Saturday, October 17, 2009

Curt Knox, Edda Mellas, Judy Bachrach (Vanity Fair), John Q. Kelly (Former Prosecutor) go on Larry King to talk about the case against Amanda Knox.

KING: Welcome back. It's being called the "trial of the century" in Italy; 22-year-old American exchange student Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend are accused of the murder and sexual assault of Amanda's British housemate, Meredith Kercher. Kercher was found semi-naked, her throat slit, in the house she and Amanda shared with two others in November of 2007.

A third person -- a man from the Ivory Coast -- was convicted of the brutal killing in a separate proceeding last year. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. His appeal is slated for next month. Amanda's trial got underway in January. Testimony and evidence presentation has now been complete. Closing arguments begin November 20. The jury will deliberate on December 4th.

EDDA MELLAS, MOTHER OF AMANDA KNOX: You know, she's hanging in there. It's been a long time, she's -- you know -- innocent and has sitting in -- sitting it in jail, so it's scary, but she's doing the best she can.

KING: How are you doing?

CURT KNOX, FATHER OF AMANDA KNOX: We're hanging in there, we're -- we're being strong for her. I mean --

KING: Do you go over and see her?

KNOX: Oh, absolutely. I think both Edda and I have made at least 12 trips over there, back and forth over the last couple of years.

KING: Few days ago, the court rejected her request for an independent review of contested evidence. What are your lawyers tell you about how serious that is?

EDDA MELLAS: Well, I mean it could be good or it could be bad. I mean we asked for the independent review because we were sure that anybody independently looked at it, would support our position. Maybe the court decided that they don't even need that support, that our arguments have already been good enough.

KING: What do you make of the whole thing Curt? What's -- what's your view of this? I mean you were not there.

KNOX: I believe that there was a huge mistake made very, very, early on by you know having a -- literally a case closed, you know, presentation by the police over there. And then when they really found out that -- that Rudy Gooday (ph) was the one that actually did it --

KING: The man convicted.

KNOX: The man convicted -- that they were just too far into it and they've been trying to press it ever since.

KING: Now was your daughter and her boyfriend present at --

KNOX: Not at all, they -- they stayed at her boyfriend's house the night that the murder took place.

KING: Why were they arrested?

KNOX: You know, in the time between when Meredith was found and the time of their arrest, there was total of ninety hours in that window. During that time, they were questioned and interrogated for over 41 hours. The last of that was a 14 hour all night interrogation, where there was psychological abuse, physical abuse, where she was hit. And at that stage of the game, I think, you know, they made conclusions.

KING: Were they tried together? Her and --

MELLAS: Yes, they are being tried together.

KING: Amanda testified in June sometimes in English, sometimes in Italian. Here's a little of what she said about her interrogation by police several days after Meredith Kercher's murder, watch.


AMANDA KNOX, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: They called me a stupid liar. And they said that I was trying to protect someone. So I was there and they told me I was trying to protect someone. But I wasn't trying to protect anyone. And so I didn't know how to respond to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: And at the immediate aftermath of the murder, your family in Germany -- you have family in Germany?

MELLAS: Yes --

KING: -- suggested that Amanda come and stay with them. You said she made a big mistake in not leaving Italy.

MELLAS: Yes. Actually many people asked her. We all asked her.

KING: She should have split.

MELLAS: Absolutely, she had many opportunities the police have that on record but didn't release that until almost a year after the crime. And but they did have on record that many people asked her to leave but she said no. "I'm going to stay. I'm going to try and help. I'm going to try and finish school" And one of the reasons that they said they were holding her and not releasing her because she was a flight risk. But she never planned to flee.

KING: What was her motive, Curt? What does the state say was her motive in killing this person?

KNOX: Well, the state said that it was a drug infused sex orgy --

KING: Between her, her boyfriend, and this woman?

KNOX: Yes.

KING: And the other guy. Four people were there --


KNOX: Yes, and that -- they didn't even know this other guy.


KING: The state's contentions were four people were present and one died. One has been convicted? Does your daughter know this person that's been convicted?

MELLAS: You know she had vaguely met him. You know when she was arrested and he was arrested, she couldn't even remember his name. And he's the only one that left DNA, finger prints, everything all over the crime scene. Nothing of Amanda, but still she's in the same kind of boat that he is in.

KING: What a puzzle! We'll be right back with more, don't go away.


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KING: I interviewed him. What a great story! Have the Knox's ever considered the possibility -- possibility that their daughter could be guilty? Back after this.


KING: Edda Mellas and Curt Knox remain, the parents of a Amanda Knox. Joining us in New York, John Q Kelly, former prosecutor and famed civil litigator, frequent guest on LARRY KING LIVE. It's good to see him. It has been a while. What are your thoughts on this case John?

JOHN Q. KELLY, FMR. PROSECUTOR: My thoughts, Larry, it's probably the most egregious, international railroading of two innocent young people that I have ever seen. This is actually a public lynching based on rank speculation, and vindictiveness. It's just a nightmare what these parents are going through and what these young adults are going through also.

KING: You don't know John, do you?

MELLAS: No, no.

KING: What do you make of it John? Why would they do this? If they already convicted someone, why go after Amanda and this other guy?

KELLY: Well, as I said, it's almost because Amanda showed too much stoicism after the death of her roommate, who she barely knew. These were two girls living together less than eight weeks.

And, you know, Larry, you've always seen this in these murder cases and things like the husband didn't cry enough, or they weren't upset enough when the children went missing. This is one of these things where, I guess, under the Italian culture, she did not respond the way they wanted her to respond. And they sort of put together a case with, you know, gum and toothpicks to try to make a case against her. And it is outrageous.

KING: Edda, do you ever think she might have done it?

MELLAS: Never.

KING: Do you, Curt?

KNOX: Never.

KING: John, the court's recent decision to reject her request for an independent review, does that help or hurt on appeal, if she's found guilty?

KELLY: Well, first of all, I certainly hope she's not found guilty. It would help her appeal, because it would show she was deprived of something that could have been very significantly helpful to her. She lost her own forensic expert, who, I think, left the team in May or so.

So -- but I mean, there's no forensic evidence. There's no physical evidence. There's no motive. There's no opportunity. There's no confession. There's no substantive evidence whatsoever against Amanda.

KING: Well, who has the state presented as witnesses?

KELLY: I think the only forensic evidence they had was a small portion of Amanda's DNA on the handle of a knife in Raffaele's apartment, where she was all the time. And it's not even consistent with the murder weapon that was used. The murder weapon was a three and a half inch knife. This is a six and a half inch knife that had a minute portion of Amanda's DNA on it, and inconclusive tests that on the tip of it there was some of Meredith's blood.

And it's just -- it wouldn't even hold up before a grand jury, and now we're trying to send these young people away for life.

KING: Now, John, you're a former prosecutor. Normally, prosecutors stick together, so we appreciate your standing up here. What is your knowledge of Italian courts? Are the juries generally open and fair?

KELLY: The problem with this is the jury's made up of six lay people and two judges. The jurors are not sequestered, and there are these huge lapses in the trial. Like right now, we have a month and a half now between this and closing statements where the jurors are home, watching the news, being inundated with whatever spin the local media wants to put on it. Obviously, they're not favorable, certainly, towards Amanda. They love showing the shot you're showing there that shows some sort of indifference. What I think it shows is some sort of compassion and care between them, and that they're upset about what happened to Meredith.

But, you know, the case is being tried in the public. There is nothing that's substantive that links into the crime, but it's just sort of -- it's almost like gotcha time. The Italians and this prosecutor want to get Amanda regardless of her guilt or innocence.

KING: Do you think that is because she is stoic? Is that the kind of person she is?

MELLAS: You know, she's very much a person who internalizes. She was extremely upset, and her roommate testified that when she found out it was Meredith that was killed, she was very upset. She cried. She did all of that. But by the time those photos were taken, it was hours later, and she was being comforted by Raffaele.

And those that know her, you could see the shock in her face. She was just devastated.

KING: Do you know the boy?

KNOX: Yeah, I have met him over there a few times.

KING: They're no longer boyfriend and girlfriend, right?


KING: But they're still together, and they're still --


KNOX: They're still friends, but they're being tried together.

KING: We'll be back with more. Judy Bachrach, the contributing editor of "Vanity Fair," has written about this case, who's lived in Italy, she'll join us. Don't go away.


KING: News cameras are not allowed in the courtroom during some of the testimony. So what you're seeing was shot off a TV screen. It explains the less than perfect quality that we're used to showing you.

Joining us is Judy Bachrach, contributing editor at "Vanity Fair." She's in Washington, written about this case for the magazine. She's lived in Italy, was back there less than three months ago. What's your read, Judy?

JUDY BACHRACH, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": Well, there are two Italys, which nobody seems to really understand who lives in this country. And one is the Italy of the privileged and government officials, and for instance, of Silvio Berlusconi, who runs the country. And he tries to have laws passed that allow him immunity in the event he's charge with corruption.

And then there's the Italy that tries the ordinary person. And the ordinary person is considered guilty until proven innocent. Italy's laws are direct descendants of the Inquisition. And therefore, Amanda, who is, after all, an American and a foreigner, and somebody to be suspicious of, is going to have the book thrown at her.

Nobody's going to believe her. She's going to be kept, as she indeed was, in isolation, grilled for 14 hours at a time, slapped around by the cops. And whatever comes out of those so-called interviews is going to be taken as gospel.

KING: You think, therefore, she's going to be found guilty?

BACHRACH: I think that in Italy, there's something called "brutta figura," which literally means you show a bad faith to the world. If they don't convict her, if she's found innocent after two years of being in jail for a crime she didn't commit, then Italy looks like it has a very corrupt judicial system.

It has a "brutta figura," which it really does. It has a very corrupt judicial system, and they will show an ugly face to the universe. And that's the last thing they want. And that is something that Edda and Curt have to be aware of, that this is a country that looks at an ugly face as the worst thing that can possibly happen to Italy. Not convicting a girl of something she didn't do, but of looking bad in the eyes of the universe.

KING: But don't they love Americans in Italy, Judy?

BACHRACH: They love some Americans. I have to say, in this instance, they don't love Amanda. Perugia's a very small town. It is very -- in -- in a sense, it's very close-minded. It is not Rome. It is not Paris. And it looks at Amanda in a different way than, say, she'd be looked at if she was living in Sydney or New York City.

They're very provincial. The prosecutor is famously incompetent and very right wing. He does not like her; he did not like her style of life. And she is being judged on that rather than anything she may or may not have done to that poor British girl.

KING: John, what would a -- what would -- what --

BACHRACH: -- of evidence.

KING: I -- I gather you're as strong as John on this. John, what would an appeal be like?

JOHN: Well, ironically, both sides could appeal. I mean, Amanda can be acquitted --

KING: Really?

JOHN: She could leave the country, and then, on appeal, they could convict her and seek to extradite her back to Italy, after an appeals court -- KING: Whoa.

JOHN: -- would convict her. And there's -- there's such a level of vindictiveness here, I could see that almost happening.

KING: Edda and Curt, you guys feel --

BACHRACH: I can -- I can see it happening --

KING: Hold -- hold on a second, Judy. Hold it Judy.

KING: Edda and Curt, you must feel very apprehensive.

MELLAS: It's scary.

KNOX: It is. It's one where we have to believe that what they're hearing in court -- and it's so clear that she had nothing to do with it -- then they'll come out with the right answer. I mean, that's -- that's what we have to believe.

KING: When are you going over there?

MELLAS: We're leaving just as the -- as the closing arguments go and the verdict. So the end of November.

KNOX: Yes.

MELLAS: Yes, there's always somebody over there. My brother's there right now. My husband's going next week.

KING: Thank you very, very much. Thanks for coming. We wish you the best. Thank you Judy Bachrach and John Q Kelly, as always, thank you.

BACHRACH: My pleasure.