Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Marasca/Bruno Report, A Dissection In Four Parts: #4 Their Findings - Ambivalent In Spades

Posted by catnip

Sollecito & Bongiorno: reported as very un-thrilled at the findings RS was at crime scene and lied


This is my dissection of Part 9, the final 10 pages of the report.

My previous dissections of the Fifth Chambers explanation can be read here and here and here.


Each sentence in the paraphrased gist of the repoirt below corresponds to one paragraph in the text.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: Errors in law and logical inconsistencies mean that the impugned judgment merits being cassated [quashed]. The evidential picture does not reach the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not an innovative or “revolutionary” principle and is already present in Italian law, implicitly in Article 530 para 2. Remote possibilities are not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’(Segura case, 2014) and mere conjecture, even though plausible, cannot found alternative reconstructions (Gurenelli case, 2014, etc) (9).

COMMENT: Citing from cases is a good technique, even to including their names, à la common law systems. Not reaching the BARD standard is the crux of the matter.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: The contradictory evidence as illustrated by the up-and-down nature of the proceedings through the courts does not reach the BARD standard (9.1)

COMMENT: This is disingenuous. The Perugia Court of Appeal judgment was annulled (except for the calunnia), so calling it into play again as one of the, presumably, “up” side of the ‘swings-and-roundabouts’ of the case as if it were a valid judgment is misleading.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: An overview of the for-and-against positions can be given (9.2)

COMMENT: Given the appearance of a balanced handling of the matter is a good technique. The assumption that there are for-and-against positions is not clarified or explained, though, merely asserted.

That is, a reading of the evidence as ‘not guilty’, to stand and be opposed to and contrasted with a reading of the evidence as ‘guilty’, involves a circularity of reasoning: it is the ultimate contradiction for the same evidence to support both positions simultaneously.

The result of a ‘not guilty’ conclusion is that the evidence leads there, and away from a conclusion of ‘guilty’. A for-and-against view begins with the conclusion, in order to prove the conclusion: circularity.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: Presence does not equate with guilt. Passive participation is different to active participation (Benocci case, 2013 etc). The subjective element can be found in voluntary participation and cooperation (Mazzotta case, 2012) (9.3)

COMMENT: Absence of evidence does not equate with innocence (meaning evidence of absence). Quoting from cases is good: it gives the impression something legal is going.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: Even given their presence, FOR the accused is the absence of their traces in the room or on the body (excluding the bra-clasp, of which more later), and likewise FOR the accused is the presence of Rudy’s evidence. The room is so small that is impossible not to leave any traces if they were murderers. Nothing of theirs was found on the victim’s top or the piece of clothing underneath, whereas Rudy’s trace was found on a sleeve of the top. This makes a clean-up impossible. (9.4)

COMMENT: Declarations of certainty about the consequences of the size of the room are not evidence, no matter how close such declarations seem to be in going ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. Given an erroneous starting point, impeccable reasoning can be applied, and a conclusion reached.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: Amanda’s self-described presence is credible in that she described, for the first time, a possible sexual motive for the murder, and the piercing scream. In her calunnia she puts herself on the scene which no-one else (other than those others present, obviously) would have known. According to the calunnia, the scream and the murder is due to Patrick Lumumba. AGAINST: the mixed traces (dilute blood, skin cells) in the small bathroom.

Suspicion is not decisive. The trace is not equivocal – there could have been posthumous contact with the blood.  There was no trace in the murder zone or on the body. The reason why she accused is incomprehensible – the psychological pressure theory is weak (fragile). She couldn’t think it would stand up, since she knew well that Patrick had no relationship with Meredith, or that Patrick wouldn’t have a cast-iron alibi. Maybe to cover for Rudy (both men being black), perhaps hypothesising that Rudy had been seen.

The staged burglary scene, for the prosecution, pointed to somebody who knew the victim, but this is ambiguous because it was Raffaele who pointed out to the police that nothing had been carried off. Lies revealed by SMS and Curatolo and Quintavalle are suspicious, but they are scarcely credible witnesses. The enigmatic drug-dealer Curatolo, coming late to the case and no stranger to cases with a strong media presence, is contradicted by the lack of buses, and the masks and joking around of Halloween, apparently counterbalanced by seeing the accused the day before forensic spacemen arrived. Quintavalle, another tardy witness, has nothing specific to add, not even what purchases were made, and identifying in Amanda in the courtroom has no relevance since her image had appeared on all the newspapers and TV news.

The “A” and “I” traces on the knife are neutral, given she lived with Raffaele, and (as said) there were no traces of Ms Kercher on the knife, contrasting with the prosecution hypothesis that it was the murder weapon. It was an arguable choice to test the trace for DNA rather than for what substance it was. Attributing the trace to Amanda is not unequivocal, and is indifferent, since she lived with Raffaele. Even attributing trace “B” to Meredith is not decisive (not being blood), since, with students, it’s plausible that convivial gatherings and other events would require the transport of a knife for domestic use. Starch implies ordinary use; lack of blood cannot lead to a cleaning action since starch is well-known to be absorbent and would have absorbed blood if it had been there.

It’s implausible that Amanda would carry the kitchen knife for protection in her big bag, rather than carry a small flick knife like knife-collector and knife-fan Raffaele certainly had in his possession. Attributing the print in the homicide location to her is, finally, anything but certain. (9.4.1)

COMMENT:  ‘All over the place like a dog’s breakfast’. Where to begin? The strong suspicion, reinforced with every statement made, is that Bruno is one sandwich short of a picnic. The main cause is due to taking the defence claims in their appeal papers as if they were the factual basis of a new trial. Which makes Bruno two sandwiches short of a picnic. For a Cassation judge, the picnic hamper and its contents is a serious matter. This whole section, and the following one, are destined to become a classic example.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: For Raffaele, the picture is likewise. The bra-clasp, the only trace of his, has no certainty, since there is no 2nd amplification, there is no probative value. There is a strong suspicion he was there on the night, but when is not possible to determine. Given Amanda was present, it’s scarcely believable he wouldn’t be with her. Amanda had versions of the “something strange” story and other versions of being present, it’s strange she wouldn’t have called her boyfriend, presumably being ignorant of Italian emergency procedures and having her boyfriend close by. No call, there was no phone record, implies he was with her.

But presence at the scene is not certain proof. Defence arguments are insufficient to remove doubt. Even if Raffaele watched everything, it does not rule out his presence – he could have been at the house, it’s a short distance away, ten or so minutes. Amanda’s claims to have been at Raffaele’s house, countered by Curatalo’s and Quintavalle’s testimony, raises strong suspicion against Raffaele. But their strongly approximative and ambiguous statements cannot, reasonably, lead to certainty, notwithstanding the appeal court’s problematic subjective view on the matter. Suspicions rise from the substantive failure of the alibi about the computers, although it’s not a case of speaking about failed alibis, but rather alibis that didn’t make it. No certainty either about Raffaele’s prints, with their “probable identity”, rather than certainty. (9.4.2)

COMMENT: Reasonable minds can (and often do) come to different conclusions on the same facts. But: Highly trained professional lawyers applied the incorrect methodology?! If Bruno thinks Florence did that, then what’s to stop anyone thinking that Bruno has done the same thing? Curatolo is an enigmatic drug-dealer (and again the media get a look-in), but the enigmatic drug-taking Raffaele isn’t, even with his knife-fetish?

Luckily, enigmas, according to common experience, are not generally the convivial party-going kind, whereof large kitchen knives for domestic use are easily transported. Bruno, and the Bruno Cafe-and-Bar Specials, are ripe for satire (which may be the underlying ulterior intention, subconsciously-speaking: to make a mark, or a stain or a trace, no matter how indeterminate, or, keyword, indecisive.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: Since the main charge is unsupported, the subsidiary charges also fall. (9.4.3)

COMMENT: True, as a principle.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: Contradictory probative elements must compel an acquittal. One last question remains to be resolved. Remand of the case to another court is logically linked to the objective possibility of further tests. The response is definitely negative. The traces are so small they cannot guarantee reliability. Amanda’s and Meredith’s computer were burned by the investigators, probably through the wrong electric current causing irreversible damage. The declaratory evidence is exhaustive. Rudy refused and cannot be compelled to testify.

Defence technical requests cannot guarantee clarity, not only because of the amount of time, but the problematic testing (possibility of selective clean-up); obvious irrelevance (tests on Raffaele’s computer), given the possibility, no matter what the interaction, of going over to Meredith’s house; or clearly superfluous, given the completeness of the examination undertaken (for example, the autopsy and subsequent medico-legal tests). Remand of the case would be useless. Annulment of the conviction under charge (A)  [=aggravated murder] implies a redetermination of the sentence imposed, which will be set as the same one handed down by the Court of Appeal of Perugia, adequate and just.

And so all other defence submissions petitions requests are to be considered denied, while any lines of argumentation, including those not examined, are inadmissible as being, clearly, related to the mertis. (10)

COMMENT: Repeating of the same wallpaper pattern starting to occur. Which means, there is nothing more to say. Literally.

Cassation (Bruno) – gist: It only remains to dispose the case (11):

Charge (B): extinction of the charge by prescription
The impugned judgment, excluding aggravated calunnia, annulled without remand on charges (A), (D)and (E) on the grounds on not having committed the deed
Re-determine the sentence inflicted on Amanda for the crime of calunnia to three years of imprisonment.
So decided 27/03/2015
(Bruno, Recorder) (Marasca, President)

COMMENT: Only Bruno initialled each page; Marasca limited himself to signing at the end.


What have we learned on the first read-through of (the legal part of) the Cassation decision?

  • That the court is not slave to science, yet Bruno pronounces about repeatability and its scientific significance (which he mistakes for the significance of falsifiability). He makes repeatability a judicial truth. I expect Bruno will be surprised to “learn” that there are sciences where repeatability is not an option, yet they are still science.

  • That the court is not slave to the expert, yet when the defence claim that international standards have been breached in the collection of evidence, that is accepted as judicial truth.

  • That a person is not slave to their DNA: the presence of DNA (Raffaele’s on the cigarette butt) is proof of nothing since he was a visitor to the cottage, and the absence of DNA (in the room) is proof of everything since it “shows” (with certainty) that they weren’t there as murderers.

  • That the court is adept at applying common experience and associated physics, yet Bruno does not hesitate to declare what is and isn’t physically possible (in a small room, say; or with starch grains).

  • That the court applies logic and common sense and everyday knowledge, yet, in continuously describing the crime as senseless, incomprehensible, and indeed not of the everyday, Bruno looks for sense and rationality, and the not finding of it doesn’t alert him to the possibility that it isn’t there.

  • That the copy-paste function on junior judge’s computers should be switched off in cases of non compus mentus, or that at the least that copyright payments should be made to defence clerks for usage of the material, to offset their costs.

Others here will pick up the baton on this. I look forward to seeing them run.


@Catnip, thank you for the magnificent Observations and this entire post that explains the strange Marasca/Bruno reasoning.

How in the world can Court agree that there was blood diluted with water found in the small bathroom, yet say there was no cleanup? They even agree it was Amanda’s skin cells in Meredith’s blood, and then speak of Amanda’s possibly “posthumous contact with the blood”. The latter is outrageous. “Posthumous contact with the blood?” They suggest that Amanda touched Meredith’s blood after her murder?

Then every word she said afterwards was a lie, and her pretense of alarm was false. Her pretense of knowing nothing when she met police at the cottage was a guilty charade, if she had touched Meredith’s blood, knew Meredith was dead lying on the floor, yet was somehow trying to cover the murder. If Supremes find this as fact, to substitute for the more likely fact that her skin cells’ DNA was mixed with Meredith’s blood as she cleaned up after the murder to hide her presence at the crime, then her entire defense is a tissue of lies and it falls given either argument. Outlandish to assume she had “posthumous contact with the blood” yet no guilt. This could by no means have been accomplished by her in any innocent manner, that is the wildest speculation to find that her hands in Meredith’s blood doesn’t necessarily mean she was “involved” in the murder. Of course it means she was complicit.

Blood mixed with water:  a cleanup

Then the assumption that there was no break-in just because Raffaele told police he didn’t see that anything had been stolen? An obvious double bluff by Raffaele, who knew it would make him look less like he was pointing in the direction of an outside burglar, but he knew the police would find the phones stolen and Meredith’s cash and credit cards gone, and police would conclude on their own that a theft had occurred. He just wanted to seem not-knowledgeable, to distance himself from the cottage and Meredith’s demise.

Why should Raf belabor the point or list articles stolen? He’d already seen Amanda crash the rock through the interior window. What did the broken glass in the window show loud and clear? They had already drawn a picture for even the blind to see that suggested someone had entered the cottage intent on burglary or mischief. Raf had no need of emphasizing the point which might draw attention to himself and might later make him look suspiciously like he was deviously leading the investigators. So he played it cool, a double bluff, to make himself appear to be cooperating with police and “telling the truth”, the double deceiver. Because Raf was partly telling the truth (a trick learned from Knox or his own genes)since there was a theft (phones, money) but theft was by no means the reason for the killing, nor had there been an outsider thief burgling the place and leading to the crime.

Then the unreasonable excuses about the knife.

The Supremes seem to argue that Meredith’s trace on the knife (they accept that it was her DNA on the knife but not proven from blood), so they argue that her DNA on Raffaele’s knife could have been from some innocent contact.

They assume that either Amanda or Raffaele had carried this knife to the cottage for cooking or innocent purpose and Meredith had then handled it and put her DNA on the knife! Yet we know that Raffaele didn’t like others to touch his knives. We know that Amanda herself had an entire set of kitchen knives just sitting under her bed. We know the cottage had a set of cooking knives available in the kitchen. So why would the knife of Raffaele’s have been carried over to the cottage to use for dinner? And why in the world would Meredith be chopping with it herself or handling it so that her DNA got deep into a groove of the blade? Disputable at best.

It’s amazing how Bruno concludes that Amanda was at the murder scene, that Amanda was possibly having posthumous contact with Meredith’s blood, washing blood off herself in the small bathroom, how can he envision that? But he does, and of course that means if so that she was lying about each and every detail of her court testimony and emails home and every utterance and action of the morning of November 2 with Battestelli present and other officers, everything she did was an act, a sham, a lie. Yet somehow her involvement in the murder eludes the judges because they don’t have a live webcam feed of the murder itself, but believe Amanda was present at the cottage at time of the death, lied about that, and yet not culpable for the murder?

Posted by Hopeful on 10/31/15 at 01:32 PM | #

The judges have no experience with penal cases. As civil judges, they look for exceptions in a pattern or routine to prove a ‘white-collar’ crime.

In murder and similar cases, one needs to arrive at a pattern from a web of evidence points. Most importantly, the web should provide only one plausible explanation. It does here and very clearly; K, S and Guede are completely guilty.

But Bruno is saying that because there is no video or witness recording K and S murdering Meredith, they can’t find them guilty. Which is clearly idiotic and goes against the whole history of trials involving circumstantial evidence.

The motivation report is so blatantly dumb, I think it’s quite a level above the Hellmann report.

Posted by Olleosnep on 10/31/15 at 05:50 PM | #

There is an organisation based in the UK called the Campaign for Plain English. They’ve been around since 1979 and are fairly well known and relatively high profile. They’ve certainly made the national news on many occasions.

They are an independent group advocating for clear communication with the public both in the UK and abroad. They are opposed to gobbledygook, jargon and legalese in public communication. They have their own Crystal Mark accreditation which some 1600 companies now have on their stationery, having achieved the required standard. They are self funded also.

I just wonder if, when a settled final translation of this horrific motivation report is arrived at, it might be worth sending a copy to them and asking them to comment publicly on it. It might elevate this back into the mainstream media. They can be contacted at “”.

Given the victim in this case was an entirely innocent English girl, they might just feel disposed to marking Bruno/Marasca’s homework appropriately.

Just a thought.

Posted by davidmulhern on 10/31/15 at 08:11 PM | #

The report most certainly is a couple of notches above Hellman in its bovine stupidity.

Bruno makes a thing of no Knox or Sollecito in Meredith’s room but failure to collect any doesn’t mean it’s not there. Unless every cm was swabbed, it could always be missed. Absence of evidence not being evidence of absence as they say.

You could apply the same (lack of) logic to the fact that Guede’s DNA failed to show anywhere in the room he allegedly burgled, although they seem to accept that this was a staged burglary. I’m not certain they did accept the staging though but they are all at sea either way. Either it was staged, in which case they have to concede it was staged by Knox and Sollecito (Guede having left evidence aplenty elsewhere couldn’t logically have done it). If they give us that, there can only be one reason why the gruesome twosome would stage it. They killed Meredith and wanted to deflect suspicion.

Or they accept that there was a genuine burglary by Guede and they are left with the illogicality of claiming Knox and Sollecito couldn’t not leave DNA in Meredith’s room whilst Guede could burgle a room, climb through a broken window etc and not leave his DNA anywhere. Between a rock and a hard place doesn’t begin to describe their predicament.

I’ve always wondered about the fried computers. The defence made a lot of noise about how these would have proved innocence. Incredible things can be done by the security services in particular in the field of data retrieval and I’d love to see the FBI or such like get their hands on these.

Alternatively, presumably any activity claimed by Knox and Sollecito that wasn’t able to be checked, would presumably have left a fingerprint in the form of their IP address at whatever sites they said they were on. I’d have thought it would be a matter of contacting the site owners and asking for logs of all activity to see whether Knox and Sollecito lies could be verified. We already know the answer to that but perhaps there is a reason why it wasn’t pursued during the trial.

Maybe the prosecution didn’t think it was worth the hassle given the volume of evidence they already had and the defence didn’t bother because they knew it would hinder rather than help their clients.

Posted by davidmulhern on 10/31/15 at 10:18 PM | #

I’m not sure what look Bongiorno is going for in the headline picture with Sollecito but if it was “constipated cat”, she’s pulled it off splendidly.

Posted by davidmulhern on 11/01/15 at 12:49 AM | #

@ Olleosnep on 10/31/15 at 05:50 PM :

“...Bruno is saying that because there is no video or witness recording K and S murdering Meredith, they can’t find them guilty. Which is clearly idiotic and goes against the whole history of trials involving circumstantial evidence….”

Population of Italy - about 60M.

Population of U.S. - about 320M

SCOTUS has 9 members - 1/35.6M pop.
(about 0.25/1M pop.)

The Italian Supreme Court (SCC) has 396 Judges - 6.6/1M pop.
(Proportionally about 236 times more per Italian population person than per U.S, population person.)

These ratios are stunningly imbalanced, especially considering the fact that SCC-Panel Assignment may result in the Final Appellate Review of Criminal Disputes by Italian Judges unqualified for Criminal Appeals.

As Pete wrote on 10/25/15 at 12:45 PM:
“Legally they are in very weak positions, weaker ....than OJ Simpson’s ever was…”

And weaker than ex-President Nixon’s position ever was, constructively arguing that because there was no video recording of His alleged crimes Congress cannot find Him guilty.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 11/01/15 at 03:30 AM | #

Thank you again, Catnip, for this great translation.

In an odd way, the content of this report makes a degree of sense.  Rather than go the ‘‘Hellmann’’ route of declaring there to be no evidence whatsoever, B/M have tailored their report quite differently.

Essentially they seem to be saying they think AK/RS are guilty.  But they are obligated to go the distance find the remotest possibility of doubt, in order to ensure the defendants receive fair hearings.

This pitch (clearly with career preservation in mind), seems to be setting up the narrative: ‘‘We did our best, with what we knew, we weren’t corrupted.’‘

Kind of reads as a cross of: (1) AK trying to explain herself again and again, and ‘‘helping’’ the parties; and (2) RS ‘‘sacrificing’’ himself to save Knox.

The translations from Catnip, Ollesnap and Machiavelli show layers of B.S. upon B.S.  Well done guys!

Peter suggests that maybe Bongiorno’s intent in judge-shopping was to get the case sent back down.  That may be, but it makes little sense.  Why do that?  Bongiorno had been on the case for 7+ years, so any publicity is already obtained.  She probably doesn’t need the money, and clearly doesn’t like RS.  And all sending it back to Nencini does it buy another 18-36 months of freedom—all while still accused and still in limbo.

Posted by Chimera on 11/01/15 at 06:31 AM | #

Humour me here for a moment.

Take 5th Chambers arguments as gospel.  Suppose Guede did kill Meredith all by himself.  AK/RS were there, saw it, knew about it, and repeatedly lied about it.  However, neither took an active role in killing Meredith.

Even if all of this were true, the only reason to falsely accuse Patrick would be to stop the police from getting to Guede.  Whether it is out of fear is irrelevant.  Therefore, it would still be aggravated calunnia, since it was to divert attention, and the aggravating factors should still stand. 

5th Chambers violated its own logic and ruling by removing them.

Posted by Chimera on 11/01/15 at 06:38 AM | #

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