The real Amanda
Amanda's statements to police
Innocence Project, a group that uses DNA evidence to free people who
have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit, has made
a remarkable discovery:
25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating
statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty.”
Unscrupulous police interrogators use a number of techniques to
manipulate innocent suspects into
self-incrimination. These techniques usually do not
involve physical abuse. It is more accurate to think
terms of "mind games." The police are experienced players,
but the suspects aren't.
technique police use is to ask a suspect to describe what could have
happened, or to imagine hypothetical scenarios. That is what
did with Amanda. She was questioned many times in the days
Kercher's murder, and she consistently told the same
story — the truth.
But four days after the murder, in the
pre-dawn hours of November 6, 2007, the questioning became much more
aggressive in tone, and Amanda found herself in a
had no idea how to handle. She was shut up in a room at a
thousands of miles from home, confronted by angry cops who were
accusing her of a terrible crime in a language she had only begun to
learn. She was more frightened than she had ever been in her
police grilled her, again and again, about an exchange of text messages
between her and the man she worked for, Patrick Lumumba.
that the two of them made plans to meet on the night of the murder.
Amanda denied it. They told her she was lying.
They told her they had proof she was at the scene of the crime —
They told her she would go to prison for the next 30 years, and would
never see her family again.
Finally, after a long and grueling interrogation, she yielded to police
demands by describing an imaginary dream or
In this vision, she was in the kitchen covering her ears to block out
screams while the man she worked for, Patrick Lumumba,
was in Meredith's bedroom.
It was completely untrue, but it was what the police wanted to
As Perugia's chief of police told Newsweek
magazine, "she buckled."
A few hours later, after Amanda got some rest and had time to think,
she wrote a note to the police in which she attempted to reconcile what
she had said with what she thought was the truth. She wrote:
regards to this "confession" that I made last night, I want to make
clear that I'm very doubtful of the verity of my statements because
they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme
exhaustion. Not only was I told I would be arrested and put in jail for
30 years, but I was also hit in the head when I didn't remember a fact
correctly. I understand that the police are under a lot of stress, so I
understand the treatment I received.
it was under this pressure and after many hours of confusion that my
mind came up with these answers. In my mind I saw Patrik in flashes of
blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my
front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my
ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming. But I've said
this many times so as to make myself clear: these things seem unreal to
me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened
or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in
my head and the questions I am being asked.
Amanda says she was hit, she means she was slapped in the back of the
head. That is inexcusable conduct, but it is the least of the
problems with the way Amanda was treated. She was pressured
making a statement that she believed was untrue, and said was untrue —
by that time she had been badgered and manipulated to the point where
thought that her memory might be playing tricks on her. She
explains this in her note:
The police have told me
that they have hard evidence that places me at the house, my house, at
the time of Meredith's murder. I don't know what proof they are talking
about, but if this is true, it means I am very confused and my dreams
must be real.
Obviously, Amanda was thoroughly confused, but the police didn't seem
As soon as they got her to tell them what they wanted to
hear, they went out and arrested Lumumba with no further questions
asked. But later on, when it turned out that Lumumba
was innocent and Amanda's statement was as unreliable as she herself
said it was, they charged her with making a false accusation.
The police in Perugia probably could have gotten Amanda — or almost
any young person in her situation — to say anything, if they had
at it long enough. Nothing Amanda told the police in that
interrogation was the least bit useful in terms of clarifying what
really happened to Meredith Kercher. Amanda told the truth
the first time around. She
wasn't there when Meredith was killed.