Multiple Attackers

From The Murder of Meredith Kercher
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Synopsis of the Injuries

Multiple attackers.png

Meredith had at least 47 cuts and bruises. Meredith was attacked both from the right and from the left. She had bruising on her elbows, indicating that her arms had been restrained from behind.[1] Her hyoid bone was broken, possibly from an attempt to strangle her. The first major wound was a 1.57 inch/4 cm cut from the right that stopped when the knife hit her jawbone.[2] There was also a 3.15 inch/8 cm stab from the left. Clean, superficial markings from the point of the knife show that she was held still while the knife was held against her neck in a threatening way before being plunged in.[3] Below the big cut across her neck several light slices were inflicted [4]

With respect to defensive wounds the only three wounds that might be considered defensive wounds were a 0.24 inch/0.6 cm wound on the palm of her right hand, a 0.12 inch/0.3 cm cut on the tip of her first finger of the left hand, and a 0.24 inch/0.6 cm wound on the second finger of her left hand.[5] This is highly abnormal and strongly indicates that Meredith was restrained during the attack. She had no signs of being restrained by anything other than hands.

Evidence of Being Restrained by Rudy Guede while Attacked by Others

Judge Massei described Meredith's defensive wounds as "almost non-existent," referring to three small nicks to her palm and finger, and noted this was a "serious and inexplicable disproportion" compared against the "impressive number, distribution, and diversity of the injuries to the face and neck of Meredith."[6] The lack of defensive wounds strongly indicates that Meredith was restrained throughout the attack until she was unable to respond. The attack was drawn out and in scenarios like this the victim always has multiple major wounds to their hands from attempting to block the weapon; it is an instinct she was unable to express even while multiple, careful cuts were being made to her neck, which she couldn't flinch from (supported by the bruises to her face and head). Combining the restraint bruises to her arms and elbows, and a cutting pattern indicating a gradual escalation of violence with two knife profiles, the evidence is very strong if not conclusive that the attack was the work of two or more people.

No one would remain still and allow themselves to be repeatedly cut. Since we know that the attack happened with Meredith upright the only way to explain these light cuts is if Meredith was restrained from behind while someone else attacked her from the front. This was probably Rudy since his DNA was found on her jacket arm and on the backside of her bra strap. The bruising on Meredith's arms is from Rudy holding her from behind while either Amanda or Raffaele Sollecito|Raffaele]], or both attacked Meredith from the front.

Judge Massei reasoned that each defense expert was correct that one person could stab another person, or restrain another person, unclothe another person, or digitally violate another person. A lone attacker was refused because one person cannot do all these things at once to a conscious victim, noting that these activities would occupy both of the attacker's hands and thus free Meredith to attempt to break away or somehow react to her assailant:

This disproportion is all the more serious and inexplicable if one considers Meredith's physical and personality characteristics recalled above. It seems inevitable that it must be considered that the criminal action was carried out by several people acting together against Meredith, who, strongly limited in her movements, could not defend herself in any way nor shield herself with her hands in order to avoid a vital part of her body (the neck) being repeatedly struck.
Furthermore, it is impossible to imagine in what way a single person could have removed the clothes that Meredith was wearing (shoes, pants and underwear), and using the violence revealed by the vaginal swab, could have caused the resulting bruises and wounds recalled above, as well as removing her sweatshirt, pulling up her shirt, forcing the bra hooks before tearing and cutting the bra.[7]
...
The diverse morphology of the injuries and their number and distribution lead one to consider that those participating in this criminal action were more than one. Many injuries appear to have been caused by an activity of restraining; others were inflicted by a pointed and cutting weapon, and are greatly diverse in dimension and harmfulness; furthermore, even when directed at the same part of the body they sometimes attained the victim from the right and sometimes from the left.
In fact, in order to maintain the hypothesis of a single attacker it would be necessary to hypothesize that the same person continually modified his own harmful conduct, first exercising a strong manual pressure on the victim, producing bruises, then deciding to seize the knife, thus changing the very nature of the attack (now armed rather than with the hands) and then striking first on the right (4 cm wound) and then on the left (8 cm deep wound). In the first case, a single blow was apparently halted by the jawbone (4 cm deep wound), and instead in the second case, the knife was held inside the victim's neck, after the same knife having been used to run over the surface of the same part of the neck, just a few centimeters below the zone on which the more serious and deeper wound was inflicted. Furthermore, in spite of all these changes in the action of the attacker, Meredith would have remained in the same position, continuing to offer the same part of her body (the neck) to the attacker who would in the meantime have picked up a knife.
Yet after the first wound, the normal and instantaneous reaction would have been to protect the wounded part (the neck, precisely, which would have moved away from the possibility of another blow) even running the risk of receiving the blow on another part of the body. Conversely, considering the neck wounds sustained, it must be believed that Meredith remained in the same position, in a standing position, while continuously exposing her neck to the action of the person striking her now on the right and now on the left.
Such a situation seems inexplicable if one does not accept the presence of more than one attacker who, holding the girl, strongly restrained her movements and struck her on the right and on the left because of the position of each of the attackers with respect to her, by which it was easier to strike her from that side. One of these attackers was Rudy and the others were those who allowed Rudy to enter the house and who were with him in the house and who, in order to lead the investigations astray, then organized the staging of the broken window and the mess in Romanelli's room: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, according to all that has already been shown.[8]

Expert Testimony on Multiple Attackers

Dr Lalli and Dr Liviero testified that "the nature of the bruises and multiple wounds caused by several different methods -- suffocation, strangulation and stabbing -- led them to deduce Kercher was attacked by more than one person.[9] Dr Liviero stated "There were more hands involved"[10] which is basically what it comes down to. Rudy as a single attacker does not have sufficient hands to do all the required tasks. A single attacker needs one hand to wield the knife, which just leaves a single hand to restrain Meredith, and there is no way to restrain someone who is upright with just one hand. The cuts from both sides are also very difficult to explain with a single attacker.

Two defense experts testified that they saw no evidence that more than one attacker was involved although both these experts declined to examine the victim's body.[11] Declining to examine the body and instead working from pictures is a strategy that defense experts use to give them more room to interpret evidence in a favorable light to the defense without actually lying.[12] There is no other reason to work from pictures rather than from examining the body. The defense experts also disagreed on how the murder happened. Dr. Introna testified that the murder could only have happened from behind. Dr. Torre testified that the attack could only have happened from the front.[13] Dr. Torre was questioned about the lack of defensive wounds and while he agreed that normally for an attack like this you'd expect considerably greater defensive wounds, but the lack of defensive wounds was not something he felt needed addressing.[14]

Nara Capezzali's Testimony

Nara Capezzali's testimony also adds credence to the claim that there were multiple attackers. According to Capezzali she heard a scream coming from the cottage at a time that corresponds with the estimated time of death. Capezzali lives roughly 44 yards/forty meters from the cottage. After the scream Capezzali heard at least two people running. One went toward Via del Bulagaio, which is the long but more secluded way to both Rudy and Raffaele's house, and the other footsteps were on the metal stairway that leads to Via Pinturicchio. Antonio Curatolo would testify that after 11 pm he saw Knox and Sollecito returning to Piazza Grimana from Via Pinturicchio.

Notes

  1. Massei report translation, p.370
  2. Massei report translation, p.371
  3. Massei report translation, p.371
  4. Massei report translation, p.371
  5. Massei report translation, p.360
  6. Massei report translation, p.370
  7. Massei report translation, p.370
  8. Massei report translation, p.371
  9. Vogt, Andrea "Convicted witness refuses to testify at Knox trial" Seattle pi 3 April 2009
  10. Vogt, Andrea "Convicted witness refuses to testify at Knox trial" Seattle pi 3 April 2009
  11. Nadeau, Barbie "Knox Defense Has Its Day" The Daily Beast 7 July 2009
  12. Nadeau, Barbie "Knox Defense Has Its Day" The Daily Beast 7 July 2009
  13. Nadeau, Barbie "Knox Defense Has Its Day" The Daily Beast 7 July 2009
  14. Nadeau, Barbie "Knox Defense Has Its Day" The Daily Beast 7 July 2009