3/26/2013:
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.

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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.

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14 Comments on Why We Should Care about Amanda Knox

  1. R.C. Lewis says:

    You’ve certainly done your research and have this well thought out, Marion. I agree that we need to be wary of cases without hard evidence, as well as the sway media coverage has over public perception.

    I wish more people would apply a filter when they listen to the news, separating spin from facts. Unfortunately, too many people these days seem to want someone else to do their thinking for them.

  2. Chaim says:

    Right on! Unfortunately, the focus has been on Ms. Knox, mostly, in stead of the victim. While I can understand the victim’s family’s views, deep down, what sort of justice is it if two narcissistic people, one of whom was an American girl of, supposedly prodigious sexual appetites(huh? I thought Italy left its Catholicism 40 years ago) were railroaded. And even given the strange and horrible things people are capable of, is it really credible that this girl and this boy, who’ve only been dating for a week, just BOTH happen to share a kind of sadistic bloodlust – along with a petty thief who *just happens* to be hanging around the hood? How convenient!

  3. Harry Rag says:

    The evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is overwhelming.

    Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on:

    1. On the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts – Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo and Professor Francesca Torricelli – categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade.

    2. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the ledge of the basin.

    3. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the bidet.

    4. Mixed with Meredith blood on a box of Q Tip cotton swabs.

    5. Mixed with Meredith’s blood in the hallway.

    6. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the floor of Filomena’s room, where the break-in was staged.

    7. On Meredith’s bra according to Dr. Stefanoni AND Raffaele Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Vinci.

    Amanda Knox’s footprints were found set in Meredith’s blood in two places in the hallway of the new wing of the cottage. One print was exiting her own room, and one print was outside Meredith’s room, facing into the room. These bloody footprints were only revealed under luminol.

    A woman’s bloody shoeprint, which matched Amanda Knox’s foot size, was found on a pillow under Meredith’s body. The bloody shoeprint was incompatible with Meredith’s shoe size.

    Two independent imprint experts categorically excluded the possibility that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat could belong to Rudy Guede. Lorenzo Rinaldi stated:

    “You can see clearly that this bloody footprint on the rug does not belong to Mr. Guede, but you can see that it is compatible with Sollecito.”

    The other imprint expert print expert testified that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot.

    An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp. Sollecito must have applied considerable pressure to the clasp in order to have left so much DNA. The hooks on the clasp were damaged which confirms that Sollecito had gripped them tightly.

    According to Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani, Rudy Guede’s visible bloody footprints lead straight out of Meredith’s room and out of the house. He didn’t lock Meredith’s door, remove his trainers, go into Filomena’s room or the bathroom that Meredith and Knox shared.

    He didn’t scale the vertical wall outside Filomena’s room or gain access through the window. The break-in was clearly staged. This indicates that somebody who lived at the cottage was trying to deflect attention away from themselves and give the impression that a stranger had broken in and killed Meredith.

    Guede had no reason to stage the break-in and there was no physical evidence that he went into Filomena’s room or the bathroom. The scientific police found a mixture of Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s blood on the floor in Filomena’s room. They also found irrefutable proof that Knox and Sollecito had tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom.

    The murder dynamic implicates Knox and Sollecito.

    Barbie Nadeau wrote the following:

    “Countless forensic experts, including those who performed the autopsies on Kercher’s body, have testified that more than one person killed her based on the size and location of her injuries and the fact that she didn’t fight back—no hair or skin was found under her fingernails.”

    Judge Paolo Micheli claimed that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito knew precise details about Meredith’s murder that they could have only known if they were present when she was killed.

    Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted that she involved in Meredith’s murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007. She stated on at least four separate occasions that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed. She also claimed that Sollecito was at the cottage.

    Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito both gave multiple conflicting alibis and lied repeatedly. Their lies were exposed by telephone and computer records, and by CCTV footage. Neither Knox nor Sollecito have credible alibis for the night of the murder despite three attempt each. At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment.

    Legal expert Stefano Maffei stated the following:

    “There were 19 judges who looked at the evidence over the course of two years, faced with decisions on pre-trial detention, review of such detention, committal to trial, judgment on criminal responsibility. They all agreed, at all times, that the evidence was overwhelming.”

    • Marion says:

      Harry, you certainly seem to be quite an expert. I was basing what I wrote on what I had read and those sources talked about contamination in the DNA evidence. As for confessions — false confession is a phenomena that exists. As a New Yorker, I remember watching videotapes of the accused in the Central Park jogger case confessing. I was as convinced as anyone of their guilt. Years later they were exonerated and watching those old clips, one saw something else entirely. In the Tankleff case that I sited, the confession became the linchpin for the prosecution and all the evidence pointing away from Marty was ignored.

      • Michaelsmth says:

        Marion, “Harry” may be a number of persons cutting and pasting the same out of context misinformation everywhere they can.

        Every one of the points have been explained; some are false, others are misrepresented, or simply mean nothing.

        An army of experts, from a variety of areas of expertise have refuted every one of them. However, “Harry” posts away, aiming at the uninformed reader.

        One thing is absolutely certain. The continued controversy over this case proves beyond a reasonable doubt that there definitely is reasonable doubt!

  4. S. Michael Scadron says:

    Amanda Knox is the victim of (1) a crazed and corrupt public minister out to restore his sullied reputation (he’d been convicted of abuse of power in the Monster of Florence case), (2) a police force that was in a such a hurry to solve the crime that they needed to save face when the narrative of the case they’d constructed proved so obviously wrong, (3) a kangaroo court all to happy to rubber stamp the prosecutor’s theories at every turn, and (4) a tabloid media more intent on turning a profit than telling the truth. My article entitled “A True Tale of an Italian Witch Hunt” appears at injusticeinperugia.org/Scadron.hmtl
    An abridged version was published last Sept. in the CSMonitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/Comme.....s-innocent

  5. Marion says:

    2 replies today from a post up in December 2009. Well, I guess she’s getting a new trial and it’s in the news again! I left up Harry’s comments because while I disagree STRONGLY, I didn’t want to censor, and I know that a lot of people in the UK feel strongly about the case. But again, I’ll say this: As a New Yorker and a woman, it was very easy to believe that a group of teenagers went “wilding” one night in Central Park and raped and bludgeoned a woman leaving her for dead. When the kids recanted I didn’t believe them and I didn’t believe their parents. There was “evidence” including and especially their confessions.
    In the case of Amanda Knox the entire “conspiracy” angle makes no sense.

  6. Excellent article Marion. I was living in NYC when the CPJ case unfolded, and I was sure the suspects were guilty. I have learned a lot since then. Thanks for helping raise awareness of the injustice in this case and the broader problem of wrongful convictions all over the world.

  7. Marion says:

    Thank you, Charlie. I haven’t been following the case lately though I heard there was going to be a new trial. Clearly for all of you to have found this very old post today, something must be happening.

  8. Craig says:

    Full Disclosure, Marion is my better half. I too remember CPJ and also the Marty Tankleff case, which scared the hell out of me because I could see myself getting caught up the same scenario – smoke a lot of weed a family member dies, detective thinks I am not remorseful enough, and all of a sudden I am in Dannemora and someone’s prison bitch for the next fifty years.

    I have never read any of the assertions that Harry Rag makes, wonder where I could find them. if true, then it is damning, but it seems startling to me that neither in the US nor the British press have I seen this. Lord knows every other bit of anything about this case has been written and talked about.

    So just by what is *publicly* known, this seems like a case of a not terribly sympathetic narcissist who made an easy foil for the crazy fantasies of an aging prosecutor. The most startling thing is that this isn’t the US, but an EU country where I naively thought reason would prevail. Also distressing is that this became a proxy war for every cultural divide between Europe and the US – as if defending Knox proves you are really an ugly American who probably bikes with GWB at his “ranch.”

  9. Doug Bremner says:

    “Harry” is a disturbed individual who is a serial cutter and paster of lies. You can take his comments out or leave them up, it doesn’t really matter. He has been rebutted many times before and no sane person would take the time to bother with it any more. He is from Sheffield, UK, where the Kercher family is from, so I will leave it to you to infer what you will. He also made the gallant gesture of threatening to get me fired, as many of the other “guilters” have to others who have written about the case. If it isn’t obvious that this is nothing but a false confession induced by corrupt police and sensationalized by corrupt Italian media (Italy has the worst record of freedom of speech in the industrialized world, as rated by the European Commission, even worse than Russia, by the way) and trumpeted by an immoral English (yes, English, not “British”) press, like the Sun, the Daily Mail (Fail) and News of the World, that have now been exposed for the cockroaches that they really are by the discovery of hacking into the cell phone of a child murder victim, which led to the discovery of YEARS of the practice which contributed to the corruption of the English press and political system. I feel sorry for the Sollecito family, mainly, as Amanda Knox will never return to Italy. This action by the Court of Cassation is an effort to save face in the view of the world after the shame of having light cast on the corrupt Perugia judicial system, which has been going on for years with cases like the Monster of Florence, where prosecutor Giugliano Mignini displayed his idiocy through such tactics as consulting on the case with a medium who got her information from talking to the dead. It took an American crime novelist working with a local journalist to find the real Monster, for which they threw the Italian in jail, and would have the American too if they could. Other journalists have been thrown in jail for having the temerity of disagreeing with Mignini. Finally, as a psychiatrist and the father and husband of Italian citizens, I will say that all speculation about “narcicissim” or other mental or moral judgements of the accused are complete rubbish, as are speculations about “cultural divides” or the morality of the Italians (you think Italians think it is bad to have sex, are you crazy?). This is just about a broken judicial and police system in Perugia, which can happen anywhere (take a look at Carroll County here in Georgia, USA, in the 1970s). In any case, this act of sending it back to the courts for what will probably be an administrative review, not a “retrial” as we would understand it in the States, will undoubtedly lead to an affirmation of innocence. As least lets hope so, for the sake of the people of Italy, who are fully aware of the limitations of their political and judicial systems.

    • Marion says:

      Hi Doug,

      Per previous rebuttals to Harry, his comments are from the original post three years ago. To me a good reason for not getting rid of them is that they do show the way that the people who have been taken in by the Italian side, are completely taken in. It doesn’t matter to them at this point that the DNA evidence was thrown out, or that the real killer didn’t accuse them initially or anything else. They can’t let go and apparently neither can the courts in Italy.

  10. chaim says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again, the entire trial is a proxy ware between Europe’s attitude toward the US and America’s attitude towards anywhere outside the hallowed ground of the US. That one person died and two other people stand accused of the crime is almost an afterthought. Leaving aside Knox’s hotness, or her “spokespersons” obnoxiousness and ethnocentrism. Leaving aside the Kirchner family’s understandable resentment of this being Amanda, Amanda, AManda when their loved one is the one who was horribly murdered. Take the situation translate it to Ruritania with a bunch of unknowns. Do you think it would be more than five minutes before unknown petty thief who broke in was convicted and matter ended? Do you think anyone would entertain any sort of motive reasoning evidence against unknown 2 (hottie) and unknown3? Puh-leeeze!

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