February 2009: Filomena’s Testimony Revisited

“They were of the same age, they had interests in common, and both spoke English. But that did not last.  They had no reason not to get along, but it seemed that as time went on they drifted apart.” — Filomena Romanelli’s testimony lasted five hours on February 7th, 2009

When the public prosecutor quizzed Meredith’s Italian housemates on what things were like on the domestic front living with two foreign university students, both concurred: things had started off well with the two English-speaking housemates, but then, for reasons unknown, things went less well.

I believe this aspect of the trial has both been unreported and underemphasised. In the rush to decipher what had undermined Knox’s relationship with Meredith, there has been a failure to acknowledge that at the time of the murder, the friendship had deteriorated. Then, in the failure to figure what had caused the failure in the relationship, pundits reverted back to the idea that the relationship had not disintegrated to begin with.

Not surprisingly, Knox herself and her PR campaign hold this as their central tenet. That Meredith was her friend, and thus she had no reason to harm her.

As far as I’m concerned it is immaterial to rationalise whether their friendship had deteriorated a little or a lot, or to ask either of the Italian women whether – in their assessment – the falling out of the English girls was for a sufficiently serious reason.  That is for the court to decide.  Obviously there is no harm in asking for the opinion of the two Italian women, but what would one expect them to say?

Knox and Meredith fought like cats and dogs day and night.

 I was there, and I knew it was inevitable that the one would finish the other off…?

Anyone who said that would immediately be accused of standing by when they should have done something. So if there was a sufficient reason, why hadn’t they done something?  Or were they simply not around enough to supervise?

In a manner of speaking, this is what happened. In Laura Mezzetti’s case she admitted she was never really at home to make a qualified assessment of what was going on, and in Filomena’s case, she was home only a little more than Laura was.

Before we get to Mezzetti’s version of events, who can say whether the arguments of others they live with are justified or not?  When one is closely related to someone accused of a crime like murder, who can be clear about whether a motive for murder is insufficient, or symptomatic of insufficiency?

If there is insufficiency [meaning inadequacy, insecurity, uncertainty], then theoretically those sharing a particularly domestic set-up are not merely cohabiters but co-creators [enablers] of those insufficiencies. And so to say there was an insufficiency of any kind is to admit that one played a part in allowing it to develop.  Who would do that in the context of murder?

British girls

In my opinion both could tell there was a cultural and personality clash, but they weren’t around enough for it to be a big deal to them. As for Meredith, she could escape to her British clique [and she did, on the night of her murder], but in terms of a more permanent solution, well, she’d just moved in and was about to pay for another month’s rent. Also, her British friends had themselves just moved and re-oriented their living arrangements, so moving in with them was premature in November. Besides this, Meredith may have felt when Giacomo was around she could go downstairs to escape Knox.

Knox, for her part, could escape to Sollecito, and did.  But he was also working on his thesis, which sometimes left Knox at a loose end.

Additionally, if we wish to figure out a motive, we cannot turn to two Italian speakers who spent minimal time with the suspects.  What we can and must do, however, is find out what contextual issues are noteworthy.  Habits. Patterns of behaviour observable over time.  Were there any?

Even when there is a language barrier and just five weeks of behaviour to work with [Knox moved into the villa on the 20th of September, Meredith had moved in three weeks earlier, on September 1st, and was dead just over a month after Knox moved in], there ought to be a discernible pattern, and actions speak louder than words. What actions was Filomena aware of?

I also think it is necessary to point out that Knox could easily appear a certain way* to her mostly-absent landladies [they were subletting too, but they were the ones who decided if Knox could stay or not], and also, Knox may have figured the two Italians were in charge of her fate, not Meredith.  Thus putting up the odd appearance for their benefit [and her own] would not have been difficult, irrespective of what was really happening on the domestic front on a day-to-day basis between herself and Meredith.

While Filomena is adamant that the girls had no reason not to get along, the fact is she observed that they weren’t getting along.  So clearly, whether there was reason or not, there was some sort of breakdown leading up to the murder.  Mezzetti reinforced this when she was quizzed by Mignini:

MEZZETTI: Initially I noted that the girls went out more together, at times they left together, they went to the centre together, they went for walks together, then I saw that each one went about their own business, they were a little more distant but without any particular disagreements and not for any particular reason, each one tried to lead their own life. But I don’t think there were problems between the girls, or at least I wasn’t aware of them.

If the Italian women were aware of severe disagreements, and being older, failed to intercede, they could be accused of failing to reasonably protect the one or the other student that was effectively in their charge.

Since all the women and men in the villa were habitually smoking marijuana, this idea of not taking responsibility for things going wrong with the residents could theoretically lead to jail time. If you have a sibling younger than you abusing alcohol, is some of the responsibility for what your sibling does yours?

The resident of via della Pergola 7 had taken legal advice before the trial, and Filomena was even working at a law firm when the murder took place, so not only were the stakes high for all the Italian occupants, they had to play the legalities in a way that would spare all potential prosecution.**

The reason we need to interrogate Filomena’s testimony, more so than anyone else’s, is to figure out three issues above all.

  1. If Filomena’s room was broken into, and Knox knew that it was, what was [and wasn’t stolen]? Part of the same question about a staged burglary is this: if one staged a murder, and staged a burglary, if certain items had been stolen, why not others?
  2. Did theft precipitate the final confrontation?
  3. What precisely were Knox’s habits when it came to household cleaning? Also, we want to see Filomena’s testimony in terms of the washing machine.  In crime scene images I’ve seen, the washing machine is chock full of clothing. So who loaded the washing machine, when was it loaded, and what was inside it?

Let’s start with the first question.

  1. Why Was The Burglar So Selective?

Now, I don’t wish to evaluate the break-in here, I’ve done so in previous narratives.

But let us consider, briefly, a scenario where an intruder broke into the villa and his handiwork lay undiscovered from at least 21:00 [when Meredith arrived home] to 10:00 the next morning [when Knox said she returned to shower.]  If the intruder had murdered the only occupant, if he had at least ten hours to play with, why not flee with something to make “his trouble” worth it?

Glass was found on top of Filomena’s clothing in her room. One might expect the glass fragments to fall on the floor and the bed, and then the clothing to be thrown on top of the glass as the burglar conducted his search.

When we re-evaluate the idea of there being four computers in the villa, including in Filomena’s room [on the floor], why would the burglar steal Meredith’s phones, credit cards and money, but not her computer, nor anyone else’s?

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ABC quotes Filomena’s testimony in regards to her computer.

FILEMENA: I noticed that my computer was on the floor, on a pile of clothes, and covered with pieces of glass.

ABC goes on:

The women had not had a falling out beyond some “normal” disputes over house cleaning, Romanelli said. The prosecution has argued that bad feelings between Knox and Kercher could have been part of a motive in the slaying. Investigators contend that Sollecito and Knox staged a theft after the murder, breaking the window with a rock from the inside. The glass lying atop the clothes and the computer indicates that the room was already messy [staged to look like a burglary] before the window was broken, they said.

Why would the burglar steal Meredith’s phones and money, but not Filomena’s computer, camera, glasses, jewellery or handbag?

One potentially obvious answer to the question is that Knox wished to continue to live in the villa, and in Italy, in spite of what had happened to Meredith.  Imagine a scenario where Knox had murdered Meredith.  If part of the staging had involved stealing her housemate’s computers, this would indeed have soured things [from Knox’s perspective] for everyone. She wished to protect her friendship with the Italians, and hence, the worst she would do is break a window.

Knox trial 104

The choice of Filomena’s window is also interesting.  Why not break Laura Mezzetti’s window? Because Laura was never around, she was less a threat to Knox. The other aspect, which I believe is the more crucial, was that after Knox’s room, Filomena’s room was closest to Meredith’s.  The only downside was the window.  Mezzetti’s window was just around the corner from the front door, and easily accessible from ground levelFilomena’s window was right beside the front door, but nowhere near as accessible from the ground.

In any event, the biggest problem with this ruse was that no burglar would break and enter and not steal the most obvious, and valuable thing. ***

The faux burglary nevertheless provides crucial psychological insights into the crime, not because of what the burglary pretends to be, but what it actually is:

Things were stolen, but they were selective.

Meredith’s keys, Meredith’s money, Meredith’s phones, Meredith’s credit cards.  Of all these, arguably the most valuable items were disposed of immediately anyway.  This disposing of the phones further reinforces the idea that things needed to be stolen, but only Meredith’s things.

Who would do that except someone who knew her? What murderer would feel bad about stealing? What murderer would steal phones then fling them into someone’s garden, only for them to be found hours later?  Well, perhaps a murderer whose home was the crime scene. Perhaps a murderer who had never murdered before.  And anyway, if you stole something, and your home was the crime scene, where would you put it?

  1. Did Theft Set Meredith Off To Begin With?

Clearly the idea that Knox and Meredith butted heads about cleaning the villa didn’t lead to murder.  What it did do, in my view, is set the tone for further butting of heads.

One of the photos you never see, online or elsewhere, is a rear-view from the inside of Knox’s bedroom.  From this perspective one sees her cupboard, which is situated immediately inside her bedroom door [to the left when entering].

If Knox had stolen anything from Meredith’s room, given how small and Spartan her room was, there was virtually nowhere to hide it other than inside the right side of the closet.  In the villa after the murder, when CSI teams dusted for prints, virtually no fingerprints of any of the inhabitants [including] Knox were found outside of Meredith’s room.

In Knox’s bedroom, not a single attributable print was found, although a few smudged prints were found on the window and the wardrobe. Only a single fingerprint in Knox’s room had survived. It was Meredith’s, found on Knox’s right closet handle.

In the Oscar Pistorius case, I initially imagined Reeva trying to call the police behind a locked door, and this setting Oscar off.  He heard her trying to call the police, panicked and shot her.  But when one fires up the imagination, that’s a laughable scenario.  More likely, Reeva had Oscar’s phone with her in the toilet, and what was on his phone and the implications, especially on Valentine’s Day, is what set things fatally in motion.

Think about it in personal terms.  If someone close to you stole your phone, took it into into the bathroom and went through your messages, wouldn’t that alarm you?  How about if you were a 26-year-old celebrity, on Valentine’s Day?  [Oscar’s phone was subsequently hacked and wiped, and the data was never retrieved]. In the same way I don’t believe Knox would ever have simply arrived home and started provoking or harassing her housemate to the point of murder.

More likely, I believe, Knox had stolen Meredith’s rent money and Meredith had found it in Knox’s room, specifically in her cupboard, and confronted Knox about it.  Meredith would have had every reason to be furious, which may have been the point. Or, Meredith had reason to believe Knox had stolen her rent money, perhaps because it had been stolen before, perhaps by Knox, perhaps by someone else. Or, Meredith may have felt one of Knox’s many dodgy male visitors had pilfered her rent, which would also be Knox’s responsibility, by constantly inviting strangers to their home. Whatever it was, this confrontation may have set Knox off.

In both the Pistorius case and the Knox case, I believe it was the victim that confronted her killer, and perhaps had every reason to do so. But the problem was that the perpetrator then lost it. I believe the feelings of insufficiency of the murderer, which were already well established, then welled up, and as the confrontation escalated, the killer was unable to contain a swelling anger, with tragic and explosive results.

  1. How Often Did Knox Use The Washing Machine?

This question has to do with a potential cover up, and it’s a question I’m not sure has been adequately explored, certainly not by filtering through Filomena’s direct testimony.  So let’s do that now.

To figure out this question, we need to know Knox’s habits vis a vis the habits of the household, when it came to washing and cleaning.  And then we need to figure out the particular situation of the washing machine vis a vis the particulars of the crime scene.  Worth playing for?

MIGNINI: What do think happened between Amanda and Meredith? Were they always the same [to each other] or did they change?

FILOMENA:…of course the two girls were of the same age and they had common interests, both of them [English], so that would certainly facilitate communication among themselves. Me and Laura…besides having been friends for a long time…we left early in the morning to go to work, we went home for a short lunch break and then returned home in the evening. The girls obviously….had [both] come to study Italian…Meredith at first, began to show Amanda around…

MIGNINI: Here and thereafter?

FILOMENA: Look…I was not there during the day…perhaps they [developed] personal interests and cultivated them individually, not with the same assiduity or frequency that they had been at the beginning.

Skipping ahead…

MIGNINI: How did you organise the cleaning?

FILOMENA: We had arranged shifts because the layout of the house was made so that having two bathrooms inside the house each bathroom could serve two bedrooms.  And so Laura and I had decided…the girls would occupy the bathroom that served their bedrooms, for the parts we shared we took shifts in cleaning.

In other words, Laura and Filomena took turns cleaning their bathroom, and Meredith and Knox as well.

MIGNINI: Where there some problems?

FILOMENA: The shifts weren’t always respected.

MIGNINI: Who did not respect them?

FILOMENA: Amanda sometimes did not respect them, but…

In Waiting to be Heard Knox is adamant that Filomena was mistaken [to put it mildly] on this point.  Interestingly, instead of being specific about its truthfulness, Knox dramatizes the moment.

Knox stresses in italics that Filomena “can’t be saying this.” I have seen a similar technique to thought counter a court or police narrative in the Ramsey’s book Death of Innocence. Technically, one can think whatever one wishes to about a particular allegation.

MIGNINI: Do you remember how long?

FILOMENA: In October.

It’s interesting that Filomena doesn’t say once or twice, or during one particular week, but it seems Knox’s hygiene was an issue from the get go until the end.  October is essentially the sum total of her stay in the villa, give or take a week in September.

Of course, according to Knox, the idea of a cleaning rota only came up “a few days” before Meredith was murdered.  Even if it’s true, the fact that a cleaning rota had even been necessitated, and as Knox put it, “my turn handed come up” tends to reinforce a sense that Knox had not only never had a turn to do house cleaning, but had never done any period.

In her own version of events, Knox is bitter that neither of her former housemates made eye-contact with her while on the stand, and worse, Filomena made Knox’s behaviour “seem out of step with everyone else’s in the house.”

As a result, Knox stood up in court and made a spontaneous declaration that both her housemates were exaggerating “about the cleaning.”

My own sense was that Filomena was trying to reveal as little as possible, and to protect everyone – including herself – as much as possible.

MIGNINI: And what did you use for cleaning?

FILOMENA: We used…home-made products.

MIGNINI: What were the products?

FILOMENA: Home detergents, detergents for floors, bleach, normal household cleaning products.

MIGNINI: And there were other problems…were there strangers in the house?

FILOMENA: Yes, strangers were in the house, the fact is this: the girls, when I talk about girls I am referring to Meredith and Amanda, the girls obviously have more common interests, young people, out of the house, etc., did very soon. They were of course also very nice, it was easy for them to make friends with the boys and at first they made friends with the neighbors, then obviously even later, other people usually knew between the university and the attendants. I can say that Meredith has never brought any stranger to the house outside a couple if I’m wrong, a couple of British friends, apart from them two I’ve never seen Meredith bring kids home. I’ve never even seen Amanda directly bringing men back home because I often missed the weekend…

It’s difficult what to make of this.  Filomena was in the kitchen with Knox and Sollecito on November 1st, so clearly she had not only met Sollecito, but had seen Knox bring a man home. Whether Filomena had never seen Amanda “directly” bring men home, as we’re about to find out, is open to interpretation.

MIGNINI: And who did it?


MIGNINI: Remember who was there, who attended these strangers?

FILOMENA: I remember [Knox] went to work; she met an Albanian boy but I do not remember the name now and I remember that once in a lunch break, this boy came with her as well, eating something…and then leaving…

If Knox was bringing boys home often, and if she was having sex with them, one can imagine a situation where the bathroom was a sort of revolving door for boys taking a shower inside it, and Meredith’s room was right beside the bathroom they shared.

If Knox’s guests were often using the bathroom and toilet, and Meredith wasn’t bringing home as many guests, and Knox wasn’t cleaning up after either them or herself, one can imagine this causing an increasingly sticky situation between housemates.  A simmering resentment from both girls seems inevitable, doesn’t it?  And if there is one way guaranteed to make anyone angry, it is for one’s sexual behaviour to be impinged on [for whatever reason] by a third party.

MIGNINI: Do you remember other guys who came home…strangers?

FILOMENA: I remember a guy…I know this guy slept in the house, but when he slept at home [in the villa] I still did not.

MIGNINI: And who invited her?


MIGNINI: Always Amanda. What was his name, this guy?

FILOMENA: Something like Daniel, Danilo, he was a friend of neighbors; I do not really remember the name sincerely.

We don’t yet have an answer about the washing machine, from Filomena.  Let’s skip ahead to Filomena’s version of the call she received from Knox on the morning of November 2nd.  Remember, it’s a call to communicate:

  1. That Filomena’s room had been broken into.
  2. That she [Knox] had taken a shower.
  3. That she saw blood in the villa.
  4. That Knox was heading back to Sollecito’s apartment.

FILOMENA: “Hello Amanda what happened?” “I came and the door was open, I came in…” We spoke a bit in English and a bit in Italian.  I remember well that I said…there is something strange going on. She said: “Anyway I’m going to Raffaele, I showered, now I’m going to Raffaele …There’s some blood.”  I said, “Amanda I don’t understand, tell me why…there is something strange, the door’s open, you had a shower, there’s blood, but where’s Meredith.” “I don’t know.” I did not understand what she was telling me. I couldn’t follow her…

Now we must bear in mind this idea of someone who takes a shower, but doesn’t think to clean up blood in her bathroom, or find out where it came from.  To take Knox’s version, she thought it might be Meredith having a period, or blood from her own pierced ears.  Knox sort’ve shrugged off the blood, then headed out the door…with a mop to clean up [not her own bathroom] but her boyfriend’s kitchen.  Because she was that kind of gal, someone who liked to clean up other people’s mess…

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Skipping ahead…

MIGNINI: Do you remember if you invited [Knox] to call the police?

FILOMENA: I told her … So be careful, I told her: “Amanda check the villa and call me right away.” In the meantime I said … to Paola. “Something happened at home, Amanda said she found the door open… And that there was blood, had there been an accident.”…Maybe Meredith….I honestly did not think of anything tragic, I wanted to give myself a plausible or optimistic explanation, so I said maybe she cut herself, maybe she was frightened and went to pharmacy, it was close enough, and just left the front door open. 

MIGNINI: Before moving on, Amanda …was going to Raffaele?

FILOMENA: Yes, she said, “I’m going to Raphael, so I’ll come back with him to see what’s up.”

MIGNINI: So she realized what happened, and went to get help from Raffaele?

FILOMENA: Exactly, I knew she came home, that the house was open, that there was something strange going on, that she went to the bathroom and so I believed it was her own bathroom, according to the division of the rooms…something weird was going on, so that’s why she went to Raffaele’s home and then came back to the villa.

MIGNINI: With him.

FILOMENA: With him.

MASSEI: Excuse me, did she even say she had showered in the bathroom?

FILOMENA: Yes, if I’m not mistaken, I could not really understand why…

MASSEI: And the blood stains she had seen in the same bathroom where she had showered?

FILOMENA: Yes, so I said, you came in, the door opened and you showered. Yes, I said I did not understand. I spoke to Paola and honestly I was troubled.

MIGNINI: Were there other phone calls?

FILOMENA: Yes, I was worried and tried to call her but she did not answer me….I called Meredith…Meredith had two phone numbers…an Italian number and an English number and if I’m not mistaken, it rang but went unanswered and the other did not sound even. I tried, tried, I said “Madonna…”

Skipping ahead…

MIGNINI: Amanda and Raffaele how were they dressed?

FILOMENA: Raffaele had a jacket with a hood; it looks like olive green, a yellow scarf and jeans. Amanda had a skirt, woollen stockings, thick, a sweater…I do not remember well on it, I remember my skirt well.

What’s easy to miss here is that Knox was underdressed, so much so that Sollecito gave her his hoodie to wear. Why on Earth would Knox, having just returned a second time to the villa, have run out of winter clothes, on November 2nd of all days? Well, what if she had decided to do the laundry [or dispose of dirty laundry] that day of all days?

We know for a fact that just a few days after the murder, Knox went to buy clothes, creating a small incident with her choice of racy lingerie.  One may argue that her room having become a crime scene made her a refugee, and this is why she didn’t have any clothes.  But then why buy lingerie?

On the other hand, if Knox was supposed to make a trip to Gubbio that day, where were her clothes prepped for that outing?  And why would she do laundry on the same day they planned on making a day trip?

Before we deal with the washing machine, specifically who might have turned it on last, let’s follow Filomena as she arrives home, extremely distressed.  The important thing to do here is to compare Filomena’s anxiety to Knox’s lack of urgency in the face of a “burglary”.

FILOMENA: I went into the house and my room…I went into the room and saw the broken window and everything in the air…I honestly came to the house…and I was already trembling and as far as I was very nervous hand by hand I calmed down, saying, “Oh, God, perhaps, they did not have time to take anything, because at least the things of more value are there.” Taking my computer I realized that raising my computer raised the glasses, in the sense that the glasses were over things, that is, it was a mixture and so there I did not immediately.

Do you see?  When Filomena found her things, she seized her own computer, knowing the cops and others would enter the premises.  She wanted to keep her most valuable items with her.  Knox, on the other hand, thought they had broken in, showered, then left the villa and also left her computer on her desk, even though the broken window was still broken. No one would do that, because if the villa had been breached, it was still accessible. It was still insecure.

Remember, instead of checking to see if her own belongings were stolen, or anyone else’s, Knox said she simply had a shower. In reality, I don’t believe Knox did shower at the villa, but I believe the shower and basin were extensively used between midnight November 1st and the morning of November 2nd. The bathroom was right beside the crime scene, so if there was a cover up and a clean-up, why wouldn’t it be used?

Dilute traces of Meredith’s blood were also found on the bathroom light switch. It was the most obvious resource to use because it was the closest area to wash blood off hands, feet and skin, to flush away blood, tissues, perhaps toilet towels and pieces of cloth.

Now that we are in the small bathroom, we might as well dispense with the single intruder/attacker theory.  We already know that Rudi left shoeprints in the hall, in Meredith’s blood.  This could only be achieved after she was attacked, agreed? One can only create shoeprints in blood if one has the shoes, and a pool of blood to dip them into.  The problem is that there were footprints in blood as well as shoeprints. I do not wish to argue the merits of who the bloody footprint belonged to, except to stress that it didn’t belong to Rudi. Rudi did not rush out of Meredith’s room, into the hall and out the door, then return later with his shoes off.

If Knox visited the villa at 10:00, and if she didn’t shower, what did she do there?

The idea of barefooted criminals covering up a crime scene suggests three things:

  1. Bare feet are easier to rinse off than shoes.
  2. Anyone taking off their shoes at a crime scene, probably had a lot of time to work with.
  3. Anyone that had a lot of time to work probably knew the crime scene well, and/or lived there.

FILOMENA: So at that time we were … We noticed that the washing machine was loaded with clothes, the police asked if they were our own and the answer was no…I did not load the washing machine, Laura had loaded the washing machine before 1 November and because of this I said, no, the clothes aren’t mine. When we went to the police station and there I they see one by one the clothes, I recognized many some of these… like the clothes belonging to Meredith. Some of the clothes contained anyway in the washer I wasn’t able to recognize them.

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What’s also often overlooked at the crime scene was a drying rack in the passage area opposite the door to Amanda’s room. It’s almost as though Knox herself was waving a flag, through the rack, to say to those who would soon arrive at the house:




I’ve been unable to confirm a rumour that when the cops first arrived at the villa close to 13:00, while standing inside the villa, the washing machine stopped. It’s possible this was genuine witness testimony from the police. If the machine stopped at around 13:00, it means it had to have been set, at most, an hour earlier, and probably less. Is that what Knox did when she arrived back at the villa; didn’t take a shower but threw some potentially incriminating clothing into the washer?

Phone records show that both Knox and Sollecito were at the villa at 12:35, and perhaps for as long as 10-15 minutes earlier than that. At 12:51 and 12:54, Sollecito finally called the cops, but he seemed reluctant to do so. Part of this reluctance can be seen in the calling of the postal police to report a burglary, and also in the difficulty and delay the cops had in actually finding the place.

Both Newsweek and the Guardian noted that when Filomena checked the washing machine [since it was in their bathroom, she opened it up to see whose clothes were inside], she found it was still warm. The Guardian reported Filomena’s testimony at the time as follows:

Blonde, bespectacled Filomena Romanelli…posed a string of problems for the defence. She said that when she returned to the house they shared on 2 November 2007 the washing machine was warm. She later identified most of the clothes inside as those of the victim, Meredith Kercher…Romanelli…questioned [the] defence claim – that there was a break-in on the night of the killing…and contradicted Knox on whether Kercher was in the habit of locking herself in her room.

If the washing machine was warm, and if the clothes were Meredith’s, had Meredith done laundry as a final chore on Earth?  If so, she would have had to have done it at least 13 hours earlier, since her time of death at the latest was 23:30.  So how could the washer be warm at 13:00?

Newsweek was more on the chin with their version of Filomena’s testimony:

Filomena Romanelli, the Italian from whom Knox and Kercher sublet rooms in the villa, testified that the washing machine was warm when she arrived on the scene. She later identified the contents of the washing machine as Kercher’s even though the Briton had been dead for at least 10 hours before her body was found, implying that someone else started the laundry.

The Guardian repeated the strange combination of taking a shower after a burglary where blood traces are visible.

[When Knox called] Romanelli replied: “But Amanda. I don’t understand. Explain to me, because there’s something odd. The door’s open. You take a shower. There’s blood. But where’s Meredith?” “Eh, I don’t know,” she recalled Knox as saying. Romanelli told her to check the house again and call her back.

Replying to the judge later in her testimony, Romanelli said: “The door’s open. I go in. There’s blood. I take a shower. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t think that that’s normal.”

The reality is Knox probably didn’t shower at the villa that morning, but had to say she had because the bathroom was wet and washed, and [like the washing in the machine] likely still damp and soapy when the authorities arrived.

From Amanda’s testimony:

KNOX: Let’s see, it must have been around midday [when Raffaele arrived on Nov 1] when [Meredith] came out of her room, I think, but I don’t look at the clock much. Anyway early afternoon. Then [Meredith] went to went to take care of some laundry she also had hanging on the clothes rack, and also some things she had in the washing machine. Oh, before Raffaele came, we had talked a bit between ourselves about boys in general, because I used to ask her advice sometimes. Then Raffaele came and we prepared lunch together, we talked a bit together, then [Meredith] went back to her room to change, I think she took a shower, and then when Raffaele and I finished eating, I started playing [guitar], and while I was playing, she came out of her room, she said “ciao” to us and she went out the front door and that was the last time I saw her.

When Knox was asked if she had done any laundry, since Meredith was doing hers, Knox gave this response:

Well, it was totally normal for me to put things on the drying rack along with the things belonging to the others. So, yes, I took the things I had that were dry and I put them in my room.

When asked if it was normal for Knox to “mix clothes together” in the washing machine, Knox said:

It was normal, when someone needed to use it, they just put stuff in and did it. Yes, yes.

We know this isn’t true.  Filomena spoke of there being specific shifts for cleaning, and also washing, which is why she could be so sure neither herself nor Laura had done any washing on November 1st. The crucial element in all this is the most obvious element.  What was so important that it had to be washed there and then, on November 2nd?  Why, towels that had been used to soak and clean Meredith’s blood, of course. ****


*The idea that Knox might have “two faces” and lead a “double life” is not new.  It will be interrogated in more detail in the VERDICT section of this narrative.

**The Madeleine McCann case presents a similar scenario where six doctors holidaying together in the Algarve could theoretically all be liable, and lose their licenses, if it was determined that one child had been sedated, and died as a result.  If any of the other doctors knew about this practise and were doing the same with their own children, all six could lose their licenses to practise medicine.  If this was the case, a conspiracy of silence and perhaps other forms of collusion.

*** The same reasoning applies in the JonBenét Ramsey case.  A broken window in the basement is seen by some as an external point of entry.  Why then would an intruder who had succeeded in breaking in and breaking out without being discovered, forget to take what he came for [JonBenét]? Why would an intruder who was clever enough to leave no prints or DNA, leave behind a ransom note and then fail to act on it?

****Bloodied towels and washing machines feature prominently in the Oscar Pistorius and Jodi Arias/O.J. Simpson cases respectively.




Ueli Steck’s Description of Annapurna

“I was completely detached from the other world.  There was nothing else but climbing.  No goal, no future, no past.  I was climbing in the here and now.  One swing of the ice axe after the other; one step after the other.  I only saw my ice axes and how they penetrated the snow and ice.  My view narrowed and I had adopted some sort of tunnel vision.  And here I was; in the middle of this gigantic face with very limited equipment.  I felt light, but also extremely exposed.  I knew that the tiniest mistake would mean certain death.  However, I was not scared of making a mistake.  I was still giving orders and controlling the person climbing the south face of Annapurna.  It did not feel like me.  If this person fell, it would not really concern me.” Ueli Steck 

The Mountain Mania series by Nick van der Leek continues with his 5th just released on Amazon

UELI: Deus Ex Machina

NEW COVER - 20170802 041444 PM shakedowntitle.com


Who is Peter Schwartz?

When you think of the Durst case, Peter Schwartz isn’t a name that immediately comes to mind.  He wasn’t a lifelong friend or business associate like the other witnesses.  But he did share an important connection – Gilberte Najamy – and one could argue, had a direct link to the reason Kathie disappeared.

Bob and Kathie 3

Before we jump into the Peter Schwartz story, let’s first briefly look at a few details from the night of January 31, 1982 – the night Kathie disappeared.  The Dursts were 9 years into their marriage but it had been considerably rocky between the two for several years.  Kathie was at the tail end of medical school, and many believe she was biding her time to make a break from Bob.  What was she waiting for?  Schwartz’s testimony gives us some insight.

Bob and Kathie had been at their South Salem cottage together earlier that day.  Gilberte, a close friend of Kathie’s, invited her to come to a party at her house in Newtown, CT, a 45-minute drive away.  Kathie reluctantly agreed.  There’s a whole other side story to Gilberte and that party that I’ll tackle in a different post.  But in a nutshell, the party was a Sunday-night rager.  Kathie, who arrived disheveled, was there from about 4pm to 7pm, and ended up drinking a few bottles of wine and snorting a good amount of coke, before heading back to her home.

Just this past Monday – July 24, 2017 – Schwartz, 69, balding with longish gray hair on the sides, testified in court that he received a call from Kathie around 6:30pm that night.  She was asking about the status of lawsuits – plural – filed against Robert Durst [by Schwartz].  Those lawsuits were a result of a fight that Schwartz and Bob had exactly one year earlier on January 31, 1981.

Durst, wearing a ridiculously oversized blue blazer, was unfazed by Schwartz in court. The only thing I heard Durst say the whole day was “Bagli is here” which he muttered while glaring at us – [Charles] Bagli, from the New York Times, sitting in the seat next to me on my left.

Schwartz was also a resident of Connecticut, living in Danbury. At the time, he owned a retail photography shop in Stamford.  He’s since gone on to get a masters degree, ironically, in counseling from WestConn and works as a psychotherapist.

Back to 1981… Gilberte brought Schwartz and his girlfriend at the time, Karen Smith, to a party at the Durst’s apartment in Manhattan.

This was only the 2nd time Schwartz would be in the company of Bob.  The first time didn’t go so well either.  At a house party at Gilberte’s several months earlier, completely unprovoked, Schwartz had a door kicked into his head courtesy of Bob.  While Schwartz didn’t see him kick it, there was nobody else in the room but Bob.   Bob didn’t flinch or say a word, just stood there with his trademark who gives a shit look while Schwartz grabbed his head and uttered something like “ouch”.  That was that.

Now here we are at encounter #2.  After arriving at the Manhattan apartment and spending possibly a few hours there – exactly how long, Schwartz couldn’t say – Bob, the self-admitted pothead, suggested the group go out dancing at one of his favorite spots, Xenon nightclub.

The group of partiers split into two.  The first group, which included Bob, took off and went to the clubs.  Meanwhile, Schwartz says Kathie suggested the rest of them stay back and hang out at the apartment.

This was 1981, long before people had cells phone and could text their whereabouts every moment of the day.  Bob, expecting Kathie to turn up at the club behind him, was clearly not too pleased when she never showed.

Schwartz then describes Bob bursting into the apartment some time later and saying “you’re the only man here”.  The implication being – he thought Kathie was messing around with Schwartz.   So while Schwartz sat on the ground with his back against the radiator, Bob rushed towards him and kicked him in the face just below his eye.  Bob’s pointed boots ended up breaking the bone in Schwartz’s face.

Schwartz pinned Bob to the ground and said he’d let him go if he’d calm down.  But when the two stood up, Bob attacked him again.  This time throwing him against the radiator on the wall.  Bob left the room, and Kathie told Schwartz that Bob owned a gun.  He described her as being “fearful”.  Kathie called the police, then took Schwartz to City Hospital in Manhattan.

The prosecutor, Habib Balian, showed two pictures to the court – one a close-up of Habib BalianSchwartz’s face that showed a swollen/half-shut eye and a significant purple/red bruise below.  The second picture showed a foot-long, red mark running horizontally across Schwartz’s back.   According to the police report, Bob Durst was arrested on February 1, 1981, at 5:00am.

Criminal charges were filed against Bob, and Schwartz did attend a hearing with Bob there.  Those charges, though, were later dropped.

Schwartz’s memory while testifying was fuzzy at times, and he seemed almost reluctant or slightly confused about how the criminal case was resolved.  But I’m not so sure he was actually confused.  Schwartz had taken notes back in the day when all of this happened, and some of those notes were shared in court.  Here’s one related to the charges that was put up on the screen.

Written by Schwartz:

Plead guilty – charge was harassment

Conditional discharge 6 month – still open

Deputy Bureau Chief Bob Warren 553 9192

Attorney to get record

On cross-examination, Dick DeGuerin reminded Schwartz that on February 10, 1982, he told Detective Lewis, who was investigating Kathie’s disappearance, that Durst took a plea on the criminal case.  So why is Schwartz being vague now?

Although the criminal case didn’t amount to much, on January 22, 1982, Schwartz decided to file a civil case against Bob.  He was asking for $200,000 in exemplary and punitive damages, and $50,000 in compensatory damages.  The civil case was eventually settled, but as Schwartz told the court in visible disgust, not exactly to his satisfaction.

Now that you know the backstory about the tension between Schwartz and Bob, let’s revisit January 31, 1982.  Kathie arrives at Gilberte’s house in Newtown around 4pm.  She’s guzzling wine, doing coke, and complaining quite a bit about the situation with Bob. A picture’s been painted of a woman in deep distress. She picks up the phone and decides to call Schwartz.  Although Schwartz testifies this happened around 6:30pm, DeGuerin says Detective Lewis noted on his report that Schwartz told him the call was at 17:00 (5pm).  Why does that matter?  Well, mostly it makes Schwartz look unreliable.  But also, after Kathie disappeared, Bob told police he put her on the 9:17pm train.  The time she left Gilberte’s in Newtown matters, especially if Bob is pinpointing a specific time later that night.

What’s important to discuss though is the content of the call.

BALIAN:  “Did she [Kathie] tell you she had information about [Bob’s] fraudulent tax filing and that she was using that to get a better divorce settlement?”

Schwartz said he didn’t recall if they discussed that; he’d have to review his statements given to investigator [Joseph] Bacerra.  Balian went on to say that Bob was trying to avoid paying taxes and Kathie was forced to sign fraudulent documents.

Although Bob gives the appearance that he cares about money, I think with him, it’s not about the money per se.  Obviously, when the guy is renting ghetto apartments and walking around in t-shirts and flip flops, it’s not the money.  It’s the fact that it’s his, and he’s entitled to it.

What Kathie wanted to know from Schwartz that night was the status of the legal cases pending against Bob.  Not because she was concerned about Bob.  No, she wanted Bob to pay.  She was livid with Schwartz that the criminal case was dropped.  Schwartz said on the stand that he told Kathie he couldn’t discuss it because there was a civil case pending.  He said she was “aggravated” that she didn’t get the answers she wanted.  He also said when the phone hung up, it sounded like there was somebody else on the phone because he heard a second click.  Who was listening in?

Around 7pm, Kathie got a call from Bob telling her to come home.  Incredibly, her good buddy Gilberte allowed her to drive.  What exactly happened after that, nobody knows.  According to Bob, Kathie came home to South Salem, they drank a bottle of wine, had a fight, then he put her on the 9:17pm train from Ketonah station back to the city.


DeGuerin didn’t make much progress in trying to discredit Schwartz.  His client settled with him over these injuries years ago, so Bob, admittedly beat Schwartz.  DeGuerin raised the point that Schwartz admitted to investigators Gilberte brought a substance that looked like coke to the party in Manhattan the night he was beaten up.  His point being, how decent and reliable of a guy is Schwartz if he’s hanging out with cokeheads.  A pretty weak point to make when his client’s a druggie too.

Then he used the oh-so boring defense tactic about money – was he flown to Los Angeles 4-18-12 (5).JPGon a first class flight and what hotel was he staying at?  Also, had he received money for selling pictures or doing interviews?  Schwartz says yes, he received somewhere between $3-5,000 for selling pics, but turned down the Jinx, although he would have done it had they offered him $500K.  How’s that for honesty.  DeGuerin asks – did you watch the Jinx?  Schwartz answers no.  The gallery laughs when DeGuerin counters:  don’t bother watching, the Jinx isn’t very good.  DeGuerin loves to take jabs at Jarecki.

I’ll leave you with one final thought that I believe goes to the topic of motive [for Bob making Kathie disappear].  DeGuerin wanted to know if Kathie had his [Schwartz’s] phone number, and if she did, then why.  He’s planting the seed that the two were canoodling and maybe even in cahoots against Bob.  He pulls out a sheet of Durst residence phone calls revealing three calls, presumably made by Kathie, on December 15, 1981, to Peter Schwartz:

  • 15:35 – Call from Durst house to 203-377-6392 in Bridgeport (Schwartz’s shop) – 19 minutes
  • 15:57 – Call from Durst house to 203-744-4656 in Danbury (Schwartz’s home) – 1 minute
  • 16:51 – Call from Durst house to 203-744-4656 in Danbury (Schwartz’s home) – 2 minutes

What were they discussing? Schwartz didn’t seem to recall these conversations, which I find not very believable.  Not because I think the two were having an affair, but because I got the impression he was intentionally distancing himself from these calls.  And why wouldn’t he… 6 weeks later, Kathie vanished off the face of the earth after speaking to Schwartz only hours earlier about going after Bob.



The Trilogy Revisited

“There’s no denying My Family and Other Animals captures the magical nature of childhood.” Moonshake Book review

magical childhood

While it plays well on paper, a family member shooting a pet dog even by accident is somehow less funny [and seems less realistic] when conveyed on television. The death of Achilles, Gerry’s first pet – a tortoise that fell down a well – is also sketched in comic terms.

gerry and turtles

Once again what plays well on paper:  Margo’s suggestion of forcing strawberries down [Achilles’] throat (to give him, as she explained, something to live for) somehow plays less well when actually dramatized. In the context of Gerry becoming a world famous naturalist in real life, this appropriation of doomed or damaged pets for reasons of comic relief seems disingenuous rather than charmingly eccentric.

Leslie’s love for guns within the context of a budding naturalist also irks, not just because killing animals is the antithesis of conservation, but because it somehow feels embellished.

Leslie unpacked his revolvers and startled us all with an apparently endless series of explosions while he fired at an old tin can from his bedroom window.

Larry endorsed My Family as “a very wicked, very funny, and I’m afraid rather truthful book…”

I’m afraid he may have been right on the first two counts, but not the last. As much as seaside mansionthere is an impression of not having any money, the Durrells nevertheless employ a chauffeur and a chef. Whatever the deprivations of their accommodations, they lived in a sumptuous seaside mansion. So what’s going on here?

It may seem silly, sixty years after the book was published, a book that was prescribed reading when I was in high school, this serious effort to deconstruct the narrative psychology behind The Durrells. But there is a method behind this silliness. It is to contrast the idyll that is the Corfu Trilogy with the true story of the Durrell clan.

Some may think that silly too, until we begin to fully contextualise the brokenness that gave rise to these happy tales, and then bend this process of compulsive fictionalising and reinvention back onto society and ourselves.  The full extent of the contrivance is less entertaining than it is tragic.

It’s then that we can seriously ask – and seriously answer the original question.

Do fairy tales do any harm?

The point of this process is less to point fingers than to simply understand how the process works, and perhaps remind ourselves how ubiquitous a seditious psychology is, not only in popular entertainment, but in our own compulsive consumption of it.

We find not only is it all too common, it is a profoundly damaging psychology with severe, sometimes unfathomably severe consequences. I will illustrate how severe by digging into an archive of similar writers, as well as my own diary.

When the temptation arises [as it will] to become dismissive of an investigation into the impact of fairy tale commerce on the psychology of children, it may be useful to invoke a true crime analogy.

Time and again criminals appear in court, called to account for the most egregious of accusations. In the case of Oscar Pistorius, we have a celebrity alone at home with his girlfriend. Shortly after 3am on Valentine’s Day he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death, four shots through a locked bathroom door.

In court, instead of an account for why he murdered his girlfriend, we get a fairy tale involving a burglar. The fairy tale is defended by his legal counsel and preposterous as it sounds, believed, ultimately, by the presiding judge.  It demonstrates that we live in a world where many cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction even in a courtroom.

Before the nightmare, Oscar supposedly was living a fairy tale life, but that isn’t true either. The able-bodied narrative turned out to be a fairy tale too.

We make the mistake, just because a crime hasn’t been explicitly committed, to be dismissive of fairy tales, and to dismiss the tellers and the tales.

So, coming back to The Durrells, even if there are a few inconsistencies in a television series, it’s not as though a crime has been committed, right?

… doesn’t matter a jot…

Well actually, a great deal of harm does come from compulsive escapism.  Like the compulsive eccentricity of a jogger, we might look on from the side-lines and clap, assuming that exercise, even manic exercise, is mostly harmless.

One feature that seems to define the Durrell canon is its eccentricity. Some things simply don’t add up, don’t make sense, but it’s just part of its charming eccentricity, right?

The book is simply one hell of an uplifting and beautiful read from a gifted writer.

Of course, it is much much more than that.

THE OTHER DURRELLS is available on Amazon



Corfu Before and After the Durrells

“Michael Haag is not keen on dishing dirt. He likes the Durrells; one senses that their descendants trust him.” The Spectator, April 2017

corfu house

The Corfu the Durrells knew still exists today, in parts.  Not in the over-developed north, north of Corfu Town, where resorts pepper the landscape.  The island is of sufficient size further south that it completely tosses aside the urban fabric. Woody mountains climb into sun-drenched skies, and spear-shaped Cypress-trees are an urgent reminder that history here goes way back, beyond the Durrells, beyond two World Wars, so far in fact that Corfu makes an appearance in the ancient scripts of Homer.

In other words, this is hallowed ground; this is the fabric of legend.

The almost unbearably cobalt-blue water and shimmering, whispering olive groves seem to confirm its mythic roots. Ancient temple ruins peek out, occasionally, of a stirring copse.


But rather than cycle through Homer’s Odyssey, or the historic highlights since the 8th century, or go directly to the Corfu the Durrells knew, let’s step out of our time machine and into the year 1889.

  1. It was the year Empress Elizabeth of Austria built her summer palace on the island.luxury

Empress Elisabeth’s retreat – named Achilleion – seemed a romantic luxury, but as with so many things, even as they portend to the wealthy, and to royals, things are not always what they seem.

1889 was the same year Elisabeth’s son Rudolf was found dead with his lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera. It was thought to be a murder-suicide, though exactly how or why didn’t become clear until 2016, when Baroness Mary’s letters were discovered.  They stated unambiguously that she wished to commit suicide, out of love for Rudolf, and he returned the – well, not exactly “favour” or “compliment” but you know what I mean…

It was this tragedy that enveloped the Empress when she came to Corfu, and understandably, she never got over it. Elisabeth herself was a fascinating, and apparently beautiful woman.  She was obsessed with beauty, but also vulnerable because of the tragedy she’d suffered.

pillarsThe Empress had visualised a Phaecian palace for herself, in the place of a Corfiote philosopher’s mansion. The entire grounds burst with depictions of the Trojan War made by German sculptors in Germany, especially of Achilles.  Everywhere, seemingly, Achilles wrestles to free himself from Paris’ arrow, which has lodged into Achilles’ heel [with critical consequences].   Achilles face is a mask of pain as he gazes into the sky, hoping for a reprieve from the Gods.  A reprieve that never comes.

The neoclassical Greek statues and retrofitted architectural design contribute, ultimately, to a psychological monument; there is an acknowledgement of platonic romanticism but something simpler and subtler as well: escapism.

Elisabeth wrote at that time that she wanted “a palace with pillared colonnades and hanging gardens, protected from prying glances –  a palace worthy of Achilles, who despised all mortals and did not fear even the gods.”

To her credit, despite these excesses, the god – forming the centrepiece of her garden – is depicted without rank or hubris.  It is simply man as a tragic hero, dressed in a loin cloth and an ancient Greek helmet.

Though she visited Corfu often, the Empress also visited other countries not commonly visited by European royals during that period: Malta, Morocco, Turkey, Algeria, and Egypt. There was a method behind Elisabeth’s endless travelling, of course.  They were another means to escape the miserable aspects of her life. But unluckily for her, when she was closer to home she was assassinated at the age of 60 while walking along the shore of Lake Geneva, in Switzerland.

At 13:25 on Saturday 10 September 1898, Elisabeth and a Hungarian Countess [her lady-in-waiting] walked along a promenade when a 25-year-old Italian anarchist approached them. Luigi Lucheni seemed to be trying to look under the Empress’s parasol. As a ship’s bell sounded, Luigi seemed to stumble.  He threw out his hand, feigning an attempt to regain his balance, but in fact, was covering up a quick insertion of a sharpened 4 inch long steel spoke into an area on her chest above her left breast.

Six sailors rushed to her aid, and she was swiftly carried on and off a boat and back to her hotel room.  By then a tiny wound was discovered, and a few drops of blood.  By the time she was hoisted out of a stretcher she, like Achilles, had failed to survive a critical and strategic strike.

German Kaiser Wilhelm II took over the Achilleion, and changed the tone of some of the works to something …less subtle. At the great staircase in the main hall a giant painting heralds a triumphant Achilles


This Achilles is clearly identifiable by a military dress code.  Besides the regalia, Achilles rides aloft on his chariot, pulling the corpse of Hector of Troy behind him while a stunned crowd looks on from inside the Trojan citadel.

One of the Trojan’s watching this spectacle, of course, was Paris, Hector’s brother.

After buying the property the Kaiser invited a sculptor to advise him on situating the new works.  On one of the sculptures the hubris was evident*:

To the Greatest Greek from the Greatest German

That inscription was removed after World War II [and presumably so was Kaiser Wilhelm II] but it was there when the Durrells arrived.

*Kaiser Wilhelm purchased the Achilleion about ten years after the Empress’ death. The Kaiser appointed a botanical architect of the Palace, and ordered a bridge to be constructed [the “Kaiser’s bridge”] to afford him easy access to the beach without using the road. The bridge, arching over the road, connected the lower gardens of Achilleion to the beach. The central section was obliterated by the Wehrmacht in 1944 to make way for a giant cannon. This happened three years after the Kaiser’s death [he died in the Netherlands]. The monument has echoes of Ozymandias in it, in terms of its impressions of imperial vanity.

THE OTHER DURRELLS is available on Amazon




Free O.J.?

Karma. Arrogance. Stupidity. Whatever reason O.J. landed back in jail in 2007, come tomorrow, he may once again get a clean slate.  Sort of.

We all know Juice doesn’t exactly play by the rules. If paroled, what would life look like for him?  For starters, the state of Nevada would require O.J. to be accountable to a parole officer, forfeit booze and drugs, and he’d have to avoid being chummy with other criminals.  What are the odds O.J. would stay out of trouble?

“I was celebrating a wedding; I had been drinking all day. I was drunk”

OJ and girlfriend

Before Nick and I give our take on what we think will happen, what we think should happen, and what he deserves, let’s take a quick look at a few details.

On October 3, 2008, a jury found O.J. guilty on all of the following charges:

  • Count 1: Conspiracy to commit a crime
  • Count 2: Conspiracy to commit kidnapping
  • Count 3: Conspiracy to commit robbery
  • Count 4: Burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon
  • Count 5: 1st degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon (for Bruce Fromong)
  • Count 6: 1st degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon (for Alfred Beardsley)
  • Count 7: Robbery with use of a deadly weapon (for Bruce Fromong)
  • Count 8: Robbery with use of a deadly weapon (for Alfred Beardsley)
  • Count 9: Assault with a deadly weapon (for Bruce Fromong)
  • Count 10: Assault with a deadly weapon (for Alfred Beardsley)
  • Count 11: Coercion with a deadly weapon (for Bruce Fromong as an alternative to count 5)
  • Count 12: Coercion with a deadly weapon (for Alfred Beardsley as an alternative to count 6)

The most serious of these charges were counts 5 & 6, which carried a fixed term of 15 years.  The deadly weapon used in the commission of the crime added 6 years, and for the assault charges, O.J. got another 12.  That makes up the 33 year sentence given by Judge Jackie Glass – and bittersweet justice for the Goldmans at last.

Fred and Kim

There are a few key factors, I think, that come into play for tomorrow’s hearing:  1. What happened with O.J.’s 2013 parole hearing, and 2. The point system that’s used to determine eligibility – the Nevada Parole Risk Assessment form

Here’s our take on what to expect…

And now that we’ve tackled all the legal and practical realities, let’s sit back and appreciate what Stephen A. Smith has to say….


Fullscreen capture 20160226 015411 AM

America’s Obsession with Escapism

“Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich…It’s a huge advantage” — Donald Trump

Every day, it’s a constant barrage of Trump – on TV, on the radio, in the newspapers and magazines, all over social media.  So much of the hype is sparked and fueled directly by Trump himself.

It’s impossible to walk into a store, a restaurant or work and not hear the name.   Most days, I want to run as fast as I can in the other direction.

Some people are running to Trump to escape whatever anxiety they have over the state of America.  Others, like me, want to escape from the constant lies, the narcissism and chaos.  Which side is right? Does America even know what reality is anymore?

Hear our discussion…


RESTLESS ANXIETY:  America’s Misguided Attempt to Escape Distress in the Trump Era is available on Amazon