Our hearts go out to Stephanie Kercher and her family.
In her first interview since two out of the three convictions in her sister Meredith’s murder were overturned, Stephanie told Cosmopolitan magazine’s Rosie Mullender that the family was “crushed” when an Italian appeals court declared American Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito not guilty or responsible for the horrific murder of Amanda’s English flatmate Meredith Kercher. Meredith was killed in her bedroom of a house she shared in Perugia, Italy, while both young women were spending a year abroad studying. Two Italian women who were beginning lawyers also shared the floor. The lower level was rented out by four young Italian men.
The appeals verdict left only Ivory Coast immigrant Rudy Guede as a convicted felon in the case. But this is only right, since all evidence points to the fact that Guede was the only killer.
What is not right is that in public prosecutor Giuliano Mignini’s relentless and misguided witch hunt, not only was Meredith not given the justice she deserved and two innocent individuals and their families persecuted for years, Meredith’s own family was revictimized and had their grief drawn out and compounded in the cruelest and most unconscionable way.
In our forthcoming book, LAW & DISORDER, which will be available in February, John Douglas and I offer a detailed analysis of why the convictions of Amanda and Raffaele was a scandalous miscarriage of justice. But for now, suffice it to say that there was no credible evidence against these two. Instead, like other murder mysteries we describe in the book, these two young people conformed to a pre-existing belief structure on the part of police and prosecutors that had nothing to do with evidence or logic.
And because of this, the Kercher family has been revictimized by the people charged with upholding the law.
No earthly system of justice can restore rights and status of murder victims. But the Kerchers had every right and reason to expect the Italian legal system to identify, prosecute and punish the individual or individuals responsible for their daughter’s and sister’s death. The survivors of any murder victim are in a grief-stricken and extremely vulnerable place emotionally from the time of the crime through the trial. Whether they wish to be or not, they are dependent on the prosecution. And when they see as formidable and unrelenting an effort as was put forth to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, they cannot be expected to go out and conduct their own investigation to see if the authorities got it right. It is completely understandable that they believe these two to be perpetrators.
During the years of Amanda and Raffaele’s incarceration, the Kerchers could at least have the peace and satisfaction of believing that justice had been done. So when the verdict was overturned by the first Italian jurists to look at the case in an objective and logical fashion, it is clear why Meredith’s survivors were crushed.
What they may not have the perspective to grasp at this point is that the same corrupted system that victimized Amanda and Raffaele also victimized them, leaving them anguished, angry and confused. They have been through too much already. They deserve better, and we can only pray they are bestowed with the peace that only the knowledge that the real killer is in custody can achieve.