Amanda Knox Guilty Again

post by christopherj · 2014-01-31T04:12:34.529Z · score: 7 (18 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 61 comments

Today an Italian court has declared that Amanda Knox is, once again, guilty. She did not attend that trial (is not required to in Italy), so her final verdict will be either by appeal to the Supreme Court of Italy or the US extradition court. Extradition requests might be impeded due to the fact US does not have double jeopardy.

Previously on LessWrong, in The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom there was some complaint that it actually took more than an hour on the internet to thoroughly research the case. Of course, the courts have been at this since 2007...

Her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, who did show up at the trial, got sentenced to 25 years, but I don't know for sure where he is now because apparently he's totally unimportant and who cares (the media's opinion, not mine). I'm fairly sure he's in Italy though. So far it seems the plan is to revoke his passport but not arrest him.

Anyone want to take their hand at making predictions?

  1. Will the final appeal find Amanda Knox and/or Raffaele Sollecito innocent or guilty?
  2. When will the trial end? edit: I mean the inevitable appeal
  3. If convicted, will the US extradite Amanda Knox?

61 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-02-01T03:03:13.327Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has any government ever investigated the rate of false positives in a jury system by faking trials?

I don't mean real-world corrupt trials, but something like totally fabricating crimes against a hired defendant, and seeing what effect different levels of evidence (or things like race, or the attractiveness of the lawyers) have on the outcome. Ideally, the judge, jury, and lawyers wouldn't know the trial was fake.

Would this be a worthwhile thing to do?

comment by gwern · 2014-02-01T04:06:12.376Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would the natural experiment of DNA evidence furnish the false positive rate you are interested in?

comment by [deleted] · 2014-02-01T07:21:21.500Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes.

I was concerned about sample bias. However, I found this paper.

In Virginia, a cohort of 634 cases of sexual assault and/or homicide dating from 1973 to 1987 was discovered to have retained physical evidence. Since most state legislation that requires evidence storage was enacted in the post-DNA era...the Virginia cases provides a unique opportunity to determine how often DNA testing can be used to identify wrongful convictions. The results can be generalized (with caveats) because the physical evidence was retained for reasons unrelated to the case outcome, and the cases were assigned to the serologist who retained the evidence in a way that did not introduce bias.

They found DNA evidence that was "supportive of exoneration" (versus "inculpative" or "exonerative but insufficient") in 8% of sexual assault convictions (33 in 422) . However, many of the cases provided no determinate evidence, (which means something like too little DNA or no reference DNA). Among cases that provided determinate evidence, 15% (33 in 227) seemed supportive of exoneration.

They present quite a bit of other statistical analysis, but this isn't quite my skill set and I'll need to set aside time to go through it later. I didn't find any other data sources of similar quality, but I looked for <30min. There was a more recent project in Arizona that tried to apply DNA testing more broadly, but that was aimed at doing a cost/benefit for current testing.

comment by ESRogs · 2014-02-05T09:04:44.065Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are those two sets of 33 the same 33? If so, then that deserves calling out, because at first reading (at least to me) it sounds like some of the 8% are only "supportive of exoneration" because of a lack of DNA evidence.

comment by christopherj · 2014-02-04T02:24:53.780Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has any government ever investigated the rate of false positives in a jury system by faking trials? ... Would this be a worthwhile thing to do?

It's probably worthwhile, but the purpose of a jury was not to improve accuracy. After all, you could just have one or more judges, who would have more experience and thus be less prone to error, determine guilt instead of a jury. The purpose of a jury was to make corruption more difficult (harder to secretly bribe a dozen randomly selected citizens), and to provide a way for the people to negate laws they don't like (can't punish juror for declaring someone innocent).

So even if there were a more accurate way to produce verdicts, there are other factors to consider.

comment by wedrifid · 2014-02-04T10:36:50.647Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has any government ever investigated the rate of false positives in a jury system by faking trials?

The incentives of a government are more likely to be in suppressing such information than uncovering it. (Crudely speaking) the government wants people to perceive that just is done. Actually doing justice is just one way of achieving that perception.

comment by michaelkeenan · 2014-02-01T21:12:37.183Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There should be experiments on different ways of deciding guilt to see which are most accurate. My understanding is that most of the current system was created centuries ago, and wasn't the result of experimentation.

We should determine the optimal number of people on a jury, and whether juries get better results with various selections of jurors (paid professional jurors or drafted jurors, high-IQ jurors or low-IQ jurors, old or young, diverse along various dimensions or not, etc.).

comment by Lumifer · 2014-02-04T02:32:55.915Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The point of jury trial is NOT to maximize the chances of a correct verdict, just as the point of democracy is NOT to generate optimal policies.

comment by MrMind · 2014-01-31T17:11:28.918Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are interested in such matters, a much bigger and more grotesque case of rationality failure in a justice system is the case of Thomas Quick.
I'm reading "Thomas Quick: the making of a serial killer" by Hannes Rastam. The guy was convicted 8 times for about 30 murders he didn't commit. The extent to which many different courts can be wrong over years of investigations is frightening...

comment by brazil84 · 2014-01-31T22:27:20.621Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Will the final appeal find Amanda Knox and/or Raffaele Sollecito innocent or guilty?

I will predict "guilty" with a probability of 85-90% since the highest court apparently decided against Knox and Sollecito previously.

When will the trial end?

The trial is already over, no? All that's left is further appeals, right? Do the appeals courts take further evidence?

If convicted, will the US extradite Amanda Knox?

I predict "no" with a probability of 75-80%. The sentiment in the United States is pretty pro-Knox and there is always a good deal of reluctance to send attractive young women to jail. The United States obviously has the juice to politely tell Italy to f* off and it shouldn't be too hard to find some procedural excuse to deny the extradition request.

comment by Eugene · 2014-02-09T08:31:05.422Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with your final prediction but not with your reasoning. The United States will likely not allow Knox to be extradited, not due to a vague sense of reluctance or unquantifiable dislike of Italy, but because the US has explicit laws that not allow extraditions relating to double-jeopardy. Any country wanting to extradite someone due to a crime for which they have previously been found innocent will be ignored. So in fact, the US would actually have to find a procedural excuse to allow the extradition request.

comment by brazil84 · 2014-02-09T15:46:58.352Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

but because the US has explicit laws that not allow extraditions relating to double-jeopardy

Well do those laws (and the decisions interpreting them) make clear what should happen in a situation where the defendant was convicted at the trial level; the conviction was reversed at the appellate level; and then subsequently reinstated after a further appeal and remand?

I don't think so. One article I read has a law professor asserting that double-jeopardy would not apply:

Some legal analysts have said that Knox could cloak herself in the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy, being tried again for a crime after an acquittal. But that protection wouldn’t apply to Knox, Ku [a Hofstra law professor] wrote in a blog post.

For one thing, the treaty with Italy would block Knox’s extradition only if she had been prosecuted in the United States, he wrote. For another, double jeopardy wouldn’t apply because Knox was convicted, not acquitted, in the first round.

I do think that there's a good chance the courts would resolve the double-jeopardy issue in favor of Knox, but not necessarily because such a result is clearly required by the law.

comment by Eugene · 2014-02-10T00:36:12.342Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Italy, the reversal at the appellate level is considered only a step towards a final decision. It's not considered double-jeopardy because the legal system is set up differently. In the United States though, appeals court ("appellate" is synonymous with "appeals") decisions are weighed equally to trial court decisions in criminal cases. If an appellate court reverses a conviction, the defendant cannot be re-tried because prosecutors in the US cannot appeal criminal cases.

The United States follows US law when making decisions about extradition. This isn't a feature of any specific treaty with Italy: extradition treaties just signify that a country is allowed to extradite. All subsequent extradition requests from those countries are sent through the Department of State for review. Even if it passes review and the person arrested, a court hearing is held in the US to determine whether the fugitive is extraditable. So there are multiple opportunities to look at Italian court procedures and decide whether they count as double-jeopardy under US law. Those investigations would tend toward deciding it does.

Ergo, the US would tend not to extradite someone whose verdict was reversed in a foreign appellate court.

comment by brazil84 · 2014-02-10T09:49:11.126Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Italy, the reversal at the appellate level is considered only a step towards a final decision. It's not considered double-jeopardy because the legal system is set up differently. In the United States though, appeals court ("appellate" is synonymous with "appeals") decisions are weighed equally to trial court decisions in criminal cases. If an appellate court reverses a conviction, the defendant cannot be re-tried because prosecutors in the US cannot appeal criminal cases.

The United States follows US law when making decisions about extradition. This isn't a feature of any specific treaty with Italy: extradition treaties just signify that a country is allowed to extradite. All subsequent extradition requests from those countries are sent through the Department of State for review. Even if it passes review and the person arrested, a court hearing is held in the US to determine whether the fugitive is extraditable. So there are multiple opportunities to look at Italian court procedures and decide whether they count as double-jeopardy under US law. Those investigations would tend toward deciding it does.

Are you saying that the double-jeopardy issue is clear and simple and there is no room for reasonable people to dispute it? If so, how do you explain American law professors who assert that it's not a barrier? Also, would you mind citing the precedent cases which back up your reasoning?

I believe that more likely than not the double-jeopardy issue would be resolved in favor of Knox, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.

comment by Airedale · 2014-01-31T15:33:51.443Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have seen a couple articles (e.g., here noting that the prosecution presented a new theory on motive this time around:

Prosecutors in the original trial said Knox and Sollecito, along with a man named Rudy Hermann Guede, had killed Kercher during a drug-fueled sex game in which the British student was an unwilling participant.

. . .

In the Florence retrial, prosecutor Alessandro Crini contended that the motive was rooted in arguments between roommates Knox and Kercher about cleanliness and was triggered by a toilet left unflushed by Guede, the only person now in jail for the murder.

The previously alleged motive had seemed implausible to me, but I can make even less sense of the new one. How did the prosecution argue that Guede and Sollecito had any motive to kill Kercher based on a disagreement about cleanliness between roommates Knox and Kercher? (Although the prosecution did not presumably have to prove anything against Guede, who has already been convicted, I would think they would still need to do something to make sense of his part in the murder.) I have not been able to find any accounts explaining more about exactly how the prosecution argued this new motive.

At any rate, even leaving aside the forensic evidence (or lack thereof), I would think that such a fundamental change in the theory of case would militate in favor of reversal on appeal (i.e., it suggests that the prosecution, rather than basing its theory on the evidence, has instead pursued a strategy of presenting any argument that results in the conviction of Knox and Sollecito), but I don't know enough about the Italian justice system to even know if such considerations are properly part of the appeal.

comment by christopherj · 2014-01-31T04:24:27.026Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And yes, I intentionally asked what you think the official verdict will be rather than the perhaps more important question as to whether they are innocent or guilty. Reason being, making predictions on unverifiable things seems like a bad habit and I don't want to encourage it.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-01-31T11:09:04.108Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's confusing to call making of unverifiable predictions a "bad habit" (not specific, noncentral); it just doesn't have the additional benefit of teaching you calibration. Learning from verified predictions is one of multiple things that can be done to improve the accuracy of predictions, including unverifiable ones. If you are making very long-term verifiable predictions, there is little opportunity to learn from their verification, so in this case the distinction breaks down.

comment by private_messaging · 2014-01-31T17:33:21.200Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd say there's two related bad habits: 1: making exclusively unverifiable predictions, and 2: expecting or acting as if you were expecting to be more accurate in your unverifiable statements than in verifiable ones.

edit: those two often go together. There's a huge supply of cheap verification in the homework sections of the textbooks. Armchair physicists barely tap into this supply. edit: and by barely I mean pretty much none ever do.

Topics such as Amanda Knox trial or LHC finding the Higgs, it seems to me that for such predictions the dopamine pleasure of success is larger than the feeling of failure, and the betting on those is thus somewhat wirehead-y. May still be good for calibration though.

comment by shminux · 2014-01-31T16:26:43.171Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In a country which repeatedly elected a known criminal who escaped conviction through various shady means to the top post, it is hard to tell whether even the Supreme Court will bother with looking for truth. Additionally, according to Wikipedia,

The Court of Cassation cannot overrule the trial court's interpretation of the evidence but can correct a lower court's interpretation or application of the law.

so there is not nearly as much latitude in what the court can do, compared to SCOTUS. So, if the Supreme Court gets to hear the case, I'd give it 50/50 odds of the conviction being substantially upheld.

comment by komponisto · 2014-01-31T18:06:08.613Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Additionally, according to Wikipedia,

The Court of Cassation cannot overrule the trial court's interpretation of the evidence but can correct a lower court's interpretation or application of the law.

so there is not nearly as much latitude in what the court can do

...except that they already did completely overrule the trial court's interpretation of the evidence when they canceled the acquittal last March. So, they could certainly do it again, in the opposite direction, if they were so inclined. (I'm not predicting they will be so inclined.)

In Italy, the "interpretation or application of the law" includes the reasoning about the evidence used by the lower court; this is the loophole they use to disagree with lower courts about the facts of the case when they feel like it.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-31T23:10:26.955Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In a country which repeatedly elected a known criminal who escaped conviction through various shady means to the top post

blushes with embarrassment

comment by private_messaging · 2014-01-31T17:55:23.375Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The important question here is, can the supreme court say that the evidence does not meet the standard of reasonable doubt? Is that a matter of interpretation of the evidence, or a matter of the application of the law?

comment by komponisto · 2014-01-31T18:17:55.087Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The important question here is, can the supreme court say that the evidence does not meet the standard of reasonable doubt?

Yes, they can. (But they probably won't.)

Is that a matter of interpretation of the evidence, or a matter of the application of the law?

Trick question! In Italy, interpretation of the evidence is a matter of the application of the law, because the law specifies that the evidence has to be interpreted "logically". See how that works? If they want to overturn a verdict, they simply say that the lower court's motivation document was "illogical"; but if they don't, they can hide behind "far be it for us to enter into the merits of the case, which is reserved to the lower courts". It's perfect!

comment by AnlamK · 2014-01-31T13:03:23.220Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hello,

There have been informed discussions of this subject on LW before.

Particularly to parties informed on the subject: Can someone explain the court's reasoning? I can't quite follow why Knox and Sollecito were first convicted, then acquitted and yet are convicted once again.

comment by komponisto · 2014-01-31T17:59:28.822Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Particularly to parties informed on the subject: Can someone explain the court's reasoning?

As is usual in the Italian system, the court itself will publish its "motivations" within 90 days.

I can't quite follow why Knox and Sollecito were first convicted, then acquitted and yet are convicted once again.

If by "why" you mean "how it is procedurally possible", that can of course be answered now. Italian "trials" have three stages: first-level court, second-level court, and Supreme Court . The original first-level verdict (December 2009) was a conviction (this was the occasion of my original posts here); that was then changed to an acquittal at the second level (October 2011); that acquittal was then canceled by the Supreme Court (March 2013), who ordered a new second-level trial, which has now ended in another conviction. The case will thus go back to the Supreme Court again over the next year or so.

(Yes, this process could theoretically go on forever -- but in real life, what's going to happen is that now that the Supreme Court has gotten the verdict it wanted, it will rubber-stamp it without fuss.)

comment by AnlamK · 2014-02-01T10:36:52.731Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hello komponisto,

By 'why', I mean why do courts keep changing their opinion when the evidence is the same? I know you have written on this subject a lot before (which influenced my opinion) so here are some questions (perhaps some a little basic) I have about the case. (Some may be just rehashing old facts about the case.)

(1) You write that 'the Supreme Court has gotten the verdict it wanted.' Why does the Supreme Court want to convict Sollecito and Know? The appeals courts cited 'a complete dearth of evidence' when they acquitted Sollecito and Knox - which is what I think. How did the prosecution respond to this?

(2) In the room murder was committed, no DNA evidence pertaining to Knox and Sollecito was found. How does the prosecution explain that only one assailant (Guede) left traces of DNA but the two others left no such traces?

(3) It is said that the evidence shows that Kercher was killed by multiple people. What is your take on this? Do you think it was Guede and some other accomplice? If so, do you think Guede knows more than in fact he admits?

(4) Perhaps most basically, how did Knox and Sollecito get implicated in this crime? I mean there were a lot of witnesses being questioned but how did the police/investigators somehow get the idea that Knox and Sollecito were suspects?

Thanks.

comment by komponisto · 2014-02-05T21:03:49.161Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(1) You write that 'the Supreme Court has gotten the verdict it wanted.' Why does the Supreme Court want to convict Sollecito and Knox?

Presumably, because they watch the same TV shows as everyone else in Italy, and are convinced that Sollecito and Knox are bad characters, and are furthermore convinced that the Italian public thinks that Sollecito and Knox are bad characters, thus allowing them to play the role of "heroes" doing their duty and standing up for "justice".

(2) In the room murder was committed, no DNA evidence pertaining to Knox and Sollecito was found. How does the prosecution explain that only one assailant (Guede) left traces of DNA but the two others left no such traces?

Firstly, of course, they claim that the bra clasp DNA counts as a trace left in the room by Sollecito. Secondly, the original lead prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, at one point speculated that Knox directed the violence from outside the room.

(3) It is said that the evidence shows that Kercher was killed by multiple people. What is your take on this?

It's just plain wrong, and entirely motivated by the desire to imply that Knox and Sollecito were involved. It's possible that Guede had one or more accomplices (of whom no trace has been identified), but parsimony argues against it.

(4) Perhaps most basically, how did Knox and Sollecito get implicated in this crime? I mean there were a lot of witnesses being questioned but how did the police/investigators somehow get the idea that Knox and Sollecito were suspects?

They were convenient, vulnerable (no lawyers, unlike the other housemates), and unaware of the specific way in which the investigators apparently expected all innocent humans to behave in such a situation. In short, easy targets for an impatient, quasi-panicked police force in need of a quick "resolution" to the case.

comment by AnlamK · 2014-02-05T21:07:40.217Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-31T15:10:45.095Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Vagaries of the Italian justice system combined with a heady mix of mob justice and nationalism.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-31T23:15:17.609Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Vagaries of the Italian justice system combined with a heady mix of mob justice

Agreed, but...

nationalism.

That's not exactly the word I'd use to explain why Italians would think an Italian and his girlfriend would be guilty of the murder of a foreigner, especially when the other suspect is also a foreigner, and from an ethnic group Italians dislike much more than that of Amanda Knox.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-02-01T06:33:55.175Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, it's the word I'm using. Here.

When Knox was first convicted of murder, there was outcry in the U.S. that she was wrongfully convicted, based on shoddy evidence. When she was acquitted, there was nearly as much of an outcry in Italy that the courts had succumbed to American pressure.

...

There is a valid extradition agreement between Italy and the U.S., but the U.S. has not set much of a precedence in returning suspects for such matters. Italians point to a number of high-profile cases over the years in which they say American suspects have been accused of wrongdoing and criminal acts, but have been let off lightly.

comment by christopherj · 2014-02-04T02:49:26.179Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's clearly plenty of opportunity for someone to score political points with this case.

  • Declaring Knox guilty and in need of extradition which will likely be denied, will make it easier to reject extradition requests from the US, and will have an effect on national public opinion, probably an increase in nationalism in both countries.
  • Declaring her innocent will be seen at least somewhat as bowing to US pressure and/or acknowledging that the criticism of the Italian justice system was accurate.
  • This case helps Americans remember that Italy exists.
  • Politicians sometimes like distractions, and this is a good example. They need to coordinate either the thing to be distracted from with the case, or the case with the thing to be distracted from.

There's a few more effects, but I suppose the main question is whether the Italian justice system likes to play politics.

comment by komponisto · 2014-02-01T06:34:56.702Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The way that nationalism enters is that people feel that criticism of the verdict (especially coming from outsiders, as it mainly does in this case) is an attack on the nation's institutions (specifically its justice system), and thus on the nation itself.

In other words, if Knox and Sollecito were innocent, that would be a soldier for foreigners to use against Italy, and thus must be defeated at all costs (Sollecito's nationality notwithstanding).

comment by [deleted] · 2014-02-01T08:47:52.853Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, Italians tend to be quite un-nationalistic in that sense, but yeah, I'm under the impression that some of them would be pissed off by foreigners criticizing Italian institutions even though they would agree with the same criticism coming from a fellow Italian. (As someone-I-can't-remember-and-Google-is-failing-me said, insults hurt more when they're truthful.)

EDIT: What paper-machine said seems very relevant. Italians tend to be very pissed off when they perceive Italian institution to succumb to foreign pressure.

comment by bogus · 2014-02-02T00:42:16.223Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

especially when the other suspect is also a foreigner, and from an ethnic group Italians dislike much more than that of Amanda Knox.

I wouldn't be too sure of that. Italians are not likely to be openly racist, but their distrust and even dislike towards non-EU nationals (or "Extracomunitari") is fairly well-known. Anti-American sentiment is not unknown there either, due in part to the country's legacy as a sort of "soft-power" battlefield during the Cold War period.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-02-02T10:26:50.510Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While “extracomunitari” technically includes Americans, it's not commonly used as a slur against them. It's mostly used for immigrants from poorer countries, such as North Africans and (before the EU was enlarged) Eastern Europeans.

(There are plenty of anti-American people too, but these tend to be not the same people as those who use “extracomunitari” as a slur.)

comment by brazil84 · 2014-02-01T09:48:35.129Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can someone explain the court's reasoning? I can't quite follow why Knox and Sollecito were first convicted, then acquitted and yet are convicted once again.

Are you asking about the actual evidence against them? Or more about the procedural path the case took?

comment by adbge · 2014-01-31T05:21:08.968Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

PredictionBook:

comment by wedrifid · 2014-02-01T02:19:54.181Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Contingent on losing her appeal, Amanda Knox will be extradited to Italy to serve her sentence.

I've noticed that this kind of formulation of a prediction is defective for the purpose of calibration on things like predictionbook. If, instead the prediction was "Amanda Knox will be lose the appeals process AND Amanda Knox will be extradited", to complement your other question then the predictions continue to mean what predictionbook intends them to mean and if people answer both predictions then they have also provident the conditional prediction information.

comment by komponisto · 2014-01-31T18:35:20.559Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Contingent on losing her appeal,

This is ambiguous, of course; technically, the "appeal" level is what just happened. The next stage is a second "appeal", at the Supreme Court. (Italian terminology actually uses two different words for the two stages, but they both translate as "appeal" in English.)

Amanda Knox will be found guilty by the Italian Supreme Court.

Again, to be technically correct, what would happen is that the finding of guilt by the appeals court (the thing that just happened) would be confirmed by the Supreme Court.

...because if you're talking about practicalities instead of legal formalisms, what actually happened was that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty by the Italian Supreme Court last March.

comment by ESRogs · 2014-02-05T09:07:12.864Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If the US agrees to extradite, and I am still living in Seattle at the time, I pledge to join any civil protest that exists to block her arrest.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2014-01-31T18:08:54.949Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

video interviews of Knox - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/30/amanda-knox-prison-meredith-kercher-murder

comment by komponisto · 2014-01-31T18:27:43.042Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Guardian video with Simon Hattenstone, featuring Knox and her best friend Madison Paxton, is highly recommended.

comment by JQuinton · 2014-01-31T14:50:43.012Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, who did show up at the trial, got sentenced to 25 years, but I don't know for sure where he is now because apparently he's totally unimportant and who cares (the media's opinion, not mine). I'm fairly sure he's in Italy though. So far it seems the plan is to revoke his passport but not arrest him.

I read this on Yahoo news, which was the only story I read about her reconviction:

Knox's former Italian boyfriend and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito was also found guilty and sentenced to 25 years. He was found early today at a hotel near the Italian border. Police took him from a hotel to a police station about 1 a.m. to stamp his passport in a way that would prevent him from leaving the country.

Sollecito's lawyer told ABC News that he was not trying to flee the country.

"Sollecito was going to his girlfriend’s house in Treviso," the lawyer said.

Knox said today that one of her first reactions after hearing the verdict was, "Oh my God, Raffaele... He is vulnerable and I don't know what I would do if they imprisoned him. It's maddening."

comment by philh · 2014-01-31T18:53:25.026Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Police took him from a hotel to a police station about 1 a.m. to stamp his passport in a way that would prevent him from leaving the country.

This confuses me, because Italy is in the Schengen area, where you don't need a passport to travel between participating countries. Presumably they can stop him from easily leaving Schengen though, and presumably extradition treaties are in force.

comment by wedrifid · 2014-02-01T02:34:07.366Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sollecito's lawyer told ABC News that he was not trying to flee the country.

This prompts me to ask what the heck he was doing in the country in the first place. In the years since Knox and Sollecito were released has Sollecito been prevented from leaving the country? If not then why in the heck would he stay in that place? Flee! Escape! Buy a citizenship in another country if you must. If that doesn't work then buy a fake identity in another country. You don't stay there and let them target you again.

comment by V_V · 2014-02-04T15:09:55.834Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If that doesn't work then buy a fake identity in another country.

I think you underestimate the costs of doing that. Not just the financial costs, but the social ones.
Changing idendity requires forfeiting most of your property that you can't carry with you, all your academic and professional certifications and achievements, and your entire social network.
It's unclear to me that this would be better than spending 25 years in prison.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-02-04T15:53:58.796Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Changing idendity requires forfeiting most of your property that you can't carry with you, all your academic and professional certifications and achievements, and your entire social network. It's unclear to me that this would be better than spending 25 years in prison.

LOL. So tell me, what does your "entire social network" look like after 25 years in prison? What's the worth of "all your academic and professional certifications and achievements"? How much property do you think you'll have?

comment by V_V · 2014-02-04T20:31:35.005Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, at least they'll feed you for 25 years :D

comment by wedrifid · 2014-02-04T17:08:12.376Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you underestimate the costs of doing that. Not just the financial costs, but the social ones. Changing idendity requires forfeiting most of your property that you can't carry with you, all your academic and professional certifications and achievements, and your entire social network.

You don't have any basis for that conclusion. The social costs are obvious and the financial costs I happen to have researched.

It's unclear to me that this would be better than spending 25 years in prison.

I neither believe nor disbelieve your claim about yourself. People do stranger things than voluntarily obliterate most of their life (suicide doesn't even offer parole). Nevertheless the reasoning "V_V would prefer imprisonment for most of the rest of his life over moving to a country without an extradition treaty therefore Wedrifid must underestimate the costs of such a move" is rather flawed.

comment by V_V · 2014-02-04T20:32:38.367Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You don't have any basis for that conclusion. The social costs are obvious and the financial costs I happen to have researched.

Fair enough, you are probably quite unusual.

comment by Desrtopa · 2014-02-03T15:55:21.001Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While I don't endorse his decision, I suspect it might be motivated by a desire to preserve his own public standing. In the eyes of the public, admission that the courts will probably find against you is likely to be seen as effectively admitting one's guilt. Innocent people stay and uphold their reputations.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-31T15:30:26.668Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm annoyed that various news sources are reporting that he was picked up "near the Austrian border" as if that implies he was fleeing the country. I bet 60-70% of the population of Italy is as close to the border as Venzone is (roughly 70km).

EDIT: Now another news source is reporting that he may have actually crossed the border into Villach (the shorter route I mention later), which explains why people believe he was fleeing the country.

comment by Jinoc · 2014-01-31T16:28:07.211Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually the Italy-Austria border is a pretty mountainous area with a bunch of national parks. The only cities of note are Udine and Trieste, but altogether I doubt you have more than 5% of the population (and google maps suggests Venzone is around 20km from the border). So I think it's not an altogether arbitrary suggestion to make.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-31T17:08:02.771Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. That's not the Austrian border, that's the Slovenian border. It's 40km from Venzone to Žaga, and 70km to Unterthörl.

  2. My claim was that 60-70% of Italy is 70km away from the border of Italy. Almost every major city is on the coastline, with the exception of Florence. At its widest, it seems Italy is only about 350km wide.

EDIT: There seems to be a slightly shorter route due north, but it's only about 5km shorter.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-31T20:13:36.127Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Almost every major city is on the coastline, with the exception of Florence.

Milan, Turin and Bologna aren't, though the former two are relatively close to the Swiss border.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-31T21:21:17.828Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Almost every". I did not say Florence was the only exception.

Milan and Turin are well within 70km of Switzerland and France, though, so I don't know why you mention them.

This is why I don't comment as much on LW as I used to.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-02-01T08:56:48.833Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was just nit-picking, sorry.

In any event, counting coasts as borders is not something Italians would usually do. I'd think it's much easier to escape a country undetected (at least in the Schengen area) from a land border than from the coast. I'd say that P(x is trying to flee Italy|x is in Venzone) >> P(x is trying to flee Italy|x is in Rome), or Naples, or Milan, or indeed most (by population) of Italy.

comment by gwern · 2014-02-01T17:51:54.092Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm curious, would it even matter if he had escaped to Austria? I was under the impression that the EU had fairly tightly integrated law enforcement & extradition within the Schengen area precisely because it's so easy to move around, and that being in Austria would be a very minimal obstacle for the Italian police.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-02-01T18:12:29.648Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good point.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2014-02-19T23:59:43.856Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joZV0XARmvA - "Is Amanda Knox Guilty?" - NBC produced docu for BBC.

Summary: Guede might be guilty (I don't know), Knox+Sollecito lied to try to get out of trouble, there's interesting DNA evidence with severe technical problems:

  1. a lot of DNA from Solecito (likely making him the one who handled it) on a bra clasp that wasn't collected from the scene until 46 days later. Unfortunately by then there was plenty of incentive by then for authorities to falsify evidence to bolster their extremely weak case.

  2. A tiny trace of Kercher's DNA on a knife in Solecito's apartment - also collected after incentive to falsify (they cheated by running the test when they weren't supposed to due to insufficient amount of material, at the very least).

  3. faint bloody footprints of the right size in the bathroom. not strong evidence of killing and apparently might not even be blood (they didn't collect any, just have illuminator dye photos which can trigger off bleach too).

The rest seems like comparatively unreliable evidence to me. DNA of you, even drops of blood, in your own bathroom? Big deal. Accusations from the convicted killer (Guede)? People pressured by police lied to try to get out of trouble? No surprise. I believe ~90% that neither Knox nor Sollecito killed her or helped cover the killing. Most concerning to me are the reasons given by the authorities - it's mostly pretty lame ("there must have been 3 attackers! there weren't many defensive wounds! kercher knew karate! not even superman could do that alone. and amanda covered her ears!")