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Posting in the Crazy House

July 20, 2014

It is painful, even excruciating, to realize that my fellow humans may lack empathy, embrace cruelty, and/or renounce rationality. Somehow our ability to put innocent people in prison after a careful process involving highly trained scientists, police, lawyers, and judges and leave them there or even kill them (Todd Willingham, Earl Washington, Anthony Yarbough and many others besides Amanda Knox) is worse than anything else we humans do; even a war in which 50 million die is not, in some ways, quite so unreasonable as Yarbough spending 20 years of his life in prison or Willingham being executed or Washington’s confessions to numerous crimes (including giving Eve the apple) being believed.

Knox, with her case followed by millions and, at length, spawning books, BBC documentaries, movies, comments on news sites, comments at the same level from Harvard professors (maybe Dershowitz should write for the tabloids), and widespread incredulous outrage from human beings, has created a whole new class of injustice in which it’s not just the system failing us, it’s whole nations, whole peoples. Perhaps this is why I, without good reason, think about the Knox case so much even though others have suffered more.

As an exercise, I posted comments on a news site in which I argued that Amanda and Raffaele were guilty. I did this to the best of my ability but did not stoop to leaving out crucial facts or making up nonsense. I tried to argue powerfully, eloquently, and honestly, but did not entirely eschew the occasional low blow. Of course, when one does this, it reads as nonsense. Nevertheless, I did learn something. The mindless people – not stupid people as they do not all have low IQ’s as Dershowitz proves – who believe in the modern-day Perugian fairy tale have, I think, an extremely simple set of beliefs: first, no one would tell police, under any circumstances whatever, that they were present at a murder when they were, in fact, not; second, once you have what amounts to a confession, all other evidence may be interpreted from the standpoint of guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, Massei’s verdict overtly reverses the usual standard of justice. This is assuming, of course, that at least some of the people who say they believe Knox is guilty actually do believe this and are not simply monsters who know she is innocent. Maybe they just think it’s all a big game. Who knows?

What follows below are two comments I posted on news sites where the typical commenters are, for the most part, “people” who cause me to doubt what species I belong to.

Comment 1:

Knox and Sollecito are obviously deranged but dangerously clever. They used a kitchen knife to make a wound that looked like it came from a pocket knife and then they cleaned the kitchen knife exceptionally well and then used it again for cooking and just tossed it into a drawer with half a dozen other knives. They probably figured no one would test a knife that didn’t seem to fit the wound. But they thought wrong. The investigators not only zeroed in on the correct knife right away, but they also didn’t stop after three tests on the knife came up negative for blood, for anything human, and for any type of DNA. Thank goodness they broke international protocols and did the amplification procedure anyway on the apparently-clean knife. Their positive result matching Meredith’s DNA obviously does NOT mean the lab was contaminated; in fact, it means Knox and Sollecito didn’t clean the knife quite well enough. The pair of murderers left at least one cell from Meredith on the knife which the PCR procedure amplified into the DNA equivalent of a billion cells which were then analyzed and matched to Meredith (it was a perfect match, absolutely unassailable unless you believe the contamination theory).

And thank goodness for the persistence of the Perugia cops. They knew Knox was lying and they knew she and Lumumba had killed Meredith. They explained this at the post-arrest press conference: “Initially, the American gave a version of events we knew was not correct. She buckled and made an admission of facts we knew were correct and from that we were able to bring them all in.” Later police explained that they used what they called the psychological method to solve the crime, essentially studying Knox’s behavior and reactions to identify her as the killer. They clearly succeeded and they are clearly a formidable investigative team.

It was just a matter of breaking Ms. Knox. Once they got her to admit that Lumumba had sex with Meredith and then killed her, they were able to arrest both the Congolese bar owner and the Seattle native Knox. Later the cops were able to nail Knox for slander when they found out that actually the bloody handprint belonged to Rudy Guede who removed Meredith’s blood-soaked jeans and then sexually assaulted her while she was choking to death on her own blood (the blood on the front of her jeans and Guede’s DNA in her vagina make it clear that the fatal wound preceded removal of the clothing). Knox was there of course (as she admitted) and knew what really happened, so she was obviously purposely misleading the police when she described the sexual assault and the murder in the wrong order. Really Knox should have gotten two extra prison terms for her vile slander: one for saying Lumumba raped Meredith and one for saying he killed her. It’s a good thing Knox’s boss had enough customers that night to give him a minute-by-minute alibi completely covering the time that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede spent murdering poor Meredith.

If only the cops had collected the bra clasp early on when they first picked it up. If they hadn’t left it lying around for so long (46 days, come on guys!), they would have been able to identify all four (or five or six or more) of the male DNA signatures on the bra clasp and arrest ALL of the people who were involved in Meredith’s murder. We’ll never know exactly how many people committed this murder because of this serious oversight on the part of the cops who otherwise did a terrific job except for a few mistakes: not taking the body temperature of the victim when she was discovered, not taking proper care of the computer hard drives they took into custody, and, worst of all, allowing the bra strap itself to degrade so that it cannot be retested to 1) confirm Sollecito’s presence in the room and 2) identify the rest of the gang. When I think of all the murderers who are still at large, a whole deranged group who murdered that poor girl for fun, it makes me sick.

The true genius of the pair of murderers we do know about is the cleanup job they did or seemed to do. What most people don’t realize is that they didn’t simply clean up their DNA and leave Guede’s. They clearly planned the whole thing from the beginning. They undoubtedly both wore gloves and probably caps too to prevent any hairs from them from becoming part of the crime scene. They must have purposely let Guede do most of the dirty work and they undoubtedly thought that no one would believe that they could have killed Meredith without leaving any DNA behind (except for the bra clasp which they probably figured the police wouldn’t bother collecting – and they were almost correct).

This explains why they acted in such an obvious way, kissing each other at a murder scene(!); they thought their DNA trick would prevent anyone from suspecting them no matter how they acted. But they didn’t realize that the Perugian police would see right through their plan. The police and forensic investigators weren’t fooled, they didn’t focus on the lack of DNA at the scene AND they kept at it with Sollecito’s kitchen knife until they got a positive result AND they collected the bra clasp eventually AND, most important of all, they broke Knox who obviously isn’t nearly as tough or smart as she thinks she is.

Most importantly, we have to thank Judge Massei and the rest of the panel for finding them guilty in the first trial. Faced with the luminol footprints that tested negative for blood, he could have just left it at that, but he realized that luminol reacts to blood and, just because one test seems to show that there was no blood and just because the luminol print could, theoretically, be bleach or fruit juice, doesn’t mean you have to discount this evidence. Also, he knew that the swab taken in the bathroom sink that showed Meredith’s and Knox’s DNA mixed together could have been explained away because Knox used the bathroom. But Judge Massei, looking at all the evidence together, was able to conclude that the luminol footprints probably actually were blood and that the swab with the mixed DNA in the bathroom probably actually was a result of the murder. Of course, these things alone might not have been enough for a conviction. The key for Massei was seeing the big picture, from Knox’s admission that she was present when Lumumba raped and murdered Meredith all the way to the luminol footprints and the mixed DNA in the sink.

And, for the record, all police interrogations are a little harsh. It doesn’t mean all confessions should be ignored. Even if one of the cops gave Knox a smack in the back of the head to jog her memory (this cannot be proven and there was no bruising or any identifiable injury at all), it wouldn’t matter. She obviously needed a little help to do what she needed to do and tell the police what happened.

Comment 2:

I really don’t see why everyone thinks I’m being sarcastic. People who agree with me that Knox was there think I’m really a Knox supporter and Knox supporters are complimenting me. It’s surreal.

I think Knox was there because she said she was there and I believe her. It’s as simple as that. I don’t believe the backpedaling she’s done since her statements at 1:30 am and 5:45 am on 6 November 2007.

She said, and I quote, “I do not recall whether Meredith was there or arrived afterward. I struggle to remember these moments, but Patrik had sex with Meredith with whom he was infatuated, but I do not recall whether Meredith had been threatened beforehand. I recall confusedly that he killed her.”

That statement speaks for itself. Her other statement about 4 hours later reads in part as follows:

“I cannot recall how much time they stayed together in the room but can only say that at a certain point I heard Meredith screaming and I, frightened, covered my ears. Then I don’t remember anything anymore, I am very confused in my head. I do not recall whether Meredith was screaming and if [I? she?](*) also heard thuds [tonfi] because I was involved, but I was imagining what could have happened.”

Again, this is pretty clear and stands on its own.

I realize that Lumumba didn’t (and would never) kill anyone. He’s a gentle, decent man. But he never admitted to being present when Meredith was killed. Guede did admit this as did Knox. I realize also that no one had sex with Meredith and that the brutal attack came before the sexual assault.

Here’s what I think happened: Probably Knox let Guede in, helped him subdue Meredith, slashed her “friend’s” throat with the kitchen knife while Guede held her down (or perhaps it was the other way around), then helped him remove Meredith’s bloody jeans, and then watched in fascination as he fingered Meredith’s vagina as she was dying. Knox, of course, was smart enough to wear gloves. Feeling a little guilty about having helped to murder her housemate and “friend”, she covered the victim’s body. This is something the police, who spoke at length about the psychological method they use to solve crimes, realized that only a woman would do.

The fact that Knox twice says she was confused and says “do not recall” or “I was imagining” or “I don’t/struggle to remember” seven times in the above excerpts doesn’t mean we should ignore her confession. She confessed. Period. She, like Guede, is obviously a very confused person with many serious issues.

It’s true that her confession doesn’t fit in some ways with the actual crime as it happened and it’s also true that experts say that confessions that get the details wrong may be false confessions. But Knox did get a detail correct. As others have pointed out here, Knox said the victim screamed and that she (Knox) covered her ears. That seems like a pretty precise detail to me.

Once a Knox supporter (I used to be one but I changed my mind) realizes that the confession should be taken for what it is, it is easy enough to realize that the other evidence, such as the kitchen knife, should not be discounted.

Without the confession, the fact that the knife was tested for blood (TMB) and this test was negative and that it was tested for anything human (“species-specific test”) and this was also negative and that it was tested for DNA of any kind (Q-bit fluorometer) and this was a third negative would lead me to doubt the knife evidence. But the police knew Knox had confessed. They knew she was guilty, so they did the PCR amplification in spite of the three negative tests and did get a positive match to Meredith Kercher’s DNA (there is no question about this match as others have pointed out).

As Italian jurists have repeatedly explained, an “osmotic” evaluation of the evidence, in which each piece of evidence affects the evaluation of each other piece of evidence so that the evidence may be seen as a whole, allows us to conclude that the DNA found as a result of the PCR amplification was NOT due to contamination and was in fact on the knife from the beginning despite the three negative tests.

And suppose it was contamination after all. Knox supporters should remember: she confessed to being present when Meredith died.

NOTE: The second comment actually received a neutral response from a guilter and it showcases I think the power of scenarios. When you just make up what might have happened, as is legal in Italian courtrooms, you encourage all concerned to suspend disbelief as if watching a movie. The result: reality and logic go out the window.

From → Amanda Knox

  1. I’m seriously concerned about the person who would write these comments. No, really. I am.

    • Anonymous permalink

      Well, the commenting world is a strange place. I didn’t feel like I could stoop to arguing with a guilter, so I tried sarcasm hoping some would take me seriously. They didn’t. If you don’t lie, you’re obviously not a guilter.

      Really what I wonder about is whether or not guilters actually believe what they say. Do the judges believe what THEY say? What about Mignini and Stefanoni?

      Either the “confession” convinced them of Knox’s guilt and they are simply too stupid to realize that Knox’s wee hours statements are meaningless or they know she’s innocent and don’t care. A third possibility is that it’s all a video game to them and they’ve never actually stopped to think about what the reality might be.

      Plumbing the depths of irrationality is not for the faint of heart.

      I know the comments (especially the second one) are rather graphic. But I think it’s very important for people to have a clear picture of how far Guede’s behavior went and how bizarre (even as rapes go) it was. The prosecution tried to make it look like it was three people forcing one person to engage in sex acts when in fact the evidence makes it very clear that this is not what happened.

      • The Guilters’ mentality is “this is what I believe, so I’m going to search for evidence to support it”, hence why they give so much weight to the false confession and ignore everything exonerating (and the fact that many innocents make false confessions). They presumed guilt from the beginning, and are refusing to change their minds to the point of inventing lies to explain away anything that doesn’t support their preconceived ideas. They realise the Kafkaesque nature of the “accomplices who didn’t know each other” reality and so they either lie and say Guede was friends with Knox (the prosecution tried VERY hard to find evidence of this, but failed) or they claim Guede was framed. As Harry Rag put it, “[Knox’s] guilt is never to be doubted”.

        On the whole, Guilters seem more malicious than stupid. Whilst Knox’s supporters are concerned not only with her, but with several cases of injustice, the haters are *only* concerned with Knox (they occasionally mention Sollecito, but never the real killer Guede). They remind me of people centuries ago who would watch public executions for entertainment.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    I tend to agree that the guilters are “more malicious than stupid.” Same goes for Mignini, de Felice and the whole gang of mafia-cops. The judges who assumed guilt (telling Knox she should express remorse, stating outright that a negative test for blood does not mean there was no blood) are harder to figure. Maybe they just don’t like pretty girls.

    The hardest to understand (for me) are the Kerchers who have allowed their tragedy to be so cynically used. Given that the failure of the police to charge Guede with burglary arguably killed Meredith, the Kerchers have every reason to search honestly for the truth. The fact that they have not turned on the Italian system that failed them so horribly is the most mind boggling aspect of this case to me.

  3. Tom Ripley permalink

    I just recently found out about this case and hopefully with a pair of fresh eyes, I can give some new insight aside from the pro-Knox and pro-guilt. By reading from various articles from both sides, I have to say that I find the arguments from the pro-Knox are more acceptable within the realm of logic.
    I still have no idea how in the world could Knox and Sollecito remove all of their DNA traces from inside the room and still retained Guede’s there? You cannot make an argument just to fit the narrative. Say Knox and Sollecito wore a full-body suit and cap and everything; how stupid Guede is to be the only one who didn’t wear any? And they would need to get rid of those suits and caps somewhere. Why did the investigators never try to find these presumed protective clothing?
    I don’t think bleach was used (in lieu of protective clothing) because it doesn’t fit the crime scene. There is no guarantee that they could clean up all their DNA traces in such a short time. And how about the smell of bleach? How come nobody smelled it when they first entered the room? I would be happy for someone to show how it can be done and prove me wrong.

    Knox might appear inconsistent at times, but it should not be the argument. After all, the human memory is unreliable. We see thousand of things daily and not everything is registered properly in our brains. We run in automatic pilot most of the times, ignoring majority of details that seems unimportant. There is normalcy bias plays a part.

    I know that there are crimes where some of the aspects are not easily explainable and that sometimes, you have to believe in your gut. But, I don’t want to live in the world where the justice system is based on the gut feeling and circumstancial evidence rather than facts and valid evidence. Where people can be sentenced based on whether their behaviour is appropriate or not. It would be a scary world to live in. My words may not be eloquent, but my mind is clear.

    • Thanks for the comment Tom. I agree of course. Once I looked into the case (assuming she was guilty since police supposedly had a murder weapon), it was a very short time before I saw the case for what it was: one of the funniest miscarriages of justice in history.

      I know it seems strange to say a case like this is “funny.” Raffaele, in an interview, said that at one point when he was visiting Amanda in Seattle, the two of them just fell apart, cracking up, laughing at the whole thing. I actually regard this as a healthy and clearheaded reaction. It was unspeakably tragic to lose Meredith and excruciating to see her death turned into a tabloid frenzy that altered the lives of two innocent people neither of whom will ever forget their suffering. Meredith’s death should have led to a reassesment of police tactics in dealing with mentally unstable burglars like Guede who are acting as informants (it is commonly assumed that Guede was not jailed after being caught in Milan burglarizing a building because he was acting as an information though this is technically speculation).

      In spite of all of it, seeing the humor amidst the tragedy and suffering helps us to understand it.

      Anyway, some have called the comments in this particular article, “trolling the trolls” which is more or less what I was doing. Have a look at “They Didn’t Even Bother to Frame Her” for a fuller view of the case with references and quotes.

      • Tom Ripley permalink

        I agree. Human emotions and psyches are complex (a lot of grey areas); while, facts and logic are simple (it is either true or false). I think that it is critical to scrutinize every criminal case with facts and logic then support them with psychological aspect — not the other way around.

        For me, the kitchen knife is inconclusive as the murder weapon. The method of obtaining the alleged murder weapon and DNA are controversial at best. Usually, we determine the murder weapon by making a list of objects that would be able to inflict the similar wound. In this case, the kitchen knife is widely accepted as the murder weapon even though it doesn’t match the wound. I cannot accept the DNA evidence as the sole reason. As you mentioned in “They Didn’t Even Bother to Frame Her”, the forensics needed to did the PCR after 3 negative tests. It is amusing that the police could determine the murder weapon based on hunch while it took PCR test to finally justify their hunch.

        I can write so many things that bother me about this case such as Knox characterization as this cold-blooded criminal mastermind yet she confessed when interrogated by the police — within hours. Initial prosecutor theory angled towards crime of passion yet the alleged murder weapon is not an object from the crime scene. The police said that it was done by multiple attackers and yet the evidences can only conclusively point at Guede and Kercher at the crime scene. How Mignini ‘deduced’ that the murdered is a woman because Kercher was found covered by a blanket. It suggests the perpetrator had remorse, but it is not enough to conclude the gender of the perpetrator based on that. The list goes on, Thor.

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