Op-Ed: Finally, is this the truth about Amanda Knox?

Posted Nov 21, 2014 by Selene Nelson
Judge Alessandro Nencini upheld Amanda Knox’s guilty conviction this year, and his 350-page official report has just been translated from Italian into English. So what does it tell us? Is this, finally, the truth about Knox?
This file picture taken on July 25  2011 shows US Amanda Knox reacting in court before the start of ...
This file picture taken on July 25, 2011 shows US Amanda Knox reacting in court before the start of a session of her appeal trial in Perugia's courthouse
Alberto Pizzoli, AFP/File
On March 25, 2015, the ongoing saga of the Meredith Kercher murder case will finally come to a close. Over seven years have passed since 21-year-old Kercher was found brutally stabbed in her bedroom in Perugia, Italy, and, after one trial and two appeals, the subject of whether her American roommate Amanda Knox is guilty is as hotly contested as ever.
Judge Alessandro Nencini upheld Knox’s guilty conviction this year, and his 350-page official report analyses the evidence, court testimony and legal arguments that led to his verdict. An English translation of the report was published last month, so what does it tell us? Despite the claims of “no evidence”, a cursory glance through the Nencini report informs us this is not the case. But is the evidence enough to prove guilt? Decide for yourself:
The staged burglary
At the very heart of this case lies the staged burglary. The prosecution have always claimed the break-in was simulated to point the finger elsewhere; staged break-ins are often attempts to divert attention from individuals who have access to the property concerned.
Aside from highlighting the near-impossible window entry point and the fact that nothing of any value was taken, one thing that is very striking about Nencini’s report is the placement of the broken glass. Four eyewitnesses stated that the glass was in fact ON TOP of the clothes and items within the ransacked “break-in” room.
“Picking up the computer I noticed that I lifted some glass, in the sense that the glass was on top of things. I remember very well [the glass] on top of the computer bag because I was careful as it was all covered with glass. We mentioned this, saying, the burglar was an idiot, he did not take anything… the jewelry is here, the computer is here…and in addition to the fact that he didn’t take anything, the pieces of glass are all on top of the things.” – Filomena Romanelli, Amanda Knox’s roommate
“The fact that the glass fragments from the window wound up on top of the strewn clothing and objects… is surely incompatible with a breaking of the glass in a phase preceding the ransacking inside the room of the apartment. The window glass evidently was broken after entry into the cottage, by someone who was already inside and had already arranged the disorder that was then seen by the witnesses.” – Judge Nencini
In addition to the many other red flags that have previously been raised with respect to the apparent burglary, as well as the fact that Knox’s boyfriend knew “nothing had been taken” before the roommates had even checked their possessions, this is surely definitive proof that the “break-in” was staged. So the real question is: who staged it?
The phone and computer records
The Nencini report places considerable weight on the circumstantial evidence, in particular the phone and computer records that prove Knox was, at the very least, untruthful. Despite Knox and Sollecito stating they slept through the night and didn’t wake until 10 am, this is not the case:
"What the Court finds proved is that at 6:02:59 am on 2 November 2007 they were not in fact asleep, as the defendants claim, but rather the occupants were well awake. At 5:32 am on 2 November 2007 the computer connected to a site for listening to music, remaining connected for around half an hour. Therefore, at 5:32 am someone in the house occupied by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito sat in front of the computer and listened to music for around half an hour and then, at 6:02:59 am, switched on Raffaele Sollecito’s mobile phone…"
According to Knox, after discovering the “break-in” the very first person she called was her roommate Romanelli, who urged her to call Kercher. Yet, Knox never mentioned the fact that just one minute before she called Romanelli she had already made a call to Kercher’s English phone.
“I rang Filomena. She was worried so after her I rang Meredith three times. Once on her English cell telephone, once on her Italian cell telephone, once again on her English number. I didn’t get a reply. – Amanda Knox, November 9th 2007
What is most conspicuous about the phone records is that they show Knox, apparently frantic with worry at not being able to reach her friend, only let Kercher’s phone ring for mere seconds. This is troubling and hard to find a reasonable innocent explanation for, as Judge Nencini explains:
“The telephone call made [by Knox] at 12:11:54 pm to the English service of the victim lasted 4 seconds. Perhaps not even the time to repeat the first ring.
Knox should have been affected by a certain anxiety in calling Kercher’s telephone services. Filomena Romanelli let the defendant’s telephone ring for 36 seconds the first time, and the second for a good 65 seconds; an insistence which appears normal. But that did not happen when Knox called… these are two calls that barely registered [and this] has only one plausible explanation:
There was no concern at all in the mind of Amanda Knox when she made the two calls to the young English woman, simply because she knew very well that Meredith Kercher could not have answered the calls; calls which had to be made because Filomena Romanelli insisted, but which the defendant knew were useless. Nobody would have been able to answer those calls; let alone poor Meredith Kercher whom the accused knew was lifeless, locked in her own bedroom.”
The other untruths
Why did Sollecito claim the reason Kercher’s DNA was on his knife was because “once when we were all cooking together I accidentally pricked her hand,”– only to later admit this was an utter fabrication and Kercher had never been to his house? Why did Knox lie about Kercher always locking her bedroom door? Why does Knox’s account of the morning of November 2nd make so little sense?
Why did Knox accuse her employer of Kercher’s rape and murder after only two hours of interview? Despite the idea of a long, torturous interrogation that many seem to entertain, this just simply isn’t the case; as soon as Knox learnt that Sollecito had withdrawn her alibi, she pointed the finger at a man she knew to be innocent, even voluntarily writing her account down. This was not something blurted out on impulse under duress and later retracted, as Nencini highlights:
"Amanda Knox repeated the allegations in front of the magistrate, allegations which she never retracted in all the following days, even when finally freed from the clutches of the police and the prosecuting magistrate, [with] the opportunity to talk with her lawyers and family. To make such a very damaging denunciation meant causing the detention for numerous days of a person she knew to be innocent, completely indifferent to the human suffering she caused him."
In her phone call to Romanelli, in addition to giving the impression that she had not yet called Kercher, Knox also lied about her whereabouts:
“In the first telephone call the defendant made to Filomena Romanelli, she clearly said that she would go back to Raffaele’s place to tell him about the strange things discovered in the apartment, and then return with him to check the situation. This circumstance is clearly false, since when Amanda Knox made the first call to Romanelli at 12:08:44 pm on 2 November 2007 she was at already Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment and not at 7 Via Della Pergola.”
The forensic evidence
The knife, with Kercher’s DNA on the blade and Knox’s on the handle, and the bra clasp containing Sollecito’s DNA, are strongly disputed by the defense as “contaminated”. Nencini says otherwise, pointing out that DNA traces on the knife were analyzed six days after last handling Kercher's DNA, ruling out lab contamination. Because Kercher had never even set foot in Sollecito’s apartment, transfer contamination can also be ruled out.
The bra clasp: "By the quantity of DNA analyzed and the analysis at 17 loci with unambiguous results, not to mention the fact that the results of the analysis were confirmed by the attribution of the Y haplotype to the defendant, it is possible to say that it has been judicially ascertained that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was present on the exhibit.”
The knife: “...the consultant also did a statistical calculation with the purpose of determining the probability that the profile could belong to someone other than the victim Meredith Kercher. The calculation of the Random Match Probability came to one chance in 300 million billion.”
Moving on from the infamous knife and bra, what does the other physical evidence comprise of? What’s most revealing about Nencini’s findings is that in the bedroom of Filomena Romanelli – the “break-in” room – there’s not a single trace of Rudy Guede, whom the defense claim shimmied up the wall, smashed the window, pulled himself through and ransacked the room. There is, however, the mixed DNA of Knox and Kercher in a luminol-revealed bloodstain on the floor and in the corridor:
“The analyses attributed the biological trace to a Knox–Kercher mix. The finding is of unquestionable importance in this trial, considering that the mixed trace of the victim and the defendant was found inside the room of Filomena Romanelli, in a place where – unlike the bathroom – there was no regular presence on the part either of Knox or Kercher. This room, furthermore, was the site of the simulated entry set up by the perpetrators of the murder in order to lead the investigations astray.”
The mixed DNA of Kercher and Knox was also found in three blood stains in the bathroom: on the bidet, in the sink and on a cotton swab container. Knox’s own blood (that she testified was not there the day before the murder) was found on the faucet. There was no trace of Guede in the bathroom.
Luminol-revealed footprints were found in the corridor: one of these was compatible with Sollecito’s right foot, two others matched Knox’s right foot. None were compatible with Guede, whose footprints led straight out of Kercher’s bedroom and out of the cottage. Based on this evidence alone, it would have been impossible for Guede to have tracked Kercher’s blood into Romanelli’s room during the scene-staging later on – or to have left the blood-stained bare footprint in the bathroom, which incidentally matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito's foot.
As Judge Nencini says, the evidence has to be considered wholly. There is no smoking gun in this complex case; rather, there is a lengthy trail of untruths, unanswered questions and incriminatory evidence that, once put together, makes it difficult to come to a plausible explanation that doesn’t involve the guilt of all three defendants: Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito, and Amanda Knox. The truth may, finally, be coming to light.