The BBC-Three documentary “Is Amanda Knox Guilty? debuted on February 17, 2014, to rave reviews. Initially available only in Great Britain, it is now featured on YouTube and various sites dedicated to justice for Meredith Kercher. It’s directed by freelance journalist Andrea Vogt in collaboration with filmmaker and producer Paul Russell. Peacock Productions, affiliated with NBC, opened its London office last fall.
Andrea Vogt covered this trial from the beginning, from the time Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were arrested in November, 2007. Vogt was subjected to vicious attacks by Team Knox merely for doing her job, bypassing the tentacles of Knox’s PR maestro David Marriott and his rigid control of the media.
This film doesn’t disappoint in presenting a balanced overview of the past six-year legal process surrounding the brutal murder of Meredith. Both sides, innocenti and colpevole, present their case. The narration is nicely done, enhanced by first-rate cinematography and a hauntingly somber musical score. Really, this is a visual masterpiece with breathtaking views of Perugia.
Vogt and Russell packed a lot of information into one hour, including graphics of evidence and forensics, and interviews with many of the principal figures. Interspersed throughout are sit-downs with Stephanie and Lyle Kercher, displaying their usual dignity and graciousness. For the prosecution, there was Giuliano Mignini and the Kercher’s lawyer, Francesco Maresca.
A special feature of the documentary was the first-time airing of an audio recording of Mignini’s interview of Knox at Capanne Prison. John Follain covered this exchange in his comprehensive book A Death in Italy, It’s disturbing listening to Knox cry and shout over Mignini, effectively shutting down the interview. The questions relate to her false accusation against Patrick Lumumba, the topic that predictably evinces in Knox a defensive and combative reaction. Pay special attention to her last statement before the interview concludes.
The nuclear bomb annihilating the longstanding attacks on the Italian Scientific Police was delivered brilliantly by Professor David Balding, internationally-renowned forensics expert from University College, London. At the invitation of the Italian Forensic Association, he wrote an independent review of the forensic analysis on the controversial bra clasp. Professor Balding’s expertise is Statistical Genetics. In a modest, simple manner, he offered a concise explanation in layman’s terms affirming the strong representation of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp. He dismissed the cross-contamination theory as irrelevant to the genetic material on that clasp deposited by Raffaele Sollecito. It’s believed that Raffaele sliced off Meredith’s bra clasp, perhaps after fumbling to unclasp it Here’s a direct quote from Dr. Balding [not part of the documentary]:
Knox’s blood on bathroom sink tap
In direct contrast to the pleasant and succinct Dr. Balding, Dr. Sarah Gino was interviewed in her capacity as forensic consultant to the Defense. Staccato-like, Dr. Gino uttered scientific gibberish. In a voice-over translation, Dr. Gino dismissed the case forensics, especially the damning mixed-blood evidence. Try to keep a straight face at the following theory:
“In the case the test was done for blood. But was the test done for saliva? No. So we can’t know if inside that mixed trace there was blood because it had been demonstrated or just saliva.
“Or maybe there was blood from both of them, but what does that mean? Maybe someone had a bloody nose one time and then another moment someone cut their finger and put it down and their blood got mixed.”
Mixed Knox-Meredith blood DNA in bidet
Unless Amanda Knox brushed her teeth in the bidet, that red stuff pictured around the drain is her blood comingled with Meredith’s. The luminol graphics clearly show Knox’s bare footprints – and one of Sollecito’s – in the bright stuff that is Meredith’s blood.
One of the few weak points of the documentary was the failure to counter criticism of the 46-day delay in collecting the bra clasp, coupled with accusations of cross-contamination. Bremner cites the delay at every opportunity to discredit case forensics. Understandably, producers had to distill material to fit into the one-hour format but the bra clasp fiasco mandates a full explanation. It was indeed an epic blunder for the Scientific Police to leave the clasp behind, but they couldn’t just return a few days later to finish the job. Italian law allows both sides to send witnesses to observe evidence collection, which requires coordination of schedules. Defense representatives could not be scheduled until December. This factoid is NEVER acknowledged by the pro-Knox group who prefers to scream incompetence. The cottage was sealed off as a crime scene throughout the interim with only pre-authorized access to investigators. Moreover, did any of the defense consultants object to shoddy procedures, dirty gloves or cross-contamination? NO. They were outside in a specially equipped mobile unit observing the entire process on video.
Patrick Lumumba speaks several times throughout the hour, finally afforded the opportunity to reclaim his dignity and tell the shocking story of his arrest, two-week jail confinement, and the devastating impact it had on him personally and professionally.
Rudy Guede’s participation was clearly explained, demonstrating the impossiblity of Guede as lone assassin. Manuela Comodi, Mignini’s co-prosecutor, explained the logistic impossibility of one person restraining Meredith’s wrists [no zip ties were used] while inflicting a massively bloody assault with two separate knives, one each inflicting blows to both sides of the neck. Meredith was strong and had some martial arts training. This is one of the most important messages to convey, and the documentary conveyed this truth strongly and clearly. The production may have been perceived as just a bit kinder to Rudy than warranted – my opinion only – but this minor flaw was overshadowed by a really splendid presentation of events.
For those who haven’t watched the documentary, make sure to listen carefully to the narration following the guilty verdict in the first instance trial presided over by Judge Massei. For those who have watched, watch it again because Andrea brilliantly has the narrator encapsulate the Knox family strategy following the trial and their return to Seattle. The family is angry. Edda Mellas is captured yelling at husband Chris who was busy getting into a confrontation with someone off camera. Curt Knox is filmed with hand raised to the press yelling “Push back!” Hypocritical much coming from a family that manipulated and used the press to their advantage?
Raffaele Sollecito has a permanent smirk throughout the trial
Why is Amanda Knox’s mouth gaping? It’s an odd and unattractive mannerism
The narrator states that upon the family’s return to Seattle, they “immediately started preparing her (Amanda’s) appeal, drafting legal, forensic, media and political support from the US and Italy to strengthen the Defense team.” Here commenced a period of time when the Knox family, friends, political supporters and PR team set about a major manipulation of the press, maligning the Italian justice system, hiring their own forensic experts and selectively filtering news to the public. Whatever else was done behind the scenes can only be guessed, but their efforts succeeded in influencing a judge to preside over a farcical appeal later thrown out in its entirety, annulled by the Italian Supreme Court. The Supreme Court motivations report is fascinating and disturbing, revealing incompetence and failure of the appellate court to follow points of law.
Rudy Guede’s jeans found in his apartment by police
Following the initial guilty verdict also was the Defense’s deliberate focus on Guede as the sole perpetrator. From the time the investigation commenced, it was never considered by any of the judges or the police that he could have acted alone. The Defense, however, began a campaign of seeking out potential snitches from prison inmates and convicted criminals. Rudy denied ever confiding guilt to fellow inmates [he’s been beaten up by prisoners], but that didn’t stop the Defense from pursuing this strategy. Rudy Guede was ultimately convicted of murder and sexual assault but the sentencing report rejected the possibility that he acted alone.
With the annulment of her first appeal, Knox elected not to attend the second appellate process in Florence over which Judge Alessandro Nencini presided. A new prosecutor, Alessandro Crini, asked for guilty verdicts and a maximum sentence for both defendants. Amanda Knox received 28 years, six months [additional time for calunnia against Patrick Lumumba], Sollecito received 25 years. Both still insist on their innocence.
Ending with the beginning, the program featured the cottage in a series of images shrouded in an eery mist. The location seems remote, despite the nearby highway and car park. Meredith was isolated that night, and couldn’t possibly suspect the danger surrounding her.
Undisputed is that Meredith was tracked down, imprisoned in her own bedroom, sexually assaulted, manhandled, tortured, strangled and butchered.
Brava, Andrea Vogt