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Mike Heavey Tells Amanda Knox Story to Vashon Rotary

Mike Heavey Tells Amanda Knox Story to Vashon Rotary
Mike Heavey Tells Amanda Knox Story to Vashon Rotary

Never having been to a Rotary meeting, but knowing that we have a strong club on Vashon, I was pleasantly surprised by 50+ who arrived before 7am for a breakfast meeting. Along with the club’s business regarding Festival, and other service work, was Chief Hank Lipe’s induction into the Rotary. His sponsor, Father Tryphon, gave a charming speech and then the chief’s told how he had been inspired by his old boss in New Hampshire and had planned to join Rotary one day. Well that day is here and the Island is very lucky to have such a wonderful addition to a club with a stellar reputation. Congratulations Chief Lipe!

As a guest of the Rotarians, I was there to see the presentation by Mike Heavey, King County Superior Court Judge, regarding the Amanda Knox case. Amanda, as you remember, is the University of Washington honors student falsely accused of murder and serving a 26-year sentence in Perugia, Italy. Joined by her father, Curt Knox, and his parents, Bill and Mille Knox, we watched the Power Point presentation and you could hear a pin drop.

Heavey is speaking out to Rotary Clubs all over the Puget Sound as a friend of the Knox family and as a private citizen, not as a superior court judge. He opened his presentation with Proverbs 3:3-4, “Do not forsake truth and mercy; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.”

And he noted that the Knox family is “some of the strongest people I know” and commended them on their fortitude and ability to come together for Amanda’s sake.
In keeping with the 4-Way Test, a hallmark of the Rotary International, Heavey spoke truthfully and fairly regarding Amanda’s plight creating goodwill and benefiting the Knox family as folks are realizing that we were lied to. They have been coming to the aid of the Knox’s with love, understanding, donations and a special gift of spreading the truth on Amanda’s behalf.

Then he went on to tell of Amanda as the person who lettered in soccer all four years in high school, an artist, a musician and a scholar on the Dean’s List at the University of Washington. Someone his own daughter, a classmate of Amanda’s, described as “the most genuinely kind person that I know, she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” It was that conversation with his own daughter that made sense of the ‘major disconnect’ he experienced while watching the sordid coverage on TV. He realized that the press got it wrong and his daughter got it right. Amanda’s character and compassion are points that Heavey uses to remind listeners that this young woman is not a murderer and has never shown any propensity for cruelty, unlike the many criminals he has become acquainted with in his capacity as a judge.

And Amanda has shown amazing courage and grace during her ordeal, never giving up hope that the truth will come out.

She and her friend, Raffaele Sollecito, are serving 26 and 25-year prison terms after being found guilty in 2009 of the murder of Amanda’s English roommate, Meredith Kercher. Meredith’s real murderer, Rudy Guede, is also serving a prison term for her murder, but in a tragic twist the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, decided to press charges again the innocent students despite lack of evidence. Heavey pointed out that the Italian police were under a lot of pressure to find the killer, that they made a premature announcement of “Case Closed” before any evidence was processed. He also discussed the horrifying press that followed the pronouncement and how it “hardened the hearts of Italian people” before the trial began; there was no chance for fairness.

The judge outlined many aspects of the case and in particular discussed why Rudy Guede is the sole perpetrator of this heinous and tragic crime. The audience also learned that Giuliano Mignini has been convicted of prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of power. He is currently threatening legal action against both U.S. and Italian journalists who are covering the appeal and, as a result, The Committee to Protect Journalists has sent a letter to Mignini stating that it is “particularly troubled by the manifest intolerance to criticism.”

Heavey also highlighted that InjusticeInPerugia.org and AmandaDefenseFund.org have detailed information about the case and encouraged the Rotary members to investigate on their own and to write letter to the officials whose addresses are listed on both websites. He wrapped up the presentation with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.: “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Many thanks to Mike Heavey for his poignant and succinct lecture. Many thanks that he would go the distance in bringing this message to the Rotarians. And many thanks to the Rotary Club for allowing Mr. Heavey to tell Amanda’s story.

Regarding the appeal, on May 5, 2011 the DNA experts appointed by the court have requested a 40-day extension and access to documents of the original DNA testing. These are documents that the defense has been denied access to and they fully support the request of professors Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University La Sapienza in Rome. The professors told the court that the Knife and Bra Clasp they had been asked to reexamine did not have enough material to test in the case of the knife or was destroyed as in the case of the Bra Clasp, which was improperly stored. The professors also suspect that both items were contaminated prior to testing or from the lab itself.

They were due to give their report to Judge Claudio Patrillo Hellman on May 9, but that date will be pushed back if he grants their request. Although we would all like Amanda and Raffaele to be released as soon as possible, if the mistakes made by the original DNA test are confirmed, it will finally prove to the world what the Defense has maintained all along, the evidence was tainted and should never have been admitted.

These next few weeks will be important and, as always, we invite our friends to continue to Pray for Fair Play!