Amanda Knox Appeal Hearing: Raffaele Sollecito Waffles
A day after Knox lashed out at her dubious accuser, she got a break on Wednesday with a new report that could lead to her exoneration. Barbie Latza Nadeau reports from Italy.
Amanda Knox's chances for freedom were bolstered on Wednesday when independent forensic experts submitted their report on crucial DNA evidence used to convict Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. In the report, obtained by The Daily Beast, the experts say that due to "mishandling of the crime scene, contamination cannot be ruled out" on a knife with Knox's DNA on the handle and what prosecution claimed was Kercher's on the blade and on the victim's bra with Sollecito's DNA on the metal clasp. The findings will be presented to the Perugia appellate court on July 25.
On Tuesday, a day marked by emotional high points, bizarre twists, and questionable lawyering, Rudy Guede confirmed his previous accusation that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito killed Meredith Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007. Knox and Sollecito are in the midst of their appellate trial, hoping to be freed by the fall. Guede, whose 30-year sentence was reduced on appeal to 16 years for his part in the murder, was called to testify after several inmates claimed he exonerated Knox and Sollecito during prison-yard conversations. During the course of his testimony, he denied ever speaking to any inmates about Kercher’s murder, refuting last week’s testimony entirely. Then he confirmed the contents of a letter he sent to his lawyers in March 2010, in which he says it is Knox and Sollecito, not him, who are responsible for Kercher’s murder. “It’s not up to me to say who killed Meredith Kercher,” the letter states. “I’ve always said who was there that damned night in that house.”
Neither the defense nor prosecution wanted Guede to say too much in court. He is not exactly a credible witness. Unlike Knox and Sollecito, whose forensic link to the crime is highly contentious, Guede’s DNA was prevalent throughout the murder room, and his feces were found in the apartment toilet. But he is the only person to ever admit being in the house the night Kercher was killed, and therefore his testimony is considered vital in this phase of the process. Before his arrest, he told a friend during a monitored Skype conversation that Knox was not involved in the murder. Then he changed his story and said the two were at the house and that he presumed they were the killers. Credibility issues aside, his placing them in the house on the night of the murder is not exactly something they wanted the jury to hear, so it is even more surprising, then, that Knox’s own lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, pushed Guede to talk about the fateful night. “I know what I know. I saw what I saw,” Guede told the court when pressed for clarification.
Knox is not scheduled to testify in her appellate hearing, but she can make a spontaneous declaration at any time. Once Guede was seated in the witness stand, Dalla Vedova announced that she wanted to speak, perhaps to make a plea directly to Guede to finally tell the truth. But the judge referred to court protocol, and since Guede was already on the stand, he prohibited her from speaking until he had left the courtroom. She then nervously addressed the court. “I am shocked and anguished by his declarations,” she said after Guede left the stand. “The only time the three of us have ever been together is in a courtroom. He knows we were not there.”Sollecito then made his own plea to the court that Guede was lying. He apologized for being nervous, and then explained that Guede has been repeating the same story about seeing him and hearing Knox in the shadows that night. “He is lying. He knows the truth,” Sollecito told the court. “We have been here for almost four years now. Our lives are destroyed.”The rest of the day’s witnesses provided only further confusion in a case that has never been completely clear. Last week mobster Luciano Aviello testified that his brother was the real assassin and was now on the lam. He said that he buried the murder weapon and Kercher’s keys in a back garden in Perugia. After Guede, two inmates testified that Aviello had actually been paid by Sollecito’s lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, for his testimony. Aviello, it emerged, was saving up for a sex-change operation and needed the cash. A police officer then testified that Aviello had been a police informant who had proved unreliable, so the garden in question was never dug up to see if the keys and knife were really there. On June 30, forensic experts will submit a report to the appellate court detailing their independent examination of two crucial pieces of DNA evidence. The court will reconvene July 25 to hear the experts’ evidence and both the prosecution and defense experts’ rebuttals. Then closing arguments will begin in early September, with a verdict expected in October.