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Death in Perugia: Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox and the new global class war

Seven years ago, Meredith Kercher was murdered in Perugia. Last month, an Italian court reconfirmed the conviction for her murder against Amanda Knox and her then-boyfriend. The evidence is overwhelming, so why is the world convinced of Knox’s innocence? The Kercher murder is a story of new global class divisions and who benefits from them, says Crikey’s writer-at-large.

When private legal matters become public, it is usually wise to avoid forming a judgement. Usually, but not always. For every trial whose fascination is merely lurid, shocking and voyeuristic, there is a Dreyfus affair, in which all the prejudices and assumptions of a civilisation are compressed into a single courtroom, a single case.

In recent weeks, we have seen that illustrated by two cases that have lingered for a decade and more. Renewed accusations of child sex abuse against Woody Allen surfaced and dominated the news — ironically crowding out the other big trial, the re-conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007. In this case, the crowd got it wrong. To take an interest in the utterly undecidable Allen case serves no purpose; it is simply a proxy way to have a debate about how evidence should be assessed in child abuse cases. Channelling it through the doings of New York royalty only distorts the argument. But the Meredith Kercher case is different. Though the evidence against Knox is very strong indeed, she has all but been declared innocent in the public eye, and the indifference to her very likely acts of violence — and to the victim of the killing — is very disturbing. Furthermore it is a case that, beyond itself, concerns gender, or even gender and race. It is about a global fate in a new world of class.

By now everyone thinks they know the facts, so it’s worth starting from the beginning. On November 2, 2007, the body of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old UK exchange student, was found in her bedroom in the flat she shared with three other young women in Perugia, central Italy. Kercher had been repeatedly stabbed, the fatal blow being one to her neck, through which she suffocated in her own blood.

Her body was found when her housemate Amanda Knox and Knox’s boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, called the police, after Knox had returned to the flat from Sollecito’s place and found evidence of a break-in. However, another group of police had already arrived — they had found Kercher’s mobile phones dumped in a garden and traced them to the address. When Kercher’s door, which was jammed, was forced open, her body was found beneath a quilt. Forensic analysis would put her time of death at around 11pm the previous night.

Police began investigating the house and quickly determined that the break-in was staged. The window in one of the other bedrooms was smashed, and a four-kilogram rock lay in the centre of the room. Glass lay on top of the objects there — nothing, including computers and jewellery, had been disturbed. No glass lay outside, and any burglar would have had to climb the outside wall, open the shutters, climb back down and chuck the rock. The scene was consistent with the rock being thrown from inside, using the shutters as a buffer.

When police began interviewing Knox and Sollecito as witnesses, their accounts of the morning began to fall apart. Both said they had spent the night at Sollecito’s nearby apartment, waking at 10.30am. Knox said she had come to the apartment and found the front door open, blood spattered in the bathroom and faeces in the toilet — but had not checked the house and had instead taken a shower before calling Sollecito and then her mother in Seattle, where it was 3.30am. Phone records would later suggest that Sollecito’s call to the police to report a break-in occurred after, not before, the first cops arrived, investigating the dumped mobiles. Later, records would establish that Knox and Sollecito had both turned their own phones on at around 6am that morning.

Gradually, police suspicions began to shift to Knox and Sollecito. Sollecito changed his story almost immediately, saying that Knox had left his flat that night and only returned about 6am. Knox, waiting at the police station, told one of the other young women in the share house (they and their boyfriends had alibis) that Kercher had been stabbed in the neck — but at this stage Knox had not seen her body, nor had that information been communicated to her. Interviewed in the early hours of the morning, Knox told police she had been in the house when Kercher was killed, and she named Patrick Lumumba, the owner of a bar where she worked, as the killer.

Very little of this evidence was reported in the feverish coverage of the trial. Instead, Knox’s behaviour afterwards became the focus …”

Though Knox later claimed she had been up all night and had been bullied by police, she had actually slept for a few hours before the interview and gave a statement within a couple of hours. Throughout, she disconcerted people by her behaviour — necking and giggling with Sollecito, doing cartwheels and yoga in the waiting room. Though no evidentiary weight was placed on this, these were the details flashed around the world. Lumumba, as his name suggests, was a Congolese immigrant. He was on remand for two weeks before managing to get bar patrons to provide an alibi for him for the night. Knox claimed harassment and tiredness had caused her to “remember” him killing Kercher, but she made only half-hearted attempts to retract her statement.

By that point, both Knox and Sollecito had been arrested. Forensic analysis showed that Kercher’s wounds couldn’t have been inflicted by a sole attacker — the depth and angle showed she had to have been held. Police had searched Sollecito’s apartment, noticed a strong smell of bleach, and found a knife matching a bloody print on Kercher’s sheets. Though it had been thoroughly cleaned, it had partial DNA traceable to Kercher on the blade, and the same for Knox on the abutment of the handle — consistent with the knife being used for sideways stabbing, rather than cooking on a surface. Forensics analysis from Kercher’s flat found DNA from Knox and Kercher commingled in the bathroom, and a surprising absence of DNA for Knox and other co-tenants elsewhere — consistent with a thorough cleaning.

Police also found ample DNA for another person on Kercher and in her bedroom, which they traced to Rudy Guede, an unemployed kid from the Ivory Coast, whom both Knox and Kercher had befriended and who had been at the apartment before. Guede had previously been accused of break-and-enters and of threatening with a knife, though he had never been convicted. When brought in, Guede said he had been at the flat, fooled around consensually with Kercher, and gone to take a dump. Guede said he had heard screaming and had come out to find Knox and Sollecito stabbing Kercher, then Sollecito had said, “there’s a black guy, there’s a suspect, let’s go” and he and Knox ran. Guede further claimed that he had tried to staunch Kercher’s bleeding, and then, panicked, ran for it. Guede’s story would change several times across the case, implicating, absolving and then implicating Knox again.

As the investigation continued, further evidence piled up. Sollecito’s cleaning lady said she had found two bottles of bleach at his flat that she did not recognise as being there before. A local reporter found a witness — a homeless hippie type in his 60, who lived in the town square near the Kercher/Knox house. He said he had seen Knox and Sollecito in the square at nine and then later close to midnight of that night, the latter time looking down at the house from the square (which was on a rise) and talking animatedly. Several witnesses in the area around the house came forward with reports of an appalling and sustained scream around the 11pm mark. Six weeks after the initial search, a bra clasp from Kercher’s bra — it had been cut off her body — was found under furniture. It had Sollecito’s DNA on it. It had been found and marked earlier, but then forgotten in the bagging of evidence. A search with luminol, which discloses bloodstains not visible to the naked eye, found footprints of three people — Guede, and prints consistent with Knox and Sollecito, and consistent with cleaning. And nearly a year into the process — with Knox and Sollecito still awaiting trial in the slow Italian system — the same reporter found the manager of a small express-style supermarket who identified Knox as coming into his store — which lay between Sollecito’s flat and the Knox/Kercher house — at 7.45am that morning and going to the cleaning products section, though he had not seen what she subsequently bought. Investigation of Sollecito’s background found he had a knife fetish and a taste for violent manga comics and videos.

Very little of this evidence was reported in the feverish coverage of the trial. Instead, Knox’s behaviour afterwards became the focus — her necking with Sollecito, turning cartwheels, and her and Sollecito’s visit to a store on the day the body was discovered, where Knox bought underwear — some say lingerie — and Sollecito was allegedly overheard to say that she could wear it later and he would fuck her. None of this was central to the police case, which was built on the DNA evidence, the staged break-in, witness ID, phone records and the inconsistencies of Knox and Sollecito’s stories. But they did use it as strengthening evidence for the case they had already built.

Nothing that was done by the Italian police and prosecutors differed significantly from procedures in Anglo-American court systems. But they did search more earnestly for a motive than our system might have done, and in doing so both judges and prosecutors built up a substantial and speculative narrative around Sollecito and Knox. They were, several judgments in the process concluded, two narcissistic rich kids, killing out of desire for a thrill — Sollecito was recorded as having wanted to do something that night that “wasn’t boring”, not like just another night. The period of November 1-2 is of course All Souls Day, or Il Giorno Dei Morti, or “the day of the dead”. Both Knox and Sollecito turned off their mobile phones around 9pm, something records suggest they did not usually do.

Explicit motive remained elusive, and it was here that the Italian system gave a false lead to an eager global press. Working backwards from the overwhelming circumstantial evidence, they envisioned some form of sex game/argument/taunting gone wrong, partly from Knox’s and Kercher’s attested-to antagonism. Knox was unpopular with the other three young women, doing yoga exercises mid-conversation, singing at all hours, never cleaning up, and bringing home a number of one-night stands during the month they lived together (she had been going out with Sollecito for 10 days when the murder occurred). They, Kercher especially, objected to having strange men in the house — Knox interpreted this as prudishness.

Much of this evidence was a standard and accepted indication of culpability.”

Much of this evidence was a standard and accepted indication of culpability. There was post-event manic behaviour and lack of evidence of upset or disturbance, a stunning failure of empathy — Knox asked, the day Kercher’s body was found, whether they would have to pay the rent for the remainder of the month on the house, now that it was a sealed crime scene — and the covering of the body, which usually indicates murder by a person known to, and involved with, the murderer. In conversations taped by police, Knox and her mother discussed how the 3.30am phone call could be “explained”. Knox also lied about whether or not she had received a text from Patrick Lumumba on the night of the murder (telling her not to come in to work, as it was too quiet); at the time she had falsely implicated Lumumba in the murder.

However, in discoursing rather grandiloquently on Knox’s apparent narcissism and traces of sociopathy, the court system fed the global media exactly what it wanted. It was the “single white female” story, two young women (who resembled each other to some degree) caught in a strong clash of identity — hardly uncommon to share house living, or one’s early 20s — that spun out of control with the admixture of violence. The argument was quite plausible, but not essential — the case rested on the evidence that Guede could not have killed Kercher alone, if he killed her at all, and extensive evidence pointed to Knox and Sollecito.

Guede pleaded guilty to the murder in a “fast-track” process that allows a reduced sentence as recognition of admission. He was sentenced to 30 years; this was knocked down to 16 on appeal. During Knox and Sollecito’s trial, the defence attempted to throw doubt on the chain of evidence, with little success, and to query the eyewitness, who appeared to mention events in the square on both the October 31 and November 1 — and was a heroin user, to boot. However, he remembered a fairly clear sequence of events from November 1, and Knox had been working in Lumumba’s bar on October 31, ruling that date out.

With the overwhelming weight of the evidence, both Knox and Sollecito were duly convicted on December 5, 2009, the case automatically put for appeal. The prosecution initially assumed this would be a formality, and had it been, there things might have ended — had the appeals court not — to everyon’s surprise vacated the judgment, acquitting Sollecito and Knox, who immediately headed for the airport. And there it might all have lain, had the Italian police and prosecutors not come to believe that they were now fighting on behalf of Meredith Kercher, as Amanda Knox went from prisoner to unlikely global culture hero.
Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, having been convicted, and then on October 3, 2011, acquitted on appeal, of the murder of Meredith Kercher (pictured), were released from prison, with Knox scarpering back to Seattle. The prosecution had realised from the start of the procedure that the process was odd, with the junior of the two lead judges, Massimo Zanetti, saying “the only thing we know is that Meredith Kercher is dead”. The lead judge, Pratillo Hellmann, was a commercial court judge, unfamiliar with DNA evidence.

They also realised that something else was shifting, for it was in the months following the initial conviction that social and cultural power came into play. Meredith Kercher’s family were middle class, her father a freelance journalist. Sollecito and Knox’s families were rather more high-powered. Knox’s father was a vice-president of finance of the Macy’s retail chain, a multibillion-dollar business with a lot of power in Seattle, their hometown — and one twinned with Perugia. From the beginning of the trial, Knox gained the intensive support of the USA-Italy Foundation, a business group with substantial connections in both countries, and to the United States embassy in Italy. As the appeal process got underway, Knox’s parents hired forensic experts to contest the findings and a PR firm to manage the media. Reps for Knox were sent to media outlets to argue the case for her innocence, and it was at this point that the narrative began to change — from Knox as a deadly femme fatale to that of an innocent party, guilty of prejudiced, sexist attitudes. Meanwhile, an imprisoned career criminal and Camorra mobster, Luciano Aviello, claimed this his brother — now on the run — had killed Kercher, after they had broken into the house in error. Known as a perjurer, Aivello later claimed that Sollecito’s wealthy family had offered him 300,000 euros to tell the story.

In their reasons for acquittal, the appeal judges found that proof beyond reasonable doubt had not been achieved on the claimed staged nature of the break-in, that there had been manifold errors in handling forensic evidence, and that the witness was not reliable. Both Sollecito and Knox were freed and she was spirited to the airport by the USA-Italy Foundation. The prosecution promptly appealed the appeal. In March 2013, the Supreme Court ordered a rehearing of the appeal — and it was as scathing of the first appeal as the appeal was of the initial judgment. The higher appeal faulted the first appeal for relying almost completely on the defence’s hired experts — whose credentials the prosecution questioned — in faulting the DNA evidence, for disregarding evidence pointing to a staged break-in, and for dismissing evidence that the attack could not have been staged by a single person. The case was thus put to trial again, although this was more a hearing of existing evidence, and with the appeal objections dismissed, Knox and Sollecito’s conviction was upheld/reinstated on January 30, 2014.  The judges have another three months before they have to release the full report on their reasoning, and they will very likely take it.

By now, public opinion in much of the Anglophone world had swung behind Knox. There were many reasons for this. The Italian justice system matches Anglo ones — an appeal can vacate a judgement, but can in its turn be vacated — but the Italian presumption-of-innocence throughout changes the terminology. In other words, the Italian system is more scrupulous, but it looks less so. That is true of its slow pace — Anglo-American trials are sprints, in which sleep-deprived barristers try to defend someone as a trial changes direction daily; the Italian system allows time to rally (though it also condemns one to years of remand). Some mishaps in the forensic process did not contaminate evidence and were no greater than in most cases, which have less visibility. The US and British justice systems regularly vomit back people who have spent 10 or 15 or 20 years wrongfully locked up because the system wants to give the appearance of decisiveness, and thus has much less scope for appeal than does the Italian system. That process, especially in the US, usually has a racial aspect — and there is something deeply unsettling about Knox’s implication of an innocent black man, and her limited attempts to clear him afterwards.

… most likely an example of what happens to you if you fuck with the global rich.”

But such an appearance of rigour in the Anglo judicial system plays easily into a Protestant-nation caricature of a Catholic one — muddled, lackadaisical Italy, great for charming little cities, less so when something goes wrong in them. In the case of Knox and the US, that prejudice fused with the protectiveness towards an American, especially one who tended to be judged by the world for a certain particularly American style of behaviour — self-regarding and performative in a way few Americans mind but that had clearly antagonised her housemates (two Italians and a Brit) and others. The American defensiveness of Knox — which reaches hysterical proportions on the umpteen websites devoted to claiming her innocence — is in part a memory of European anti-Americanism during the Cold War, now largely vanished, but still keenly felt. Much of the reflexive belief that Knox and Sollecito have no case to answer comes from the fact that the evidence is overwhelmingly circumstantial rather than direct — and the mistaken TV crime drama belief that “circumstantial evidence” is not conclusive. In isolation it isn’t, but when it all builds to a scenario that can admit to no other reasonable explanation, then it suffices. This, arguably, is the situation in the Kercher trial.

There is also the question of corruption, which may be more pertinent, given that judicial appointments are often narrowly political in Italy. The supporters of Knox assert it in the initial judgments and subsequent ones, though it is difficult to see what the motive would be. By contrast, the first appeal with its peremptory dismissal of much of the evidence accrued in the trial obviously serves the interests of Knox and Sollecito — who appears to have left a half-arsed run for the border too late. Not only them; days after the appeal acquittal, a dozen politicians from Berlusconi’s PDL party signed a letter accusing prosecutors of over-reaching in the Kercher case and claiming this to be typical prosecutorial behaviour — a claim Berlusconi was making at the time in an attempt to derail prosecutions against him. That the first appeal was so comprehensively overturned suggests that it was, for whatever reason, an outlier. That Knox was permitted to leave the country immediately suggests a reason for it.

There is something else, more disturbing about the Kercher/Knox/Sollecito case, and that is the way that sympathy has swung round to Knox beyond simple US fealty — and often a sympathy that some claim as a feminist act. What is unsettling about this is that one suspects that sympathy is less about objection to stereotyping, justice, etc, than it is about a desire to identify with the living rather than the dead, with convicted killer rather than victim. Knox is here and Kercher is gone, and animal sympathies, rooted deeper than morality, go not merely to the survivor but to someone who has exercised her will. That split is always with us — we know that we should have solidarity with the victim, but something in us resists such identification. Culturally, that tension is handled by crime fiction — figures like Ripley or Hannibal Lecter allow us to identify with creatures of pure will, and grant us relief from the discontents of moral life. Knox’s perpetual media presence, her sleek patrician air, her status as an American, all add to that. It’s why Salon publishes a disgusting puff piece for someone’s Knox fanfiction; why Slate and Spiked waded in with know-nothing pieces where they would have been more scrupulous otherwise; why The Guardian, chasing a US audience, runs what is virtually a 10-minute soap opera/video commercialfor Knox, “interviewed” by a journalist who has cultivated a connection with her for three years; why Jezebel can publish this bizarre piece in which finding someone guilty of murder becomes tantamount to slut-shaming; and why Mamamia, that daily bulletin from the Republic of Stupid, has an article that says:

 I think Amanda Knox is innocent.

Yes, I’m a jury of one. Currently 16,317 kilometres away from where the crime took place. And I am aware that I am basing my personal verdict not on forensic evidence heard in a courtroom but on feverishly watching the story unfold over seven years on international television … Reflecting on the case, that’s how I feel too. You see, I have accidentally over-identified with Knox. She is my age. She’s got blue eyes and dark blonde hair …”

It then goes on to rehash the findings of the first appeal, without noting that the initial trial and subsequent second appeal, contradicts them. What’s common to all of them? An utter indifference to the circumstances of Kercher’s death. There are many small questions about much of the evidence, and much of the above account could be questioned. But the question is not “is there any doubt”, but “is there reasonable doubt”, quite a different thing. Having a working justice system demands that spurious doubt not be entertained as a get-out clause from difficult decisions; it applies also to how we regard someone who is, after all, a convicted murderer.

Furthermore, there’s an indifference to the different fates accorded here: Guede, who asserted his innocence, then changed his story and copped a plea, knowing what chance a black immigrant would have, whether innocent or guilty; Sollecito and Knox guilty or innocent, seeking to evade justice through money; and Meredith Kercher in a messy student room, bleeding out and conscious of her approaching death all the while, no one’s object of enraptured identification, and most likely an example of what happens to you if you fuck with the global rich.

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  • 1
    Peter Hayward
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Hhmnn “gone to take a dump” .. and “he would fuck her” (without quotes in the story) now that’s an interesting although very clear style of reporting.

  • 2
    Christina Elisabeth
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting take, quite different to this article I read in Saturday’s Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/08/who-is-amanda-knox-interview

  • 3
    Mark out West
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, great round up.

  • 4
    Wynn
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Tsushima is very much at odds with other things I’ve read about the state of the evidence, and on its face raises questions. Lack of DNA from Knox and Sollecito indicates a clean-up, but Guede’s DNA was found on the body? Did they manage to clean up selectively? DNA evidence was found in a bra clasp collected six weeks after the crime?? What about the history and reputation of the prosecutor? And I would’ve thought we’d all have learned the dangers of making assumptions about guilt on the basis of an “inappropriate” affect after the crime.

    Hard to know what to make of this with no reference to sources, other than media reports.

  • 5
    Wynn
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Good grief. “This is very much….”

  • 6
    Lisa Nicol
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Excellent coverage.

    The MSM are guilty of paying scant regard to the facts of this case and presenting Knox as removed and incapable of such a crime.

    Just five minutes of independent research will reveal the opposite. eg…her penchants for the occult and various dark arts to begin with would fill volumes.

    Now that she and Sollecito have finally been found guilty, again, it remains to be seen whether the US will allow her extradition back to Italy to face sentencing.

    Don’t hold your breath. The MSM will continue to muddy the waters of this case and present Knox as Miss Snow White to the gullible American public.

    The facts are she is as guilty as hell. Kercher did not die by misadventure. It was a planned thrill kill homicide in a town, Perugia, itself a hotbed of Satanic activity.

  • 7
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Guy, you have been gravely misled here by the obsessive pro-guilt websites. I’d doubt anyone wants to read the comprehensive fisking I could certainly conduct on all this, so I’ll pick out a few key examples:

    Phone records would later suggest that Sollecito’s call to the police to report a break-in occurred after, not before, the first cops arrived, investigating the dumped mobiles.

    Wrong. The basis of this was a garage camera timing the arriving of the police car which proved to be 10 to 12 minutes slow. This was accepted even at the first trial which convicted her.

    Police had searched Sollecito’s apartment, noticed a strong smell of bleach, and found a knife matching a bloody print on Kercher’s sheets.

    Wrong. The knife is far too big to match the outline on the sheet, which obviously belongs to whichever knife Guede used.

    The scene was consistent with the rock being thrown from inside, using the shutters as a buffer.

    This, among other things, is debunked pretty thoroughly by a recreation conducted for a Channel Five documentary, partly done at the scene. The break-in could easily have been done with one climb, and the pattern of glass inside the room is entirely consistent with the rock having been thrown from outside.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsQLKWDskhA

    You would do well to watch the whole thing if you can get around the geoblock:

    http://www.channel5.com/shows/amanda-knox-trial-5-key-questions/episodes/amanda-knox-trial-5-key-questions

    Police also found ample DNA for another person on Kercher and in her bedroom, which they traced to Rudy Guede, an unemployed kid from the Ivory Coast, whom both Knox and Kercher had befriended and who had been at the apartment before.

    They may have met there, but there is no basis for saying they “befriended”.

    The prosecution initially assumed this would be a formality, and had it been, there things might have ended — had the appeals court not — to everyone’s surprise vacated the judgment.

    The appeal court ruling surprised nobody, including the prosecution.

    Occam’s razor: The break-in wasn’t staged. Rudy Guede broke into the house and made himself at home, following an MO he had established at multiple other break-ins over the preceding weeks. While he was in the toilet, the victim arrived home and proceeded to her bedroom. Needing her key to get out, he proceeded to the bedroom to confront her, and promptly lost control of the situation.

    Knox was thereafter the victim of the prosecution privileging its hypothesis, sweating an investigation out of her and destroying her reputation for weeks after with lurid leaks to a ravenous media, many of them patently false. By the time the physical evidence came in and all of it pointed to an unrelated fourth party, they had dug themselves in too deep to withdraw from the original theory.

    So it was that they bolted together the bizarre tale of a motiveless crime conducted by people who knew each other barely if at all. This involved an entirely unknown series of events which played out at most over two hours between Knox and Sollecito been witnessed behaving perfectly normally at Sollecito’s apartment, and a time of death which the contents of Kercher’s stomach suggests to have been considerably earlier than the 11pm — notwithstanding what one witness (not several) thinks she may have heard at that time.

  • 8
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Just five minutes of independent research will reveal the opposite. eg…her penchants for the occult and various dark arts to begin with would fill volumes.

    Her penchants for the occult and various dark arts” would fill nothing. They simply don’t exist.

  • 9
    Wynn
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never seen it suggested that Kercher died by misadventure. Guede, whose DNA was found on her body, killed her.

    The satanic ritual stuff is sensationalist garbage.

  • 10
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    My lengthy response to this is stuck in moderation, so I’ll repaste the conclusion:

    Occam’s razor: The break-in wasn’t staged. Rudy Guede broke into the house and made himself at home, following an MO he had established at multiple other break-ins over the preceding weeks. While he was in the toilet, the victim arrived home and proceeded to her bedroom. Needing her key to get out, he proceeded to the bedroom to confront her, and promptly lost control of the situation.

    Knox was thereafter the victim of the prosecution privileging its hypothesis, sweating an investigation out of her and destroying her reputation for weeks after with lurid leaks to a ravenous media, many of them patently false. By the time the physical evidence came in and all of it pointed to an unrelated fourth party, they had dug themselves in too deep to withdraw from the original theory.

    So it was that prosecutors bolted together what they had told everyone had happened with what actually did, to produce the bizarre tale of a motiveless crime conducted by people who knew each other barely if at all. This involved an entirely unknown series of events which played out at most over two hours between Knox and Sollecito being witnessed behaving perfectly normally at Sollecito’s apartment, and a time of death which the contents of Kercher’s stomach suggest to have been considerably earlier than the 11pm  —  notwithstanding what one witness (not several) thinks she may have heard at that time.

  • 11
    AR
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Grundle - slumming much?

  • 12
    Lil Z
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    The Guardian article Christina Elisabeth linked to gives a completely different interpretation of the case, including Knox’s (retracted) confession about having been at the scene. The salient point, apart from the fact that Guede has confessed to the murder, is:

    The bedroom in which Kercher died had been full of Guede’s DNA. None was found for Knox and Sollecito.’

  • 13
    Kevin Herbert
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Guy Rundle:

    what a poor joke..you say “For every trial whose fascination is merely lurid, shocking and voyeuristic, there is a Dreyfus affair, in which all the prejudices and assumptions of a civilisation are compressed into a single courtroom, a single case”.

    Really????…what planet are you on???

  • 14
    Guy Rundle
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    lisa

    i don’t know that any allegations about ‘dark arts’ played any role in the prosecution case - and it certainly isn’t necessary to the case

    wynn

    good to see you’ve solved the case, even though the prosecution have a convincing case that Kercher couldnt have been killed by a single person

    lil z

    the problem with the dna is that there’s very little dna of anyone else in key areas of the flat - which suggests a thorough cleaning. there’s only one fingerprint from knox in a flat she’d lived in for six weeks - as well as bloodied footprints detected only by luminol. which suggests a very thorough clean-up.
    DNA alone doesn’t tell us anything. It would equally back Guede’s claim that he had found Knox and Sollecito attacking Kercher, and tried to staunch the bleeding.

  • 15
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Guy, you should watch Channel Five’s Amanda Knox: 5 Key Questions documentary, if you can get past the geoblock. It contains reconstructions which make short work of the idea that the break-in must have been staged, and at the very least throws serious doubt on the proposition that the murder must have been committed by multiple attackers.

    http://www.channel5.com/shows/amanda-knox-trial-5-key-questions/episodes/amanda-knox-trial-5-key-questions

  • 16
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    It would equally back Guede’s claim that he had found Knox and Sollecito attacking Kercher, and tried to staunch the bleeding.”

    Including the DNA that was found in a part of Kercher I hesitate to name, because I’m fighting a losing battle here with the moderation filter?

  • 17
    TheEvilOne
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Guy, not up too your usual standard, this article could have been written by any guilter troll from the true justice for Meredith Kercher website.

    Many of the things you state as facts are in fact someone’s that is the police’s opinions as to the facts and police opinions are often biased according to their current theory of the case.

    Police began investigating the house and quickly determined that the break-in was staged. The police had decided it was an inside job so the break in did not fit with this theory, therefore it had to be staged. In fact Rudy Guede had a few weeks previously burgled a solicitor’s office using a similar rock and high window technique. There are all kinds of arguments deployed to prove that the break in was staged, such as the absolute impossibility of any person being able to climb up to the window. Of course supporters of Knox & Solleceto have persuaded someone to try and suceed.

    Sollecito’s call to the police to report a break-in occurred after, not before, the first cops arrived” There was a clock in a garage visible on CCTV camera that also showed the postal police arriving, it was running fast and this lead to the convenient conclusion that the postal police arrived before Solleceto’s phone call.

    Knox, waiting at the police station, told one of the other young women in the share house (they and their boyfriends had alibis) that Kercher had been stabbed in the neck Knox had been taken to the police station in a car and the police told her that Kercher had been stabbed in the neck.

    Enough for now.

  • 18
    Wynn
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Were the luminal footprints tested and found to be blood - or is it correct that they were found not to be blood at all?

    Is it true that the police announced that they had identified the killers before forensic evidence was available?

    Is there evidence that the scene was cleaned, other than the lack of DNA from Knox and Sollecito?

    Is it scientifically possible that the two people who killed Kercher in such a violent manner left no DNA, while Guede somehow did?

    I don’t claim to have solved anything, I just find the analysis of evidence I’ve read elsewhere far more convincing than a discussion of the reported prosecution case.

  • 19
    Guy Rundle
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    TEO

    The break-in
    There’s no evidence to suggest the police had any agenda whatsoever. Guede didn’t become a suspect until weeks later, when DNA put him at the scene. Police suspected the break-in was staged from the moment they began examining it. The first appeal rejected some of their findings. The second appeal reinstated them.

    The timing of the call
    The allegations of a clock running fast has never conclusively proved that the call came after the police arrived. The timing of the call is a matter of phone records.

    Knox’s knowledge of Kercher’s death
    Knox asserted that a police officer had told her of Kercher’s means of death. Against police practice, but still possible. However, no officer was found who would admit to this, and Knox couldnt give any identifying features of the police officer she alleged had told her. The detail of ‘bleeding out’ would not have been known to an officer on the scene in any case - it only emerged from forensic reports.

    You’re going on largely unproven and untested assertions by people arguing for Knox. You need to look at the court reports themselves to find easy refutations of these points

  • 20
    Guy Rundle
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    William

    Guede had visited the apartment before, and drank and smoked dope with Knox and Kercher there. His account was that he had visited that night, and that he and Kercher had had sexual contact, thus explaining the DNA.
    Had he pleaded not guilty, this would have been part of his defence. There was no forensic evidence that would contribute to a charge of non-consensual sexual assault, and Guede was never charged with sexual assault as part of his case. There is also evidence that casts doubt on his story, but it’s far from conclusive. The guilty plea - with reduced sentence - can be read as either admission, or a strategic act based on the chances of a black immigrant getting a fair hearing.

  • 21
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    Among the things that is easily refuted by looking at court reports is the notion that Sollecito’s call was made after the Postal Police arrived. See page 89 of the English translation of the Massei report, i.e. the judgement from the trial that convicted him.

  • 22
    TheEvilOne
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Guy Rundle.

    Guede had visited the apartment before, and drank and smoked dope with Knox and Kercher there.

    Guede was friends with the men who lived in the apartment below that of Kercher and Knox and often visited them and smoked dope. He never was in Knox and Kercher’s flat except for the one time when he stabbed Kercher to death. Kercher and Knox were present in the first floor flat at one time when Guede was also there. This does however give Guede a motive for murder, when Kercher caught him burgling she would had she lived been able to identify him.

    T

  • 23
    mikeb
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Very interesting discussion but I have no idea on whose version of the “facts” is correct. On that basis I won’t comment on guilt or not however one thing bugged me when this terrible incident happened. The Italian judiciary and police system was dismissed by many (mostly) American news agencies on the basis that they would not have been as fair or thorough as an American system. This really annoyed me because of the assumption of superiority and inferiority that is not so subtly implied.

  • 24
    Troy Baris
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    ” You’re going on largely unproven and untested assertions by people arguing for Knox. You need to look at the court reports themselves to find easy refutations of these points ” Guy Rundle

    Exactly. Those opposing you here Guy are simply lifting information from pro Knox websites.

    And then lay that accusation at you. Nice.

    I am staggered at the refusal of most of the nay sayers here trying to poke holes in the Italian Police prosecution case.

    Why such vigor, to defend a someone when all roads lead to Rome? To attack the Italian Prosecution as incompetent is almost ra-ist.

  • 25
    Wynn
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    No evidence of sexual assault” (I assume the use of the term ‘non-consensual’ was inadvertent.)

    Indications that Kercher struggled with an attacker, her bra ripped off her body - which could suggest nothing but consensual fun, except for the fact that she was also stabbed to death.

    Instead, Knox and Sollecito turn up, bringing a knife, fortuitously at the very time Guede has gone to use the bathroom in the middle of consensual s@x, kill her before he can emerge, leave, then at some point come back and carefully clean up their own DNA and footprints, carefully leaving those of Guede, throw a rock through the window, and leave again to come back later and not call police. For no reason that has ever been explained except for the exercise of a latent capacity for violence,

  • 26
    Lisa Nicol
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    ” The satanic ritual stuff is sensationalist garbage ”

    Court case documents and links provided on request only with permission from the owners of this site.

    Kercher was murdered between 8:45 pm Halloween eve and 12:05 am All Saints Day.

    Knox and Sollecito’s family lawyers obtained a gag order on any further references to Halloween, vampires, and Satanic rituals.

    The Italian police report revealed the search terms ‘bleach’ and how to clean up blood were found in the browser history of Sollecito’s computer.

  • 27
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m just glad I’m not on the jury in a case prosecuted by media.

  • 28
    David Hand
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    It is about a global fate in a new world of class.”

    Whereas everyone else is getting off on the “did she or didn’t she” fascination that often grips us with these high profile cases, Guy is setting us up for a hand-wringing expose on inequality in the 21st century.

    I just can’t wait for episode 2!

  • 29
    TheEvilOne
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Guy Rundle.

    There’s no evidence to suggest the police had any agenda whatsoever.”

    Police often have agendas other than a desire to convict the actual perpetrator. When a really horrible murder occurs the police feel pressure to solve it quickly because of the effect that fear of a killer at large has on the regional economy. In the case of Perugia tourism and the universities are economically important. Sometimes corrupt and incompetent police choose a suitable scape goat and fix the evidence around that scapegoat. All police forces and all judicial systems are more or less incompetent and more or less corrupt, the only question about any single system is whether it is more or less on these attributes. The Perugia police and judiciary are clearly both corrupt and incompetent.

    Given the bloodstained hand and knife prints in Meredeth Kercher’s room competent police would have waited for the analysis of fingerprints & DNA evidence from Kercher’s room before crowing that they had solved the case and when that evidence came back showing Rudy Guede had been in Kercher’s room but neither Knox nor Solleceto competent and honest police would at this point have admitted that they had made a mistake and released both. However doing so would have been a tacit admission that the “confession” obtained from Knox was coerced. Since the coerced confession is part of standard operating procedure for the Perugia police and perhaps for Italian police everywhere the Perugia police had to defend it by continuing the prosecution of Knox and Solleceto.

    The coerced false confession is one of the most powerful tools of police everywhere including those who do not think of themselves as corrupt. If one can get a confession, even one inconsistent with other facts of the case, a conviction is in the bag. Juries set great store by confessions as anyone who has not themselves been subject to an abusive interrogation or at least read enough about DNA overturned convictions where the suspect confessed simply cannot believe that anyone would confess to a crime that they had not committed no matter the pressure. Some police may believe that there is a magic level of pressure which will get a guilty person but not an innocent to confess, there is no such level. If the only criterion governing an attempt to obtain a confession is enough pressure for as long as it takes, then a confession is inevitable and actual torture is not necessary. In Japan for exdample police can hold suspects for 23 days and not surprisingly 90+% crimes are solved by confessions. Of the convicts cleared of murder and rape in the US by DNA evidence 25% had confessed or made inculpatory statements..

    I believe Knox’s lawyers made a bad mistake in considering the confession a minor problem. That confession in which she implicated an innocent man crops up in blog posts everywhere and is taken as an indication of bad character and as evidence of participation in a murder. Since the interrogation was not filmed as required, her confession could not be used in the criminal case against her, however Patrick Lumumba’s civil calumny case against Knox was being tried by the same judge and jury and the confession was thus admitted. Here are two articles on the coerced confession which I suggest you read, article 1 & article 2.

  • 30
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Why aren’t they looking for the one-armed man?

  • 31
    Alex Red
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been following this case from the start and Rundle has been accurate in most of the facts. There’s a great website, the murder of meredith kercher dot com, which sums up the evidence and contains links to the translated court transcripts and judges’ reports (start with the Massei). You’ll see why a huge percentage of Italians think she and RS did it (why? because they can speak Italian and followed the details of the case unimpeded from biased US reporting), and how one-sided the reporting in English-speaking countries has been. One of the things that was really interesting was the mixed Knox-DNA-Kercher-blood splatters in Filomena’s room, aka the room of the staged break-in. Why couldn’t they find any mixed Filomena-DNA-Kercher-blood in that room if this could be explained away by the fact that Knox lived in that house? Filomena was the one who lived in that room.

  • 32
    TheEvilOne
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Guy Rundle.

    Where did you get your information? Did it come from the report of the first Perugia trial under judge Massei? If it was an English translation of the report it matters who did the translation.

    It is a necessary reality that most members of the respectable classes believe that police, judges and prosecutors are honest and competent. Some members of the criminal classes experience a different reality but no one who matters will ever believe them. Everyone admits that miscarriages sometimes happen but estimate the proportion as vanishingly low. In the US many convicted rapists and murderers have been exonerated by the testing of preserved DNA evidence, there are other cases where no DNA is available but one can assume the same rate of wrong convictions are concealed among them.

    The talents and skills required of an effective investigator of crimes are very high level yet they are rare and a person who possesses them can make much more money doing some other job than that of a police detective. The reality is that most detectives are mediocre at best and make up for their deficits by coercing confessions and fabricating evidence. All police forces, prosecuting organizations and judiciaries are more or less corrupt and incompetent and the Perugia versions are clearly so. All the evidence mentioned in the Massei report has been filtered through the preconceptions of the Perugian investigators. Things that you state as facts may really be an investigators opinion as to a fact. For example a petty criminal gives eyewitness testimony as to where and when he has seen Knox and Solleceto, but is he a person who has reason to want to please the police or have the police given him strong hints that a claim of sighting of Knox and Solleceto in a particular place and time would be much appreciated? Then there is the DNA on the blade of the knife taken from Solleceto’s kitchen. Scientific police officer Stefanoni identified this as Kercher’s DNA, but independent experts Conti and Vecchiotti hired by Knox’s defense asserted that the alleged amount was too small to be tested by the equipment Stefanoni had, their tests showed the DNA to be starch grains.

    The idea that Guede on his own could not have subdued and murdered Kercher is simply an assumption by the police. Guede was taller and heavier than Kercher and even if we assume that this on its own was not enough for him to overpower Kercher it may be that his first knife thrust was a lucky one which disabled Kercher either from the damage or because of the pain.

    You are working on the assumption that the Perugia police, prosecutor and judiciary are honest and competent. I do not believe they are and I suggest you step back a bit and look at articles by people who are more sceptical.

  • 33
    Guy Rundle
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Wynn

    the bra could have been cut off in the murder - just because it’s a bra doesn’t make that assault a sexual one, in legal terms. i was speaking of the absence of any forensic physical evidence from kercher’s body that would clearly indicate non-consensual activity…

  • 34
    condel
    Posted Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    both cases have a common element. the trials were made media mega trials where the accussed were foung guilty in the pretrial coverage by the reader at least, with juicy police tip offs of lurid details needed to close the media case. with no real knowedge of events but sensational criminal scenarios. but these people cant also attack the meadia on contemp laws because they do not matter in such importance to the public drama.

    frankly the journalist has choice but to join the mayhem ib case the zzz get the scoop. pubkic right know! - you mean your spagetti western take.

  • 35
    GEOFFREY WRIGHT
    Posted Saturday, 22 February 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Can anyone refer to a coherent account, from Knox and the boyfriend (or their lawyers), regarding their actions/whereabouts on the night of the murder? I’ve always been confused about this.

  • 36
    Posted Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I think my comment has been put down the memory hole? I thought it was quite perceptive.

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