I am used to seeing cases I’ve worked on portrayed inaccurately in the press, but “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy” is absolutely the most inaccurate film I’ve ever seen. If it’s a “based on a true story,” I’m perplexed as to which story that is. Time after time, I groaned that half of a fact was being provided and that the most important part of the fact remained hidden. A word for this tactic is "Propaganda." The film makes as much sense as its title.
There is a truism in law enforcement: “Manipulated evidence is like a bikini; what it shows seems to be important, but what it hides is crucial.” An example in this movie is a line from the Italian investigator that suggests that a break-in is staged because glass from a window broken to gain entry “is on top of the clothes,” which were pulled out of the drawer after the glass was broken. Fair enough. Except that at the actual crime scene, almost all the glass was found UNDER the clothes. The glass on top of the clothing was simply glass from the top of desks and chests which was dislodged during the ransacking of the room. Not saying that more glass was found under the clothes than on top can only be intentional manipulation.
Half the truth plus half the truth equals no truth at all.
While I realize that Lifetime and Mr. Dornhelm have to make money to survive, it is astounding to me that they would be willing to do so at the cost of the life of an innocent girl and an innocent boy. It is possible that Dornhelm himself was manipulated by Mignini, the chief investigator. If this is true, it shows only that he is tragically and dangerously naive, and not simply avaricious. This is possible; he’s a filmmaker, not a forensic expert.
Other gross inaccuracies:
1. “Luminol” testing was conducted the day the murder was discovered, and gave valuable evidence. In fact, Luminol testing was not done for almost three weeks, and gave no evidence of culpability of either Amanda or Raffaele.
2. A statement made by the “investigator” at the crime scene was actually laughable: When told that some bloody footprints were found both visible and latent, he mutters; “So the crime scene was cleaned.” If the crime scene was cleaned, no footprints would have been found. It’s akin to saying “I’ve found a dead mouse in an eagle’s nest. It must have learned to fly, gotten into the nest and committed suicide.”
3. Gross, large amounts of blood were shown to be visible to Amanda at the cottage that morning. In reality, there were two or three individual drops in various places, not running splashes.
I could go on and on, but I ran out of paper and energy after the first few scenes. This movie was simply propaganda for the prosecutor, witting or unwitting. I’m reminded of the joke of the scientists that did an experiment on a frog. They trained him to jump on command. They would yell “Jump!” and he would leap. Then, they cut off his legs. They yelled “Jump!” and he just sat there. They came to the conclusion that when you cut off a frog’s legs, he goes deaf. That’s the kind of logic that has Amanda and Raffaele in prison. And this is the kind of logic Dornhelm used and defended.
If the movie was a sad commentary on the commercialism of media, the documentary following the movie was a tragedy. The producers of the documentary had enough information to know that Amanda and Raffaele were innocent. I know; I was in the documentary, and I gave them the information. Whoever edited the film, edited out exculpatory evidence. Period. I personally gave them photos and physical evidence which answered every question. Every single question left unanswered in the viewers’ mind in that documentary was previously answered for the producers. I am not alleging necessarily that the people who made most of the documentary made the “final edit” decisions, but somebody made them. Everybody I spoke with having anything to do with that documentary was convinced of Amanda’s innocence. Yet, the finished documentary left the question unanswered and in doubt.
The tactics used in the documentary were unconscionable. For instance, a statement was made by Barbie Nadeau, a food critic-turned crime-writer for this trial: "No fingerprints were found of Amanda, but several unidentified fingerprints were said by the prosecutors to be hers." This incredibly prejudicial statement was left unchallenged. If they were unidentified, they cannot in any court in the world be presumed to be anybody's! But not only was this incredibly malicious statement aired, it was aired without comment or rebuttal! It was if she said, "The witness didn't see the murderer. But she believes it was the defendant."
Unidentified fingerprints, by the way, or not the same as UNIDENTIFIABLE fingerprints. Unidentifiable fingerprints are smudged or unreadable and cannot be linked to anybody. Unidentified fingerprints are fingerprints where an accurate lift has been made. If they are not demonstrably linked to Amanda, it is because they were not a match for her. Period.
I cannot tell you why they chose not to air information that would so obviously have cleared Amanda and Raffaele, except to point out that “Lifetime,” who made a movie which did not show Amanda and Raffaele’s innocence, would not likely be well-served by a documentary following, which did.
Showing a movie which is simply a shill for the prosecution during Amanda’s appeal was conscienceless and a sad commentary on the commercialism of media and the avarice of individuals. But I’m sure Mr. Dornhelm can still live with himself. Why else do you think they serve alcohol at film premiers?
About the Author: Steve Moore is a retired FBI Agent who has 25 years of investigative experience. His experience includes the investigation and prosecution of violent crime, from murder to mass-murder and terrorism. Steve has researched the Meredith Kercher murder case extensively. I was very pleased when Steve accepted my request to write about his knowledge of this case for Injustice in Perugia. Steve has agreed to join our effort and will continue to work with us to set the record straight about this case. I would like to personally thank Steve for providing this invaluable information. Steve's expert opinion is one that comes from years of experience and one that must be respected when it comes to crimes of this nature.
Steve's expert opinion can also be read in my new book, Injustice in Perugia.
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