The Jennifer Ford interview on Casey Anthony was quite fascinating because her decision was based on something we’ve been arguing about for a long time – circumstantial evidence. We get into all sorts of issues here, not helped by people’s own personal prejudices.
There’ve been classic cases at OoL where expert testimony described actual evidence found and tested and what conclusions were drawn from that. When you get up to 12 or 13 experts all saying exactly the same thing and some of those were actually on site, then what do you conclude?
Against that, you have that comment that “circumstantial is usually all you have in a murder. By definition, the murderer does not oblige by taking snapshots or videorecording the event.” Further, he does everything in his power to cover it up, buys bleach to wash it away and so on.
It’s all very well for a Columbo to waltz in and cleverly trap the murderer he’s fixed on but in most cases, it’s the result of painstaking work building exhibits and other evidence which fits together. True, when the police try too hard, you can get stitch-ups but what the pro-Knox machine are making out – that “a stream of lies” has come out of Mignini’s office, while conflating that with his conviction over another case – concluding from that that Knox is innocent, they’re open to challenge.
Sorry – it doesn’t work that way. Mignini has not been officially charged but has only been accused by the Knox camp of failure in his investigation and as for that other case, here’s what the Times said:
Mignini was convicted by a Florence court of exceeding his powers by tapping the phones of police officers and journalists investigating the still unsolved “Monster of Florence” serial killings between 1968 and 1985.
Phone tapping. Getting at the truth by any means possible. The Knox defence, of course, has not used this separate issue but the Knox media machine has and it’s landed them in a slander trial, following this case.
Mignini was most surprised, in fact, that this conviction came up now, during the Knox trial. Why now? Who then is Judge Hellman? Is there anything in his appointment? You’d have to say no but keep it at the back of the mind.
Coming back to Jennifer Ford, what struck me was how tough it was for her because they did not have absolute final proof. They did have so much evidence of what happened – the car trunk, the remains in the swamp and so on, the forensic evidence, so much so that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion, unless some other person or persons unknown had come into it.
Yet they did not convict, on the grounds that the prosecution had not finally proven, i.e. they didn’t have Casey Anthony at the scene, through an eyewitness, actually doing the murder.
In the Knox case, they have far more. The Supreme court has unequivocally said there were three people and what’s more – has named each of them. On forensics alone and ignoring the conflicting evidence given by the defendants for now, the independents had Knox’s DNA on the handle and Meredith’s on the tip, as well as the mixed blood which neither side seemed to run with.
The independents – who were hardly that – did not destroy Dr. Stephanoni who waded in and presented exactly how the tests had been conducted, the one on the knife done in a one-off, with a member of the defence present who saw Meredith’s DNA appear.
Then you get to the other evidence:
(a) Why did Amanda admit to her parents in a recorded conversation that she was very very worried about that knife?
(b) Why did she concoct that fantasy about Sollecito’s having (maybe) put the knife in her hand while she slept & pressed her hand to give her fingerprints to the handle? And Sollecito and the bra clasp, in conjunction with his footprint on the bathmat.)
(c) Why did Sollecito explain to the police that he had accidentally pricked Meredith’s hand while cooking?
… and so on. The phone calls:
1. Edda: Like I said, the lawyers believe that they are doing it on purpose, because they sure have nothing, so they are trying to put pressure on like when they interrogated you to see if you would say something more and so you have to keep calm and do not say anything to anyone.
Amanda: Yeah, when I was in the room with him I said what? … (Laughs) and then when I returned to my bedroom I was crying. I’m very, very worried for this thing about the knife… because there is a knife from Raffaele …
Curt: Well, here, here, here are the facts… we talked yesterday with the lawyer and asked him about the knife. Every time that they have to review an item we have an expert there that will review it with them. This is an example of… this knife of which they are talking about, they have never notified anything about the knife.
E: So, it’s bullshit!
A: Is it bullshit?
E: It’s bullshit.
Curt cuts her off.
2. A: It’s stupid. I can’t say anything but the truth, because I know I was there. I mean, I can’t lie on this, there is no reason to do it.
C: Yeah, yeah, so what you have to do is not to talk about anything with anyone. Don’t write anything.
I don’t see that as confession, by the way but it’s not necessary for it to be. There is so much else.
There is Sollecito’s story about Meredith pricking her finger on the knife. That alone raises so many questions of foreknowledge. The body was moved. Who moved it? What has that to do with lack of DNA in the room it had been moved to? And the Knox camp’s major point – there were no fingerprints of anybody’s in the room where the body was found.
Precisely – there weren’t. Not one. What do you make of that? And why was Knox at the Conad store next morning for bleach [two witnesses, including the manager]?
Lumumba – knowing her accusation was wrong, Knox let him languish in jail as the accused. If she explains nothing else, how does she explain that, if she’s innocent? You tell me how an innocent person would act? If you say she was alone and scared, she wasn’t. She had Sollecito with her and they were hugging and kissing, giving one another support.
Meredith’s phone. It was taken. Why? They had their own phones.
The Knox camp never address these. They only zero in on the blood and the footprints and raise doubts on that, which is fair to an extent. Yet they never address the points just raised.
Meanwhile, the media really is culpable in all this. Aside from Nick Pisa’s articles, there’s been so much else written which point blank denies evidence which actually came out. Then we have my situation. I wrote a reply at the First Post to the commenters and though other comments sympathetic to Knox were published, mine was not [it required moderation]. Make of that what you will. I’ve written to First Post to complain but there’s been no response as yet.
If she walks, Mignini will, of course, immediately appeal and that will take another year but after the slander trial, she would be a free agent. And don’t forget that the Sollecito family trial is also coming up. Obviously they’d get Knox back to the States as quickly as possible and then that would be the end of it. Italy would never get her back on the witness stand again. This must weigh on the mind[s] of the judge[s].
The most damning part, in my eyes, are the conflicting stories and even in the appeal, they never put the defendants on the stand – they’ve kept them well away. The danger has been that if Sollecito had dropped Knox in it to save himself, her team would have had to tear at Sollecito and do the prosecution’s work for it. Though Guede said the two had done it, that’s just one more thing which will not weigh all that heavily.
It’s not a cut and dried affair but it’s certainly at the stage where there are no credible alternatives which anyone has been able to come up with, not from either side. The defence has based its entire appeal on the DNA being too little to test – something the prosecution claimed anyway would be the case after two years – with their own testing using up so much – and on faulty procedures by Dr. Stephanoni and team.
The odds, with Judge Hellman having two votes, the other judge and the six jurors one each, is that to acquit, the defence has to have established gross negligence in the investigation. Hellman, apparently is like Massei who leaves no stone unturned. He might well look at the totality of the evidence and while he has not admitted some critical evidence for the prosecution, the reason could well be that he already accepts that and only wants to look at what the defence has brought, to see if it changes anything.
If Knox walks, it will be a major boilover which negates the entire investigation and calls the Italian investigative authorities and the court system into question. There’s no doubting it would be a massive coup for the Knox camp and the media machine who’ll claim their part in the victory.
If she gets 30 years, it would surprise many and would indicate a certain anger on Hellman’s part and possibly of the judiciary as a whole. That doesn’t seem indicated so far and the defence have made a reasonable case on the only evidence they can attack. There would not be a “retribution” factor here.
More likely is that the sentences will be upheld, with possibly a reduction of some form, although one pundit asked, “On what grounds a reduction?” Fair question. That’s where you would put your money, particularly as the defence did not seem to lay the sort of groundwork for a complete acquittal.
And yet … and yet. Wildly speculative but money has been known to talk in Italy, though hardly in this case. There is the possibility that Hellman, in his desire to show the world the impartiality of Italian justice, accepts the defence case and wishes to rap the forensic team over the knuckles for sloppiness, which has not been established as yet.
There are ways Knox could walk and if she did, that would be a huge travesty, let alone what it does to the Italian investigative and justice system. For us, it would be a body blow because here, finally, was one case where the power of money to buy a PR firm and to dominate the media did not win. It would be a case where, with so many crims walking free these days and with courts failing to impose proportional penalties, just this once an appropriate punishment was meted out.
In a way, it would be one small victory for justice and as it doesn’t involve execution and as there is one more appeal left after this anyway, it is less critical than the Troy Davis case.
Finally, Knox has much to answer for, aside from Meredith’s murder. There is Lumumba, there is her slander [with her family] on Mignini, there is her allowing the blame to fall on Sollecito – there are some very nasty things she has done. Even if she does not go down for the murder, as I’ve stated before, she surely needs some time inside for all these other things.
To walk completely free would be a travesty.