[Curatolo, pp. 43-51; translated by teddypots, a.k.a. Newcomer]
The presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Piazza Grimana, between the hours of 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm of 1st November, according to the prosecution, represents circumstantial evidence against them in that it reveals the alibi provided (having stayed at Sollecito’s house) to be false and therefore, with the alibi discredited [falsità di alibi], [demonstration of] their guilt in the alleged crimes.
In truth, even if in theory true, it would be an element of weak circumstantial evidence, in that on its own it is not even sufficient to prove a presumption of guilt, since the falsity of the alibi, although certainly usable as circumstantial evidence, is certainly not on its own sufficient to prove guilt, as it could be explained through other purposes or motives [potendo trovare spiegazione anche in altri fini e moventi]. Such as the fear of not being believed while being innocent: in the case being tried, for example, if they had been present inside the house on Via Della Pergola and yet not involved in committing the crime.
Obviously, conviction for the crime being tried cannot be based on [rappresentare una sanzione per] the falsity of the alibi alone, having on the contrary, to be the result of a demonstration of guilt beyond all reasonable doubt, through proven facts [prove certe] or also through a collection of circumstantial evidence, in which the falsity of the alibi can play a role [assumere un proprio momento] but not even the most important one.
The fact of the discredited alibi, even if in theory true, would lose all relevance if the time of death (whose determination presented a particularly complex problem from a medical point of view) should be estimated between 9:00 pm and 9:30 pm (the time in which the prosecution is certain that the two youngsters were at the house of Sollecito) or also any time before 11:30 pm given that Curatolo testified that the youngsters were present in Piazza Grimana in that time period.
But this is not at all certain.
The presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Piazza Grimana between the hours of 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm of 1st November was, in fact, reported only by witness Curatolo, whose credibility this court very much doubts for the following reasons.
First, the deterioration of his intellectual faculties, revealed by the responses given before this Court during his testimony (hearing of 3.26.2011) and resulting from his type of lifestyle and from his habits.
[Mr. Curatolo] is a tramp who at the time lived on the streets whereas today he is detained serving a sentence [detenuto in espiazione di pena] for drug-trafficking [spaccio di sostanza stupefacente] and who, when asked why he had chosen this type of life (at times, in fact, such choices are motivated by idealistic reasons), he responded: “…Because … really I’m an anarchist however I have read the bible and I became a Christian anarchist… and so this is what I chose…”.
However – the Court observes – this idealistic urge [spinta ideale] to follow the example of Jesus (to quote “…to follow the life of Christ I chose to follow this type of life…”) did not prevent him from committing many crimes, such that, when questioned about the types of crimes committed, he replied: “Several, several, you know, some precedents for drugs, some precedents for political reasons…”.
Nor did it prevent him from selling drugs or making use of them himself, so that when questioned on the point, he responded: “…I have always taken drugs” and to the question “even in 2007?”, “yes” and on the type of drug “…I always took heroin” adding immediately “I want to clarify that heroin is not a hallucinogen…”.
Today he maintains that he no longer takes drugs because – as noted – he is being detained serving a sentence [espiazione di pena] but, when asked to clarify whether he knows whether he is imprisoned for a definitive conviction [condanna definitiva, i.e. a conviction confirmed by the Cassazione], he responded: “er [boh], I still haven’t understood anything however I think so… they took me and they put me in prison”.
Now, it cannot be absolutely excluded that a person of his type, who has a tendency to cover himself in an idealistic choice of lifestyle (anarchic christian) while taking heroin and above all else selling drugs, and that is so confused that he does not even know whether he is in prison serving a definitive sentence [esecuzione di una condanna definitive] or not, can have nevertheless reported as a witness facts that really were perceived and can have recognized the two current defendants as the youngsters seen that evening in Piazza Grimana. But certainly, when evaluating the credibility or otherwise of the witness we must proceed with particular caution, considering the personal circumstances identified [attese le condizioni personali evidenziate].
Curatolo, questioned in the hearing of 3.28.2009 (in the trial [istruttoria dibattimentale] of the lower court), reported having have seen the current defendants lingering there [soffermarsi] engaged in deep discussion, between 9:30 pm, when he arrived in Piazza Grimana, and “before midnight”, when, once the buses had left (about ten minutes later), that took the people [giovani] to the discotheques, he also left to go and sleep in the park.
When facing some questions and clarifications [delle contestazioni] by the Public Minister the timelines were then changed to be less precise – 9:30 pm 10:00 pm / 11:30 pm – but in reality, while the witness’ initial information was provided on the basis of the presence (evidently regulated [evidentemente al controllo]) of the clock situated in Piazza Grimana and of that in his possession, the final information [on the times] was anchored to the departure of the buses from Piazza Grimana to the discotheques (the departure times of the buses were found to be: between 11:00 pm and 11:30 pm, witness Brughini in the hearing of 3.26.1011; between 11:15 pm and 11:30 pm, witness Pucciarini in the hearing of 3.12.2011; between 11:30 pm and midnight, witnesses Bevilacqua and Ini Gaetano in the hearing of 3.12.2011, particularly credible as they are owners [titolari] of the bus companies [linee di autobus] that provide the shuttle bus services for the discotheques). Therefore there is no doubt that – according to Curatolo’s testimony – he saw the two youths at least until after 11:30 pm.
The main problem, however, is on which day – again according to his version – did the witness see the two youths: 31 October or 1 November?
He did not indicate the day as a date [con riferimento al calendario] (31 October or 1 November) but connected what he reported about the two youths from a recollection [rappresentazione] of circumstances that could allow him to determine it.
In fact he stated that on the evening when he saw the two youths there were a lot of masks, young people [giovani] that were joking about, that there was pandemonium [“un casino”] (quoting from the hearing of 3.28.2009 “…There were other people however that were messing about a bit, it was a holiday period…”) and again he confirmed the presence of masks, of young people joking about and pandemonium [“un casino”] at the hearing of 3.26.2011 in front of this Court (and in fact he responded affirmatively to the question of Ms. Bongiorno, formulated exactly in these terms) and also recalled (at both the hearing of 3.28.2009 and in front of this Court in the hearing of 3.26.2011) that there were the buses taking the young people [giovani] to the discotheques, such that he correlated [ha ancorato] his stay in Piazza Grimana up until about ten minutes after their departure, at a time indicated as between 11:30 pm – midnight.
According to the defense such circumstances (regardless of whether the two youths seen by the witness were actually the current defendants) would prove that the day in which the witness saw what he reported, was 31 October and not 1 November, considering that the masks were being worn to celebrate Halloween, which in fact falls on the night between 31 October and 1 November and not on the night between 1 November and 2 November, and considering also, that the buses for the discotheques had to be present the evening of 31 October and not the following evening. In fact, practically all the discotheques, open all night between 31 October and 1 November specifically because it was Halloween, remained understandably closed the following evening, the night between 1 November and 2 November, for the anticipated lack of customers the day immediately following a holiday.
On the other hand, according to the Prosecutor’s Office and the civil party (and also according to the Corte di Assise of first level) because the witness had also testified, both in the hearing of 3.28.2009 and in front of this Court in the hearing of 3.26.2011, that the following day after the evening in which he saw the two youths in Piazza Grimana he was taken aback by the coming and going on Via Della Pergola of the Carabinieri and of men dressed in white, that seemed to him to be “Martians”, (evidently the staff of the Scientific Police wearing jumpsuits), the evening in which he saw the two youths must have definitely been that of 1 November, preceding the Scientific Police’s investigation at the scene of the crime, which occurred on the same day of the discovery of the body (2 November). In fact, an unusual event like the coming and going of Carabinieri and Scientific Police was likely to remain imprinted in Curatolo’s mind and, however, again according to the General Prosecutor and the civil party, it is not true that all the discotheques remained closed on the evening of 1 November 2007 or that there were no buses to take the young people [giovani] to the discotheques.
Now, however, all the managers of the large discotheques (Red Zone, Etoile, Gradisca), called to testify in front of this court (Brughini in the hearing of 3.26.2011; Mandarino in the hearing of 3.12.2011; Pucciarini in the hearing of 3.12.2011) confirmed that, indeed, the discotheques were open the night between 31 October and 1 November 2007, for the celebration of Halloween, but not the following night, because it would not have been commercially advantageous, and that consequently, the buses that transported the young people to the discotheques taking them from Piazza Grimana, were active that night but not the following.
The owners of the two bus lines (Bevilacqua, Ini Gateano and Ini Rosa in the hearing of 3.12.2011) also confirmed this fact.
That the larger discotheques, essentially the only ones that had run a shuttle bus service because of the distant position from the historic centre [centro storico] had stayed closed, is evident also from the statement of the official of SIAE[i], Ciasullo (hearing of 3.12.2011), while the opening of the discotheques of lesser importance, located in the centre of Perugia and therefore not requiring the services of shuttle buses, and anyway not used by them, is from the statement of Dr. Napoleoni and of the official of SIAE.
Now, however, that some of the small discotheques in the centre were also open on the evening of 1 November counts for little, with it being certain on the other hand that the larger ones were closed, a long way from the centre, for which the only connection was the service provided by the buses; considering above all, that they were large buses, capable of transporting at least 50 people at a time (as testified by Bevilacqua in the hearing of 3.12.2011) and therefore, clearly destined to reach the large discotheques a long way from the centre. And because the fact stated by Curatolo (departure of the buses that transported the young people [giovani]) is what it is, also for the way in which it was described (there was pandemonium [“un casino”], the possibility of considering it as a single and more modest shuttle bus is to be excluded, and so one concludes logically that his account, in the context in which he saw the two youths in Piazza Grimana, refers to the evening of 31 October and not of 1 November.
The General Prosecutor, however, argued that in Perugia the discotheques usually organized the so-called “Students’ Thursday” and that, as 1 November was a Thursday, it could have happened that that evening a lot of young people and also the buses for the shuttle service were present. But, in reality, there is no proof that such a “Students’ Thursday” (whose purpose was to give a reason, in weeks that otherwise would not have offered any inspiration, to party in the discotheques) were organized in the year 2007 and, above all, against the statements made by the managers of the discotheques and of the owners of the bus companies [linee] that ran the shuttle services (all people whose credibility there is no reason to doubt), it has to be concluded that these Thursday evenings for students were nonetheless overshadowed [superati] by a holiday like Halloween that has nowadays taken root even in our country. Therefore, there was no reason to also celebrate that Thursday, the day following Halloween.
It is thus evident that the statements made by Curatolo present two situations that are contradictory: having seen the two youths in Piazza Grimana the evening before the investigation by the Scientific Police and however, at the same time, having connected the event in the context of Halloween, which is the evening of 31 October.
Less significant, in trying to put a time on the event, is the fact that Curatolo remembered that the paving of the square [Piazza] was wet due to the cleaning of the market that was done on 31 October (Thursday being a holiday) and that, therefore, would have been done the next morning.
Apart from the fact that there is no proof that the market cleaning was done on the Thursday (also because it was a holiday Thursday), it seems difficult to believe that the wet ground, as a result of the cleaning of the square, had remained for the whole day; and so it seems more probable that it came from rain that certainly occurred, as confirmed also by the Public Minister Dr. Mignini based on the statements made by some witnesses (Marco Zaroli, Dr. Napoleoni). Even if evidently, the rain had by then stopped that evening in Piazza Grimana, though continuing to rain in the area around the Faculty of Engineering, with these two places being further apart, aerially, than the distance between Piazza Grimana and the S. Egidio airport, where according to the meteorological data for that day it had not rained.
It is opportune to report the words of witness Zaroli in his statement made in the hearing of 2.6.2009, in response to whether it rained or not on the evening of 31 October he responded, quoting: “…I remember that it was raining when I left from the Engineering [Faculty] to go to the house of Filomena and Meredith. The rain was quite intense, I don’t remember anything else…”.
So, he remembers the rain at the moment he left the Faculty of Engineering but not after dinner when he left the house on Via Della Pergola with Filomena and the other friends to go to the cinema, when it would be logical to believe that, if it had also rained in that moment, he would have remembered.
Therefore, from Zaroli’s statements it cannot be deduced that it was raining in Piazza Grimana, near Via Della Pergola, to an extent that Curatolo would not have stayed and spent time on the bench or that the two youths would not have been there in deep discussion, and seen by Curatolo.
However, what it does show is that there is a lot of confusion in the memory of the witness.
In truth the General Prosecutor himself, Dr. Costagliola, while stressing that the timing of events is made clear by its connection to the investigation by the Scientific Police, also recognized that Curatolo had mixed up the two days (31 October and 1 November) (quoting from his closing argument [requisitoria] of 9.23.2011 “…And so it is evident that the vagrant [il Clochard] mixed up the two events, the night of Halloween and the sighting of the defendants…” and also the Public Minister Dr. Mignini, while highlighting the relevance – according to him decisive – of the connection with the sighting the day after of the Scientific Police, admitted that for Curatolo time had a relative value (as quoted in his rebuttal of 9.30.2011 “…It is clear that this tramp, it is clear that time does not have the same significance for this tramp as it does for us, this is clear…”.
But then – this Court asks – how can one really say with certainty that his memory refers to 1 November and not 31 December [recte: October]?
But, above all, how can one sustain that Curatolo’s power of recall [capacità mnemoniche] would allow him to really remember the course of events and even to remember that it was the two defendants that he saw?
Nor do the statements made by other witnesses about Curatolo’s way of life in Piazza Grimana allow one to overcome the considerable doubts about his credibility, because this behavior, which nobody has contradicted, does not lessen the holes and contradictions evidenced.
Moreover, once it is concluded that the reality surrounding [events] was 31 October and not 1 November, it would seem more logical to reconsider the sighting of the two youths in that context, therefore on 31 October, because it is contemporaneous with the sighting, rather than the next day which is the day preceding the arrival of the Scientific Police, but thus necessarily extrapolated from context.
Therefore, this Court does not consider credible the testimony of witness Curatolo, it being impossible to reliably verify his account [non potendo essere riposte alcun affidamento sulla verificazione dell’espisodio] and, above all, the identification of the two youths as being the current defendants.
[i] SIAE stands for Italian Society for Authors and Editors, whose responsibility is to manage and authorize requests made for reutilization of artists’ work (film, books, music, etc).