Sunday, May 22, 2011

So The Two Pressed Defense Teams Decide To Go Eyeball To Eyeball With Cassation

Posted by Peter Quennell

1. How Looks The Appeal?

The appeal is not looking very pretty for the defenses.

There seems no single brick in the wall of the prosecution’s case that, if pulled, will place the entire structure in doubt.

The Supreme Court ruled last December that at Rudy Guede’s trial, Judge Micheli had it right in saying that three perpetrators killed Meredith, one of which was definitely Rudy Guede.

Judge Micheli also ruled in October 2008 that only Knox had a reason to rearrange the crime scene, and Knox’s and Sollecito’s trial judge Massei ruled the same in December 2009.

The extensive forensic evidence in Filomena’s room, in the corridor, and in the bathroom Meredith and Amanda Knox shared, has so far been ruled out for re-examination.

None of it suggests Guede was ever in that bathroom or in Filomena’s room - in fact it suggests he headed straight out the front door .

Eye-witnesses other than the man in the park, Curatolo, are not to be heard from again.

Curatolo is probably not much discredited because he could say that it did not rain on the night he claims he saw Sollecito and Knox in the park watching the house (it did rain on Halloween) and that it was the night before all the cops arrived at the house. Buses were around as he described.

The only thing that might have shaken his timeline is that he might have seen a late Halloween reveler or two.

And the defenses seem to have no obvious way of explaining why Knox and Sollecito came up with so very many muddled alibis and why each at one point even ended up blaming the other.

A report today from TGCom said this on the review of two small parts of the DNA evidence:

Expert reports on the traces of DNA found on the knife held to be the murder weapon used to kill Meredith Kercher, and the clasp of the bra worn at the time of the murder, will be filed June 30.

This has been established by the 2011 Assize Court of Appeal in the Perugia trial of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. The new deadline was set by the judges at the request of their experts who had requested an extension of 40 days.

The experts have been in the courtroom, explaining that they have obtained all the scientific data required.

They have however also highlighted the need to consult the minutes related to the seizure of the knife and the testimony in the 2009 trial of the agents that followed the inspection at the home of Sollecito. Documents that the Court ordered are to be provided to the experts.

In front of the judges one of the experts stressed that the “maximum cooperation” was provided by the scientific police who performed the technical tests in the course of the investigations.

Nothing in that looks too promising.

2. Best Defense Options Left?

What moves are available if Knox and Sollecito are really to be sufficiently suggested not guilty?

  • Option 1: Putting both of them on the witness stand without preconditions for the first time so the appeal court can hear their stories in full, compare them, and subject Knox and Sollecito to no-holds-barred cross-examination.

  • Option 2: Putting the two prison inmates Mario Alessi and Luciano Aviello on the witness stand, with several claimed corroborators, to say in Alessi’s case that Guede confided that he did it with two others, and to say in Aviello’s case that his missing brother did it with one other.

What we know of their claims so far - and police and prosecution have really checked out Alessi and Aviello and revealed nothing of what they have up their sleeves - there are only poor connects between their claims and what is described in the Micheli and Massei reports.

Each could crumble in a devastating way under cross-examination, and then be contradicted by a long line of witnesses that the prosecution could bring in to rebut them.

Here is Andrea Vogt reporting on Option 2 from the trial session yesterday which turned out to be mainly procedural: setting several new appeal court dates, and a new date for the findings of the reviews of the DNA on the large knife and bra clasp.

The parties eventually agreed to hold hearings June 18 and 27. And, surprisingly, Judge Hellmann also agreed to admit five new controversial witnesses into the appeals trial, a process normally reserved for debating contested evidence already introduced in the first trial.

The five new witnesses being requested by the Sollecito and Knox defense are all prison inmates ““ convicted of everything from child homicide to being Mafia snitches and drug dealing.

Some of the witnesses have given conflicting accounts of stories they’ve heard about the case while behind bars. At least three, however, agree on their version, that Rudy Guede told them that Knox and Sollecito were innocent (an account Guede denies).

The prosecution is likely to call for counter testimony. The decision to open up the appeal to wholly new testimony from convicted prison inmates is bound to complicate the already confused trial even more, and likely push any final decision far into the fall, toward the fourth anniversary of Kercher’s brutal stabbing and Knox’s incarceration in connection with it.

As if five convicts weren’t enough, Knox’s attorneys announced they had received yet another letter from a different inmate, Tommaso Pace, this time making bizarre and unfounded claims that victim Meredith Kercher was targeted by two unnamed brothers paid $100,000 to kill her over alleged drug debts.

The new letter from Pace (whom the judge and attorneys must still agree to call as a witness) sets up the prospect of potentially six prison inmates taking the stand in Knox’s defense over the summer””each of them with a slightly different story and motive for telling it.

Alessi’s own lawyer seems to have counseled him not to get up on the stand, presumably fearing perjury charges and additional time in his cell.

Aviello is literally unlikely to show his face.

The prosecution could bring back Rudy Guede as a witness against both, and even without Guede testifying, it looks like the prosecution might turn all five witnesses on their heads. 

So Option 2 could drag things out for some months, and try to confront the unequivocal Supreme Court finding issued last December and ported into this appeal: no one wolf.

And still have the Knox and Sollecito defenses conclusively crumble.

Meanwhile, the judges and jury could be watching a very prolonged dog-and-pony show, while impatiently wondering:

“WHY didn’t they simply choose Option 1? Then some or all of us might very quickly have gone home.”


Hi.  Peter, do you really think that Option 1 would work in their case?  That they would be out in June?

The extra FIVE prisoner-witnesses included in the appeal is a most bizarre move.  I wonder whether it is Judge Hellmann’s way of looking under every stone that there possibly is in order that there not be any future opportunity for the Defense to claim they had not been ‘heard’.

Surely, if all five do turn up at the court, it will become farcical with their varied stories and explanations of the murder and the Defense trying to support them!  If the reason for actually being there were not so awful this could make for extremely good entertainment.

On top of all that there is another claim: that Meredith was murdered by some hit squad for a large drugs debt!  Judge Hellmann has not yet ruled out hearing that one but surely hearing it in court would be a terrible disrespect to the victim, Meredith Kercher?

I sincerely hope that Guede is provoked into getting up and testifying but, as has been discussed before, it is probably unlikely.

AK spoke again and I wonder whether the tears were a result of a realisation that her situation is hopeless rather than just the frustration at the delays in the hearings.

Posted by thundering on 05/22/11 at 03:37 PM | #

Hi Thundering. Well it sure would be interesting to see Option 1 tried.

Knox and Sollecitos have so far not always even agreed even with themselves, and certainly hardly ever fully with one another.

Knox seems the one compelled to endlessly explain and re-explain, and if she gets up there and ends up shooting Sollecito in the foot, he would surely be inclined to repay the favor.

The point of the dog-and-pony show may be to make Knox think she has a great shot with Option 2 and please, dear Amanda, don’t be tempted with the siren call of Option 1.

The dog-and-pony suggests to me that the defenses already know they have lost.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/22/11 at 03:51 PM | #

Yes, I agree - it would be very interesting indeed. 

They should have all this go on the same day and I would wager that the courtroom would be packed out! 

The Defenses know they have lost - and I wonder if AK knows, too. 

As has been discussed on PMF, she heard the experts say they had all the scientific evidence and now just need non-scientific documentation such as minutes about the various processes to check there has not been any contamination elsewhere. 

I think that is why she teared up - she knows.

Posted by thundering on 05/22/11 at 04:06 PM | #

The major problem that these prison “witnesses” will be facing is a complete lack of corroboration between their statements and forensic evidence.  The fact is that the forensic team did not discover DNA traces belonging to unidentified persons (presumably, these mysterious mafia goons who managed to never have any brushes with the police, and therefore are not in their databases). 

Here are some suspicions I have relating to why these inmates are popping up in such numbers and with such conflicting stories:

1. The Sollecito family may be pulling strings and offering incentives like monetary compensation and early release if they cooperate.  On the other hand, their previous shenanigans were exposed, so they might be steering away from doing things which could adversely affect Raffaele in the end.

2. Perhaps Rocco Girlanda is pulling strings? No idea what the extent of his connections is.

3. The Knox campaign could be offering monetary compensation, since otherwise their influence is limited in Italy.

4. This is just a joke (and sorry if it’s inappropriate), but perhaps Amanda has made it to the “must employ” list of a Don. Her resume is impressive, after all - it’s not often that a pretty young girl commits a brutal murder and shows absolutely zero remorse and compassion afterwards.  Add to that being a skilled liar and manipulator, and you have the perfect package. No wonder the mysterious Don wants her out as fast as possible - you don’t want her to lose her edge in prison and perhaps become moppy and penitent.

Posted by Vivianna on 05/22/11 at 10:02 PM | #

I agree with the idea that the defense already knows that it has lost and that’s why they are calling all these witnesses who contradict each other!

Posted by bedelia on 05/23/11 at 04:09 AM | #

I’ve read most of the media reports over the weekend from Saturday’s hearing and I’m really confused.  First of all, if the DNA evidence cannot be retested due to low amounts but the paperwork is all in order, does the DNA evidence stand as correct based on the paperwork?

Secondly, what sort of lawyer gets five different criminals to tell three different and contradictory stories to the jury?  By the looks of things, if I had called Ghirga and said I believed that Meredith wasn’t murdered but actually kidnapped by munchkins and now living in Oz, I would be on the stand next weekend.  Sorry to be flippant but really now, munchkin kidnap is about as likely as Meredith have a drug debt into €000’s or for someone other than Guede to have committed the crime along with Knox/Sollecito.

So the whole exercise is utterly pointless and dragging out the inevitable.  Finally, Sollecito’s silence is still deafening.  Where’s his impassioned plea to the court for freedom? I think he’s just checked out of the Knox circus completely as he’s seen what happens when you start using the media to get one over on the court system. 

Either that or he’s smacked out on tranquillisers the whole time as his way of dealing with prison and his own guilt.  He certainly looks vague when he’s in court which might explain why he’s not going onto the stand.  Frankly, from what I have seen, this appeal is a load of rubbish and dragging out the pain for all concerned.

Posted by daisysteiner on 05/23/11 at 05:53 PM | #

Hi Everyone

Guede was known as a consummate liar before he went to trial, so what comes out of his mouth has no relevance whatsoever. He has probably told a different story to a dozen people or more (just for the crack) some of whom will regurgitate it if in their own interests. Therefore my point is a simple one, does it matter if the messenger is the Angel Gabriel or this Motley Crew? 
The defence is scrapping the barrel, is it time to send them the glass of whiskey and the loaded revolver?

Posted by JHEA on 05/24/11 at 12:20 AM | #

daisysteiner wrote: “By the looks of things, if I had called Ghirga and said I believed that Meredith wasn’t murdered but actually kidnapped by munchkins and now living in Oz, I would be on the stand next weekend.  Sorry to be flippant but really now, munchkin kidnap is about as likely as Meredith have a drug debt into €000’s or for someone other than Guede to have committed the crime along with Knox/Sollecito.”

Oh, daisy, thanks for this laugh, which I needed today. This appeal being dragged out so long is really beginning to wear on me. If it’s affecting me this way, I can only imagine how badly the Kerchers feel.

Let’s hope this “scraping the bottom of the barrel” phase is mercifully short, and the verdicts are confirmed ASAP.

Posted by Earthling on 05/24/11 at 01:07 AM | #

I’ll be glad when it is put to rest, as I know the Kerchers will be also.  Wouldn’t it be something if those two young people would simply tell the truth?  26 years is not long enough; it should be life.

Posted by mylady007 on 06/01/11 at 03:39 AM | #
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