The news is that the Italian courts have now overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kirchner and demanded the two be retried. It’s uncertain whether or not Knox can be extradited back to Italy. Sollectio who lives in Italy is probably screwed. Anyone who actually looks at this case can see the Knox and Sollectio were railroaded, tried and convicted based on hysteria and prejudice, not evidence. There was overwhelming evidence against the guilty party who initially did not place either one of the them at the house. The immature and naive Knox did not help herself, and certainly lost a lot of sympathy by her demeanor and her falsely throwing blame on a popular nightclub owner, although the police may have led her into that trap.
I’m re-posting the post below from December 2009. You can see from the responses that passions were high then, and continue to be. For more on this please check out Before You Take that Pill, the excellent blog by psychiatric muckracker Doug Brenner whose sister is a lawyer involved in the case. I’m sure he’ll have something new to say about all this.
With all the chaos in the world there must be more important things to get worked up about than the murder conviction of one spoiled American girl in Italy. But the Knox affair is a classic case of fear and prejudice outweighing justice and reason. It brings to mind other recent and not so recent events including:
Marty Tankleff, wrongfully convicted at age 17 of murdering both his parents. The conviction was based on a “confession” drafted by a police detective after hours of interrogation. The confession was never signed and Marty renounced it. It took years before his conviction was overturned. The likely killer, a business partner of Marty’s father lives in peaceful retirement in Florida despite witnesses who put him at the scene and his own highly suspicious behavior in the aftermath of the assault.
Kelly Michaels, one of many childcare workers caught up in charges of sexually abusing their charges during the 1980’s when such trials were all the rage. Kelly was convicted despite there being no physical evidence that any molestation had occurred. The physical set up of the day care center would have made it impossible for this kind of abuse to have taken place without others being aware of it or there being some physical evidence of its taking place. Michaels was in prison for years before a judge finally threw out the conviction.
The Malleus Maleficarum, the infamous treatise on witchcraft written in 1486 by two inquisitors for the Catholic Church which set off European witch hunts leading to the burning alive of thousands (mostly women) over the next three centuries for crimes including consorting with Satan.
Marty Tankleff and Amanda Knox — Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Affect.
In both the Tankleff case and Amanda’s a “confession” swayed the jury. False confesssions don’t need to be beaten out of young suspects easily susceptible to police manipulation. Marty’s interrogator told him that his dying father had regained consciousness and named Marty as the assailant. Knox has asserted that she was exhausted and hit twice on the head during hours of interrogation before her “confession” that she was at the scene — not that she had stabbed her roommate. She also named the owner of the bar at which she worked as the murderer. The bar owner had an airtight alibi and was released. One wonders if he had not had the alibi, if he would now be convicted as well despite a lack of any physical evidence. Both Tankleff and Knox have been accused of acting “inappropriately” in the aftermath of the crimes. Marty’s affect seemed flat, unemotional. Amanda and her co-defendant boyfriend are seen in video holding each other outside of the house as the police investigate. The prosecutor insists their holding each other and hugging shows indifference to the crime. Others may see a young woman who looks like she’s in shock and a young man (who didn’t know the victim well) trying to comfort and distract her.
In the Tankleff case as well as Knox’s, it’s easy to find the “real killers.” Marty’s father Seymour lingered in a coma with his injuries. Seymour’s business partner, who owed him thousands, fled in the aftermath of the crime and was found living under an alias. He was never investigated since the police had Marty’s confession and it wasn’t until years later when several witnesses to his involvement came forward that Marty finally got a new hearing. In Amanda’s case, Rudy Guede a young drifter and criminal confessed to being at the house. There is physical evidence of his presence and he fled the scene and the country in the aftermath of the crime. While he is part of the conspiracy under the prosecutors scenario, there is much more evidence to support his presence at the scene than to support Amanda’s or Sollecito. How could they have managed to clean the crime of their DNA and not his? Guede did not initially name Amanda or her boyfriend as co-conspirators though he did claim that the murder occurred while he was in the bathroom and that he came out and saw a strange man standing over Meredith with a knife. It was three months later when he began to go along with the prosecution’s scenario.
In addition to the “behavioral” evidence and the “confession” what other evidence exists? There was DNA of Sollecito on a bra clasp of the victim’s, but this was found months after the crime and could have been contaminated. The defense argued that the amount of trace DNA of the victim on the blade of a knife found in Sollecito’s apartment that also had Amanda’s DNA on the handle was so minute as to be unreliable and the knife didn’t match the bloody outline of a knife left at the crime scene.
The family of the victim believes that justice has been served. Because the physical evidence is so scant, stories about the case inevitably turn to the inconsistencies in Amanda’s statements and her behavior after the crime. But none of this is proof of guilt.
Any New Yorker old enough to remember the Central Park jogger case, can understand what is happening here. For those too young, the jogger case involved the rape and brutal assault of a woman in Central Park who was left in a coma and unable to recall her attack. A group of teenaged African-American boys confessed to raping and beating her. An entire city, a nation, was convinced that these young men were guilty. Their own words, videotaped, implicated them. Other people in the park that night, attested to their “wild” behavior. Their affect was cold with no remorse. They were monsters and we wanted to see them put away forever. It wasn’t until many years later after a serial-rapist murderer long imprisoned finally came forward with the truth that he was the lone assailant. DNA evidence corroborated that it was his semen and no one else’s found on one of the jogger’s sock. He was the only one who beat her and raped her. And suddenly, all of us saw these boys for what they were — boys. Not angels. Maybe boys who were in fact “up to something” in the park that night, but not rapists or (almost) murderers.
Amanda Knox may be selfish and immature. Maybe she lacks the compassion we’d want in a friend or a daughter. You might not want her as a roommate and really she should have been more on the ball when she came home to a bloodstained bathroom. But none of that makes her a killer.
The evidence points to Rudy Guede, alone. Perhaps he didn’t realize that Meredith was home when he broke in. Once he did, he raped and killed her. He then fled the scene and the country. There is plenty to support that theory. There is no evidence or motive for the three of them to have conspired and participated in this together.
Kelly Michaels and the Malleus Maleficarum.
In the Kelly Michaels case, there were no actual victims until the children began to be questioned and Michaels was arrested. Like the witch-hunts of old, this was a case in which the crime itself was a delusion shared by among others, an overzealous prosecutor. In the Knox case, the crime was real, but the scenario around it a complete fantasy.
Amanda’s prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, already has a reputation for believing in satanic ritual abuse and applied that belief to his theory that Amanda, Sollecito and Guede were all involved in a satanic sex game gone bad with Amanda ritualistically stabbing Meredith as the men held her down. It’s the same type of delusional thinking that led to many false accusations and convictions in the US in the 1980’s. It’s also the same thinking that led to three hundred years of women being burned at the stake for consorting with Satan.
The reason why you should care about Amanda Knox is simple. By shouting, “Witch! Witch!” loudly and often, Mignini not only persuaded a jury, but the murdered girl’s family, and the press as well. We don’t normally think of pretty, young white American women as able to inspire this kind of hatred and resentment. All the more reason to be concerned. If a modern day witch-hunt can happen in a wealthy European country, then it can happen anywhere, and if it can happen to Amanda Knox, it can happen to any of us.