When we look back over the topics we’ve covered in the past year, the ongoing murder trials in Italy of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito take the prize for the greatest number of posts. And there is a good reason for that: No other case has provided such a glaring example of what can go wrong with a prosecution, and the horrifying repercussions when it does.
We have reviewed and detailed the seemingly endless mistakes and miscarriages of justice promulgated by the investigators, prosecutors and judges: police assumption of the killer(s) and type of crime before any evidence had been collected; Amanda’s coerced “confession;” nonsensical and changing theories of the case; unprofessional evidence collection; flagrant misinterpretation of the crime scene; complete lack of DNA and other evidence of Amanda and Raffaele’s presence coupled with overwhelming evidence of the actual killer’s; false statements to the media; the so-called murder weapon not fitting the wounds on Meredith Kercher’s body, and on and on and on.
And now one more has surfaced. There are several ways to state it, but essentially, Amanda has been denied the right to mourn.
We have often stated that a murder creates many victims and the repercussions can last for generations. This is even more true when there has been an unjust identification of perpetrators and prosecution, as there has been here.
In presenting his case to the court and the media, Public Minister Giuliano Mignini created the fiction of tension and rancor between Meredith and Amanda when, in fact, they were friends. The prosecution even managed to destroy the hard drive on Amanda’s computer that had numerous photographs of the two of them together in the short time they knew each other and lived together.
And the compounded tragedy of this is that the Kercher family has bought into Mignini’s fiction. This is understandable. How could they not? In our experience, there are no more vulnerable individuals than the survivors of a murder victim. Their entire world has come apart and they have to be able to depend on someone. That someone is very often the lead detective or the prosecutor – the people who are fighting for justice and trying to put their universe back into some semblance of order.
So in addition to what they have done to Amanda and Raffaele through evidence-free, and logic-free, prosecution that so far has robbed them of four formative years of their lives, Mignini and his team have done perhaps irreparable damage to the Kercher family by misleading them into thinking that the sole and actual killer, Rudy Guede, was merely a pawn in Amanda’s scheme to sexually molest and kill her beautiful and intelligent English flat mate.
This forced misconception further punishes Amanda by taking away her status as one of Meredith’s mourners. Anything she did would seem self-serving. By proclaiming her innocence and her own victimhood at the hands of the Italian legal system, she was seen as detracting from the real victim, Meredith. By refusing to apologize or show remorse for a crime she demonstrably did not commit, she was seen as being insensitive and without conscience. And by voicing her sorrow over Meredith’s loss, she was seen as manipulative.
When we wrote about the JonBenet Ramsey murder case in The Cases That Haunt Us, we concluded with, “I always said that having a child murdered was the worst possible thing that could happen to a person. I guess I was wrong. Having that happen and then being blamed for it is even worse.”
In Law & Disorder we wrote about Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas for torching the house in which his two little girls perished, even though modern fire science proved the blaze was accidental and not arson. How must he have felt going to his death knowing his ex-wife had even forbidden the scattering of his ashes on his daughters’ graves?
Amanda recently put on her personal blog a link to the Kercher family’s fundraising effort as just one way to reach out to them. Heartbreakingly, she has removed the link with the explanation:
“I have to accept that the Kerchers believe I’m guilty and my attempts to honor her memory can cause them pain. I do not wish to antagonize their grief, even with my best intentions.
“It is with a broken heart that I acquiesce with the Kercher family’s attorney’s request to remove from my site the link to the Kercher family’s fund raising page and the page I have dedicated in memory of my friend, Meredith.
“I feel trapped in a position where any attempts I make to respect their grief from a distance are perceived as indifference, and any attempts to make a connection are perceived as antagonism and arrogance.”
In effect, Amanda has been robbed of her own grief. And that is a vey serious matter.
Within the week, the latest Italian court is supposed to decide on the guilt or innocence of Amanda and Raffaele. Whichever way it decides, because of the “original sin” of charging and prosecuting these two in the first place and convincing the Kerchers and much of the world, Amanda’s unfair and undeserved punishment, and the Kercher’s misplaced passion, will continue.