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Monday, January 20, 2014
Appeal Session #9: Sollecito Team Concludes, Prosecutor Crini Rebutts Defenses’ Claims
Posted by Peter Quennell
4. Tweets by freelance Andrea Vogt
14. Sollecito defense on bra clasp: For us, the condition of the room and conduct of the forensic police tells us there was contamination.
13. Judge interrupted Sollecito lawyer with a booming “No!” saying wiretapped conversations of Sollecito family not to be discussed this trial.
12. Maresca: Whatever you decide, we believe justice will be done & all elements considered in depth. We will serenely accept your decision.
11. Kercher attorney Maresca: Perugians reacted angrily to amanda knox acquittal because it was scandalous: acquittal was decided in advance.
10. Fabbiani, attorney for Meredith’s brother, urges court to look beyond motive. Perna for her sister: one person alone did not kill Meredith.
9. Lumumba attorney Pacelli concludes with this phrase to the jury: “Convict liar Amanda, the diabolical slanderer.”
8. Presiding Judge Nencini has cut Pacelli’s amanda knox monologue short. Says going off track. Pacelli promises to finish in 5 min.
7. Lumumba’s attorney Pacelli is delivering a vitriolic rebuttal on amandaknox - mixing his unbridled contempt w/her own statements.
6. Prosecutor asks (in case of conviction) cautionary measures so defendants can’t flee. Options are: passport, house arrest or arrest.
5. Prosecutor Crini: a lack of motive does not equal proof of innocence.
4. Trial back in session after “pausa caffe” during which Sollecito and his accusers were in tiny court coffee bar at same time. Only in Italy!
3. Sollecito attorney: The only things certain are the death of Meredith Kercher and the presence of Rudy Guede in the house that night.
2. Sollecito attorney: This case is an anomaly. Various judges interpreted facts differently over the years. There’s reasonable doubt.
1. In court, Sollecito attorney Maori contesting prosecutor’s arguments point by point. Knife, bathmat, alibi, witnesses. Afternoon rebuttals.
3. Tweets by our main poster Machiavelli
[At this point Machiavelli signed off]
62. Crini: Nencini asks the clerk’s officer to write down formally the exact terms of prosecution request to issue cautionary measures [if verdict guilty]
61. Crini says his conclusions are unchanged. Prosecution suggests arrest decrees are issued immediately if defendant(s) is(are) guilty
60. Crini points out the crime and motive originate from group dynamic.
59. Crini: Bongiorno had pointed out that anyway Sollecito should be accounted only for what he had done (implicit: not what Knox did)
58. Crini: The excessive and too quick reaction to a situation of rising argument is typical of group reaction.
57. Crini: Argument about cleaning was also reported by Meredith to her father John Kercher
56. Crini: Massive rejection of English [girls] testimonies is “weak” on the part of defence; tensions and dislikes in the house are recorded on paper
55. Crini: Movite cannot be assessed preliminarily as if it was a piece of evidence to be discussed
54. Crini: if you need to prove a crime, it is opportune to detect a motive, but a motive is only a plausible conjecture not basis for deduction
53. Crini: Bongiorno called all English girls ‘unreliable’ (because English, maybe coached by lawyers etc.)
52. Crini calls ‘amusing’ Bongiorno comparing her client with captain Schettino
51. Crini: Some thoughts about the motive.
50. Crini: It makes no sense to say the large kitchen knife is ‘incompatible’ with the big wound.
49. Crini: To the court: can you imagine a ‘surgical operation’ with a small knife producing a wound with clear margins on a live struggling victim?
48. Crini: it is difficult to produce an 8x8 cm large wound with a small 8cm long knife, it would produce at best a wound with irregular margin
47. Crini: The blade hypothesized by defence from the bed sheet stain is anyway larger; these are anyway conjectures. Datum is compatibility
46. Crini: thinking you can preemptively deduce the size of the blade from bed sheet stain is ‘unrealistic’
45. Crini: The “double knife theory” is based on the small size of the right wound, experts point to a likely much smaller knife with thin blade.
44. Crini: no defence wounds, no fight bruises, nothing under nails, bruises indicate forced restraint of victim; how she was immobilized
43. Crini: Massei court did not decide about attribution of pillowcase shoeprints, Crini objects Vinci’s finding, thinks prints are too small
42. Crini: Knox defence: says when Guede leaves palm print on pillowcase leaves a signature
41. Crini: Bongiorno called the murder scene “flooded” with Guede’s DNA. Crini points out his traces in room indicating he had free hands (no weapon)
40. Crini: The defences also dealt thoroughly with the use of the knife, wounds, blade size
39. Crini: The dynamic of the crime. Maori attributed all traces to Rudy Gede alone
38. Crini: All alleles of the victim were found in a scratch on the knife blade. Human DNA is normally not on knife blades
37. Crini: Vecchiotti admitted there was a scratch on the blade
36. Crini: The same defence experts did not object to the attribution Y haplotype of Guede found in the victim’s vagina
35. Crini: Calls Vecchiotti’s reasoning on bra clasp “a priori”, dismissed for reasons totally general and vague. Doesn’t read Y haplot. and X together
34. Crini: Points out a passage where Vecchiotti’s report misquotes police findings inserting the word “only”, built a strawman
33. Crini says let’s look at the Conti-Vecchiotti report, to see what it says, if you can subscribe with the report.
32. Crini: Tagliabracci in 2008 objected to quotes of prof. Gill calling them “too recent”
31. Crini: Objections referred to Low Copy Number are obsolete, and also partly undermined by the RIS report
30. Crini: Calls “embarassing” Bongiorno when alleges the police was wrong in attributing stains to cat’s blood
29. Crini: Disproves Bongiorno’s allegation that the clasp was stepped over.
28. Crini: Novelli rules out there was contamination in laboratory, as well as tertiary transfer in situ.
27. Crini is “pleased” the defence did not attempt to allege laboratory DNA contamination. Points out findings by Novelli
26. Crini: report says had there been internet surfing or writing activity, this would have resulted as obvious.
25. Crini cites arguments about computer expert reports, hearings of 14 Mar 2009 and Dec 2010 say further investigation is unnecessary
24. Crini: Maori omits to quote pieces of Curatolo’s testimony.
23. Crini will deal with Maori’s “theory of alibi” only very briefly
22. Crini says defence arguments on bathmat print are conjectures. Rinaldi is actually same person who correctly attributed shoeprint
21. Crini: Bathmat print: compatibility assessment can be done on what is measurable
20. Crini: Guede knew the hous and apartments, would have chosen logical entries and logical behaviour, Crini calls burglary theory ‘not credible’
19. Crini: alleged small wounds on Guede’s hand, inconsistent with absence of his blood on scene
18. Crini: Talks about Bongiorno’s criticism to staged burglary scenario - the scenario of Guede already inside apartment
17. Crini says police report timings, records of CCTV video camera and phone calls are ‘consistent’
16. Crini does not see corroboration of alleged 7-minute late clock error of CCTV. The 13.29 call was from Carabinieri HQ and don’t change anthg
15. Crini tris to “strain” the timing of police arival to favor the defence, to see if scenario fits. Considers possible CCTV time error
14. Crini: Sollecito calls Carabinieri too late, also because last phone call to Romaneli was at 12.38
13. Crini: Call to Sollecito’s sister, and then Sollecito’s call to Carabinieri at 12.51-45. Crini: this timing is late independently from Battistelli
12. Crini: Battistelli arrives on foot about 10 minutes eariler than postal police car
11. Crini wants to look better at some arguments about Sollecito’s declarations to postal police. Battistelli recalls 12.35 consistent with CCTV
10. Crini talks about Sollecito ‘sidetracking’, talking about statements to postal police
9. Crini: Knox’s Calunnia also contains details that have external corroboration and she could not have deduced from simple burglary scenario
8. Crini: A Calunnia is itself incriminating (require strong defence explanation), but Knox’s Calunnia also contains furth incrimiating details
7. Crini: Knox maintained her calunnia against Patrick over a period of several days. Crini points out the logicality of Cassazione argument.
6. Crini: Knox statements: ‘Patrick had sex with Meredith’ and ‘there was a loud scream’ were new elements, unrelated to known facts and not retracted
5. Crini: On calunnia, Crini points out that there was an argumentation about Knox defence about usability of Knox’s statement. argument is wrong
4. Crini: Theoretically all defense points could be replied to, Knox’s Calunnia, Sollecito statements to police, the staged theft, the mat print; DNA evidence
3. Crini says he will talk briefly only about a few selected points, without repeating himself, and without discussing old arguments again
2. [After the break] Prosecutor General Crini begins to reply.
1. [After the break] Sollecito entering the court, asked what he expect, says “no comment”
2. Tweets by reporter Barbie Latza Nadeau
44. Judge especially hard on Sollecito sub lawyer, reprimanding her for introducing new arguments when she is only supposed to be refuting.
43. Sollecito sub lawyer argues no DNA from Meredith Kercher on bra clasp w/Sollecito’s DNA, failing to mention she was wearing the bra..
42. Six years of Kercher trials and some lawyers still pronounce the K in Knox.. “ka-nox” as Sollecito’s sub lawyer just did.
41. Kercher lawyers finished, now Sollecito lawyers up for rebuttal, but both his principal lawyers had to leave early.
40. Kercher atty Maresca: Perugians reacted angrily to Amanda Knox acquittal because it was scandalous: acquittal was decided in advance.
39. Kercher lawyers ask court to consider all the previous testimony they say proves more than one person killed Meredith Kercher.
38. Lumumba lawyer says his client has not received any of the €22k he is owed by Amanda Knox even though the slander conviction is final.
37. Judge reprimands Lumumba lawyer for veering off course, he is only to discuss slander aspect of case, not murder itself.
36. Lumumba’s atty Pacelli is delivering a vitriolic rebuttal on Amanda Knox - mixing his unbridled contempt w/her own statements.
35. Lumumba keeps referring to Amanda Knox as “the American”, says she had a penchant for drugs, alcohol, sex.
34. Lumumba lawyer calls Amanda Knox a “diabolical slanderer” …
33. Lumumba lawyer says Amanda Knox substituted Patrick for Rudy Guede.
32. Court back in session with Lumumba lawyer up. Sollecito back in court after break.
31. Prosecutor Crini: a lack of motive does not equal proof of innocence. Amanda Knox
30. Prosecutor focused on knife, says traces of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox are valid.
29. Sollecito staring at prosecutor as he delivers rebuttal, jury taking notes, judge listening intently, journalists trying to stay awake.
28. Prosecutor in new Amanda Knox appeal says motive in murder is never simple and clear, like murder itself is complex.
27. MeredithKercher lawyer says her brother and sister plan to come for verdict Jan 30.
26. Prosecutor just referred to Amanda Knox as “la nostra Knox” as he tries to refute defense arguments.
25. Trial back in session after “pausa caffe” during which Sollecito and his accusers were in tiny court coffee bar at same time.
24. Prosecutor making brief rebuttal, pushing Sollecito and Amanda Knox back together after Sollecito lawyer clearly tried to separate them
23. Sollecito just told group of reporters he was not sure if he would come for verdict.
22. Sollecito lawyer finished. Judge asks lawyers how much time they need for rebuttals. 15 minute
21. Sollecito lawyer says his client is not guilty. Does not mention Amanda Knox in final moments of closing arguments.
20. Sollecito atty: This case is an anomaly. Various judges interpreted facts differently over the years. There’s reasonable doubt.
19. Sollecito lawyer tells the court they can only accept that Meredith Kercher was murdered and that Rudy Guede is the lone killer.
18. Sollecito lawyer G Bongiorno has just arrived in court with three male assistants.
17. Sollecito lawyer says Sollecito was never with Guede, Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox. Says testimony that they were was false.
16. Sollecito lawyer working to discredit witnesses. Says store owner who says he saw
15. Judge in response to Sollecito lawyer asking if jury is tired: if we are tired now we will have to kill ourselves by the end of the day.
14. Sollecito in court today. Will he come for verdict on 30th?
13. Sollecito lawyer lays out why homeless man in park who testified he saw Amanda Knox and Sollecito arguing night of murder is unreliable.
12. Patrick Lumumba also absent from court today.
11. Judge in Amanda Knox new appeal rarely looks at Sollecito lawyer, writing notes, scrolling tablet, but minimal eye contact.
10. Sollecito lawyer on mass media tangent, says the “super witnesses” for prosecution in earlier trials were all for show.
9. Judge in Amanda Knox 2nd appeal asks for clarification on hard to follow techie evidence.
8. Sollecito lawyer showing computer records for Raf’s computer access, says access was human, not automated. Jury squinting at slides.
7. Sollecito lawyer moves on to Raf’s computer, how computers belonging to Amanda Knox, Meredith Kercher were all “accidentally” destroyed.
6. Sollecito lawyer back on break in. Frequent reference to Guede “the real assassin”. No mention of Amanda Knox at all yet.
5. Sollecito lawyer focusing on staged break in.
4. Sollecito lawyer G Bongiorno not in court this morning.
3. Sollecito lawyer Maori says luminal also picks up fruit juice, not just blood. Judge taking notes.
2. Sollecito lawyer showing slides of famous footprint on bathroom rug in Meredith Kercher blood.
1. Sollecito lawyer now summing up in Florence, then rebuttals. Verdict expected Jan 30.
1. Tweets by reporter for La Nazione
46. Lawyer Colotti (Sollecito) : “In a process based on circumstantial evidence motive is the glue of the whole thing.”
45. Lawyer Colotti (Sollecito defense) begins.
44. Sollecito defense : “The Meredith’s bra clasp was contaminated as evidence “
43. Sollecito defense : “It was Rudy Guede who entered through the window after breaking the glass “
42. Sollecito defense : “There was no misdirection in statements of Sollecito “
41. Now it’s up to the defense again, Sollecito team begin their final responses
40. Lawyer Maresca (Kerchers) : “On the blade there are traces of the victim “”
39. Lawyer Maresca (Kerchers) : “Hellmann appeal, the acquittal was a pre-cooked judgment“
38. Lawyer Francesco Maresca (Kercher family) begins
37. Lawyer Perna (Kerchers) “Wounds on the body victim compatible with the knife found at Sollecito’s house “
36. Lawyer Perna (Kercher family) begins
35. Lawyer Vieri Fabiani , one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Kercher family
34. Lawyer Pacelli (Lumumba) : “Judges, sentence the liar Amanda , the devilish slanderer “
33. Lawyer Pacelli (Lumumba) : “Meredith could not stand Amanda“
32. Lawyer Pacelli (Lumumba) : “Amanda is on Lumumba’s mind constantly “
31. Lawyer Pacelli (Lumumba) : “Amanda hoped Lumumba slander would not be discovered “
30. Lawyer Pacelli (Lumumba) : “the defense of Amanda was rancorous and non-existent “
29. Lawyer Carlo Pacelli (for the plaintiff Lumumba) begins.
28. Crini: “If Sollecito and Knox are condemned then precautionary measures should be decided to ensure execution of the sentence”
27. Crini: “There were tensions in the house for reasons of hygiene ”
26. Crini: “The absence of sure motive is not a defensive threshold “
25. Crini : “At the scene there was no contamination “
24. Crini : the prosecutor carries on his indictment reaffirming the validity of the clues
23. Crini : the prosecutor continues rebuttal, the Tuscany Attorney General Dr Tindari Baglione enters the court
22. Crini : “Slander of Lumumba in itself is an important element “
21. Crini : the Prosecutor General starts his rebuttal
20. Sollecito’s father::”That’s understandable , too much stress”
19. Sollecito :”I do not know if I’ll be in the courtroom on the day of judgment
18. This ends the argument of Maori (defense of Sollecito )
17. Maori: ”The only possible verdict is an acquittal”# meredithnazione
16. Maori: ”In the various processes motive , time, and the murder weapon changed ontinuously”
15. Maori: ”The witnesses who say that Raffaele and Rudy knew each other, said things false”
14. Maori:”The witness Quintavalle for many days after the murder of Amanda did not speak”
13. Maori: ”The witness Quintavalle speaks thirteen months after the fact”
12. Maori: ”The witness Curatolo is unreliable , wrong date and report things that are false”
11. Maori: ”Some witnesses have had access to financial sinecures”
10. Maori: ”The witnesses are characters created by the mass media”
9. Maori: ”At 21.26 Sollecito opened from his PC the cartooon Naruto”
8. Maori: ”At 21.10 there was interaction Sollecito with his pc”
7. Maori: ”Analysis of the computer shows that Sollecito ‘s alibi is true”
6. Maori: ”No simulation , glass window broken by a stone from the outside. No glass outside”
5. Maori:”No simulation of theft. Blinds on window with broken glass were not closed”
4. Maori: ”The bloody footprint on the bath mat is not Sollecito’s foot”
3. Maori: ”Meredith was killed at 21”
2. Maori: ”The kitchen knife is the murder weapon . Wounds are not compatible”
1. The hearing begins : now it’s up to the lawyer Maori
Archived in The trials, Prosecution's case, The appeals, Florence appeal, Public evidence, The two knives
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Friday, January 17, 2014
False Claims In Bongiorno’s Summation: That The Wound “Proved” Sollecito’s Big Knife Was Not The One
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
The post below this one illustrates how Bongiorno in about half her arguments tried to demonize and mischaracterize all of Perugia, as if somehow Perugia itself had become the real villain in forcing a rush to judgment and wrong conclusion. In fact Perugia took a huge hit from Meredith’s murder but has acted gracefully and competently ever since.
This post by several of us after discussion in Comments is the first of two on Bongiorno’s claims about the large knife. The second one will follow next week by Ergon.
There is no question in our minds but that this IS the murder weapon. It was proved convincingly by way of the DNA tests done by the Scientific Police and Carabinieri. Here we prove it by way of human physiology and the autopsy.
Waving two knives with a manic expression, Bongiorno claimed that the the large knife in evidence was far too large for the wound in question - and anyway, anyone intent on murder would have easily pushed the large knife right through so there was no intent of murder anyway. Bongiorno dismissed the possibility that hyoid bone could have somehow stopped the blade, prevented it from penetrating, as the bone is not resistant enough.
The surface location of the hyoid Bone is shown in the Illustration above; its front is only a few millimeters below the skin: The hyoid bone is loop-shaped like a C, open at the back; this Hyoid loop encloses part of the airway:
The hyoid bone curves around the upper airway at the base of the tongue, and is also called the tongue-bone or the lingual-bone. It is located between the mouth and the larynx; therefore during inhalation air passes through the hyoid loop before it passes through the larynx, and during exhalation air passes through the larynx before it passes through the hyoid loop.
The hyoid is an integral factor in the swallowing, breathing, and phonation mechanisms. If transected in such a way as to connect its part of the airway directly to the atmosphere, as it was in this case, swallowing, breathing, and phonation will be seriously impaired, as they were in this case.
The coexistent bleeding from the also-transected Right Superior Thyroid Artery accelerated Meredith’s death, more by the drowning-effect of inhalation of the blood into her lungs, than by the loss of circulating-blood alone.
Both the hyoid bone and the jawbone are mobile, which is why we can chew, swallow, talk, smile laugh, and sing, the way that we do, each of us in our own unique way.
The Massei Prosecution Reconstruction depicted the killers making cuts obliquely from behind.
The fatal cut started on the Left, but crossed the midline to the Right.
Both the Right Superior Thyroid Artery, and the nearby Hyoid Bone, were severed but from Massei, it is not precisely clear where the hyoid loop was severed, and it seems that the cut did not include the midline skin; The Florence Appellate Court will have access to the relevant records.
Here is why the hyoid could not have damaged any knife:
It is an old rule of materials-physics that a softer substance cannot even scratch a harder substance.
[To some people this may be counter to their intuition, so I have passed it by an eminent MIT physicist, and he agrees with me that the knife blade would not show signs of damage caused by the stabbing in this case.]
As pointed-out recently on TJMK, some confusion has arisen, caused by a quotation in the Massei Report, where on p371is written: ”…a single blow was apparently halted by the jawbone…”
The statement that a blow could be “apparently halted” by Meredith’s jawbone is at best a figure of speech, and the quotes of Prof Cingolani on page 152 of the Massei Translation clearly indicate that any cause and effect inference from the phrase “apparently halted by” did not mean it was stopped-by the jawbone:
Prof Cingolani “did not, however, have elements of certainty to establish that the blade which had caused the wound 4 centimetres deep had stopped at the said depth because [it was] stopped by the jawbone.”
Maybe there is a Judicial, translational, or typographical glitch and “by” the jawbone should have been “at” the jawbone.
Skin is soft and bone is harder but there is no way that the knife striking the jawbone would halt the knife in this case, the jaw would just roll with the strike, depending on the angle of attack. [The force was not even enough to mark the jawbone itself!]
Furthermore, contact between the knife and jawbone or hyoid bone would not mark the knife because living-bone is softer than the knife.
When your pet gnaws on a non-living cow-bone, neither the bone nor your pet’s teeth can bend; both your pet’s teeth and the bone can be broken or dislocated, and the bone gets scratches on it because it is still softer than the teeth, but your pet’s teeth do not get scratches on them, because they are harder even than the non-living bone.
If someone is stabbed in the back with a kitchen carving knife, penetrating ribs on its way to the heart, the knife may have no scratches at all, nor show any signs of damage caused by that action.
[Look at your own kitchen carving knife. It probably has no marks caused by striking chicken thigh bones. It will have fine parallel scratches created in the manufacturing process.]
Any implication-in, or inference-from the statement quoted above that stabbing Meredith’s neck with enough force to penetrate the layers of her neck and then strike bone would have the effect of signs of damage to the knife-blade is a figment of an uninformed imagination.
The kitchen-knife, found in Sollecito’s apartment, with Meredith’s DNA on the blade and Knox’s DNA on the handle, is the weapon that killed Meredith.
Archived in The three defendants, Raffaele Sollecito, The trials, Defense's case, The appeals, Florence appeal, Public evidence, The two knives, Crime hypotheses, Spurious Lone-Wolf
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Differences Between Micheli, Massei, Hellmann and Nencini Courts Pointing To Almost Certain Outcome
Posted by Peter Quennell
Judge Micheli, Judge Massei and Judge Nencini all have a very extensive criminal-case background. All three have handled many cases of murder, many cases against the mafia, and many cases involving criminal science. All three have remarkable success records and have hardly ever been overturned on appeal.
Judge Hellmann and his court are the extreme outliers. Until forced into early retirement by the Council of Magistrates, he had been a (quite good) business judge. His one major criminal case, years ago, had led to a farcical outcome, and he was ridiculed for this at the time.
Cassation made it very clear that he simply did not reflect a knowledge of the precise Italian law on scope and balance at the appeal level, and that he mishandled the science. In fact, as he actually said, the reason he appointed two independent DNA consultants was that he was at sea on the science.
That left Judge Hellmann’s panel of judges like a rudderless ship, bereft of the kind of good guidance from the lead judge on science, scope, and balance that comes only from many years of experience.
Which, given a level playing field, the pathbreaking Italian system enforces competently like almost no other.
Above all as the Hellmann Report makes extraordinarily plain, his court came to be swayed by the CSI Effect, with the help of two tainted consultants and probably the irresponsible Greg Hampikian in Idaho.
The CSI Effect is a phenomenon very, very unlikely to happen in Judge Nencini’s court. First, take a look at this good explanation of what the CSI Effect is in the Fox Kansas City video.
Many crime shows such as the BBC mysteries and the Law & Order series and spinoffs show investigators solving their crimes in the old-fashioned way. Lots of witness interviews and alibi and database checking, and walking around and loose ends and lying awake at night puzzling. And often there’s a big stroke of luck.
But if you watch the very popular CSI Las Vegas series and its spinoffs in Miami and New York, and the various clones on other networks, you will see something very different indeed.
When those shows first began airing worldwide in the late nineties, the producers explained that audiences increasingly appreciate learning something new when watching a show, and it is true, one sure can load up on the trivia.
But you will also see the US equivalent of Dr Stefanoni and her forensic team in those shows, roaming far beyond the narrow crime scene, interrogating witnesses and checking alibis and finding a lot of non-forensic evidence, and even at times drawing guns.
Most unreal is that, time and again, the forensic evidence testing is clearcut and takes just a few minutes and instantly clinches the case.
- There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the Casey Anthony jury was affected by a shortfall in the starkness of the forensics when the behavioral evidence seemed so strong.
- There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the appeal verdict outcome in Perugia might be affected in the same way.
- There are many articles like this one and this one and this one and especially this one saying there is a tough added burden on investigators and juries without a commensurate improved outcome.
With conviction rates declining in the US and Europe, professionals are taking a scientific look at whether the CSI Effect is one big cause of that decline.
But the belief in the CSI Effect continues. Articles like this one on an Australian site talk of a backlash against too many acquittals. Some articles like this one argue that maybe lay juries are out of their depths.
And judges and prosecutions are taking countermeasures.
Some states now allow lawyers to strike potential jurors based on their TV habits. Judges are issuing instructions that warn juries about expecting too much scientific evidence based on what they see on TV.
In the field, Shelton says death investigators sometimes run useless tests, just to show they went the extra CSI mile.
“They will perform scientific tests and present evidence of that to the jury. Even if the results don’t show guilt or innocence either way, just to show the jury that they did it.”
This is coming at a time when death investigators in America have no resources to spare. An investigation by NPR, PBS Frontline and ProPublica shows some states have already opted not to do autopsies on suicides, others don’t autopsy people who die in traffic accidents, and many don’t autopsy people who die over the age of 60.
But Murphy, the Clark County coroner, expects things to get worse.
“You know, we’re in budget cuts right now. Everybody’s in budget cuts. Las Vegas is no different than anybody else. We’re hurting. We’re going to feel that same crunch as everybody else,” he says.
One of Zuiker’s great disappointments is that, for all its popularity, his fictional Las Vegas crime lab didn’t generate more political support to fund death investigation.
“I’ve done my job. You know, we’ve launched three shows that cater to 73.8 million people a week and is a global phenomenon and the largest television franchise in history. We hoped that the show would raise awareness and get more funding into crime labs so people felt safe in their communities. And we’re still hoping that the government will catch up.”
None of the science in Meredith’s case has ever been discredited in court. Even in Judge Hellmann’s court the agenda-driven independent consultants Conti and Vecchiotti failed - and under cross-examination admitted it.
Also remember that the Hellmann court did not get to see two very key closed-court scientific presentations (the stark recreation of the attack on Meredith, in a day of testimony, and later in a 15 minute video) which had a very big balancing effect on the Massei court.
Right now the reputation of not one defense-campaign stooge who has attacked the science remains intact.
Greg Hampikian has headed for cover. He had widely proclaimed that he clinched the Hellmann court’s outcome, in an act which may well have been illegal. Unsurprisingly, he is now trying very hard to hide his own claimed “proof ” of shortfalls in the science, as Andrea Vogt has been showing in her Boise State University investigation, and as we will soon post more on.
Saul Kassin is another defense-campaign stooge who falsely claimed that he clinched the Hellmann court outcome by “proving” a false confession by Knox - in an interrogation that never even took place.
Despite all of this, maybe as straw-snatching, we can again see an organized attempt to confuse American opinion on the science of the case.
Whether she did this intentionally or not, that is what the PR tool Colleen Barry of the Associated Press was doing when she omitted that the trace of Meredith on the knife is undisputed hard evidence.
Judge Micheli and Judge Massei handled the science, scope, and balance with some brilliance. In all three dimensions Judge Hellmann fell short abysmally.
What is your own bet on the outcome under the exceptionally experienced Judge Nencini?
Archived in Italian system v others, Officially involved, The judiciary, The trials, Guede trial, RS + AK trial, The appeals, Hellmann appeal, Florence appeal, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Diversion efforts by, The Knox-Mellases, Greg Hampikian
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Sunday, November 10, 2013
The Crime-Scene Clean-Up: How Rudy Guede’s Diary Provides Even More Proof That It Happened
Posted by pat az
Rudy Guede was ultimately declared convicted by the Supreme Court in 2010 of participating in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher.
The prosecution claims the two other participants are Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Knox and Sollecito are currently appealing their conviction of the same crime.
The case against the three of them involves a suspected clean up of the hallway in the apartment after the crime. Meredith’s blood was found in the bathroom, and half a footprint in her blood was found on the bathroom mat. However, there was no visible blood between Meredith’s bedroom and the bathroom.
The only visible blood in the hallway were faint partial shoe prints that led directly out the front door of the apartment.
After the murder was discovered, the media reported almost daily on developments in the case. The day of the murder, the press reported on the blood found in the bathroom and the bedroom.
But until police used luminol at the apartment on December 18th, the media didn’t report on any significant blood found in the hallway. Between November 2nd and December 18th, only one person stated that significant amounts of blood had been in the hallway.
Rudy Guede actually wrote about it in his diary between Nov 20th and Dec 6th, after being captured in Germany.
The police arrived at the apartment on November 2nd. According to media reports, the blood they spotted immediately was only in the bathroom and Meredith’s bedroom. When the scene was more closely examined, after the discovery of the body, police found visible blood patterns on the floor left by Guede’s left shoe as he left the apartment.
None of the people who arrived in the apartment on the afternoon of November 2nd reported seeing them; these footprints are not in any of the stories of the events of Nov 2nd told by Amanda Knox nor Raffaele Sollecito. So, while these prints were visible, they were not substantially obvious.
On December 18th 2007 investigators applied Luminol in the hallway and other bedrooms. This forensic chemical is used to detect blood which has been cleaned away. The Luminol revealed several footprints in the hallway between the bedrooms of Knox and Meredith. Example below. Some of these footprints were leading towards Meredith’s door.
They also discovered prints in Filomena’s room which contained Meredith’s DNA and Amanda Knox’s DNA. They also revealed a footprint in Amanda Knox’s bedroom. (The defense unsuccessfully contested the investigator’s conclusions that these prints were made with blood).
On November 19 2007, an international arrest warrant was issued for Rudy Guede. He was arrested in Germany on November 20th. Guede remained in Germany until his extradition on December 3rd.
During his stay in jail in Germany, Guede wrote a long statement that was published and translated. Guede’s writings are similar to to Knox’s jail writings in many ways - they both try to write out their own detailed version of events, while pointing blame elsewhere.
But Guede’s comments may in fact be confirmation of a clean-up after the murder of Meredith Kercher (emphasis added):
I am asking myself how is it possible that Amanda could have slept in all that mess, and took a shower with all that blood in the bathroom and corridor? (Guede, Germany Diary, P21)
The police did not find evidence of any other blood until December 18th, AFTER Guede returned from Germany. As indicated above, the luminol revealed multiple footprints in the hallway, in Knox’s bedroom, and in Filomena’s bedroom. The image below shows these results in blue. Guede’s partial footprints are shown in red.
The conclusion is inescapable: Guede knew there would be significant evidence of blood in the hallway, before the police themselves found that evidence.
How did Guede know there would be more blood found in the hallway, before the police found that evidence on December 18th? And why wasn’t that blood there on the morning of November 2nd?
The courts believe the blood in the hallway was cleaned after the murder of Meredith Kercher. And the Micheli and Massei courts believed only one person had the motivation to hide this evidence: Amanda Knox.
Here is a summary of Judge Micheli’s October 2008 indictment finding.
In Judge Massei’s December 2009 trial finding for the original conviction of Knox and Sollecito, he also writes about the clean-up that the judges believed to have happened:
Further confirmation is constituted by the fact that, after Meredith’s murder, it is clear that some traces were definitely eliminated, a cleaning activity was certainly carried out. In fact, the bare foot which, stained with blood, left its footprint on the sky-blue mat in the bathroom, could only have reached that mat by taking steps which should have left other footprints on the floor, also marked out in blood just like (in fact, most likely, with even more [blood], since they were created before the footprint printed on the mat) the one found on the mat itself. Of such other very visible footprints of a bloody bare foot, on the contrary, there is no trace. (Massei, Dec 09; PMF translation)
In defense of Guede, Knox, and Sollecito, some might try to claim that Guede heard about blood in the hallway in the news. Rudy Guede was arrested 18 days following the murder of Meredith Kercher. During that time he had access to read the news and watch reports.
I have searched for articles in the period between November 2nd and December 18 which mention blood. All of the articles I have found so far discuss blood in the bedroom or the bathroom. One or two discuss footprints leading to the front door.
None of them discuss blood in the hallway that would justify a statement from Guede of “tutto quel sangue nel bagno e sul corridoghe” (all that blood in the bathroom and in the corridor)
Guede himself said he went between the bedroom and the bathroom, so may have tracked blood into the bathroom and therefore known blood would be found in the hallway.
Even that knowledge however confirms a clean-up, as there was not a trail of blood between the bathroom and Meredith’s room that justifies the footprint on the bathmat and blood found in the bathroom.
I have my own questions as a result of Guede’s knowledge of blood in the hallway:
Could the attack have started in the hallway? Could the first blood shed have been on the hallway tiles?
The prosecution and courts argue that Amanda Knox had a role in the attack and murder. Knox and her supporters are very adamant that there is no trace of Knox in Meredith’s bedroom. While the courts argue otherwise, could Knox’s role have been limited to the hallway?
Sadly, we may never know the full truth of what happened on the evening of November 1st, 2007.
My timeline of media reports on blood
- Nov 2nd: Meredith Kercher found. Blood found in bathroom.
- Nov 5th: Police analyzing traces of blood from apartment below.
- Nov 5th: A “trail of blood” is on the inside handle of the door to the apartment.
- Nov 7th: reports of Amanda Knox’s statements, includes finding blood in the bathroom.
- Nov 14th: Police use of Luminol at Sollectio’s house. First reports on the knife seized by police from Sollecito’s house.
- Nov 19th: Analysis of blood in bedroom (pillow, bra, etc).
- Nov 22nd: Guede’s prints in blood.
- Nov 27th: Amanda Knox’s blood on bathroom tap.
- Nov 28th: Blood in bathroom.
- Dec 5th: Reports of Guede’s letter to father: “there was so much blood”.
My timeline of main events involving Guede
- Nov 2nd, 2am – 4:30 am: Guede seen by witnesses at Domus nightclub.
- Nov 3: Guede leaves Perugia for Germany
- Nov 11: Guede’s cell phone tracked in Milan (Corriere)
- Nov 12: Newspaper reports a 4th suspect.
- Nov 19: Guede identified as suspect in newspapers
- Nov 19: Guede skype conversation with friend.
- Nov 20: Patrick released from prison.
- Nov 20: Guede arrested while trying to return to italy on train in Germany.
- Nov 21: Guede interrogated by German police; Guede admits to being at apartment, blames an italian man for murder.
- Nov 20-Dec 5: Guede writes diary in German prison.
- Dec 3: Germany grants Guede’s extradition back to Italy.
- Dec 6: Guede returns to Perugia.
- Dec 7: Guede interrogated by Magistrate.
- Dec 14: Guede ordered to remain in prison.
- Dec 17: Knox is questioned by Mignini.
- Dec 18: Police use luminol in apartment and find footprints in hallway and in Filomena’s bedroom.
Archived in The three defendants, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, Rudy Guede, The trials, Guede trial, The appeals, Guede appeals, Public evidence, The timelines, DNA and luminol, Crime hypotheses, Spurious Lone-Wolf
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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 MD
[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 The three defendants, Rudy Guede, Officially involved, Supreme Court, The trials, Guede trial, The appeals, Guede appeals, Public evidence, The timelines, DNA and luminol, The two knives, Witness Aviello, Witness Alessi, Crime hypotheses, Spurious Lone-Wolf, Diversion efforts by, The Knox-Mellases, The Sollecitos, More sockpuppets
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Monday, April 08, 2013
Tips For The Media #3: There’s Far More Evidence Than UK/US Need For Guilt - See This Footprint
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, The three defendants, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, Officially involved, The trials, The Massei Report, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Other physical, Diversion efforts by, The Knox-Mellases, The Sollecitos
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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 - basically that someone must have stepped on or touched the bra clasp or hook - about which they are talking and as a result of which they deem contamination to have probably occurred.
Without that probability - that is if it 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, and as it transpires only are, the precautions which they say were not followed in collecting and handling the exhibit and for which they suppose the non-scientific police were most likely responsible.
Compliance with these, they say, “guarantees” the reliability of the result. They refer to the Do’s and Do Not’s of successful crime scene management as listed by Conti-Vecchiotti and taken from guidelines from the Louisiana State Crime Police Laboratory, from the U.S Department of Justice, and more relevantly from Evidence Manuals from the New Jersey State Police, Missouri State Highway Patrol and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
There is a predominance of American references but they do also refer to the Good Practice Manual for Crime Scene Management promoted by ENFSI (European Network of Forensic Science Institutes). From Hellmann-Zanetti -
Regarding above all the identification of a genetic profile in an exhibit, it is important that the entire procedure be followed with complete observance of the rules dictated by the scientific community, which are not, to be sure, juridical rules (it is not a law of the State, as Dr. Stefanoni observed), but which do represent a guarantee of the reliability of the result. And since these rules also contain precautions necessary in order to avoid possible contamination, one can understand that the respect of these precautions cannot simply be assumed, but must be proven by anyone who bases his accusations on this result.
Rules and guidelines are not quite the same thing, still less are there standardised guidelines dictated by the scientific community, but let’s not be pernickety. What compliance with the guidelines does, of course, is reduce the risk (the “possibility” and yes, if there are elements supporting it, “the probability“) of contamination, not guarantee that there is not contamination. As any expert in the field will concede, contamination is always possible.
Conti-Vecchiotti listed, apparently, some 54 examples of breach of the aforesaid guidelines. Significant among these (because we know of them and the most was made of them) are -
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 it is a highly speculative and prejudicial observation 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….”
What studies? Unfortunately Hellmann-Zanetti do not elaborate on these studies, and the proof therein allegedly contained, nor can we see them cited in the Conti-Vecchiotti report!
This leads me to the suspicion that Hellmann-Zanetti are trying to pull the wool over our eyes here. Yes, certainly secondary transfer is not an unusual occurrence but the circumstances as to when this is likely, or not, is not discussed, let alone evaluated. It seems to me that this is not unimportant and the omission is surprising.
What Conto-Vecchiotti actually say about the subject in their report is mind-boggingly amateurish, trite and misleading. So much so that one doubts that they are really experts.
The relevant section about contamination (such as it is) in Conti-Vecchiotti is under the heading “Notes On Inspection And Collection Techniques”. Reading this I note, in the second paragraph, being in, it would seem, Conti-Vecchiotti’s own words:
The starting point is always Locard’s Principle according to which two objects which come into contact with each other exchange material in different forms. Equally the same principle scientifically supports the possibility of contamination and alteration [of the scene] on the part of anyone else, investigators included, who comes into contact with the scene.
Far from being just a starting point Locard’s Principle seems to be all that Conti and Vecchiotti know about the transfer of DNA.
For what it is worth Edmond Locard established an early crime lab in 1910 ( being a fan of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories) and wrote many articles as a result. However he never actually wrote any words approximating to “with contact there is an exchange of material” (which is not exactly a law of physics in the same manner as the laws of motion are) nor did he mention anything concerning a principle.
What he did write was “It is impossible for a criminal to act, especially given the intensity of the crime, without leaving traces of this presence.” Sherlock Holmes would have said the same.
Incidentally it is science that supports a principle, and not the other way around. I would have expected Conti-Vecchiotti to know that.
I have surfed the internet for articles on the subject of 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, The trials, The Massei Report, The appeals, Hellmann Report, Public evidence, Sollecito's alibis, DNA and luminol
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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, The trials, Prosecution's case, Public evidence, The timelines
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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, The trials, The Massei Report, The appeals, Hellmann appeal, Diversion efforts by
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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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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Reflecting On Andrea Vogt’s Fine Report “Knox: Innocent Abroad Or ‘Getting Away With Murder’?”
Posted by Skeptical Bystander
Cross posted from my personal blog. Please click the image above for Ms Vogt’s new piece.
In this intelligent and well-written piece, Andrea Vogt wonders aloud how Italians would react to an acquittal of the Seattle woman who was convicted in December 2009 of taking part in the killing of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. She notes that an acquittal would be cause for celebration in Seattle.
It would certainly be cause for celebration among those who have taken up the cause and believe in Knox’s innocence despite the compelling evidence of her involvement in this horrific crime. But the fact is, most people in Seattle are simply not that interested. And among those who are, the consensus is certainly not that an innocent abroad got railroaded.
If it seems so, it’s because the local media has dutifully followed the lead of the national media and adopted the “innocent abroad” narrative concocted by David Marriott, whose PR firm was hired to manage Knox’s image shortly after she was arrested. In Seattle, Meredith’s murder has been played as a human interest story in which only the local protagonists matter. Meredith was British; it is assumed that Seattleites could not possibly give a toss about her.
Hence, local coverage has favored news of fundraisers for the accused local woman and then for the convicted local woman. Questions from local journalists to her supporters (family) have ranged from “How is she holding up in prison?” to “How is she holding up in prison?” And since there is no guilter movement, local or otherwise, except in the minds of a few shrill locals, there has been no local coverage of the movement’s “activities”. How can a non-existent movement have activities?
I have met many people in West Seattle who quietly shake their heads in disbelief at Steve Shay’s coverage for the West Seattle Herald. Yesterday, someone who works at a local business said “you’re skeptical bystander” when she handed me back my credit card. She told me she was a long-time lurker who reads perugiamurderfile.org and TJMK every day for information about the case. There are many people like her in Seattle.
I found it amusing, though sad, to read the comments that follow Andrea Vogt’s thoughtful piece for the First Post. Naturally, loud vocal supporter “Mary H” (this is her online pseudonym, and hiding behind it may be one reason she is so loud on the internet) was quick to condemn Vogt for merely pointing out the obvious. Mary H (fake name) asked Andrea Vogt (real name) how she could sleep at night!
It ain’t that hard, Mary, when you have the courage of your convictions and when you stand by the facts rather than getting sidetracked by the cause.
The fact at hand is that many people—in Seattle, in Italy, and elsewhere—would come away from an eventual acquittal with the feeling that justice had not been done for Meredith Kercher and her family and that at least two of those responsible for her death had gotten away with it. Mary H and others may not like to hear this, but it is a fact. And no amount of shaming on the part of Mary H or anyone else is going to make a bit of difference.
Yesterday, a lawyer friend and I were musing about what would have happened had this case been tried in the US. Many Knox supporters have said, repeatedly, that it would never have gone to trial here. My lawyer friend agreed, but for a different reason than the one implicit in this view (i.e. that there is supposedly no evidence). He said
I don’t think the case would have gone to trial in the US. First, they would not have had to stop questioning her when they did. They would have artfully gotten her to waive her Miranda rights. They would have told her they can’t help her unless tells her side of the story, been very sympathetic initially and built up her confidence that she could talk her way out of it. They would eventually hone in on the inconsistencies, and when she finally cracked there wouldn’t be a lawyer there to stop her. The death penalty would have been on the table, and her only sure way to avoid that would be to plead guilty in exchange for life.
He also thinks that this would not have been such a high-profile case had it happened in Seattle.
Let’s wait and see how this court weighs the two contested items in the overall scheme of things. As a poster on PMF (another lawyer) wrote last night, it all boils down to this: How many pieces of evidence… ‘consistent with, but not conclusive of’ guilt can stack up against someone before, as a matter of common sense, it is no longer reasonable to believe they are innocent?
Archived in Officially involved, The trials, RS + AK trial, The appeals, Hellmann appeal, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, Amanda Knox
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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 The trials, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, 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, The trials, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, 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 The trials, Public evidence, DNA and luminol, 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, The trials, The appeals, Hellmann appeal, Conti-Vecchiotti, Public evidence, DNA and luminol
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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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