The forty myths that convicted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito – Part three

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy

Part Three – Myths twentyone to forty

Myths-vs-facts-imageMyth 21 – Amanda is sex crazed because she owned a sex toy

Amanda had been given a joke going away present.  It was a novelty ‘vibrator’ trinket.  Candace Dempsey refers to it in her book ‘Murder in Italy’.  Amanda indicated in court that it was about one inch long and Amanda’s best friend Madison Paxton has confirmed this.  John Follain, the journalist who was close to Mignini, suggests in his book that it was four inches long.  The only purpose of putting this irrelevant detail in the pubic domain at all was to titillate a prurient media and prejudice the case.  Of course there is no evidence to suggest that women who own sex toys are more likelt to murder than anyne else.  Even posing the question shows how ridiculous it is.  

Myth 22 – The mountain of evidence

Believers in guilt still cling to the myth that a mountain of evidence exists that proves Amanda and Raffaele’s guilt.  The defence teams compiled a dossier that disproved the prosecution case in detail.  This was handed to Judge Hellmann at the start of the second trial.  From this, the judge ascertained that the only evidential items that required further detailed examination were the knife and bra clasp DNA claims and the credibility of certain witnesses.  These formed the focus of the second trial.  The prosecution could then do nothing more than repeat their tired character assassination memes.

Myth 23 – Amanda is a witch who organised a satanic orgy

This was Mignini’s trump card and he played it to the media from the start.  Either he genuinely believes in witchcraft himself or he espouses witchcraft theories because he knows what sells newspapers and taints juries.  For a full exposition of the impact of witchcraft theory and practice on the case, go to: http://www.groundreport.com/World/Amanda-Knox-witchcraft-and-the-personification-of-/2947205 

Myth 24 – Amanda never apologised to Patrick

Amanda was held in solitary confinement from the time of her initial arrest until she was brought before Judge Matteini so she was in no position to do anything.  She had initially named Patrick after being told that by the police during the overnight interrogation that they had evidence that he had murdered Meredith and they asked Amanda to imagine how this might have occurred.  Amanda presented the police with a ‘confused vision’ which they interpreted as a confession and used it as a pretext to arrest Patrick.  She retracted this the next morning but it was too late.  The recording of the interrogation has never been placed in the public domain because the police and Mignini claim that it does not exist.  The Supreme Court ruled that the statement could not be used in any subsequent murder trial.  The responsibility for naming and arresting Patrick rests with the police who had convinced themselves that he was involved and forced Amanda to sign a statement implicating him.  Candace Dempsey, who was frequently in court said, “She has apologized to him in court on more than one occasion.”     

Myth 25 – Amanda and Guede spoke on mobile phones before the murder

John Follain made this claim in the Sunday Times on the 13th January 2008 in a lengthy summary of the prosecution’s view of the case at the time.  He wrote:

Perplexingly, according to a police source, Knox never spoke of Guede at all, “as if he didn’t exist”, yet they called each other on their mobile phones both before and after the murder.” 

Guede was without a mobile phone at the time.  There are no phone records that show calls to unknown numbers.  The prosecution never presented evidence in court to substantiate this false allegation.  This leak is lie designed to tie the three suspects together.

Myth 26 – CCTV showed Amanda arriving on the night of the murder

On 11th November a leaked story appeared in the London Evening Standard and elsewhere: 

Murder suspect Amanda Knox was caught on camera entering the apartment where a British student was murdered the same night, it emerged today.  The CCTV footage contradicts Knox’s claim that she was at the house of her 24-year-old boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.” 

The footage actually showed Meredith arriving home.  The image was too blurred to allow easy identification but the clothing worn was unlike any of Amanda’s and matched Meredith’s outfit that day.  This should have been easy for a competent investigator to ascertain, but instead another smear was started and another myth created.  The prosecution was ramping up the lies.  If you throw enough mud, it sticks.     

Myth 27 – Amanda’s bloody shoeprint was found under Meredith’s body

One of Harry Rag’s smears:

According to two imprint experts, the woman’s bloody shoeprint on the pillow under Meredith’s body matched Knox’s foot size. The bloody shoeprint was incompatible with Meredith’s shoe size.”

Even Judge Massei didn’t believe this one.  The website Injustice in Perugia includes a detailed refutation of the footprint ‘evidence’ that was supposed to incriminate Amanda and Raffaele.  Page four refers to the alleged Amanda footprint in Meredith’s room.  You can read it here:  http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/footprints-04.html

Myth 28 – Bloody footprints were detected in the hallway

The hallway footprints revealed by luminol are bloodless footprints which played no part in the assault/murder—follow-up TMB tests were negative for blood.  The detail is here:  http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/footprints-02.html .  The prosecution attempted to imply a great deal but their probative value is nil.  They were just another myth.

Myth 29 – Amanda carried the murder weapon to and from her flat in her bag

The London Times reported on 19th November 2007:

Police have also seized a handbag belonging to Ms Knox, which they believe may have been used to carry the kitchen knife from Mr Sollecito’s flat and back again. They say that this proves “premeditated murder”.  

The prosecution had to explain how and why their proposed murder weapon, a knife from Raffaele’s kitchen, happened to be at Amanda’s flat.  They proposed that Amanda had taken it there with the intention of using it as a premeditated murder weapon and they also suggested that she had adopted the habit of carrying it around with her at all times, for personal protection, so she just happened to have it handy.  Both these ludicrous ideas were dismissed by Judge Hellmann in his Motivation Report, published after the ‘not guilty’ verdict:

“The presence of said knife at the house on Via Della Pergola is explained by the possibility that Amanda Knox usually carried with her a knife of such dimensions inside her capacious bag for personal safety reasons, since she had to go out even late at night to go to work. Of such habit, however, no evidence has been given, and it seems truly odd that a young woman, after having crossed the ocean and traveled to Germany and Italy, and certainly even being used to going out alone at night for a few years, had to arrive in Perugia and to meet Raffaele Sollecito (whom she knew for about a week) in order to begin being afraid of going out alone to work after dinner in a provincial town and to decide to accept Sollecito’s invitation to carry in her bag, for personal safety reasons, a knife of such dimensions, with the risk – a very real one – of being arrested and charged for carrying a concealed knife [porto abusivo di coltello].”

Myth 30 –Amanda must not get away with murder just because she is white

Reverse racism is a constant theme in many online comments such as this one:

“To all you Amanda Knox defenders: Would you be defending her if she were a black man and not a “nice white girl from a good family”?” 

The straight answer –  “Yes because she is innocent”, is deemed inadequate in some way.  Deborah Orr wrote in The Guardian:

“It would appear to me that skin colour is among the less relevant of circumstantial defences.  In fact, it would seem to me that any prejudice in this case has been directed against privileged white flesh.  It is wrong to think ill of people simply because they are black and poor, of course.  But deciding to turn the tables and think ill of people simply because they are rich and white is hardly a sound, sensible, or helpful remedy.  That self-consciously topsy-turvy mindset, exploited by the media, has played a large part in this terrible saga.” 

Myth 31 – The Harry Potter book smear

The Potter book smear is an interesting one and yet another that was deliberately promoted by the prosecution when they must have known the truth.  The London Times reported that Amanda told authorities that she read a German language Potter novel at her boyfriend’s on the night of the murder.  The police said the book was instead found at the crime scene in her own cottage.  Amanda owned two different German language Harry Potter books.  Police photographs show a Potter book at Raffaele’s as well as one at Amanda’s.  

Myth 32 – Raffaele phoned the police after they had arrived

The police lied on the stand about this.  Bruce Fischer explains this myth in detail on the Injustice in Perugia website:

The Postal Police were the first police to arrive at the cottage on November 2, 2007. They arrived to investigate two cell phones that were found in a nearby garden. The Postal Police handle this type of incident. The Carabinieri (Italian Police) arrived shortly after the Postal Police. The prosecution claimed that Amanda and Raffaele were surprised by the arrival of the Postal Police. Raffaele stated that he had already phoned his sister and the Carabinieri before the Postal Police arrived. Raffaele’s sister was a police officer at the time. Amanda and Raffaele were not surprised at all. They actually assumed the Postal Police were the Carabinieri responding to Raffaele’s call. The prosecution claimed that Raffaele went and hid in Amanda’s room and called the Carabinieri after the Postal Police arrived. The prosecution was attempting to catch Raffaele in a lie. This was simply not the case. The video taken from a camera located in the parking garage across the street from the cottage supports Raffaele’s claim.

The clock on the garage camera was ten to twelve minutes slow, not fast. The prosecution has totally misled and confused the public on this point. The prosecution repeatedly stated the camera timer was fast. The prosecution was wrong.

The reason we know the clock is slow is because the camera shows a picture of a Carabinieri (Italian Police) car, and a Carabinieri officer with the distinctive stripe running down his trouser leg, in a clip time-stamped 1:22 pm on the day Meredith’s body was discovered. However, at 1:22 pm, the Carabinieri were driving around, unable to find the place. They called Amanda’s cell phone at 1:29 pm to ask for directions. Amanda handed the phone to Raffaele who handed it to one of the Postal Police, who explained how to get there. That call lasted four minutes and fifty seven seconds, meaning it did not end until 1:34 pm. Therefore, even if one assumes the call did not end until after the car appeared in the video, the clock had to have been at least ten to twelve minutes slow.

This is significant, because it means the camera footage shows the Postal Police arriving after Raffaele called the emergency number. The claim that he went and hid in Amanda’s room, called his sister, and then called the emergency number twice, a series of calls that took about five minutes, is nonsense.

Raffaele was being completely honest with the Postal Police when they arrived. This is just another example of how the prosecution released completely misleading information to the media.”

Myth 33 – Raffaele withdrew Amanda’s alibi

Part of the interrogation trickery was to persuade Raffaele that he could not be sure that Amanda was with him all night if he was asleep.  By then he was sleep deprived and confused and had even mixed up the days the police were asking about.  They refused even to let him see a calendar to help him to clarify this.  This fake retraction was used by the police who then lied to Amanda that her alibi was blown.  As Raffaele later explained in his book, Amanda could not have left because he would have to have woken up to unlock the door to let her out and to let her back in.  The door could not be opened without a key.  

Myth 34 – Raffaele’s kitchen knife was the murder weapon

Raffaele’s kitchen knife was supposed to be the prosecution’s most important piece of evidence.  Yet it was picked and random from Raffaele’s kitchen, it was too big to have fitted Meredith’s wounds and it did not match the imprint of a knife that had been left on a sheet in her room.  This was not promising, you might think.

American legal commentator and polemicist Wendy Murphy wrote:

“Pro-Amanda forces forget to note that the knife was found hidden in a shoebox, far back inside a closet at Sollecito’s apartment – and that the knife had been scrubbed clean with bleach and an abrasive substance – like a Brillo Pad. The defense claimed the sample of Knox’s DNA was too small to matter, but ANY DNA is damning evidence – especially on a knife that’s been intentionally cleaned and hidden away deceptively in a shoe box, tucked deep inside the closet of a suspect’s home.”

Chris Halkides in his View from Wilmington blog puts Wendy (and all the other internet idiots) right:

There was no blood on the blade, and this is one of the main reasons to doubt that DNA signals arising from when the knife was swabbed did not really originate with the blade at all.  The knife was found in a kitchen drawer with other knives. The police stored it in a shoebox.  Ms. Murphy does not explain how she divined that Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito used bleach to clean the knife, nor does she bother to tell us that bleach is so effective at destroying DNA that it is routinely used in DNA labs for that very reason.  If bleach and a brillo pad were used to clean the knife, it is very difficult to see how any DNA could remain.  Finally, the amount of DNA observed was so small that to say it matched Ms. Kercher’s profile is a stretch; calling it a partial match is a better description, and it is quite possible that it originated from Ms. Kercher’s DNA in the laboratory itself.”

Judge Hellmann concurred:

“Also making it wholly unbelievable, according to a criterion of normality, that the knife was the murder weapon, is the way in which it was discovered: it was in its drawer in the kitchen at Raffaele Sollecito’s home, together with the other knives and the rest of the flatware (cutlery).

Is it really plausible that two young people, certainly affected by what had happened, being in any case two normal — one would even have to say “good” – young people (committed to studies and helpful to others, to use the words of the first-level Corte di Assise, very young and nevertheless ready to accept the burden of the working life), after having taken part in such a barbaric murder, had not only such cold and diabolical minds as to not throw away the knife, instead putting it back together with the rest of the flatware in the kitchen from where it had been taken, but also the hardness of heart (and of stomach) to continue using that flatware, maybe even that same knife, to prepare meals in the days following the murder?”

The prosecution had rashly gone for broke on this.  The myth had gone all around the world, but eventually independent forensic reexamination of the evidence and Judge Hellmann’s logic skewered them.  The most generous interpretation of what had happened was that the sample had been contaminated in the lab.  Less charitable observers might suggest that deliberate deception occurred.

Myth 35 – Amanda and Raffaele moved Meredith’s body after she was dead

This remains a popular myth with conspiracy theorists such as contributors to the ‘True Justice for Meredith Kercher’ website.  The idea first appeared in the John Follain’s first Sunday Times article on the murder, on November 4th 2007:

“Detectives believe the scene of the crime may have been “staged” and the killer might have cleaned himself or herself up as they left Kercher’s home.”

(Note the use of ‘herself’ by Follain who had already been tipped off by Mignini that he was looking for a female assailant who was close to Meredith.)

This was picked up in Judge Micheli’s report which was published before the first trial.  Micheli accepted the group attack scenario and elaborated on it in a meandering fashion, untroubled by logic and reason.  He theorised that after the group murder, the participants fled the scene, departing in different directions.  He then suggests that Amanda and Raffaele returned and moved Meredith’s body in order to make the attack appear to have been sexually motivated.  Exactly what difference this is supposed to have made when the murder, or at least its aftermath already had a clear sexual dimension – Guede’s DNA was found in Meredith’s vagina, after all – is not explained.  Also unexplained is how this manipulation of the crime scene could have occurred without any of Amanda or Raffaele’s DNA being deposited in the room or on Meredith’s body.

Defence experts contended that the body was not moved after the time that Meredith was dead or dying and this was accepted by Judge Hellmann in the second trial.        

Myth 36 – Raffaele’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp

Leaving aside the question of how Raffaele could have got his DNA onto Meredith’s severed bra-clasp, but not on the rest of the bra – and on nothing else in Meredith’s room, a problem which should have exercised the minds of jurors and journalists during the first trial, but apparently did not, this planted or contaminated ‘evidence’ is explained here in a CBS news report: 

“In July 2011, the two independent forensic experts testified that the bra clasp DNA was unreliable. The experts pointed out two critical problems with the evidence. One, the bra clasp was left at the murder scene for six weeks before police collected it. Two, when it was finally retrieved, photos revealed police used dirty gloves to handle the clasp.

As a result, the independent forensic experts testified that any DNA evidence on the bra clasp was unreliable; it could have come from contamination or mishandling.

But there was a third, probably even bigger, problem with the DNA.

Under cross-examination, one of the court-appointed forensic experts, Carla Vecchiotti, told the court that had she done the original DNA analysis, she would not have been able to match Sollecito to any of the DNA on the bra clasp.

In Vecchiotti’s opinion, none of the DNA profiles on the bra clasp matched Sollecito’s. Somehow, that part of Vecchiotti’s testimony failed to make it into the media coverage of the trial.”

That’s right – even what they claimed they had found was not a match.

Myth 37 – Meredith’s body was covered so the murderer must have been female

An invention by Mignini; nothing more.  Criminal profiler John Douglas dismissed this canard:

That’s absurd. There are different reasons why someone will cover a body. There’s a certain sense of wanting to undo the crime. Guede didn’t leave after the crime, but he doesn’t want to look at her. It’s not that he didn’t feel good about what he has done; I can see that because of the way he killed her and sexually assaulted her. He’s a sadistic individual with a violent past. He put the blanket over her because he was wandering around the apartment and didn’t want to see her.”  

Myth 38 – Amanda and Raffaele were seen outside on the night of the murder The prosecution produced around ten witnesses who claimed to have seen Amanda and Raffaele at incriminating times, doing incriminating things.  Most of them never made it to court because their stories did not stand up.  Those who did were demolished on the stand, most notably the sad tramp/drug addict Curatolo who was a serial witness for the police in several trials and was unable to get his story straight.  He was the star witness and he was pathetic.  This should tell you all you need to know about the rest.

Myth 39 – Raffaele left a visible bloody footprint on the blue bathroom mat    Bob Magnetti comments:

Rinaldi’s assignment of the bathmat footprint to Raffaele as opposed to Guede defies explanation.  Any lay person comparing Raffaele’s footprint and Guede’s footprint to the reference print on the bathmat would declare that Guede left the footprint, not Raffaele. What more needs to be said about this diversion hoisted on the court proceedings by Lorenzo Rinaldi?”                           

This was another myth that the prosecution attempted to foist on the world.  It fostered endless discussions on forums but in the end a myth is all it was.

Myth 40 – Amanda was broke and she needed to steal Meredith’s money

This was one of the motive myths.  Of course there was no motive.  Amanda’s best friend Madison Paxton explains this very well in an article she wrote for the Seattle Stranger:

Mignini’s theory of Amanda’s motive has changed five times, the last change being made during his closing arguments. First it was the marijuana that made her crazy. Then he decided Amanda stole Meredith’s missing money. When it was pointed out that Amanda worked three jobs to get to Italy, had a job in Italy, and had family members who would help her if she ran out of money (which she was not close to doing), the motive switched to Amanda simply hated Meredith. When kind texts between the two of them were shown and it was made known that a few days before Meredith’s murder they had gone to a chocolate festival together and even that Meredith had drawn a fake tattoo on Amanda a few days before her murder (not something girls who hate each other usually do), the motive changed yet again. Amanda just happens to be a natural-born killer, a naturally violent person. But nothing in her past supports this, and so finally, the prosecutor stated during closing arguments: There is no motive. The prosecution argued that because the evidence was so solid, Amanda and Raffaele should still be convicted without a known motive.”

And now the nightmare is over

There we have it – forty myths and no motive.  “A fog of nonsense”, as Raffaele Sollecito has said, but a very expensive fog in terms of heartache for three families and in stolen liberty. 

There are still unconvinced commentators – even on television and in the press – who say, “Now we will never know how Meredith died”, as though reversing a miscarriage of justice somehow undermines the conviction of the real killer.  We know pretty much exactly what happened.  Meredith was killed by Rudy Guede.                                                                                                                             Deborah Orr wrote in The Guardian after the 2011 verdict:

“There are many deeply troubling facets to this case. But an important one, surely, is the degree to which it exposes so many humans as only too happy to believe lurid and destructive slurs served up by a tabloid media culture that they all know – or should know – exists to make money from peddling damaging sensation, the more outrageous the better.”

The final word about prosecutor Mignini and his tactics should go to John Douglas:

“He’s got to win, no matter what; even if the truth doesn’t fit and will break the law to win. . .  There was no evidence, there is no evidence.”

29th March 2013 – Postscript

Last Tuesday, March 26th, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that the verdict of Judge Hellmann’s court in 2011 should be overturned and directed that the case should be re-examined by a court in Florence.  To say that this is disappointing is a massive understatement.  Italian justice now looks even more ridiculous to the rest of the world.  I have reread the Forty Myths series of articles and nothing needs to change.  All the nonsense of the case is set out here. 

The Supreme Court has decided that two innocent people and their families will be condemned to harassment, uncertainty and media villification for several more years and it has delayed the eventual realisation by the family of the late Meredith Kercher that they have been expensively duped by a disfunctional system populated by rogues and knaves. 

I recently visited the grave of Meredith Kercher.  I found it heartbreaking.  It is a sad and lonely place.  A beautiful woman was cut down in her prime and three families are paying the price.  I pray that one day they will be reconciled.

Sources and further reading

Many talented and compassionate people have got involved in this case because they realised that something monstrous was going on in Italy and they could not ignore it.  It has been a privilege to have got to know some of them, starting with Joseph Bishop, Bruce Fischer and Sarah Snyder and not forgetting Michael Krom, Karen Pruett, Candace Dempsey, Jerry Morgan, Paul Smyth, Steve Moore, Frank Sfarzo, Dr David Anderson and Ray Turner.  Many of them have helped me both directly and indirectly as have others who shall remain nameless.  Meredith Kercher is not forgotten.

Sometimes you can’t just walk by on the other side.

 Most articles in the London Times and Sunday Times by John Follain, Magnus Linklater and others are still available online but behind a paywall so are only available to subscribers.

John Douglas article by Krista Errickson: http://www.groundreport.com/World/Unarresting-the-Arrested-FBI-Profiler-John-Douglas_1/2941619

Raffaele Sollecito – Honor Bound:

http://www.amazon.com/Honor-Bound-ebook/dp/B007MB5UYQ

 Frank Sfarzo – Perugia Shock:

http://perugiashock.com/

Law suits instigated by and on behalf of Giuliano Mignini:

http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/Mignini.html

Candace Dempsey blog:

http://blog.seattlepi.com/dempsey/

Candace Dempsey – Murder in Italy:

http://candacedempsey.com/murderinitaly.htm

Steve Moore articles:

http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/FBI4.html

Karen Pruett and the cartwheel

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474981150524

ABC News – Francesco Pasquali evidence for defence:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=7995762

The Stranger article by Charles Mudede:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=504236

Blood soaked bathroom and other myths:

http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/myths.html

Evening Standard story 2007:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/caught-on-camera-foxy-knoxy-at-murder-flat-on-night-meredith-was-killed-6663201.html

Deborah Orr in The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/05/amanda-knox-making-of-she-devil

Chris Halkides – View from Wilmington:

http://viewfromwilmington.blogspot.co.uk/

Madison Paxton in The Stranger:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/she-didnt-do-it/Content?oid=2929730

Mark Waterbury – Science Spheres

http://www.sciencespheres.com/

Articles by Ron Hendry:

http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/ronhendryindex2.html

Articles by Denver:

http://www.groundreport.com/DENVER

Articles by Joseph Bishop:

http://www.groundreport.com/JosephBishop