This is in reply to Ann Coulter’s September 7 column on the Amanda Knox / Raffaele Sollecito case [discussed here], but also with other information added as it came to me. If you look at what Coulter is presenting as evidence, you see that you would buy it only if you already believed they were guilty; it would not be enough to convict by itself. Reasonable doubt exists at every point.
Don’t forget that Amanda’s Italian was rudimentary at that time. At the beginning of the 14 hour interrogation session that culminated in her “confession,” she asked for a lawyer and they told her it would go worse for her if she had one. The translator arrived close to midnight and one can see problems in the translation. Amanda says they allowed her no bathroom or food breaks. They said threatening things. They gave her something to eat only after she gave them the statement. Something like 12 people took turns interrogating her very aggressively for something like 14 hours. There should be a record of that interrogation, recording or video, but there is none. Why not?
We can discredit her “confession” according to what has been established. She was pushed and pushed and told she couldn’t go until she gave them something, and so she “imagined” that scenario and they were insisting on Patrick Lumumba somehow being involved because of the text message. One reason proffered for why they did this on that night November 5-6 is that they heard her mother was on the way, and that meant they couldn’t continue to withhold a lawyer and outside help and all that, and they wanted to nail her before that.
I am surprised that Coulter was not impressed by the absence of any hair, fibers, or fingerprints connecting Amanda and Raffaele to the murder, nor by the experts’ discrediting of the DNA on the knife. (Also, the knife did not match the pattern left on the pillow and was picked out of Raffaele’s drawer because of a hunch and because it looked as if it had been deliberately cleaned.) Yes, it is possible to establish guilt without DNA, but how could a violent, bloody struggle involving four people leave ample evidence of only two of them? And since Amanda and Raffaele supposedly cleaned up the crime scene, how could they remove only their own DNA evidence, leaving the DNA evidence of the other two intact?
The DNA wasn’t only contaminated; it was so low-count that it had to be discarded, as the experts in the appeal declared. If the original judge had allowed the DNA to be re-analyzed in the original trial, the two might never have been convicted. That was a miscarriage of justice right there.
Most of Coulter’s “evidence” would only be seen as suspicious if you had already bought Mignini’s sex-orgy-turned-murder business, or any of the later conjectures about what prompted the crime. (Even the judge who wrote the whole conviction up didn’t buy the sex orgy part, but he did say that Amanda and Raffaele joined in with Rudy to murder Meredith). But if you start from Amanda and Raffaele’s being innocent, there is an innocent explanation for everything.
For example, did Amanda lead the postal police away from the door of Meredith’s room as Coulter says? What sense would there be in that? Did Amanda think they’d leave the door closed indefinitely? Raffaele had called the carabinieri [regular police as distinct from postal police]; they were on the way—surely the carabinieri would insist that the door be opened. Or, more innocently, did she and Raffaele want to show the postal police other suspicious things in the house that were immediately visible, the broken window, the blood, for example? Did Amanda and Raffaele move away from the door when it was being broken down by one of the male friends of the girls or were there just so many people in the house by then that they hung back? Amanda and Raffaele had already been there for some time; the newer people had arrived more recently.
Filomena had said that Meredith never locked her door and Amanda said she did sometimes lock it. Amanda was just trying to give information and if there was an implication that Meredith never locked her door, it might have been Amanda’s weak Italian at that point which conveyed that. I have not heard anywhere that Amanda said that Meredith locked her door even just to go to the bathroom.
Don’t forget, too, that people didn’t like Amanda’s behavior after the crime, she didn’t seem enough affected, she and Raffaele were kissing, etc. So people were getting themselves ready to see everything in a guilty light. Indeed, one of the investigators based his whole case on her aspect and behavior, actually saying that no forensic evidence was needed, psychology was enough. [LA replies: And as former FBI crime analysis John Douglas points out, their kissing, far from indicating guilt, indicated innocence.]
I am not aware of Amanda’s knowing that Meredith had been sexually assaulted. What was taken as suspicious was Amanda’s knowing that Meredith’s throat had been cut, something she mentioned at the police station. Since Amanda was not near Meredith’s room when the body was discovered, she could not have heard the remarks of the postal police when they looked at the body. But it turned out that there was a good explanation for that. In the police car driving the young people to the police station, Amanda heard from the others who were near the police when the door was broken down about the throat.
No one else was there because it was a holiday weekend. Amanda spent the night with Raffaele as she had been doing in the previous days since she met him (only a few days before the murder, imagine), then she went home to the cottage to shower and put on fresh clothes, as she had been doing. She was uneasy about what she saw. She returned to Raffaele’s with a mop to wipe up a leak in his apartment and told him about her uneasiness and he returned to the cottage with her and I think the mop. I guess this is where the supposed cleanup of the crime scene and being found with the mop and all that might have originated. We heard about all that in the first days, but the mop eventually got dropped as an issue.
Raffaele changed his original story of being with Amanda all night because he was also subject to an abusive interrogation. He changed it to her perhaps having left his apartment and telling him to lie about it, although he later reverted back to and stuck with his original insistence on her being with him. At his interrogation, he asked for a lawyer and was told no; he asked to phone his father, and was refused. As with Amanda, threatening things were said—you’ll be in prison for a long time if you don’t cooperate, etc. His shoes were taken from him to check as evidence, and he remained barefoot and chilly through much of the night. Later, those shoes were proven not to match the footprint at the crime scene, but by then the judge had already decided that the shoes were evidence enough to keep Raffaele locked up for a year before charges were brought, something permitted in Italian law.
All the eyewitnesses were discredited. One had the wrong night; another said Amanda had gaps in her teeth. An earwitness who thought she heard a scream and running just had to be discounted. A car had stalled near the cottage during much of the time that the prosecution said the murder was being committed; the car owner saw and heard nothing.
Telephone records do not disprove their innocence. Their phones were turned off and that seems sinister only if you think they are about to commit orgy and murder. Otherwise, they were turned off to enjoy the night and for Amanda not to get a call to come to work after all, or from Papa Sollecito who called his son frequently.
I am not sure how the computer records show anything. The police managed to destroy the hard drives of Amanda’s and Meredith’s computers, and one of Raffaele’s two computers.
Discrepancies in time are easily explainable on the innocent side if you think of how accurately you could remember every single thing you did during a certain day or exactly what you said regarding something or other.
We’ve already established how Patrick got pulled into it, through that text message. And keep in mind, there was no reason for the police to drag Patrick out of his house at dawn with cameras and people watching and all that, and then keep him for two weeks. If they had sat down with him and checked his alibi, it would have taken less than a day to establish that he couldn’t have done it. What they did to Patrick is more of the rough handling they gave to Amanda and Raffaele.
Also, when they arrested Amanda and Raffaele they went through the town with them in vans and with horns blaring, announcing to the whole town that the “killers” had been caught. This is the kind of thing they do for the most horrible Mafiosi.
No crime scene photos show the glass on top of the clothes, although that got to be the story. If it was true, Amanda supporters conjecture that Filomena forgot that she had left clothes about. Also it got to be the story that no one could have scaled the wall to the second story window. But Rudy was athletic and had already broken into several establishments, at least one on the second story. (If the police had arrested him for those crimes instead of letting him go each time, Meredith would be alive today.) Also, there was a window grating beneath the broken window that he might have used to climb on. The fact that nothing was stolen from Filomena’s room may not be important for the simple reason that Rudy may not have had much time there before Meredith arrived, surprising him, or before he felt the need to go to the bathroom. Also, he needed money, he was facing eviction, and he was hoping for cash, since it was the beginning of November and rent was due and the students paid their rent in cash. He stole Meredith’s cash and credit cards but maybe there was no obvious cash in Filomena’s room. As for Raffaele knowing that nothing had been stolen from Filomena’s room, I’ll have to check if that was clearly said, but if it was, it might have been that they saw her computer there, and so assumed nothing much had been stolen.
Meredith did her best to fight back and so had defensive wounds and many cuts and bruises that some interpreted as necessitating more than one killer. But they could also be explained as fighting off one person with a knife. At least one expert at the original trial said that the murder could have been committed by one person. The fatal wounds were in the neck, and once you get a knife near someone’s neck, you have them in control, nobody else is needed to hold them down.