Thursday, August 02, 2018

The DNA Hoax: Ways To Rebut The Drive-By Critics Of The Case On The DNA Dimension

Posted by The Machine




1. Post Overview

There were two starkly contrasting takes on the DNA evidence in Italy. The zombie hoax version still somewhat persists in the US and UK. 

In fact, Dr Stefanoni’s team in 2007-2008 and the Carabinieri labs in 2013 did absolutely impeccable work - with defense observers always looking on, and never, ever complaining or intervening.

The misrepresenting of the DNA evidence in 2011 by the illegal “independent” consultancy of Conti & Vecchiotti was shot down in all points in this court presentation which, amazingly, was seemingly unknown to the 2015 Supreme Court.

But too many people do not know that Judge Chieffi from the Supreme Court said there was no evidence of contamination in his report. Or that Dr Biondo carried out a peer review of Dr Stefanoni’s forensic investigation.  Or that a world-renowned DNA expert said the DNA evidence against Sollecito was “very strong”.

For lawyers and others here seeking to understand the real case at courtroom depth an overview of all our posts is now being assembled in our little factory.  I do recommend these posts as prior reading.

Click for Post:  The Hundreds Of DNA Samples Taken And Analyses Done, Shown In Table Form, by Olleosnep

Click for Post:  Netflixhoax 13: Omitted - How The DNA Processes And Evidence Points Were Deliberately Misrepresented, by KrissyG

Click for Post:  Despite Disinformation From Apologists And Even Supreme Court, Law & Science Support Damning DNA, by James Raper

2. Effective Points Worth Hammering

1. Is LCN DNA evidence fit for purpose and scientifically robust?

Amanda Knox’s supporters have lambasted the DNA evidence against Knox and Sollecito because included LCN DNA evidence, but a number of G7 countries have accept LCN DNA evidence as valid, including America, for years.

So is it robust? In a word: yes. LCN DNA evidence was first used by the Forensic Science Service in England in 1999. Professor Brian Caddy carried out an independent review of LCN DNA evidence in 2008 and concluded it was fit for purpose and scientifically robust.

“I am satisfied low template DNA is fit for purpose within the criminal justice system.

“I found that the technique, as developed by all the forensic suppliers, is scientifically robust and appropriate for use in police investigations.”

Andrew Rennison, the Forensic Science Regulator, said: “I’m satisfied the science is safe and fit for purpose, but there is work to be done around collection and interpretation.”

The Crown Prosecution Service has listed the countries where LCN DNA evidence has been used as evidence.

“LCN methods have been used as evidence in a number of countries, ie; United States (New York), New Zealand, Holland, Italy, Germany, Croatia, Austria and Switzerland.”

2. Is there any evidence the bra clasp ane knife were contaminated?

No. Judge Chieffi - who is an equal counterpart of Judge Marasca - pointed out in his Supreme Court report that the claim of contamination is an unproven hypothesis and there is no evidence of contamination:

“The unproven hypothesis of contamination was taken as an axiom, once again despite the available information, to nullify the probative value of the data collected by the consultants as per article 360 of the Criminal Procedure Code, although the data acquired did not support this conclusion.” (Judge Chieffi’s Supreme Court report, page 94).

3. Was Dr Stefanoni’s forensic investigation peer-reviewed?

Yes. Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA Unit of the Scientific Police, reviewed Dr. Stefanoni’s investigation and the forensic findings in 2008. He 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.”

4. Was Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp?

Yes. This wasn’t disputed by any forensic scientist in court. Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests.

“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 “very strong’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erla7Ley4Tw&t=1892s

DNA expert Luciano Garofano said the result of the DNA test on the bra clasp was “perfect”. He is a former Caribinieri General and has more than 32 years of forensic experience

5. Could the bra clasp have been contaminated 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).

Judge Chieffi also noted in his 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).

6. Could the bra clasp have been contaminated in the cottage?

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

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

Professor Novelli also ruled out environmental contamination. He pointed out in court there’s more likelihood of meteorite striking the courtroom in Perugia than there is of the bra clasp being contaminated by dust at the cottage.

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

He also 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).

7. Could a forensic investigator have contaminated the bra clasp?

Highly unlikely. As far as I’m aware, there is still not one peer-reviewed scientific study published in a prestigious journal demonstrating tertiary transfer of touch DNA.

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 and/or staging - given the fact Sollecito also gave multiple false alibis and lied repeatedly to the police, the bloody footprint matched the precise characteristics of his foot, one of the bare bloody footprints revealed by Luminol matched his foot and Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade of his kitchen knife?

8. How did Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA get onto Meredith’s bra clasp?

Judge Chieffi pointed out that Sollecito’s DNA was never found alone at the cottage. 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 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.

9. Were there several other male DNA profiles on Meredith’s bra clasp?

Professor Balding and Luciano Garofalo both said there was the DNA profile of one unknown male on Meredith’s bra clasp.

“...in some cases we have peaks that correspond to a fourth person.” (Professor Balding).

“The fourth person is not Guede, it seems. This mystery fourth person hasn’t been mentioned much.” (Luciano Garofano, Darkness Descending).

There wasn’t a full DNA profile for this unknown male. Professor Balding didn’t attach any importance to it and explained these extra peaks are routine:

“The extra peaks are all low, so the extra individuals contributed very little DNA.  That kind of extraneous DNA is routine in low-template work: our environment is covered with DNA from breath and touch, including a lot of fragmentary DNA from degraded cells that can show up in low-template analyses.  There is virtually no crime sample that doesn’t have some environmental DNA on it, from individuals not directly involved in the crime.”

10. Was Meredith Kercher’s DNA on the blade of Raffaele Sollecito’s kitchen knife?

Yes. Undoubtedly. A number of forensic experts - Dr Stefanoni, Dr Biondo, Professor Novelli, Professor Torricelli, Luciano Garofano, Elizabeth Johnson, Greg Hampikian and Bruce Budowle - have all confirmed that sample 36-b, which was extracted from the blade of the knife, was Meredith Kercher’s DNA.

“In his report submitted on 6 September 2011 to the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Perugia, Prof. Giuseppe Novelli, consultant of the Prosecutor, wrote the following observations on this point: “[...] the consultant [Stefanoni] also did a statistical calculation with the purpose of determining the probability that the profile could belong to someone other than the victim. The calculation of the Random Match Probability came to 1 chance in 300 million billion. This value computed in this manner makes it possible to attribute the analyzed trace with absolute certainty to exactly one person, which the consultant holds to be the victim Meredith Kercher.” (Page 11 of the above-cited report) (The Nencini report, page 230).

11. Could the knife have been contaminated?

Dr Stefanoni analysed the traces on the knife six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. This means laboratory contamination can be ruled out.

As I’ve already pointed out, Conti and Vecchiotti ruled out contamination in the laboratory.

Judge Micheli ruled out contamination during the collection phase because the knife was sequestered from Sollecito’s apartment on Corso Garibaldi by a different police team to the one that collected evidence from the cottage on Via della Pergola on the same day.

12. Could Meredith’s DNA got onto the blade of Sollecito’s kitchen knife by accident?

Sollecito claimed in his prison diary that he had accidentally pricked Meredith’s hand whilst cooking:

“The fact there is Meredith’s DNA on the kitchen knife is because once when we were all cooking together I accidentally pricked her hand. I apologised immediately and she said it was not a problem.”

Meredith had never been to Sollecito’s apartment. He later admitted that the above account isn’t true.

13. Didn’t new tests on the knife prove Meredith Kercher’s DNA wasn’t on the blade?

A further DNA sample 36-b was tested by the Carabinieri RIS DNA experts Major Berti and Captain Barni in 2013. The sample was attributed to Amanda Knox. A different test on a different DNA sample doesn’t invalidate the test result of sample 36-b.

14. Did Dr. Stefanoni and the forensic technicians break international protocols?

No. There is no universally accepted set of international standards for the collection and testing of DNA evidence. DNA protocols vary from country to country, and in America they vary from state to state. For example, New York state accepts LCN DNA tests in criminal trials.

The Italian Scientific Police follow the guidelines of the ENFSI - the European Network Forensic Science Institutes. Dr. Stefanoni observed that they followed these specific guidelines whereas Conti and Vecchiotti basically picked and mixed a random selection of international opinions:

“We followed the guidelines of the ENFSI, theirs is just a collage of different international opinions”.

Conti and Vecchiotti cited obscure American publications such as the Missouri State Highway Patrol Handbook and the Wisconsin Crime Laboratory Physical Evidence Handbook, not international protocols. The Scientific Police are under no obligation to follow the DNA protocols of the Missouri State Highway Patrol or the Wisconsin Crime Laboratory.


Posted by The Machine on 08/02/18 at 12:20 AM in


Comments

Irrefutable evidence. You’ve got Intini, Torricelli and Novelli all saying the DNA on bra clasp is Sollecito’s. You’ve got DNA expert a man of 32 years experience, a former Caribinieri General no less, the gallant Garofano, saying the bra clasp DNA is Sollecito’s.

You have Dr. Biondo head of DNA unit saying Stefanani’s lab results on the knife were correct.

You have Point 7 an appeal to reason: why would jury choose an unlikely argument of tertiary transfer to the more likely fact that Raf’s DNA was placed on the clasp by his own fingers, when he also lied about matters?

This well thought out synopsis of the DNA as a case for guilt, says it all. Starting with LCN dna being reliable and widely accepted as reliable.

To digress but the very mention of Luciano Garofano fills me with the memory of his wise face from photos of several years back. His eyes are deep wells of the tragedies of life, all he has seen in a full police career, mixed with such depths of compassion and wisdom for human suffering.

Good Garofano, careful and exact. Such an intelligent face blending many good traits of an amiable and fairminded nature, deep focus and intelligence, patience, trustworthiness and yet the sad expression in his dark chocolate fathomless eyes of the sorrowful serious world weariness he has seen through police work. He seems to reflect it all in his magnificent expression. His face seemed to exhibit a sober balance of order and

method mixed with such compassion for the miseries of this life and man’s depravity. Fortitude of spirit the only cure. “courage the only defense to despair”. If only the great Garofano had taken charge of the investigation all might have been different.

Posted by Hopeful on 08/02/18 at 04:58 PM | #

Hi Hopeful,

I want this article to be a go-to resource for anybody who is discussing the case with Amanda Knox’s creepy supporters online because they constantly try to discredit the DNA evidence with outright lies and false claims.

Greg Hampikian falsely claimed that Conti and Vecchiotti proved Meredith’s DNA wasn’t on the blade of Sollecito’s kitchen knife:

“The only DNA that this court tested showed that the victim is not on the knife, just as the defense claimed.”

Some of Amanda Knox’s supporters claim there were multiple male DNA profiles on the bra clasp - which is extremely misleading. According to Professor Balding and Luciano Garofano, there was one incomplete male DNA profile on the bra clasp and Professor Balding attached no importance to it.

With the exception of the likes of Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau, the vast majority of the journalists who covered the case ignored the numerous renowned DNA and forensic experts who testified for the prosecution or made it clear the DNA evidence against Knox and Sollecito was damning.

Posted by The Machine on 08/02/18 at 05:58 PM | #

@ Hopeful, I agree with you. Machine’s “synopsis of the DNA as a case for guilt, says it all.”
“Point 7 an appeal to reason” I assume you are referring to a Delusion: A False Belief that cannot be corrected by an appeal to reason.
Thanks Machine.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 08/02/18 at 06:04 PM | #

The misrepresentation and obfuscation over the DNA and, in addition, whether the findings could be due to contamination, started big time with the C&V Report. The review undertaken by the “independent experts” was shockingly bad and in retrospect it was obvious that the whole thing was a set up.

Take the issue of “environmental contamination” for example. Here is what C&V said with regard to the bra clasp -

“Regarding the reliability of the item with specific reference to “possible contamination”, we find it appropriate to examine the means by which and the circumstances under which Exhibit 165 was acquired. The item was recovered 46 days after the crime, in a context highly suggestive of environmental contamination. The DNA obtained, though sufficient to permit of analysis, does not satisfy the minimum quality requirements, due to clear environmental contamination.”

“The item was recovered on the floor, where it predictably had contact with ambient dust which, in closed environments, frequented by humans, is composed to a large extent of elements of human origin (cells, hairs etc). It has been demonstrated that dust from closed environments can contain 10s of micrograms of DNA per gram……………….It has been thoroughly demonstrated that the presence of ambient dust constitutes a significant source of contamination in forensic investigations, since the DNA deriving from such dust can present itself in the form of alleles in analyses of polymorphisms.”

The concerns expressed here are exaggerated and in themselves do not meet any “minimum quality requirement” for a conclusion of “clear environmental contamination”. Furthermore C&V do not cite any research papers to back up what they say “has been thoroughly demonstrated”, but in any event the statistics to which they allude rather make their concern about “the possibility” of contamination from ambient dust extremely unlikely. A gram is a lot of dust, certainly far more than the invisible speck with which we are hypothetically concerned, but as there are a million micrograms to a gram, 10s of micrograms of stray DNA to a gram of dust (most of which is likely to be keratinized and thus, without prior treatment, unlikely to affect the standard electropherogram analysis) would not appear to be that significant. As for the ratio nothing can be known of the measure of concentration in any part of a gram, nor in our mere speck, and they have demonstrated nothing as to it’s probable quantity and quality, which is likely to be very poor (indeed - as C&V say - just fragments of stray alleles) and which is usually understood as being little different from the usual background noise on the electropherogam chart. The amount of DNA in trace 165B (a mixed sample of 5.775 nanograms) was significant for the purpose of analysis but under six billionths of a gram (there are a thousand nanograms to a microgram), making the prospect of stray alleles from dust floating unexpectedly into the scene and creating, or complicating, a clear enough profile somewhat unlikely.

Of course we also have to consider how any DNA in dust would be transferred to the hooks, unless we surmise instead that our hypothetical speck of dust was somehow stuck to a hook, went unnoticed, and after it’s journey from the cottage to the scientific lab in Rome, was accidently swabbed from the hook for analysis. I consider contamination by transfer in more detail in my book, but merely make the point here that the keratinized nature of dust content makes transfer extremely unlikely.

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

As a point of interest - and I am loathe to give him credit for anything - even Hellmann ignored this rubbish, or should I say stardust?

Posted by James Raper on 08/03/18 at 05:14 AM | #

Lovely job Machine.

Very thorough in refuting many bogus claims.  They are totally unsubstantiated.

#2—Yes, a great idea, that claims of contamination need to be proven, rather than such stated as ‘‘possible’‘

#6—Contamination of bra clasp difficult since DNA doesn’t fly.  Well, maybe it does, and it just has really good aim.

The argument still remains—how is it that police/CSI/court officials: (a) do such a great job proving Guede is involved, yet (b) bungle beyond belief the evidence against AK/RS?  The same people are doing it.  These are 2 very contradictory claims but FoAK never address it.

Posted by Chimera on 08/03/18 at 06:31 AM | #

Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conte should never be allowed to work on a criminal case again.

They were spotted talking to Sollecito’s father in Perugia during the first appeal and Vecchiotti actually greeted him in the courtroom. I spoke to an forensic scientist about this and he said they would be guilty of contempt of court in England. There should be absolutely no contact between forensic scientists and the family one of the defendants for obvious reasons.

Judge Nencini called Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conte’s conduct “reprehensible” because they repeatedly misled the appeal court.

The Italian Supreme Court also severely criticised them for not doing their jobs properly. They were specifically instructed to test sample 36-i and they refused to do so. They didn’t have the court’s permission to do this. I strongly suspect they were worried that sample 36-i was Meredith’s DNA and it would convince the lay judges that Knox and Sollecito are guilty. As soon as I heard they had refused to test sample 36-i, I knew they were corrupt and wanted to undermine the DNA evidence against Knox and Sollecito. It was an unbelievably perverse of them. So was Carla Vecchiotti’s lie that the technology didn’t exist to test such a small DNA trace.

The Italian Supreme Court said their claim that “anything is possible” in genetic testing is not valid. As Professor Novelli pointed out, the origin or vehicle of any contamination must be demonstrated.

Carla Vecchiotti made clamorous errors in a previous murder case (Olgiata) in which forensic samples were mixed up.

She was appointed by a judge at the Cosenza court and the judge didn’t accept her findings. Other experts were appointed and they found incriminating DNA evidence that she had missed. The murder suspect admitted his guilt.

It’s ironic that Carla Vecchiotti was so critical of the work of the Scientific Police when she kept sample 36-i in a refrigerator without a thermometer and few years later her laboratory was closed down because it wasn’t fit for purpose.

I’m surprised Carla Vecchiotti hasn’t been charged with and convicted of corruption. Andrea Vogt pointed out several years ago that there were concerns about her in the forensic community.

Posted by The Machine on 08/03/18 at 11:22 AM | #

“THE FACT there is Meredith’s DNA on the kitchen knife is because once when we were all cooking together I accidentally pricked her hand. I apologised immediately and she said it was not a problem.”

How Raffaele Sollecito has never been questioned about this in any of his interviews never ceases to astound me.

Posted by DavidB on 08/04/18 at 07:43 AM | #

A number of Amanda Knox’s obsessive supporters erroneously believe there is a universally accepted set of DNA standards for the collection and testing of DNA evidence and that every single forensic scientist in the world has to follow these standards and if they don’t, the DNA evidence is invalid. This is complete and utter nonsense.

They also mistakenly believe that a forensic technician must change gloves every single time they touch something. When I ask them which DNA protocols they are referring, they are unable to answer.

Posted by The Machine on 08/04/18 at 04:38 PM | #

Hi Machine

Important additions, thanks.

On Vecchiotti’s lab being closed down (with a shot of wrapped bodies in the corridors awaiting processing) KrissyG’s post linked to at top is a shock.

US=good, Italy=not so good: that was one of Hampikian’s great lies. Italy is at the front of the pack, not the back.

It is very very good at taking in and sharing any knowhow in this field (and any other - world agriculture is managed from Rome).

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/italy_the_only_country_to_host_three/

I’ve yet to spot a single instance of any crime-related area where Italy is behind the curve.

In every area we have really checked out it is ahead of the US. It may be ahead of the UK now too, right?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/05/18 at 09:28 AM | #

@Ergon, well well well, so Sollecito is unemployed and “cut off from family finances”. Ouch, gotta hurt. He’s probably couch surfing with friends of his ilk. It will all end in tears.

Whatever happened to his cemetery decorating business? Or his appearances on the political talk circuit, to share his expertise of the Italian justice system and lobby for reform? What about his grant given to him to work on a computer business?

Well it’s about time Big Daddy cut him off from the family money, much of which they already spent on the golden boy defending his sorry proud self paying experts while he stood on his honour and refused to tell the truth. His family had to pay the expenses for him so he could protect his grand reputation and/or keep promises to his lying girlfriend. Meanwhile her daddy hired a crisis management firm to run babygirl’s PR. Then he used Greta the flight attendant until he was acquitted.

Sollecito’s legal defense nearly broke the finances of his family. He has cost them several fortunes for his folly and dishonesty, not to mention a decade stolen of the best years of their lives. Why doesn’t he write a true book about what really happened to Meredith and throw Knox on the funeral pyre with himself and finally make his full confession and make real amends? Now he’s just waiting for Big Daddy to die so he can inherit.

Posted by Hopeful on 08/08/18 at 09:48 PM | #


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