thought was a friendly housemate.

Another irony of the case is that the prosecutor, in a futile attempt to make his narrative hold water, has presented Meredith as someone whose behavior was confrontational and irritating. But that is nonsense. Amanda told the truth at the trial, when she said that Meredith was never anything but nice to her. If she and Amanda disagreed, it was a trifling matter for both of them. Both were busy making the most of a year in a foreign country and had no time or reason to sit around and brood.

In 1980, an Illinois seminary student named Steven Linscott lived in an apartment building where a young woman was killed. He foolishly told the police about a dream he had on the night the murder took place, and he was accused and convicted of the murder on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. Eventually the conviction was overturned, and he was released.

Linscott has written extensively about his ordeal. He fit the experience into the framework of his religious beliefs, and turned it into an odyssey of spiritual growth and understanding. One aspect of the case was that the the victim's family believed Linscott to be guilty. Linscott accepted that. He understood that they needed that belief.

I do not doubt that the Kercher family desperately wants the peace that will come with seeing this case fade from the headlines. Sadly, they are not going to get such closure for some time. But that is not the fault of Amanda Knox or Raffaele Sollecito. It is the fault of officials who are too proud and self-interested to admit a mistake. Over time, however, their mistake will be examined in minute detail until the whole world understands. Such is the nature of these cases.

In the mean time, my heart goes out to the Kerchers. Their conduct has been above reproach. They are entitled to whatever opinions they wish, and I hope they find peace in the end.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A farcical end

(Jim Lovering)

The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito has ended the way it began, as a sad joke at the expense of everyone who cares about justice. Let's go back and summarize the main points of the crime for which Amanda and Raffaele have now been convicted. The story, per Mignini, runs like this:

Seething with resentment over household chores, Amanda recruited two love-sick puppies to restrain Meredith and plunged a huge kitchen knife into her neck, causing her death. Puppy number one ran away leaving a great deal of physical evidence at the crime scene; puppy number two stayed with Amanda to clean the place up and therefore left almost no physical evidence.

A judge and jury evaluated this account and decided that its truth is not in doubt. Then, having reached this conclusion, they imposed their sentence: 26 years of imprisonment for ringleader Amanda, and 25 years for puppy number two, Raffaele.

This begs the question: why did puppy number one, Rudy Guede, get a longer sentence of 30 years after sparing Italy the cost of a full trial? Isn't the fast-track process supposed to result in a reduced sentence? And if Rudy was a follower, whereas Amanda was the ringleader and the one who actually wielded the knife, shouldn't her sentence be more severe than his?

It seems clear that when the time came for them to serve the aims of justice, this judge and jury cowered before two opposing masters: Mignini and Truth. Their improbable verdict is the result.

I feel terribly sad for Amanda. My heart also goes out to her family. They are good, honest people who in no way deserve to be dragged through this ordeal, which has been financially ruinous and has exposed them to a steady stream of sniping that is as ignorant as it is malicious. It is all deeply unfair.

But, at the same time, I also think they are going to pull through this. Amanda has shown herself to be a resilient young woman. She is suffering now, but she will step out of prison in full Beatles regalia and scoop up the best opportunities that come her way. And there will be many. Curt and Edda will have plenty of happy times, grandchildren, the whole nine yards. It's all written in their future.

But for another family, the heartache will go on, bleakly, year after year. What is Meredith Kercher's family supposed to make of this verdict? Will they convince themselves it is the outcome of a process in which an impartial court, protective of their interests as victims, has weighed the evidence, gotten to the truth of the matter, and brought them justice?

Maybe they will. People badly want answers when something tragic happens in their lives. But I have to think they will be haunted by doubt. And for good reason. This verdict brings no truth or justice. It is nothing more than a craven accommodation to a provincial cabal. The sooner it is undone, the better for everyone, except perhaps those who orchestrated it.

Knox and Sollecito Found Guilty

Nick Squires: Amanda Knox Trial, the Unanswered Questions

26 years for AK, 25 for RS. Appeal is automatic.

The footnote that is Rudy Guede

Frank Sfarzo on Sky News:



Statement from Maria Cantwell:

I am saddened by the verdict and I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial. The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty. Italian jurors were not sequestered and were allowed to view highly negative news coverage about Ms. Knox. Other flaws in the Italian justice system on display in this case included the harsh treatment of Ms. Knox following her arrest; negligent handling of evidence by investigators; and pending charges of misconduct against one of the prosecutors stemming from another murder trial.

I am in contact with the U.S. Ambassador to Italy and have been since the time of Ms. Knox's arrest. I will be conveying my concerns to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I have also been in touch with the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC.

Awaiting the Verdict

Keith Miller on NBC




UPDATE: Verdict will be at 6PM Eastern, 3PM West Coast time

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Last Day of Closing Arguments

AP Video


And in case anyone forgot, the Italian police don't need evidence, they can tell if you are guilty just by looking:



Anderson Cooper: The Case in Pictures

Sky News Blog: Is Perugia the New Salem?

Well, it will soon be judgement day for Amanda Knox and Raphael Sollecito. Their trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher is due to finish on Friday or Saturday.

It's very difficult to read what the verdict will be. But many Italian legal experts say it has been a trial by media. The evidence used by the prosecution has certainly at times been hysterical and laughable.

There've been moments when it's felt like you were sitting in a sixteenth-century court in early modern Europe with an alleged witch on the stand. Take the prosecutions summing up yesterday for instance.

more...



Frank Sfarzo:

Maresca defended the fake B & E theory, recalling that there's even dust on the little window below the broken window. And if Rudi was drunk how could he have been so good at breaking and climbing?

Donati for Sollecito, though, recalled the presence of glass in Meredith's room and in the corridor. And even, most probably, under Rudi's shoe (the famous Y-shaped sign of the pre-trial).
New York Times:
In a trembling voice the day before a jury is expected to begin deliberating her fate, Amanda Knox, 22, thanked her family and friends, the jurors and even the prosecutors who have accused her. “They are trying to do their work even if they don’t understand,” she said in Italian nearly perfected during her time in prison.
ABC News:
"I have thought in these days about what I wanted to say and I had a question, which I wrote down, that a lot of people have asked me: How can you stay so calm?" Knox said to the jury in the Italian she has improved during her years in prison. "The first thing to say, is that I am not calm."

A canary in a very dark coal mine

Tim Egan pulls no punches in his latest article about the persecution of Amanda Knox. "What century is this?" he asks. "Didn’t Joan of Arc, the Inquisition and our own American Salem witch trials teach civilized nations a thing or two about contrived sexual hysteria with a devil twist?"

The sad truth is that virtually the entire world, including the United States as well as Europe, remains in the Dark Ages when it comes to criminal justice. DNA evidence has shown that mistakes are far more common than most prosecutors and judges would care to admit. In the US, more than 200 prisoners have been freed because DNA tests have proved their innocence. By any reasonable estimate, thousands more innocent people remain behind bars. Most are poor and uneducated with little chance of ever gaining a reprieve.

In that respect, Amanda is lucky. Whatever the court decides to do in the next few days, she has a growing army of supporters who know she is innocent and will champion her cause until the day she walks out of prison. And that day will come. My hope is that prominent writers like Egan, by taking a stand on Amanda's behalf, will help raise public awareness that wrongful prosecution is a pervasive problem, even in civilized nations.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tim Egan Revisits the Amanda Knox Case

From Tim Egan of the New York Times:
In just a few days, a verdict is expected in the trial of Amanda Knox, the 22-year-old Seattle exchange student on trial in Italy for the throat-slashing murder of her British roommate two years ago. Her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, is also being tried.

The trial in the Umbrian college town of Perugia has dragged on just short of a year. As this week’s closing arguments showed once again, the case has very little to do with actual evidence and much to do with the ancient Italian code of saving face.

In closing arguments, Knox was described as a “Luciferina” and “a dirty-minded she-devil.” Preposterous, made-up sexual motives were ascribed to her.

continued here

Defense Closing Arguments: Day 3

CNN


NBC


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



CBS

Frank Sfarzo, Amanda Knox's Lawyer's Thunders and Moves:

It was a strange inquest for Luciano Ghirga, full of strange coincidences. When the Amanda-Patrick association collapsed, DNA of the victim magically appears on a crystal clean blade. WhenRaffaele's footprint in the room fades away, his DNA materializes on a bra clasp.

continue here...
NowPublic, SMKovalinsky (Supporters of Amanda Knox Speak on Facebook):
"One of the closing statements of Magnini before the prosecution rested, was that it would be insane for a person to shower, as Knox did, in a blood spattered bathroom. His implication: Ms. Knox was able to do so, because she was not shocked by the blood, being full aware of the murder. This YouTube tells quite a different story; hopefully, the defense team has shown this to the jury in Perugia, Italy."

continued here for full recap of Ghirga's closing arguments.
West Seattle Herald:
Immediately after Ghirga concluded, the prosecutor addressed the court. He asked to give his rebuttal right away, an unusual move. He was already scheduled for the following morning, but witnesses say he was visibly shaken. The judge allowed it.

Within a few minutes of his address all the power went out in the court room and he was forced to stop. However, the power was restored about 10 minutes later, and he continued for two hours.

Nick Pisa, Daily Mail:

Defence lawyer Ghirga described the 'clash between women from the Perugia flying squad' and his client.

He said: 'They had it in for her just because she had condoms and a vibrator in her beauty case.'

He added that as a result Knox "had suffered as a result of this antagonism."

Mr Ghirga also described how officers had questioned Meredith's then boyfriend Giacomo Silenzi about their sex life and said it was 'outrageous and something we would never have dreamed of doing.'

He also added how 36 officers had been present during Knox's final questioning at the police station and he added: 'All those people signed the charge sheet and there was just one poor Amanda.'

Mignini's attempt to slow Ghirga's significant momentum revealed a glimpse of professional rivalry between the two men -- who are facing one another in several other large trials playing out in the city -- with each one claiming to be more Perugian than the other.

"I am Perugino," Ghirga said at one point, taking issue with details of the prosecutor's murder reconstruction. "How can he put forward a hypothesis so contorted?

"The prosecutor is right about one thing, you should not forget the victim, Meredith," he said. "And there is one thing the prosecution should have done for Meredith, and that is a rigorous investigation done well from the beginning."

CNN:
"How could someone come up with the hypothesis, a completely distorted one, and in the crime scene put Rudy against Rafaele in order to humiliate the smirking Meredith?" he asked. "How could someone conjure such a thing?"

He attacked the way police and prosecutors had treated Knox, giving them a symbolic "red card" -- a referee's sign in soccer that a player is being expelled from the game for breaking the rules.
AP:
"Amanda is asking to have her life back. Give Amanda her life back by clearing her of all charges," Ghirga said, raising his voice and fighting back tears at the end of his three-hour long remarks.
ABC:
"This is a privation of the right to defense of a person who was at that moment effectively a suspect, and," he said with his voice rising to a shout, "we will not accept it. It is a very serious omission that we cannot bear - something we did not know how to explain to her and her parents."

Ghirga said prosecutors leaked investigative documents that were to be kept secret, and he repeated charges that the blade of the alleged murder weapon did not match the cuts on Kercher's throat.

BBC:
Mr Ghirga denounced allegations made about the character of Miss Knox.

He said: "The deductions made about Amanda outside of the courtroom, I don't accept them."

He also pointed to inconsistencies in the prosecution's case and said the alleged motive behind the killing had changed.

"First it was (Miss Kercher's) refusal to participate in a sex orgy, then it was an economic motive."




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Defense Closing Arguments: Day 2

ABC NEWS: Forensic Expert Elizabeth Johnson


AP


CBS NEWS
"

Ann Wise, Abc:
"The motive is fundamental," attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova told the jury in Perugia, Italy, where Knox has been jailed for the last two years. "But today the motive has been changed at the last minute."

Richard Owen, Times Online:
"Carlo Dalla Vedova told the six jurors, all Perugia residents, that there were “more doubts than certainties” in the case against Ms Knox, 22, and Raffaele Sollecito, 25, her former Italian boyfriend who is also charged with murder."

"The truth comes out in a trial, and we have been patiently waiting for this moment, especially Amanda Knox, who has been sitting in jail with patience and determination, waiting to get her life back," said Carlo Dalla Vedova, of Rome.

"Amanda Knox never should have been arrested. And everything that has happened since then has been part of an attempt to maintain an accusation, that, bit by bit, has disintegrated."

It began with "psychosomatic" observations of one powerful cop, he said, Edgardo Giobbi, the former director of the violent crimes division of the central operations unit in Rome, who on "investigator's instincts" suspected Knox from the beginning.

"Immediately after the crime, they focused attention on her," said Dalla Vedova. "They started recording her conversations. They were quick to say 'case closed,' but it was a mistake the police made in the beginning, then they couldn't let it go."

The Bloody Bathroom Fallacy (What Amanda Knox Saw)



This is actual crime scene video of the bathroom at Via della Pergola #7 taken within hours of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Contrary to reporting and popular belief, the bathroom looked relatively normal; there was nothing so out of the ordinary that Amanda Knox would suspect that a murder had been committed in the room next door. She simply took a shower as she did every day. (Even on chilly mornings).

At the end of the footage a photo that was leaked to the press as an actual "crime scene photo" is shown. This photo was reprinted throughout Europe without the caveat that it was chemically enhanced to turn pink with exposure to protein, any protein, and the belief was born that Amanda had showered in a bloody bathroom. Consequently public opinion was inflamed against her.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Science versus Patrizia Stefanoni

Today, 9 US specialists in DNA have strongly outlined their concerns over two crucial pieces of evidence (knife and bra clasp) in the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito in an open letter/petition (Full copy at bottom of this post).

From NewScientist:

On the eve of the verdict of the high-profile trial in Perugia, Italy, in which Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are charged with the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, DNA evidence brought by the prosecution is being questioned by nine US specialists in DNA forensics.

The trial is in its final stages, with a verdict expected on 7 December. Knox and Sollecito are pleading not guilty. In an open letter, the US specialists outline their concerns with two pieces of DNA evidence that are central to the case against Knox and Sollecito.

The defence has already suggested that the amount of DNA allegedly linking the pair to the crime is too small to be definitive. The letter raises the possibility that this DNA was introduced through contamination of the evidence and concludes that the DNA test results "could have been obtained even if no crime had occurred".

Two years ago, Kercher was found dead, with cuts to her throat, in the accommodation she shared with Knox in Perugia. Although a third suspect, Rudy Guede, has been convicted of her murder, the prosecution claims that Knox and Sollecito helped.

continue here....

From Time Magazine (Nina Burleigh):

As for Knox's defenders, since the early days in the case, American lawyers and experts have criticized the evidence. New to that chorus is Greg Hampikian, chief of the Idaho branch of the Innocence Project, who released a report to TIME saying the knife and bra clasp evidence against Knox are meaningless under prevailing standards in U.S. courts. Kercher's bra clasp, discovered at the scene of the murder six weeks later and revealed to the press the morning after a defense expert demolished other material evidence on a national television show, "cannot reliably be interpreted to show that Sollecito's DNA was on the bra clasp at the time of the murder" and therefore "does not constitute credible evidence," Hampikian wrote.

continue here.....

KnoxSollecitoDNAPetition

Defense's Closing Argument: Day 1

NBC: Keith Miller Reports/Interview w/ Anne Bremner



Nick Pisa, Daily Mail:

'Are we to believe that selective cleaning was carried out by Raffaele and Amanda ?' she asked.

'They said 'oh there's my fingerpints, there's my footprints, there's my DNA and then cleaned it all up, leaving only Rudy's handprint and DNA at the scene.'

Ann Wise, ABC: One of Italy's most prominent defense lawyers told the jury in Amanda Knox's murder trial today that the 22-year-old student from Seattle is not "Amanda the Ripper."

Instead, attorney Giulia Bongiorno said that Knox is more like "Amelie of Seattle," referring to the popular French movie "Amelie" about a naive young woman who tries to help people. ...cont

Nick Pisa, Sky News:

"Throughout this trial I have heard Amanda described as someone who coveted hatred, someone who was a maneater and someone who was a diabolical witch…" the lawyer said.

"She is not Amanda the Ripper. She is a fragile and weak girl...


Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Little Dictator (Amanda Knox's Parents Charged with Defamation)





By Mark Waterbury, Ph.D

In dictatorships and other totalitarian governments it is common practice to arrest people, conspicuously without reason, and to threaten and intimidate them. This is done to disavow them of any illusions they may have about possessing civil rights or being entitled to due process of law. The authorities in Perugia, Italy took a page from this Manual for Despots when they charged Amanda Knox’s parents, Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, with felony Defamation of Character for supporting their daughter’s statements about mistreatment during interrogation by the polizei.

This interrogation, as is well known, was conducted without her being allowed either legal counsel or a translator, in a language she barely knew, over long hours until the middle of the night. In an interview with a British newspaper, Edda and Curt said that Amanda was “abused physically and verbally” and that she had told them she was “hit in the back of the head by a police officer with an open hand...” Amanda has since testified to this in court.

Now, after 18 months, an unstated number of unnamed polizei could bear this insult no more, and decided to press these charges the day before the beginning of the defense’s closing arguments. One can question the speed of Italian justice, but it’s timing is impeccable. By throwing this rock into the already muddy waters of the case, they clearly hope to bury coverage of the defense’s closing with yet another groundless accusation by the prosecution.

These obscene charges have several effects. Among them:

First, more lawyers for the family, and yet more legal bills. Guilty or innocent, the crushing burden of legal bills is a punishment not to be underestimated.

Second, if convicted, they face 6 months to 3 years in an Italian prison. It is said that those without prior offenses are unlikely to serve time for this crime, but, clearly, that rule of thumb has no bearing in this case. One need only look at the record of malevolent, vindictive, and dragged out incarceration that has already been inflicted on Amanda to understand this.

Third, having been charged on preposterous grounds simply for speaking the truth and defending their daughter, they are put on notice that any further support will bring risks. It is an attempt to silence opposition.

Fourth, it will make it far more difficult, and dangerous, for Amanda’s parents to visit her in the event that she is unjustly convicted. By simply leaving these charges hanging, as was done in the case of Doug Preston by this same jurisdiction, any visit to Italy will risk arrest and imprisonment. This will have the effect of isolating Amanda even more severely than the 9 months in solitary confinement already demanded by PM Mignini.

This is part of an effort, not merely to convict Amanda, but to destroy her. It is an attempt to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on someone with no history of violence or aggression, and with no plausible evidence or motive to link her to the alleged crime.

What is the evidence for these charges? Did the polizei abuse Amanda, cuff her, browbeat her, and demand that she make statements that she did not think of herself? That is the beauty of the charge, you see. There is no evidence. Because the prosecution will not release it.

Although the polizei made recordings of every telephone conversation, cell phone call, Skype link, and statement made in this case, they deny that any recording of Amanda’s interrogation exists. One can imagine them saying, “Her interrogation! What an oversight! I suppose we should have spent a few Lira to record.” It is absolutely not credible that no recording was made. It is absolutely not believable that it does not exist, and it is clear that the reason they have refused to release it is because it supports Amanda’s testimony, and not the prosecution’s statements.

Withholding this evidence leaves only Amanda’s word against the word of the unnumbered and unnamed polizei.

Frankly, I believe Amanda. How about you?



Friday, November 27, 2009

Summations: Week 2

AP


Reuters




Millions Sought in Damages in Italy Murder Case (AP)

Amanda Knox a 'She Devil Who Destroyed Innocent Man'
(Telegraph)

Amanda Knox Hit w/ $12 million Law Suit (ABC, Ann Wise)

From Perugia Shock (Frank Sfarzo):

"Another terrible day for Amanda. She had again to listen to another inquisitor throwing mud on her, convincing the world, convincing the jury, who just wait to be convinced.
Her lawyers were busy with the papers, her family wasn't there yet. She was all alone again, with the death in her heart.

Then they all arrived: stepfather and mother, father and wife, aunt. The free people arrived and she turned around with a look that confessed all the drama she was going through. A glance from desperation, a howl in silence. The loudest howl."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Comodi asks for common sense

Posted by Jim Lovering a.k.a. Charlie Wilkes

The prosecution has now presented its closing arguments in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. I won't even try to address the assault on reason unleashed by prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. His brand of lunacy is worthy of Dickens, or Melville, or perhaps Dr. Seuss.

I can more easily come to grips with Mignini's sidekick, Manuela Comodi. Her opinions bear on pedestrian matters. In last Saturday's Seattle PI, Andrea Vogt gave us a taste of Comodi's thinking:

[Comodi] defended the work of police biologist Patrizia Stefanoni and other police forensic investigators and appealed to jurors to use common sense when considering the reliability of defense consultants' testimony.

"At the scene of the crime there is a footprint made in blood on the bathmat and Knox and Sollecito's footprints made in blood on the floor," Comodi said. "and these were supposedly made at some different time because they stepped in bleach or rust or fruit juice? It's up to you to decide."

Common sense, eh? OK, Ms. Comodi, let's apply common sense to these "footprints made in blood." Except for the one on the bathmat, which obviously fits the shape of Rudy Guede's foot and big toe, they weren't visible to the naked eye. Nor were they confirmed to have been made with blood. They were detected and photographed with the aid of luminol, a chemical that glows for a few seconds if it reacts with blood, or the rust found in tap water, or certain types of soil, or various household cleaning products, or many other substances.

Altogether, there were six latent bare footprints, three in the hallway, three in Amanda's room, and none in Meredith's room. Each was swabbed and tested for DNA, and not one of them revealed Meredith's DNA. Is it common sense, therefore, to conclude that they were made with her blood?

Is it even possible they were made with her blood?


Let's look at where the hallway footprints were found, starting with Rep. L9 in the above illustration. Rep. L9 corresponds to the blue blob pictured below. The prosecution's footprint consultant, Lorenzo Rinaldi, attributes it to Amanda.


It is just outside the door to Meredith's room, a single footprint, all by itself, with the toes pointed toward that room. It's also adjacent to the bathroom Amanda and Meredith shared.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that this footprint really has something to do with the murder, and that it was made with Meredith's blood. What transpired to produce it? What criminal scenario are we supposed to imagine when we heed the Comodian call for common sense? Did Amanda step in blood in Meredith's room and then hop backward into the hallway to deposit this solitary print, which she then mopped up, but not thoroughly enough to prevent its detection with luminol?

Now look at rep. L6-L7. That label denotes a pair of blue blobs: two right footprints, side-by-side. They are outside the door to Amanda's room, oriented parallel to the run of the corridor, with the toes pointed toward the kitchen.


According to Rinaldi, the right footprint on the right was made by Raffaele. He doesn't say how or why, but that's OK. We'll simply uncork another bottle of Umbrian common sense and assume that Raffaele hopped on his left foot from Meredith's room to the spot where he put down his right foot, leaving a bloodstain which he then mopped up, but again, not thoroughly enough.

But where did the other right footprint come from? Whose is it?

While we ponder those questions, let's take a look at Rep. 2 and Rep. 3. Those labels correspond to a different kind of evidence — one that doesn't require luminol. They mark visible blood traces having the distinctive tread pattern of Rudy's athletic shoes. The box for those shoes was found in Rudy's apartment. He has admitted he wore them on the night of the murder and threw them into a dumpster after he fled to Germany.


And there were more of these prints, inside Meredith's room and in the corridor. The photo below, made from police video, shows how they continue toward the front door. We don't have to imagine people hopping on one foot. These markers show the trail of blood that Meredith's killer left when he made his exit. Rudy's shoe prints are part of a pattern of evidence that also includes Rudy's DNA inside the victim's body and Rudy's bloody fingerprints on a pillow inside the room where the murder took place.


This murder was senseless and brutal, but it was not complicated. The evidence — the real evidence, as opposed to random forensic artifacts that could have a dozen perfectly innocent explanations — shows that Rudy acted alone. He broke in, he robbed Meredith, he raped her, he killed her, he cleaned up in the bathroom, and he ran away. That is what happened on the night of November 1, 2007. Everything else is a malicious fantasy that needs to be shot down before it ruins two innocent lives.

If you want common sense, Ms. Comodi, there it is.

CNN interviews Amanda Knox's Parents



When Amanda Knox's parents head to Italy for closing arguments in their daughter's murder trial they'll be carrying a present they hope desperately she can use soon: a plane ticket home.

In that purchase lies one family's entire hope.

Curt Knox and Edda Mellas say their daughter is nothing like the person they've seen depicted before and during her trial.

They grimace at the description prosecutors have used in court: that Amanda Knox was a resentful American so angry with her British roommate Meredith Kercher that she exacted revenge during a twisted sex misadventure at their home two years ago.

continued here......

Monday, November 23, 2009

Doug Preston and Dr. Libby Johnson (Forensic Expert) on NBC



Libby Johnson on the knife: "It does not come from blood....I don't believe that it was ever on the blade itself. I think its quite likely a laboratory contamination issue." Dr. Libby established the Harris County Medical Examiner's DNA lab in 1991.

Doug Preston: Italian sources tell him that Amanda will be convicted and acquitted on appeal.

The West Seattle Herald also runs a story story today
: "“Amanda and Meredith were very friendly,” said Janet Huff, Knox’s aunt. “Just two days before (the murder) they attended the Chocolate Festival together and had been out together to local pubs. There were quite a few photos of the two of them together in the days before her murder on Amanda's computer. Too bad the Italian police completely fried it when trying to get into it and were not able to retrieve a single thing."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Closing Arguments: Day 2

SKY NEWS



MSNBC



ITN




From Perugia Shock:

If she smiles it's wrong, if she cries it's wrong, if she moves it's wrong, if she's still it's wrong, if she watches it's wrong, if she doesn't watch it's wrong.

They say that she killed Meredith, they demonstrate that she killed Meredith, they show how she killed Meredith, in words and in images. The blame is on her, only on her, and nobody believes her. Rudi is almost a saint, who she corrupted. Raffaele was just a puppet, that she manipulated. There's only one monster here. And that monster is her, Amanda Knox.


Ann Wise of ABC: ""Meredith was my friend," Knox said, her voice cracking briefly with emotion. "I did not hate her, and it is absurd to think I would have hurt someone who was so nice to me."

AP Report: "Knox, who is from Seattle, took a deep breath when Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini requested life imprisonment — Italy's stiffest punishment. She then addressed the court, saying that the accusations against her were "pure fantasy."

"Meredith was my friend, I didn't hate her," she said in Italian, fighting back tears.


Sky News: ''This first thing is that Meredith was my friend. I did not hate her. To say that I wanted to take revenge against a person who I liked is absurd.

''Then I had no relationship with Rudy...oh mama mia...

''Everything that has been said these last two days is pure fantasy, it's nor true, I have to insist on this and that's all I want to say. Thank you.''


The Telegraph: "Turning to the jury, Mr Mignini said: "You must give to them what is expected. That is why you must give Knox life and Sollecito life."

As he made his request Miss Knox stared straight ahead and showed no response, but after he had spoken she asked to address the court - the first time she had spoken in public since June."


CNN: "She's an innocent girl looking at having to spend a lifetime in prison," Chris Mellas told reporters. "Of course she was upset. She had to sit there as he continued to say, 'Amanda this, Amanda that.' Yeah, it gets to you."


Seattle P.I.: "It is not the truth," she said. "Meredith was my friend. I did not hate her," she said in Italian, her voice quivering with emotion. "The idea that I wanted to vindicate myself against someone who was always nice to me is absurd." Knox also took issue with the prosecutor's claims that she really knew Guede, who she said she had no relationship with. Knox's lead counsel, Rome attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova echoed his client's criticism, adding that the case was "totally lacking in proof."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Closing Arguments: Day 1. An Odd Summation

Co-prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini attempted to prove that he can read minds and has psychic abilities to see the past in ways previously unknown to man. I have to say that out of all the cases I've followed, I've never seen a prosecutor who made so many unsubstantiated assumptions based on no evidence. However, the fact that Mignini is forced to make such assumptions highlights just how weak his case truly must be.

And ever more embarrassing, convicted Rudy Guede's story suddenly has crediblity in the eyes of Mignini. Ann Wise reports: "Mignini said the two women had argued over rent money missing from Kercher's room. "

Of course, the only source that any sort of argument of this kind occurred is from Rudy Guede. And so Mignini theorizes that this is how it began, and it thus resulted in a brutal stabbing with Amanada as the ring leader. A strange brand of theorizing based on unsubstantiated "could haves" and "maybes".

Mignini stated further in his closing: "After a heated discussion the three, under the influence of the drugs, and probably alcohol as well, decide to put into action the project they had of involving an extreme sex game," he said. (Probably alcohol? Another great unsupported supposition to conveniently throw in it seems)

And now thankfully, we can put to rest the rumor floating around the blogosphere that the "sex game" theory was one put out by Knox PR to make Mignini look unhinged and irrational. Mignini solved the question for us in this respect; it's best to remember it again for posterity's sake should revisionist bloggers attempt to rewrite history and coverup for Mignini's penchant for the absurd and unbelievable.

And then Mignini gives us the motive we've all been waiting for:

"Amanda has the occasion to get back at that overly serious and moralizing English girl who she felt was too tied to the closed group of her English friends, and who accused her not too subtly of not being orderly or clean, and who criticized her for being too easy with boys," Mignini said.
"Amanda nurtured her hate for Meredith, but that night that hate could explode. For Amanda the moment had come to take revenge on that prissy girl. That is what she must have thought. And in a crescendo of threats and increasing violence, Meredith's ordeal begins."
The criticism of one's hygiene can make a person do awful things....
Moreoever, Mignini proved that having no evidence to support an assertion can actually be a great thing. Rather than being forced to constrict ones theory based on mountains of solid evidence, when one has very little to go on, he can let his imagination run wild with unsubstantiated theories:

The prosecutor said Knox likely insulted Kercher during the assault, and imagines Knox saying, "Now you'll be forced to have sex."
And so again we are left with Mignini's grand suppositions. Interesting from a literary or satire perspective, but Mignini believes what he is saying is all too real.

A few weeks ago Mignini offered to "surprise" us all. Well, he did just that. But not in the way anyone would expect.

From Perugia-Shock



Mignini sees. Mignini hears.

Amanda Knox brings home Rudi and Raffaele. In this order, yes. Because, for her, Rudi comes first and then, only as a second choice, Raffaele.

We don't know what is planned. She maybe just wants to go have some fun, maybe she just wants to disturb Meredith. She maybe wants to have a threesome and since there's also Meredith there, doing her homework, a foursome with the good girl. Particularly exciting. Whether she agrees or not. Actually better if she doesn't want to.
Because it's not love moving Amanda, or attraction. It's hate. It's VENDETTA.....Continued here

NBC News




CNN: Amanda Walking into Court


CBS News Interview the Amanda Knox's Parents


Watch CBS News Videos Online

CBS Report

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rudy Guede's Appeal


For any fair minded observer, today was not a surprise at all. We learned absolutely nothing new about what happened. Proceedings in Rudy Guede's appeal have been adjourned to December 21st when Guede's attorneys will argue their case. If you were expecting anything significant to come out of these proceedings, you probably have pretty bad instincts.

Guede told a fanciful story about the murder being a fight over money between Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher and then rushed into the room where he fought off an attacker. Adding insult to injury, Guede claims he actually tried to save Meredith and tried to mop off her blood with towels, but then panicked and left.

Let us not forget that Guede is the same man whose DNA was found in Meredith's private area, and that his bloody hand print was found on Meredith's purse (and yet he was acquitted of the theft charge--a perfect example of the ridiculousness of this case).

If anything became clear today, it is becoming harder and harder to envision a scenario where all three defendants would come together to participate in this crime. Mignini has an impossible task at creating a realistic scenario involving the three. Whether that will matter---well, I am not so confident in the Italian judges, but time will tell.

Theoretically, Guede's trial, and any testimony therein, has absolutely no impact or weight with the trial against Knox and Sollecito. However, the judges and jury are not sequestered.



1. Ann Wise's report for ABC

2. For AP report, click here


3. Sky News Reports.



Full article here.

4. Pisa's detailed report for the Daily Mail. (Most detailed report in English so far today)

5. Nick Squires of the Telegraph also reports
:

Rudy Guede, 22, said that on the night of the murder he heard Miss Kercher and Miss Knox, her American room-mate, arguing over money in the bathroom of the house that they shared in the Italian university town of Perugia.

Minutes later he heard a “piercing scream”, he told the court in Perugia, where the case has been heard since January.

The court is expected to reach a verdict on Miss Knox, 22, of Seattle, and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 26, early next month, and will begin hearing closing arguments on Friday. They deny any wrongdoing.

Guede addressed the court for the first time as he launched an appeal against his 30-year jail sentence, handed down last year in a separate trial during which he was convicted of the murder.

Full article here


Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Crucible of Perugia

The Crucible of Perugia

Written by Mark C. Waterbury, Ph.D.

In medieval times in Europe, roughly one hundred thousand people, three quarters of them women, were tried for witchcraft. With charges often based on accusations from those already under suspicion, most were convicted and were burned, hung, or strangled. Thankfully, that dark era is past, and such groundless, perverse, inhuman prosecutions no longer take place. For the most part.

A conspicuous exception is drawing to a close in Perugia, Italy, where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are on trial for a murder that they clearly did not commit. Like the absurd evidence used to convict witches, their prosecution hinges on a series of deliberate distortions, half truths, and outright lies. I’ve discussed this evidence in previous articles. Now let’s take a look now at the crucible of witch hunt justice, Perugian style.

Medieval witch hunts didn’t just happen. They were fed by an atmosphere of superstition and fear. After a slow start, they soared after the publication of the “Hammer of Witches,” one of the first printed books. "All wickedness," Hammer tells us, "is but little to the wickedness of a woman….Women are by nature instruments of Satan.” Witches were also believed to have powers to control and coerce men. Perhaps this misogynistic insight is where prosecutor Giuliano Mignini came up with his obsession with Amanda, and the accusation that she led a “satanic sex ritual,” since no evidence of one has ever been presented.

Like the fancy garb and pretentious air of the prosecutor, this instruction manual for atrocity conferred a mantle of authority, an official air, that carried great weight in the small towns and backwaters where the most ardent witch hunts occurred. Backwaters not unlike Perugia, Italy. Perugia, you see, is no Rome.

Wikipedia calls witch trials “a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of religious extremism, false accusations, lapses in due process, and governmental intrusion on individual liberties.” This will all sound familiar to those who have followed this case. “Evidence that would be excluded from modern courtrooms-- hearsay, gossip, stories, unsupported assertions, surmises-- was also generally admitted.” Deja vu all over again.

This trial didn’t just happen either. It is a direct result of a serious, ongoing aberration in the legal system in Perugia. An aberration that is driven by a rogue prosecutor who is himself, under indictment for obstruction of justice and illegal wiretapping in the Monster of Florence case, a previous, bizarre prosecution that also, coincidentally, involved satanic cults.

More Weight
A good place to start to understand the witch hunt system of justice is the case of Giles Corey, a prosperous farmer and church member in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600s. A woman accused Giles of asking her to write in the devil’s book. This same woman also claimed to have been told by a ghost that Giles was her murderer. He was therefore arrested along with three women, one of whom, terrified and desperate to gain favor with the prosecutor declared that Giles was a warlock.

As with Amanda, there was no evidence of any of this. How could there be? None of it was real. In a way, Giles’ guilt was established “psychologically,” just as Amanda’s was by the lead investigator, Giobbi, though that impressive sounding word had yet to be invented.

Giles refused to enter a plea, guilty or innocent. If he did he would certainly be convicted, his assets seized, and his family would lose everything. The court therefore slowly crushed him under rocks while asking, three more times, if he was ready to plea. Each time he famously replied, “More weight.” It took two days of this to kill him, and witch trial justice was served.

I Just Highly Doubt All of That
Amanda’s family’s assets have already been plundered by the process of justice. But, at age 20, Amanda did not show the resolve of Giles Corey when her inquisitors pressed her to imagine what might have happened at the murder, insisting that she knew, but was lying to them. After days of questioning, in the middle of the night, in a language she barely knew and without an attorney, she took their bait and, as suggested, pictured Patrick Lumumba committing the crime. As soon as possible, she made a written statement saying that it all seemed like a dream, that she was unsure what was real and what was imagined. Nevertheless, the witch hunters touted this as an accusation, one witch of another, and raced off to capture Patrick, again ignoring the total lack of evidence.

That accusation didn’t pan out, as it was soon proved that Patrick had nothing to do with it, but the witch hunters weren’t through with Amanda. They leaked her diary to the press, a violation of Italian law, and twisted it to their needs. Here is the original passage where she discusses Raffaele and his kitchen knife.

"Raffaele and I have used this knife to cook, and it's impossible that Meredith's DNA is on the knife because she's never been to Raffaele's apartment before. So unless Raffaele decided to get up after I fell asleep, grabbed said knife, went over to my house, used it to kill Meredith, came home, cleaned the blood off, rubbed my fingerprints all over it, put it away, then tucked himself back into bed, and then pretended really well the next couple of days, well, I just highly doubt all of that."








Notice that Amanda wrote, “It’s impossible that Meredith’s DNA is on the knife because she’s never been to Raffaele’s apartment.” Think about this for a moment. Amanda only thought about DNA from Meredith visiting, not from being murdered. That hadn’t even occurred to her. It is a natural, human mistake. One that suggests innocence.

But here is the English translation of the Italian translation (you read that right) of that same diary entry, that appeared in much of the Italian and British press. Notice that the meaning, the exact opposite of Amanda’s meaning, is greatly improved as it met the witch hunter’s needs much better.

"That night I smoked a lot of marijuana and I fell asleep at my boyfriend’s house. I don’t remember anything. But I think it’s possible that Raffaele went to Meredith’s house, raped her and then killed. And when he got home, while I was sleeping, he put my fingerprints on the knife. But I don’t understand why Raffaele would do that."

This gave the witch hunters another false accusation to work with. They used this tortured translation to claim that Amanda had accused Raffaele, even though that was the exact opposite of what she wrote. And they spread it far and wide with the aid of a willing, gullible, gutter, press.

In Meredith’s Blood
These were just appetizers for the main course of false accusation that is about to be served. But first, let’s talk just a little more about the evidence. In a previous article we discussed the importance of control tests in the scientific method. One of the best kinds of controls is something called an “internal standard” that is, a control that is built right into the same device, or environment, so you can compare what you’re wondering about with something else that has been there, and done that. In the case of this murder, we have an excellent internal standard for whether Amanda and Raffaele were involved in the crime. His name is Rudy Guede.

If we compare the evidence left behind by Rudy with that left, or, rather, not left, by Amanda and Raffaele, we can see a stark difference. That is because Rudy committed murder, while Amanda and Raffaele did not.

No matter how much someone tries to clean up a crime scene, something is generally left behind.... it's almost impossible to take any kind of violent action without shedding something.”

By his own admission, Rudy was present when Meredith died. He stated that he left her bleeding to death, then washed her blood off his shoes and himself, went out dancing at a local disco, and fled the country like any aggrieved person would do. If we look at the evidence he left behind, and compare it with the lack of traces of Amanda and Raffaele, we can see that the evidence solidly supports their innocence, and Rudy’s guilt.

Rudy left his DNA in, on, and around Meredith. These were not picogram traces that could have come from anywhere, they were substantial, reproducible, indisputable, evidence.

Rudy left his excrement in the toilet.

Rudy suffered a cut on his right hand during the struggle.

Rudy left footprints, in Meredith’s blood, in the bedroom, bath, and hall.

Rudy left handprints, in Meredith’s blood, on the wall and on a pillow case.

Rudy left his DNA, and Meredith’s blood, on her purse as he ransacked it.

In contrast, there was no DNA from Amanda in Meredith’s room, despite the fact that she lived in the same apartment. There were no fingerprints, footprints, or other traces of Amanda in that room. She had no wounds on herself and left no marks on Meredith. Despite claims that her footprints were found in the hallway with luminol, they cannot be attributed to her, but could have been made by any of the girls who lived there, and could have been made at any time. Further, they did not show any traces of blood.

Amanda Knox left no traces whatsoever of presence at the scene of the crime, because she wasn't there.

Similarly, there was no DNA from Raffaele in the room. There were no footprints, no handprints, no other traces and he had no wounds. None. Of course, the prosecution tried to assert that there were. They grossly mismatched his foot and shoe to prints clearly left by Rudy. They dug up the bra clasp 47 days after the rest of the forensic data was collected, after it was kicked about the floor, buried under a rug, and seriously contaminated. They then declared that it, and it alone (not the bra that it was cut off from!) carried his DNA. But setting aside this single piece of grossly contaminated and quite possibly planted evidence, there is no trace of Raffaele at the scene of the crime.

Further, Amanda and Raffaele did not flee the country, even though some of her relatives pleaded with her to do so. They did not even retain lawyers, even though they should have. They thought that innocence would protect them. But innocence, in a witch trial, is merely an inconvenience.

I have promised one more false accusation, and haven’t forgotten that promise. It will come from that paragon of virtue, Rudy Guede. His lawyer has given notice that he will testify against Amanda during his appeal. This would be laughable, were it not for the gluttonous appetite of the prosecution for any lie, any distortion, any false evidence to convict her of a crime she did not commit. So look for them, and for the gutter press, to tout it as the truth, at long last. From someone who has told lie, after lie, after committing horrific, senseless murder.

The Crucible of Perugia
Is there any hope for a just verdict for Amanda? This isn’t a real witch trial, after all, and the judges and lay jurors are not fools. They have given Mignini almost everything he has asked for, but that doesn’t mean that they believe his fairy tales. He has had every opportunity to establish guilt, but has failed to produce more than tainted evidence, bizarre stories by drug addicts, and leaks and insinuations unsupported by the facts.

Many say that they will rule guilty to avoid what is called “bad face,” to “save face” in English, because they have made earlier rulings that suggest they believe Amanda and Raffaele are guilty. But not all rulings have gone that way. When the prosecution had Kokomani testify that Amanda had a large gap in her teeth, one of these judges simply asked Amanda to smile, showing no gap at all.

There is still time for the crucible of Perugia to yield a just verdict.

The judges can show the courage do what is right, not what is easiest.

They can do what is fair, not what will avoid “bad face.”

They can prove the skeptics wrong and show that they understand and value justice.

They can acquit Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of a crime they did not commit.

--By Mark Waterbury, Ph.D.