Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Series DNA and luminol

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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

Posted by Peter Quennell








Posted on 07/13/11 at 07:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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

Posted by Peter Quennell


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

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

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

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

Our Main Poster lawyer Tom M emailed this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Italian poster Yummi on PMF posted this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 06/29/11 at 10:34 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The 140-Page Conti-Vecchiotti Report On The Partial DNA Review Is Released

Posted by Peter Quennell


The report is much in the news in Italy. We don’t yet see a good English language report and a full translation will take a few days..

The experts have concluded that the LCN test of Meredith’s DNA on Sollecito’s large knife may have been invalid. This was the one-time-only test that every defense expert chose to skip.

Also that they cannot rule out that there was no contamination on the bra clasp (above) and that Sollecito’s DNA might indeed have flown through the air - though from where? There was only one other DNA sample for Sollecito in the entire house.

Italy does follow its own DNA protocols, but for reasons that are not altogether bad. It is very common for nations to depart from international protocols in all areas, not only forensic, if they think theirs are in some ways better.

Jurors did not say after the 2009 trial that either of these bits of evidence or non-evidence were the make-or-break items for them. The defenses asked for 33 re-examinations of evidence in their appeal submission but were granted only these two.

The DNA in the bathroom and the corridor and Filomena’s room all still looms very large. So do the cellphone, computer, eyewitness and alibi testimony. For the defense, it seems still an uphill task. 

Posted on 06/29/11 at 10:52 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Beyond Massei: On The Seemingly Insuperable Mixed Blood Evidence By All The Expert Witnesses

Posted by The Machine



Above: the Scientific Police headquarters and laboratories in Rome

Two DNA Specks Not Everything

The recent headlines have been dominated by the knife and bra-clasp evidence currently being reviewed by Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti at La Sapienza University in Rome.

Knox and Sollecito campaign spinners have tried to sell the highly erroneous notion that everything now hangs on the review’s outcome.  Good luck with that. Actually it is almost marginal,  and any imaginable outcome still leaves the defenses in a very deep hole.

Click here for more

Posted on 06/04/11 at 05:25 PM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: The Mixed Blood Evidence Samples As Seen By Judge Massei

Posted by willsavive





My fellow poster the Machine will follow here soon with another post on what all the sources other than the Massei Report have to say on the five mixed samples..

Perhaps the strongest physical evidence in the case against Amanda Knox is the five spots in the cottage that showed a mix of Knox and Kercher’s genetic profile.

This evidence has been a source of controversy in the case, at least from those who are willing to acknowledge its existence and or validity, and it is my attempt here to explain this evidence as postulated by Judge Massei’s report. 

The locations of the 5 spots are as follows.

Bathroom near Meredith’s room:

  • On the drain of the bidet
  • On the Q-tip box located at the ledge of the sink
  • On the edge of the sink

Elsewhere in the apartment:

  • In a luminol-enhanced bare footprint in the hallway outside Kercher’s room
  • In a luminol-enhanced spot found in Filomena Romanelli’s room

It is very possible that four of these spots were mixed blood of both Knox and Kercher. However, the problem that I see with declaring this definitively is that while we know blood was present, according to Massei’s report tests were not conducted to tell whether the blood was Knox’s, Kercher’s, or both. The only thing that is known about the blood, scientifically, is that it is human blood that showed a mixture of both Knox and Kercher’s genetic profiles.

“With regards to the mixture of DNA attributable to the biological profiles of Meredith and Amanda Knox, she [Dr. Stefanoni] affirmed that, certainly, there was blood content, there being a specific test carried out… Though, from the point of view of other substances (sweat, etc.), no tests were done. Therefore, it was definitely a mixture of biological substances, but it was not in any case possible to determine whether it was blood plus blood, or blood and saliva, or blood and exfoliation cells.” (Massei page 27)

Moreover, Massei also asserts that it is not possible to determine if the blood was a blood mixture (i.e. mixed with the blood of both Knox & Kercher).

“It is true that, according to what was asserted and explained; it is not possible with a mixed trace specimen that tested positive for human blood to determine which of the trace’s contributors the blood belongs to.” (Massei pages 278-279)

Furthermore, although I have always believed (to a certain degree) these spots to be mixed blood, I do understand and agree (to a certain degree) with Massei’s interpretation or theorization of the origination of these spots in which he does not believe that they were mixed blood spots. In the absence of definitive proof either way, we can not say for sure that these spots were mixed blood. Massie theorizes that the mixes were due to Knox cleaning Kercher’s blood off of her hands and feet:

“After Meredith had been killed, those who had struck her with the knives must have been stained with blood and had, therefore, the necessity of cleaning themselves. [406] The bathroom nearest to Meredith’s room was the environment best suited for this need, and it is likely it was there that they took themselves, and the traces found in the bathroom give confirmation of this, and so, on the bathroom door, evidently touched to gain entry or on which something was pressed (for example, a piece of clothing) there was a droplet of blood, Meredith’s blood (see photos 141 and 142 of the photographic evidence, volume 3). On the light switch (evidently pressed on because, being night time, it was necessary to turn on the light), one can see the presence of a slight blood stain that turned out to be Meredith’s. On the box of cotton buds on the washbasin, bloodstains were found and a biological trace, attributable to Meredith and to Amanda.”

“Mixed biological traces, attributable to Meredith and to Amanda, were also found in the washbasin and in the bidet, and appear to evidence the signs of an activity of cleaning of the hands and feet, effected in the washbasin and in the bidet, an activity that, through the action of rubbing, involved the cleaning of the victim’s blood, and could involve the loss of the cells through exfoliation of whoever was cleaning themselves: the two biological traces thus united together in that single trace described by Dr Brocci and that, because of the presence of blood, took on a faded red colouration, like diluted blood. This trace was attributable to Amanda and to Meredith, both as regards the bidet as well as the basin.” (Massei page Pg 378)

Continuing…

“The traces found in the bathroom constitute, in their overall evaluation as mentioned above, a further element of proof against Amanda Knox, showing how she herself had been in the room where Meredith was killed and, stained with blood, she went to the bathroom to wash herself, leaving, as a result of this action, mixed biological traces constituted of her own material and of Meredith’s (likely the blood which coloured the trace a faded red).” (Massei page 380)

On the same page Massie further theorizes that these mixes were due to Knox cleaning Kercher’s blood off of her hands and feet.

“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…” (massei page 380)

Massei answers those who say that ‘Knox and Kercher’s DNA should have been in a bathroom that they both shared’ with a very valid explanation, and he explains that these mixed traces were deposited by Knox simultaneously (on that night and not over the course of time).

“Against this conclusion, the observations with respect to the shared use of the bathroom by the two young women, the resulting likelihood of their biological traces being present, and the way in which these specimens were gathered [by the police], are not valid, in the sense that they are not considered either convincing or plausible, neither in relation to the overall situation present in the bathroom, which has been described, nor with [regard to] the statements made by Gioia Brocci and by Dr. Stefanoni, who both stated that the trace specimens present in the bathroom and in the bidet were of the same colour, as of diluted blood, and appeared to constitute one single trace, one [part] in the bidet and one in the sink. The drop at the top [302] and the drop at the bottom had continuity and formed a continuous pattern. The specimens were collected accordingly, just like any other specimen which necessarily occupies a certain space, and which the technician does not collect one little spot after another.” (Massei page 280)

So, just because we cannot say that these spots were or were not the mixed blood of Knox and Kercher does not mean that this evidence is not strong, as seen by Massei’s theoretical reconstruction. Either way it is clear proof that Knox was in Kercher’s room before the door was closed and locked. In fact, Massei poses a very plausible theory that is hard to argue against, particularly for those who attempt to say that these mixed spots were normal for the circumstances—a key factor in disproving the validity of this theory (that Knox and Kercher shared a bathroom and mixed DNA of this nature is normal) is the blood spot found in Filomena’s room which tested positive for both Knox and Kercher’s DNA.

Note that Massei’s theoretical reconstruction and report in this regard is simply a summation of the testimony of Dr. Stefanoni. I am not of the opinion that Massei disregarded certain authoritative testimony of Stefanoni, superseding her expertise with his own unique theory.

All that being said, what makes me believe that Knox and Kercher’s blood was mixed is the fact that a single drop of Knox’s blood was found in that bathroom. “…a [blood] sample was taken from the front part of the faucet of the sink, which yielded the genetic profile of Amanda Knox” (Massei, pg. 192). Knox, herself, dated that blood spot to that time when she stated that she “had recently gotten ear piercings that had gotten a bit infected and she thought the blood in the sink might have been from her own ear” (Massei, pg. 70).

Here is a brief exchange between Mignini and Knox during her testimony on 13 June 2009:

Mignini: When was the last time you had been in that bathroom?

Knox: Me?

Mignini: Yes.

Knox: I must have…well, before the 2nd, I must have gone in there at least once when I came home on Nov 1st.

Mignini: Excuse me, but what time did you leave the house in via della Pergola on Nov 1?

Knox: Around…4 o’clock, maybe? I don’t look at the clock. But I know it must have been 4 or 5 o’clock when we left the house on Nov 1.

Mignini: And you were in the little bathroom before leaving the house?

Knox: Yes.

Mignini: Now, the last time you were in the little bathroom, before leaving the house, it might have been more or less around 4 o’clock?

Knox: Around then, yes.

Mignini: All right. You knew that Filomena wasn’t home?

Knox: I knew that she had gone to a party that afternoon.

Mignini: A party. Fine. And Mezzetti?

Knox: Laura, you know, I didn’t know where she was. I knew she wasn’t in the house when I was there, but I didn’t really know where she was.

Mignini: When you saw the bathroom for the last time, were there traces of blood in it?

Knox: No.

Her statements on this are important ones because from them we can deduce that Knox had not noticed her own blood on the faucet previous to this occasion—she even asserted that there was “No” blood there the day before.

Also notable is the fact that the spot of blood attributed to Knox was rather large and quite noticeable.

These statements by Knox—together with the blood specimen on the faucet that tested positive for her own blood and the mixed DNA spot in Filomena’s room, one can theorize—says a lot about the nature of Knox’s sole blood spot as well as the mixed traces.

Posted on 06/02/11 at 11:25 PM by willsaviveClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Limited Review Of The DNA Tests Agreed To By Judge Hellmann Are Now Underway In Rome

Posted by The Machine


[Amended by the Machine after his posted comment.]

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti of La Sapienza University in Rome (above) have begun the review of the DNA on the large double-DNA knife and the bra clasp under the eyes of expert witnesses.

Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni and Professor Giuseppe Novelli will be testifying on behalf of the prosecution. 

Professor Novelli has an impressive CV. He is a highly regarded professor of biomedicine at Tor Vergata in Rome and director of the Centre of Excellence for Genomic Risk Assessment in Multifactorial and Complex Diseases.  Professor Novelli is regarded as the “father of police forensics” in Italy.

If there had been any doubts about the validity of the DNA evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, he wouldn’t have agreed to testify for the prosecution.

A number of independent experts have already confirmed the validity of the DNA evidence at various court hearings.

There was an independent review of the forensic evidence in 2008. Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA unit of the scientific police, reviewed Dr. Stefanoni’s investigation and the forensic findings. He testified at Rudy Guede’s fast track trial in October 2008 and confirmed that all the forensic findings were accurate and reliable.

He also praised the work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team. “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

Alberto Intini, the head of the Italian police forensic science unit, testified for the prosecution at the trial last year. He maintained that the crime scene had not been contaminated. He pointed out that unless contamination has been proved, it does not exist.

He also stated that the results of the tests showed that the investigation had been carried out correctly because there was not even one trace of any of the forensic technicians.

The Kercher family hired their own DNA expert, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and asked her to examine the DNA evidence.

Professor Torricelli is the Director of a genetic facility at Careggi University Hospital and has been working in genetics since 1976. She testified at Knox’s and Sollecito’s trial last year and she also confirmed Dr. Stefanoni’s findings.

She told the court that the significant amount of Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp meant that it was unlikely that it was left by contamination. She also agreed with Dr. Stefanoni that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the double DNA knife.

Distinguished DNA expert and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano analysed the DNA and forensic evidence for the early 2010 book “Darkness Descending”.

He has more than 32 years of forensics experience and is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is considered by many as Italy’s top forensics expert. In his section of the book, he explains at length why he too thinks that Knox and Sollecito are guilty of Meredith’s murder.

Although General Garofano agrees with Dr. Renato Biondo and Alberto Intini that the scientific police did a good job, he thinks the police should have separated the plastic handle from the knife and checked for blood there because it often gathers in the grooves and recesses under the blade.

Stefano Conti has asked Judge Hellman for permission to take apart the handle of the knife.

The conclusions of the DNA retesting must be filed with Judge Hellman’s court no later than May 9 and they will be discussed at the appeal hearing on May 21.

Retesting of the DNA was always a high-stakes gamble for the defense teams and could prove to be game-over for Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeal in a single stroke.

On the other hand, the prosecution has little to worry about either way, as the balance of the evidence is so massive.

Posted on 03/22/11 at 11:02 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Open Questions: An Experienced Trial Lawyer Recommends How To Zero In On the Truth

Posted by SomeAlibi


Welcome

If you’ve come to this website because of the Lifetime movie of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox, then welcome. 

Like all of us who come to this case, you have one key question: did they do it?  The movie you’ve just watched is equivocal on that matter and perhaps didn’t help you at all.

On the internet, you will find people who are passionate in their defence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and you will find people who are passionate in their support of the prosecution. 

My own arrival

Placing my own cards on the table here: as a twenty-plus year practising trial lawyer, I am firmly a part of that latter camp.  But it wasn’t always that way.

It was information – evidence – that changed my views. What became very clear to me, early on, was that very few people in the English-speaking world are aware of anywhere near all of the evidence in this case.

I had thought I had grasped the core of the case, but I did not.  The case is deep and complex and like many criminal cases, the complete facts behind it have been only sketchily reported in the media.  The movie you may have just watched only skirts the real reasons the jury convicted.

The unanimous jury

I am sure that we all agree that no jury, in any murder case, given the awesome responsibility of adjudicating on (young) people’s lives for a multi-decade period of imprisonment, condemns people lightly.

It should be a matter of logic that the evidence presented against the accused must have been deep and satisfied the 6 lay jurors and 2 judges on the case for them to pronounce that huge judgement. That doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be the possibility of a mistrial, but clearly the evidence presented must have been substantial.

In this, we’ve already hit the first problem.  Some supporters of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito will tell you there’s no evidence against them. 

This is patently silly.  No jury ever convicts people and sends them to prison for 24 plus years without being quite convinced of the case against them.  Miscarriages of justice do happen, but the idea that there is “no evidence” can be summarily dismissed. 

The only question is whether the evidence is sufficient, true and accurate.

The voluminous evidence

So is the evidence enough to convict beyond a reasonable doubt?  The six lay jurors and two professional judges thought so, clearly.  What you realise, when you come to the facts of the case, is that the evidence is based not around a single key event but on multiple points. 

It can be astonishing to realise that the case is based not only on DNA evidence but also on cellphone evidence and computer records and further yet on multiple conflicting and contradicting versions of what happened that night from the mouths of the accused, not to mention falsely accusing an innocent man of responsibility for murder causing his incarceration. 

The wealth of evidence is actually extremely unusual. It goes way beyond the quite similar Scott Peterson case.

The Massei Sentencing Report

What is absolutely new to the English speaking legal world is that the reasoning for the conviction can be read in an extremely detailed 440+ page report online.  Bilingual posters at the Perugia Murder File Forum many of whom who are also key posters at TJMK translated the entire document into English over several months last year. 

It was my privilege to play an extremely small part in that work.  People from four different continents with backgrounds in forensic science, law, academia and a host of other disciplines participated. 

You can read an effective executive summary by clicking on the Massei Report link at top here and reading the conclusions from page 388 onwards:

The Knox PR campaign

If you are new to this case, you will likely be shocked how much evidence there is against the convicted parties.  Amanda Knox’s family have spent over $1m and involved a professional PR agency called Gogerty Marriot to suggest otherwise in the English-speaking media. 

You might wonder why an innocent person needs a million dollar PR campaign on their part.  Make yourself a coffee and read the conclusions of the judge’s report. It will take you about 15 minutes.  Up until you read this report, almost everything you watch, hear and read is PR spin and is quite deliberately positioned to make you believe there is no case.

When you complete it,  I believe you will have a very different take. That 15 minutes could change your ideas about everything you thought you knew about the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Now for a quick tour of the evidence.


Some of the points of evidence

Consider as you read it what is your own possible explanation for each of the following:

  • the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito on Meredith’s bra-clasp in her locked bedroom;

  • the almost-entire naked footprint of Raffaele on a bathmat that in *no way* fits that of the other male in this case – Rudy Guede;

  • the fact that Raffaele’s own father blew their alibi that they were together in Raffaele’s flat at the time of the killing with indisputable telephone records;

  • the DNA of Meredith Kercher on the knife in Raffaele’s flat which Raffaele himself sought to explain as having been from accidentally “pricking” Meredith’s hand in his written diary despite the fact Meredith had never been to his flat (confirmed by Amanda Knox);

  • the correlation of where Meredith’s phones were found to the location of Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guedes’s flats;

  • the computer records which show that no-one was at Raffaele’s computer during the time of the murder despite him claiming he was using that computer;

  • Amanda’s DNA mixed with Meredith Kercher’s in five different places just feet from Meredith’s body;

  • the utterly inexplicable computer records the morning after the murder starting at 5.32 am and including multiple file creations and interactions thereafter all during a time that Raffaele and Amanda insist they were asleep until 10.30am;

  • the separate witnesses who testified on oath that Amanda and Raffaele were at the square 40 metres from the girls’ cottage on the evening of the murder and the fact that Amanda was seen at a convenience store at 7.45am the next morning, again while she said she was in bed;

  • the accusation of a completely innocent man by Amanda Knox;

  • the fact that when Amanda Knox rang Meredith’s mobile telephones, ostensibly to check on the “missing” Meredith, she did so for just three seconds - registering the call but making no effort to allow the phone to be answered in the real world

  • the knife-fetish of Raffaele Sollecito and his formal disciplinary punishment for watching animal porn at his university – so far from the wholesome image portrayed;

  • the fact that claimed multi-year kick-boxer Raffaele apparently couldn’t break down a flimsy door to Meredith’s room when he and Amanda were at the flat the morning after the murder but the first people in the flat with the police who weren’t martial artists could;

  • the extensive hard drug use of Sollecito as told on by Amanda Knox;

  • the fact that Amanda knew details of the body and the wounds despite not being in line of sight of the body when it was discovered;

  • the lies of Knox on the witness stand in July 2009 about how their drug intake that night (“one joint”) is totally contradicted by Sollecito’s own contemporaneous diary;

  • the fact that after a late evening’s questioning, Knox wrote a 2,900 word email home which painstakingly details what she said happened that evening and the morning after that looks *highly* like someone committing to memory, at 3.30 in the morning, an extensive alibi;

  • the fact that both Amanda and Raffaele both said they would give up smoking dope for life in their prison diaries despite having apparently nothing to regret;

  • the fact that when Rudy Guede was arrested, Raffaele Sollecito didn’t celebrate the “true” perpetrator being arrested (which surely would have seen him released) but worried in his diary that a man whom he said he didn’t know would “make up strange things” about him despite him just being one person in a city of over 160,000 people;

  • the fact that both an occupant of the cottage and the police instantly recognised the cottage had not been burgled but had been the subject of a staged break-in where glass was *on top* of apparently disturbed clothes;

  • that Knox and Sollecito both suggested each other might have committed the crime and Sollecito TO THIS DATE does not agree Knox stayed in his flat all the night in question;

  • the bizarre behaviour of both of them for days after the crime;

  • the fact that cellphone records show Knox did not stay in Sollecito’s flat but had left the flat at a time which is completely coincidental with Guede’s corroborated presence near the girl’s flat earlier in the evening;

  • the fact that Amanda Knox’s table lamp was found in the locked room of Meredith Kercher in a position that suggested it had been used to examine for fine details of the murder scene in a clean up;

  • the unbelievable series of changing stories made up by the defendants after their versions became challenged; Knox’s inexplicable reaction to being shown the knife drawer at the girl’s cottage where she ended up physically shaking and hitting her head.


In conclusion

This list is not exhaustive. It goes… on… and on… and on… And yet, those supporting Knox will tell you that’s all made up, all coincidental. 

Really?  Does the weight of all that evidence sound made up to you?

If so, it must be the most over-rigged criminal case in the history of crime.  Unlikely beyond all and any reasonable doubt.

The judge’s report explains why the jury found the defendants guilty. I truly expect you will be astonished at the amount of evidence if all you’ve done is watched a film or read a few press reports. 

For any questions thereafter, please join us and post them on truejustice.org or perugiamuderfile.org .  You’ll find here a host of good people who are all working on a totally volunteer basis in memory of the only victim of this crime.

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher. RIP.


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Limited DNA Reviews - What We Believe Are The Hard Facts On The Double DNA Knife

Posted by ViaDellaPergola


Repeat of my December post as the knife is again back in sharp focus.

The wild claims of the conspiracy theorists have morphed back and forth. But the facts remain that Italy has a fine DNA lab system and Dr Stefanoni is internationally respected - and she had no vested interest in a particular outcome.

Sollecito coolly explained that Meredith’s DNA SHOULD be on the blade of the knife because he pricked her while he was cooking a fish at his place. She had never ever been to his place - in fact, she had only set eyes on him once or twice, very briefly, and had certainly not eaten his fish.

But Sollecito STILL lets that highly incriminating statement stand - one that is enough to secure a conviction in an American court all by itself. Sollecito never retracted or explained it. Why not? Why not?

The truth, obviously, is worse. Very, very much worse.

Posted on 01/24/11 at 12:37 PM by ViaDellaPergolaClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fourth Appeal Hearing: Updates On Today’s Court Hearing Which Is Mainly Procedural

Posted by Peter Quennell


Above: Sapienza University is the largest European university and the oldest of Rome’s three state-funded universities.

  • At noon Italian time ANSA reported that the two DNA experts from Sapienza University have been given 90 days to do their retesting. They will begin their review on Feb. 9, conclude by May 9 and report their findings to the court on May 21.
  • The witness in the square on the night who said he saw Sollecito and Knox, Antonio Curatolo, will be re-examined. This is at the prosecution’s request, not at the defenses’.
  • The DNA experts have asked to break open the handle of the knife they are asked to retest. If Meredith’s blood is found to have seeped into the handle, by itself that will be case closed and verdict confirmed. Decision on hold.
  • The examinations will be carried out in the presence of representatives of all parties. Among them will be Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the technical director of the forensic laboratory that conducted the original DNA investigations.
  • The prosecution requested Rudy Guede as a witness and that too was put on hold. Yet another shot across the bows of the defense. If Alessi or Aviello are put on the stand then Guede will also be there to heatedly rebut them.
  • The next appeal hearings scheduled by the court of appeal have been set for 12 and 26 March, and April 16 and May 21. May 21 is when the DNA experts will report back so just three days for examination of witnesses.

Judge Hellman is allowing no defense fishing expeditions, and he is giving the prosecution full latitude. Good reason for Giulia Boingiorno not to be in court: her baby was delivered today in Rome. We like her and wish her and the baby well.

Below, images of the two court-appointed DNA experts and of Amanda Knox. The Reuters caption says her lawyers are consoling her. Chris Mellas’s remarks later made it sound like the family is already trying to let her down gently.
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Posted on 01/22/11 at 07:32 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Fourth Appeal Hearing Today Saturday: The Main Items On The Court’s Agenda

Posted by Peter Quennell

Not very much drama is expected. This hearing is mainly organizational.

The mood of the defense lawyers will be interesting to watch. Also whether Sollecito lawyer Giulia Bongiorno is a show or a no-show. And we may find out if the possible defense witnesses Mario Alessi and Luciano Aviello will actually testify. 

Two DNA experts nominated by Judge Hellman at the last appeal hearing on 11 December for the genetics testing of the bra clasp and the knife will appear and be sworn in and charged with their assignment.

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti of La Sapienza University in Rome will be asked how long they believe they will need and it is expected that they will ask for two to three months. 

And the court will establish a timetable for the testimony of several new defense witnesses who may challenge one or two components of Antonio Curatolo’s statement. Nick Pisa bizarrely mis-reports on this in the Daily Telegraph:

He had told the court he remembered the night “clearly” as he saw student revellers queuing up to catch buses to nightclubs on the outskirts of the city.

However defence lawyers have established that he could not have seen the students, as the night Meredith was murdered was a bank holiday with venues being shut and no buses running.

Have established that he could not have seen the students? Really? There were other buses than the disco buses running that night. Students were definitely around.

If prisoners Mario Alessi or Luciano Aviello are indeed put on the firm list to testify that’ll be a pretty sure sign that the defenses are really clutching at straws, as in each case their known claims are contradicted by dozens of evidence points .

The prosecution has interviewed both of them and those interviews have not been made public.  Here are more wrong and seemingly irrelevant claims bizarrely reported by Nick Pisa.

Retired British university professor David Anderson, who lives near Perugia and who has taken an interest in the case, said: “The conviction of Amanda and Raffaele is scandalous as neither has the psychological profile of a killer.

“The investigation was flawed from the beginning with many mistakes being made and there is no DNA, no real motive, no weapon and no credible witnesses at all.”

Posted on 01/22/11 at 01:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The El Bizarro Defense: “It’s Unfair To Use The DNA They Didn’t Manage To Scrub Away Against Them”

Posted by Cardiol MD


Remember the twins who appealed for mercy at their trial for murdering their parents? On the grounds that they are now orphans?

There is something of that reminiscent here. The defenses of Knox and Sollecito seem 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 boils down to whether the disputed DNA evidence is more unfairly prejudicial than probative. The faux forensic experts who are arguing in the media that this disputed DNA evidence would not ever be admitted in US or UK courts are in fact totally mistaken.

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

That is what the only relevant court in Meredith’s case, the Perugia appeals court, is now doing.

DNA evidence may be “only circumstantial” but that is as with most of the evidence in this case. Meredith was murdered - that’s a fact - but no one saw who did it except the killers.

Judge Hellman designated his selected Expert Reviewers with such alacrity that I think he had already thought it all out.  Judge Hellman is being prudently responsive to the legal and political pressures bearing down on him, and knows the ruling also calls the defendants’ bluff.

As Tom in the post below and others are pointing out, the review is limited to a very partial review of the DNA evidence, and what is not to be reviewed is by far the most significant.

The possibility of more residual blood at the blade/handle junction is thought-provoking. Sollecito’s obsession with knife-ownership suggests that his knife, the murder-weapon, would be top quality, probably with a handle/blade junction, pretty, but vulnerable to seepage into it.

Also, the knife-wielders significantly, even deliberately, stayed away from the well-known neck-blood-vessels, the Jugular Veins, and the Carotid Arteries, on both sides, focusing their neck-stabs on the area of the Larynx, as if they had some medical knowledge of what they were doing - but not enough.

The blood-vessel they did cut - the right superior thyroid artery - is a branch-of-a-branch of the better known blood vessels, but very close to the larynx. They didn’t know, or care, enough to anticipate the lethal consequences of cutting so small an artery in that particular location, so near to the airways.

I agree with others that Judge Hellman may also be innoculating himself by heading off a possible adverse ruling of the Supreme Court in Rome, which must be restricted to Procedural/Legal issues.

The defence lawyers sem to be submitting, probably against their own better judgement and advice, to the FOA camp’s insistence for additional review. I also believe the defendants will bitterly regret this insistence.

Posted on 12/22/10 at 03:31 PM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Limited DNA Reviews - What We Believe Are The Hard Facts On The Double DNA Knife

Posted by ViaDellaPergola

A pre-Massei version of this video was posted on TJMK in March 2010. Essentially nothing has changed in its fact base with Massei. The Machine in his meticulous post below explains what further independent tests were also done.

The wild claims of the conspiracy theorists have morphed back and forth. But the facts remain that Italy has a fine DNA lab system and Dr Stefanoni is internationally respected - and she had no vested interest in a particular outcome.

Sollecito coolly explained that Meredith’s DNA SHOULD be on the blade of the knife because he pricked her while cooking at his place. She had never ever been to his place - in fact, she had only set eyes on him once or twice, very briefly.

But Sollecito still lets that incriminating statement stand. The truth, obviously, is worse. Very much worse.

Posted on 12/21/10 at 09:27 AM by ViaDellaPergolaClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Limited DNA Reviews - Why They Probably Won’t Help Defense And May At A Stroke Be Game Over

Posted by The Machine



[Above: Dr Stefanoni at trial respoding to a question from Sollecito’s defense team]

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and their families were jubilant at Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman’s decision to allow an independent review of some key forensic evidence.

Two experts from Rome’s Sapienza University - Professor Stefano Conti and Professor Carla Vecchiotti - have already been nominated by the appeal court (they will be confirmed in January) to do an independent review of the forensic evidence.

Late saturday and sunday many of the journalists covering Meredith’s case saw Judge Hellmann’s decision as a major victory for the defence teams. Several giddy journalists even reported that somehow Amanda Knox had won her appeal.

However, two very important facts were lost in all the hullaballoo surrounding Judge Hellmann’s decision about this independent review..

First, the original forensic investigation and tests already were carried out by independent experts. Dr. Stefanoni and her team were from Rome, and they worked for another arm of the government. They weren’t hired by the prosecution to blindly confirm their suspicions that Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Diya Lumumba were involved in Meredith’s murder.

And many people seem to be unaware of the fact that it was not Amanda Knox recanting her false accusation, but the DNA testing work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team that led to the release of Diya Lumumba. In this case Dr Stefanoni has high credibility.

Second, a number of experts have ALREADY carried out independent reviews of the DNA and forensic evidence and some of them have testified at court hearings in the course of 2008 and 2009.

In this post, we will take a look at some of the experts involved in the original DNA tests and the subsequent reviews and consider the implications of the new review, including some possible unexpected stings in the tail.

1) The Original Tests

Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni is one of the leading forensic experts in Italy and she was part of the the Disaster Investigations Teams sent to identify victims of the south Asian tsumani in 2004. She had to pass a series of stringent state tests to join the scientific police in Rome. She led the forensic investigation into Meredith’s murder and was responsible for carrying out the DNA tests and interpreting the results.

The Double DNA Knife

Dr. Stefanoni found seven traces of human flesh (human tissue cells) on the large kitchen knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen. There was only enough DNA for one test. However, the results of non-repetitive tests are allowed to be entered as evidence in Italy.

The defence teams are notified of the date and time of all non-repetitive tests to make sure that they can be present to observe that correct procedures are adhered to. If they miss the tests or don’t stay for the full (often long) duration they have not carried out their full mandate to their client (they might even be liable for malpractice) and the defense has no right to claim wrong procedures or lab contamination.

Dr. Stefanoni testified at the trial that the one test she did “reliably” identified the DNA as Meredith’s.

Italian TJMK poster and DNA specialist Nicki explained in May 2009 why the DNA on the blade of the knife was a definite match to Meredith’s DNA:

Two genetic profiles are identical and therefore belong to the same individual if a) they are in the same position, and b) they have identical shape and dimension. In this case, each peak produced in the original samples exactly corresponds to the peaks yielded by the knife sample, position, shape and dimension.

[Below: DNA on the blade of the knife(top chart), Meredith’s DNA(second chart), and the two superimposed]



The Bra Clasp

Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp was identified by two separate DNA tests. Judge Massei rejected defence claims that Sollecito’s DNA was LCN DNA and noted that there was no reason to doubt the reliability of the result:

It has already been said that Dr. Stefanoni had reported that on the [bra] hook (Exhibit 165B) the mixed genetic profile attributable to the victim and to Raffaele Sollecito was found; looking at the electropherogram, the ratio had been estimated in the proportion of 1 to 6 (the victim’s DNA being six times that of Sollecito); the quantity of DNA found could not be considered terribly small because there were several peaks that easily exceeded 1000 RFU, and no [317] repetition of the analysis had been carried out because the peak height of the smaller fraction of DNA was good, such that there was no reason to doubt the reliability of the result.

2) Independent Reviews

Dr. Renato Biondo

There was an independent review of the forensic evidence in 2008.

Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA unit of the scientific police, reviewed Dr. Stefanoni’s investigation and the forensic findings. He testified at Rudy Guede’s fast track trial in October 2008 and confirmed that all the forensic findings were accurate and reliable.

He also praised the work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team. “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

Professor Francesca Torricelli

The Kercher family hired their own DNA expert, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and asked her to examine the DNA evidence.

Professor Torricelli is the Director of a genetic facility at Careggi University Hospital and has been working in genetics since 1976. She testified at Knox’s and Sollecito’s trial last and she also confirmed Dr. Stefanoni’s findings.

She told the court that the significant amount of Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp meant that it was unlikely that it was left by contamination. She also agreed with Dr. Stefanoni that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the double DNA knife.


General Luciano Garofano (image above)

Distinguished DNA expert and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano analysed the DNA and forensic evidence for the early 2010 book “Darkness Descending”.

He has more than 32 years of forensics experience and is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. In his section of the book he explains at length why he too thinks that Knox and Sollecito are guilty of Meredith’s murder.

In an interview with The Sun’s Nick Francis, he said that the right people had been convicted:  “I believe the police have prosecuted and convicted the right people, even if they got some of the details wrong.”

He told reporter Andrea Vogt that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn Knox’s and Sollecito’s convictions:  “I do not believe that there is enough evidence to convince an Italian magistrate and jury to overturn this conviction”.

Dr. Anna Barbaro

Rudy Guede’s defense lawyers hired their own forensic expert, Dr. Anna Barbaro, and asked her to examine the DNA evidence.

She didn’t dispute the DNA evidence against Guede, Knox or Sollecito. Guede’s lawyers claim that there was an innocent explanation for his DNA being at the crime scene and that Knox’s and Sollecito’s DNA implicated them.

Guede lawyer Walter Biscotti noted that the evidence against Knox was particularly strong.

3) The original prosecution team

Both Prosecutor Mignini and Prosecutor Comodi said after the appeal session on saturday that they are are confident that the independent review of the DNA and forensic evidence will confirm the sentences and verdict.

Mr Mignini

:

I don’t agree with the request and I see it as a waste of time. The judge did not criticise the methods that were used to collect and test the DNA….. The review was granted because the jury needed help to interpret the findings as they are difficult to understand. I don’t see how it is a victory for the defence, as the methods were not criticised in the ruling. The review will confirm the sentence and the verdict will stand.

Ms Comodi

As far as I am concerned this independent review will just confirm the excellent work carried out by the police scientific unit. The judge did not actually explain why he was allowing this review and although I do not agree with it I am sure it will underline the job originally done.

4) Two possible game-overs

Re-examination of the knife

In “Darkness Descending” the former Carabinieri General Garofano wrote that the police should have separated the plastic handle from the knife and checked for blood there.

The defence teams will regret having asked for the independent review if the new experts do this and they find there a testable quantity of Meredith’s blood.

Re-examination of the bra clasp

According to the authors of “Darkness Descending” Dr. Stefanoni found highly suggestive evidence of Amanda Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra. Raffaele Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Torre, also claimed that he had found Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra strap.

It seems that another forensic expert Vincenzo Pascali ALSO found Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra. The reporter Barbie Nadeau wrote the following:

Vincenzo Pascali, the chief forensic consultant who was set to give expert testimony about the possible contamination of the bra clasp, walked off the case last month, reportedly leaving a €50,000 bill. Back in September, Pascali, who declined to comment for this story, hinted that the clasp also contained Knox’s DNA.

And so in conclusion

One to two years later DNA testing techniques have improved, and also there is the sleeper of what is under the handle of the knife.

The defence teams’ insistence on an independent review could really explode in their faces if the new experts confirm more of Meredith’s DNA on the knife (Knox’s DNA is there very strongly) and that Knox’s DNA is on Meredith’s bra.

Posted on 12/20/10 at 09:48 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Reports On Scope Of Appeal Sounds Like Maybe A Setback For The Defenses

Posted by Peter Quennell


The first full reports are not out yet. This is a first quick take on the Italian reporting and may be subject to correction.

Some of the Cassation’s hard-line decision for rejecting Rudy Guede ‘s 10 appeal grounds in Rome on thursday will indeed be accepted into this appeal for the judges’ consideration.

The judges are agreeing to the defense request for a review of the testing of the DNA on the bra clasp and the large knife, though of course nobody - nobody - so far has ever proved contamination as the prosecutors today pointed out.

Two Rome experts in DNA have already been nominated.

Apparently none of the other very extensive forensic evidence at the scene of the crime - which is the entire apartment, not merely Meredith’s bedroom - is to be retested. That has always been very tough to explain away.

Apparently only one or two of the previous witnesses whose testimony is described in the Massei report will be heard from again. Possible Guede confidant Alessi will be allowed and maybe Aviello who claimed his missing brother really did it.

And apparently ninety days is added to the allowed duration of this appeal, because the Massei Report took 90 days to produce. The deadline now is next September, although if it lasts through to the spring we will be surprised.

The defense doesn’t seem to have many strong hopes going forward. No more Spiderman attempts on Filomena’s window. They found no room for appeal with regard to the various contradictory alibis, the various peculiar phone calls, and assorted bizarre behaviors.

Remember that even Knox and Sollecito themselves have claimed they were zonked out of their skulls on the night - though magically they seem to have managed a major cleanup and rearrangement of the entire crime scene, minus evidence pointing to Guede.

The astute commenter Piktor posted this on PMF

The expert review would be needed if the scientific results were the only evidence that convicts.

What if the DNA evidence was thrown out. Could you convict without it?

You have the staging, the lies, the false accusation, the police testimony, the defendant’s multiple alibis that don’t mesh, Mrs. Mellas testimony in court exposing Knox’s willful “confusion”, the email and diaries.

You add it up and it all points in one direction. No doubt about the result.

The prosecution narrative makes sense. The defence has no narrative.



Friday, December 03, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report: Establishing The Time When Meredith Passed On

Posted by Storm Roberts




Why This Matters So Much

Perhaps the hardest parts of the Massei Report for compassionate readers to take are those concerning Meredith’s wounds and time of death.

Those passages commence early in the report and, as with our translation of much of the Micheli report, left our translators and many readers disturbed and a few of them at least in tears. 

This is an abbreviated overview of how forensic medicine helped the court to establish the time of Meredith’s death.

Click here for more

Posted on 12/03/10 at 12:29 AM by Storm RobertsClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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