Wednesday, November 23, 2011
by Anne Bremner
My initial involvement in the Amanda Knox case came when I received a phone call from King County Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey nearly four years ago while I was at a conference for the American College of Trial Lawyers. Mike and I talked for some time about Amanda's legal plight. I was interested and probably got hooked on this case at that time. Soon thereafter, I met Mike and Tom Wright for lunch and breakfast at AJ's Restaurant on two occasions in Seattle. Following my conversations with these two remarkable men at those meetings, I was hooked for sure.
What happened next is that we met with the Knox family in West Seattle. I then spent weeks with a certain individual watching the crime-scene videos and studying all the evidence of the case. By then I was more than hooked, and completely convinced that Amanda was innocent. I also conducted my extensive research and found my beliefs to be confirmed.
It was decided that I would release all the evidence to the world's press. The individual specifically required me to not reveal that he was the person behind this. I then released the crime-scene videos to the Today Show and a shot was heard around the world. I felt as if I was Daniel Ellsberg releasing the "Pentagon Papers."
Mike Heavey, Tom Wright and I became “The Friends of Amanda Knox”. We were joined by best-selling author Douglas Preston, “The Monster of Florence” who had lived through the same terrifying experience as Amanda with the prosecutor Mignini; Jim Lovering (our brilliant writer and researcher extraordinaire); Paul Ciolino (famed and talented investigator) and sometime later, Mark Waterbury (extraordinary DNA scientist and author of “The Monster of Perugia). This fine group of people were responsible for turning the “supertanker” around of false and malicious press accounts about Amanda Knox. And in that, they turned around the trial.
The Friends of Amanda Knox consisted of a small group of extraordinarily talented and motivated individuals. What I recount here is but a fraction of what they did. I hope that they tell their stories to show how a group with unique and complimentary talents and skills can turn around an international sensation- in what could be a template for other future efforts to save victims of injustice – innocents abroad. The Friends of Amanda did all of the work, I was the mouthpiece or messenger.
This is what we discovered: the now-famous bra clasp with mixed DNA --purportedly Rafael Sollecito's -- turned from white to black from dirt because it hadn't been collected for months and was dropped repeatedly; a policewoman disturbed the crime scene when she crashed through a window in the house by mistake and shattered glass everywhere; investigators did not cover their heads, letting their long hair hang over the scene; unidentified observers were lounging around the scene and talking on cell phones; and the filming of the evidence was conducted like an old high-school audio-visual class project. We called this fiasco "Fellini Forensics," in mock honor of the famous Italian filmmaker's surreal style. My friend Jim Lovering stayed up all night culling through the tapes and then cataloging them.
In addition, the Italian appellate court would discover that the knife that was such an important part of evidence in this case was shoddily transported in a shoe box, further validating the fact that the forensic evidence was unreliable, contaminated and inadmissible.
I then wrote my piece, "Amanda Knox, My Truth and My Challenge," for the Perugia Shock. I also posted it on my Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper blog for "City Brights." Jim was the genius behind these as well. This was a stepping stone for more articles and discussions, including ones with CNN Anderson Cooper (I blogged for AC 360 on the Amanda Knox subject), Bill O'Reilly, Gerald Rivera, Jane Velez Mitchell, CNN.com, AOL.com, MSNBC, CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, NBC, CBS, ABC, the BBC, most of the United Kingdom press, the Italian press and local Seattle media. I made weekly appearances for years in the national and local media. All told, I have made hundreds of appearances on behalf of Amanda Knox.
A number of on-air personalities -- and even Donald Trump -- offered to fly to Italy -- and have Amanda's family flown there -- and advocate and fund-raise for Amanda and do anything they could on her behalf and bring her home. I appeared on Dateline NBC with Dennis Murphy and the Today Show over time. I developed relationships with most everyone in the national and local media. And I appeared with Sollecito's and Meredith Kercher's attorneys on the Italian version of "Oprah," "Porte a Porte."
I spent a huge amount of time trying to turn people around on the issue: All of the previously mentioned media outlets required this. I met with the UK Observer and did scores of BBC interviews. I talked to Nick Pisa and debated Barbie Nadeau on the air. For three-and-a-half years I went on TV and radio weekly to get the word out about Amanda Knox. I met with Time Magazine's Tiffany Sharples and a fantastic Time story resulted from this exchange. And New York Times writer Timothy Egan interviewed me and others on the case. Tim's two pieces were real turning points for Amanda. I partnered with KING-TV Seattle's Linda Bryon as well as Kathy Goertzen of KOMO-TV in public appearances and speeches.
My assistant, Joan Stapleton, and Tom Wright set up the websites "friendsofamanda.com" and "amandadefensefund.org." They hired a lawyer to create a trust fund at our own expense. They worked very closely with the Knox family on both sites and ultimately turned it over to them. Tom Wright, the true heart and soul of the Friends of Amanda, took on the torch of these projects and developed a world class website that was translated into many languages. It was and is the most definitive site for information about Amanda Knox. The site has received nearly a million hits from all over the world.
Tom Wright kept an ongoing blog on the website to inform the public the press about any new developments. The Internet hits exploded off the charts. The research receptacle that Tom Wright and Jim Lovering, our researcher extraordinaire, nurtured was vast. We advocated for the securing of a State Department lawyer. We spent considerable time on this issue. We actually contacted an attorney, who later became President Obama's White House Lawyer. We then spent a lot of time with John Q. Kelly, who was excellent. The family chose Ted Simon, who ultimately found little apparent success with the State Department. We, of course, wrote to Congress and to Obama. The Friends of Amanda Knox was a force to be reckoned with.
I became the target of much ire and vitriol against Amanda because I chose to be the face for the Friends of Amanda Knox. Amanda's attorneys and family were not able to step forward to address the evidence and their public-relations representative was tight-lipped, recommending silence, on the advice of Italian counsel, because of fear of retribution and defamation charges in Italy. Websites adverse to Amanda posted terrible comments about me online, including vicious attacks voiced on the Perugia Shock. Amanda-haters posted tasteless, doctored pictures of me online as well as false and defamatory remarks about me, too. I received more death threats than I can count. Every article or story where my name appeared had hideous, menacing comments. In my 25 years of legal practice, prior to my involvement with the Amanda Knox case, I had never had a negative news article or comment published about me in the media or on the Internet. That all changed with Amanda Knox. I received a virtual avalanche of negative publicity, comments and posts. My involvement in this case nearly ruined my reputation and career.
I staked my reputation and career for Amanda Knox. I would still do it all over again if asked. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.Tweet