Closure for Amanda Knox: Written Court Ruling Slams Prosecution

The final verdict in Italy's longstanding prosecution of Amanda Knox was delivered orally in March by the Court of Cassation, Italy's top criminal court. By law, the court has to follow up with a written ruling. The opinion has now been released. It says the case against Knox was very weak, there was no biological evidence linking her to the bedroom where her roommate was killed, prosecutors should have known the case was shaky early on.

Italy’s top criminal court has scathingly faulted prosecutors for presenting a flawed and hastily constructed case against Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, saying Monday it threw out their convictions for the 2007 murder of her British roommate in part because there was no proof they were in the bedroom where the woman was fatally stabbed.


It slammed the quality of the prosecution’s case from the start. The path of the case took was “objectively wavering, whose oscillations are ... the result also of stunning weakness or investigative bouts of amnesia and of blameworthy omissions of investigative activity,” the court wrote. Had the investigation not been so shaky, “in all probability” the defendants’ guilt or innocence could have been determined from the earliest stages, the panel said. Even the supposed time of death, as argued by prosecutors, reflected a “deplorable approximation,” they wrote.

The Court also faulted investigators.

“The computers of Amanda Knox and Kercher, which perhaps could have furnished information useful to the investigation, were, incredibly, burned by imprudent maneuvers by the investigators, who caused an electric shock” apparently through a charging error, the panel of judges wrote.

A bra clasp of the victim, which prosecutors argued carried a trace of Sollecito’s DNA, was on the floor of the murder scene for 46 days, and then “was passed from hand to hand of the workers, who, furthermore, were wearing dirty latex gloves,” the panel said.

Even the media takes a hit in the opinion:

“The international spotlight on the case in fact resulted in the investigation undergoing a sudden acceleration,” the judges wrote.

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    Knox is innocent, Italian courts still half-mad (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Alex K on Sun Sep 13, 2015 at 05:20:51 AM EST
    If you have tried to read opinions issued from Italy's supreme court ("Cassazione"), as I have, you will probably agree they are a mixture of the sensible, the incomprehensible, and the absurd. The ratio of the sensible to the absurd is relatively high for this final one in the Kercher case, much higher anyway that for the 2013 ruling that quashed Knox's and Sollecito's 2011 acquittals (the motivation report for which acquittals likely remains the lowest in BS content among the assorted outpourings by Italy's legal system throughout this Prozess).

    This Cassazione report does a good job demolishing the anti-scientific approach by the convicting judge and the pseudo-scientific work by the investigators. One wonders why it had to take so long to recognize the obvious -- Mark Waterbury's book explaining in non-technical language why the "scientific police" did a poor jobs appeared in early 2011, and the report by independent DNA experts from La Sapienza left nothing of the government's "DNA proof" by the fall of 2011.

    The same court also writes, somewhat self-congratulatory, of the greatness of Italy's "legal culture," with its legal procedure supposedly derived from the scientific method of truth-seeking. In the same ruling, the court opines that Sollecito must have been with Knox at the moment she returned to the house she shared with Kercher -- because if he had not, Knox would have called him, which she did not. That's all very scientific.

    On the subject of Knox's accusation of Lumumba, the timeline, as I can recall from various sources, was like this. The evening of Nov. 1, the murder itself. Nov. 2-4, Knox gets interrogated every day -- one night, up to 3 or 4 am. Nov. 5, she's allowed to go to school in the morning. At about 10 pm, Sollecito gets called to the police precinct. (Those nocturnal truth-seekers.) Knox follows. At 11 or 11:30 pm, the cops order Knox to an interrogation room. At 1:30 am, she signs a typewritten statement in officialese Italian saying she was at the crime scene and saw Lumumba. She's still at the precinct, no lawyer. At 3 or 4 am, the prosecutor (Pubblico Ministerio -- Knox first thinks he's the mayor by the sound of it) shows up. At 6:30 pm, Knox signs another pre-typed statement, close to the one at 1:30 am. Still no lawyer. She's alone with a dozen cops either asking questions or on standby. A posse of cops from Rome had been summoned for the interrogation the night before so it's not business as usual.

    Still at the precinct, at about 2 pm Nov. 6, Knox completes a "memoriale," a handwriteen note in English, explaining what went wrong:

    "In regards to this "confession" that I made last night, I want to make clear that I'm very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion. Not only was I told I would be arrested and put in jail for 30 years, but I was also hit in the head when I didn't remember a fact correctly. I understand that the police are under a lot of stress, so I understand the treatment I received.

    However, it was under this pressure and after many hours of confusion that my mind came up with these answers. In my mind I saw Patrik in flashes of blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming. But I've said this many times so as to make myself clear: these things seem unreal to me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in my head and the questions I am being asked."

    Finally, on Nov. 7, just after her arrest, Knox writes a second note explaining that she had spend the night with Sollecito and, therefore, "now I remember that I can't know who the murderer was because I didn't return back to the house."

    All that without a lawyer. None was allowed to Knox until Nov. 8, just before her arrest validation hearing (you can be held for a year without charge in Italy, merely on a suspicion, but a judge must "validate" it).

    They could have probably made her, (none / 0) (#8)
    by McBain on Sun Sep 13, 2015 at 12:00:05 PM EST
    and just about any other  young person from another country, sign anything after such intense interrogation. That so many people sill hold the accusation against her, shows great ignorance.

    If all of this is true, (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Tue Sep 08, 2015 at 09:45:33 AM EST
    it would seem to me that the Italian government owes Ms. Knox a healthy sum of cash as compensation for the years of hell that they caused her.

    And Legal Fees... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Sep 08, 2015 at 11:13:30 AM EST
    ..., potential lost earnings, and not just for her, but Sollecito as well, who still lives in Italy.

    4 years in jail and 8 years of court for something they clearly did not do is a pretty big check if Italian law is similar to US.

    Not a great source, but:

    The Italian justice system is currently being overhauled because of its cost, contradictions and inefficiency. It has a backlog of around nine million legal cases.

    The Supreme Court, which hears 80,000 appeals a year, 100 times more than comparable countries, upholds only a fraction of convictions.

    The state were forced to pay €84million in compensation for miscarriages of justice and legal delays in 2011.

    FYI, Rudy Guede is eligible for day release this year.


    karma, maybe (none / 0) (#3)
    by thomas rogan on Tue Sep 08, 2015 at 11:57:32 AM EST
    From Wikipedia:
    "During a series of interviews that went on into the early hours of 6 November while Knox was officially not under investigation, she said she had been in the house when Kercher was killed, and the murderer was Lumumba (known to Knox to have been serving customers at his bar all that night). Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba were taken into custody and charged with the murder."
    If she gets any money from the Italian government then perhaps it should all go to Lumumba...

    Pretty Selective... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Sep 08, 2015 at 12:15:11 PM EST
    ...posting from the Wiki link, but here is another selctive quote:
    In their official report on the court's decision to overturn the convictions, the appeal trial judges wrote that the verdict of guilty at the original trial "was not corroborated by any objective element of evidence". Describing the police interviews of Knox as of "obsessive duration", the judges said that the statements she made incriminating herself and Lumumba during interrogation were evidence of her confusion while under "great psychological pressure"

    She was convicted of slander of Lumumba, which seems to be the only crime she committed.

    If I remember correctly, not only was there a language barrier, they were asking her about dreams of being there when Kercher was killed, it how they got her to 'admit' to being in the flat, and while Italian law requires a lawyer present when interviewing a suspect they couldn't locate one that spoke English, or so the claim goes.  It was non-sense that is one step above a rubber hose.

    Which is also the claim of the highest Italian court, it's why they threw it out.


    An all-night interrogation without a lawyer (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Alex K on Sun Sep 13, 2015 at 05:13:24 AM EST
    ...after three days of questioning, with a special team called from Rome to Perugia to assist with the grilling of a naive 20-year-old from Seattle.

    A lawyerless, unrecorded interrogation (yes, unrecorded: they had taped all of Knox's phone calls and bugged the waiting hall in the police precinct to listen on Knox while she was waiting for her turn with the interrogators, but -- surprise, surprise! -- no recording from the interrogation room itself, literally on the other side of the wall in the same building).

    Well done, folks.

    There's little doubt in my mind that it was the cops who talked Knox into accusing Lumumba. They wanted evidence against him so bad they played dirty mind game with the poor girl.

    I hope those abusive, lying, rotten-to-the-core Perugian cops get their comeuppance one day.


    I doubt there will be any money (none / 0) (#5)
    by McBain on Tue Sep 08, 2015 at 12:30:03 PM EST
    If there is, she and her ex boyfriend suffered more than Lumamba.  As has been explained many times, she implicated Lumumba after hours of interrogation.  People give false statements all the time under intense questioning.

    If there's any karma, the people who jumped to conclusions against Knox will face that kind of scrutiny at some point.