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Amanda Knox: the circus continues

The Italian court now accuses Amanda Knox of fighting with her roommate over money. Who writes these plots?

As Americans, we are accustomed to a legal system that relies on evidence. The Italians rely on imagination.  May Amanda find a way to live each day with grace and faith – she must desperately need them.

(S-R archive photo: Amanda Knox during an interview on the "Today" show, Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 in New York.)

Amanda Knox ~ double jeopardy?

Amanda’s life must seem like an intermittent nightmare. Another round of decisions about her guilt or innocence awaits. Murder charges, again, and slander, too, will be reviewed.

The prosecutor wants to increase time for the slander conviction from three years to six years. Amanda and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, have already served four years in prison when their conviction was overturned by an appeals court in 2011.

A panel of eight jurors and two judges begins deliberations January 30. If convicted again, will the U.S extradite Amanda? One opinion says no, since U.S. law does not try someone twice for the same crime, it is unlikely that the U.S. government would assist in Amanda’s return to Italy.

The legal system in that Renaissance land remains confusing and corrupt, double jeopardy. 

(S-R photo: Raffaele Sollecito, right, talks with his father father Francesco at the Florence court, Italy, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2013.)

BSU claims records of professor’s work on Amanda Knox case are trade secrets

Andrea Vogt, a former Idaho reporter now based in Italy, reports on a public records battle with Boise State University over the work of Professor Greg Hampikian, the head of the Idaho Innocence Project and a DNA expert who has played a key role in the Amanda Knox case. Vogt has been looking into public resources, both state and federal, that have gone into Knox’s defense in the murder case in Italy, but ran into a surprising roadblock: Boise State denied her requests under the Idaho Public Records Law for Hampikian’s correspondence about the case, claiming they’re trade secrets.

Writes Vogt, a former Spokesman-Review reporter, “It raises the following questions: Do U.S. citizens have the right to know if public university resources, labs and funds were used (and how) to aid the defense of a private citizen accused abroad of murder, justly or unjustly?  What are the parameters for this kind of advocacy?  When should public universities be allowed to come to the aid of those imprisoned at home or abroad, who decides who gets help and who doesn’t, and how transparent should those university efforts be?”

You can read her full report here at her website, “The Freelance Desk.” Her work in three languages has been published by The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Week, BBC, Discovery Channel and A & E's Crime and Investigation Network, among others. For more on the Idaho Innocence Project and its funding, click here.

Italy: Basta!

Enough! of the nonsense of trying to frame Amanda Knox for a murder that someone else is already serving time for, someone else whose presence at the crime scene is supported with evidence.

 Seems unfathomable that this young woman must endure more publicity, more scrutiny for an acquittal.  Perche`?  

Legal experts say that the U.S. will not allow her to be extradited since our own legal system does not support someone being tried for the same crime twice. But unfortunately, Amanda may need to leave her passport locked up for a very long time.

(S-R: Amanda Knox’s upcoming memoir “Waiting to be Heard” will come out April 30, two months later than originally scheduled.)


Writing to save a life

Amanda Knox has a book deal - and hopefully a chance to pull her loving parents out of the debt they plunged into when they lived through her four years of incarceration. The legal fees, the travel expenses, the cost of supporting themselves while seeking all means possible to save their daughter, cost Amanda’s family $$$.

But the end of this nightmare offers redemption. The money will help a family regain its financial footing, but more importantly for Amanda, the chance to write her story, to write through the terror, confusion, manipulation, long days- months- years, the process of safely stepping back in time to convert experiences and emotions to words, will bring an emotional healing and wholeness that no other therapy could possibly provide.

Amanda is a writer, and as all writers know: writing can save your life. Perhaps, that is exactly what Amanda already did.

(S-R archives photo)

Hampikian on Amanda Knox case: ‘I know what happened’

For Boise State University professor Greg Hampikian, there's no mystery at all about what happened to 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, who was found murdered in 2007 in Perugia, Italy, prompting charges against her roommate, Amanda Knox of Seattle, and two others, who later were cleared. "I know what happened," Hampikian told an audience of about 200 at Boise State University today. Kercher, he said, was sexually assaulted and murdered "by one guy - Rudy Guede."

Guede, a drifter from Ivory Coast, was convicted of the murder and remains in prison. But just after the crime, he wasn't the one arrested - a prosecutor, based on a hunch aroused by Knox's behavior, arrested Knox, her boyfriend, and bar owner Patrick Lumumba, and theorized that three people committed the attack. Lumumba turned out to have an airtight alibi - he was working at his bar at the time. And when the DNA evidence came back, it didn't match any of the authorities' three suspects - it matched Guede. He'd left a bloody handprint in the victim's blood on her wall. His DNA was on and inside the victim, all over her room and more. "You had one guy whose DNA was all over the victim," Hampikian said.

But rather than release Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaelle Sollecito, prosecutors went back to the  crime scene 46 days later - after many people had been at the scene, including Knox and Sollecito, who were allowed to retrieve belongings - and found a bra clasp that they tested and found showed a tiny bit of Sollecito's DNA. They also took a kitchen knife from a drawer at Sollecito's home and found it showed a tiny bit of Knox's DNA on the handle and a tiny trace of Kercher's on the blade. Hampikian said those traces, not large enough to be reliably tested, likely were the result of contamination by the testers, and that knife was not the murder weapon. The bra from which the clasp came had been collected 46 days earlier and was covered with Guede's DNA, not Sollecito's.

Hampikian headed his talk, "How science freed an innocent woman … and how bad science multiplied the victims of a terrible tragedy." He conducted an experiment in his lab at Boise State, in which researchers collected soda cans that had been used by employees of the dean's office, and brand-new knives, still in the package from a dollar store. In collecting and tagging the cans and knives - without changing gloves between every piece of evidence, but only between every other piece - lab workers unknowingly transferred a tiny amount of one of the employee's DNA to one of the knives, though she'd never seen or touched it. That's what happened with the evidence in the Knox case, he said. "You can transfer DNA in this way."

"This gut feeling is a very dangerous thing, especially in law enforcement, and it's a very persistent force," Hampikian said. "I have them as well. That's the best part of being a scientist, is that you have data that tells you it's wrong." Standards for measuring the supposed DNA on the evidence in the Knox case were lowered so far that the tests weren't valid at all, he said - and that's what the court eventually found, clearing Knox and freeing her. "All of this has to do with controls," he said, "which, if you're in my lab, that's all you hear about."

Hampikian is director of the Idaho Innocence Project, and is a professor of biology and criminal justice at Boise State.

Amanda Knox walks free…

Good morning, Netizens…


As of yesterday, Amanda Knox is once again home in Seattle, free from the Italian prison system that held her for over four years under what some was flimsy forensic DNA evidence. The Italian Appeals Court found enough evidence to dismiss all charges against Knox, although that ruling is already being appealed to the Italian Supreme Court. Where that goes, nobody knows. All I know is the appeals process cost her family a veritable fortune which is not as it should be. However, such things happen, both in Italy and the United States every day. It costs a lot of money to go to court, at whatever level you want.


Today's Cartoonist David Horsey depicts Amanda Knox stumbling forth from the horrific labyrinth of the Italian Court system and my first thought was how similar the news media have treated both Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony in Florida. By nature we tend to be insatiably curious about young women, especially if they have been on trial for particularly sordid or salacious murders. Yesterday, the national, regional and international news media created a traffic jam outside Seattle's airport, and to what end? We do not know any more about what took place in Italy now than we did before the sensational trial and appeal.


I'll grant the similarity between the Italian court trial and Florida's Casey Anthony's murder trial is pretty sloppy, if not nonexistent. What is particularly sad is that I do not believe, for a minute, that we will ever know the truth about what happened in either case, and after all, justice is supposed to be a search for the truth. Right?


Did Casey Anthony kill her daughter? Did Amanda Knox know or participate in her roommate's savage murder? I don't know whether the public will ever know the truth about either case. There are too many high-priced lawyers between us and the facts, and what is presented as the facts is subject to whatever mouthpiece happens to speak at the moment.


The courts and their minions have spoken. Justice has been served. I am truly sorry for the victims.


Of course, your results may differ.



Freedom Knox?

 The Amanda Knox appeals trial will soon yield its verdict: will her conviction be overturned, allowing her to come home to Seattle? When I was a woman of 20, I spent a year in Florence, Italy, as a college student.  Our class of American students, 92 of us, traveled, studied, experimented, took risks and immersed ourselves in Italian culture – a culture we did not always understand.  Many students drank way too much for their own safety. Some students easily hitchhiked, dated and traveled with casual or instant acquaintances.  We had no clue of any danger to us. After all, we knew what we were doing. When I recently viewed a lovely photo collage of our year there, my first reaction was: “We were so young and innocent!”

Amanda Knox is no different from the 92 Florentine students.  What happened to Amanda could easily have happened to one of our students. Amanda innocently traveled to a lovely country to learn its language and its customs. Unfortunately, the biggest part of her education has been to learn about its (unjust) justice system.

My prayers and hope are for her release and her return home.

(AP photo)

Experts detail problems with Knox case

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO,Associated Press
PERUGIA, Italy (AP) — The investigators who collected the genetic evidence used to convict Seattle student Amanda Knox of murder in Italy made a series of glaring errors, including using a dirty glove and not wearing caps, two independent forensic experts said Monday.

 The experts had been appointed by an Italian appeals court to review the DNA evidence used in Knox's trial, including some found on a kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon and some found on the clasp of the victim's bra.

That evidence played a crucial role in securing the convictions of Knox (right) and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito (left) in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a Briton who shared an apartment with Knox while they were both exchange students in the city of Perugia.

 Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, have denied wrongdoing and have appealed. The evidence review was granted at the request of their defense teams.

In the first trial, prosecutors maintained that Knox's DNA was found on the handle of the kitchen knife and Kercher's DNA was found on the blade. They say Sollecito's DNA was found on the clasp of Kercher's bra.

But the independent experts told the appeals court that the collection of evidence fell below international standards and may have resulted in contamination. They used slides to refer to international protocols for the collection and sampling of evidence, including one from the U.S. Department of Justice and others from various U.S. states.

One of the two experts, Stefano Conti, (pictured) cited several cases of forensic police entering the crime scene or coming into contacts with objects there not wearing protective equipment such as masks or hair caps. He said that while evidence should be wrapped in paper or kept in a paper bags, police often used plastic bags, heightening the risk of contamination.

"There are various circumstances do not adhere to protocols and procedures," the forensic expert told the court.

In footage and framegrabs shown to the court, two police officers collected the bra clasp, and the glove worn by one of the two appeared to be dirty on two fingers. Conti noted the bra clasp was collected 46 days after the Nov. 1, 2007 fatal stabbing of the 21-year-old Kercher.

"Over those 46 days several objects were moved, and in at the same time several people will have come in and out," he noted, again stressing the risk of contamination.

The other expert, Carla Vecchiotti, (pictured) explained to the court that the genetic profile on the knife's blade that was attributed to Kercher is dubious and cannot be attributed with certainty. She said the original testing did not follow recommendations of the international scientific community for dealing with DNA testing.

Vecchiotti said the review concurred with the original testing in saying that the genetic profile on the knife's black plastic handle could be attributed to Knox. The knife was found at Sollecito's apartment.

The independent experts, both from La Sapienza University in Rome, will be questioned and cross-examined in the next hearing, scheduled for Saturday. That will be the last hearing before the summer break.

The full review, a 145-document obtained by The Associated Press, was filed to the Perugia court last month.

Court OKs evidence review for Knox

PERUGIA, Italy (AP) — Amanda Knox won an important victory in her appeals trial of her murder conviction in Italy on Saturday, when a court ruled that it will allow an independent review of crucial DNA evidence after defense claims that samples were inconclusive and possibly contaminated.

The lower court trial, which convicted the American student a year ago and sentenced her to 26 years in Italian prison, had rejected a similar defense request for an outside review of DNA found on the bra clasp of the victim, her British roommate Meredith Kercher, and on a knife the prosecution alleged was used in the fatal stabbing attack.

Kercher’s body was found in a pool of blood on Nov. 2, 2007, her throat slit in the apartment she shared with Knox. Forensic experts said she was killed the night before.

Knox burst into tears, in a sign of a release of tension, said her stepfather Chris Mellas. “She’s a happy mess,” he said, smiling.

She was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher in the rented house they shared in the university town of Perugia, where both were studying. The co-defendant in the appeals trial is her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito (left), an Italian who was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years. Both deny any wrongdoing.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

Amanda Knox makes emotional appeal

PERUGIA, Italy – Convicted murderer Amanda Knox broke into tears Saturday as she made an emotional address to an appeals court in Italy, saying she was the innocent victim of an “enormous mistake” and that her life had been “broken” by three years in jail.

In her address to the court, the 23-year-old American reached out for the first time to the family of Meredith Kercher, the British girl she was convicted of sexually assaulting and killing in 2007 when they were roommates on a student exchange program in Perugia.

Knox, from Seattle, denied being the “dangerous, diabolical, jealous, uncaring, violent” person described by the prosecution.

Last year, Knox was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Also convicted of the same charges was Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who is Knox’s former boyfriend. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Both deny wrongdoing and have appealed the verdict.

Read the rest of the AP story here.

Verdict to be announced…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

According to KOMO-News, Amanda Knox’s jury verdict in Perugia, Italy has been reached and is expected to be announced this afternoon at approximately 3:00 PM.

More details forthcoming.