The Truth About Raffaele Sollecito’s 112 Calls

On the afternoon of November 2, 2007, officers Michele Battistelli and Fabio Marzi of the Postal Police were dispatched to number 7 Via della Pergola. A discarded cell phone had been found in a homeowner’s garden and the officers were sent to find the phone’s registered owner, Filomena Romanelli. Upon their arrival they found Knox and Sollecito sitting together outside the cottage Knox shared with Meredith Kercher, Romanelli, and several other housemates.

Phone records indicate that Raffaele made a brief call to his sister at 12:50, and then two calls to the 112 emergency number at 12:51 and 12:54.[1] Prosecutors argued Amanda and Raffaele were caught off guard by the arrival of the Postal Police during a staging of the crime scene, and so the students had surreptitiously dialed 112 to divert attention from this fact.

The defense maintained the Postal Police arrived after the emergency calls were completed, demonstrating that several prosecution claims didn’t withstand scrutiny. Judge Giancarlo Massei, who presided over the original trial, sided with the defense.[2][3] 

Judge Alessandro Nencini sided with the prosecution. The facts demonstrate otherwise.

The Postal Police timeline is wrong

Officer Battistelli testified that he arrived at the cottage between 12:25 and 12:35, adding that he had checked his watch shortly after making contact with the students.[4] Officer Marzi placed their arrival at 12:30, but admitted under cross examination that he and his colleague had “reconstructed” their arrival time after the fact.[5]

The officers indicated they spent 20-30 minutes with Amanda and Raffaele before friends of Romanelli arrived.[6][7] It is unclear what would have taken more than a few minutes because according to both officers they only had a cursory look at the flat before asking Knox for Romanelli’s number.[8][9][10][11]

The Postals’ confusion about the timing of events is evident. Both Battistelli and Marzi believed the Carabinieri Regional Command called for directions at around 13:00, even though this call did not actually occur until half an hour later.[12][13] Marzi believed the patrol had arrived at 13:05, two minutes before it had actually been dispatched.[14] Did an incorrect reconstruction of their arrival time cause the Postals to shift these events by half an hour?

By the end of the first trial even the prosecution had lost confidence in the timeline given by the Postal officers: on the last day of closing arguments prosecutor Manuela Comodi argued instead for a 12:46 arrival time.[15]

No one witnessed any phone calls

Neither of the Postal Police officers witnessed Amanda or Raffaele on the phone.[16][17] In fact, there are no witnesses to any of six calls (with a combined duration of about ten minutes) that occurred between 12:34 and 12:56. Because Amanda can be heard in the background of the first call to 112, it is simply impossible for the call to have escaped the officers’ notice in the time they were alone with the students.

Did Filomena’s friends arrive before the 112 calls?

Judge Nencini states and Amanda and Raffaele have taken advantage of the arrival of Romanelli’s friends and discreetly made the calls while the postal police were distracted.

As it is easy to observe from the reading of the statements cited above, none of the persons present was able to locate the two defendants in the commotion preceding the breaking down of the access door to Meredith Kercher’s room. In particular, the Postal Police officers themselves had been separated in the dwelling, and while Fabio Marzi was taken by Amanda Marie Knox to look at the drops of blood, Inspector Battistelli was on the other hand following the long conversation that took place before the door was forced open. It is a fact that in the commotion preceding the door being forced open and the phase of the door being forced open fully four witnesses of the six people present, other than the defendants, were not able to physically place Raffaele Sollecito inside the apartment. Furthermore, one of the officers of the State Police placed the defendant outside the apartment.

What this really means is that the logical argumentation made by the Judges of first instance themselves does not stand up to the simple observation that in the phases preceding the [169] discovery of the body no one present, not even the State Police officers, took any notice of the movements of Raffaele Sollecito, who thus had the opportunity to absent himself from the sight of those present, and of making, in the space of a few minutes, the telephone calls to his sister and to 112. It is to be noted indeed that inside 7 Via Della Pergola, between 12:30 pm and 1:00 pm on 2 November 2007, the crowd of people, all there for different reasons, had created a situation of appreciable confusion that certainly prevented the State Police officers from paying attention to what each young person was doing from time to time.

Luca Altieri Phone Log
The phone log of Luca Altieri on November 2 shows both he and Marco Zaroli weren’t at the cottage at 12.46pm, thus couldn’t have been distracting the postal police while Sollecito called the 112. Image is from page 253 of the Sollecito 2015 Appeal Document

Nothing in the others’ testimony refers to or implies more than a momentary absence. In fact the phone log of Luca Altieri on November 2 proves that both he and Marco Zaroli weren’t at the cottage at 12.46 pm when Zaroli called Altieri from his home phone line.

Luca Altieri and Marco Zaroli arrived first, followed by Romanelli and Paola Grande. Their arrivals were close enough to appear simultaneous to the two Postal officers.[18][19] Romanelli and Grande testified the men told them they had arrived only moments earlier.[20][21] Romanelli, who was at a festival on the outskirts of Perugia, testified that she departed at 12:45 and took about 20 minutes to reach the cottage.[22][23]

To Grande it seemed that she and Romanelli arrived at about 13:00.[24] Zaroli estimated his and Altieri’s arrival time as around 13:00.[25] Altieri gave a range from 12:45 to 13:00 at the very latest, but this was based on a 12:15 departure time, 20 minutes before the boys had actually been dispatched to the cottage by Romanelli and Grande.[26] Based on his reconstruction of the travel time, Altieri’s true arrival would have certainly occurred after 13:00.[27]

From the above there is substantial agreement the others arrived within moments of each other at around 13:00. They would therefore not have arrived early enough to provide “cover” for Amanda and Raffaele’s phone calls.

CCTV footage supports the defense

The surveillance camera at the garage across the street faced the cottage gate and activated momentarily whenever there was traffic around the garage entrance.[28]

Key events captured on camera

At 20:51 on November 1, 2007 a figure walks toward the cottage gate. Officer Marco Barbadori, who was responsible for investigating CCTV footage from around the time of the murder, testified police believed the figure to be Meredith.[29]

At 12:36 on November 2, 2007 a black Fiat Punto fitting the description of the car used by officers Battistelli and Marzi pulls in front of the parking garage and then quickly backs out of the camera’s frame. Barbadori testified these frames depict the first appearance of the Postal Police.[30]

At 12:41 an identical Punto is seen driving past the camera from left to right. A figure walks away from the cottage gate. According to Barbadori, the figure in these frames “should be the inspector [Battistelli].”[31]

At 12:48, A figure appears from the left and walks to the middle of the street, addressing another figure standing by the gate. Barbardori believed one of these is Battistelli.[32] The prosecution and defense later differed in their interpretations of this activity, however it’s improbable two people standing outside the cottage gate minutes after the police were filmed searching for the cottage aren’t in fact the officers in question.

At 13:22 a Carabinieri officer (identifiable by a distinctive stripe running down his pant leg) walks toward the cottage gate, followed seconds later by a Carabinieri patrol car that crosses the oncoming lane and slowly pulls into the cottage driveway.

Was the CCTV clock ten minutes fast or ten minutes slow?

Main article: Defense CCTV presentation

Barbadori claimed the time stamp on the garage camera was 10 minutes fast – that is, ahead of the actual time.[33] When asked by the defense and the judge exactly how he arrived at this conclusion he was unable to provide specifics:[34]

I can’t recall how I became aware of this difference of ten minutes. From memory I can’t recall.

Prosecutor Comodi indicated someone else had done the analysis.[35] The prosecution was never able to substantiate its claim that the clock was 10 minutes fast.

The defense argued that the Carabinieri unit’s time-stamped 13:22 appearance at the driveway gate could have occurred no earlier than a 13:29 call to Knox’s cell phone from the Carabinieri Regional Command – a call made because the dispatched unit was in need of directions to the house.[36] Both Battistelli and Marzi testified the Carabinieri arrived at some point after they received the call for directions.[37][38] Even allowing for a generous 4 minutes of overlap between the call and the patrol’s arrival at the gate, the officers would have arrived between about 13:30, shortly after the call for directions was made, and 13:35, when the patrol confirmed its arrival with headquarters. Therefore the clock was actually about 10 minutes slow — that is, behind the actual time.

Sophie Purton’s testimony

A final argument in favor of the defense delta is Sophie Purton’s testimony that she parted ways with Meredith Kercher at 20:55 on November 1, 2007.[39] Purton’s recall is particularly strong because she was in a hurry to catch the start of a television program and glanced at a clock as soon as she entered her apartment. If, as both the defense and prosecution believe, Meredith appears on the CCTV at 20:51, then the defense’s calibrated time of 21:01 is plausible whereas the prosecution’s calibrated time of 20:41 is impossible.

Prosecution flip-flops

By the end of the first trial the prosecution agreed that the CCTV clock was in fact slow, but only by 4 minutes. The patrol car, Manuela Comodi argued, had radioed for assistance from Via del Pergola at 13:26 real time and the prosecutor concluded this event must have corresponded to the 13:22 garage camera footage. Comodi went on to apply the new delta to the 12:41 CCTV footage, coming to a new arrival time of 12:46.[40]

The prosecution’s second choice of delta appears arbitrary. Sitting on Via della Pergola is not synonymous with being pulled up to the cottage gate (as the Postal Police’s troubles demonstrated); it leaves unresolved the question of why the patrol would call for directions after arriving at the gate; it raises the question of why it would have taken the Carabinieri on the order of minutes to find a house in front of which they were already parked.

Conclusion

Considering all of the above, it is most reasonable to conclude the garage CCTV clock was, exactly as the defense argued, about 10 minutes slow. This means the 12:48 CCTV footage depicting the arrival of the officers would have occurred at about 12:58, minutes after Amanda and Raffaele’s calls to 112.

Amanda already raised the alarm

Amanda raised the alarm by calling Romanelli at 12:08, returning to the cottage, and then describing her further discoveries to her flatmate at 12:34. These actions guaranteed police would soon be involved. In fact, Amanda had no way of knowing Romanelli herself wouldn’t call police in a panic at any time after their first discussion. A person stalling for time would not risk the premature intervention of third parties.

Alternate theories are nonsensical

As the evidence supporting the claim that Amanda and Raffaele called 112 after the Postal Police arrived fell apart during the first trial, prosecutors regrouped and adjusted their timeline. The clock was now 4 minutes behind and the time of arrival was now 12:46, even though none of this resolved any contradictions.

More recently, prosecutor Crini returned to the original 12:35 arrival, with the twist that Marzi arrived a full 10 minutes after Battistelli. The latter claim isn’t supported by even a generous interpretation of the officers’ testimony.[41][42]

A current favorite among pro-guilt hobbyists is the notion that Raffaele saw the Postals searching (despite them driving an unmarked car and wearing civilian clothes), making one call with Amanda just before they arrived and then slipping away to make the second as Amanda provided a distraction!

When the evidence supporting a late 112 call was shown to be insufficient, the claim should have been discarded. Instead, the pro-guilt lobby continues to manufacture new evidence to keep the belief alive. These arguments are all circular: the evidence is supposed to demonstrate the defendants’ guilt but instead their assumed guilt is being used to demonstrate the soundness of the evidence.

See also:

References

  1. Massei Report, pp. 319-320
  2. Ibid., p. 25
  3. Ibid., p. 89
  4. 6 February 2009 Transcript, pp. 61, 92
  5. Ibid., pp. 139-140; “abbiamo ricostruito l’orario”
  6. Ibid., p. 68
  7. Ibid., p. 129
  8. Ibid., p. 68
  9. Ibid., p. 87
  10. Ibid., p. 94
  11. Ibid., p. 125
  12. Ibid., p. 115
  13. Ibid., p. 137
  14. Ibid., p. 137
  15. 3 December 2009 Transcript, pp. 7-8
  16. 6 February 2009 Transcript, pp. 93-94
  17. Ibid., p. 141
  18. Ibid., p. 69
  19. Ibid., p. 128
  20. 7 February 2009 Transcript, p. 39
  21. 6 February 2009 Transcript, p. 248
  22. 7 February 2009 Transcript, p. 39
  23. Driving directions via Google Maps
  24. 6 February 2009 Transcript, p. 248
  25. Ibid., pp. 211-212
  26. Ibid., pp. 214-215
  27. Ibid., pp. 225-226
  28. 13 March 2009 Transcript, p. 6
  29. Ibid., p. 7
  30. Ibid., p. 7
  31. Ibid., pp. 32-33
  32. Ibid., p. 33
  33. Ibid., p. 6
  34. Ibid., p. 23
  35. Ibid., p. 24
  36. Ibid., p. 25
  37. 6 February 2009 Transcript, p. 75
  38. Ibid., p. 137
  39. 13 February 2009 Transcript, p. 108
  40. 3 December 2009 Transcript, pp. 7-8
  41. 6 February 2009 Transcript, p. 93; “è arrivato qualche minuto dopo”
  42. Ibid., p. 121; “Dopodiché l’ispettore è sceso a piedi, io lo ho atteso un attimo in macchina, si è dato un’occhiata, intorno, ha visto dove era l’ingresso della casa, e m’ha fatto segno di scendere con la macchina sul parcheggio.”
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