Monday, March 16, 2009

Outcome Of Back-Seat Driving: Defense Lawyers Pulling Their Hair Out? Again?

Posted by Peter Quennell

1) Stepfather Chris Mellas

Mr Mellas as reported on Saturday:

He had spoken to Ms Knox on the eve of the hearing. “I told her she’s innocent and she needs to speak up for herself.”

2) Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

Dr Mignini as reported on Sunday.

The newspaper Corriere dell’ Umbria said that Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor, would bring an additional charge of slander against Ms Knox, since all police officers and interpreters who have given evidence at the trial have testified under oath that she was at no stage put under pressure or physically mistreated.

3) Stepfather Chris Mellas as reported on Monday:

Ooops. Did I just cost her 6 more years? Maybe her lawyers really can advise Amanda better than an amateur who doesn’t speak the language. 

I’m on the next plane outta here. Sorry, kid, and all that. Still friends, though, right?

Okay, we made that last one up. But maybe even Amanda Knox is now thinking this way?

4) Times Report - Full Quote

The [UK] Times

Richard Owen, Rome

March 15, 2009

Amanda Knox, the American student charged with the murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher, faces an additional charge of slander for claiming that police struck her while she was being questioned.

At the latest hearings in her trial in Perugia, Ms Knox claimed that police had put her under psychological and physical pressure to admit that she was present at the murder.

Ms Knox, who has the right to address the court at any time during her trial, was reacting to evidence from Anna Donnino, a police interpreter who claimed that Ms Knox had behaved “as if a weight had been lifted from her” when she admitted that she had been at the scene of the crime and accused Patrick Diya Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner for whom she worked part-time, of the killing. Ms Knox told police that she had covered her ears in the kitchen to block out Ms Kercher’s screams.

Ms Donnino said that when questioned after Ms Kercher’s body was found, Ms Knox walked up and down nervously at the police station, “hitting her head with her hands”. She had denied responding to an SMS message from Mr Lumumba telling her there was no need to come to work because there were few customers, leaving her free for the evening. But she broke down when police said phone records showed that she had done so, Ms Donnino said.

“She showed extreme emotional involvement ““ she was crying and visibly shocked, saying ‘It was him, it was him. He’s bad’,” Ms Donnino added.

Ms Knox, speaking in fluent Italian, said police had called her a “stupid liar” during “hours and hours” of questioning during which she had stuck to her story that she spent the night of the murder at the flat of Raffaele Sollecito, her former boyfriend and co-accused.

She said that Ms Donnino had suggested to her “that probably I didn’t remember well because I was traumatised, so I should try to remember something else”. There had been an “aggressive insistence” on the text message she had received from Mr Lumumba, Ms Knox said. She insisted she had been slapped on the head by police, adding “I’m sorry, but it’s true”.

Ms Donnino said that Ms Knox had been “comforted” by police, given food and drink, and had at no stage been hit or threatened.

The newspaper Corriere dell’ Umbria said that Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor, would bring an additional charge of slander against Ms Knox, since all police officers and interpreters who have given evidence at the trial have testified under oath that she was at no stage put under pressure or physically mistreated.

Ms Kercher’s semi-naked body was found under a duvet on the floor of her bedroom in November 2007, at the hillside cottage in Perugia she shared with Ms Knox and two Italian women. She had been stabbed in the throat.

The prosecution accuses Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito of murdering and sexually assaulting Ms Kercher with Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast immigrant who was given a 30-year sentence last October for the crime under fast-track procedures. He began his appeal last week, claiming Ms Knox had killed Ms Kercher in a row over stolen cash.

The all-night interrogation in which Ms Knox accused Mr Lumumba and described blocking her ears was ruled inadmissible by Italy’s Supreme Court because no lawyer was present. However a voluntary statement written by Ms Knox in English repeating this scenario has been accepted as court evidence despite defence protests. The defence claims Ms Knox was not at the cottage during the murder but at Mr Sollecito’s flat.

Mr Lumumba, who was arrested but later released without charge, is suing Ms Knox for defamation. He is also seeking damages for wrongful imprisonment.

Aida Colontane, another police interpreter, told the court that she had noticed a red mark on Ms Knox’s neck which “leapt out” from her “extraordinary pallor”. Laura Mezzetti, one of the Italian flatmates of Ms Knox and Ms Kercher, has also testified that Ms Knox had a red mark on her neck. Curt Knox, Ms Knox’s father, has suggested the mark was a love bite.

Fabio D’Astolto, an English-speaking police officer who helped to question Ms Knox, told the court that she and Mr Sollecito had behaved strangely, kissing and cuddling and talking together in low voices. A number of other witnesses have given the same testimony.

Mr D’Astolto said he had ensured that Ms Knox understood procedures and questions at all times. Daniele Moscatelli, another police officer, said officers had confiscated a long knife from Mr Sollecito, who had explained to them that he collected knives as a hobby. Mr Sollecito appeared confused and nervous during questioning, he said.

At the last hearings two weeks ago the court was told that Ms Knox had done cartwheels and the splits while waiting to be questioned by police. However Chris Mellas, her stepfather, who is attending the trial, said that his stepdaughter was doing yoga exercises and a police officer had asked her to do gymnastics, remarking “You look rather flexible”.

Oreste Volturno, the police officer who led a search of Mr Sollecito’s flat, said he had been struck by “the powerful smell of bleach”. The prosecution says the kitchen knife found at the flat which is presumed to be the murder weapon had been scrubbed with bleach in an attempt to erase blood and DNA traces.

The court was told that police investigating Ms Knox had tapped her phone calls and intercepted her correspondence before and after her arrest, including an email to friends in Seattle in which she claimed that she had found Ms Kercher’s body. She had written and received around 600 letters over a six-month period, all of which were intercepted and then translated by a team of four police interpreters. Her conversations with prison visitors were also recorded.

Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the Kercher family, said that the suspects’ alibi that they had spent the night of the murder at Mr Sollecito’s flat had collapsed after Marco Trotta, a police computer expert, said that tests on Mr Sollecito’s computer showed that nobody had used it on the night that Ms Kercher was stabbed to death. Mr Sollecito claims he was at his flat working on his computer at the time of the murder.

Mr Trotta said tests his team had carried out on Mr Sollecito’s computer showed “no human interaction” between 9.10pm on November 1 and 5.32am on November 2, 2007. Ms Kercher’s body was found in the late morning of November 2 but she is believed to have died between 9pm and 11pm the night before.

Mr Sollecito says that he downloaded and watched the film Amelie during the night. However, Mr Trotta said that the film had been watched at around 6.30pm. Ms Kercher returned to the cottage she shared with Ms Knox at about 9pm.

Ms Knox’s Italian language teacher in Perugia, Antonella Negri, told the court that as a class exercise Ms Knox had written a letter to her mother, after the discovery of her flatmate’s body but before her arrest. “In it she said she worried and confused and she wanted her mother to travel to Perugia so she could distract herself and they could go shopping together,” Ms Negri told the court. She said Ms Knox had referred to the murder at the start of the class. “She leaned forward on to the desk and lay her head in her arms.”

The trial resumes next Friday, when the six jurors are expected to tour the murder scene in an inspection requested by lawyers acting for Mr Sollecito. The prosecution claims Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito broke a window at the cottage to simulate a burglary, but the defence contests this.

The court was shown grainy CCTV images said to be of Ms Kercher returning to the house shortly before her death. The images were taken by a surveillance camera at the car park above the cottage. Defence lawyers said that the footage was of such poor quality that it should not be admitted as evidence.


It looks like the defense lawyers are having to deal with 2 ‘own goals’ ... neither of them of their own making:

1. Knox looks like she will be found guilty of slander.

2. The prosecutor, during the last hearings, read out in court the Panorama magazine interview, given by the Solliceto family, where they admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice. They still could be charged.

Chris Mellas has given an interview to the Gente magazine, I hope for Knox’s sake he realises that this is a murder trial and not a Punch and Judy show.

The court awarding Patrick a nominal amount seems understandable, since the police were not at fault. The real damages should be awarded against the person who made the false accusation.

It is easy to forget the trial itself. As I understand it, RS (and therefore AK ) now have no alibi for the time Meredith was murdered and RS’s claim that he slept in until after 10:00 the following morning doesn’t look too good either.

Does anyone know whether Knox, if found guilty of any of the charges, could serve her sentence in the US? (We hope not in King County).

The owner of the cottage has filed a request to have it de-sequestered, and the defense have asked that the jurors inspect it during the next hearings. The ‘house of horrors’ that was home to Fred and Rose West was demolished after the trial. Hopefully, the same happens here. If left standing, it would give normal people the creeps and attract sick people, as it probably did in the February break-in.

Posted by Kevin on 03/16/09 at 08:12 PM | #

The whole bandwagon seems to be setting new records for scoring own-goals here.

One of the more peculiar aspects of their stance is that they constantly and increasingly frantically blame others for her unenviable circumstance. Those terrible, terrible tabloids, and those terrible, terrible blogs. Swoon.

Come up for air guys, and just look around. The media and the blogs are both reporting pretty dispassionately and sometimes even quite sympathetically. Knox is getting a pretty good trial and the reporting is cool as we keep showing.

Perhaps Knox should sue her own home team, to just stop killing her with kindness once in a while. How about it, Carlo Della Vedova and Luciano Ghirga? I bet you feel very tempted!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/16/09 at 09:03 PM | #

Kevin, I agree that Patrick’s award from the Italian government (announced today, only around 8000 Euros) seems reasonable and he still has the suit against Knox. It’s always been hard to see what the cops did wrong, when they thought they had a reliable eye-witness (Knox), his cell-phone possibly placed him in the vicinity, and he opened the bar fairly late that night. So it seems fair that Italian taxpayers should not end down by yet another million or two.

We’ve sometimes wondered if having Knox served time here if found guilty might be something she wants and the campaign is about. My own take on American prisons and Italian prisons is: i would far rather be there. They get taught trades and stuff and get out and about and Knox could emerge as a champion pizza maker. Many in Italy actually criticize them for not being tough enough on the perps.

Having stared at that house from all angles, I must say I found it pretty unattractive. Windows and rooms are small, the house is at a wrong angle for best views, and the stairs down and boys’ apartment are far from being Perugia’s usual picturesque old infrastructure.

I for one would really like to see some memorial to Meredith appear someplace nice in Perugia. Her school might be the best place for that.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/16/09 at 09:21 PM | #

Peter, The police said that they had to arrest Patrick immediately, if he were guilty, as Knox claimed, he could have gone back to the Congo and they would have had to extradite ... which might not be so easy. Guede took off to Germany and although he made contact with friends, if he had more money, perhaps he wouldn’t have been caught?.

Posted by Kevin on 03/16/09 at 11:51 PM | #

After Guede was arrested, he said Meredith had been trying to tell him the name of her murderer .. AF AF….  was there ever evidence of his writing in blood these “initials” on the wall as he claimed he did? If there was,  I suspect he believed it would have been testament to his telling the truth. If he had written this on the wall in her blood and AK and RS had cleaned this up, what does it say about who was the ring leader and who was making decisions? And why had they not implicated him further from the beginning if they had wanted to make him out to be solely guilty? (By cleaning up and leaving his bloody hand prints, finger prints, feces in the toilet etc.) Why did AK never hint toward RG? Why are they defending each other? I think there is still a lot more to be unearthed in this case. There are more skeletons in this closet,  all will be revealed in spectacular domino style I believe.

Posted by Tammy on 03/18/09 at 01:53 AM | #


Micheli, in his report, doesn’t believe Guede’s story about Meredith giving the murder’s name, thinks its something from a B movie or cheap novel. He warns against believing parts of what Guede says and not others, which we are all tempted to do?.

Knox and Solliceto can’t implicate Guede directly, without admitting they were present at the murder?.

I’m pretty sure your right, all will be revealed in spectacular domino style once someone ‘breaks ranks’. This could be when Guede testifies. I wouldn’t imagine RS will change his story, perhaps admitting only to the cleanup, until the strength of the DNA evidence has been seen?.

Posted by Kevin on 03/18/09 at 05:08 PM | #
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