Sunday, March 27, 2011

Journalists Owe Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito an Apology

As the appeal trial for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito slowly grinds forward in Perugia, Italy, it is becoming clear to many that Amanda and Raffaele are innocent. Both currently stand convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher in 2007 and are serving 26 and 25 years respectively.

The latest appeal hearing put Antonio Curatolo under the spotlight. For those who do not remember, Curatolo was the only supposedly credible eye witness brought forward by the prosecution during the first trial. He is a homeless man that admits to using heroin on a daily basis and on the day he claims to have seen Amanda and Raffaele. The question and answer session in court recently with Curatolo left many wondering how his testimony could have possibly helped to secure the conviction of Amanda and Raffaele in the first trial.

 In 2009, Curatolo testified that he had seen Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana, a square overlooking the cottage, on the night of the murder.  He had blatantly contradicted himself in the first trial when he repeatedly confused the night in question and also confused the time of his alleged sighting, yet these contradictions were somehow overlooked and his testimony was deemed reliable.

 Saturday’s court appearance did not go so smoothly for Curatolo when he took the stand. The question and answer session went as follows:

 Judge: So, you saw Amanda and Raffaele?
Curatolo: Yeah, it was Halloween when I saw them. I know this because I saw the kids getting on the disco buses all dressed up in costumes. That’s how I also know what time it was.

Judge: When is Halloween?
Curatolo:  I don't know. Maybe end of October or beginning of November, I think.

Judge: You aren’t sure? What about your case now? You are in prison, correct? How long will you be there?
Curatolo: I don’t know. I don’t understand the case against me really. I understand nothing.

Judge: Ok, so how did you live in the park? Were you always there?
Curatolo: Always, yes. I never left. I just lived there. On a bench mostly.

Judge: What about when you had to go to the restroom?
Curatolo: I went to the bathroom in the wooded area down the hill.

Judge: So you weren’t there all the time then?
Curatolo: What do you mean?

Judge: Never mind. So, are you certain the buses were disco buses and not tour buses?
Curatolo: Yes, definitely disco buses. They look different from other buses.

Prosecution: No, no, you must be mistaken?
Curatolo: No. I am certain they were disco buses.

Judge: Do you take drugs?
Curatolo: Yes, heroin.

Judge: Were you taking drugs on that night?
Curatolo: I always take drugs, so most certainly I was high that night…but that’s ok. heroin does not make you hallucinate or anything.

Judge: Guards, take him away. I am done.

The prosecution's only eye witness has been fully discredited.  Now, independent experts are currently analyzing the DNA evidence presented during the first trial and the early reports look very promising for the defense. Supporters of Amanda and Raffaele remain cautiously optimistic that this injustice will be corrected. Thankfully, public opinion is quickly shifting in the favor of innocence and many journalists are taking note.

 Media coverage of this case definitely played a role in the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Amanda was mistreated horribly by the media with disparaging headlines that were endless.

Some journalists, such as Andrea Vogt, and Barbie Latza Nadeau continue to provide false information. For example, in a recent article, Andrea misrepresented a statement made by Amanda Knox during the initial investigation. Amanda was heard telling her parents "I was there" during a taped conversation in prison. Amanda was telling her mother she was at Raffaele's apartment. Amanda was not talking about the crime scene. When questioned in court about this statement, Amanda's explanation was accepted by the court and never brought up again. Andrea was in court on the day of the testimony, yet she recently reported that the statement suggested that Amanda was at the crime scene.  This amazing omission can only be attributed to total ineptness or actual malice.

Why would any credible journalist willingly report misinformation? In another article titled "Knox is no Innocent," Andrea judges Amanda's character based on her doodles and eyebrow movements. Amazingly, she was able to remember those fine details during her court visits but somehow forgot about Amanda's testimony discussing the "I was there" comment. It is unlikely Andrea had a simple mental lapse and this omission was obviously intentional. 

Barbie Latza Nadeau writes for the Daily Beast and Newsweek. She is also the author of "Angel Face," an incredibly biased book on the case. Barbie repeatedly provides false information in her articles and in her book. As an example, Barbie spread the lie that Amanda was arrested for a disturbing the peace violation while living in Seattle. Here is an excerpt from her book:

“Her only brush with the law was a disturbing-the-peace arrest for a house party she threw.”

The truth is Amanda received a ticket for being a little too loud during a party she hosted. A photo of the ticket that was issued to Amanda has been available to the public for a long time now. In fact, this information was public knowledge long before Barbie wrote her book.

In a rare mention of Raffaele, Barbie spread the lie that Raffaele purchased bleach to clean his apartment after the murder:

“When Raffaele was arrested, police searched his apartment and found a receipt for Ace brand bleach, purchased the morning of November 4, 2007, at 8:15.”

During a search of Raffaele’s apartment, investigators collected all of the receipts in the house and held them up in from of the video camera. The video shows the receipt mentioned by Barbie. The receipt is not for bleach, Raffaele bought a pizza.
 If Barbie would like to see the photo of the ticket issued to Amanda and the video capture of the receipt from Raffaele's apartment, I would be more than happy to provide them to her.

I have only highlighted a couple of Barbie's lies in this article. I go into much greater detail in my book, Injustice in Perugia, where you can read how Barbie continuously misinformed her readers about vital evidence and attempted to smear Amanda Knox with egregious lies about her diary entries.

Thankfully, journalists like Andrea Vogt and  Barbie Latza Nadeau will be fully discredited when this trial comes to an end. 
Many journalists that once vilified Amanda and Raffaele are now reporting that they may be innocent. I appreciate the fact that many have seen the error of their ways but it does not erase the damage they have caused. I am not ready to congratulate them for finding a higher moral ground. Though some may have, others are just jockeying their position so they don’t end up on the wrong side of the story.

One Journalist that appears to have shifted his position recently is Nick Pisa. He should be ashamed of how he reported on this case in the past. Nick Pisa is a journalist in the UK that writes for The Daily Mail. Here are some of the headlines that accompany Pisa’s past articles:

"Compulsive Liar Foxy Knoxy Now insists she wasn't at House of Horrors"
"Lesbian Sex Plea to Knoxy"

"Foxy Knoxy plays the field from her jail cell with new romance"

"Revealed: Foxy Knoxy's sisters posing happily for ‘macabre’ photos at the house where Meredith died"
“Hayden banned from seeing sex monster Knox”

Headlines like those from Nick Pisa are fading fast. As the truth becomes crystal clear, journalists around the world are finally coming to terms with reality. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent. Andrea Vogt and Barbie Latza Nadeau are hopeless but other journalists, including Nick Pisa, that have seen the error of their ways, owe Amanda and Raffaele an apology.