Saturday, March 21, 2009

Trial: Report From The Courtroom On Vodaphone Testimony

Posted by stewarthome2000

[above: a defendant-mobile entering Cappanne Prison]

It was a technical day in court, mostly devoted to confirming events and facts that we the public have already known about for a while. The court heard from the Vodaphone engineers, the communications investigator from Rome, and the Perugia homicide squad.

The Vodaphone engineers illustrated that cell phone uses cell points to connect, and those cell points cover certain areas. As you move about, your phone gets switched from tower to tower depending on your location, choosing the best signal for it. Many times, signals from cell points overlap, so one area can be serviced by three or more towers, and if one is blocked or congested the other processes the call.

Why all the background? Because they were setting the stage to show that Sollecito’s cell phone having no traffic from 8:42pm till 6:02am on the night of the murder was not due to him being unable to get a signal at his home. His neighborhood is well covered with cell areas, so most likely the phone was turned off and then turned back on again.

The engineers essentially proved that his phone was, beyond reasonable doubt, turned off from sometime after 8:42pm and turned on at 6:02am. At 6:02am he finally received a sms text that his dad sent the night before around 11:15pm, which had been undeliverable while the phone was switched off.

This was shown to be unusual behavior for him, because throughout the entire month of October he never once tuned his mobile phone off so early (nearly every night it was on till around 11 or midnight or later) or ever once turned it on so early - usually he turned back on well after 9, 10 or even 11am. So they showed not only that this behavior was unusual and unprecedented for him”¦ but that it happened to be on the night that Meredith was murdered.

It was also shown that Sollecito on the day of the 2nd topped up his phone with more credit, around 12:20pm, and then called his sister at 12:50pm, and the carabinieri at 12:51pm (connection failed) and then again at 12:55pm. Thereafter, he and his dad exchanged a number of calls, up until he arrived at the police station in the late afternoon.

Knox’s phone was shown to confirm on the night of the murder the exchange of sms messages with Patrick Lumumba, where Patrick sent a message to AK at 8:18pm (in effect “no need to come to work”) and she responded with the message at 8:35pm “ci vediamo piu tardi, buona serata” (“we will see each other later, good evening”).

The police right after the crime thought that might be evidence against Patrick, but I see where the mix-up comes from, because “pui tardi” is almost exclusively used when you plan to see someone later that day or in a few hours. She should have said “ci vediamo presto” which means “soon” or just “ci vediamo”. The way she wrote it, any Italian would think it meant in a few hours or very soon thereafter.

It was confirmed that the last communication from Knox’s phone on the night of the murder was at 8:35pm. Then there was nothing untill the next morning, when she tried to call Meredith’s UK cellphone at 12:07pm. Then she called Filomena, then Meredith’s Italian phone, and then she called home to Seattle a number of times.

The police also showed that Raffaele’s fixed line at his house showed no activity between 12:02pm on the 1st and 2:16pm on the 3rd. So much for activity on his land line or internet.

One interesting fact to emerge was that the eye witness who is saying he saw the three of them together the night of the murder had his mobile phone traced as well. It was shown to be in the Assisi area till the late afternoon on the 1st and then it entered the cell area of Via della Pergola at 8:01pm. So he was in fact in that part of the city on that evening. The prosecution made a request to note that fact.

They also showed, with a dispute from Sollecito’s lawyer Buongiorno, that Meredith’s cell phone made a call (not a phone call but a GPS call attempt) at I believe around 10:15pm, and that the call was made from the area where the phones were found the next day as it involved a different cell tower than those covering Via della Pergola.

So most likely the phone was in the possession of the killer and right then already on its way to the garden in Via Sperandio. So Meredith was most likely killed just before that time. This cell point analysis was done during the day and in a limited area, so this finding was disputed by the defense.

Finally, the homicide squad covered more ground.  They testified that Sollecito’s ASUS computer was already broken before they collected it for testing. They also indicated that they had been monitoring the phone activity and calls of everyone concerned for some time after the murder, including those of Raffaele’s dad. He had made a number of calls, to some of his political connections, to journalists, to legal counsel, to Panorama Magazine, and so on.

They also described the crime scene, and who precisely went in, and who was found at the scene, and who sequestered the knife at Sollecito’s home. One inspector initially claimed that Sollecito’s place smelled like bleach. Buongiorno attacked this, and he changed it to, okay, it smelled as if it had been cleaned with soap.

Overall, the testimony today mainly confirmed in precise and suggestive scientific detail much of what had been in the public area about the communications for some time.

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Stew’s previous excellent report from Perugia was on Knox’s status at the university.

Today’s trial agenda is as described in our agenda post early on Friday, together with Jovana Popovic.

See the comment about her there. Our next trial report will be tonight when the media all file in tandem.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/21/09 at 02:39 PM | #

Quote. The police right after the crime thought that might be evidence against Patrick, but I see where the mix-up comes from, because “pui tardi” is almost exclusively used when you plan to see someone later that day or in a few hours. She should have said “ci vediamo presto” which means “soon” or just “ci vediamo”. “Soon” being earlier than later of course. The way she wrote it, any Italian would think it meant in a few hours or very soon thereafter. Unquote.

I’m rather confused about this. I believe “pui tardi” is equivalent to “see you later” which means sometime in the future, hours or days. “ci vediamo” is equivalent to “see you soon”, which means an imminent meeting, e.g. within hours.

Casual conversation is rarely precise, so “see you later” could mean the same evening or the next day, but if Amanda was not expecting to see Patrick that evening, I would expect her to say “see you later” which is exactly what she did say, and so I can’t see what she said was wrong?

However I think Amanda started the confusion by claiming Patrick was involved, and therefore her message had intended to refer to an earlier meeting. Since she has retracted that, we must assume “see you later” was what she meant.

Also, in the write up you refer to “GPS call”. GPS does not make it calls, it is receive only. Possibly it should say GPRS, which is a method of providing internet access to mobile phones. Normally an internet connection would be initiated by a user, so it seems odd that an unattended mobile would initiate a connection.

Posted by bobc on 03/21/09 at 03:57 PM | #

Bleach and soap - why would the inspector change it to soap or is it one of these lawyer interrogation type of things where someone has to concede possibilities.

Posted by bluebird002 on 03/21/09 at 10:20 PM | #

Hi bobc

Italian and English are two different languages and very often literal translations totally change the intended meaning. The literal translation of “see you later” is “ci vediamo dopo”  which in Italian expresses the intention to ACTUALLY meet shortly after.

Amanda, who was not a proficient speaker, translated word by word from English to Italian, and she came out with the opposite meaning of what she meant to say. As SH2000 noted, any Italian would have understood that the two had an appointment at a later hour.

The equivalent of “see you later” would be “a presto” (see you soon) “alla prossima” (see you next), or a simple ciao.

Nobody has altered the original text. Amanda made a linguistic mistake - how was the police supposed to know? The sentence itself is in perfect Italian. Too bad she mean to say the exact opposite.

Posted by Nicki on 03/21/09 at 10:44 PM | #

“The equivalent of “see you later” would be “a presto” (see you soon)”

Ok, this is where you totally confuse me. Soon and later are different, so “see you soon” is NOT the equivalent of “See you later”!

In conversational English usage the phrase “see you” means little more than “bye”. Addition of “later” or “soon” indicate an expected timeframe for a possible encounter but no definite intention to meet.

But is a common mistake for non-natives to translate colloquial phrases literally and end up with the wrong nuance. Shouldn’t the police have allowed for the fact that Amanda is not a native speaker?

Posted by bobc on 03/22/09 at 01:18 PM | #


“In conversational English usage the phrase “see you” means little more than “bye”. Addition of “later” or “soon” indicate an expected timeframe for a possible encounter but no definite intention to meet. “

In conversational Italian usage the phrase “ci vediamo più tardi” means the clear intention to meet up in a short time thereafter. Since the Italian phrasing was expressed in perfect Italian - syntax and spelling - I don’t see how the police could have possible guessed what Ms Knox REALLY meant. Unfortunately, they are not mind-readers.

Frankly, I find these attempts to blame police even for Knox’s humble knowledge of the Italian language pointless, and very boring.

Posted by Nicki on 03/22/09 at 01:34 PM | #

Nicki, I appreciate your explanation. I also apologise because I was not aware that the SMS text is a hot FOA talking point, and one that has been thrashed to death. I am relatively new to following this case and I am not aware of all the background. I guess my confusion was seeing the message translated as a general “see you later” when the clear meaning of the Italian really is a specific “meet you later”.

I agree the police had no reason to interpret the message any other way, and as Knox implicated Lumumba herself she seemed to confirm their interpretation.

While I am concerned that there should be a diligent investigation into Meredith’s murder, and that the defense should not have any grounds later for an appeal regarding improper conduct, I also strongly disassociate myself from the PR of the FOA which states this is all an innocent mixup followed by police coercion, a suggestion which I find very dismissive of the substantive evidence, and in my opinion dishonest.

Posted by bobc on 03/24/09 at 02:51 AM | #

Ciao a tutti,
A couple of questions: The GPS call was an internet call which was unsuccessful - as I understand the above. How much ‘human activity’ does it take to make an ‘attempted call’ on a mobile phone: i.e. as I am one who regularly forget to lock the key on m phone I sometimes discover that the phone - while being in my handback- has managed to call someone by ‘if self’. Could the attempted call be initiated when the phone was trown at the grown?
AK and RS has explained that their memories are blurred because they did smoke/take some mild drugs during the evening. Do we know when and where they procured this stuff? Did they - or Ak alone or RS alone - go and pick it up in the park before they went to the girls house?
Fiori, Florence

Posted by Fiori on 03/29/09 at 02:21 PM | #


It is thought that the attempted call from Meredith’s phone to the UK bank Abbey, was as you say, accidental, since Abbey was the first number in the phones memory.

It seems that there was no problem buying Cannabis in Perugia, someone bought some at the boys flat below Meredith for 5 euros, if I remember. The boys also left some cannabis plants with the girls to look after during the holidays.

The interesting thing would be to know if any stronger drugs were involved, perhaps supplied by Kolomani.

Posted by Kevin on 03/30/09 at 11:38 AM | #

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