I saw the most famous house in Italy again this summer. The whitewashed Perugia cottage where University of Washington honor student Amanda Knox stabbed her British roommate Meredith Kercher to death—without premeditation, without animosity and for no particular reason, say the Italian courts. Convicted last December, Amanda has been locked up abroad nearly three years.
For me, the Amanda Knox case is as mesmerizing as ever. I still dream about it. It’s a riddle “as compelling and terrifying as any work of fiction” to quote Femme Noir’s review of Murder in Italy (Penguin: Berkley Books), my true crime book about the case. I still cover every twist and turn on my blog hosted by seattlepi.com.
There I’ll capture the third season of what Italians call “The Amanda Show.” Appeals and slander trials begin this fall. Expect paparazzi. English tabloid writers. American TV hot shots. Armed cops. Prison guards. Amanda’s friends and family. Bloggers. Print reporters. All of us, together again in court.
The truth is I’m still fascinated by this spell-binding mystery. Two beautiful girls dream of living in Italy, like so many of us. One is American, the other, British. Both are excellent students, middle-class, close to their families, good at making friends. They become roommates. On November 1, 2007, Meredith is murdered. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini concocts a sex game gone wrong theory, laced with drug use and the occult. He accuses Amanda of killing Meredith with the help of her rich Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and drifter Rudy Guede. An international media storm begins. All three defendants are convicted of the crime and receive lengthy jail terms. All three declare their innocence. A Florentine court convicts Mignini of abuse of office in an unrelated case, but he still calls the shots in Perugia.
This August I caught a fast train to that postcard-perfect town, where Mignini and other case celebrities stroll the Corso. The homeless “super-witness” Antonio Curatolo occupied his usual park bench in Piazza Grimana. College students were partying at Merlin’s Pub and La Tana D’Orso, but mourners no longer tied pink roses to the rails of the whitewashed cottage where the crime occurred. Police had finally removed the cigarette butts and striped crime-scene tape from the doorway. They’d stripped the yellowed brochures sent to renters, dead or in prison, from the mailbox.
In this “house of horrors,” new tenants cook supper in the upstairs flat where lovely, charming Meredith died alone, lying on her bedroom floor, gasping for breath. In the downstairs flat, where her Italian boyfriend lived, foreign students pull tables outside and hold candlelit dinner parties, enjoying the fairytale view of the Umbrian hills.
Now, the defense is pulling out all the stops, challenging the prosecution’s experts on DNA and computers. Tantalizing new witnesses have popped up. A former FBI agent, Steve Moore, promotes Amanda’s cause. She can’t even cut her hair, ala Britney Spears, without creating sizzling headlines. Movies are pending. Reporters wait for Mignini, the Houdini of the case, to present yet another surprise.
And still nobody knows for sure: Who killed Meredith Kercher? How did Amanda Knox become the prime suspect? Could she be innocent?
I hope readers of Murder in Italy will tell me what they think.
Candace Dempsey is an award-winning Italian-American journalist and travel writer. She’s written for the Chicago Tribune, Boston Phoenix and many other publications. Her adventure tales appear in Travelers Tales and Seal Press anthologies. She’s the former editor/producer of Underwire, a MSN website that Newsweek called “cheeky, nicely written, fun.” Dempsey’s favorite bookstore is Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane, her hometown.
68 responses to “Reporting from the Most Famous House in Italy by Candace Dempsey”
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I honestly believe Amanda to be guilty. This was a girl who for the first time experienced freedom and fully exploited it and got in over her head. Drugs and alcohol change people. I have read your book..and I am convinced that you are totally biased as to her innocence.
As to the FBI agent who claims she is innocent, he too will be gone once he has a DUI ala Bremmer. How someone can claim she is innocent with no access to the evidence and not having interviewed witness is beyond me. Americans are not being exploited here…this is a girl who lied and killed and now is trying to get out of it….
I honestly believe Amanda to be innocent. This was a girl who for the first time experienced the real world which is full of dubious characters like the honorable Judge, Criminal Mignini (convicted Jan 2010), and she was fully exploited by Criminal Mignini. She led a sheltered life and was in over her head when it came to dealing with thugs / rogue cops (do you think people outside the interrogation room that heard her screaming thought she was having fun?). I have read your book..and I am convinced that you are totally brilliant and both Amanda and Raffaele are clearly innocence.
As to the retired FBI agent Steve Moore who claims she is innocent, he will go down in history as a man that had the integrity and intestinal fortitude, who took a stand for truth, justice and what is right. How someone can claim she is guilty with no access to much money and not having interviewed Amanda & Raffaele is beyond me. Amanda has been exploited by the tabloid media, Perugia’s authorities, Babbling Barbie, etc …this is a girl who was lied about and did not / would not kill anyone and now is being held in prison for the sake of Criminal Mignini Little Shop of Horrors Show. Drugs and alcohol fueled Guede who left an overwhelming abundance of evidence on her body, in her bedroom where she was murdered and sexually assaulted. (all the above is naturally my opinion to avoid another of Criminal Mignini slander charge which he throws about at will)
Candace, I also visited the house this summer. Amazing how everything seems so normal, like nothing happened. Your great book is a must read for anyone who is interested in this case. Having read all three books (yours is by far the most in depth and balanced), and the various websites for both sides, I strongly believe the appeal will reverse the verdict, and acquit the defendants.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the fascinating murder mystery.
She, IMO, is VERY GUILTY…..Lying about the bar owner Patrick, saying he was in the bedroom with Meredith when she was “screaming for her life”, (Amanda had to cover her ears!)put her in DEEP SH**….People that LIE have something to hide…. I think by now after all these months, she has truly CONVINCED herself she is INNOCENT.And her parents are right behind her, giving her support…but isn’t that what parents do? If this was my child, I perhaps would do the same thing…Blood is thicker than water……
Candace I loved your book, I could not put it down. I have also have given it to one of my friends to read who doesn’t know much about the case. Because I am always talking to him about it about how Amanda is in Prison for something she had absolutly nothing to do with it,so finally I got the book so he could read it and he told me the other day know I see why you are so into this. Another thing that makes me so mad is hearing everybody saying Amanda accused Lummumba, she never accused him the police put his name in her mouth until she was mentally and physically abused and told she would go to prison for 30 years and never see her family again. Remember this is a 19 year old girl who has no violent background whatsoever. I guarantee you any 19 y.o. female, from another country would of done the same or even said moore. I think about Amanda everyday and hope she is staying save and can’t wait till the appeal becausde they will see the real truth now that she had absolutly nothing to do with this. I also pray for Meredith’s family every night, because they also want true justice for their wonderful daughter that was brutually taken from them.
Foxy Knoxy, guilty guilty guilty.
It’s strange how all these people with strange names like ‘Beau Bloomer’ or the more prosaic ‘Michael’ write in the exactly the same breathless, disengenuous, utterly unconvincing style as Candace Dempsey. One might image they might be the same people…the truth is that people like Dempsey and the absurd Steve ‘I’m a retired FBI heavy’ Moore aren’t very impressive characters. They ignore the obvious (the lies, the DNA evidence, etc) and just try to make money out of what is unsupported and over-emotional. It’s all rather insulting really.
Beau Bloomer (Candace Dempsey) wrote: ‘she never accused him the police put his name in her mouth until she was mentally and physically abused’…
In which case why did she not report this to the US Embassy/State Dept/United Nations etc as soon as it happened? And why did she looked so happy and relaxed the whole time after this terrifying attack on her human rights? And why did she look so happy and relaxed with the police right up until her conviction (up to and including thanking the Italian authorities for a fair investigation and trial)? And why did she maintain that her boss was guilty right up until he produced an alibi?…Answer to all of the above: because Amanda Knox twists the truth as much as Candace Dempsey does. But at least Knox doesn’t post 30 year old photographs of herself pretending they were recent, I suppose.
notwhoyouwouldexpectwrote: ‘Steve Moore…will go down in history as a man that had the integrity and intestinal fortitude’
Sounds very painful indeed. He certainly doesn’t look well on all those TV shows he’s doing – he’ll need to sharpen up his act if he’s going to earn the kind of fame and fortune which Candace Dempsey is seeking from this tragedy.
Amazing how much fiction has come out of this book.
You seen this in the latest edition of NEWSWEEK, Steve Moore? I quote:
“And most recently, retired FBI agent Steve Moore accused the Italians of “manipulating evidence to make Knox look guilty” based on an “independent investigation” he conducted using what he calls “raw materials.”
When asked by NEWSWEEK, neither the Italian state forensic department, the coroner who conducted the autopsies on Kercher, nor the homicide squad in Perugia had been contacted by Moore for original reports and documents, calling into question just where Moore’s “raw materials” came from.”
I wonder if Candace Dempsey has ever stopped to think what it must be like to die in agony with your throat cut…Her deeply offensive writing makes this vicious, squalid crime sound like the most exciting thing to happen in the world this century. No, Miss Dempsey, the house you visited is not ‘the most famous in Italy’. Civilised, decent people would not even recognise it in a picture, let alone visit it. It is only self-serving, amoral, flawed characters who enthuse about crime scenes. You clearly have a heart of stone and consider yourself above criticism, but any of us reading your childish hyperbole about this breathtakingly dark, evil crime are truly disgusted by what you are doing.
Why is it that every Guilter’s statement regarding Amanda’s “obvious” guilt is based on something like: If she’s so innocent then why did she do a cartwheel? Or kiss her boyfriend, or say Patrick did it… Basically, why didn’t she act or behave the way “I” think would be proper under the circumstances? Why don’t Guilters ever base their opinions on actual physical evidence of guilt.. like DNA, blood transfer, fingerprints, foot prints, hair ? I guess it’s because NONE fitting Amanda were found in the bedroom crime scene and the sole item supposedly containing Raffaele’s DNA was so contaminated that it lacks any probative value at all.. I guess it’s because when all is said and done all you’re left with is a landslide of evidence pointing to Rudy Guede, a poor young black local ne’er-do-well with a history of break-ins, burglary, knives and bothering women.. and that would hardly be “the Crime of the Century”, now would it ?
When you’re done venting your hate against Americans or pretty girls or wealthy Italian boys or whatever, and you’re ready to start looking for truth and maybe even (eventual) justice… Go to injusticeinperugia.org and start reading.
1. I’m neither Beau Bloomer nor Michael, but thank them for their compliments. I didn’t write this comment or any other comment: “She never accused him the police put his name in her mouth until she was mentally and physically abused.”
2. The author photo above was taken this year. I guess I should be flattered that an anonymous stranger thinks I look younger than my 60 years. Of the fake biographical “facts” posted on the Web about me (and anyone else who covers the Knox case), the 30-year-old photo myth is among the most amusing. You can check out my real credentials on http://candacedempsey.com.
3. I’m happy to talk to readers anytime. Please email me at [email protected]. I won’t comment on the case here, but hope that others will. It’s possible to have a civil conversation about the tragic murder of Meredith Kercher and the conviction of Amanda Knox, and I’ve enjoyed all my readings for that reason.
Part of any good old classic horror film always included obligatory scenes of moronic villagers with torches chasing the latest version of the Frankenstein monster/wolfman/witches et al through the woods with torches.
I suppose it’s actually a sign of social progress that these types of sad ghouls are now trolling the internet in their nasty little gangs and tribes trying masquerading as “people who care” as opposed to “people with no lives” as they desperately try to seize the mantel of moral superiority reserved for victims, then posting their BS inside of their echo chamber and crowing about how awesome they sound when they listen back.
“…a girl who for the first time experienced freedom…” from someone whose never met her except by reading what some insidious liars and fantasists have made up about her…someone without a clue…
“…an FBI agent with no access to evidence and not having interviewed witness (sp)…”
Right – Steve Moore has no track record or experience in such matters; he can’t see evidence gathering techniques and interpret them in crime scene videos he’s been given to look at and analyze even though that’s what he’s done at the highest levels of his profession for twenty years; he can’t examine or interpret data and information placed before the court; he can’t see sleeping jurors or tell when a witness is of sound mind; he’s just guessing! he’s just making stuff up because he’s on the payroll! don’t you see the obvious? It doesn’t matter only one lady out of hundreds heard a blood curdling scream that she’ll never forget that she didn’t think was important enough to report for a year and then couldn’t remember what night it was that she heard it; no matter there isn’t a follicle of Amanda in the room where the murder took place and that the court didn’t allow the DNA evidence utilizing techniques now disallowed in the country that developed them to be examined by an outside expert; too bad so many are so stupid that they’re in stunned disbelief Amanda’s DNA would be found in her own bathroom; too bad they told her she had AIDS when she didn’t and that her diary was seized and leaked piecemeal to the press to place her in the worst light possible; too bad everyone who actually meets her and gets to know her really likes her and most of the other inmates in Capanne think she’s innocent;
The DNA evidence in this case is weak, and the prosecution has interpreted it in ways that don’t bear up under close scrutiny. The police have yet to explain convincingly why they failed to tape Knox’s statements. Because novelist Douglas Preston was also interviewed by PM Mignini, we have a pretty good idea of how abusive he can be. Of the three books to appear so far, “Murder in Italy” is by far the most trustworthy and factual.
Who killed Meredith Kercher? All the evidence points to Rudy Guede alone. The evidence is completely conclusive. It was his shoeprints made in Meredith’s blood, his palm print on the fabric, his DNA on her bloody purse, his DNA on her sweatshirt. He also had a history of breaking and stealing, knives, rocks and even using the toilet. This was a non-glamorous burglar surprised and it ending in murder. It is only in the world on satanic cult theorist, office abusing Giuliano Mignini that the evidence led to a three way sex murder among virtual strangers. I pray the Italian people will live up to the reputation of their historic justice system and demand a total review of this case and the forensic evidence used in this wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. As retired FBI agent Steve Moore recently said ““the only thing that is going to free Amanda is good people doing something.”
i believe that she is not guilty. she may have been drunk, stoned, she maybe naive, immature but tbe theory of the 3 involved in a satanic pack is BS more BS than BS. the italians messed up or did not find enough evidence for the 2 of them. Rudy is the only guilty one, i hope the 2 win the appeal.
In response to Jenny SanFran: Jenny, Amanda did not report to the US Embassy/State Dept/United Nations after the Perugia police put words in her mouth and abused her because she did not realize she was under arrest until after they put her in her jail cell. By that time, the police had extracted a false confession/accusation from her, which would take a very long time to straighten out. It’s possible Amanda’s mother or lawyers contacted the embassy, but Amanda did not have the freedom to do that herself.
We didn’t see how Amanda looked after the terrifying attack on her human rights. She was imprisoned on November 6th, and we didn’t see pictures of her again until she started making appearances in court some time later.
We also did not see any pictures of her in the courtroom, except during her testimony; the pictures we saw in the news were from her greeting people as she was coming and going into the courtroom. She has a right to smile; she is innocent of the crime.
Amanda did not thank the authorities for a fair investigation and trial. She said, “And I also have to thank the prosecution, because for sure they are sincerely trying to do their job, even though they don’t understand. They don’t understand. Even though they haven’t been able to understand, because they are trying to bring justice to an act that has taken a person from this world. And therefore, I thank them for this, for what I am doing, for what they are doing.
The important thing now is that I thank you because now it is your turn, and therefore I thank you.”
Amanda did not maintain her boss was guilty. On November 6th, within a few hours of being led to claim she had seen Patrick Lumumba at the scene of the crime, Amanda told police she could not be sure of what she had said, and therefore was not a reliable witness against him. She told the police and the prosecutor the same thing several times over the course of that day.
Amanda wrote to her lawyer on November 9th and told him she had not been at the crime scene, and therefore was mistaken when she accused Patrick. She told her mother the same thing in a taped jail conversation on November 10th. News of this conversation appeared in the media the same day, whether they were informed by Amanda’s mother or by the police.
The Swiss professor who provided the alibi for Patrick was stalled by police for a few days after coming forward. Once the alibi panned out, Patrick was kept in jail for another week, until Rudy Guede was arrested. Amanda Knox retracted her accusation of Patrick Lumumba on November 6th, and therefore had nothing to do with him being detained until January 20th.
Great column Candace and a great book. When a 25-year veteran of the FBI is willing to stake his reputation on the claim that Amanda Knox And Raffaele Sollecito could not possibly be guilty, it is a good idea to pay attention. Recently, Moore views were seconded by veteran Sate Department lawyer Michael Scadron in an op-ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor. The truth is that, with all of the information that’s now available, only a complete fool would continue to maintain that Knox and Sollecito are guilty. The prosecution’s case is a castle in the air. It looks beautiful and unassailable but disintegrates when you touch it. Anyone willing to do even a little homework will realize that there is not a shred of evidence that holds up.
Miss Dempsey – Your childish excitement about your book is indeed hugely offensive. Just read back on some of your statements ( ‘For me, the Amanda Knox case is as mesmerizing as ever. I still dream about it.’ !) They are crude and, to be frank, immoral and nasty. Italians are not calling this ‘The Amanda Show’! For goodness sake, have you no moral compass whatsoever! Have you no sympathy for Meredith’s surviving family and friends?? This is not a ‘spell-binding mystery’. Whatever your views on the unanimous guilty verdicts following a year-long court process it’s blindingly obvious that three people know exactly how Meredith died (Knox even described Meredith’s screams in her final moments!!)…Even your crass platitude ‘lovely, charming Meredith’ is disgusting. How do you know? You never met her. You know nothing about her as a person. You’re just the woman cashing in on her murder… And one biographical point you fail to mention is that you spent hardly any time in court during the trial, and your Italian language skills are all but zero. In short, you’re really not much more than an excitable murder trial groupie. At your age you should know better.
Candace, your book is great. I have just finished reading it for the third time. I have believed from the very start that Amanda and Raffaele are innocent. I am looking forward to the Appeal and I pray that this injustice will be turned around and that they will be free and exonerated of this terrible crime.
The tone of the writing is truly dreadful and offensive. It’s all done in the sytle of a schoolgirl having a jolly jape. It’s Enid Blyton meets Miss Marple, which would be facile but okay, were it a novel and not a supposed factual account concerned with a horribly brutal and violent death.
Candace Dempsey has written a marvelous book about this intriguing saga. This is a tale of a modern day witch hunt, of a broken judicial system in a nation that should know better, and of young lives tragically destroyed. It is a tale of a profound wrong that is yet to be righted. “Murder in Italy” is light years better than the other books on the case.
Maybe it’s a good time to review the case.
A beautiful young college student is found murdered and sexually assaulted. She is partially clothed with knife wounds and blood everywhere. The DNA of a man she did not know is inside her sexual areas. That man, Rudy Guede, had a history or armed break-ins and knife fights. According to investigators it must have been the pretty roommate and her new boyfriend bossing him around even though they didn’t know him either. Right.
Rudy Guede was a native of the West African nation of C’ote D’lvoier ( also known as the Ivory Coast.) He had come to Italy at age 5 with his father and was taken in by a wealthy Italian family at the age of 16 when his father returned to his homeland. He did gardening work for them but was thrown out in the months before the murder when they didn’t like his work. After his arrest they called him a “tremendous liar.” Guede’s life was spiraling downward into crime in the months before the murder. He was unemployed, not a student, and spent most of his time on the local bar scene where by all accounts he couldn’t get a date.
Rudy Guede admits being with Meredith when she died and there is vast forensic evidence to support this. His story is that the victim invited him over for a date, they had consensual sexual contact, and that somebody else came in and killed her while he sat on the toilet. The cuts on his hands are from his heroic attempts to fight off the real attacker. He does not call police or an ambulance but instead goes to a disco to further party that night. The next day he flees to Germany. Only an idiot would believe that story.
European tabloids reached new lows every day in what became Italy’s trial of the century. Major news organizations from the US were there also to examine the quality of justice and their commentators have come away breathing fire. On CNN Larry King Live legal commentator John Q. Kelly spoke of the “egregious international railroading of two innocent young people” and a “public lynching.” On another LKL segment Vanity Fair Editor Judy Bachrach called the tribunal a “kangaroo court.” Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Tim Egan, writing in the New York Times, termed the case against Amanda “preposterous and made-up.” Long time CBS correspondent Peter van Sant said he “would stake [his] journalistic reputation” on Amanda’s innocence. The list goes on and on.
The murder of Meredith Kercher was a straight forward sexually motivated homicide by a troubled male acting alone. That crime happens every day somewhere around the world. All credible evidence points straight to Rudy Guede. No credible evidence implicates Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Read Candace Dempsey’s book; you won’t be disappointed.
Hey ‘Flyer’ – I don’t understand a word of your post, but the bit “people with no lives” is kind of nasty. Don’t be so hard on yourself buddy! Stand tall and show a bit of self respect!
MaryH – ‘It’s possible Amanda’s mother or lawyers contacted the embassy, but Amanda did not have the freedom to do that herself.’
It’s CERTAIN (not just ‘possible’) that the US Embassy in Rome, the State Dept, Amnesty International, the United Nations etc have all rejected Knox’s claims out of hand. No reputable organisation is supporting Knox. All agree that the process which convicted her was a fair and just one. That’s the reality.
We DID see how Knox looked, right up until her conviction. She looked fine. She still does. Yes she has a right to smile, but those who are abused and accused of something they didn’t do are not likely to laugh, joke, wear T-shirts announcing ‘All you need is love’ etc They don’t lie either. They just provide an alibi, and stick to the truth. Knox was incapable of doing this at any time.
Knox DID thank the authorities for a fair investigation and trial.
Knox DID maintain her boss was guilty – right up until he had a watertight alibi.
Finally, your claims don’t quite fit in with the unanimous guilty verdict which found Knox guilty of murder and torture, do they?
The joy of blogs and the sensational work of fiction under discussion is that you can actually write anything you like because it affects no-one. But while you and Candace Dempsey are having your fun, please don’t forget that a young woman died in the most horrible circumstances. It’s because of this single fact that numerous people find your make-believe games utterly revolting.
As mentioned, anonymous strangers often post fake “facts” and biographies about people involved in the Knox case. I’m happy to correct a few more myths about me.
1. Myth: “She was only in court one or two days.” In fact, I traveled often to Italy at great expense to write Murder In Italy. I was the only American reporter who attended Amanda’s April 2008 hearing before the Supreme Court of Italy, so I started sooner than anyone. I also attended her pretrial and the trial, including the verdict. You can see me in the courtroom in the British documentary “The Trials of Amanda Knox” and on TV footage and still photos on many other occasions.
Ala Anne Rule, my favorite crime writer, I used court transcripts to weave the story, so there’s actually more court testimony in my book than in any others. That is true of Meredith’s English friends, from Sophie Purton to Robyn Butterworth. Their actual words and impressions of Amanda are in the book, just as they testified. Friends and family members described Meredith as lovely and charming, yes. She was also smart and witty, as I say in Murder in Italy.
2. Myth: “She can’t speak Italian.” I’m Italian-American and have been reading and studying Italian for many years. I have family there and wish to converse with them during numerous visits, starting more than 30 years ago. Court Italian is very difficult even for native speakers. Ala Ann Rule, my favorite crime writer, I relied on the court transcripts (not what I jotted down) to tell my tale, because transcripts are far more accurate than anything pulled from a reporter’s notebook.
3. Seattlest did a great interview with me, for those who are interested how I wrote the book. http://tiny.cc/fvez2
4. FBI agent Steve Moore has expressed his dismay at the anonymous posters who compile fake dossiers in the Knox case. He recently said this in the West Seattle Herald:
“Sadly, while some in the groups that advocate Amanda’s guilt are simply well intended but naïve, others have taken the discussion into the gutter. They are vulgar, base, and engage in character assassination and rumor-mongering, not facts or evidence.
Personal photos of myself, my 20 year-old daughter and my wife have been lifted from personal pages without our permission and posted on blogs, with comments on my wife’s appearance. She received a pornographic message from one of the main ‘posters’. I have seen a bogus biography of myself posted. Even my father’s activities were posted on a website in what I believe is an attempt to intimidate. The members of the anti-Amanda groups will not, of course, identify themselves or their occupations.”
Well, someone thinks my name is “prosaic” – that’s the nicest thing written from those who refuse to look at the real facts in the wrongful conviction of Amanda and Raffaele.
I am a history teacher in Honolulu, and here is the review on wrote on Murder in Italy:
As a history teacher, I find Candace Dempsey’s excellent book on this very disturbing case meets all the criteria for being an invaluable source. Although greatly sympathetic towards all the victims involved, Meredith, Amanda, Raffaele, and their friends and families, Dempsey maintains an appropriate level of objectivity. As an Amnesty International club advisor, I find this book to be a powerful warning on the dangers of wrongful imprisonment. As a human being, I find this gripping reading.
In painstaking detail, Dempsey takes us through the events of Nov 1st through Nov 6th, the day of the arrest. Using interviews, documents, and police records, she separates the facts from all the misinformation, explaining how the public was mislead by police, the media, the families, and even the lawyers.
What the reader gets is a murder mystery, a tragedy, and a detailed analysis on how all the parties involved distorted the truth for their own purposes. The book goes on to explain how the events of those five days led to conviction and imprisonment of two young people who may be innocent.
If you have followed this case at all, this book is must reading (regardless of your current views). If it is new, you will be learning about a terrible crime – the death of a lovely young person with her whole life in front of her. In addition, Dempsey gives the reader a powerful expose of how a criminal investigation can be manipulated by all involved, with possibly unjust results.
In either case, this is a moving and compelling account that you will want to read more than once.
This is my honest opinion, and for those really interested in the truth, read the book.
Jenny SanFran, you asked why Amanda did not report to the US Embassy following her interrogation; I answered your question.
It is not true that any of the agencies you listed in your post have rejected Amanda Knox’s claims, and none of those agencies has stated that the process that convicted her was fair. Ian Kelly, spokesperson for the State Department said, “…we will monitor this, this procedure as it goes forward, to make sure that Amanda Knox enjoys all the rights that she’s entitled to under Italian local law ….. And something else that we always say is that we are not going to comment too much on an ongoing legal process, and it is an ongoing legal process.”
Nor is it true that no reputable organization is supporting Knox. The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times both have published pro-Amanda editorials. Most of the major US media networks now have hosted platforms for Amanda supporter Steve Moore. The reality is that no reputable organizations have publicly voiced any opposition to Amanda’s innocence, or her eventual acquittal and release.
You asked about how Amanda looked right after her interrogation and at the beginning of her incarceration. We did not see any photos of her from that period.
“Knox DID thank the authorities for a fair investigation and trial.”
Can you provide a citation to support that claim? I provided one that showed the opposite.
“Knox DID maintain her boss was guilty – right up until he had a watertight alibi.”
Can you provide citations that support that claim? I provided evidence for the opposite.
“Finally, your claims don’t quite fit in with the unanimous guilty verdict which found Knox guilty of murder and torture, do they?”
They certainly do not. My claims fit in with the large quantity of evidence that shows why the court’s decision was at fault.
No one who supports Amanda is working in a mist of sensation, fiction, fun, make-believe or games. No one has forgotten Meredith’s tragic, unnecessary, and possibly preventable death, least of all Candace Dempsey.
Val Fontana wrote: “…Even your crass platitude ‘lovely, charming Meredith’ is disgusting. How do you know? You never met her. You know nothing about her as a person.”
Wow. I would love to see these comments posted at: http://truejustice.org/
I do hope that ‘Michael’ displays more objectivity in his professional life. Otherwise one might assume that he is educating propagandists rather than independent thinkers. In a few breathtakingly arrogant sentences ‘he’ not only dismisses the work of hundreds of people involved in a legal process which took place over many years on another continent, but suggests that all are liars involved in some extraordinarily complex conspiracy resulting in ‘wrongful imprisonment’ (no allegation or claim here, because ‘Michael’ the ‘history teacher’ knows when a fact is a fact).
‘Michael’ claims he is linked to Amnesty International – an organisation which supports those who are victims of ‘wrongful imprisonment’. Yet, strangely, ‘Michael’ cannot explain why Amnesty International has completely ignored the Knox case, along with all other organisations like it.
‘Michael’, a self-styled intellectual concerned with objective fact, then accuses us (‘the public’) of being ‘misled’ by all those conspirators, including police, journalists, lawyers and – this is getting vicious – ‘the families’. We must presume you’re referring to the family whose daughter had her throat ripped open, eh ‘Michael’? What a sensitive, caring soul you are. Were they, we wonder, enrolled into this international conspiracy before or after the murder?
It appears that ‘Michael’ considers the Knox family to be involved in this conspiracy too. After all, he writes categorically that ‘all of the parties involved distorted the truth for their own purposes’. Well, that’s almost everybody put in their place, again ‘Michael’. All liars, every single one of them, eh? Only you know the truth.
That ‘Michael’s’ thoroughly offensive, irrational writing sounds just like Dempsey’s is indisputable. That his posting degenerates into a cliché-ridden, free advertisement for Dempsey’s book is just pathetic.
Because the truth is that people like Dempsey can be anybody they want to be in the blogosphere – everything from crime reporters, to Italian speakers, to star-struck ‘fans’, to history teachers…
No matter what your views on this tragedy (and I have none – I have enough respect for a European Union democracy to administer its own justice), the deceit and lies being used by those who seek to profit from it is breaktakingly offensive….
I know for sure. Guede did it. The forensic facts of this murder are tragic but not unusual. What makes this case interesting is the credulity with which so many people have embraced the fantasies of a filthy old man, simply because he wears a robe in the courtroom and has a fancy title.
I sense Charles Greenberg doesn’t like my review, however I wish he would be more forthright in his criticism. No need to be shy, CG!
OK Candace Dempsey – we know how excited and fun all of this is for you. Just give it a rest for now, though, will you please. You clearly love your little games, but don’t forget that they emanate from a squalid murder.
Mr. Greenberg’s faith in the system is misplaced. He might do well to examine the Dreyfus Affair, or in more recent times, the trial of Kelly Michaels in New Jersey. Or how about the Birmingham Six, or the Norfolk Four, or the West Memphis Three? Whether through conspiracy or bureaucratic intransigence, innocent people do get railroaded by the system. That is what has happened to Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. They are completely innocent.
Charlie Wilkes – thanks for your reply, Charlie. Your point is well made, and I’m aware that miscarriages of justice can and do occur (Alfred Dreyfus’s case is of particular interest to me as I spent a small part of my career in Paris, although remember it does go back to the 1890s). My belief is that justice systems are not perfect, but in the end they are the responsibility of the sovereign states who administer them. The cases you mention are made up of one in France, one in Britain, and three in the USA. I don’t think that Italy’s track record of judicial process is any worse, and may even be a lot better than other countries. The detailed sentencing report and fact that at least two appeals are pending in the Kercher case certainly suggests this. Over-turning a unanimous guilty verdict is an extremely difficult thing to do, but the Italians seem to be providing every opportunity, and doing so publicly. In this sense I do have a lot of faith in their system, and think they should be left to administer it.
My principal point remains, however, that there are too many individuals who have latched on to this case for nothing but personal gain. The excitement and sense of fulfilment (not to mention book sale profits) they seem to draw from a squalid murder is truly disturbing. I suspect their amoral behaviour will be as unsettling for all the familes involved – including Knox’s – as it is to the rest of us.
Does that mean you completely discount the possibility that some of us really care about two innocent young people languishing in Italian prison cells. Please click on my name, which is linked to a website that will show you otherwise.
I wrote the review because, like Candace, I truly believe Amanda & Raffaele are innocent, and have had their lives unjustly taken away.
If you want serious discussion, come to http://injusticeinperugia.com/
You will see there are folks who really care!
Please keep your comments civil and on topic. From now on, Northwest Book Lovers will not post comments that don’t follow those rules.
Thanks for your participation in this discussion.
Northwest Book Lovers
Charles Greenberg writes:”I don’t think that Italy’s track record of judicial process is any worse, and may even be a lot better than other countries.”
Shortly after the verdict last December, Anna Momigliano wrote the following in Foreign Policy Magazine:
“U.S. cable shows declared the verdict a sham, shredding the evidence and the court’s conduct. And now, the Knox case is turning into an international trial on the reliability of Italy’s justice system.”
“The truth is, Italians have long since recognized the unreliability and compromised nature of their courts. At the moment, the Italian public’s trust in the justice system is at an all-time low. According to a November poll by Euromedia research group, only 16 percent of Italians fully trust it; just two years ago, the figure was 28 percent. And Italian civil rights groups are intense in their criticism of what they view as kangaroo courts.”
CG writes:”My principal point remains, however, that there are too many individuals who have latched on to this case for nothing but personal gain. The excitement and sense of fulfillment (not to mention book sale profits) they seem to draw from a squalid murder is truly disturbing. I suspect their amoral behavior will be as unsettling for all the families involved – including Knox’s – as it is to the rest of us.”
I don’t think it’s true that Amanda’s defenders are in this for personal gain. As for amoral behavior, I’ve seen tons of it directed at the Knox family, AK, and her defenders but the reverse is not true. The European tabloids, and especially Barbie Nadeau, have failed their readers and their nations. Everyone recognizes that the Kercher’s have suffered a terrible loss. It doesn’t dishonor a murder victim to make good faith arguments that somebody convicted of the crime didn’t do it.
Charles Greenberg wrote: “Over-turning a unanimous guilty verdict is an extremely difficult thing to do, but the Italians seem to be providing every opportunity, and doing so publicly. In this sense I do have a lot of faith in their system, and think they should be left to administer it.”
Overturning a unanimous guilty verdict is Italy is not as difficult as in other countries. Approximately two-thirds of court decisions are modified, while about one-half are reversed. It’s all part of the game of the three-trial system. Automatic appeals are guaranteed, so why not use them? Lawyers and judges have financial incentives for closing a case at the end of two or three trial as opposed to one.
With respect, I do think that claims of an ‘international outcry’ against the Italian judicial system or, more specifically, the Knox guilty verdict are extremely far fetched. There just isn’t one……As for US cable TV shows being able to ‘shred the evidence’ in a way that learned Italian defence lawyers were not …well, do any objective, unaffiliated readers really believe this? ….The truth is that neither Hillary Clinton, the State Dept, Amnesty International, the UN, the US Embassy in Rome, nor indeed any reputable international body has expressed any criticism of Italy at all over this. This is a fact, not an opinion, and one which creates serious problems for Knox’s defence team. So too, I’m afraid, do highly provocative comments about ‘kangaroo courts’, 84 per cent of Italians mistrusting their own judiciary etc…. Don’t forget that Knox’s lawyers are part of this system. Such inflammatory remarks, clearly made by family and friends of Knox, will make the job of these lawyers far harder as they try to overturn a unanimous guilty verdict arrived at following a very public trial lasting a year and supported by a detailed sentencing report.
The support voiced for Knox by one or two determined bloggers (and it always seems to be the same few) is now so extreme that it’s impossible to take seriously anymore. The US Government and humanitarian groups would not stop protesting if they thought Knox was a true victim, but they are not protesting at all. Also, whether you think Knox actually killed someone or not, trying to portray her as some kind of wronged innocent abroad is ridiculous. At the very least, she is a pretty devious person who tried everything to avoid being linked to the murder, including blaming an innocent black man. You only have to look at that picture of her ‘playing’ with a machine gun in a Holocaust Museum to know we’re not dealing with Mary Poppins here (I won’t go on about the drugs etc) And it’s true, Italians reading these blogs (and they do) are not going to be impressed by friends and family of a convicted killer portaying their justice system as corrupt. It’s no worse than any other system – the trial was long and very public, the conviction is explained in a long report, and she gets two appeals, despite the unanimous guilty verdict. Hardly Midnight Express, is it.
CG – you make some good points, all out of context.
1. Since the entire trial followed “due process” in the Italian system, no outside agencies will interfere.
2. One major reason is the “due process” Italian style is not over, and no action can really be taken until the appeals process runs its course.
3. 53% of all convictions (most unanimous since the two judges sitting with the jurors make sure of this) are overturned in Italy. Since this one is almost guaranteed to be, outside agencies must sit tight – if only for diplomatic reasons.
4. There is enormous documented criticism within Italy of their own system – however, they naturally resent criticism from foreigners.
5. You simply must read the criticisms of the “detailed” Massei report, and comment on them one by one.
6. In the U.S. there are many wrongful convictions, often in very public trials, with little outcry from the general public. The average person pays little attention to details.
7. Those of us who do pay attention know how erroneous this conviction is. Take the time to look at the very circumstantial evidence one piece at a time and you will see this.
Charles, I’m not sure anyone has claimed there is an international outcry against the Italian judicial system, or even against the Perugian judicial system. Advocates for Amanda WISH there were an international outcry, but that time does not seem to have come yet.
You’re right, “… neither Hillary Clinton, the State Dept, Amnesty International, the UN, the US Embassy in Rome, nor indeed any reputable international body has expressed any criticism of Italy at all over this.” That is not the same as saying they support the decision of the Perugian court, or believe Amanda is guilty of the crime; none of them has said those things, either. These entities all practice diplomacy. They are allowing the first appeal to be carried out. After that, they may react, if necessary; we don’t know what their plans are.
You wrote, “Don’t forget that Knox’s lawyers are part of this system. Such inflammatory remarks, clearly made by family and friends of Knox, will make the job of these lawyers far harder…”
When people say things like this, I don’t think they realize they are agreeing that the Perugian courts may be influenced by the behavior of people outside the courtroom. This is exactly what Amanda’s supporters have been claiming all along — that the court based its decision on factors apart from the actual evidence that was presented.
Lynn Simons wrote: “And it’s true, Italians reading these blogs (and they do) are not going to be impressed by friends and family of a convicted killer portraying their justice system as corrupt.”
I believe most Italians separate themselves from the misbehavior of a few magistrates in Perugia. Giuliano Mignini, who led the investigation and prosecution of Amanda and Raffaele, has been convicted of abuse of office in another case. He is at fault here, not the Italian legal system. Many Americans, for example, Candace Dempsey, love Italy and Italians, and they don’t consider Mignini or this case to be representative of the whole.
“You only have to look at that picture of her ‘playing’ with a machine gun in a Holocaust Museum”
The above quote goes far in explaining the public’s view. Not only wasn’t it in a Holocaust museum, but it means nothing. Millions of schoolkids on field trips do the same thing. Should you suspect someone of murder if they are silly and immature?
Read the article below.
However, I do agree that those who support Amanda may have hurt her cause by making it sound like her innocence is so blatantly obvious. The false image created by the media made it easy to misinterpret the circumstantial evidence. The real Amanda was lost, and the prosecution took full advantage of the cultural misunderstanding on the part of the Italians.
It takes close scrutiny to see how a false narrative was created. It is very easy to be fooled if you do not look deep enough. During the trial the prosecution did a masterful job, and the defense was divided and weak. Every reporter, including Barbie Nadeau, said the verdict could have gone either way.
Amanda’s side discredit themselves by claiming how obvious it is she is innocent. I have gotten into trouble by saying this at her forum. While I do not doubt her innocence for a second, I understand how the general public could be fooled by taking the circumstantial evidence at face value. That’s why Candace always calls it a murder “mystery.” Read her book, then try to discredit it. Heck, read Barbie’s book, too. It’s extremely short, and you can finish it in the bookstore.
While it is very easy to misinterpret the circumstantial, if you look closely and critically, you will see Amanda & Raffaele are innocent.
One last point. Also read the Massei report carefully, and look at the theory of the crime:
Amanda & Raffaele went to the house with a virtual stranger, Rudy, intending nothing more than relaxing. Amanda just happened to have a giant kitchen knife if her bag. They smoked marijuana and went into their room to fool around. When they heard Rudy bothering Meredith, they spontaneously grabbed knives and joined him, committing an act of unspeakable violence.
Prior to this, Amanda & Raffaele had never committed a single act of violence. Marijuana made them do it – just out of the blue.
Use this as your context when you critically examine the very circumstantial evidence!
Very thin argument there, ‘Michael’. So outside agencies believe a system is corrupt but cannot interfere because they do not want to upset the workings of that corrupt system?
So your suggestion is that all of these reputable bodies (the US State Dept, Amnesty International, etc) quietly allow a US citizen to remain abused and imprisoned in the hope that appeals within that corrupt system might succeed?
Come on, these bodies would be screaming from the rooftops if, at any moment, there was the slightest evidence that a US citizen had been abused or wrongfully imprisoned. You know that, and so does everybody else.
The truth is that if Knox’s appeals fail – as is very likely given that no new evidence has emerged – then there will be no possibility whatsoever of any of these groups ‘suddenly’ deciding to support her. The time to support her was the very moment that abuse and/or wrongful imprisonment was suspected. It never was at any time. That’s why Hillary Clinton never got involved, and nor did anybody else. There is no way that a group like Amnesty International would politely wait for a corrupt system to carry out all of its ‘corrupt’ procedures before intervening in human rights abuse. It would act straight away, publicising Knox’s case all over the world.
And now you even claim a near ‘guarantee’ that Knox’s appeal will succeed. In which case, is there anything more to say? We must presume that you are your small group of friends and family are already celebrating this extraordinary turn-around. Sometimes I wonder why you don’t simply announce that Knox left prison six months ago and is now working as a UN anti-crime envoy. You might as well. Knox is notorious for her ever changing version of reality, and this trait is clearly shared by those who are closest to her. All very strange, and pretty sad too. If Knox really was innocent, all she needed to do was tell the truth. . . .
On the subject of US State Department action you write, “Come on, these bodies would be screaming from the rooftops if, at any moment, there was the slightest evidence that a US citizen had been abused or wrongfully imprisoned. You know that, and so does everybody else.”
Not true. The US State Department has monitored the situation closely and said that they will not comment while the appeals process is underway.
CNN State Department correspondent Jill Dougherty says, “Senior State Department officials tell CNN the U.S. will review the trial but is being cautious about commenting while an appeals process is under way.”
You don’t have any idea what’s going through their minds. The strategy is to let the Italians fix the problem for themselves without losing face. They don’t want to make the problem any worse.
Organizations such as Amnesty International typically don’t become involved until appeals are largely exhausted.
Michael – you’ve got it completely wrong over the machine gun photograph, and even the Guardian article you refer to confirms this. It reads:
‘As for the machine-gun photograph, Deanna Knox said that was a joke (though an arguably tasteless one in view of the sisters’ part-German backgrounds). ‘
Everything can be a ‘joke’ if you chose to live in a dark, amoral world. But as someone from a Jewish background I can tell you that there is nothing ‘funny’ about posting a photograph under the caption ‘The Nazi’ (read it in the Guardian article, Michael), especially when it depicts someone pretending to kill people.
No ‘millions of school kids on field trips’ . . . do not pretend to be Nazis killing people, Michael. Suggesting otherwise is grossly offensive.
And don’t forget that Deanna Knox was the young lady who continually took souvenir photos in court, and indeed posed for a magazine outside the murder scene dressed as if she was heading for a day at Miami beach . . .
LLynn wrote: “Everything can be a ‘joke’ if you chose to live in a dark, amoral world. But as someone from a Jewish background I can tell you that there is nothing ‘funny’ about posting a photograph under the caption ‘The Nazi’ (read it in the Guardian article, Michael), especially when it depicts someone pretending to kill people.”
Don’t forget to direct some of that criticism at all the media outlets that republished the photo and the caption.
Mary H – your last comment sums up everything. You are saying that if proof of Knox’s disturbed mind set had been kept a secret (and posting a picture of yourself pretending to kill people while pulling a maniacle face over the caption ‘Nazi’ is very, very disturbing)then this would have been a good thing. It would not. Full disclosure is essential in a murder case. Whether you believe Knox actually murdered or not, it is certain that she is a very sinister person who knows exactly what went on as regards Meredith’s murder. Your portrayal of her as a wronged young woman does not fit in with the pictures, the drug taking, the sleeping around etc. Combine this with all those lies (which continue to this day) , and the DNA evidence that she was involved in the killing (at the very least she witnessed it happening and did absolutely nothing about it before trying to cover it up – making her a party to a murder) then any chance she has of overturning the verdict completely falls apart. Yes, the pretty liberal Italian system might knock a number of years off her sentence, but she will always be a convicted murderer. The strange claims put forward by friends and family like yourself, just strengthens the view that you are all involved in a would-be cover up, and turns objective readers against her. If she was innocent then you wouldn’t have to try and cover up anything!
Lynn, I am also Jewish, and have lived a year in Israel. It was immature, and definitely tasteless, but absolutely within the range of ‘normal’ childish behavior. It in no way indicates a personality disorder, or evidence Amanda could commit violence. Silly and stupid, nothing more.
What we really learn from that photo is how dangerous it is to post silly things. Everything we do can be taken out of context, and misunderstood. Even if Amanda hadn’t been in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could have come back to hurt her later on. We should teach this to all our students.
I totally agree the Oggi magazine photos the family posed for during the summer of ’08 were extremely tasteless, and showed bad judgment.
However, none of this indicates in any way that Amanda could commit a violent crime!
Michael – You are possibly the only pro-Knox commentator who definitely listens to other people, and indeed makes concessions. This is admirable, and you should be applauded for this. You clearly have your own reasons for taking sides, but are not so partisan that you can’t see why objective readers would disagree with you. I still can’t be persuaded that the extremely strange, provocative behavior of the Knox family does not suggest something is very wrong there (what on earth prompted her sisters to pose in skimpy beach clothes outside the murder scene? What on earth persuaded her mother to start taking happy snaps in court?) I don’t buy your take on the machine gun either. It wasn’t normal kids’ behaviour, any more than Solecitto’s obsession with knives was just another strange coincidence. I also think that Knox’s legal team are unlikely to over-turn a unanimous guilty verdict (At best, I imagine she will have her sentence considerably reduced – something which will actually be small comfort for her or her family, considering she will spend the rest of her life a convicted murderer, whether at liberty or not)…. However, at least you don’t treat unaffiliated people with the kind of contempt that other pro-Knox posters do, constantly twisting and turning the facts to suit their own agenda. We are not as stupid as they make out. You have the good grace to realise this and – again – must be applauded.
This is part of a statement put our yesterday by Judge Michael Heavey:
The Commission’s inquiry concerned actions that I took regarding Amanda Knox’ case in the summer of 2008. As many of you know, Amanda Knox was a college student from Seattle accused of murdering another young woman in Perugia, Italy. In 2008, I learned a lot about Amanda Knox, the case against her, and the Italian judicial system. What I learned about the Amanda Knox case shocked me. What I learned led me to believe that what was happening was an absolute affront to Truth and Justice. I feared Amanda Knox was in grave danger of being convicted of the murder because of illegal and improper poisoning of public opinion and judicial opinion.
A year and a half later, Amanda Knox was in fact convicted and my fears were sadly realized.
As a husband, father, and member of this community, I believed that stepping forward regarding the injustices in Amanda Knox’ case was both ethically and morally required.
It’s indeed disgraceful that ‘Judge’ Heaney should have been guilty of such behaviour. He should be ashamed of himself, thinking that ‘gut feeling’ and bias (his daughter has a connection with the murderer) should over-ride due legal process in a foreign court. I very much hope that he will now resign, as he should have no part to play in the future administration of justice.
I think it is worth repeating as I have previously stated on several blogs about this case, those of us who are attorneys who have looked at this story in great detail and have read the motivation report, both appeals and seen evidence as well as video tapes ALL agree that there is no proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard of proof used by the court is a sloppy and careless one based upon trying to determine what the judges felt might be the most likely set of facts. However we know just how flawed the facts are used to arrive at the motivation reports. It starts with having the wrong time if death, believing witnesses whose information is very unreliable and/or refuted and using forensic leaps of faith to believe something that science does not support. Any reasonable attorney can easily see how mistaken this verdict is, and nothing anybody says can change that. They can not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, thus they must be set free.
Lynn, your Sept.24th post (previous to my Judge Heavey post), has appeared for the first time on my computer just now, so sorry I did not respond. Thanks for acknowledging my looking at both sides – it’s what I train my students to do.
However, you are simply wrong on your trust in Italian justice. Please read Kevad’s post – his views are the same as every U.S. lawyer who has studied the case. The so-called evidence does not come close to meeting the burden of proof. If this was in the U.S., they would not have made a prima facie case, and no grand jury would have indicted.
Every lawyer who has studied this in the U.S. has agreed – and the London Times ran an editorial saying Amanda & Raffaele could have not been brought to trial in Britain.
From The Times
December 8, 2009
Should Knox’s trial even have reached the courtroom?
Speculation, circumstantial evidence, questionable forensics — no wonder the Knox trial makes us uncomfortable
What is it about Amanda Knox that leaves us so unsettled? Is it her outré sexuality, catalogued so faithfully by the media ever since, on November 6, 2007, she found herself implicated in the murder of her flatmate, Meredith Kercher? Was it the cartwheels and the splits that she apparently performed in a Perugia police station while awaiting police questioning? Perhaps, it’s no more complicated than her nickname: “Foxy Knoxy”, redolent of enigmatic, Mona Lisa-like insouciance in the face of a tawdry, sordid, pitiful sex murder.
Actually, our unease springs from a deeper well. Knox discombobulates because we feel guilty. This is a young woman preparing to spend the next 26 years behind bars, whose case, had it been brought in Britain, would never have reached court. If by some cruel miracle a British judge had found himself presiding over 12 good men and true, whose task it was to determine whether Knox was innocent of Kercher’s murder, it is inconceivable that he would not have made strong, telling directions to acquit.
Whatever the truth of the tragic events on the night of November 2, 2007, the evidence against Knox was flimsy at best, inchoate at worst. From start to finish the Knox saga has produced its very own peculiar brand of bedevilment.
“You are always behaving like a little saint. Now we will show you. Now we will make you have sex.” Those are words spoken by the “she-devil” Knox to Kercher on the night of the crime — only they weren’t. Instead, they are the fanciful imaginings of an Italian prosecutor, speculating before the jury about the words Knox may have uttered to Kercher. Try imagining a British barrister saying this in an Old Bailey trial. British judges don’t use gavels, but if they did, one would be thrown at counsel’s head for so preposterous a piece of subliminal advertising.
To look at the timeline of events is to come up, again and again, with doubt, confusion and sensationalism. On occasion, Knox has not helped herself. But people who stand accused of serious crimes rarely get everything right. The ice-cold murderer is a fictional stereotype; prosaic reality reveals that nervousness, stress and pressure create ambiguities, or what lawyers like to call “factual lacunae”. It is the job of a criminal trial — in Britain, at least — to test the accused’s story, to sift the evidence and to measure the facts.
What do we actually know in the Knox case? Very little. We know that she and Kercher met as students at the University for Foreigners in Perugia, where they shared a whitewashed cottage. Kercher, who was studying politics and language at Leeds University, introduced Knox to her friends and showed her around the walled city. But the relationship soon became tense, as those between student flatmates often do. Kercher apparently disapproved of how the American would bring strange men to the house, and told friends that she was irritated by Knox’s toilet habits and guitar-playing.
Here the first intimations of Knox the “she-devil” emerge. Hearsay tells us that Knox was sexually voracious; she even slept with a man she met on the train on the way to Perugia. So much for Erica Jong’s infamous, remorse-free “zipless f***” in Fear of Flying — for Knox’s Italian prosecutors, such conduct apparently meant that she was fast, loose and prone to kill.
Leaked information shows that she had had seven partners, three of whom she had slept with after her arrival in Italy (the list excluded her co-accused, Raffaele Sollecito). Heavens — on Facebook, she even included “men” as an interest.
In a society that jumps to condemn Sally Bercow’s admission of past sexual indiscretions, while agonising over the “fall” of Tiger Woods for precisely the same activities, Knox’s supposed predilection for leaving a beauty case containing a vibrator and condoms in the bathroom was all of a piece with her penchant for penning rape fantasies.
Only, again, it wasn’t. For just as indisputable as Kercher’s dead body, found with her throat cut in her bedroom, is the fact that there is not one iota of physical evidence placing Knox at the crime scene. Niente, nada, nihil. There is a knife, yes, and it has Knox’s DNA on its handle. The knife was found at the house of Knox’s then boyfriend, Sollecito — but if she had helped him to prepare dinner, traces of her DNA on his knives would not be surprising.
But the attorney Anne Bremner, who offered her services pro bono to Knox via Friends for Amanda, has roundly dismissed the idea that Sollecito’s is the knife that killed Kercher. Bremner argues that the murder weapon was never found; a bloody print on the bed linen, she says, conveys the shape of the actual murder weapon and the knife in question “doesn’t match an outline of the knife on the bed”.
Additionally, Bremner told Time magazine, expert testimony has shown that at least two of the wounds on Kercher’s neck couldn’t have been made by that particular blade.
Some of Sollecito’s DNA was found on one of Kercher’s bra clasps. Note — some of Sollecito’s DNA. But the finding throws up yet more doubt. The clasp wasn’t collected until more than two months after the murder and film footage of the crime scene investigation suggests that it was periodically picked up and moved. The likelihood of DNA contamination is huge.
Rather more certainty emerges in the rootless figure of Rudy Hermann Guede, 21. Giuliano Mignini, the lead prosecutor, contends that between them Guede and Sollecito inflicted a total of 43 wounds and bruises on Kercher in the course of a sex game undertaken to please Knox, for whose attention they were vying. Mignini accuses Knox of inflicting the fatal stab wound, after which she and her boyfriend fled. If so much is open to question, Guede’s guilt is undoubted. He was given a 30-year sentence in October 2008, after opting to be tried under a “fast track” legal process.
But what of Knox’s own statements? Her critics point to various inconsistencies. Granted, she appears to have contradicted herself, at one stage telling investigators that she had been present at the scene of the murder and that Patrick Lumumba, her boss at the bar where she worked a couple of nights a week, had assaulted Meredith.
Lumumba has since been exonerated of all suspicion. When he was released, Knox wrote in her prison journal: “Patrick got out today! Finally! Something is going right!”
To those who rush to judge her, this is an affirmation of her role in Kercher’s murder, a gauche expiation of guilt at Lumumba having been dragged into things. To seasoned criminal lawyers, Knox’s words — including her subsequent claim that she spent the night of the murder at Sollecito’s home — are typical of the confusion engendered by hours of interrogation in extremis, in an unfamiliar judicial system.
Those same criminal lawyers would also, had the trial been in the UK, been on safe ground in applying to have it abandoned as having been hopelessly prejudiced not merely by media coverage, but by Italian prosecutors, who routinely divulge what should be confidential pre-trial information to an all-too-eager media.
Here, contempt of court laws prevent the publication of information, from the moment of arrest or criminal charge, that may have a substantial risk of causing serious prejudice to a trial. The piecemeal leaking of salacious information about Knox — her sexual exploits, her smoking cannabis with Sollecito, her cartwheels and prison journal extemporisations — was a disgrace that would never have been countenanced under UK law. She was subjected to a relentless, corrosive character assassination that she had never had a chance of fighting.
But the biggest disgrace of all — and the reason we don’t like the Knox verdict — is down to sex. In a trial where the evidence has struggled even to reach the realm of the circumstantial, Knox has been demonised for being a sexually active woman. Nothing in the facts — nothing, for even Guede’s testimony sheds no light on what actually happened to Meredith Kercher — sustains the Italian prosecution’s belief that an evil she-devil’s sex game went wrong. It is conjecture, pure and simple.
Quite why, with Guede’s guilt established, the authorities insisted on the she-devil sex game is rather more a matter for psychological analysis than the humdrum details of Knox’s Seattle past.
Knox’s family will appeal against the verdict, one arrived at by the justice system of the country whose luminaries include Dante, di Lampedusa, Fellini and Michelangelo, cultural icons who perhaps helped inspire Kercher and Knox to make their journeys to Umbria.
It is a tragedy that Italy — which also played a key role in the development of Western jurisprudence — should stand by as so chilling a blend of sexism and injustice wreaks havoc.
“This was a girl who for the first time experienced freedom and fully exploited it and got in over her head. Drugs and alcohol change people.” The question is not so much whether Amanda Knox has experienced freedom but whether you have? She’s from Seattle, Washington. Ever hear of Seattle, Washington? I doubt very much that she “experience freedom” for the first time in Italy. “Drugs and alcohol change people”? Have you never smoked pot? Have you ever heard of anyone cutting someone’s throat because they were stoned on pot? Amanda Knox is frequently referred to as “naive” in the press, but the naivety of several of the posters here actually raises belly laughs in me. When you were twenty, did you have friends outside of the convent? You are over twenty, aren’t you?
Kevan – your claims don’t quite fit in with a unanimous guilty verdict supported by numerous independent judges, the US Embassy in Rome, the State Dept, Amnesty International and every other credible body that’s looked at this case. Those complaining amount to a few bloggers related to Knox through family or old friendships. Oh, and those selling books about the subject, of course.
It sounds like you are trying to preempt and discredit sources rather than make arguments. Furthermore, the means by which you attempted discredit those sources are inaccurate. Professional, independent opinions have been offered in defense of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, with absolute, clear results.
The main unqualified blogs, on the other hand, come from the side of promoting the prosecution’s message.
No Ranulph Evans, it’s not a few bloggers. And you don’t know what the US Government is thinking. Let’s take a look at what some journalists and other prominent people have said about the case.
US Sen. Maria Cantwell ( Democrat Washington)
“The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty.”
Doug Preston (Author and commentator for CBS,CNN,and ABC )
“This is a case based on lies, superstition, and crazy conspiracy theories and that’s it”
Paul Ciolino (private investigator retained by CBS)
“This is a lynching … this is a lynching that is happening in modern day Europe right now and it’s happening to an American girl who has no business being charged with anything.”
Tim Egan (NY Times correspondent)
“The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.”
Peter Van Sant (CBS correspondent)
“We have concluded that Amanda Knox is being railroaded”
John Q Kelly (Guest on CNN Larry King Live)
“This case is probably the most egregious international railroading of two innocent young people that I have ever seen… This is actually a public lynching based on rank speculation and vindictiveness. It’s just a nightmare what these people are going through.”
Judy Bachrach (Guest on CNN Larry King Live)
“there isn’t a scintilla of evidence.. the prosecutor is famously incompetent.”
(S. Michael Scadron, retired US Justice Dept Attorney)
“Unfolding in Perugia, Italy over the past few years is the demonizing of an American foreign-exchange student convicted of murdering her British housemate in a drug fueled orgy. The sex game scenario is one dreamed up by the prosecutor, embellished in the media, but unsupported by the evidence before the court.”
Steve Moore (retired FBI agent, 25 years)
“In the U.S., this type of prosecutorial misconduct would almost certainly have resulted in a mistrial, and likely jail time for the prosecutor.”
Ranulph repeats the same misinformation (which the guilters depend on).
Amnesty has made no comment whatsoever because the case in ongoing, and following due process (Italian style). However, there is a large movement within the Amnesty community to support Amanda & Raffaele, and absolutely none that supports the conviction.
Phanuel’s list above is just the tip of the iceberg of legitimate, independent sources who have condemned the conviction. Read the editorial in the London Times (not a tabloid), also posted above. Reply, if you can, to the points it makes, rather than spreading misinformation.
“Ranulph,” when you refer to “numerous independent judges,” I hope you are not referring to the judges in Perugia, who are anything but independent.
As has already been posted on this page, it is not true that the US Embassy in Rome, the State Dept, Amnesty International or any other credible body that’s looked at this case support the guilty verdict. Not one has made any statement even resembling that sentiment. The most that has been said is from Ian Kelly of the US Sate Department:
“…we will monitor this, this procedure as it goes forward, to make sure that Amanda Knox enjoys all the rights that she’s entitled to under Italian local law ….. And something else that we always say is that we are not going to comment too much on an ongoing legal process, and it is an ongoing legal process.”
Ranulph Evans, I have stated that as an experienced attorney in California I have spent several hundred hours reviewing the 427 paged motivation report, the appeals of both defendants which totals about 480 pages, hundreds of pictures including many trial exhibits, many hours of video including trial exhibits and police made videos, as much trial testimony as there is, and I have read most every blog, forum and newspaper article on this case. As an attorney it is very easy to see that the lower court did not use the correct standard or burden of proof in this matter. Under Italian Law the defendants are in fact innocent UNTIL it is proven they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That standard is a very high standard that is not met by making up assumptions of what the court feels might be the most likely set of facts. The court uses possibilities and then claims it feels some things are more probable than not in deciding this case, AND THAT IS NOT THE REQUIRED ITALIAN STANDARD. The court totally ignored the many many sets of facts establishing reasonable doubt. The appeals by both defendants are extremely strong, they point out the errors and mistakes of the lower court. Under your way of misguided thinking there would be no need for an appeal process or to correct the occasional mistakes that lower courts make. You assume that the others actually reviewed all the facts and evidence or really know what happened. Most of the prior judges had limited information and did not consider all of the facts. Many people, apparently such as yourself, have no understanding of the legal process and assume a proper consideration was made. The appeals make it clear that the evidence was not properly evaluated and that the defendants were not proven guilty anywhere near the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt which is both written in Italian law and in Italian Supreme Court rulings. There is no doubt a mistake was made, and both defendants should not have been found guilty. I live in California and no none of the Knox family or Raffaele’s family, this is my opinion, shared by all other attorneys I have spoken with who have spent considerable time reviewing this case.
Comments are now closed on this post. Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion.
Thx for information.