Breaking news. There seems deliberate intent to make Thursday night IP fundraiser in Kansas City with Amanda Knox all but invisible to the press. Not one recent report. Quick reads: (1) On why Knox was rightly in prison and was not exonerated. (2) On Knox's real experiences in prison, by witnesses and Knox herself. (3) And much more.

Series Evidence & witnesses

Monday, April 08, 2013

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

Posted by SomeAlibi




The false claim “there is no evidence”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A definitive evidence point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions that must follow

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, April 01, 2013

Alarm Bells Ignored: Overconfident PR And Lawyers May Have Led To That Shock At Cassation Outcome

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





Amanda Knox has seemed to us more stunned than confident since she got out of Capanne. Her father mentioned that she was not given the whole picture there.

But we have been surprised in recent weeks at how the defense lawyers and spokesmen and especially Raffaele Sollecito and Giulia Bongoirno and Carlo Dalla Vedova and the PR flunkies were seemingly seeing the Supreme Court appeal as a forgone conclusion in their favor, a blip requiring no change in the end game.

Here are 20 warning bells that we think they might have missed or heard wrongly which contributed to a shocked and ill-prepared reaction to the Cassation ruling, and each of which a team of hard-nosed lawyers not befuddled by PR might have heard and responded to quite differently. 

    1. The Italian media in 2007-2008 in fact did not blow the case and Knox herself out of all proportion. Most of the lurid headlines appeared in the UK press where they had zero effect on the 2009 jury. There really was a hard case to answer.

    2. The British and American media mostly came to be manipulated on the lines Barbie Nadeau’s book described, which meant a big contrast opened up between hard Italian reporting and fantastical UK and US reporting.

    3. The Knox and Sollecito teams shrugged off a short-form trial in October 2008 at which point they might have pleaded that Meredith’s murder was not intended and drugs and mental quirks had resulted in a terrible but unintended outcome, perhaps providing relief both for themselves and Meredith’s family. 

    4. The prosecution part of the trial in 2009 was in fact, contrary to frequent illusory claims, fast and comprehensive and decisive, and it may have been at the end of that phase that the jury was already ready to vote guilty. 

    5. The defense part of the trial was far less successful with Amanda Knox on the stand suggesting to Italians that she was cold-blooded and uncaring, and from then on the defenses were desultory and dispirited with no strong points ever landed. Several days one or other of them failed to show.

    6. The prosecution summation at end of trial was extremely powerful and included in it was a very convincing 15-minute crime-scene recreation video (never released to the public) which accounted for all the marks and stains in Meredith’s room and on her body by an attack group of three.

    7. The Massei report, again contrary to frequent illusory claims later, was considered by those familiar with such reports a model of good logic and reasonable assumptions. It laid out and connected hundreds of evidence points which in a normal appeal process would have been unassailable.

    8. The 2011 appeal did not happen because Massei was riddled with legal errors and wrong assumptions, which would have been the criteria for any British or American judge to agree to such an appeal. It happened solely because, unique to Italy, such appeals are automatic if demanded, resulting in a huge number of appeals on weak grounds. 

    9. Italy does not have a terrible record of trial reversals as some claim. It has a record of fine-tuning and adjustments of thousands of appeals by appeal juries seemingly wishing to prove that they are being diligent. Cassation is aware of this quirky systemic effect, and it often bounces back appeal outcomes to dead center. 

    10. It had appeared that the PR effort was joined by a lot of influential “heavies” including MP Girlanda, Judge Heavey, Senator Cantwell, Joel Simon of CPJ, and the billionaire Donald Trump. Most had limited positive effect in the US and less in Italy, and have been quiet since the Cassation ruling.

    11. Judge Hellmann was a surprise replacement for Judge Chiari, then the able and experienced head of the criminal division. (He resigned over this.) Judge Hellmann, a good civil judge, had very limited criminal-case experience. Chief Judge De Nunzio has not explained why he replaced Chiari .

    12. The scope of appeals is carefully laid out in the Italian judicial code, and they are not to be repeat trials with overall reconsideration of all evidence and al witnesses only absent the careful presentation process and cross-examination at trial. In the US or UK the defense grounds for appeal might simply have been rejected. 

    13. Prosecutor Mignini was provisionally convicted in March 2011 of abuse of office, but careful examination would have revealed that the grounds were spurious and he had no need of a conviction in this case. Cassation in the past month has killed his own case terminally and chastized those who brought it. 

    14. Incriminating DNA was found in Meredith’s room and also outside it in many locations, and also on a knife in Sollecito’s apartment. DNA consultants were “illegally” appointed who muddied the waters but decisively disproved none of it. 

    15. The Supreme Court is on record as deciding that three perpetrators attacked Meredith. The defenses never set out to prove Guede was a lone wolf attacker, for a long list of reasons, and they failed to prove that jailhouse witnesses Alessi and Aviello had pointed out credible alternatives.

    16. The Hellmann-Zanetti report surprised a majority of Italian lawyers who read it for its passion and broad scope and tendentious logic, and for misunderstanding certain key legal concepts. Some instantly saw it as having feet of clay, and a pretty sure candidate for reversal.

    17. The significance of Chief Prosecutor Dr Galati in the process seemed seriously discounted.  UK and US media mostly ignored his appointment and where he came from, which was in fact Cassation in Rome where he was a highly effective Deputy Chief Prosecutor.

    18. The Galati appeal itself was extremely competent and hard line and targeted the Hellmann appeal outcome in several levels or layers in a total of ten points. It is one of the toughest and most sweeping appeals ever filed in Italy, and in the US or UK alarm bells really would have gone off at this one. 

    19.  Sollecito’s book was seemingly okayed by his lawyers, although it causes them major complications in three respects: it introduces new “facts” which contradict his own defense; it derides Italian officials and accuses them of crimes; and it looks like a seedy attempt to make money out of a crime for which the writer is still on trial.

    20. While Sollecito had been acting happily oblivious and super-confident in recent months, he has added to Amanda Knox’s own problems by semi selling her out in his book, and by waking the new 800 pound gorilla of contempt of court prosecutions for not respecting the judicial process.

It may not surprise you to learn that Giulia Bongiorno has not had a very winning record at Cassation, and as far as we know the other lawyers have no experience of winning there at all.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tip For The Media: Getting Up To Speed With The Hard Facts Of This Complex Case

Posted by Media Watcher



[Above: Harvard “superlawyer” Alan Dershowitz, who conceded yesterday that there IS a strong case]

Getting Back On The Rails

In the United States, with few exceptions, the media has generally accepted the spin from the defense team.

As a consequence, much of the reporting has been shallow and/or wildly inaccurate.  These errors have compounded over time, which leads to a situation where the American media was completely unprepared for yesterday’s decision.

As someone who has read through all of the available court documents and much of the media and who has more than 25 years’ experience helping national media to understand complex, technical stories, here’s my take on the issues the media should consider as they continue to write about this case:

Click here for more


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Hellmann-Zanetti Appeal Court’s DNA Consultancy Looks Even Worse In Face Of The Latest Science

Posted by Fly By Night



[Above: images of typical modern analysis DNA facilities similar to Dr Stefanoni’s in Rome]


The Galati appeal to Cassation comes down very strongly against the work and conclusions of the appeal court’s DNA consultants Vecchiotti and Conti.

Dr. Galati argues that the consultancy should never have happened at appeal level, that its methods were slipshod and out of date, that its conclusions were mainly innuendo that left the prosecution case untouched, and that the consultants should not have refused to test a remaining sample from the large knife collected at Sollecito’s place.

In July 2011, about the midpoint of the appeal trial, I took strong issue with the C&V science and essentially mirrored in advance what Dr. Galati would argue to Cassation nearly a year later. Many other TJMK posters including our legal posters James Raper and Cardiol took issue with legal and other aspects.

With a Supreme Court ruling on the 2nd level (first appeal level) outcome scheduled for early next week, it’s the perfect time to re-examine the role of DNA in that outcome against the latest science. I want to include some excellent observations from our contributing poster “Thoughtful” as expressed in her recently published book Math on Trial.

I’ll start off with an overview of the science of DNA analysis and describe recent developments in analysis approaches, techniques and capabilities.  Incidentally, one of my resources for this information is a chapter in “DNA Electrophoresis Protocols for Forensic Genetics” published shortly after the Hellmann verdict for the first appeal (circa early 2012); a chapter in which Carla Vecchiotti is cited as providing technical assistance.

Given Vecchiotti’s involvement in recent academic publications we can be certain that at the time of the Hellmann verdict Vecchiotti was well aware of the rapidly evolving and improving nature of DNA testing procedures and capabilities.  And in contrast to her courtroom allegations that Dr. Stefanoni had not followed “internationally established forensic science standards” in her DNA analysis techniques, Vecchiotti has recently contributed to sources claiming that today’s critical challenge is to develop general guidelines for DNA evaluation and promulgate clear and universal laboratory practices while recognizing that a multitude of labs exist, each with its own specific protocols and personnel.

We will return to the Conti-Vecchiotti report shortly, but first let’s have a quick look at the history and state-of-the-art of DNA analysis.


Brief History of DNA Testing

The literature reveals that the USA has never been at the forefront of forensic DNA analysis.  The first court cases to successfully employ DNA “fingerprinting” techniques occurred in England during the mid 1980s.  A case involving a double rape/homicide of teenage girls in 1986 turned out to be prophetic in that it involved the first use of DNA to exonerate an innocent suspect and also was the first to apply DNA “databases”, issues which still give rise to disputes nearly 30 years later.

Over time, a variety of procedures were developed to extract DNA from biological samples but all worked on the same basic principle of breaching individual cell walls, removing the protein surrounding the DNA, isolating the DNA, and finishing with the purification and quantification of the DNA.

An important milestone in DNA fingerprinting was the development of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in 1985.  The PCR quickly became an important analytical method for forensic samples because of its sensitivity, specificity, rapid analysis, and ease of automation.  PCR amplification technology permitted the analysis of forensic samples with low quantities (less than 1 ng) of extracted DNA, unlike earlier methods that required at least 50 ng.

While PCR was far more sensitive than earlier procedures, problems with mixed DNA samples and DNA degradation led to the use of genetic markers known as Short Tandem Repeats (STR). STR analyses were fast and reactions could be multiplexed permitting multiple loci to be amplified in a single run.

In 1997 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory in the USA launched an effort to establish a set of 13 core STR loci for use within a national DNA database known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).  Similar sets of STR markers had already been selected by the European Union and elsewhere but, in general, a DNA profile obtained using 12 or more STR loci was found to yield a composite genotype frequency of less than 1 in a quadrillion.  This high degree of accuracy results from the hereditary nature of STR distribution and enables a very powerful method for biological identifications.

STR typing of extracted DNA has traditionally been very sensitive to the quantity of input DNA with ideal levels ranging from 0.5 to 2 ng.  Either too little or too much DNA could produce imbalanced amplification results resulting in incomprehensible outcomes.  The STR process is further complicated by “stutter” in the interpretation of multiple contributor DNA samples.  Stutter is an artifact of the PCR process that produces “false alleles” one repeat shorter than a primary allele.

In recent years DNA analysis techniques have evolved rapidly as equipment manufacturers upgrade STR systems to tolerate even the smallest of samples and samples that have been highly degraded.  The improved sensitivity of today’s STR kits along with the development of new strategies for the amplification of low levels of DNA now allows samples which previously could not be analyzed to produce viable results.

Low-level DNA samples often contain mixtures of DNA, which has complicated the detection and interpretation process due to stochastic sampling effects that include peak imbalance, enhanced stutter, allele loss (allele drop-out), and un-attributable alleles (allele drop-in).  With this in mind, strict guidelines have been developed including a careful determination of analytical thresholds and the use of replicate analyses in a profile to properly interpret low-level mixed-DNA samples.  More importantly, new analytical techniques such as laser micro-dissection and fluorescence in-situ hybridization have been developed enabling the identification, capture, and amplification of DNA from individual cells prior to “electrophoresis”, eliminating the problem of mixed profiles altogether.

In addition to today’s far more precise DNA analysis machines and methods there are also compelling arguments for the use of statistical or probabilistic models within the DNA analysis process to augment traditional “consensus allele” electropherogram evaluation approaches.  In short, the efforts of both scientists and statisticians are now creating powerful next generation approaches to DNA analyses as we progress through a second decade of highly successful STR typing methodologies.


Logic and Science on Trial

In my 2011 report I challenged Carla Vecchiotti’s contention that Dr. Stefanoni had not followed “internationally established forensic science standards” in her DNA analysis techniques.  Vecchiotti herself has conceded to the challenge through her contributions to publications that clearly describe a need to develop generally accepted guidelines for DNA evaluation and to create clear and universal laboratory practices that can be accepted by the diverse population of analytical labs currently operating under divergent operational protocols, all under the direction of professional and expert personnel.

In her excellent and recently published Math on Trial book, contributing poster “Thoughtful” accurately describes how DNA analysis expert Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni proceeded in her laboratory analysis of a small DNA sample found on the blade of a knife confiscated from Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment.  Not having what she felt was a sufficient sample to divide for replication of her analysis Dr. Stefanoni took the chance of running her entire sample in a single run.

As is typical of all DNA analyses, Stefanoni proceeded to amplify the results to a point where an electropherogram would reveal meaningful “peaks” and found that a resultant 13 pairs of peaks corresponded precisely to peaks derived from a known sample of Meredith Kercher’s DNA!

In this case it is pointless to attempt to argue that Stefanoni somehow exceeded the amplification limits of her equipment.  As outlined in the DNA discussion above, the typical problems associated with an amplification of low levels of DNA are related to peak imbalances, enhanced stutter, allele drop-outs, or allele drop-ins.  In this case there was nothing but a perfect match for Meredith that even Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti could not deny in court.

Stefanoni had clearly identified an identical match for Meredith’s DNA on the blade of Sollecito’s kitchen knife, leaving Vecchiotti and Conti no other option than to argue for “contamination” in court.  However, it was convincingly demonstrated by Stefanoni and all evidence handlers that from knife collection through laboratory analysis no reasonable opportunity for contamination with Meredith’s DNA existed.

In the first appeal trial, Judge Hellmann was thus presented with exceptionally compelling evidence that Meredith’s DNA was in fact found on the alleged murder weapon that had been confiscated from Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment.  Astonishingly, Hellmann rejected this evidence on an expressed assumption of non-compliance with testing techniques established by international scientific community standards; compliance standards that Vecchioti herself admits do not exist via recent academic and scientific publications as discussed above.

As “Thoughtful” carefully explains in Math on Trial, Hellmann’s faulty reasoning in excluding the knife evidence did not end there.  Hellmann provided Vecchiotti and Conti with an opportunity to retest any remaining DNA on the knife if they felt it was warranted.  Vecchiotti and Conti declined to perform any retests on the basis that that only a few cells might still exist on the knife, thus invalidating any potential results according to a false assumption that “international testing standards” somehow prohibited such low-level DNA tests even though, as outlined in the DNA discussion above, single-cell DNA analysis had at that time already become an acceptable possibility and Vecchiotti knew it.

Hellmann, however, accepted Vecchiotti and Conti’s reasoning by essentially stating that repeating an “invalid” DNA analysis procedure twice can do nothing towards resolving a DNA identification problem because two wrongs do not make a right.  In Math on Trial, “Thoughtful” artfully explains the complete failure of logic of Hellmann’s line of reasoning.  Hellmann claims that running an experiment independently two separate times and obtaining the same result each time can do absolutely nothing towards increasing the assurance of reliability for an event.

However, “Thoughtful” describes how successfully repeating Stefanoni’s low-level DNA analysis technique could easily carry a probabilistic result from a “not beyond a reasonable doubt” percentage range to a highly convincing 98.5% or higher probability.  “Thoughtful’s” arguments in Math on Trial are completely in line with today’s efforts to embed statistical and probabilistic models within the DNA analysis process for a much higher precision and accuracy standard.


Conclusions

In 2011 I concluded that Vecchiotti and Conti’s expert report findings actually boiled down to two primary debates: (1) Issues surrounding the small sample (Low Copy Number – LCN) DNA analysis techniques employed by Dr. Stefanoni, and (2) Issues surrounding the probability of excluding all possible sources of contamination from the evidence.

In 2013, on the eve of the Court of Cassation ruling on the first appeal outcomes of the Meredith Kercher murder trial, it appears to me that all issues related to DNA analysis and contamination have been powerfully addressed by both the prosecution and “best available science” considerations. 

The errors in Judge Hellmann’s logic and reasoning that set Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito free have been shown to be plentiful and astounding, as evidenced by the few DNA related examples that have been examined in this report.  In light of all of the above and the powerful legal arguments raised by the Galati appeal to Cassation, it seems that there can be no other option than to send this appeal outcome back for a thorough lower court re-evaluation.

Posted on 03/23/13 at 05:05 AM by Fly By NightClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Archived in Evidence & witnessesDNA and luminolThe two knivesAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiquesHoaxers, tools, dupesMore hoaxers
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Disarray And Decay In The Pro-Knox Parade: #1 Bruce Fischer’s Epidemic Of Malicious Claims

Posted by The Machine




The Knox supporters’ leader-of-the-parade spirals up

Back in October 2008, in our first long post ever on Meredith’s case, Skeptical Bystander highlighted the crazed pro-Knox attack sharks that were starting to appear on Candace Dempsey’s blog.

Psychologists warned us that a competitive leader-of-the-parade spiral was wittingly or unwittingly being encouraged by the Curt Knox/David Mariott/Anne Bremner campaign, and that this could be far from the worst we’d see.

Sure enough, late in 2008, Frank Sforza (timidly posting anonymously as “Frank Sfarzo”) did a u-turn on his blog Perugia Shock from nicely supporting Meredith and the prosecution to angrily supporting Amanda Knox and vilifying the prosecution and pro-Meredith sympathizers. (A u-turn for which he now pays dear.)

At a West Seattle Knox fundraiser in January 2009 a really angry Paul Ciolino wowed the crowd with red meat. He attempted to leapfrog all the other pro-Knox hotheads with a vicious personal attack on the prosecution. Ciolino sounded so crazed that even Amanda Knox’s defense lawyers had to distance themselves from him.

Soon after, Doug Preston, long a timid sniper safe on the other side of the Atlantic from Italy, published his angry, error-ridden Monster of Florence with its surreal Afterword on Meredith’s case.

From that point on, slamming the Italian police and police experts and prosecution without any restraint (for which there has been zero parallel in US or UK legal history) became a cowardly passion across the Atlantic which any ill-informed hothead could play. The Italian MP Rocco Girlanda next leaped to the head of the parade with easy access to Knox in prison, and some of his slobberings were so bizarre that even the Knox-Mellases for once thought to check that supporter out.

Fischer attempts to elbow his way to the front

First mention of “Bruce Fisher of New York” on Perugia Murder File was in a comment by myself on 7 March 2010. Even back then, Fischer had a whole handful of basic facts about the case wrong but heeded no advice.

Fischer arrived after the 2009 Massei trial was done, and from that time on he tried to absolutely dominate the pro-Knox parade. His fundamental effort is to muddy the water on the hard evidence and inflame American public against Italy and its cops, court, and ustice officials.

Such inflammatory actions are in fact illegal under Italian law and especially so when very senior justice officials are falsely accused of crimes.

Fischer wrote a joke of a book, the very worst on the case. He has posted endless badly-written posts on his own websites and forums, with no correction when they proved wrong.

He also posted endless badly-written posts on other blogs and group blogs like Technorati (evicted), Gather (evicted) and Ground Report, with no correction when they proved wrong. And he posted dozens of videos on Youtubes with no correction when they proved wrong.

Fischer set out to hijack the Amanda Knox Wikipedia page, which to knowledgeable Italians now looks absolutely bizarre. He recruited a raft-full of confused and uncurious nitwits like Steve Moore, Nigel Scott, Ron Hendry, David Anderson, Saul Kassin, and Michael Wiesner.

All of them are now lesser people than they once were.

Fischer is clearly a clinically deeply angry man (he has in his past little education, a disaster of a career, several bankruptcies, and a house repossession) so not unexpectedly most of Fischer’s prolific output has been in the form of vicious personal rants.

Revealed 18 months ago to be merely Bruce Fischer, a shop assistant in a mall store on the far outskirts of Chicago, with not a single honorable accomplishment to his name, he chilled somewhat. But his personal rants all still remain online, and so does his epidemic of wrong claims.

Lately he has been trying frenetically to shore up the edifice of the seemingly unstable Frank Sforza. Sforza is now on the run from the American law and facing several trials in Italy; Sforza’s own site has fled behind the scenes.

This first post in the series nails 20 of Fischer’s malicious claims intended to inflame public opinion against the police and prosecution which he has long pushed hard on his websites and other websites and forums.

Bruce Fischer on Amanda Knox’s interrogation

On his website under the heading The Illegal Interrogation of Amanda Knox, Bruce Fisher gives what appears to be a very detailed eyewitness account of what happened to Amanda Knox when she was questioned at the police station on 5 November 2007.

The problem is Bruce Fischer wasn’t actually present when Knox was questioned and he doesn’t know what happened. His account is repeatedly contradicted by numerous witnesses who were actually present. These witnesses include Amanda Knox’s interpreter, Anna Donnino, numerous police officers from different units from Perugia and Rome and Amanda Knox.


Malicious Claim 1: Amanda Knox repeatedly told the truth

Bruce Fischer’s claim that Amanda Knox repeatedly told the truth is complete and utter nonsense. Even a simpleton could understand that Amanda Knox’s repeated claims that Diya Lumumba killed Meredith are not true and that it’s not possible for her to be in two different places - Sollecito’s apartment and the cottage on Via della Pergola - at the same time.

Judge Micheli, who presided over Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial and sent Knox and Sollecito to trial, noted that they had given multiple alibis and had lied in attempt to cover for each other.  The mobile phone records, the data recovered from Sollecito’s computer and the corroborative eyewitness testimony provide irrefutable proof that she lied repeatedly.

Judge Massei outlined numerous examples of these lies in his report: she falsely claimed she received a text message from Diya Lumumba when she was at Sollecito’s apartment (322); there are various discrepancies in her statements about the time she and Sollecito ate dinner (78); her claim that she and Sollecito had a peaceful night of continuous and prolonged sleep is contradicted by Sollecito’s activity on his computer, the turning on of his cell phone and the testimony of Marc Quintavalle (85).

Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, conceded that she had given conflicting accounts to the police:

All of the lawyers have imposed on Amanda the gravity of her situation, and the gravity of accusing other people. They have all told her that she needs to tell the truth because there have been differences in the statements.

According to Anna Donnino, her interpreter, she denied responding to a text message from Lumumba.

She had denied responding to an SMS message from Mr Lumumba telling her there was no need to come to work because there were few customers, leaving her free for the evening. But she broke down when police said phone records showed that she had done so, Ms Donnino said.


Malicious Claim 2: The interrogation of Amanda Knox was illegal

No court in Italy has ever ruled that any of Amanda Knox’s questioning on 5 and 6 November 2007 was illegal. This explains why Bruce Fischer is unable to support his claim with any reference to a court ruling.


Malicious Claim 3: Amanda Knox was told Diya Lumumba killed Meredith and she did not give Patrick’s name to the police. His name was suggested to her.

According to the corroborative testimony of multiple witnesses, including her interpreter Anna Donnino, Amanda Knox voluntarily and spontaneously accused Patrick Lumumba of murdering Meredith.

After hearing and weighing up the testimony of these witnesses and Amanda Knox, Judge Massei stated that it couldn’t be claimed that “Amanda Knox was persuaded by the investigators to accuse Diya Lumumba aka Patrick, by means of various pressing requests which she could not resist.” (The Massei report, page 388.)

He noted that there had been “no corroboration of the pressing requests which Amanda was seemingly subjected to in order to accuse Diya Lumumba of the crime committed to the detriment of Meredith.” (389).

Judge Massei concluded that Knox had freely accused Diya Lumumba of Meredith’s murder.


Malicious Claim 4: Amanda Knox was slapped on the back of the head.

All the witnesses who were present when Knox was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at the trial that she wasn’t hit. Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, distanced himself from these allegations:

There were pressures from the police, but we never said she was hit.


Malicious Claim 5: This abuse went on for hours until Amanda was finally broken.

Leaving aside Fischer’s unsubstantiated claim that Amanda Knox was abused for hours, she was questioned for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes on 5 November 2007. According to Barbie Nadeau Amanda Knox’s questioning started at about 11.00pm:

Since Knox was at the police station, the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m.

Knox questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect and made her first witness statement. She wasn’t actively questioned again that night. Mignini later witnessed another statement but no questions were asked.


Malicious Claim 6: Amanda Knox was suffering from extreme exhaustion with no food or water.

A number of witnesses who were present when Knox was questioned, testified that Knox was given something to eat and drink. Even Amanda Knox admitted this was the case in court.

Ms Napoleoni told the court that while she was at the police station Ms Knox had been ‘treated very well. She was given water, camomile tea and breakfast. She was given cakes from a vending machine and then taken to the canteen at the police station for something to eat.’ (Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009).

Also from Richard Owens in The Times.

Ms Donnino said that Ms Knox had been “comforted” by police, given food and drink, and had at no stage been hit or threatened.

John Follain in his meticulous book Death in Perugia also reports that Knox was given food and drink during her questioning:

During the questioning, detectives repeatedly went to fetch her a snack, water, and hot drinks including camomile tea. (Death in Perugia, Kindle edition, page 134).



Malicious Claim 7: The Italian Supreme Court stated that the interrogation was illegal because Amanda did not have an attorney present.

The Italian Supreme Court has never stated that Amanda Knox’s questioning on 5 November 2007 was illegal. Bruce Fischer eventually admitted this was not true on PMF.net

When it comes to the admissibility of the written statements, you are technically correct. The interrogation itself was never ruled illegal.

However, he still hasn’t corrected this Malicious Claim on his website.


Malicious Claim 8: Sollecito couldn’t support Knox’s alibi because he was sleeping.

Bruce Fisher’s claim that Sollecito was only speaking about when he was sleeping is completely contradicted by Sollecito’s witness statement:

Amanda and I went into town at around 6pm, but I don’t remember what we did. We stayed there until around 8.30 or 9pm.

At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner. (Aislinn Simpson, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2007).

Police said Raffaele Sollecito had continued to claim he was not present on the evening of the murder. He said: “I went home, smoked a joint, and had dinner, but I don’t remember what I ate. At around eleven my father phoned me on the house phone. I remember Amanda wasn’t back yet. I surfed on the Internet for a couple of hours after my father’s phone call and I stopped only when Amanda came back, about one in the morning I think. (The Times, 7 November 2007).

At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment.

Knox maintains that she spent the night of Nov. 1, 2007, at Sollecito’s house. Sollecito did not take the stand during this trial, and his lawyer told NEWSWEEK that it was, at least in part, because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi. (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).


Malicious Claim 9: Amanda Knox gave in to the interrogators demands by describing an imaginary dream or vision.

Contrary to Bruce Fisher’s claims that Knox described an imaginary dream or vision, Amanda Knox makes no mention of an imaginary dream or vision in her two witness statements. She categorically states that she met Diya Lumumba at Piazza Grimana and that they went to the cottage on Via della Pergola. In her first witness statement, she claims that Lumumba killed Meredith.

Bruce Fischer on the double DNA knife


Malicious Claim 10: No other knives were taken from Raffaele’s apartment.

Fischer makes yet another demonstrably Malicious Claim. He clearly hasn’t read the Massei report in its entirety because Judge Massei discusses a jack-knife that was 18cm long with an 8cm blade at some length and the results of the DNA tests that were carried out on it:

He (Armando Finzi) recalled they found another knife whose total length was 18cm, with an 8cm. blade… (106).

On the jack‑knife, 4 samples were taken, with negative results where blood-derived substances had been looked for; on the fourth sample, which involved the handle, the genetic profile was found to be of Sollecito plus Knox…

Four samples were taken from the jack-knife and only one yielded a positive genetic result: the sample taken from the belt clip. The trace did not turn out to be blood and it yielded a mixed genetic result: Sollecito plus Knox. To confirm the presence of result the Y profile of Sollecito. (194).

Andrea Vogt reported that another knife was taken into evidence in article for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A small knife was taken into evidence from Sollecito’s bedroom, along with other items.  (Andrea Vogt, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 February 2009).


Malicious Claim 11: The knife was chosen from the drawer because it looked clean.

Fischer is desperately trying to discredit the police investigation by dismissively and falsely claiming that the knife was chosen because it simply looked clean. Armando Finzi was the police officer who bagged the knife. He testified that he thought it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound on Meredith’s neck. Andrea Vogt explained this in the same article:

Armando Finzi, an assistant in the Perugia police department’s organized crimes unit, first discovered the knife in Sollecito’s kitchen drawer. He said the first thing he noticed upon entering the place was a “strong smell of bleach.” He opened the drawer and saw “very shiny and clean” knife lying on top of the silverware tray.

“It was the first knife I saw,” he said. When pressed on cross-examination, said his “investigative intuition” led him to believe it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound as it had been described to him. With gloved hands, he placed the knife in a new police envelope, taped it shut with Scotch tape, then placed it inside a folder, he said. There were smaller and bigger knives in the drawer, but no others were taken into evidence from the kitchen, he said.

(Andrea Vogt, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 February 2009).


Malicious Claim 12: No DNA was on the blade.

Bruce Fischer’s bizarre claim that there was no DNA on the blade is contradicted by numerous DNA experts. Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA Unit of the Scientific Police, Professor Francesca Torricelli, former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano and Professor Novelli have all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife.

Even Greg Hampikian and Elizabeth Johnson’s letter confirm that the DNA on the blade of the knife was consistent with Meredith’s DNA. Carla Vecchiotti also acknowledged that there was a complete DNA profile on the knife, but claimed it was unreliable because it should have been tested two or three times.

After categorically stating that there was no DNA on the blade, Fischer goes on to claim that the DNA on the blade came from the laboratory. However, Dr Stefanoni analyzed the traces on the knife six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. This means that contamination couldn’t have occurred in the laboratory. In court, Carla Vecchiotti accepted that six days was sufficient to avoid contamination.


Malicious Claim 13: No additional testing will ever be available.

Professor Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories with cutting-edge technology that could have carried out a test on the remaining DNA on the knife. (Galati-Costaglio Appeal, UK Version, page 26).


Malicious Claim 14: No control tests were done

John Follain points out in Death in Perugia that the control tests had been filed with another judge:

The tests had been filed with an earlier test, and Judge Pratillo Hellmann later admitted them as evidence. (Death in Perugia, Kindle Edition, page 409).

Forensic scientists Professor Novelli and Emiliano Giardina specifically who were consultants for the prosecution stated in an article in an Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotiano that the negative control were performed and these tests excluded the possibility that Meredith’s bra clasp was contaminated in the laboratory.

Bruce Fischer on the bra clasp


Malicious Claim 15: They (the Scientific Police officers) pass it (the bra clasp) around with contaminated gloves.

How could Bruce Fischer possibly know that these gloves were contaminated? He is not a forensic scientist. He didn’t quote any DNA tests on the gloves. There is no evidence that these gloves were contaminated and predictably Fischer provides no scientific findings to support his assertion.

Bruce Fischer on the Luminol footprints


Malicious Claim 16: None of the bare footprints detected with luminol tested positive for Meredith’s DNA.

Bruce Fischer gets his facts wrong for the umpteenth time and proves that he’s ignorant of the facts concerning the DNA evidence. The Luminol footprint in the corridor contained Meredith’s DNA. This information is contained in the Massei report:

Amanda (with her feet stained with Meredith’s blood for having been present in her room when she was killed) had gone into Romanelli’s room and into her [own] room leaving traces [which were highlighted] by Luminol, some of which (one in the corridor, the L8, and one, the L2, in Romanelli’s room) were mixed, that is, constituted of a biological trace attributable to [both] Meredith and Amanda… (380).


Malicious Claim 17: “Yet the court concluded Amanda purchased bleach anyway.”

Judge Massei made no such claim. On the contrary, he argued that the fluorescence given off by Luminol was due to the presence of blood, not bleach (284).

To support his argument that bleach had not been used to clean the cottage, he pointed out no-one entering the house had not noticed any smell of bleach (283) and noted that if bleach had been used to clean the house, many traces would have been highlighted by the Luminol (284).


Malicious Claim 18: Quintavalle states that he only saw the side of Amanda’s face.

This claim is completely untrue. Galati pointed out in his appeal that Quintavalle’s own witness statement contradicts this claim:

A further observation on which the CAA bases its assessment of unreliability (thus, of low reliability) appears completely arbitrary, because contradicted by the statements of the witness. Quintavalle would have seen the young woman out of the corner of the eye and never from the front.

From the examination of the statements made by Quintavalle in the first instance trial completely different facts emerge because Quintavalle affirms what was referred to by the Court of Assizes on p. 71, when the young woman was still outside the store (cf. transcripts of the hearing 21 March 2009, p. 72) adding: “this young woman when she came inside, I looked at her to greet her; I mean I saw her at a distance of one metre, 70-80 cm”.  (Galati-Costaglio Appeal, UK Version, page 39).


Malicious Claim 19: “He (Curatolo) said Amanda and Raffaele were chattering from about 9:30 pm to right before midnight on the basketball court near the cottage.”

Antonio Curatolo clarified in court that he didn’t watch Knox and Sollecito the whole time in Piazza on the night of the murder. Barbie Nadeau reported that he saw them on a couple of occasions:

...he (Curatolo) placed Amanda and Raffaele there, testifying that the two stood at the gate and watched the house around 9:30pm and again at around 10:30pm on November 1.  (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, Kindle edition, page 116).


Malicious Claim 20: “During closing arguments, after all of his different theories had fallen apart, Mignini told the jury: “There is no motive.”

Mignini never told the jury that “there is no motive”. Barbie Nadeau pointed out that the prosecutors had changed their theory, but only rather slightly:

The prosecution lawyers began their case in January 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. When it came time for closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred” A sex attack was still involved.


The Knox supporters’ leader-of-the-parade spirals down

Only 20 Malicious Claims are taken apart above but there are at least several hundred more. When you consider the sheer number of Malicious Claims that Fischer has made and how much these claims differ from the actual hard truths, you cannot trust anything he says.

And yet many of Fischer’s Malicious Claims have been unquestioningly widely accepted as fact, and have been repeated by many in the media. For example, Journalist Nathaniel Rich stated that Sollecito claimed that Knox could not have left his apartment for several hours while he was sleeping. A key Fischer claim.

More of Nathaniel Rich’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Steve Moore’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Saul Kassin’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Michael Wiesner’s parotting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here. 

The credibility of Bruce Fischer and his disastrous leadership of the Knox parade have been completely shot to pieces. Any journalists who use Bruce Fischer as a source in the future should hang their heads in shame.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How Much Or How Little To Blame Rudy Guede? The Defenses’ Immense Headache Coming Up

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Photo by Andrea Vogt as in December 2010 Supreme Court decides that Rudy Guede didnt act alone]


On a scale of 0% to 100% how much of the blame for the crime against Meredith has been heaped on Rudy Guede?

Well, it sure varies.

In trial court and first-appeal court it was never ever 100%. Seemingly very scared of the harm Guede could do to their clients, if they provoked him into telling all, defense lawyers have acted consistently since 2008 and more-so since December 2010 as if they walk on eggshells around him.

In fact among the defendants and their teams only ONCE was Guede ever blamed 100%. 

Sollecito’s bizarrely-titled Honor Bound 2012 book, the factually unchecked one which now is causing him and his defense team so much trouble, was the first instance ever among those accused to try to blame Guede for the crime 100%.

Our next post will look at the categoric claims against Guede in that book. Meanwhile, here, let us start at the beginning.

Commencing from when they were arrested, Amanda Knox pointed decisively at a black man, but of course she pointed at the wrong one: Patrick Lumumba. Make that 0%. Not long after they were arrested, Knox and Sollecito were strongly questioning the role of one another. So 100% against each other, but still a zero against Mr Guede.

In his messages from Germany Guede blamed two hasty intruders though he had no choice but to say he was there. Perhaps 33% at this point.  After Guede was captured, Sollecito implied that they were at the crime scene together because he was worried that Guede would implicate him. Make that 50%.

At Guede’s short-form trial In October 2008, Judge Micheli blamed Guede 33% too. In sending Knox and Sollecito to full trial he dismissed the lone wolf theory (never really to be revived in court again) and he tentatively believed the evidence pointed to their being equally guilty.

In fact Judge Micheli tentatively blamed Knox for instigating both the attack on Meredith and the rearrangement of the crime scene.  In effect he allocated 50% of the blame to Amanda Knox and 25% each to Guede and Sollecito. 

Throughout trial in 2009 the Knox and Sollecito defense teams seemed to take great care not ever to blame Guede 100%, perhaps because (for murky reasons not made public) Rudy Guede had refused to testify against their clients.

Judge Massei assigned Guede 33% of the blame as he concluded that Guede had initiated the attack but that Knox and Sollecito had wielded the knives and that one of them had struck the final blow. 

During trial and thereafter, the defense lawyers for the three were often on Italian TV and as our main poster the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria exhaustively charted in a four-part series, each “gently” blamed the other two.

We can assume that is either 33% or 50% but never more than that.

On February 24. 2011, in the Supreme Court report, on its rejection of Guede’s final appeal of his sentence for involvement in killing Meredith, blamed Rudy Guede and two others equally. Some 33% of the blame each.

The Supreme Court relied upon three facts: the physical evidence of Guede’s presence at the flat, Guede’s actual admission of his presence, and Guede’s implicit admission of shared-guilt in his documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 (“I was scared that they would say I was the only guilty person”).

In a nutshell, the situation at the start of the Sollecito and Knox appeal before Judges Hellmann and Zanetti in 2011 was this:

  • The Supreme Court had decided that Rudy Guede acting ALONE could not have attacked Meredith with several knives over an estimated 15 minutes, left so little physical evidence upon her, staged the break-in via the absurd route of Filomena’s window while leaving zero DNA in her room, placed Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, engineered several traces of Knox’s and Sollecito’s footprints outside the room, and placed the mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox in several different locations outside Meredith’s locked door.
  • But there remains zero evidence that perps two and three which the physical evidence strongly pointed to were anyone other than Knox and Sollecito. There’s really not one speck of hard evidence to the contrary. Defenses somewhat desperately tried to engineer some at first appeal from the seemingly perjured testimony of jailbirds Alessi and Aviello and some smoke-blowing over the DNA testing, but in terms of HARD evidence came up empty-handed. Alessi did a meltdown on the stand, while Aviello turned completely cuckoo, and Judges Hellmann and Zanetti had to invent arguments frantically to dig Knox and Sollecito out of that hole.

I have done a series of posts (to be read from the bottom upward) on the Hellmann-Zanetti outcome covering many other aspects of their strange arguments.

Back in late 2010 some of us at TJMK were impressed at the alacrity with which Judge Hellman selected Conti and Vecchiotti.

We were thinking that “he had already thought it all out” [we seem to have got that-much right], and that he was “being prudently responsive to the legal and political pressures bearing down on him, and knows the ruling also calls the defendants’ bluff.”

I had posted that the defenses of Knox and Sollecito seemed to be trying to exclude evidence that they themselves tried to destroy, essentially on the grounds that their destructive attempts failed to destroy all of it, and left behind only some of it.  Their argument had boiled down to whether the disputed DNA evidence is more unfairly prejudicial than probative.

It was my opinion that because it was the defendants’ deliberate conduct that nearly succeeded in extinguishing all their DNA, any US and UK courts would admit this highly relevant evidence, and let the participants duke out its fairness, in open court, in front of a jury.

I had thought that was what the Massei Court had already done, and was what the Hellmann/Zanetti court was then doing. The Hellmann/Zanetti court was doing that - but that was not all it was doing, as we now know and regret.

I had believed that the defendants would bitterly regret their petition for such DNA Expert-Opinion Review.  We should know in March 2013 if they regret it at all, let alone ‘bitterly’. So far they may not, but Sollecito’s current venture into special-pleading journalism in his book seems likely to accelerate their journey to a bitter and regretted destiny.

We were less impressed with how Judge Zanetti started the appeal hearings.

To his eternal discredit Judge Zenetti uttered words to the effect that “the only thing that is ‘certain’ in Meredith’s case is that Meredith is dead.” Nothing else. In effect, illegally promising a whole new trial at appeal level - very much frowned on by the Supreme Court.

Unless the word ‘thing’ is a mistranslation, that is not the only thing that was already certain in Meredith’s Case; Many Things were then certain in her case. 

For example, it is certain that the first-ever documented references to Meredith’s scream just before she was killed had already come both from the mouth of Amanda Knox herself, and from the hand of Amanda Knox, in the case of her contemporaneous personal hand-written notes.

Guede, himself, had certainly already made a documented reference to Meredith’s scream.

It was also certain that Guede had made documented references to his actual presence when Meredith screamed.

Some of these already-certain facts inconveniently undermined Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s already-assumed conclusions, so they then proceeded in-turn to undermine the ‘reliability’ of those facts, e.g. ‘it is not certain that the scream was Meredith’s scream; it could have been someone-else’s scream’; or even Amanda’s scream?

The Massei court had exhaustively presented the evidence from all sources in their conclusion that Knox and Sollecito were the ones who shared Guede’s guilt. But Hellmann/Zanetti then contradicted ALL the previous finders-of-fact with regard to Guede, essentially using five ploys in arguing:

  • That Guede was Unreliable: “for example, in the questioning before the Prosecutor, he denies being known by the nickname of Baron, ….so as to result in a version completely incompatible with the reality of the facts as perceived and heard…” [Is that ever giving birth to a mouse?], and
  • That the Supreme Court had “held Rudy Guede to be an Unreliable person”, and
  • That “therefore, among the evidence against the two accused, the testimony given at the hearing of June 27, 2011 by Rudy Guede cannot be included because it is Unreliable, nor can the contents of the letter written by him and sent to his lawyers”, and
  • That concerning Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 “… the contents of the chat between Rudy Guede and his friend Giacomo Benedetti on the day of November 19,  2007,  also listened to by the Police,  can be considered in favour of the two accused”, because “he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance,”
  • And that “So, in the course of that chat with his friend….. Rudy Guede does not indicate in any way Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as the perpetrators…..” and “…..he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance….. he being…. certainly the perpetrator….. of the crimes carried out in via della Pergola, that if Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had also participated, that he would at that moment have revealed this to his friend.”

So, summarising Hellmann and Zanetti, they have absurdly argued a contradiction:

  • Because of Guedes notoriously unreliability, the public evidence in which he did accuse Knox and Sollecito cannot be considered as evidence of their guilt, but
  • In spite of Guede’s notorious unreliability, because Guede did not accuse Knox and Sollecito in a private conversation this must be considered as conclusive evidence of their innocence.

We are not the audience to which Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti to the Supreme Court is directed. Most of us probably have some difficulty with its legalese, translated into English, so bear with it.

Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti refers to Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 as follows:

The Hellmann/Zanetti court, “has… made …. completely anomalous use of the Skype call, accepting it for the time of Kercher’s death, but not for other circumstances which are also extremely relevant for judgment purposes, but which have been totally ignored.

In fact, in the call, Guede recounts having heard Meredith complaining about her missing money and of her intention of asking Ms Knox, with whom she had quarrelled, for an explanation (p. 10 of the call [transcript]), of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (p. 18), then of having seen Meredith look, still in vain, for her missing money in Amanda’s room (pp. 18-19 of the call [transcript]), and of having heard a girl enter the house, who could have been one of the roommates, thus Amanda (p. 11 of the call [transcript]), while the Ivorian found himself in the bathroom, just before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have caused him [59] to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the girl’s ingress (p 12 of the call [transcript])”... .

The Court has, in practice, without reason thrown the responsibility onto Guede for throwing the rock and clambering in (see pp 121-122 of the appealed judgment): in the same Skype call, Guede, however, repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room during the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola on that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call [transcript]). Not only that: Rudy Guede also said that he was at Knox’s many times‛ (pp 88 of the call [transcript]).

If the Court held the Ivorian citizen to be sincere in the tele-conversation with his friend Benedetti, then why not also believe him when he denies having broken in, or when he recounts Meredith having it out with Amanda, or when he says that he had been at the latter’s place many times‛?

Dr Galati’s appeal to the Supreme Court argues that the Hellmann/Zanetti appeal judgment, apart from being manifestly illogical, is manifestly contradictory with respect to the contents of the case file referred to (Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code). Here is what it says about their tortured interpretations of Rudy Guede.

And in the Skype call with Benedetti, intercepted unbeknownst to him, there emerge circumstances that confirm Guede’s court declarations. The Court takes the Skype call with his friend Benedetti into examination, valuing it ‚in favour of the two accused‛ both for what it does not say and also for what it does say, and this it does building from one, not only unexplained, datum but which would have taken little to deny: since Rudy was outside of Italy, he was in some sense safe‛ and thus could well have been able to tell the whole truth (p 40 of the judgment).

Not in the least does the Court depart from the presupposition that in this call Rudy would have been telling the truth and, because in this call he would not have named the current defendants, these have got nothing to do with the homicide. The Court does not explain, though, that even in this call Rudy was tending to downplay his responsibility and, if he had named his co-participants, that would have easily allowed, by means of investigations and subsequent interviews, the bringing out of his causal contribution and of his responsibility.

[91] Of the things said in this Skype call, the Court seems at one moment to want to value the chronological datum from 9:00 PM to 9:30 PM to affirm that this would therefore have been the time of death of Meredith; successively, though the appeal judges, following the principle of plausible hypothesis, in relation to the outgoing calls on the victim’s English handset, have moved it to 10:15 PM, but they have not altered the reliability of the time indicated by Guede.

In truth, during the course of the conversation, Rudy recounts having heard Meredith complain about the missing money and of her intention to ask Knox, with whom she had argued, for an explanation (p 10 of the call); of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (see p 18); of having seen her search, again in vain, for the missing money in Amanda’s room (pp 18 and 19 of the call) and of having heard a girl enter the house – who must have been one of the flatmates, thus Amanda (p 11 of the call), – while he was in the bathroom, a little before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have induced him to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the ingress of the girl (p 12 of the call).

And also, on the subject of the break-in in Romanelli’s room – thrown without explanation onto Guede’s back (see the judgment being appealed from, at pp 121 and 122) – can remarks by the Ivorian citizen be found in the transcription of the intercept. Guede repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room for the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call).

If the [Appeal Court] had held as reliable what Rudy narrated in the Skype call relating to the time in which Meredith was killed, it supplies no reason at all, on the other hand, for why it does not believe him as well when he denies [92] having committed the break-in or when he recounts the quarrel of Meredith with Amanda.”

None of this changes my own beliefs that there are even many more things in evidence that are ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’.  For example:

  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Meredith was restrained by hands other than the knife-wielding hand(s); and that Meredith was restrained by the hands of two, or three persons as she was killed.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were taken to clean away smears made by Meredith’s blood in the place where she was killed, and tracks of Meredith’s blood transferred by her killers to other places.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were also taken to simulate a break-in that never-was.

In the next post, we examine Dr Galati’s appeal further and the strident claims against Guede made in Sollecito’s own book which contradict some of the positions of HIS OWN LAWYERS. Note that Dr Galati has argued in the appeal that it was ILLEGAL for Hellmann and Zanetti not to have taken the Supreme Court’s ruling on three perps fully into account and having innored it or brushed past it. 

Verrrry tough situation for defense counsel to be in.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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

Posted by James Raper





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

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

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

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

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

“Possible”, Vecchiotti said.

Comodi insisted: “Probable?”

“Probable”, Vecchiotti retorted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They wore gloves and shoe covers….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Returning to Massei.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #5: Their Obfuscation of Time of Death and Of Legal Blameworthiness

Posted by Cardiol MD



[View down on Meredith’s very well-lit house from the apartment above witness Madame Nara Capezzali’s]


Surreal Documentary Context

We have a very surreal situation on our hands. One perhaps without legal precedent. As previously in this series the legal document being analysed here is the Hellmann-Zanetti appeal report. 

1) No main media in the US or UK have put that appeal report into English or done any serious legal analysis.

2) Nor have they translated the original trial report by Judge Massei or done any serious analysis of that.

3) Nor have they translated the tough and detailed appeal to the Supreme Court by the Chief Prosecutor of Umbria, Dr Galat, which was summarised and analysed by Yummi here. The meticulous PMF translation team should complete its translation soon.

4) None of the books on the case at present bring the legal developments up to the present or get into the details of the very tough Galati appeal.

Meanwhile the Knox and Sollecito teams are racing to get out their books in the US, with media interviews being scheduled, presumably in the hope that this vacuum of hard facts described above continues and they can fill it with their own kind of PR spin.

Of course none of this impinges on pending legal events in Italy where interested Italians have a radically different and more informed view. Except only to make sure everything is done correctly and firmly to the letter. 

As usual, Knox and Sollecito are coming across as if they are on a different planet. Not one good lawyer seems to be explaining things to them, or even be of top of things for that matter.


On Hellmann-Zanetti on Time of Death

In this series, my previous posts explained the distortions and illogicalities in the Hellmann-Zanetti appeal report in the passages on the calunnia (false blaming of Patrick), witness Curatolo, and witness Quintavalle, and also the seeming prejudicial language used throughout. 

Vital reading in advance of this post is Considering The Sad And Sensitive But Also Crucial Subject Of Meredith’s Time Of Death by my fellow lawyer James Raper.

He explained the difficulties of being precise about Meredith’s time of death, and he commented on Hellman-Zanetti as follows.

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.

So perhaps not surprisingly Dr Galati in his appeal to Cassation devotes nearly 3000 words to taking apart Hellmann-Zanetti’s arguments on Time of Death, under these 4 headings:

  • Defect or manifest lack of logic in the sentencing report
  • The intercepted chat [Guede on Skype]
  • Meredith’s mobile phones
  • The testimony of the three women [Capezzali, Monacchia, and Dramis]

Hellmann-Zanetti is politely but explicitly excoriated. In Dr Galati’s summarising of his own arguments he states this:

The claimed timing of the death of Meredith Kercher demonstrates a manifest illogicality in the reasoning, contains an unfounded assessment, and is manifestly in contrast with other court documentation of the case.

The internal and external inconsistencies of Hellmann’s statements on the topic constitute [yet another] violation of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Here are some examples of H/Z’s flood of reasons-to-doubt AK/RS’s guilt listed under Time of Death and not specifically mentioned in previous Dissections [my emphases]:

  • Capezzalli “…was not able to pinpoint an exact time…”
  • “…the source of those [the scream and other] noises is not certain at all….”
  • “…Monacchia’s testimony does not allow the time of the scream to be pinpointed at 11:30 PM, rather than at 11 PM or even before.”
  • “…she heard a loud scream of a woman, of which she could not however locate the source with certainty.”
  • “The witness was not more accurate about the time, she could not connect it to objective data, but in her first testimony [verbale], when she presented herself to the investigators (the transcript of November 8, 2008 used for the indictment) she mentioned [aveva indicato] ʺ… at about 11 PMʺ. Monacchia’s statements therefore increase the ambiguity, as circumstantial evidence, of Capezzali’s statements instead of resolving it.”
  • “Dramis, in fact, said that she went to sleep at around 11‐11:30 PM, and that she woke up later (without being able, however, to specify how much later, while not excluding that it could have been 11:30 PM) due to the noise of quick footsteps, but she could not specify their direction, nor if they were produced by one or more persons, and she also noted that such events are not at all uncommon in this place….. We find ourselves, therefore, confronting a piece of circumstantial evidence (scream and footsteps) [which is] extremely weak for its ambiguity, since it cannot even be placed with certainty in time.”



On Hellmann-Zanetti on Blameworthiness of Defendants.

As an example of a possible tendency under any legal system, Canadian law has already strayed-away on this subject, over a period of about nine years, and was only recently brought-back only by an Appellate ruling. So attempts to derail Italian law on this issue may be inevitable:

Canadian criminal law aims to maintain proportionality between the stigma and punishment attached to a conviction and the moral blameworthiness of an offender, in R v. Martineau (1990) the Supreme Court of Canada held that it is a principle of fundamental justice under sections 7 and 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that a conviction for murder requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a subjective foresight of death. In so doing, the court effectively declared sections 213 and 229(a)(i) and (ii) of the Criminal Code of Canada lacking in constitutional muster.[7]

Section 213(a) provided that a conviction for murder would lie for any killing that was “objectively foreseeable as a result of the abominable nature of the predicate crimes…inter alia…coupled with intentional infliction of bodily harm”.[7] . This largely equated with a Canadian form of felony murder, though it is technically closer to constructive murder in other jurisdictions.[8] .

Nevertheless s. 229(c), which provides for a form of constructive felony murder in situations where “an accused for an unlawful object did anything knowing that it was likely [on an objective standard] to cause someone’s death” is still operative, as confirmed in a 1999 appellate court decision”

Common-Law ‘Malice’ has historically required that an accused “knew, or ought to have known that the relevant act was wrong.”

In that “ought” lies an escape hatch.

What we believe as to the blameworthiness of these three offenders is obvious - they were committing a premeditated felony-sexual-assault using means which were foreseeably lethal, and actually were lethal.

Hellmann-Zanetti have already made clear what their blameworthiness opinion would be, although they have evaded reaching the issue by arguing reasonable doubt that two of the offenders were involved in Meredith’s murder, and deserve no blame for it whatsoever.

A legal issue which may eventually need to be addressed is whether a conviction for murder requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt using a subjective foreseeability of death standard or using an objective foreseeability of death standard.

If a subjective foresight of death were ever applied to a found-guilty AK & RS, they could plead that they just didn’t foresee that pricking Meredith’s neck with those knives could kill her; it was just a prank. For example “we were only hazing her; anyway, we were either mentally-ill or drugged or just plain dumb.”

If an objective foresight of death finding were ever applied to a found-guilty AK & RS, who were obviously committing a felonious assault using foreseeably lethal means, Meredith would get True Justice.

Posted on 09/06/12 at 02:33 PM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DNA Proof 40 Years After A Cowardly Murder Shuts Down A Fact-Fogging Campaign For The Murderer

Posted by The Machine



[Above: the murder victim Michael Gregsten and Valerie Storie who survived]

Relevance to Meredith’s case

You maybe thought journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities campaigning on behalf of someone who evidence strongly suggested was guilty was peculiar to Meredith’s case?

Think again. Exactly the same thing has happened more than a few times. This is one. The UK’s notorious A6 murder of 1961.

On the evening of 22 August 1961, Michael Gregsten, a government scientist, and his girlfriend Valerie Storrie, a laboratory assistant, were sitting in his car next to a cornfield in Berkshire, just west of London, when a masked gunman tapped on the car window. He demanded Gregsten’s wallet and Storie’s handbag.

He then forced Gregsten to drive 60 miles to Deadman’s Hill at Clophill in Bedfordshire where he shot the scientist twice in the head, killing him instantly. Next, he raped and shot Ms Storie five times. She survived the attack, but was left paralysed from the waist down.



[Above: Convicted murderer James Hanratty and his campaigning father]

Trial and evidence

James Hanratty, a petty thief, was arrested after cartridge cases from the murder weapon were found in a London hotel where he stayed the night before the murder. Valerie Storie picked out Hanratty at an identity parade from her hospital bed and she also made a voice identification of him. 

At the trial at Bedford Assizes, James Henratty changed his original alibi that he was staying with friends in Liverpool on the day of the murder and said that he had gone to Rhyl, in north Wales, and stayed two nights in a boarding house. The jury didn’t believe him and James Hanratty was found guilty of murdering Michael Gregsten.

The families of the victims (one dead, one crippled for life) expressed relief that a unanimous verdict was reached.

Hanratty was hanged at Bedford Prison on 4 April 1962. The day before he was hanged, he told his family: “I’m dying tomorrow but I’m innocent. Clear my name.” 

The pressure for an appeal

After James Hanratty was hanged, his father launched a campaign to clear his name. A number of high-profile public figures lent their support to the campaign, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and prominent politicians David Steel and Norman Fowler.

In 1971, a hundred MPs signed a petition demanding a public inquiry. The Conservative government refused to open such an inquiry.

Three years later the Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, commissioned a report from Lewis Hawser QC who sat in secret and came to the conclusion Hanratty was guilty.

In 1999, the case was sent back to the Court of Appeal. In March 2001, Hanratty’s body was exhumed and DNA tests were carried on it to see whether his DNA matched DNA traces found on Valerie Short’s knickers and her handkerchief that was found wrapped around the gun.

DNA tests confirm a right verdict

Forensic scientists from the Forensic Science Service (FSS) found that there was a perfect match and concluded that the DNA found on these exhibits was 2.5 million times more likely to belong to Hanratty than anyone else.

A report from the Daily Mail.

James Hanratty was guilty of the notorious A6 murder for which he was hanged, sensational scientific evidence has revealed. A DNA sample taken from his exhumed body has been matched by forensic experts to two samples from the crime scene.

They now believe that there is only a 1-in-2.5million chance Hanratty was innocent.  The results of the tests, released to Hanratty’s defence team, are a crushing blow to campaigners who have insisted he was not guilty.

In 2002, James Hanratty’s conviction was upheld at the Court of Appeal and a bid to take the case to the House of Lords was rejected. Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, who with two colleagues - Lord Justice Mantell and Mr Justice Leveson - considered the posthumous appeal, said the DNA evidence established Hanratty’s guilt “beyond doubt”.

Lord Woolf for the Supreme Court on 10 May 2002:

We have already stressed the importance of looking at a case such as this in the round. The grounds of appeal are of differing significance and although we have dealt with them individually it is also necessary to consider them collectively in asking ourselves the critical question is the conviction of James Hanratty of murder unsafe either on procedural or evidential grounds?

As to the evidential issues they all ultimately relate to the single issue which dominated the trial and this appeal, the identity of the killer. In our judgment for reasons we have explained the DNA evidence establishes beyond doubt that James Hanratty was the murderer.

The DNA evidence made what was a strong case even stronger. Equally the strength of the evidence overall pointing to the guilt of the appellant supports our conclusion as to the DNA.



[Above: journalist campaigners Paul Foot and Bob Woffinden]

The 40-year media campaign

Forty years of excruciating hell for the families and friends of the victims, one dead, one crippled for life .

Investigative journalists such as Bob Woffinden and Paul Foot wrote articles and books about the case, stubbornly certain that James Hanratty was innocent and that the case was a miscarriage of justice.

Paul Foot was a highly-respected campaigning journalist who worked for Private Eye, the Daily Mirror and The Guardian. However, his reasons for believing that James Hanratty was innocent were flimsy to the say the least.

From the BBC obituary for Paul Foot:

Beyond his obvious triumphs, Foot sometimes got it terribly wrong.

The Hanratty affair is a case in point. Twenty-five-year-old James Hanratty was hanged in 1962, after being found guilty of killing scientist Michael Gregsten and raping and shooting his mistress Valerie Storie.

Foot’s interest began in 1966 and, for the next 34 years, he consistently and eloquently demanded justice for Hanratty.

The case was finally reopened in 2000 and, after Hanratty’s body was exhumed, so DNA samples could be scraped from his bones, his guilt was proved beyond doubt.

The main crux of his argument for innocence was that James Hanratty was in Liverpool and Rhyl on the day of the murder. There were no positive identifications of Hanratty, just a couple of people who claimed that they had seen a man who looked like him.



[Above: John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Hanratty’s parents]

A report of John Lennon’s involvement.

On Side One of John & Yoko’s “Live Jam” album (recorded on 15th December 1969) Yoko can be heard to shout “Britain, you killed Hanratty you murderer!”, she then chants Hanratty’s name throughout the opening bars of Don’t Worry Kyoko.

As the [1960s] progressed, the view that Hanratty had in fact been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice began to gather momentum, another man was even seen to confess to the murder on British Television in 1967. Together with Hanratty’s parents, John and Yoko discussed the idea of making a film to back the campaign for an enquiry and this was announced at an Apple press conference on December 10th 1969.

The one and only public screening of the 40-minute colour result was eventually shown in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London on 17th February 1972.

29 years later DNA evidence from the exhumed body of Hanratty was said to prove that he DID commit the murder, although it has been argued that the retained evidence may have been cross contaminated in storage.

Supporters of James Hanratty have come out with the predictable excuse that the DNA evidence must have been contaminated. However, the forensic scientists who worked in the case said this highly unlikely and pointed out that they had found no other DNA profiles on the two exhibits.

Implications for PR campaigns

The DNA tests carried out by the FFS that finally provided definitive proof that James Hanratty killed Michael Gregsten and raped and shot Valerie Storie more or less stopped the bandwagon dead in its tracks.

But there had been for decades almost fanatical and very vociferous support for someone who’d been unanimously convicted of murder, many of whom stood to gain, though it didnt have too much effect except to have the case looked at and found solid twice.

James Hanratty’s supporters claimed that he had no motive, that the police framed him, and that the DNA evidence was contaminated by the government’s experts. NONE of this was proved. Unless there is actual proof of dastardly plots and contamination, these claims against the authorities are unfruitful and unfair.

The most important lesson to be learnt from the A6 murder case is that a bandwagon of journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities being absolutely convinced of someone’s innocence does not make him or her innocent in fact.

Even intelligent and well-intentioned people like Paul Foot and David Steel can mistakenly believe a killer is innocent and shrug off the pain the victims’ families must feel.

Implications for Curt Knox’s campaign

There are a number of parallels to the campaign against justice for Meredith. The families of the victims for one were put through years of hell, the real evidence was wildly distorted, and many good justice professionals and reporters were impugned. .

Hopefully the judges at the Italian Supreme Court will order a new appeal trial early next year, and the new tests the prosecution requested at the appeal on the remaining sample from the large knife can now be carried out.

Professor Novelli testified that it is possible to extract, amplify and attribute DNA with just 10-15 picograms of DNA using cutting-edge technology.  Conti and Vecchiotti extracted approximately 100 picograms of DNA from the blade of the knife.

Sollecito seemed to know there could be incriminating DNA evidence on that knife, and Knox had an extreme reaction not yet accounted for in an innocent way when she was shown a drawer full of knives.

There is enough DNA for more than one test. If Meredith’s DNA is indeed identified once again, the already strong case against Knox and Sollecito can be closed once and for all. And Curt Knox’s PR will be gone.


[Below: the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf]


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #4: The Contortions To Dismiss Witness Quintavalle

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Above: Images of Mr Quintavalle’s Conad store; he serves at far left, his cashier serves at far right]


Scroll down here for previous posts in this series.

Mr Quintavalle owns the Conad franchise at the lower end of Via Garibaldli, about halfway between Meredith’s place and Sollecito’s. Judge Massei in his trial sentencing report had stated this about Mr Quintavalle on page 83:

This Court deems that the testimony of Quintavalle is reliable. It was discovered that Inspector Volturno did not ask Quintavalle if, on the morning of November 2, he saw Amanda Knox in his shop.

He was asked – so Quintavalle recalled - about purchases made by Raffaele Sollecito. Mr. Quintavalle did not say anything about having seen Amanda Knox on the morning of November 2, 2007 in his shop because he was not questioned about this and because, as indicated by Quintavalle himself, he considered this fact to be insignificant.

This post exemplifies how the Hellmann-Zanetti web of deception uses a flood of reasons-to-doubt in its attempt to discredit Massei’s conclusion that Quintavalle was a reliable witness. Remarkably, the judges did not even recall Mr Mr Quintavalle, and mostly they work from the brief summary of his testimony in Massei’s report and little else.

Quintavalle’s testimony is key to the guilty verdicts against Knox and Sollecito, and contrary to Hellmann-Zanetti’s improper purpose; therefore they proceeded to systematically “disprove” Massei’s conclusion, stating this on page 39:

Indeed, Quintavalle asserts that she left without having purchased anything.

Verbatim from the hearing of March 21, 2009:

The Hellmann report here proceeds to selectively quote the hearing-transcript in a manner contrary to the usual and customary English-language meaning of “verbatim”. It may be that Hellmann-Zanetti meant to indicate that only the words they did quote were verbatim, and that their ellipses indicated innocent omissions. However the effect of their omissions is not innocent.

…If they had asked me…also because, I repeat, I, when the young lady came into my store, I did not see her leave with anything, because when she passed by and passed by again, when she left and I saw her, out of the corner of my eye I saw her leaving, I did not see that she had a shopping bag or anything in her hands.

PRESIDING JUDGE [PRESIDENTE]: You are speaking of the morning of November 2?

ANSWER: The morning of November 2. I don’t know if she bought anything, I don’t know. My cashier doesn’t remember if she bought anything, I am not able to say whether she bought something or not…”

If one wanted to maintain that perhaps Quintavalle is wrong, because she actually did purchase something, it would be correct to observe that if he could be wrong on this point, and also about the clothing she was wearing, then he could also be wrong about the identification of the young woman [giovane] as Amanda Knox.

Finally, the testimony of the witness Quintavalle does not seem reliable, and, in any case, represents an extremely weak piece of circumstantial evidence.”



Examples of Hellmann-/Zanetti’s flood of Reasons-to-Doubt [That AK/RS are Guilty] :

From Hellmann-Zanetti pages 39-43:

Quintavalle

Another piece of evidence [uno degli elementi] on which the Court of first instance based its conviction of guilt is represented by the testimony of the witness Quintavalle, owner of a grocery store in Corso Garibaldi, not far from Sollecito’s house but also just a few minutes from via della Pergola: he in fact asserted that he saw, early in the morning of November 2, a young woman enter[sic] his store after having waited for it to open, whom he later recognized as Amanda Knox.

According to the prosecution (and to the Court of first instance), this circumstance proves that, contrary to the alibi she gave, she did not sleep at Sollecito’s house until late in the morning, but went very early to Quintavalle’s store, as she urgently needed to acquire a cleaning product suitable to clean the house in via della Pergola of her own traces and those of Raffaele Sollecito, before the police could intervene and take samples, since it was inevitable that sooner or later the alarm would be given because of what had happened.

In reality, even under the assumption that the circumstance is true, this would be a weak piece of circumstantial evidence, incapable in itself of proving guilt even presumptively; but in any case this Court holds that the testimony of the witness is not very reliable, in particular in what concerns the identification of the early‐morning client with Amanda Knox.”



(1) Reason-to-Doubt #1:  “…INCAPABLE IN ITSELF of PROVING guilt even presumptively….”

The reader is being steered away from a level of doubt that is beyond-reasonable, and towards the territory of reasonable-doubt-that -AK/RS-are-Guilty. 

“INCAPABLE IN ITSELF” improperly isolates the issue from all the other considerations which should simultaneously-be-taken-into-account.

“PROVING” improperly implies an inappropriate standard of ‘certainty’.

….this Court holds that the testimony of the witness is NOT VERY RELIABLE, in particular in what concerns the identification of the early‐morning client with Amanda Knox.

Logically “not very reliable” does not exclude “reliable” but Hellmann-Zanetti presumably don’t intend to concede that Quintavalle is reliable; this betrays Hellmann-Zanetti’s extreme bias and determination to exclude Quintavalle’s damning identification of [their client?] Knox.

Later on page 38:

In fact, he presented himself to the police only a year later, following intense urging by a young apprentice journalist…..”

This is a misleading reference to Antioca Fois; see Massei page 84:

He later spoke about having seen Amanda Knox because a young man who used to live above his shop, who he knew, Antioco Fois, had just graduated and had become a freelance reporter for the newspaper Giornale dell’Umbria. When he passed him, he would sometimes ask: “But do you know anything? Did you see something? Did you hear something?”

So one day Quintavalle told Fois that he had seen Amanda Knox on the morning of November 2; later he decided to go to the Public Prosecutor’s Office because Antioco Fois convinced him that this fact might be important.

So the “intense urging” was more like friendly exchanges with Quintavalle’s neighbour, a former lodger.


(2) Reason-to-Doubt #2:  “In fact, he presented himself to the police only a year later….”

Readers are invited to mistrust Quintavalle because he belatedly told this to the police for an untrustworthy reason, steering them further away from a level of doubt [with regard to Knox/Sollecito guilt] that is beyond-reasonable, and further into territory that is reasonable-doubt of their guilt.

Later still on page 38:

Now, what actually happened more than a year before Quintavalle presented himself to the police is absolutely not irrelevant, for the purpose of evaluating the reliability of the witness, especially from the point of view of the genuineness of his memories and the exactness of the identification.



(3) Reason-to-Doubt #3:  “absolutely not irrelevant, for the purpose of evaluating the reliability of the witness”

This double-negative statement further invites Readers to regard Quintavalle as unreliable because his memories are false, and his identification of Knox is too inexact. Steering Readers yet further into a level of doubt of Knox’s guilt that is reasonable-doubt.

Yet further down on page 38:

…..this was a witness who – taking into account what he himself explained – took a year to convince himself of the precision of his perception, and the exactness of the identification of Amanda Knox with the girl that he saw, although he was able to appreciate the relevance of his testimony already in the days immediately following the murder.



(4) Reason-to-Doubt #4: “..took a year to convince himself…”

From Hellmann-Zanetti page 36:

…..took a year to convince himself of the precision of his perception, and the exactness of the identification of Amanda Knox with the girl that he saw, although he was able to appreciate the relevance of his testimony already in the days immediately following the murder.

Repetition of reader-invitation to regard Quintavalle as unreliable, because his perceptions are not precise enough for Hellmann-Zanetti, and his identification of Knox was too inexact even though he knew at that time that his testimony was crucially relevant.

The reader is being steered even further away from belief that Knox and Sollecito are guilty towards the territory of reasonable-doubt-that -AK/RS-are-Guilty. 

Are we there yet? Is there reasonable-doubt-that-AK/RS-are-guilty NOW?!


(5) Reason-to-Doubt #5: “Quintavalle cannot maintain that…”

Near the bottom of Hellmann-Zanetti page 38:

...from the testimony of Inspector Volturno at the hearing of March 13, 2009, it turned out that Quintavalle and his employees and other shopkeepers in the area were shown photographs of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, and were asked in particular to mention any possible purchases of cleaning products on the part of the couple, as this was a precise focal point of the investigation. Thus, Quintavalle cannot maintain that he did not mention what he saw on the morning of November 2 to Inspector [53] Volturno because he did not think it was a relevant circumstance.

Readers are yet further invited to mistrust Quintavalle, because his failure to “mention” everything he had seen, and his idea of “a relevant circumstance” were unacceptable to Hellmann-Zanetti. 

That’s already five reasons to doubt on the first Quintavalle page alone.

See also Hellmann-Zanetti page 42:

....according to Quintavalle’s own statements – he only caught a glimpse of the girl, first out of the “corner of his eye” and then from a bit nearer for a few moments, but never from the front (verbatim from the hearing of March 21, 2009: “Yes, then she entered, I saw her let’s say like this, three quarters left, three quarters of the left side. I didn’t see her from the front…”

And Hellmann-Zanetti page 43:

“....when she left and I saw her, out of the corner of my eye I saw her leaving,”

Hellmann-Zanetti are now reduced to semantic quibbles about Quintavalle’s use of words to describe his visual-angle-of-view when he looked at Amanda Knox’s face.

But see Massei page 83:

This young woman remained impressed in his memory because of her very light coloured eyes, azzurri [light blue]. …. she could have been 1.65 to 1.67metres tall. Her face was bianchissimo [very light skin colour] and she apparently was about 20-21 years old.

And see Massei page 84:

...it is worth observing that the witness gave a precise description of what he saw on the morning of November 2 and also provided a description of certain physical features of the woman he saw (light blue eyes and pale face) which, together with the unusual time, may well have fixed in his memory what Quintavalle said he saw.

So by selective omissions of the contents of the Massei Report, based on the 4-dimensional observations of the Massei trial hearings, Hellmann-Zanetti use a 2-dimensional record of the Massei Proceedings, and semantic quibbles about Quintavalle’s angles of visual observation, to discredit Quintavalle’s testimony.

Even though Quintavalle - who the Hellmann-Zanetti jury never even saw - had testified convincingly at trial that it was Amanda whom he saw in his shop at opening-time on November 2, 2007, and he had held up well under cross-examination.

Enough already? Isn’t this a contorted flood of Reasons-to-Doubt-That-AK/RS-are-Guilty?  Do you now believe that Quintaville is an unreliable witness?

If you now believe that Quintaville is unreliable, then Hellmann-Zanetti will have accomplished their mission.


[Below: Conad is at right and School for Foreigners at back. RS’s place maybe 500 meters behind, up the hill]



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Giuseppe Castellini Speaks Up For A “Kind Homeless Man Of Many Aspects”

Posted by Jools





Giuseppe Castellini (above) is the editor of the Journal of Umbria in Perugia. Throughout the case he and his various reporters have done amazing, fearless work.

Today he writes movingly about the sad passing in prison of the honest and brave free spirit Antonio Curatolo, who had been charged during the appeal on a minor eight-year-old charge, apparently at someone’s insistence.

Our lives crossed on the path of the tragic murder of Meredith Kercher. And, somehow, we were no longer separated. Even though, rather than crossing paths, in time they’ve run parallel courses. Up to Friday, when death took him away, at the age of 56. And in his passing we (I speak in the plural because the same sentiment is felt by Francesca Bene, Luca Fiorucci and Antioco Fois, the colleagues who have been following the Meredith case and who met him), we feel deeply saddened.

Antonio Curatolo was no saint. But he had his candour, his naturalness, his humanity and his inner rectitude. Sometimes, I felt he was perhaps dissociated. The homeless romantic and anarchic that reads a lot and has a self-taught culture, living on the edge of society by choice, but who “struggles along” not always in a limpid way. A stray cat, clever and naïve at the same time. Tough and kind, profoundly honest, and at the same time illicit.

I remember when we were informed that a homeless man told someone (who then informed us) that he had seen on the night of the murder Amanda and Sollecito in the Piazza Grimana in Perugia, when as usual he was reading while sitting on a bench in the piazza. The story is well known: Amanda and Sollecito are at the edge of the basketball court, and Raffaele sometimes gets up and leans over the guard rail.

An important testimony, because they had said they were asleep at that time. I remember the contact, the meeting, making him repeat continuously until he was exhausted, what he had seen. Trying to make him contradict himself, to see if what he was saying was true.

A good relationship was born in those days. We spoke about other things apart from the Meredith case, things in general. We got to know each other, we talked about our lives, so many things. And, eventually, it was not very difficult to convince him to tell the investigators what he had told us.

Even though we had to insist (with him, but also with the other witnesses that we found) on surpassing that anti-State Italian mentality in which everyone goes about his business, and that if you rather trust the State you’ll end up in trouble. He testified, and since his testimony was very important (he was defined by the media, with a bit of exaggeration, the “super-witness”), he was “grilled” very thoroughly. 

But he essentially repeated the same story. So much so that the defence teams of Amanda and Raffaele, in the end they stirred in the direction of Curatolo maybe having seen the two youngsters, but not on the night of the murder. His version fully convinced the GUP Judge Micheli (who pointed out that no one could dare question his story because of the mere fact that Antonio had chosen an unusual way of life) and also convinced the judges of the First Instance trial.

Not those judges of the appeal, though, according to whom all the witnesses - especially if found by journalists – were either mythomaniacs, or were prompted to exaggerate by the suppose desire at all costs for a journalistic scoop by reporters (showing, if I may say so myself, a strong cultural retardation of the judges and a very provincial point of view - far from the reality – toward the print press and, more generally, media).

Antonio, as mentioned, was not a saint. His relationship with drugs not only bears witness to his admission that he was a heroin addict, but also the legal troubles related to possession of drugs with intent to sell. An accumulation of small penalties that brought him under house arrest and in prison. Although he proclaimed his innocence. The last time I saw him, some months ago, was when I met him in the street and I accompanied him to the small flat he had rented in Corso Cavour. To complete the house arrest penalty, he told me.

But seeing him enter into that small apartment, after seeing him in the cardboard houses that he was building here and there, gave me the sad impression of a little bird entering a birdcage.

In short, I loved him, despite some aspects of his life. When I saw him we smiled. And they were smiles of men sincere with each other. I had affection for him. His sins, I’m sure, have been forgiven.

May the earth of the grave rest lightly on you, Antonio.


Posted on 08/14/12 at 12:27 PM by JoolsClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ominous Development For Sollecito And Knox: A DNA Conviction Based On A Tiny Sample Of DNA

Posted by The Machine



[Burgess, image below, murdered Yolande Waddington and, above, Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams]


There is a HUGE dagger hanging over Sollecito and Knox. A UK case resolved this week indicates why.

New tests on the DNA sample on the large knife found in Sollecito’s house which the independent DNA experts refused to do, and the judges failed to re-order despite a strong prosecution request, could result in Knox and Sollecito being ultimately convicted and secure Knox’s extradition to serve out her term.

Lawyers consider it a dead certainty that the Supreme Court will order those tests -  that is if they dont throw out the entire Hellman/Zanetti judgment for illegal scope, or throw out the DNA report for illegally having been ordered in the first place.


(1) Summary of the UK case

David Burgess this week was convicted in Reading of murdering Yolande Waddington, 17, some 46 years after the crime was committed, thanks to all the advances in DNA technology. Back then, he was already convicted of killing Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams.

Burgess is the latest person in Britain to have been finally found guilty of murder years after his crime was committed. Nat Fraser, Gary Dobson and David Norris had been convicted of murder this year after evading justice for a number of years.

In September 2010, Thames Valley Police reviewed the case and with advances in DNA techniques finally gathered the evidence which resulted in Burgess being convicted of Yolande Waddington’s murder.

Forensic experts obtained a partial DNA profile from the blood samples using a new technique called MiniFiler. It differs from previous methods as it can obtain information from smaller pieces of DNA. This is ideal for older cases where samples have degraded over time.

According to the manufacturer’s website

[The MiniFiler kit] increases your ability to obtain DNA results from compromised samples that previously would have yielded limited or no genetic data. This means cold cases can come off the shelf for re-analysis and new, challenging samples have a better chance of delivering interpretable results.

When David Burgess attacked Yolande, he left blood on a number of Yolande’s items, including her hair band and comb. Tests showed the chances of the DNA found on the comb and hair band not being Burgess’s were not more than one in a billion.


[Below: David Burgess then and now who had taunted the police a year ago to “prove it”]




(2) Here are the implications for RS and AK

It puts the 46-day delay (caused by the defenses) in retrieving the bra clasp into perspective.

It’s not the first case of somebody being convicted of murder decades after the crime took place on the strength of DNA evidence. Ronald Castree was convicted of murdering Lesley Molseed 32 years later.

It also highlights the arrogant negligence of the DNA consultants Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti who had refused to carry out ordered test on the knife for flimsy reasons (“the technology is experimental” when it wasn’t) that no US or UK court would have accepted. They had been specifically instructed to do the tests if possible by Judge Hellmann.

At trial in 2009 it was accepted that Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen. There still is no argument about that.

And a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano - had all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade.

Even Greg Hampikian, a forensic expert who argues Knox is innocent, concedes that Meredith’s DNA was definitely found on the blade.

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti didn’t know that Dr Stefanoni analysed the traces on the knife a long six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. Contamination couldn’t possibly have occurred in the laboratory after so long a gap.

At the appeal, Professor Guiseppe Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories that now have the latest accepted technology to carry out a new test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The fact that Judge Hellmann denied the prosecution the opportunity to present evidence to the contrary was a violation of the procedure code. Italian law states the following:

If new evidence about a point is admitted, evidence a contrario proposed by the opposing party must always be admitted too.

Dr Giovanni Galati has now argued in his appeal to the Supreme Court that Judge Hellmann should have allowed a new test to be performed because the technology is NOT experimental but cutting edge. Summary here:

The second [point concerns] the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

As remarked at the top, if the entire judgment or the DNA report are not thrown out for illegal scope, Judge Hellman’s refusal to allow the prosecution’s request to allow a new test on the knife will be the main reason why his verdict will be revoked.

Under Italian law RS and AK still stand accused until the Supreme Court signs off. Anyone who is concerned with the truth and justice and what Meredith stood for and the good name of Italy will want to know whether the remaining DNA on the knife is Meredith’s.

If Meredith’s DNA is identified on the knife it should make conviction and extradition a slam dunk..


[Below: ViaDellaPergola’s video first posted 18 months ago and still relevant]


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

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

Posted by James Raper





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First a word about the digestive system.

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

Judge Massei

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second area is gastric emptying of the stomach.

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

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

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

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

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

Judge Hellmann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Halkides

My summary of his argument.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem I detect with his argument is twofold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 05/09/12 at 12:11 PM by James RaperClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Archived in The officially involvedPolice and CSIEvidence & witnessesThe timelinesTrials 2008 & 2009Massei prosecution
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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Amanda Knox Team to Appeal Conviction And 3-Year Sentence For Fingering Patrick Lumumba

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the Supreme Court of Cassation]


Appeals against Judge Hellman’s rulings must be lodged in Rome by 18 February.

Now Reuters is reporting a Knox-team appeal apparently announced by David Marriott. The Knox team probably had little choice but to lodge this seeming long-shot of an appeal.

Judge Hellman’s ruling left her “half pregnant” facing a hard-line and unbendable Supreme Court and it left her mom and dad more vulnerable in their own trial for calunnia for claiming in a UK interview that Knox only “confessed” in fingering Patrick because of duress.

Explanation of calunnia

The charge of calunnia (art. 368) has been commonly translated as “slander” in the English/US media. This translation is incorrect, however, as calunnia is a crime with no direct equivalent in the respective legal systems.

The equivalent of “criminal slander” is diffamazione, which is an attack on someone‟s reputation. Calunnia is the crime of making false criminal accusations against someone whom the accuser knows to be innocent, or to simulate/fabricate false evidence, independently of the credibility/admissibility of the accusation or evidence.

The charges of calunnia and diffamazione are subject to very different jurisprudence. Diffamazione is public and explicit, and is a more minor offence, usually resulting in a fine and only prosecuted if the victim files a complaint, while calunnia can be secret or known only to the authorities. It may consist only of the simulation of clues, and is automatically prosecuted by the judiciary.

The crimes of calunnia and diffamazione are located in different sections of the criminal code: while diffamazione is in the chapter entitled “crimes against honour” in the section of the Code protecting personal liberties, calunnia is discussed in the chapter entitled “crimes against the administration of justice”, in a section that protects public powers.

Judge Hellman essentially contradicted Cassation’s ruling on Guede which agreed strongly that Guede and two others did it (Judge Hellman of course went for the very tenuous lone wolf approach which Judge Micheli and Judge Massei both shot down in some detail) which had many lawyers in Italy doing double-takes. 

Knox in fact fingered Patrick when she was merely a witness who had not even been invited to Perugia police headquarters for the evening and who had volunteered for the questioning.

The interrogators have all claimed she was under no duress except the duress of hearing that Sollecito in the next interrogation room had just called her a liar and destroyed the latest of her various alibis.

Then she had several weeks (as did her mom) to move to spring a devastated Patrick from an adjacent wing in Capanne prison, but of course she didn’t.

Her lawyers never lodged a complaint against the claimed duress and on the witness stand at trial in mid-2010 the prosecutors actually got her to admit that she was treated well.

Key at this stage may be that Knox cannot use her natural advantages of being young and rather dopey and of being able to speak up in court at any time, not under oath or cross-examination, which she used twice in front of Judge Hellman (with lusty sobs and tears for herself and no caring for Meredith).

Cassation works like Supreme Courts elsewhere in Europe and the United States They receive the written appeals and then months or even years later hold very brief hearings, and then almost immediately issue a ruling. It looks to us like the case almost certainly gets bounced back to Perugia - and a new judge - for re-working.

Judge Hellman may have found Patrick’s highly aggressive lawyer impossible to overrule, and he would have been wildly unpopular in Italy to leave Patrick without even his small settlement. If Patrick’s lawyer does not somehow react to this appeal it will be a surprise. He may have the opportunity for rebuttal.

This case has thrown up a lot of possibilities for shortening the Italian process in murder cases and leveling the playing field in favor of victims and families. We’ll round up and post ideas for such reforms already being pushed in Italy by reformers such as Barbara Benedettelli.

Reforms might include no right to defendant statements in court without the possibility of cross-examination, the limiting of judges’ scopes in first appeals, and no jury being required for those appeals.

But everybody sure appreciates those judges’ and juries’ written statements. A precedent the whole world could use.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Umbria’s Chief Prosecutor Will Proceed Against Knox And Sollecito And Also Aviello

Posted by Peter Quennell



Above: Cassation. Image replaced till we are sure we have one of Dr Galati. See comment in thread below.]


Dr Giovanni Galati is the region of Umbria’s chief prosecutor. He was appointed by the Minister of Justice last year. Previously he was a high-profile and very successful Deputy Prosecutor General at the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.

The chief-prosecutor post in Umbria is a sign of great official confidence in Dr Galati. His office in Perugia is one of the best staffed and most formidable of that of any of Italy’s 20 regions. The principle reason for this is that the Perugia office serves as a national surrogate for Rome prosecutors where national political cases are concerned.

His office has been investigating corruption in construction related to the Winter Olympics in 2006 and the severe earthquake in 2010. Parliamentarians in the party of former Prime Minister Berlusconi (which is also the party of Sollecito defense counsel Gulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox acolyte Rocco Girlanda) are among those now being investigated. Several or some MPs could end up in prison and the parliamentary party severely damaged..

Mr Berluconi’s party is no longer the lead party in the governing coalition in parliament, but it was the lead during the whole of the first-level Knox and Sollecito appeal in Perugia up to the surprise verdict from Judge Hellman. Berlusconi, Bongiorno and Girlanda seem to have all had good reasons to humiliate Giovanni Gelati and his team.

Now Dr Galati gets to fight back.

Reporting items of breaking news on Meredith’s case on her excellent Twitter feed ( @andreavogt )  the Italy-based reporter Andrea Vogt has already reported that Dr Galati is preparing to proceed with a forceful Cassation appeal of the appeal verdict.

Andrea Vogt also reports that the defense super-witness and Mafia super-snitch Luciano Aviello will face a slander hearing in Perugia on 24 May. This may be a smart tit-for-tat move by Dr Galati as Judge Hellman did seem to have bent over backward in his report to ridicule all the prosecution witnesses - most of whom he never even set eyes on.

It may also be a smart taunt directed at Giulia Bongiorno. On the witness stand during the appeal, Mr Aviello claimed that Ms Bongiorno had channeled suggestions to his prison of bribes from the Sollecito family for false testimony. She angrily said she would sue him - but so far she hasn’t launched a suit. 

Dr Galati is said to respect Mr Mignini, and to consider that his sliming and the sliming of the police investigators by the Knox forces has been way, way, way over the top.

During the appeal Dr Galati appeared twice in the courtroom to show solidarity with his prosecution colleagues. He addressed the court at the start of October on what he considered severe shortcomings in the DNA report written by Stefano Conti, Carla Vecchiotti and the peripatetic grandstander Greg Hampikian.

Our main poster Tiziano translated this from La Nazione.

The new Prosecutor General of Perugia, Giovanni Galati, spoke briefly in Court in support of his colleagues. He wished to “show his complete support of all the matters raised by his colleagues, in particular as far as the expert report is concerned.”

Seated next to the deputy Prosecutor General, Giancarlo Costagliola, Galati spoke before the Court affirming that it had seemed “his duty” to inform himself on the proceedings in court.  “I hope that the Court’s decision will be the fruit of a dignified confrontation of the parties.”

Referring to the expert report of the consultants named by the Court ... he spoke of “evident gaps” and “evaluations [which had been] not requested.”

Last month there was an official function involving Dr Galati and the mayor of Perugia and the chief judge of the Umbria appeal court to initiate Italy’s first online system to allow every interested party to track the progress of court cases and appeals and to obtain all the public documents.

It was not said at the time that one reason for such an open information system is to counter the massive misinformation put out by the Knox and Sollecito forces - but smart people in Italy are not slow to connect up the dots.

Dr Galati’s grounds for the appeal to the Supreme Court (where until recently as mentioned above he was a trusted main player) will be published by February 18th. He does know that court.


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