Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shouldn’t We Trust the Authorities in the Meredith Kercher Murder Case?

The case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia, Italy has garnered a great deal of commentary from law enforcement, scientific and legal professionals around the world. Most of these comments have been extremely critical of the Perugian police and prosecutors involved in the case. Many comments imply that the Italian system is far below par by comparison to international standards. These criticisms have drawn fire from the Perugian prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, who appeals to Italian nationalism and asks the court to reject these criticisms which he characterizes as uninformed.

Still, however, many of the criticisms of the investigation are based upon video tapes of their investigation made by the Perugian police and some of the criticism comes from university scientists selected by the court as independent experts. Although the scientists are dismissed by the prosecution as lacking depth and experience, it is known they are scientists with academic reputations whose work is subject to international peer review, as is true of all true scientists. These independent experts are known to be among those who are called upon from time to time to train the police lab technicians, like Patrizia Stefanoni, the technician in this case who devised her own methodology when standard methods did not achieve any results.

Quite apart from all of this, however, there as a major underlying question of those who support the Perugian authorities and believe Amanda and Raffaele are guilty of murder. That is, “why would the Perugian authorities lie, fabricate evidence, deliberately misinterpret evidence and even minimize the culpability of Rudy Guede, the one man already convicted of the murder and the one person who has been unequivocally placed at the scene of the murder?” While the prosecution is calling for life sentences for Knox and Sollecito, with lengthy periods of solitary confinement, Guede’s sentence was reduced from 30 years to 16 years in part because of the procedure he selected and in part because of a back-handed apology to the victim Meredith Kercher’s parents whereby he claimed he was sorry he didn’t try harder to save her life after someone else stabbed her. Clearly the court in his case didn’t believe he was simply an innocent bystander.

How then do we reply to those who have faith in the Perugian authorities, and who for various reasons, wish to have faith in legal authorities generally, perhaps because it gives them a sense of security in what can be a dangerous world?

The key to this question, in my opinion, is the proven history of Rudy Guede’s criminal behaviours in the month or so leading up to the murder. On September 27, 2007, Rudy Guede was discovered in the residence of bartender Christian Tramontano, where he threatened Mr. Tramontano with a knife but retreated when Tramontano put up resistance. Tramontano’s efforts to report the crime and have the police apprehend Mr. Guede, who he recognized from the bar where he worked, met with at best indifference and at worst outright resistance. Similarly Guede was found in a Nursery School in Milan on October 27, 2007, also armed and this time in possession of goods stolen from the Nursery School as well as stolen goods from a break-in at a law office in Perugia, which he claimed he bought at the train station. These are not the only incidents in which Rudy Guede was either involved or suspected on strong grounds to be involved. Other incidents have been detailed in books about the case as well as Joseph Bishop’s excellent article at From the totality of these incidents it is apparent Guede had embarked on a mini crime spree in the days prior to the murder.

In light of the foregoing, how do we explain the fact that Rudy was at large on the evening of November 1, 2007 and in the apartment of Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox and their two Italian roommates? In most countries, being found breaking into a building, and more especially into a dwelling place, while armed with a weapon and, as in the case of the bartender’s home, threatening the occupant with the weapon, would result in apprehension, charges and at the very least a difficult argument for interim release until the case went to trial. Even then, if release was granted, the conditions would be strict – involving at the least a curfew. How is it that Rudy kept being released in circumstances that would justify continued detention almost anywhere else in the world? Who secured Rudy’s release and return from Milan to Perugia? It is suggested that only a very senior public official in Perugia could secure such a result. Was that senior public official Giuliano Mignini himself?

If Giuliano Mignini is the person responsible for Rudy Guede being at large the night Meredith Kercher was murdered, responsibility for her murder could be laid squarely at his feet. If Rudy had been in custody that night, he would not have been in Meredith Kercher’s apartment. Even if some people believe Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were present as well, ignoring the absence of evidence which is, of itself, evidence of absence, the alleged chemistry – Rudy’s assault of Meredith Kercher acting as a catalyst for the involvement of the others, would have also been absent. Now, based upon the evidence in the case, I am of the opinion that Amanda and Raffaele were not present at the apartment at the time of Meredith Kercher’s murder. If there was any compelling evidence of that, you can bet the prosecution would have placed it front and centre at the trial. In fact, the only thing they could muster is the extremely doubtful knife from Raffaele’s kitchen drawer, found at a time when they had no forensic evidence connecting Amanda to the murder, and the bra clasp recovered 47 days after the murder, again found at a time when it was apparent there was no evidence placing Raffaele at the murder scene. These are two very desperate, “Hail Mary!” pieces of “evidence” whose discovery was so coincidental to the case as to defy the laws of statistical probability.

Could this whole persecution of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, therefore, be nothing but an attempt to misdirect or distract the attention of the world, and especially the Kercher family, from the fact that Rudy was able to do what he did to their lovely daughter because the Perugian authorities failed, even neglected their duty, and perhaps intentionally released a dangerous criminal for some other reason? If so, the Perugian authorities would be both morally and financially liable to the Kerchers. In addition, potential students and visitors from England and from elsewhere would have good cause to avoid Perugia and, possibly, all of Italy as unsafe destinations for study or tourism.

This analysis is supported by the vehemence of the prosecution of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and the absence of much if any comment from the Kerchers about the lenient treatment of Rudy Guede. Prosecutor Mignini criticizes a media PR campaign by supporters of Amanda Knox, in particular, in hopes people will be distracted from the massive media campaign waged by the Perugian authorities through their media accomplices, Pisa, Vogt, Nadeau and others. The campaign to demonize Amanda Knox, in particular, was both sustained and brutal, using confidential material entirely within the possession of the prison authorities such as the list of Amanda’s romantic partners which was, in itself, obtained by the brutal deception perpetrated by the prison using fraudulent means that she was HIV positive. I won’t rehash the details of the media campaign by the authorities which is detailed in many excellent reports linked in internet sites like

Consider also the well-timed and well-scripted appeals by Meredith Kercher’s family and friend appealing to the emotions of people who may be credulous enough not to realize that the suffering of Ms. Kercher’s family or of Ms. Kercher herself cannot be blamed upon Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito unless there is real evidence of their culpability in the murder. While I believe everyone can sympathize with the sense of loss and sadness of the Kerchers, it is quite simply irrelevant to the question of whether Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are guilty of murder. It is also telling that there was no similar expression of outrage in the Guede trial, or even when his sentence was reduced from 30 years to 16 years on appeal. In addition, there was no outrage from the prosecutors or the Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca, who is beyond vocal in his brutal attacks on Amanda Knox in particular. And there is yet no outrage to the news that Rudy Guede could be out of prison on day release in less than 24 months. One can’t really blame the Kerchers for believing the stories they have been “fed” for four years by the prosecution and their lawyer, who by his ungentlemanly behaviour demonstrates he is securely “tucked into bed” with the prosecution.

Could all of this vitriol and vehemence, could the persecution of Amanda Knox in particular and the bullying of her online supporters by the so-called “guilters,” all be in aid of an effort by the Perugian authorities to evade their responsibility for the death of Meredith Kercher? Their attempts at distraction appear to have worked on certain members of the media and on a few members of the general public who seem unwilling to apply any critical thinking to the facts of this case, or who are incapable of doing so. Should two innocent young people who have been psychologically and emotionally tortured for four years, and physically tortured by confinement to a prison cell in 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, and whose lives have been materially damaged by this ordeal, have their lives completely torn away from them in order to protect the incompetence and possible malfeasance of a few people whose behaviours have humiliated themselves, their professions, their city and their country?


  1. Outstanding essay. I learned some new facts, the ones about Guede's prior burglary attempts and his brandishing of a knife. I appreciate your shedding light on why many want to believe in the Perugian authorities. These authorities, however, have feet of clay. I believe in the innocence of these two wrongly convicted people and I regret the great suffering they have endured and the terrible damage to their young lives. This injustice must come to an end.

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  5. Im sorry but I can no longer feel any sorrow for the Kerchers. No one can be that involved and remain so blind to the factless case made against two innocent persons.

    The Kerchers daughter was murdered by a known thief and liar named Rudy Guede. Every bit of evidence points to his lone attack on Ms Kercher. Yet recently in court Rudy Guede was described as "the poor black boy" by Mignini the prosecutor. I wonder if he even understands that that poor black boy was found guilty of brutally murdering Ms Kercher? And further not one reliable piece of evidence indicates that AK or RS had anything to do with this murder.

    In the school robbery Guede was found in possession of a ladies gold watch. In the months before the murder a neighbor of Guede had her apartment robbed and then set on item missing in this case was ....a ladies gold watch.

  6. I feel the same about the Kerchers and their unscrupulous attorney. Meredith was a fine young lady and her loss to the world incalculable. However, her parents have not behaved in a rational or even ethical manner regarding Knox and Sollecito. I too find little sympathy for them as a result.

  7. Illuminating essay, thank you. Fills in some big pieces of the puzzle for me. Explains the excesses of the police/prosecutors, but also the guilter media and rabid commenters on blogs and articles who presumably are mostly in league. Whatever the reasons for their inaction over Guede in the lead up to the murder, the police and prosecutors must as you say be very concerned about liability for negligence. From the murder victim's family and of course now from the wrongly convicted pair. Scaring off any would be suits would explain the otherwise bizarre actions of the police and prosecutors. They are not blind, biased, illogical, vindictive etc, but understandably acting rationally (if unjustly and in further breach of their public duties) to protect themselves and the local government from litigation. They are sending a message to anyone who would contemplate suing them of the sort of resistance that will be put up.

    PS If, say, Guede was a police informant it would explain why the police showed such little interest in locking him up.

  8. Roger. I've heard that theory, as well as others like Rudy was a supplier of illegal substances to important people (which I doubt.) It may be something as simple as laziness that kept them from dealing with Rudy appropriately. The cynic in me sometimes wonders if police don't let petty criminals continue so as to have a small impact on the community -- just enough to justify pressing their elected officials to vote for annual budget increases.