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February 12, 2014

Perfect: As Italy Continues to Hound Amanda Knox and Rafael Sollecito For a Brutal Murder They Didn't Have Anything to Do With, They Release Rudy Guede, The Actual Murderer, from Prison

Incredible.

Let me explain what happened. Under pressure to solve a brutal murder quickly -- in a sleepy college town where such things were rare -- Italian prosecutors fixated early upon Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Rafael Sollecito as Meredith Kercher's murderers. They also thought a third man, a black nightclub owner with no criminal history, was involved, because Amanda had texted "See you later" to him on the night of the murder, but in Italian. Amanda worked at this guy's bar, and the night wasn't busy, so he had told her not to bother coming in, and she said "See you later," literally translating the English phrase.

They thought this literally meant "see you later," rather than "Until next time." Or as the Italians would say it, arriverdercci.

I say he's black because it's relevant. I'll explain later.

They interrogated Knox almost nonstop for three days, telling her that the killer was this black nightclub owner and they knew it, and that she was a coconspirator so why didn't she just admit it before she went to jail for life?

Finally, they asked her to envision what it would have been like to see this black nightclub owner at the murder scene, and she wrote out a statement speaking of herself "having a vision" of the man at the scene.

Case closed, they say in a dramatic press conference, in which very high ranking members of the Italian prosecutor corps and police are all flanking the main prosecutor. They then drive Amanda and Rafael around the town of Perugia, doing laps with them in the back of the squad car like Achilles dragging Hector behind his chariot, as the town cheers.

And bonus, they can lock up this black nightclub owner with no possible motive to kill Kercher and no history indicating he'd be interested in killing anyone at all.

Yeah one problem with that: The black nightclub owner was at his bar all night and at least nine witnesses could put him there all night.

So, the prosecutors decide their theory is still sound, but now they just need a different third man.

See, their theory has just been completely refuted, but no sweat, it just needs to be tweaked.

Well, after a few days, the DNA results from the crime scene come in. It turns out there's lots and lots of DNA at the crime scene. Unfortunately, not a speck of it is Knox's or her boyfriend's. Not. A. Speck.

However, there is a ton of DNA material identified as that of one Rudy Guede, a drifter with a prior background of breaking into homes for petty theft while armed with a knife (on a previous burglary, he merely warned the startled occupant of the home away with the knife, rather than killing him).

He only casually knew Amanda Knox because he occasionally played basketball with Knox's downstairs neighbors, some Italian boys. They had merely been present in the same room when the girls and Guede were watching tv with the downstairs boys.

Guede had murdered Kercher with a frenzied attack with the knife, and had cut himself on the hand with the blade (as happens). He had a cut on his hand when arrested. In addition, he apparently began to violate Kercher's body post-mortem, but was so put off by what a bloody ruin he had made of her he stopped. His skin cells were found inside of her, but no semen.

By the way, he fled Italy the day after the murder, before the murder was even known to have taken place.

While hiding out in Italy, and while being sought by police, someone asked him in a chat about Knox, who had been accused of the crime by then. "Amanda wasn't there," he had told this person. This chat was being monitored by the police, so they knew about it.

Now, when Guede was arrested, he claimed this story: That he had been having consensual sex with Kercher (thus explaining his DNA inside of her) when an intruder suddenly burst in and killed Kercher. Why Guede was not more wounded, I'm not sure. But as this white intruder left, according to Guede, he said something like "Ha ha, you're black, they'll pin this on you," and then this unidentified blitz-killer left, evaporating like a ghost, never to be seen from or heard of again.

He did not at this point claim Knox or Sollecito were present. Just this Racist guy who shows up to murder random women and then frame black guys for the crime. (And, by the way, who does not leave any physical evidence of his existence at the scene of a ferociously bloody attack-- only Guede's DNA was found there).

Now, if you're a rational person, at this point you understand that your original theory was flawed, and that only one man killed Kercher, and that man is the one who admits to having sexual contact with Kercher (but consensual, as of course he'd claim) and who has presented a fairly implausible scenario to explain why his blood is mixed in with Kercher's.

And then you'd apologize to Knox and Sollecito, and set them free.

But that's not what they did here. Here, they offered the actual killer a fast-track trial with a short sentence in exchange for his testimony claiming that Knox and Sollecito put him up to it.

And basically you'd just swap out this new black suspect, who is guilty, for the old black suspect, who was 100% innocent, as if your only problem in this case was misidentifying the black conspirator.

One black guy is as good as another, you know. I mean, come on. Who can tell them apart? Perfectly understandable mistake. It's barely even a mistake, really, when you think about it.

And then the actual killer would get sentenced to 16 years. And then he'd be release after just six years in prison.

Meanwhile, Knox and Sollecito have themselves already served four years in prison for a crime they had nothing at all to do with, and the Italian prosecutors and courts are hoping to put them into jail for longer.

So, the actual killer was just released; and two innocents continue to by hounded by a huge chunk of Italy's criminal justice resources.

And there you have it.

Incidentally... Douglas Preston and his writing partner and a gang of others including famed FBI profiler John Douglas have put out a short Kindle "single" on the case. It's 81 pages long, costs two bucks, or is free to borrow for Prime customers.

It's called "The Forgotten Killer." Their idea is that finally, after so much ink has been written about a girl who didn't commit the murder, perhaps someone should write a book about the man who did.

As far as "is it worth it:" I still think that the definitive work on this case hasn't been written. There are two good books about it: "Murder in Italy," by Candace Dempsey, which is a fairly straight true-crime account. Dempsey attempts to remain objective, and mostly succeeds, but she does sort of begin to signal, "What the hell is going on here?" She tries to remain reporterishly objective, but one can sense her increasingly strong skepticism about the case against Knox and Sollecito.

The other book isn't about Knox per se but is required reading because you'll find out so, so much about Italian justice in general and the prosecutor in this case in particular. That book is "Monster of Florence," by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, and is probably the best true-crime book I've ever read.

This new book, the one on Kindle, is called "The Forgotten Killer," and it's decent, but basic. I really liked John Douglas' (the famed FBI profiler) explaining what he'd think of the evidence of the crime, and what sort of suspect it would point to. (A Guede-like suspect, it turns out.) But Douglas' analysis is actually retro-fitted, because he knows Guede did it (and Knox and Sollecito didn't).

Still, it was a great chapter.

I guess I'd recommend it to a newcomer to the case, who wants a short precis on it, but if anyone's really interested I'd suggest the double feature of first Monster of Florence, so the scene is properly set, and then Dempsey's Murder in Italy, to see what happens when two innocent people get fixated on by a crew of imbeciles who are willing to put innocent people in jail rather than just admitting something so easy to admit: Our initial hunches were wrong.

Well, I guess there's another reason they don't want to admit that: Amanda Knox says she was physically intimidated during her interrogation, which is why, she says, she broke down and wrote the "I have a vision of seeing" statement.

I suppose it might be dicey to concede she's entirely innocent, because then that raises some questions about how, exactly, that statement was procured.

Monster of Florence should be read on general principle, whether you care about any of this or not. I reviewed it here.

Both Murder in Italy and Monster of Florence also succeed in another area: conveying a sense of place. I like travelogue-ish books, and both deliver as far as giving you a feeling of what their respective settings are like.

Especially Monster of Florence.


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posted by Ace at 05:28 PM

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