Knox/Sollecito: There’s not much left to say

Raffaele Sollecito

Raffaele Sollecito

But let’s have a go anyway…

If the court keeps to its schedule, there’s only a weekend left between now and a verdict in the appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

Over the course of closing arguments, it seems commonly agreed that there have been impressive courtroom performances from lawyers representing both sides of the case. And they have also, between  them, developed a handy set of bad analogies so as to provide a sort of psychedelic overview for those who don’t find the whole case strange enough as it is. DNA profiles are pasta dishes. Amanda Knox is Jessica Rabbit. And also the goddess Venus. Not to forget, all sorts of enchantress and demon. Sollecito seems to have barely been mentioned, even by his own lawyers, so he remains, in contrast, just some guy. Or perhaps he is Roger. For the defence, the prosecution case is like a bunch of neutrinos whizzing along a tunnel. Or possibly like a hydra. I’m not sure what this means, but I’m guessing that the most obvious interpretation – that is is virtually undefeatable – is not the one intended.

What neither the prosecution nor the defence have provide, though, is anything very new. Over the last few days, all we have heard is rehashed versions of arguments that will be so familiar to the bench that they will have sounded like the lyrics to a pop song that has been with them since childhood.

The only real, fairly minor, surprise was that the defence adopted a thesis that various blood samples found in the flat containing the DNA of both Knox and Meredith Kercher were indeed a mixture of blood from the two. Knox’s supporters have long pointed out that this cannot be known, because it is scientifically not easy to tell the difference between a mixed blood sample and, say, a mixture of blood and saliva. This seems perfectly correct. But the defence appears to have decided that it might just as well be blood. After all, the idea of Knox spitting in various locations where Kercher’s blood was coincidentally later deposited sounds marginally less plausible than the idea that she coincidentally bled in those locations. Due to an incident with an earring, it turns out.

The other notable development in the defence summing-up was the ways in which it didn’t develop. Crucially, there is a clear theoretical argument that the knife alleged to have been used by Knox to kill Kercher and the clasp from her bra, alleged to have been handled by Sollecito after the murder, were in fact contaminated with DNA some time later, and so they are not reliable. We might, during closing arguments, have seen some defence hypothesis suggesting how this might have happened, but it didn’t come.

In the case of the knife in particular, it ought to have been important for the defence to complete the circle. It was recovered from Sollecito’s flat, where Kercher had never been, and lab contamination seems to have been ruled out. So how is her DNA supposed to have got onto it? Courtroom DNA controversy or no, it’s hard to see how this doesn’t solve the case pretty much on its own.

In news reports about the closing arguments of both the defence and the prosecution seem to betray an almost pathological obsession with influence of the media over the case. Or is it just that the media is pathologically obsessed with itself? Hard to tell, maybe. But it does seem clear that prosecutors and defenders spent valuable time during their speeches talking about unfair coverage. But, more curiously, their target was not fevered and exaggerated coverage in Perguia (this doesn’t really exist), but general criticisms of  and stale reports in the English language media. The prosecution condemned CBS, the defence condemned the Daily Mail, and so on.

Now, it’s not that this has no relevance to the story. For supporters of Amanda Knox, publications such as the Mail are responsible for an insidious campaign of character assassination against her without which Italian judges, clearly avid consumers of British tabloid journalism, could never have suspected her of anything. On the other side of the argument is the claim that a professional and well-financed PR campaign on her behalf has twisted a case in which the facts were clear into a manufactured controversy. The Knox family control the US media, and who’s to say that doesn’t mean they control the whole world?

Call me naive, but I think the one place that the facts of the case will be clearly heard above all the din and chatter is in the deliberations of the appeal judges and juror-judges. They don’t really need reminding to ignore the cobblers that has been written about the case in a foreign language. So who are the lawyers talking to? They surely can’t have been, in their vanity, addressing their words to the 400 or more journalists currently squeezed into the courthouse? This case has always been weird.

On the other hand, perhaps I am indeed naive. Perhaps the case will be decided according to the opinions of ill-informed hacks and nonsense on the internet such as you are currently reading. I can’t believe it is likely, but it may be the last ray of hope for Jessica and Roger.

16 Responses to Knox/Sollecito: There’s not much left to say

  1. Lynden Hall says:

    maundy

    Having been following the case since the start, I do wish I had come across your site earlier and just wanted to say how very cleary written your pieces are along with your hypothesis. I do hope the Kercher family get the justice their daughter deserves. Thank you again, much appreciated.

    Lynden Hall

  2. Ernest Werner says:

    You are surely right, Ms Gregory, that the court will decided on the evidence & the arguments, pro & con.

    One thing left to say, however, or rather to review:
    The velocity of Amanda’s descent into the psychosis which after her encounter with Sollecito could ripen overnight into rape & murder.
    Stages:
    (a) Seattle: orgiastic party in her rented house shortly before leaving. Rock-throwing hoodlums on the lawn whose stones in the road (or at cars?) were then followed by stones thrown at neighboring windows — recipe for total chaos in which, remarkably, only Amanda is charged.
    (b) Stumble in Germany: quick failure to find or accept foot-hold position obtained by an uncle which she simply deserted, much to his discomfiture.
    (c) Sexual intercourse with a stranger (!) on a train (!) to Rome. About which the shameless creature boasts in an e-mail, also then claiming: I can have any man I want.
    Which means: sex as power. Possibly she cannot enjoy sex & possibly also an early sexual abuse accounts for her pathology.
    (d) Short time over which she comes to know Meredith:
    1. Not much over a month
    2. During which time she develops a mutual antagonism with the roommate who invited her in (reportedly) — an antagonism which Amanda herself fuels in slight acts because Meredith’s every complaint fuels her justification for the malice she conceives.
    3. That Meredith (half “Asian” as one newspaper has it) will be looked down on by Amanda is a given. So the overall brevity of their acquaintanceship shows as velocity in Amanda’s descent.
    (e) Followed by free-fall.
    Amanda meets Raffaele at a concert & as soon as they can find his bed they couple. But they also connect overnight on the level of the psychopathic (illustrations of this sort of thing we owe to a post by The Machine on TJMK) Various lesser evidences of this mutual disposition (Raffaele’s Japanese comics, for instance) but the main facts speak of outright free-fall:
    1. They have known each other for little over a week. Certainly not more than two weeks.
    2. During this time they conceive — or Amanda conceives the rape of Meredith & I can imagine a mutual baiting as they wade hand in hand into a swamp of psychosis.
    3. This remarkably brief association leads to a rape & murder which cries aloud of its psychopathic aspects & mostly in two basic respects:
    First overwhelming aspect of the psychopathic crime: Its extreme brutality, its malicious desecration of Meredith’s sexuality, its senselessness — they have killed her for nothing (“nulla” I think is the Italian word.)
    Second overwhelming aspect in proof that this nice-looking young pair are acting as psychopaths:
    Recklessness & heedlessness. Rape & bloody murder carried out in such a careless manner that clues & evidence are scattered all over the place, both in & outside the cottage (as: cell-phones.) A heedless that couldn’t be compensated by a half-hearted clean up. Was it not, probably, Amanda who noticed the bloody footprint on the bathmat & simply left it there as she also left Rudy’s unflushed feces & for a similar reason?

    One final word:
    To me it is unspeakably telling of their depravity & inhumanity that on the day of the murder, Meredith Kercher could look into the kitchen to say ‘Bye, to the pair who are sitting there.
    They also say ‘Bye, before returning that same evening to kill the courteous & unsuspecting woman.

    • maundy says:

      To be honest, Ernest, I don’t take the same view about Knox’s past as you. We don’t really have accurate details regarding her sex-life and past behaviour anyway. You’re welcome to your theory, but I’d note that many people are capable of having sex – even orgiastic parties – without committing murder.

  3. Gina M. says:

    I have been following this case for a couple of months now. After reading all the details (DNA, lack of alibis, lie after lie), the one thing that stands out is the floor outside of Meredith’s bedroom to the small bathroom – it had been cleaned. What killer would come back to attempt to clean up that area, and not be afraid of any of the occupants returning to the cottage and find them wiping blood off the floor? The only person who knew that all the occupants were out of town was Amanda Knox.

  4. KG says:

    Very well written blogs Maundy – easy to read, and amalgamated seamlessly.

    I posted a comment on your “How to Spot a Fake Burglary” blog, and I was wondering about your point of view on my comment.

    Thanks.

  5. RS_ATL says:

    There were symptoms of sociopathy and narcissism in Amanda going back to childhood. From an Edda Mellas interview with The Guardian:

    Has she ever thought her daughter is guilty? “Never. Never ever.” How can she be so sure that she knows everything about her children? “I’ll tell you a little story about Amanda. Amanda doesn’t know how to lie. If you were to ask her, ‘What d’you think of my shoes?’ and she thought they were hideous, she doesn’t do the polite thing – she’ll tell you they’re hideous. Since she was five she’d do that. That’s what I meant by unique. Some of those interesting social things most people do, she doesn’t.”

    This quote doesn’t suggest that Amanda was developing an overabundance of honesty, but a shockingly low level or absence of empathy. Most children grow out of their early tendency towards narcissism. It doesn’t appear that Amanda did.

    • maundy says:

      Hi RS.

      I’d say it’s difficult to read too much into little anecdotes like that, though. I think her mother is trying spin the line that Knox is a bit socially odd, so she shouldn’t be judged for her alleged social oddness following the murder. Maybe the story could be re-interpreted, but I’m not sure about taking the story at face value in the first place.

      • lauowolf says:

        That’s actually a good point.
        I think it’s really dangerous to rely on the truth value of any story coming out of her family.
        They’ve had a lot of help from the PR types, and I think they have their eye always on the main script.
        All the stories are more than just color, they have an image of their daughter they are trying to promote.
        So yeah, this one is just the quirky girl from Seattle storyline.
        Oh, and honesty.

  6. GJ says:

    “So who are the lawyers talking to? They surely can’t have been, in their vanity, addressing their words to the 400 or more journalists currently squeezed into the courthouse?”

    Much of a stretch? After all, even the most famous lawyers involved this case, who have made headlines outside Italy in the past and will do so again in future, are conscious they may never be involved in a more internationally famous trial. In short, that this may be their greatest moment. They are concerned with their client, but also their legacy.

    • maundy says:

      Yes. Plus, I think they are probably trying to influence the media so as to set a narrative for the inevitable second appeal. But it’s quite unusual, I think, to have a criminal case where lawyers on all sides are playing to the gallery in this way. I wonder what the judges have made of it.

      • The Rector of Stiffkey says:

        This is Italy. But the juicy haunches of venison thrown by both sides to the baying pack in the press-gallery have, in fact, been delicately larded with references to precedent scarcely noticed even when they provoked objections.

        Those references are for the next appeal which, as you have previously pointed out, is decided chiefly on points of law. All parties are aware of that.

        In Julian Assange’s recent extradition case, the district judge went so far as to imply that it wouldn’t much matter which way he decided as a further appeal from either side was inevitable.

        The Umbrian appellate court may well feel the same: one victory to the prosecution, one to the defence, and then over to the umpires of the Cassazione. That would be a most diplomatic solution; but also a triumph for the media.

        The circus has a guaranteed box-office for at least two more years, whether the protagonists remain in prison or ensconce themselves in some foreign jurisdiction.

  7. GJ says:

    I don’t think it’s naive for you to reckon the one place the facts of the case will be clearly heard above all the din and chatter is in their deliberations. It seems to me that, if anything, the innocence campaign we have witnessed has ultimately coagulated into a giant, frightfully bright white reminder that they absolutely must not be influenced by anything except those case details themselves. In other words, if there was any vague danger of innocence campaigning permeating jury consciousness in this case, the campaign that has wrapped it’s tentacles around Perugia has snuffed it out it style!

  8. Sara says:

    A classic, honest, objective and funny post as usual Maundy. I wish you would write more. I have started checking your site every single day for new posts.
    The overemphasis on media coverage has been puzzling me for quite some time too. I wonder how it matters whether the media “crucifies” or worships her. Surely, the jury will not be deciding the outcome based on how many positive or negative articles have been written about her?! It can`t be that the media is overemphasizing its own role. On almost every site where there is an article about the trial, I find people from both sites harping about the role of biased media and her PR agencies. I find people commenting to articles, people commenting to comments, getting into fights over which article says what and which is accurate….I am genuinely baffled when I see people behaving like nutters over the matter of representation of facts in media. Its become so common to see arguments such as – “the media said it was a blood-drenched bathroom whereas it was just luminol, blah blah…”. I mean, so what if the papers did not say it was luminol? I am pretty sure the judges were aware of that. So what if some of the facts were misrepresented by the media (either ways)? The media did not hand out the verdict in the first trial and neither will they in this one. If I was a judge, surely I won`t be going into work thinking “Alright, I gotta hand out a verdict, I`d better check with the newspapers or tv channels to see what I`m supposed to do”. Is the jury in Italy really that easily influenced? I really wonder why even the prosecutors and defense are giving so much importance to it at the cost of making more meaningful, valid arguments.

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