On March 26, 2011, the prosecution’s star witness, Antonio Curatolo, once again found himself under the spotlight, and this time the defense was eager to shine the light a little brighter on him. Curatolo was the only supposedly credible eyewitness brought forward by the prosecution during the first trial. He is the only person that claimed to have seen Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito near the crime scene shortly before the murder.
Curatolo was a homeless man (he has since died) and career criminal that admitted selling and using heroin on a daily basis and to being high on heroin the night he claimed to have seen Amanda and Raffaele. Curatolo’s question and answer session on appeal left many wondering how his testimony could have possibly helped to secure a conviction at the first trial.
Curatolo was also confused about what day he was referring to: He claimed on the evening he saw Amanda and Raffaele, he left the piazza after he saw several buses full of young people leaving for the discos. However, there were no disco buses running that night because all the discos were closed. This observation, along with the kiosk owner’s testimony, clearly showed Curatolo was most likely remembering different people on a different night.
The appeals court was not so welcoming to Curatolo and his brief time on the stand did not go smoothly for him. Curatolo’s question and answer session with the court’s second Judge Massimo Zanetti went as follows:
Judge: So, you saw Amanda and Raffaele? Curatolo: Yeah, it was Halloween when I saw them. I know this because I saw the kids getting on the disco buses all dressed up in costumes. That’s how I also know what time it was. Judge: When is Halloween? Curatolo: I don’t know. Maybe end of October or beginning of November, I think. Judge: You aren’t sure? What about your case now? You are in prison, correct? How long will you be there? Curatolo: I don’t know. I don’t understand the case against me really. I understand nothing. Judge: Ok, so how did you live in the park? Were you always there? Curatolo: Always, yes. I never left. I just lived there. On a bench mostly. Judge: What about when you had to go to the restroom? Curatolo: I went to the bathroom in the wooded area down the hill. Judge: So you weren’t there all the time then? Curatolo: What do you mean? Judge: Never mind. So, are you certain the buses were disco buses and not tour buses? Curatolo: Yes, definitely disco buses. They look different from other buses. Prosecution: No, no, you must be mistaken? Curatolo: No. I am certain they were disco buses. Judge: Do you take drugs? Curatolo: Yes, heroin. Judge: Were you taking drugs on that night? Curatolo: I always take drugs, so most certainly I was high that night…but that’s ok. Heroin does not make you hallucinate or anything. Judge: Guards, take him away. I am done.
Massei Trial Testimony Excerpts
Antonio Curatolo, born June 2, 1956, in Senette (Avellino)
|MIGNINI||I would like it if you could remember what happened – do you remember the crime against Meredith?|
|CURATOLO||Yes. I’ve read about it in the magazines.|
|MIGNINI||When you…were you in Piazza Grimana when the police arrived?|
|CURATOLO||In that period, yes. I was in Piazza Grimana.|
|MIGNINI||Do you remember what you did? What you had seen the previous night?|
|CURATOLO||First of all I mean to be precise about something, something that I confirm as a conscientious thing. I don’t like to take advantage of other people’s lives or ruin them. Anyway, that evening, in that period I was in Piazza Grimana on the bench reading the magazine L’Espresso.|
|MIGNINI||What time was it?|
|CURATOLO||Around 9:30, 10:00.|
|CURATOLO||I was on the bench reading an article that interested me in L’Espresso. Every once in a while I smoked a cigarette and watched the people in Piazza Grimana and around, above. At the other end of the basketball court, there were two kids. They seemed like a couple. They were animatedly discussing something to themselves.|
|MIGNINI||Where were these kids precisely?|
|CURATOLO||On the other end of the basketball court, under a lamp, where you shoot the basketball.|
|MIGNINI||What were they doing other than discussing?|
|CURATOLO||They were arguing like a couple. Every once in a while one of them got up and went to where there’s the railing to look down. There were other people, anyway, who were loudly messing around. It was a holiday.|
|MIGNINI||Do you remember what time it was that you saw them?|
|CURATOLO||I told you. I was sitting on the bench around 9:30, 10:00, and I was there until around midnight.|
|MIGNINI||And when did you see these two kids?|
|CURATOLO||Until before midnight when I got tired of reading, I lit a cigarette, I watched the people that went by, the movement that was in Piazza Grimana, and then I didn’t see them anymore.|
|MIGNINI||So you saw them until shortly before midnight and…|
|CURATOLO||The last time, yes.|
|MIGNINI||Then you didn’t see them anymore?|
|MIGNINI||For how long did you observe them?|
|CURATOLO||Let’s say, every time I looked up from reading the newspaper, I must have smoked three or four cigarettes. About that.|
|MIGNINI||How were these kids dressed?|
|CURATOLO||In a dark color.|
|MIGNINI||Can you describe them physically?|
|CURATOLO||They were not very tall, rather small. They seemed nice, besides.|
|MIGNINI||Dark hair? Light hair? Excuse me, Mr. CURATOLO, but do you see these kids in the courtroom?|
|MIGNINI||Who are they?|
|MASSEI||Can you indicate them?|
|CURATOLO||It’s her and him. But I knew them from before. It wasn’t like I had only seen them just that night. Already before…|
|MIGNINI||So you saw them a little before midnight. Then what did you do? Did you fall asleep?|
|CURATOLO||No. After I smoked a cigarette and I left.|
|MIGNINI||At what time did you leave the area?|
|CURATOLO||A little before midnight.|
|MIGNINI||And so when you left you didn’t see them anymore?|
|MIGNINI||So you said you saw them a little before midnight?|
|MIGNINI||What time did you wake up?|
|CURATOLO||Around 9:00. 8:30, 9:00. Something like that.|
|MIGNINI||Then what did you do?|
|CURATOLO||I went to the piazza again.|
|MIGNINI||To Piazza Grimana?|
|MIGNINI||What did you do there that morning?|
|CURATOLO||I went to get a cappuccino at the café. Then I sat down at the bench, smoked a cigarette. Every so often came some kid I knew, a friend, and we chatted. But there was something strange because there was a lot of movement by the police, coming and going. We were in the Piazza until around 1:30, 2:00. Or rather, I was there for even longer, only that the Carabinieri came to ask us if we had heard something or seen something. I said I hadn’t heard anything. Apart from the kids who were out having fun that night I didn’t see anything grave. We were there for a little while, and there was this coming and going of the police. We went to look down and we saw people wearing white suits – the police, Carabinieri. There was a mess of people down there.|
|MIGNINI||Down where? In what area?|
|CURATOLO||Near a house. They were near the entrance to a house.|
|MIGNINI||Via Della Pergola?|
|MIGNINI||The house that you saw in the newspapers, in the photos?|
|MIGNINI||The house where the crime occurred?|
|CURATOLO||Yes. At least, that’s what the newspapers say.|
|MIGNINI||So you confirm precisely these details, that the morning after seeing the kids, the morning immediately after you were in the Piazza, there was at a certain point a coming and going of the police, the Carabinieri came, and then you looked down, around 1:30 to 2:00, and you saw all of the police, the Carabinieri, people in white suits, etc…?|
|BONGIORNO||The two were there the entire time without interruption?|
|CURATOLO||Yes, until before midnight, when I left, I think they were there.|
|BONGIORNO||So they didn’t leave and come back, they were always there?|
|CURATOLO||No. They didn’t go and come back. They were sitting there talking to each other.|
|MIGNINI||Yes. Then I will read the summary as it is easier to understand. “This will have happened between 11:30 and after midnight.”
|MASSEI||Prosecutor, excuse me, could you reread that because we haven’t understood. Around 11:00 until after midnight?|
|MIGNINI||Yes. “Between 11 and after midnight, then?”
|MIGNINI||And then you said, “Yes. It must have happened between 11:30 and after midnight.” That is, you refer to between 11:30 and midnight.|
|CURATOLO||No. From around 9:30, that I went to Piazza Grimana, until around 10:00, like that, I was reading the L’Epressoand I was smoking a cigarette and I hadn’t noticed them. Then around 9:30 to 10:00 I noticed these two kids, until around midnight.|
|MASSEI||You said, “I was these from 9:30 to 10:00, I read L’Espresso, I hadn’t noticed the kids.”|
|MASSEI||“I noticed them later”, but you continue to repeat 9:30-10:00, so it doesn’t work.|
|CURATOLO||That is, between 9:30 and 10:00.|
|MASSEI||So you arrived between 9:30 and 10:00…|
|CURATOLO||It must have been 5, 10 minutes. 9:30 is 9:30, 10:00 is 10:00, a half hour’s time, so if I smoke a cigarette I need 5 minutes, in consequence…|
|MASSEI||You said, “9:30 to 10:00”. Then you added, “later I noticed them” and therefore the “later” presupposes some passing of time. Vice versa you repeat 9:30 to 10:00, so…|
|CURATOLO||No, no. Between 9:30 and 10:00 I already noticed them because it takes 5 minutes to smoke a cigarette.|
|MIGNINI||So, when you where there, did you always watch these kids?|
|MIGNINI||Were there moments…|
|CURATOLO||Yes. There were moments that I looked up from reading the articles that interested me, I smoked a cigarette and I watched the piazza and I saw who was in the piazza.|
|MIGNINI||How many times did you observe them?|
|CURATOLO||4 or 5 times. I must have smoked 4 or 5 cigarettes, no more.|
|MIGNINI||The part in contestation: “Often more than one couple sat down there before they took the bus and every once in a while one of them went down to the street below and then returned to sit there.”|
|MIGNINI||“After a little, though, they were gone. Let’s say, after the buses that bring kids to discos were gone, yes. And this is what happened” – you said – “between 11:30, after midnight.”|
|MASSEI||You’re saying, “I saw them around 9:30-10:00”?|
|MIGNINI||So now you are saying, in this moment you’re saying, “I started to see them around 9:30 to 10:00, little else.”|
|MIGNINI||Then, “I didn’t always watch them,” you said.|
|CURATOLO||No, because I was reading.|
|MIGNINI||Exactly. So you glanced four or five times, you said, in a period of about an hour, an hour and a half.|
|CURATOLO||Almost two hours.|
|MIGNINI||Then you said, “When I left…”|
|CURATOLO||No, before I left.|
|MIGNINI||“Before leaving I looked, before midnight, I looked and they weren’t there anymore.”|
|CURATOLO||Yes. There weren’t people around anymore. Then I was smoking a cigarette and they weren’t there anymore either.|
|MIGNINI||Do you remember when you saw them the last time? At what time?|
|CURATOLO||Before 11:00, 11:30, was the last time I saw them.|
|CURATOLO||That is, the last time I noticed them.|
|MIGNINI||So you looked, you saw them around 11:00-11:30, then when you left, towards midnight, you didn’t see them anymore.|
|MARESCA||Do you remember seeing where the two defendants came from in respect to Piazza Grimana?|
|CURATOLO||No, and neither where they went. When I noticed them they were already sitting on the wall.|
|MARESCA||Where were you sitting?|
|CURATOLO||I was sitting on the bench, but when I looked toward the other end of the basketball court they were already sitting on the wall and I don’t know where they came from.|
|MARESCA||So you didn’t see them arrive?|
|MASSEI||At what time did you arrive at this bench alone?|
|MASSEI||Where did you come from?|
|CURATOLO||From Corso Garibaldi.|
|MASSEI||So you came down from Corso Garibaldi. Can you say where this bench is?|
|CURATOLO||It’s near the news kiosk.|
|MASSEI||In respect to the basketball court where is the bench? Behind thecourt?|
|CURATOLO||No, no, it’s to the left.|
|MASSEI||So you were sitting on the bench. Other than looking through L’Espressothat you read, what did you see?|
|CURATOLO||When I stopped reading I smoked a cigarette and saw everything.|
|MASSEI||So you arrived at the bench at 9:30, 10:00?|
|MASSEI||And what did you begin to do?|
|CURATOLO||I sat down, I smoked a cigarette, and I started reading.|
|MASSEI||You read some articles in L’Espresso?|
|MASSEI||How long did you read L’Espresso? How many articles did you read?|
|CURATOLO||I couldn’t have read the whole thing!|
|MASSEI||How long did this reading last?|
|MASSEI||And while you read you also looked around?|
|CURATOLO||No, no, when I read I read, then after…|
|MASSEI||When you read you read, you don’t look around.|
|MASSEI||And when did you start to look around?|
|CURATOLO||When I was tired of reading, I put down the reading and I smoked a cigarette and I watched the people.|
|MASSEI||And when you looked around what did you see?|
|CURATOLO||Everything there was.|
|MASSEI||And in particular the two kids, who you recognized today, when did you see them?|
|CURATOLO||After the first reading that I did, so it would be between 9:30 and 10:00.|
|CURATOLO||After the first reading that I did it would have been between 9:30 and 10:00.|
|MASSEI||Can you describe where these kids were, that we can now call by name seeing as you recognized them, where were they?|
|CURATOLO||At the other end of the basketball court, near where you shoot the basketball. There’s a pole and there’s a pole with a light…|
|MASSEI||So in respect to the bench, where were they?|
|CURATOLO||On the left.|
|MASSEI||On the left a little behind, in front of you, on the same line as the bench?|
|CURATOLO||More or less on the same line on the left.|
|CURATOLO||I smoked a cigarette, looked around at who was above the street, I looked at the street, looked at the piazza, and I happened to look at the other end of the basketball court, all I have to do is this [he turns his head], it’s not like I have to turn like [he turns bodily]. It’s enough that I go like this and look over there at the end.|
|MASSEI||Was it illuminated? Was there light?|
|MASSEI||And so you saw them.|
|MASSEI||What did they do?|
|CURATOLO||They were doing as all couples do. They were sitting there discussing a little animatedly between themselves. Sometimes it seemed like they were joking, sometimes it seemed like they were arguing.|
|MASSEI||But did you hear their voices, seeing as they were discussing?|
|CURATOLO||Yes, but not loudly.|
|MASSEI||But you heard their voices?|
|MASSEI||Did you catch any words?|
|CURATOLO||No, because there was too much ruckus also from the cars.|
|MASSEI||So you don’t know if they were speaking in Italian or not.|
|MASSEI||For how long did you see them? Did you see them for a second?|
|CURATOLO||A second, it must have been a minute, half a minute. I saw them over there. I watched them and then I turned away to look at the piazza again.|
|MASSEI||Did you continue to watch them or did you look for a few minutes and then…|
|CURATOLO||No, I watched them like this. It was a couple and I then continued to look at the piazza.|
|MASSEI||The you lost sight of them?|
|CURATOLO||Yes. I looked at the piazza and then I started reading.|
|MASSEI||Yes. You continued to read. For how long did you read?|
|CURATOLO||Another 20 minutes, half hour.|
|MASSEI||And when you stopped reading what did you do then?|
|CURATOLO||I lighted the cigarette again, I relaxed for a second and I looked around the piazza again, who was there, who wasn’t there. I looked again over at the end because there were kids who were making a ruckus, they were having fun, and I saw them again. They were sitting there and it seemed normal.|
|MASSEI||Did you see them again?|
|MASSEI||And where were they?|
|CURATOLO||Always in the same spot.|
|MASSEI||Always in the same position?|
|CURATOLO||Yes. Every once in a while, in the period that I saw them, the boy stood up and went to look down. There’s a railing at the end of the basketball court. He got up and went down and returned again.|
|MASSEI||Who got up?|
|MASSEI||Raffaele Sollecito, then, got up?|
|CURATOLO||Yes. He went to look down there. Then I started smoking again, for another half hour, the time to read other things until around 11:30. Then I lighted another cigarette, I started looking around at the people above. Then I turned and they weren’t there anymore. There were other kids who were making a ruckus for fun.|
|MASSEI||So you turned and they weren’t there anymore?|
|CURATOLO||Yes. This was around 11:30, around midnight. After the buses left I got up.|
|MASSEI||And that day. Do you remember if this was the day before the morning that you saw…|
|CURATOLO||I don’t know if it was Friday or Thursday.|
|MASSEI||Regardless of whether it was Friday or Thursday, was it November 1st, October 31st, or do you not remember?|
|CURATOLO||I don’t remember well now.|
|MASSEI||Did you know him [Rudy]?|
|MASSEI||Did you see him that evening?|
|CURATOLO||No, I didn’t see colored, North American people.|
|MASSEI||What do you mean? You said North American people.|
|CURATOLO||No, North African. Being black he must be North African. At least I think so.|
|MASSEI||And you didn’t see him that night?|
|CURATOLO||No. I didn’t see him.|
|MASSEI||Did you hear running? Are there are stairs near where you were in Piazza Grimana, where there’s the basketball court, are there stairs?|
|MASSEI||Did you hear the sounds of people who were running up those stairs?|
|CURATOLO||No. There was some ruckus from the students. It being a holiday there was a ruckus.|
|MASSEI||What were those students doing? Can you better characterize what you’re describing?|
|CURATOLO||They were joyful.|
|MASSEI||What did they do? Sing?|
|CURATOLO||They chatted, squealed, laughed.|
|MASSEI||And you heard from these stairs…|
|MASSEI||You didn’t hear anyone?|
|CURATOLO||No. I didn’t see anyone either.|
|MASSEI||And you stayed seating on the bench until the buses brought the kids to…|
|CURATOLO||To the disco.|
|MASSEI||How do you know that they were bringing kids to the disco? For the hour?|
|CURATOLO||A part from the time, almost every day, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday they bring kids to the disco to avoid that they come with their cars, then get drunk and some mess happens.|
|MASSEI||And you were still on the bench?|
|MASSEI||The buses left. There are a bunch of people. You say that they went to the disco and you remained there.|
*Note Translation courtesy of Amanda Knox
Two Courts – Two Opinions
Following is judges Hellmann and Zanetti’s view of Curatolo’s testimony followed by the reasoning of the Italian Supreme Court declaring said reasoning “manifest illogical”:
The presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Piazza Grimana, between the hours of 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm of 1st November, according to the prosecution, represents circumstantial evidence against them in that it reveals the alibi provided (having stayed at Sollecito’s house) to be false and therefore, with the alibi discredited [falsità di alibi], [demonstration of] their guilt in the alleged crimes.
In truth, even if in theory true, it would be an element of weak circumstantial evidence, in that on its own it is not even sufficient to prove a presumption of guilt, since the falsity of the alibi, although certainly usable as circumstantial evidence, is certainly not on its own sufficient to prove guilt, as it could be explained through other purposes or motives [potendo trovare spiegazione anche in altri fini e moventi]. Such as the fear of not being believed while being innocent: in the case being tried, for example, if they had been present inside the house on Via Della Pergola and yet not involved in committing the crime.
Obviously, a conviction for the crime being tried cannot be based on [rappresentare una sanzione per] the falsity of the alibi alone, having on the contrary, to be the result of a demonstration of guilt beyond all reasonable doubt, through proven facts [prove certe] or also through a collection of circumstantial evidence, in which the falsity of the alibi can play a role [assumere un proprio momento] but not even the most important one.
The fact of the discredited alibi, even if in theory true, would lose all relevance if the time of death (whose determination presented a particularly complex problem from a medical point of view) should be estimated between 9:00 pm and 9:30 pm (the time in which the prosecution is certain that the two youngsters were at the house of Sollecito) or also any time before 11:30 pm given that Curatolo testified that the youngsters were present in Piazza Grimana in that time period.
But this is not at all certain.
The presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Piazza Grimana between the hours of 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm of 1st November was, in fact, reported only by witness Curatolo, whose credibility this court very much doubts for the following reasons.
First, the deterioration of his intellectual faculties, revealed by the responses given before this Court during his testimony (hearing of 3.26.2011) and resulting from his type of lifestyle and from his habits.
[Mr. Curatolo] is a tramp who at the time lived on the streets whereas today he is detained serving a sentence [detenuto in espiazione di pena] for drug-trafficking [spaccio di sostanza stupefacente] and who, when asked why he had chosen this type of life (at times, in fact, such choices are motivated by idealistic reasons), he responded: “…Because … really I’m an anarchist however I have read the bible and I became a Christian anarchist… and so this is what I chose…”.
However – the Court observes – this idealistic urge [spinta ideale] to follow the example of Jesus (to quote “…to follow the life of Christ I chose to follow this type of life…”) did not prevent him from committing many crimes, such that, when questioned about the types of crimes committed, he replied: “Several, several, you know, some precedents for drugs, some precedents for political reasons…”.
Nor did it prevent him from selling drugs or making use of them himself, so that when questioned on the point, he responded: “…I have always taken drugs” and to the question “even in 2007?”, “yes” and on the type of drug “…I always took heroin” adding immediately “I want to clarify that heroin is not a hallucinogen…”.
Today he maintains that he no longer takes drugs because – as noted – he is being detained serving a sentence [espiazione di pena] but, when asked to clarify whether he knows whether he is imprisoned for a definitive conviction [condanna definitiva, i.e. a conviction confirmed by the Cassazione], he responded: “er [boh], I still haven’t understood anything however I think so… they took me and they put me in prison”.
Now, it cannot be absolutely excluded that a person of his type, who has a tendency to cover himself in an idealistic choice of lifestyle (anarchic christian) while taking heroin and above all else selling drugs, and that is so confused that he does not even know whether he is in prison serving a definitive sentence [esecuzione di una condanna definitive] or not, can have nevertheless reported as a witness facts that really were perceived and can have recognized the two current defendants as the youngsters seen that evening in Piazza Grimana. But certainly, when evaluating the credibility or otherwise of the witness we must proceed with particular caution, considering the personal circumstances identified [attese le condizioni personali evidenziate].
Curatolo, questioned in the hearing of 3.28.2009 (in the trial [istruttoria dibattimentale] of the lower court), reported having have seen the current defendants lingering there [soffermarsi] engaged in deep discussion, between 9:30 pm, when he arrived in Piazza Grimana, and “before midnight”, when, once the buses had left (about ten minutes later), that took the people [giovani] to the discotheques, he also left to go and sleep in the park.
When facing some questions and clarifications [delle contestazioni] by the Public Minister the timelines were then changed to be less precise – 9:30 pm 10:00 pm / 11:30 pm – but in reality, while the witness’ initial information was provided on the basis of the presence (evidently regulated [evidentemente al controllo]) of the clock situated in Piazza Grimana and of that in his possession, the final information [on the times] was anchored to the departure of the buses from Piazza Grimana to the discotheques (the departure times of the buses were found to be: between 11:00 pm and 11:30 pm, witness Brughini in the hearing of 3.26.1011; between 11:15 pm and 11:30 pm, witness Pucciarini in the hearing of 3.12.2011; between 11:30 pm and midnight, witnesses Bevilacqua and Ini Gaetano in the hearing of 3.12.2011, particularly credible as they are owners [titolari] of the bus companies [linee di autobus] that provide the shuttle bus services for the discotheques). Therefore there is no doubt that – according to Curatolo’s testimony – he saw the two youths at least until after 11:30 pm.
The main problem, however, is on which day – again according to his version – did the witness see the two youths: 31 October or 1 November?
He did not indicate the day as a date [con riferimento al calendario] (31 October or 1 November) but connected what he reported about the two youths from a recollection [rappresentazione] of circumstances that could allow him to determine it.
In fact he stated that on the evening when he saw the two youths there were a lot of masks, young people [giovani] that were joking about, that there was pandemonium [“un casino”] (quoting from the hearing of 3.28.2009 “…There were other people however that were messing about a bit, it was a holiday period…”) and again he confirmed the presence of masks, of young people joking about and pandemonium [“un casino”] at the hearing of 3.26.2011 in front of this Court (and in fact he responded affirmatively to the question of Ms. Bongiorno, formulated exactly in these terms) and also recalled (at both the hearing of 3.28.2009 and in front of this Court in the hearing of 3.26.2011) that there were the buses taking the young people [giovani] to the discotheques, such that he correlated [ha ancorato] his stay in Piazza Grimana up until about ten minutes after their departure, at a time indicated as between 11:30 pm – midnight.
According to the defense such circumstances (regardless of whether the two youths seen by the witness were actually the current defendants) would prove that the day in which the witness saw what he reported, was 31 October and not 1 November, considering that the masks were being worn to celebrate Halloween, which in fact falls on the night between 31 October and 1 November and not on the night between 1 November and 2 November, and considering also, that the buses for the discotheques had to be present the evening of 31 October and not the following evening. In fact, practically all the discotheques, open all night between 31 October and 1 November specifically because it was Halloween, remained understandably closed the following evening, the night between 1 November and 2 November, for the anticipated lack of customers the day immediately following a holiday.
On the other hand, according to the Prosecutor’s Office and the civil party (and also according to the Corte di Assise of first level) because the witness had also testified, both in the hearing of 3.28.2009 and in front of this Court in the hearing of 3.26.2011, that the following day after the evening in which he saw the two youths in Piazza Grimana he was taken aback by the coming and going on Via Della Pergola of the Carabinieri and of men dressed in white, that seemed to him to be “Martians”, (evidently the staff of the Scientific Police wearing jumpsuits), the evening in which he saw the two youths must have definitely been that of 1 November, preceding the Scientific Police’s investigation at the scene of the crime, which occurred on the same day of the discovery of the body (2 November). In fact, an unusual event like the coming and going of Carabinieri and Scientific Police was likely to remain imprinted in Curatolo’s mind and, however, again according to the General Prosecutor and the civil party, it is not true that all the discotheques remained closed on the evening of 1 November 2007 or that there were no buses to take the young people [giovani] to the discotheques.
Now, however, all the managers of the large discotheques (Red Zone, Etoile, Gradisca), called to testify in front of this court (Brughini in the hearing of 3.26.2011; Mandarino in the hearing of 3.12.2011; Pucciarini in the hearing of 3.12.2011) confirmed that, indeed, the discotheques were open the night between 31 October and 1 November 2007, for the celebration of Halloween, but not the following night, because it would not have been commercially advantageous, and that consequently, the buses that transported the young people to the discotheques taking them from Piazza Grimana, were active that night but not the following.
The owners of the two bus lines (Bevilacqua, Ini Gateano and Ini Rosa in the hearing of 3.12.2011) also confirmed this fact.
That the larger discotheques, essentially the only ones that had run a shuttle bus service because of the distant position from the historic centre [centro storico] had stayed closed, is evident also from the statement of the official of SIAE[i], Ciasullo (hearing of 3.12.2011), while the opening of the discotheques of lesser importance, located in the centre of Perugia and therefore not requiring the services of shuttle buses, and anyway not used by them, is from the statement of Dr. Napoleoni and of the official of SIAE.
Now, however, that some of the small discotheques in the centre were also open on the evening of 1 November counts for little, with it being certain on the other hand that the larger ones were closed, a long way from the centre, for which the only connection was the service provided by the buses; considering above all, that they were large buses, capable of transporting at least 50 people at a time (as testified by Bevilacqua in the hearing of 3.12.2011) and therefore, clearly destined to reach the large discotheques a long way from the centre. And because the fact stated by Curatolo (departure of the buses that transported the young people [giovani]) is what it is, also for the way in which it was described (there was pandemonium [“un casino”], the possibility of considering it as a single and more modest shuttle bus is to be excluded, and so one concludes logically that his account, in the context in which he saw the two youths in Piazza Grimana, refers to the evening of 31 October and not of 1 November.
The General Prosecutor, however, argued that in Perugia the discotheques usually organized the so-called “Students’ Thursday” and that, as 1 November was a Thursday, it could have happened that that evening a lot of young people and also the buses for the shuttle service were present. But, in reality, there is no proof that such a “Students’ Thursday” (whose purpose was to give a reason, in weeks that otherwise would not have offered any inspiration, to party in the discotheques) were organized in the year 2007 and, above all, against the statements made by the managers of the discotheques and of the owners of the bus companies [linee] that ran the shuttle services (all people whose credibility there is no reason to doubt), it has to be concluded that these Thursday evenings for students were nonetheless overshadowed [superati] by a holiday like Halloween that has nowadays taken root even in our country. Therefore, there was no reason to also celebrate that Thursday, the day following Halloween.
It is thus evident that the statements made by Curatolo present two situations that are contradictory: having seen the two youths in Piazza Grimana the evening before the investigation by the Scientific Police and however, at the same time, having connected the event in the context of Halloween, which is the evening of 31 October.
Less significant, in trying to put a time on the event, is the fact that Curatolo remembered that the paving of the square [Piazza] was wet due to the cleaning of the market that was done on 31 October (Thursday being a holiday) and that, therefore, would have been done the next morning.
Apart from the fact that there is no proof that the market cleaning was done on the Thursday (also because it was a holiday Thursday), it seems difficult to believe that the wet ground, as a result of the cleaning of the square, had remained for the whole day; and so it seems more probable that it came from rain that certainly occurred, as confirmed also by the Public Minister Dr. Mignini based on the statements made by some witnesses (Marco Zaroli, Dr. Napoleoni). Even if evidently, the rain had by then stopped that evening in Piazza Grimana, though continuing to rain in the area around the Faculty of Engineering, with these two places being further apart, aerially, than the distance between Piazza Grimana and the S. Egidio airport, where according to the meteorological data for that day it had not rained.
It is opportune to report the words of witness Zaroli in his statement made in the hearing of 2.6.2009, in response to whether it rained or not on the evening of 31 October he responded, quoting: “…I remember that it was raining when I left from the Engineering [Faculty] to go to the house of Filomena and Meredith. The rain was quite intense, I don’t remember anything else…”.
So, he remembers the rain at the moment he left the Faculty of Engineering but not after dinner when he left the house on Via Della Pergola with Filomena and the other friends to go to the cinema, when it would be logical to believe that, if it had also rained in that moment, he would have remembered.
Therefore, from Zaroli’s statements it cannot be deduced that it was raining in Piazza Grimana, near Via Della Pergola, to an extent that Curatolo would not have stayed and spent time on the bench or that the two youths would not have been there in deep discussion, and seen by Curatolo.
However, what it does show is that there is a lot of confusion in the memory of the witness.
In truth the General Prosecutor himself, Dr. Costagliola, while stressing that the timing of events is made clear by its connection to the investigation by the Scientific Police, also recognized that Curatolo had mixed up the two days (31 October and 1 November) (quoting from his closing argument [requisitoria] of 9.23.2011 “…And so it is evident that the vagrant [il Clochard] mixed up the two events, the night of Halloween and the sighting of the defendants…” and also the Public Minister Dr. Mignini, while highlighting the relevance – according to him decisive – of the connection with the sighting the day after of the Scientific Police, admitted that for Curatolo time had a relative value (as quoted in his rebuttal of 9.30.2011 “…It is clear that this tramp, it is clear that time does not have the same significance for this tramp as it does for us, this is clear…”.
But then – this Court asks – how can one really say with certainty that his memory refers to 1 November and not 31 December [recte: October]?
But, above all, how can one sustain that Curatolo’s power of recall [capacità mnemoniche] would allow him to really remember the course of events and even to remember that it was the two defendants that he saw?
Nor do the statements made by other witnesses about Curatolo’s way of life in Piazza Grimana allow one to overcome the considerable doubts about his credibility, because this behavior, which nobody has contradicted, does not lessen the holes and contradictions evidenced.
Moreover, once it is concluded that the reality surrounding [events] was 31 October and not 1 November, it would seem more logical to reconsider the sighting of the two youths in that context, therefore on 31 October, because it is contemporaneous with the sighting, rather than the next day which is the day preceding the arrival of the Scientific Police, but thus necessarily extrapolated from context.
Therefore, this Court does not consider credible the testimony of witness Curatolo, it being impossible to reliably verify his account [non potendo essere riposte alcun affidamento sulla verificazione dell’espisodio] and, above all, the identification of the two youths as being the current defendants.
The Italian Supreme Court
The Appellate Courts have ruled out the credibility of the testimony of Antonio Curatolo who in the re-enactment of the Courts of First Instance which had been placed as fundamental to proof of the falsity of the negative alibi advanced by the two defendants and that was one of the pieces of the mosaic that had led to consider them at the locus delicti commissi. In this regard it is worth remembering that the judges of the lower court had held, by correct reasoning from the point of view of straight logic, that the false alibi was taken as a heavy indication, considered in relation to the other elements of test and in the context of the overall probative results.
The method of analysis of the testimony, as detected by the petitioning Procurator General, is absolutely reprehensible, as manifest failure of the assumption of a thorough examination of the data and circumstances, so that the conclusion – taken that the witness was confused in indicating the two young students today accused were present in Grimana Square on the evening of October 31 and not November 1 – clashes with the acquired data that contrasts with the apodictic assumption, so as to manifest in all his evidence a foundation of debit of consistency and therefore manifest illogicality of the discourse of justification (it was in fact demonstrated by other sources that on the evening of 31 October both Knox and Sollecito were busy, the first at Lumumba’s place where there was seething activity for the celebration of Halloween, the second at a graduation party, so they could not have been present on the square Grimana around 23.00 h). The claim according to which the sighting of the two young people by the witness went back to October 31 (page 50 of the judgment) because it was suited to the context described above, rather than the next day, as previous to the arrival of forensic science, but taken out of context, is a manifestly illogical statement, not only because it conflicts with the data that substantiates unequivocally the distance of the two from the square on the evening of October 31 (as of paramount importance in the context of evaluation) and then the inability to make square the circle in the way suggested, but because it fulfils rules of inference of absolute weakness. Starting from the need to untie the knot of contradictions that the witness presented (having seen the two young people the night before the activities of the Scientific Police and having put it down to the context of Halloween), the Court of Appeal, after hearing the witness in renewed testimony and found that he had mistakenly placed Halloween on the night between November 1 and November 2, heard the witness reiterate that its timing was anchored to what he described as actors all dressed in white that afternoon, the day after sighting of two young young people, in Via della Pergola (given with a very high quotient of uniqueness, more than any other), clearly the police; the court nevertheless concluded that the testimony could not be accepted, due to the decay of the mental faculties of the man, accustomed to heroin and his modus vivendi, being held in custody at the time of his second deposition, for drug trafficking.
Again, this line of argument is manifestly illogical, since the evaluation of testimony was correlated (regardless of its conclusions, being in discussion the method of evaluation) with the sole objective fact that was highly reliable (namely the presence of subjects in white suits, the day after the sighting of the two in the square, around 23.00 h to midnight), because given the certain fact in his subsistence, which represented individualizing circumstances, unique in its kind, which would be bound to remain etched in the minds more than any other; and instead once again have been made to come into play data of personality, however, alleged without any acknowledgment of a scientific nature that had to show the decay of the mental faculties of a man. Not to mention that Curatolo had to show up, once called to testify, both at First and Second Instance, and never found it difficult to recognize, even after a long time, the two defendants as those who he had seen on Grimana Square the evening before he noticed men dressed in white in Via della Pergola (who he called “extraterrestrials”) and the police. The fact that he was a tramp who was stationed on the square all day, did not allow to rule out a priori his reliability, on pain of collision with the principles laid down in terms of reliability of testimony. In conclusion this cannot be overcome, except by a process of development of his informative contribution data of otherwise demonstrative force, a contribution expressed in terms of certainty, given by the witness at the trial papers, also in renewing the testimony (“absolutely certain as I’m sitting here” as to the fact that he saw the two defendants in the evening before the day on which he saw the ones with the white suits and the police), referring to the status of the author of the contribution. Likewise on the point that the judgment should be set aside, for the reason that the reliability of the witness Curatolo lacks completeness (for not taking into consideration the data that contradicted the conclusion to which the Court came) and is vitiated by an incorrect application of normative parameters of reference. The precise and serious nature of the testimony has been rejected by the judgment without taking into account the correlation with other evidence, on a basis of conjecture (superimposition by the witness of the evening of October 31 with that of the 1 November) that it was not even placed in comparison with data that belied their conclusions.
Curatolo Transcript Hellmann Trial – (Italian)
Hellmann Report – (English)
The Day of Foolery – SUPER FAKE WITNESS Perugia Shock March 29, 2009
Il clochard Antonio Curatolo finisce davanti al giudice Daniele Cenci. Per tre mesi avrebbe ceduto eroina, due volte la settimana, ad un giovane perugino – A serial witness who testified in two other murder trials
Amanda Knox vs. the Heroin Pusher by Candace Dempsey March 11, 2011
Key witness against Amanda Knox charged with drug dealing Komo News June 2011
Muore a Spoleto Antonio Curatolo Incarcerated heroin dealer dies August 11, 2012