Raffaele Sollecito remains somewhat of an enigma to me (and it seems to others following this case too), I feel that as so much media attention has been focused on the young, attractive, female defendant Amanda Knox, exploration of his personality and character to date has been somewhat limited. Raffaele has been less than vocal throughout the ongoing investigation and although his recent spontaneous statement to the court in Perugia shed a little more light on his possible character, I have read very few media reports devoted equally to discussion about Knox and Sollecito. Certainly in some US and UK media reports he is only fleetingly mentioned and usually only serves to ‘fill-out’ the reports that are mainly concerned with Knox. The media have however made rather a lot of his supposed knife collection, penchant for Japanese manga comics, that photo of him holding a meat cleaver and a bottle of bleach, as well as his status as Amana Knox’s former lover. It does not surprise me that Knox’s story has dominated the news, not least because of the PR campaign, Sollecito however is a very interesting character and, given that the prosecution believe he may have played a key role in what happened to poor Meredith Kercher that night, understanding his character is just as important as examining that of Amanda Knox.

As with ‘Passing for Human’ the following observations about Raffaele’s character are entirely my own and do not represent a clinical diagnosis of a personality disorder, nor should they be used as such. These observations and ideas, like the ones I made about Amanda are also the sum of their individual parts and again it is important to consider that these individual parts when put into a different context may not be evident of a problem at all. Bearing all this in mind I’d like to examine the character of Raffaele in a similar way to my previous post on Amanda Knox. What kind of person is he? What is he like? And what the hell does any of this have to do with the case? Well, I believe that understanding Raffaele and his behaviour after the body was found, in the subsequent investigation and now during the trial, is key to putting together the pieces of what happened that night. My ideas and thoughts are pure speculation and I firmly believe that the hard evidence should always be the main focus for anyone interested in this case, though it is crucial, hard evidence might still leave the question ‘Why?’ unanswered. Why did this happen to poor Meredith Kercher? Who could so something so terrible? Considering the case against both Amanda and Raffaele is pretty strong we can entertain the possibility that both were involved in the murder of Meredith and hence we crave the answer to the question: why? The answer may or may not lie in the murky and speculative world of psychology, let’s try and put some of this together and see if it makes any sense:

Cold, distant demeanour and apparent lack of empathy or remorse

In a similar way to Amanda, Raffaele showed a remarkable lack of emotion or empathy after the body of Meredith Kercher was found, though this has been noticed by people following the case it may have been overshadowed for two reasons: firstly, it doesn’t sound like Raffaele and Meredith were close, merely acquaintances, and as such people would maybe have expected him to show slightly less of an emotional reaction than they would have expected Amanda to have displayed. Secondly, Amanda’s lack of emotional response was noticed immediately and people focused on this not just because she was a housemate and (apparently) a friend of Meredith’s but because she is female and as traditional female behaviour is associated with more dramatic displays of emotion her complete lack of emotion seemed even more inappropriate under the circumstances. Because of this Raffaele’s coldness, lack of empathy and emotion may, to a certain extent have been noticed less than Knox’s. Testimony from those present at the police station after the body had been discovered noticed that the defendants were laughing, passing notes, kissing, cuddling and making faces at each other, just as people have been critical of Amanda for this callous and tactless disregard for the emotional significance of what had happened, the same people noted this cold and distant behaviour in Raffaele. It could be that as those present in the police station that day were focusing on the behaviour of Amanda, the behaviour of Raffaele may have gone unnoticed to a certain degree.

In the courtroom
Raffaele’s observed behaviour in the courtroom has been markedly different to that of Knox. His demeanour, attire and attitude have been appropriate throughout and he has not smiled or laughed. I believe Raffaele is connecting with his emotional surroundings and, if found guilty and with a few more years in which to mature, he will be able to express remorse in some capacity. Raffaele is literally terrified; photos from the courtroom show a look of permanent bemusement, alarm and fear on his face, this is in stark contrast to his former girlfriend Amanda who seems to be expressing very little emotion at all, not even fear. It could be possible that Raffaele understands the case against him a little better than Knox does and it may well be that his family and defence team have given him a slighty more realistic idea of what his future might hold. His recent behaviour in court could indicate he is about to ‘crack’ or break completely away from Amanda Knox.

Personality, habits and interests

Raffaele is a smart young man; he was studying computer science in Perugia and has proven to be just as cunning as Knox in his statements to police (which I will discuss in more detail later). Raffaele’s father is a wealthy doctor from southern Italy and as such he was never short of money. Raffaele had an apartment in Perugia, an expensive car, a cleaner and dressed himself well. Children from wealthy families sometimes grow up to take money for granted or indeed believe they are invincible and can do as they please.

Drug taking and financial habits

Raffaele smoked a LOT of marijuana and it seems he may have had a bit of a problem with it. Most (but not all) habitual users of marijuana can lack motivation, energy and direction in life. Though this is a problem for some young people who realise that at some point they will need to find a job and support themselves it does not seem Raffaele had to worry about this as he was financially well looked after by his Dad. I do find it interesting that Raffaele had only €40 left in the bank around the time of the murder, I can imagine his father gave him a generous allowance. I find it hard to believe he spent it all on weed. Apparently Raffaele was known to local police in Bari for his drug use and Knox has mentioned that he admitted to having used cocaine and LSD. Maybe it got him into trouble in Bari. Though drug experimentation is normal it does seem that Raffaele spent rather a lot of his time high as a kite, this could indicate he was seeking to detach himself from reality, he may have even been paranoid.

Raffaele collected knives and reportedly carried a flick knife with him everywhere. He describes himself as “honest, peaceable, sweet but sometimes totally creazy [sic]” and says favourite sport is kick-boxing. Police searching his house reportedly seized several violent Japanese manga comics and one, Blood: The Last Vampire reportedly contains eerily similar illustrations to what the prosecution believe may have happened to Meredith that night. Though this in itself does not prove any kind of violent inclination I’d wager that Raffaele had some violent sexual fantasies or urges, it would be very interesting to know what kind of pornography he watched and I can imagine, just like any (reportedly) 23 year old virgin, there was probably a lot of it on his computer. Raffaele seemed like a fairly ordinary kind of guy who may have been perceived as a bit odd or a bit of a loner, it sounds like he kept himself to himself and got on with the things he found enjoyable whilst smoking an inordinate amount of pot. It does sound like he may have been paranoid and, with a seemingly passive nature was probably slow to anger, however, when angered I can imagine it was not particularly pleasant.

So all in all, a knife/violent manga fetish + paranoia + drug problem + lots of money = high probability of trouble on the horizon. I’m surprised nobody noticed the signs earlier but, like with the Knox/Mellas camp, Raffaele’s family probably thought it was ‘just a phase’ which would eventually fade with maturity. The evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

Raffaele seems passive and hence was was probably very inexperienced with women so I’d also wager that he became completely and totally infatuated with Knox the minute he slept with her (if not the minute he’d met her), she would have had a big hold on him and known how to use it, these two should never have met.

[addendum] I’d be very interested to know if Raffaele played any online role playing games such as World of Warcraft or any other ‘Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games’ (known as MMORPG) or had any ‘fantasy’ forum presence, as Raffaele was a computer science major and it seems, a bit of a loner,  an online violent/fantasy presence could be a possibility. If this is the case, he may have developed certain fantasies from his interaction with these games or on the forums and any information avalible on this subject may help us further understand his individual fantasies, this in turn may shed light on the individual fantasies of those present that night.

Cunning, manipulative and devious behaviour

Raffaele has a devious and cunning side. He has lied with the same ferocity as his former girlfriend Amanda Knox, some of his whoppers include: telling the postal police he’d already phoned the Carabinieri when in fact he phoned them after the postal police had arrived, he also said that Knox was crying and screaming when the body was found yet testimony from those present and in the subsequent hours suggests there was no emotional reaction from her at all let alone tears, he admitted that he ‘told a load of rubbish’ to the police because he had believed Knox’s ‘version of events’ about what happened that night, when told that the victims DNA was on the tip of a knife found in his apartment and Amanda’s DNA was on the handle, instead of claiming this could not be possible (as Meredith had never been to his apartment) he invented a story about pricking Meredith’s hand whilst cooking. The evidence so far indicates that Raffaele has something to hide as he has repeatedly lied to police. The evidence also suggests he was involved in the clean up and staging of the burglary and possibly the rape, in a similar way with Knox, the staging and cleaning of the crime scene is extremely devious and shows a level of detachment from the crime that is disturbing.

Ideas and conclusions

Though they are very different people, Raffaele and Amanda displayed remarkably similar behaviour following the discovery of Meredith Kercher’s body and as such appear to be as guilty as each other. Raffaele (like Knox) was an accident waiting to happen, he had too much freedom, too much money and seemed to be floating nonchalantly through life. He appears to be as cold, calculating and shrewd as Knox but is mature enough to realise the enormity of what is happening around him and looks more and more childlike with each passing day of the trial.

It would not surprise me if Sollecito made further moves to distance himself from Knox, testimony from Guede (if he decides to tell the truth) could be catastrophic and he is unlikely to fare well during cross-examination if they put him on the stand. Amanda and Raffaele seem to be linked together in the most bizarre and unusual way, it almost seems like they have some sort of pact.

I wonder who will be the first to break it.