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Jack comments on The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom - Less Wrong

42 Post author: komponisto 13 December 2009 04:16AM

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Comment author: Jack 13 December 2009 04:37:57PM 1 point [-]

1, Yes. 2. Whoever was in there appears to have made some effort to make things look like a burglary (that is the best explanation for the strewn clothes and the fact that nothing was missing). But that doesn't mean the window breaking was staged. I find the argument that the window as inaccessible and that the glass was on top of the clothing unpersuasive. I don't know if forensics got good photos of the glass, how much there was or if we're just relying on the word of the roommate. 3. If the window breaking was staged then it was likely done by someone with lawful access- that could be Knox, someone with Knox's key, Sallecito, Guede invited up by Kercher, one of Kercher's friends, the landlord etc.

Comment author: brazil84 13 December 2009 09:40:33PM 0 points [-]

I'm a little confused by your answer to number 2. It sounds like you basically agree that somebody tried to stage a break-in. No?

Comment author: Jack 14 December 2009 01:23:54AM 0 points [-]

Someone staged a burglary. It isn't necessarily the case that the broken window is part of a staged burglary rather then a way some intruder actually got in. Perhaps the murderer came in through the broken window but knew the victim and thought that making it look like a burglary would send the police in another direction.

Comment author: brazil84 14 December 2009 02:31:03AM *  1 point [-]

Well that's an important point. As others and I have mentioned, there is a small universe of people who would have had much incentive to stage a burglary. And that universe includes Amanda Knox and her boyfriend.

(Further, without knowing anything more, Kercher's roommate(s) would be the strongest suspects of such a staging. Because (1) only a roommate wouldn't have to worry about another resident showing up and discovering him or her; and (2) a roommate would have the strongest incentive to try to point the police somewhere else. For example, if a casual acquaintance broke in through the window and murdered Kercher, what would that person have to gain by staging a burglary? In effect, they've already engaged in a burglary anyway.)

Anyway, if somebody from that limited universe of suspects is hiding something and can't account for his whereabouts at the time of the murder, it's pretty likely that they were involved in the staging/murder.

Comment author: Jack 14 December 2009 07:26:21AM 1 point [-]

The universe of people who would have incentive to stage a burglary consists of just about everyone but actual burglars. If the police think that the murder is part of a botched burglary that throws them off the scent of stalkers, sex criminals and people romantically connected to Kercher (along with anyone who lived there or could plausibly have been invited in). Guede, in particular doesn't appear to be the brightest guy around. It seems more that plausible to me that he thought staging a break-in would help his case. He left physical evidence everywhere so on the fly he came up with the story of an anonymous attacker entering while he was in the bathroom. Then he breaks the window to try and create evidence consistent with his story. He doesn't flush the toilet for the same reason.

Or maybe the intruder went through Kercher's belonging looking for incriminating evidence-- love letters say-- and then made a mess of the roommates room to cover the search up.

Obviously I don't have any particular reason to privilege those scenarios but they seem to me about as plausible as two students without criminal experience or evident motive committing a rape-murder and not leaving any physical evidence behind. Remember, a rationale for staging a break-in doesn't have to be flawless. It just has to have enough surface sensibility that it would seem worth doing to Kercher's murderer/s.

Comment author: brazil84 14 December 2009 09:53:31AM 0 points [-]

"The universe of people who would have incentive to stage a burglary consists of just about everyone but actual burglars."

It seems to me there is a distinction between having any incentive at all and having much incentive. To be sure, it's possible to dream up lots of scenarios where someone who is a stranger or near stranger would stage a burglary, but that's just not realistic in my opinion.

Anyway, earlier I asked you the following question:

Do you agree that if a break-in was staged, the likely perpetrator (of the staged break-in) was somebody who had lawful access to the residence?

Am I correct in assuming that your answer to this question is "no"?

Comment author: Jack 14 December 2009 10:49:21AM 1 point [-]

I'm distinguishing between a break-in and a burglary. Someone could have broken-in and then staged the burglary or someone with lawful access to the house (they lived there or were invited in) could have staged the break-in and burglary. If the break-in was staged the person(s) who did it almost certainly came in through the front door (there is no other way in if they didn't come in through the door or the broken window!).

t seems to me there is a distinction between having any incentive at all and having much incentive. To be sure, it's possible to dream up lots of scenarios where someone who is a stranger or near stranger would stage a burglary, but that's just not realistic in my opinion.

Yeah, I realize that I'm just inventing scenarios. But someone also invented the scenario in which Amanda Knox a twenty-one year old upper middle class college student with no criminal recrord, Raphael Sallecito, and Rudy Guede plan an evening of group sex/ satanic rites without ever communicating by cell phone, coerce Meredith Kercher into participating and when she refuses Guede rapes her and then the men hold her down while Knox stabs her several times and slits her throat. At some point during this period Guede goes to the bathroom and doesn't flush for no particular reason. Later, Sallecito and Knox return, toss the other roommates clothing around the room, throw a rock through the window. They also manage to remove every significant piece of physical evidence they left in Kercher's room, bleach and wash every one of their bloody footprints while not touching any of the evidence implicating Guede.

I'm not sure why my first scenario, where Guede fakes the break-in is any less probable than the one above.

Comment author: brazil84 14 December 2009 01:57:19PM 0 points [-]

"I'm distinguishing between a break-in and a burglary."

I'm not sure where you are posting from but to me, "burglary" entails breaking in to a place. Are you using the word "burglary" to mean "theft"?

"evening of group sex/ satanic rites without ever communicating by cell phone, coerce Meredith Kercher into participating and when she refuses Guede rapes her and then the men hold her down while Knox stabs her several times and slits her throat."

FWIW I am skeptical of the prosecution's scenario. I think they cooked it up to address a big weak point in their case, which is that they don't have a clear motive. My position is more limited: Simply I'm reasonably confident that Knox and her boyfriend were involved in the murder.

Comment author: Jack 14 December 2009 02:54:54PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure where you are posting from but to me, "burglary" entails breaking in to a place. Are you using the word "burglary" to mean "theft"?

Burglary entails breaking-in + theft. Breaking-in does not entail theft and therefore does not entail burglary. But I might have made that up myself. My point is just that someone could have broken the window and entered the house with intentions other than stealing something and then tossed some things about to make it look like the reason they entered was to steal something.

Comment author: brazil84 14 December 2009 05:04:32PM 0 points [-]

"Burglary entails breaking-in + theft."

Technically, burglary also includes breaking in + intent to commit a certain other crimes. For example,if you break into somebody's residence in order to commit rape (with no intent to steal anything), that would be considered burglary under the traditional definition.

But anyway, putting aside semantic issues, it seems you basically concede the reasonable point that staging a crime scene was likely to have been done by somebody with a significant connection to the victim.

Comment author: AnnaGilmour 15 December 2009 04:32:42PM 1 point [-]

The idea of a staged burglary came from Mignini and was unsubstantiated. Since then, it has been debunked. He claimed it was staged due to two shards of glass on clothing. Those shards close up were revealed to be polka dots.

Comment author: brazil84 15 December 2009 05:50:44PM 0 points [-]

Well do you agree that one of the bedrooms had clothing and such strewn around it while the owner of the room testified that the room had been left orderly?

Comment author: AnnaGilmour 15 December 2009 05:57:01PM 2 points [-]

Logically, items strewn around the room does not implicate Amanda. The connection of the messy room and Amanda was invented by the prosecution. It could be explained by various means, namely, during the struggle with the perpetrator and Meredith, or more likely, the perpetrator looking for something to steal.

Comment author: brazil84 15 December 2009 06:10:28PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure what your point is. I thought you were claiming that there was essentially no evidence which reasonably supports the hypothesis that somebody staged a burglary or break-in.

Now it seems you admit that there is such evidence but believe it could be explained away.

Comment author: AnnaGilmour 15 December 2009 06:17:51PM 1 point [-]

I don't think there is evidence of a staged break-in. I think there is evidence of a break-in.

Comment author: brazil84 15 December 2009 06:20:03PM 0 points [-]

Well do you agree that the room's occupant testified that there had been valuable items in plain view, none of which were taken?

Comment author: wedrifid 15 December 2009 10:31:09PM 0 points [-]

I thought you were claiming that there was essentially no evidence which reasonably supports the hypothesis that somebody staged a burglary or break-in.

The claim was that there was essentially no evidence which reasonably supports the hypothesis that the burglary was staged.

Comment author: brazil84 16 December 2009 02:01:38AM 0 points [-]

Ok, so again my question:

"do you agree that one of the bedrooms had clothing and such strewn around it while the owner of the room testified that the room had been left orderly?"

And yes, I am well aware that there are other possible explanations for this evidence besides staging.

Comment author: AnnaGilmour 15 December 2009 04:33:22PM 0 points [-]

The only evidence was a broken window. He provided the unbased theoretical narrative (as usual).

Comment author: kodos96 14 December 2009 06:20:50PM 0 points [-]

This assumption that at least part of the burglary/break in was staged seems to me entirely unjustified. The only thing I've heard offered to support it is that the broken glass was on top of the strewn clothes, but seriously that doesn't prove anything... maybe the clothes were just strewn across the room innocently... maybe the glass just happened by chance to end up on top at the end of the clothes being mucked about with.... theres an infinite possible number of explanations that don't involve anything being staged.

And as to the assertion that it was staged since it looked like a burglary but nothing was stolen, thats simply not true: kercher's two cellphones were stolen, at a minimum (any number of other things might also have been stolen, but just not noticed missing, due to their owner not being around to point them out)

Comment author: Jack 14 December 2009 07:26:45PM 1 point [-]

Sorry, the clothes were strewn across the room innocently? By whom? For what possible reason? If the girl who lived in the room hadn't said anything about the matter I'd assume she was just messy. But that wasn't her testimony. The matter of the glass on top of the clothes depends on how much glass was found on top of the clothes. But I agree that it could have happened even if the window was broken first.

The two cell phones weren't being stolen isn't evidence that someone broke to steal them since they ended up tossed in someone's garden and not sold to someone. Something else might have been stolen but 1) the roommates and the family of the victim are probably capable of making a good accounting of Kercher's valuable possessions. Presumably this was done by the police, though their competence is definitely suspect at this point. And 2) it is improbable that someone breaking in to steal things would only happen to steal those things which belonged to the person they also killed and only those things her family and friends wouldn't notice missing.

The story that actually explains that a burglary without missing property is that the thief entered, was surprised by Kertcher, killed her (and raped her?) and then panicked and decided not to steal anything for fear it would implicate them.

Comment author: rmattbill 15 December 2009 12:35:01AM 1 point [-]

And let's not forget, that many stranger-on-stranger rapes are burglaries and crimes of opportunity.

Comment author: kodos96 14 December 2009 11:35:57PM 0 points [-]

"Sorry, the clothes were strewn across the room innocently? By whom? For what possible reason?"

I haven't seen the crimescene, I'm only speculating of course. But does the fact that some friends describe her as a neat person really preclude any possibility whatsoever that she might have had some clothes strewn about? Maybe she was a neat person who cleaned up her room once a day or so, but just hadn't gotten to her daily cleaning session yet that day when the crime occurred. Or maybe her friends were just being nice by describing her as neat. Or maybe any of a million other things. The point is that there are so many possible explanations for this that it has no evidentiary value - it's just noise, to paraphrase OP

Comment author: Jack 14 December 2009 11:56:36PM 0 points [-]

The clothing and room in question didn't belong to Meredith Kercher. They belong to the other roommate Filomena Romanelli. The claim that someone had scattered her clothing about the room is based on her testimony about her clothing, in her room. The possibilities are 1) Someone strew her clothes across the room, 2) she is lying about the condition she left her room in, 3) she is seriously misremembering the condition she left her room in.

Comment author: McJustice 03 January 2010 12:30:38AM 0 points [-]

I have not seen any evidence for a staged break in in Filomena's bedroom. And none was presented that was believable. A video was shown that appeared to show out of focus bits of glass on a dress... the idea being that the room was ransacked first and then glass fell on top from a staged window break. The problem with the blobs in the video was that they were not glass but polka dots on a an article of clothing as shown by other pictures of the same things. There is only Mignini's claim that it was based on the notion that nobody could have climbed in the window as well as him probably not liking it much since it did not fit his multi-person satanic orgy murder theory. And it is impressive that the alleged stager was so clever they managed to get glass only inside the room along with the rock... and as for nothing missing. Rudy liked to take money, phones, laptops and other things... From the burglaries we know of ( and allegations that he rifled through girls purses at Discos besides hassling the girls as well) he did not seem to take bulky items or valuable items like jewelry that could be fenced. We are not told what he did not take and cannot judge the value or utility of stealing them. He evidently did not find money there but he did later steal Meredith's rent money since his bloody fingerprints are on her purse. He did have money to spend at the disco and to flee to Germany and survive there for 2 weeks and the assumption is that it was Meredith's.

He may have been interrupted by Meredith coming home and after that had little interest in going back to a room he had already searched and did not find any money or items he may have wanted. After getting Meredith's money and raping her body and cleaning up (and he had over 2 or 3 hours to do all this) it is understandable he had less interest in rummaging through the other bedrooms and left to go to the Disco. He apparently stank according to the people who say him there so evidently did not go to his own flat first to shower.