Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is the Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Defamatory? Stefanoni Believes So and May Sue

Posted by Peter Quennell

This looks like really bad news for Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito. The last straw.

TJMK main poster Fly By Night already described in great detail how suspect and heavily biased is the Conti-Vecchiotti report.

He predicted fireworks by the Scientific Police and prosecution expert witnesses who were seriously and without proper bases impugned. He predicted the fireworks would start tomorrow in court. 

But already the fireworks have begun. The Guardian’s Tom Kington (who himself has often seemed to show a pro-Knox bias) reports quoting the UK’s Sunday paper The Observer: 

A prominent forensic scientist, whose DNA evidence helped to convict the US student and her former boyfriend, has vowed to overturn the findings of an independent report that says much of her work in the case was unreliable.

Written by two independent experts from Rome’s Sapienza University, the 145-page DNA review rubbishes the work of Patrizia Stefanoni, the police forensic scientist who found Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA on a kitchen knife at Sollecito’s house and identified DNA belonging to Sollecito on a torn bra clasp found beside Kercher’s semi-naked body.

The report claims Stefanoni ignored international DNA protocols, made basic errors and gave evidence in court that was not backed up by her laboratory work, rendering the knife and bra strap worthless as evidence. But Stefanoni has vowed to fight back during three hearings devoted to the DNA reviews.

“I am angry about the false statements in this report and ready to come to court to highlight the past record of these experts,” she told the Observer. “I am also looking into taking legal action against them. What international DNA protocols are they talking about? The Italian police is a member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI), while they are not.”...

After discovering there was no DNA left to check on the knife or the bra clasp, the experts retraced the steps taken by Stefanoni, concluding that the DNA trace of Kercher on the blade was so weak it could not be reliably matched ““ or was at best the result of contamination ““ and quoted Stefanoni admitting in court she should have double-tested her result to be more convincing.

Stefanoni claimed she had no need to repeat tests since the experts for the defence were on hand to witness her work. “And it was good enough to show it was Kercher’s DNA,” she said. “A small amount, but good quality.”...

The experts quote numerous US police and FBI experts on the risk of low DNA results and poor evidence handling, prompting one Italian police source to claim they were being fed information by Knox’s defence team. (Emphasis added.)

More attempted manipulation behind the scenes that now turns out to be heavy-handed overreach? Good luck to Judge Hellman tomorrow. He appointed the two “independent experts.” And he already almost lost control of his court once.

He will already be getting anxious to protect his good name before the Supreme Court. Unlikely now to buck any trends.


I said a long time ago that something would enter this case that would seem to threaten the prosecution, but would have the opposite effect and bolster it unexpectedly. Maybe the arrival of Vech/Conti on the scene denouncing Stefanoni’s science is it.

I’m not a prophet, but this is a long held wish.

Posted by Hopeful on 07/24/11 at 05:31 PM | #

Hopeful - me too!

Posted by Cardiol MD on 07/24/11 at 06:07 PM | #

Further trouble for Carla Vecchiotti ( ?

Posted by ncountryside on 07/24/11 at 07:26 PM | #

Here is the Google translation of the relevant paragraph from Wikipedia:

The prosecutor’s office in Rome said the exhumation of the corpse, which occurred November 14, 2005 in the presence of Italian investigators. A femur was taken to analyze the DNA in Rome. In the coffin, the corpse was still flanked by the syringe that had caused the overdose in September 1994. November 26, 2005 The DNA analysis confirmed the identity of Gyra. [11]
But as reported in 2006 in the book “Three good guys” by Federica Sciarelli, the DNA analysis was performed Gyra “by biased person.” The fact was conducted in the laboratories of the Institute of Legal Medicine University La Sapienza, directed by Prof. Arbarello, Dr. Carla Vecchiotti [12], a geneticist who would, according to reports, former pupil and the pupil of Professor . ssa Matilda Angelini Rota (coroner responsible for the rape of the surgery of the Institute of Legal Medicine of the University [13]), from the maternal side of the same aunt Andrea Ghira fugitive [14].

So will have to declare Donatella Colasanti, before his death: “Andrea Ghira is alive and in Rome, those buried in Melilla are the remains of a relative, so the DNA is the same” [15]. Similarly it is also expressed Letizia’s sister, Rosaria Lopez [16].

Posted by The Machine on 07/24/11 at 07:57 PM | #

Sorry, really difficult to find something English, so here is a brief summary:

Circeo (Rome) massacre: September 29, 1975.
Victims: Rosaria Lopez, Donatella Colasanti; tortured and Rosaria killed.
Criminals (good boys, wealthy families): Andra Ghira, Angelo Izzo, Giovanni Guido.
Andrea Ghira: died (?) in Melilla, Spain on September 9, 1994. His body was exhumed in Spain on November 11, 2005 and his dna tested in Italy on November 26.
Italian expert: Carla Vecchiotti, University of Rome “La Sapienza”
Relationships: Andrea Ghira: nephew, director professor Matilde Angelini Rota: aunt, Carla Vecchiotti: prof. Rota’s pupil.
Donatella Colasanti, the survivor (died of cancer on December 30, 2005), and family Lopez, expressed doubts about the impartiality of the expert.
Some pictures with comments in English are found here (warning: crude pictures)

Posted by ncountryside on 07/24/11 at 08:48 PM | #

Thank you Peter.

This is an excellent sign!  And you’re right of course, if Stefanoni delivers, as she certainly looks ready to do, a rigorous and indisputable defence of her methods, Judge Hellman will be in a very difficult position indeed, considering that evidence gathered in exactly this same way is considered perfectly acceptable to Italy’s Supreme Court, which is effectively his boss,  and are of course the next and final stop of this macabre travelling circus.

Posted by Spencer on 07/24/11 at 10:54 PM | #

Hi ncountryside,

According to Andrea Vogt, Carla Vecchiotti is no stranger to controversial cases:

“Geneticist Carla Vecchioti and her colleague Stefano Conti are professors of forensic medicine. Vecchioti is a theorist and no stranger to controversial cases. She has worked on the Stefano Cucchiti (Cucchi was allegedly beaten to death in jail by police) and also served as an expert witness for Sabrina Misseri, accused of murdering her 16-year-old cousin in Avetrano.”

Posted by The Machine on 07/24/11 at 11:31 PM | #

It has been stated elsewhere that Giulia Bongiorno hates to lose. (What lawyer does?) However if it can be proven that she and the Amandii bunch tried to influence the Conti-Vecchiotti review in any way then that will be just another nail in the coffin. Also considering the American DNA books they used as reference it all looks highly suspicious.
let’s hope

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 07/25/11 at 12:08 AM | #

I assume it is. Strangely, a sudden trend proclaiming Amanda´s impending release from prison has begun. Even Barbie Nadeau seems to have joined in ( still if you can read between the lines she doesn´t sound entirely convinced).

Even if Conti-Vecchiotti succeeds in disproving the double DNA-knife/bra clasp, enough circumstantial evidence tying both Knox and Sollecito to the crime will remain.
On another note isn´t it strange that Amanda Knox dresses like a little girl? What with the butterfly earrings and childish skirt? She is 24 years old , for heavens´ sake. I am 24 myself and I would never dress like that.

Posted by aethelred23 on 07/25/11 at 02:00 AM | #

I feel like we are holding a vigil for Meredith Kercher as we await the Monday hearing.  My hope is that the judges will keep Meredith in their hearts as they listen to the scientific testimony.  The slipshod nature of the “expert” report seems to leave it vulnerable to being discredited by Stephanoni and others.  If the Conti-Vecchiotti report has lit a fire under Sephanoni, the defense had better watch out! Stephanoni will be a powerful witness given her
years in the trenches as a police forensic scientist. The fact that eight judges in the first case voted unanimously to convict Knox and Sollecito must be a heavy weight on the current judges’ minds.  Even though the appeal is said to be a fresh look at the entire case, the burden is surely on the defense. Furthermore, as Peter has pointed out, the Supreme Court has already upheld Guede’s conviction and in doing so has been through all of the evidence.  I’m with Peter in pulling for Judge Hellman. May he see his role as a seeker of justice not easily swayed by theoretical arguments.

Posted by Sailor on 07/25/11 at 07:21 AM | #

I would hope that open conflict can be avoided here. Dr. Stephanoni may be oversensitive to the Conti-Vecchiotti report which has been described somewhere in the press as “rubbishing” her finds about the knife.

And here I would question the press on this. Rubbishing?  That’s very strong.
One sees a possible rivalry between Stephanoni & Carla Vecchiotti, two acknowledged experts but very differently placed. Rather, the distance between them should be (as tactfully as possible) overcome.

Stephanoni never said, initially, that the results could be re-tested & claimed only that a distinct result was obtained on a very small trace. And Conti-Vecchiotti did not find her work simply valueless (by other reports.)

That results concerning the knife have been questioned, without touching the forensics of blood evidence elsewhere, is not terribly damaging.
Let the Court, I say, take note of the reasonable doubt concerning the knife while not rejecting it within the context of other physical evidence. It belongs, as evidence, to the distinctness of the verdict.

Come September the verdict will once again re-affirm the original verdict & pass on the the Supreme Court, where Amanda’s sentence will be set in stone.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 07/25/11 at 10:42 AM | #

Thank you Peter for this uplifting report. To me it sounds like Ms Stefanoni feels that she has become somehow a scapegoat and a target. She seems poised to protect her area of responsibility in the case. And I say you go Patrizia! When one who has the high ground has their reputation threatened it usually is enough motivation to anger and defend. In this case she just happens to be the latest sacrificial lamb that the defence is trying to smear. But look out the defence may find out she is no lamb. AK and RS I would advise you to get comfortable where you are.

Posted by friar fudd on 07/25/11 at 12:47 PM | #

Well done AugustQuinn; another engrossing and insightful depiction of Amanda’s true character and facade.  Even evoked some sympathy for Raffaele in me; easy and willing prey as you say.  Still hard to comprehend that he fell so totally under her spell and influence in only a week.  I speak as a female of course, but to me she was of only average looks and appeal.  Watched Amanda’s lengthy speech to the appeals court again recently where she reiterates her ‘victim’ status and appeals so emotionally for the ‘truth’ to come out.  Her voice quivered and faltered and part of me even began to have some sympathy for her. Without proper knowledge of the facts, one could see how some people could be easily charmed and swayed.  As you say, a true sociopath.

Posted by Lola on 08/11/11 at 01:48 AM | #

Make a comment


Where next:

Click here to return to The Top Of The Front Page

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

Or to previous entry Norwegian Public Safety Forces Ill-Equipped To Stop Possible Worst Shooting Spree in History