Sunday, September 25, 2011


"Italian reporter Elio Bertoldi, of Corriere Dell’Umbria, had predicted that the trial’s ugliest moments would come at the end (“in the tail is the poison,” a Roman proverb). Prosecutors did not disappoint. Close your eyes. Ignore science. Feel, don’t think. When in doubt, insult. That was the level of argument all weekend by four prosecutors (yes, four as if for a Mafiosi trial)."



“Would you entrust the wedding reception of your only daughter to someone who knew all the recipes by heart but had never actually cooked?” prosecutor Manuela Comodi actually asked judges and jurors during closing arguments in the Amanda Knox appeal trial this weekend. It resumes Monday in Perugia, Italy," Candace Dempsey's commentary begins under the heading, "Amanda Knox prosecutor: Ignore science, demand life, think of wedddings."

"Look for a verdict Oct. 3 or 4. Prosecutors have requested life (30 years) for Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the slashing death of Amanda’s roommate Meredith Kercher,"
the commentary continues.

"In a festival of food references, illogic and misinformation, Comodi insisted that police forensic expert Patrizia Stefanoni, who lacks a doctorate in forensics, correctly identified crucial DNA traces. Two judge-appointed, independent Roman forensic experts with advanced degrees beg to disagree. They’ve declared her work “unreliable.” Not just “inconclusive,” but worthless, meaningless, out. Their 145-page report was scathing and meticulous. They found more than 50 errors in the sloppy police investigation. And that was before Stefanoni sparked laughter in court by admitting that she stored key evidence in the victim’s shared refrigerator and then sent it off to the Rome lab, not even accredited at the time.

Comodi freely insulted the judge’s hand-picked experts, a risky and desperate strategy. Rather than cite any errors in technique, she resorted to name-calling. Their work was “embarrassing,” she claimed and they had failed their task, “betraying” the court.

Guiliano Mignini: Not too fond of Americans

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, convicted of abuse of office, nodded off through much of this rhetoric. The previous day, he had accused Amanda of “Nazism,” an insult to her German mother and grandmother. Without irony, he complained about a trial by media that he created and continues to feed via his numerous contacts with the press. He spoke of Amanda supporters as if they were foreign spies, amusing ex-FBI agent and vocal critic Steve Moore, who was in the stands, unbeknownst to the prosecutor.

Italian reporter Elio Bertoldi, of Corriere Dell’Umbria, had predicted that the trial’s ugliest moments would come at the end (“in the tail is the poison,” a Roman proverb). Prosecutors did not disappoint. Close your eyes. Ignore science. Feel, don’t think. When in doubt, insult. That was the level of argument all weekend by four prosecutors (yes, four as if for a Mafiosi trial).

Recall that without DNA the prosecutor has no murder weapon or way to place the former lovers at the scene. That leaves them enjoying a romantic evening at Raffaele’s flat, watching the French film “Amelie,” cooking a fish dinner, reading, using a computer, just as they said.

A mountain of hard evidence points right at drifter/burglar Rudy Guede as the sole killer, even without DNA, but the prosecution pandered to him all weekend. Convicted in a separate trial, he’s serving only 16 years. Even prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who invented the four-way drug-infused orgy theory, spoke of him nearly with affection, even falsely describing Amanda as “rich” in a futile to attempt to make “poor” Rudy sympathetic. By his own admission, Rudy went to a disco after the murder. He fled to Germany with bloody shoes and pants, with knife wounds on his hands. He could easily have been convicted anywhere in the world without the DNA that shows that he sexually violated the victim and rummaged through her purse.

Rudy Guede: A drifter and 2nd-story burglar from the Ivory Coast. He met Amanda once; Raffaele, never. "Grave" evidence points to him as sole killer, every judge has found his alibi "implausible," but he was practically treated as a friend of the court by the prosecution during closing arguments. Convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher, he's serving only 16 years.

Prosecutors had boasted that they didn’t even need DNA to convict these defendants. Many reporters type up this talking point. So what did the ”gigantic rock-solid circumstantial case” consist of? Here are some highlights. Readers, feel free to send me more:

1. Amanda is a terrible person. She didn’t react loudly enough after learning that her roommate was found dead. She cried, but not in the right way, too calm. She kissed her boyfriend. This demonization didn’t work in the last trial. Jurors didn’t agree that Amanda had animosity toward her roommate or that she was a bad person. And what of Raffaele? Is he terrible too?

2. Motive? None. Forget jealousy, housework, stealing of rent money. Prosecutor Comodi brought up Italian cases where Italians killed without a motive, as if Amanda were Italian and somehow rootless and without care for her family, as those killers were. This argument failed in the last trial, since Amanda and Raffaele have strong family support. Jurors concluded that they were good kids who somehow turned murderous because they were both away from home and parental influence on the night of the murder.

3. American college girls become violent when they have sex. Nobody really believes in the sex game gone wrong theory, but prosecutor Giuliano Mignini continues to fantasize about Amanda’s sexual impulses. How does he know she’s evil? Because she owned a vibrator (sold in Italian drugstores, probably next door to the courthouse) and condoms (like, no doubt, most people at the trial).

4. Bloody footprints that don’t exist are damning. Comodi claimed in the first trial that footprints revealed with luminol were bloody, even though they tested negative for blood. She did it again today. She also continues to pretend that blood, DNA and even semen can be dated. No, they cannot.

5. Italy will lose face if Amanda is free. Actually, Italy will look better. It will have shown it respects science. And what does saving face having to do with who killed Meredith Kercher?

Erasmus scholar Meredith Kercher. Her family complains that reporters have forgotten her and focus only on Amanda Knox. But the Kerchers have not appeared in court during the appeal and their only interviews have been in English tabloids.

6. Americanism are control freaks who want to reshape Italian justice. Prosecutor Mignini continues to complain of interference from abroad. If the pressure is too much, why does he choose to prosecute this case? Appeals are supposed to be do-overs with all new prosecutors. He and prosecutor Comodi inserted themselves back into the case. It’s also not fair to blame Amanda for anger in Italy over other cases, where supposedly Americans got away with murder. Again, who killed Meredith Kercher?

7. “Everybody has a dark side.” This could be said about any criminal defendant in the world. A meaningless cliche from Mignini.

8. Mignini changed time of death again. Although science and circumstantial evidence says Meredith died between 9 and 10 p.m. Mignini moved TOD to 11:30 in last trial during closing arguments. Now it’s now 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. This contradicts his own “super witness” Antonio Curatolo. A homeless, professional witness and convicted heroin dealer who’s admitted that he was high on heroin on the night that Meredith died (when he supposedly saw Amanda and Raffaele hovering near the crime scene, on a cold, spooky basketball court, until 11:30 p.m.).

9. The injustice theme is very popular in the U.S., where people like to rebel against authority. Witness the recent celebration over the release of the West Memphis 3. A travesty of justice became a triumph when we welcomed the boys back as if they were wounded soldiers retrieved from enemy lines.

10. If acquitted, Amanda will no doubt be greeted back home like a freed hostage. In U.K. and Italy, reporters are very reluctant to give up “Good girl gone bad.” Women seldom kill and seldom kill each other. It’s such a money-making story. Some reporters are making a major attempt to turn Amanda into a Casey Anthony (a person that Rudy, with his penchant for lying and genius at shifting blame, clearly resembles). Americans will write about Amanda as if she were one of the U.S. hikers freed this week in Iran. Unlike Casey, her family and city (Seattle) will welcome her back with open arms.

11. Mixed blood, but there is no mixed blood. We now know Mignini is the one who’s been advancing this false talking point, popular with self-styled “guilt” reporters. In fact, no mixed blood was found anywhere. Amanda left a drop of blood in the bathroom shared with Kercher. This small drop became “large” in press reports this weekend. In fact it was so inconspicuous that the police who first arrived at the scene were reluctant to break down Meredith’s door. “Don’t worry, it’s not like there’s a body under the couch,” they told one of Amanda’s roommates.

12. A couple having a romantic evening cannot turn off their cellphones unless they plan to kill. First, the only reason the prosecution knows Amanda and Raffaele turned off their cellphones is that they told them that. Amanda said she turned hers off after her boss called, saying she didn’t have to work. She didn’t want him to call back and change his mind. Raffaele turned his off “sometime later.” Why is this suspicious again? If they wanted to conceal their movements, then they could simply have left their cellphones at home when they went to kill Meredith.

13. Nobody can agree on what time Amanda and Raffaele had dinner. She remembers one time; he remembers another. Raffaele’s dad said he called them and they were having dinner and that was yet another time. Try this sometime with your spouse, after spending an evening together. See if you can remember meaningless times and get each detail exactly right.

14. Amanda is guilty because Mignini felt bad when he saw Meredith’s “open eyes.” Prosecutors have equated a guilty verdict with “remembering” Meredith Kercher. It took a British reporter, CNN’s Matthew Chance, to tweet:

“Kercher pain unspeakable, but trials are about evidence, surely?”

Readers, there is another option. You can pretend you’re at a wedding.

MURDER IN ITALY, my book on the spell-binding Amanda Knox case, is a Library Journal Bestseller. Winner of Best True Crime 2010 Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice awards. Called “a real-life murder mystery as terrifying and compelling as fiction,” it’s built on diary excerpts, wiretaps, court scenes, trial transcripts, first-hand experience and interviews with key players for all sides.

I’m an award-winning, Italian-American journalist based in Seattle, Amanda Knox’s hometown. I’ve covered the Knox case from Day One and will continue until it ends.

MURDER IN ITALY is online at, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and bookstores. It’s also a Kindle & ebook."

The commentary can be found at"

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;;