Firstly I would like to thank the team at True Justice for Meredith Kercher for translating and summarising the 106 page report by Judge Micheli. This excellent summary will hopefully help those interested in the case further understand the reasons why Micheli handed down a 30 year sentence to Rudy Guede and what motivated his decision to bring Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

 

Most of the evidence put forward so far and the general consensus amongst investigators and objective media reports  is that the crime scene was staged in the hope that investigators would believe that the perpetrator/s had acted alone and broken into the house to steal which resulted in a confrontation and the attack on Meredith.

 

The fact that the crime scene was staged could provide a useful insight into the nature of the offence and also the person/s involved.

 

Investigators will often look for behavioural clues left by a perpetrator at a crime scene by trying to establish the sequence of events that lead to the murder of the victim. Each crime scene is totally unique and must be treated as such. Establishing how the victim was attacked and subdued are important indicators of behaviour as well as determining whether the victim was mutilated and/or sexually assaulted and if so whether this sexual assault and/or mutilation occurred before or after death. Investigators may also be interested in establishing whether the perpetrator deliberately or accidently left or removed an item at the crime scene.

 

Studying the victim (victimology) is also important as the age, gender, physical build and ethnic origin (amongst others) of the victim can often give investigators further important behavioural clues about the perpetrator and what need they serve by killing.

 

Sometimes when analysing a crime scene investigators may notice certain irregularities that attempt to obscure or alter the underlying motive/s of the crime. Examples of this could include a broken window that seems to indicate a point of entry yet on closer inspection appears to be broken from the inside. Another example of staging could be a crime scene where officers notice cupboards and drawers open, objects knocked on the floor and a big mess which appears to indicate a burglary but on closer inspection and after interviewing friends or relatives, the investigators establish that nothing of value has been taken.

 

These irregularities in the crime scene are often the result of a behaviour called staging or purposely altering the crime scene after the event and prior to the arrival of the police. Staging usually takes place to steer the investigation and the attention of the police away from the perpetrator involved or to obscure the truth about what happened to the victim and the manner in which they died (faking a suicide is a good example of this).

 

Perpetrators who stage a crime scene will often make mistakes and leave clues behind; this is because a perpetrator will usually attempt to rearrange the scene to resemble what they believe it should look like. When rearranging a crime scene most offenders experience a great deal of stress and panic and because of this panic, do not have the time to fit all the pieces together logically and set a convincing ‘stage’ to lead the police down the ‘right track’. As a result of this, inconsistencies in forensic findings and in the overall view of the crime scene will begin to emerge. Most investigators can quickly spot whether or not a crime scene has been staged.

 

Another interesting point that investigators will often consider is whether the level of violence fits the crime and the ‘stage’ that has been set by the perpetrator.

 

One of the questions I’d like to consider is how the person/s involved in killing Meredith altered the crime scene, why this occurred and the implications it may have for understanding the motivations of the person/s involved.

 

Inspector Michele Battistelli was one of the first officers at the scene where Meredith’s body was found. He recently testified in court: “Straightaway I thought it was an attempt to make it look like a burglary”. Battistelli also found that a window had been broken but the shattered glass lay on top of some clothes that had been scattered on the floor. Although at first glance it appeared to be a burglary attempt gone bad, suspicions were immediately aroused indicating something far more sinister had happened when Battistelli established that despite the supposed burglary, a laptop, video camera and other valuables had not been taken from the house. Battistelli noted that the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito seemed “embarrassed and surprised” during the initial search of the house.

 

Several factors that investigators often consider when confronted with a violent crime where burglary appears to be a motive:

 

·        Did the offenders take anything of value?

·        If the offenders took or attempted to take objects of value, were they large or small objects? Why take a TV when a box of jewellery is just as valuable, less conspicuous and easier to carry?

·        Did the point of entry make sense? i.e. did the offender climb though a higher storey window when a lower and more easily accessible point of entry was possible?

·        Did the offender appear to put themselves at risk? Was the offence committed in broad daylight when darkness would have provided better cover for the offence?

·        Does the level of violence fit the crime?

 

In this case we can almost certainly rule out a burglary ever taking place:

 

Missing valuables

The investigating officers noted that only Meredith’s rent money had been taken. Although a thief would have almost certainly taken the money if it had been found, burglars often break into houses to steal objects they can sell rather than optimistically expecting to find cash. If a serious burglary had occurred, objects like Meredith’s laptop would almost certainly have been taken as well as valuables from the other girls’ rooms. Whoever took the money already knew it was there.

 

Entry point, risk taking and victim selection

Similarly, the window was almost certainly broken from the inside as, had the window been broken as an entry point the glass would have been underneath the scattered clothes. Also, the broken window was significantly higher off the ground than other easier entry points. We must also consider the main objective of a burglary: to steal as much valuable stuff as quickly and conveniently as possible. The boy’s apartment (downstairs) would have been a much, safer and easier target for a burglary, nobody home and surely they’d have valuables too. Why scale a wall and break in through a small window to steal from an upstairs apartment when an easier target would be a deserted downstairs apartment? The principle target in the attack was Meredith Kercher. A burglar would have no reason to make things harder by targeting Meredith specifically; hence a burglary doesn’t make sense.

 

Level of violence used

 

I’d make an educated guess that if whoever set the stage for the police managed to convince them a burglary took place, they’d probably still have suspected something was amiss simply because of the level of violence involved in the attack on Meredith. Investigating officers are trained to look for patterns in victim selection, type of crime and weapon employed. Lone burglars who are confronted will often attempt to run away and if they do attack, they don’t often cause serious injury or death simply because they are often good at selecting properties where the owner/s are not home. Aggravated burglary is rare and usually the burglar will only lash out when threatened. The attack on Meredith was violent, sadistic, prolonged and extremely brutal, a burglar would be more likely to kick, punch or throw an object with the objective of getting away than sexually assault and kill. The objective would be to escape as quickly as possible without being seen, with as many valuables as possible, not to hang around, sexually assault and brutally kill a young woman.

 

The evidence available so far indicates that whoever killed Meredith Kercher attempted to make it appear to investigating officers that someone had broken into the apartment to steal and had violently attacked Meredith when confronted.

 

What does this tell us about the perpetrator/s responsible for the attack on Meredith and the subsequent attempt to stage the crime scene?

 

Offenders who attempt to stage a crime scene almost always know the victim in some way, often quite well. The fact that the perpetrator/s attempted to stage the crime scene to look like a burglary indicates a relationship with the victim. The person/s involved obviously panicked and made a very poor effort to stage a burglary, no objects were taken and the window was smashed from the inside, yet whoever set the scene had an unrealistic preconceived idea of what a burglary would look like and haphazardly threw some clothes around to create a scene. Whoever did this obviously had no idea what a convincing burglary would look like as it immediately roused the suspicions of the police, this could indicate that the person/s who staged the crime scene had never been involved in or experienced burglary before.

 

I believe the stage was set by Rudy Guede, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. This was done quickly, in a total state of panic and following this, all three fled the scene.

 

Some ideas and conclusions

 

I believe Knox and Sollecito had doubts about how convincing their staged burglary would be. By this time Guede had already left the house, gone home, showered and gone out clubbing. I believe it was these doubts, coupled with the idea that they could pin the blame on Guede that made Knox and Sollecito go back to the house to stage the rape and attempt to clean up their own involvement.

 

 

Advertisements