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Judge Alessandro Nencini reads verdict in Kox-Sollecito retrial.

Judge Alessandro Nencini reads verdict in Kox-Sollecito retrial.

There is a concept in philosophy known as “Occam’s razor,” which posits that among competing theories or hypotheses, the one requiring the fewest assumptions generally makes the most sense. Another way of stating it is that the simplest theory should be employed until, or unless, that hypothesis can be replaced by one that encompasses greater and deeper explanation. The “razor” refers to “shaving away” layers of complexity.

The great Bertrand Russell’s interpretation was “Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities.”

Of late, we have seen no greater violation of the Occam’s razor principle in the field of criminal justice than the investigation and prosecution of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. And yesterday’s release of Florence appeals Judge Alessandro Nencini’s “Motivation Document” on the January 30, 2014 re-conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (after initial conviction, appeals acquittal, and Supreme Court rejection of the acquittal) only confirms this violation.

All of the legitimate evidence – all of it – pointed to a vicious but unfortunately not uncommon crime: Rudy Guede, an African emigre ne’er-do-well with an established history of break-ins and thefts while carrying a knife, broke into the upstairs flat of a cottage on the outskirts of Perugia on the night after Halloween. Four women occupied the flat. The downstairs flat was occupied by four men whom Guede knew from playing basketball, and he had met the women upstairs. Because it was All Souls Day, a traditional family holiday in Italy, he had reason to hope the cottage would be empty. He threw a rock through one bedroom window and when no one reacted, he knew the coast was clear and climbed in. He ransacked that bedroom for valuables and then went to look in other rooms.

For whatever reason of nerves or what he’d eaten previously, he had to relieve himself in the closest bathroom. While sitting on the toilet, he heard a noise indicating someone had come home. Without flushing the toilet and alerting this person to his presence, he rose and followed the sound, where he confronted Meredith Kercher in her bedroom. Since she would recognize him, he panicked and attempted to disable her. A fierce struggle ensued in which Guede stabbed her repeatedly with his knife, then sexually assaulted her as a crime of opportunity when she could no longer fight back. He tried to clean up some of the copious blood with towels from the bathroom, threw her comforter over her body, rifled her purse for cash and credit cards, took her two cell phones, and exited through the front door, leaving distinctive footprints in blood that corresponded to Nike athletic shoes he owned.

He fled the country the next day, but fingerprints at the crime scene identified him to police and when his DNA sample was taken, it matched voluminous traces on, in, and around Meredith’s body. There was no evidence of anyone else’s DNA. A tiny trace on Meredith’s bra clasp, not collected until weeks after the murder, was ultimately discredited as belonging to Raffaele Sollecito. A tiny trace on the tip of an arbitrarily selected kitchen knife from Raffaele’s flat was ultimately discredited as belonging to Meredith. That represents all of the physical evidence.

Instead of going with this straightforward and evidence-substantiated scenario, police and prosecutors came up with a theory of three assailants, claiming that Amanda and Raffaele, who had been at his flat at the time of the murder, must have been involved with the murder. At first, Public Minister and prosecutor Giuliano Mignini posited a satanic ritual murder conceived by Amanda. He then switched to a sex orgy in which Amanda killed Meredith for not wanting to participate. He and other prosecutors then switched to an argument over money, before finally declaring that the motive did not matter, because the evidence was so overwhelming. The latest prosecution theory of the case cast out the sexual aspects, kept the argument over money, and added a quarrel between Meredith and Amanda over Amanda “letting” Rudy not flush the toilet after defecating.

The only “evidence” was a hazy confession forced out of Amanda after hours of interrogation by a twelve-person team of police detectives during which she was exhausted, denied food and sanitary facilities and scared out of her wits to the point that she was in a dreamlike (or nightmarish) state. All experienced interrogators know how to prompt false confessions. I guarantee you I can get you to confess to alien abduction if you give me enough time and human resources.

Nencini’s document states that his court convicted Amanda and Raffaele because of evidence showing that more than one individual killed Meredith, based on her wounds. There is no such evidence.

He states, “There was an argument, then an elevation and progression of aggression.” There is no such evidence.

He states that during Amanda’s interrogation, her false accusation of Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the bar where she worked part-time, proved her guilt. That is totally illogical reasoning. Had Amanda actually been involved, she would have known of Guede’s involvement and fingered him to save herself. The police brought up Lumumba’s name after seeing a text exchange on her cell phone and said they “knew” the two of them were together that night. There is no such evidence.

He states that the murder weapon contains Amanda’s DNA on the handle. She acknowledges using the knife in Raffaele’s kitchen. The knife could not be the murder weapon as it does not match Meredith’s wounds.

These obvious anomalies go on and on.

On the other hand, the behavioral evidence against Guede is as compelling as the scientific evidence. As Nina Burleigh, author of the excellent book, The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox, wrote in a CNN column the day after the latest verdict:

“In the months before the Kercher murder, Guede was broke and showing signs of mental illness, and was involved in three and possibly more home invasions, according to police reports, trial testimony and interviews with victims.

“His apparent modus operandi was to break into what he thought were empty houses and make himself at home. A few weeks before the Kercher murder, someone broke into a Perugia law office through a second floor window, according to trial testimony from the lawyer who practiced there, turned up the heat, rearranged small trinkets, drank an orange soda from the refrigerator and appeared to have slept on the couch before making off with a laptop.

“At a nursery school in Milan a week later, director Maria Antonietta Salvadori Del Prato, walked in on a Saturday and found Guede sitting at her desk, she told me in an interview. She called police. They found the stolen laptop and a knife in his pack. Del Prato suspected he might have gotten a key to the nursery school from one of her employees who frequented the Milan club scene. Del Prato told me she believed he spent a night on the children’s cots and cooked a pot of pasta in the kitchen, then placed it in little bowls around the room.

“From that interview and many more, I pieced together a picture of a young man who seemed to be acting out some sort of fantasy of a home, a fantasy that perhaps abruptly cracked when Meredith Kercher came home unexpectedly while he was burgling her house, and unwittingly locked herself into the house with him. (Guede has maintained “whoever committed this terrible crime is still free.”)”

So, why violate Occam’s razor when there is such a straightforward and obvious explanation of this crime?

Because the Italian investigators got it wrong to begin with and would not reverse themselves, worried about losing face.

Because the Italian investigators had a confirmation bias against a pretty American girl who was sleeping with a handsome Italian boy she had met only a few days before.

Because much of the Italian judicial system was unwilling to admit that the evidence collection and testing was botched and violated international standards.

Because the stories of satanic murder, a sex orgy among beautiful women and even two girls fighting over money and hygiene are far “better” stories than a simple break-in, a sexual assault of opportunity and a murder of criminal necessity.

Because under this scenario, Meredith, Amanda and Raffaele become much more “interesting” than the normal, attractive, intelligent and hard-working kids they were.

From an investigative perspective, this tragedy was not a complicated or difficult case.

And it took a tremendous amount of effort to make it into one.

22 Responses to Shaving with Occam’s Razor

  1. Mike says:

    Hi Mark. Have a look at this when you get a chance.

    The number of errors in his report is staggering. These are just some from reading a google translation and the bit on Amanda’s site.

    1. Rudy wouldn’t have broken in because the cottage was overlooked by a ‘park which would have been busy with people on a festival day’. What park? What festival?
    2. Raffaele gets called “Emanuele Sollecito”
    3. The other contributors on the Y chromosome hook might be Meredith’s UK girlfriends. Huh?
    4. Naruto isn’t mentioned. It’s just a human interaction at 9.20 instead of 9.26pm
    5. Popvic going to Raffaele’s now becomes 8.30pm instead of 8.40pm.
    6. He gets Raffaele’s address wrong and says via Garibaldi numero 130 instead of 110.
    7. She brought strange men back to the cottage even though no one saw any and none were identified.
    8. He writes they had sex at Raffaele’s and then went and had sex again at the cottage while Rudy Guede just roamed around doing god knows what.
    9. The knife blade becomes 31cm with Raffaele’s dna mixed with Meredith’s.
    10. Antonella Monacchia’s name is spelt is wrong and he makes up testimony for her.
    11. TMB is not mentioned in the entire report and all the luminol blood negative prints and blobs are back to being blood again.
    12. The single test LCN mixed profile of Amanda and Meredith in Filomena’s room is a vital clue according to Nencini.
    13. The lamp Guede probably used for the sexual assault has been thrown in.
    14. He’s got them moving the body during an all night clean up. Not even Massei bought into that BS.

    • Hi Mike. You have essentially outlined the fundamental problem with this entire case and why it has become such an emblematic and cautionary tale. The prosecution and judges/juries have created this alternate reality that they believe and just keep fitting crazy conjectures into it. And when you are dealing with a base of fantasy, each piece fits in quite well and – as you point out so well – neither truth nor even basic accuracy make a dent.

  2. DoUKnowTheLord says:

    I don’t really know what to think. I guess if she were guilty she stood and watched as Meredith was raped and then they all three murdered her. On the other hand if she is innocent then I have to believe they are planting evidence to implicate Knox and her boyfriend. I think its odd the body was covered that usually indicates the assailant knew the victim. I also find it suspicious that Knox only has the word of her co-defendant to corroborate her alibi. But most of all I found her book very interesting, in large part because Knox and her boyfriend injected themselves very deep into that investigation. We all know that it usually to gain information about what the police know.

    My biggest question is will the United States Attorney and the Office of International Affairs refuse to extradite Knox and violate an extradition treaty with Italy. If so what happens if we need to extradite one of the mafia Capo’s from Italy because they run back home, like Vito Genovese did in the late 1940’s.

    This is a big deal, in my opinion the United State’s hands are tied. Any thoughts?

    • Tom Mininger says:

      Guede raped Meredith after she was mortally wounded. She was wearing her blood soaked jacket when attacked. Aspirated blood was on her bra and breasts due to being disrobed after the knife attack. Guede’s bloody palm print is on the pillow he positioned her with, his DNA is inside her, and the authorities refuse to analyze a semen stain on the pillow in a rape/murder case.

      As Mr. Douglas has pointed out many times, from viewing thousands of murder scene photos/videos, perps often cover their victims as they remain in the room to rob. Guede’s DNA and Meredith’s blood was on her purse.

      We all know that Amanda and Raffaele did not inject themselves into the investigation. They were badgered and sleep deprived for days leading up to their unrecorded middle-of-the nighter.

      Please describe what you think the evidence is against Amanda and Raffaele. Thank you.

      • DoUKnowTheLord says:

        The prosecution presented evidence that may have been collected haphazardly but not such that it would have been contaminated by Raffaele. An independent DNA expert confirmed it could only have come from direct contact of Raffaele. The footprints suggested that they were Amanda Knox’s and not Rudy’s despite Knox’s claim. The break in does appear staged and even when I read her book it appeared staged the way she told it. I realize they can not put Knox directly in the room but if they returned to clean the crime scene that would make sense that they failed to find her blood from the small cut she must have sustained while stabbing Meredith. Blood that was found in the sink and on the knife they must have tried to clean and replace. I have to make more assumptions to believe she is innocent then I do to believe she is guilty. But the fact that they destroyed their hard drive is very suspicious, they would only have done that so their alibi could not be refuted. No one piece of evidence is good enough to be a gun but when you take into account the physical evidence and their behavior at trial it is a smoking gun. I must be one of the few who agree with the verdict but I do.

    • With respect, I must say that Tom is completely correct, as he has been throughout the investigation of this case. There is not one legitimate piece of prosecution evidence, the case is simple and straightforward, and any suggestion that Knox and Sollecito were involved or injected themselves into the case is not born out by any evidence, scientific, forensic or behavioral. It is interesting that not one independent investigative expert has come out in support of Knox or Sollecito’s guilt. The latest Motivation Report is a total exercise in bizarre speculation in direct opposition to the evidence. Please read our Amazon ebook, THE FORGOTTEN KILLER: Rudy Guede and the Murder of Meredith Kercher.

      • Tom Mininger says:

        May I ask where you get information like…
        “But the fact that they destroyed their hard drive is very suspicious…”

        It was the police who destroyed Meredith, Raffaele, and Amanda’s hard drives. That has never been in contention.

      • DoUKnowTheLord says:

        Where did I received my information about their hard dive destruction? I received it from the common knowledge that police had been told by Sollecito that he emailed someone from his home computer, corroborating his alibi. When police investigated his statement and computer they were unable to confirm this due to damage done to the hard drive. Who else would have done that damage but him, it is an inference based on the facts of the investigation.

      • DoUKnowTheLord says:

        Your right Heir Olshaker it is simple and straight forward. They are all three guilty. Look up a convicted murder named Garry Leidermann from Michigan. They found his DNA on a stalking that was used to strangle Ms. Jane Mixer in 1969 at UofM. They also found DNA from two other male assailants. He was convicted based on the fact that his DNA was on a stalking that was used to strangle Jane Mixer and it could not be explained away. In this case Knox can not explain why her blood was found on the murder weapon along with the victim Ms. Kercher’s DNA which was found in her co-defendants apartment. That is compelling evidence if not overwhelming. Are you all suggesting that the Italian police planted it? I don’t think so.

        Most importantly they did inject themself into the investigation if you read her book you would be able to see that it is very damning evidence when compared to what the Italian court said. I read her book and she over estimated her intelligence by long shot. I can not believe you ALL think she was railroaded!


      • Tom Mininger says:

        Clarifications: No blood whatsoever was found on Raffaele’s kitchen knife which is several inches longer than the murder weapon. We have Amanda’s DNA on the handle and vegetable starch on the blade.

        In addition to destroying the desktop hard drives of Meredith, Raffaele, and Amanda PCs, the police used Raffaele’s laptop when they collected it, thus tampering with evidence.

        Years after the police analyzed this laptop for usage on the murder night, defense experts finally got access to it. They found usage by Raffaele later than what the police found.

        There was no new evidence against Amanda and Raffaele in this latest trial. A further test of the knife by the Carabinieri lab and the later usage of the laptop further bolstered A and R’s innocence.

    • I will say it again. There is no credible evidence against Knox or Sollecito. Period. The evidence against Guede is overwhelming. The interpretation of the evidence and crime scene are straightforward. This is not complicated. Anyone trying to make it so is indulging in fantasy. That’s it.

      • JimInAuburn says:

        I was going to give DoUKnowTheLord the benefit of the doubt at first, but they just look like your typical guilter making up stuff, or listing stuff that has no evidence backing it up at all.

  3. seesthru says:

    Mignini had a complete infatuation for the satanic sex cult theory. He’d tried to use it before, in the Monster of Florence case, did he not? I think he flung that theory at the wall in multiple cases, and for some tragic reason, he actually got it to “stick” in this one. Nothing could be further from the truth, but he actually persuaded others to believe this fantasy of his.

    I personally think Mignini was and is a very sick individual. He wants that fantasy to be true. He wants it so badly he will throw reason out the window and expect everyone else to do the same. His actions surprise me less than the actions of all those around him who drank his twisted brand of koolaid.

    • JimInAuburn says:

      He actually got it to stick in the Monster of Florence case too. At least for a while. Sent many people to prison but all their convictions were overturned.

  4. Zeno says:

    It is ridiculous that they can get away with this despite having no evidence to justify their charges.

  5. Michael Smith says:

    Over 300 pages of fantasy and fabrications. Great article, Mark. A completely discredited knife still remains their main piece of evidence. Perhaps worse, the discredited homeless man still remains their main witness, together with…..Rudy Guede. They have no shame!

  6. noel dalberth says:

    I have now read the motivation in its entirety and I can say that it is a farce at best. We thought Massei was absurd but this takes the cake. There is nothing concrete about this motivation. In fact they’ve made things up! There was no Raffaele DNA on the knife but there is now? I could go on and on but this is a complete farce.

  7. watson says:

    In my opinion, as you say, it was a 1 man ‘break in’ rape murder by one young man ‘Rudi Guede’. This young man had a….proven lengthy record of petty and violent crime….He himself admitted he was there when Meredith died, after having….’voluntary sex’ with her. In my opinion and in ‘reasonable’ opinion…..this British straight ‘A’ university student Meredith would not have had sex with a ‘street person’ like Rudi for any reason at all.
    The rock through the window, the sexual assault of victim, the break in, the petty theft all simply…..indicate a….burglar intruder.
    P.S. If Amanda was involved…..why would she have to break in through a window, when she had a key and lived there?
    Why, would she need Rudi Guede? Who she didn’t even know?
    Why was only his ‘DNA’ all over (in) the victim.
    Why was he convicted outright?

  8. Tom Mininger says:

    Anyone concerned with justice should watch these crime scene handling videos:

    The independent review finally showed this material in court during the second trial exposing the crime lab cluelessness.

    Then the Italian high court comes along and states that contamination must be proven. The defense had nothing to do with this catastrophe and CSI Stefanoni to this day is allowed to avoid fully disclosing the electronic data files that forensic scientists around the world use to verify each others’ DNA analysis.

    This reminds me of the Church dealing with Galileo.

  9. noel dalberth says:

    This latest motivation is a farce. There has never been any evidence that Amanda & Meredith’s relationship was anything like what is being said. If they can’t prove one absurd motive, just pick another. It’s so obvious that Amanda & Raffaele are innocent. This has nothing to do with Justice for Meredith. Someone needed to redeem his reputation and the ISC is furthering that quest by completely Ignoring facts. Given the questionable to unreliable to non-existent evidence Italian justice breached the boundary of their own code!

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