Why They Also Damn: The Hundreds Of DNA Samples Taken And Analyses Done, Shown In Table Form
Posted by Olleosnep
1. Even Excluding DNA, There’s Massive Evidence
Contrary to foolish claims elsewhere, there’s a great deal of evidence implicating not only Guede but also Knox and Sollecito in the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher.
The bulk of the evidence is circumstantial, and encompasses different categories of evidence, such as: wounds sustained by Ms. Kercher; ear and eye witnesses; footprints; shoeprints; fingerprints and lack thereof; blood patterns; evidence that Ms. Kercher was moved after she died; misplaced items in her room and in the cottage; evidence of partial clean-up; cellphone records; computer evidence; evidence of staged break-in; lack of evidence of actual break-in; statements by all three defendants; lack of alibis; lies by Knox and Sollecito; etc.
A lot of the most critical evidence has been repeatedly reviewed by many different judges involved in the case, from Judge Micheli to Judge Nencini, and led to the unanimous verdict at trial now confirmed by Appeal Judge Nencini.
2. The Massive DNA Evidence Is Equally Conclusive
We have carried nearly five dozen DNA posts previously on the Scientific Labs work in 2007-09, the discredited judges’ consultants work in 2011, and the Carabinieri Labs work in 2013.
They go to prove that some of the most damning evidence comes from the DNA traces found on hundreds of samples tested by the Forensic Genetics department of the Italian Scientific Police squadron in Rome. The department was presided over by the biologist Dr. Stefanoni at the time [seen above left with Prosecutor Comodi] who acted as the department’s principal technical director.
The results of Dr. Stefanoni’s work were collected in several reports issued by her lab during the 2008-2009 investigation and trial phases. Of these reports, two reports in particular comprise a ‘survey’ of the work performed by her lab at the time: the “Genetic Tests” report (GT), and the “Stato Avanzamento Laboratorio” report (SAL). Both reports are available on the Meredith Kercher Wiki.
These two reports are notable for highlighting the large quantity of testing done and the significant number of objects and items sampled. In addition, the reports not only look at items with blood traces, but also traces of skin cells, feces, semen, and above all, hair traces, an aspect of the evidence that has been largely glossed over in the testimony and in the motivation reports.
3. For The First Time A Complete DNA Roadmap
The DNA Spreadsheet will open using Microsoft Excel or alternatives such as the free OpenOffice. Please note the table is very wide.
In order to better understand the extent of the work and types of the tests performed, I have taken the data that can be gleaned from these two reports and placed them into a single spreadsheet, in order to create a kind of ‘database’ of the testing and analyses done.
This spreadsheet uses the GT report as a basis, followed by additional information obtainable from the SAL report.
The spreadsheet is basically a list of each sample, object and/or test done by Dr. Stefanoni’s team. These include tests done for DNA analysis, testing done for Y haplotype analysis and hair sample analysis. In the SAL report, it is shown that a few samples were tested multiple times. The list also includes some objects which were not analyzed at all, or were only analyzed up to a point.
It should be noted that there are a few difficulties with the reports. The GT report references an associated photographic report that has not been made available. The GT report is also missing a couple of pages and the descriptions of the results are at times inconsistent. Other times it can be tricky to follow exactly what tests were done. Because the report is a black and white scan of an original likely printed in color, some of the information in the tables is difficult or impossible to read. And some traces are missing result tables altogether.
The SAL report is also incomplete. The luminol samples at the cottage and all the samples taken at Guede’s apartment are missing, as are other samples. The scanned pages in the PDF are out of order, making cross-checking with the GT report tedious. The SAL report does not have all the test data indicated in the GT report. For instance, the human antibody tests noted in the GT report are not indicated in the SAL report. The data in the SAL report is often not as complete as one might think. As an example, all hair samples were logged and assigned a sample number. But those hairs that had no DNA extracted, do not have a date of when they were analyzed. Presumably they were all analyzed as a set for each item, given that the sample number is frequently numerically sequential (i.e. 47084, 47085, 47086, etc.). But it’s not possible to say with certainty when the hairs were reviewed from the report.
Nevertheless the GT and SAL reports do have significant information that is of interest to the case. Hence the spreadsheet.
4. Some Guidance For The Use Of The Spreadsheet
Spreadsheets can be useful for presenting various pieces of data together ‘at a glance’. But the real power of spreadsheets for this type of data is that rows can be sorted in order to group similar pieces of data together, allowing one to get a overview of subsets of data.
So, for instance, if one wanted to order all the rows by ‘sample number’ to see the sequence of how they were processed in the lab, one need only highlight all the rows (done by clicking on row number 5, holding down the ‘Shift key’ and paging down to the bottommost row), then go to menu option ‘Data’ and then ‘Sort’ and select the column or columns to sort by- ‘AF’ in the case.
Or perhaps one wants to sort by ‘DNA yielded’ and ‘building’ to see where someone’s DNA was found. Simply select all the rows again, select the menu option ‘Data’ and then ‘Sort’, and select the first column as ‘DNA yielded’ (or column AD), then select as the second column as ‘building (or column F).
To return to the original order, select all rows again and sort on column A.
Note that the first four rows in the spreadsheet are ‘locked’, in order to allow the column headers to be always visible. If one wants to unlock these rows, select the whole spreadsheet by clicking on the upper left corner of the window where the column header labels and row numbers meet. Once the whole spreadsheet is selected, go to ‘View’ option and select ‘Unfreeze panes’. For Excel version 2007 and higher, click on the little arrow to the right of ‘freeze panes’ button on the menu bar, and there will be the option to unfreeze panes.
If one is handy with Access, or any other database program, it should be possible to import the spreadsheet into that database program, allowing one to perform more powerful ‘queries’.
5. Explanations Of Some Of The DNA Data
The data in each column was obtained directly or indirectly obtainable from the two reports by Dr. Stefanoni’s team.
1) Column ‘A’ allows one to resort rows to their original order, which is based on the order of the ‘item number’ noted in the GT report.
2) ‘Item number’ refers to the actual piece of evidence, whether an object sampled onsite or an object that was bagged and taken to the lab, as noted in the GT report.
3) ‘Original item label’ is data provided in the first pages of the GT report, as a way to tie the evidence item back to evidence markers used at the crime scene, and visible in some of the crime scene photos.
4) ‘Page in attached photo report’ indicates that there is an adjunct ‘photo report’ Dr. Stefanoni provided that has not yet been released, and likely has photos of the evidence items ‘in situ’. This information is also noted in the beginning item lists in the GT report.
5) ‘Sample date’ is based on the dates noted in the beginning list in the GT report, indicating when the evidence item was sampled or taken from the crime scene. This is sometimes difficult to read, due to the fact that the report was apparently printed in color and the black and white scan hides or obscures some text and graphics.
6) Columns F-K are location and object data, obtainable from the descriptions in the GT report, especially the first pages that provide a list of where evidence samples were obtained. I broke this data down into various categories to allow different possibilities of grouping the data.
7) ‘Sample obtained’ indicates the type of biological substance that was assumed to contain DNA. This was first obtained from the GT report, and later corrected with the data from the SAL report, which has a more consistent description of what the sample was assumed to be.
8) Columns M through AC list data either directly reported in the GT and SAL reports, or interpretable from them. Column M notes if an item was analyzed or not. In the GT report, unanalyzed items are noted in the beginning list as ‘not analyzed’ though not consistently. In the SAL report, they are noted as having 0 samples.
9) ‘Trace number’ was obtained from GT report, though on a few occasions, the actual number is not clear. Note that the number ‘starts over’ for each evidence item. Sometimes the trace number is sequential, independent of whether it is blood or hair or skin cells. Items having the most traces are those that were ‘heavily’ sampled, including Sollecito’s sneakers, the duvet, Ms. Kercher’s sweat jacket, her jeans, the kitchen knife, the kitchen sponge, etc.
10) ‘Additional trace info’ is additional information noted from both reports about a specific sample.
11) Column P ‘revealed in luminol?’ indicates with a ‘yes’ those samples obtained during luminol analysis. What often gets overlooked is that luminol analysis was performed not only at the cottage, but in Sollecito’s car, Sollecito’s apartment and Guede’s apartment. Notable here is that 14 different samples were obtained from luminol analysis at Sollecito’s apartment. While the DNA data yielded was meager, what is important is not the actual data yielded, but the number and location of samples investigated, including samples from door handles, and different locations like the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. There was certainly a suspicious amount of blood, bleach or turnip juice at Sollecito’s place!
12) ‘Date of extraction’ comes from the SAL report, though, as mentioned above, it is not consistently reported for every trace or sample analyzed. This indicates when DNA processing occurred on a sample. This column is important to look at when discussing the issue of lab contamination. If one performs a sort on this column and on the ‘sample number’ column, one can clearly see that samples were processed in batches, often a week or two weeks apart. So for instance, claims that the sample 36B happened due to contamination at the lab is really not possible, given that Ms. Kercher’s DNA was analyzed one week earlier (11/5/07 and 11/6/07) and sample 36B is the only sample to contain Ms. Kercher’s DNA from all the samples analyzed on 11/13/07. Similarly, Sollecito’s DNA and Guede’s DNA are only found once each of all the items analyzed on 12/29/07, yet the last time Sollecito’s DNA had been analyzed was on 12/17/07, 12 days earlier. So the likelihood of lab contamination seems extraordinarily small, just from the dates of when samples were analyzed.
13) ‘TMB test positive’ was originally obtained from the GT report. Again because that report is likely in color, a number of tables have either missing graphics or are missing tables altogether. Fortunately the SAL report has duplicated this data consistently.
14) ‘Human antibody test positive?’ is obtained from other tables in the GT report, almost always paired with the TMB table. In some cases where the table data is illegible, I’ve placed a “?” in front of an assumed result. Curiously, this test is not shown in the SAL report.
15) ‘Cat antibody positive?’ is from the GT report, shows that the basement apartment blood samples were all made a by cat, which Dr. Stefanoni comments on in her Massei testimony.
16) Apparently they also ran ‘dog antibody’ testing as well, as is noted in the GT report.
17) ‘DNA extraction done?’ indicates if a decision was made to extract DNA. This was inferred from the GT report. Notable here is that even with samples having cat antibodies, Dr. Stefanoni does the DNA extraction anyway to make sure no human DNA is in the sample.
18) ‘Quantity extracted’ comes from the SAL report. This refers not to the amount of DNA extracted, but specifically to the amount of liquid (50, 100 or 150 microliters) filtered through the Qiagen Bio Robot EZ1 machine. This machine actually filters or purifies the sample, removing all other biological materials like cells, bacteria, etc. leaving only actual DNA molecules which can then be processed. This extraction process is also the quantification process, where from a 50 microliter sample a certain amount of DNA is found and quantified.
19) ‘Human DNA found during quantification’ was inferred from the GT report. It should be noted that for Dr. Stefanoni’s team, DNA analysis involved finding DNA useful for comparison. This means that Dr. Stefanoni was not looking for a sample of any human DNA, but a sample sufficiently ‘complete’ to be able to compare it with others samples. So it was likely often the case that a trace might have snippets and pieces of DNA, but these pieces were either too small or too fragmented to be useful for any profile comparisons. So ‘No’ in this column means not so much that no DNA was found at all, but that no DNA was found that could be useful for comparison.
20) ‘Decision to amplify and analyze’ was obtained from the GT report. Sometimes it is explicitly mentioned in the description of the results in the GT report. Other times, it can be inferred from the lack of tables.
21) ‘Concentrate sample with Speed VAC 110’ means that where “no human DNA was found” (i.e. when no DNA was found sufficiently complete or in sufficient amounts useful for comparison), Dr. Stefanoni decided to process the sample further in an effort to ‘bring out’ whatever DNA there might be. This was done using a ‘concentrator’, which dries the samples and vacuums them, thereby reducing sample fluid to make any DNA present more easily found by the subsequent DNA processing equipment.
22) ‘STR amplification’ is the DNA copying process whereby any DNA found is copied millions of times to obtain samples that can be adequately rendered by capillary electrophoresis. The process Dr. Stefanoni used is described specifically in the GT report for evidence items 12 and 13.
23) In some cases ‘Y chromosome amplification’ is also done. While this may be done at the same time by the same machine, I took any Y chromosome amplification to be a separate test, since per the GT report, it sometimes yielded different results. In a few cases, it is not clear from the GT report if Y chromosome amplification was done on only one sample, or on all the samples of an evidence item. In those cases, I assumed all the samples.
24) ‘Capillary electrophoresis’ is where DNA is rendered through a chemical/electrical process that tags DNA particles with fluorescence. These fluoresced particles are then read by the software of the machine and mapped onto a graph that shows DNA particles as ‘peaks’, which are an indicator of quantity of DNA found. The software of the machine then produced graphs of the peaks obtained and it is these graphs that Dr. Stefanoni and her team used for profile comparison.
25) ‘DNA yielded’ is what is indicated in the GT report and is based on Dr. Stefanoni’s comparison of the DNA profile(s) shown by capillary electrophoresis to index DNA samples she had of Sollecito, Lumumba, Guede, Knox and Ms. Kercher.
26) ‘Egram number’ is taken from the GT report.
27) The ‘sample number’ was taken from the GT and further completed by the SAL report, which has the sample numbers for all samples, whether they were analyzed for DNA or not. The sample numbers are useful for indicating what was happening at the Dr. Stefanoni’s lab. As an example, if one does a sort on column Q (Date of extraction) and column AF (sample number) one can see that between 11/5/07 and 11/6/07, there is gap of 129 samples that were likely performed for another case. The last sample analyzed on 11/5/07 was 47082, and on 11/6/07, the next sample number is 47211. So presumably her lab ran 129 additional DNA tests on samples related to other cases between these two runs. Generally the sample numbers increase sequentially by date, but there are a few exceptions. One in particular is sample 47821, which appears as the last sample on 11/23/07, though samples starting on 11/26/07, three days later, start with sample number 47711. This implies that samples were probably numbered in batches (by sticking numbered labels on tubes or bags) and not necessarily right before extraction or other machine processing was done.
28) ‘Compatibility notes’ are extra comments noted by Dr. Stefanoni in the GT report.
29) ‘Likely substance containing DNA’ is interpretable from the GT and SAL report and the results of the testing done.
30) Finally there are columns related to hair analysis. ‘Type of hair’ comes from the SAL report, and it is sometimes, but not consistently or legibly, noted in the GT report.
31) ‘Hair color’ provides a description of the hair color. Notable is that the hair description is quite consistent, with black, blonde, chestnut, light chestnut, red chestnut being the more significant categories. This is available in both the GT and SAL report and both reports match.
32) ‘Hair length;’ is obviously the length of hair analyzed. I’m not sure how this was done since the machinery used is not indicated in either report. Again, this is in both reports, and again the data matches in both reports.
33) ‘Hair width’ is the diameter of the hair in micrometers, and is available in both reports.
34) ‘Hair marrow’ is found only in the SAL report, and presumably describes the condition of the very core of the hair.
35) ‘Hair end condition’ indicates whether the end of the hair is ‘cut’, a ‘point’, frayed or otherwise. This is found in both reports.
36) ‘Bulb phase’ relates to the particular phase of hair growth, with DNA apparently present in the hair bulb only during the initial growth phases of the hair. This too is found in both reports.
37) ‘Hair remarks’ are any comments related to hair samples.
38) Lastly, the ‘remarks’ column contains my notes on a particular sample or test, indicating discrepancies or explanations of what I was able to understand.
As noted above, the SAL report does not contain data for all the samples. Per Dr. Gino’s testimony in the Massei trial on 9/26/09, additional SAL sheets were apparently released that indicate that TMB tests were done on the luminol samples at the cottage and that these tests were negative. However it should be noted that TMB is less sensitive than luminol, so it is possible that a luminol sample could be in blood, which however is too diluted to be registered by a TMB test.
6. More Commentary On the DNA Extracted From Blood
1) DNA is only found in white blood cells, not red blood cells
2) The luminol reacts with the iron in red blood cells, not white blood cells
3) Red blood cells outnumber white blood cells by roughly 600 to 1
4) Even if DNA is found it may be not usable for comparison
So just because there is a positive luminol or TMB result does not mean that DNA can be found.
7. More Commentary On The Resulting Statistics
At the bottom of the spreadsheet are some interesting statistics, which I won’t reiterate here, except to note a few things.
a) 227 different objects or site objects were sampled/ obtained for analysis. 30 of these were not analyzed at all. From the remaining 197 objects and site objects sampled, 484 separate tests were set up for analysis, with 93 of these consisting of hair analysis. Of these 484 tests, 193 of them yield DNA data useful for comparison (40%).
b) Of the 193 tests that were ‘successful’, 100 tests yielded DNA compatible only with Ms. Kercher’s DNA (over 50%- again keep in mind their may have been other DNA but it may have been too small or too fragmented to be useful for comparison). Nine additional tests (comprising seven samples) yielded DNA compatible with Ms. Kercher’s DNA mixed with either Knox’s, Guede’s or Sollecito’s DNA. 27 tests had DNA compatible with Guede’s DNA; 18 tests had DNA compatible with Knox’s DNA; 11 more tests had DNA compatible with Sollecito’s DNA. Nine other tests yielded DNA compatible with a mixture of Knox’s and Sollecito’s DNA. 17 tests yielded DNA of unknown men and women (i.e. unmatchable by Dr. Stefanoni), and two tests were of samples obtained from Lumumba.
c) Of the nine tests yielding Ms. Kercher’s DNA mixed with others, five of these yielded DNA compatible with a mixture of Kercher’s and Knox’s DNA. They were all samples found in blood or potential blood- notably: three in the bathroom, one on the corridor floor in a luminol revealed bloody footprint, one in a luminol revealed blood stain in Romanelli’s room.
d) Returning to the discussions about contamination, it is notable that, whether the contamination occurred during site collection or in the lab, one might expect to find bits of contamination occurring here and there over 193 tests. Yet nearly all the arguments involve contamination about two samples, out of 193 tests. Over 50% of the tests that had useful DNA yielded Ms. Kercher’s DNA. If site collection, transport and/or lab procedures were so poor, one would expect to find Ms. Kercher’s DNA in other places as well. Yet very few samples have her DNA mixed with others, and conversely, very few other samples have other mixed DNA. Only nine samples have mixes of Sollecito and Knox’s DNA, eight of which were all obtained at Sollecito’s apartment or from Sollecito’s things (including a pocket knife), and one was obtained from a cigarette butt at the cottage. If contamination was so rampant, why does it occur on only two samples out of 193, (and curiously only on the two most damning samples)?
e) Continuing along the same lines, 118 samples were obtained from Sollecito’s apartment. Of these, 49 were not analyzed, (many were hairs not having bulbs in the right phase). Of the remaining 66 samples that were analyzed, only one, the one the blade of the kitchen knife, had Ms. Kercher’s DNA. And 41 yielded no usable DNA. So if there was contamination, or worse, direct framing of evidence by the lab, certainly there would be more of Ms. Kercher’s DNA amongst those 66 samples, in order to achieve an ironclad case. Yet there is only one sample out of 66 that had Ms. Kercher’s DNA.
f) Similarly, 224 tests were done on objects taken from the upper apartment. Of these 56 were not analyzed for DNA and an additional 61 that were analyzed, did not yield anything useful. Of the remaining 107 tests, only 3 had Sollecito’s DNA (a trace on the cigarette butt, and a trace on the bra clasp having Sollecito’s DNA as well as his Y chromosome.) Surely if there was rampant contamination or worse, direct framing of evidence, one would expect to find more of Sollecito’s DNA in Ms. Kercher’s room. Yet only one sample had his DNA and Y chromosome- the bra clasp.
g) Conversely, it is rather odd that Sollecito’s car was sampled in 16 locations (actually 19 samples were taken but only 16 analyzed), and none of those samples revealed his DNA. Did he ever drive his car?
8. And Finally More Commentary About The Hairs
Guede had black hair. From photos of Nov 2, 2007, Knox had blonde hair and Sollecito had chestnut to light chestnut hair. Meredith Kercher had chestnut to reddish chestnut hair.
93 hairs were found and analyzed. Seven of these were either animal hair or fibers. The remaining 86 hairs were, per the SAL report, all human. Seven of these hairs were black in color. Of the seven, six were short (4 cm or less) and one was long. Of the six short black hairs, four were found on the duvet covering Ms. Kercher, one was found on her mattress cover, and one was found on a sponge (containing fourteen other hairs) at Sollecito’s apartment. It is very likely these short black hairs were Guede’s, and if so, how it one of his hairs get on a sponge at Sollecito’s apartment.
Similarly, 21 blonde hairs were found, ranging from 4 cm to 20 cm. Of these, fifteen were found at Sollecito’s apartment, either on a sponge in the kitchen, or on a sweater. The other six were found at the cottage, with three being found on the duvet, one found inside the small bathroom sink, one found on a mop, one found on Ms. Kercher’s purse and one found on Ms. Kercher’s mattress cover.
Assuming the blonde hairs were Knox’s hair, it is difficult to imagine how they might wind up on Ms. Kercher’s purse and mattress cover.
There were four light chestnut hairs found. One, measuring 9 cm, was found on the kitchen sponge at Sollecito’s apartment. The other three light chestnut hairs were found on Ms. Kercher’s bra (2 cm), sweat jacket (7.5 cm) and the towel found under Ms. Kercher’s body (20 cm).
35 chestnut colored hairs were found, ranging from 1.5 to 30 cm in length. The vast majority were in Ms. Kercher’s bedroom. Two chestnut colored hairs (5 cm and 8 cm) were on the kitchen sponge at Sollecito’s house. It should be noted that three chestnut colored hairs yielded Ms. Kercher’s DNA, measuring 15, 18 and 23 cms.
So even from the hair evidence, it seems that hair having Knox and Sollecito’s color were on Ms. Kercher’s more intimate objects, while Guede’s and Ms. Kercher’s hair apparently were on a sponge in the kitchen at Sollecito’s apartment. In other words, an object used in a clean-up, and in a room that also had five luminol revealed samples.
Even the hair evidence points to Guede, Sollecito and Knox having acted together in the murder of Ms. Kercher.
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