The recent court testimony concerning Raffaele Sollecito’s computer activities (or lack thereof) between the hours of 9.10pm on the night of the murder right through to 5.30am the next morning, virtually annihilates his alibi of being at home in front of the computer whilst the murder was being committed. Further alibi bashing testimony is expected in the upcoming trial dates when the evidence that Raffaele didn’t pick up a call from his father that night will be presented to the court as will the evidence that Raffaele and his former girlfriend Amanda Knox simultaneously switched their phones off approximately one hour before the attack on Meredith which tragically culminated in her death.

The evidence and testimony so far has incontrovertibly shown that neither Amanda nor Raffaele have a consistent or credible alibi for their whereabouts and actions the night Meredith Kercher was murdered.

Playing Musical Chairs with the Alibi

Raffaele spoke to a reporter called Kate Mansey and claimed he had gone to a party with Amanda on the night of the murder. When the police questioned him with regard to certain inconsistencies in his alibi, with Amanda voluntarily accompanying him to the police station, Raffaele admitted he had ‘told a load of rubbish’ because he didn’t think about ‘inconsistencies’ in Amanda’s version of events, he then told police that Amanda had left his apartment to go to Le Chic and meet some friends whilst he had stayed at the apartment and watched a film whilst downloading another one to watch later, when Amanda (who was conveniently sat at the police station of her own free will) was confronted with the fact that Raffaele was no longer providing her with an alibi she broke down and ‘confessed’ to being at the cottage that night and told the police that she had covered her ears while her boss Patrick Lumumba had raped and killed Meredith. Amanda made a statement which implicated Lumumba and though this cannot be used in the trial due to no lawyer being present, a handwritten note to the police concerning this false accusation has been admitted as evidence. Amanda claims to have been put under pressure by the police by saying that she was hit, not given food or water and essentially implies she was ‘coerced’ into implicating Lumumba. This has not only been shown to be false but has also landed her a further slander charge alongside the one for making the false allegation against Lumumba in the first place. Amanda has since reverted back to her original story by claiming she was at the apartment all night with Raffaele, Raffaele has not confirmed this and as such Amanda has no real alibi. Both claim to have smoked so much marijuana they cannot remember exactly what happened that night, what they did or who was there. Raffaele has been clinging on to his computer/marijuana alibi for dear life and now half of it has melted away, all he is left with is the completely unbelievable insinuation that ‘he cannot remember what happened’ indeed Amanda seems to think this is also a credible alibi.

So here we have two young people, both of whom are known to Meredith, one with keys to the cottage where she was murdered. Both switched their phones off shortly before Meredith was killed and neither have a credible alibi for their actions and whereabouts that night. One claims to have spent the evening at home with the other, the other claims to have spent the evening alone at the computer, they both claim to have been so stoned they can’t remember anything at all, yet both equally ‘remember’ they slept until 10.30am the next morning. Computer evidence has shown one has lied about his activities that night and has also shown that at least one of them played a music file at 5.30am so one or both are lying about sleeping through to 10.30am.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (aside from Guede who admitted involvement) are in all likelihood the only two people in Perugia that night who, despite repeated interviews, pre-trial hearings and expensive lawyers , still have no credible or consistent alibi for their actions and whereabouts the night Meredith was killed. This, coupled with DNA evidence and witness statements confirms what Claudia Matteini described as ‘strong indications of guilt’. The only card Amanda and Raffaele have left to play is their ‘word’

Exactly why a jury would believe anything these two have to say is beyond me

At this point in time it seems fairly likely that Amanda and Raffaele are lying, not just about what they did that night but also by claiming they can’t remember because they smoked too much marijuana. This is not credible for a number of reasons:

Firstly, marijuana is not widely accepted as a drug that can completely annihilate specific parts of an evening whilst leaving other ‘memories’ intact. In short there is no real evidence to suggest that marijuana can have this effect. Raffaele Sollecito was a heavy pot smoker and it’s likely that Amanda was too, as such the chances of either of them ‘forgetting’ an entire evening, especially considering their previous level of exposure and resistance to the drug, are basically zero. It therefore follows that as the probability of this happening to one of them is low, the chances of it happening to both are even lower. Secondly we also have evidence that a cleanup took place. If Amanda and Raffaele were so stoned they passed out, how can we explain the DNA evidence at the crime scene and the evidence of a clean up? It would not have been possible to have cleaned the apartment (and it was a pretty good job too) if they were that stoned.

Basically it’s a lie and one that has irreparably damaged the credibility of the defendants. Not only that but according to recent research about perpetrators who feign amnesia, it could also be extremely damaging to the defendants overall memory recall which will be vital in order to avoid being ripped to shreds in cross examination if and when they take the stand.

Feigning Amnesia

I’ve recently been thinking about perpetrator amnesia and those who attempt to use it as an alibi particularly in murder cases.

Amnesia takes many forms but is essentially memory loss. It can be permanent or temporary and can be caused by any number of things from brain damage to witnessing or experiencing a severely traumatic event.

An article published in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry called ‘Claims of Crime-Related Amnesia  in Forensic Patients’ highlights the differences in theory amongst those attempting to explain the reasons why perpetrators claim amnesia when accused of serious crime and whether these claims have any basis in reality.

According to the authors there are three basic theories as to why offenders claim amnesia when confronted with accusations of a serious crime:

The first outlines the idea that the nature of most serious crime and in particular very violent homicides is very stressful for the offender and argues that these types of offences provoke “strong and emotional reactions” which arguably undermines the memory of the actual crime.

The second argues that in a lot of cases, offenders who claim amnesia have often been extremely intoxicated at the time of committing the crime, this theory suggests that the ability of the offender to encode specific memories about the event is impaired due to intoxication. The researchers also noted a correlation between alcoholism and offenders who claim amnesia.

The third theory outlines the idea that most cases of crime-related amnesia are a form of malingering and that offenders who claim amnesia are in fact feigning a memory deficit to escape or reduce responsibility for their actions.

I am not a fan of reductionist theories that attempt to simplify complex subjects such as this and as such I am inclined to believe that instances of crime-related amnesia are a combination of the above. One theory I am very interested in pursuing with regard to understanding this case further is the idea that offenders who appear to be feigning amnesia  in order to escape punishment may actually be attempting to come up with a plausible rationale for the crime without actually having to discuss crime details that may distress or upset them, as a result of this offenders will often claim they do not remember what happened, both to avoid punishment and so they do not have to ‘reconstruct’ memories of the crime. Memory recall is a tricky area and it has been proven that time elapse and suggestion have a very strong effect on memory recall, lawyers for example are not allowed to ask leading questions in court as memories can occasionally be ‘reconstructed’ as a result of suggestion.

I am of the belief that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are feigning amnesia in order to avoid punishment for their actions and to avoid discussing specific crime details that may be causing them stress or discomfort.

Further research has been conducted into the effects of feigning amnesia on ongoing memory recall. This research suggests that offenders who feign amnesia are more likely to have decreased memory recall over time, further suggesting that offenders who claim to ‘forget’ actually do partially forget. The problem with this is that their original statements and ‘memories’ have already been recorded for use during trial, what can sometimes happen is an offender has spent such a long time pretending not to remember that they experience dissociative amnesia, especially if the crime was traumatic or very violent. In these instances, specific details become hazy and inconsistencies appear which then often results in the defendant being ripped to shreds when they eventually take the stand.

Amanda and Raffaele have already demonstrated an amazing ability to twist details in to newer and ‘improved’ versions of what happened that night, this coupled with their disassociation from the crime and each other has certainly done its fair share of damage already. The inconsistencies in Amanda and Raffaele’s stories have in part come about simply because they have attempted to ‘block out’ and ‘shut away’ any memories of that evening.

Amanda and Raffaele are having (and will continue to have) serious problems with their memory recall for the following reasons:

  • A great deal of time has passed between the murder and the trial
  • They have repeatedly lied about their actions and whereabouts on the night and can no longer remember what they said, who they said it to and why they said it.
  • They have both claimed amnesia which is shown to have an effect on subsequent memory recall of the crime itself.
  • They have both in all likelihood been involved in an extremely violent murder and sexual assault, according to current theory this could have been traumatic enough to severely impair memory recall of the event and as such they are completely resisting all attempts by the prosecution to talk about what actually happened that night (it will take a great many years of therapy and counselling to get this out of them)
  • They were both intoxicated on the night in question which may have had a moderate effect on memory encoding and subsequent memory recall.

As a result of this Amanda and Raffaele will have serious problems if and when they take the stand, I wager that this will the point when someone will crack or slip up, especially if and when Mignini chooses to cross examine them. They won’t stand a chance.

Some ideas and conclusions

Crime related amnesia is a fairly common occurrence in the criminal justice system and there have been a great number of theories attempting to understand why it is so often used as an ‘excuse’ by offenders accused of serious crime.

Psychologists believe it may be in part an attempt to disassociate from the crime both in the attempt to avoid punishment and as an attempt to avoid reconstructing memories of a particularly violent crime which may distress the offender.

I believe that the fact Amanda and Raffaele are using amnesia as a defence strongly indicates they were present in the cottage that night and played an active role in a disturbing and highly sadistic crime which they are now disassociating themselves from. Amanda and Raffaele have experienced problems with memory recall and have been unable to provide a credible or reliable alibi which seems to indicate that they do not in fact have one.

They were at the cottage that night and they in all likelihood participated in the murder of Meredith Kercher.