Today’s court hearing in the appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito seems to have been relatively undramatic. Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann agreed to an extension for the independent review of DNA evidence in the case, so that the court-appointed experts will now submit their findings by 30 June and appear in order to present them on 25 July. This seems like it was a foregone conclusion. Any other decision would very probably have served only as grounds for his castigation in the second appeal – under Italian law, it is almost certain that there will be a second appeal.
A sign of how little to get excited about happened today is Barbie Nadeau’s report for The Daily Beast. She dedicates the first third of her report to Amanda Knox’s understandable concern, expressed in court, that she isn’t left to stew over the summer months whilst everyone working on her case disappears to Capri for an extended period, in the traditional Italian fashion. I think it can safely be presumed that this fell upon deaf ears.
For those interested in the nitty-gritty, though, there were a couple of things that happened today that are worth jotting down. Firstly, the DNA experts, Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, seem to have made a point of stressing that they have had everything they need and have had full co-operation from the police. Although it also seems that they got some of what they were asking for only recently, I’m interpreting this as a more-or-less direct refutation of comments made recently in the media by Curt Knox, Amanda’s father, in which he has claimed that police are withholding crucial data. It seems that the dog hasn’t eaten anyone’s homework after all.
It also emerged that the additional documentation the experts have asked permission to consider relates to the retrieval and handling of the knife alleged to have been used by Amanda Knox to stab Meredith Kercher. It’s interesting, but not surprising, that they want to look at this information. It would seem they must be interested in establishing whether or not there was a possibility of contamination of this evidence between the time it was first identified and the time it was tested in the lab. It shouldn’t be assumed, though, that this must therefore be a pivotal matter in the review. I think Conti and Vecchiotti will be examining and reporting on a whole range of aspects. Knowing what one of those is doesn’t make anything else old news.
The other noteworthy event today was the agreement that defence lawyers have been granted permission to present testimony from five prisoners, and potentially a sixth, who claim they know the real – “inside”, as it were – story of Meredith Kercher’s murder. The Italian media seem to be finding this highly significant, but I’m not so sure. The trouble is that, between the five potential new witnesses, there seem to be three completely different stories. The first one is what the defence has claimed all along: Knox and Sollecito’s co-accused, Rudy Guede, committed the murder alone. Then there is an alternative version in which Kercher was murdered by a fugitive Mafioso. The third version seems to posit that Kercher was such a monumental drug addict that, within a couple of weeks of her being in Perugia, some as yet unnamed person put a hit out on her for her unpaid debts.
It seems obvious to me that this is the type of evidence that is likely to undermine itself without the prosecution having to say a word. Will these various stories give the judges pause for thought, or will they simply note that convicted criminals may sometimes say all manner of things for who-cares-what reason? Yes, that is a rhetorical question. In fairness, though, I do not get the impression that defence lawyers imagine that these witnesses will change any games. They have already said that they “do not attach particular significance” to one of the witnesses and that the reliability of another “is for the court to decide, not us“.
It is always possible that one of the stories will ring true when it gets its day in court but, for now, I feel I have to wonder whether the defence lawyers are just diligently clutching at straws.
Given that, at the start of the day, it was a real possibility that someone may have been Raptured during the course of proceedings, I’m slightly disappointed that today’s hearing doesn’t seem to have thrown any particular light on the facts of the case. Leave a comment if you know different.