The Suspicious Behaviour And Evidence Contradicting the Mutual Alibis Of RS And AK
Posted by James Raper
Suspicious behaviour is not proof of guilt but it is an addition to the mix and, if there is enough of it, it can be weighty. I have already mentioned in Chapter 6 reservations as to the motive for Knox’x E-mail in view of certain things that did not make much sense.
Now we can consider what else arises from the testimony of witnesses, from what Knox and Sollecito had to say for themselves in their own words, and from the evidence concerning the phone records and computer analyses.
I have included the Court Exhibit log of calls made and received on the mobile phones for Knox and Sollecito, for the days the 1st and 2nd November 2007, in Appendix C. I did consider whether I should have done this given the telephone numbers referred to. However it is now eight years since the murder and I think it very unlikely that these numbers have not since been changed. In addition, Knox herself has had for some time, and may still have, a similar log for her mobile, covering the period from the beginning of October until a few days after Meredith’s death, on her website.
The relevant behaviour to be covered is from the day before the discovery of the murder up to the time of their arrest and we will discuss how this reflects upon their mutual alibi. As to that alibi we have in evidence Knox’s Memorial but not Sollecito’s statement to the police.
We also have the testimony of Antonio Curatolo and Marco Quintavalle.
Curatolo was a tramp who says that he saw Knox and Sollecito in the square at Piazza Grimana after 9.30 pm on the 1st November, having, as it appeared to him, an argument. They were at the end of the square from which the gates leading to the cottage could be seen.
Quintaville was the owner of a store who said that he saw Knox there at 7.45 am on the morning of the 2nd November.
Both were amongst witnesses unearthed by an enterprising local reporter, Antioco Fois, who stole a march on the police’s own investigation.
I will look more closely at their evidence in the next Chapter.
Knox and Sollecito would certainly have an alibi up until 8.40 pm on the 1st November, and later as it happens. That is because a witness, Jovana Popovic, knocked on Sollecito’s door at that time and spoke to Knox.
We need, however, to backtrack a bit. Popovic had knocked at Sollecito’s door between 5.30 and 5.45 pm. She wanted to ask Sollecito for a favour. Would he be kind enough to drive her to the train station in his Audi to collect some luggage that would arrive for her there later that night? Knox answered the door and invited her in and she spoke to Sollecito. He agreed he would do that.
Sollecito then started to play a film, Amelie, on his computer at 6.27 pm, which he says he and Knox watched. It would appear (See Chapter 30) that Knox then went out (whether with or without Sollecito is not clear) and that before returning to Sollecito’s flat, she (at 8.18 pm) received the text from Lumumba saying that she did not have to go to work that evening. She replied by text at 8.35 - “Sure. See you later. Have a good evening”.
Sollecito‘s varying versions, be it in his statements to the police, was (in the first version) that after leaving the cottage, he and Knox returned to his flat between 8.30 and 9 pm to eat, watch the movie and smoke some pot. That version then changed, of course, during his interview with the police on the 5th November, when he told them that before he got home Knox had left him to go to go and see friends at Le Chic and did not return until 1 am.
Popovic returned to Sollecito’s flat at 8.40 because she had been told that the luggage was not in fact being sent that evening. Knox, whom she described as being in a very good mood, told her that she would pass the message to Raffaele.
From this point on, of course, both Knox and Sollecito had an evening free to themselves.
At 8.42 pm Sollecito received a call from his father on his mobile. That this call was within 7 minutes of Knox’s text to Lumumba, and that there was no further activity on their mobiles until the following morning, is what had sparked the interest of the police and had resulted in Sollecito being called to the Questura on the 5th.
As mentioned Curatolo claimed to have first seen Knox and Sollecito in Piazza Grimana shortly after 9.30 pm. However that was contradicted by Knox’s trial testimony as to when she and Sollecito had eaten a meal at his flat.
From Knox’s trial testimony on the 12th June 2009 -
GCM: Can you say what time this was?
AK: umm, around, umm, we ate around 9.30 or 10, and then after we had eaten, and he was washing the dishes, well, as I said, I don’t look at the clock much, but it was around 10. And…he…umm…well, he was washing the dishes and, umm, the water was coming out and he was very bummed, displeased, he told me he had just had that thing repaired. He was annoyed that it had broken again. So…umm
LG: Yes, so you talked a bit. Then what did you do?
AK: Then we smoked a joint together……we made love…..then we fell asleep.
The next day, on the 13th , on cross-examination by Mignini, Knox testified -
GM: So, I wanted to know something else. At what time did the water leak?
AK: After dinner, I don’t know what time it was.
GM: Towards 21, 21.30?
AK: 21, that’s 9? No, it was much later than that.
GM: A bit later? How much?
AK: We had dinner around……10.30, so that must have happened a bit later than that. Maybe around 11 [slow voice as if thinking it out]
The alibi also now covers the prosecution’s first indication of the likely time of death at around 11 pm, but which was then moved to around 11.30 pm during the prosecution summing up at the trial.
Unfortunately Sollecito’s father himself torpedoed this dodge by telling the court that when he phoned his son at 8.42 pm Sollecito had told him that there had been a water leak while he was washing the dishes. Taking into account Knox’s testimony that they had eaten before the dish washing, this places the meal and dish washing before that call.
Sollecito told the police that at about 11 pm he had received a call from his father on his land line. Not only is that not confirmed by his father but there is no log of such a call. There were no landline calls at all for the relevant period of an alibi.
There is no log of a call to his mobile at that time either though his father had sent a text message then but which Sollecito did not receive until 6. 03 am the following morning. We know that he had received it at that time because that is the time at which it is logged in the phone records. Sollecito had just turned his phone on and clearly the phone had been off when the text message was sent.
There is no record of any phone activity for either of them from after the 8.42 pm call until, in Sollecito’s case, receipt of that text message at 6.03 am, and in Knox’s case her call to Meredith’s English phone at 12.07 pm the next day.
A word about this here because, as mentioned, Knox released her phone records on her web site. In her case it has to be said that this is not so unusual. Up until the 30th October there is no regular pattern of late or early morning phone activity.
Sollecito is different as his father was in the habit of calling at all hours just to find out what his son was doing. This is backed up by his phone records.
In the case of Knox she said that her phone had been switched off so as not to be disturbed and to save the battery.
We can now consider Sollecito’s computer, a “MacBook - PRO” - model Apple Laptop. This had been seized by the police on the 6th November and was then handed over to the Postal Police on the 13th November. They cloned the hard disk which is standard practice.
“Of the 124 files (or “reports”) with “last accessed” in the referenced time period (from 18:00 on 1/11/07 to 08:00 on 2/11/07) only two were “human interaction”; the remaining 122 reports were actions carried out automatically by the Mac OS X operating system installed on the Apple MacBook PRO.
In particular the evidenced human interaction occurred at :
21:10:32 [ 9.10 pm] on the 1/11/07
05:32:09 [ 5.32 am ] on the 2/11/07
Furthermore at 18:27:15 [6.27 pm] on the 1/11/07, there was human interaction via the “VLC” application, software used to play a multimedia file for a film “Il Favolso Mondo Di Amelie.avi”, already downloaded onto Sollecito’s computer laptop via P2P (peer to peer) some days earlier.”
There is thus no record of any human interaction with Sollecito’s computer from 9.10 pm on the 1st November until 5.32 am the next morning, when music was played on the computer for half an hour.
There was computer evidence for the defence at the trial and further attempts were made to try and force an alibi from his computer later on appeal. I think it would be appropriate, and convenient, to include a discussion of all this here.
At first Sollecito had maintained that he had been sending e-mails and surfing the web but that account was quickly demolished. However, a defence expert called Antonio D’Ambrosio did give very clear testimony at the trial. He was generous enough to acknowledge that the investigations carried out by the postal police were accurate, and well interpreted, but he said he had been able to uncover a bit more information about the computer because he was not limited by forensic protocols (and could therefore reveal information not visible to the Encase software used by the police) when he examined a copy of the cloned disk. This information was an interaction with the Apple website at 00.58 on the 2/11/07 which he did believe was a human interaction.
Unfortunately, whether there was or was not a human interaction with the computer at that time, does not provide Sollecito with an alibi.
D’Ambrosio also said that he noticed an interaction at 9.26 pm on the 1/11/07 but was unable to be certain whether a human interaction had occurred or whether a pre-requested download of a film, Naruto, had commenced.
The first defence expert report was in fact one prepared by Angelucci, in March 2008, at the request of Knox’s lawyer, Dalla Vedova. It does not appear to have been submitted in evidence but the salient point from this was that the data from both Sollecito’s Asus computer (he said he had another which was broken) and Meredith’s computer, was recovered.
Then there was the D’Ambrosio report followed at the first appeal by another report from Professor Alfredo Milani. In his book Sollecito mentions Milani as one of his professors at the college at which he was studying computer science. Milani credits D’Ambrosio with a lot of the content but his report was gratuitously offensive as regards the work of the postal police and he said that they had made “grave methodological errors” which had resulted in the concealment of information and which led him to conclude that it could not be excluded that there had been an overwriting of the time data was stored.
Firstly he spends much time outlining the Mac OS, in every release, and tells us that because the postal police used an “analogous but not identical” MacBook a tiny difference in the release number in the operating system renders their analysis unreliable. This is impossible to accept for two reasons - firstly, that the OS employed resided on the cloned disk from Sollecito’s own MacBook, but more importantly the precise OS release would not affect in any way the reading of the log files.
Secondly, he unwisely reminds us of inodes (log files). These files are regularly archived, in compressed form, and the archive is not over written. The archive is not very easy for an ordinary user to search but it is certainly not beyond the capabilities of “an expert computer consultant”.
He also unwisely provides a play list of the music which Sollecito had been playing when he opened his ITunes app: at 5.32 am in the morning.
The Report was in evidence but it is unlikely that the Court had before it an analysis of the music. The music app featured, amongst others, songs by the Seattle based punk rock band Nirvana, but more interestingly the app opens with the head banging introductory music (entitled “Stealing Fat”) to “The Fight Club” cult movie: with it’s own rendition of the iconic stabbing sound from the Hitchcock movie “Psycho” and introducing a background wailing sound. An interesting choice of music at 5.32 am in the morning and within hours of Meredith‘s brutal murder. There is clear evidence of manual interaction as some tracks are paused and then clicked through to the next.
One track on the app was not given any play time. This was “Polly” by Nirvanna based on the true story of the abduction, torture and rape of a 14 year old girl. The culprit is still serving time in jail.
Knox and Sollecito claimed that neither woke until Knox rose at 10.30 am. Not only are the two of them trapped by a blatant lie but if one’s choice of music is a reflection of mood, or to facilitate a change of mood, then their choice of music (and some of the lyrics, such as “I killed you, I’m not gonna crack”) is disturbing.
In the event the defence reports seem to have done little to impress the appeal judges. Perhaps Sollecito knew that they never would. In his prison diary on the 11th November 2007 he wrote -
“I have been very anxious and nervous in the last few days, but to see my father who tells me “do not worry, we will get you out”, makes me feel better. My real concerns are now two: the first one derives from the fact that if that night Amanda remained with me all night long, we could have (and this is a very remote possibility) made love all evening and night only stopping to eat…. It would be a real problem because there would be no connections from my computer to servers in those hours.”
Knox falsely claims in her book that having had her shower at the cottage she called her mother on her way back to Sollecito’s apartment (a 5 minute journey) as she was beginning to have concerns as to what she had seen at the cottage. She writes that her mother tells her to raise her concerns with Raffaele and the other flatmates and Knox says that she then immediately called Filomena Romanelli. Romanelli tells her to get hold of Meredith by phone which she tries to do by calling Meredith’s English phone first, then her Italian one.
(a) How does this correlate to the contents of her e-mail of the 4th Nov?
(b) How does this correlate to Knox’s phone records?
(a) There is no mention of a call to her mother at all in the e-mail. This from her e-mail -
“….and I returned to Raffaele’s place. After we had used the mop to clean up the kitchen I told Raffaele about what I had seen in the house over breakfast. The strange blood in the bathroom, the door wide open, the shit in the toilet. He suggested I call one of my roommates, so I called Filomena………..
Filomena seemed really worried so I told her I’d call Meredith and then call her back. I called both of Meredith’s phones the English one first and last and the Italian one in between. The first time I called the English phone it rang and then sounded as if there was disturbance, but no one answered. I then called the Italian phone and it just kept ringing, no answer. I called the English phone again and this time an English voice told me the phone was out of service.”
(b) the phone records are as follows -
Ist call @ 12.07.12 (to Meredith’s English phone) - 16 seconds
2nd call @ 12.08.44 (to Romanelli) - 68 seconds
3rd call @ 12.11.02 (to Meredith’s Italian phone) - 3 seconds
4th call @ 12.11.54 (to Meredith’s English phone) - 4 seconds
(The 5th, 6th and 7th calls are by Romanelli)
8th call @ 12..47.23 (first call to her mother) - 88 seconds
© the discrepancies are as follows -
1. The accounts in the book and the e-mail differ materially but at least the phone records enable us to establish facts. The first call to her mother was not just after leaving the cottage but 40 minutes after the call to Romanelli, and the call to Romanelli had been placed (on the basis of the e-mail) after she had returned to Raffaele’s place and after they had used the mop and had breakfast. If we add on 20 minutes for that activity then we can say that she called her mother at least an hour after she had left the cottage.
2. The first call to Meredith’s English phone (and it rang for an appreciable time - 16 seconds) was placed before the call to Romanelli, and not after as Knox would have it in her e-mail and in her book. A minute before, but Knox did not mention this to Romanelli, as confirmed by the e-mail and Romanelli’s testimony.
3. The call to the Italian phone did not just keep ringing (See 5 below). The connection was for 3 seconds and this was followed by a connection to the English phone for 4 seconds.
4. The English phone was not switched off, nor (as Knox has claimed -see email) out of service. Mrs Lana’s daughter had found it. She said that she would not have done so but for it ringing (the 12.07 call for 16 seconds?). She picked it up and took it into the house where it rang again (the 12.11 call - 4 seconds?). A name appeared on the screen as it rang : “Amanda”.
5. The 3 and 4 second calls are highly suspicious. The Italian phone was already in the possession of the postal police. Because of it’s discovery before the English phone the postal police had been dispatched to the cottage at about midday. According to Massei it’s answering service was activated, accounting for the log. Clearly Knox did not even bother to leave a message for Meredith as it would take longer than 3 seconds just to listen to the answering service. This is not the behaviour of someone genuinely concerned about another. By contrast Romanelli had called Knox three times, spending no less than half a minute on each call, and on the last one being informed by Knox that her room had been burgled and ransacked.
In her e-mail, and repeated in her trial testimony, Knox says that she woke up around 10.30 am, grabbed a few things and walked the 5 minutes back to the cottage. If the first call to her mother (at 12.47) was about an hour after she left the cottage (see before) then she left the cottage at about 11.47 am, which means that she spent over an hour there. Either that or she spent much more than 20 minutes at Raffaele’s place before calling Romanelli. One might think that the latter would be more likely as it is difficult to conceive that she spent over an hour at the cottage just showering and blow drying her hair, is it not? She did not (Knox’s testimony) have the heating on when she was there. If that were the case then one has to wonder why she dallied, without any concern for her flatmates, in an empty and cold cottage, the front door to which she had found open.
Either way there is a period of up to about an hour and a half between when she might have tried to contact Meredith (if she believed she was there, by knocking on or trying her bedroom door or by calling her phone) and her calling Romanelli, effectively to raise the alarm.
That we are right to be incredulous about this is borne out by the false claim in Knox‘s book. That false claim is significant and can only be because Knox is acutely aware that the phone records show that her original story does not stack up.
That it is incredible is even belatedly acknowledged by Sollecito’s feeble but revealing attempt to distance himself from Knox in a CNN interview on the 28 Feb 2014. “Certainly I asked her questions” he said. “Why did you take a shower? Why did you spend so much time there?”
That she makes that false claim and has constantly stonewalled and/or misplaced the 16 second call to Meredith’s English phone is indicative of a guilty knowledge. Her guilty knowledge with respect to the 16 second call was that it was made to ascertain whether or not the phones had been located before she called Romanelli, and hence for her it was not (incredulous though this is without such explanation) a pertinent fact for her to bring up with Romanelli. More than that though she also sidestepped the specific question put to her by Romanelli -
“Amanda called Romanelli, to whom she started to detail what she had noticed in the house without, however, telling her a single word about the unanswered call made to Meredith despite the question expressly put to her by Romanelli.”
As to the 12.47 call to her mother (4.47 am Seattle time and prior to the discovery of Meredith‘s body) Knox not only did not mention that in her e-mail but in taped conversation with her mother and in her trial testimony she steadfastly declined to recall that it had occurred. Ostensibly the call would have been, of course, to report the break in. So what would be the problem with that? However she clearly did not want, or could not be trusted, to discuss her motive for the call and what had transpired in conversation with her mother (and stepfather) before the discovery of Meredith’s body.
Not only was the timing of the 12.47 call inconvenient to her mother but I found it interesting to note from Knox’s phone records (covering 2nd Oct - 3rd November) that mother and daughter do not appear to have called or texted each other once by phone up until that 12.47 call. It would appear then that in so far as they remained in direct communication with each other for that period it must have been by e-mail or Skype. Indeed Knox has referred to such communication being via internet café. One can therefore imagine that her mother was very surprised to receive that call. It is also very difficult to accept that Knox could not recall a phone call she was not in the habit of making.
Until Knox published her book the only information that was available about the 12.47 call (apart from the phone log which showed that it lasted 88 seconds) came from her mother (who reported that her daughter was concerned about the break in) and her stepfather Chris Mellas. Mellas says that he interrupted the conversation between mother and daughter to tell Amanda to get out of the cottage. In her book Knox tells us (her memory now having returned) that he yelled at her but that she was “spooked” enough without that. But what had really happened to spook her? Readers will already know where I am coming from, and may think I am pushing at bit hard here, but I believe that the call to her mother was both a comfort and a rehearsal call, not simply because there had been a burglary, but because she knew a set of events was about to unfold on Romanelli’s arrival at the cottage. Would her explanation about having been there earlier for a shower be credible? Would Romanelli and subsequently the police, detect anything suspicious? The fact that her mother and stepfather already had the jitters was not a good omen.
The testimony of Edda Mellas was as follows –
“Yes, in the first call she said that she knew that it was really early in the morning but she had called because she felt that someone had been in the house. She had spent the night at Raffaele’s and she had returned to take a shower at her house, and the main door was open. That had seemed strange to her, but the door had a strange lock and sometimes the door didn’t close properly, and when she entered the house everything seemed to be in place. Then she went to take the shower, and when she came out of the shower she noticed that there was a bit of blood but she thought that perhaps someone was having their period and had not cleaned up properly after themselves. She then went to her room and dressed and then went into the other bathroom to blow dry her hair and realized that someone had not flushed the toilet., and she thought it was strange because usually the girls flushed. Then she had to go to meet Raffaele, and she told him of these strange things in the house. Thern she tried to call one of the others who lived with them to find out something,, and had the number of another Italian roommate that was in the town, the others were there no longer and she tried to call Meredith several times but there was no response, They returned to the house, and she showed Raffaele what she had found and they realized that there was a broken window, Then at this point they began to knock on Meredith’s door trying to wake her up and when there was no answer they tried to enter her room.”
This is a lot of information to cram in to an 88 second phone call when surely Knox’s mother must have been feeling confused, concerned, and with questions of her own. At what point did Chris interrupt and yell at her to get out of the house? Edda’s testimony is very much a reprise of Knox’s e-mail. How could Knox not have remembered such a detail packed conversation, a prelude to her e-mail, and triggered by, on the face of it, a burglary?
Knox’s phone records also correct a previous misapprehension of mine. I had regarded it as rather unlikely that Knox would have tried to contact Meredith first on her English phone rather than the Italian phone which she knew Meredith had and used for local calls. However the records show that it was not at all unusual for Knox to call Meredith’s English phone. In fact she did this most of the time. But also, if the purpose of the first call to Meredith (after midday on the 2nd) was to check as to whether or not the phones had been located by anyone, then calling Meredith’s English, rather than her Italian, phone would make sense, because of course Knox would know that was the phone by which Meredith and her parents remained in frequent contact with each other, and that the parents would surely have raised the alarm had the phone been discovered and a call by Meredith’s parents been answered by some diligent but confused citizen in Italian. This, of course, could have happened and the alarm could have been raised by Meredith’s parents well prior to Meredith’s phone being called by Knox the first time, but such an eventuality would not have been a matter of concern to Knox in the event that she had not been to the cottage earlier.
At the cottage, and prior to the above call, Sollecito received a call from his father at 12.40 am. Do we know what they discussed? It would in any event have been after the discovery of Romanelli’s broken window and (allegedly) Sollecito’s (rather feeble) attempt to break down Meredith’s door. Did the responsible adult advise his son to do the obvious and call the police? One would think so, but then why was there a 10 minute delay before he called his sister in the Carabinieri at 12.50 am? Indeed, why call his sister at all? Why substitute the formality of calling the police to report a break in with a personal call? They are not the same thing - clearly, as immediately afterwards he did call the 112 emergency services to report the break in. Romanelli had also urged Knox to call the police when she called at 12.35.The 16 minute delay from that call might be accounted for by the unexpected arrival of the postal police and if this was the case then it was before Sollecito called the 112 emergency services.
The issue of whether Sollecito was lying when he told the postal police that he had already called 112 is an interesting one. It would take up too much time and space to discuss in detail here. See Chapter 13. Suffice to say that the prosecution set out to demonstrate that the postal police had arrived before the call and the defence set out to demonstrate the contrary.
Neither Knox nor Sollecito saw into Meredith’s room when the door was broken down and her body discovered on the floor under a quilt. Yet in the immediate aftermath it is as if they have wanted others to believe that it was they who discovered her body and in the bragging about this there have been disclosures, not only as to what they should not have been aware but also suggestive of disturbed personalities. This behaviour was remarkable for all the wrong reasons.
(a) The police were suspicious about the fact that Knox had alluded to Meredith having had her throat cut at the Questura, but we now know from Luca Altieri‘s testimony that Knox and Sollecito had heard about this directly from him during the car ride to the police station.. However her bizarre and grotesque allusion in the early moments of the investigation to the body being found stuffed into the closet (wardrobe) is not just factually incorrect (it was lying to the side of the closet) but bears a striking correlation to later forensic findings based on blood splatter in front of and on the closet door, that Meredith had been thrust up against the closet after having been stabbed in the throat.
(b) The behaviour of Knox and Sollecito at the police station is documented in the testimony of Meredith’s English girlfriends and of the police. Whilst it is true that people react to grief in different ways it is difficult to ascribe grief or a reaction to shock to some of Knox’s behaviour. Emotionally she was cold towards Meredith’s friends and occasionally went out of her way to upset them with barbed and callous remarks. The fact that Knox was not observed to cry and wanted to talk about what had happened is not of itself indicative of anything but remarks like “What the fuck do you think, she bled to death” (Knox acknowledged a similar comment to this in her tv interview with Diane Sawyer - See Chapter 27) and her kissing and canoodling with Raffaele (including them making smacking noises with their lips when they blew kisses to each other) in front of the others was not normal. Rather chilling in retrospect was a scene between the pair of them when Knox found the word “minaccia” (in english - threat) amusing and made a play of it with Sollecito in front of witnesses.
© Grief is in any event reserved for friends and relations, or people one much admires. The evidence is that the initial short friendship between the two had cooled to the extent that Meredith was studiously, if politely, avoiding being around Knox. For the narcissistic and attention seeking american girl this would have been difficult to ignore and may well have offended her.
(d) The next day Sollecito was willingly collared by a reporter from the Sunday Mirror and told her about the horror of finding the body.
“Yes I knew her. I found her body.”
“It is something I never hope to see again,” he said. “There was blood everywhere and I couldn’t take it all in.”
“My girlfriend was her flatmate and she was crying and screaming, ‘How could anyone do this?’”
Sollecito went on the tell the reporter (with reference to the night of the murder) that -
“It was a normal night. Meredith had gone out with one of her English friends and Amanda and I went to a party with one of my friends. The next day, around lunchtime, Amanda went back to their apartment to have a shower.”
This was not in evidence which is as well because about the only thing that is true here is that he knew Meredith.