Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Why Amanda Knox's story just doesn't wash

Amanda Knox faces a new trial over the murder of Meredith Kercher (AP)
Amanda Knox faces a new trial over the murder of Meredith Kercher (AP)
American student Amanda Knox arriving for a hearing of her murder appeal trial in Perugia, Italy in 2011 (AP)
Amanda Knox (C) is led away from Perugia's Court of Appeal by police officers after the first session of her appeal against her murder conviction on November 24, 2010 in Perugia
Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox is escorted into court for her appeal (AP)
Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox at her appeal hearing against the conviction for murdering British student Meredith Kercher(AP)

Students aren't the most house proud and they don't usually get up at the crack of dawn unless they're cramming for an exam.

I was about the only one in a house-share with four students that did any cleaning but you would never have found me, nor any other undergraduate on campus, up at first light to wait on a supermarket opening to buy some Mr Muscle – even after the most boisterous party.

So the one aspect of Amanda Knox's 2011 appeal for the sexual assault murder of her housemate Meredith Kercher (below) that particularly puzzled me was the court's failure to follow up the evidence of the Perugia shop owner, Marco Quintavalle, who came forward to say he recalled seeing Knox waiting outside his store to buy cleaning supplies the morning after the murder on November 1, 2007.

Then aged 21, Knox insisted that she was at the home of her former boyfriend and co-accused Raffaele Sollecito, until 10am, before leaving to go to her house and take a shower.

Quintavalle told the court he had seen her queuing outside the shop as he opened his shutters at the ungodly hour of 7.45am and then going into the cleaning section, just hours before Meredith was discovered, stabbed to death in her nearby flat.

He recalled clearly how pale the girl looked, and the shade of her blue eyes, her jeans and her hat, and when he saw her pretty face and pert nose in newspaper reports, he said he was sure it was the same girl. He couldn't remember if she had bought anything but police who searched Mr Sollecito's house, just a few minutes' walk from the murder scene, found a receipt for cleaning products from the shop.

Detectives believe bleach and cloths found under the sink at Mr Sollecito's house were used to clean up the murder weapon – a knife – and the murder scene. In previous hearings Miss Knox had often stood up and challenged evidence – that's allowed in Italian courts – but in this case she stayed put and showed no emotion.

It begs the question why didn't she spring to her feet and suggest mistaken identity? What was the date on the receipt? By Knox's own admission she wasn't the most fastidious of girls – the murder victim had previously chastised her for not cleaning the toilet.

The Kercher family believe Knox and Sollecito got off the hook purely due to shoddy police work. The defence argued successfully that Sollecito's fingerprint on Meredith's bra strap could have been contaminated but others have been convicted on much flimsier, and much older, DNA evidence.

The couple's alibi for that night conveniently checked all the cultural touchstones for students at the time: reading Harry Potter, watching Amelie and smoking pot. But the appeal trial was full of holes and left the Kerchers not knowing exactly what happened to their beautiful daughter.

The Kerchers won't find any answers in Knox's self-serving £2.5m book, Waiting To Be Heard. In her publicity rounds for the book she continues to behave insensitively towards the Kerchers, saying she wants permission to visit Meredith's grave when she could have quietly approached the family to ask them any time in the last two years.

She appeared confident and self-assured in her interview with Diane Sawyer and her prison chaplain declared her a warm-hearted innocent. Yet jail-warder Angela Antonelli described her as an ice queen who never cried and walked out without saying goodbye to anyone on her release.

To the Kerchers' relief, the Court of Cassation has annulled the 2011 appeal acquittals and ordered a retrial, which will hopefully answer their questions. The court heard that the appeal judges in Perugia had used illogical and inappropriate reasoning to arrive at the acquittals, assuming contamination happened when it was convenient for Knox and Sollecito, yet defending the forensics when it implicated Rudy Guede, the African immigrant who continues to serve a 16-year prison sentence in Viterbo after being sentenced in a separate "fast-track" trial for his role in the crime.

It will be interesting to see if he is put on the stand at the retrial next year. He is alleged to have told a cell-mate that Knox was not at the scene of the crime. What I'd like to know is, was that really her by the shelves of bleach and disinfectant on that cold November morning?

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