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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Murder of Meredith Kercher

Right: Meredith Kercher, English student studying in Italy. Roommate with Amanda Knox and two other young women.

Anyone following this? sorry I'm late. The murder trial began a month ago, but is expected to last at least another month. The fate of an Seattle woman lies in the wake.
This is eleventh-hour news, but interesting nonetheless. To get caught up with the case in Perugia, Italy see the case as detailed on Wikipedia:

Those charged with Meredith Kercher's murder are American Amanda Knox, Italian Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Hermann Guede of Ivory Coast. Guede was tried first and has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. He is appealing his sentence.
Richard Owen
Cellmates of Amanda Knox, the American student suspected of involvement in the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia last November, have pleaded with prison authorities to stop her repeatedly singing the Beatles' song Let it Be at the top of her voice.

Father Scarabattoli, the prison chaplain at Perugia, said that Ms Knox, 20, from Seattle, had asked for a guitar so that she could play the song as well a sing it, but this had been refused. Inmates have complained that Ms Knox sings the song all day long, with one jailer reported as agreeing with them that it "drives you mad".

However, Father Scarabattoli said that she sang the song only at exercise time, in the open air, and he insisted that it had a "spiritual dimension" since it referred to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Ms Knox, who attended a Jesuit school, has been receiving religious instruction from the chaplain and reading the Bible.

The lyrics to Let it Be run: "When I find myself in times of trouble / mother Mary comes to me / speaking words of wisdom, / let it be. / And in my hour of darkness / she is standing right in front of me, / speaking words of wisdom, / let it be."

It concludes: "And when the night is cloudy / there is still a light that shines on me / shine until tomorrow, / let it be. / I wake up to the sound of music, / mother Mary comes to me, / speaking words of wisdom, / let it be."

Ms Knox, her Italian former boyfriend Raffaelle Sollecito and Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivory Coast immigrant with joint Italian nationality, all remain in prison in Perugia pending charges. They can be held for up to a year before a trial is held.

Ms Knox's parents have started a campaign to counteract what they say is the distorted image presented by the media of their daughter as a "cold-eyed killer with the face of an angel" who indulged in an orgy of sex and drugs once in Italy and free of parental control. They have retained Joe Tacopina, a leading Italian-American lawyer, to try to demolish the case against Ms Knox.

Italian reports said that if the case came to trial Ms Knox's defence would argue that the crime scene had been altered by police, with objects such as Ms Kercher's mattress moved, and that while the kitchen knife found in Mr Sollecito's flat that is presumed to be the murder weapon had Ms Kercher's DNA on it, it could not be proved that the DNA came from her blood.

Giuliano Mignini, the chief investigator, has re-interviewed British friends of Ms Kercher who, like her, were on an Erasmus EU exchange programme in Italy and who have returned since the crime to complete their studies. Reports said that they had confirmed their earlier testimony, in which they said that Ms Knox appeared "proud" to have discovered Ms Kercher's body and had given details of the crime scene that only someone who had either witnessed the crime or committed it could possibly have known.
Richard Owen, Rome
March 17, 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.


Harry Rag said...

For anyone who is interested in the facts behind the media spin, and who cares to learn more about the victim of this terrible murder - Meredith Kercher - there is an excellent discussion board


as well as an interesting blog


These online resources are not for profit. Anyone can read and/or participate and people from around the world do. They have followed this case since November 2007, and are in no way related to Amanda Knox. Nor are they her friends

Janet said...

Hi Harry, thanks for your post.

I don't mean to take sides at all and I hope my meager coverage of the case does not portray that I think she is innocent.

We have found in the case of Casey Anthony in Florida that looks can certainly be deceiving.

Meredith did not deserve to have her life brutally taken, and I hope anyone and everyone who is responsible is locked away.

Anonymous said...

I also hope the real criminals are punished. But after the in-depth news item I saw on this (American TV) I have to wonder about the prosecutor and the chain of evidence matter. I'm not saying these two are innocent, but the prosecutor is corrupt and a complete religious zealot whack job.
I love Italy. I'm half Italian. I speak the language and have been there many times. I wonder why the government there is turning a blind eye to this prosecutor's own crimes, doesn't appoint a different one, and is jeopardizing relations with the USA.

Anonymous said...

From everything that I've read regarding this case, I believe that both Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent and that Rudy Guede is the sole murderer of Meredith Kercher. Case closed.

My father's from northern Tuscany and I also like Italy but I'm appalled by the actions and work of the Italian Prosecutor, Police and Forensics Teams working on this case in Perugia. What an insult to Italy and the European Union.

Anonymous said...