Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The War on Terror Becoming “War on U.S. Constitution”

While the headlines are dominated by the divorce of Kobe Bryant, the fake death of Jon bon Jovi, and of course the Kardashians; 95% of Americans are unaware of a bill that is so unconstitutional that it will allow the government to decide who gets an old fashioned trial (along with right to attorney and right against self-incrimination) and who gets detained without due process and put into a FEMA camp. On 15 December 2015, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 has been passed by both houses of Congress separately, and a final version was approved by the Senate by a vote of 93 to 7.

The dangerous bill will allow the military to detain American citizens on American soil without due process. For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial. President Barack Obama plans on signing the bill into law tomorrow, according to reports coming from the White House. The Act legislatively codifies the President’s authority to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects, including American citizens, without trial as defined in Title X, Subtitle D, SEC 1031(a-e) of the bill.

Congressman and Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul, said, “We have now institutionalized and codified martial law.” Mitt Romney was caught clueless at a New Hampshire Town Hall meeting and Newt Gingrich remains zipped on whether or not he supports this travesty to civil liberties of American citizens. The ACLU called it “an historic threat to American citizens,” and the bill was also criticized by the Directors of the FBI, the CIA, the National Intelligence Director and the U.S. Defense Secretary. Senator Lindsey Graham declared that suspected citizens open themselves up “to imprisonment and death. And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them: ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”

Just to be clear, this is not a republican vs. Democrat issue, as both parties almost unanimously passed this bill. Apparently, after all the gridlock in Congress, they can agree on at least one thing: taking more liberties away from American citizens. I don’t want to be put into a FEMA camp, so I will say that my last statement was just an attempt at being facetious.

Of course, the politicians will say we are just talking about a few cases. But in fact the sky’s probably the limit given the current legal ambiguity in the Patriot Act expansion of “material support for terrorism” to now include humanitarian aid and even mere advocacy speech without any need to prove an accused person intended to support any kind of terrorist violence. The Department of Justice has been currently using this ambiguity for over a year to investigate twenty three American citizens who are anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Additionally, the "war on terror" will undoubtedly expand even more when it is de-linked from 9-11 -- see “The War on Terrorism Congress Never Declared -- But Soon Might” by Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor, expert on these issues and associate dean for scholarship at American University Washington College of Law: individual may be detained for providing “direct support” (which, in the government's view, may be nothing more than minor financial or logistical assistance) in aid of “associated forces” that are “engaged in hostilities against...coalition partners.” Thus, the NDAA effectively authorizes the military detention of any individual who provides such assistance anywhere in the world to any group engaged in hostilities against any of our coalition partners, whether or not the United States is in any way involved in (or even affected by) that particular conflict.

Given this expansion of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force contained in the 2012 NDAA to encompass undefined “associated forces,” we could witness the US government targeting a large range of political dissidents, human rights activists, humanitarians, and maybe even “occupiers.”

One thing is for sure, though: the political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our constitutional republic into a powerful, unaccountable Military Empire, which could now officially turn U.S. “emergency war powers” into those that trump the Constitution. After years of the rants from conspiracy theorists, it appears that they were correct: Martial Law is coming to our country.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Amanda Knox Hires Superlawyer: Looking for Book Deal

The Amanda Knox PR machine, headed by the Marriott Group, is still in full swing. This time, David Marriott announced that Knox has hired D.C. superlawyer, Robert Barnett "to represent her in discussions with various book publishers who have expressed an interest in Amanda writing a book.” Although Barnett does not call himself a literary agent, he knows his way around seven-figure deals (he’s also repped President Barack Obama, former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Rosie O’Donnell and Barbra Streisand) — and the Knox family liked the fact that he’s a lawyer with a powerful firm behind him. Barnett is charging a hefty hourly fee instead of the standard 15 percent commission.

“The thing about Bob is not only does he know how to negotiate on behalf of his clients, but he’s very well-connected in the media world and can help create the perfect launch for the book,” said Carolyn Reidy, president of Simon & Schuster, who’s worked with Barnett for decades. Marriott did not elaborate on those additional opportunities but said few details of a potential book had been yet decided by Knox and her family, including an advance or the possibility of co-authors.

“This is a case I have followed from day one and never, not even for one moment, have I doubted the innocence of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” said Seattle-based literary agent, Sharlene Martin, in a recent statement.

Sharlene Martin has certainly been on the Knox bandwagon from the beginning. In a response to my query back in January 2011, Martin snippily replied to me, “It seems to me that it is YOU who is trying to cash in her [Knox’s] misfortune by writing a book for which you have NO inside knowledge or cooperation.” Apparently Martin must not have been aware of the plethora of official information made public about the case, including Judge Massei’s 427-page summation of the original trial, Judge Micheli’s extensive report, and my affiliation with In any event, Martin appears to believe that cashing in on the case is ok as long as you believe what she does.

Moreover, it appears that Martin is inferring that she knows more about the exclusive details of the case because she has spoken to the Knox family, as she also indicated in her response. I am assuming that by this she believes that this exclusive inside knowledge makes her an expert on Knox’s innocence; even though I have yet to find any credentials that she has any qualifications to analyze evidence or the like, and she has never publicly engaged in any discussion of why she believes Knox is innocent. Surely Knox’s parents have never twisted the facts in any way?!?!

Knox certainly has many questions to answer, as she was unable to truly clarify during the trial or otherwise. So it seems as though she may be willing to roll the dice and try to fool us once again with “the real” version of events in return for some much needed funding. Curt Knox and Amanda’s mother, Edda Mellas, who are divorced, have each said they’ve drained their retirement funds, taken out second mortgages and accrued credit card debt to pay for Amanda’s defense. The Knox family also have hundreds of supporters who have dug deep into their own pockets to support her, and some of them are now asking questions like: Why hasn’t she come clean as to exactly what was her role, how did things actually unfold, and what really happened?

In another related story, ANSA News has reported that Knox prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini’s, conviction has been reversed. Those who have been proclaiming Knox’s innocence have always used Mignini’s conviction to paint the prosecutor as crooked, and they used this as another reason for Knox’s innocence. Yet, surely there will be those who believe in Knox’s innocence that Mignini is still guilty, just as there are those who believe that Knox is still guilty even though her ruling was reversed.

Amanda Knox is still facing legal action for criminal slander brought by those she claimed maltreated her at an interrogation (not at the hands of Mignini). The next hearing on this case will take place in mid-May 2012. Meanwhile, we all anxiously await Judge Hellman’s sentencing report (which will detail Knox’s reversal), due out very soon. And of course, we also expect the prosecution to file an appeal (on Knox’s reversal) to Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation—to take place probably soon after Hellman’s motivation report is released.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Amanda Knox Dressed as Burglar for Halloween

Less than one month after her release from an Italian prison, Amanda Knox was spotted in Seattle heading to a Halloween party dressed as a cat burglar on the eve of Meredith Kercher’s murder. Meredith Kercher’s father, John, slammed the Knox saying, “I think it’s very insensitive of Amanda Knox, especially considering it is the fourth anniversary of Meredith’s death.” The reason for his comments is that Knox was originally convicted for the murder of his daughter, and the prosecution posed the theory that she and then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito simulated a burglary at the cottage to throw police off and make it look as though someone had broken in rather than had the keys and walked casually through the front door to commit the murder.

Last Sunday Knox was seen walking arm-in-arm with new love, James Terrano, headed to Seattle’s Asian market Uwajimaja to pick up some food. Knox, 24, wore a black coat and light khaki pants, shooting a sullen look to photographers on the scene. Terrano, also 24, is studying classical guitar at the University of Washington; his brother William confirmed to Mirror News last week that they’re dating. The couple is also reportedly living together in an apartment in Seattle’s rundown Chinatown area. Knox’s new boyfriend is from a middle-class New York family. He is studying classical music, specializing in guitar, at Seattle’s University of Washington.

In his interview with Italian television (before Knox was seen with new boyfriend), Raffaele called his love with Amanda “a seed that had been planted in the earth.” He continued saying, “The problem is that someone took that seed and crushed it.” Interestingly enough, he never mentions who that someone is or who he thinks crushed it, per say, and he makes no reference there to Rudy Guede. Raffaele hinted that they could soon be reunited and that he can’t wait to “look into her eyes.” Raffaele also spoke about the chance of he and Knox rekindling their love affair: “It’s all over between us. I still have a great affection towards her but nothing else. I wish her all the happiness in the world.” Knox's slander trial in Italy has been postponed until 5 February 2013, because the judge was busy with another trial.

Friday, November 18, 2011

One of Hollywood’s Most Enduring Mysteries Back in News

At age 43, world renowned actress, Natalie Wood, was found drowned in the waters off Southern California on 29 November 1981. Immediately, speculation of possible foul-play circulated regarding the mysterious nature of Wood’s death. Her body was found about a mile away from the boat by the Coroner’s Office with two-dozen bruises and she had a facial laceration. Some of Wood’s friends in particular were confused and questioned the accidental circumstances of her death, proclaiming that she couldn’t swim and was afraid of the water.

Wood and her husband, Robert Wagner, were partying on their yacht (Splendour) anchored off Santa Catalina Island near Los Angeles with Captain Dennis Davern and her “Brainstorm” co-star Christopher Walken. The official police report said that Wood disappeared along with the boat’s dinghy. Her death was ruled an accident and it was determined that she had been drinking. The report explained that Wood was “possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face.” Moreover, Wood had allegedly disappeared while Wagner and Walkin were arguing—apparently Wagner was admittedly jealous of Walkin and Wood’s relationship.

In a press conference today, Lt. John Corina of the L.A. County Sheriffs’ Department said that they had “new information” that they “deemed substantial.” However, Corina has not made public this new information nor have investigators contacted Christopher Walkin, Robert Wagner, or Dennis Davern. Word has it that police were prompted to look into the case after Davern’s recent comments in an interview with Vanity Fair and the television series “48 Hours Mystery,” which both focused on Wood’s death.

“We didn’t necessarily lie, we just didn’t tell everything,” Davern said in the interview. “It was agreed by all three of us what we were going to tell investigators.” Davern said that once Wood was missing, it was understood that they were not going to look too hard for her; they were not going to use their search light; they were not going to notify anyone right away. Davern said that he agreed with Wagner to tell a story he wanted to tell and not the truth. Davern also said that Wagner waited 4 hours after Wood’s disappearance to notify the Coast Guard and that the altercation between Wagner and Wood may have turned violent. Davern said that before she went missing Wood and Wagner were arguing in the state room and he heard what seemed like violence. He then said the argument moved to the deck area, and then there was an immediate silence. Police, however, say that Wagner is not a suspect at this time.

Wagner released a statement saying that he has not been contacted yet, but fully supports the efforts of police, and he hopes that no one is trying to profit from the 30 yr anniversary of this tragic event. Laura Wood wrote in a biography on her sister, “What happened is that Natalie drank too much that night.” Wagner wrote in a 2009 autobiography that he blamed himself for his wife’s death.

Davern wrote a book about the case that was published in 2009 in which he basically explained these details already. So what has prompted the re-opening of the case? In the original investigation there was also a woman on a boat nearby who insists that she heard a woman’s cry for help. There has also been a petition from Wood’s fans—who are dissatisfied with the original investigation—to have the case reopened.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Penn State Sex Scandal Sparks Child-sex Reporting Debate

Click (HERE) to sign petition to make it a Pennsylvania state law for witnesses of sex crimes against children to notify police immediately

In light of the recent Penn State scandal, featuring child-sex-predator, Jerry Sandusky; a new dialogue and debate has be introduced to the public about obvious changes that need to take place in our criminal justice system, particularly in regard to reporting child sex crimes. Many are now speaking out, calling for Pennsylvania to toughen their law on reporting these crimes. In more than 40 U.S. states, the law requires these reports be made to police or child-protection authorities swiftly and directly, with no option for delegating the task to others and then not following through. Many are asking to make it a Pennsylvania state law for witnesses of sex crimes against children to notify police themselves rather than pass their information on to superiors at work; this includes school and hospital employees.

Yet, the real dilemma of child-sex crime reporting over the years lies within the laws of the Catholic Church, and many states have recently revised their mandatory reporting laws to include clergy as mandatory reporters. There are currently 26 states that include members of the clergy, among other professionals, who are specifically mandated by law to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect; eighteen of those states, however, only appear to include clergy in their “all inclusive” language, but may be interpreted otherwise (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2010). Not only is it troubling that all states do not make it a requirement for anyone to report such heinous acts, clergy included, but the states that do “mandate” such reporting need to be more clear in their words.

As a doctrine of most faiths, clergy must maintain the confidentiality of pastoral communications. Yet, the ethical goal of protecting our children appears to clash with the pastoral ethic of confidentiality. Nonetheless, in the case of mandatory reporting of child abuse, this should not be seen as a challenge to the principle of pastoral confidentiality. Likewise, secrecy may also support, maintain, or even perpetuate the secret of child abuse. As Sissela Bok, prominent professor and Senior Visiting Fellow at Harvard School of Public Health, pointed out on the matter, “The premises supporting confidentiality are strong, but they cannot support practices of secrecy—whether by individuals clients, institutions, or professionals—that undermine and contradict the very respect for persons and for human bonds that confidentiality was meant to protect” (Bok, 1983).

All 50 states have passed some form of mandatory child abuse and neglect reporting, under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA – Jan. 1996 version), 42 U.S.C. 5101, and the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L.108-36). The controversial exclusion comes by many states leaving out clergy members from mandatory reporting. This fight goes all the way back to our founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson was the first to raise the concept of separation between church and state in his letter to Danbury Baptists Association in 1802 (Jefferson’s Wall of Separation Letter, 1802). The phrase was adopted and quoted by the United States Supreme Court in 1878, and later in a series of cases starting in 1947 (Hall, 2000). This fight still goes on today and is the reason why some states do not have mandatory reporting for clergy.

The media is an essential component to growing public knowledge of child abuse and neglect; through ongoing news and feature reporting of specific cases, the media can instantly bring cases to public attention in mass—making a story water-cooler-talk almost instantaneously or through a constant barrage of stories and keeping child abuse and neglect on the political agenda. The death of eight-year-old, Sarah Payne, from the United Kingdom in 200, prompted the News of the World to start a campaign called “Named and Shamed” (Goddard & Saunders, 2001). The campaign vowed to name all 110,000 sex offenders in Britain in order for people to keep track of sex offenders living close by. In the case of Megan’s law, Megan Kanka’s parents received 430,000 signatures to change the existing Wetterling Act of 1994 (Fenton, 2000).

The great majority of those signatures came from those who had heard about the story through constant media attention. In this way, the media can affect change in these states by calling people to write letters to their congressman or go online and sign a specific document prepared beforehand that calls for change of law. Another great way for the media to intercede is for them to do several investigative—Geraldo-type—pieces in which they name several congressman and parishes who are against this mandate and expose them, even rushing them as they go to their offices and asking them pointed-questions. This would put public pressure on these individuals to come up with a solution.

Even though California has mandatory reporting, they still have a huge problem when it comes to clergy child abuse. In California more than 850 civil cases are pending against Roman Catholic dioceses filed by plaintiffs who allege they were abused by priests and other church officials; with some cases dating back more than 70 years (AP, 2004). The first child abuse reporting law in the state of California was enacted in 1963, and only required physicians to report physical abuse (California Department of Social Services, 2003). Over the years there have been several amendments, which expanded the definition of child abuse and the persons required to report it (California Department of Social Services, 2003). Today, Clergy members are among the professionals required to report child abuse. According to current California law—Article 2.5., of California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (2009) 11165.7(a)(32)—“clergy member” means “a priest, minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a church, temple, or recognized denomination or organization” (Article 2.5., 2009).

However, under section 11166(d)(1) the law exempts clergy members from reporting known or suspected child abuse when the knowledge is acquired during “penitential communication,” which is defined as “a communication, intended to be in confidence, including, but not limited to, a sacramental confession, made to a clergy member who, in the course of the discipline or practice of his or her church, denomination, or organization is authorized or accustomed to hear those communications, and under the discipline, tenet, customs, or practices of his or her church, denomination, or organization, has duty to keep those communications secret” (Article 2.5., 2009). The main organization in California helping in the fight against child abuse is the Child Abuse Prevention Center, which provides training and resources, and an administrative facility that is home to numerous non-profit agencies all working collaboratively to prevent child abuse.

Back in 2004, the Diocese of Orange in Southern California was ordered to pay 87 victims—who were molested by 43 Catholic priests, nuns, teachers, even a choir director—$100 million, the largest payout so far in the Catholic Church's abuse scandal (Griffin, 2004). I agree with the decision to give the victims money, but I think that the Diocese of Orange in Southern California should have been ordered to close-down immediately. This church clearly has a culture of this type of abuse, and was not just seen in isolated cases. As Ray Boucher, lead attorney for the victims, stated, “No amount of money will replace their lost childhood and teenage years” (Griffin, 2004). The media was involved in the case, such as CNN and others, but they applied no pressure—i.e. they didn’t call on the public to protest the decision to keep the church open. The media simply stuck to straight reporting of the statistics, identifying other diocese who shared this problem.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Amityville Realtor Speaks Out on “Horror House” Experience

After exiting the infamous Horror house in Amityville in May 2010, realtor James Smith gave a brief interview to a Channel 4 News reporter who was standing outside the house. In his brief statement, James Smith re-opened a 30-plus year can of worms, claiming that he “got an eerie feeling” while in the home. “It felt like something was there,” James said, referring to the evil, unseen resident that has allegedly roamed these grounds for many years. In haste, James told Channel 4, “We took off and got out of there.”

For more than a year James Smith has remained silent about the matter. Although he has been contacted by a plethora of news organizations asking him to relay his story; he did not want the publicity. But now he believes that he has a story of importance to tell the world; one that he can no longer keep to himself. Several weeks ago Mr. Smith contacted me and agreed to provide an exclusive taped interview in which he revealed his entire experience in the house that day.

James Smith and his family moved from Manhattan to Amityville in 1978, just down the street from the infamous horror house on Ocean Avenue. James recalls immediately hearing about Ronald DeFeo Jr., killing his entire family in the house and about the family that moved in after the DeFeo’s (the Lutz family) having fled from the home after only 28 days, fearing that it was haunted. One night—in a display of anger—young James and his friends decided to go and throw rocks at the house. He also remembers the circus-type atmosphere that followed rumors that the house was haunted.

James became a real-estate agent in 2003, doing a lot of work in the Amityville area. As a licensed agent, James had the opportunity of not only hearing about listings before the general public got wind of them, but he was also able to view any house that was on the market. On 25 May 2010, James got the news that the Amityville horror house (108 Ocean Ave.) was holding a broker open house.

The broker open house was being facilitated by Laura Zambratto of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty—the firm listing the property. James arrived with his female co-worker (who asked to remain anonymous – we will call her Jane for the purposes of this article). As they entered the home and climbed the stairs to the second floor, Jane said to James, “Something feels weird, doesn’t it?” James looked at her and said, “Yeah, it does.” However, he was placating Jane at that time; he didn’t feel anything. He simply wrote her comments off as angst, on her part, over being in the horror house. They continued previewing the house along with two other agents from another realty company and Laura Zambratto.

Their final previewing destination was the basement area. When they reached the cellar area, where the oil burner is, Jane again got spooked, this time even worse then before. “Did you feel that?” she asked James. “OMG,” James relied, “yeah, I did!” James felt the temperature in the room drop suddenly. He looked up and saw a hole in the wall and felt a very eerie feeling that he still has a hard time describing: he says that this hole was emanating freezing cold air.

James Smith: There was a hole there. It was about 15’ by 15’ and, hey, Will, I can’t even describe it, but it was such an eerie, eerie feeling. Cold air was coming out of this hole…it was very cold, very, very cold. Now we are in the summer, it was the summer; it’s probably 90 degrees outside, and the air that was coming out of that hole was like someone opened their freezer door.

In describing the hole a bit further, James said that there was a concrete wall with a square hole in it, as if someone had purposely took out these brinks. He said that he could see inside the hole only about 12 inches, and he noticed dirt, but it was pitch black otherwise. As he descried the air coming out of the hole, he made it a point to inform me that it wasn’t just rushing out of the hole; it was more like someone had just opened up the freezer door of a really big freezer. He said that he immediately got goose bumps and everyone in the basement was experiencing something similar, from his point of view.

James Smith: The room just felt like…I’m trying to describe it exactly. You know that feeling when you are sleeping and you can tell someone is looking over you, someone is standing there before you even see them, and then you open your eyes and you see someone standing there? That’s what it felt like. So, we all looked at each other and we took off!

James then says that the entire group decided to leave the house at that time, in a hurry. As they exited the house, a reporter from Channel 4 News scurried over to James—apparently she could see by the way they exited the home that something out of the ordinary was occurring. “What happened, what’s going on?” she asked him. Jane was clearly shaken up, and she hurried to the car to gather herself. She didn’t move for a few minutes; she just sat in her truck. According to James, the other two agents, who he had never met before that day, said aloud, as they exited the house, “I am not going back in that house!” And they got in their cars and sped off. He says that they were visibly shaken as well, but did not speak to the media. James then proceeded to give the reporter a brief interview.

James Smith: I am the biggest skeptic that there is, and if I was by myself, I would have just thought that maybe I have too much of the Amityville Horror movies in my head. But because I was with other people and we all were having the same feelings, it legitimized the experience.

James further described the basement experience as feeling as though he was at a high altitude, such as up on a mountain. He said that he didn’t get shortness of breath or anything, it just felt like he was high up, as if his ears were going to pop. He also explained that it was not like they just walked into the basement and it was cold. It wasn’t until they were down there for a few minutes that they all noticed the drastic temperature change, “as if the ambient temperature just dropped suddenly.”

Laura Zambratto also spoke to Channel 4 News, but she gave a different account. “The house is so spectacular—the warmest, most beautifully done, charming house I’ve been in,” Zambratto says. “There’s not one thing about the house that makes you feel uncomfortable.” She also denied any haunting activity. To this James replied, “Of course she is going to downplay or deny anything that happened; she is trying to sell the house, and there was a lot of money at stake for her in the deal.” James swore to me that he is telling the truth about his experience in the house and he sounded very convincing.

Will Savive: So you think that the owner of the house at the time, Brian Wilson; he had to know that there was some occult activity occurring there?

James Smith:
[chuckle] Hey, listen, let me tell you something: it’s one of those things where, you know how, for example, like a crime will happen in a neighborhood and the police don’t know anything about who did it, but everyone in the neighborhood knows who did it? [lol] You know what I mean?

Will Savive: [lol] Right

James Smith: Let me tell you: just living in that area for so many years, everyone was just very hush, hush that whole incident, because nobody wanted the frenzy. I can tell you back in the 80s, it was just horrendous in that area! The media attention, I mean, there were people coming like trying to pick the shingles off of the house, and camping out. It was to the point where they had the streets blocked off, and if you didn’t have ID [identification] you couldn’t even go down the block.

Will Savive: Wow!

James Smith: It was so crazy that people didn’t want to give a statement. And I know what they mean, Will, because I did that one interview for that woman, and I tell you, I probably…I don’t know how people got my cell phone [number], but my cell phone, I had about, at least 16 different news organizations contact me. And my office phone would ring non stop. I mean people from newspapers in other countries were calling me. Of course, all the local news papers were calling me: Newsday, Daily News, the New York Post, they were all calling me to get this story, and I’m like ‘Are you kidding me?’ People were showing up at my office looking for an interview.

In August of 2010, Cars lined Ocean Avenue and surrounding blocks and hundreds of people lined up outside 108 Ocean Avenue, as the owner of the home at the time, Brian Wilson, held a moving sale. Caution tape and bodyguards helped to keep the sale under control, and it was announced that only 20 people at a time could enter the home. No one reported any strange activity on that day; however, the basement and the upstairs rooms of the house were not open for viewing. After originally going on the market with an asking price of $1.15 million, the home was sold to David and Caroline D’Antonio for $950,000 in September 2010.

Mentally Ill in Amityville 2nd Ed (Kindle Book Available Now - $5.99)

MIA (2nd Ed)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spotlight on Raffaele Sollecito’s Different Versions of Events

Much of the talk about the Meredith Kercher case has been on Amanda Knox, with her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, getting a media pass. Aside from Knox’s voluntary spontaneous statement to police claiming that she may have been at the home during the murder and heard Meredith screaming while Patrick Lumumba was killing her; Raffaele’s versions of events on the evening of the murder are undeniably the more conspicuous of the two suspects. Perhaps that is why he decided not to testify!

Story # 1:

Just two days after the murder, Raffaele Sollecito gave an interview to Kate Mansey of the UK’s Sunday Mirror in which he explained his first version of the events.

“It was a normal night. Meredith had gone out with one of her English friends and Amanda and I went to party with one of my friends.”

Raffaele has never identified this imaginary friend or party since this interview, nor has he ever spoken of this version since.

Raffaele also claims in this interview that Knox was afraid when she noticed that spots of blood in her bathroom, and “she ran back” to his flat in fear. This is quite contrary to what Knox said on the witness stand during trial.

Amanda Knox Testimony (June 12, 2009):

“At first I thought they had come from my ears. But then when I scratched the drops a bit, I saw they were all dry, and I thought ‘That’s weird. Oh well, I'll take my shower.’”

After that, she dried her hair, got dressed and calmly returned to Raffaele’s apartment.

Amanda Knox Testimony (June 12, 2009):

“…Then he came out and we made breakfast, and while we were preparing it and drinking coffee, I explained to him what I had seen, and I asked him for advice, because when I went into my house, everything seemed in order, only there were these little weird things, and I couldn't figure out how to understand them.”

This is hardly the panicked girl that Raffaele described.

A few days after the interview, police intercepted a call between Raffaele and his father. During the call, according to police, Raffaele’s father said to him, “Raffaele, don’t walk about with a knife; if police find it on you who knows what they may think.” Raffaele responded by saying, “Well, they have already questioned me and they didn’t find it on me, those stupid policemen.” Raffaele was speaking of a small flick-knife that he was known to carry around. This conversation prompted police to call him in for further questioning, which ultimately led to his and Knox’s arrest. Coincidentally, experts for the defense argued that the Marietti knife that the prosecution offered up as the murder weapon was too big to have caused the wounds on Kercher’s neck, and that a smaller knife, such as a flick-knife probably caused the fatal wound.

Story # 2:

Raffaele told police that he and Knox stayed at his flat the entire night of November 1, 2007 (night of the murder).

Story # 3:

During his November 5, 2007 interrogation and subsequent arrest, Sollecito wanted to come clean, and he told police that his previous version to them was “un sacco di cazzate” (a load of rubbish). “In my former statement I told you a load of rubbish because I believed Amanda’s version of what happened and did not think about the inconsistencies.” (The Times, 7 November, 2007).

In this version, he told investigators that he and Knox returned to his flat at approximately 8:30pm, and that Knox left his apartment, while he stayed there, and she returned at around 1:00am. He claimed that he believed that she went to see if she had to work that evening. This was clearly an attempt to exonerate himself from any culpability, as Knox had received a text message from her then boss, Patrick Lumumba, at 8:19pm that evening informing Knox that it was slow at the bar and she would not be needed to work that evening.

Story # 4:

Some like to point the finger at police and say that they were forceful during their interrogations with Knox and Sollecito and that is why they both changed their stories so much. However, after his arrest, Raffaele wrote several letters to his father while in prison. One letter to his father explained in detail the version above. This was written under no duress. In the letter, Raffaele explains to his father that he and Knox had arrived at his flat at about 8 – 8:30pm on the night of the murder. “Amanda had [then] left for work,” he writes, but he could not remember how long she was gone—but he writes that he is “certain” that Knox had stayed with him the “entire night.”

Explaining Amanda to his father in the letters, Raffaele wrote of her:

“She lived her life like a dream, she was detached from reality, she couldn't distinguish dream from reality. Her life seemed to be pure pleasure; she had a contact with reality that was almost non-existent.”

Then, he shows uncertainty whether or not Knox had committed the murder (or knew something about it) and blatantly calls her a liar...Raffaele writes to his father:

“I try to understand what Amanda's role was in this event. The Amanda that I know is an Amanda who lives a carefree life. Her only thought is the pursuit of pleasure at all times. But even the thought that she could be a killer is impossible for me. I have read her version of events. Some of the things she said are not true, but I don't know why she said them.” has compiled all of the unanswered questions pertaining to the case (SEE HERE) that have been asked over the years and featured them in one article. Please visit the link for a comprehensive look at all of these and many other questions still left unanswered.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Knox Appeal: Judgment Day (Part 2)

On the 16th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson acquittal, Amanda Knox stood in the courtroom waiting for her fate to be read. The verdict was read and just like O.J., Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of all charges except the defamation charges for accusing Patrick Lumumba of being the murderer (released on time served)—and somewhere, the ghost of Johnnie Cochran was smiling (If a portion of the DNA doesn’t fit, you must acquit)! Immediately, some of those who had predicted that Knox was guilty had changed their tune. Many celebrated; others mourned and geared—as this was clearly a win for injustice and only for injustice.

Did the Italian court cower to political or media pressure? How could they have discounted the mountain of evidence—including other DNA evidence against Knox—based on two pieces of DNA evidence that were contested in the appeal? One piece of evidence (the knife) and the other (the bra clasp) were the only two pieces of physical evidence being contested by the defense in the appeal. Were those—and of course, Anthony Curatolo’s testimony—the only evidence that originally convicted Knox and Sollecito, as the media would have you believe? Of course not. The media’s misinformation is well documented and rampant on this case…HERE is just a portion.

So, how did they discount the most convincing evidence of all—the 5 mixed DNA/blood spots of Knox and Kercher (Read Analysis 1 HERE & analysis 2 HERE)? Well, we will only know in 90 days, when Judge Hellmann’s motivation report is published. This decision was certainly historic, and proves that money, a good PR campaign, and media spin can get you anything. The lies of Knox and Sollecito—which I and many others have detailed so often—the mountain of evidence against the two, judge Massei’s 427 page report detailing their guilt (along with judge Micheli’s report detailing their guilt) has all been discounted by these two judges and six jurors.

Now Know has returned to the states and will undoubtedly benefit substantially from the shortcomings of the Italian court system. The saving grace for the two defendants was certainly the fact that Sollecito never took the stand, as he would have clearly imploded under the weight of his multiple lies. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or even a forensic specialist to know that people who lie several times have something to hide. This is of course aside from the physical and circumstantial evidence against them as well.

Public figure, Nancy Grace, is finally speaking out on this case—saying that there is NO innocent explanation for Knox’s second written confession placing her at the house (with Patrick Lumumba) and including observations that only someone who really was there could have known. When asked about the verdict, Grace said:

“I was very disturbed, because I think it is a huge miscarriage of justice,” Grace said. “I believe that while Amanda Knox did not wield the knife herself, I think that she was there, with her boyfriend, and that he did the deed, and that she egged him on. That’s what I think happened.”

In Knox’s final statement Monday, she told the court that she was not present the night Kercher was brutally murdered in their shared apartment. Grace said she did not think Knox is telling the truth. “I believe her original statement to the police - that she was there in the home when her roommate was murdered was true,” Grace told Access Hollywood. Knox should pray that Nancy Grace does not get on her case the way she still is on Casey Anthony’s, because she could use the facts of the case to turn the American public against her, and that would be a different type of jail sentence for Knox.

Even CNN, who have been outspoken, staunch supporters of Knox, posted an article after the verdict asking: “Is she a two-faced she-devil, angelic and compassionate to some but Satanic and Lucifer-like to others?” It seems as though after the verdict has been read, the story of her innocence has slipped a bit, and the tide is slowly turning towards: What really happened and is Knox actually innocent? In other words, many media sources are now jumping on the controversial band wagon, as they do so often, because they know it draws readers.

No American media outlets wanted to hear anything from sources believing in Knox’s guilt before Monday’s verdict, because that wasn’t “news.” This will all change soon, and the opposing views (or controversial views) will be welcome soon, if not already (ala Nancy Grace). The fact that Nancy's comments have been so widely reported and popular now, but were ignored months ago when she basically said the same thing on "The View" and her own program before speaks volumes for "what's hot" in media at the moment. Google reveals that her recent comments are on about 38,000 Sites.

But there is so much more to this story than just Knox's spontaneous statement. For anyone ignorant to the facts and true evidence of this case looking for clarification, you would be wise to read the Massei report (read entire report HERE and summary HERE) or visit, or of course you can read Study Abroad Murder, which details all 50 days of the original trial and analyzes all the evidence in detail.

Justice is not always done in the courtroom. Even though the statue of Lady Justice wears a blindfold, humans look at the faces. Yet, this is the system we have, whether in Italy or in the U.S., we must deal with the mistakes, particularly the high profile cases, which come under much more scrutiny, but many times faulter to public and political pressures—the O.J. Simpsons, Casey Anthonys, and now the Amanda Knoxs of the trial world.

Surely the prosecution will appeal to the Supreme Court of Cassation, but they can only retry the case if something was done incorrect or wrong, which may be the case, as much of the evidence of the first trial was discounted without even being reexamined. The 90 day motivation report by Judge Hellmann will be very interesting to read and highly anticipated. This story is far from over!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Knox Appeal: Judgment Day (Part 1)


The day has finally arrived: the day that will decide the fate of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The last session has already begun and is currently underway. Luciano Ghirga started off the proceedings today with his closing argument rebuttal. Ghirga spoke firmly to the court, declaring Knox’s innocence. Sollecito took the floor after Ghirga. He started off by saying that he would “…never hurt anybody.” Raffaele pleaded to the court to release him, telling mostly of the horror he has endured over the last few years.

“I’ve never met Rudy Guede before the trial,” he adamantly protested. Although he spoke freely today, he refused to testify and face cross-examination in this appeal or the original trial. Sollecito did not speak of the circumstances surrounding the murder or his involvement or lack thereof. He didn't spend any time talking about the details of his "innocence;" he only seemed to play the sympathy card and how horrible the last few years have been for him while in prison. He went as far back as meeting Knox, but then he skipped the details of where he was during the murder and went right to the police interrogation in his speech, which I believe is very telling on his part.

Moreover, he actually said:

“No one ever asked me to testify and I don’t know why. But I was ready to talk in front of you, in front of the court to explain any doubt, but nobody—not in this process [the appeal] or the previous one [the original trial] has asked my examination. So I am here, in a way, to say freely the facts, what I’ve gone through and who I am.”

This is a very strange statement to say the least, as he surely knows and was advised that he could take the stand, but refused. Wearing a “free Amanda & Raffaele” bracelet, Sollecito used symbolic, ritualistic theatrics, saying that he has never taking off the bracelet since he received it sometime ago. He said, “Now is the time to take it off,” and he did so as he closed out his plea for freedom. He also appeared very unemotional, and he even smirked once when he began talking about the “free Amanda & Raffaele” bracelet, as if he was making a profound statement or a bad joke.

Amanda Knox addressed the court immediately after Sollecito, at 4:30am Eastern Time in the United States. She stepped to the mic with no written speech; perhaps deciding to speak off-the-cuff; perhaps committing an earlier speech to memory. Speaking in fluent Italian, Knox addressed the court in a shaky voice, starting off by explaining that she was nervous. As she got rolling, her hand gestures became very animated. “I am not what they say I am: perversion, violence. I have not done the things they say I’ve done; I wasn’t there that night!” Amanda reiterated many of the things that she has said over the years. She said she was friends with Meredith; she wasn’t at the cottage during the night of the murder; she is innocent, etc.

“I want to go back home, I want to go back to my life. I am innocent; Raffaele is innocent; and we deserve to be free.”

Judge Hellman then warned the audience. “This is not a football game. There is no room for gossiping. We have to remember that a beautiful girl has died a horrible death and that the lives of two young people are in play. So when I am reading the verdict I want respect and silence.” Judge Hellman announced that he does not expect to return back with a verdict before 8pm local Perugia time (2pm eastern time U.S.). And with that, the judge informed that deliberation would start at that time: 4:41am.

There are four possible scenarios in regard to today’s outcome. It will take a majority vote of the six jurors and two judges to throw out the conviction. If they are evenly split, Knox and Sollecito will be free. The second is that the court could decide to uphold the conviction and reduce their sentences. Thirdly, the court could uphold the conviction and honor the prosecution’s request to increase Knox’s sentence to life in prison. Lastly, and in my opinion: the most likely; the court could choose to uphold Knox's original conviction and order her to serve the remaining 22 years of her sentence in Italy. Regardless of the outcome, either side could appeal the verdict to Italy's Supreme Court.

A press conference was then set up outside the courtroom, where the streets were filled with journalists and spectators. Sollecito’s lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno addressed the audience, continuing her declarations of innocence. No one knows what time that the verdict will be read. Even Bongiorno told the media that it is impossible to predict how long that the deliberation will be.

Knox and Sollecito were whisked away in a police van. They were brought back to prison to await the verdict. They will be notified when a decision is reached and brought back to the court to hear the reading.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Knox Appeal: The Defense Counters (14th Hearing)

The Knox camp got a boost today, as things seemed to go entirely their way Wednesday. The fourteenth appeals hearing started with requests by Prosecutor Manuela Comodi for new testing on the knife and bra clasp and to introduce newly discovered records about the DNA-testing machine used in the case. Furthermore, Comodi had requested to recall Luciano Aviello to the stand, a witness who had originally testified that his brother killed Kercher, who has since publically retracted this statement when questioned by Comodi in prison in July (Read more on this HERE).

Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, however, rejected all three requests—all victories for Knox’s defense, who opposed the motions. Judge Hellman said the discussion regarding DNA evidence had been thorough enough for the court to form an opinion, and he said that new testing would be “superfluous.”

Other expert defense witnesses came forward as well today to counter expert prosecution testimony a day earlier. Much as he did in the original trial, Carlo Torre, one of Italy’s best-known forensics experts, presented a detailed technical argument about the DNA on the knife. Torre testified that the “smaller wound [on Kercher’s neck] is absolutely incompatible with the knife in question.” Torre is also a proponent of “one robust killer” as opposed to three attackers.

Dr. Torre’s assistant, Sarah Gino (who is a private coroner) also testified today. Reiterating some of what she said on the stand in the original trial, Gino added that Sollecito’s genetic material could have gotten onto the bloodied bra if it was on Knox’s clothes when they were washed with Kercher’s before the killing, a new theory now posed by Gino.

In her testimony earlier this week, Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni said that she stored biological evidence in the victim’s freezer on November 2 and 3 (2007), before bringing the samples to Rome. “This is a strange way of [collecting] evidence,” defense forensic expert Adriano Tagliabracci testified today, criticizing the methods used by Stefanoni. Taught methods of collection of biological evidence calls for them to be air-dried, because they are damp, thus should be packaged in a non-plastic contained to prevent mold or bacteria from creating a whole different kind of science experiment inside the containers.

It was certainly a good tactic by the defense to raise these concerns, although in retrospect, this procedure by Stefanoni didn’t affect her results, and the defense has a better chance of swaying the jury with the independent experts’ findings—because the plastic bag contamination (argument) would have a better chance ruining the possibility of receiving a DNA match rather than providing a match via contamination.

Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, told the media that the rulings were not a defeat, and that he understood why the judge rejected the requests.

Reminiscent of his enthusiasm and optimism during this time in the first trial, Amanda’s father, Curt Knox said (as reported by The Telegraph), “Amanda is happy and hopeful that she won't be spending too much more time in prison...”

Meanwhile, Nick Pisa, of The Telegraph and The Daily Mail, is reporting that a clearly frustrated Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said: "There is an ill wind blowing in this case. The judge and his assistant are clearly against us. I can see both Knox and Sollecito being freed which will be a shame as they are both involved."

However, it is ABC who has apparently interviewed Comodi and their take is very different than what Nick Pisa wrote. The Seattle Times is reporting that in ABC’s interview with her, Comodi said:

“We did our job. I am convinced by what I have said. I am fully convinced of their guilt and I would find it very serious if they were set free. Today’s decision could lead one to think that there is more of a possibility that they be set freed.”

Nick Pisa seems to have used his ill-will to twist the quote of Comodi in an effort to "sell papers" per say; and it seems to be working because today Sheppard Smith of FOX News used the quote verbatim and proceeded to slam Italian Justice and the case against Knox. Even I was fooled by it for a few hours.

A voice of reason in the most unlikely places also emerged today. After the session, Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga, warned that the court’s rejection of new DNA testing was not equal to a positive outcome of the whole appeals trial.

Judge Hellmann suspended the proceedings until 23 September 2011, at which time he announced that closing arguments will begin, with the prosecution going first, followed by civil plaintiffs, and then the defense.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Knox Appeal: The Prosecution Strikes Back

Amanda Knox entered the courtroom today for the second day in a row. This time she was wearing olive green satin blouse and black slacks, and gave a smile to her father, stepfather, and best friend as she was led to her seat. Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni (above) took the stand again today to dispute the DNA results given by the two court appointed experts, Professors Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti.

Yesterday Dr. Stefanoni was armed with 119 PowerPoint slides to explain her analysis. During her presentation some had a hard time staying awake in the dimly-lit, hot courtroom; even Knox seemed to nod-off a bit. As Dr. Stefanoni took the stand, Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann joked about it saying, “I’m glad to see you have no slides,” he said with a wry smile. Still, Dr. Stefanoni did, however, use more slides. Under questioning by prosecutor Manuela Comodi, Dr. Stefanoni defended the methods and equipment used in the investigation.

Dr. Stefanoni told the court that the machine used for the DNA examination was clean, and she rejected suggestions that the clasp had been contaminated. Dr. Stefanoni said the knife was tested in a lab six days after investigators had analyzed a trace of Kercher’s DNA, and she insisted that contamination did not occur.

Dr. Stefanoni also insisted that during period of 46 days after the killing that it took to collect the bra clasp, “nothing from outside the victim’s room was brought inside.” She insisted that out of 133 specimens analyzed in the house of the murder—including 89 in Kercher’s room—Sollecito’s genetic profile was only found in a cigarette butt in an ashtray, mixed with Knox’s. “If Sollecito’s DNA had somehow traveled from the butt to the clasp, then there would be Knox’s DNA as well on the clasp,” she said. This is something that I have posited and discussed long ago (SEE HERE for further explanation).

Also called to the stand by the prosecution was Giuseppe Novelli, an expert on human genetics at Rome’s Tor Vergata University. Novelli said he reviewed the prosecution’s procedures and he “absolutely excludes” contamination on the knife and bra clasp. Then he made a very valid point of common sense. “If the origin and vehicle of contamination is not proved, this is just a hypothetical theory,” Novelli said, adding that experts did not state precisely how the two items may have been contaminated with DNA.

The prosecution also called Francesca Torricelli, the director of a Genetical Diagnostic Center at the University of Florence. She argued that the DNA evidence was credible, and she had looked at the data and came to the same conclusions as Dr. Stefanoni. Professor Torricelli assured the court that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the double DNA knife.

Vecchiotti (above w/ Conti) testified in an earlier hearing that the knife tested negative for blood and the amount of DNA said to be Kercher’s was so low that it could not be examined again with any conclusions. But Torricelli refuted this claim, saying that she had witnessed the work of Vecchiotti and Conti, and that the machinery they used during their investigation could check extremely low quantities of DNA. Meanwhile, Novelli told the court that for him, and others, it was not a question of “quantity of DNA, but rather quality” to carry out a successful examination.

Outside the courtroom, prosecutor Comodi said she considered that Stefanoni and Novelli had clearly proven the good work they had done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Knox Appeal: Resumes Today After Summer Recess

With the verdict in the appeals trails of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito expected at the end of this month, tensions are high on both sides. After a summer recess, the trial continued today with the prosecution questioning the court appointed forensics experts regarding their results of two key pieces of DNA evidence that helped convict Knox and her former boyfriend of murdering Meredith Kercher back in 2007. Knox arrived at the courtroom today looking anxious and drawn.

In their 145-page report to the court, the experts—Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti—questioned much of the evidence that was collected in that original investigation, saying procedures to obtain it fell below international standards and may have led to contamination.

Questioned today over the extraction of DNA profiles from the bra clasp, Carla Vecchiotti said the data was so mixed that a very high number of genetic profiles could be extracted, depending how one combined the data “I could find yours, too,” Vecchiotti told the presiding judge. “I’m there, too,” she said, adding that some data was compatible with her own DNA. This was a bizarre comment by Vecchiotti, which if we take what she said at face value could call into question her own methods and possible contamination on her part. However, she was most likely facetiously stating that there were a number of profiles on the clasp. She added that Kercher’s profile was the only certain one.

The prosecution and Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, are now in a touchy situation as they are forced to attack the reputations of the court appointed experts, which might be viewed as an attack upon Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann—who appointed them.

The key witness today was Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the police forensic scientist who carried out the original investigation, defended the collection procedures used and the results obtained. Dr. Stefanoni told the court that DNA analyses were carried out from behind a glass wall to avoid the risk of contamination. She also said some of the standard protocols cited by the experts were published after she finished her report in May 2008, also pointing out that there are no internationally accepted international protocols for DNA collection. Using some of the 119 PowerPoint slides she said she had prepared, she challenged the experts' finding over DNA quantity, analysis and evidence collection techniques. Dr. Stefanoni’s testimony will continue Tuesday, where she is expected to defend her team's handling of the bra clasp among other things.

After the session, Maresca commented to CNN reporters regarding Dr. Stefanoni’s testimony today. “Stefanoni has thoroughly and calmly clarified the principal elements of the work she carried out—in a clear manner, given the complex subject…during the examination at the time…I think she managed to get the court’s full attention and to have damaged the independent forensic work.”

Just ahead of the hearing, in a letter (Read complete letter HERE) released by Francesco Maresca, Kercher’s sister, Stephanie, wrote: “In these last few weeks we have been left seriously anxious and greatly troubled by the news regarding the original DNA findings. It is extremely difficult to understand how the results, which were obtained with great care and presented in the original trial as valid, could now be regarded as irrelevant.”

Stephanie Kercher concluded by writing, “My sister, a daughter brutally and selfishly taken from us nearing 4 years ago…and yet a not a single day goes by that we can grasp any peace or closure…We ask that the Court of Appeal assess every single (piece) of evidence, both scientific and circumstantial, as well as any witnesses who have taken the stand independently of any other information or media,” she wrote.

Continuing her verbal campaign to free her daughter, Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas commented on the contents of the Kercher letter: “I saw in her letter where she stated that it [the evidence] was collected appropriately,” Mellas, told ABC News. “Well, perhaps they should go and review the crime scene videos, because clearly it was not.”

The appeals hearings are expected to continue through the week. After rebuttals later in September, an appeals verdict is expected by the end of the month.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Knox Appeal: Defense Witness Does 180 & Experts Speak

On Monday, as expected, the two court-appointed experts—Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti—explained their report, which was submitted to the court last month. Sources say that Vecchiotti & Conti might be under investigation for possible collaboration with one or several defense DNA experts. Strange comments of leaked expert reports have been coming from Knox supporters as early as March.

I personally have received several anonymous comments from people claiming to have possession of the independent expert’s report, long before it was submitted to the court, in an attempt to taunt me with the results. And, the fact that what they were saying about the results seems to be exactly what was in the report shows a strong possibility that the report was most likely transported through the hands of the experts on down to internet posters. I wonder what that chain of transportation looks like?

The prosecution will surely make a case that these evidentiary items were not objectively examined. If Judge Hellman rules in favor, the prosecution then has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Cassation for a ruling. We will have to watch closely to see what transpires from this.

As we’ve seen throughout this process, there have been no shortages of shocking moments. The recent bombshell came yesterday, when former defense witness, ex-mafia turn-coat, and prison inmate, Luciano Aviello (see his previous testimony HERE), testified under oath before a magistrate in Perugia that he was offered 30,000 Euros by Sollecito’s lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno (pic above), for his June 18th testimony. Furthermore, he claims that the money was delivered to him by Raffaele’s sister, Vanessa Sollecito.

You can read Aviello’s full statement at TJMK, which has been translated into English.

In his statement, Aviello claims that “everything he had declared was false: that it was false and had been agreed with Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyers in order to create confusion in the case…Aviello heavily accused Sollecito’s lawyers and sister. He said that it had been she [the sister] who had delivered the 30 000 Euros to an acquaintance of his in Naples, who was to act as a go-between. The money was to be found in an apartment in Turin which the Perugia police will check.”

But perhaps the most shocking allegation made by Aviello in his statement was when he said, “Raffaele told me that it was Amanda and that he was also there.” I actually know that it’s true that Amanda did it,” he says Raffaele had told him, “but I didn’t do it: it wasn’t me that did the murder,” Raffaele continued. You would think that this new statement from Aviello is at least news worthy. Yet, the American media has failed to print one story on his new statement.

So what credence can we actually give to Aviello’s newest statements? Well, we know that he is clearly a fearless perjurer whose credibility has never been held in any high regard. So now Aviello has sent authorities on another hunt, this time to that apartment in Turin where the 30,000 Euros is allegedly being held for him. We will have to wait and see what comes of this new investigation, but it is true that the Sollecito family did meet with Aviello in prison, according to TJMK sources.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the prosecution sent patrols to Rome and seized the DVD used by the two experts Vecchiotti and Conti to help present their findings to the court a day earlier. The DVD has been logged with the office of the clerk of the Appeal Court of Perugia and will be used by the prosecution to demonstrate that the scientific police used the correct procedures during the investigation. Prosecutor Manuela Comodi will use the DVD to question Vecchiotti and Conti at the next hearing, which is scheduled to take place this Saturday, 30 July 2011.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mentally Ill in Perugia: Amanda Knox

The Amanda Knox apologists will stop at nothing to try and convince the world that she is nothing more than a victim of an ‘archaic Italian Justice system’ and an unstable prosecutor. In the latest attempt to do so, a recent TIME magazine article headline actually asked, Could Amanda Knox Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder? Aside from the author’s clear ignorance of the case against Knox, she actually entertains the idea that Knox may have suffered from Asperger’s syndrome—a less severe form of autism—that caused both her unusual social behavior and a gullibility that triggered a false confession.

The author cites Valerie Gaus, a psychologist who has worked with hundreds of autistic people and is the author of Living Well on the Spectrum. “Everything I read would be consistent with it and it could be one alternative theory for the behavior that made her seem suspicious,” says Gaus. The author appears to base her assertions on the behavior of Knox at the police station the day that Meredith’s body was discovered. Somehow, this Knox apologist has attempted to spin the statements of Meredith’s friends—who said that they all suspected Knox after her odd behavior—into a mental disorder that somehow ‘proves’ her innocence. It is uncanny how far these Knox apologists will stretch their minds to believing in her innocence.

Let’s revisit what Meredith’s boyfriend at the time of her death, Giacomo Silenzi (who lived in the apartment below), told Nick Pisa of the daily mail in November 2007. Giacomo suspected Knox was the killer long before it was made public that she was a suspect. In fact, it seemed to be a unanimous decision of all those who witnessed Knox and Sollecito at the police station the day that Meredith’s body was discovered. Does Sollecito also have this disorder?

“I couldn't help thinking how cool and calm Amanda was. Meredith’s other English friends were devastated and I was upset, but Amanda was as cool as anything and completely emotionless,” Giacomo said. “Her eyes didn’t seem to show any sadness and I remember wondering if she could have been involved. I spoke with her English friends Robyn [Butterworth] and Sophie [Purton] afterwards, and they said the same thing. None of us could quite understand how she was taking it all so calmly. I knew that Amanda didn’t get on with Meredith, but I didn't think that would lead to Amanda killing her…If I could see Amanda, I would just ask her, 'Why? Why did she kill Meredith?'”

Were all of these witnesses in on the “so called” conspiracy to convict Knox, was Knox simply suffering from a mental disorder that made her look completely guilty to all who witnessed, or are these just excuses made up in order to justify abnormal, speculative behavior?

Dr. Coline Covington, an experienced psychotherapist who has studied at Princeton University, Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, seems to have a very different diagnosis of Amanda Knox. In a December 2009 article, Dr. Covington suggested that Knox showed signs of being a psychopath:

“Knox’s narcissistic pleasure at catching the eye of the media and her apparent nonchalant attitude during most of the proceedings show the signs of a psychopathic personality. Her behaviour is hauntingly reminiscent of Eichmann’s arrogance during his trial for war crimes in Jerusalem in 1961 and most recently of Karadzic’s preening before the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

The psychopath is someone who has no concern or empathy for others, no awareness of right and wrong, and who takes extreme pleasure in having power over others. The psychopath has no moral conscience and therefore does not experience guilt or remorse.

Most psychopaths are highly skilled at fooling those around them that they are normal by imitating the emotions that are expected of them in different circumstances. They are consummate at charming people and convincing them they are in the right. It is only when they reveal a discrepancy in their emotional response that they let slip that something may be wrong with them.

The psychopath is the conman, or in the case of Amanda Knox, the con-woman par excellence. Her nickname ‘Foxy Knoxy’, given to her as a young girl for her skills at football, takes on a new meaning.

Whether or not Knox, who is appealing her verdict, is ultimately found guilty, her chilling performance remains an indictment against her. Her family’s disbelief in the outcome of the trial can only be double-edged.”

Then there is the analysis of Professor David Wilson, one of Britain’s leading criminologists and is the author of ‘A History of British Serial Killing, 1888-2008’. Dr. Wilson analyzed Knox’s confiscated diary at one point and gave his analysis in a video on Sky News (The video has since been removed). Thankfully, I had transcribed his comments word for word more than a year ago. In his anaylsis, Dr. Wilson said:

“I have absolutely no doubt that Amanda Knox is guilty of murder. I know there’s a great deal of speculation in relation to the evidence that has been presented in the Italian courts; that it was circumstantial. But actually, it was DNA evidence that linked her, quite clearly—incontrovertibly, to the crime. I’d also say, having read her prison diaries, that this is a woman who was clearly involved with an older more experienced boyfriend who introduced her to a lifestyle—it would seem—that allowed her to bend the rules of morality that would guide her behavior, perhaps, in the United States, so that her behavior was different in Italy."

"Because this case has gone on for some two years, very early on, after Amanda Knox’s arrest and imprisonment in Perugia, I was sent her diaries that she had been keeping whilst in jail, to analyze. Having gone through those diaries quite carefully and repeatedly, I would say that a woman emerged (a picture of a young woman emerged) who was self-obsessed, who showed a lack of remorse, who was enjoying the fame and notoriety (the infamy) that had been attached to her as a result of this crime. She enjoyed the sense in which other men in the public were finding her ‘Hot’ as she [Knox] would say. There was a great deal of grandiosity in these diaries. In other words that she sees herself as a bigger personality than she had hitherto been, and she was rather enjoying that behavior. I can give you an example that talks about that grandiosity.”

“She says for example:

‘I know this sounds babyish, but if anything in the world that is unfair, this would have to be up there; not that martyrs and things don’t take the cake, but I’m innocent too. And even though I haven’t been killed, I’m not being allowed to live either.’

“So there’s: (A) the sense of self-obsession; this is all about her—the person who is missing in those statements is of course Meredith Kercher—and (B) there’s also this grandiosity; this sense in which she equates herself to that of a martyr and being martyred by this process. For me what again comes through the diaries in these early phases after her arrest is the sense in which she is still under the spell of her ex-boyfriend. And I have no doubt that his participation in creating a world in which murder could be committed, was the dominant participation.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Knox Appeal: Experts on Key DNA Evidence File Their Report

On 29 June 2011, The two court-appointed forensic experts—Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti (pictured above), both from the Legal Medicine Institute of Rome’s La Sapienza University—in the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito appeals trial filed their report to a tribunal in Perugia (Report translated HERE). Both experts were appointed to analyze two pieces of physical evidence being contested by the defense: the knife (Item 36) and the bra clasp (Item 165B).

The experts were not able to retest the DNA on the bra clasp and the knife because there was not enough DNA to retest. So, they were then assigned to judge “the degree of reliability of the tests carried out by the forensic police on the evidence based on court documents, specifically with reference to any possible contamination.”

During the first trial, experts for the prosecution determined that a small sample of Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade of the knife and Knox’s DNA was found on the handle. Also during the first trial, experts for the prosecution—and even Professor Francesco Vinci, initially retained by Sollecito’s legal team—said that the bra clasp showed traces of Sollecito’s DNA.

In the 145-page report filed in late June, the court-appointed experts concluded that while Knox’s DNA was on the handle of the knife, the tests on the blade were “not reliable” because the correct international protocol for tests on small samples, called low copy number (LCN) DNA analysis, had not been followed. The results were therefore inconclusive, according to the experts. The experts also said that both the knife and the bra clasp had been collected and handled without following international procedures. They did not, however, explain what international protocols were not followed by Dr. Stefanoni and her staff.

In regard to Kercher’s DNA being found on the blade of the knife, the report concludes by saying, “It cannot be ruled out that the result obtained from sample B (blade of knife) derives from contamination in some phase of the collection and/or handling and/or analyses performed.” The experts, however, did not expound on, or even give any specifics on, this assertion. There was not a theory posed as to how contamination could have occurred; there was no theory posed on the likely possibility that contamination occurred (i.e. to what degree possible contamination occurred).

So, if it cannot be ruled out that contamination may have occurred; it is also safe to assume that it cannot be ruled out that contamination didn’t occur. Therefore, we appear to be right back where we started from. When first approached by police and informed that Meredith’s blood was found on the blade of the knife, Raffaele Sollecito confirmed this, claiming that he had pricked her with the knife accidentally while cooking a fish dinner for her in his apartment. It was later confirmed that Meredith had never been to Sollecito’s apartment. If we cannot trust certain scientific processes, can we at least trust common sense? Good detective work still remains the staple of any effective investigation, doesn’t it?

Yet, clearly the hardest evidence of the two to try and hold as unreliable is the bra clasp. According to Dr. Stefanoni’s report, the clasp contained 1.4 nanogram (or 1400 picograms— approximately 200 cells) from Sollecito, plenty to conduct a reliable test (the minimum for reliability using the PCR Process is typically 1 nanogram).

By claiming “possible” contamination on this item, all are confirming that it is indeed Sollecito’s DNA on the clasp, and that it got there by improper collection methods. All they are saying is that his DNA, which was positively found on the bra clasp, could have been deposited there, by forensic experts on the scene, from somewhere else within the cottage. Yes, the bra clasp was not collected until 18 December 2007.

But forensic video of all inspections show that the clap never left Meredith’s room. So, if Sollecito’s DNA was taken from an area of the cottage (crime scene) and deposited on the bra clasp at some point, which is what this contamination analysis means, then where did it come from?

In judge Massei’s report (pg. 268) he explains that a “cigarette stub” was the only other place that Sollecito’s DNA was found in the cottage. Moreover, judge Massei explains the impossibility of such a transfer (on page 274 & 275). In his report, Massei explains how the search method was conducted in Meredith’s room, which consisted of “subdividing the areas: in Meredith’s room no other object apart from the hooks [of the bra clasp] was shown to carry Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA; Raffaele Sollecito did not leave his DNA on any object that was in Meredith's room; and more importantly, none of the operators, after having touched some object which might have had Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on it, then touched the hooks of the small piece of bra so as to make even hypothetically possible a transfer of DNA (from the object containing Sollecito's DNA to the gloves, from the gloves to the hooks).”

Remember, it is very likely that Vecchiotti and Conti do not know this. They were not appointed to be experts on the entire case and read all of the evidence; they were hired for a specific reason: to evaluate two pieces of physical evidence. Judges and members of the jury will surely take this into account. They will get the full scope of the evidence and weigh it all against one another.

In regard to the report, Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said, “the word of the independent experts would not be the last word, and said he would raise his objections during the last week in July, when the report will be formally discussed during a week of hearings.” Maresca also asserted that the scientific police and the consultants, whose results the independent experts are reviewing, have “far more experience” than the independent experts. “I was surprised that these experts were so certain, and gave such strong, drastic opinions, given that they don’t have the same number of years of experience under their belt,” Mr. Maresca said.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 25 July 2011, where these independent experts will formally discuss their results and the prosecution will certainly provide a counter argument.