Monday, October 3, 2011

The Amanda Knox case: it's just not that hard

So the Amanda Knox (and Raffaele Sollecito) case might now, mercifully, be over. The appellate court in Italy today overturned her conviction for murder, as well as her former boyfriend's. You'd have to live under a rock not to have heard about that by now. But let's be clear about what the jury found. The jury found affirmatively that these two did not commit the crimes. The jury didn't just acquit them, the jury absolved them. I feel like that tidbit is getting lost in the news coverage. This wasn't just a finding that the evidence was insufficient.

And yet, sadly, these two will probably have to live with a cloud of suspicion for the rest of their lives. This is evident from the commentary on television and the comments online. So many people are still clinging to the idea that they probably had something to do with it or know something or in some vague, amorphous way are still worthy of suspicion. Legal experts on CNN and Fox News both seem to have missed the significance of the jury designation that they did not commit the act. Bill O'Reilly and his judge were both shamefully unaware of the facts of the case but were both still unabashedly proclaiming their certainty that she was involved somehow.

Even more infuriating, people everywhere are bemoaning the fact that we will never know what happened to Meredith Kercher. Which to me might be the most maddening legacy of this case: that a crime so basic, a case so easily solvable, was turned into this muddled mess. That so many people are now so convinced that there is more to this case than there really is. But there is not. Let me posit a theory, and when reading this, try to put aside the insanity that surrounded the accusations against Amanda and Raffaele.



Young woman comes home after a night at her boyfriend's. Finds a few things amiss, so brings the boyfriend over to share her concerns. There are a few drops of blood in the bathroom. Upon inspection, they find a broken window in a bedroom. But nothing is obviously missing. The one roommate who was supposed to be there overnight is not answering knocks on her door, which is locked, or answering her phone. The boyfriend goes outside to see if he can see into that bedroom through the window. Throughout all of this, the girl and her boyfriend are calling the other roommate, the boyfriend's sister (a cop). Eventually, the reality of the situation sinks in and they call the police.

Once police arrive, the bedroom door is opened and the roommate's body discovered. Police secure the scene and begin the painstaking process of evidence collection. They find footprints, fingerprints, and handprints throughout the murder room and the hallway. They also note money missing from the dead woman's purse.

Eventually, the fingerprints lead to a match of a man known to local police. He has been breaking into houses and offices lately. And he is known to carry a knife. The man is caught in another country through the help of a friend, who gets the man to admit having been at the house when the murder occurred, though he was on the toilet when the real killer came in and killed the victim. He also cryptically tells the friend he can't come back. But he is extradited back and DNA testing reveals that his DNA is all over the crime scene. Sadly, his DNA is also inside the victim. And the shoes he is wearing match the bloody footprints in the hallway.



Honestly, is this case hard? Is there even any question? These are the facts of the Meredith Kercher murder. These are the facts of the crime Amanda and Raffaele were convicted of. These facts, which point so clearly and exclusively at one man, were somehow obscured, distorted, even overlooked, in favor of a fantasy.

Here is what happened. Rudy Guede broke into the girls' apartment through Filomena's bedroom window, using the metal grate on the window below hers as a ladder. He rifled through her room before going to the bathroom. It was a holiday weekend, so he may well have thought the girls would all be gone for the weekend. But while he was on the toilet, Meredith came home. We know Rudy used the toilet because he didn't flush, possibly so as not to create a noise to alert Meredith. Somehow, there was a confrontation. Rudy took out the knife he carried with him (as he had done when another home-owner caught him in a burglary some weeks prior). Perhaps he tried to get his way out of it by trying to seduce her. The fact that his DNA (not semen) was found inside her vagina certainly indicates there was some kind of sexual attack. And then he slit her throat. As many first-time killers do, he covered her with a comforter and then tried to figure out what on earth to do next. He set the knife down on the bed, he found money in her purse, he took her cell phones, picked up the shoe that had come off in the attack, and left her room, locking the door behind him. He went into the bathroom to try to clean up and then fled out the front door. At some point he threw Meredith's cell phones into a yard some blocks away.

This is the scenario supported by the evidence. This is the straight-forward answer that should have been reached by the investigation. But from day one, a prosecutor decided he didn't like the way Amanda looked. She was odd. There was something off about her. So the simple, clear case was turned into a wild, crazy conspiracy, with desperate attempts by the police to create evidence against Amanda and Raffaele, with lots of character assassination being done in the tabloid press just to be safe. The first judge bought it hook, line, and sinker, and brought a jury along with him.

Happily, today, a second jury finally saw through the prosecution's shenanigans. Amanda is on her way home and Raffaele is probably already in his family's home. I can only hope that they will both be able to move forward from this point in their lives, though we know from the DNA exoneration cases that it can be harder than people realize to return to life after exoneration.

As for the rest of us, I hope that we will all do a better job in the future of letting the evidence lead us to the solution rather than picking our solution first and mangling the evidence to fit that solution.

And let there be no mistake about it: Meredith Kercher's killer has been found. He has been convicted and he is serving a 16 year sentence. His name is Rudy Guede. And his guilt is the clear, simple, obvious solution to this very basic, garden-variety burglary/murder case.


6 comments:

BellsforStacy said...

I have to say that my astonishment (after being educated in large part by your research) just keeps going. They keep saying that Knox's blood was on the knife. Yes - but that knife wasn't the murder weapon! I want to scream at the television screen.

This case more than anything else has taught me that the media so often are uneducated twits and dont know what they are talking about. And you really have to do your own research.

I sincerely hope that when Knox gets home she speaks out. A LOT. About how much was gotten wrong.

But I would imagine she is tired. And just wants to move on.

S said...

I watched a lot of the coverage last night and was just amazed at how much misinformation major media outlets were still giving. Bill O'Reilly was going on about the bloody footprints. Dan Abrams, ABC's legal analyst, was going on and on about how she lied so much. HLN's Jane V-M, covering for the dancing Nancy, made great hay about Amanda's sexy lingerie shopping at Victoria's Secret. And Jane V-M has been a staunch supporter of Amanda!

And so few people were so unwilling to say what is plainly obvious: Rudy Guede and Rudy Guede alone is responsible for this crime. At least Vinny Whatshisname on HLN was clear on that.

I tend to be a compulsive researcher, anyway, but the way this case has been covered has cemented it for me that you cannot take anything you read or hear for granted. This is part of why I go to so many news sources and read original documents whenever possible.

I just hope that someday Amanda and Raffaele can live without this crap hanging over their heads. I have to say, I think it might be a lot easier for Raffaele because he was never as much the focus of the lies as Amanda was. She's the diabolical she-devil, after all. He was just the besotted innocent who was led around by her.

A Voice of Sanity said...

S said: "I watched a lot of the coverage last night and was just amazed at how much misinformation major media outlets were still giving."

A quote I once heard: "The chief characteristic of the American reporter used to be a stunning lack of competence. This has now been overcome by an appalling level of laziness".

Example: Why I Don't Believe Everything I see on TV...

S said...

That's a great quote! Watching some of these reporters, especially the purported legal experts, makes me think I could do that job and do it so, so much better. Where's a news network to pay me, send me to Italy or Florida or Aruba, etc. so I can at least provide fair, thorough information? Oh, wait, in the era of 3 minute segments, many news outlets don't have time for thorough. Sigh.

A Teacher said...

Dear Half Informed friends:

Please stop opening a conversation about Amanda Knox with "yeah, isn't that case where they totally bumbled the DNA evidence so she got off?"

As much as I'm sure S loves the traffic I try to send her, I'm getting a little annoyed at your lack of education.

Thanks. A Teacher.

To S:

I have to admit I do love talking about how there's a legal system with a Guilty/ Not Guilty/ Innocent as opposed to just "Guilty or We don't think you're Guilty"

S said...

The nice thing about being me is that none of my friends would ever open a conversation with me like that.

But I continue to be astounded at how willing people are to peddle half-truths or out-right lies about this poor young woman, who really does not deserve to have anyone think she undeservedly got off. She was absolved of guilt because she didn't freakin' have anything to do with it!

And, yes, I like the Italy absolved verdict. I'm not sure how I feel about implementing it here, though. For some clients, it would be great. For some, not so much.

BTW, you can call me Sarah. The initial thing is just a maddening thing I inadvertently started in college. We are all known by our initials (in writing) because I'm lazy. Though it works out worst for poor P because her name is longer and so she gets called P now sometimes.

 
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