5/27/10

Italy: Day 10, Knox, Groceries and Novices


Today is going to be a long one…


Yesterday morning we met to discuss our articles on the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case. I’m opening the compilation of our exposes on the trial with an In Memoria statement about Meredith Kercher’s life. To conclude the compilation, I make another brief statement about how the Kercher family is moving on. This case has touched us all deeply, from meeting with Amanda Knox’s stepfather to researching the happenings of Meredith’s murder.


I share this because I realized only today how profoundly it has distressed me. During group discussions, I can go from 0 to 60 on my response. I’ve done expansive research on the subject, and have gone so far as to attempt contact with the media rep for the Kercher family (unsuccessfully, I’m afraid – they’re rather private). I had the opportunity to speak with a CBS News producer for 48 HOURS MYSTERY in April, who shared with me his thoughts and experience with the case. This is probably what sparked my investment in understanding justice and accusations in the tragedy.


For those of you unfamiliar with the Knox/Kercher case, I’ll give some details. On November 2, 2007, a young British girl (Kercher) was brutally raped and murdered in her own home. Knox, an American, and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, along with an Ivory Coast native, Rudy Guede, were convicted within the next two years of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing Meredith Kercher. However, dodgy logistics in the case have led some (including the producer I spoke with) to believe that Amanda Knox is innocent, and did not receive a fair trial. The Italian Supreme Court agrees with the latter, and Knox continues to re-appeal.


I’ll include my article for other details:



MEREDITH KERCHER: IN MEMORIA


If Amanda Knox is the fox of the Italian justice system, then Meredith Kercher is a mouse.


The unceasing controversy around Knox’s involvement in the 2007 murder often overshadows its victim, leaving Kercher’s memory primarily existent in her death. However, Kercher’s background, along with her relationship to Knox, may lend more insight into the happenings of November 2, 2007 than forensic evidence.


This to say, also, that forensic evidence provided has been less than definitive. It has been a momentous struggle for the Italian judicial system to come to a conclusive decision on this case. It has been a perhaps an even greater difficulty for a significant faction of the American people to see past Knox’s likeness to a frivolous, though innocuous, American teenager. An Italian court found Amanda Knox guilty of murder in 2009, but controversy remains.


Data and presumed legal discrepancies have been highlighted over the last two years’ examination of the case, but such factors should be secondary to the tragedy of young life taken that night.


Meredith Kercher, a 21 year old British exchange student, was found with her throat slashed, bruises all over her body, and proof of sexual assault two days after Italy’s Halloween equivalent, Dia de los Muertos. At the time, Meredith had been studying abroad for two months.


By most accounts, Kercher is portrayed as the face of innocence – she criticized Knox for bringing boys to the apartment that they shared with two other girls in Perugia. She cut social visits short to attend to her academic duties. Ultimately, it is said that her death was instigated by her refusal to have sex with one of three convicted killers, the Ivory Coast native, Rudy Guede.


In contrast, Amanda Knox has been nicknamed, “Foxy Knoxy” for her seemingly ostentatious ways.


But Kercher was more than the face of innocence. The student hailed from Coulsdon, Surrey and was in Italy completing her Leeds University degree. She studied political history, and planned to graduate that year. Kercher worked diligently for the opportunity to study in Italy, finding two jobs the previous summer in order save money. She chose Perugia because of their annual Chocolate Festival, which she attended with her apartment-mate. According to Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas, in an exclusive interview, Knox’s destroyed hard drive would have contained a video of the roommates enjoying time together.


In the mornings, Kercher loved looking out at the beautiful Umbrian hills from her shared apartment. Like many young girls, she watched The Notebook with her friends, and took pleasure from shopping, reading, and writing poetry. In her teens, Meredith was involved in karate and ballet.


Her sister, Stephanie, remembers that she loved to dance. Meredith spent a good deal of time with her family and enjoyed their company; while abroad she telephoned and text messaged them regularly.


One week after her brutal murder, Kercher had planned to visit home with gifts and chocolates for her mother’s birthday.


Meredith’s mother and father, Arline and John Kercher, arrived in Italy shortly after the murder. Her father was a long-time journalist who found out about his daughter’s death from the foreign desk of an affiliate newspaper. Upon arriving, John was unable to enter the morgue to identify his daughter’s body “because it would have put a full stop to my memory of her.”


Arline Kercher grieved differently. “I still look for [Meredith],” she admitted after expressing the surrealism of her daughter’s death.


At the sentencing of Knox and once-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, Meredith’s father likewise lamented. “It destroys me,” he says. Still, the family acted with grace and dignity in the process of justice. At the same time, they have exercised extreme privacy. Attempts to get in touch with the family’s media representative were unsuccessful.


Three siblings, John, Lyle, and Stephanie, survive the 21-year-old; all have been actively involved in pursuing justice for their sister. The family wants irrefutable answers.


Given the presumably dodgy logistics, motive must be assumed another option in Meredith’s murder. And, based on her nature, there is none. Kercher was a diligent Erasmus scholar whose most wicked exploit may have been dressing up as a vampire for Dia de los Muertos. As Knox said herself, “Meredith was my friend.”


But perhaps it was a crime of passion, disregarding motive and acted through a drug-fueled sex-orgy. Perhaps Meredith Kercher’s personality, character and accomplishments could do nothing to save her on that fatal night. Now, such qualities can only save her remembrance. For her family, at least, Meredith’s memory lives through these things.


The family has said on multiple occasions that Meredith would have fought to the end.


AFTERMATH (Concluding Statement)


Meredith Kercher’s eldest brother, John, spoke at the end of a trial granting the family $6.5 million in damages, saying he’d like to remember Meredith’s life more than the way in which she died.


As the family continues to be surrounded by criminal debate, moving on hasn’t been easy.



It’s not my finest work, certainly, but it’s my best attempt at removing a bias towards Knox’s innocence. Today, it stopped being about that, as I recognized more fully that this is a tragedy, and it will always be a tragedy. If Knox is innocent, I pray that she is released – in that case, a terrible thing has been done to her. If she is guilty, she has done a terrible thing. No matter how you string it, a terrible thing has been done to Meredith Kercher, and her family is suffering something terrible.


What ultimately caused me to cry for this case was Meredith’s mother’s claim that she still looks for her daughter – that a mother must constantly re-awaken to the loss of a daughter. Second, this picture of Meredith’s father at a press conference:



It’s consuming to write about something so horrible. But, as a journalist, it’s also imperative to eventually let those things go. I am merely an observer, trying to relay truth. That’s the best I can do. And that, I suppose, is a writer’s most heartbreaking endeavor.


It’s trite to move on to the rest of my experiences from the day at this point, but I need to.


This morning we met again for a short class time, then our professor wanted me to run some errands for her. Danny and I walked to the grocery store (about a mile) to pick up more breakfast food and picnic food for our hike tomorrow. Today was the day I realized that Italian “Gastronomias” leave the heads on the chickens they sell. Rather disgusting.



When we got back to CEFID, I left for a solo walk along the hillside of Assisi. I took my iPod with me, and walked about two miles down the road past basilicas, apartments, olive groves and gardens. Along the way, I took a few pictures.


I came across these two gentlemen talking at the fountain in the Piazza:



I was taken by this quaint little street:



At pranzo today, it seemed as if everyone was exhausted. In every way, we were drained. Later, and for three hours, three other girls and I hid in our “bunker” and watched downloaded American television. Now, I know this is petty. We’re in Assisi, Italy. Why would we insult our intelligence by watching garbage in one of the most beautiful places in the world?


Well, I’ll tell you why.


We had just finished writing about a case that we had all become invested in, and needed some escape from that harsh reality. We were all missing home. We were all physically tired. We all needed to laugh.


So, yes… Even though I love learning about the Roman statues that decorate the Trevi Fountain and look forward to tours of Franciscan Basilicas, I can also appreciate the simpler things in life. J


Around dinnertime, we immerged from our bunker slightly more refreshed. We had plans to interview two Franciscan novices about their conversion to the Franciscan order and their plans to become friars. It was an interesting discussion, and a relatable one, as one of the novices had been an American college student (at Notre Dame). The other novice was French, and twenty-one years old – only a year older than I.


Danny and the French novice:



For dinner, we heated leftover pizza and stopped in a café for gelato.


At 10 PM, a few of us went out for a quiet celebration at Sensi. I took a few pictures of the beautiful streetlamps on the way back.



11 comments:

  1. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito repeatedly told the police a pack of lies in the days after Meredith's murder.

    On 5 November 2007, Knox and Sollecito were confronted with proof that they had lied and were given another opportunity to tell the truth. However, they both chose to tell the police even more lies.

    Sollecito's new alibi was shattered by computer forensic evidence and his mobile phone records.

    Knox accused an innocent man, Diya Lumumba, of murdering Meredith despite knowing full well that he was completely innocent. She didn't recant her false and malicious allegation against Lumumba the whole time he was in prison.

    Knox's account of what happened on 2 November 2007 is contradicted by her mobile phone records.

    Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito both gave multiple conflicting alibis. 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.

    Rudy Guede's 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.

    The scientific police found a mixture of Amanda Knox's DNA and Meredith's blood on the floor.

    There was no physical evidence that Rudy Guede went into the blood-spattered bathroom. However, the scientific police found irrefutable proof that Knox and Sollecito tracked Meredith's blood into this bathroom.

    Amanda Knox’s DNA was found mingled with Meredith’s blood in three different places in the bathroom: on the ledge of the basin, on the bidet, and on a box of Q Tips cotton swabs.

    Sollecito left a visible bloody footprint on the blue bathmat.

    Amanda Knox left a bloody shoeprint on the pillow under Meredith's body.

    Knox's and Sollecito's bare bloody footprints were revealed by luminol in the hallway. Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s DNA was found mixed together in one of the bloody footprints.

    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.

    Amanda Knox's DNA was found on the handle of 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.

    Sollecito knew that Meredith's DNA was on the blade which is why he twice lied about accidentally pricking her hand whilst cooking.

    The defence experts were unable to prove that there had been any contamination. Alberto Intini, head of the Italian police forensic science unit, pointed out that unless contamination has been proved, it does not exist.

    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.

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  2. There is only one way to be properly informed about the Perugia Witch Trial:
    http://freeamanda.livejournal.com
    with link to our facebook

    Twittering for Amanda:
    http://twitter.com/FreeAmandaKnox

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  3. Really good article Stevie! I love reading your blog, it helps me when I miss you :)

    The pictures aren't working btw! I was hoping to see your leg.

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  4. Wow... I just read about the Italian justice system... I thought our system is screwed up. I mean, lets just have a judge make up stories and hand out sentences to go with them. Seems faster that way.

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  5. Harry Rag - that is just what you are. May God help you some day when you need it. It is very unfortunate that your claims are incorrect and based on inaccurate evidence findings. But then you already knew that didn't you?

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  6. Dee,

    I haven't made a single inaccurate claim. When you read an accurate translation of the judges' sentencing report, you can compare Knox's and Sollecito's statements with the mobile phone and computer records. You will see for yourself that they lied repeatedly.

    Please note that Knox lied to Filomena on 2 November and to her friends in an e-mail on 4 November and Sollecito lied to his family in a bugged prison conversation, so no-one can claim they lied because they were coerced by the police.

    Would you care to explain who went into Filomena's room and the bathroom that Knox and Meredith shared after Meredith had been stabbed?

    Bear in mind that it couldn't have been Rudy Guede because there's irrefutable forensic proof that he left Meredith's room and went straight out the house.

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  7. With all due respect, Harry Rag and Dee, this is a personal blog.

    While I appreciate any comments concerning the case, as I did put up my article for public viewing, please exclude any callous responses.

    The primary goal of this blog is to inform friends and family of my experience in Italy, not to criticize or place blame in the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case. As a journalist, I feel I have removed any sense of bias, and would hope that others respect that.

    In any case, I would appreciate if you expressed your feelings about the case in a different arena. Thank you.

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  8. Hi Stevie,

    You wrote:

    "However, dodgy logistics in the case have led some (including the producer I spoke with) to believe that Amanda Knox is innocent, and did not receive a fair trial. The Italian Supreme Court agrees with the latter, and Knox continues to re-appeal."

    Your claim that the Italian Supreme Court agrees that Amanda Knox did not receive a fair trial is completely untrue. The Italian Supreme Court has never made such a claim. All defendants who are found guilty of murder in Italy are automatically entitled to two appeals.

    Incidentally, I have't expressed any feelings. I merely listed some of the reasons why the judges found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murdering Meredith.

    I get the distinct impression from what you've written that you've got swept along on the wave of hysteria whipped up by Amanda Knox's family, the FOA and David Marriott.

    I highly recommend reading the judges' sentencing report once it's published in English. Chris Mellas is hardly an objective and reliable source of information, and he has been caught out lying on several occasions. He also sent obscene texts to Barbie Nadeau.

    I'm pretty sure that the CBS producer you're referring to is Doug Longhini, who is responsible for the horribly biased and one-sided CBS documentaries about the case which were absolutely riddled with factual errors.

    This kind of journalism has caused much distress to Meredith's devastated family and friends. You may want to think about that for a moment.

    I'm sure you know that one of the CBS producers involved in these documentaries, Joe Halderman, was recently was found guilty of blackmail and sent to prison.

    I think you would agree that the media should have an ethical commitment to the truth and there are no excuses for getting basic facts wrong. Doug Longhini, Sara Ely Hulse and Paul Ciolino have never apologised for or acknowledged the many factual errors contained in the CBS documentaries.

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  9. Thanks for the blog! If you want to study and practice languages online or on your iPhone a good service is Babbel.com (http://www.babbel.com). Bon Voyage!

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  10. Hi Stevie,

    The judges' sentencing report will be published in English this week. You will be able to download it from PMF and TJMK.

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  11. The English translation of Judge Massei's sentencing report can be downloaded from here:

    http://www.perugiamurderfile.org/viewtopic.php?p=53735#p53735

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