It used to happen a lot that some issue would be proposed for us to discuss amongst ourselves, debating our various opinions. I liked following these discussions, but I would get uncomfortable if I myself had to participate directly, because I'm not gifted in speaking. I often don't succeed in expressing my convictions, at least verbally, in the moment. In fact, among my friends, I'm the weakest at this. This is why one friend of mine often used to jokingly seize upon this notably more peaceful personality of mine, challenging me all the time by saying: "Stand up for yourself, pointdexter!" (This was a joke.)
Inevitably, I would respond, and my response would come out of my mouth incomprehensibly turned up around itself; either that, or I wouldn't manage to respond at all, because my mind would be blocked and my tongue tied. I wasn't able to do what my friend asked me to do, that is defend myself.
Imagine if I'm the weakest person in this courtroom at expressing myself. This is why I'm asking for patience, because what I have prepared are the things that I haven't succeeded in saying up to now. Or rather: I'm presenting myself to you for the second time; but these are the things I wish I had already said. I'm asking for your patience because there have been opportunities to speak before, and few words came out of me.
I admit that I often have a hard time finding the right words, because I never expected to find myself here: convicted of a crime I didn't commit. In these three years, I have learned your language, and I have seen how your system works. But I've never gotten used to this broken life. I still don't know how to face all of this except by being myself -- which I have always been, notwisthstanding the suffocating awkwardness. I was wrong to think that there are times and places to say important things; rather, important things just need to be said, and that's all.
The one thing I'm sorry about now is that there are people I want to speak to who aren't here. Still, I hope my words reach you, because either I'm locked up in prison or I'm here. And...I'm here.
To Meredith's family and loved ones, I want to say that I'm very sorry that Meredith isn't here anymore. I can't possibly know how you feel. But I, too, have little sisters; and the idea of their suffering, and of missing them infinitely, terrifies me. It is incomprehensible and unacceptable what you are experiencing, and what Meredith experienced.
I'm sorry that all this has happened to you, and that you will never have her with you, where she belongs. It's not right, and it can never be. But you are not alone as you remember her; I also remember Meredith, and my heart is broken for all of you. Merdith was kind, intelligent, friendly and always helpful. It was she who invited me to see Perugia with her, as a friend. I am grateful and honored to have been able to be in her company, to have been able to know her.
Patrick? I don't see you. But I'm sorry. I'm sorry because I didn't mean to do wrong to do you. I was very naïve and not courageous at all; I should have been able to withstand the pressures that caused me to do harm to you. I didn't mean to contribute to what you have suffered. You know what it means to have unjust accusations imposed on your skin. You didn't deserve what you experienced and I hope you will be able to find peace.
Meredith's death was a terrible shock for me. She was a new friend, a reference point here in Perugia. And yet she was killed. Because I felt infinitely for her, I immediately recognized my own vulnerability in her death. I placed my trust especially in Raffaele, who proved to be a source of reassurance, consolation, helpfulness, and love. I also placed trust in the authorities who were conducting the investigation, because I wanted to help deliver justice for Meredith.
Another shock was to be arrested and accused. It took me a long time to confront the reality of being unjustly accused and redefined. I was in jail, and my face was everywhere. They were pouring onto me, almost always with insidious, unfair, awful gossip about my private life. Living this experience was unacceptable to me.
Above all, I placed trust in the hope that everything would be sorted out as it should have been; that this enormous mistake in my case would be recognized; and that every day I spent in my cell or in court was a day closer to the freedom that I was owed. This was my consolation in the darkness that allowed me to live without hope, doing my best to continue my life as I always have, in contact with my friends and loved ones, my family, dreaming of a future.
Now, I have been wrongfully convicted: more aware than ever of this experience and the harsh and undeserved reality. I still have hope for justice, and I still dream of a future -- even if this three-year experience is weighted with anxiety and fear.
Here I am, before you, more intimidated than ever. Not because I'm afraid or have ever been afraid of the truth, but because I have already seen the justice system fail me.
The truth about me and Raffaele has still not been recognized, and we are paying with our lives for a crime that we didn't commit. He and I deserve freedom, just like all the people in this courtroom today. We don't deserve the three years we have paid, and we certainly don't deserve any more. I am innocent; Raffaele is innocent. We didn't kill Meredith. I ask you to truly consider the possibility that there has been an enormous mistake in our case. No justice will be rendered for Meredith or her loved ones by making us pay for something we haven't done.
I am not the person the prosecution insists that I am -- at all. They would have you believe that I am a dangerous, diabolical, jealous, and violent girl who couldn't care less. Their theory depends on this. But I have never, ever been that girl. The people who know me are witnesses to the person I am. My past -- and I mean my real past, not the one told to you -- will show you that I have always been the way I really am. And if all this isn't enough, I ask you, I invite you, I ask you to ask the people who have been shaping me for three years. Ask them if I have ever been violent, aggressive, or uncaring faced with the sufferings that are part of the broken lives in prison -- because I assure you that I am not like that.
I assure you that I have never resembled the portrait painted by the prosecution. How is it possible that I would be capable of jumping on such violence as Meredith suffered? How is it possible that I would have thrown myself like that at the opportunity to do harm to a friend of mine? Seizing on such violence as if it were more important and more natural than everything I have been taught, all my values, all my dreams, and all my life? None of this is possible. I am not that girl. I am a girl who has proved to be what I have always been.
I repeat that I too am asking for justice. Raffaele and I are innocent, and we deserve to live our lives in freedom. We are not responsible for the death of Meredith, and no justice is done, I repeat, by taking away our lives from us.
OK, thank you.