Author Topic: Amanda Knox acquitted of murder  (Read 140 times)


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Amanda Knox acquitted of murder
« on: October 04, 2011, 12:01:03 AM »

Going home: Amanda Knox heads back to the U.S. as murder conviction is quashed after four year Italian ordeal

Amanda Knox is today on her way back to the U.S. after an appeal court sensationally cleared her of murdering Meredith Kercher.
Staring ahead towards a lucrative future of million-dollar TV and book deals, Knox was spotted yesterday evening being driven away from Capanne Prison outside Perugia, four years after she was convicted of murder.
She is thought to have been reunited with her family in Perugia for the night before flying in the morning to arrive back at their home in Seattle by this afternoon.

Earlier her closest relatives had cried with joy and hugged in court as an Italian judge told her the prosecution had failed to prove she and her boyfriend killed 21-year-old British student Meredith

There were screams in court as Knox burst into tears and hugged her parents Curt and Edda Mellas - as just feet away the family of Meredith Kercher could only look on in amazement.
Meanwhile, as the 24-year-old was escorted away a near riot erupted on the streets outside the courthouse in Perugia.
Her victorious defence team were surrounded by the mob who yelled: ‘Shame! Assassins! Justice has been sold down the river!’ Hundreds had gathered to await the verdict, the majority convinced she and Raffaele Sollecito, 27, were guilty.

Referring to reports that Knox would be whisked to America by a TV network offering $1million for her story, they shouted: ‘Jump on your private plane and go home!’

The American has served four years of a 26-year prison sentence after being found guilty in 2009 of the brutal sex murder of Meredith, 21, who was found semi naked with her throat cut in her bedroom of the house she shared in Perugia, Italy.
As the incredible scenes unfolded, Meredith’s stunned mother, Arline and her elder sister Stephanie remained in court, staring stonily ahead and seemingly unable to comprehend that the woman they are convinced is a cold-blooded killer had been released.
'As you could see from the images, Amanda was a nervous wreck who just collapsed. She wasn't able to say anything other than "thank you" in a flood of tears,' one of her lawyers, Maria Del Grosso, said.
Knox’s sister Deanna, 22, stood triumphant amid the baying crowd and added: ‘We are thankful that the nightmare is over. She suffered for four years for a crime she did not commit.’
She also thanked the thousands who had supported Knox’s freedom campaign on websites and blogs, waging a vicious war of words with those who believe her guilty.
It was an extraordinary climax to a case that has bitterly divided opinion from the outset – some compared yesterday’s ugly scenes to those seen during the witch trials in Perugia in medieval times.

At her original trial in December 2009, Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, 27, her ex-lover, were found guilty of murdering and sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively.

Computer studies graduate Sollecito was also freed today by the eight member jury after 11-hours of deliberations.
Knox was photographed this evening, being driven out of the gates of Capanne Prison outside of Perugia.

She had returned briefly to the Perugia jail where she had been held to complete formalities before being escorted to an unknown destination in a black Mercedes with shaded windows.
She is expected to return to the United States on Tuesday although it was not immediately clear whether she would be returning on a regular flight or on a private plane.
Sollecito, who had been held in a separate jail near Perugia, also left custody but his lawyer refused to say where he would be spending his first night of freedom.
'It was obvious that he had nothing to do with the death of that poor girl,' Sollecito's father, a doctor, said after the verdict which he said had 'given me back my son'.
Amid the chaos in court Knox was actually found guilty of slandering bar owner Diya 'Patrick' Lumumba who she accused of carrying out the killing. She was sentenced to three years in jail - but as she had already served four years she was freed immediately.
Knox who had arrived to the hearing looking breathless and pale seemed to struggle to her feet as she was quickly led from the court room by Italian officials.
She is now looking at the possibility of a swift return to America - possibly on a private jet provided by a television network - and a huge payday.
Speaking outside the court following the verdict, Knox's sister Deanna said: 'We are thankful that the nightmare is over. She suffered for four years for a crime she did not commit.'
Knox also thanked the Italian lawyers who had conducted the case and who 'loved her'.
'We are thankful for the support from all over the world, people who took the time and trouble to research the case and knew that she was innocent.
'We are thankful to the court for having courage to look for the truth.
'We now ask for privacy and a chance to recover from our ordeal.'
'We've been waiting for this for four years,' said one of Sollecito's lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno

However the verdict was not universally welcomed.
Outside the court there were screams of 'shame on you'  which appeared to be directed at Mr Bongiorno

One bystander shouted: 'Run off back to America on your private jet,' while another said: 'They just let the black man pay.'
Sky News reported rumours that American TV network had laid on a private plane as part of a potential a $1million deal with a guarantee of an interview.

In Seattle, about a dozen Knox supporters were overjoyed that she has been cleared of the murder conviction.
'She's free!' and 'We did it!' they shouted at a hotel where they watched the court proceedings on TV.

However the Knox family's delight contrasts sharply with the emotions of Meredith Kercher loved ones.
The victim's sister, Stephanie Kercher, who was in Perugia with her mother and brother for the verdict, lamented that her sister 'has been nearly forgotten.'
'We want to keep her memory alive,' she said after the verdict which means that four years on from the brutal murder of the 21-year-old her family still have no clear picture of what happened.
Her heartbroken mother Arline, sister Stephanie and brother John, shook their heads in disbelief and hugged each other for comfort, not even raising their eyes to look at the jubilant Knox camp.
At the first trial two years ago Knox and Sollecito had been convicted after the court heard they had carried out the crime with the aid of a third man Ivory Coast drifter Rudy Guede, 24.
The appeal however overturned this and ruled that he carried out on his own but key to the verdict was an independent court ordered report into hotly disputed DNA evidence.
Two forensic professors from Rome’s La Sapienza University Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti had poured scorn on the original police forensic investigation of the crime scene producing a damning conclusion of techniques and methods used.
Key to the case was a 12in kitchen knife retrieved in Sollecito’s flat and on which the original trial heard was found DNA from Meredith on the blade and that of Knox on the handle.
Prosecutors confusingly said it was 'not incompatible' with the murder weapon – which has never been found – while defence teams argued it was too big to have caused the wounds on Meredith’s throat.
In addition the report also said that no blood was found on it and the DNA of Meredith was so low is should be ruled inadmissible – in fact there was such a small amount it could not even be retested.
They were also critical of results reached from tests on a clasp from Meredith’ s bloodied bra which was not collected from the murder scene and analyzed until 46 days after Meredith was killed.
To highlight the farcical way police carried out the investigation the experts showed footage of the way the forensic officers collected the evidence and there was gasps of amazement as more than 50 errors were pointed out.
The team was seen picking up the clasp with dirty gloves – instead of tweezers – and then placing it in a plastic bag when the recognized international procedure is a paper one.
They were then seen handing it to each other from glove to glove, placing it back on the floor in a different place from where it was found and then picking it up again.
Professors Conti and Vecchiotti said that this also made it highly likely that it had been contaminated and then they also revealed how they had been unable to retest the clasp because it had rotted away after being wrongly kept in the forensic lab in Rome.

If they do not find any cause then the decision to release her will be confirmed while if they do find a justifiable reason then the case will be sent for a fresh trial leaving open the possibility of an extradition request from Italy for Knox.
Meredith, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was in Perugia as part of her Leeds University course and had only been in Italy for two months before she was killed in November 2007.
Initially prosecutor Mignini had described the murder as a Satanic ritual but his bizarre theory changed several times from a sex game gone wrong,  botched break in or a jealous row.
Eventually in closing arguments he stuck simply to the all encompassing view that it was a 'senseless killing, without a motive' and which had led to him asking for the maximum life penalty.
Questions about the reliability of the verdict were raised during the original trial with many agreeing that the case would not have even come to court in Britain as it was based on half baked theories and a clearly botched investigation.
Mignini himself prosecuted the case despite the fact he was convicted last year of abuse of office after it emerged that he had illegally wiretapped journalists and police officers while investigating the 'Monster of Florence' serial killer.
He was given a 16-month jail sentence but as he is appealing he was still allowed to continue and tonight/last night there were reports that the Ministry of Justice in Rome was to investigate the whole case.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 12:07:16 AM by EL »
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Re: Amanda Knox acquitted of murder
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 12:09:12 AM »
Amanda Knox made an emotional final plea in the courtroom yesterday morning.
Speaking in the fluent Italian she has learned in jail, she frequently paused for breath and at times appeared overwhelmed, but otherwise made a confident ten-minute statement to the judges and jurors who would decide her fate. She said:

'Esteemed people of the court, it has been said many times that I am a person different to what I am. I am the same person I was four years ago, the same person – the only thing that distinguishes me from four years ago is the four years that I have suffered.
'In four years I have lost a friend in a brutal and unexplained way. My faith in the police has been betrayed.
'I have had to face accusations, injustice and suggestions without foundation and I am paying with my life for something that I did not do.
'I am not what they say I am. I am not perverse, violent, disrespectful towards life, people. These things do not apply to me and I have not done the things that have been suggested.
'I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there. I was not present at this crime.
'I had never faced such tragedy, suffering. I didn’t know how to tackle it, how to interpret it. When we learned Meredith was dead, we just could not believe it. How was this possible?
'Then I felt scared. A person who I was sharing my life with, who had the bedroom next to me, she was killed in our house and if I was there that night I could have been killed.
'I wasn’t there. I was at Raffaele’s. I did not have anyone and thankfully he was there, I had no one for me. I called my aunt but at that moment it was only him.
'I had a sense of duty towards justice, the authorities who I put my trust in.
'They were there to find the guilty and to protect us. I put my faith in them absolutely. I made myself available for them in those days but I was betrayed – the night of 5/6 November [2007] I was pressured, stressed and manipulated.
'I have never done what they say I have done. It is not as they say it was.
'I had a good relationship with all my flatmates. I was messy, carefree but we had a good relationship, we were all ready to help each other.
'I shared my life with Meredith. We had a friendship, she was worried for me when I went to work, she was always gentle with me.
'Meredith was killed and I have always wanted justice for her. I am not fleeing from the truth and have never fled.
'I insist on the truth. I insist after four desperate years for our innocence because it is true. It deserves to be recognised.
'I want to go home. I want to return to my life. I don’t want to be punished and deprived of my life, future, for something I have not done because I am innocent. Raffaele is also innocent.
'We deserve our freedom. We have never done anything not to deserve it.
'I have so much respect for the court and the attention you have had during this trial.
'Thank you. I ask for justice.’

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Re: Amanda Knox acquitted of murder
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 12:14:06 AM »
As Amanda Knox walks free, now DNA evidence is on trial

The sensational acquittal of Amanda Knox and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito should serve as a warning to prosecutors the world over who rely on hi-tech DNA evidence to make their case: be careful what you wish for. 

Because it is clear that DNA, the very stuff of life, does not always provide the ironclad evidence that modern forensic scientists insist it does.
With no obvious motive, no independent witnesses and no confessions, the Italian prosecutors had to rely on genetic evidence found at the crime scene to convict Ms Knox  and Mr Sollecito.

The original conviction, now overturned, relied on traces of Mr Sollecito’s DNA being found on the victim Meredith Kercher’s brassiere clasp, together with traces of DNA from both defendants being found on the knife allegedly used to slash Kercher’s throat.

Although there has been no explicit statement, it is clear that the appeal jury believed the defence case that this supposedly watertight DNA evidence was dubious at best, and downright fabricated at worst.
These are early days (and this case will be picked over for years), and one trial does not prove anything about the worth of any one forensic technique, but the Kercher case shows yet again that the ‘genetic fingerprint’ is as open to interpretation, bias and error as any previous means of placing a suspect at the scene of the crime and moreover proving that he or she did it.
In the case of the Kercher murder, the defence argued, presumably successfully, that there was no proof that Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito’s DNA was on the bra strap and knife, as the prosecution alleged.

This seems odd; surely DNA is either there or it is not? And isn’t every sample of human DNA unique?
Well, yes and no. Since the British geneticist Alec Jeffries pioneered the technique of forensic genetic fingerprinting in the 1980s, there is no doubt that hundreds of guilty murderers, rapists and thugs have been prosecuted successfully on DNA evidence (and a lesser number acquitted using the same technique). But it is not entirely failsafe.
There is, for a start, the issue of contamination, a factor it seems in the Kercher case. No one argues that the victim and the accused knew each other, were in the same places at the same time.

Any object that was in their vicinity could easily contain traces of the DNA of everyone involved.

The police are supposed to guard against this, but, again, no system is entirely foolproof.

Knives and fabric samples are put in cellophane bags and sometimes someone will make a mistake, allowing two objects to touch each other for instance.
In this case it seems that the case made by the defence, that there were errors made by the police and investigating authorities regarding the analysis of forensic material was enough to sway the appeal court.

But in fact the potential flaws with DNA evidence run a lot deeper than that.
We often hear that ‘DNA evidence’ shows that the chances of a particular person being innocent are ‘less than one in a million’ or some even more outlandish figure. 

Typically, a DNA sample found on a murder weapon will be said to match the DNA of the suspect to the extent that only one person in one million would have the same profile. Case closed?
Not really. This is the classic example of the ‘prosecutor’s fallacy’. If a particular genetic profile is held by one person in, say, one million this means that in a country the size of the UK (which has a population of 60m) 60 people will provide a perfect mach for the  DNA on the knife.

Thus, all things being equal, the chances that the man in the dock being innocent are not one-in-a-million against, but 59-in-60 for; rather different.
It gets worse. DNA evidence puts a person 'at the scene of the crime'; it does not prove they committed the crime.

Several people have been wrongly convicted of murder or robbery in the US after their DNA was found at the scene of, say, a heist or grocery store hold-up when in fact they had merely been there along with hundreds of other people.

DNA evidence can be used to draw a false inference of a link between known criminal background, a particular crime and a suspect being in a particular location.
DNA evidence is not very time-sensitive: in the case of  Madelaine McCanns tentative (and as it turned out spurious) DNA evidence 'placed' the missing girl’s  body in the hire car used by her parents after she disappeared.

But of course this could have come, retrospectively, from her siblings, her clothes, her toys or her parents.
Worse still DNA evidence is highly subjective.  In the US state of Georgia a man called Kerry Robinson was convicted a few years ago of gang rape: in an excellent New Scientist investigation last year DNA evidence from the crime scene plus Robinson's DNA profile was shown to 17 'blind' analysts with no contextual information: the 17 experts were hugely divided - 12 said the suspect could be excluded.
Close to home, Sean Hoey was cleared, in 2007, of the 1998 Omagh bombing.
This was the first time defence lawyers in the UK had successfully challenged 'infallible' DNA evidence in court, in this case spuriously showing that Hoey had touched the timers used to detonate the bomb.
In this case, tiny amounts of DNA were 'amplified' to generate a dubious 'profile' which 'matched' that of the defendant.
‘DNA’ has taken on a spuriously totemic status in many courts, a sort of divine sword of truth against which no one mortal dare argue.

No one can doubt that genetic evidence is a hugely important and valuable addition to the law’s arsenal.

But it is not infallible, and is subject to the same biases and random human errors as any other form of evidence. 

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Re: Amanda Knox acquitted of murder
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2011, 09:26:25 AM »
Lessons From the Amanda Knox Case

The tragic junior “year” abroad is over, at long last, for Amanda Knox. And for that, we have to thank an Italian legal system that essentially gives every convicted criminal a do-over — more formally, an appeal before fresh eyes. Bravo for Italy.

Those second-chance jurors came to the same conclusion that any fair-minded person who has looked at the monumentally flawed murder case against Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, has arrived at. There was no way, based on forensic evidence that was a joke by international standards and a nonexistent motive that played to medieval superstitions, to find Knox and Sollecito guilty of the 2007 killing of Meredith Kercher, her British roommate in Perugia.

That Amanda Knox will soon be breathing the marine air of her home in Seattle again gets much blood stirring. One camp sees a beautiful killer walk free, backed by a global media cabal that had initially turned her into a villainous cartoon. Another sees a gross miscarriage righted, a victory that should not diminish the memory of the victim.

There is much to be learned from this case: about the strengths and fallibilities of two ancient legal systems, about human prejudice, about honor and retribution. And yes — about justice.

As one of the prosecutors in the case, Manuela Comodi, no friend of Knox, implied last week in his remarks: were Knox being tried in the United States, she might well be on her way to an execution. The case of Troy Davis, killed by the state of Georgia last month despite the fact that most of the witnesses in his case later recanted their testimony, should linger as the Knox saga is reviewed.

I was drawn to this story because of the parallels to my own family: my daughter, a Seattle girl who never knew Knox, was taking her junior year in Italy at the same time as Knox. Suddenly, Seattle, and a college student abroad, took on a very menacing new meaning. I could see my daughter in the Knox role, not yet 21, trying to do the right thing — staying around to help the police, as did Knox, instead of fleeing. And then, a domino of events, a long night of interrogation by police without a lawyer, at a time when Knox could barely understand the language, conflicting statements, and the torture of being fitted into a narrative at odds with the truth.

Knox had no criminal record. No motive for killing the girl who shared a house with her. But still, her behavior seemed odd. Why did she do cartwheels in the police station? Why did she wear a t-shirt in court with John Lennon’s lyrics? (All You Need is Love.) Not enough to convict, of course, but still, it closed many a mind — especially in Italy. She was strange, they said. Off.

Then, for me and millions of others, what prompted reasonable doubts was the evidence presented in the 2009 trial; it could not withstand scrutiny. So, onto the first point that Knox-haters must consider:

Where is the forensic evidence? Meredith Kercher was stabbed, repeatedly, in her small bedroom in a violent struggle that left blood all over the tiny space. Numerous bloody prints and DNA from the man convicted of her killing, Rudy Guede, were found. But any trace of Amanda Knox? No. Nothing. No one has ever been able to place her at the crime scene.

In search of evidence to back a faulty narrative, prosecutors pulled a knife from the kitchen of Sollecito. Of course, Knox’s DNA was on the handle — she used it to cut bread at the home of her boyfriend. The prosecutors said there was a trace of Kercher’s DNA on the blade, a claim that was nearly laughed out of court by an independent panel of experts. These experts in the appeal found instead a kernel of starch on the blade — from cutting bread, most likely.

On top of that were two late-to-the-case “witnesses” — one a heroin addict, the other a homeless man, whose accounts backing the prosecution never held up.

Motive. This is where any defender of women’s rights, or modernity, should howl. Standing in front of the crucifix that adorns Italian courtrooms, prosecutors and lawyers for their side called Knox a “she-devil,” a seducer, a “witch,” someone who manipulated Sollecito into an orgy with Kercher and Guede.

Their evidence? Well, she was sexually active, they said. She had a sex toy. I half-expected prosecutors to throw Knox in a tank of water to see if she sank or floated, a la the Salem witch trials.

Then who did it? Guede, a drifter with a drug history, pled guilty to complicity in the killing. He fled Perugia shortly after the murder. He changed his story, dramatically, to fit the prosecution, which prompted his judge to call him “an absolute liar.” He only named Knox and Sollecito months after he was in jail and looking to cut a deal.

One of the mysteries here is why people can’t see what looks like a straight-forward case for what it is. Race, of course, is a factor. Guede is black. Knox is white. O.K. I get it. It makes for a good debate, but I would never lock away a young couple for a quarter-century because of that.

Why all the attention? People are angry that Knox is the subject of global fascination and second-guessing while thousands of innocents rot in jail on wrongful convictions. It’s because she’s pretty, they say — “Angel Face,” as one nickname had her. “Foxy Knoxy,” in another (actually, that was her girlhood soccer name, for athletic skills). I’m sorry, but that’s human nature. We’re drawn to the duality in people.

But if all the attention to the Knox episode prompts people to take a second look at other questionable cases, then perhaps the tide from Perugia will lift other boats.

In the end, for all the global infatuation over the fate of Knox, this case is about justice for a handful of families. For everyone else — press, prosecutors, Hollywood, two dozen book writers — it’s about something else.

Knox, who spent almost four full years in jail, now has her justice. So does Sollecito. They were both acquitted and freed by the eight-member appeals jury.

And what about the Kercher family? It would have done no honor to their daughter had two people grown old in prison for an accusation that could never be proven. In their news conference just prior to the acquittal, Kercher family members said they remained perplexed as to why Knox and Sollecito would kill their daughter. Asking those questions again, and looking honestly at the case, may yet bring them some peace.
If you get in a fight, and somebody yells “worldstar”. You better fight for your life.