Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Explaining to “No Physical Evidence” Gladwell Just How MUCH There Was #5 Bra Clasp

Posted by The Machine



Dr Stefanoni with Dr Mignini, two world-class professionals

Long post. Click here to go straight to Comments.

1. This Evidence Series Overview

In 35 paragraphs Malcolm Gladwell made 35 false claims in his angry diatribe pro-Knox.

We have seen before - mostly long ago and now long gone - numerous incompetents with chips on their shoulders toward police and courts and Italians and even all non-Americans, and a besotted attitude toward a false Knox.

And now Gladwell, all of a sudden, leapfrogs all of them.

In our very first post we quoted Gladwell quoting the hoaxer Peter Gill on the DNA as if he was the word of God. The slightest checking would have revealed that as a hoax.

This is the fifth in my sub-series on Gladwell’s demonstrably false claim that there was no physical evidence linking Amanda Knox or Raffaele Sollecito to Meredith’s attack and death.

2. The Bra Clasp Evidence STILL Stands Up

First, bear in mind that the potshots taken at this DNA evidence were from thousands of miles away. None except Hampikian had even visited any Italian lab.

The hoaxer Hampikian visited only the lab of the 2011 “independent experts” at first appeal, who he was illegally trying to bias - with American science which was behind European science at the time.

Check this out for why that lab was closed down. Among other reasons, human bodies were lying around. Nice team Gladwell has picked for himself… 

As with the footprints, Gladwell completely ignores the bra clasp DNA evidence in his book. Maybe not a surprise. Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was quite definitely on that clasp.

Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found in profusion on Meredith’s bra clasp. His DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests. Of the 17 loci tested in the sample, Sollecito’s profile matched 17 out of 17.

“Both by the quantity of DNA analyzed and by the fact of having performed the analysis at 17 loci with unambiguous results, not to mention the fact that the results of the analysis were confirmed by the attribution of the Y haplotype to the defendant, it is possible to say that it has been judicially ascertained that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was present on the exhibit; an exhibit that was therefore handled by the defendant on the night of the murder.” (The Nencini report, page 267).

David Balding, a professor of statistical genetics at University College London, analysed the DNA evidence against Sollecito and concluded that the evidence was “strong”

“…because Sollecito is fully represented in the stain at 15 loci (we still only use 10 in the UK, so 15 is a lot), the evidence against him is strong…”

In Andrea Vogt’s excellent BBC documentary he said the bra clasp evidence against Sollecito was “extremely strong”.

DNA expert and creator and former head of the Caribinieri labs, General Professor Luciano Garofano, said the result of the DNA test on the bra clasp was “perfect”.

Numerous forensic experts have effectively ruled out contamination at the cottage

Professor Balding of London University also said Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith on Meredith’s bra clasp can’t be explained by environmental contamination.

He also said there was a “much greater likelihood“ that the DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp came from Sollecito and that’s the reason why it’s “extremely strong“ evidence against him.

He told Chris Halkides that people walking in and out of the room etc would be unlikely to contaminate the bra clasp.

On the BBC documentary, he said contamination from passers-by isn’t an issue and that he has taken that into account and it’s extremely unlikely.

Professor Novelli pointed out there’s more likelihood of meteorite striking the courtroom in Perugia than there is of the bra clasp being contaminated by dust.

“The hook contaminated by dust? It’s more likely for a meteorite to fall and bring this court down to the ground.”

Alberto Intini, the head of the Italian police forensic science unit, also excluded environmental contamination at the Massei trial because “DNA doesn’t fly.”

Professor Torricelli testified that it was unlikely the clasp was contaminated because there was a significant amount of Sollecito’s DNA on it.

It’s almost impossible for the Scientific Police to have contaminated the bra clasp at the cottage.


Some of Amanda Knox’s supporters once tried to claim a forensic technician transferred Meredith’s DNA onto the bra clasp - which would be tertiary transfer.

However, there’s not one scientific study published in a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal demonstrating tertiary transfer of touch DNA.

Amanda Knox’s supporters long ago claimed that there was a speck of dust on one of the gloves of a forensic technician, but it’s impossible to obtain a full DNA profile from dust. Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp was a full DNA profile.

Numerous forensic experts have effectively ruled out contamination in the laboratory

Dr Stefanoni last handled Sollecito’s DNA 12 days before she analysed the bra clasp. This means that contamination couldn’t have occurred in the laboratory.

Judge Chieffi noted that Conti and Vecchiotti had excluded contamination in the laboratory.

“Laboratory contamination was also excluded by these experts [Conti and Vecchiotti].” (Judge Chieffi’s Supreme Court report, page 92).

Professor Novelli ruled out contamination in the laboratory.

“Prof. Novelli said that the origin or vehicle of any contamination must be demonstrated: he added that at the Scientific Police laboratory he had seen the 255 samples [68] extracted, had analysed all the profiles, and had not found any evidence of contamination; he ruled out in an absolutely convincing manner that a contamination agent could be present intermittently, or that DNA could remain suspended, and later fall down in a specific place.” (Judge Chieffi’s Supreme Court report, page 94).

Judge Chieffi also noted in his Supreme Court report that the negative controls to exclude laboratory contamination had been carried out:

“since all the negative controls to exclude it [contamination] had been done by Dr Stefanoni.”  (Judge Chieffi’s Supreme Court report, page 93).

When the defence experts observed the DNA tests being carried at Dr Stefanoni’s laboratory in Rome, they had no objections.

“the probative facts revealed by the technical consultant [Stefanoni] were based on investigative activities that were adequately documented: sampling activity performed under the very eyes of the consultants of the parties, who raised no objection.” (Judge Chieffi’s Supreme Court report, page 93).

The Scientific Police didn’t find a source for Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp anywhere the cottage

Judge Chieffi pointed out that Sollecito’s DNA was never found alone at the cottage in his Supreme Court report. The only trace of his DNA was mixed with Knox’s DNA on the cigarette butt in the kitchen. This means the mixed DNA sample could not have been the source of the DNA on the clasp because Knox’s DNA would also have been found on it.

‘’Sollecito’s DNA was never found alone [at the crime scene], as the only trace of his that was collected and analysed was the one on the cigarette stub found in the ashtray of the kitchen in Knox’s flat, mixed with Knox’s DNA. Thus, even if perchance we wanted to assume that DNA had migrated from the kitchen to the room of the young Englishwoman, we would also have had to find Knox’s DNA on the bra clasp.’ (Judge Chieffi’s Supreme Court report, page 92).




3. Conclusions On This Evidence

You have to place the bra clasp evidence into the wider context of the other pieces of evidence against Sollecito i.e. his multiple false alibis and numerous lies to the police, the bloody footprint on the bathmat that matched the precise characteristics of his foot, the bare bloody footprint revealed by Luminol that matched his foot and the fact Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade of his kitchen knife.

Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on the exact part of Meredith’s bra clasp that had been bent out of shape during the attack on her. It is far more plausible that his DNA ended up on the deformed clasp because he applied enough pressure to bend it out of shape than to believe his DNA was carried by a gust of air or floated on a speck of dust and landed on it by some incredible coincidence.

Why should a judge or juror favor a lower probability transfer scenario - tertiary transfer via sloppy forensic technicians - over a higher probability transfer scenario - primary transfer in the course of murder, especially when you consider all the other pieces if evidence against Sollecito?

Malcolm Gladwell hasn’t addressed the bra clasp evidence let alone refuted it.

He hasn’t explained why numerous renowned DNA experts - Dr Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr Renato Biondo, Professor Luciano Garofano, Professor Giuseppe Novelli, Professor Francesca Torricelli and Professor David Balding - are wrong about its probative value.

He hasn’t even explained where Sollecito’s DNA came from and how it ended up on Meredith’s bra clasp.


Posted by The Machine on 10/08/19 at 07:45 PM in


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