Behavior Following the Murder

[Comportamento successivo alla verificazione dell’omicidio, pp. 130 – 136; translated by teddypots, a.k.a. Newcomer]

The Corte di Assise of first level also attributed evidentiary value to the behaviour of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito following the occurrence [verificazione] of the murder of Meredith Kercher (morning of 2 November).

Amanda Knox’s conduct that morning (whether or not she stayed until late at the home of Raffaele Sollecito, if she went to Via Della Pergola to take a shower before departing for Gubbio etc…) has already been dealt with previously, in particular in the section [paragrafo] concerning the alibi. Here it should be noted that the Corte di Assise of first level also focused its attention on the telephone calls made by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito that morning, maintaining that there were noticeable contradictions about them, interpreted as being symptomatic of the awareness of the two youths about their responsibility for what happened.

From the examination of the logs [tabulati], it emerges that the first telephone call was made (at 12:07 pm) by Amanda Knox to Meredith Kercher, to one of the numbers in use by her, which of course received no response.

There is nothing suspicious about this telephone call: it is clear that Amanda Knox, if actually innocent and therefore alarmed about some of the strange things that she had noticed in the house on Via Della Pergola (starting with the front door found open, continuing with the broken window in Romanelli’s bedroom and with  the door of Meredith Kercher’s bedroom found closed, and also the presence of some traces of blood in the bathroom), as a first step, and after having spoken to Raffaele Sollecito, thought of contacting Meredith Kercher to ensure that nothing had happened to her.

Nor is it logical to hold – as was however held by the Corte di Assise of first level – that this telephone call had the sole purpose of ensuring that the mobile phone had not been found since, on the contrary, it can be assumed that the phone ringing could have facilitated its discovery, if the mobile phone had not yet been found (as indeed happened): which, if they had been guilty would have been the opposite of the desired outcome. In addition, one cannot comprehend why two young adults, surely experts in the usage of mobile phones and – according to the reasoning of the Corte di Assise of first level and the Public Minister, – so crafty as to stage a burglary with a break-in to distance suspicion away from themselves, and to call the Carabinieri themselves and to be found there [outside the house on Via Della Pergola], as well as taking the murder weapon back to Sollecito’s house, putting it back with the other cutlery in the kitchen drawer, then, however,  did not think of taking the SIM card [scheda] and the battery out of the mobile phones before throwing them away, so as to make their discovery practically impossible.

Immediately after (at 12:08 pm) Amanda Knox calls Filomena Romanelli to inform [partecipare] her of her state of distress: this call is also understandable, given that Filomena Romanelli lived in the same house.

Then Amanda Knox, because Romanelli does not tell her to immediately call the police but rather to check better the situation and then to call her back, makes another call to the other number in use by Meredith Kercher (at 12:11 pm), but obviously this call also receives no response.

At this point, however, Romanelli, after having evidently reflected a few moments and having grown concerned, calls Amanda Knox back, telling her to alert the Carabinieri. And then a little later, Raffaele Sollecito, who was with Amanda Knox, calls his sister Vanessa (but there is a reason for this: she is an officer of the Carabinieri) and immediately after (at 12:51 pm) and again at 12:57 pm [calls] the Carabinieri (at the number 112), while Amanda Knox calls her family in America because evidently, in the pressure of the moment [nel precipitare degli eventi], she also sensed an increased need to inform her family about [partecipare alla sua famiglia] her concern.

As is known, the Police arrived before the Carabinieri – but this only by fortuitous chance, because through the discovery of the mobile phones it had been possible to trace them to the house on Via Della Pergola, where the owners of the mobile phones lived (Romanelli for the telephone utilized by Meredith Kercher to call within Italy and Meredith Kercher for the one utilized for calling England).

There has been much discussion on whether the call to 112 happened before or after the arrival of the Police, with it having been hypothesized by the Public Minister that the call to the Carabinieri at 112 had been made on seeing the arrival of the Police, just to validate the  notion [tesi] of their innocence. Except that even the Corte di Assise of first level, on the basis of the testimony given by the on-duty Police personnel and of the times reproduced from the logs, arrived at the conclusion that these calls had been made before the arrival of the Police and unaware of their imminent arrival. And, for that matter, what makes irrelevant the problem of whether the call to the Carabinieri was before or after the arrival of the Police is the fact that Amanda Knox had already called Filomena Romanelli at 12:08 pm, certainly before the arrival of the Police, such that at that point, she had already informed [partecipato] another person [soggetto estraneo] (whether it was the Carabinieri or Filomena Romanelli in this context does not matter) that they (Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito) had entered into the house on Via Della Pergola, finding a situation that caused alarm.

But another circumstantial piece of evidence is identified by the Corte di Assise of first level in the contradiction that it believes it uncovers between what Raffaele Sollecito said during his telephone conversation with the Carabinieri and instead what he said to the Police who arrived at the scene. In the telephone call to the Carabinieri, to be precise in the two successive telephone calls within minutes of each other, Raffaele Sollecito had explained the situation found in the room of Romanelli (broken window, room in a mess) but had also stated “, nothing has been stolen…” [no non c’è furto] and again “they haven’t taken anything…” while to the Police who arrived, but only because they were investigating regarding the discovery of the mobile phones, he had explained – according to what was reported by those same policemen – that they were waiting for the arrival of the Carabinieri because a theft [furto] had been carried out inside the house.

According to the Corte di Assise of first level Raffaele Sollecito had stated to the Carabinieri that there had not been a theft only because he knew that it was a mise-en-scène, since otherwise he could not have at first glance, and before the arrival of the person directly affected [principale interessata] (Romanelli), made an assertion like that. And, on the other hand, the carelessness [ingenuità] of making such an assertion – revealing in this way to be well aware that it was staged – could be explained by considering that he, preoccupied with representing the penetration into the house via the breaking of the window pane by whoever did not have access to the keys, in order to divert suspicion from himself and from Amanda Knox who had the keys, betrayed himself about the real nature of the event, with his attention being focused on showing the way the house was entered rather than on the theft of goods from the house (that according to the prosecution’s theory he knew did not exist).

But according to the Corte di Assise of first level, Raffaele Sollecito then apparently realized the slip-up that he had made [ingenuità commessa] such that he tried to undo it, telling the Police officers who arrived moments later, that he was waiting for the Carabinieri because a theft had been carried out inside the house. This Corte di Assise of second level, however, does not agree with the aforementioned explanation in that it attributes to these two individuals, not qualified in matters of law [non qualificati come operatori di diritto], the terminological and conceptual knowledge required to believe that when asked by the Police officers who arrived, where they had stated that they were waiting for the Carabinieri because a theft had been carried out inside the house, they knowingly [inteso deliberataemente] changed versions compared to that given to the Carabinieri, for fear that the affirmation “no they haven’t taken anything” could reveal their responsibility in the staging of the burglary.

In reality, for individuals not legally qualified, the expression “a theft has been carried out inside the house” amounted to a quick representation of the situation they found: penetration into the inside of the house via break-in of the window pane and ransacking of the room…”. They certainly had neither the means nor the desire to differentiate between mere violation of domicile, attempted theft, or an actual theft.. : what counted in that moment for the two youths was, above all, to make known that the Carabinieri had already been called.

The fact that in the telephone call to the Carabinieri Raffaele Sollecito had stated that nothing had been taken has already been addressed in the section “Staging of Burglary” and those arguments can be recalled here to exclude that such a statement should be interpreted as a demonstration of knowledge of the alleged staging (not considered such by this Court).

Therefore, it is not possible to infer [non è dato cogliere] any real contradiction in the conduct of the two young adults, that can assume evidentiary value against them.

The Corte di Assise of first level and before that the Public Minister also included among the elements of circumstantial evidence [elementi indiziari] the behavior of the two youths after the arrival of the Police and again in the following days: unlike the others, they stayed back when the door was forced open and the body was discovered and then, whether in that moment or in the following days, even at the Police station [Questura] where they had been summoned, several times they hugged each other, exchanging caresses. And again, Amanda Knox at the Police station, while she was waiting to be questioned [interrogata], or while she waited for Raffaele Sollecito to be questioned, seems to have performed gymnastic exercises, such as “cartwheels”. In addition it was also highlighted as distasteful behavior to have been noticed in a shop together with Raffaele Sollecito, intent on buying underwear (apparently even a  “thong”!!! [tanga]). But it does not end here: one of the Public Ministers stated in his closing arguments that he noticed that during the projection in the courtroom of the photographs of Meredith Kercher’s body lacerated with knife wounds, the two defendants apparently did not look at the photographs but rather looked down [sarebbero stati con gli occhi bassi].

As it happens, this Court does not consider that one can attribute to these described behaviors, even if in theory true, any significant evidence of guilt, with there being innumerable ways for each human being to react when confronted with tragic situations: the exchange of caresses and maybe even the performing of gymnastic exercises can be explained by the need to rediscover, through habitual gestures and behaviors, a minimum of normality in the context of a situation that is in any case tragic (whether they are innocent or guilty). And, if anything, the significance to be attributed to such behaviors should be favorable toward the two defendants, with it not being really believable that two youths, two fine youths according to the first-level Corte di Assise itself, aware of having become, in theory, protagonists of a horrible crime, could still have the desire to exchange affections and to exhibit themselves in gymnastic exercises.

Regarding the purchase of items of underwear, it should be noted that Amanda Knox, after the seizure of the house on Via Della Pergola [by law enforcement], was left without her own clothes that were inside the house and so needed to purchase some to change into. That she then purchased a “thong” rather than a more conservative [severo] style of underwear, cannot really be considered a demonstration of an insensitive state of mind, inclined to obscenity, as based on common experience it is a fashionable item prevalent among young and not-so-young ladies.

Nor can one attribute evidence of guilt based on whether or not they looked at the photographs of Meredith Kercher during the projection in the courtroom because (apart from the fact that this was noticed by only one of the Public Ministers present): they were photographs of such crude images and an event of such tragedy, rendering them distressing and difficult to bear for anybody, especially if sensitive, to dwell on the sight of them. Even more so, therefore, for who had shared a flat and enjoyed a friendship [aveva intrattenuto  rapporti di coabitazione ed amicizia] with the young victim.

But finally, one might ask – even if neither the Public Minister nor the Corte di Assise of first level ever asked themselves the question – how is it possible that two young adults, if innocent, were able to spend four years in prison, with the prospect of staying there for an additional twenty plus years, yet without going crazy: is the fact of not going crazy therefore to be interpreted as conviction of the justice of their situation and, therefore, a demonstration of an awareness of their guilt?

The response, obviously, can only be no: in the first place because it is dangerous to take into consideration elements that are not objectively appreciable, with there being an infinite number of reactions for individual human beings even in the most shocking of tragedies; and in the second place because the hope of seeing one’s innocence declared in the end can sustain those who are really innocent through such trying times.

No circumstantial evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito can therefore be drawn from their behavior in the period following the murder.

Next: Conclusion