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Friday, April 19, 2013
Tips for The Media #4: In Fact Guede Absolutely Couldnt Have Attacked Meredith Alone
Posted by Cardiol
[Bongiorno in 2011 trying to rattle an unshakable Guede claiming Knox and Sollecito did the crime]
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.
The Knox and Sollecito defenses failed miserably to prove he climbed in Filomena’s window, and they never even TRIED to paint him as the 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 got so nervous in claiming Guede told him Guede did it with two others that he was physically sick and had to take time off from the stand.
Aviello claimed his brother and another did it (not Guede) but 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 non-exhaustive list of 20 reasons why Rudy Guede did not act alone, and why not one scrap of evidence has ever been found for any other two other than Knox and Sollecito themselves.
1. Included in Guede’s Supreme Court’s Sentencing Report was the fact that Meredith sustained 43 wounds
This fact was omitted from the Hellmann & Zanetti [H/Z] Report, for reasons that readers can only guess. This fact was also omitted from the Massei Report, probably out of humane respect for the feelings of Meredith’s family.
Its inclusion in the Supreme Court’s Report reflects the report’s factual completeness. The PMF translation reads, in relevant part:
c) 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….
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 classes in dance and played sports (football, karate)
See the Massei Translation, p23
3. Meredith was a strong girl, both physically and in terms of temperament
See the statements by her mother and by her sister Stephanie (hearing of June 6, 2009). and description of her karate “sustained by her strong character” (Massei Translation, pp23, 164, 366, and 369).
4. Meredith must have been ‘strongly restrained’
See the Massei Translation, p371; p399, in the original
5. Meredith she remained virtually motionless throughout the attack
That was in spite of Meredith’s physical and personality characteristics [Massei Translation p369] [Massei Translation p370-371].
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.
7. One killer alone could not have inflicted the 43 wounds with so few defensive wounds.
8. There must necessarily have been two knives at the scene of the crime
See the Massei Translation p377.
9. A lone killer would have to use at least one hand/arm to restrain Meredith, and the other hand to hold one knife.
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 their attacks by one killer using both hands/arms to restrain Meredith
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. The clothes that Meredith was wearing (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
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 the H/Z Appellate Proceedings, not only did Sollecito’s Lawyers not allege a lone killer
They themselves brazenly introduced false testimony to the effect that there were two other killers.
18. Even H/Z did not deny the complicity of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
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. Judge Massei’s court found that the evidence implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
He concluded they were joint perpetrators with Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher
Overwhelming, right? Is it really reasonable to claim as Sollecito did in his book that Guede was a lone-killer? Doesn’t all this contradict the lone-killer theory beyond a reasonable doubt?
Archived in Officially involved, Rudy Guede, Supreme Court, Diversion efforts, Knox-Mellases, Sollecitos, Carpetbaggers, Public evidence, The timelines, DNA and luminol, Witness Aviello, Witness Alessi, The trials, Guede trial, The appeals, Guede appeals
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Monday, April 08, 2013
Tips For The Media #3: In Fact There’s Far More Evidence Than UK/US 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…
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, Diversion efforts, Knox-Mellases, Sollecitos, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Other physical, The trials, The Massei Report
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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
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 contact transfer, secondary transfer, solid object to solid object about which they talk and as a result of which they deem contamination to have probably occurred.
Without that probability - that is if it was only a possibility - then the case for direct transfer (directly from the owner of the DNA to an object), rather than secondary transfer (where the DNA is collected after direct transfer and transferred to another object), would not be undermined. 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 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 -
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 (but if so, was it derived from the clasp itself?).
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 these are highly speculative and prejudicial observations 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 issue of interpretation as to whether this is a shadow or prior staining. That is the extent of their evaluation as otherwise they simply accept Conti-Vecchiotti’s observations 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 remember what Stefanoni (as quoted by Massei) says on the subject of secondary transfer.
She said that it does not happen unless (1) the DNA is in a substance which is still fresh and reasonably watery, 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 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 or something else.
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 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 secondary 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….”
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 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. Or rather not surprising, as it turned out.
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 this presence.” Sherlock Holmes would have said the same.
DNA as a forensic tool was introduced many decades later.
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 secondary 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 become an argument “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.
Anyway, 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.
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Public evidence, RS + AK alibis, DNA and luminol, The trials, The Massei Report, The appeals, Hellmann Report
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Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Considering The Sad And Sensitive But Also Crucial Subject Of Meredith’s Time Of Death
Posted by James Raper
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 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?
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.
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.
Archived in Officially involved, Police and CSI, Public evidence, The timelines, The trials, Prosecution's case
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Monday, April 30, 2012
Does ANY Competent Lawyer Actually Believe RS And AK Are 100% Innocent? If So, Then PROVE It
Posted by James Raper
After 3 days and growing, unfortunately no sign that pro-innocence lawyers (if any) want to respond. Mr Simon? Mr Barnett? Ms Nancy Grace? (Well perhaps not you)
The Italian, US and UK lawyers who guide TJMK (of which I am one) look around and wonder: why are genuinely-convinced pro-Knox lawyers (if any) still not comprehensively answering all the open questions?
I contrast this with the various media talking heads who have offered drive-by comments without a really deep understanding of the facts of the case or Italian law.
In the law of all three countries, defense lawyers don’t need to KNOW either way whether their client is guilty or innocent. They don’t have to come out with a complete scenario to account for all the facts and point to innocence that would be the counterpart to my scenario (powerpoints - wait a few seconds to load) seemingly accounting for all the facts, which is still an unchallenged case for guilt.
But a comprehensive rebuttal would do the hard-pressed Sollecito and Knox factions a big favor, and provide a much-needed framework for the media (which is posting many incorrect legal claims), and make the Cassation appeal and the book-writing by Knox and Sollecito so much easier.
Consider the ups-and-downs of the defense legal teams on the case,
It was clear in 2008 that her lawyers absolutely didnt like Knox speaking out, offering different versions that between them made her look distinctly guilty. They didnt like the anti-Mignini campaign run from Seattle and they publicly said so - when Mr Mignini was attacked by a main speaker at an event at Salty’s they actually spoke up and publicly defended him.
In December 2008 NBC TV aired an excellent Dateline report. The main legal talking head, Ted Simon, explained that this was a really tough prosecution case to beat, and that whacking down individual points of evidence would not win the case in the public eye (justice would not be seen to be done) and that only a complete alternative explanation of the crime would do.
At trial in 2009 the defense teams did what they could with a torrent of facts and two unpredictable clients. The cross-examination of Amanda Knox on the stand mid-year in the context of Patrick Lumumba’s alleged framing must have seemed a real low-point for them, as she came across as rather flippant and chilling, and she said a number of things that all defense lawyers would probably prefer that she hadn’t.
Through the publication of Judge Massei’s report the defenses seem to have been faced with an uphill battle.
In 2011 an experienced criminal-case judge was initially appointed to preside over the first appeal. But quite suddenly, to the surprise of many in Italy and the alleged unhappiness of the judge himself, he was removed from the case, and Judge Hellman was appointed in his place.
Defence counsel would of course have had no role in that surprise change of lead judges for the first appeal, but from Day One of the appeal (spaced out to one session a week by Judge Hellman to suit one of them) the defenses seemed much happier.
The prosecution were now on occasion publicly hinting that they were now stuck with the uphill battle. The defenses now seemed the side energized and confident. But please note these three things which suggest that they knew they were not all-powerful.
- 1) They appealed on very narrow grounds, essentially on some witness testimony and a small part of the forensic evidence, and they kept well away from the multiple alibis, mobile phones and computers, and forensic evidence in the hallway, bathroom, and Filomena’s room.
2) They never argued that Rudy Guede was the lone-wolf killer in the case (the surprise preference in his report of Judge Hellman) and even put their own witnesses Alessi and Aviello on the stand to in effect try to prove otherwise.
3) Knox legal advisor Ted Simon was reduced to arguing on TV that there was no evidence of Knox and Sollecito IN the bedroom, while never accounting for the mishmash of alibis or all the mixed-blood and footprint evidence just outside the door.
As Dr Galati’s appeal and public opinion in the three countries are showing, the defences may have mostly won the second battle, with Judge Hellman’s interim verdict and sentence (Knox was still sentenced to three years), but they seem to be falling far short of winning the war for the two clients.
Now the defences again face an uphill battle.
So here we go. An opportunity for any good pro-innocence lawyer to help to win the war for Knox and Sollecito. Forget the forensics for now. I offer these several dozen questions for you and/or Amanda Knox which, truthfully answered, might put many concerns to bed.
I will be happy to post here any real attempt at answering all of these questions by any qualified lawyer who is thoroughly on top of the case - or of course any attempt by Amanda Knox herself.
1. Why did you not mention the 16 second 12.07 phonecall to Meredith’s English phone on the 2nd November in your e-mail? When explaining why you made this call, please also explain why it was to the English phone rather than Meredith’s Italian phone which you knew Meredith used for local calls?
2. Why did you not mention this call when you phoned Filomena immediately afterwards?
3. Why did you make so little effort to contact Meredith again after being told by Filomena to do so. Remember the logged 3 and 4 second phone calls?
4. Why did you tell Filomena that you had already phoned the police when neither you, nor Raffaele, had.
5. Can you and will you explain the contradiction between your panic at the cottage (as described in the e-mail) and the testimony of all the witnesses who subsequently arrived that you appeared calm, detached and initially unconcerned as to your friend’s whereabouts or safety?
6. Why did you tell the postal police that Meredith often locked her bedroom door, even when it came to taking a shower, when this was simply not true, as Filomena testified?
7. Can you and will you explain why you did not try either of Meredith’s phones at the cottage if you were indeed in such a panic about Meredith’s locked door?
8. Can you and will you explain how you knew that Meredith’s throat had been cut when you were not, according to the witnesses’s testimony, a witness to the scene in Meredith’s bedroom after the door had been kicked in and, with the exception of probably a postal police officer or the ambulance crew, no one had looked underneath the duvet covering the body when you were there?
9. What made you think that the body was in the cupboard (wardrobe) when it was in fact to the side of the wardrobe? Were you being flippant, stupid, or what, when you said that? Do you think it just a remarkable coincidence that the remark bears close comparison to the crime scene investigators conclusions, based on the blood at the scene, that Meredith had been shoved, on all fours, and head first, at the door of the wardrobe? She was then turned over on the floor and moved again. How did you know that there was any position prior to her final place of rest?
10. Will you ever be able to account for the 12.47 pm call to your mother in Seattle ( at 4.45 am Seattle time)? Do you remember this now because it was not mentioned in your e-mail nor were you able to remember it in your court testimony?
11. Why do you think Raffaele told the police – contrary to your own alibi that you had spent the whole time with Raffaele at his apartment – that you had gone out at 9 pm and did not return until 1 am?
12. Did you sleep through the music played for half an hour on Raffaele’s computer from 5.32 am?
13. Were you telling the truth when you told the court that you and Raffaele ate dinner some time between 9.15 and 11 pm? Can you not narrow it down a bit more? The water leak occurred, you said, whilst washing up dishes after dinner. Why then did Raffaele’s father say that Raffaele told him at 8.42 pm about the water leak whilst washing up dishes?
14. What was the problem about using the mop, rags, sponges etc already at Raffaele’s apartment, to clear up a water spill? Why was the mop from the girl’s cottage so essential and if it was, why not collect it immediately since it was just a short distance away?
15. Why, when you knew that you were going to Gubbio with Raffaele on the 2nd November, did you not take a change of clothing with you, if needed, when you left the cottage on the afternoon of the 1st?
16. Why did you need a shower at the cottage when you had already had one at Raffaele’s apartment the previous evening?
17. If you had needed one again why not have it at his apartment, in a heated apartment, before you set off, or on your return, rather than have a shower on a cold day, in a cold flat?
18. Why did you not notice the blood in the bathroom, and the bloody footprint on the bathmat, until after your shower? If the blood you then observed was already diluted and faded, how do you explain this?
19. Do not ignore your blood on the faucet. In your own testimony you said that there was no blood in the bathroom when you and Raffaele left the flat on the afternoon of the 1st. What is your considered take on this now? Did your ear piercings bleed when having that shower or drying afterwards? If so, why were you not perfectly clear about the matter in your e-mail? But then again you said that the blood was caked dry, didn’t you?
20. Why did Raffaele say that, on entering the flat with you, Filomena’s door was open and he saw the damage and mess inside, but you said, in your e-mail, that Filomena’s door was closed when you returned at 10.30 am? Did you subsequently look inside on that occasion, or not? It’s just that if you did, then why did you not mention the break in to Filomena prior to you and Raffaele returning to the cottage?
21. You are a creative writer so please explain. What is the point of the word “also” in the following extract from your e-mail? “Laura’s door was open which meant that she wasn’t at home, and Filomena’s door was also closed”.
22. In your trial testimony you mentioned shuffling along the corridor on the bathroom mat after your shower. From the bathroom to your room. Because there was no towel in the bathroom. You had left it in your bedroom. Then back again. Why is this not mentioned in your e-mail?
23. In your e-mail you stated that you changed for your shower in your bedroom, and then afterwards dressed in your bedroom. That makes sense. What you don’t explain is why, if you towelled and dressed in your bedroom, there was any need to shuffle back to the bathroom on the bathmat. Why not just carry it back?
24. But why, in the same testimony, did you then change your mind as to where you had undressed for your shower? Not in your bedroom - saying so was a mistake you said - but you did not say where. Some people might think, uncharitably, that your change of mind was necessary to incorporate the double bathmat shuffle.
25. Were there any things that you disliked about Meredith? Be honest because we know from her English friends and other sources that there were things that she disliked about you.
26. Why are pages missing from your diary for October?
27. Once again, and this time so that it makes some sense, please explain why you permitted the police, on your say so, to believe that poor Patrick Lumumba was involved in Meredith’s murder. Clearly, had you been at the cottage you would have known that he was not, and had you not been there you could not have known that he was.
There are actually over 200 open questions on this site, and I can think of others, but I consider these between them to be the core several dozen that relate to the quirks,contradictions, omissions and inconsistencies in Amanda Knox’s own account and behaviour. Answer all of these and in the public eye Amanda Knox really could be home free.
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Officially involved, The prosecutors, Diversion efforts, The trials, The Massei Report, The appeals, Hellmann appeal
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Tuesday, October 04, 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.
Archived in The trials
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Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Powerpoints #17: Why The Totality of Evidence Suggests Knox And Sollecito Are Guilty Just As Charged
Posted by James Raper With Kermit
Impartial lawyers like myself tend to look at a tough case like this and think, “Now what would I have done differently?” The problem for the defences here is that there are literally hundreds of evidence points, many created by the appellants themselves as they behaved erratically both on the night Meredith died and subsequently.
The Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon (who in our view was brought in far too late to be of real help after all the bull-in-a-china-shop damage of the PR) himself recognized this, on Dateline NBC late in 2008, when he said that a whack-a-mole approach to creating reasonable doubt would fall short in this case. (Whack-a-mole is a popular fairground game where “moles” keep popping up out of various holes, and you win if you can whack them all.)
Judge Micheli set out a big picture for the conviction of Rudy Guede in October 2008 and the remitting of Knox and Sollecito to stand trial. Judge Massei clearly created a big picture in all of the fine detail he neatly tied together in his 425-page report. The Supreme Court of Cassation understood the big picture in declining Guede’s final appeal.
The defences have never really managed to respond with their own big-picture approach. Nitpicking of a few evidence points, which is really all the defence and the campaign have done, will only very rarely destroy such an edifice. At the end of the DNA rebuttal this September, the DNA collection and analysis is unlikely to be fully discounted, and already it seems that more ethical and competence question marks hang over the independent consultants than over Dr Stefanoni and her team.
This for your consideration is an overview of all of the main evidence. Check it out as you go through and you will see that after the nine long months of the appeal process it is all almost entirely left standing. If they really want to see Knox and Sollecito released, the defence lawyers now need to bite the bullet and prepare their clients properly and let them try to explain from the stand.
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Crime hypotheses, Kermit Powerpoints, The trials, The appeals, Hellmann appeal
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Saturday, July 30, 2011
Eleventh Appeal Session: Judge Overrules Defense Objections and Stefanoni Will Return to the Stand
Posted by Peter Quennell
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.
Archived in Public evidence, DNA and luminol, The trials, Hellmann appeal
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Witness Tampering By Defenses? Two Investigations Apparently Already Launched In Rome And Perugia
Posted by Peter Quennell
The investigation was apparently sparked by the specific claims yesterday under oath before a magistrate in Perugia of Luciano Aviello (a serial defamer and perjurer whose credibility never has ranked high) that Vanessa Sollecito paid him 30,000 Euros for his testimony on June 18 with Sollecito’s counsel in the loop.
First, here is a summary of what Luciano Aveillo testified to on 18 June by our main poster Will Savive:
Another prison inmate Luciano Aviello  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.”
Luciano Aviello now claims that all of this above was fiction. There were no hidden keys or 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 Luciano Aviello testified to yesterday under oath in Perugia. We have added the emphasis to key passages..
Meredith, Aviello: «I lied following agreement with Sollecito’s lawyers in exchange for money »
Aviello claims he received 30 thousand euros in exchange for his testimony
Scritto il 27/7/11 • Categoria: Cronaca
by Francesca Marruco
After having received notice that investigations had been completed by the Perugia prosecutor, the ex supergrass (state’s evidence), Lucian 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. Just as 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 sea of whoppers, he gave his explanation in fits and starts in over 80 pages of court records. From the 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. He said that it had been she [the sister] 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 was that, according to what he told the prosecutor, 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 counterpayment 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 Aviello means he doesn’t hear from Raffaele because Raffaele is concerned that if he stayed in touch with Aviello no-one would believe 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 (slander).
Aviello: Raffaele 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 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] – might have 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.
Presumably a beeline is now being made to that apartment in Turin where the 30,000 Euros if it exists might be hidden. Early announcements might also be expected from the Sollecito family, who did meet with Aviello in prison, and from Giulia Bongiorno who chose to put Aviello on the stand.
There is also a second investigation, we are told. Several sources 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.
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 them to make sure to use European resources on the state-of-the-art of low-count DNA testing had been ignored.
A note on Italian law here. 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, 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.
We are sure Judge Hellman will want only the full truth and he may put all parties back on the stand. Still, the power of upward appeal is available to the prosecution in both these instances.
Archived in Officially involved, The defenses, The trials, Associated trials, Hellmann appeal
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Monday, July 25, 2011
Tenth Appeal Court Session: Might Today’s Testimony Give Sollecito More Of An Advantage Than Knox?
Posted by Peter Quennell
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.
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, The trials, Hellmann appeal
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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.”
Archived in Public evidence, DNA and luminol, The trials, Hellmann appeal
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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.
Archived in Officially involved, Police and CSI, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, The trials, The appeals, Hellmann appeal, Conti-Vecchiotti
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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.
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.
Archived in The trials, Hellmann appeal
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Analysis Suggests The Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Is Weak, Tendentious, Cites Non-Existent Standards
Posted by Fly By Night
In light of the huge fanfare two weeks ago over the release of the court-ordered independent expert review by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti (image above, more in post below) on the forensic science methods and findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni as part of the Knox/Sollecito appeal, we start this analysis of that report by summarizing a few hard facts:
- The DNA samples currently under review by the court are NOT the only DNA samples used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. In fact, the five mixed samples (not just DNA – there was the fresh blood of both women in four of them) of Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher constitute the strongest, most damning physical evidence of the case. This is why they have not been subjected to independent review during the appeal, along with the great majority of the evidence Judge Massei and the jury considered in convicting Knox and Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher.
- In reviewing the findings of Dr. Stefanoni, Technical Director/Principal Biologist with the Polizia Scientifica in Rome (image below), the expert report is also critiquing the findings and opinions of an entire well-regarded forensics agency along with the personal views of many prominent forensics experts. They include Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and the nationally prominent General Luciano Garofano who in support of Dr. Stefanoni’s own open descriptions have provided lengthy statements describing in great detail their reasons for agreeing with Stefanoni’s methods and findings.
- The use and acceptance of LCN DNA analysis techniques in the USA lags behind that of other countries in the world, as documented in the numerous publications on the topic now seen in US professional journals. Enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are routinely relied upon in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe to provide sound evidence for courtroom arguments. So the expert report’s overbearing reliance upon AMERICAN sources including the controversial opinions of Bruce Budowle (image below) of the University of North Texas, in questioning Stefanoni’s LCN DNA testing techniques, is highly questionable. Budowle has been strongly criticized by a number of distinguished researchers including Theresa Caragine and John Buckleton for his non-scientific opinions and for allegedly engaging in unethical practices and maintaining serious conflicts of interest.
- Claudio Pratillo Hellman, the judge presiding over the Knox and Sollecito appeal trial, appointed Vecchioti and Conti to provide an independent assessment for the court regarding the handling and analysis of several pieces of evidence that played a role in the conviction of Knox and Sollecito. Using the expert report as a focus, on Monday July 25th these independent experts will appear in court along with various expert witnesses for the prosecution, the defense teams, and the Kercher family to discuss the only pieces of DNA-related evidence that have been subjected to review in the appeal trial. They are (1) the DNA on the kitchen knife accepted by the Massei court to be the murder weapon, and (2) the DNA on a bra clasp torn from Meredith’s body.
The findings of the expert report itself in all their 145 pages of depth appear to boil down to two primary debates: (1) Issues surrounding the Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA analysis techniques employed by Dr. Stefanoni, and (2) Issues surrounding the probability of excluding all possible sources of contamination from the evidence.
The Expert Report
When the supposed findings of the independent expert report were first leaked, international media ballyhooed them as a sure sign that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito would soon be cleared of murder charges, claiming that the prosecution’s DNA arguments had now been shown to be based upon substandard DNA testing practices, and that the evidence might have been contaminated. Knox herself was said to have sung and danced with joy upon hearing the news.
But a closer look at actual contents of the report, and its supporting documents, suggests that such celebrations are premature and ill-advised. The expert report exists to serve only as the focal point for upcoming courtroom arguments, including arguments over the validity of Dr. Stefanoni’s claim to have identified Meredith Kercher’s DNA on the blade of the kitchen knife. The report explains why a complete repeat of the testing Stefanoni performed on both the knife and bra clasp was not possible and how DNA on the bra clasp had deteriorated beyond testability.
The expert’s attempts to perform repeat tests on the knife were unsuccessful in identifying cellular material on the blade. This was not a surprise, considering that Stefanoni had previously reported that additional testing would be impossible due to the minimal amount of DNA originally found there. The expert’s testing did, however, firmly conclude that Amanda Knox’s DNA was located on the handle of the knife.
The expert report will steer upcoming courtroom debates towards a complete review of Stefanoni’s crime scene management practices, the DNA analysis methods she employed, and the reasoning and protocols she used to reach her conclusions. The expert report provides one of several frames of reference for these debates and in part focuses upon criticisms not only of Stefanoni’s use of LCN DNA testing techniques to identify Kercher’s DNA on the knife blade but the entire LCN DNA analysis methodology itself. As noted above, Vecchioti and Conti confirmed the presence of Amanda Knox’s DNA on the handle of the knife but suggest that the very small sample of Meredith’s DNA located on the blade, identified by LCN DNA testing, is the result of contamination.
The Potential For Contamination
Contamination of evidence might occur in the evidence collection phase of an investigation, or it might occur as the result of improper laboratory testing procedures once a sample has arrived securely at the forensic laboratory. Before digging deeper into laboratory contamination potential, including associated LCN DNA analysis issues, we first take a look at the expert report’s evaluation of evidence collection protocols and the potential for contamination in that phase of the criminal investigation.
The expert report attempts to establish that international standards for crime scene management practices exist. However, their approach raises the same question raised by the assignment of Bruce Budowle, a controversial and opinionated LCN DNA commenter, as the foundation for their DNA analysis critiques. Namely, why does the expert report find it necessary to over-rely upon inappropriate and highly questionable American resources to support its most critical arguments?
As strange as it may seem, the Italian expert report references quite a few relatively obscure, and often outdated, editions of American resources. They include the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory Manual, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Handbook, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Evidence Guide, the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory Manual, the New Jersey State Police Evidence Manual, and even introductory college textbooks covering criminal investigations at the level of “please wash your hands.”
If the intent of the expert report was to establish that a standard set of international protocols exists, and then to compare that set of protocols to protocols used in the Meredith Kercher murder case, then why not cite the international body that establishes and upholds such standards, if that body actually exists?
Instead, the approach taken by the expert report only serves to underscore the notion that there may, in fact, be no such thing as international standards for evidence collection and handling. What the report actually establishes is that they are citing from a selected list of extremely diverse regional “best practices” manuals in support of theoretical and abstract concepts or points. In doing so the expert report authors its own set of ad hoc “international standards” as it moves along.
It would have been far more effective to put the focus on creating an objective and fair analysis of the real-world crime scene management procedures employed in this case, and then comparing and contrasting those findings with the successful, or unsuccessful, management practices of other similar case-study investigations providing appropriate citations from relevant literature along the way.
As a result of the independent experts’ approach, the contamination risk concerns cited in the expert report during the evidence collection phase appear to be largely a rehash of arguments over protocol that were thoroughly vetted during the course of the trial itself, such as how often investigators changed their gloves.
What we are left with is a report that only theoretically suggests that contamination cannot be ruled out, while completely failing to provide concrete examples of precisely when and how contamination could have entered into the evidence management chain. For the appeal, this will result in a repeat of the same attacks upon investigative methods and processes, and all of the related arguments, that the court entertained during the trial, albeit this time with a new judge and jury.
The expert report apparently confirms that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on the bra clasp in an amount that would be difficult to attribute to contamination. Dr. Stefanoni found about 4 nanograms of Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp, which is a substantial amount of DNA considering that research suggests that contaminated samples usually contain sub-picogram amounts of DNA, or around 1000 to 10,000 times less DNA than attributed to Sollecito on the bra clasp.
That fact that Raffaele’s DNA on the clasp appears to be mixed with additional DNA should NOT lead to conclusions that his profile cannot be effectively isolated and identified, or must be the result of contamination. In fact, Italy’s premiere forensic science expert Luciano Garofano testified that Stefanoni’s analysis of the bra clasp was “perfect.” It is also not plausible to suggest that contamination is the source for Sollecito’s abundant DNA on the bra clasp in the absence of significant environmental traces for Sollecito anywhere else in or around Meredith’s home, or in the Rome laboratory for that matter.
LCN DNA Testing
LCN is a DNA profiling technique employed when available DNA is limited to very small quantities. A DNA sample might be as small as a millionth the size of a grain of salt, amounting to only a few cells of skin or sweat left in a fingerprint.
Using LCN testing techniques the small sample can be successfully evaluated and attributed to an individual. LCN DNA testing has been in use since 1999 and is rapidly gaining worldwide acceptance in both legal and forensic science communities. For example it has now been used in more than 21,000 cases in the UK since being approved for use in criminal cases in 2008, following a period of stringent testing and evaluation.
The increased sensitivity of LCN testing techniques does increase the potential of contamination to impact analyses of small DNA samples in the laboratory. Since LCN techniques can accurately amplify DNA samples having as little as just a few cells it has been suggested that even breathing on such a small sample has the potential to render the resulting profile useless. Contamination is particularly problematic for LCN samples because both sample and contaminant DNA are amplified, resulting in a complex mixed profile with related stochastic effect impacts.
But, as evidenced in the expert report itself, Dr. Stefanoni is well-versed in the appropriate methods for dealing with these concerns, since she is quoted as already having admonished the court experts Vecchioti and Conti for not making use of a fume hood to ensure the absence of contamination as they conducted their retests on the evidence.
In recent years numerous professional publications have addressed the scientific, technical, and legal issues surrounding LCN DNA sample testing, outlining the stochastic effects and artifacts such as peak imbalances between alleles and loci, as well as allele and locus drop-out, or allele drop-in, along with making a variety of suggestions for both avoiding contamination and making error-free evaluations of stochastic effects.
On the basis of these publications, including the proceedings of the biannual world congresses of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, it is clear that enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are now routinely in use in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe. This is strong evidence that the scientific community is now actively engaged in an effort to document all LCN DNA methods in use and is working towards developing standard biostatistical tools for evaluating LCN DNA typing results.
It also appears as though the USA is lagging behind other regions in research, practice, and acceptance in this discipline.
In this relatively new field of study it is not surprising that researchers have yet to establish anything approaching standards for LCN DNA testing and analysis. Even so, this has not prevented the results of LCN DNA testing from being successfully and routinely introduced as viable evidence in courtroom arguments.
For example, on February 8, 2010, Judge Robert Hanophy of the Supreme Court of Queens County, New York ruled that results of LCN DNA testing, as performed by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City, is now generally accepted as reliable in the forensic scientific community, it consistently yields reliable results, it is not a novel scientific procedure, and it is therefore admissible at trial (People v. Megnath, Supreme Court of New York, Queens County, 2010 NY).
Although the current Wikipedia article on the topic maintains that LCN DNA has only been adopted for evidential purposes in the UK, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, this unreferenced claim stands in ignorance of the fact that inquisitorial court systems in numerous European countries do not typically require formal publication and peer review of analytical methods in scientific journals as a justification for their methods.
And as we have seen in the current Knox/Sollecito trial, in Europe it has become customary to have independent experts attempt to convince the court of the validity, or invalidity, of the LCN typing results that have been presented in a trial. To be successful, it is essential that an independent expert provide the court with evidence of expertly-conducted retests of available evidence, relevant citations of appropriate research, and meaningful evaluations of protocols employed in outlining their objective and balanced set of opinions for the court.
In this regard, it appears that the independent expert report for the Knox/Sollecito appeal has completely missed the mark.
Their report gives the strong impression that Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti were overtly attempting to invalidate the findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the Polizia Scientifica in Rome, and the wealth of supportive testimony provided in court during the trial. The tone of their report strongly indicates that they have lined up with Sollecito defense experts Adriano Tagliabracci and Valerio Onofri of the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Ancona, and Knox defense experts Sara Gino, Walter Patumi and Carlo Torre from the University of Turin.
We will see in court on the 25th if they are really across the figurative aisle from the prosecution witnesses Dr. Stefanoni and Dr. Giuseppe Novelli, a highly esteemed professor of biomedicine at Tor Vergata in Rome who is considered to be the “father of police forensics” in Italy, along with the expert witnesses for the Kercher family Professor Torricelli, and Dr. Emiliano Giardina, who is a colleague of Professor Novelli at Tor Vergata University.
This appears to establish grounds for a formidable courtroom battle if all experts can provide solid grounds for their opinions. However, the Kercher’s lawyer Francesco Maresca was already quick to point out that those on the prosecution’s side of the aisle have substantially more practical experience and years of work in the forensic science field.
An in depth reading of the expert report uncovers allegations that Dr. Stefanoni has not followed internationally established forensic science management standards and that in doing so she has committed analytical errors, such as the misattribution of peaks in her bra clasp DNA analysis. What the report fails to mention, however, is that no such standards exist and that there are currently multiple perspectives from which a scientist might argue their case regarding the proper interpretation of DNA data, as evidenced in any sampling of current forensic science journal articles.
For example, the expert report cites a 2006 International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) publication as an example of a standard for determining which stutters should be considered as alleles in the assessment of mixed DNA samples. But this alleged “standard” stands in contrast to direct testimony from Dr. Stefanoni while defending her lab protocols in comparison to the ISFG “recommendations” which she claims in no way qualify as authoritative standards. The difference between recommendations and standards is a critical distinction in scientific fields.
A closer look at this discrepancy reveals that in 2007 Dr. Stefanoni and her immediate supervisor, Dr. Renato Biondo, hosted a meeting in Rome of the European DNA Profiling Group (EDNAP) in which these same 2006 ISFG recommendations were discussed. At that meeting papers were presented from the UK and Germany that contested a number of the ISFG recommendations that the expert report now attempts to establish as mandatory standards.
In the midst of this ongoing debate over ISFG recommendations, it is quite remarkable that the expert report, citing that 2006 ISFG document, chooses to assert that Stefanoni made erroneous interpretations of chart peaks simply because her interpretation of the data did not respect the controversial ISFG recommendations.
The experts report consequently admits that they confirmed Stefanoni’s awareness of the ISFG recommendations, and that she expressed a personal view that they should simply be viewed as “guidelines.” Yet they STILL insist on continuing to label her conclusions as erroneous since she did not “correctly” and “explicitly” adhere to the ISFG “recommendations.”
In light of all this, it is highly unlikely that Judge Hellman will dismiss Dr. Stefanoni’s knowledge and expertise on this matter as readily as Vecchioti and Conti have in their expert report.
An in depth analysis of the expert report also indicates that the citations from scientific journals are incomplete and often “cherry-picked” to directly support specific criticisms brought against Dr. Stefanoni’s methods.
For example, the expert report appears to base its entire argument against Stefanoni’s reliance upon LCN DNA analysis techniques upon one paper, authored by Bruce Budowle et al entitled “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance.” The expert report then goes on to cite a paper by Gill and Buckleton where these authors appear to support a few claims made by Budowle (image above) in his article, but the report completely ignores the fact that Gill and Buckleton then go on to air strong criticisms of many other claims made by Budowle.
In fact, in 2010 John Buckleton and Peter Gill authored a scathing criticism of Bruce Budowle’s entire “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance” article; the very article that the expert report relies exclusively upon in bringing Dr. Stefanoni’s methods into question. In their article, published in Forensic Science, Buckleton and Gill state:
[Budowle’s] article is not peer reviewed. The proceedings of the ISFG Congress are prefaced by the message: “the manuscripts were neither reviewed nor edited in detail. The articles reflect the opinions of the authors.”
It contains neither new data nor any novel scientific findings. Rather it represents public advocacy and is an expression of alternative opinion by the three authors concerning observations that are largely common ground. There is a place in the scientific literature for advocacy but it must be soundly based on proven facts.
We have some considerable difficulty in actually determining just exactly what the authors are indeed advocating. This is because of their inconsistent use of terminology and inconsistent recommendations. In our opinion, the views presented are inadequately precise, demonstrate a lack of appreciation of underlying principles and are not aligned with broader scientific opinion.
The title of the paper appeared to have one eye on future Frye or Daubert hearings and again we question whether such a title has a place in the learned literature. It takes upon itself, inappropriately, the role of gatekeeper of what constitutes “general acceptance” (The Frye test).
The article itself appears to be a rather inappropriate continuation of a debate arising from a court case in New York (People v. Megnath). Again we would question whether this journal is the correct forum to air this debate.
In other words, Buckleton and Gill are suggesting that Bruce Budowle acted unethically by publishing his non-peer reviewed opinions in a professional journal for the purpose of using the article to support his work as a paid consultant, and as an expert witness in court cases such as People v. Megnath in New York.
Incidentally, Budowle was unsuccessful in advocating his opinions as an expert witness for the defense in People v. Megnath in his battle with Theresa Caragine of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York over her submission in court of data obtained using LCN DNA testing techniques.
Theresa Caragine herself authored a powerful rebuttal of Budowle’s article claiming that when Budowle’s “opinions” were published he failed to disclose that he had, in fact, been retained by the defense counsel for Mr. Megnath, and that he had already testified as a paid expert witness regarding the opinions he expresses in the journal article that the expert report relies heavily upon in attempting to substantiate its points. And even though Bruce Budowle’s opinions had previously been delivered as a paid expert witness in a judicial setting, he made the claim of ‘No Conflict of Interest’ when applying to publish this non-peer reviewed article.
Caragine’s remarks go even further in criticizing the Budowle et al LCN DNA article by pointing out that it is not even a research article, but a non-peer reviewed submission that had purportedly been presented in the context of the 23rd Biennial Worldwide Conference of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, 2009 in Buenos Aires.
Caragine claims that, while Budowle had in fact submitted a similar paper at that meeting, it was not under its current title, nor did it have the same the list of authors, and the abstract submitted to the conference organizers for their selection process does not align with the content of the paper now cited in the Italian experts’ report submitted to the court in the Knox/Sollecito appeal. In her rebuttal, Caragine strongly questions whether or not such a circumvention of all standard principles of scientific publishing is in any way acceptable or appropriate.
In light of all of the above, the upcoming July 25th court hearing in the Knox/Sollecito trial should be considered as anything but a foregone conclusion. The rationale behind the exuberant remarks noted in recent press releases regarding content allegedly favorable to defense efforts and anticipated impacts appears to be baseless.
For an Italian report, it gives the appearance of being remarkably Amero-centric, and we find it ugly and unprofessional that the expert report chooses to attack Dr. Stefanoni and her colleagues by citing nonexistent international standards and by relying upon extraordinarily questionable resources in doing so.
The report’s final conclusion that contamination cannot be completely ruled out is remarkably weak considering that there are relatively few real-world cases in which contamination of evidence might be completely ruled out.
It becomes clear, then, that well informed prosecution interrogators will have no problem in identifying and attacking the report’s multiple weaknesses. We should expect Dr. Stefanoni and the prosecution’s team of experts to present precise counter arguments for the challenges expressed in the expert report, strongly defending the forensic science capabilities of Stefanoni and her team.
Archived in Diversion efforts, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, The trials, The appeals, Hellmann appeal, Conti-Vecchiotti
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Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti In Perugia Seen Enjoying Their 15 Minutes Of Fame
Posted by Peter Quennell
Archived in Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Other witnesses, The trials, Hellmann appeal
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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.
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.
Archived in Italian system v others, The trials, The wider contexts
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Friday, July 08, 2011
Jennifer Ford Is The First Juror To Speak Out On The Casey Anthony Acquittal
Posted by Peter Quennell
Archived in Italian system v others, The trials, Other cases, Other elsewhere, The wider contexts
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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.
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.
Archived in The trials, The wider contexts, Hellmann appeal
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Wednesday, June 29, 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.
Archived in Public evidence, DNA and luminol, The trials, Hellmann appeal
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The 140-Page Conti-Vecchiotti Report On The Partial DNA Review Is Released
Posted by Peter Quennell
The report is much in the news in Italy. We don’t yet see a good English language report and a full translation will take a few days..
The experts have concluded that the LCN test of Meredith’s DNA on Sollecito’s large knife may have been invalid. This was the one-time-only test that every defense expert chose to skip.
Also that they cannot rule out that there was no contamination on the bra clasp (above) and that Sollecito’s DNA might indeed have flown through the air - though from where? There was only one other DNA sample for Sollecito in the entire house.
Italy does follow its own DNA protocols, but for reasons that are not altogether bad. It is very common for nations to depart from international protocols in all areas, not only forensic, if they think theirs are in some ways better.
Jurors did not say after the 2009 trial that either of these bits of evidence or non-evidence were the make-or-break items for them. The defenses asked for 33 re-examinations of evidence in their appeal submission but were granted only these two.
The DNA in the bathroom and the corridor and Filomena’s room all still looms very large. So do the cellphone, computer, eyewitness and alibi testimony. For the defense, it seems still an uphill task.
Archived in Public evidence, DNA and luminol, The trials, The appeals, Hellmann appeal, Conti-Vecchiotti
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