Chris Mellas, Amanda Knox's stepfather, is pictured in his Arbor Heights home viewing his advanced copy of the documentary "The Trials of Amanda Knox" to air on the Learning Channel Sunday, March 28, 8pm. "This was not the documentary we signed up for," he said.
Amanda Knox documentary "not what we signed up for"
"The Trials of Amanda Knox," is a documentary about the West Seattle U.W. student currently serving a 26-year jail sentence outside Perugia, Italy for the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher there. The film was released on Great Britain cable TV early January. An American version of that release will air in Seattle on TLC, The Learning Channel, this Sunday, March 28, 8pm.
The documentary characterizes the city of Seattle as a place where “Amanda’s strange behavior was encouraged as she was not tied down to social standards (…) in a city with a Bohemian background.”
According to Chris Mellas, Amanda's stepfather, there are at least seven versions of the documentary, and he personally possesses five or six. He showed two versions to the West Seattle Herald in his living room.
One version he showed “will never see the light of day,” he complained. It has more of a “documentary feel” stylistically, with moody music, lengthy interviews with Amanda’s family members, and her U.W. college pals- the “Granola Gang” as Mellas affectionately calls them. There is the bluesy ambiance of the late night Rome-to-Perugia train, clickety-clacking through the Umbria hills while much of Italy sleeps.
Also in this version s a comical sequence a la 60-Minutes of the documentarian chasing embarrassed British journalist Nick Pisa who darts down a Perugia street after Amanda’s mother, Edda, lambasts Pisa for erroneously dragging Amanda’s younger sisters Deanna, then 20, and Ashley, 14 into his controversial story about them being tacky for wearing “short shorts” and posing in front of their sister’s home where the murder took place.
According to Mellas, this is the version he and the Knox family “signed up for,” as he feels it better illustrates contradictions in the case, favorable to Amanda’s innocence. The family cooperated, but was not paid for their involvement in the film.
The second version he showed will be the one to air on American television. It mentions that the Mellas and Knox family cooperated with the project. This version dismisses as absurd evidence including the bra clasp, claiming through videos that it was mishandled and moved haphazardly along the floor by clumsy investigators at the crime scene over the course of weeks, and the knife, claiming it doesn’t match the stab wounds. Still, Mellas feels this film is simply a “bland compilation of news clips” that adds little to what has already been circulated.
“This is not the project we signed up for,” said Mellas. “The director and investigator walked out of the project over disputes of what would be shown. Their evidence clearly showed Amanda is not guilty. The producer said, ‘We can’t say that. This is running in England.’ But they were told to make a documentary and that is what they did, and did so as they saw it.
“We put a lot of time and effort into the filming of this,” Mellas added. “A lot of hours went into this thing. We’re being touted as ‘This is our documentary.’ But the version that will air isn’t. It’s more than just a slap in the face.”
West Seattleites may recognize local resident and King County Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey, a former State representative in this (34th) District, who is interviewed in the film. He has been critical of the Italian justice system as it relates to this case since the beginning, over two years ago. His daughter was a close high school friend of Amanda and so his response to her ordeal has become both scholarly and personal.
In the film, Judge Heavey complains that Amanda’s character was unjustly tainted, and then some.
“This has become a case of public opinion,” he said, interviewed in his Fauntleroy living room with a sweeping view of the Puget Sound.
“What I saw was a tremendous amount of not only leaks going to the press which demonized Amanda Knox but the leaks were false,” he said.
Tacked onto the end of the film is a brief mention of the 427-page “motivation document” released to the public in Italian March 4. The document contains the judges’ official explanation of the motive of what they believe were the three people who murdered Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox, her boyfriend of six days Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivory Coast career criminal Rudy Guede. That explanation states that, unlike head prosecutor Giulano Mignini’s theory, the murder was not pre-planned, but instead was spontaneous, and fueled by the effects of marijuana. And they are sticking with that knife as the murder weapon.
“That means the prosecution believes Amanda took the knife from Raffeale’s kitchen, brought it to her place to commit the unplanned murder, then returned the knife to his kitchen," said Mellas. "Why would she have the knife? It’s beyond me.”
Mellas, who leaves Seattle for Perugia April 4 to visit Amanda in prison, finds the “new motive” equally absurd as the prior four motives the prosecution used against Amanda. Those four included a ritual cult killing, a sex orgy gone awry, the theft of $300 euros from Ms. Kercher, and jealousy.