Monday, December 06, 2010

Will Sollecito And Knox Finally Want To Take The Stand? Why Our Betting Is Against

Posted by Kermit

The Massei Report makes nothing of the fact that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito did not rise under oath in their defense.

But if that made zero impact on the perceptions of the judges and lay judges, we would be very surprised. There are VERY few cases in the US or Europe where an INNOCENT defendant (1) rose to testify, (2) was then found guilty and sentenced, and (3) and was later found to be innocent after all.

Raffaele Sollecito never ever took the stand. He confined himself to some spontaneous remarks not under oath which is permitted in Italian courtrooms. They seemed not at all effective and they sure didn’t eliminate at all the 80,000 pound gorilla of evidence that the prosecution had let loose in the room.

Amanda Knox made similar spontaneous remarks, none of which seemed very helpful - the first was to jokingly explain why her bunny vibrator was always on view in the bathroom that she and Meredith shared.

The Knox testimony seen here was not a part of the main trial - it was offered ONLY to explain why Knox implicated Patrick Lumumba, and under the agreed rules for that testimony, the prosecution’s questioning was very circumscribed and curtailed.

Despite that, Amanda Knox seemed to do herself little real good on the stand, and in her second day there she sounded amused and very callous about the death of Meredith.

Please click here for 150 questions for Amanda Knox which should open in Powerpoint in half a minute. They show how blistering a full-blown prosecution cross-examination really could be.

Actually it could be even tougher. Those questions were assembled 18 months ago - and in the months after, we had the hesitant and nervous defense phase, the very strong prosecution summation, and the implacable Massei Report.

We could probable triple the questions for Knox now, and create a similar list for Sollecito. If he is given the chance to cross-examine the two, Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola very well may triple them.

The defenses have very few rounds of ammunition going into this appeal - the anti-Guede witness Alessi is a joke, and the DNA and forensic tests were all done fine the first time and have never been proved - despite all the smoke being blown - to be false or falsified.

So will they or wont they take the stand?

They seem cooked if they do - and cooked if they don’t. Tough call.


Very strongly doubt that either Knox or Sollecito will take the witness stand.  Too many risks and uncertainties.  Defence will not want to risk them either crumbling (particularly Sollecito) under fierce questionning or exposing their inconsistencies.  Think part of defence strategy will probably be to ensure they both remain silent, maintain their innocence and ignorance of the crime.  Alongside of course their attempt to attack or undermine forensic and other evidence where they can in order to endeavour to establish reasonable doubt.  Can’t see either RS or AK turning on the other either, as would then have to admit not just their own involvement in some way, but also lying and misleading court for so long.  In view of strength of prosecution case, really can’t see how they will benefit from taking stand and think AK’s declaration that she still ‘loves’ RS was partly a message to him that they should remain united and together.  RS certainly seemed glad to see AK when he walked into court last week. Extremely unlikely I think that any ‘confession’ or ‘spilling of the beans’ will be forthcoming.

Posted by Lola on 12/06/10 at 06:23 PM | #

I’m back from Malta. I want to thank the PMF poster who tied flowers to the iron gate of Meredith’s cottage. It inspired me to take flowers to the gate of Fort St. Elmo in Valletta to honor the 1565 Siege of Malta. A Maltese policeman saw me at the gate and some little miracles began.

Earlier at the airport in Rome my son and I stood in the Alitalia line pretty exhausted. A few paces away, guess whose face stared as us from the cover of OGGI magazine—Amanda Knox!

Now I must catch up on my two favorite websites, TJMK and PMF.

Posted by Hopeful on 12/06/10 at 07:50 PM | #

Wow! It really hasn’t been well-publicized that Amanda’s turn on the witness stand related only to Lumumba’s claim. Her dad kept bragging about how well she did on the stand and how everything would be cleared up.

How many innocent suspects choose NOT to testify? Highly suspicious!

Posted by bedelia on 12/06/10 at 08:45 PM | #

If you were accused of murder (and you hadn’t done it as you were at home all night) Would you exercise your right to silence?

Would you keep your mouth shut?

OK, the counsel for knifeboy decided this is the best way for him in this case.
I don’t understand this.
I would be shouting from the toppest of all the tops for my innocence.
There is no doubt (in my mind) that the convicted murderers respective defence counsel are in cahoots as regards to their strategy here.
It is obvious in fact.
I just wish they would spare us this rubbish and cease and desist from insulting our intelligence.
I understand they are being paid but sometimes I wonder if they sleep easy at night.

Posted by Black Dog on 12/06/10 at 09:26 PM | #

Well, Knox took the stand last time, and it didn’t help her cause, and the jury didn’t find her believable, so you can guess she won’t this time. Sollecito won’t testify because he won’t want to be questioned why he can’t remember if AK was with him all evening the night of the murder.

Thanks for the links, Kermit; after seeing AK’s testimony again, she doesn’t appear to be the type to break down because the police, she says, called her “a stupid liar” for a couple of hours.

If Knox does testify, I’d like to see the prosecution ask Knox to recreate for the jury her cartwheels, splits and gymnastics at the police station.

Posted by giustizia on 12/06/10 at 09:27 PM | #

By Storm Roberts (Innai)

It is a continuation of the “dance” that has been going on since the very beginning of this sad case.

If one is listed to testify, the other has to so as to counter any thing that is said against them by the other.

However the one who goes first must tread very carefully because if they implicate the other too much or shift the blame on to the other the repercussion from the one who is second to testify could be much worse.

Therefore the safest bet is to not testify, because if appellant one doesn’t testify appellant two won’t need to testify to rebut appellant one. 

Given that neither Sollecito nor Knox have helped themselves with their own words to date, they may be less cooked by not testifying.  It is neither or both, and I think I would say neither at this stage.

If there is to be any breaking of silence, I would suggest it would be the one who has always been out on a limb.  The one whose legal team took the option of an abbreviated trial.  The one whose final (second) appeal is in the works.  Rudy Guede.  If either Sollecito or Knox testify the chances of Guede speaking out increase significantly.  I don’t see them taking that chance.

Also, speaking in their own defence would mean blasting out of the water all their previous fuzzy memory problems and confusion.  I’m not sure how that would work.

Posted by Nolongeramember on 12/06/10 at 09:40 PM | #

Sorry to be outside the loop here, but the right to silence is enshrined in Italian law and US law. Nobody is obliged to say anything, and that is how it should be, and nobody is entitled to draw any conclusions from that.

Posted by Janus on 12/07/10 at 03:37 PM | #

Hi Janus. Anyone is entitled to draw their own conclusions, there is no law anywhere against that, except for the jury, which as I said in the post didn’t. No mention of it in Massei. You can find thousands of similar discussions online over whether defendants should take the stand or not.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/07/10 at 04:30 PM | #

By Storm Roberts (Innai)

I agree.  It is an important right, the right to remain silent.  However I also agree with Black Dog.  If I were innocent and had the chance to stand up and tell the truth and dispell the prosecution’s case I would.  I can see no reason, in a trial in a court in a country such as Italy not to do so.

Shortly after Guede was arrested, before he was brought to Italy from Germany, Sollecito arranged, via his lawyers, a meeting with the Public Minister to tell his side of the story.  Guede returned to Italy and failed to tell the full truth of what happened to Meredith during his interogation.  When it came to Sollecito’s meeting with the Public Minister - he exercised his right to silence, despite the fact that he initiated the meeting.

What this shows is that, in cases where there is more than one suspect, the right to silence and the potential benefits and pitfalls of speaking out enter the arena as another movement in the “dance” between the suspects and the suspects’ lawyers.

You may be right that, in a single suspect case one can draw no conclusions from a suspect exercising their right to silence, however, in a 3 suspect/defendent/appelant case….I think there may be motives behind the scenes either keeping them from speaking or pushing them towards speaking.

In this case, all three have broken their silence making statements in court and, of course, Knox’s testimony.  Their words have always been looked at keenly - sadly they have not given respite to Meredith’s family.

Posted by Nolongeramember on 12/07/10 at 05:15 PM | #

Sollecito’s right to silence among other things means that he will not be cross examined or asked directly in court to answer questions or explain his side of the story.

He chose to exercise that right (or his lawyers chose it for him, we don’t know.)

On the other hand, as Peter says, we are entitled to draw our own conclusions from that and ask why Sollecito chose to exercise his right to silence in the light of his position of claiming total innocence and ignorance of Meredith’s murder.

I believe he chose that right because as Innai points out there are pitfalls of him testifying given that there are two other defendants in this case, neither of whom offer a consistent story or one that matches his. Sollecito is a weak character and there’s so much evidence against him. He knows that, and it’s not hard to imagine him crumbling or somehow saying something he shouldn’t under questioning. (He already did that when he diverged from the original story and stopped saying that Knox was with him all night.)

From the evidence it is clear to me that Sollecito is guilty. But adding into that his choice of silence, yes, that does incriminate him.

Imagine (OK, that’s hard to do!)  his story is true - he took no part in the murder, suspects Knox and knows she was not with him all night. He took drugs that night, sure, but he remembers more or less what he did at home.

What would you do, an innocent person in that position, a bright university student from a good family? Would you stay quiet? Or make a strong statement of your innocence, recount what you did that night, explain why you carry a knife, and state unequivocally before the court that your girlfriend of a couple of weeks wasn’t with you the whole night?

On the other hand, I can imagine cases where, say, a weak and mentally disabled person is accused of a crime, is innocent and stays silent because giving evidence might incriminate them.

Posted by lilly on 12/07/10 at 07:42 PM | #

If I were accused of a crime which I didn’t commit I would be proclaiming that fact over and over again with consistency.  Sollecito like any defendant of course has the right to silence but, as has been pointed out, there is nothing to preclude people, outside of the court, from making inferences or judgements about that in the context of the overall evidence.  He presumably changed his mind about the meeting which he had initiated with the public minister on the advice of his lawyers.  Lilly gives examples of when defendants appropriate assert their right to silence and, as Innai points out, the uncertainty about the other two defendants’ stories and strategies were probably influencing events.  Also think that lawyers did not want to expose Raffaele, with his relative frail character, to interrogation by Migini.

Posted by Lola on 12/07/10 at 08:16 PM | #

Very very interesting points raised by Andrea Vogt:

1- An excellent reminder that ALL the judges on this case have agreed with the verdict.

““The Knox trial is one of the few, in the history of Italian criminal justice, in which over 25 judges have agreed—at different stages—on the adverse impact of the collected evidence against the positions of both Knox and Sollecito. In this respect, the case is rather unusual, as Italian justice is often characterised by conflicting decisions of courts on the same case,” said Stefano Maffei, an Oxford-educated professor of criminal law in Italy interviewed by”

“What I can confirm is that courts of appeal are generally more lenient than courts of first instance, and I would not be surprised if the decision on appeal could bear a lower sentence for both defendants.”

2-Information from yet another high profile forensic biologist

“One of Italy’s top forensic biologists, retired Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano, is at the forefront of the push to introduce a national database and DNA certification standard in Italy. Garofano (a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences who collaborated frequently with the FBI over the years as a high-ranking Caribinieri military officer) analyzed the forensic evidence in the Perugia case for a book released shortly after the trial was complete.

He believes Knox was involved in the murder, but he disagreed with the court’s conclusion that Kercher was sexually assaulted—he is convinced Kercher’s death was a fight that degenerated, then later staged as a rape.

Interviewed by, Garofano said his read of Knox’s appeal was that it was mostly a rehashing of “points that have already been debated.”

“The knife is a weak element . . . they could argue it should be thrown out because the amount of DNA does not meet international forensic standards. But that still leaves a lot of other evidence,” Garofano said. “I do not believe there is enough there to convince an Italian magistrate and jury to overturn this conviction.””

Posted by Giselle on 12/07/10 at 09:30 PM | #

Also I wonder what the impact of Sollecitto’s high profile lawyer being hospitalized will be - if any - on the defense strategy appeal….

Posted by Giselle on 12/07/10 at 09:34 PM | #

Also I wonder what the impact of Sollecitto’s high profile lawyer being hospitalized will be - if any - on the defense strategy appeal….

Posted by Giselle on 12/08/10 at 02:43 AM | #

The right to remain silent is an important safeguard, but it is more to protect against the police applying undue pressure to a suspect to gain a “confession”. If a suspect knows they are not obliged to say anything, it makes it easy to resist police abuse, which unfortunately still happens.

In the UK, while the right to silence remains, suspects are warned before questioning that if they refuse to talk, a jury may be entitled to take that into account. It was a law that was criticized at the time, but doesn’t seem to have had much practical impact anyway.

Since I last visited here I have served on a jury in a murder trial, and it was interesting to see the difference between the media reporting and the evidence introduced in court. It’s fair to say when you follow the evidence you get a quite different picture than the spin presented in the media.

Posted by bobc on 12/11/10 at 03:47 PM | #

Thanks bobc and welcome back. So you really saw the crime you decided on in full technicolor for the jury box? We often hear that is what the feeling is.

We have a major post on this right to silence and what it can be taken to mean coming up.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/11/10 at 04:00 PM | #

Thanks Peter, it certainly was instructive to see the legal process from the inside. Many people try to avoid jury duty but I found it a civic contribution well worth the minor inconvenience.

I can’t go into details, but what I can say is that the media highlighted the lurid and sensational aspects of the case, and it would have been easy to have been prejudiced by those stories, whereas the elements of the case that really decided guilt or innocence were barely mentioned by the media.

The Knox PR campaign has managed to keep the sensational aspects to the fore, and avoid examination of the more relevant but harder to explain evidence. While this works in the media, it hasn’t helped the legal case in the slightest.

Posted by bobc on 12/12/10 at 01:34 AM | #

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