Tuesday, June 21, 2011

IV. The Verdict in Perugia: the Case Against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (Part Four)

This is the fourth part of a series. Please read the earlier parts to understand the entire article!

IV The Court's Reasoning Explained (continued)

As stated earlier, the basic reasoning behind the verdict is the following.

A. Guede is guilty of the murder;
B. Guede did not act alone;
C. the only possible accomplices of Guede are Knox and Sollecito;
D. that Knox and Sollecito are culpable of the murder is corroborated by the forensic evidence available;
E. and it is also corroborated by the fact that their stories don’t seem to be logical and do not constitute convincing alibis.

Points A through D were discussed in my earlier posts; this post will look at the final point: the alibis of Knox and Sollecito.

E. Knox's and Sollecito's Stories

Neither Knox nor Sollecito have strong alibis to disculpate them. By and large, their story seems to be that they spent the night together at Sollecito's apartment. In the morning, Knox testified, she went home (i.e. to the Via della Pergola) and took a shower. There, she noticed some blood stains in the small bathroom, and she felt that something was wrong. She returned to Sollecito's apartment; the two of them then decided to go back to the Via della Pergola.

There, they called the police (that is, the Carabinieri). Before they arrived, however, there were other visitors, in particular two representatives of the Postal Service, who had come because, by this time, Kercher's phones had been found and one of them was registered to Romanelli, who obviously lived at the Via della Pergola. At more or less the same time, Romanelli herself arrived (having been called by Knox), along with her fiancĂ© and two friends. With all these people present - but still no Carabinieri to be found - Kercher’s door was forced open and her body was discovered.

The first thing that can be pointed out in this regard is that one might wonder why, if Knox’s account is basically accurate, there is no clear confirmation of it from Sollecito. For some reason, Sollecito did not take the stand during the trial.

Furthermore, Knox’s story does not sit well with what she had told the police earlier. During her first interrogation, she had stated that she was actually in the apartment when Kercher was killed and that her boss, Patrick Lumumba, was there too. This was an extraordinary statement to make, and one that may, to an extent, have been occasioned by the fact that she was under considerable pressure from the police at the time. However, it seems strange to imagine that she would have said anything of the kind if she had simply been with Sollecito the entire evening and had no knowledge whatsoever of the murder.

Then there is the issue of Kercher’s door being locked. As mentioned, that door had to be forced to enter Kercher’s bedroom on November 2nd. Someone, therefore, had locked it after killing Kercher. Knox’s statements on this are puzzling. On the one hand, she has pointed out that Kercher often locked her door (the fact that is was locked was therefore not at all exceptional); on the other hand, however, she wrote to friends in America that when she returned to the apartment on the morning of November 2nd, she discovered the door was locked and “panicked”. Sollecito attempted to force the door, she added, after they’d tried to peer inside the room by leaning out of a window nearby. These two versions obviously contradict one another, and it doesn’t seem likely that they can easily be explained by any mental confusion (such as she might have felt when first being interrogated).

Besides this, there is the problem of the telephone calls made by Knox in the early afternoon of November 2nd. According to police analysis, Knox first tried calling one of Kercher’s cell phones (the phone Kercher used to contact her family in the UK). That call was made at 12.07 o’clock and lasted 16 seconds; no one answered. Knox then called Romanelli (12.08 o’clock); shortly afterwards, she called both of Kercher’s phones. Again, of course, there was no answer. These last two calls lasted 3 and 4 seconds respectively.

Now, Knox has testified that she called Romanelli because she was worried about what she had seen in the apartment. She stated that Romanelli shared her concern and that she responded by saying that she would try to call Kercher. Nowhere in this conversation (according to the testimony of both Romanelli and Knox) is any mention made of Knox having already tried, unsuccessfully, to reach Kercher. In itself, this seems odd enough. To this can be added, however, that the two calls to Kercher’s phones after the Romanelli call were of such short duration that one wonders whether any real attempt to reach Kercher was made. The court, in looking at these facts, finds that it reasonable to assume that the first call to Kercher’s phone was made to ascertain that no-one had found it (the phones having been thrown away after the murder by Knox and Sollecito); then Romanelli was called, and the two subsequent calls to Kercher were made.

The court also notes that, when Kercher's door was forced open, Knox and Sollecito were some way away (in the living room area); they did not seem particularly interested in what would be found in Kercher's room.

As an aside, and returning, for a moment, to the subject of mobile phones, the court also takes into consideration that, according to police evidence, neither Knox's or Sollecito's phones recorded any activity on the night of November 1st (at least not between the crucial period of, roughly, 9.00 o'clock at night and 6 o'clock in the morning). In the case of Knox's phone, an explanation was provided by Knox herself: she had switched off her phone to spend the evening with Sollecito. In the case of Sollecito's phone, one would have to guess (Sollecito has not given any explanation), but a similar explanation would certainly be possible. The question remains, though, if such explanations explain anything; in today's age, turning off two mobile phones for a considerable number of hours seems odd. (To this can be added that, during the time when Kercher was presumably killed, there was no activity on Sollecito's computer either.)

(This series will be concluded in Part V, which deals with the appeal proceedings and closes with some personal thoughts.)

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