SEATTLE - When Steve Moore retired from the FBI in 2008, he planned to do a little teaching and a lot of traveling. He says he certainly didn't plan to take up the cause of a Seattle co-ed doing time in a foreign prison.
Moore says as an FBI agent, he helped take down an Al Qaeda cell that bombed the U.S. Consulate in Karachi. He helped identify a suicide bomber and track down the terrorists who blew up a hotel in Indonesia. He interrogated Buford Furrow, the man who shot up a Jewish day care center in Los Angeles, and got a confession.
In short, for 25 years Steve Moore's job was going after killers and getting convictions.
“I am not the kind of person to go on causes to get people released from jail,” Moore said.
So why is he doing it now, two years after retiring, and for a young woman he’s never met - Amanda Knox.
“If you were a paramedic and saw a car accident, you wouldn't say, ‘I'm retired’ and walk on by,’” Moore said.
Moore says he believes Knox is the accidental victim of a flawed investigation, overzealous prosecutor and a tabloid media frenzy, which tainted the jury that convicted her of murder.
It’s quite an about face. As he followed the Knox hearings and her long murder trial, Moore had no doubt about what the verdict should be.
“Guilty,” said Moore.
“As certain of her innocence as I am of anything in the world,” said Moore.
It was Moore’s wife who pushed him to get involved after watching a documentary that convinced her Knox was innocent.
Based on his Quantico training, Moore was skeptical and set out to prove his wife wrong.
He says he obtained the Italian trial transcripts, police and autopsy reports and had them translated into English.
He says he watched hours of videotape showing investigators gathering evidence at the crime scene. He says he was startled by what he saw.
“Horror,” he said. “I felt I was looking into some bad dream.” Moore says much of the evidence was so flawed, “It shouldn’t and it wouldn’t have been allowed into any case that I ever tried.”
Moore says just as important was what he didn’t see - any evidence for the prosecution’s theory.
Prosecutors told the jury that Amanda Knox masterminded a drug fueled sex game, with her former boyfriend holding down British student Meredith Kercher, while a drifter named Rudy Guede sexually assaulted Kercher. The prosecutor says Knox slit Kercher’s throat because she refused to take part in the twisted orgy.
But Moore says if that scenario were true there would have been an explosion of DNA from the three attackers spread all over Kercher’s bedroom, where her body was found.
“There was blood everywhere, there were footprints, fingerprints, palm prints, hair fluid samples, DNA of one person,” Moore said. “There is no way that two people could have just levitated over all the blood while one person stepped all through it.”
Lab tests showed that the person who left his prints behind was Guede, who would become the first person convicted for Kercher’s murder.
And there’s another reason that Moore believes Knox is innocent. He says that she doesn’t fit the profile of a violent killer. Nowhere in her history as a University of Washington honor student and all American kid, who played the guitar and excelled at soccer, did she reveal even one sign of a dark disturbed side.
“There’s a thing called leakage,” Moore said, “and leakage is the inability of a person with violent tendencies to control everything.” If you look into their background, “you may find fist fights, cruelty to animals, brushes with the law. There is no way for somebody to be as violent as they say Amanda was that night, without there being a clear pattern leading up to it."
If Moore’s theories are correct, then one wonders why Knox would sign statements that she was in the house when Kercher was murdered, but later change her story.
"That was the most coercive interrogation that I have seen admitted into a court in the last 20 years,” Moore said.
Moore says he has never met Knox’s parents, but has received e-mails thanking him for his interest in Amanda’s case.
Knox is serving a 26-year prison term and is desperately hoping her conviction will be overturned. But her appeals trial is being held in the medieval town of Perugia, the same town where the murder occurred and where Knox was convicted last December.