Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What Might Have Happened On The Night: One Scenario

Posted by Brian S

[click for larger image]

[above: the main piazza in the old city, about the time in question]

Five months to the day today since Judge Micheli handed Guede his 30 years and Knox and Sollecito their go-straight-to-trial cards.

And about two months since Judge Micheli released his 106-page report with a scenario of what most probably happened on the night.

He seemed in no doubt whatever that Meredith had been attacked by three people, and that there had been a major attempt to rearrange the crime scene soon after.

Now we have the benefit of the testimony of a number of witnesses which Judge Micheli did not get to hear, because of the short-form trial, but which he would have got to read, because their statements are in the 10,000-plus pages of evidence prepared by the prosecution.

Here is one possible scenario which takes into account what has been reported from court in the period of the past few weeks.

Meredith’s aborted phone calls, possibly for help, were reported to have happened just after 10pm.

Sometime just after 10:30pm a car containing four visitors from Rome broke down outside the driveway and gate to Meredith’s house on Via della Pergola. A dark colored car was noticed in the driveway.

The driver of the car called the breakdown truck at about 10:40pm, and the mechanic arrived 15 or 20 minutes later. He said he was not there long, and the five people involved were perhaps on their way by around 11:15pm.

This seems to prove that Meredith was not murdered in the period between sometime just after 10:30 and 11:15pm

Someone running up the stone steps above the intersection bumped into witness Ms Formica’s boyfriend around 10:30pm. Ms Formica didn’t hear any scream. Shortly after that she saw the car that had broken down.

The car occupants did not hear any scream, or see anyone run away (it is known they were traced and questioned). Rudy Guede himself has claimed “he ran from the house around 10:30pm, not many minutes after the killers had fled”.

It seems witness Nara Capezzali, the neighbor up above, was not too confident of the time she heard the scream and the running feet. Perhaps her diuretic had its effect sometime just before 10:30pm.

She and other witnesses heard a very long, loud, terrified scream. Less than a minute later 2 or 3 people were heard running away in different directions.

The scenario this suggests is that Meredith was struggling with her attackers from around the time of her aborted call at 10:13pm until sometime just before 10:30pm.

And that someone had a hand over her mouth, people were holding her arms, and she was struggling as the assault took place.

She was being verbally threatened and she was being stabbed with a knife.

Suddenly, Meredith got her mouth free, and she let out that “blood curdling” scream that Ms Capezzali described.

It seems unlikely that the final stab had been made to her throat before that moment, else she wouldn’t have obtained the volume to be heard by those in the surrounding houses.

However, it may have been this scream which caused the killer to silence her with the final thrust of the knife.

Her attackers would expect that that cry would have been heard by anyone up on the street or in the parking facility or the houses above who was still up and about at that time of night.

They stabbed Meredith, and then they ran.

Shortly after they disappear from the cottage, a car breaks down just outside. The driver calls for help just around the time that Meredith breathes her last.

Any of the killers who may want to return to the cottage will have to wait until that broken down car has gone. The dark car remains trapped in the driveway.

Meanwhile, up in Piazza Grimana, Antonio Curatolo sits reading his paper. He sees Sollecito and Knox come into the square, apparently from the direction of Via Pinturicchio above the park.

It’s not the first time he has seen them that night. He first saw them at around 9:30.

It’s now after 10:30pm. He observes them go over to the railings several time and look down towards the cottage at Via Della Pergola.

What do they see?

A broken down car right is sitting outside the cottage gates which was soon to be attended by a breakdown truck. The mechanic stated that the car was located just before the parking lot entrance, so he had a clear view of the entrance to the house as he worked practically across the street from the gate.

No-one could get back to the cottage or retrieve their car from the driveway until after 11:15pm, by which time the broken down car had been fixed and the people involved had gone from the scene.

Sollecito and Knox may have left the park around 11:00 to 11:30 pm. Mr Curatolo then went to the railings himself to see what they’d been looking at.

Next, he said he saw Sollecito and Knox return, and he put the time of this at just before midnight for sure. After midnight, he left the piazza to go to the park and sleep.

A comment here.

Antonio Curatolo is a very dangerous witness for Sollecito and Knox. He seems to be as sharp as they come. Mr Curatolo knew both Knox and Sollecito by sight from watching them come and go through the piazza over the preceding weeks, though this was “the first time he had seen them together… like a couple’”.

He fixes his exact memory of the night for his evidence to the police presence and news of the murder the following day. Unlike Knox and Sollecito, he can remember exactly what happened on the night of 1st November.

He knows where he was. And he knows who and what he saw from his front-row park bench.

The suggestion here for the moment, then, is that Meredith was struggling with her attackers from around the time of her aborted call at 10:13pm until sometime just before 10:30pm.


Did Antonio Curatolo, or any of the others notice any possible blood on the suspects that night or did he hear any of the scream?
Everything sounds about right in the timeline & why it could have played out like you desribe.

Posted by tjcchamp on 03/31/09 at 10:01 PM | #

This is an excellent point tjcchamp. He would surely have heard the scream from there, judging from the photos. It needs someone who has been there to say for sure perhaps. And the blood issue is a good one too. I can’t imagine they would have been free of blood stains at this time.

Excellent piece Brian S, as usual. You really do help marshal all the facts into neat clear order for those of us whose heads begin to spin with it all. Very useful. Timing is all a bit tight isn’t it. But I think you might just have nailed it here.

Posted by TT on 04/01/09 at 02:17 AM | #

Good questions. I took the shots. My guess is that any scream from the house would not carry quite as far as the piazza which is

(1) maybe three times the distance from the house that the apartments above the parking facility are,

(2) slightly blocked by the building on the east side of the intersection below the steps where the cars park, 

(3) a busy and noisy place in itself, with cars exiting the old city by three routes and many buses going by.

On the possibility of blood stains, I might get back to you. The piazza and basketball court are not especially well lit at night, though people would be easy enough to recognize.

In contrast the area above the house is lit up almost as brightly as a stadium, what with the street lights and also the huge globes on the parking facility.

Very quiet there too, in contrast.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/01/09 at 03:29 AM | #

I still want to know how AK and RS stabbed Meredith, and ran to a piazza, witnessed by the hobo, and no one noticed them covered in blood.  Is it possible to stab someone as violently as reported and the perpetrators close to the vic not have blood evidence all over them?  Everything else points to guilt except that nagging question.

Posted by tony on 04/01/09 at 04:29 AM | #

Hi.  I have two questions.  I am confused as to the aborted cell phone calls.  I thought one was at 8:53 to her mother’s house.  This would have been while Meredith was still at her friends house.  Was there other aborted calls after 10:00 or did I get the time wrong?

Also, where were Meredith’s cell phones found (Lana Biscoti’s house) in relation to the park?  Could they have heaved them or would it have to be Rudy?

Posted by C3PO on 04/01/09 at 05:21 AM | #

John Follain reported on March 22 after the trial session an aborted call to Meredith’s mother at 8:56 pm. I believe there was one other call soon after, the one Brian refers to, but will check.

Kermit created Powerpoints to explain the tossing of the phones. The house outside the wall could have been reached in 10 minutes if the city gate was open, and in 15 or 20 minutes if it was closed. Sollecito and Guede both lived near that gate.

[added while Arnold was posting below - he sees things on similar lines] Let me offer an ad-interim response on the question of blood on the defendants as our Europeans all seem to be in bed.

We never posted on all of the Micheli report because it is very raw and painful in parts, and the Kercher family had asked that the trial be closed for this reason. There is a graphic description of Meredith’s struggle based on a LOT of physical evidence (those who have seen all of the autopsy shots tell us they were disturbed for days.)

At the end there, the evidence says, she was on her hands and knees, struggling. A scream, a stab, she falls, and they are out of there in a heartbeat. Maybe NO blood on them if this is what happened, and if there was blood on them it would have been low down. And the park is quite a dark place at night.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/01/09 at 05:32 AM | #

Blood spatter – sorry, this is gross

Wow.  You connected dots that I didn’t realize needed connecting.  They were in the park and couldn’t get back to start the staging of the crime scene because of the broken down car.  This is like a dime novel.  Meanwhile, Rudy’s off dancing at a disco.  Then the staging is interrupted by a bomb scare.  OMG, bummer!!

Tony brings up a good point.  I don’t think there needs to be a lot of blood on the perps in a stabbing.  There is a considerable amount of blood dispersed to the surroundings when multiple wounds are inflicted because, after the first one, there is blood on the weapon which then gets spun off as the subsequent blows are delivered.  This is even more true when a longer weapon is used (such as the classic fireplace poker or brass candlestick). 

Meredith had many knife wounds but (and this is really hard for me) they were delivered in short torturous stabs while she was restrained.  These need not create much splatter as they would not be delivered in a sweeping motion. 

The final neck wound did create significant blood loss but much of this, if the scenario is correct, would have occurred after she had been (moved to?) locked in her bedroom to bleed to death.  What is still unknown is whether the knife was left in her neck for her to extract.  If so, there would have been even less blood on the killers.

Btw, anyone interested in how anyone with no history of violence could do this please read Miss Represented’s great articles on this topic.

In a nutshell, a person with no history of violence most likely would not; however, a group acts totally differently than three individuals.  A group feeds on each members actions.  This also helps winnow out the Rudy Guede as sole perp theory. Reading her site was an “aha” moment for me.

Posted by Arnold_Layne on 04/01/09 at 05:59 AM | #

Thanks, Arnold. We are turning to the psychology next week when there will be no trial for two weeks, and Miss Represented (who often comments here) has a post introducing her series.

I was told by someone else that the book “Blank Slate” by Steven Pinker is vital reading and I have it. MR has suggested several others. The Strand bookstore on Broadway at 12th Street has the Pinker paperback for under $20. Otherwise, it is a pricey read.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/01/09 at 06:13 AM | #

1) Blood stains

Last week, I couldn’t understand why Jovana Popovic was not asked about what clothes AK was wearing, since she was the last reliable witness to see her before the murder.

At night, dark blood stains would not be obvious to the casual observer, but surely Ak and RS would have had to dispose of the clothes?

RS told the police that he couldn’t remember and I think he talked about his ‘confusion’ in his diary?.

Knox’s blood was mixed with Meredith’s in the wash basin, so maybe they washed their hands before fleeing, and didn’t get round to cleaning it before the postal police arrived (There were ‘more important’ traces to be cleaned first, like the footprints).

2) Guede’s Testimony - this Saturday

We all hope that he doesn’t remain silent. I think we will eventually get the truth, since my favorite prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, says ’ three people can keep a secret ... but only if two of them are dead’. His record of successful prosecutions was 101 out of 102, if I remember.

3) Lumumba’s Testimony - this Saturday

I was trying to work out what else he can add to what we know, I’ve come up with:

1. When and how much he paid Knox, to help us find out who took Meredith’s money.

2. If and when did he tell Meredith she could have ‘Knox’s job’

4) Psychology

Knox got very emotional when the police scrolled down the numbers on her phone and got to Patrick’s. She said ‘it was him!, it was him!’.

I’d be grateful if Miss Represented could give an opinion on whether this could have been ‘true’ in Knox’s mind, if it was Patrick giving the job to Meredith which triggered everything?.

Posted by Kevin on 04/01/09 at 07:19 AM | #

Thanks Kevin. The mixed blood (never dated for the reasons Nicki explained) was on the bidet in the bathroom by Meredith’s bedroom.

For those who want to decide on each piece of evidence for themselves, there is a shot of the bidet in this post.

On your points 3 and 4 I would like to ask Patrick whether Knox knew she was fired or replaced, and if so from whom.

If Knox heard it from Meredith, as is possible, that shock might have rippled on and on.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/01/09 at 07:37 AM | #

Another nagging detail is Knox’s blood mixed with Meredith’s.  I recall one witness talking about a scratch on Knox’s neck or chin, but she was photographed the morning after when the postal police arrived.  She was interviewed by police with Raf a few days later. No one else mentioned seeing a wound on Knox.  Seems if she sustained a wound large enough to mix her blood, it wouldn’t heal so fast.
I’m playing the devil’s advocate here, I still think they’re guilty as hell.

Posted by tony on 04/01/09 at 01:11 PM | #

Sorry, I should have said Knox’s DNA was mixed with Meredith’s blood?. The bidet is more likely to be used to wash blood from feet?, perhaps after mopping the floor?.

Posted by Kevin on 04/01/09 at 03:01 PM | #

There doesn’t have to be much of a wound to create a drop or two of blood. Knox’s claim that she had just had her ears pierced was taken by some as enough of an explanation.

Perhaps more to the point is what Judge Micheli remarked and Nicki has explained: there is no way of dating the blood, and so it does not seem to be regarded as important evidence of anything specific to the night.

Not to say this prosecution may not present it anyway but with a new twist… we’ll see. None of the blood evidence has so far been presented.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/01/09 at 03:05 PM | #

Hi, first time commenting here.
It occured to me that they could have not only been watching to have an opportunity to move the dark coloured car but also to see if by some miracle Meredith had managed to get out or get some help. The reports are that she took a while to die from her injuries so was possibly still alive when they ran. Maybe they were watching to see if help had been called so would be waiting for police/ambulances to arrive. When they saw no sign of this, and thought they she would be no longer be fighting for life, and the recovery vehicle had gone, they then felt able to go back and alter the crime scene.
It is the hardest part for me that they think Meredith would have taken a long time to die, and that she could’ve been saved. I hope her last moments were thoughts of peace, not fear.

Posted by Ginny on 04/02/09 at 06:05 PM | #

I know the prosecution has to set the stage and lay the groundwork before introducing the evidence that clinches it.  In the movies the police always find skin under the fingernails of the victim or some such.  There must have been a tremendous struggle between 2213 and 2230, does anyone know if the attackers’ fingerprints or DNA would have been on the body?  As Tony has pointed out, Amanda’s blood could very well have been there simply from her having lived there. 

Also, if the defense knew there was such evidence, wouldn’t they have thrown in the towel?

Guede’s appeal has not come to pass yet so I wouldn’t expect to much from him.  On the other hand, If AK and RS were involved, I am sure it would frost his pumpkin if he was the only one to serve any time.

Posted by Easy_Ed on 04/03/09 at 02:41 AM | #

I didn’t know where to comment on this but where did the article about the hair in Merediths hand go? I just googled it and a few articles came up from the weeks after the murder but I’ve not heard anything about the hair since- surely it would be a very good clue as to who killed her? Does anyone know any more of this? Please feel free remove my comment if its not in the right place or irrelevant.

Posted by Ginny on 04/28/09 at 07:08 PM | #

Ginny, the hair story was erroneously thrown up by Google News as a new one, when it actually wasn’t, so we explained and eventually hid the post. Will it surface in the evidence at trial? We don’t know, but we’ve had a few surprises since the trial started, so I guess we need to stay tuned.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/28/09 at 08:35 PM | #

Thank you for clearing that up! Here’s hoping it will implicate someone beyond all reasonible doubt.

Posted by Ginny on 04/29/09 at 01:27 PM | #

(So embarrassed!!)

Posted by Ginny on 04/29/09 at 02:47 PM | #

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