Home » Wrongful Convictions » Lessons To Be Learned From Amanda Knox Case: Reform The System, Stop The Hate, And Move Forward

Lessons To Be Learned From Amanda Knox Case: Reform The System, Stop The Hate, And Move Forward

On March 27, 2015, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were fully exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court, after enduring over seven years of pain and suffering. The high court finally put an end to their nightmare, giving them both a new lease on life.

Meredith Kercher was murdered in 2007, in a hilltop cottage in Perugia, Italy. In a series of missteps, police initially arrested a slightly different trio than the three that would eventually be charged for the crime. The arrests came shortly after an all-night coercive interrogation session with Amanda Knox that produced faulty information, as coercive interrogations often do. Details from the interrogation would later be deemed inadmissible but the damage was already done.

On November 6, 2007, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Patrick Lumumba were taken into custody. The prosecution put forth a wild theory of a sex game gone wrong committed by three perpetrators, declaring “case closed,” before any forensic analysis had been completed.

When crime scene evidence came back pointing solely to another man, Rudy Guede, the authorities squandered an opportunity to correct their hasty arrests based on a rush to judgment. Instead, in an attempt to save face, they simply removed Lumumba from their theory and plugged in Guede.

From that point on, authorities would work tirelessly attempting to build a case against Knox and Sollecito. Their misguided efforts led to one of the greatest miscarriages of justice witnessed in modern history.

Italian Journalist Frank Sfarzo wrote an article shortly after the Italian high court ruling that exonerated Knox and Sollecito, praising the court for correcting the injustice that occurred. Sfarzo described the scene he witnessed in court: “The bit of body language you could notice was revealing. While hearing the conjectures produced by the Florence ruling, some of the five looked as if they were shaking from trying not to betray their indignation. On the other hand, when defense lawyers would explain those absurdities, they would all show interest. You can tell they were motivated by the unbearable urge to fight an injustice, to give life back to the two unfortunate youths, and to restore the image of Italy, which had been jeopardized by a verdict that scandalized the world.”

Sfarzo went on to say: “The perception abroad, indeed, was that all the injustices suffered by Knox and Sollecito were perpetrated by “Italy.” But it’s not like that; the responsible ones are specific people who don’t represent at all the spirit of a whole country.”

I believe that Sfarzo is sincere when he speaks of Italy. I believe this injustice was caused by individuals, not an entire nation. But that does not mean that reform is not desperately needed in Italy.

You see, in Italy this case has been viewed as one long process, with no result finalized until the end. According to their laws, Knox and Sollecito were not first convicted, then acquitted, then convicted again, and then acquitted again. They were simply acquitted. So all is well in the eyes of Italian justice.

This philosophy is deeply flawed. During the course of Italy’s long torturous drawn out process, Knox and Sollecito have seen their lives turned upside down and nearly destroyed. Both spent four years in prison as innocent people, and have endured relentless abuse in the media dating back to 2007. The negative media coverage, based initially on misinformation leaked by the prosecution’s office, has fueled an unprecedented hate filled campaign online, driven by lunatics hell-bent on destroying innocent lives. Millions of dollars have been spent on legal fees, and the truth has been clouded in confusion.

Italian prosecutors are given free rein to say anything they choose about defendants. At the same time, they are given the power to slap anyone that dares to challenge them with a defamation lawsuit.

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor that led the deplorable investigation against Knox and Sollecito, has filed numerous lawsuits against those that have dared to challenge his ridiculous claims that include his theory that Kercher was killed in a ritualistic sex game gone wrong. Knox’s own attorneys were even threatened with lawsuits. How can defense attorneys possibly defend their clients if they are unable to challenge the ridiculous claims of a rogue prosecutor?

Knox’s parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, were hit with a defamation suit for simply repeating what their daughter had told them about being slapped on the back of her head during her interrogation, and lawsuits are currently pending against Knox and Sollecito for their books detailing their ordeals.

Civil trials run concurrently with murder trials in Italy, giving civil attorneys the opportunity to attack defendants before they are even convicted. Patrick Lumumba’s civil attorney Carlo Pacelli stood up in court and called Knox a diabolical she-devil. Kercher family attorney, Francesco Maresca, has vilified Knox and Sollecito incessantly for the past seven years in interviews heard around the world. These attorneys will face no penalty for working diligently to defame two people that have now been declared innocent.

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini
Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

Mignini’s career has been embroiled in controversy, having to fend off charges of abuse of office regarding another case, while prosecuting Knox and Sollecito. It appears that Italy has a gentle way of removing bad prosecutors. Mignini was given a promotion and it seems he is being eased into retirement. Thankfully, his days of prosecuting cases are over.

Reform is needed. The system failed in this case. Yes, the Italian Supreme Court finally ended the madness, but not before two innocent people were forced to endure over seven years of anguish.

Most importantly, the recent ruling will never help to bring proper justice for the victim, Meredith Kercher. Her killer has been almost completely ignored. Rudy Guede sexually assaulted and murdered Meredith Kercher. He will soon be out of prison, and he too will have a new lease on life. That is not justice. Meredith Kercher deserves so much better than that.

This is not a time to compare various justice systems. All have their faults. This case shines a bright light on only one system of justice. Italy must learn from the mistakes made in this case. Italians must stand up and demand reform.

The secondary charges and ridiculous defamation suits seen in the Knox and Sollecito case should now all fade away. The defamation suit against Knox’s parents has expired, others will most likely follow the same path. The defamation charges related to the books are comical now. Will a judge really want to say, yes, we know you wrote books saying you are innocent, and yes, we know that we declared you innocent, but we really don’t like the way you spoke about the people that stole four years from each of you and attempted to destroy each of your lives? When putting the charges into perspective, it is reasonable to conclude that it is highly unlikely that anything will transpire from these ridiculous lawsuits.

It is time to stop the hate

Now that Knox and Sollecito have been definitively declared innocent, the attacks against the two must stop immediately. Sadly, recent comments made by the Kercher family work to fuel a fire that needs to be extinguished. The Kerchers have suffered more than most will ever know. They had a loved one taken away from then in an act of senseless violence. They have listened to their attorney and they have let the Italian justice system run its course. In the end, the system they have waited so long for, has told them Knox and Sollecito are innocent. The two did not commit any crime against their daughter, and sister.

Italian journalist Francesco Luna has written an article titled “Threats to Amanda Knox: time for an act of responsibility from the Kerchers.” In his article, Luna expresses his condolences to the Kercher family, but also reaches out with a much needed message:

There is a large group of people who have been relentlessly threatening and insulting Amanda Knox since this story began, in 2007. They have grown more and more violent and aggressive, but until last Friday, 27 March 2015, they had a goal: to see Amanda convicted for Meredith’s murder. Now that the Italian Supreme Court has officially said that Amanda is not responsible for that murder, they are really going crazy.

These people have been dubbed “haters”, and for a reason. They are blinded by hate. They are not all violent or potentially dangerous, of course, but surely someone in that group is. I read, yesterday, that FBI is taking threats to Amanda Knox very seriously. This is a serious alarm that should not be ignored.

There is one thing the Kerchers should seriously understand, now. These crazy people are letting their frustration off in their name. They are hiding behind Meredith’s name and photo to discharge an incredibly large load of anger, hate and aggressiveness through social media and elsewhere. There is a serious risk that someone belonging to that group decide to go to Seattle and think to become the hero who avenged Meredith.

The Kerchers should not allow this. Not in Meredith’s name. Enough blood has been shed, enough pain, enough tragedy. It is time for them to speak clearly.

Luna’s message is thoughtful and sincere. Hopefully healing will come for the Kercher family. No one should suffer a loss like they have suffered.

There is no doubt that this case will remain a mystery for some that have followed it. Some will be unable to see the truth through the fog created by the confusing system that allowed this case to drag on for so long. If you are reading this article today and find yourself trapped in that fog, do yourself a favor while doing your own research, and ask yourself this question: What if Rudy Guede had been arrested first?

It is important to start at the beginning and work forward. The murder was discovered on November 2, 2007. If the authorities ran prints from the murder room through their database on the first day of their investigation, they would have discovered Rudy Guede. Guede’s prints were on file because he was an immigrant. What would have happened if Guede had been taken into custody on that day?

Meredith Kercher's killer Rudy Guede
Meredith Kercher’s killer, Rudy Guede

The evidence against Guede is irrefutable. Guede admitted he was in Kercher’s room at the time of the attack. His shoe prints, set in Kercher’s blood, were found in the bedroom and in the hallway of the cottage. His hand print, in Kercher’s blood, was found on a pillowcase underneath her body. Most importantly, Guede’s DNA was found inside Kercher’s body.

What would Guede have told authorities early on? Keep in mind that he would have seen no media reports discussing Knox and Sollecito. He would have had no information at all to help him fabricate his story. The two would not have been part of the narrative.

What about Knox’s statements made during her interrogation?

If Guede had been arrested early on, the sleep deprived coercive interrogation of Amanda Knox would have never taken place. The authorities would not have pressured Knox to discuss her innocent text messages on her phone to her boss Patrick Lumumba and the police never would have rushed out and arrested an innocent man. There would have been no press conference declaring “case closed” before Guede was even arrested.

But Knox wrote a strange email to her family in Seattle, and she bought underwear!

If Guede had been arrested early on, the character assassination of Amanda Knox would have never happened. We never would have heard a single word about Knox’s sex life in the press. The media frenzy that invented “Foxy Knoxy” would have been nonexistent. Knox’s every move would not have been scrutinized. Her message home would have been one of extreme relief, letting her loved ones know that she was safe because the man that brutally killed her friend was in custody. Buying underwear would not have been viewed as odd at all. Her home was a crime scene after all. She needed clothes. We would have never heard about a cartwheel and no one would have cared that Knox and Sollecito ate pizza.

What about the break-in? It was certainly a questionable entry point?

The entry point was certainly odd. But a quick investigation of their suspect would have led investigators to see that Guede had a history of break-ins. In fact he had recently broken into a law office through an elevated window broken with a rock, very similar to the break-in seen at the cottage.

Guede was caught breaking into a nursery school by the school’s owner, Maria Del Prato, when she arrived unexpectedly during off hours with two repairmen. Del Prato along with the repairmen kept Guede at the nursery and called the police. When police searched Guede’s backpack they found a laptop and cell phone that had recently been stolen from the law office.

In the nursery school break-in, Guede was found in the possession of a knife said to be stolen from the school’s kitchen. He was also in possession of a woman’s gold watch which tied him to another break-in occurring four days earlier.

There were no signs of a staged break-in at the entry point. Given their suspect’s history, the entry point would have been rightfully accepted.

What about the alleged murder weapon?

If Guede had been arrested early on, there would have been no need for authorities to go on a scavenger hunt to retrieve a random knife out of Sollecito’s kitchen. The lab would not have felt compelled to override machine parameters to provide an unreliable result for the prosecution. Sollecito’s knife would have remained in his kitchen drawer, exactly where it was on the night of Kercher’s murder.

The wounds on Kercher’s body were all compatible with a small blade. There would have been no need to try and incorporate a large incompatible knife into the scenario if investigators had been investigating the right suspect.

What about the bra clasp?

If Guede had been arrested early on, the authorities would have had all the evidence they needed against their suspect. They would not have had to make a desperate trip back to the cottage in search of evidence. The bra clasp fiasco would have never happened. The faulty evidence would have never come into play. Of course the investigators also retrieved Kercher’s purse and the jacket she was wearing on the night of the murder when they made their second trip to the cottage. Both items were incriminating to Guede. Somehow those key items were neglected during the first round of evidence collection. Guede’s DNA was found on both items. There was more than enough evidence against Guede early on even without the purse and jacket.

But Meredith was killed by multiple attackers.

Judge Hellmann, the judge that acquitted Knox and Sollecito in 2011, recently spoke out about his concerns regarding the multiple attacker theory, asking himself “why there absolutely had to be three people to have murdered Meredith and why the possibility that it could have been only Rudy Guede was discarded from the outset.”

Nigel Scott summarized the expert opinions presented at trial for www.amandaknoxcase.com, writing: “At the Massei trial, only one expert witness, Professor Norelli, consultant to the civil party (the Kercher family) argued that there were definitely multiple attackers. None of the other expert witnesses agreed with him. Of the others, Dr Lalli, Dr Liviero, Professor Bacci and Professor Cingolani believed that there was insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion on whether there was more than one attacker. Professors Torre and Introna unequivocally argued that Meredith was killed by a single assailant. So six out of seven experts either believed that there could have been only one attacker or that there was definitely only one attacker.” If Guede had been arrested early on, Professor Norelli would not have had to disagree with every other expert, in an attempt to claim multiple attackers.

The evidence against Rudy Guede is clear and concise. He killed Meredith Kercher, and he acted alone. It took far too long, but in the end, the Italian Supreme court came to the correct conclusion. Anyone that looks at the evidence in this case without bias will draw the same conclusion.

It is time to give Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito privacy so they can begin to rebuild their lives. Those that have campaigned against the two online need to find other hobbies, and the yellow journalists that have attempted to build careers based on their suffering need to watch what they write. If not, they just might find themselves in a courtroom defending their repulsive behavior.