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Amanda's Appeal: The End In Sight

September 5, 2011 marked the arrival of the last phase of Amanda Knox’s appeal and Island supporters were glad to see the end in sight, the past year has been stressful but the court has been fair throughout this ordeal and we are hoping for a just outcome.  Amanda and her friend, Raffaele Sollecito, have spent nearly four years in prison for the murder of Amanda’s British roommate, Meredith Kercher. 

A murder that they did not commit.

This tragic tale begins for Amanda and Raffaele the morning of November 2, 2007.  Amanda returned to her cottage, after spending the night away, to find the front door open and as she stepped into the silent apartment she had no way of knowing that her life had just changed forever.  She was unsettled as she showered and changed to go on an outing with Raffaele, there were tiny clues that something was amiss, but each miniscule hint could be explained away.  The front door had a faulty lock and did not close properly, tiny drops of blood in the back bathroom could mean that someone cut had a finger and an unflushed toilet in the front bathroom could mean someone was in a hurry.  Another roommate’s door was shut and Amanda assumed she was sleeping, but in reality Meredith Kercher was lying dead on the floor of her bedroom, feet away.  Amanda returned to Raffaele’s and told him of the odd circumstances.  Together they alerted first her older roommate and ultimately the police, by 1pm her apartment was a crime scene.  Although they did not know it at the time, both innocent university students were suspects in a brutal and senseless murder.  Four days later they were in prison and in December 2009 they were found guilty of murder by a corrupt Perugian court.

Their railroading parodies the crooked judge and sheriff squeezing a hapless tourist for money, but instead of a rural US countryside this story takes place on a picturesque Umbrian hilltop in Italy.  It’s been apparent from the beginning that the Perugian Public Minister, Giuliano Mignini, used Amanda as a distraction from his own personal legal woes.  PM Mignini and police officer Michele Giuttari were being tried for wiretapping and Abuse of Office, both were found guilty and Mignini’s reputation was at risk.  In 2006, the PM had threatened American Douglas Preston, chased him and his family out of Italy, and then imprisoned Preston’s associate, Italian Mario Spezi.  All for writing a book.  Their book was based on a famous unsolved serial killer case, The Monster of Florence, and contradicted the Satanism theory that Giuttari and Mignini were pushing.  Mignini and Giuttari’s persecution of the innocent writers led to the prosecutor and police officer’s punishment and tarnished reputations.  Giuttari was sent back to Rome and Mignini needed something to distract the wagging tongues in Perugia.

The murder of beautiful Meredith Kercher provided an ample distraction.

Her throat had been slashed and her bedroom was a bloodbath, she was found on the floor partially nude covered with a quilt.  She had been sexually assaulted.  The bedroom window of another roommate had been smashed with a rock.  From the beginning the police investigation was botched.  The broken window was declared “staged,” DNA collection and processing broke international protocol more than fifty times.  Two key pieces of evidence, a knife from Raffaele’s kitchen and a tiny scrap of Meredith’s bra were contaminated either at the crime scene or in the lab, by accident or by design.  Evidence was destroyed, four laptop hard drives were ‘somehow’ fried all that the same time by an ‘expert’ and are still being withheld from an independent review by the manufacturers.  For nearly a month every word that Amanda said or wrote was contorted to suit the murder scenario until her lawyers could protect her, Amanda’s statements are being closely monitored to prevent any more abuse.

Public Minister Mignini and other police at the scene used ‘intuition’ to deduce that Amanda had organized a drug-fueled satanic sex game.  Originally they decided that Meredith had refused to participate and so was murdered in a frenzied rage by Amanda, Raffaele and Amanda’s boss, Patrick Lumumba, but the police have altered this scenario six times.  The PM is adept at bending and twisting Italian law so that he could get what he wanted without breaking the it, the fingerprints and other evidence at the scene had not even been processed when he declared that the three had murdered Meredith.  All three had an alibi and when fingerprints found in Meredith’s blood pointed to a fourth suspect, Patrick was released while police continued to hold the university students. 

A manhunt ensued for Rudy Guede, an Ivorian man who had grown up in Perugia and was a known petty thief.  Amanda had met Guede a couple of times, as he knew her downstairs neighbors, but they were not friends.   Raffaele had never met him.

All of the evidence at the murder scene pointed only to Guede; all of the DNA, fingerprints and shoe prints were his.  Neither Amanda nor Raffaele’s DNA was present in Meredith’s bedroom, but the police pressed forward listening to ‘intuition’ and not actual evidence.  They listened to Guede’s lies, “I was there but some other dude did it” and he’s changed his story at least four times to suit the police.  It became a nightmare of epic proportions for the Knox and Sollecito families, as their children were found guilty of murder in 2009 by corrupt judges and prosecutors.  Rudy Guede was tried separately in an abbreviated trial and swept under the proverbial rug. 

We want to know why the Perugians destroyed and manipulated evidence to keep these two kids in prison.  Why did the Perugians lie to the media?  Why finger this young girl before any evidence was processed?  One day we hope the Italian justice system will find an answer, but in the meantime we just want Amanda and Raffaele released from this unjust incarceration.  The US Embassy in Rome will also have to answer for why they allowed two American citizens, Amanda and Douglas Preston, to suffer at the hands of PM Giuliano Mignini.

For PM Mignini this has been about winning at all costs, not about justice for Meredith, Amanda was simply a means to an end.

Amanda and Raffaele’s appeal began in November 2010 and the new judges granted an independent review of the key DNA evidence and recalled several witnesses.  All of the witnesses were discredited and the DNA experts found the biological evidence to be horribly mishandled.  The two key pieces of evidence, the infamous Knife and Bra Clasp, were tested for the reputed microscopic traces of what were highly questionable DNA profiles attributed to Amanda, Raffaele and Meredith.   The knife had been seized from Raffaele’s apartment and the police claimed that Meredith’s blood was found on the blade and Amanda’s cellular DNA on the handle, but the ‘blood’ was actually ‘starch’ from the loaf rye bread that Amanda had used to prepare a meal.  Meredith’s bra clasp was videotaped being collected 46 days after her murder from a contaminated crime scene and that tape was entered into evidence as one of the 54 departures from international protocol outlined in the report compiled by Professors Vecchiotti and Conti of the University of Rome.  The video elicited laughter in court when it was played during the appeal; the audience was astonished that such a contaminated item would be admitted into evidence.

In July and early September the prosecution tried to discredit the court appointed experts, but failed.   Then they demanded a review of their own, forgetting that they conducted the initial testes themselves, destroyed the original samples and then destroyed the bra clasp by improper storage.  Their pontificating and manipulating was barely tolerated by judges Hellmann and Zanetti who finally called an end to the rebuttal saying the prosecution’s gyrations were “Superfluous.”  The results of the independent review were upheld.

The appeal is recessed until September 23rd when the defense and prosecution will present their closing arguments.  The judges will rule in late September or early October on innocence or guilt and we hope that truth and fairness will win the day.

The day before court resumed, Sept 4th, Stephanie Kercher, Meredith’s sister, released a heartfelt letter to the public.  She said that her family was “anxious and distressed about rumors surrounding the (DNA) review.”  “It 's very difficult to understand how the evidence had been obtained and presented with care in the first trial as valid, now may risk becoming irrelevant. Was it a quantity of DNA testing of little importance when the same experts did not give precise answers on the amount that should be taken into account?”  She also expressed her concern that “amid all the media frenzy created” that Meredith would be forgotten. 

Amanda and Raffaele’s supporters were saddened to hear Stephanie’s words as they underscored what many have said from the beginning: The Kercher’s are uninformed or misinformed about great many things regarding Meredith’s untimely death. 

Meredith’s family has not attended proceedings from either the trial, except for a few days during the trial of first instance.  It is suspected that they are largely unaware that the evidence was improperly collected, processed or outright destroyed.  It is also suspected that their Italian lawyer Francisco Maresca, a close ally of Giuliano Mignini, coerced Stephanie and timed the letter to influence public opinion when the appeal resumed.  This act mirrored tactics used during the trial of first instance in 2009 when Meredith’s father, John Kercher, wrote that two nearly identical letters.

The mystery is why is her family not protesting that her true killer, Rudy Guede, was rushed through an abbreviated trial, had his sentence reduced to 16 years and will be paroled in the near future.  Why have they never protested this fact?  Why are they only interested in Amanda Knox?  Our hope is that one day they will truly understand that Amanda and Raffaele never had anything to do with Meredith’s death, that they were not at the cottage that fateful night when Meredith came home alone.

We wish them well, but must focus on the end of the appeal and pray that truth and justice will win out for Amanda and Raffaele.  When we resume on the 23rd of September the closing arguments will begin and by the first of October judges Hellmann and Zanetti will render their verdict.  Complete exoneration would be the best case scenario.

“INNOCENT” is the word that will end this nightmare.