HISTORY OF THE CASE
[SVOLGIMENTO DEL PROCESSO, pp. 8- 25; translated by komponisto]
On 11-2-2007, shortly after 1:00 pm, the dead body of English student Meredith Kercher (who was born in London on 12-28-1985 and had come to Italy in late summer of 2007 under the auspices of the Erasmus program to attend courses at the University for Foreigners of Perugia) was discovered in the apartment at Via Della Pergola 7 in Perugia.
The lifeless body was stretched out on the floor of the bedroom that Meredith Kercher occupied in the apartment (property of Mrs. Aldalia Tattanelli) rented by Meredith Kercher along with three other young women: Amanda Marie Knox (a youth who had come from the United States to attend a course at the University for Foreigners), Filomena Romanelli, and Laura Mezzetti.
After conducting the investigation, the Office of the Prosecutor of the Republic of Perugia initiated criminal prosecution [esercitava l’azione penale], for the murder of Meredith Kercher and other related crimes, against Knox; Raffaele Sollecito, a student at the School [facoltà] of Computer Engineering at the University of Perugia [Università degli Studi di Perugia, to be distinguished from the University for Foreigners], who for a few days had been in an amorous relationship [aveva stretto una relazione sentimentale] with Knox and was by then about to graduate; [and] Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivorian citizen who had resided in Perugia from childhood.
In actuality, following “spontaneous” statements made by Knox prior to her arrest, Diya Lumumba (at whose business [locale] Knox sometimes worked) was also arrested as a perpetrator of the crime at first, but later, once his alibi had been verified, he was released.
Precautionary detention in prison was ordered in the case of all of the defendants, [a measure] which — as chiefly interests us here [per quanto qui soprattutto interessa] — survived their respective challenges [impugnazioni], despite the fact that, shortly after it took effect, one of the pieces of evidence [indizi] which had been regarded as decisive until then, in the case of Raffaele Sollecito, had collapsed: the attribution to him of a shoe print stained with blood, found near the victim’s body — a print which, however, was subsequently attributed with certainty to Rudy Guede.
At the preliminary hearing, the relatives of Meredith Kercher, Mrs. Aldalia Tattanelli, and also, against only Knox (with reference to Charge F, crime of calumny), Diya Lumumba, filed as [si costituivano] civil parties.
The preliminary hearing ended on 10-28-2008.
The proceedings against Rudy Guede took the form of a fast-track trial [Rudy Guede definiva il procedimento nella forma del giudizio abbreviato, lit. “Rudy Guede defined the proceedings in the form of abbreviated judgement”], which he had requested; for Amanda Marie Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the Preliminary Judge [GUP, Giudice dell’Udienza Preliminare, i.e. Paolo Micheli] at the Tribunal of Perugia ordered referral to judgement [rinvio a giudizio, a concept roughly corresponding to indictment] before the Corte di Assise of Perugia with a hearing on 12-4-2008.
The defendants were referred to judgement with regard to the following crimes:
A) multiply-aggravated murder of Meredith Kercher, in material conspiracy [concorso materiale] with Rudy Guede;
B) carrying a knife (Exhibit 36 of the narrative to follow), allegedly constituting the murder weapon, taken from Sollecito’s residence without a justifiable reason.
C) sexual violence, in conspiracy with Rudy Hermann Guede in the role of [primary] perpetrator, against Meredith Kercher, aggravated under the present circumstances [ipotesi aggravata] in the sense of C.P. Article 609-ter no. 2 due to the use of the knife under Charge B, employed to accomplish [mettere a segno] the violent and threatening behavior [le condotte di violenza e minaccia].
D) theft of property belonging to Meredith Kercher (two cellular telephones, a sum of money, two credit cards from British banking institutions) ;
E) the crime under C.P. Article 367 with the aggravating circumstance of [criminal] purpose [nesso teleologico, lit. “teleological nexus”], assuming that the defendants had staged an attempted burglary in the bedroom of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox’s roommate (Filomena Romanelli) with the aim of attributing the responsibility for the murder and hypothesized sexual violence suffered by Meredith Kercher to the unknown persons [who would have] penetrated the apartment;
F) for Amanda Knox only, the crime of calumny against Diya Lumumba, known as “Patrick”, an offense charged as a continuation [nella forma continuata] in that the alleged false accusations, regarding Lumumba’s responsability for the murder of Meredith Kercher, were contained in several statements made by Knox to investigators on November 6, 2007 and in a note [memoriale] presented to the Police on 11-6-2007; a crime aggravated in the sense of C.P. Article 61 no. 2 given that it was hypothesized that, with this false accusation, Amanda Knox sought to obtain impunity for herself, for Raffaele Sollecito, and for Rudy Hermann Guede.
The trial opened on 1-16-2009 (the first hearing having been delayed from 12-4-2008 to that date) and lasted for about a year.
In its verdict of December 4-5, 2009, the Corte di Assise of Perugia — after having rejected various investigative requests during the trial proceedings with rulings that — as we will see later — have been challenged by attorneys for the defendants — declared Amanda Marie Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of the crimes attributed to them under letters A), into which offense the crime under letter C) was incorporated, B), D) limited to the cellular telephones, and E) for Amanda Knox only, of the crime attributed to her under letter F); while they were acquitted of the crime under letter D) with respect to the other objects and sums of money, with the formula “because the act did not take place” [perché il fatto non sussiste].
The crimes of which they were declared guilty being bound together by continuation, without the aggravating circumstances under C.P. Articles 577 and 61 no. 5, and with mitigating circumstances equivalent to the remaining aggravating circumstance, Amanda Marie Knox was sentenced to the penalty of 26 years of confinement, and Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to the penalty of 25 years of confinement (the basis penalty for purposes of continuation being fixed at 24 years of confinement), as well as the payment of court costs [spese processuali] and accessory penalties under law; they were furthermore sentenced jointly to the reimbursement of damages and the refunding of legal expenses [spese processuali] to the civil parties who filed (relatives of Meredith Kercher and Aldalia Tattanelli), and Amanda Knox only also to the reimbursement of damages to Patrick Diya Lumumba, to be paid separately but with immediately operative interim compensation orders for significant amounts.
The motivation of the ruling occupies some 425 pages (the final 3 contain the order [dispositivo]), most of which are used to minutely describe the history [svolgimento] of the trial, as well as the context of the case, but the reasons for which the Corte di Assise arrived at this decision can be summarized as follows:
Falsity of Alibi
The Court, even under the heading of exposition, starts precisely from this first assumption [dato], described first both in the case history and in the conclusions: it is not true — according to the Court — that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito spent the night between November 1 and 2 at [Sollecito’s] house; “No evidence” — to quote the ruling — “has, however, confirmed that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were not in the house on Via Della Pergola on the late evening of that November 1.”
In particular, the Court finds: that there is no proof that Raffaele Sollecito’s computer was used after 9:10 pm and until 5:32 am the next day; that they were seen around 10:00 pm and until around 11 pm in the square in front of the University for Foreigners (located near Via Della Pergola) by witness Antonio Curatolo (to be held reliable according to the Court exactly because he — basically a bum [clochard] — usually frequents that location, with which he therefore well acquainted [del quale conosce dunque bene le abitudine], but also because , in order locate his memory in time, he connects it to specific circumstances, such as the departure — also that [same] evening during which he saw Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito — of young people for the discotheques via the buses provided by the owners [thereof], and the sight of “people dressed in white, Police, Carabinieri…” the following morning (personnel of the Scientific Police who were entering and exiting the house on Via Della Pergola during their inspection). The Court also finds: that the deep slumber into which the two supposedly collapsed after dinner is contrary to Amanda Knox’s early-rising habits and the fact that the two had planned to go on a trip to Gubbio, to the extent that Raffaele Sollecito’s father called him at 9:24 am to find out if they had left; that the text message sent by his father in the evening was received by Raffaele Sollecito only in the morning at 6:02 am (as shown by the phone records), which leads one to believe — according to the Court — that Raffaele Sollecito had kept his phone off until that hour of the morning; that early in the morning, moreover, Amanda Knox was seen near the grocery store of Mr. Quintavalle who recognized her — according to statements made a year after the fact, however.
Staging of the Breaking of a Window
Again as part of its exposition, the Court posits as a second assumption the alleged [ritenuta] staging of the breaking of the window in Romanelli’s bedroom. In the eyes of the Court, this was a mise-en-scène for the purpose of leading investigators into error regarding the means of entry of the perpetrator into the residence.
The belief that it was a staging derives — according to the Court — from various pieces of evidence recovered from the scene during the inspection: glass which ended up on top of the objects displaced by the hypothetical intruder, given that the objects, if ransacked after the entrance into the room, should have been on top of the glass fragments and not under them; the fact that no signs of anyone climbing the wall were revealed outside (a nail in the outer wall turned out to be wholly straight and intact, whereas any climb (which would have been difficult as the window was 3 meters high) would have entailed at least the displacement or weakening [acciaccatura] of this nail); the difficulty of breaking the window with a rock considering that the shutters [persiane], pulled near by Romanelli because of the difficulty of closing them due to swelling of the wood, would have to have been open first.
The staging of the burglary — observes the Court — could be carried out only by someone with an interest in seeing to it that another, much easier, means of entrance (the key to the main door) were ruled out [by investigators], and therefore, someone who had access to the key: obviously not the victim but not the other roommates (Filomena Romanelli and Laura Mezzetti) either, because it is certain that they were elsewhere (Mezzetti with her family in Montefiascone, Romanelli in Perugia but at another house with her boyfriend and other friends); hence only Amanda Knox. Which, considering also that the entry door was not in any way forced, leads one to believe — argues the Court — that it was none other than Amanda Knox (who was [indeed] with Raffaele Sollecito, but at the house on Via Della Pergola rather than at his house) who let Rudy Guede inside; in fact, the Court observes, Amanda and Rudy (who was also attracted to her) were already acquainted.
The Court attempts to formulate various hypotheses about the way in which Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, on the one hand, and Rudy Guede, on the other, met on that evening — whether [Guede] arrived alone when [the other two] were already in the house, or whether all three of them went to Via Della Pergola together — as well as the purpose of Rudy Guede’s entry into that residence: whether to stay in the company of the other two, to spend the night there, or [even] only to use the bathroom (as he had done before, but in the apartment on the lower floor, occupied by a few young men). But, among these hypotheses, the Court opts for the three youths having met at around 11:00 pm in the square in front of the University for Foreigners, and having then headed to Via Della Pergola.
The Court, moreover, does not assign importance to the fact that on other occasions and in other places, Rudy Guede had indeed entered via windows in order to commit robbery.
Conspiracy [Concorso nel reato]
Having established, for the reasons summarized above, that all three of them were in the house on Via Della Pergola during the night between November 1 and 2, 2007, the Court finds that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito conspired with Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher, firstly because otherwise they would not have had reason — in the Court’s opinion — to offer a false alibi, as well as to stage the fake break-in through the window; but then, also because of evidence [indizi] drawn from medical and genetic investigations.
Since Meredith Kercher, when she was attacked, was still awake, standing, and completely dressed (as evidenced by the clothing found on her, by the place where the body lay at the moment of discovery, as well as by the location of objects and blood spots), it must be held — the Court observes — that the aggressor could not have acted alone; also because of Meredith Kercher’s physical condition (strong and agile), and the fact that she had even practiced martial arts (karaté) in the past would have allowed her to defend herself more effectively from a single aggressor, whereas, however, the lack of appreciable wounds, which are normally found on the arms of persons attacked with a knife (so-called defensive wounds), reveal that, notwithstanding the conditions explained (physical and situational), she was not able to mount any effective resistance: evidently the attackers had an easy time because there were three of them.
The Court adds that one attacker, alone, would not have been able to undress her and perform the sexual acts, revealed by the results of the vaginal swab (DNA of Rudy Guede), after having laid her down on a pillow, nor, especially, cut the hooks of the bra, insofar as the latter action, necessarily performed while standing behind the young woman, required the use of both hands: which, in the case of a single attacker, would have provided her an opportunity to wriggle out.
But, above all, it is the differing morphology of the inflicted wounds, and their number and diffusion, which confirm — in the Court’s eyes — the three-way conspiracy.
The different trajectories [tramiti] to the right (4 cm) and to the left (8 cm) are explained by a difference of blades (one of which is wholly compatible with the knife seized from Raffaele Sollecito’s residence, Exhibit 36), wielded, of course, by different individuals, also because otherwise– observes the Court — one would have to hypothesize a continuous movement on the part of the aggressor in order to hit the girl from different positions; a hypothesis which is entirely unlikely. On the contrary, the situation can be explained by the fact that each participant in the attack struck the young woman from the position where he or she was located.
The Court, fully accepting the conclusions presented by the Public Minister’s consultants and the Scientific Police (so much so as to have deemed it superfluous to conduct an independent review requested by attorneys for the defendants), finds the results of the genetic tests performed on Exhibit 165 b (bra clasp) and Exhibit 36 (knife seized from the house of Raffaele Sollecito) to be further evidence of the defendants’ guilt. According to the Scientific Police, the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito was identified on the former; on the second, the DNA of Amanda Knox (was found) on the handle, and that of Meredith Kercher on the blade.
The challenges raised by the defendants’ attorneys concerning the reliability of these tests, on the basis of the observations of their own Technical Consultants [C.T.] (in terms of absolute lack of certainty regarding the exclusion of contamination and the untrustworthiness of the method used) will be considered later, in the discussion of the grounds for appeal. Here it is sufficient to observe that in any case, the Corte di Assise finds aid, in convincing itself of the reliability of the aforementioned results, in the fact that these results are, in the end, compatible — in its view — with all the other circumstantial evidence discussed above.
It is obvious that, if, hypothetically, the DNA found on the clasp is indeed Raffaele Sollecito’s, this is a particularly important piece of circumstantial evidence (even if it remains only that); the same may be said for the DNA found on the handle and on the blade of the knife seized from Raffaele Sollecito’s home, provided that it is certain to be one of the weapons used by the attackers.
In particular, it must also be recalled that the Court explains the availability of the knife seized from Raffale Sollecito’s house (and certainly — without question — not among the knives with which the kitchen of the house on Via Della Pergola was equipped) to Amanda Knox at the moment of the crime thus: since Amanda Knox, because of her job, had to go out alone even at night, Raffaele Sollecito had probably given her that knife for reasons of self-defense, a knife which she could transport in her capacious purse, so that she found the knife available to her on the evening of the crime.
Hence, according to the Court, the results of the genetic tests are consistent with all the other evidence.
The Court then did not deem it necessary to proceed to an independent review of the genetics, as requested by the defendants’ attorneys, regarding the traces present on the pillowcase which was under the young woman’s pelvis [bacino] at the time the body was discovered (presumably traces of sperm), for the reason that — as the Court explains — given that Meredith Kercher unquestionably had an active sexual life, it would have been irrelevant to determine the nature of those traces, as well as to identify the individual who had left them, also because — as explained by the consultants — it is not possible to date the moment of release of traces containing DNA.
The Court does assign importance, as evidence, to the biological traces found in the small bathroom, next to the bedrooms of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox, and generally in use by both girls.
Although it is not possible, in this case either, to identify the moment at which those traces were left, the Court finds, in view of the positioning [dislocazione] of the traces inside the bathroom, that they clearly represent the way in which the events of the case unfolded: as the bathroom is next to Meredith Kercher’s bedroom, it is logical — observes the Court — that the killer went into this bathroom to wash off the victim’s blood.
Hence the fact that the traces of Meredith Kercher’s blood were found on the light switch, which had to be turned on prior to washing, as well as on the wall near the entrance; hence [also] the fact that footprints, left by a foot soiled with blood, were found on the mat in the bathroom, and also, and especially, the fact that traces of blood containing the DNA of Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher, mixed together, were found in the sink and in the bidet; to quote the ruling: “they appear to show the signs of an activity of cleaning hands and feet performed in the sink and in the bidet, an activity which, by the action of rubbing, entailed the cleaning of the victim’s blood, and could entail the loss of flaking cells on the part of the person doing the cleaning: the two biological traces thus come to unite into that sole trace described by Dr. Brocci, and which, due to the presence of blood, assumed a faded red coloration, like washed blood.”
Furthermore, the Court, despite the fact that no DNA belonging to Raffaele Sollecito was found in the bathroom, finds that the footprint found inside the bathroom was impressed by none other than Sollecito, also in consideration of the fact that the shoeprints which lead from Meredith Kercher’s room to the door of the apartment are wholly compatible with shoes of the size and model that Rudy Guede would have been using, an empty box having been found inside his apartment.
Thus — observes the Court — if Rudy Guede ran away immediately with bloody shoes, the aforementioned footprint and the other traces found in the bathroom lead one to believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, after the killing of Meredith Kercher, went into the bathroom together to wash blood off of themselves.
Traces revealed by Luminol
The Court finds that all the traces revealed by luminol in Amanda Knox’s room and in Romanelli’s, considering that no other substances susceptible of being revealed in a similar way were found, and given the context, are traces of blood left by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in moving around inside the house, with the aim of looking outside Amanda Knox’s room, as well as that of Romanelli, to make sure that people were not present in the street; [Knox and Sollecito] having been alarmed by the fact that Meredith Kercher’s scream, and the presence of a stopped automobile nearby (which Raffaele Sollecito had occasion to notice when he was in the square in front of the University) could have caught somebody’s attention.
Conclusions of the Corte di Assise
The Corte di Assise finds that the facts concerning the activity of the cellular phones used by Meredith Kercher, which show that these were present on Via Della Pergola until 10:13 pm, and however on Via Sperandio the next day at 10: 13 am, to be consistent with the evidence discussed.
And thus it places the time of death a few minutes after 11:30 pm, this time finding confirmation — according to the Corte di Assise — in the autopsy data.
But — in the Court’s view — the behavior subsequently displayed (the fact that Amanda Knox went to Mr. Quintavalle’s store in the very early hours of the morning to purchase cleaning products) also constitutes further evidence of particular gravity — also because it is denied by the defendant [herself] — given the [apparent] urgency of the need to clean the house on Via Della Pergola. And, further, the fact that Amanda Knox had made a call — to try to find Meredith Kercher, according to her — to only one cellular phone and not the other; the Corte di Assise in fact holds that she had no need to call the other phone, as she knew full well what had happened, while the call [that she did make] apparently had only the purpose of finding out whether or not the phones, thrown away together, had been found.
Finally, the Corte di Assise confronts the difficulty of explaining such cruel conduct in the absence of a plausible motive, and, ruling out premeditation, finds that what happened was on the one hand the product of a set of random circumstances, and on the other hand of a choice of extreme experimentation, a choice of evil for the sake of evil. As the Corte di Assise would have it, Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, happening to find themselves with a free evening (Amanda Knox no longer had to go to work, and Raffaele Sollecito no longer had to accompany a friend to the bus station), went to Amanda Knox’s house, where, perhaps after having made use of mind-altering substances, they proceeded to make love in her room. But Rudy Guede was also present in the same apartment (either because he went there together with the other two, or because he was let in later), and he, after having been in the bathroom (and having left his own feces in the toilet without flushing), found himself in an environment full of erotic temptations [sollecitazioni]: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in her room making love, and a girl alone in her own room, Meredith Kercher, who thus became a predestined object of desire. Rejected by her, Rudy Guede, instead of running away, persevered in the attempt to achieve his intentions…but at this point, evidently alerted by the commotion, Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox rushed into Meredith Kercher’s room and, instead of defending her, took the side of Rudy Guede, in order to experience this new emotion: eros and violence, to which — according to the Court — they were already inclined, particularly Raffaele, as revealed by his reading of books and viewing of films of this sort, as well as the use of mind-altering substances. The injuries and the homicide were neither planned nor intended as a direct purpose of their actions, but accepted, at any rate, as a predictable outcome [evoluzione] of the latter.
Whence the culpability of both defendants with respect to all the crimes attributed to them (murder, staging of a crime, unlawful carrying of a knife [porto abusivo di coltello], theft of phones).
Concerning the crime of calumny against Patrick Lumumba, the Court observes that, since obviously Amanda Knox knew very well how things had happened, she was clearly aware of [Lumumba’s] total innocence, and nor was there evidence to substantiate her claim that she accused Patrick Lumumba because she was somehow convinced that this was what the Police wanted from her: to give the name of a guilty party, by whatever means.
In determining the sentence, the Court held the crime of sexual violence to be absorbed into the more serious crime of murder as a special aggravating circumstance, while it rejected the aggravating circumstance of disabling the victim’s defenses [la minorata difesa] on the consideration that Meredith Kercher, when she was attacked, was in her own room, awake, and still dressed, in conditions of full consciousness and complete reactive capacity; and it also rejected the aggravating circumstance of futile reasons, due to its being alleged in an entirely general manner.
Both defendants were granted mitigating circumstances due to being extremely young, without criminal records or pending charges, and with a lifestyle [condotta di vita] that, apart from the personal use of mind-altering substances, was deserving of appreciation (involved in studies, work, helpful toward others), and finally far from their repsective families, from the proximity and control that they still needed.
The mitigating circumstances were held to be equivalent to the special aggravating circumstance alleged.
The crimes being bound together by continuation, with the crime of murder obviously being deemed the most important [grave] for the purpose of determining the sentence, the Court therefore imposed 25 years upon Raffaele Sollecito and 26 upon Amanda Knox (she was in fact responsible for the crime of calumny as well), as well as accessory penalties under law, and the payment of court costs (basis penalty 24 years ; increased to 24 years and 6 months for the staging, 24 years and 9 months for the carrying of the knife, 25 years for the theft; and finally, for Amanda Knox, an extra year for the calumny).
Finally, the Court sentenced the defendants to the reimbursement of damages in favor of the civil parties who filed, to be paid separately, also recognizing interim compensation orders for significant amounts, and setting the expenses as appreciably high [in misura apprezzabile] in view of the length and complexity of the proceedings.
The ruling was promptly appealed by the attorneys for Amanda Knox (Messrs. Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova) and Raffaele Sollectio (Mr. Luca Maori and Ms. Giulia Bongiorno), but also by the Public Minister, while the attorneys for the relatives of Meredith Kercher, filing as civil parties (John Kercher, Arline Kercher, Lyle Kercher, John Ashley Kercher, Stephanie Kercher), Mr. Francesco Maresca and Ms. Serena Perna, submitted a brief [hanno presentato una memoria] to reaffirm the validity of the motivation of the ruling.
The respective appeals and requests are based on grounds which will be examined below.
Ms. Letizia Magnini, attorney for civil party Aldalia Tattanelli, and Mr. Carlo Pacelli for civil party Diya Lumumba, although present, did not submit briefs.
As stated, attorneys for the Kercher civil parties, Mr. Francesco Maresca and Ms. Serena Perna, submitted a brief reaffirming the validity of the motivation of the ruling.
In particular, regarding the staging of the burglary, they argue that, in their opinion, it is impossible for there really to have been an entrance through the window of Filomena Romanelli’s room, since the absence of any trace whatsoever on the wall below the window rules that out; as does the presence of a nail lacking any deformation, situated on the same wall; the absence of glass found underneath the window; and the presence of glass on top of the objects in Romanelli’s room, and not under them, [all of] which confirm the staging of the scene [l’attività simulatoria].
Regarding the acquaintance of the three defendants and the existence of a conspiracy among them, in addition to reiterating the evidence already cited [rappresentati] by the Corte di Assise in the motivation of the ruling (multiplicity and location of wounds; traces revealed by luminol; biological and genetic traces of Rudy Guede on the straps of the victim’s bra and of Raffaele Sollecito on the clasp of the bra), they observe that, in actuality, Amanda Knox represented the means of acquaintance between Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito, and that the understanding between them could have been instantaneous, reached in the imminence of the crime. They add that the choice on the part of Rudy Guede not to respond to questions [esame], and the objection [dissenso] of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s attorneys to the introduction of statements made by Rudy Guede to the Public Minister, also serve to confirm the participation of all [three] in the commission of the crime.
Regarding the medical aspects, they retrace all the issues [profili] that were the object of forensic investigation [accertamenti medico-legali] to demonstrate the correctness of the reconstruction made by the Corte di Assise (in particular concerning the time of death, the necessary participation of more than one person in the commission of the crime, [and] the compatibility of the seized knife with certain important wounds inflicted upon the victim).
Regarding the footprints, they observe that those found inside the residence reveal the presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the scene of the crime. These footprints cannot, from a scientific point of view, be described as useful for positive comparisons, but they are useful for negative comparisons, in the sense that, based on these prints, one cannot arrive at an identification that is certain, but one may, however, arrive at an exclusion that is certain on the basis of whether or not the prints are compatible with a particular individual. The Scientific Police (Inspector Rinaldi and Chief Inspector Boemia) was thus able to rule out that the footprints could be attributed to Rudy Guede (unlike the shoeprint), while they are compatible with the characteristics of Amanda Knox (prints found in her bedroom and in the hallway) and of Raffaele Sollecito (prints found on the bathmat and in the hallway).
Ultimately, the attorneys for the aforementioned civil parties urge that the participation of all of the defendants in the act, as reconstructed at trial, be confirmed.
The Public Ministers*, in their own incidental appeal, lament the “erroneous rejection of the aggravating circumstance under C.P. Article 61 no. 1 (having acted for base and futile reasons) — Absolute failure to motivate”. They maintain that the Corte di Assise should not have apodictically ruled out this aggravating circumstance, but [instead] should have investigated the merits to find out whether it was present: exactly the same arguments put forth by the Court with regard to the motive of “the choice of evil for the sake of evil, the desire to get a new experience of eros and violence” should have led one to recognize the aggravating circumstance in question.
They furthermore lament the “erroneous granting of mitigating circumstance under C.P. Article 62-bis“: they maintain that the evidence on which the Court based its decision to recognize mitigating circumstances is not actually appropriate for this purpose, and for each such item of evidence, they present observations designed to restrict its scope.
Whence the need to recalculate the sentence [rideterminare la misura della pena].
The grounds for appeal presented by the two defendants’ attorneys in their appeal briefs [con l’atto di appello], and the further supplementary grounds [ulteriore motivi aggiunti], although formally separate, and characterized by arguments specific to each person [argomentazioni personalizzate], can nonetheless be discussed together, at least in their essential outlines, insofar as they deal with the same points and are supported by similar arguments.
Even before specific grounds for nullification [nullità], or the necessity of ordering particular obligatory investigations (requested at the first-level trial but not admitted by the Corte di Assise) are cited, the criterion followed in general by the Corte di Assise is challenged: according to the appellants, the Corte di Assise, starting from the belief — manifested from the very first pages of the ruling — that the account offered by the defendants is false, ended up assigning probative value to items of evidence that in themselves are not reliable at all (for a series of reasons also cited by the Technical Consultants for the defense), such as the results of the genetic tests conducted by the Scientific Police; as opposed to independently assessing the reliability and significance of those results, to then test whether they hold up in light of the version offered by the defendants. And thus, following this incorrect path, [the Court] ended up arriving at a finding of guilt based on a subjective belief, at most probabilistic in nature, rather than on meaningful and objective probative evidence such as to exclude all reasonable doubt regarding the guilt of the defendants.
The need to arrive at a decision beyond all reasonable doubt, and the necessity of starting from the only objectively appreciable evidence, justify — in the eyes of the appellants — the petition to reopen trial proceedings, and the admission of the means of proof requested.
Above all, they cite the need to order an expert review of the genetics, since, in light of the observations presented by the defense consultants, the tests performed by the Scientific Police (Dr. Stefanoni) cannot be considered reliable, as they were conducted according to procedures not wholly conforming to international scientific protocols. In particular, with regard to the traces allegedly found on the seized knife, due to having proceeded with the DNA identification procedure even though the quantity of the trace was lower than what is considered sufficient to obtain a reliable result (described by the expression low copy number) ; and, with regard to the trace on the bra clasp, attributed to Sollecito, due to having deemed the result to be reliable without taking into account the numerous probable contamination scenarios that would alter it, given the manner in which the piece of the bra with the clasp [on it] was recovered. Indeed, it is to be recalled that this item, identified with certainty in the course of the initial inspection, when it was found under the pillow on which Meredith Kercher was lying, then literally disappeared from view, [and was] completely overlooked in the course of the investigation until, about 40 days later, in the course of another inspection, it was found in the same room, but located elsewhere, at about the distance of a meter [from where it had been], under a carpet.
But in any case, they criticize almost every passage of the ruling, as can be seen from the grounds for appeal presented by each defense, challenging the verdict and the rulings with which the first-level Corte di Assise rejected their investigative requests.
This Court, after having addressed the challenges to the [procedural] rulings issued by the first-level Corte di Assise — as reflected by the provisions appearing in the record — ordered the partial reopening of trial proceedings, particularly with the aim of conducting an expert review of the genetics, and hearing certain witnesses.
Finally, at its last session [all’udienza odierna, lit. “at today’s hearing”], after all debate had been exhausted, and the statements of the two defendants had been taken, [the Court] decided as indicated in the order.
*“Il Pubblico Ministero“, singular in the original. Changed to the plural here both for the sake of accuracy (the appeal has two authors, Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Comodi) and to avoid the problem of having to choose between the pronouns “he” and “she” (each of them applying to one of the aforementioned prosecutors, and not the other!). In other passages of the document where the singular is used, it is preserved in the translation when appropriate and feasible. [Translator’s note.]
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