Exposition

[Esposizione, pp. 10-20]

Exposition.

On November 2, 2007 in the house located at Via Della Pergola 7 in Perugia, very shortly after 1:00 pm, the lifeless body of a young woman was discovered, covered by a quilt which left only a single bare foot outside; in the immediate vicinity and throughout the room there were conspicuous bloodstains.

The body was identified as that of Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher.

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, born in London on 12-28-1985, had studied the Italian language as well as Latin and was in Italy under the auspices of the Erasmus program. She had chosen the city of Perugia because it was small and easily accessible by its airport. Meredith called her family, with whom she had very close relations, every day. She had taken dancing courses and participated in sports such as soccer and karate. She was strong both physically and in terms of character (cf. statements of her mother and her sister Stephanie, hearing of 6-6-09).

She had left for Perugia on September 1, 2007. At first she had stayed in a hotel and then had found the house on Via Della Pergola, which she liked because of its location: close to the university and with a beautiful view of the Umbrian countryside. Having finished the Italian language course she had begun to study other subjects: politics, English, film, Italian composition. On September 28, Meredith had returned home to England, to take back warmer clothing, and had left again for Perugia a few days later, the 1st of October. Both the mother and sister knew of her housemate Amanda and of Meredith’s relations with her: when Amanda had started working in a bar, “Meredith and her friends would go there to support and be with her” (cf. mother’s statement); Meredith recounted furthermore that Amanda sang continuously (statement of sister Stephanie).

Her mother recalled having heard from her for the last time on Thursday, November 1, “the day she died”, in the early afternoon; she had told her that she would return on November 9 and thus would be able to celebrate her mother’s upcoming birthday on November 11.

Meredith was very attached to her family and very affectionate; she had bought gifts, and moreover had a suitcase full of chocolate acquired in Perugia that she had planned to bring to her sister, Stephanie Arline Lara Kercher. She was, furthermore, “very conscientious, very intelligent”. She greatly loved pizza and sometimes went dancing (father’s statement, hearing of 6-6-2009). When she had started living in the house at Via Della Pergola 7, she had occupied the furthest room from the door to the house, the one that had the window which looked out on the valley underneath, from which she could appreciate the view to which her mother referred.

Via Della Pergola is a small street that is quite near to the University for Foreigners, and Number 7 is almost hidden by S. Antonio Boulevard and the parking lot located in front. The residence was divided into two apartments, one on the basement floor which was occupied at the time by four young men from the Marche region, and the other on the ground level, which was occupied by four young women: Filomena Romanelli, Laura Mezzetti, Amanda Marie Knox, and Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher. Each of the four had her own room.

The first two — who were older and already established in the workforce — occupied the rooms closest to the entrance to the house: Romanelli occupied the the room on the left as one enters and Mezzetti the room in front.

These two rooms were spearated by a living room with a kitchen corner[], used by all four girls. A hallway led from the living room to a small bathroom, next to Meredith’s bedroom, almost in front of that room, which was normally used by Meredith and Amanda.

Amanda’s room was in the middle, between Romanelli’s, which was the first from the entrance, and Meredith’s, which was the last. All these rooms were on the left from the perspective of someone entering; only Mezzetti’s was on the other side, which is to say on the right of the hallway.

Romanelli and Mezzetti used a different bathroom, larger than the one used by Meredith and Amanda, equipped with a small anteroom [antibagno] with a sink, which was accessible by a door from the living room.

At the time when the lifeless body of Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was discovered, present in the house at Via Della Pergola 7 were, besides the defendants, Filomena Romanelli, her friend Paola Grande, and their boyfriends Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri. All had arrived at the house around 1:00 pm on November 2. Also present were Inspector Michele Battistelli and Agent Fabio Marzi of the Perugia Postal Police, who had arrived shortly before 1:00.

The presence of the Postal Police, in the persons of Inspector Battistelli and Agent Marzi, was due to the discovery, a few hours earlier, of a cellular telephone — and then of a second such phone — in the garden of the house of Elisabetta Lana, located in Via Sperandio, in Perugia.

This garden, and the house itself, are hidden by trees and are located in the area of S. Angelo Park, a short distance from the house at Via Della Pergola 7; only a very few (2 or 3) minutes away by car, and 15-20 minutes away by foot (see statement of Fiammetta Biscarini, hearing of 2-6-2009), or even less (cf. statement of Dr. Chiacchiera, who indicated a time of 5-7 minutes required to reach Via Sperandio from Via Della Pergola, specifying that one can pass through Corso Garibaldi – which lies 200 meters from Via Sperandio — or even through the park; statement of Dr. Chiacchiera at the hearing of 2-27-2009, p. 145).

It had thus happened that on the evening of 11-1-2007 around 10:00 pm, a person had warned Elisabetta Lana not to use the toilet in the house because there was a bomb which might explode. Mrs. Lana had immediately notified the police of this call; they arrived at the scene and found nothing. Mrs. Lana and her husband were nonetheless encouraged to come to the Postal Police station the following day to report the telephone call. At around 9:00 am the next day, i.e. November 2, when they were preparing to leave to make the report, their son, Alessandro Biscarini, found a small telephone “in the garden, in the open space [spiazzo] in front of the house” (statement of Alessandro Biscarini, hearing of 2-6-2009, p. 166). Thinking that it had been left by one of the agents who had arrived the previous evening, Mrs. Lana called the police and was told to bring the telephone to the station, where she was heading anyway, and where she arrived, together with her husband, at around 10:15 am.

Dr. Bartolozzi, to whom the phone was given, traced the owner: Filomena Romanelli, resident of Via Della Pergola 7, Perugia.

Shortly afterward, when Mrs. Lana and her husband had left the offices of the Postal Police, their daughter Elisabetta Biscarini told them she had found a second cellular telephone in the same garden of the house on Via Sperandio, around 11:45 am – 12:00 pm, a short distance from where the first had been discovered. The phone, brought into the house and placed on the table, had rung, and there appeared on the display “the name of the person calling: Amanda” (statement of Alessandro Biscarini, hearing of 2-6-2009, p. 167). The finding of the second phone was quickly communicated to Dr. Bartolozzi who told them to bring him the second phone as well. Around 12:15-12:20 pm, Mrs. Lana was again in the offices of the Postal Police with the second phone, which she gave to Dr. Bartolozzi.

Alessandro Biscarini explained that the place in the garden where he had found the first phone, a Motorola, was about 15-20 meters from the street, and the second phone had been found a short distance form the first. He explained that the 2nd phone had been found by his sister Fiammetta, who, speaking at the same hearing, recalled that on the morning of 11-2-2007, at around noon, she was in the garden of the house when she heard the ringing of a cellular phone. She brought the phone into the house, where it rang again, and on the display appeared the name of Amanda.

Filippo Bartolozzi, at the time in charge of the Police Communications Division for Umbria, confirmed that on the morning of 11-2-2007, Mrs. Lana Elisabetta had come to the offices of the Police, bringing with her a cellular telephone, a Motorola which she said she had found in the garden at her own residence. With this telephone, Dr. Bartolozzi had placed a call to a police number and had thus been able to identify Filomena Romanelli, resident of Via Della Pergola 7, as the owner of that phone.

This was done at 11:38 am (p. 54 of the Bartolozzi statement, hearing of 2-6-2009); he had then sent Inspector Battistelli and Officer Marzi to Via Della Pergola 7; this would have been at 12:00 pm (p. 42 of the Bartolozzi statement). Shortly afterward he learned that another phone had been found in the same garden on Via Sperandio, this one of Ericcson brand. This phone was also brought to his office and put with the other one. He had tried to discover the number and owner of this second phone as well, but without success. He had thus thought that “the telephone could have a sim card belonging to a foreign operating company” (statement of Bartolozzi, hearing of 2-6-2009).

These, then, were the circumstances of and the reasons for the presence, in the house at Via Della Pergola no. 7 shortly before 1:00 pm on 11-2-2007, of the Postal Police team composed of Inspector Michele Battistelli and Officer [assistente] Fabio Marzi. As recalled by Battistelli (p. 80, hearing of 2-6-09), there had been some difficulty in finding the house in that they had twice crossed S. Antonio Boulevard which runs by, and partially obscures, the house; and Battistelli had to get out of his car and walk before finding the house, which he reached (together with Officer Marzi), shortly after 12:30, as it appeared to the two policemen.

They did not find Filomena Romanelli, for whom they were looking for the reason explained above, in the residence, but rather the defendants, who were outside the house, seated nearby the fence located almost at the end of the driveway, which leads through a gate to the house itself; they were in fact near the part of the wall in which the window to the room then occupied by Filomena Romanelli is located. The window’s two shutters were closed, with the shutter on the right (from an onlooker’s perspective) being “slightly more open” (p. 62, hearing of 2-6-2009, statement of Battistelli).

As soon as they arrived, the two of them — Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito — said that they were waiting for the Carabinieri, whom they had called because, “having gotten back to the house in the morning due to being out all night”, they had found “the door open and then the window broken” (see statement of Battistelli, hearing of 2-7-2009, p. 64). Shortly after his arrival at the house on Via Della Pergola, Battistelli found out from his supervisor, Dr. Bartolozzi, that a second phone had been found. The verifications performed on this second phone had not yielded any result, as will be recalled; nontheless, the coincidence of the time and place of the discovery of the two phones reasonably suggested a single explanation [medesima causale] and permitted one to believe that the owner of one of them — Filomena Romanelli — would be able to provide information about the second as well. Hence Michele Battistelli was informed of the subsequent find.

At around 1:00 pm, Filomena Romanelli, her friend Paola Grande, and their boyfriends Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri arrived at the house on Via Della Pergola.

Inspector Battisteli and Officer [assistente] Marzi were indeed at the house on Via Della Pergola because of Filomena Romanelli, but when she arrived, around 1:00 pm on that day, the 2nd of November, thereby changing the plans that she and her friend Paola Grande had made for that semi-festive day (the Day of the Dead), she had not come on account of a call from the Postal Police in order to provide information about the Motorola telephone registered to her that was found in the garden of the house on Via Sperandio.

Together with Laura Mezzetti, Filomena Romanelli had lived in the house at Via Della Pergola 7 since August of that year. Since there were two other bedrooms and a second bathroom available, they had undertaken to find two other girls with whom to split the 1,200-euro-per-month rent.

Amanda Knox, who had expressed interest in the house and chosen her own room — the one located between Romanelli’s bedroom and what would become Meredith’s bedroom — had arrived at the beginning of September; she had then gone for a few days to Germany, where she had an aunt. Meredith, who was also interested in the house, began to live there from the middle of September 2007, occupying the room farthest from the entrance, next to Amanda’s room and in front of a small bathroom, the second bathroom of the apartment; this bathroom was used generally and predominantly by Meredith and Amanda.

Filomena Romanelli had the closest relations with [era maggiormente legata a] Laura Mezzetti, her contemporary, who like her was already established in the workforce. Nonetheless, she had excellent relationships with all three: on October 30, after coming home from work in the late afternoon, she had had a lengthy chat with Meredith, and on November 1, before leaving the house to go out with her boyfriend, she had asked for Amanda’s help in wrapping a gift. She had also met Amanda’s boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. That had occurred on October 26, the day after Amanda and Raffaele themselves had met.

All four of the girls had the keys to the door of the house, which was slightly defective: to close it, it was in fact necessary to use the key. Indeed, when one simply pushed it, it did not always click and therefore did not always close. Filomena Romanelli recalled that on that 1st of November, she was to go with her boyfriend Marco Zaroli to the house of Luca Altieri, who was celebrating his birthday. Needing to change clothes as well as wrap the present that was to be given to Luca Altieri, she had gone into the house, at Via Della Pergola 7, together with Marco Zaroli. Inside, they had found Amanda, eating breakfast, who told them that Meredith was asleep in her room (pp. 28-29, hearing of 2-7-2009). She had then left the house, spending the rest of the day and night with her boyfriend Marco Zaroli.

The next morning, she had gone in her boyfriend’s car to pick up her friend Paola Grande, who was at Luca Altieri’s house, with the intention of going with her to the area of Pian di Massiano where the Fiera dei Morti [footnote] would be held. Around 12:00-12:10 pm, when she was in the car with Paola Grande, not yet having reached the parking lot of the Fiera, she had received a phone call: it was Amanda, who told her that something strange was going on in the house. She [Amanda] had gotten home and found the door open; she had taken a shower and thought she had noticed blood; she had then said she sould be going to Raffaele’s place (statement of Romanelli, p.31, hearing of 2-7-2009). To her [Romanelli’s] question about Meredith’s whereabouts, she [Amanda] replied that she did not know.

Filomena Romanelli, disturbed by this call, had called Amanda back without getting a response, and when, a bit later, she had been able to speak with Amanda, the latter told her that in her (that is, Romanelli’s) room, the glass of the window was broken, everything was strewn about [era tutto sottosopra] and she had to come back home. At that point she was extremely worried; she had called her boyfriend, Marco Zaroli, telling him what Amanda had told her and asking him to go to the house on Via Della Pergola to see what had happened. Marco Zaroli, who was without his car since Romanelli had taken it, had called his friend Luca Altieri and together they went to the house on Via Della Pergola, where they arrived around 1:00 pm, almost at the same time as Filomena Romanelli and Paola Grande. Also in the house were the two defendants, as well as Inspector Battistelli and Officer Marzi, as has been seen. Romanelli attributed the presence of the latter two to what Amanda had told her regarding the open door, the broken glass, and the topsy-turvy state of her own room. She was thus quite surprised when Inspector Battistelli asked her if she knew the telephone numbers he showed her, written on a piece of paper, one Italian and the other English. Filomena Romanelli did know them and replied to the effect that they were the numbers used by Meredith: one for Italy — which was the one registered to her, Filomena Romanelli, and which she had given to Meredith for calls in Italy — and the other for calls to England where all of Meredith’s relatives were.

The information regarding the discovery of the two phones in the garden of a house on Via Sperandio greatly raised her fears and worries about what could have happened. Filomena Romanelli knew, in fact, that Meredith was never without her Ericsson phone, the one for calls to England, because she used it to stay continually informed of the state of her mother’s health, which was not good.

Filomena Romanelli had ascertained from a quick check that nothing was missing from her room, which was indeed in a state of disorder with the glass of the window broken; nonetheless, what Amanda had told her about the door found open, the presence of blood spots in the bathroom used by Amanda and Meredith, and the discovery of the two cellular phones, rendered the situation very worrisome, all the more since there was no news about Meredith and the door to her room was locked. This latter circumstance, downplayed by Amanda who had said that Meredith always locked the door to her room, even when going to the bathroom to take a shower (see statement of Marco Zaroli, p. 18, hearing of 2-6-2009, and statement of Luca Altieri, p.218, hearing of 2-6-2009), had furthermore allarmed Romanelli, who recalled only one time when Meredith had locked her room, when she had gone back to England and had been away for a few days (confirmed also by Laura Mezzetti, p. 6, hearing of 2-14-2009).

It was in this context of anxiety and concern that the decision was made by the four young people — Filomena Romanelli, Paola Grande, Luca Altieri, and Marco Zaroli — to break open the door to the room of Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher.

However, on this specific matter — the locked door and the decision to break it open — some rather contradictory elements had emerged: Amanda, as has been noted already, had recalled that Meredith always locked the door to her room and thus it was natural that it was locked; Raffaele Sollecito had tried to break open the door with a kick, thereby displaying behavior which contradicted Amanda’s claim that the locked door was normal; strangely, however, he had not persevered [insisito] in his attempt to break open the door, which had only been scratched, and despite the fact that it was incapable of putting up successful resistance to a greater and more sincere effort [una maggiore ed effetiva determinazione] — as follows from the fact that Luca Altieri would shortly thereafter be able to force it down with a kick and a shoulder-push [spallata] — he had not yet tried to force down the door. It will also be noted that Amanda Knox, in her e-mail sent on 11-4-2007 to 25 people in the USA, after having described the chaos present in Filomena’s room, the open window, and the broken glass, wrote the following, on this specific detail: “I then went into the part of the house that Meredith and I share and checked my room for things missing, which there weren’t. then I knocked on Meredith’s room. At first I thought she was alseep so I knocked gently, but when she didn’t respond I knocked louder and louder until I was really banging on her door and shouting her name. No response. Panicking, I ran out onto our terrace to see if maybe I could see over the ledge into her room from the window, but I couldn’t see in.” [footnote: Amanda Knox’s original English text is reproduced here verbatim, except for correction of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation].

We shall have occasion to return to this email and other documents originating from Amanda Knox, as well as her statements obtained in the course of the trial. It seems, however, necessary to take note at once of the panic described in the email with regard to the locked door — which, on the contrary, was completely absent upon the arrival of Romanelli and the others. Moreover, of this locked door which had caused such a panic on the part of Amanda and the (timid) attempt by Raffaele to break it open, neither of the two said anything to Battistelli or Marzi when they arrived in the house, and nor was any mention made of this by Amanda to Romanelli in the course of their telephone conversations.

Around 1:15 pm on 11-2-2007, the door to the bedroom of Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was thus broken down. It was Luca Altieri who took charge of the demolition, thereby revealing a quilt spread out along the entire floor of the bedroom. This blanket covered the body of a person, of which only a bare foot was visible; blood was seen on the floor and on the wall of the room. There followed a scream of dismay and the simultaneous retreat of the four people who were in front of the broken door: Luca Altieri, Marco Zaroli, Paola Grande, and Filomena Romanelli. Thus none of the four entered the room except Luca Altieri, who in bursting through the door had ended up with his foot inside the room. The current defendants — who, being in the living room at the end of the hallway were the farthest back, at the point most distant from Meredith’s room — did not enter either. Neither Raffaele Sollecito nor Amanda Knox subsequently made their way into the room or its vicinity. Indeed, Inspector Battistelli has stated that just after the door was forced open, he ordered everyone to exit the house, and none of the people involved [ragazzi] went back inside — in particular, none of them went inside Meredith’s room or its immediate vicinity to look inside.

Inspector Battistelli has denied entering the room himself. On this point, however, we have the differing version of Luca Altieri who stated that he saw Battistelli enter and head to the right along the wall — a recollection that appears to be corroborated [circostanziato], having been communicated also to Marco Zaroli, yet in the face of which Battistelli’s version has remained unaltered, despite questioning on the point. The order [richiesta] to identify any trace left [by Battistelli] on the floor (see statement of Dr. Chiacchera) has not provided any further information.

The various testimony has nonetheless confirmed the fact that, after the destruction of the door, when the persons present [ragazzi] had been made to exit the house, Battistelli informed his supervisor that the lifeless body of a young woman, soon to be identified as Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, had been found.

This was at about 1:30 pm on November 2, 2007. Shortly thereafter, the house situated at Via Della Pergola 7 and its inhabitants would become the center of an intense investigation.

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