November 5, 2007, Perugia, Italy, 10pm. Raffaele Sollecito received a call from the Perugian police while eating a late dinner with Amanda Knox and two friends. Both he and Amanda were exhausted from the grief, horror and endless questions by the police since the discovery of Amanda’s murdered roommate, Meredith Kercher, only three days prior. They were looking forward to some much needed sleep, but instead they were on their way back to the police station in the middle of the night. They didn’t understand that the 50+ hours they had already spent with the police was to “soften” them up for an all-night interrogation.
They thought they were helping to find Meredith’s killer. They didn’t know that they were walking into a trap.
Amanda and Raffaele never dreamed that twenty-four hours after their arrival that both would find themselves spending the first of 1,427 nights in prison; their last moments of freedom spent stepping into the spider’s parlor. They never dreamed that they were part of an agenda to deflect attention from the horrendous mistake made by Perugian authorities in allowing Meredith’s true killer (local thief Rudy Guede) back onto the streets six days before he killed her. The entire city was in an uproar, everyone was emotionally wrought wondering if the murderer was standing next to them in a club or school or store.
Perugia oozed anger and fear.
Perched above the Monster of Florence’s backyard, the hilltop city was no stranger to serial killers and that fear was now being whispered in its narrow streets, the cold Tramontane winds adding to the chill that gripped everyone’s heart. Two murders a year apart and close to Halloween. Another girl had been killed almost exactly a year before, her murder unsolved, and the town was openly wondering about another ritualistic killer lurking in the dark. Parents began pulling students out of the two universities in town and police were trying to calm nerves. While the city was gossiping about the murder, Meredith’s roommates and friends were questioned and local reporters noticed that the police had taken a special interest in Amanda, who was oblivious to their attention.
THE EVIL THAT MEN DO
A Huge Mistake
During the 45 days that Meredith was in Perugia a local thief, Rudy Guede, was on a crime spree. He had been caught red-handed in two burglaries; one was a second story break-in where he was later recognized in a club by the apartment owner. Guede had fended the man off with a pocketknife approximately the size used to kill Meredith and got away, the crime was reported but a formal complaint was never filed. In the second, six days before he killed the talented young Briton, he was discovered in a building with stolen items in his possession. A call to Perugia ended with the request to give him back the ill-gotten gains and put him on a train back home.
Rudy Guede’s Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card played a direct role in Meredith Kercher’s death and now Perugian authorities had to find a way to cover their tracks. And what better way than to accuse an American because it is so easy to convince the locals that Yanks are slutty and crazy and jealous. While the tabloids feasted on a Saint and Sinner fable, the authorities could do some damage control behind the scenes.
It didn’t quite work out as planned. They didn’t count on the tenacity of six angry parents.
THE SET UP
MIGNINI’S BACK STORY
Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini’s mindset on the day that Meredith’s lifeless body was discovered must also be taken into consideration. He was angry with an American. In the summer of 2006 Mignini was named as a defendant in an Abuse of Office lawsuit; he had been caught red-handed wiretapping judicial and media officials in Umbria and Tuscany. This came about, in part, because he had also harassed and falsely accused an American author, Douglas Preston, and an Italian journalist, Mario Spezi, who were collaborating on a book about the Monster of Florence, an unsolved serial killer cold-case. Preston asked the Committee to Protect Journalists to speak out on Spezi’s behalf and then came back to Italy in the fall of 2006, protected by the crew of NBC’s Dateline, while filming a special detailing his research with Spezi and his dealings with Mignini. As the wagging tongues of Perugia discussed the much-feared prosecutor’s discomfort, Mignini knew that his transgressions would be shortly made public in the United States. It’s safe to say that he was, indeed, angry with “those pesky Americans.”
The “Monster of Florence” aired in the US on June 20, 2007; just over four months later Meredith Kercher was murdered and Mignini discovered a young American at the crime scene. Did he seek revenge against Preston by projecting his anger onto naive Amanda Knox, an American girl 6000 miles from home and at a distinct linguistic and cultural disadvantage? Was he looking for a distraction for the gossips? Was it both? Revenge and distraction? Is this why the public minister doggedly pursued the American? And what of Raffaele? Was he the cherry on top? Was the son of a well-to-do doctor like hitting the jackpot? A way to infuse Perugia’s vaults with ill-gotten gains by legally stealing the young man’s assets? Whatever the reason, in hindsight we see the warning signs that the prosecutor was up to no good.
THE RACE CARD
The Perugians were looking for a black man, as evidenced by media reports just two days after the murder. Fingerprint evidence is usually the first report to come back, so it stands to reason that police may have already known about Guede. One school of thought is that they used Patrick Lumumba, a local bar owner and Amanda’s employer, as a distraction until they could locate Guede and question him. Or perhaps they went after Patrick because he was a convenient “killer” who could be easily connected to Amanda. What is clear, in hindsight, is that the Race Card is played frequently, both on the murderer’s behalf, adding to the bold-faced impertinence, as well as for Patrick. Both Guede and Patrick played the Race Card and painted themselves as abused because of their skin color. Ironically, first the star prosecutor discriminated against a local black businessman, and then he champions that same black man against the alleged discrimination he himself created. Then he champions a black killer using the same “poor black boy” argument. WTH? In fact, this continual playing of the Race Card and the obvious prejudice toward an American clearly shows rampant xenophobia on the part of the Perugian officials and that America is not the only place on Earth where blacks are discriminated against.
THE FORGOTTEN RIGHTS
The police “somehow forgot” to inform the students of their rights and protect the same by having lawyers present during the interrogations. Ironically, much thought went into planning the interrogations; scheduling twelve officers and four superiors from two cities takes time and coordination. The police “somehow forgot” to provide an accredited interpreter for Amanda since the young American did not speak Italian with the competency to navigate the legal system, much less a roomful of angry cops hell bent on breaking her. They relied instead on their in-house interpreter who claims 22 years of experience but whose proficiency and objectivity has always been in question. The public prosecutor “somehow forgot” to inform the US embassy in Rome that he was planning to frame, oops, I mean “suspected” a US Citizen of murder. That he had wiretapped and followed her for days, that he would be involved with her interrogation, that he had advised her against seeking counsel from the embassy as well as a lawyer in the days prior to the interrogations and again as he personally took the statement that would destroy her life.
RECORDING THE INTERROGATIONS
The police “somehow forgot” to press the “record button” during the Crime of the Century’s most important interrogations. In a police station bristling with cameras and audio-recording devices that had been trained on the students for days, the cops claimed a “budget issue” caused a clerical error that led to neither interrogation being recorded for posterity. Not to mention, but I will, that Perugia is a town where there are cameras everywhere to protect the thousands of foreign students in the city. I’d say they had plenty in the budget for three measly interrogations. In fact, it only took them a couple of hours to get enough confused statements from the frightened kids to craft a “truth.” That’s pocket change compared to how long it took to break a “hardened criminal” like Patrick—whose interrogation lasted 10 hours.
BENT AND BROKEN LAWS
Throughout this case one sees an alarming number of bent and twisted laws which lends credence to the defense point of view that all of the cases brought against Amanda and Raffaele are rife with illegalities. Each criminal, civil and slander suit starts with the illegal interrogations before continuing on their various paths through the halls of justice. So what does that say about the validity of a case when it begins with, and keeps adding, factually incorrect information? Does that not indicate that that prosecution’s entire case is trash? All “10,000 pages” of it?
During those interrogations and in the aftermath, Raffaele, Amanda and Patrick were illegally stripped of their Inviolable Rights as defined by Article 2, 3, 10 and 13 of the Italian Constitution which ensures their human rights and equality under the law. It ensures that Amanda and Meredith’s rights are protected by agreed upon international laws and that Amanda had the right to an accredited interpreter. And it ensures that they should not have been subjected to abuse from the Perugian authorizes. The prosecutors did not provide any hard evidence to prove, as “strictly defined by law,” that there was a critical need to interrogate the students, only unfounded supposition that went unchallenged in Perugia’s hallowed halls of justice.
The Italian Code of Criminal Procedure, Book One, Title VII, (1) states that “the defendant in custody has the right to meet with the lawyer from the beginning of the measure.” Meaning BEFORE any action is taken against them, specifically an interrogation. Yet both students would spend their first days in prison, in solitary confinement, without ever talking to a lawyer. Article 64 outlines the duty of the authorities and the rights of a person who is interrogated. In Paragraph 3 it clearly states that “before the start of the questioning, the person must be warned that his statements can always be used against him. Neither student received any such advice; in fact both were threated if they did not comply with police requests. Paragraph 3a goes on to say that “in the absence of the warning…the statements….cannot be used against them…,” yet that is exactly what happened.
The Perugian authorities did not record either interrogation citing “significant budgetary problems,” so because of no lawyer and no recording the 2008 Italian Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) ruled the “confessions” unconstitutional and therefore “inadmissible.” The Defense victory was short-lived as Italy allows civil trials to run concurrently with criminal trials and the prosecution used that law to segue the false confessions into court record. In 2009 the prosecution called witnesses to testify in the civil trial and discuss the interrogations as well as the false “confessions” created with the confused statements from Amanda and Raffaele, all the while knowing that the information was ruled inadmissible by the higher court.
Article 13 was broken outright, no subtle twisting here, by detaining all three without “as strictly defined by law” evidence against them. And by flat out lying about what sort of people Raffaele and Amanda were, i.e. “killers,” the prosecution was actually the first to break a number of Italy’s Honor Laws. Then, ironically, they used those same laws to accuse Amanda of defamation and involved her in a number of slander/libel lawsuits against the police and her former employer, Patrick Lumumba. And because the authorities were involved with the illegal interrogations, where the students were threatened with death, life imprisonment and physically assaulted, the Perugians are the ones who should be “punished” as defined by their own constitution.
The Italian Criminal Procedure Code, Article 70 is of special note, specifically because of Amanda’s inability to properly communicate with the Italian police she was “not in a position to participate consciously in the process.” Amanda could not understand much of what was being said to her, much of what was written or understand the complexities of a foreign legal system. She was an Italian language novice, the reason she was attending the University of the Foreigners, and at a distinct disadvantage.
Article 338 (1) explicitly says that the prosecutor shall give “timely notice to counsel” of the defendant while (2) states that “the public prosecutor shall inform the arrested” of “the reasons that led to”…. “the evidence against him.” Since neither student was allowed counsel or informed why they were being interrogated, it is safe to say that this article was completely ignored.
The US Foreign Affairs Manual also has regulations, “7 FAM 425 Abuse And Maltreatment. Abuse is an unfortunate reality that can occur even in the most advanced police and penal systems for any number of reasons, including: (1) Unauthorized and inappropriate punishment for resisting arrest; (2) Attempts to extract a confession or admission of guilt through torture; (3) An authorized or unauthorized process of “softening up” arrestees to render them more controllable during incarceration.” By subjecting Amanda and Raffaele to a week of sleep deprivation by means of the nearly 54 hours of questioning that ended with the mental torture of the all-night interrogations, the Perugians meet the US qualifications for Abuse and Maltreatment, both Italy and the US recognize Sleep Deprivation as a form of torture.
Clearly both Italian and American laws have been broken by the Perugian authorities when they interrogated the innocent, young, naïve students and the innocent business owner. This twisting of laws is a hallmark of Public Prosecutor Mignini’s prosecutorial skills, a feat he regularly practices as evident by his own record in Perugia.
WITNESS VS. SUSPECT
This distinction is particularly important as the authorities were calling the students “persons informed of facts (witness),” but treating them like “persons under investigation (suspect).” It’s clear that the police considered them suspects on the first day of the investigation, November 2, when Mignini gave the order to tap their phones and police began to follow them, as evidenced by Detective Giobbi’s “pizza” comment. Raffaele and Amanda noted the strange behavior of one officer in particular, indicating that something odd was going on from the moment she stepped on to the property by the way she was glaring at them. In hindsight, it appears that Chief of Homicide Monica Napoleoni was prejudiced against the two, Amanda in particular, BEFORE she arrived. These examples occurred before the crime scene had been processed, Napoleoni’s behavior occurred before any evidence (forensic or otherwise) was gathered.
More proof that students were considered suspects is found in the 2009 testimony of Officer Stephano Buratti, who took part in the wiretapping of Amanda, Raffaele, Patrick, Guede, all of their friends and family. During cross examination Buratti is corrected when he calls the students “defendants” by Prosecutor Manuela Comodi who pointedly says they were “suspects.”
Taken with FBI Special Agent (ret) Steve Moore’s observation of the need to schedule the dozen officers for the all-night interrogation, the police behavior very clearly shows that the public prosecutor and police truly considered these young adults suspects and treated them as such without a shred of hard evidence. They all, to the last one, told the 2009 court that their decisions were based on “intuition,” when it was actually prejudice. And, by the way, Official Prejudice is also illegal under Italian law.
The police had a “feeling” about Amanda and Raffaele, they followed their “intuition.” But there are laws in place that prevent “feelings” from overshadowing “evidence” and many of those were broken to allow this particular inquisition to occur. The Public Prosecutor of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, Homicide Chief Monica Napoleoni and Roman Inspector, Edgardo Giobbi, orchestrated a travesty that was unnecessary, brutal and illegal.
Reality, and common sense, shows that Amanda is only guilty only of concern for Meredith, compassion for Meredith’s family and the trusting nature of youth. Raffaele is guilty of concern for Amanda. Neither are guilty of murder and their rights should have been protected.
The primary technique the police used to gather enough “facts” was by demanding exact timing. Most of us do not clock watch while relaxing, unless we are waiting to watch a favorite show, rather we fall back into our ancient lifestyle of sun watching and that is what the students were doing. All they paid attention to on Date Night was whether or not it was daytime or dark, whether or not they were tired enough to sleep or hungry enough to cook dinner. Of course they had no idea the night Meredith died that they should have recorded every moment in a Day-Timer. So the police hammered on them to “remember correctly” the exact time they sent a text message, made dinner, watched a movie or went to sleep. These same actions had been repeated in the days prior to the murder and were so intermingled that every time either student didn’t have the exact answer they were yelled at, slapped and called liars. From this particular technique sprang the police insistence that the students changed their alibis multiple times by using the data from the few hundred answers of “I’m not sure” given by both students. Basically, the cop’s attitude was “well they said ‘I don’t know’ 412 times, so they must be lying.”
So, all you “LIARS” out there, what did you do all day a week ago? Whom did you text at exactly what time? What did you eat and at what time precisely? What time exactly did you go to sleep? No peaking at phones, calendars or Day-Timers now!! Um, yeah, me too…..I have no idea whatsoever, I would totally need to check my phone and look at a calendar. AND, most importantly, I wouldn’t be called a “liar” anywhere else but in an interrogation room.
The ultimate goal of any interrogation is the point of breakdown where the average person will say anything to stop the mental and physical abuse. With few exceptions, like military trained, the general public is not educated about how to cope with the torture and this is exactly why innocent people “lie” while being interrogated.
But are you really lying if you were coerced and tricked into saying damning statements?
Inspector Edgardo Giobbi, Head of the Scientific Police in Rome, and Director Domenico Profazio, Head of Perugia’s Flying Squad, coordinated the dozen officers who “tag-teamed” the students; a technique that is reserved for Mafia Dons not hapless kids. Steve Moore, FBI (ret), a veteran interrogator, observed that “by tag-teaming every hour, the interrogators remain fresh, energetic and on-task. The suspect, however, becomes increasingly exhausted, confused by different questions from dozens of different interrogators, and prays for the interrogation to end. In extreme cases, people can become so disoriented that they forget where they are.” Moore concludes that “the inquisitions Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito experienced in Perugia were no more legally or morally defensible than the Salem Witch Trials. No rational person should believe that the results of what they went through are reliable evidence.” Moore explains that the interrogation itself had to be “planned,” another strong indicator that the innocent students were specifically targeted. He goes on, “Why interrogate all night? There are few legitimate reasons: It’s a rapidly unfolding case where lives are at risk, such as a bombing spree. It’s the only time the suspect is available. There is a deadline.”
Amanda and Raffaele’s cellphones were tapped on November 3rd so Mignini, Profazio, Napoleoni and Giobbi knew that Amanda’s mother, Edda Mellas, would arrive on the 6th. They were aware that Amanda’s cousin in Germany was very concerned about her safety and encouraging her to leave Italy. That Raffaele had been in constant contact with his family and that his sister Vanessa, a Carabinieri lieutenant (a branch of Italian police), may become suspicious if the softening-up process continued. So controlling both students was about to come to an end and the interrogations are proving to be an intentional act, a first step if you will, to ensnare both students in the legal system before anyone could intervene on their behalf.
Of special note are their ages at the time of the abusive behavior by police. Amanda and Raffaele, 20 and 23, respectively, were members of what police identify as a “vulnerable population.” The Under 25-Years group is about mid in the list of Most- to Least-Vulnerable Citizens. Essentially, professionals rank the public on how well the average person could withstand an interrogation. West Memphis Three’s Jesse Misskelly and 14-year-old Michael Crow are recent examples of police targeting vulnerable populations. Professionals agree that certain personality traits indicate who will break first and Compliant Personalities top that list. Amanda and Raffaele are those compliant, helpful, polite personalities. Amanda, due to the language barrier, was far more vulnerable than Italian citizen Raffaele.
The younger and more inexperienced you are, the easier it is to break you. Amanda and Raffaele broke within two hours, the police hardly had to work at all. In comparison, Patrick Lumumba’s interrogation took ten hours, he was older and with far more worldly experience than either sheltered student. One would think that a father and someone who grew up in the Congo as well as living in Perugia for years would certainly be quite aware of police brutality and feel sympathy for what the students endured. Lumumba should understand how vulnerable some young adults are from his daily interactions with them plus he had more than a decade of life experience in comparison to Amanda.
In context, none of the interrogatees confessed in the classic sense of the term, rather their confused statements were stitched together to create False Confessions.
In context, the students were softened up prior to their interrogations, threatened with bodily harm during and denied Due Process after. Coercing them into saying something-anything opened a crooked pathway into the legal system. This can, and does, happen to anyone. Simply visit The Innocent Project, Amnesty International or any similar website to view hundreds of cases from around the world. It’s very common to hear a victim say, “I told them what they wanted to make it stop.” Amanda and Raffaele very clearly spell that out in their books that the abuse DID STOP as soon as they complied with the police, even if they didn’t understand why the cops were “working that angle.”
The students knew they had spent the night together, but after hours of abusive and odd demands they began agreeing with what the cops wanted them to say. Their statements went from clear and concise to the convoluted mess we have before us.
Saul Kassin, an expert for Amanda Knox’s legal team and a Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, teaches how false confessions occur, among other things, and noted that Amanda’s 2009 testimony of her own interrogation is one of countless examples highlighting this global issue.
Raffaele’s prison diary tells of his confusion and panic at not being able to recall his entire week in minute-by-minute perfect detail, as if anyone can do that under any circumstances. Amanda’s First Memoriale, written within hours of her interrogation, provides a perfect example of the confused inner workings of a newly interrogated brain. Both documents show the classic symptoms of extreme confusion, incoherence, questioning one’s memory, exhaustion and panic so clearly that even a layperson can see for themselves.
A couple of days after the interrogation, while in solitary confinement, both students experienced the common reorienting that occurs when the pressure is off and one has a change to think unimpeded. Read: without someone yelling at or slapping you. Each was relieved to remember in detail what they had done the night of the murder, neither understood, at first, that their confusion was a result of the tactics used against them. But, as in such cases, it was too late and they were accused of “changing their story,” the police now had the upper hand because the public is trained to believe that authority is there to protect us, not throw us in prison on trumped up charges.
The whole interrogation was pre-packaged, in a manner of speaking, the police had an agenda to fit Raffaele, then Amanda and then Patrick into a neat little package. Amanda and Raffaele have no criminal backgrounds and grew up in middle class families. Both attended one of the Perugian universities and had impeccable academic records. Patrick was a devoted family man and business owner, he also had no criminal record. Exploitation of innocent people has caused Meredith’s murder investigation to be shrouded in lies and deceit, a sad state of affairs for her family and her memory.
And it all starts with these false confessions.
54 HOURS ON REPEAT
Thinking only of Meredith, Amanda came every time police called and did whatever they asked, more than 50 hours of questioning in 3 days was documented from the day Meredith was found until after the interrogations. If Raffaele was not being questioned then he was acting as Amanda’s escort and both experienced a 40-hour workweek and more than 10 hours overtime in the police station. During that 54 hours the sleep and sustenance cycles for both students was interrupted to the degree that they were in an extreme state of exhaustion when they stepped into the police station about 10:30pm on November 5, 2007. For most humans 10:30pm is when we are ready for sleep, if not already in a REM state. The students had been grilled over and over about their schedules before the murder, the same questions repeated for days. Late on November 5th and into the wee hours of November 6th, in that sleep deprived state, police would demand they remember in exact detail events from the previous week, a monumental task for most folks when they are fully awake and refreshed. In calls to family and friends, at home and in Perugia, Amanda said she was “tired and stressed out” from the “relentless questioning.” And she was terribly afraid, glad to have Raffaele’s friendly face and his amazing compassion by her side.
8 HOURS IN HELL
It is noteworthy that the eight-hour timespan encompassing the illegal interrogations, 11pm to 7am, is the only time Amanda and Raffaele’s alibi changed. Before and after both maintain that they “were at Raffaele’s apartment” during the timeframe Meredith died. Eight hours that changed their lives forever, eight hours that the misinformed public seems to prefer over the years of telling the courts that they were never anywhere near the apartment when Rudy Guede killed Meredith. If it weren’t for those eight hours, Amanda and Raffaele would be remembered as the compassionate people that they truly are. Thank goodness they raised the alarm the next morning instead simply leaving for their weekend trip to Gubbio. They acted responsibly, they acted in good faith and because of their actions Meredith did not lie on the cold floor of her bedroom all weekend, all alone.
Amanda wanted Meredith’s killer brought to justice. She had vowed to help the police in any way she could and they seemed to need her since they called her back for questioning so often. The death of Meredith had affected her deeply, she couldn’t stop thinking about the awful brutality and it still seemed like a terrible nightmare. She was having trouble sleeping because of the jumble of thoughts flying around inside her head. Who could have done such a heinous act? Why did they kill such a sweet person? Meredith never deserved such a fate. How is her family holding up? She shivered with the recurring thought that it could have been herself, Laura or Filomena lying in that pool of blood and the charming villa had now taken on a sinister pall; the beautiful ravine was now a place where monsters could hide. Amanda hoped that the police would soon find and punish Meredith’s killer.
November 1, 2007, about 9:30pm: The Murder of Meredith Kercher
Meredith is trapped in her bedroom and murdered by Rudy Guede, a local burglar, she had the misfortune of walking in on a robbery.
November 2- 4, 2007: The Softening-up Process Begins
Amanda had been questioned for 32 documented hours between November 2 and 4, Raffaele for slightly less but as Amanda’s host, he was escorting her back and forth between his apartment and the police station. Their sleeping and eating patterns were systematically being disrupted, and coupled with the stress of dealing with the
brutal death of a friend, both would reach a point of extreme exhaustion and disorientation by November 5th. During this period of time their phones were tapped, conversations recorded and they were followed, behavior that are specifically reserved for “suspects” as defined by Italian and international laws. Any form of softening-up is strictly prohibited by both countries and especially regarding vulnerable populations exactly like the compliant, sheltered university students. The behavior of the Perugian authorities prior to the interrogations is a textbook example of the Softening-Up process.
November 2, 2007, Friday: Day 1 of the Meredith Kercher Investigation
Mignini gives the order to tap the phones of several witnesses. His penchant for wiretapping is why he was dealing with his own legal troubles on the same day he gave this order, he had been caught in 2006 going wiretap crazy on a peer in Florence and several reporters.
Meredith’s father finds out about her death through a colleague in the British media, “The name going around is Meredith.” He is stunned beyond belief and will receive official word within 24 hours that his youngest daughter is dead. His entire family is shell shocked and grieving.
Amanda stayed in Perugia from a sense of civic duty, she had been taught since childhood to “help the police.” She raised the alarm and was present when Meredith was found. She wanted to see justice for her friend and pay respects to her family when they arrived, so Amanda refused when her mother suggested she go to a cousin’s house in Germany. Raffaele remained too, poor Amanda was grieving, terrified, homeless and alone, letting her stay at his apartment until her mother arrived was easily accomplished.
November 3, 2007
Audio and visual surveillance commences on Amanda, Filomena, Laura, Raffaele and others, the list will grow to include family and friends of the defendants. Of special note, during the 2009 testimony of who was wiretapped and what was heard by police, it was revealed by Prosecutor Comodi that Guede was under surveillance: “…apart from Lumumba and Guede that I have deliberately removed…” She was referring to the list of wiretapped phones being discussed in court that day. There has been some mystery as to whether or not Guede had his own cellphone the night of the murder and that information is part of a catalog of suppressed evidence that also includes many of his Skype calls. Given that the prosecutor told the court that Guede was wiretapped it seems clear that he did have a cellphone. So why have Guede’s phone records been withheld while Amanda’s calls have gone viral and discussed ad nauseam?
John, Arline and Stephanie Kercher make plans to travel to Perugia and escort Meredith home. Grieving family and friends are horrified as details of her grisly death become fodder for the Daily Mail and other European tabloids. In the United States, only a few people in Seattle knew how Amanda’s poor roommate died.
November 4th about 4pm
Amanda and her roommates, Laura Mezzetti and Filomena Romanelli, return to the villa with police. Amanda is already exhibiting signs of stress, her physical and mental condition is deteriorating as noted by the police. They testified that when she was asked to perform certain tasks at the villa she giggled one moment (putting on booties) and sobbed the next (looking at the drawer full of knives). Amanda doesn’t realize that the prejudiced officers are carefully measuring the amount of crying, smiling, hugging and kissing she is doing. Her documented released from questioning was nearly 3am, exhausted, she stumbles back to Raffaele’s. The Softening-Up process is working perfectly and the cops must have been very pleased with themselves.
NOVEMBER 5, 2007, MONDAY, 9AM
Raffaele, Amanda, Filomena and Laura are desperate to find some normalcy so they all decide to return to school and work, each craves a return to the routine, an important part of the grieving process. Amanda attends her Italian grammar class that morning dressed in sweat pants borrowed from Raffaele, as all of her belongs are locked up in the villa. All day people tried to ask her about the murder, but she deflects questions because the police had asked her not discuss details and it was too painful to think of Meredith’s suffering.
After class, while walking back to Raffaele’s through Piazza Grimana Amanda sees Patrick and speaks briefly to him. She tells him that she feels compelled to quit working at Le Chic because she was too afraid to walk alone at night or talk to strangers at the club; he kindly says that he “completely understands” and wishes her well. Within 24 hours he would hate her and spend the next several years claiming that she ruined his life. Citizens often do this for personal safety, it’s much better to point the finger at another citizen than the cops.
Raffaele and Amanda are unknowingly being surveilled by Inspector Giobbi while eating lunch with friends at a pizzeria. He later brags that he knew Amanda was a cold-blooded killer because she “wasn’t lying in bed crying, and not eating,” as if being hungry and in desperate need of comfort and companionship was a crime. In reality, Giobbi’s behavior is one more example of the official prejudice that was being nurtured by Mignini, the only man in Perugia who had an axe to grind with Americans. Why else would so many officers seize upon Amanda as a killer without a shred of evidence? Someone didn’t like her for whatever reason beginning on Day 1 of the investigation and Mignini is the name that repeatedly pops up as I teased out threads of evidence from this monstrous ball of confusion, I was shocked to find out that “all roads lead to Mignini.” The upper courts should take note that they’ve been lied to during every step of the investigation and, in this particular case, Italy’s honor is being questioned because of one man.
A makeshift memorial for Meredith has appeared in Piazza IV Novembre on the Cathedral of San Lorenzo’s steps. Surrounding a poster of the dark-haired beauty is a sea of little red tea lights decorated with flowers and touching messages. It was too painful for Meredith’s British friends and her roommates to attend, plus all were under an unofficial gag order to not talk about the murder. But many students and locals gathered to remember the friendly British girl and to speculate who could have savaged her in such a manner. The next day her parents and sister would visit the shrine to their beautiful Meredith where her father, John Kercher Sr., left a message and a rose. Perugia would later honor Meredith’s memory with a scholarship in 2013.
Raffaele and Amanda arrived at a friend’s apartment to have a late dinner, Amanda was “miserable and couldn’t sit still” and to add to her wretchedness she had started her period. At nearly the same time, Giobbi was giving the order to have them picked up. He would testify in 2009 that “I had given direct orders to investigators to take them. Look, I remember it very well because it was the first time that we performed that sort, to do two sites contextually, and I said “Go get them,” I think that they were at the pizzeria. I can tell you with mathematical certainty I remember perfectly to have ordered investigative tactics.” Giobbi is referring to the complexities of interrogating two people at once, Perugia had never done this, and the scheduling of twelve officers and four superiors from two different cities (Perugia and Rome). Steve Moore and Edgardo Giobbi agree that scheduling an interrogation is a multifaceted operation and one that needed some pre-organization. And note that he says the word “them,” there has long been a question about whether or not the police wanted both students to be called for the late-night questioning. Giobbi’s testimony shows that a command from a senior officer was for both students.
THE TAKE DOWN
Raffaele received a phone call from an officer requesting that he come in for questioning, to “clarify” earlier statements. Raffaele is showing the first signs of exhaustion so his response is brittle and irritated, he wants to wait until after dinner, but the unidentified officer insists that he “come right away.” Amanda was surprised too, “Not again! This late?” They hurriedly finish dinner as Amanda voices her concerns about being left alone; she is terrified by the prospect. She considered that it was too complicated to organize staying with either Filomena or Laura at such a late time of night, so she decided to go with Raffaele to the police station and do homework while she waited. Amanda also felt that supporting Raffaele while he was questioned was payback for his endless hours waiting for her. It’s what friends do.
Exhausted, bleary-eyed and irritable (all sleep deprivation symptoms) Raffaele and Amanda walk through the police station doors unaware of the trap that has been laid. Unaware that for the next four years they will be at the mercy of the Italian prison system. As they arrive there is an immediate altercation, an officer whisks Raffaele away while admonishing him, “What is Amanda doing here?” Another tells Amanda she can’t come into the station and to “wait in the car,” but she begs not to be left in the dark, shocked that the police seemed to no longer care for her safety. They begrudgingly give her a chair outside the main waiting room, in an alcove near the elevators.
Of note is that while Giobbi has already given an order to bring both students in, it seems that the officers awaiting Raffaele did not get that message and so the reaction to Amanda’s presence is confusing. It seems that the right hand didn’t know what he left hand was doing.
Amanda was writing for a few minutes in her green notebook, doing grammar homework, when she decides to call to Filomena. The call is three minutes and she tells her roommate that she and Raffaele are at the police station. Filomena exclaims “Madonna!,” then tells Amanda that she was trying to find out if the three surviving roommates could get out of the contract on the villa so they could look for a new apartment. None want to return to the “House of Horrors.” They talk about meeting up the next day to discuss plans and Filomena is looking forward to meeting Amanda’s mother, Edda, who is due to arrive the next afternoon, mother and daughter are thrilled and relieved to finally see each other. Edda is very concerned for her oldest daughter and, despite Amanda’s bravado, she could hear the stress in her voice. She remembered how helpless she felt with Amanda 6000 miles from home.
Filomena says, “Take it easy, Amanda. Bye.” Amanda responds, “Sure, of course. Oh, right now somebody wants to talk to me. Ciao bella.” Officer Ivano Raffo, part of Giobbi’s team from Rome, sat down with her to ask questions specifically about the “men who visited” Via Della Pergola 7. She looked at him groggily and sighed, frustrated at having to answer the same questions for days on end, she thinks there is a language barrier and is trying to be helpful, but it’s very frustrating. Amanda took a deep breath, smiled and dutifully started with the young men who lived downstairs, then on to the boyfriends and male friends of Meredith, herself and their roommates Filomena and Laura. During the now familiar recitation, she remembered a man whose name she did not know, but that he played basketball with the “guys downstairs.” She recalls that she and Meredith had come across their neighbors in Piazza IV Novembre one day and were introduced to a young man about their age. Then the whole group walked back to the villa where the ladies visited the young men for a while before returning to their own apartment.
Amanda’s off-hand remark has just handed the police Meredith’s killer. Incredibly she wouldn’t know Rudy Guede’s name until she saw his capture in Germany while watching TV in prison. She was shocked by the revelation and hopeful that with the real killer in custody, she and Raffaele would go free. Amanda was wrong.
Raffaele was curious about Guede, as well, he had never met him and couldn’t imagine how police could continue to keep him in prison, so he allowed himself to hope for the first time in days. It was a punch in the gut when the police replaced Patrick with Guede in the fantasy, but kept him and Amanda. It made no sense and he thought it was “remarkable” how closely Patrick and Mignini’s new story harmonized, the first of many prosecutorial theory evolutions.
Raffaele, meanwhile, was shocked by the “aggressive tone” of the head of Perugia’s Flying Squad, Chief Superintendent Marco Chiacchiera and Roman Officer Daniele Moscatelli as they immediately demanded to know why Amanda was with him, “She doesn’t have anywhere else to go” he explained, “She’s afraid.” Now why would police officers begrudge a homeless, frightened foreigner a safe place to sit? One would expect a female officer, in particular, to be concerned for Amanda, but it’s clear to me that Raffaele is the only gentleperson at the police station.
The police wanted to know “about that night,” Raffaele doesn’t know which night they mean, his fatigue has reached the point where he is not able to follow conversations. He is also disgruntled, as most folks get, because he has told the cops all he knows f
or days. The police want him to once again recount the events of November 1st, specific actions at precise times. Then they quickly shift to Halloween, the day before the murder, and ask the same questions. Raffaele’s week with Amanda has blended together since they did the same things every night but the cops are yelling, “That day, tell us what you did that day!” He says, “What day?” The cops say, “That day!” And so it goes. Now he had to remember every excruciating detail in exact order, he feels the first tingles of fear curling around his heart and dietrologia is about to become his worst enemy.
Chief of Homicide, Monica Napoleoni, comes and goes during the questioning, the same officer whose strange and unsettling behavior had made both Raffaele and Amanda uncomfortable the day Meredith was discovered. From the moment she stepped onto the property they remarked upon her piercing glare as she followed wherever they walked, aware that she was ignoring the other young adults. It was as if she, a perfect stranger, didn’t like them. So why would she act that way? Was Napoleoni prejudiced before meeting either student?
Just before 11pm
As Amanda is talking with Officer Raffo she stands up to stretch her back which was achy and stiff from being hunched over while doing homework. Raffo remarks on her flexibility and when she told him she practiced Yoga, he asked for a demonstration. As Amanda performs the splits, the elevator doors slide open and Inspector Rita Ficarra steps out.
Within minutes The Cartwheel Myth is born.
“What are you doing?” Ficarra demanded. It’s an OMG Moment as red-faced Amanda returns to her chair and sheepishly says, “Waiting.” This silly interaction, amongst all the other ridiculously embellished ‘crimes,’ is the one people are most curious about. At the 2009 First Instance trial Officer Ficarra would testify that she and others, Chief of Homicide Monica Napoleoni and Officer Lorena Zugarini, also saw the event and said they were quite “shocked” by Amanda’s behavior during a “serious murder investigation.” Yet the three female officers have NEVER said a word about witnessing Officer Raffo’s lascivious behavior. And pardon me for interrupting, but my Mother Alert went off because Ivano Raffo is asking a naive young girl to do the splits in a police station while other officers look on during a serious murder investigation. A concerned parent wants to know why that male officer wasn’t reprimanded for HIS very unprofessional behavior. However, when it comes to bad behavior, well…..Amanda’s high school antics were nothing compared to what the Perugian and Roman authorities did to both her and Raffaele.
Edda added later, “It’s ridiculous; the area Amanda was in was far too small to accomplish a cartwheel.” She is still stunned by the grand act of brutta figura as police leaked a story about her daughter “turning cartwheels” a few days after Amanda’s arrest. Their behavior broke several of the Italian Penal Code’s Honor Laws, Article 594, 595 and 596, respectively Insult, Defamation and Defamation by Means of the Press. The tabloids embellished that Amanda was merrily turning cartwheels happy that Meredith was dead. Then a 2011 Lifetime movie dramatized Amanda alone in a hallway turning cartwheels when Chief Napoleoni told her to stop proving that the Cartwheel Myth started by the police has taken on a life of its own and is now the epitome of slander. But like all things police, the cops gang up and defendants are literally yelled down by sheer numbers. Thanks to the trail of crumbs left by the ineffectual middle management suck-ups, professionals are able to catalog the ineptitude.
Unbeknownst to Amanda, Raffaele’s interrogation was already in progress, he is recounting the day of November 1st and relates a detail that he had missed, he and Amanda had gone shopping. One of the officers chided him for not remembering exactly and when he asked to see a nearby calendar to help sort out the days leading up to the murder he was startled when one of the cops loudly barked, “Don’t touch the calendar!” At that moment Raffaele’s father, Francesco, called to wish him good-night and was shocked to hear that he was at the police station, after assuring his father that he was “fine” Raffaele ended the call. Francesco was devastated to find out the next day what the police had done to his son.
Amanda is ushered into an interrogation room by Napoleoni and Ficarra, followed by Raffo. The women assert that any questioning needs to be on the record and that moment marks the beginning of Amanda’s interrogation. Napoleoni leaves to make a report to Giobbi who is in the control room. Mignini was asleep on another floor.
Police call their interpreter, Anna Donnino, into the station and she would arrive an about hour later. In the meantime Amanda is frustrated that the interrogators are demanding that she tell the exact times of when she last saw Mereidth, left her house to go to Raffaele’s, made dinner, or watched a movie. She begins to panic at her confusion, a common reaction when people are tricked into second guessing themselves. Amanda is beginning to unravel, the sleep depravation is taking its toll, and she is having problems focusing.
Raffaele is also frustrated with the police demands for exact times, he suggests that they check the activity log on his computer to prove when they watched the movie, Amelie, and the cartoon, Naruto, during the course of the evening. Amanda and Raffaele didn’t know they should have cataloged every moment in a Day-Timer for the convenience of the police.
Then the cops began hounding Raffaele. “You need to tell us what happened that night” “Which night?” “The night of November first” “I don’t remember too well” “It doesn’t matter, just tell us what you can” “You need to remember what you did.” When he asks to see a calendar to help organize the days, one of the cops barked loudly, “Don’t touch that!” He offers, “If it was a Thursday, she probably went to work.” Then they accuse him, “You don’t know what she did, do you? Come on tell us everything!” Another cop demanded, “She went out. When did she go out?” “I’m not sure when she went out. I remember something totally different.” Napoleoni, who was back in the room, snapped at him, “What did you do? You need to tell us! You don’t know what that cow, that whore, got up to!”
Raffaele had a stunning realization that cops thought Amanda had killed Meredith. He was incredulous. Where had that come from? And then Napoleoni left the room.
The other cops ordered him to empty his pockets, so he put his wallet and cellphone on the table. He held his breath and put his pocketknife down, thinking of his father’s warning to leave it at home. The room fell silent and he felt their eyes boring into him. His stomach dropped when an officer quickly snatched the little knife as evidence, however testing would prove that it was not the murder weapon. Raffaele immediately realized the gravity of the situation and asked for a lawyer, then his father, but was denied access to both. The police had just violated his Inviolable Rights under the Italian Constitution. Again.
In 2009 the police would testify, en masse, that Raffaele’s rights were never violated, that he never asked for a lawyer, that he was never mistreated and that all of his statements were voluntary.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
November 6, 2007, AFTER MIDNIGHT
Napoleoni sashayed into Amanda’s interrogation and with a wicked gleam in her eye, told Amanda that Raffaele said that she “left his apartment Thursday night.” Boy, talk about someone putting words in your mouth. Amanda was dumbstruck and confused as to why Raffaele would lie, it wasn’t until months later that they would learn that the police had morphed his confusion in to a blatant lie, exactly like they were about to do to Amanda.
Anna Donnino, the police interpreter, arrives and Amanda recalls that she was grumpy from being rousted out of bed. Ficarra abruptly changed the line of questioning from “what time did you have dinner?” to “text messages.” The cop wanted to know about a text message Amanda sent to Patrick the night of the murder. He had texted about 8:30pm that she wasn’t needed at work because it was slow and she replied “Sure. See you later. Have a good evening!” Amanda had written the message in beginner Italian, a straight across translation (think Google Translate): “Certo. Ci vediamo più tardi. Avere una buona serata!”
The novice wasn’t aware that the phrase “see you later,” “Ci vediamo più tardi” is apparently an Italian colloquialism meaning that people plan to “meet immediately.” At least that is what the Perugian police decided.
Amanda was using it as the American colloquialism meaning she would see Patrick at an “undecided point in the future;” namely the next time she went to work or if she saw him on the street or in a store. But the police insisted that she had planned to meet Patrick the night of the murder. Then she and Raffaele turned off their phones so they could spend an uninterrupted night together. It was the text message and the want of privacy that police used to “create a truth” so they could arrest both for murder.
More police join Ficarra and Raffo, Napoleoni comes and goes. They become aggressive and angry, yelling about Patrick, “Who is he? Does he like Meredith? Where were you going to meet him?” They use the same technique that confused Raffaele, asking for exact times with exact quotes while withholding her cellphone. Amanda told them she didn’t remember exact times and that she wasn’t lying about anything she did the night of the murder. She may well have yelling in a room full of deaf people because they didn’t hear her.
Giobbi and Profazio are in the control room, officers were coming in and out giving reports and getting orders, it was a beehive of activity since there were two interrogations simultaneously. Napoleoni was personally observing both interrogations. Raffaele had already been compromised and he was a non-issue by this point, they had what they needed from him. All eyes were on Amanda and she was near to breaking. Every time she didn’t answer a question the way they wanted, the police called her a “Dirty liar!” Rita Ficarra came up behind her and on two occasions slapped her in the back of the head “to help her remember” correctly, later, Ficarra would excuse herself by telling Amanda she was “sorry” for hitting her, that she was just doing her job.
Raffaele, forgotten in the other room for the moment, heard Amanda scream and wail for help on several occasions. Twice he heard the yelps of pain and shock when she was slapped in the head. Giobbi testified that he heard her scream as well. Profazio, Napoleoni and Mignini were also present. Mignini had made a 2011 offhand remark to Drew Griffin of CNN that he had “gone to sleep” but when Director Profazio “called me” to tell about “developments” and that Raffaele had “changed his story” (midnight) that he “went down.” The CNN interpreters commented in their notes that they thought that Mignini meant he been in a upstairs office, so it appears that Mignini was also coming and going during the interrogations on that long soul crushing night and he needed a little nap to stay fresh.
Those two slaps and her screaming is documented proof of Amanda’s physical abuse at the hands of the cops. Amanda is feeling suffocated and disoriented with the constant yelling. Questions are peppered with “Stop lying!” “We know you are lying!!” and “Stupid liar!” The police insisted that she had left Raffaele’s to meet up with Patrick.
They insisted that she didn’t remember because she was “traumatized.”
Now take a step back for a moment to ponder that these two college kids are in the new-romance phase of their relationship. On “that night” they are completely involved with each other, food, laughter, showers and sex on a holiday weekend, they are looking forward to a fun trip the next day. They are seeking privacy from the boss and the parents. So ask yourself….would 20-year-old Amanda just randomly up and leave her new crush to hook up with her older, married boss so he can rape her roommate for revenge? This is what the police are trying to get Amanda to say.
At this point Amanda breaks, she is sobbing and “hitting herself in the head” from the frustration of not being understood. Not listened to. Yelled at. Her reaction to stress is well-documented by the police, they found it fascinating. And even this innocent idiosyncrasy, this personal coping mechanism with frustration or fear, hands to the temples and tap the head a few times or cover the ears, will be used against her. In the police version, she “hit herself” when they caught her in a lie and Ficarra’s 2009 testimony took it a step farther when she implied that Amanda was sobbing because she was guilty, not because she was terrified.
Police are coming and going in Raffaele’s room but at one point he is alone with a cop who threatens bodily harm, the cop leans in close and growls that he will “beat him to a pulp, kill him and leave him in a pool of blood.” This overt threat and Amanda’s screaming leave him wondering what the cops were doing to her and afraid of what they might do to him. Raffaele is terrified by what is going on around him.
Napoleoni, backed by several officers, begins pushing for the arrest of Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick, but her immediate superior, Chiacchiera, thought arrests would be premature. He wanted to do more surveillance, however he is voted down as Giobbi and Mignini felt they had enough “evidence” to arrest the students and Lumumba.
Toward the end of the interrogation Amanda, now delirious and terrified, was told that the police had evidence that she was at the murder scene, she didn’t understand what they meant because she wasn’t there when Meredith was killed. It was another lie. They told her that she “would be put in jail for 30 years and never see her family again” if she didn’t do what they wanted. One more lie. The police wanted Amanda to “imagine” a scenario for them. The biggest lie of all.
Amanda recalls, “Their version of reality was taking over. I felt confused, frantic, and there was no escape.” People were shouting and shouting and shouting, so Amanda was beginning to disassociate with reality in the cacophony. She began to believe that the cops must be right and she must be wrong. They told her over and over that her memory was faulty and they were helping her “remember the truth.” This “maximization” technique produced her “coerce-compliant” confession.
In layman’s terms, the police “scared the hell out of her” until Amanda “told them what they wanted.”
Raffo, playing Good Cop, took her hands in his and said that he couldn’t “save” her unless she told him “who the murderer was” and Amanda snapped. The cops had told her that Patrick was at the villa and she began to have delusions about him being the killer.
She completely broke at this point and began sobbing, so the police led her through the “truth” they created. They ask a question, she would respond “I don’t know,” they prompt, she says “Yeah, I guess so.” “Where did you meet him?” “I don’t remember” “Yes, you do” “I don’t know—the basketball court?” “Why did he kill her” “I don’t know” “Did he have sex with Meredith?” “I don’t know, I guess so, I’m confused. Patrick is bad.” Then Amanda wept while the police wrote up what became the 1:45 Spontaneous Declaration. And she wept as she signed it, not fully understanding what she was doing.
In Italy, coercing a witness is forbidden, only a spontaneous statement is legal, it does not matter if the statement is made during an interrogation or addressing lawyers and courts. Obviously Amanda did not spontaneously offer any statement to the police, they pulled every element of their “truth” from her like a dentist pulling teeth. Slowly and painfully Amanda gave into their whims.
And just like Raffaele, each officer went to court and en masse testified that they were professional, Amanda was not mistreated or denied a lawyer and that she spoke of her own free will. The word of an entire police force against that of two scared kids.
Mignini was present in the control room while the statement being written by Ficarra. He discussed legalities with Giobbi, Napoleoni and Chiacchiera. Mignini reviewed “Amanda’s” declaration after it was complete and noted that it only took a half hour because neither Amanda nor the police “asked any questions.” He also testified that Amanda was “questioned as a person informed of the facts (witness),” Read: Not a “suspect” according to his definition of the law.
The First Spontaneous Declaration was written entirely in Italian by Inspector Rita Ficarra while Amanda cried. When it was shoved in her face to sign the poor kid did not know up from down, she was an emotional wreck and in no condition to sign anything so important to her future. But sign she did, submissively, and then the cops cheered and high-fived each other, happy that they were able to break both students so quickly. Inspector Ficarra, Officers Lorena Zugarini and Ivano Raffo also signed the document with Anna Donnino was the interpreter who was “assisting” Amanda. The statement famously claimed that Amanda, a novice of conversational Italian and completely ignorant of Italian legalese, “adequately understands and speaks the Italian language.” Amanda later lamented, “What was I thinking?” She could barely speak the language, yet somehow thought she could muddle through talking to cops about a murder.
The police return to Raffaele’s interrogation room and demand his shoes, an officer noted when he crossed his legs that his Nikes had similar concentric circles on the bottom as the prints found in Meredith’s blood at the villa. The questioning began anew, “Did Amanda go out the night of the murder? Why are you protecting that cow?” and they start pressuring him to sign a confession. Raffaele tries to read it while the cops are yelling at him.
Raffaele is exhausted, afraid and arguing with police over wording in the statement they want him to sign, he had taken exception to a phrase that said he “lied for Amanda” but they convince him that the wording is only a formality. In his shocked and sleep deprived mental state he misses the part where “he” says “she left for the evening”—effectively destroying Amanda’s alibi. Later prosecutors will place Raffaele at the villa holding Meredith down instead of fast asleep in bed, adding to the confusion. Still later they will put a knife in his hand. Much later Raffaele and Amanda will find out that they were both tricked into saying several convoluted statements making the official duplicity as stunning as it is terrifying.
Amanda’s interrogation is officially over, police record that it only took 3 hours and 45 minutes to coerce the terrified young woman into implicating Patrick and placing herself at the scene of her roommate’s murder. Both are completely innocent.
Police demand Amanda’s sneakers and she is told that the Pubblico Ministero (Public Prosecutor) would be coming in so that she could tell him what she “remembered.” Amanda thought they meant “public minister,” a mayor or other top official, she had no idea that she would be talking to a prosecutor with an incredible amount of power over her life. One that was out to do her harm. She no idea that she was about to meet her personal devil incarnate.
Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini’s entry into Amanda’s interrogation room would forever change her life and, ironically, her first words to him were seeking his advice as to whether or not she needed a lawyer. Mignini replied, “No it will only make it worse for you. It will seem like you are not cooperating,” they both testified to that fact in 2009. Mignini just denied Amanda her Inviolable Right of Due Process, this prosecutor, it seems, could care less about human rights and Italian law.
In typical Mignini fashion his questioning started calmly and crescendoed to the belligerent harassing that Amanda had experienced earlier. He asked her the same set of questions about meeting Patrick, she gave the same vague answers, but Mignini embellished the previous statement by adding his own touches. First he tinkered with the time, moving meeting Patrick to 9pm instead of 8:30pm.
Then Mignini relentlessly goaded Amanda into placing herself and Patrick at the scene of the murder. “You went to the house?” “I guess so” “Was Meredith there?” “I don’t remember” “Did Patrick go there” “I don’t know, I guess so” “Where were you?” “I don’t know. I guess in the kitchen” “Did you hear Meredith screaming?” “I don’t know. Maybe I covered my ears. I don’t know, I don’t know if I am imagining this…this doesn’t feel right” “No, remember. Remember what happened.” “I don’t know.” Amanda said later that it was like being “in a trance,” that she “meekly agreed to his suggestions” as he “rained down questions.” This is the essence of coercion and compliance.
3:30am Raffaele’s Spontaneous Statement
Raffaele signs the statement that formally destroys Amanda’s alibi after five hours of relentless interrogation. He was adamant about wording when suddenly the police became friendlier and said, “Trust us we know what we are doing,” then with a sweep of the pen his interrogation room empties out. A while later he is taken into another room and there is defamed when a cop says that his father “didn’t deserve a son like” him. The officers threaten him with “thirty years of prison” if he does not tell them he was involved with the murder.
5:45am Amanda’s 2nd Spontaneous Statement
Mignini hands Amanda the statement to sign and as she does, she literally signs her life away and brands herself as a murderer; these nightmarish hours continue to haunt both innocent students. She and Raffaele are now officially suspects, “persons under investigation,” in Meredith’s murder and Patrick will shortly join them. The cops are already gearing up to go to his home. Mignini, Ficarra and Donnino are witnesses, the statement is written in Italian and, like the First, contains the phrase “despite adequately understanding and speaking the Italian language” is assisted by an interpreter.
I understand this little nugget to mean that because Amanda “understood” Italian, she could be “assisted” by the police in-house interpreter instead of an accredited interpreter with knowledge of foreign law. Apparently Donnino is under qualified, even with her 22 years of experience, and considered biased as well since she worked for the police department.
Amanda begins to cry, terrified, confused and alone. The police begin convincing themselves that her sobbing is “relief” that she “finally told the truth,” practicing their testimony for 2009 trial. This Second Statement would prove to be unconstitutional for breaking local and international laws by not allowing an attorney to be present, but to no avail. Mignini would figure out how to use both in court. Amanda would later lament that “the declarations were in the detective’s words. But now their words were mine, and this shaped everything that followed.”
The room emptied as Amanda signed the statement and she was finally alone except for officer Ficarra, someone brought her a cup of tea. She was thinking that something didn’t feel right, but knew her mother would help her figure it out when she arrived later that day. At that moment in time her brain was too exhausted to process what had just happened, Ficarra gave her permission to push two metal chairs together and lay down, Amanda passed out for about an hour.
Raffaele has, once again, been denied access to his family. One cop made a show of coming into his room and slaps him in the face for being a “bad son” who stood by a “whore like Amanda.” Police come and go, sometimes shouting at him and shortly after dawn they take him to the medical section where he is strip-searched in front of a female officer; hair and DNA samples are also taken.
Mignini completes the process and, fingertips burning with desire, gambols back to his office to start the paperwork. He must have been thrilled to know that he had exactly the right documents, regardless of how bogus, to start his case file. Before anyone could stop him The Meredith Kercher Investigation would be quickly filled with factually incorrect information. And he was convinced that no one in Perugia would care about an American girl since they are all “known” to be sluts, it would keep the wagging tongues busy for some time to come.
Patrick Lumumba awoke to pounding on the door and a woman demanding to be let in. Some 20 officers, brandishing guns, arrived in seven police cars, barged into his home, called him “dirty black” and dragged him away in handcuffs while his “screaming” toddler son was torn from his arms. He thought he was about to be killed while they drove him “lights and sirens” back to the station. Police would use Amanda’s false confession, lack of receipts in the till and his cellphone ping near the scene as proof of his involvement. Even when a witness statement provided him with an airtight alibi, the police refused to release him until after the arrest of Rudy Guede. Then they gained Patrick’s cooperation and encouraged him to heap his vengeance on Amanda. It is being hammered home that in Italy no one blames the cops for anything.
Patrick would spend two weeks in prison before being released. Luckily for him a Swiss professor who had been in Le Chic came forward to corroborate his story. Without that witness he could have easily spent a year in jail (like Amanda and Raffaele) waiting to see if the police decided to press charges. Without Guede he could easily still be in prison. At some point after his release he changed his story about his ordeal with the police and began seeking financial compensation from Amanda for slander. He successfully sued the police for wrongful imprisonment, seeking 516,000 Euros (approx. $700,000) in damages, but only received 5,800 Euros ($8,000) and a ruined business, the police shut Le Chic down for months. He began playing the Race Card as soon as the microphones were shoved in his face, a recurring theme for both Patrick and Rudy against a young woman notoriously known to be non-prejudiced and unconditionally excepting of all people. Throughout all of her statements, Amanda worried constantly about Patrick. In many of her early statements she worried about police too, but that would change.
Amanda awoke startled and worried that she had sent the police on a wild goose chase, she started crying again in frustration when they wouldn’t listen to her. She wasn’t sure if she had really met up with Patrick on the night of the murder, but every time she tried to tell the police that she was confused, they “assured” her that her “memories would come back” which confused her more. Within a few hours, as her mind began to clear, she realizes that the memories the police insisted were repressed were actually false and she begins in earnest to get the police to listen to her.
Raffaele is formally arrested as Mignini draws up the detention orders for him and Amanda. Patrick is being beaten and yelled at in a room full of cops not far away. They told him, “We know you did it! Confess!” only Patrick had no idea what they meant. What had he done? He didn’t understand. As racial slurs filled the room he began to fear for his life and for his family’s safety. After his release he stated to the Daily Mail that “I was questioned by five men and women, some of whom punched and kicked me. They forced me on my knees against the wall and said I should be in America where I would be given the electric chair for my crime. All they kept saying was, ‘You did it, you did it.” But I didn’t know what I had done.”
Amanda is formally arrested. A while later Edda calls Amanda’s cell phone which is still lying on the table, but Inspector Ficarra will not let Amanda answer the phone, saying that it is now “evidence.” Amanda begins to plead with police to listen to her, she is sure she was misunderstood, she becomes frustrated and wants her mother. Amanda thinks Edda, a teacher, can help the police with the miscommunication. She is still more worried about the police than herself, she has no idea what is going on around her.
As Raffaele is being moved to another room as he passes by where Amanda is being kept and hears her crying. He calls out and asks how she is doing, but couldn’t understand what she said because she is “hysterical.” Police take him to a waiting room with a sofa and, grateful to finally be alone, he falls asleep.
Nearby, Patrick is being beaten and threatened.
Patrick is scared and humiliated, still not understanding what the police were talking about. They are using the same technique as they did on both students, confusion. Then a cop suggests that they show him a picture of “the dead girl” and to his dismay they show him Meredith Kercher. He later states that “it might sound naive, but it was only then that I made the connection between Meredith’s death and my arrest. Stunned, I said, “You think I killed Meredith?” And the cops praise him for “remembering” and tell him that if he “confesses” he’d “only get half” of the normal 30-year sentence for murder.
The exact same deal they would offer to the real killer, Rudy Guede.
Amanda and Raffaele are brought their arrest warrants to sign. Raffaele was paying attention, but Amanda was blithely signing paperwork in hopes that the police would let her go. She wanted to go see her mother and didn’t realize that the “formalities” were sending her to prison.
Late morning, early afternoon
The police take Raffaele to his apartment, sirens blaring, handcuffed and barefooted, he later laments that he should have asked for a search warrant but at that moment was anxious to prove his innocence by showing police the activity on his computer. Chiacchiera and several others march him down Corso Garibaldi and the moment they walk into his apartment Officer Armando Finzi loudly proclaims that the apartment “smelled like bleach.” Raffaele was shocked as he realized that the cop was implying he had “cleaned up a crime,” instead of having “a cleaning lady who uses Lysoform.”
Then the whole gang set about ransacking his apartment and making snarky comments.
Raffaele was a few feet away when he witnessed the police brazenly frame Amanda with what came to be called the Double DNA Knife, though at the time he had no idea what they planned to do. Finzi pulled open a kitchen drawer full of knives and called Chiacchiera over, he picked out a large kitchen knife and said, “Will this do?” Chiacchiera answered, “Yes, yes, it’s great.” In his 2009 testimony Finzi openly declared that the knife was a random pick that it attracted his attention because it was “shiny.”
When the police finally paid attention to Raffaele’s computer it was only to unplug it and cart it back to the police station, no one bothered to look at the activity log despite his insistence. Raffaele maintains that its contents would have exonerated both he and Amanda, but in a collective act of tampering with evidence his, Amanda’s, Meredith’s and Filomena’s laptop hard drives were “accidentally” destroyed by a police “expert.” To this day neither defendant has been able to gain access to their property so that proper forensics could be done by a qualified technician.
Ficarra takes Amanda to the cafeteria for a cup of tea and a sandwich. It’s the first food Amanda has had since dinner the night before, as they are walking along Ficarra tells her that she is “sorry” she hit her.
Raffaele is able to put on a pair of shoes before leaving his apartment for the last time. He is whisked back to the police station, placed in another waiting room and left alone, at one point an officer asks him for his computer password. He gives it to them dejectedly, too exhausted to argue anymore.
The police subject Amanda to a strip search and physical examination in front of several female officers, they take photographs, measurements, DNA and hair samples. She receives her hiking boots from an officer and realizes that they have gone through her belongings as well.
Afterward Amanda asks for pen and paper, she thinks if she writes down what she has been trying to tell them all day, that the story about Patrick is a false memory, then the police will finally understand. She has no idea that Patrick’s interrogation has been going on for hours. She tries to sort out what had just happened to her and what she knew to be the truth, it ends with the poignant and eerily prophetic line, “All I know is that I didn’t kill Meredith, and so I have nothing but lies to be afraid of.” She STILL thinks she is being misunderstood due to a language barrier and has no idea whatsoever that she is being processed to go to prison. Amanda thinks she is in protective custody until she signs the official order from Mignini, while in prison, declaring her a suspect in the murder.
The hastily scribbled pages become the First Memoriale; Amanda was not able to complete it at the police station so she wrote the Second Memoriale after she arrived in prison. Both documents will be dissected in a legal court and the court of public opinion. She was in the middle of writing the first one when Ficarra told her she had to leave, Amanda couldn’t remember the proper term for “statement” and called it “un regalo,” a “present,” so the officer who was forefront in ruining her life, made fun of her. “What is it—my birthday?” said Ficarra.
In the Memoriale Amanda wrote: “I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming.” This phrase is used to “prove her guilt” because it “places her at the scene.” But directly after that sentence is the explanation that has been glossed over by the cops, courts and media: “But I’ve said many times, so as to make myself clear: These things seem unreal to me.” Amanda is telling the police, in essence, that she imagined that scenario like they wanted her to. It was not real.
Patrick was hurting, handcuffed and hungry when he is finally shown the evidence against him, the cops had entered Amanda’s 2nd Spontaneous Statement into the record and it said that on the night Meredith died he had persuaded Amanda to take him back to the villa where he “raped and killed” Meredith while Amanda “listened to the screams from the kitchen.” Amanda said that Patrick was vengeful after Meredith had “rejected him.” He was stunned and a million things filled his head, contrasts of the sweet young woman who worked for him and the insane woman who accused him of murder. He had never cheated on his wife and respected women, but Patrick realizes that he is in deep trouble. He is furious and indignant that Amanda said he was involved with Meredith’s murder, he can’t understand why she would do that. His employee seemed like a genuinely nice girl, but maybe the police were right about her being “a whore,” she was an American after all.
The Kercher family arrived in Perugia to hear the shocking news that Patrick, Amanda and Raffaele had been accused of their daughter’s death, the nightmare continuing. Edda Mellas, hearing the news in transit, arrived unable to see her terrified daughter until the 11th, the nightmare beginning. Francisco Sollecito never knew until it was too late that a powerful man was interrogating his son, a nightmare scenario.
Patrick’s fingerprints, DNA and a blood sample are taken; he is steaming mad and scared to death. Ficarra has rousted Amanda from her writing and as the girl hands the Memoriale to the cop she is elated thinking, “NOW they will understand!” and the police would also know she is “on their side,” that it was all a misunderstanding. The poor kid did not know that she is about to be shipped off to prison so the euphoria she felt did not last as she stepped into the hall and right into a throng of police officials. Mignini, Giobbi, Chiacchiera, Napoleoni, Ficarra, Zugarini, Moscatelli, Raffo and others have gathered to witness the Perp Walk. An extremely formal officer solemnly reads Amanda her rights in Italian, Raffaele and Patrick are nearby also having their rights read. Amanda is completely stunned, she still has no idea what is happening and kept thinking that “everything would get worked out,” but sadly it was not to be. Raffaele and Patrick knew exactly what was happening, they understood every second of the theatrical production that drove them out of Perugia to Capanne Prison, horns blaring and lights flashing in triumph.
But none of them knew about the press conference until later. Chief of Police Arturo De Felice’s infamous “Caso Chiuso” (Case Closed) tantalized the media with the tale that Meredith died during a violent sex orgy that ended in murder. He told of how the pressure to solve the case influenced the hard-working Perugian police department. The press was so scandalized by the orgy that they didn’t ask about evidence but they did fall all over each other to get the story out first. By the next day two continents would be gossiping about Foxy Knoxy.
November 6, 2007, evening
Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick arrive at Capanne Prison and begin the intake formalities, Patrick will spend 14 days before his release. Amanda and Raffaele will spend 1,427 days unjustly incarcerated before their 2011 release. With the signing of the Spontaneous Statements in the wee hours of November 6, 2007, the case against Raffaele and Amanda would be built piece by piece on factually incorrect information. The Mountain of Evidence and 10,000 page case file is based upon the illegal interrogations of completely innocent students.
Wednesday November 7th
Amanda writes the Second Memoriale in prison. She said that “I needed to reorganize all my thoughts, because at that point I was still confused, I still had these images in my memory that finally I understood were a mixture of real images in my memory from other days mixed with imagination. So I needed those pieces of paper, so I could take everything and put it in order.”
She will also begin her so-called Prison Diary. “Most likely they will yell at me again and tell me I’m a liar and I’m trying to protect someone. But now at least I know it’s not true. I remember what I did that night and there’s no way they can prove that I was there, and especially that I was in Meredith’s room, because it is impossible. They lied to me when they told me they knew I was at home because that is impossible. I wasn’t at home, and therefore they can’t prove it. I’m upset they lied to me about that.”
An indictment is filed that includes the information that Amanda was “persistently misunderstanding” how to translate Italian competently, the exact reason that her text message to Patrick is confusing to the Italian police.
In Leeds England, at the university Meredith attended, she is honored by about 100 students who walked from the Parkinson Building steps to Tetley Garden where they placed Meredith’s photograph underneath a tree then surrounded the shrine with lit candles and flowers.
Thursday November 8th
Raffaele, Patrick and Amanda appear before Judge Claudia Matteini to hear the charges against them and meet their lawyers. No one had a chance to discuss case details, so the very first hearing began with a handicap. Prosecutor Mignini asked for the validation of the detentions and wanted the defendants remanded to prison. They all pleaded innocent, but Matteini allowed that all three had confessed to the crime and decided they might be flight risks, she orders them held for a year.
A twisting of the law occurred when the Perugians created a false “necessity” to detain all three defendants by calling them “flight risks” and insinuating that they “might kill again.” In reality, there was no truth the any of the claims, no violent history with any of them, so the “necessity and urgency” did not exist. In other words, “strictly defined by law” was actually a “creative stretch of the imagination” and this behavior is repeated throughout the “evidence” brought against Raffaele and Amanda. And by flat out lying about what sort of people the university students were (i.e. “killers”) the prosecution was actually the first to break a number of Italy’s Honor Laws.
Dr. Luca Lalli’s first draft of the medical examiner’s report was presented to the courts. He established the time of death as “11pm at the earliest” on November 1 and the cause of death was hemorrhaging from a “sharp and pointed weapon.”
Friday November 9th
The defendants are called from their cells to sign Matteini’s court order confirming that authorities interpreted the text message exchange to mean that Amanda and Patrick were to meet later that evening. Amanda was devastated, it was the first time she realized how deep the rabbit hole went and she blamed herself, even then she didn’t see the duplicity and that would take years.
Amanda writes letters to her lawyers explaining that she was “upset about having said the name of Patrick. Just that. Because at that time, I remembered and I knew that everything I had said was a mistake.” It was Amanda’s First Apology to Patrick, one of several, yet Patrick persists in saying that she “never apologized.” Amanda was under a gag order from November 6, 2007 until her release October 4, 2011; the only way she could communicate was through her lawyers and in court. She is not allowed to communicate with Patrick because they are litigants. Under those circumstances it’s impossible to say you are sorry in person.
Saturday November 10th
Amanda speaks to her mother for the first time since her arrest and laments that “I did not say it to protect myself; and I feel horrible for this. Because I put Patrick in this horrible situation, he is framed in prison now, and it is my fault. It is my fault that he is here. I feel horrible. I did not want to do this. I just was frightened and confused.” That is her Second Apology to Patrick, she is utilizing all avenues to express her dismay at involving him in this tragedy.
Police release the identification of Rudy Guede’s fingerprints, The Fourth Suspect—if only for a few weeks. Some 400 samples collected from the apartment included an abundance of DNA belonging to Meredith and Guede, the only two profiles present in her bedroom. Unquestionably those DNA samples show that Guede is the sole attacker of Meredith Kercher. His DNA is on her body and on her personal items. His bloody palm print is smeared on the wall of her room, he washed her blood off in the bidet in her bathroom leaving a bloody footprint, and tracked her blood down the hall to the front door. He was found with her credit cards on him a couple of weeks later. He admitted to being there “when she was murdered” and “saw her die” in a Skype Sting. And he also wondered why, in the same recorded call, the police had detained Amanda and Raffaele since “they weren’t there.”
November 20, 2007
Patrick is released and tells the media of his ordeal and his solitary confinement cell (6ft by 12ft, slightly smaller than Meredith’s bedroom) he “watched the case unfold on TV every day and was shocked by the sordid lifestyle Amanda and her boyfriend seemed to be leading. That kind of life was foreign to me and it made me sick that people would think I was involved in some kind of threesome. I knew students here slept around, but to hear rumors of sex games with knives shocked me to the core. As far as I am concerned, anyone involved in them needs psychiatric help.”
AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
Weeks went by before either student would be able to speak in their own defense and at least a year passed before the public, tainted by the tabloid frenzy, began to realize that the two were innocent of any crime, much less murder. The lasting damage is evident by a global game of Grapevine, an ever-embellished fable that began with interrogations and the false confessions that were generated.
The False Confessions had effectively sealed Amanda and Raffaele’s fates and the two were dangled like a brace of rabbits in front of a pack of baying hounds before their parents could protect them.
I recall a telling moment during Drew Griffin’s interview with Mignini; they were discussing his pending Abuse of Office charges, a trial that exemplifies how this prosecutor runs his office. Mignini says: “When they say convicted of Abuse of Office, it does not mean Abuse of Power. Abuse of Office is a minor crime in Italy. I mean, it wasn’t Corruption, just to be clear.” It is apparently easy for him to simply brush away his own law breaking.
Just to be clear, everything that happened to Meredith, Amanda and Raffaele smacks of corruption and as a member of the concerned public I look forward to seeing if the fair-minded Italian authorities agree with my assessment. Just to be clear it’s been exceptionally easy to see Mignini’s formula for injustice in Perugia. A formula that includes character assassination using the press, wiretapping, tramp witnesses, false accusations of Satanism and murder, interrogations, false confessions, solitary confinement, use of obscure law to detain witnesses and blocking witness access to a lawyer. Just to be clear, ALL of these elements are present in two high-profile cases, both that Giuliano Mignini is intimately involved in: The Monster of Florence and the Murder of Meredith Kercher.
Just to be clear, the Perugian authorities who interrogated these innocent people are cowards who are hiding behind the skirts of the justice system and the truly honorable thing to do is exonerate Raffaele and Amanda. And I say this not as an imperialistic American, I am quite aware of my own judicial system’s behavior, I say this a fellow human being and as a parent. There is no honor, there will never be honor, as long as Meredith’s family, Raffaele and Amanda continue to suffer.
Just to be clear, it’s time for true justice for Meredith Kercher and the uncorrupted truth will give her just that.