Amanda Knox and her friend, Raffaele Sollecito, were wrongly convicted in 2009 of murdering her British roommate and friend, Meredith Kercher. They are serving 26-year and 25-year prison sentences near Perugia, Italy. Rudy Guede, the real killer, is serving only 16 years for the murder; his sentence shortened after the Perugian court encouraged him to ‘apologize’ to the Kercher’s for murdering their daughter. I am not kidding.
Amanda’s family and friends, who reside on Vashon Island and in West Seattle, wake up each day and say a prayer for the pair before setting about our daily business. And our eyes are on the appeal process, cautiously optimistic since Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman allowed a DNA review of the knife and bra clasp. His ruling May 19 is crucial and we hope that these tainted pieces of evidence, which helped convict Raffaele and Amanda, will be thrown out opening the way for the release of the kids.
West Seattleites and Islanders have been discussing the case for three years now, but the press has released so much misinformation that some are not sure what really happened. They suppose that a young adult may get into trouble their first time away from home; so they believe that Amanda’s situation is her fault.
But Amanda is guilty only of concern for Meredith, compassion for Meredith’s family and the trusting nature of a child. Raffaele is guilty of concern for Amanda. Neither is guilty of murder.
In 2007, just four months out of her teens, Amanda did not have any adults advocating for her in the days following Meredith’s murder. The police deflected her question of American Embassy involvement, assuring her there was no need. Only Raffaele, a young man she had known two weeks, stood by her side during those dark days as the Perugian police and court system took complete advantage of her youth and naiveté.
Amanda had no consular, no university official, no interpreter, no lawyer and no parent to advise or protect her.
On November 5th, three days after the body of Meredith Kercher was discovered, Amanda and Raff were at the Perugian police station. Again. Raffaele was being interviewed and she had accompanied him, fearful of being alone. She was in a waiting room doing homework, an officer at a desk nearby was observing her.
Lunchtime found Amanda in an emotional shambles, the shock of Meredith’s murder still raw, she was exhausted, hungry, fearful and anxious for her mother. Edda Mellas was due to arrive the next day and was very concerned for her oldest daughter. Despite Amanda’s bravado, Mom could hear the stress in her voice; “Freaked Out” was how Edda described it.
And who wouldn’t be? A scared kid 6000 miles from home, your friend is murdered and police questioning you in a language you barely understand. I’d want my Mom. And to make matters worse, the previous year an unsolved murder of a female student had occurred and the town’s residents were gossiping that there was a serial killer targeting students, everyone was afraid.
Amanda just wanted to do ordinary things, like eat lunch and get back to school; the tension was overwhelming. She was trying to stop her mind from constantly wandering to the day they found Meredith in a pool of blood. Who could have done such a brutal and senseless act? She had shed many tears for her sweet friend and looked forward to giving Meredith’s parents a hug, wanting to somehow comfort them. She understood their shock and pain and knew that they would understand hers. It was a nightmare.
Fortunately Raffaele was an anchor in the taut atmosphere that enveloped Perugia in the wake of Meredith’s death and at least she had homework, something familiar to distract her. She had returned to classes in an attempt to regain some normalcy from the horror. In class, she felt safe. Today’s assignment was a ‘letter,’ so she wrote to her mom about going shopping when she arrived, it was all her traumatized mind could conjure under the circumstances. Amanda had been locked out of her house for three days and needed clothing and toiletries, harmless comforts in a tragically uncomfortable week.
After sitting for some time, she stood up to stretch and did what was described as the Big Toe Pose; bent over at the waist, fingers touching toes, let your breath out slowly. Yoga, a great tool for stretching and breathing, was how Amanda calmed herself; I imagine she was doing a lot of yoga in the aftermath of Meredith’s slaying. Of course in Seattle Yoga is not unusual, but in Perugia it seemed eccentric.
A male officer observing Amanda commented that she was very flexible and she chatted that she had been a gymnast as a child, glad for the conversation. He asked if she could do the splits and she complied. NO CARTWHEEL! In fact, Edda says, “the room she was in was far too small to accomplish a cartwheel.” The interaction lasted a moment or two and Amanda settled down to continue her homework. Her actions were at worst adolescent, but never malicious.
And pardon me for interrupting, but my Mother Alert went off because this is a male officer asking a young girl to do the splits in a police station! Very Unprofessional! Then the police used this silly interaction against Amanda, amongst all her other ridiculously embellished ‘crimes,’ is the one people are most curious about.
In the late afternoon of November 5th, 2007, Amanda was called out of the waiting room for another interview, by morning the friends will have endured about 40 hours of interviews between November 2ndand 6th.
The overnight ‘interviews’ on the 5thand 6thwere actually interrogations and both students were intimidated into giving and signing False Confessions, despite Raffaele’s repeated requests to speak with his father, Francisco Sollecito. Both were yelled at, threatened and twice a female officer slapped Amanda in the back of the head.
Public Minister Giuliano Mignini and Inspector Edgardo Giobbi had orchestrated the interrogations utilizing techniques reserved for Mafia Dons.
Illegal Interrogations that produced False Confessions. Illegal Interrogations that were not recorded, neither student had a lawyer present and Amanda did not have an accredited interpreter. Illegal Interrogations that were recanted within hours by both students. Illegal Interrogations that defied Italian Law causing the Supreme Court to throw out both in 2009.
But the Supreme Court suppression did not stop Public Minister Mignini from finding a way to introduce the Illegal Interrogations in court, tainting the jury and judges. The Public Minister position in Italy is similar to a District Attorney, a powerful post.
This haunting link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmGlFjKCNjs, is The Interrogation of Amanda Knox - In Her Own Words. Amanda’s audio description is a poignant example of False Confessions that plague law enforcement worldwide.
In early 2008 Amanda’s language barrier and the False Confessions spawned the lie ‘constantly changing stories’ that continues to exist on the Internet today. The tabloids were told that Raff ‘confessed’ he was not sure if Amanda stayed with him all night and Amanda ‘accused’ her employer, Patrick Lumumba, of rape and murder. That she had ‘placed’ herself at the scene using an interrogative technique called Visualization, in which Amanda was asked to imagine “IF you were there when Meredith was murdered, what would you be doing?” The selective release of misinformation fueled the tabloid fire.
On the 6th, the Kercher family arrived in Perugia to hear the shocking news that Amanda and Raffaele had been accused of their daughter’s death, the nightmare continuing. Amanda never had the chance to comfort them, though this was the reason she had remained in Perugia. Edda, hearing the news in transit, arrived also on the 6th unable to see her terrified daughter until the 11th, the nightmare beginning. And Francisco Sollecito never knew until it was too late that a powerful man was interrogating his son, a nightmare scenario.
How convenient that the Public Minister had both students in custody before the parents arrived, the kids effectively trapped. Weeks went by before either student would be able to speak in their own defense and at least a year passed before the public realized that the two were innocent of any crime, much less murder.
The False Confessions had effectively sealed their fates and the two were dangled like a brace of rabbits in front of a pack of baying hounds.
Thanks to the tabloid press, the world would pay little attention to the murder victim, Meredith, or the men, Raffaele, Patrick and Rudy. But for Amanda each headline was more slanderous than the one before, as international one-up-manship continued non-stop. Her demonstration of the splits became “gleefully cartwheeling around the police station because she was happy Meredith was dead.” The two slaps became “beaten,” though court videotape shows Amanda demonstrating a slap and clearly says that she was ‘slapped twice in the head.’
The slander charges against Amanda and her parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, stem from a 2009 interview for the London Times. During the interview, Curt and Edda repeated Amanda’s account of being slapped in the back of the head twice by a policewoman during the interrogation. These libel charges are an attempt to stop them from speaking to the media in support of their daughter and could land them in jail.
Several members of the Sollecito family, including Raff’s parents, sister, aunt and uncle are also being sued for slander. Family conscious Italy is raising an eyebrow at the unwarranted cruelty being inflicted by the Perugian court; many are wondering what the Public Minister is up to.
As if the past three years of defamation were not enough, now there is a poorly timed movie on Lifetime Network containing many inconsistencies and fabricated events. The morning after it aired, February 21, 2011, a laundry list of errors appeared on CBS, the Seattle PI and Facebook. The movie shows faux Amanda doing a cartwheel in a hallway, but now you know that the real Amanda was in a room and did not do a cartwheel.
The documentary that followed featured the reporters responsible for some of the damage to the Knox and Sollecito reputations. Nick Pisa exploited the Foxy Knoxy avatar from Amanda’s teenage My Space page. ‘Foxy Knoxy’ was a nickname given to her by 12-year-old soccer teammates. It refers to her speed and skill on the soccer field, not a murderous, drug crazed man-eater. Barbie Nadeau wrote the book featuring the Public Minister’s theory: drug-fueled-orgy-gone-wrong starring Amanda, Raff and Rudy. Lifetime’s concept of expert testimony is questionable.
But we have hope. An Italian parliamentary member, Hon. Rocco Girlanda, has spoken out in defense of the two innocent students several times. Recently he demanded that an offensive picture of Amanda be removed from the wall that contains pictures of many Italian murderers. It is located outside the office of Edgardo Giobbi, the Roman police inspector who helped orchestrate the Illegal Interrogation with Public Minister Mignini.
Steve Moore, FBI (ret), is tirelessly exposing the tainted DNA and crime scene mistakes. He is also campaigning for the safety of students studying abroad. His interview by Missy Gluckmann of Melibee Global highlights ways for students to stay safe, http://melibeeglobal.com/2010/12/interview-with-steve-moore-safety-and-emergency-planning-in-study-abroad/.
Today an international groundswell of support is gaining momentum as the poorly processed DNA and the judicial mistakes made by the police and court officers come under scrutiny by experts on two continents. Both the public and the experts agree that the online information shows many mistakes made during the investigation. Any highschooler who has watched CSI can see that the DNA evidence is contaminated.
There are several ways to help Our Amanda and her friend Raffaele. Please tell everyone you know that they are innocent. Visit InjusticeInPerugia.com to learn more about case specifics. Write letters to Congress and the Italian Ambassador or donate to help defray defense costs in the ‘How You Can Help’ link at http://www.amandadefensefund.org and http://www.raffaelesollecito.org.
And there are several support groups on Facebook who gladly share information and discuss case points. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and AKRS provide discussion and analysis of articles and videos; and are moderated by family and friends.
But the easiest thing, something everyone can do, is to continue to Pray for Fair Play while the wheels of justice turn in Italy.