Meredith Kercher: Another Murderer to go Free?

The mainstream media like to beat Amanda Knox’s drum, but in a sense they have to. Any proper analyses of this case would probably result in public posturing, retractions, expensive lawsuits and PR disasters. And yet the media pretends to be a cogent source of news.

What do we mean by proper analyses? What’s missing from the media narrative? In terms of the Amanda Knox case, actually a huge chunk of vital information.

Today, February 21st, 2018, at 10:00, Rudy Guede, the Ivorian man first convicted of Kercher’s murder during a first-track trial will find out whether his already reduced sixteen year sentence may be commuted to ten years. In other words, by the end of today, Guede will know whether he’ll be out of jail by the end of this year.

No matter what one says about the guilt or innocence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, Guede’s original co-accused, no matter how one looks at it, whoever murdered Meredith Kercher has gotten off extremely likely.  If Guede’s appeal is granted, the sentence for brutal murder of this splendid student from Southwark, London, will be even less than the minimum sentence of fifteen years handed down to Oscar Pistorius.

rudy-hermann-guede-galleryYet as problematic as this situation is, from Guede’s perspective it appears to make complete sense. Though you won’t read about it just yet in the English press, the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata [ANSA, the leading wire service in Italy] are covering Guede’s appeal.

Blasting News, the social news platform, provides useful description on the legal issues at hand. What it boils down to is that there needs to be a kind of internal cohesion in the justice system.  If one judge makes a finding, another judge should not deviate from those findings, but remain consistent unless a superior court alters the trial narrative. In this case there were three accused, and two trials – one for Guede, and another for Knox and Sollecito.

In layman’s terms, the findings in Guede’s trial – for consistency sake [for legal efficacy in other words] – needed to be applied as far as possible in the Knox/Sollecito trial. They were and Knox/Sollecito were accordingly convicted and sentenced to a far harsher sentence than Guede’s current sentence, 26 and 25 years respectively.

88575003Ultimately though, Knox/Sollecito using their combined resources, overturned the guilty verdicts. What Guede is arguing now is this: if the court’s didn’t apply his evidence to their trials [it was inconsistent], then he should be exonerated or given a kind of legal credit too.

Blasting News provides the legal-technical explanation as follows:

What the appeal is about

The appeal is on the grounds of “non-compliance” of the rules of procedure and failure to acquire “fundamental elements” of the Court decision Guede is appealing against, on the grounds of ‘internal contradictions’. The alleged contradictions are that in annulling the convictions of the other two defendants in the murder case, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the Fifth Chamber’s written reasons come into conflict with those in Guede’s.

 In Italy, Judge’s decisions must be legally consistent with each other.
In Seattle, Knox ought to be on tenterhooks, watching and waiting on the outcome of this hearing. The outcome does have a bearing on Knox, and her controversial version of events. Sollecito, ironically working as a TV expert on crimes for Italy’s Tgcom24, may find himself reporting on his own trial. That ought to make for interesting TV.37e0ea2a-cfc2-4301-9865-12adddee13f4
The pertinent facts found by Judge Paolo Micheli are what is known in some court systems as “common cause.” Or are they? Can these “facts” as they were found by Micheli in 2009 be applied as “common cause” to Knox/Sollecito, or not?  If not, why should they apply to the Ivorian.

The facts found by Judge Paolo Micheli, at Guede’s trial include:

  1. Guede did not wield the murder weapon,
  2. He had had no meaningful prior contact with Meredith, as Guede had claimed in his testimony.
  3. Therefore, he was not invited to the cottage or let in by Meredith, nor had any consensual contact with her.
  4. The burglary mise en scène was a second stage of the crime after the murder.8660316
  5. It, therefore, followed that Knox let in Guede to the murder cottage.
  6. The crime was sexually motivated, and not one motivated by theft.
  7. Guede did not steal the rent money or the phones.
  8. There were multiple assailants.
  9. Guede was guilty of aggravated murder because of his complicity in the attack and failure to stop ‘as soon as the knives came out’.
  10. There was complicity with others: “Above all if the certain facts include the consequent outline of that supposed ‘unknown’ (the presence of the three at the scene of the crime) they are abundant, and all abundantly proven”. (– Micheli)

In my view, having researched this case extensively through the course of two trilogies:

  1.  Correct. Guede did not wield the murder weapon, which means Guede, although present at the scene, and although he participated in the torture, he didn’t murder Meredith Kercher, someone else did.
  2. Correct. Guede had no meaningful prior contact with Meredith. Knox on the other hand did, and so did Sollecito. Sollecito’s contact with Meredith as Meredith’s flatmate’s boyfriend, was more than Guede’s. In the sense that both Knox and Sollecito were more personally close to Kercher than Guede, and given the highly personal nature of the crime [seven cuts and sixteen bruises , including injuries to  her nose, nostrils, mouth, and underneath her jaw compatible with a female-sized hand being clamped over her mouth and nose], didn’t it make sense that the attack was committed by someone close to Meredith? Who was closer to her than an American roommate living next door, that didn’t like to be told what to do or how to do it?
  3. Correct. Meredith would not have invited Guede in, however it’s possible Knox did.
  4. Half-true. There was no burglary in terms of the way the crime scene was presented [Filomena’s broken window etc.] imagesHowever a few of Meredith’s belongings were stolen, including her phones and her rent money. If the motive was burglary, why were both Meredith’s phones immediately tossed into someone’s garden? Why wasn’t her laptop stolen?  And who would know about Meredith’s rent money besides someone who lived there, who was also paying rent?
  5. Correct. Knox let Guede in, possibly without Sollecito’s knowledge.
  6. Half-true. The crime was only sexually motivated in the sense that there was a sexual rivalry between Knox and Meredith. The “sexual nature” of the crime, however was “staged” to impute a male attacker, or put otherwise, to negate the possibility of a female housemate with no alibi being involved in her housemate’s murder. This was why Meredith’s body was staged to appear sexual, her body moved from the original killing scene and placed on a sheet, both legs spread wide open, her hips propped on a pillow and her bra removed after the murder.sperma-181816117.main_image Thus, the sexual crime, just like the burglary crime, were both staged to distract from the actual crime – the murder of Meredith Kercher.
  7. Correct. Guede did not steal the phones, but whoever did, had the presence of mind to attempt a transaction on Meredith’s phone at her British bank account moments after the murder. Who would think to siphon money from Meredith’s account but a student of computer engineering, or someone who was actively using international banking services herself?
  8. Correct. There were multiple assailants, hence Meredith had virtually no defensive wounds, and did not scream out during a botched stabbing of her throat. 10380 Meredith’s death was extremely unpleasant. She drowned in her own blood, an event that would have taken minutes to kill her, and would have involved violent expirations of blood, as well as arterial spurts from her throat. She would not have screamed if she was unable to scream, if she was being muzzled.
  9. Correct. Guede was guilty of complicity in Meredith Kercher’s murder. He held her down, perhaps assuming it was a game between friends, perhaps simply because he was asked to help, and perhaps he “helped” because he wanted to impress Knox [and/or sleep with Knox].
  10. Correct but arguably unproven in court. There was complicity with others.

In the Supreme Court ruling in which Knox and Sollecito had their convictions annulled, in March 2015 it was found that Knox ‘had covered up for Guede’ when falsely implicated her former boss; Knox told police Patrick Lumumba was the culprit.

It was only after Lumumba was arrested and jailed for about two weeks, when the police began processing the scene, that they discovered evidence that pointed to someone else, someone that wasn’t Lumumba. 20080115-bedroom-b_2012801i (1)Although Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba appeared in court together, Lumumba was released due toi lack of evidence, and despite Knox’s allegation against him.

Bloody fingerprints found at the scene were run through forensic systems, and matched one Rudy Hermann Guede. Because of Guede’s immigrant status, his prints were on file, which is how and why he was caught. On November 20th, about three weeks after the murder, Guede was arrested in Mainz, Germany.

South Africa’s News24 reported at the time:

Frankfurt – A fourth suspect in the gruesome murder of a British exchange student nearly three weeks ago in Italy was arrested in Germany on Tuesday, German police said. The suspect, 21-year-old Rudy Hermann Guede from the Ivory Coast was seized in the western German city of Mainz while travelling on a bus or a train, a police spokesperson said.

“He was travelling without a valid ticket,” the spokesperson said, without giving further details.

Fingerprints at the scene

Guede, already known to Italian police, faces charges for the murder and sexual assault on November 1 of British exchange student Meredith Kercher, who was found with her throat slit the following day, sparking lurid headlines.

Detectives reportedly discovered Guede’s digital and genetic fingerprints at the scene of Kercher’s murder in the central Italian city of Perugia. Three other suspects were arrested on November 6 – Kercher’s American housemate, Amanda Knox, Knox’s Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and a Congolese musician and bar owner, Patrick Lumumba Diya.

Italian forensic experts said on Friday that they had found DNA traces of Kercher and Knox on a knife at Sollecito’s home, which Kercher is not believed to have ever visited. Investigators have reportedly found no evidence linking Diya to the scene of the crime.

Known for petty thieving

Italy’s ANSA news agency reported that Guede was picked up as he was travelling on a train between Mainz and the nearby city of Wiesbaden. Under Schengen procedures, he will be extradited to Italy, but it may take two or three days.

Guede has lived in Perugia since he was five and was adopted by an Italian family at age 17. Italian and British press reports have described him as a drug dealer, while Ansa has said he is known to police for petty thieving. The case has been beset by leaks from Italian police and intense media speculation that have been criticised by lawyers representing the accused.

Police said Kercher’s assailants “apparently had a sexual motive” though initial autopsy results showed the Briton from south London had not been raped.

Blow dealt by a man

Investigators have said that the depth of the fatal knife wound in Kercher’s neck indicated that the blow was dealt by a man. It was possible that Knox cut herself with the knife while holding it or washing it.

The probe had initially focused on a flick knife belonging to 24-year-old Sollecito as the possible murder weapon. Kercher was in Italy on a student exchange programme.

From Blasting News:

The legal issues facing the Supreme Court today

The crux of Guede’s appeal for a review of his case is that it is a legal absurdity to find as a fact he did not commit the actual killing, but that the police are not looking for anybody else as ‘the multiple attackers’, despite Knox and Sollecito walking free notwithstanding the evidence of the presence of either or both of them at the scene (the ‘unknown others‘) ‘they are abundant, and all abundantly proven’.

Marasca & Bruno proclaimed that the two main reasons for the annulled convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were because of  ‘a flawed investigation’ and ‘undue press influence’. The pair were released because of ‘insufficient evidence’. It raises the question, if it was ‘flawed’ for Knox and Sollecito, then would not the same state of affairs apply to Guede?

If the Italian courts find in Guede’s favor, the absurdity of the Amanda Knox case will be full exposed.

Coming soon:

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Our Conclusions In “Deceit” & “Dark Matter” And How Our Journey Took Us To Them

Originally posted August 2015, by Nick van der Leek

Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

One of the tremendously rewarding experiences we [my co-author Lisa Wilson and I] have as authors is our research forces us to set up camp around questions.  We spend time: mornings, afternoons, days, weeks, even months asking questions and pursuing answers.  The amazing thing when it comes to True Crime, especially popular crime, is those answers are out there. One merely needs to go out and make the effort to look for them. And keep looking.  Seek and we do find!

What makes our narratives distinctive, I think, is that Lisa and I, more often than not, work as a team. How many other narratives have two researchers and authors, working from opposite sides of the Atlantic?  While Lisa provides a US perspective as a juror, a researcher and a True Crime buff, I’m most interested in the intuitive subtleties that underlie these cases.  The psychology, the economics, the motives. Human behavior is fascinating, especially when it drives people to the extreme. I’m also intrigued by what these intuitions reveals about us, and society.

humans

I wasn’t always into True Crime, in fact, like Ann Rule, I sort of fell into it by accident.  While Rule worked with Ted Bundy, I was Facebook friends with the model, Reeva Steenkamp, that Oscar Pistorius shot dead in his bathroom.  I didn’t intend to write a novel, I simply started asking questions, and then penned a 12 000 word magazine article [intended as a 4 part series].  That narrative eventually became my first bestseller.

Although I studied law and economics, I left the corporate environment to freelance full-time as a photographer and writer. My great grandfather was a famous South African artist, and my brother and aunt are also both well regarded artists [and yes, freelancers] in their own rights too.  I guess there is something restless in both mine and Lisa’s blood that makes us want to dig beneath the surface, to see expanded perspectives beyond what the media serves us.

I need to not only explore the world beyond my door, but represent it to myself and others in a constructive and meaningful way. I feel passionate about meaning above all, and it’s gratifying to find so much in such grim a setting where someone has lost their life.  When we honor the victims, when we remember them honestly, something unexpected happens: we also set ourselves straight, we also get ourselves [and society to some extent] back on track.

In terms of the Amanda Knox case, I stepped into the bullring for the first time in April this year [2015].  I knew virtually nothing about the case other than it had been newsworthy around the world.  I knew ‘something’ had happened in Italy, and that Amanda Knox was somehow involved [or not] because she was a housemate of a murdered British girl [also a student].  Before I started studying the case I had no bias either way – I didn’t know whether she was guilty or not.  Based on the little media that came my way, there seemed to me to be equal parts bias that she was innocent and…suspicious.

As soon as I started examining the case, literally within a few minutes, my interest was aroused.  It was along the lines of: she’s hiding something.  It was also along the lines that Amanda might be complicit in some way, but probably not involved in the actual murder.  How could she? Why would she?

Again, it is easy to ask these questions and then walk away from them without investing time in their answers. And when they do come they’re…well…stupefying.

While Lisa was in Italy, for work and research, I started working behind-the-scenes on a narrative Lisa and I designed a framework for called DOUBT.  The plan was that Lisa would return and then we would work on the narrative together.  I got so caught up in my own research I started on the narrative and by the time Lisa returned from Italy, DOUBT was done.  Interestingly, upon Lisa’s return, she still wasn’t 100% convinced Amanda was directly responsible for the murder.  The topic resulted in one or two heated Skype calls between us.

A lie repeated often enough [there was no DNA] eventually becomes, if not the truth, then a kind of truism, doesn’t it? A truism isn’t the truth, it’s a platitude. It’s something you say to get rid of inquiring minds.

No DNA? Well, of course there is – at least five instances of it, mixed with Meredith’s blood.  What’s perhaps more bizarre, for example, is the lack of Amanda’s fingerprints in her own home.  A single print? How many of us could say the same about fingerprints in our own homes?  Our computers, door handles, kitchen areas ought to be covered with prints.  Coming back to DNA, not only is Amanda’s DNA present in the villa, but so is Raffaele’s in Meredith’s bloody bedroom.

What’s the chance that Raffaele was at the villa, in Meredith’s room, but not Amanda?  What was he doing there if Amanda wasn’t with him? And is it any surprise that Meredith’s bra, cut with a knife after the murder, also had Raffaele’s DNA on the bra clasp? This is a guy who had a knife fetish, and who was carrying a knife at the time of his arrest.

In DOUBT [which was banned at first by strident Pro Knoxers and then resurrected as DECEIT], I identified 28 Red Flags.  These were singular signals that seem to show patterns of inconsistency.  Things just didn’t add up.  Indeed, Amanda did seem to be [and still is?] hiding something.  In our follow-up narrative, DARK MATTER, Lisa and I brought a binocular laser-like narrative focus to the four days of intense police investigation following the discovery of Meredith’s body at midday on November 2nd, 2007.

This time, we identified an additional 100+ Red Flags.  In addition to these, we listed several other highly suspicious events amongst other increasingly odd behaviors – not only from Amanda, but also Raffaele. It’s when we pool all of these clues together that a picture begins to emerge.  Patterns emerge.  And suddenly the mystery becomes…less mysterious.

If my initial ‘gut feel’ was that Amanda was simply ‘hiding something’, by the end of DECEIT there was little doubt that there was a lot more going on than that.  In fact, I’ve suggested to Lisa that based on forensic evidence alone [if one threw away all the circumstantial evidence], Amanda would still a have a major case to answer to. Lisa would eventually agree.  Conversely, if one took the entirety of circumstantial evidence, including the on-again-off-again alibi, and simultaneously ignored the totality of forensic evidence, Amanda would still have a major case to answer to.  That’s my opinion.  Lisa’s too, now that she’s gone beneath the surface of this case herself.

The irony is this case is so large, so convoluted, so full of spin and counter-spin, that it is easy to get lost in the details. As we see so often in court cases, it is not a lack of evidence that is a problem, it is the volume of it that gets disconcerting, and frequently confusing.  Confusion and doubt [and ‘reasonable doubt’] go hand in hand.  Of course, being confused by a lot of information is not the same as uncertainty based on a lack of evidence, or based on ambiguous evidence. The evidence isn’t ambiguous.

As such it is Lisa’s and my mission to demystify the eight years culminating in Amanda’s and Raffaele’s ultimate acquittal.  Our narratives, especially the first two or three in the series are probably better suited to newbies [people like us].  In the many narratives to come, Lisa and I expect to be as well versed as some folks on forums and resources like the incredibly valuable True Justice.org.

Before wrapping up, I’d like to share a final insight based on our experience writing another true crime series.  It may seem like Amanda Knox, Jodi Arias and Oscar Pistorius are three distinct individuals, with nothing in common.  But when we look closer, we don’t simply see matches in certain defense schemes, we see entire patterns of conduct [including motive] overlapping, and doing so perfectly.

what you thought

In South Africa, we have a similar situation where the media profit from stories on Oscar Pistorius.  They are reluctant to declare him guilty as that would be slaying a potential ‘cash cow’, and with book deals hanging in the balance [an acquittal is literally worth millions], the media are hedging their bets.

As a person involved in the media, I’m appalled at this, hence our multiple narratives on Oscar, two detailing his motive and the method of what we speculate was premeditated murder.  In terms of Amanda Knox, we suspect a similar game play between the media and Knox.  Both seem to be involved in a kind of PR waltz which both stand to benefit from, if they can dance consistently to their own music.

It was once said of Lance Armstrong that one shouldn’t make Lance Armstrong angry.  Anger is what motivates Lance to win.  And then the punch line: ‘Beating Lance makes him angry.’  Lisa and I have been astonished at the level of organisation and aggressive militancy [and dirty tricks] employed by Amanda’s supporters.  If this was intended to dissuade us from writing, these folks couldn’t be more wrong.

We are not out to make money, Lisa and I, although we care that our narratives resonate and are successful.  What we really care about is justice.  The bottom line, whether one is a criminal, or the supporter of a criminal is you never look good trying to make someone else look bad. The venom and personal insults Lisa and I have endured in our reviews is impressive.  The strategy is clear – attack the credibility of the messenger [since the message itself is problematic].

Our credibility is simple to establish. For my part, I am a professional writer. I did not gain a twitter following of almost 14 000 based on bad writing.  I work and write in partnership with Lisa because her research is often deeper and even more thorough than mine.  For me, our credibility is based on just two tests:  our personal standards and our level of honesty towards ourselves and others.  What distinguishes our narratives from all the others out there is the level of honesty – including self disclosure – both of us bring to our work.

This is because we care about something beyond justice. Besides wanting our readers to have a meaningful and genuine experience reading about these tragic crimes, we – as authors – also want to be enriched.  When we make it a personal journey, the insights and intuitions are truly rewarding. We find how these folks – not only the victim but also the perpetrators – are not so very different from us.  In this sense, if we genuinely learn something from these true stories, Meredith Kercher’s death need not be in vain.

Follow Nick van der Leek @HiRezLife and Lisa Wilson @lisawJ13

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