Friends of Amanda Knox video: Paul Ciolino

Paul Ciolino

Paul Ciolino is a Chicago-based private investigator, straight from central casting, who became involved with Friends of Amanda Knox after he was hired by CBS to interview witnesses in the Meredith Kercher case for the documentary 48 Hours Mystery: American Girl, Italian Nightmare, broadcast in 2009.

He begins his presentation at the Case for Innocence event by talking about an incident that took place in 2006 between writer Douglas Preston and the prosecutor in the Kercher case, Giuliano Mignini. I’ve given my take on that in this post. To summarise, Mignini indicted Preston for conspiring to pervert the course of a police investigation. Preston fled the country and so he was not tried. He claims the indictment was harassment, but it looks likely to me that there may have been at least a prima facie case against him, so it may well have been justified. I don’t think any of this has much to do with the Kercher case, but maybe it’s fair enough to go into it if goes to a real question about the fitness of the prosecutor in the case.

Ciolino depicts Mignini as being irritated by newspaper articles written by Preston’s colleague Mario Spezi which are increasingly critical of his conduct as the investigator in the “Monster of Florence” serial killer case. Mignini, says Ciolino, was “nuts”, arresting everyone and anyone on suspicion the murders at the drop of a hat (it’s true that a lot of people were arrested in the case), including dead people (really?).

I’m not well-versed enough in the details of the Monster of Florence investigation to say for sure whether this is a fair depiction or not. What I can say is that Ciolino seems to be mistaken on a key detail. Mignini was not the investigator in the Monster of Florence case. I think Ciolino may have him confused with a different “nuts” investigator featured in Preston’s book about the case, Michele Giuttari.

Ciolino’s next point is about the paucity of DNA evidence relating to the victim at Raffaele Sollecito’s flat. For him, the natural thing for Sollecito to have done, had he been involved in the murder, would be to go straight home covered in the victim’s blood. Then, says Ciolino, “I’m gonna sit on my couch and I’m gonna use my bathroom”, transferring the victim’s DNA to the new location. Seriously. This is around 95 minutes into the video.

Like Steve Moore, Ciolino seeks to paint Rudy Guede (for Knox’s defence, the real, sole killer) as a known criminal. He refers to a burglary at the house of Cristian Tramontano, which he says was carried out by Guede. Whilst it is not unfair to mention this, it should also be said that Tramontano declined to give a clear and unambiguous identification of Guede in his trial testimony and that Guede had a clean criminal record prior to his murder conviction. For me, Guede is the only person ever likely to know for sure whether he burgled Tramontano’s home.

Even most supporters of Amanda Knox, although they may seek to excuse her behaviour, don’t dispute that she did tell the police, early in the investigation, that the murder has been committed by Patrick Lumumba, her boss at a Perugian bar, who was entirely innocent. This is hard to deny, because Knox put allegation down in her own handwriting. By sleight of hand, Ciolino avoids addressing this directly. He tells his audience that Lumumba was implicated because of a series of text messages between him and Knox. According to Ciolino: “Amanda doesn’t say ‘me, Patrick and Raff raped and murdered her’. That never happened.” Well, no, I don’t suppose it did. As Ciolino stresses, as if it somehow undermines the prosecution case, there was no confession.

Just as an aside, every time I see mention of how long Knox was interrogated for on this occasion, it’s different. I think the record is 53 hours, but Ciolino goes for 19. According to statements made at trial, Knox arrived at the police station at 10.30 pm, and she was still waiting to be interviewed an hour later. At 1.45 am, she was charged and then taken to her cell. That would seem to make the maximum length of the interrogation two-and-a-quarter hours.

According to Ciolino, the police failed, following the murder, to carry out inquiries with residents in a nearby block of flats, home to a witness who said she heard a scream, Nara Capazali. If this is true, then it’s a fair point that it would be a significant error in the investigation not to go door-to-door. Ciolino has spoken to Capzeli himself and, in his opinion, she is a “crazy woman”. It is this in particular that makes him “smell a bad odour about the whole case”. Now, I’ve nothing against hunches, as long as they are recognised for what they are. But is it really so strange that police in a murder enquiry would be at least willing to talk to someone (Ciolino says he doesn’t know if she testified at trial) who heard a scream, even if she is a bit “crazy”? To me, it just seems strange that Ciolino would be troubled about it. Almost as strange as the story Ciolino goes on to tell about the detective who believed Knox was guilty because she ate pizza.

Overall, I found Ciolino’s presentation the least convincing of the five given at the Case for Innocence event. I didn’t agree with the conclusions of Mark Waterbury, but I felt that he understood what he was talking about and was straightforwardly presenting his version of the facts. But I’m not sure how familiar Ciolino is with the facts in the first place. Is his confusion about Knox’s “confession” to police a deliberate ploy or just ill-informed? Is he under the impression that Mignini was in charge of the Monster of Florence investigation, or does he see this as an excusable lie to spice up the story?

I’ll post again soon with some general comments on the presentations taken as a whole.


13 Responses to Friends of Amanda Knox video: Paul Ciolino

  1. WSBrown says:

    Thanks Maundy, I’ve been waiting to get a more precise timing from Knox start of interview to accusation of Patrick. 1) Just prior to the 11.30pm interview Knox was doing homework and cartwheels 2) If she was CHARGED at 1.45am then the first accusation that Patrick was a murderer may have come as soon as one and a half hours after the start of the interview. So if Knox is to be believed that’s an astonishing rate of decline of mental state (enough to set another human being up for a life in prison). Perhaps this is why the claim of up to 53 hours is important to her supporters.

  2. RoseMontague says:

    According to her testimony an arrest warrant was served on her the next day around 1pm. After her 1:45AM statement she was given something to eat and then was questioned again resulting in her 5:45AM statement.

    • maundy says:

      Hi Rose. My understanding is that she was charged at 1.45, then next day she was given confirmation that she had been placed in custody pending investigations, which are two separate things that happen in the Italian procedure.

      • RoseMontague says:

        Her status was changed from a witness to a suspect at 1:45 which is the way the Italians do things. Her arrest was confirmed in court as noon-1PM the next day. She was not charged for about a year, although her detention pending the completion of the investigation and formal charges was confirmed by Matteini a few weeks later.

      • maundy says:

        Rose, that’s obviously contradictory. She was not charged for a whole year, but formal charges were confirmed after a few weeks? One or the other of those statements must be wrong.

      • BillyBob says:

        She wasn’t charged until a year later, nor did Rose say she had been charged at 1:45 if you reread her post.

    • WSBrown says:

      ‘her 1:45AM statement’ – is that different from her very first utterance that Patrick killed Meredith. Did this first utterance take place between 11.30pm and 1.00am – ie not long after she was told Sollecito was no longer giving her an alibi?

    • Harry Rag says:

      Amanda Knox wasn’t questioned again after 1.45am. She decided to make a spontaneous declaration. Mignini didn’t ask her any questions. It is quite clear from Knox’s 5.45am witness statement that she is making a spontaneous declaration:

      “I wish to relate spontaneously what happened because these events have deeply bothered me and I am really afraid of Patrick, the African boy who owns the pub called “Le Chic” located in Via Alessi where I work periodically.”

  3. RoseMontague says:

    Have you read Matteini? It makes it clear, 1 year in jail as a precautionary measure as the investigation is proceeding. Let me know if you don’t have it and I will email it to you.

  4. BillyBob says:

    But how do you know she wasn’t questioned, Harry? You keep saying this, but you have no idea what happened between 1:45 and 5:45.

    Do you think Amanda would typically use a word like ‘spontaneously’ or was that word written by the Italian police to get around the fact that no lawyer was present?

    • maundy says:

      Hi BillyBob. I don’t there is any suggestion anywhere that Knox was questioned between 1:45 and 5:45. I also doubt Knox used the word “spontaneously”, but so what?

      • RoseMontague says:

        Ms. Knox indicates in her testimony that she was questioned again. The part about the scream that was added to the 5:45AM statement is very interesting and worth reading. It is unfortunate the cops forgot to tape these interrogations.

  5. WSBrown says:

    Surely the absolute key point is whether Knox accused Lumumba after just 1-2 hours of questioning or whether she did so after 53 hours? Can anyone confirm what time the police went to arrest Lumumba?

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