Headsup: Those in the US and elsewhere who can access the Lifetime cable channel and website and who are following the Epstein/Maxwell saga may wish to catch Surviving Jeffrey Epstein on 9 and 10 August.

Category: Trials 2008 & 2009

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Welcome To New Arrivals #1: An Experienced Trial Lawyer Recommends How To Zero In On the Truth

Posted by Some Alibi



[Merediths window is seen on the top floor of the house in the lower foreground]

Welcome To Common Sense

This briefing was first posted with slightly different opening paras at the start of the annulled Hellmann appeal. New arrivals often tell us this helped them the most.

If you’ve come to this website because of the Amanda Knox book and interview, then welcome.  Like all of us who come to this case, you have one key question: did they do it?  The Knox book and interview seriously cherrypick the case, and perhaps haven’t helped you at all.

On the Internet, you will find people who are passionate in their defence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito; and you will find people who are passionate in their support of an exceptionally talented girl who died, of a fine justice system previously untainted by PR, and of the prosecution’s very strong case.

Click here for the rest


Friday, April 19, 2013

Twenty Forensic Reasons Why Guede Could NOT Have Attacked Meredith Alone

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Bongiorno in 2011 trying to rattle an unshakable Guede claiming Knox and Sollecito did the crime]

1. Guede Persona, An Overview

The convicted murderer Rudy Guede to this day claims that Meredith let him into the house, so we cut him no slack for that.

But at the same time he was no drifter or serial knife carrier, he had no police record in 2007 (unlike Knox and Sollecito), and no drug dealing or breaking-and-entering has ever been either charged or proved.

In October 2008 Judge Micheli mistrusted and sharply rebuked a witness who claimed it just might have been Guede who broke into his house.

Guede seriously discounted his role on the night of Meredith’s death, but some physical evidence (not a lot) proved he had played a part in the attack. Thereafter his shoeprints lead straight to the front door.

2. Moving Target In Court

Neither Judge Micheli nor Judge Massei nor the Supreme Court believed he acted alone or had any part in the very obvious cleanup that had been carried out.

The Knox and Sollecito defenses failed miserably to prove he climbed in Filomena’s window, and despite much innuendo they never really tried to prove he was a lone attacker.

That is why in 2011 we saw two of the most bizarre defence witnesses in recent Italian legal history, the jailbirds Alessi and Aviello, take the stand

Alessi became so nervous making his perjured claim that Guede told him Guede did it with two others that he was physically sick and had to take time off from the stand.

Aviello loudly proclaimed that his brother and another did it (not Guede) and then claimed the Sollecito family via Giulia Bongiorno floated bribes in his prison for false testimony.

Tellingly, although Bongiorno threatened to sue Aviello, she never has. Even more tellingly, Judge Hellmann himself initiated no investigation and simply let this serious felony claim drop dead.

Here is a far-from-exhaustive list of 20 reasons why Rudy Guede could not have acted alone. Also why not one scrap of evidence has ever been found for any two other than Knox and Sollecito themselves.

3. Twenty Lone-Wolf Disproofs

1.  Guede’s Final Appeal Report said Meredith sustained 43 wounds

The testimony at the 2009 trial about the 43 wounds was presented in closed court out of humane respect by the jury for the feelings of Meredith’s family.

So even the diligent and trustworthy Italian media mostly missed this, as they were locked outside. 

Mention of the 43 wounds was omitted from the 2009 Massei Trial Report and also from the 2011 Hellman Appeal Report.

Its inclusion in the December 2010 in Judge Giordano’s Supreme Court report on Guede’s final appeal reflects the report’s excellent factual completeness.

The PMF translation reads, in relevant part:

The body presented a very large number of bruising and superficial wounds – around 43 counting those caused by her falling – some due to a pointed and cutting weapon, others to strong pressure: on the limbs, the mouth, the nose, the left cheek, and some superficial grazing on the lower neck, a wound on the left hand, several superficial knife wounds or defence wounds on the palm and thumb of the right hand, bruises on the right elbow and forearm, ecchymosis on the lower limbs, on the front and inside of the left thigh, on the middle part of the right leg, and a deep knife wound which completely cut through the upper right thyroid artery fracturing the hyoid bone, a wound which caused a great deal of bleeding.

Including the number of minutes occupied by an initial verbal confrontation, the escalation of that confrontation into taunting and then the physical attack, leading to the infliction of 43 wounds, and to the fatal stabbing, how many minutes would all of this occupied?

The prosecution estimated it took fifteen.

2.  Meredith had taken dance classes and played football & karate)

See the Massei Translation, p23.

Every day Meredith called her family, with whom she had a very close relationship. She had taken classes in dance and played sports (football, karate); she was a strong girl, both physically and in terms of temperament (cf. statements by her mother and by her sister Stephanie, hearing of June 6, 2009).

3.  Meredith was a strong girl, physically and in temperament

See the statements by her mother and by her sister Stephanie (hearing of June 6, 2009). and description of her karate. (Massei Translation, pp23, 164, 366, and 369).

With regard to the totality of these circumstances, it must be considered that Meredith could only have made an outright refusal to Rudy’s advances and in doing so could also count on her slim [fit] physique, which the photos allow [one] to understand, [and] on her good athletic training (other than dance she had also done sports characterised by a certain physicality such as football, and had even taken a course in karate), sustained by her strong character.

4.  Meredith must have been “strongly restrained”

See the Massei Translation, p371; p399, in the Italian original.

Conversely, considering the neck wounds sustained, it must be believed that Meredith remained in the same position, in a standing position, while continuously exposing her neck to the action of the person striking her now on the right and now on the left. Such a situation seems inexplicable if one does not accept the presence of more than one attacker who, holding the girl, strongly restrained her movements and struck her on the right and on the left because of the position of each of the attackers with respect to her, by which it was easier to strike her from that 372 side. One of these attackers was Rudy and the others were those who allowed Rudy to enter the house and who were with him in the house and who, in order to lead the nvestigations astray, then organised the staging of the broken window and the mess in Romanelli’s room: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, according to all that has already been shown.

5.  Meredith remained virtually motionless throughout the attack

That was in spite of Meredith’s physical and personality characteristics [Massei Translation p369]  [Massei Translation p370-371].

A first indication to be taken into account is Meredith’s physical build: the photographs of her body and the data of her approximate height and weight reveal a physique with “normotrophic muscular mass and normally distributed subcutaneous fat” (cf. declarations Lalli p. 3), a slim physique which would have permitted Meredith to move with agility. To this must be added the declarations of the parents and the sister of Meredith. Her mother, Arline Carol Mary Kercher, recalled that Meredith had practised football and karate (p. 7 hearing 6 June 2009), and her sister, Stephanie Arline Lara, stated that Meredith also did boxing, if only the once, and that “physically she was very strong” (p. 20, hearing 6 June 2009). Also her father, John Leslie Kercher, declared that his daughter was quite strong and had taken a course in karate (p. 23 hearing 6 June 2009). It has also been noted that Meredith was not in bed and undressed when the “advances” and the attempts to subject her will commenced. Being still dressed and awake, and since it must be excluded because of what has been said above that the violent action could have taken place with Meredith lying on the bed, it is considered that she, who was sober and fully conscious since no traces indicating either the use of drugs or the abuse of alcohol were found, would have opposed a firm resistance, as she could claim a strong physique, experienced in self-defence by the lessons in karate that she had taken.

6.  The defensive wounds were almost non-existent

See the report of Dr Lalli, pp. 33, 34, 35 with the relevant photos. Massei Translation p370.

The signs of this resistance, however, consist in a scream, the scream heard by Nara Capezzali at around around 23:30 and by Maria Ilaria Dramis when, having gone to bed at 22:00 pm, she awoke at a later time which she was not able to quantify; they consist also in some tiny defensive wounds: one on the palm of her [396] right hand of a length of .6cm showing a tiny amount of blood; another on the ulnar surface of the first phalange of the second finger of the left hand, also of length .6cm; another on the fingertip of the first finger with a 370   superficial wound of .3cm, and another tiny wound corresponding to the fourth radius.  Compared with these almost nonexistent defensive wounds (cf. report of Dr Lalli, pp. 33,  34, 35 with the relevant photos), there is an injured area which is impressive by the number,  distribution and diversity, specifically of the injuries (bruises and wounds) on the face and neck of Meredith.

7.  One killer couldn’t inflict 43 wounds with so few defensive wounds.

See the Massei Report quotes above.

8.  There must necessarily have been two knives at the scene of the crime

See the Massei Translation p377.

Even this consideration, therefore, leads one to hold that the biological trace attributable to Amanda and found on the knife handle, could have derived from the use of the knife for the purpose of striking, rather than to cut food; it could have derived, therefore, from the harmful action carried out against Meredith and as a consequence, a biological trace attributable to Meredith remained in the tiny striations present on the face of the blade, in spite of the subsequent cleaning, and which does not appear otherwise explainable as to how, in this regard, it was to be found there (Meredith had never been in Raffaele Sollecito’s house and could never have used this knife). Moreover, the knife Raffaele Sollecito carried with him had a definitely shorter blade as has been seen than the length that would have been necessary for causing the deeper resulting wound, with a depth of 8cm, and therefore, there must necessarily have been two knives at the scene of the crime, first one, and then the other, being used against Meredith.

9.  A lone killer would need one hand/arm or both to restrain Meredith

So how could he use 2 knives?  To use 2 knives a lone killer would have to place 1 knife down, leaving blood-stain[s] wherever it was placed, and then reach for the other knife.

Even wiping the blades on the killer’s clothes, using the one hand, and later scrubbing of the knives would not erase all the blood, as has already been demonstrated.

10.  Two killers could divide attack, one holding Meredith, both holding knives

Meanwhile the other killer used one hand/arm to restrain Meredith, and the other hand to use the various knives. Could a lone killer accomplish all that?

11.  Meredith’s shoes, pants and underwear had been removed

See the Massei Translation p.370

“It is impossible to imagine in what way a single person could have removed the clothes that Meredith was wearing (shoes, pants and underwear), and using the violence revealed by the vaginal swab, could have caused the resulting bruises and wounds recalled above, as well as removing her sweatshirt, pulling up her shirt, forcing the bra hooks before tearing and cutting the bra.”  [Massei Translation p.370]

12.  Meredith’s sweatshirt had been pulled up and removed.

See the [Massei Translation p.370

Furthermore, it is impossible to imagine in what way a single person could have removed the clothes that Meredith was wearing (shoes, pants and underwear), and using the violence revealed by the vaginal swab, could have caused the resulting bruises and wounds recalled above, as well as removing her sweatshirt, pulling up her shirt, forcing the bra hooks before tearing and cutting the bra.

13.  Meredith’s bra had been forcibly unhooked

See the Massei Translation p.370

14.  Meredith’s bra had been torn

See the Massei Translation p.370

15.  Meredith’s bra had been cut

See the Massei Translation p.370

16.  Violence to Meredith was revealed by the genital swab.

See the Massei Translation p.370

17.  In Hellmann appeal RS’s lawyers didnt allege lone killer

They themselves brazenly introduced false testimony to the effect that there were two other killers.

18.  Even Hellmann didn’t deny the complicity of AK and RS

Even H/Z seemed to conclude they are probably guilty, but not beyond a reasonable doubt:

“| in order to return a guilty verdict, it is not sufficient that the probability of the prosecution hypothesis to be greater than that of the defence hypothesis, not even when it is considerably greater, but [rather] it is necessary that every explanation other than the prosecution hypothesis not be plausible at all, according to a criterion of reasonability. In all other cases, the acquittal of the defendant is required.”  [H/Z p.92]

19.  Judge Micheli, in Guede’s trial, found that Guede did not act alone

And that the evidence implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as accomplices of Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

20.  Massei found that the evidence implicated AK and RS

He concluded they were joint perpetrators with Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

4. Obvious Conclusions

Is it really reasonable to claim as Sollecito did in his 2012 book that Guede was a lone killer?

Doesn’t all this contradict the lone-killer theory, beyond a reasonable doubt?


Monday, April 08, 2013

Experienced Trial Lawyer: There’s Far More Evidence Than UK/US Courts Need For Guilt

Posted by SomeAlibi




The false claim “there is no evidence”

Some amateur supporters of Knox and Sollecito have committed thousands of hours online to try and blur and obfuscate the facts of the case in front of the general public.

Their goal is simple: to create an overwhelming meme that there is “no evidence” against the accused, and thereby try to create a groundswell of support. Curt Knox and Edda Mellas and Ted Simon have all made this “no evidence” claim many times.

At least some some of the media have eagerly swallowed it.

The amateur PR flunkies make up myriad alternate versions of what created single points of evidence, often xenophobic scare stories designed to trigger emotional reactions, which they hope will be repeated often enough to become accepted as “the truth”.

And where things get really tricky, another time honored tactic is to go on at great length about irrelevant details, essentially to filibuster, in the hope that general observers will lose patience with trying to work it all out.

But time and again we have shown there is actually a great deal of evidence.

Evidence is the raw stuff of criminal cases. Let me speak here as a lawyer. Do you know how many evidence points are required to prove Guilt? One evidence point if it is definitive.

A definitive evidence point

If you’re new to this case or undecided, what is an easy example of ONE definitive evidence item that might stand alone? Might quickly, simply, and overwhelmingly convince you to invest more time into understanding the real evidence, not that distorted by the PR campaign?

In fact we have quite a choice. See the footprint which was second on that list.

Now see the table above. I recommend the use of this table of measurement to avoid the lengthy back and forward of narrative argument which so lends itself to obscuring the truth. I would like to present you with this single table of measurements to give you pause to question whether this line that there is “no evidence” is really true or whether it might be a crafted deception.

I present here a summarized view of critical evidence which suggests with devastating clarity that Raffaele Sollecito was present the night of the murder of Meredith Kercher. No lengthy text, no alternate versions, just measurements.

This FIRMLY places Sollecito in the very room where Meredith was attacked and killed.

In the small bathroom right next to Meredith’s bedroom was a bathmat. On it was found a bloody naked right footprint of someone walking straight towards the shower in the bathroom. The blood is that of Meredith.

The footprint is not Amanda Knox’s - it is too big - but we can compare it to the prints taken of Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito.

In Judge Massei’s report the multiple measurements were detailed in the narrative over many sentences and, in that form, their immediate cumulative impact is less obvious. It is only by tabulating them, that we are forcefully hit by not one but two clear impressions:

The measurements are extremely highly correlated to the right foot of Raffaele Sollecito in twelve separate individual measurements. In themselves they would be enough for a verdict of guilt in all but a few court cases.

But they also show a manifest LACK of correlation to the right foot of Rudy Guede, the only other male in that cottage on the night. Have a look for yourself.

If you were the prosecution, or indeed the jury, and you saw these measurements of Raffaele’s foot versus the print, what would you think? Answer the question for yourself based on the evidence admitted to court.

Then, if you compare further, exactly how plausible do you find it that the measurements of the bloody imprint are Rudy Guede’s instead?

Not only are some of the individual measurements of Rudy’s imprint as much as 30% too small, but the relative proportions of length and breadth measurements are entirely wrong as well, both undershooting and overshooting by a large margin (70% to 150%).

Conclusions that must follow

Presented with those numbers, would you consider those measurements of Rudy Guede’s right foot to show any credible correlation to those of the footprint on the mat?

Supporters of the two have tried frantically to create smoke screen around this - the wrong technique was used they say (ruled not so by the court) / they are the wrong measurements (all 32 of them? that Raffaele’s are matching exactly or within a millimetre but Rudy’s are out by as much as -30% to +50%...?).

The severity of the impact on the defence is such that there was even a distorted photoshopped version circulated by online supporters of Raffaele and Amanda until they were caught out early on in coverage. But it is hopeless, because these are pure measurement taken against a scale that was presented in court and the data sits before you.

Have a look at the measurements and understand this was evidence presented in court. Whose foot do you think was in that bathroom that night? Rudy Guede? Or was it Raffaele Sollecito on twelve counts of measurement?

And if you find for the latter, you must consider very seriously what that tells you both about the idea there is “no evidence” in this case and who was in the cottage that night…


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA In Meredith’s Room Could Be Definitive Proof Of Guilt For New Appeal Jury

Posted by James Raper





Have you followed our series on the hapless independent DNA consultants Conti and Vecchiotti?  And our series on the hapless appeal judges Hellmann and Zanetti?

And our series on their formidable nemesis, Umbria’s Chief Prosecutor, Dr Galati? Who may very well convince the Supreme Court to throw out all of their work?

This post explains why their work probably deserves to be thrown out as it applies to Sollecito’s DNA in Meredith’s room, which still lacks an alternative non-damning explanation for it being there, and which could see him back serving his term in Capanne or Terni Prison before too long. 

I want to start this analysis with the following verbatim quote taken from John Follain’s Death In Perugia.

“Comodi asked Vecchiotti about the alleged contamination of the bra clasp: “Is it possible for [Raffaele’s] DNA to end up only on the bra clasp?”

“Possible”, Vecchiotti said.

Comodi insisted: “Probable?”

“Probable”, Vecchiotti retorted.

Anyone who has read the Conti-Vecchiotti Report will be amazed by Vecchiotti’s above reply under cross-examination by Prosecutor Comodi. This for the simple reason that the said report did not at all evaluate the “probability” of any contamination of the bra clasp. It merely did not rule out contamination.

The Conti-Vecchiotti report with regard to the bra clasp: “It cannot be ruled out that the results obtained derive from environmental contamination and/or contamination in some phase of the collection and/or handling of the exhibit.”

On any level of understanding, if one can not rule something out then that makes it possible. But it certainly does not make it probable.

Worse was to come, with the conclusion of Hellmann-Zanetti, that contamination was probable. This though was not so surprising in as much as Hellmann-Zanetti had already indicated in their reasoning underlying the need for an independent report that they would accept the independent experts’ conclusions.

Which they did, apparently accepting Vecchiotti’s above statement on oath as definitive and which, as we can see, they appear to subsequently improve on, since the circumstances referred to below were not mentioned in the Conti-Vecchiotti Report.  From Hellmann-Zanetti:

In the opinion of this Court contamination did not occur during the successive phases of treatment of the exhibit in the laboratory of the Scientific Police, but even before it’s collection by the Scientific Police.

Note that (1)  the suggestion is that contamination occurred when there was no video recording (thus permitting free speculation), (2) the word “probably” is omitted here seemingly making it a definite occurrence, and (3) “even before” does not exclude contamination when the Scientific Police were there, but the circumstances described below make it, in the opinion of Hellmann-Zanetti, even more probable, it seems. Again from Hellmann-Zanetti:

..it is certain that between the first search by the scientific police, directly after the discovery of the crime, and the second search by the police, on the 18th December, the house at villa della Pergola was the object of several other searches directed towards seeking other possible elements useful for the investigation, during which the house was turned topsy-turvy, as is clearly documented by the photographs projected by the defence of the accused, but actually made by the Scientific Police. And, understandably these searches were made without the precautions that accompany the investigations of the Scientific Police, in the conviction that at that point the exhibits that needed to undergo scientific analysis had already been collected. In this context it is probable that the DNA hypothetically belonging to Raffaele Sollecito may have been transported by others into the room and precisely onto the bra clasp”¦”¦”¦..the fact that [this] is not an unusual occurrence is proven by studies cited by the expert team and also by the defence consultants”¦”¦..

So Hellmann-Zanetti are talking about the ordinary police investigators being primarily responsible.

As the Vecchiotti quote at the beginning of this post is not put in any context, it is impossible for me to know whether she was referring to the Scientific Police as seen in their videos or whether she was alluding to other recorded searches, say, by the ordinary police, but which were not on video.

What we know of the police searches is as follows. From the Massei trial sentencing report:

While forensic activity was still in progress (Note: it having been going on since the 2nd) “the house was accessed on November 4th 2007 involving, accompanied by staff from the Perugia Police Headquarters, the three occupants and housemates of the victim.

The days of November 6 and 7 were taken up by the search activity of personnel from the police headquarters of Perugia”¦.on November 6” (Note: the day after conclusion of the Scientific Police activity) “no-one entered Meredith’s room other than the three performing the search. On November 7 there was another entry into the house “for the problem of the washing machine, to collect the clothes; but I (Napoleoni) know that they did not go into the other rooms…..

They wore gloves and shoe covers….

Massei also records that Profazio stated that whilst he was aware from Stefanoni that the bra clasp had not been collected, nevertheless he had not seen it on the 6th and 7th.

As we know, the Scientific Police returned to the house on the 18th December specifically for the purpose of collecting the bra clasp (the first thing they did) and using luminol, and in addition to this being on video the defence lawyers were watching the live recording outside. It was observed by the defence lawyers at that stage that the mattress was in the living room and that articles had been moved around (topsy-turvy) in her bedroom.

From the above it might be reasonable to conclude that it was not only the Scientific Police who took the photographs but that it was predominantly they who had already moved items around and taking - it not having been demonstrated to the contrary (because not on video) - such precautions appropriate to their field of expertise (or at least such as may be determined from the videos).

However the point is, of course, what entitles Vecchiotti and Hellmann-Zanetti to talk about probable contamination at all?

Incidentally, pause here to notice that Hellmann-Zanetti give no credence to environmental contamination, in the sense of DNA floating around on specks of dust, by virtue of not mentioning this at all.

It would seem that the notion that a speck of dust, with Sollecito’s DNA attached, floated into the room and landed bang on a tiny hook, somehow adhering to it, is improbable to even them. It is transfer by manipulation (  tertiary transfer, about which more later) - basically that someone must have stepped on or touched the bra clasp or hook - about which they are talking and as a result of which they deem contamination to have probably occurred.

Without that probability -  that is if it remained only a possibility - then the case for direct transfer (directly from the owner of the DNA to an object), rather than tertiary transfer (where the DNA is collected after direct transfer and transferred to another object), would not be undermined as the more probable scenario. This is because, in this context, no-one can rule out possibility, ” possibility” being firmly rooted in the abstract.

What Hellmann-Zanetti think entitles them to talk about the probability of contamination are, and as it transpires only are, the precautions which they say were not followed in collecting and handling the exhibit and for which they suppose the non-scientific police were most likely responsible.

Compliance with these, they say, “guarantees” the reliability of the result. They refer to the Do’s and Do Not’s of successful crime scene management as listed by Conti-Vecchiotti and taken from guidelines from the Louisiana State Crime Police Laboratory, from the U.S Department of Justice, and more relevantly from Evidence Manuals from the New Jersey State Police, Missouri State Highway Patrol and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.


There is a predominance of American references but they do also refer to the Good Practice Manual for Crime Scene Management promoted by ENFSI (European Network of Forensic Science Institutes). From Hellmann-Zanetti -

Regarding above all the identification of a genetic profile in an exhibit, it is important that the entire procedure be followed with complete observance of the rules dictated by the scientific community, which are not, to be sure, juridical rules (it is not a law of the State, as Dr. Stefanoni observed), but which do represent a guarantee of the reliability of the result. And since these rules also contain precautions necessary in order to avoid possible contamination, one can understand that the respect of these precautions cannot simply be assumed, but must be proven by anyone who bases his accusations on this result.

Rules and guidelines are not quite the same thing, still less are there standardised guidelines dictated by the scientific community, but let’s not be pernickety. What compliance with the guidelines does, of course, is reduce the risk (the “possibility” and yes, if there are elements supporting it, “the probability”) of contamination, not guarantee that there is not contamination. As any expert in the field will concede, contamination is always possible.

Conti-Vecchiotti listed, apparently, some 54 examples of breach of the aforesaid guidelines. Significant among these (because we know of them and the most was made of them) are the following listed by Follain in his book Death In Perugia-

1. The team failed to put on new gloves after bagging each sample ( probably, as with 2 below, accounting for the great majority of the examples, and Stefanoni admitted this did not happen every time).

2. Items were handled by more than one person without changing gloves (again, as above, admitted).

3. There was a smudge on one of the fingertips of one of the gloves which touched the clasp, so the glove was dirty.

4. The officer who picked up Meredith’s bra clasp passed it to a colleague before placing it back on the floor and then bagging it.

5. Stefanoni’s gloves were smudged with blood and split over her left index when she picked up a sample ( this need not detain us since it is an irrelevant and highly speculative and prejudicial observation, if not entirely erroneous, based on what can be seen from the video).

6. The officer filming the police video walked in and out of Meredith’s room without changing his shoe covers.

7. No security corridor was created for internal access with anti - contamination criteria between the various environments.

8. The initial position of discovery on the floor of the clasp was not the same after 46 days.

The idea of a security corridor which, given the confines of the cottage, and particularly the access to Meredith’s room, would mean, for instance, placing planks on the floor, is a good one, and obviously not followed in this instance though not actually a specific recommendation (though it can be inferred) in any of the guidelines referred to by Conti-Vecchiotti. It would have reduced the risk of carrying DNA into Meredith’s room on the soles of shoe covers.

The alleged breaches were not, of course, outlined in the Conti-Vecchiotti report. They were only mentioned in oral evidence accompanying the showing of the crime scene video in court.

Hellmann-Zanetti, in their report, mention two specific cases only, 3 and 8 above. In respect of “the smudge” they acknowledge, interestingly, that there is an unresolved issue of interpretation as to whether this is a shadow or prior staining! But why even posit a prior staining when it is obvious that the operative had to finger the fabric of the clasp (which was “dirty”) in order to pick the clasp up and show it to the camera? What was the dirt and what was the meaning of this in the context of a transfer of Sollecito’s DNA to the hook? They neither discuss not evaluate. They simply accept Conti-Vecchiotti’s observations as being pertinent and damning without question.

In contrast to Hellmann-Zanetti Massei does discuss and evaluate the probability and the logistics of contamination, with regard to the bra clasp. In fact he spends quite a bit of time on the subject. But before turning to that, let’s have a brief look at the subject of DNA transfer and then remember what Stefanoni (as quoted by Massei) says on the subject.

Primary transfer might occur between a subject (such as myself) and an object. I touch or sneeze over it. Secondary transfer could occur if the said object was moved and “placed” against yet another object so that my DNA is transferred from the first to the second object. Tertiary transfer could occur if someone touched my DNA on the first object and then touched the second object. There are three steps there but one can imagine scenarios with four or perhaps more such steps but with the inherent limitation that the quantity of DNA being transferred is going to reduce with each such step.

It is obvious that when the prosecution produce DNA evidence they are going to argue primary transfer by the accused and just as equally obvious that the defence are going to try and argue contamination, i.e that the presence of their client’s DNA is the product of secondary or tertiary transfer.

Stefafanoni said that secondary or tertiary does not happen unless (1) the DNA is in a substance which is still fresh and reasonably watery after primary transfer, not dried, and/or (2) there would have to be more than mere touch but friction, or at least pressure, as well. Whilst there could be isolated exceptions in practice this makes a lot of sense to me as a layman but in addition I also note that she was not contradicted, at the trial, by any of the defence experts, nor has she been contradicted by Conti-Vecchiotti in their report.


Returning to Massei.

Sollecito was at the cottage 3 or 4 times prior to the murder though on each occasion with Knox. It is thus possible that he left his DNA somewhere there. There is no evidence that he was ever in Meredith’s room before the murder. Thus, if he was not involved in the murder, one must hypothesize that his DNA from somewhere else in the cottage was transferred into Meredith’s room and onto the bra clasp by someone other than him.

Apart from the clasp there was only one other place where his DNA was to be found, mixed with Knox’s DNA, which was on a cigarette stub in an ashtray sitting on a table in the kitchen. From Massei, my numbering:

(1) Certainly, it can be observed that every single place in the house was not tested, and one might think that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA might have been located in some other places. One can consider the possibility that his DNA from some other place that was not found was transferred onto the bra clasp, but this would have to have been done by someone manipulating the object.

(2) But simple contact between objects does not transfer DNA. Amanda’s and Raffaele’s DNA were both found on the cigarette stub, not just one of them, transferred by the other. It is also important that the bra was the one that Meredith was actually wearing, and the clasp was found under the pillow which was under Meredith”¦”¦. At this point it should also be mentioned that the piece of bra was (then)  found under a small rug in Meredith’s room [which protected it] “¦”¦”¦.

(3) It is also observed that the small rug did not show itself to be a good transmitter of DNA. Underneath it there was a sock, and analysis proved that on this sock there were only DNA traces of Meredith. Also the circumstance by which DNA was found on the (tiny) hooks - so on a more limited and rather less absorbent surface than the material attached to them - tends to exclude that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA could have landed on the hooks, precisely on the hooks, by contamination or by transfer from some other unspecified object.

(4). “¦”¦.any transfer of DNA from the surface of the rug under which the small piece of bra was found would imply that between the two objects there was more than simple contact, touching of each other, but an actual pressure exercised on the rug under which the piece of bra lay. This hypothesis was set aside after Dr. Stefanoni reported “¦”¦.. the deformation of one of the hooks was the same. Vice versa, if some pressure had been exerted on top of it, if in one of the police activities someone had stepped on it—then that deformation would not have remained identical; but the small piece of material and the hooks and eyes had the same form, the exact same type of deformation “¦”¦.. she additionally stated that, having seen the small piece of bra in the early hours of November 3rd rather quickly, the images of it taken on that occasion allowed her a more prolonged and attentive observation, enabling her to declare that the deformation had remained unmodified and unchanged, as did the side on which it was set on the floor.

(5) Objects were moved, necessarily moved, but every object that was in a room, if it was not actually taken away, remained in the same room, without ever moving to another room, or being taken out of the room and then back in. The only parts of the house through which operators from the various places all passed were thus the living room and corridor. One might thus assume that some DNA of Raffaele Sollecito that had been left somewhere in the living room or corridor was moved, and ended up on the hooks. Such a movement of DNA and its subsequent repositioning on the hooks would have had to occur either because one of the technicians walking on the floor on which the DNA was lying hit it with his foot or stepped on it, causing it to end up on the hooks, or because by stepping on them, he impressed onto them the DNA caught underneath the shoe-cover he had on in that moment.

But these possibilities cannot be considered as concretely plausible: to believe that, moving around the house, the DNA could have been kicked or stepped on by one of the technicians, who in that case would have been moving about, and to believe that this DNA, instead of just sticking to the place it had been kicked or stepped on by (probably the shoe, or rather, the shoe-cover), having already been moved once from its original position, would then move again and end up on the hooks, seems like a totally improbable and risky hypothesis.

(6) “¦..and more importantly, none of the operators, after having touched some object which might have had Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on it, then touched the hooks of the small piece of bra so as to make even hypothetically possible a transfer of DNA (from the object containing Sollecito’s DNA to the gloves, from the gloves to the hooks). In fact, none of the operators during the search of November 6th and 7th even took note of that little piece of bra, and thus in particular no one picked it up.” [Note that this observation is a direct contradiction of the unproven suspicion that this had in fact occurred - Massei had, of course, also watched the crime scene videos, seen the relevant clip and heard the argument.]

(7) Movement of objects, in particular of clothing, may have induced the movement of other objects, and this is what the Court considers to have occurred with respect to the piece of bra which was seen on the floor of Meredith’s room on November 2nd-3rd and left there. Deputy Commissioner Napoleoni, referring to the search of November 6th, has declared that she recalled the presence of a bluish rug; one can thus conclude that this rug was looked at during the search and entered into contact with the operators making the search, and like other objects, was moved from its original position, but always remaining on the floor of the room; during this movement it must have covered up the piece of bra (which was on the floor of the same room and yet was not noted during the search), thus determining by its own motion the accompanying motion of the small piece of bra, making it end up where it was then found during the inspection of December 18th: under the rug, together with a sock, in the same room, Meredith’s room, where it had already been seen. So it underwent a change of position that is, thus, irrelevant to the assertion of contamination.

Now, whatever one makes of Massei’s observations, he has at least considered, on a plausible level, the dynamics of secondary and tertiary transfer, generally and in this case - unlike either Hellmann-Zanetti or Conti-Vecchiotti. Furthermore, and in consequence, he concluded that contamination was simply not probable.

We should also recall the following words with regard to second and tertiary transfer, in the quote from Hellmann-Zanetti above”¦”¦”¦”¦”the fact that this is not an unusual occurrence is proven by studies cited by the expert team and also by the defence consultants”¦.”

What studies? Unfortunately Hellmann-Zanetti do not elaborate on these studies, and the proof therein allegedly contained, nor can we see them cited in the Conti-Vecchiotti report!

This leads me to the suspicion that Hellmann-Zanetti are trying to pull the wool over our eyes here. Yes, certainly secondary and tertiary transfer is not an unusual occurrence but the circumstances as to when this is likely, or not, is not discussed, let alone evaluated. It seems to me that this is not unimportant and the omission is surprising.

What Conto-Vecchiotti actually say about the subject in their report is mind-boggingly amateurish, trite and misleading. So much so that one doubts that they are really experts.

The relevant section about contamination (such as it is) in Conti-Vecchiotti is under the heading “Notes On Inspection And Collection Techniques”. Reading this I note, in the second paragraph, being in, it would seem, Conti-Vecchiotti’s own words:

The starting point is always Locard’s Principle according to which two objects which come into contact with each other exchange material in different forms. Equally the same principle scientifically supports the possibility of contamination and alteration [of the scene] on the part of anyone else, investigators included, who comes into contact with the scene.


Far from being just a starting point Locard’s Principle seems to be all that Conti and Vecchiotti know about the transfer of DNA.

For what it is worth Edmond Locard established an early crime lab in 1910 ( being a fan of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories) and wrote many articles as a result. However he never actually wrote any words approximating to “with contact there is an exchange of material” (which is not exactly a law of physics in the same manner as the laws of motion are) nor did he mention anything concerning a principle.

What he did write was “It is impossible for a criminal to act, especially given the intensity of the crime, without leaving traces of his presence.”  Sherlock Holmes would have said the same.

Incidentally it is science that supports a principle, and not the other way around. I would have expected Conti-Vecchiotti to know that.

I have surfed the internet for articles on the subject of tertiary transfer and there does seem to be “a lack of published data on the topic”, to quote one site I found.

Furthermore if they existed one might expect to find that they are referred to by the scientists in the FOA camp, but again I do not see these or that those that are referred to, eg by Halkides, add anything to what has already been discussed above.

Which leaves the “probability” element of contamination undemonstrated. Whatever the opportunities for contamination that there may have been arising from breach of guidelines (contentious in some if not all cases) these remain hypothetical whilst the probability of contamination remains undemonstrated.

But for Hellmann-Zanetti, conveniently, there is no need to demonstrate anything, because of the following:

Now, Prof. Novelli and also the Prosecutor stated that it is not sufficient to assert that the result comes from contamination; it is incumbent on one who asserts contamination to prove its origin.

However, this argument cannot be accepted, insomuch as it ends up by treating the possibility of contamination as an exception to the civil code on the juridical level. Thus, one cannot state: I proved that the genetic profile is yours, now you prove that the DNA was not left on the exhibit by direct contact, but by contamination. No, one can’t operate this way.

In the context of a trial, as is well known, it falls to the PM who represents the prosecution before the court (the terminology is used in Art. 125 of the implementing provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure), to prove the viability of all the elements on which it is based, and thus, when one of these elements is completed by a scientific element represented by the result of an analytic procedure, the task is also to prove that the result was obtained using a procedure which guarantees the purity [genuinità ] of the exhibit from the moment of collection right through the analysis.

“¦”¦.. when there is no proof that these precautions guaranteeing that the result is not the fruit of contamination were respected, it is absolutely not necessary to also prove the specific origin of the contamination.

The use of the word “absolutely” is interesting, as if this was the last word on the matter, and any evaluation is to be declined.

Now I sense the presence of a premise which is already a conclusion. This being that because there are (as Hellmann-Zanetti hold) breaches of guidelines, then the DNA result is unreliable for that reason.

As it happens, this is exactly what Conti-Vecchiotti say. But as it stands this is an unargued proposition. For this to be a valid deduction “for that reason” should be explained by the inclusion of another premise which we can at least accept as true - “A breach entails that the possibility of contamination cannot be excluded”. Then we can formulate a simple deduction, though it would be unsound until we can answer the question “Does the possibility of contamination render the result unreliable?”

A scientist may explain what “unreliable” means to him. But I want to answer the question in juridical terms, and this can be done quite simply.

Any element of evidence in juridical proceedings is weighed only by the probability that it represents the truth. The possibility that it does, or it does not, is simply to be discarded as having no weight either way. Accordingly, for the purpose of the argument, and for any proceedings in court, it cannot be accepted that the possibility of contamination renders the result unreliable. Whether it is unreliable or not has to be looked at in a different way, according to the balance of probabilities.

Getting back to the quote, I would say that both Hellmann-Zanetti and Novelli are right, and they are also both wrong.

Hellmann-Zanetti are of course right in that the burden of proof remains with the prosecution with regard to all elements.

And the way Prof. Novelli puts it is somewhat incorrect, but only because he is a scientist and not a lawyer.

That the burden of proof remains with the prosecution does not alleviate the defence of any burden with regard to an issue such as contamination.

There is also an issue to be discussed as to whether the burden on the prosecution is to demonstrate non-contamination beyond a reasonable doubt or merely that contamination is not probable.

Let’s start with whether there is any burden on the defence.

There is a general principle to which even criminal proceedings are subject. “Onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat.”  My Latin is not great but roughly translated “the onus of proof is on he who says it, not he who denies it.”

Dr Galati, in his Supreme Court Appeal Submissions, puts it this way (more forcibly than I would) -

In other words, if a piece of circumstantial evidence must be certain in itself, and if therefore even scientific proof must be immune to any alternative-explanation hypothesis, this does not alter the fact that this hypothesis ought to be based on reasonable elements and not merely abstract hypothetical ones. And if the refutation of a scientific piece of evidence passes via the affirmation of a circumstance of fact (being the contamination of an exhibit), that circumstance must be specifically proved, not being deducible from generic (and otherwise unshareable) considerations about the operative methodology followed by the Scientific Police, absent demonstration that the methods used would have produced, in the concrete, the assumed contamination.

I do not myself think it is realistic for the defence to have to prove a specific contamination path from point A to point B. That would be unrealistic. But certainly if the issue of contamination is to be raised the defence must go beyond an abstract hypothetical explanation that in the event, as is the case here, is devoid of known origins for the contamination. (Save for the trace on the cigarette stub, so that if that was the source there would be Knox’s DNA mixed in with Sollecito’s on the clasp). Otherwise how is the prosecution to respond? With what level of proof?

Should it be beyond reasonable doubt? How Hellmann-Zanetti would wish! “Beyond reasonable doubt” is the standard to be applied to the prosecution’s case in its entirety, to any attribution of culpability for the crime to the accused. It is not parcelled out to each and every element.

The correct standard to apply to an element such as contamination (as it is for any piece of circumstantial evidence) is “the balance of probability having regard to other elements”. The alleged breaches of crime management guidelines are in themselves only circumstantial, requiring, for any weight to be attached to them, corroborative or supporting elements as to which, as I see it, there are none. So the correct question is: Is contamination probable or not? (This is not to exclude that there may sometimes, somewhat rarely, be circumstances where it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt)

So we are back to probability again. It is a battle (if at all)  of probabilities and we must not confuse what is possible with what is probable, however much our eyes are opened to what is possible.

That it is such, is tacitly acknowledged by Hellmann-Zanetti when they argue that Sollecito’s DNA being on the bra hook but not on the fabric of the clasp is improbable. My response to that would be to say that it is far more probable than that there was contamination of the hook.

The absence of any argument as to probability may have been a thought that popped into Vecchiotti’s head when she retorted “probable” (feeling a bit sick about the answer afterwards I hope). However that she could make that assertion does not fill one with much confidence when considering that she also maintains that there were errors in Stefanoni’s interpretation of the electropherogram result, even whilst accepting that Sollecito”˜s profile was there, not least because his Y chromosome was as well.

Don’t expect Conti and Vecchiotti to be re-invited if there is any replay of the appeal trial.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Considering The Sad And Sensitive But Also Crucial Subject Of Meredith’s Time Of Death

Posted by James Raper





The following is a discourse on the time of death (TOD) arguments in the case.

These have been summarised but not analysed in depth yet on TJMK. A discussion on the pathology is not really everyone’s cup of tea, but the issue was examined in some detail by Massei and to some extent by Hellmann with somewhat differing conclusions reached.

The topic is relevant because Judge Massei used (inter alia) the expert’s findings to corroborate a TOD being after 11pm, more toward 11.30pm, whereas Judge Hellmann argued an earlier TOD as follows: “it is more consistent”¦.to hypothesize that in fact the attack, and hence the death shortly thereafter, occurred much earlier than the time held by the Court of first instance, certainly not later than 10.13 pm”.

In addition to what is covered by the contents of these two Motivation Reports, there is an argument which is presented by the Friends of Amanda, and in particular Chris Halkides who I understand is, or was,  an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina. In fact he presents an argument put forward by Professor Introna (Sollecito’s expert) during the trial.

This argument is to do with the standard time for the stomach to empty from the start of a meal, and relating this to the autopsy findings and in particular that of the pathologist Dr Lalli who found that Meredith’s stomach was 500cc full but that there was no material to be found in the duodenum.  Halkides’ argument is that this demonstrates conclusively that Meredith was attacked shortly after her return to the cottage at 9pm and would have died shortly thereafter. The significance of this, if correct, is apparent in that it opens up, or at least it raises a doubt as to whether there is or not a verifiable alibi for Knox and Sollecito. 

Although Knox does not have an alibi from the time of Meredith’s return home at 9pm, there was human interaction, the last, on Raffaele’s computer at 9.15pm, and one might assume that they were together at that time.  But no verifiable alibi until one takes into account that Curatolo says that he first saw the two on Grimana Square around 9.30pm.

My area is the law, and I have no medical or scientific expertise, so I hesitate to go up against anyone who has, but nevertheless I will endeavour to summarise and rationalise the evidence, arguments and conclusions as presented by Massei, Hellmann and Halkides.

First a word about the digestive system.

Food, already masticated, passes through the esophagus to the stomach, where it is broken down by acids, from where it then passes to the small intestine from whence the body extracts the nutrients it needs.  The duodenum is that part of the small intestine right next to the stomach and it’s function is to dissolve the food “juice” further with enzymes before passing it on to the rest of the small intestine.

Judge Massei

Judge Massei considers the experts’ findings in the following areas to determine a likely time of death.

The first is temperature decrease, “taking the Henssge nomogram into account: rigor mortis; hypostatic marks” etc.

One can note that in fact rigor mortis and the hypostatic marks were not in the least bit helpful due to the 12 hour delay in the pathologist getting to examine the body.

That apart, nevertheless “¦”¦“These led Dr Lalli to conclude that death may have occurred between 21 hours 30 minutes, and 30 hours and 30 minutes, before the first measurement, and thus between approximately 8 pm on November 1st 2007, and 4am on November 2nd”¦.The intermediate value also indicated by the mathematical reconstruction (26 hours prior to the first measurement) puts the time of death at approximately 11 pm.”

Just how one works out TOD on temperature decrease indicators, especially in the absence of a pathological examination earlier than that which took place here, is pretty technical.  I will not attempt to present the data (some of which is missing i.e Meredith’s actual body weight) or explain the mathematical models (so as to calculate body weight and the rate of cooling) (the Henssge nonogram appears to be one such mathematical model in graph form) that the experts used. 

Nearly all the experts, other than Professor Introna, whilst having marginal disagreements about data and formulae, were not in fundamental disagreement about the wide parameters of or even Dr Lalli’s conclusion of a TOD of approximately 11pm.

Professor Introna departed from the other experts to use an “ideal weight” and a specific formula to calculate the ideal weight, to produce a TOD of 8.20pm when of course we know that Meredith was still very much alive. Thus Massei ruled out ideal weight calculations as unreliable and used a median weight based on Dr Lalli’s guesstimates of Meredith’s weight (as used by the other experts) on first examination and at autopsy, though she was not actually weighed at all.

The second area is gastric emptying of the stomach.

It was acknowledged by all the experts that there is something like a standard period between the time that food enters the stomach and it then being processed through into the small intestine.  There was, however, some disagreement as to the parameters, ranging between 2-3 hours and 3-4 hours. One could therefore say 2-4 hours. Remember this.

Most of the experts agreed though that individuals are different, and there are variables leading to wide discrepancies including the type of meal eaten. A number of the experts heard said that the state of digestion was probably the most unreliable indicator as to the TOD.

All agreed that acute stress, psychological as well as physical such as an attack, would inhibit the digestive process.

I will not rehearse Professor Introna’s argument here as this, essentially, is the argument which Chris Halkides deploys, to which I will come in a moment.

It is fairly clear that Massei found the information as to body cooling time more convincing than information as to the state of digestion. However, as I understood it, the Appeal Court was going to be asked to re-evaluate precisely that. Did it?

Judge Hellmann

The Court of Assizes of first instance has acknowledged the difficulty in precisely fixing the time of death based merely on autopsy criteria. Since not all the accurate data is available, the time span within which the death of Meredith Kercher can be placed based on such criteria remains very widely outlined: between 9pm and 9.30pm of November 1st 2007, and the early hours of November 2nd.However, in reconstructing the sequence of events the Court of first instance assessed it was able to fix the time of death based on other elements, in particular the harrowing scream”¦.

The first point to note here is that Hellmann misinterprets the first Court’s findings. He ignores the fact that the first Court did determine a TOD between 11pm and 11.30 pm as probable based on the pathology alone, and gave reasons for this.

None of the expert testimony is rehearsed, let alone re-evaluated by Hellmann.  He proceeds merely to discredit the reliability of the witnesses as to the other elements such as the scream etc.

One recalls that Nara Capezzali says that she heard a scream sometime between 11 and 11.30 pm. That there was a broken down car and the breakdown driver came and went between perhaps 11 and 11.15 pm.

As mentioned earlier his hypothesizing about the other elements leads him to a TOD of not later than 10.13 pm although this time seems a very random one based on what he presents. He talks in this section about Guede’s statement that he arrived at the cottage at 9 pm.

One suspects that if Hellmann could have fixed the time of death at 9.15 pm or 9.30 pm then he would have done so as either time would be a get out of jail free card for Knox and Sollecito.  He did not, but he got them out of jail nevertheless with his hypothesizing - here and elsewhere in his report.

I could just stop here because further discussion on the pathology itself would seem irrelevant as regards the appeal to Cassation, though it could really matter at a second appeal trial.

But here is a comment about Chris Halkides because some do say they find his conclusion convincing.

Chris Halkides

My summary of his argument.

The stomach was full (or at least had 500 cc of contents) and the duodenum had no material in it.  As the duodenum had no material in it then, Halkides deduces, the stomach had not started to release any part of the meal Meredith had consumed at Robyn Butterworths’ into the small intestine at TOD. Death stops the digestive process.

The contents of the stomach observed by Dr Lalli included some of the apple crumble eaten by Meredith and what appeared to be items, in a very advanced state of acidification, thought to be pizza toppings. Meredith and Sophie had eaten pizza at Robyn Butterworths’ home, followed by the apple crumble. In addition there was a small measure of alcohol in the stomach equivalent to a glass of beer.

They had started eating at about 6pm (some accounts e.g John Follain’s have it earlier at 5.30 pm) or maybe 6.30 pm, putting on a DVD to watch a film and finishing at 8 pm or perhaps 8.30 pm. The times here are an indication if anything and are not to be treated as completely accurate.

If it was 6.30 pm that Meredith began to eat then using the standard parameters discussed by Massei we have latest TODs of 9.30 or 10.30 pm for when material from the stomach should have started to enter the duodenum. Not later and certainly not as late as 11 or 11.30 pm.

That is Halkides’ argument in a nutshell. He argues that TOD is actually about 9.30 pm. If so it would have been impossible for Knox and Sollecito who were still at the flat at 9.15 pm and who were seen in the square at 9.30 pm to have committed the murder.

He has referred me to an article in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology about an experiment conducted on volunteers where the mean time (for 95 individuals) for gastric emptying of solids is 127 minutes, give or take, I think, twenty minutes either side.

Using the mean, to be pedantic, this would mean that Meredith died before she got home or at the latest immediately on arrival (6.30 + 2 hours 27 minutes = 8.57 pm.)

That article, incidentally, was published in 2006. It doesn’t seem to date that the results have been peer reviewed and verified and I would have thought that the experts who testified at the trial in 2009 would have been aware of it. So the data set out here may be suspect for a given individual and does not take into account variables excluding age, sex and body mass index which the research found to have no significant correlation.

In any event Halkides is quite happy to have a latest parameter of 3 hours, but no longer. Indeed that would be what brings us to 9.30 pm.

The problem I detect with his argument is twofold.

Firstly there is the uncertainty as to when Meredith began to eat at Robyn’s home (and since it was a two course meal, when she began to eat the apple crumble) and secondly Halkides’ argument is predicated on that two course meal being her last.

If the apple crumble was eaten at 8 or 8.30 pm then (adding on the 2 hours 27 minutes from the above research) it may still have been in her stomach at 10.27 or 10,57 pm, or later indeed (which Halkides has to concede) since the digestive time from the research is only an average.

So with a parameter of 3 hours we might just as well say 11 pm or 11.30 pm.

In addition to variables we could take into account inhibitors such as Meredith suffering acute psychological stress commencing”¦well”¦we cannot be certain when, can we?.

One can play Hellmann’s game and hypothesize to our advantage a number of stress situations on that fateful evening, starting quite early. No one has to accept Massei’s hypothesis of a Meredith on her own and in relaxed mode until about 11pm. Massei’s hypothesis here is in no way crucial.

Furthermore the hypothesis that Meredith actually ate a further snack on her return to the cottage does seem to have some basis in fact in that at the autopsy the pathologist found a mushroom in her esophagus. Mushrooms specifically had not been a topping on the pizzas baked at Robyn’s home. As to the alcohol in her stomach no alcohol had been consumed at Robyn’s home, only water.

It might sound a bit flippant for me to suggest it but it might be the case that Meredith, who was passionate about pizzas, had a beer and grilled a quick meal of pizza toppings from the fridge for herself which Halkides mistakes for evidence of the pizza still in the stomach.

That Meredith might still have been hungry might be because she had not, until eating at Robyn’s, eaten for a considerable time beforehand.

She had been partying all night Halloween and had gone to bed at about 4 am, rising at about midday, and then leaving not so long afterwards to be with her friends. Whether she had anything to eat at the cottage before leaving on the afternoon of the 1st, we simply don’t know.

Knox tells us in her e-mail to Seattle that she and Raffaele cooked and ate there, but she does not mention Meredith having anything to eat, and Meredith left before they did.

For some reason John Follain thinks Meredith did eat then, Paul Russell that she did not. I do not see how either could be sure. If it had been me I might have felt up to a nibble but not much more knowing that in a few hours I would be eating a meal with my friends.

It seems to me that it is quite possible that Robyn’s pizza had passed through the stomach, duodenum, and indeed perhaps most of if not the rest of the small intestine by 11.30 pm and that the apple crumble had not even begun to enter the duodenum.

Let us assume that Meredith actually started her pizza at 5.30 pm (according to Follain) finishing at 5.40 pm. As she was already hungry the stomach acids go to work straight away and the pizza passes at the earliest to the duodenum after two hours, spending a further three and half hours (as per literature) in the small intestine before passing to the rectum . A total of five and a half hours.

Thus the small intestine had disposed of it by 11.10 pm. There would however be an unlikely gap to the consumption of the apple crumble. Yet if the apple crumble was consumed after the DVD (watching the film The Notebook circa 123 minutes) then that would be around 8 pm, entering the duodenum three and a half hours later (possible) at 11.30 pm or at least it would be doing this but for the fact that Meredith was already the subject of a vicious attack inhibiting the digestive process.

I accept that I am not using uniform digestion times in this speculation (indeed I have deployed earliest and latest parameters at will) but nevertheless they are within the parameters accepted by the experts, and even, at a push, by Halkides as well.

The point is that this is a complicated topic and there are many imprecise details that do not allow for certainty but only probablilities, or in some instances, possibilities. This Massei, and to a certain extent Hellmann recognized.

Nobody can be precisely sure and so any other timeline or alibi must stand or fall on their own.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Kercher Family And The Knox Family Go Their Separate Ways As The Tough Questions Mount

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





This report is cross-posted from my personal website where I may add more commentary later.

1) The Kercher Family

The Kercher family had a press conference in Perugia this morning and then headed back to London. And Meredith’s father John Kercher had this reaction to yesterday’s news:

While Amanda Knox’s family wept with joy after seeing their daughter’s murder conviction overturned, the father of the victim was incensed. Speaking from the family’s home in Surrey, England, John Kercher called the judge’s decision to free Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito “ludicrous,” saying last night’s drama had made a “mockery” of the original trial. “I thought the judge might play it safe and uphold the conviction but reduce the sentence,” he said. “But this result is crazy.”

Both Andrea Vogt (The First Post) and Barbie Nadeau (The Daily Beast/Newsweek) sat down with Arline, Stephanie and Lyle for a face-to-face interview. TJMK will post excerpts and links tomorrow.

The Kerchers’ own words are far more eloquent and gracious than anything I could ever produce. Sympathy for them is building, slowly but surely. Lots of discontent online over a verdict that appears incomprehensible to many informed observers, for reasons that Maundy Gregory (post below) has clearly explained.

2) The Knox-Mellas Family

There was a brief press event at the Seattle airport. It can’t really be called a press conference, since no questions were asked in response to several invitations.

First up, David Marriott, who masterminded the PR campaign that set Knox free and has destroyed any hope of closure for the Kerchers for some time to come. He gave the order of appearances and said Knox would not take any questions, “as is her right”.

Then Ted Simon, the Philadelphia lawyer and specialist in extradition, walked up to the podium and shouted rhetorically for a few minutes, signifying nothing. He was followed by the parents, briefly, and then Knox.

It may have lasted ten minutes. I watched it via a live stream. At one point,the reporter apparently did not know he was being live-streamed. He went ON AND ON about needing “crowd cheering” for the 6:30 newscast and how “We got DICK! We may need to dub something in.”

Then “It’s your wife’s birthday, what the hell are you doing here?”

And the feed just went dead…

I don’t know if it was the same guy who interviewed two fellow passengers on the flight. Having little to say, since Knox and Co disappeared right away, leaving the media to make chit chat, he decided to talk a bit about how not everyone thinks Knox is innocent.

The camera panned to a discarded tabloid, the headline of which said something like Foxy Knoxy Now Free to Make Fortune. He opened it, to a two-page spread with a huge headline that said something like Our Meredith is Forgotten.

Oops! Cut to the chopper, quick! Yes, that’s right, a KIRO chopper followed the motorcade as it made its way down the Burien freeway. Did I not mention the police escort. I suppose they all got rock star parking too!

I got a Facebook message today from my niece, a student at the University of Washington. This is a sad day for Seattle, she wrote. In their brief statement, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas asked the media for some privacy and space. But I guess the media, having gotten used to covering the coverage of the family, wasn’t listening.

Because they followed the chopper that followed the police escort that led the family to an undisclosed location that turned out to be Curt’s house and called out to Curt for an interview. Well, he couldn’t say no. They really wanted to talk to Amanda and one had the temerity to ask for her, but he was ignored.

I wonder if the crowd cheers got dubbed into the 6:30 newscast. And I also wonder why the television media wonders why fewer and fewer people believe much of what it has to say.


Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 10/05 at 05:29 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009Comments here (35)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reflecting On Andrea Vogt’s Fine Report “Knox: Innocent Abroad Or “˜Getting Away With Murder’?”

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





Cross posted from my personal blog. Please click the image above for Ms Vogt’s new piece.

In this intelligent and well-written piece, Andrea Vogt wonders aloud how Italians would react to an acquittal of the Seattle woman who was convicted in December 2009 of taking part in the killing of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. She notes that an acquittal would be cause for celebration in Seattle.

It would certainly be cause for celebration among those who have taken up the cause and believe in Knox’s innocence despite the compelling evidence of her involvement in this horrific crime. But the fact is, most people in Seattle are simply not that interested. And among those who are, the consensus is certainly not that an innocent abroad got railroaded.

If it seems so, it’s because the local media has dutifully followed the lead of the national media and adopted the “innocent abroad” narrative concocted by David Marriott, whose PR firm was hired to manage Knox’s image shortly after she was arrested. In Seattle, Meredith’s murder has been played as a human interest story in which only the local protagonists matter. Meredith was British; it is assumed that Seattleites could not possibly give a toss about her.

Hence, local coverage has favored news of fundraisers for the accused local woman and then for the convicted local woman. Questions from local journalists to her supporters (family) have ranged from “How is she holding up in prison?” to “How is she holding up in prison?” And since there is no guilter movement, local or otherwise, except in the minds of a few shrill locals, there has been no local coverage of the movement’s “activities”. How can a non-existent movement have activities?

I have met many people in West Seattle who quietly shake their heads in disbelief at Steve Shay’s coverage for the West Seattle Herald. Yesterday, someone who works at a local business said “you’re skeptical bystander” when she handed me back my credit card. She told me she was a long-time lurker who reads perugiamurderfile.org and TJMK every day for information about the case. There are many people like her in Seattle.

I found it amusing, though sad, to read the comments that follow Andrea Vogt’s thoughtful piece for the First Post. Naturally, loud vocal supporter “Mary H” (this is her online pseudonym, and hiding behind it may be one reason she is so loud on the internet) was quick to condemn Vogt for merely pointing out the obvious. Mary H (fake name) asked Andrea Vogt (real name) how she could sleep at night!

It ain’t that hard, Mary, when you have the courage of your convictions and when you stand by the facts rather than getting sidetracked by the cause.

The fact at hand is that many people—in Seattle, in Italy, and elsewhere—would come away from an eventual acquittal with the feeling that justice had not been done for Meredith Kercher and her family and that at least two of those responsible for her death had gotten away with it. Mary H and others may not like to hear this, but it is a fact. And no amount of shaming on the part of Mary H or anyone else is going to make a bit of difference.

Yesterday, a lawyer friend and I were musing about what would have happened had this case been tried in the US. Many Knox supporters have said, repeatedly, that it would never have gone to trial here. My lawyer friend agreed, but for a different reason than the one implicit in this view (i.e. that there is supposedly no evidence).  He said

I don’t think the case would have gone to trial in the US. First, they would not have had to stop questioning her when they did. They would have artfully gotten her to waive her Miranda rights. They would have told her they can’t help her unless tells her side of the story, been very sympathetic initially and built up her confidence that she could talk her way out of it. They would eventually hone in on the inconsistencies, and when she finally cracked there wouldn’t be a lawyer there to stop her. The death penalty would have been on the table, and her only sure way to avoid that would be to plead guilty in exchange for life.

He also thinks that this would not have been such a high-profile case had it happened in Seattle.

Let’s wait and see how this court weighs the two contested items in the overall scheme of things. As a poster on PMF (another lawyer) wrote last night, it all boils down to this: How many pieces of evidence… ‘consistent with, but not conclusive of’ guilt can stack up against someone before, as a matter of common sense, it is no longer reasonable to believe they are innocent?


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eleventh Appeal Session: Judge Overrules Defense Objections and Stefanoni Will Return to the Stand

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above Dr Stefanoni today with Ms Comodi and the Sollecito defense team minus Giulia Bongiorno]


The session has begun with prominent DNA expert Dr Luciano Garofano again in the audience.

Mentioned in previous posts is that he has spoken out nationally several times recently about his concern about the “CSI effect” where DNA evidence becomes in some trials a make-or-break issue even when other evidence is widespread.

Dr Stefanoni is of course also present with her team and other prosecution DNA witnesses are also prepared. TGCom have reported this as the first item to have been covered.

The President of the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Perugia, in opening the hearing, read a letter from the Director of the Scientific Police, Piero Angeloni, to the Court iin which reference is made to the criticisms of certain experts of the laboratory’s work in the context of scientific investigations into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

In the letter Angeloni emphasized the powers of the science, pointing out that “every year 4,500 investigations” are handled. He described how the laboratories are equipped with quality certification. “The laboratory is equipped with a computerized system for tracking objects” Angeloni said in the letter..The technical equipment is modern and the staff have many years of experience.” 

Angeloni stressed that “never before has asurveys of this nature been advanced, as here, into the work of the national forensic laboratory.” The service had never been subject to criticism before and used state-of-the-art equipment, his letter said.

Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti were first questioned by the Knox defense team. The Sollecito defense team have said that they will have no questions. ADNKronos reports that Carla Vecchioti in response to a question said that there was no DNA of Meredith found remaining on the knife when reexamined. Some starch was found.

Prosecutor Comodi then pressed the two on what is the standard lower limit of DNA traces to be subjected to low-count DNA testing and on this there was apparently not a concrete answer.

The court next moved into closed session. The defenses have objected to the prosecution’s DNA experts being allowed to take the stand. We may not know the outcome until after the break for lunch.

Okay the defense objections are overruled. The lead judge decided that the court will reconvene on September 5 to give Dr Stefanoni plenty of time on the stand. No more witnesses for today. Mr Angeloni’s letter may have had some effect. His labs should only be criticized (for the first time) with proven great care and no bias.

Oddly, the independent review team largely ignored the European state-of-the-art on low count DNA testing which, at strong prosecution request, the judge had instructed them to get on top of. That is a very suspicious goof.

Judge Hellman may not much favor this review in light of that.



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Witness Tampering By Defenses? Investigations Launched After Witness Aviello U-Turns

Posted by Peter Quennell



To whom Aviello now points a finger

1. Witness Aviello’s U-Turn

Sources tell us they believe Vanessa Sollecito and her family are again under investigation, this time possibly with Sollecito’s defense lawyers.

The investigation was said to be sparked by the specific claims of Luciano Aviello yesterday under oath before a magistrate in Capanne Prison that Vanessa Sollecito paid him 30,000 Euros for his testimony on June 18 with Sollecito’s counsel in the loop.

2. Aviello’s Testimony 18 June

We repeat here a summary already posted of what Luciano Aveillo testified to on 18 June by Will Savive:

Another prison inmate Luciano Aviello [42] who has served 17 years in jail after being convicted of being a member of the Naples-based Camorra, testified today that his brother Antonio and his colleague had killed Meredith while attempting to steal a “valuable painting.”

Aviello said that the Albanian (who offered his brother “work” in the form of a robbery) had inadvertently jotted down the wrong address, and they instead went to the house where Kercher and Knox were living, and they were surprised by Meredith’s appearance. According to Aviello, his brother and the Albanian man then committed the murder and fled.

Aviello is from Naples, but was living in Perugia at the time of the murder. He claims that his brother, who is currently on the run, was staying with him in late 2007 and on the night of the murder he returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood.

Flanked by two prison guards, Aviello described how his brother had entered the house Meredith shared with Knox and had been looking for the painting when they were disturbed by a woman “wearing a dressing gown.” So many convicts, which one to believe, if any?

“My brother told me that he had put his hand to her mouth but she had struggled,” Aviello testified. “He said he got the knife and stabbed her before they had run off. He said he had also smashed a window to simulate a break in.”

Aviello said his brother had hidden the knife, along with a set of keys his brother had used to enter the house. “Inside me I know that a miscarriage of justice has taken place,” he asserted. Consequently, Aviello had been in the same jail as Sollecito and had told him: “I believe in your innocence.”

3. New Aviello Claims 26 July

In light of the betrayal by his cellmates, Luciano Aviello now states that all of this above was fiction.

There were no hidden keys, and no knife, and his brother was not living in Perugia at that time.

Here is a translation by our main poster ZiaK of one of the most comprehensive reports of what Aviello now says. We’ve added the emphasis to key passages..

“I lied following agreement with Sollecito’s lawyers in exchange for money”

Aviello claims he received 30 thousand euros in exchange for his testimony

Published 27/7/11

by Francesca Marruco

After having received notice that investigations had been completed by the Perugia prosecutor, the ex supergrass (state’s evidence), Luciano Aviello, requested and was granted a hearing with the Perugia prosecutors.

Last Friday in Capanne prison, the witness who had been brought into the court case by Amanda Knox’s defence team admitted - in a roundabout way - to Dr Manuela Comodi that everything he had declared was false: that it was false and had been agreed with Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyers in order to create confusion in the case.

He denied all the statements he had made in court. Luciano Aviello, who had told the judges of the Assize court that Meredith had been killed by his brother and that he himself had hidden the knife with which she was killed as well as the keys of the via della Pergola house, told the assistant prosecutor, Manuela Comodi - who, together with her collegue Giuliano Mignini, was in charge of the investigations into the death of Meredith Kercher - that he recanted everything he had previously declared.

His brother had nothing to do with it, he had never hidden any knife nor any bunch of keys. And he had never lived in Perugia - as he had stated in court before the judges.

Aviello: “Nothing is true, and it was all by agreement.” As to why he had told this flood of whoppers, he gave his explanation in fits and starts in over 80 pages of court records.

It was from a desire to help someone he had met in jail, and whom he loved - Raffaele Sollecito - by means of his lawyers, some of his family, and one of Amanda Knox’s lawyers, who apparently went to the Alba jail to hear him in order to deflect suspicion from Sollecito’s team.

Aviello heavily accused Sollecito’s lawyers and sister [Vanessa]. He said that it had been Vanessa who had delivered the 30,000 euros to an acquaintance of his in Naples, who was to act as a go-between. The money was to be found in an apartment in Turin which the Perugia police will check.

Aviello declared himself as being willing to appear in court and repeat everything before the appeal judges of the court of Assizes.

His first motives and his current ones:

The reasons for which he had agreed to tell these lies, according to what he told the prosecutor, was that he had been assured that the Perugian prosecutors would not investigate him - contrary to what had in fact happened - and that he was fond of Raffaele Sollecito.

And also because he was to receive in compensation those 30,000 euros which he would use for a sex-change operation, as he himself had declared several times.

But now that he had received notice that the investigations were finished, and since (he claims) he no longer hears from Raffaele any more, because otherwise no-one would believe him [translator’s note: I assume “him” means Raffaele being concerned that if he stays in touch with Aviello no-one would believe hi, Raffaele, any more], he no longer has any reason to continue lying.

Whereas he has plenty of reasons to try and lighten his own position as someone under investigation for calunnia (criminal slander).

Aviello: Raffaele had told me that it was Amanda and that he was also there.

Around the middle of the interrogation, Aviello said - referring to something that Raffaele apparently told him - that “the murderer, in fact, was not him: it was Amanda, during an erotic game”.

Raffaele apparently also declared “I actually know that it’s true that Amanda did it, but I didn’t do it: it wasn’t me that did the murder; I didn’t do it”.

This is what [Aviello] declared between one allegation and another, and he also declared that he was prepared to repeat everything before the judges. Before those very judges to whom, on 18 June last, he had so shamelessly lied.

What has changed? The repercussions which these new declarations - made by a man who has already been convicted 8 times previously for slander [calunnia] - cannot be conjectured.

Or at least, not all of them. The lawyer Giulia Bongiorno has already declared that she will defend her honour in court against anyone who might accuse her of having paid a convict to create confusion in the case.

It is foreseeable that Luca Maori and Carlo Dalla Vedova will take the same stance.

What the Prosecution will do is more difficult to determine. The investigations on Aviello’s slander against his brother may have ended, but how many others may be instigated as a result of these declarations?

In the meantime, everyone will return to court on Saturday to discuss the genetic evidence, which might truly decide the path that this case will take.


4. What Happens Next In Court

This was sworn testimony. Dr Comodi will now file a statement with Judge Hellman. and request that Aviello be brought back to court as a prosecution witness this time for defense cross-examination.

Early announcements might also be expected from the accused Sollecito family, who did meet with Aviello in prison, and from the accused Giulia Bongiorno.

And presumably a beeline is now being made to that apartment in Turin where the 30,000 Euros if it exists might be hidden.

Meanwhile, any search for the knife and keys Aviello had claimed he hid will drop dead.

Added 7 September: see Part

5. Another Investigation Commences

Several sources make us understand that the independent DNA consultants Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti might now be under investigation for possible contact or collaboration with one or several defense DNA experts including Hampikian.

Our main poster Fly By Night already suggested that the geographical location and published views of experts quoted by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti looked pretty fishy.

And the lawyer for the family of Meredith, Francesco Maresca, complained on Monday that a request endorsed by Judge Hellman for those consultants to make sure to use European resources on the state-of-the-art of low-count DNA testing had been ignored.

6. Important Update 7 September

Update: We have posted the sworn Aviello statement on the Wiki.

At the appeal-court session today 7 September Judge Hellman without substantive explanation refused to even allow a court hearing on it, let alone to recall Aviello to alow the defenses to cross-examine him.

This looks like more strong anti-prosecution bias - but it also has the perverse effect of leaving a black cloud over the Sollecito family and defense team.

If the prosecution or defense come to believe that an element of the appeal is not being thoroughly and objectively examined, they are entitled to appeal instantly to the Supreme Court of Cassation for a ruling.

Amanda Knox’s defense already took that route late in 2007, long before she ever went to trial, to request that her statement made without counsel present in the wee hours of November 6 2007 should be put aside. The Supreme Court so ordered.

So the power of upward appeal to Cassation is available to the prosecution if they want ti use it.

Hedging their bets, the prosecution has sent the Aviello statement to the Florence courts (to circumvent Hellman?) where Aviello may now be put on trial for perjury. He could then denounce his brother again, or he could denounce the Sollecitos and their lawyers.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tenth Appeal Court Session: Might Today’s Testimony Give Sollecito More Of An Advantage Than Knox?

Posted by Peter Quennell





As expected the Italian reporting is a lot cooler and more dispassionate than that in English. The prevailing attitude is one of let us wait and see.

There are at least three good reasons for this.

Italians sat through the trial and the talk shows on television in a way that other nationalities didn’t and saw it as a fair and open process where the prosecution did an excellent job and the defenses were often pretty bumbling. And several times in the past two weeks the nationally respected DNA expert Luciano Garofano has cautioned the nation that juries should not over-weight forensic evidence in comparison with all the rest.

Also Mr Maresca was shown on national TV after today’s hearing saying this:

In my opinion, they have not worked in a completely non-partisan way. Next Saturday we will explain to the judges who have not followed the whole discussion [in the 2009 trial] all that was presented in the first trial of experts’ findings.

In their review they have responded to only the requests of the defence and not of the prosecution, and I don’t know if an [impartial] expert should do this. In the expert’s report they have not even referred to a single request from the prosecution.

Still, after her dismal misfires over the testimony of Alessi and Aviello and Rudy Guede, Sollecito lawyer Giulia Bongiorno might tonight have some reason to be a bit pleased. At least until the end of next Saturday when she will have sat through a fierce rebuttal.

Today’s testimony clearly showed that the handling of the bra clasp has its problems - though the prosecution will point out that there is still no scenario for precisely how Sollecito’s DNA was present and pressed so hard into the clasp if he did not do it himself.

Knox’s position seems much more problematic.

She was the only one to have a reason to rearrange the crime scene, she was the one to finger Patrick Lumumba for no obvious reason if she was not guilty, she placed herself at the scene in her several so-called confessions, and her pattern of phone calls remains very incriminating. Those mixed-blood traces in the bathroom and corridor and Filomena’s room are of Knox’s blood mixed with Meredith’s, not Sollecito’s,  and those appear to be her footprints revealed with luminol on the floor.

If the bra clasp evidence is discounted after next saturday, what physical evidence would then tie Sollecito to the house at the time of Meredith’s death?

Pretty well only the footprint on the bathmat which (for reasons we have never understood) the Knox camp has spent years discrediting. And Sollecito cut Knox adrift on 5 November 2007 when he presented an alibi in which he was at the house all night whereas she wasnt. He said at the time Knox had lied.

She was the one seen at the Conad supermarket at a time when she said she was asleep. And her phone was shown at the trial to have been elsewhere on the night Meredith died.

Stefanoni probably has her best shot in rebuttal in maintaining the knife evidence as credible, because at least one defense witness observed her one-time-only testing and saw Meredith’s DNA profile appear in front of his eyes. Her methods were not out of line with low-count DNA practices elsewhere in Europe, and the American comparisons seem suspect and irrelevant.

We still agree with the Supreme Court of Cassation’s finding at Guede’s final appeal that the forensic evidence in Meredith’s room and on her body points overwhelmingly to three assailants having been present.

But the appeal court might just buy the notion that there were actually only two.

Giulia Bongiorno has often gone her own way in defense of Sollecito (for example in calling Alessi and Aviello) and she is nationally respected for presiding over the justice committee in parliament. And the Sollecitos are said to not like the Knoxes and Mellases very much.

So in light of today’s bra clasp evidence she might now be tempted to bet the bank and put Sollecito on the stand. To claim he was not present when Meredith died.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Tenth Appeal Court Session: Italian Reporting So Far Good, First English-Language Reports Misleading

Posted by Peter Quennell





Italian media are reporting flatly and evenly that the court session has begun. Some have asked to use quotes from our posts on the suspect report.

First English language reports are less impressive. Peter Popham of the UK Independent which has been a major propagator of false facts in the past has already posted this:

There has never been any forensic evidence placing Amanda Knox at the scene of Ms Kercher’s murder.

Actually there has been. Plenty. Various mixed-blood traces in the bathroom, corridor and Filomena’s bedroom, and several footprints in blood. All these the defenses generally keep well away from, as there simply seems no innocent way to explain them.. 

More misreporting can be presumed and we will add any additional examples here or in comments below.

Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the victim and her family, made a strong statement before the start of the court session. Here it is from TGCom in part:

The family of Meredith Kercher, the British student murdered in Perugia, is feeling “a lot of concern” about the latest developments in the appeal process. This was conveyed by their lawyer Francesco Maresca.

The new findings are considered “slight, but perhaps still too much, given the wild atmosphere in which they have been advanced, in contrast to the evidence that was seriously and carefully developed and presented by prosecution forensic scientists.”

“As to the objections of the new experts, they are familiar. We know them by heart and they have already been presented… The Kercher family is surprised at the categorical nature of Conti and Vecchiotti’s assessment.”

He added that “there is much other proof that shows the guilt of the two accused parties.”


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Might Come Up In The Final Days Of The Current Appeal

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


There have been nine appeal hearings since last November and there might be a further half a dozen.

Court will meet on July 25 and 31 and August 1. Then will come the August break, and then further hearings and an appeal verdict. At the last hearing on 27 June, Judge Hellman assigned the next three court dates for the DNA report and its rebuttal.

The only other sure thing accepted for discussion is the prosecution’s intention to revisit the mitigating circumstances Massei allowed and argue that they should be disallowed and the sentences of RS and AK increased.

The judges and jury have available to them not only the Massei and Micheli reports but all of the 10,000 plus pages of evidence from both trials plus all the court transcripts.

Our main posters James Raper, a lawyer, and Kermit will be posting a Powerpoint presentation after the DNA court sessions which will explain all of the tough questions that are still lurking in plain sight.

If the appeal court is to overturn the original verdict Judge Hellman would have to convince the Supreme Court of Cassation that Massei, Micheli, Guede’s first appeal judge and the Supreme Court itself that they all got it wrong and that the evidence suggests there was either only one perpetrator or another two.

But the existing evidence including the mixed blood, the mismatched alibis, and the strange pattern of phone calls does not fit either scenario.

Each of the discussion items in the appeal so far seem to have been quasi-disappointments for the defenses, and Giulia Bongiorno seemed to signal that at the June 27 hearing when her frustration over the failure of either Alessi or Aviello to convince became obvious.

Guede on the stand saying that Sollecito and Knox murdered Meredith had to have been a hard blow, and there would be no reason obvious to the court why he would lie.

Our Italian lawyers think the defense on appeal has been misconceived and too hard-line, too zero-sum-game, not very smart.  In the appeal hearings Knox and Sollecito have not had the opportunity to exercise either any innocent charm or any show of repentance, and Knox’s statement on 11 December blaming a whole lot of others could have seemed to the jury rather unpleasant.

Our lawyers don’t see an acquittal in the cards barring some huge surprise, such as Sollecito or Knox getting up on the witness stand and surviving withering cross-examination in convincingly putting across one or other of their alibis.

If they don’t get up on the stand, the judges and jury are meant to not make anything of that. But they surely would wonder why.

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters on 07/19 at 01:09 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+Comments here (19)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti In Perugia Seen Enjoying Their 15 Minutes Of Fame

Posted by Peter Quennell









Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Chief Enforcer Of The Constitution And The Rule Of Law is Wildly Popular Throughout Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell


President Giorgio Napolitano’s popularity rating is at 80% and rising. In sharp contrast, Prime Minister Berlusconi’s is at 30% and falling

Italians invariably take their constitution and their justice system very seriously and they have good reason to be proud of those institutions. Although the President’s daily duties are mostly ceremonial David Willey of the BBC explains his very key powers in those areas.

He is the person who has to appoint a new prime minister every time there is a government crisis. And he is the guarantor of Italy’s constitution, hammered out immediately after World War II by the founding fathers of the republic following two decades of Fascist rule.

He is said to receive dozens of petitions a day and in certain cases he does act to get things done. Significantly, two that he chose to ignore recently concerned the ongoing Sollecito-Knox appeal process.

Of two pretty blatant attempts to bias the Perugia process, one came from Joel Simon of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, and one came from the junior Berlusconi-party MP Rocco Girlanda.

President Giorgio Napolitano simply ignored both of them.

The Italian prime minister also seems to be sitting this one out, as the painstaking process of justice for Meredith rolls on.

 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/12 at 03:52 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009The wider contextsItalian systemComments here (3)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sentiment Runs Deep In Perugia For Meredith But Not At All For Sollecito, Knox, Or Guede

Posted by Peter Quennell


Here are two examples of how the sentiment for Meredith stays alive.

The Perugia lawyer and law professor Francesco Bastianelli often comments online pro-Meredith and pro-prosecution. He first became active in irritation over the Perugia-Seattle twin cities arrangement, reacting to the disparaging comments in the Seattle media about Perugia.

He was pushing for the twin-cities thing to be abolished.

With the comment “that sucks” he linked a couple of days ago to a cynical disparaging post on how the defense lawyers are fattening their lot in life by way of this case. The post is on a Perugia blog called Pulchritudo Est Veritatis Splendor (Latin for “Truth is Beautiful”).

The Pulchritudo post is kindly translated below by our main poster Jools.

inCERTAINTY

I know a few things about the process that is celebrated in my city to shed light on the Kercher murder:

I know what were my impressions in the immediacy of the news;

I know that the President of a parliamentary commission [Bongiorno] should be acting as President of the commission, and not requiring fees up to 5 zeros to attend yet another show-trial, and forcing a whole tribunal to do court hearings on Saturdays and having to pay extra respective fees to judges, clerks and ushers;

I know there’s a convicted man in the final phase (we want to call him a murderer) for “complicity in murder” (but in complicity with whom?);

I know that lawyers in Perugia have been slaughtering each other in order to join the defence team, go on TV, and be the posers in front of the cameras of CNN;

I know that lawyer Bongiorno [beforehand] disclosed the results of the [DNA] experts that had to be secreted;

I know that five relatives of Raffaele Sollecito and two journalists, in adjournment after adjournment of court, thanks to the statute of limitations, will never be held accountable for the [Telenorba] broadcasting of the infamous video of the forensic police;

I know that DNA evidence has become “the only evidence” and “the key proof” only just now that it is in favor of the defendants. But what about other “evidence” that came out during the course of the trial;

I know, in the end, that in case of acquittal the same tribunal will be giving birth to an aberrant sentence with two people acquitted, and acquitted despite their peculiar behavior over a murder that was vociferously committed in the room right next to the room that one of them happens to live in.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/02 at 02:27 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009The wider contextsHellmann 2011+Comments here (11)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

DNA Report Already Dead On Arrival? Francesco Maresca Etc Don’t Think It Is Very Good

Posted by Peter Quennell


The New York Times redeems itself a little with an okay story on the report. It includes this:

The lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, countered that the word of the independent experts would not be the last word, and said he would raise his objections during the last week in July, when the report will be formally discussed during a week of hearings.

He said that the scientific police and the consultants who carried out the original tests had far more experience than the independent experts appointed by the court.

“I was surprised that these experts were so certain, and gave such strong, drastic opinions, given that they don’t have the same number of years of experience under their belt,” Mr. Maresca said.

Our Main Poster lawyer Tom M emailed this.

Maresca makes sense.  The referral was not for the purpose of making a legal judgment about the two pieces of evidence, but to report on the techniques employed and the procedures followed. At the end of the first trial there were X number of DNA expert witness reports; now there are X+1 expert reports and this latest one only muddies the water. 

It does not make the judges’ task easier as far as these two items are concerned.  Unless there is something in their analysis that is considerably more persuasive than what the previous defense experts said, AK and RS really haven’t advanced the ball, it’s just that now they have, I don’t know, say 3 expert reports instead of 2 that criticize the LCN and say it could be contamination.

One thing that needs to be looked at is whether legal standards and scientific standards are at odds.  Italian law places the burden of proof on the party that asserts something.  “Can’t rule out contamination” may be a true scientific statement, but does it supplant legal doctrine?  I don’t think so. 

Also, while scientific protocol call for repeatability, Italian seems to provide where the amount of material to be tested is so small that only one test can be performed, others are notified and invited to attend to observe and to raise objections.  I think the law is within its rights to do this, even though the pure scientist would not.

That of course is what happened. The defense experts were all invited to come witness the one-time-only testing of the knife but failed to show. The knife test would not even be under review if they had showed. No wonder the prosecution sound ticked.

There are also quotes in the New York Times from others who expected more and better than they got. 

Other accusers of Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito said that the DNA was just one piece of evidence in the case that they built against them, based on various testimonies, their lack of an alibi and what prosecutors say is other damaging physical evidence, which has not been reviewed. During one interrogation, Ms. Knox allowed that she was in the house when Ms. Kercher was murdered, an admission she later retracted, saying she had spoken under duress.

“The first jury decided looking at a wide range of evidence, the DNA was only part of it,” said one prosecutor, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. “Everything else still stands.”

And Italian poster Yummi on PMF posted this:

I am reading the report. The report brings in a lot of interesting information about the details of the DNA findings on these two items.

However, I fail to find the conclusions about the bra clasp convincing. In this report, the final issue of contamination is considered in the abstract, as well as criticisms on Stefanoni’s work.

In the abstract means, the conclusion on the probative value is given without an assessment on how likely a contamination might occur on that one specific profile of that contributor, which is Raffaele Sollecito.

The same report infers there was environmental contamination of the bra clasp, on the basis of the presence of a plurality of male contributors (at least two). But fails to give weight to the outstanding difference in the peaks hight/areas (amount of DNA) between these third parties, on one hand, and Sollecito’s DNA on the other: the amount of DNA prsent is very diferent in the two cases.

There is a very big difference in the amount of DNA from these contributors - Sollecito on one side versus others, his contribution really very large compared to others. I don’t know why the report fails to notice this.

The report also criticizes the “interpretation” given by Stefanoni, as said, of the DNA chart on the bra clasp. But, in fact, in the end the report acknowledges that both autosomic and Y haplotype DNA of Sollecito are present on the bra clasp (p.135):

So there is no doubt Sollecito’s DNA was on the bra clasp in large amount.

The same report cites failure of meeting interpretation standards for the bra clasp DNA. But acknowledges that there are no agreed standards for the assessment of stutters and alleles on mixed profile traces.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Token Balance In The Italian System: The Voice In The Court For The Victim

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above: Francesco Maresca with the Lead Appeal Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliol and Ms Comodi]


We have often posted before on the pronounced tilt toward defendants’ rights in the Italian court system.

The Italian criminal justice system is just about the only one in Europe that has not yet adapted to the 2001 directive of the European Court that was asking for equality in criminal trials.

As we can see in this case, the system is extremely pro-defendant.

Police and prosecutors have to jump through a large number of hoops. Judge after judge combs through the evidence. Defendants can get up and talk in court at the nod of a judge without being cross-examined.

Defendants never have to take an oath to tell the truth. Judges in effect have to be part of the jury and to stake their reputation on the outcome of every case, the reasoning of which they must describe in writing.

No-one is conclusively declared guilty until two appeals have been concluded. The second appeal is to the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome, which seems to be sitting on more appeals now than the rest of the western world put together. Just about all prison sentences of under three years are waived. 

And that is just for starters.  One outcome is a prison population proportionally less than 1/4 that of the United States.

Many Italians feel that this fairness or leniency - call it what you will - has gone way too far, and Prime Minister Berlusconi’s attempts to press the fairness or leniency even further are wildly unpopular.

We posted recently on the tireless Italian campaigner for a stronger assertion of victim’s rights Barbara Benedettelli and she has a new book out on various cases. She has also sent us some background material on the generic issue which we intend to build into a post.

Against this tsunami of systemic pro-defendant bias in Meredith’s case, we really only have the fortitude of the police and the prosecutors involved, and the systemic presence of the lawyer representing the interests of the victim and her family: Mr Francesco Maresca, who practices law in Florence.

Although his English is said to be hesitant - which means the English media don’t usually track him down for any soundbites - he seems to us to be tirelessly aggressive in the court in standing up to the many impromptu interventions of the three perps and the fireworks of their six-plus lawyers.

Here is an interview with Mr Maresca in yesterday’s Umbria Left which was kindly translated by our poster Tiziano.

The lawyer for the Kercher family: Alessi and Avielli contradicted.

“Guede confirms the presence of the accused in the house of the crime. We have heard witnesses who contradicted Mario Alessi and Luciano Aviello.” Thus said lawyer Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the family of Meredith Kercher, at the end of the hearing of the appeal trial of Raffaele Sollecitoand Amanda Knox.

“Witnesses which,” he added “we could have however done without, heard only because it was necessary from a procedural point of view.” Lawyer Maresca claimed, “Regarding Rudy Guede, this person confirmed what he wrote in the letter to his defence lawyers. And to the specific question whether it was an opinion of his, he replied ‘no, it’s what I experienced that night’.

“In my opinion Guede once again confirmed the presence of all three accused at the site of the murder that night. It seems to me the truth of a co-accused already found guilty. To me it appeared absolutely clear,” Maresca concluded.

Another one landed for Meredith by her lone ranger in the court.



Monday, June 27, 2011

Seen In The Court Today: The Appellants, Main Witness, Prosecutor, Defense Counsel

Posted by Peter Quennell








Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/27 at 06:55 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+Comments here (3)

30-Plus Minute Video By Perugia’s Umbria24 TV Of Rudy Guede In The Courtroom

Posted by Peter Quennell

All in Italian. This is a video of the press TV feed in the press room which is allowed.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/27 at 06:00 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedTrials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+Comments here (4)

The BBC Reports Rudy Guede For The First Time Accuses Knox And Sollecito Face To Face

Posted by Peter Quennell


See at bottom for the BBC report. It refers to Guede’s letter of March 2010 in the post directly below this one.

Guede was in the witness stand as his letter was read to the court on Monday. “This splendid, marvelous girl was killed by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” the letter said.

This also for the first time on Guede’s side (but not on Knox’s or Sollecito’s side) crosses a public boundary between the three of them which the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria described starting here.

The Supreme Court has in effect already given Rudy Guede’s credibility an edge. Also this in the report in the Seattle PI report by Andrea Vogt.

As if the appeal wasn’t bizarre enough, two convicts were called by the prosecution as counter witnesses Monday to contradict several inmates called by the defense earlier this month. They maintained they had overheard in prison conversations about a plot among other inmates to testify in exchange for money and benefits, such as reduced prison time.

The person they heard was arranging things, they said, was Sollecito’s attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, who heads up Italy’s parliamentary justice committee. She forcefully denied the corruption accusations in the break afterwards and vowed to file charges and take legal action against her accusers.

One claim by the inmates was that she offered a sex change operation to Luciano Aviello. It would be helpful if some of this if it exists emerged on tape. What possible reason would they have to lie?

****************

Here is the full BBC report in case it scrolls from their website.

Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend did kill Meredith Kercher, a man who was also convicted of the 21-year-old’s murder has told an appeal court.

After Rudy Guede confirmed he believed the US student killed her British housemate, Knox jumped to her feet saying she was “shocked and anguished”.

The hearing in Perugia is the first time that all three defendants have given evidence on the same day.

Knox, 23, and Raffaele Sollecito, 26, are appealing their convictions.
Child killer

Miss Kercher, of Coulsdon, Surrey, was found with her throat cut at her Perugia flat after what prosecutors claimed was a sex game taken to the extreme.

Knox is serving a 26-year sentence for Miss Kercher’s murder while her Italian co-defendant and ex-boyfriend, Sollecito, was sentenced to 25 years.
Image caption Guede admits being in the house at the time of the Miss Kercher’s murder but denies any involvement

Guede told the court that claims by a fellow prison inmate that he thought Knox and Sollecito were innocent were not true. He said he never made that claim to the inmate.

On 18 June, convicted child killer Mario Alessi told the appeal Guede had confided that Knox and Sollecito were innocent.

According to Alessi, Guede said he and a friend went to the house Miss Kercher shared with Knox with the intent of having sex with Miss Kercher and that when she refused, the scene turned violent and his unnamed accomplice slit her throat.

Drug-dealer Guede was jailed for 30 years for the sexual assault and murder of Miss Kercher after a separate fast-track trial. His sentence was reduced to 16 years on appeal.

Guede was in the witness stand as a letter he had written in response to Alessi’s claims was read to the court on Monday.

“This splendid, marvellous girl was killed by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” the letter said.

Guede has previously admitted being in the house at the time of the murder, but denies involvement in Miss Kercher’s death.

After cross-examination by the defence, Guede said he had always believed Sollecito and Knox were behind the murder.

“I’ve always said who was there in that house on that cursed night,” he told the court.

Knox stood up after Guede’s evidence and denied his claims.

“The only time that Rudy Guede, Raffaele and I were in the same space has been in court. I’m shocked and anguished.

“He knows we weren’t there and have nothing to do with it,” she said.

Sollecito said Guede was always talking “about a shadow that could be me and a voice that could be Amanda’s… we’ve been fighting shadows for four years. Our lives have been destroyed in a subtle and absurd way.”

Speaking before Monday’s hearing, Knox’s mother Edda Mellas told reporters she hoped that Guede would have the “integrity to stand up and tell the truth”.

She said her daughter was “always very anxious and nervous but I think she’s glad things are moving along. She feels things are going well,” but that it is, “hard to get too hopeful, especially after the first trial.”

Two other witnesses were called to counter claims made by another defence witness, a member of the Mafia named Luciano Aviello, who had told the court earlier this month that his brother - who is on the run - had killed Miss Kercher during a botched burglary.

The two witnesses - two inmates at the same prison as Aviello - testified that Aviello had said he had been contacted by Sollecito’s defence team to stir up confusion in the trial in exchange for money.

Witness Alexander Ilicet said Aviello had wanted the money for a sex-change operation.


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