Last month we had a IALMH_ program at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH) in Rome called “The True Story of Amanda Knox: An Innocent Abroad.” IALMH_program The panel was chaired by my sister, Anne Bremner, lawyer to Amanda Knox, and included Dr. Richard Adler, neuropsychiatrist, myself, and Loren T. Atherley, forensic expert. The focus of the panel was on how the media distorts and takes charge of true crime cases, using the wrongful conviction Amanda Knox case as an example. You can listen to a recording of the session here.
The True Story of Amanda Knox: An Innocent Abroad
The True Story of Amanda Knox: An Innocent Abroad
Anne Bremner, Attorney-at-Law, Seattle, USA (email@example.com)
One year after the murder of Meredith Kercher, Rudy Guede had been convicted for the crime. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, however, were awaiting trial. International public interest remained strong, and the real truth about what had happened was emerging gradually but
inexorably. Because the murder occurred in 2007, a tipping point in the adoption of social and digital media, the stage was set for a firestorm that escalated Knox’s story quickly, broadly, incorrectly, and ultimately, viciously. The story became ubiquitous within news outlets in Perugia, England, Seattle, and elsewhere, and as the public developed an absolute intoxication for it, the foundation for chaos was set. “My truth and my challenge” started as a small group in Knox’s hometown to combat the mayhem by gathering evidence and systematically releasing it to the press. Ultimately, through the work of “My truth and my challenge” as well as many others, the “She-Devil” – “Foxy Knoxy” – became understood as “An Innocent Abroad.” This presentation will cover the influence of media on the case and a successful campaign conducted in an internationally high-profile trial in the “Age of the Internet.”
“First Do No Harm”: What Forensic Professionals Can Learn from This Case
Richard Adler, University of Washington School of Medicine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Media flashbulbs produce more heat than illumination. Topics relevant to forensic professionals: (1) Interrogative Suggestibility, (2) False Confessions, (3) Cultural Competence/Language Barriers, and (4) Forensic Criminal Typologies will be explored and applied to the facts of this case. The presenter will speak to the effect of misconceptions, gender bias, and anti-American bias in the media on the trials, and explain how he frequently makes use of the children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” as the theme (or organizing narrative) for expert testimony. This is especially poignant since prosecutors start with “Probable Cause.” Probable cause, essentially a matter of first impression, typically is maintained as the prosecution’s theory of the case. The State as a general rule does not revise its approach in the context of newly discovered facts or opinions. As it relates to the subject case, the combination of its important facts and general
scientific principles will hopefully bring the murky into sharper contrast. Finally, comments about the successful integration of Forensic Psychiatry and Criminology will provide a helpful transition to the presentation that follows.
What a Detailed and Competent Crime Scene Analysis Can Tell
Us About the Murder of Meredith Kercher
Loren T. Atherley, Seattle Police Department, Seattle, USA (email@example.com)
One cannot prove a crime without evidence, and our understanding of a crime, once detected, is conjecture without a competent assessment of the scene and how it was processed. Nowhere is this more important that in a high-profile case of murder. The murder of Meredith Kercher
provides a rich case study of the importance of good crime scene investigation and analysis. In this case, the integrity of the scene, handling of evidence, and interpretation of offence behaviour became a matter of central focus, ultimately resulting in the exoneration of Amanda Knox. This presentation will examine evidence of the crime and the investigative procedures used to process the scene. The presentation will speak to the forensic failures that led to the acquittals in the case based on firsthand accounts of the crime scene collections and analysis.
The Role of Medical Science: Physiology and False Memories
J. Douglas Bremner, Emory University School of Medicine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Medical sciences played an important role in the exoneration of Amanda Knox in the murder of Meredith Kercher. One area was the physiology of digestion, specifically related to the time it takes for food to move through the stomach to the intestines. Testimony clearly fixed the time of the murder victim’s last meal, and given the known time range during which food passes through the stomach and completely exits into the intestine, a narrow range of times for the murder could be established. Testimony and opinions were given that erroneously asserted a wide range of transit times, which on review of medical evidence was proven to be false. Another area is that of the effects of stress on memory, and the area of psychological science on the effects of interrogation, stress, and coercion on the statements of suspects of crime. This presentation will discuss false confessions and lessons to be learned from the “Making of a Murderer” phenomenon.
The room was packed. Whether that was because it was interesting content or was the only room in the building with functioning air conditioning in the late European Great Heat Wave is unclear. Last time we had a panel on the same case at this meeting two years ago in Prague linked here with Raffaele Sollecito who presented at the panel. He was wrongfully convicted with Amanda but is now working in Milan and doing well. I presented then on “False Memories and Physiology” where I outlined how the timeline of the Keystone Cops from Perugia was not possible based on the passage of stomach contents of the victim in the case. This time I elaborated on the role of the media, mainly those from England writing for tabloids whose name started with Nick, on distortions and false reporting all in the name of the all mighty dollar. First I outlined the role of the medical expert in judicial proceedings.
Then I highlighted the corrosive role of the media in the perversion of justice.
and how the media had sensationalized this case
i used the example of how “News of the World” straight out of England had published on the front page of one of their tabloids a sink covered in (pink?) implying blood but it was in fact a chemical used to detect blood! (fooled me too!… at first…)
and then there was the case of Daric (Darik? Darick?) Richey, the attention seeker, who used the case to… guess what? seek attention! who was a serial fake identity creater who had scammed Perez Hilton into thinking he was a gay teen getting bullied… whose boyfriend killed himself cuz he was bullied… who actually didnt exist… who was also blocked from going to the library by a mob of Amanda Knox supporters… who then morphed into another identity…
Derik (Derek?) had a really cool blog for teens where he clued them in the Amanda Knox case… with millions of views…
but then changed his mind on her guilt and (guess what?) got a lot of attention from the “guilter” blog forums… but guess what Derik (Dirik?) was writing fake articles about himself and his blog.. and didnt really have any readers, so… and then Derik (Derek?) threatened to kill me… and then…
as my sister Anne said turning around the public view about the case was like turning around an oil tanker, but the so called guilters in fact turned that around, and said that there was a campaign from a conspiratorial organization they dreamed up out of thin air they called “Friends of Amanda Knox” or FOAK and those involved the “Foakers” with my sister as their leader. It’s sort of like one of those organizations that nut case Giuliano Mignini prosecutor who thought Knox was having a Halloween ritual slaying or something might have thought up.
They called it the, guess what…
If you can’t make it in journalism in the US, move to Italy and become a “freelancer”. If an American girl gets accused of murder there, bonanza! After all you speak the language and are more cultured than the schmucks back home. Enter Barbie Nadeau and Andrea Vogt.
and lets not forget our crime sleuth on the scene for Perugia who brought new meaning to “limits of detection” for lab analysis. Push it to the limit Patrizia! We love Perugia!
The case was a general freak show and perversion of justice from A to Z. We had the porn star turned politician, the kidnapper who killed the kid when he didnt get the ransom, and the mafioso who looked like a 12-year-old, all who said they had information, did the crime, heard the guy in jail confess, etc etc, all with Barbie tweeting away. Oh and there’s the douche bag prosecutor Marescan with his bib getting ready for his dinner of spaghetti and meatballs.
the star witness Curatolo was a heroin addict in the piazza who copped out of a prison sentence and told them whatever they wanted to hear. Inspires confidence in the Perugia cops, eh?