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April 05, 2013

Book Recommendation (?)

I kind of don't want to recommend this because I don't know how many will be into this, but this weekend, I read the first thing I ever read about Amanda Knox, and got interested in it, and wound up reading two books about it.

I generally don't care about crime stories. But this isn't a crime story, at least not in my eyes. We know who killed Meredith Kercher. It's so obvious who killed her it's not even interesting and not even a mystery. (The killer is in jail for killing her.)

What it is a Government Out of Control Story, a Media Bias story, and a Madness of the Crowd story.

It's because it's those sorts of things that I bring it up at all. If you're a little suspicious of the hand-in-glove fusion of government and media... have I got a story for you.

I sort of don't want to be the guy who Reads One Book and then Tells You Everything About It Like He Knew Which Way Was Up Five Minutes Ago. But the actual story of this thing is -- in my new and untested opinion -- very Duke Lacrosse, Italian-Style.

In other words, I'm saying that, based on what I know so far (and I don't pretend to be an expert, this is two books' worth of stuff) that Amanda Knox and her boyfriend were 100% innocent and the prosecutor sort of knew that -- or should have known that -- from the start.

Let me give you one anecdote. Every Duke Lacrosse story needs a Nifong, right? So here's the Nifong of this case. His name is Magnini.* He's the prosecutor for Perugia.

Have you guys read Relic or any of those other novels by Douglas Preston? Well, he went to Italy and became interested in an unsolved series of murders by a killer called "The Monster of Florence." That killer had killed fourteen people, seven couples. This Magnini cat had some crazy theories about the killer. Really crazy.

One theory he had was that an accidental death in his jurisdiction was actually a murder connected to the Monster of Florence killings. And that the man had been murdered to keep him quiet about What He Knew about the murders. Because What He Knew about the murders were that they were performed by a Satanic cult.

Well, the problem was, the body of this dead man showed no signs of foul play. So the prosecutor postulated that someone -- the Satanic cultists, presumably -- had swapped the body of the murdered man with a body which would show no signs of murder.

Just decided That Must Be It. He got an order to exhume the body to resolve whether or not this was the original body found.

Well, a DNA test determined it was in fact the original body, and that Satanists hadn't swapped it out for the other hone.

So you know what he next postulated?

That the body must have been switched a second time! That the original body was switched -- just as he'd speculated -- but now the Satanists had caught wind of his plan to exhume the body and so had switched it back, just before he dug it up.

It gets worse. Because over the course of 8 years he prosecuted 20 people for their supposed Satanic Body-Swapping crimes and their involvement in the Monster of Florence Satanic Cult Killings. All prosecutions ending in innocence for the accused, but-- eight years worth of prosecutions? Imagine going through this for the speculation of an... what can I say that won't get me sued? ... highly imaginative fellow who won't take the evidence for a first answer, and also for second answer?

When Preston and his Italian partner started writing about him and researching hims bizarre prosecutions, he threatened Preston enough to make Preston abandon Italy, and he actually jailed his partner for like three weeks.

Now, to conduct these prosecutions, Magini went outside his jurisdiction into Florence -- playing away from the home court, as it were. That was a mistake. Because Florence decided they'd had enough of him and convicted him for gross misconduct. Because the Italian system actually doesn't say you're guilty upon a jury conviction, but upon a reviewing judge's agreement with the conviction (that is, you're not guilty when a jury says so, but when an appeals court says so), he was permitted to remain a prosecutor...

...and just happened to postulate, during this post-conviction period, that another death was caused by a Satan-inspired conspiracy. This one between Amanda Knox and her boyfriend who, as far as we know, never even read anything about Satan.

The weird thing is this: We know who did the murder. The guy who did the murder had a history of breaking into places and threatening the occupants with knives, if they stumbled upon him. He broke into three places less than two months before the murders, twice armed with a knife. He's a low-level drug-dealer and thief who fled for Germany, despite no one connecting him with the murder, 48 hours after the crime was discovered.

His fingerprints and DNA are all over the crime scene. He was convicted of the murder.

The trouble is, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend had already been arrested and charged with the murder before this plainly-guilty convicted scumbag was linked to the crime.

When he was discovered, and the cornucopia of evidence against him came out, they just... claimed that Amanda Knox and her boyfriend had for some reason recruited him to do the murders.

It's pretty preposterous. The first judge found the prosecutor's Satanic Sex Cult motive too implausible, and tossed it out. He substituted in a new motive (because Knox doesn't have one) of his own invention: That the murderer began attacking Meredith Kircher, and Knox and her boyfriend heard her cry out, and so, without any previous deliberation, just suddenly decided to... assist in the rape/murder, for no clearly-stated reason, except "drugs" or "thrills" or something.

It really is very Duke Lacrosse, with the media ginning up a lot of hatred for her simply because of what she was -- a rich, entitled American whore. (In fact she wasn't rich and wasn't a whore, but she was American; when she complained about the police hitting her in interrogations, one member of the Italian media wanted to know why she'd never complained about President Bush's waterboarding.)

The appellate court freed her in 2011 after reviewing the evidence against her and deciding, in short, there was none. None at all.

I wouldn't suggest reading that appellate ruling at first, by the way. You sort of have to have heard all this "evidence" first before you appreciate the court rightfully looking at all and saying, "So what? This proves nothing."

I bring this up because I've been reading about it a lot the past couple of weeks. It really is maddening. I don't know if you guys are interested or would be interested, but if you liked the Duke Lacrosse story, and if you love tales of stupidity and malice, you'll love this.

Maybe start with "Murder in Italy" by Candace Dempsey (available on Kindle). Then, after reading that, read the appellate court acquittal linked above.

But warning: You may wind up getting sort of obsessed with it, as I have. It's a catnip/flypaper sort of thing.


* Actually it's not Magnini. I'm deliberately misspelling it because he sues everyone who points out he is grossly incompetent. I mean this-- he's brought suits even against people writing letters to the editor in American newspapers.



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posted by Ace at 07:08 PM

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