Friday, April 22, 2011

Amanda Knox: Keep the Faith

By Karen Pruett

On May 6, 2011, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito will have spent 1,277 days in prison for a murder they did not commit.  One week longer than Meredith Kercher’s actual murderer, Rudy Guede.

May 20, 2011 will be an important day in appellate court as Judge Claudio Patrillo Hellman rules on the admissibility of challenged DNA evidence and witnesses.  In late March the Roman experts conducting the independent review advised the court that there was “not enough DNA to test” on either the Knife or the Bra Clasp and the clasp was rusted from incorrect storage.  We are cautiously optimistic that the judge may consider throwing out both pieces of evidence which would clear the way for Amanda and Raffaele’s release.

So our hopes are that Judge Hellman will follow the law and rule fairly.

Two prosecution witnesses were also challenged by the defense.  “Toto” Curlatolo, the homeless heroin addict who hangs out in the plaza above the cottage, and Nara Capazelli, a neighbor who lives across the street.  Toto described for the court, six times under oath, the night of Halloween with kids in costumes getting into disco buses as he watched Our Kids “watching the cottage” until midnight.  Meredith died the next evening on All Saints Day when no buses were running.  The defense produced three disco owners who affirmed that no buses ran on November 1, 2007.

Then the Chief of Homicide, Monica Napoleani, “could not be found,” she was to testify about interviewing Toto; the judge leveled a fine of 300 lira and compelled her to appear.  The absence of Napoleani is significant as she has never missed a day in court and is a key player in Amanda’s ordeal.  This woman is one of the directors of the Illegal Interrogation and the source of the “cartwheel” legend.

Mrs. Capazelli, the “Ear Witness,” is an elderly lady who lives across the street and claimed to hear a scream the night of the murder.  When police saw her interview on TV, she was subpoenaed, but never actually interviewed by them.  An acoustical test proved that it was impossible to hear a scream through her closed double-paned window.  The defense witness, a tow-truck driver, was outside in the general area and never heard a scream.

Although this is good news for the defense, we do not trust the Office of Public Minister Giuliano Mignini, as they are adept at manipulating Italy’s Laws.  Currently he is ‘assisting’ the prosecutors, but by Italian law he not supposed to have anything to do with the appeal, yet he continues to work the system.

On April 20, 2011, CBS News reported that longtime Innocence advocate, Frank Sfarzo, the Perugia Shock blogger who lives and reports from Perugia, was arrested by the police, beaten up and then charged with police abuse.  Doug Longhini reported that “The New York based Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) wrote a letter to Italy's President Georgio Napolitano expressing concern about the continuing harassment of journalists covering the Knox case in Italy. The Committee complained that journalists had been threaten and harassed by police and prosecutors in Perugia for the past several years; the worst case being Sfarzo's.”  PM Mignini is trying to silence him with the same tactics he used on Doug Preston and Mario Spezi in 2006.  The prosecution is calling Frank 'crazy.’  Sound familiar?

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”—Robert F. Kennedy.

“Amanda is one of the most selfless, compassionate people I’ve ever known. She has been a positive influence in my life since I met her and continues to be one even now.  Her optimism, kindness, care for others, and hope for this world will always inspire me. Even now, in complete Amanda-fashion, her letters home are filled with concern for her loved ones instead of complaints about her own plight.  The emptiness we feel without her is testament to the type of person she truly is. 
I miss you Amanda.  Seattle is even more gray without you here.—Madison Paxton, a friend who moved to Perugia in 2010 to help Amanda’s family care for her,

“Meredith Kercher was murdered in Perugia Italy, November 1st, 2007.  Investigators were aware early on that there was no evidence at the crime scene to suggest that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were present at the time of Meredith Kercher's murder.  They were also aware of the fact that the lead prosecutor on the case, Guiliano Mignini, was telling them the two were involved.  With this in mind, they would try desperately to find incriminating evidence to satisfy Mignini’s request.  This approach led to a rush to judgment long before a single piece of evidence was tested and more importantly before the real killer, Rudy Guede, had even appeared on their radar.”—Bruce Fisher, moderator., author of Injustice in Perugia.”

“None of the pieces taken from the crime scene pointed to Knox or her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito – the evidence all pointed to Rudy Guede.   Guede's DNA was everywhere, in the victim's room and on her body.  Guede has been convicted of murder, but why they persisted in still charging and convicting Knox and Sollecito, I don't know.  It's a pretty simple story, if they waited for the DNA first, they would have solved this quickly without any kind of mess.”—Dr. Greg Hampikian, Boise State University, Director of the Idaho Innocence Project.

 “The more I investigated, the more I realized that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito could not have had anything to do with the murder of Meredith Kercher.  Moreover, one reason that they were falsely convicted was that every rule of a good investigation was violated.”—Steve Moore FBI (ret), Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent.

“If they are innocent, then how did they get convicted?  Amanda and Raffaele were detained and held without charge before the forensic evidence came back implicating Rudy Guede.  The day of their arrest the police paraded them through the old town with lights on and horns blaring.  By the time Guede was becoming a suspect, a major figure in the Rome police department had put Ms. Knox’s picture in the hallway, right next to the arrest of Bernardo Provenzano.  I think it is a case where the police and Public Minister Mignini had made a bold claim about Knox and Sollecito’s involvement and could not back down.”—Christopher Halkides, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, “View From Wilmington,” blogspot.

 “The Massei Motivation is important evidence.  Very poor evidence against Amanda and Raffaele, but very telling evidence against Giuliano Mignini and the judges that made this decision.  As we analyze it, we see a pattern of contortions that go well beyond bad judgment calls or mere incompetence.  Instead we see sign after sign of willful and deliberate twisting to achieve a desired result.  It is a critical fact for the understanding of this trial that guilt was preordained; the evidence was an afterthought.”—Mark Waterbury, PhD, Science Spheres, author of “Monster of Perugia, the Framing of Amanda Knox.”

“Despite Mignini’s having been convicted of abuse of office for his Monster of Florence activities, he’s still being allowed to participate in Amanda’s appeal, a most-unusual occurrence since appeals are supposed to be do-overs.  Even Amanda Knox’s lawyers have not escaped Mignini and the Perugia police’s legal wrath, nor have her parents, who are being sued for slander.  The father and sister of Raffaele Sollecito, her co-defendant, are also being brought to court for leaking a crime scene video–despite the many, many leaks from police and prosecutors during the so-called “trial of the century.”—Candace Dempsey, Seattle PI, author of “Murder in Italy.”

“This is going to make you laugh. Guess who the prosecution, now, thinks to be involved with the crime?  Me.  It’s no surprise. It’s perfectly consistent with everything else.  The great psychologists who thought that a girl first watches Amelie and then goes and kills her housemate must of course think that the one who writes about a crime is the criminal.  Five cops, then, reported to have been beaten by me and they proved it with a medical certificate.  Will the great judges be fooled again by a couple of cops and a piece of paper?  Of course.  It’s their specialty!  This is the local mind.  Have you all now figured out why this judicial disaster happened?”—Frank Sfarzo,, March 26, 2011.

 “Amanda had absolutely nothing to do with the murder.  The outpouring of abuse toward her is extremely disturbing.  I am convinced she is innocent and I cannot understand why there has been such a bloodthirsty rush to judgment.  The ugly anti-Americanism in the Italian and British press is perhaps understandable (although inexcusable), but why the same in America?  Some of the comments posted in blogs verge on the psychotic.”—Douglas Preston, author of The Monster of Florence.”

“It’s a railroad job from hell.  Say goodbye to Amanda, she's been so convicted already that it's scary.  She's gonna be gone unless people rise up and fight."—Paul Ciolino, CBS News, Afterword from Monster of Florence, by Preston and Spezi.

“No one can put Amanda with Rudy or Raffaele with Rudy.  I believe that Italian authorities railroaded Amanda for the crime after theorizing Meredith was killed because she refused to join in a drug-fueled orgy with Amanda and the two men.  The citizens of Italy have been given misinformation about her.  Their justice system is great, but like our justice system, it is run by people and can be abused, mistakes can be made, they took a good person and they demonized her.  Amanda was unjustly convicted due to the ill-will of the prosecutor and the media’s assault on her integrity.”—Michael Heavy, U.S. Superior Court Judge.

“I am continually impressed by the caliber of people who are speaking out for Amanda and Raffaele.  Some are dealing with irrational barriers as they advocate for these innocent kids, yet continue despite the hate mongering and slander.  No one does that for a guilty person.”—Karen Pruett, Innocence Advocate.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I don’t know if I can really express what it means to me to have the people who have known me (and even those that haven’t) by my side throughout all of this… After a year I at least have learned to respond to the negativity of my current environment as peacefully and calmly as possible, but my family is still out there in the world that just can’t seem to make up its mind about what to do with my life. So thank you, thank you, thank you.  Io lo so che non sono sola anche quando sono sola.  Even when I am alone, I’m not alone.”—Amanda Knox, Capanne Prison, December 2009.

Taking back their reputations one word at a time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Committee to Protect Journalists Speaks out: In Italy, journalists threatened for reporting on murders

Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

Injustice in Perugia has been granted permission to post this letter in its entirety by The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

April 19, 2011
His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano
President of the Italian Republic
Palazzo del Quirinale
00187 Roma
Via email:

Dear President Napolitano,
The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities' harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia. CPJ is particularly troubled by the manifest intolerance to criticism displayed by Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who has filed or threatened to file criminal lawsuits against individual reporters, writers, and press outlets, both in Italy and the United States, in connection with the Kercher murder investigation as well as the investigation into the Monster of Florence serial killings.
The Kercher murder investigation was headed by Mignini and conducted by a Perugia police unit known as the Squadra Mobile. Mignini was also in charge of the latest investigation into the unsolved murders of eight couples in Tuscany between 1968 and 1985, collectively known as the Monster of Florence killings because of the especially cruel manner in which the victims were slain.

The anti-press actions of Squadra Mobile under Mignini's supervision, coupled with Mignini's longstanding record of harassment of journalists who criticize his conduct on the job, cause the press to stay away from sensitive subjects, including important developments in the Kercher case such as the appeal of two defendants in the case. CPJ is particularly concerned about the impact Perugia authorities' repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers, who lack the support and backing of major publications. These individuals are most vulnerable to official retaliation for their work, including legal prosecution and physical attack.

As the appeal of the defendants--U.S. student Amanda Knox and Italian student Raffaele Sollecito--continues at the appellate court of Perugia (Corte di Assise di Appello di Perugia), we call on you to ensure that journalists, writers, and bloggers are able to report and comment on the proceedings freely and without fear of reprisal.

Of the cases that have come to CPJ's attention, one stands out because of the abusive actions employed by members of Squadra Mobile to punish a critic of the official Kercher murder inquiry. Local freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo created his English-language blog Perugia Shock in 2007, days after Kercher's gruesome murder. Based in Perugia, Sfarzo became interested in the case from the start, posting reporting and comments on it on his blog. Sfarzo regularly criticized what he considered flaws in the Kercher investigation, at times using harsh language to express his views.

Sfarzo told CPJ his troubles started on October 28, 2008, the day Knox and Sollecito were indicted and a third defendant was convicted of murdering Kercher. Several members of Squadra Mobile, Sfarzo told CPJ, approached him just outside the city court (Corte di Assise di Perugia) and started to push and hit him. "You are pissing us off!"--they told him, referring to his coverage.

When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court; seized his cellphone and went through his contacts and text messages; mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. "This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing," Sfarzo told CPJ.

The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered Sfarzo's apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, Sfarzo told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sfarzo to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply, he told CPJ. They stopped when a neighbor, disturbed by the commotion, showed up, Sfarzo said.

Next, the officers took Sfarzo to the Perugia city hospital, where they claimed he had attacked them; they persuaded a doctor to issue a medical report for the injuries Sfarzo was alleged to have caused. In addition, the Squadra Mobile officers brought Sfarzo before a psychiatrist, demanding that she issue him a certificate of insanity. To prove that Sfarzo was mentally ill, the officers produced Sfarzo's reporter's notebook on the Kercher murder case, which they had seized from his apartment. "They told the doctor that I was pathologically obsessed with the case, that I was so fixated on it I must be insane," Sfarzo told CPJ. The psychiatrist refused to issue the certificate.

From the hospital, the officers brought a handcuffed and injured Sfarzo to their headquarters, where, in the blogger's words, they "displayed me as a trophy," referring to him as "the bastard who defends Amanda [Knox]." The officers refused Sfarzo's requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.

The next day, the officers brought Sfarzo before a local judge, who validated his arrest and indicted him on several articles of Italy's penal code for "using violence and threats to resist public officials" and "injuring an officer." Sfarzo was released pending a trial in May. He faces up to six years in prison if convicted. "The police can count on the complicity of judges," Sfarzo told CPJ. Police officers, he added, are sure of their impunity.

CPJ is also concerned that Prosecutor Mignini has filed or threatened to file criminal defamation lawsuits against a number of journalists and media outlets--both in Italy and in the United States--who have criticized his record.

In September 2010, Giangavino Sulas, an investigative reporter with the national weekly newsmagazine Oggi, received an official notification that Mignini had started legal action against him in response to an Oggi article he had published earlier that year, Sulas told CPJ. The article in question criticized the Monster of Florence homicide investigation, which Mignini headed, and mentioned the prosecutor's conviction on abuse of office charges related to his conduct in that case, Sulas said. Oggi editor Umberto Brindani also received two "notices of investigation" that year--dated July 24 and September 2--in relation to the magazine's coverage of the Monster of Florence case, CPJ confirmed. Neither Sulas nor Brindani have received further prosecution notices. (In January 2010, a Florence court handed Mignini a 16-month prison term on, among other charges, illegal wiretapping of journalists who covered the Monster of Florence case. Mignini remains free and on the job while he appeals the sentence.)

Back in 2006, Mignini had veteran crime reporter Mario Spezi imprisoned on a long list of trumped-up charges as retaliation for Spezi's journalistic investigation into the Monster of Florence series of killings. CPJ advocated on Spezi's behalf, Spezi was eventually released, and his work resulted in a best-selling true crime novel, named after the case and cowritten by U.S. writer Douglas Preston. Despite the positive dénouement, in the years after Spezi's release, Mignini has continued to pile up indictments against the journalist in the Monster case. The indictments have been as severe as "complicity to murder," CPJ research shows. In October 2009, when Spezi was attending a preliminary court hearing in one such indictment, he read a statement in his defense, the journalist told CPJ. The statement was sharply critical of Mignini, Spezi told CPJ. Soon after the hearing, the prosecutor indicted Spezi for "offending the honor and prestige of a judge"--a criminal charge that carries up to five years in prison if convicted.

Spezi's trial on that charge took place in February in Florence. He was found guilty in early March and sentenced either to serve 15 days in prison or to pay 570 euros (US$826) in damages to Mignini; Spezi told CPJ he has opted to pay. He and his lawyer are considering an appeal, he said.
CPJ research shows Spezi no longer covers the Monster of Florence case. And the chilling effect of Mignini's anti-press actions has reverberated across the ocean.

Preston, Spezi's co-author who suffered harassment by Mignini himself in 2006--and eventually was forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment--told CPJ he was still afraid of going back. He has been unable to clarify his legal status in Italy. In the summer of 2008, Mignini told third parties that he would have Preston arrested if the writer returned, Preston writes in the Afterword to The Monster of Florence paperback edition, published in 2009. When the U.S. State Department contacted Mignini's office to verify whether an arrest warrant in Preston's name indeed existed, Mignini refused to reply, citing concerns for Preston's confidentiality, the author said.

Mignini has used a similar tactic against the U.S. weekly newspaper West Seattle Herald. In late January 2009, the paper published an article that criticized the investigation into the Kercher murder case as lacking in evidence; it also contained a reference to unnamed legal experts who reportedly believed Mignini to be "mentally unstable." The article was published on the web on February 1 of that year and triggered a swift reaction by Mignini. Eleven days later, he told the BBC he had filed a defamation claim against the West Seattle Herald. "I am quite a healthy man," the BBC reported Mignini as saying. "I don't go to the doctor much, and I have never visited a psychologist."

In an email interview with CPJ, West Seattle Herald Editor Ken Robinson said the paper had not received any official notifications of legal action. Robinson said that the paper does not fear repercussions from Mignini and that the paper does not send reporters to Italy simply for budgetary concerns.

Robinson said he and his newspaper were not perturbed by the prosecutor's actions, but that is not the case with Joe Cottonwood, another U.S. writer Mignini has threatened with a criminal defamation lawsuit. Cottonwood told CPJ the action stems from a comment related to the Kercher murder case that he emailed to a reporter-friend in Italy. In the comment Cottonwood described Mignini as an "intellectually dishonest bully." The comment was published by the Italian daily newspaper Il Giornale in August 2009.

In an email interview, Cottonwood told CPJ he learned of Mignini's intention to file defamation charges against him from the Italian press. (CPJ is trying to confirm whether Mignini has indeed filed the charge.) But whether Mignini has indeed filed the charge or only threatened to do so, Cottonwood is not taking any chances. "I will not return to Italy," the writer told CPJ. "I don't have the financial resources and can't afford to defend myself there."

Your Excellency, we are urging you to ensure that reporters and writers are not afraid to cover, comment on, and criticize the activities of Perugia authorities. This is particularly pressing now that the appeal of two defendants in the Kercher murder case goes on at a local court.

We ask you to ensure that the politically motivated lawsuit against Perugia blogger Frank Sfarzo is immediately scrapped and that outside investigators are assigned to conduct an investigation into the September 28-29, 2010, abusive actions of Squadra Mobile officers against him.

We also call on you, in your capacity as president of Italy's Superior Judicial Council (Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura), to ensure that Perugia prosecutors, including Mignini, are not allowed to use criminal defamation as the proverbial bogeyman against their critics. It is unacceptable that journalists, bloggers, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic should censor themselves by staying away from subjects of public interest such as the Meredith Kercher murder case and the Monster of Florence killings because of Prosecutor Mignini's inability to tolerate the scrutiny that comes with public office. It is also unthinkable that U.S. journalists--who have reported in Italy before and love the country--should not dare go back for fear of being arrested.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.
Joel Simon
Executive Director

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ron Hendry's Analysis of Meredith Kercher's Bra & Clasp for Amanda Knox Case

How the enraged killer ripped the victim’s bra apart with his bare hands

When Meredith Kercher’s body was found the day after the murder, her bra was lying on the floor near her feet. A small portion of her bra, a clasp fabric with two hooks, was later found under a pillow which was under her body. A visual inspection indicated that both shoulder straps were severed. Also, the clasp fabric with two hooks had been severed from the right back strap. A reconstruction of the murder and sexual assault found that the killer, Rudy Guede, had severed the bra at both shoulder straps and the back strap fabric clasp hook section and had then pulled the bra off from the front. Recently, a close examination was undertaken of how the bra straps were severed. The only available quality detail photos of the victim’s bra were those taken at the crime scene. Unfortunately, these photos show only one side of the bra making it difficult to discern and understand the original bra design.

The photo above is the best overall photo of the victim’s bra shown with the breast cups reversed to each other and marked with L for left and R for right.

The exact make and model of the bra is also not currently known so an exemplar bra has not been examined. However a similar bra was examined along with viewing of bra designs over the internet. In examining the similar bra and comparing it to the photos of the victim’s bra, several similarities were noted in the basic construction of each bra. These similarities appear rather common from observing the construction of bra photos found over the internet.

Typical full cup bra design
The victim’s bra was found to be a full cup bra design with shoulder straps. Full cup bras with shoulder straps typically have cup receptacles for both breasts which are connected to each other with fabric and then with side or back straps that attach in the back of the wearer through a hook and loop attachment. Bras typically have shoulder straps that connect from the top of each bra cup over the shoulder to the respective back strap. The shoulder straps typically have an adjusting feature in the back which connects to the non-adjusting strap segment via a metal loop. The non adjusting strap is looped through the metal loop and sewn together at this loop connection. The left back strap typically terminates in the middle of the back with a clasp fabric loop receptacle section.

The right back strap typically terminates in a clasp fabric hook section which overlays the fabric loop section and attaches to the loop receptacles. The right shoulder strap typically attaches to the right back strap a few inches from the clasp fabric hook section and then is sewn along the upper fabric edge of the back strap where it ends and is sewn to the clasp fabric and hook section. The same general construction applies to the left shoulder strap with the exception of the end being at the clasp fabric loop section.

Examination of victim’s bra
A close inspection of the left shoulder strap indicates that this strap was separated at the metal loop connection on the back shoulder side. The non adjustable strap had failed at its threaded connection to the metal loop allowing the non adjustable strap to separate. The killer had to tightly grip the left shoulder strap to either side of the metal loop and then utilize a maximum pulling apart effort to induce failure in the threaded end of the non adjustable strap.

Thus, one would expect the four or five inch region to either side of the left shoulder strap metal loop to be a prime location to find skin and or blood cells belonging to the killer.

Same photo as above with blue circles and dotted lines showing where the left severed  shoulder strap had been connected. The green circles show where the end of the right severed shoulder strap had been sewn to the bra back strap where the fabric clasp hook had also been sewn.


Above is a closeup of the adjustable section of the left shoulder strap showing the metal loop is lacking a non adjustable strap connection. The arrow on left points to a blood stain likely left by the killer’s hands and was either his or the victim’s blood. The arrow on right points to an irregular crease in the strap likely made by the killer’s tight grip needed  to pull the strap apart at the metal loop.

Above  is the non adjustable portion of the left shoulder strap whose end has been ripped from the metal loop by tearing open the sewn threads. Below is a closeup of the ripped open end showing torn sewing threads. The DNA of the killer is likely on this section of the strap as a result of the tight grip and pulling action needed to break the strap apart at the threaded connection.

Next, we consider the right shoulder strap. This strap was severed at the connection of the adjustable strap segment to the back strap. One end of the adjustable strap was sewn to the back strap for about two to three inches where it terminated at the connection of the clasp hook fabric. A close inspection of the right back strap indicates the right shoulder strap had been totally ripped off at the threaded connections.

The photo above shows a closeup view of the right back strap and right shoulder strap. The end of the severed right shoulder strap is located at the upper arrow. This strap had been sewn along the blue line to the back strap where it ended at the clasp fabric hook section which had also been torn off and is not shown in this photo. The lower left arrow locates where the clasp fabric hook had been sewn onto the right back strap.

The upper photo above is a view of the inside end of the right back strap. The bottom photo is a  view of the inside of the severed fabric clasp hook. Both had been sewn together along with the end of the right shoulder strap. Note the machine cut look to both pieces and the sewn appearance to both pieces with loose threads seen in both as well. Also note that one of the hooks has been heavily deformed and almost pulled apart from the clasp fabric.

When examining the severed fabric clasp hook section, one can detect where it had  been sewn together with the right bra strap end. When examining the right bra strap end, one can detect where it had been sewn to the fabric clasp hook and the right shoulder strap.

Thus, it becomes apparent that ripping off the right shoulder strap would result in a partial if not total unzipping or ripping off of the fabric clasp hook as well. If anything, once the right shoulder strap had been ripped off, it would take only a little more effort to totally rip off the fabric clasp hook. 

The illustration above shows how the fabric clasp and hook (red outline) was sewn attached to the end of the right bra strap. The blue line shows how the right shoulder strap had also been sewn both to the back strap and the inside of the fabric clasp and hook. Thus when the killer ripped off the right shoulder strap he also partially ripped the fabric clasp from the right bra strap.

The illustration above shows the three primary hand grips the killer used to rip apart the victim’s bra. Handgrip zones 1 and 2 (orange) are the locations the killer likely used to try and pull the back strap apart at the hooks. Handgrips 3 and 4 (blue) were the locations the killer likely used to rip the right shoulder strap off the bra strap and this in turn likely partially separated the fabric clasp and hook piece. Handgrips 5 and 6 (green) were the locations the killer likely used to pull the left shoulder strap apart at the metal loop.

The photo above shows the bra from the Mignini Forensic Report. The numbers apparently indicate four locations where DNA testing had taken place by Forensic Biologist Stefanoni. Location A corresponds with location 6 in the handgrip illustration. Location C is at one end of location 5 in the handgrip illustration. Location B appears to somewhat correspond with location 3 in the handgrip illustration. Location D is outside the location 4 in the handgrip illustration. Stefanoni reported finding Rudy Guede’s DNA only at location B.

The photo above shows a view of outside of clasp showing blood drops on the fabric. Forensic Biologist Stefanoni sampled the fabric as one DNA test and sampled both hooks as a second DNA test. She testified finding the DNA of the victim and Raffaele Sollecito on the combined hook sample and only the victims DNA on the fabric sample. The finding of Raffaele’s DNA on the combined hook sample has been heavily disputed by the defense of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox.

Likely scenario for ripping bra apart
The killer likely initially briefly attempted to unhook the rear back strap. When unable to quickly do that, the killer likely tried pulling the back strap apart by gripping to either side of the hook and loop connection. This almost succeeded as it pulled the top hook almost out of its cloth attachment and deformed it. The killer likely next grabbed the right shoulder strap with one hand and the right back strap with the other and totally ripped the right shoulder strap away from the right back strap. This almost tore the fabric clasp hook off from the back strap as well. The killer then likely grabbed the fabric portion of the clasp with the hand that had been gripping the shoulder strap and finished pulling the fabric clasp from the right back strap. Next the killer likely grabbed the left shoulder strap on both sides of the metal loop and pulled the shoulder strap apart at the threaded connection of the non adjustable strap.

Findings and observations
The victim’s bra had been ripped or torn apart in all locations by brute hand and arm force. The killer had not used a knife to cut the bra at any of the severed locations. In addition, all the torn failures occurred wholly at the threaded connections and not in the fabric pieces that make up the bra.

The killer was obviously still in an enraged state when he tore the bra apart by hand. In order to induce all this damage by hand, the Killer had gripped the bra in at least six separate locations and pulled apart with enough force to likely rub off skin cells containing DNA. These six locations were identified and are likely to contain sufficient DNA for identification.

The killer, Rudy Guede, was found with healing hand cut wounds and admitted being cut in the hand when he was in the upstairs flat the night of the murder. Therefore, in half of these tight gripping locations, the killer’s own blood is likely to be found. The fabric portion of the fabric clasp hook is another location of a possible strong grip for the final separation of that piece from the right back strap.

The hooks may not have even been touched during the removal action. A normal unhooking of the back bra strap is done by gripping the adjacent fabric and doesn’t require the hands to touch the hooks. Even if the killer’s hands touched the fabric hooks, this contact would not likely have been anywhere near as strong as the contact to the fabric to pull the bra straps apart and thus would not likely have left a DNA signature on
the hooks.

If the killer’s blood was left anywhere in Meredith Kercher’s room, it was likely left on the fabric portions of the bra during the several strong gripping and pulling actions to
tear the bra apart.

A call for Independent DNA Testing
It is this writer’s firm opinion from a review of the totality of the physical evidence that Raffaele Sollecito was not in Meredith Kercher’s room or the upstairs flat the night she was murdered.

However, the Prosecution and indeed Presiding Judge Massei, maintained that Raffaele Sollecito participated in the effort to remove the bra. Judge Massei in his sentencing report said that Raffaele Sollecito “---, finding himself behind Meredith, pulling on the bra with violence, finally deciding to cut it) ---”. Massei says Raffaele cut the bra with his own pocket knife.

The gripping and pulling actions all occurred on the bra fabric. If Raffaele participated in the violent pulling action to remove the bra, then his DNA should show up in several locations on the bra fabric.

Therefore, an independent laboratory with no agenda or bias should be allowed to reexamine
and test the bra for multiple indications of the killer’s enraged and deranged behavior. In all likelihood any subsequent non biased testing will find Rudy Guede’s DNA and blood all over the bra fabric with no finding of Raffaele or Amanda.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Head of Rome Police in Amanda Knox Case: “I knew she was guilty because she ate pizza”

Bad police techniques and incompetent witnesses were the topic of discussion Monday night as Seattle University hosted a panel on making the case for the innocence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

One of the guest speakers, Paul Ciolinio, is a well-known private investigator, based in Chicago, who works frequently with CBS’s well known show 48 Hours.  In late 2007, Ciolino and the 48 hours crew flew to Perugia to investigate the death of Meredith Kercher.

Paul Ciolinio
The last to speak at the event, Ciolino revealed surprising details that raise serious doubts over the competency of the police and prosecutors who investigated the murder of Meredith Kercher and the reliability of their witnesses.

“We don’t care if you’re innocent, we like a story,” Ciolino remarked during his introduction.

Ciolino spoke at length about a discussion he had with Edgardo Giobbi, head of the Rome police squad responsible for arresting Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. He made the now notorious remark to a documentary crew in the movie “Sex, Lies, and the Death of Meredith Kercher,” that “[W]e were able to establish guilt by carefully observing the suspects psychological and behavioral reactions during the interrogation.  We didn’t need to rely on other kinds of investigation as this method enabled us to get the guilty parties in very quick time.”  Incidentally, this determination of guilt was made before the police had caught the actual killer, Rudy Guede, a drifter from the Ivory Coast whose physical evidence was all over the crime scene.

Shocking statements like Giobbi’s illuminate the incompetent and preconceived judgments made by the Italian police before the forensics came in.  But according to Paul Ciolino’s recollections of his encounter with Giobbi while he was in Italy, Giobbi’s methods for determining guilt were even more absurd and egregious than previously thought.

During the panel discussion, Ciolino retold the story of his meeting with Giobbi during his investigation, “Guy who arrested Amanda ‘I said to him, ‘you don’t have any physical evidence, you don’t have eyewitnesses, you don’t have a murder weapon, what do you got?’ Tell me…convince my why this girl did this?”

According to Ciolino, officer Giobbi only needed to know one thing to determine guilt, “He says, ‘I’ll tell you why…….she was eating pizza!”.

Edgardo Giobbi

Ciolino elaborated, “A week after they initially made contact with Amanda, he’s looking for Amanda and Raffaele, and he’s got Raffaele’s cell phone, and he calls Raffaele up, and he says ‘I want to see you and Amanda’ and Raffaele says ‘ok’.  And he says ‘where are you?’ and he says ‘we’re getting a pizza, we’re right by the university’.  He says ‘come on over’”. 

For Giobbi, this event was enough to convince him he had the right people. “And he says ‘At that moment, I knew she was guilty.’” 

“This is from the head of police…..I knew she was guilty because if it was me, I’d be in bed curled up and crying still if my friend had been killed.”

“I said ‘this is a week later, she’s not supposed to eat’?.....You’re telling me she should be in bed crying?  ‘Yes yes yes, that’s what I’m telling you, I knew she was guilty when that happened. ‘ This is the case against Amanda Knox!”.
But Giobbi’s incompetence wasnt the only revelation revealed by Ciolino.  Also discussed was’ Ciolino’s discovery that the police neglected to canvas the neighborhood near the cottage where Meredith Kercher was murdered.

Apartment buildings overlooking cottage.

“If you’re a policeman, and there’s a murder in the house and you got a dead body there and you don’t have any witnesses…..who do you want to go talk to to see if they’ve seen anything?” Ciolono asked the audience.

“We call it canvassing the neighborhood here in the states….We go over to the apartment building and I start knocking on doors.  Guess what?  No policeman has ever rung a door bell in that building.  To this day, never, never has anyone been interviewed in that building….No police officer, no prosecutor, no one ever went to that building and rang that door bell and asked ‘have you seen anything’?”.

Unlike the Italian police, Ciolino actually did canvass the apartment buildings next to where Meredith Kercher was killed.  One of the people he spoke with was Nara Capaziell’s niece.  For those unfamiliar with the case, Nara Capazielli (sometimes referred to as the “ear witness) is the woman who stated during the trial that she heard a blood curdling scream.  However, she never bothered to call the police.  Recently, Oggi Magazine, one of Italy’s most popular and widespread newspapers, reported that Nara is not only nearly deaf, but has also spent time in a psychiatric ward.

Paul Ciolino discussed meeting Nara’s niece, who incidentally lived in the apartment above Nara, and confirmed Nara’s unreliability, telling Ciolino that Nara “hasn’t been out of the house in ten years, she’s nuts.  When her husband died she lost it and we have to take care of her and she’s mentally ill and she got hospitalized a bunch of times and she’s nice and she’s harmless….but she’s crazy.”  Ciolino emphasized, “And this is from her niece and nephew who live in the building and take care of her.”

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s case is now on appeal where independent experts are expected to testify about their findings on May 21st.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Italian Magazine Sheds Light on the Free Falling-Case Against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito

We were told there was a mountain of evidence proving Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito murdered Meredith Kercher, in Perugia Italy, in late 2007. We heard bold claims about a "double DNA" knife that had been cleaned with bleach, an eyewitness account putting Amanda and Raffaele near the crime scene, and an ear piercing scream solidifying the prosecution's believed time of death. This evidence all sounded believable to the judge and jury the first time around but it isn't holding up so well on appeal.

Giangavino Sulas has written an article for Oggi Magazine highlighting new information  that has sent the prosecution's case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito into a free-fall.

Crime in Perugia: The “collapse” of the prosecution during the appeal process
By Giangavino Sulas

This article has been translated for Injustice in Perugia by Maurice R. Azurdia.

Perugia, April.
The prosecution, which considers Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito the murderers of Meredith Kercher has been disarmed.

The scientific proof that has finally been assigned to experts appointed by the appeals court and not just to the police, is crumbling, and revealing disturbing questions about the procedures used. The witnesses, if they are not drug addicts, or end up in jail for distribution of drugs (as was the case with Kokomani and Curatolo), then suffer from deafness and from physical and also mental problems, to the extreme of undergoing recovery in the psychiatric ward  (as was the case with Nara Capezzali).

This is the appeal process in Perugia for the homicide of the British student Meredith Kercher.  On the chair two defendants, and on the prosecution bench three prosecutors (one General Prosecutor and two assistants). A crowd worthy of a Grand Jury in the case of a Mafia trial (In Italy known as: “Cosa Nostra,” meaning: “Our Business”). Evidently, there is some sort of problem with this. And the problems have appeared right on schedule.

If the clasp of Meredith's bra, on which the prosecution claims to have discovered the DNA of Raffaelle Sollecito, is rusted and can no longer be examined by the experts appointed by the appeals court, and the only witness claiming to have seen Amanda and Raffaele together the night of the crime has changed his version, by changing the dates of his “sighting,” then what else is left as evidence against the young man from Puglia?

And what is left against Amanda if, according to the experts, the amount of biologic material found on the knife (presumed murder weapon), has levels of material that are too low to decipher the genetic code?

Let’s recall that it was from this biologic material that the scientific police had extracted the DNA belonging to Meredith (from the top of the blade) and to Amanda (from the handle). The experts added also another detail, that the knife did not exhibit traces of bleach.  Hence, it was never washed to cancel traces of evidence, as had been claimed by the scientific police. The only proof against the two young people has been swept away, but Amanda and Raffaele remain in jail for three and a half years now. The young man from Puglia celebrated his fourth birthday in a cell on March 26. 

Antonio Curatolo
And March 26 was also the day of Antonio Curatolo, the vagrant who decided to follow the steps of Jesus and who spent his nights on a bench in piazza Grimana, in front of a university attended by foreign students (he defined himself as a Christian anarchist, but admitted to the regular use of heroin and also to its distribution). Curatolo appeared for the second time in front of the Court because Luca Maori, attorney for Sollecito, discovered a few too many holes in the vagrant’s testimony as was given to the prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, six months after the crime.

Curatolo, who in recent years had assisted the Perugia police by helping solve two brutal crimes thanks to his prompt presence at the scenes where these two crimes had been committed, appeared in court  claiming that he had seen Amanda and Raffaele on the evening of November 1, 2007, between 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm, animatedly discussing something with each other. Curatolo had linked his recall of this event to the presence of mini-buses, which at that time of the evening had been transporting young people to several discos outside of Perugia.

His testimony demolished the alibi of the two young people, who had always claimed that the evening of November 1, the night of the crime, they had spent at home watching a movie.

But the presence of the mini-buses was something that did not fit. In fact, the owners of several discos, amongst them Giorgio Brughini,  the father-in-law of Marco Materazzi, and the Perugia Director of the Italian Society of Authors and Editors (Siae), arrived in court to state that the evening of November 1, the evening after Halloween, that the discos had been closed and that the mini-buses had been garaged. A hard blow for the prosecution, who immediately recalled the vagrant. Curatolo entered the courtroom escorted by the penitentiary police.

He is serving a sentence of eighteen months in jail for distribution and sale of cocaine. In November he is going to appear at another trial for the same charges. In front of the judges, he contradicted his previous deposition. “It was October 31, when I saw Amanda and Raffaele. I recall all the young people were wearing costumes.” A clear reference to the night of Halloween. End of testimony. Curatolo was returned to jail. 

It will not be Curatolo who will resolve the third crime. It will be Carla Vecchiotti and Sefano Conti, faculty experts of the Sapienza University in Rome, the experts appointed by the court of appeals. They were appointed by Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann when he decided to open the investigation and obtain expert neutral opinion about the dark issues of the process. This expert neutral opinion which inexplicably had originally been denied.

The two experts will have to verify that the scientific police followed established protocols for this type of analysis and will have to determine if there was contamination during the examination of the knife and the bra clasp.

On first analysis, it appears that they have already reached a conclusion: on the knife, after recovering samples from diverse parts of the knife, they have found that there is not a sufficient quantity of biological material. Sufficient quantity meaning, enough to establish genetic profiles of any use for an investigation. How could then, the scientific police obtain enough DNA from Amanda and Meredith? The prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is quick to claim: “We knew then that the available amount of material was so small that the testing conducted by the police would be the only one that could be performed, because they used all the material that was found.” But then, why did the court order new tests? In reality, the two appointed experts invalidate the work of the police by stating that “On that knife, there never was enough biological material in enough quantities to obtain genetic profiles.” This is the resounding and disturbing truth which is emerging from the latest forensic activity.

The second investigation discovered even more disturbing facts. The experts took delivery of the clasp belonging to the Meredith’s bra, and found it totally covered in rust: “impossible to analyze,” they concluded.

But where and how was this evidence conserved? Is it possible that nobody thought of preserving it in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag? The story of this clasp which so far has cost three and a half years of jail time to Raffaele Sollecito is truly peculiar. The clasp was found on the afternoon of November 2, 2007, under Meredith’s body by medical examiner Luca Lalli. The clasp was photographed but then someone forgot to bag it and it remained at the scene of the crime. It remained there for forty-six days. Until December 18, when the investigators realized that a footprint of a shoe discovered next to Meredith’s body could not be connected—due to size and design disparities—to Raffaele Sollecito. In fact, the footprint belonged to Rudy Guede. Then somebody remembered the clasp. They ran to recover it from a house that up until then had undergone three investigations. They found the clasp, and surprise, it was really Rafaelle’s DNA that was on it.

Now there is only rust.