Reposted from Tarpaulin Sky

This week, faced with the absence of any actual evidence against Amanda Knox or her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and faced with the increasing likelihood that both will succeed in appealing their wrongful convictions, attorney Carlo Pacelli1 explained to the court why evidence was unnecessary: the case against Knox is supernatural—not bound by the laws of physics or by the Law itself—because Knox, stated Pacelli, is a “witch.”

Not any old witch. Not a granola-soccer-mom Wiccan. A “she-devil,” Pacelli specified. An “enchanting witch” possessing a “double soul.” Certainly not to be confused with a feminist, as Nina Shapiro suggests.2

According to Pacelli, it is his depiction of Knox’s personality and morals that the jury needs to consider, instead of questioning the complete lack of physical evidence implicating her in a violent murder–a scenario for which one tends to expect physical evidence, such as the bloody handprint of Rudy Guede found on the pillow beneath Meredith Kercher’s body, in a crime scene devoid of evidence of any other of the accused parties. “Amanda should be judged based on her personality when the crime occurred in November 2007 and at that time she was a concentrated mix of sex, drugs and alcohol,” Pacelli opined.3

“Who is Amanda Knox?” Pacelli asked the courtroom. “Is she the mild, sweet young woman with no makeup you see before you today? Or is she . . . given over to lust, narcotic substances and the consumption of alcohol?”4

Answering himself, Pacelli explained that Knox is both: “the one and the other. In her, there is a double soul: the good, angelic, compassionate one … tender and ingenuous, and the Lucifer-like, demonic, satanic, diabolic one that at times wanted to live out borderline, extreme actions and dissolute behaviour.”5

Beginning Thursday morning in Perugia, the appeal attorneys for Knox and Sollecito will address the court.

Candace Dempsey, who wrote Murder in Italy (Penguin/Berkeley Books), an award-winning book about the case,6 continues to report on it via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A few days ago, Dempsey’s headline announced, “Amanda Knox case is Italy’s West Memphis 3.”

Sadly, even without prosecutors’ earnest claims of diabolism, the comparison would not be much of a stretch. Though the victims and the details of the West Memphis Three case are different, the modes of investigation (biased, botched) and prosecution (emphasizing moral guilt in the absence of evidence of factual guilt; crafting, scrapping, revising theories of the crime, etc) are very similar–as they are in any witch trial.

Another common feature among witch trials, of course, is the popularity of the prosecution’s lurid narratives. Writes Dempsey:

In the Amanda Knox and West Memphis cases, even high-profile reporters at major networks cling to exciting crime theories, no matter how loony or baseless. The Memphis prosecutor insisted the three teenage defendants had murdered the Cub Scouts in a satanic ritual, even though no evidence supported this theory. “They wore black and listened to Metallica,” a police officer told the court, which also heard that main suspect Damien Echols had read Stephen King and dabbled in Wicca. . . . They were freed only because DNA showed they weren’t at the crime scene. Police did find DNA from a stepfather of one of the murdered boys, but he has never been arrested.

In Amanda’s case, tabloid journalists are of course the worst offenders–still enraptured by the satanic four-way drug-fueled orgy that made them so much money, even though it was just a sexual fantasy on the part of prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. Independent experts have rejected the DNA that put the two college students at the crime scene. The hard evidence points to drifter/burglar Rudy Guede as the lone killer, an inconvenient truth apparent from the start. He has been convicted of murder, but has managed to pass himself off as a mere spectator–and is serving only 16 years.

As in the Memphis case. . . a desperate prosecution is insisting that justice for the victim means that we must imprison people even if we can’t prove they did the crime.7

As Dempsey has written elsewhere, the prosecution’s theory of the crime has undergone radical, contradictory revisions, which is not uncommon in wrongful prosecutions.

For readers who have not been following the case, Injustice in Perugia also provides a thorough examination. When Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba were arrested in Perugia Italy, on November 6th, 2007, the website’s editors explain,

The police held a press conference stating that they had evidence that all three killed Meredith because she refused to participate in a sex game. They boasted that the case was solid. They were even bold enough to announce, “case closed.”(cf. West Memphis Three Chief Inspector Gary Gitchell announcing his case was an “11” on a scale of 1-10.—CP)

The problem was, Patrick Lumumba had an unshakable alibi. There was no evidence at all linking him to the murder. He was released.

As the investigation progressed, investigators discovered a bloody handprint at the crime scene. The fingerprints taken from the handprint were used to identify another suspect, Rudy Guede. Guede left a handprint in Meredith’s blood, on a pillow at the crime scene. His DNA was found on and inside Meredith. He also left his DNA on Meredith’s purse. His DNA was also linked to feces left in the toilet.

Rudy Guede had fled to Germany and was extradited back to Italy. The evidence against Rudy Guede was overwhelming.

At this time the authorities, led by prosecutor Mignini, should have realized their mistake. It wasn’t a sex game gone wrong. Rudy Guede attacked and murdered Meredith Kercher.

But the authorities refused to admit their mistake. They simply pulled Patrick Lumumba out of their fantasy and plugged in Rudy Guede. The prosecution pushed forward to prove that Meredith was murdered by this “revised” trio in a sex game gone wrong.8

In addition to discussing the absence of any evidence against Knox and Sollecito as well as the undisputed evidence against Guede, Injustice in Perugia examines the rather jaw-dropping history of the case’s original prosecutor, Guiliano Mignini. In the last couple years alone, Mignini has referred to 23 defendants as “satanic.” Mignini himself has also been convicted —and sentenced to 16 months in prison—for three separate charges related to illegal investigations. He is presently on trial for abuse of his office during the Knox and Sollecito prosecution.9

If there was any witchcraft in the courtroom on Monday the 26th, it was being practiced by a prosecutor. In what appears to have been an effort to spellbind the jury and the press into forgetting pesky issues such as the absence of evidence implicating Knox and Sollecito, attorney Francesco Maresca decided to try some black magic of his own, at the expense of everyone in the courtroom–especially his clients, Meredith Kercher’s family.

Retired FBI agent Steve Moore, following the Kercher murder case at his blog, gmancasefile, explains [though I have edited the more disturbing details]:

Today, in the courtroom in Perugia, at 2:40 p.m., without warning, without dignity, without any apparent concern for Meredith or her grieving family, without decency, an attorney began to display eight foot square, gruesome, lurid and obscene naked full-frontal photographs of Meredith Kercher’s blood-smeared body, lying on the floor next to her bed where she had been murdered and sexually assaulted. She lay in the very position that Rudy Guede left her after putting a pillow under her hips to assist in the sexual assault. The photos were, to say the least, explicit, and press cameras immediately began clicking. . . .

A well-known writer for one of Italy’s largest daily papers disgustedly called Maresca a “barbarian” after the pictures were shown. A British journalist, reporting on the case for a major television network, called the presentation, “…a disgrace.” . . . .

In case the reader might think that this display was anything but gratuitous, realize that Maresca has no obligation, no function, no reason, no excuse for attempting to prove guilt. . . .

The graphic, obscene, desecrating photographs shown today had no evidentiary value. No legitimate purpose was served by the photographs. Nothing about the murder scene was in dispute in this session. Nothing about Meredith’s death, her condition at the time of death, or her body was in play. In short, there was no reason in the entire legal world to show detailed photographs of the violated body of his clients’ child and sister. . . . The display was gratuitous, designed to horrify and shock a jury. . . .

In any decent courtroom in the world, (and the practice in this courtroom in the past) when photographs such as these are required for evidentiary value, the courtroom (except for the jurors and the officers of the court) is cleared–out of respect for the victim and the victim’s family. But today, these photographs weren’t required, and today, the room wasn’t cleared.

There are many reasons that courts generally do not allow such gratuitous displays. But one of the major reasons is that unless the photos of the bodies are being used to prove a point, there is no reason to show them. It prejudices a jury for the simple fact that the lifeless body is horrifying no matter who killed the person. The tactic is simply designed to raise a rage and a desire for retribution in the minds of the jurors, and to focus their rage and need for revenge on the closest people to them: the defendants….10

Dark Arts indeed. I predict that Maresca will wish he’d drawn a little circle around himself before he tried his hand.

Like all great witch hunters, Carlo Pacelli believes that Amanda Knox really is a witch.

And Guiliano Mignini really does see Satanists all around him.

But civil attorney Maresca?

Moore believes the explanation is more mundane:

Maresca is not the prosecutor. Maresca is not there to prove guilt. That is not his position in court. He is a CIVIL attorney. He is there for one reason and one reason only: Money. He is there to represent and protect the multi-million Euro judgment against Sollecito and Knox and awarded to the Kerchers…. If Knox and Sollecito are exonerated (as they likely will be), the only defendant left (convicted and appeals exhausted, in fact) is indigent. Maresca has been working on this case for approximately four years, and appears to stand to lose an immense commission if the right people are not convicted….11

In his closing argument in the trial of two of the West Memphis Three, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols, the chief prosecutor finished by saying, “Look at this knife. Look at those photos…. You’re going to find that these defendants are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”12

The photos, of the three murdered 8-year-old boys, proved only that they had been stripped naked, hogtied, murdered. The photos said nothing about who committed the crimes.

The knife, like the knife tested by the Knox prosecution, was not the murder weapon. The knife in West Memphis was a knife found in a lake in the same trailer park where Damien and Jason lived—along with a whole community. The knife had no connection to the crime.

Arkansas Times reporter Bob Lancaster wrote the following notes while listening to the prosecution lay out their case:

“A pervasive vagueness…. Just couldn’t get through it or past it; simply impenetrable…. When the prosecution rested the state’s case, about all it had proved was (1) that the murder had indeed occurred, and (2) how the victims died. It had proved the deed but not the who, the why, the where, or even the when.”13

It can be difficult to look into darkness.

It is tempting to look elsewhere.

Or to accept the first explanation of what is in the Darkness, if only not to think about it anymore.

From the beginning of the West Memphis Three tragedy, prosecutors would allege “occult trappings” at the crime scene (though there were none), in an effort to first convince the public, via the media, then to convince a jury, that it was three teenagers’ fascination with the occult that led them to murder three little boys.

To be in darkness is to be occulted.

To be unseen, unheard, unknown, is to be occulted.

The story of three little boys left dead in a ditch—remains, today, in darkness.

What remains in darkness, what remains occult, is the identity of the killer(s) of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore.

Indeed the difference—and it is a world of difference—between the West Memphis Witch Trial and the Amanda Knox Witch Trial, is that in Perugia, Italy, the authorities already have their murderer in prison. And it is time that Perugia’s witch hunters stop making the Kerchers believe otherwise. Time to stop using Meredith’s crime scene photos as black magic. Time to let her innocent family begin to heal from their all-too earthly pain.

*

Update: Need I mention it, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted.

Yea, though they faced the powers of darkness–or at least as much as power as could be summoned by the prosecutors–the forces of light prevailed.

So goes the narrative, anyway, in which forces of light and dark not only coexist but combat.

More importantly, however–given that the court is intended to be a place where evidence is of primary importance, rather than discussion of the paranormal–justice prevailed.

For readers looking for more discussion of the influence of occult obsessions of Mignini, et al, I recommend this article by Tom Chivers, “Amanda Knox acquitted: the Devil was in the details,” at the UK Telegraph. Here’s a selection, which also includes a handful of links that I recommend as well:

I’ve been watching the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher murder trial with little more than half an eye, from 900 miles away. But I was, nonetheless, pretty confident that she would be acquitted on appeal – so confident that I wrote this yesterday afternoon – and I based that confidence almost entirely on the following passage, from Rolling Stone earlier this year:

[In the prosecuting lawyer Giuliano Mignini’s] view, things are often touched by Satan. He detected Satan’s influence as early as 2001, when he became a central figure in the Monster of Florence serial-killer case. Mignini proposed that the suicide of a Perugian doctor was actually a murder committed by a satanic cult, practicing since the Middle Ages, that demanded human organs for their Black Masses. He later accused a hostile journalist of satanism and was convicted of abusing his office. In the early stages of the Kercher investigation, Mignini suggested that the victim had been slaughtered during a satanic ritual, but in his closing argument, he only went so far as to refer to Knox as a sex-and-drug-crazed “she-devil.”

That quote in full, by the way, was “a diabolical, satanic, demonic she-devil” who “likes alcohol, drugs and hot, wild sex”. It’s not the only time Satan has been mentioned in the case. Back in 2008, The Times reported that the prosecuting team believed Knox had killed Kercher as part of a “a perverse game of group sex” and “some kind of satanic rite”. On Sunday The New York Post said of Mignini:

It was a Halloween crime, and that was one of the first clues to register with Mignini, called to the crime scene fresh from celebrating All Souls’ Day, a day when proper Italian families visit their dead… Mignini always included witch fear in his murder theory, and only reluctantly relinquished it. As late as October 2008, a year after the murder, he told a court that the murder “was premeditated and was in addition a ‘rite’ celebrated on the occasion of the night of Halloween. A sexual and sacrificial rite [that] in the intention of the organizers … should have occurred 24 hours earlier” – on Halloween itself – “but on account of a dinner at the house of horrors, organized by Meredith and Amanda’s Italian flatmates, it was postponed for one day.” Eventually, Mignini’s No. 2, the chain-smoking, no-nonsense Manuela Comodi, persuaded him to drop the references to Satanism.

That New York Post story, incidentally, is well worth a read: Mignini reveals himself as a believer in conspiracy about the JFK shooting, and was closely associated with the late Gabriella Carlizzi, a Catholic from Rome who “had dedicated her life to exposing and fighting satanic sects”. Mignini himself is fascinated with Freemasonry, and its pagan overtones, and (the Post says) is “comfortable with the notion that his Catholic Church still battles the forces of paganism”, especially witchcraft.
It’s all very reminiscent of another Satanic panic which flared up a couple of decades or so ago in the US and Britain. . . . .

____________________________________

1 Pacelli represents the Congolese barman, Patrick Lumumba, who, early on, was named by Knox as a possible killer, during the time that Knox was interrogated by police throughout the night, without the benefit of an attorney or consular representative, and according to Knox, threatened and slapped repeatedly. Knox later recanted her implication of Lumumba, explaining that she had been terrified into saying something to placate investigators, and Italy’s highest appeals court ruled that Knox’s police statement statement was inadmissible. During Knox’s appeal, however, because of Lumumba’s involvement, the statement continues to be a point of reference. Lumumba already successfully sued Knox for slander, but has also made himself a party to the current appeals case. According to Reuters, “Pacelli told the appeals court that Knox’s lies destroyed his client’s image in an instant, making him a ‘second victim’ in the case.” [Babington, Deppa, with additional reporting by Maurizio Troccoli, editing by Robert Woodward and Roger Atwood. “Amanda Knox is a “she-devil,” Italian court told.” Reuters. September 26, 2011 http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/26/us-italy-knox-idUSTRE78P27Y20110926]

2 Shapiro, Nina. “Amanda Knox: ‘She-Devil, Witch’ or Feminist Icon?” Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sep. 27 2011 http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2011/09/amanda_knox_she-devil_witch_or.php

3 Babington, Deppa, with additional reporting by Maurizio Troccoli, editing by Robert Woodward and Roger Atwood. “Amanda Knox is a “she-devil,” Italian court told.” Reuters. September 26, 2011 http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/26/us-italy-knox-idUSTRE78P27Y20110926

4 Hooper, John. “Amanda Knox is an enchanting witch, lawyer says.” The Guardian. 26 September 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/26/amanda-knox-enchanting-witch

5 Ibid.

6 Candace Dempsey is the author of a Murder in Italy (Penguin/Berkeley Books), a Library Journal bestseller and the winner of Best True Crime Book Editor’s and Reader’s Choice Awards at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

7 Dempsey, Candace. “Amanda Knox case is Italy’s West Memphis 3.” Let’s Talk About True Crime (blog) at Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 25 September 2011 http://blog.seattlepi.com/dempsey/2011/09/17/amanda-knox-case-is-italys-west-memphis-3/

8 Injustice in Perugia. http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/CaseSummary.html

9 “Guiliano Mignini” at Injustice in Perugia. Website. http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/sentencingreportforGiulianoMignini.html

10 Steve Moore. “Is this really still about Meredith?” at gmancasefile (blog). 26 September 2011 http://gmancasefile.blogspot.com/2011/09/is-this-really-still-about-meredith.html

11 Ibid.

12 Leveritt, Mara. Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. New York, NY: Atria, 2003. Page 267.

13 Leveritt, 240.