A Witness Demolished
On March 26, 2011, the prosecution’s star witness, Antonio Curatolo, would once again find himself under the spotlight, and this time the defense was eager to shine the light a little brighter. Curatolo was the only supposedly credible eye witness brought forward by the prosecution during the first trial. He is the only person that claimed to have seen Amanda and Raffaele near the crime scene shortly before the murder.
Curatolo was a homeless man (he has since died) that admitted to using heroin on a daily basis and admitted that he was 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 the conviction of Amanda and Raffaele in the first trial.
In 2009, Curatolo testified that he had seen Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana, a square overlooking the cottage, on the night of the murder. His testimony completely backfired when at one point he actually provided an alibi for Amanda and Raffaele. Judge Massei was determined to make Curatolo’s testimony work, leading him to disregard a large portion of his testimony in the court’s motivation report. Massei cherry picked what he needed in an attempt to claim that Curatolo stated he saw Amanda and Raffaele before the murder took place.
Curatolo testified nine times that he saw Amanda and Raffaele hanging around outside from 11:30 pm to 12:00 am. This testimony contradicted the prosecution’s suggested time of attack actually providing an alibi for the two if you were to believe the prosecution’s time line. Curatolo testified only once that he only saw Amanda and Raffaele around 11:00 pm. Massei ignored nine statements made by Curatolo and chose to believe the one statement that he needed to support the court’s decision. Nine out of ten times, Curatolo said the exact same thing. One time he altered his statement, and that one slip was good enough for Massei.
A kiosk vendor who was doing business near Curatolo’s bench contradicted his testimony, highlighting how easily Curatolo became confused about each day’s events. The woman had set up her kiosk near Curatolo’s bench on the day in question. She stated she saw Curatolo on the morning of November 2 on the bench at 6:40 am when she opened her kiosk. Curatolo claimed that he slept in the park and did not get up till 8:30 or 9:00 am.
Curatolo was also confused about what day he was referring to. He claimed that 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 of the discos were closed. This observation, along with the kiosk owner’s testimony, clearly shows that Curatolo was most likely remembering a different night.
Of course, the court decided to accept Curatolo’s testimony. Well, sort of. They accepted the part they liked, and decided to simply ignore the fact that Curatolo provided an alibi for Amanda and Raffaele in nine of his ten statements.
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.
Curatolo’s testimony confirmed what the defense had been saying for years; Curatolo was not a reliable witness. The defense further proved this one hearing prior to Curatolo’s appearance when they called bus drivers to testify that no disco buses were running on the night in question. Judge Zanetti’s visible disgust with Curatolo was evidence enough to show that his testimony would not be accepted by the appeals court. The prosecution’s star witness was officially demolished on appeal.