|From left to right, Kercher, Sollecito and Knox|
So - quite a big day in the central Italian city of Perugia.
After serving four years in a Perugian jail Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito have had their convictions for the murder of Merideth Kercher overturned.
Rudy Guede, the third man convicted, whose DNA was found in the private area of Kercher, remains in jail to serve out 14 more years in prison. If you don't know the facts about this case, you can see it all here.
I lived in Perugia at the beginning of this year in January and February. I was living there with my girlfriend who was studying Italian at Universita per Stranieri. It's not a whole lot of time, however I do have a few thoughts that I thought I'd like to share with you.
In January I wrote a blog about life in Italy and briefly mentioned the Knox case at the bottom, here.
Perugia is a small city so when I asked around about the case, it wasn't very difficult to find people directly involved. One of the several connections I had was through a friend (a bouncer originally from South Africa who spoke five languages weirdly enough) I met who had met with the Knox family and was a huge supporter of them.
|Patrick Lumumba and his family|
I have a natural curiosity about these sorts of things and spoke a lot to people around the town who had been there when the murder happened. I even met Patrick Lumumba, a local bar owner who was accused by Knox of committing the murder and was later found to have a rock-solid alibi. He even gave dancing lessons to my girlfriend.
What has fascinated me and I believe many people about this case is all the twists and turns. It's horrible in a way, to have such a morbid fascination over what was a horrific slaying of a promising young woman.
However, it's a real human drama and the stakes were high. One person's life had already been taken away but three other young people would potentially spend a very large portion of their lives locked in cages. Who was innocent and who was guilty?
If this case had clear-cut evidence then perhaps there would be no arguments. Critics of the Italian police in America mentioned that Perugia police rarely dealt with cases of this type. Their inexperience may have led to cross-contamination of DNA samples found on some of the objects in the home such as the alleged murder weapon and Kercher's bra-strap.
Knox confessed that she was in the house on the night of the murder and that she heard Kercher scream.
Later this testimony was changed. The defence alledged police had questioned Knox for many hours in Italian without a lawyer present at a time when Knox only understood the basics of the language.
The big question was always: What would Sollecito and Knox's motive for the killing be?
|Photo I took of central Perugia in January with my gf|
Why would a seemingly normal, young American exchange student and her Italian, medical student boyfriend of two weeks commit a rape and murder when there was nothing at all in the lead-up to the murder to suggest they would want to do so?
The whole orgy/murder alleged by the prosecution was pretty fantastical. If you add the word "sex" into any news story, it gets a lot more attnetion. I know this even from both working in the media and writing this blog.
Unfortunately, over time, with so much evidence and conflicting testimonies, it feels like the truth is almost impossible to come by.
The whole case reminded me very much of the murder trial of David Bain in New Zealand. He was accused on murdering his whole family in my hometown of Dunedin in 1994. In his first trial in 1995 he was convicted and through the appeals process he served 13 years in prison. He had a retrial in 2009 (much of which I attended) and was acquitted.
Short of the victim returning from the grave to tell the world what happened to them, we will never know the full truth. There are only theories.
When I talked to people in Perugia, the opinion were mixed as to the guilt or innocence of Knox and Sollecito. Some people really, really hated Knox. They believed her promiscuity and murder had brought the small Italian city into disrepute. Lumumba had fired Knox after she had worked at his bar as a waitress. She apparently flirted with customers and didn't have a good work ethic.
A week later she accused her boss of being the murderer. There were also weird stories of Knox buying lingerie just the day after the murder and doing handstands for police in the cell just after she had been arrested. Perhaps this came down to shock?
I spoke to others including a Swedish friend who flatted with a close friend of Amanda Knox and was adamant that it was an incompetent Perugian policing that accounted for the conviction.
Whatever the case.. They are free now and the 26 year old Ivory Coast man, Guede, will continue to serve his time.
A former FBI serial killer-profiler looked into the case and had this to say:
E: What was your conclusion of the behavioral profiles you conducted?
JD: From the profiles created, none of the behavioral or forensic evidence leads to Amanda and Raffaele. There's no history or experience related to violence or mental illness in their backgrounds. None of the behavioral or forensic evidence leads to them. This is not a case of serial killers, cold blooded murderers. They used marijuana, but that’s not some hard core drug that will change a normal personality. They should’ve walked out of there.
Here are my questions:
* If the evidence was handled properly and more clear-cut would this case have dragged out over four years?
* Would there have been so much media attention if Amanda Knox was unattractive?
* Now that she and Sollecito are free will either of them or both them write books about their experience and make money? Is it right if they do?
* Will they do televised interviews? Will Knox appear on 60 minutes?
* Can you ever resume a relatively normal life after an ordeal like this? If so, how long will it take? Knox and Sollecito will always have people who think they did it, regardless of the overturning of the conviction.
So what do you think? I'll respond to any questions or comments...