Thursday, August 18, 2011

Donald Trump Seems To Have Moved On After Fleetingly Fervent On Italy Framing Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell


Twenty months ago Donald Trump was sounding very very very anti-Italy.

His strident beef with Italy (his former wife Ivana Trump who he ditched for a showgirl lives there) seemed the real reason for his brief fling with the pro-Knox bandwagon, rather than any deep knowledge of the case.

Recently he made a contribution of a golf-related freebie to the Knox campaign.  Otherwise he seems to have retreated to the sideline.

Normally he is seen as aimiable enough, if something of a lightweight having fun. His very successful father bankrolled him into property development. His properties and casino businesses fell on hard times several times. He lost control of all his casinos in Atlantic City and a very large development on Manhattan’s Upper West Side - even though all still bear his name.

He briefly thought of running for president as a Republican in 2012, but it seems the financial disclosures and fiery competition would have been altogether too much. Hollywood notables, who overall tend to be liberal, revealed for the occasion how much they hate him. 

He still continues to snipe at President Obama from the sidelines and the latest is that he may run as a Ross Perot style independent for president in 2012.

To his credit, he has just done one thing that the country really needs.

He has joined billionaire Warren Buffet in saying that billionaires need to pay more taxes. Watch Harvard professor Robert Reich in the video below for the reasoning behind this.  Robert Reich and Donald Trump may not start a billionaire’s stampede, but Trump should win some popular respect.

He may win more votes this way than by bashing Italy for murky reasons that most simply dont understand.

Posted on 08/18/11 at 01:57 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Messing With The Justice Process In Perugia Does Not Seem At Front And Center In Politicians’ Minds

Posted by Peter Quennell


Is it arrivederci Mr Berlusconi?

The Italian prime minister is now reported to be downbeat and disempowered in the face of 80-percent-plus negative ratings, a mere shadow of his former self. 

Berlusconi himself appeared a shadow of his former ebullient self on Friday as he announced Italy’s second austerity budget in as many months, blaming the global economic crisis….

For Italian daily La Stampa, the cuts and tax increases, which must now be approved by parliament, are another nail in the coffin of the scandal-weakened prime minister. “A funeral has been celebrated where the man officiating and the man buried were one and the same – Silvio Berlusconi,” it wrote…

Analysts say the latest spending squeeze could prevent the economy from expanding for the next two years. “The budget cuts are likely to have quite negative effects on [the] short-term GDP-dynamic, given the already-fragile situation of private sector’s financial balances. We expect Italian GDP growth to slow to close to zero in 2012 and 2013,” said Giada Giani, of Citigroup.

The Italian electorate goes to the polls in 2013. Chances of Mr Berlusconi’s party regaining popularity are remote in the face of his hugely expensive and decididly unpopular cave to the European Central Bank and his lack of compelling insights for bumping Italian growth.

Mr Berlusconi faces four personal lawsuits in Milan and all the magistrates overseeing the cases so far have been taking a hard line.

Sollecito lawyer Giulia Bongiorno seems very frustrated with Sollecito’s appeal which is doing her no good politically. With the bizarre claims of “superwitnesses” Alessi and Aviello on the stand and thereafter (one of which is that the Sollecito family offered Aviello a bribe, not yet rebutted) and an “independent” DNA report seemingly channeling Greg Hampikian and already partly discredited, she seems far short of landing a knockout blow.

And the junior Berlusconi-party MP Rocco Girlanda, who sits on Giulia Bongiorno’s Justice Committee, seems to have been very quiet about Amanda Knox since the President of the Italian Republic failed to even acknowledge his petition to intervene.

In what might seem a cynical move to gain favor with his party leaders, he is now reported as seeking to whittle away at the Italian justice system, specifically police wiretaps, which he wants to reduce or eliminate “for budgetary reasons”.

“In 2010 the cost of wiretapping by the prosecution amounted to 270 million euros, helping to increase the debt of the Ministry of Justice, where the deficit amounted to 360 million, which is why I asked the Minister of Justice to quantify, in economic terms and sentences, the effects of using this tool….

In a time of crisis like the current one, which requires a careful review of public spending and prudent management of resources allocated to various departments, including that of justice, which is one of the most sensitive from the point of view of the need for investments, almost half of the total debt is caused by increasing appropriations obtained by prosecutors, like Milan and Palermo, for wiretaps.”

Milan and Palermo? Hmmm. Mr Berlusconi’s four trials will take place in Milan, and Ms Bongiorno has been invited to run for mayor of Palermo. But no connection. Of course.

Posted on 08/16/11 at 08:25 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Austerity Fever In Europe And The US And The Discreet Fuelling Of Public Anger

Posted by Peter Quennell


There have been mass demonstrations and riots in a number of European countries and Italy may soon be seeing some too.

Here is one cynical but amusing Canadian take on austerity fever, the current UK riots, and the UK Establishment’s outraged reaction.

I was shocked when some young acquaintances riding the bulls on Bay Street first explained to me the theory of government that prevailed among their set, based on something they called the Riot Index.

Too many riots were bad for business, they allowed, but so were too few - a sign that government had become soft and inefficient. Prudent government squeezed until the mob rebelled, then increased spending just enough to prevent extensive property damage. Optimal social policy was a matter of dialling in the appropriate frequency of riots…

In light of the impotent moral outrage that has welled up in the wake of this week’s events in England, the cynicism of the Riot Index now seems downright refreshing. It is surely more informative than the theories about bad parenting, “over-entitlement” and psychotic consumerism that many Britons are advancing to explain the disorder.

Actually the cynics and the rioters may have something of a point. Getting it right on the gut causes of slow growth seems to have gone out of the window as austerity fever takes over and the great race to the bottom is on.

The western economies essentially muddled their way over many, many years to the heights they are at right now, interspersed by some spectacular crashes. Is their only stark choice now really to muddle their way down again?

Two things worth reading up about in this context. First, the Washington Consensus which was strongly promoted by the US and World Bank and IMF worldwide and which resulted in disastrous waves of austerity throughout the developing world.

And second the sudden sharp emergence of the Asian tiger economies which gave officials in the US and World Bank and IMF the shocks of their life. Those pesky Asians just did not understand… but they sure ended up eating everyone’s lunch.

Like Apple, now the most valuable company in the world, the Asian model consists of smart spotting of high-value opportunities, and putting in the smart systems and people to realise them.

It involves close co-operation between the population in general and the economic producers and the components of the institutional infrastructure. Research and training tend to be targeted and the governments invest - invest - but are careful not to over-capitalize. .

A while back I was involved with the introduction of rolling planning in the big Federal departments of Washington. These were two of the learning experiences.

First, the Federal Government does not seem to have been given a development and growth role in the Constitution, and many in Washington officialdom were uncertain as to how much if at all the Feds should be involved.

And second, there is no separate Federal capital or investment budget, as there is now in a majority of other governments, so all of the money pouring out and all of the national deficit and debt accumulating are for… what?

For investment or for consumption? Nobody really knows.

Right now, a Supercommittee has been created in Washington to wind back the US national debt, which tripled in the past decade. A parallel Supercommitee on jobs and growth is now being lobbied for by some of the brighter sparks in the Congress.

Perhaps that second comittee should really have come first? Austerity was what the Asians turned their backs on - and look where they are now.

*******

In tribute to Meredith who, according to her father, seems to have been setting her sites on this universe.

Posted on 08/12/11 at 09:52 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

A More Detailed Analysis Of Knox’s Statement 6 November 2007 Points Even More Strongly Toward Guilt

Posted by Peter Hyatt



[Above: the Perugia central police station where Amanda Knox wrote this statement]

My previous statement analyses on TJMK are available here including a first pass at this particular statement of Amanda Knox’s here.

This analysis seeks to learn if Amanda Knox was part of the murder of her then roommate.  The knowledge comes from Amanda Knox herself, who, if was at the crime scene during the murder, would give us verbal indicators.  If she was not, and did not take part in the murder, she would tell us this, as well.  Whether or not DNA was handled properly, or whether prosecutors are corrupt or not, her own words will tell us what we need to know.

Analysis Question:  Is Amanda Knox guilty, in concert, of causing or participating in the death of her roommate?

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” is a principle followed from antiquity where the words in which we choose are then discerned to be truthful or deceptive.  The “heart” is the seat of the intellect and affections (emotions); what we think, and how we feel.  Statement Analysis of statements is able to discern truth from deception, including false confessions made under coercion. 

Pronouns are of particular value as they are learned in our earliest days of speech, with possessive pronouns often predating speech in young children, as they attempt to say “my” or “mine” with hand motions.  Pronouns and articles are exempt from internal subjective dictionaries (as is objective time) and are reflex in our speech with our minds dictating to our tongues what words to say in less than a microsecond. 

The Amanda Knox case is one that provokes emotional responses from both those who believe that she is guilty, and those who believe she is innocent.  When people lie, they have a reason to lie.  Here, she is brought in for a murder investigation. 

Transcript of Amanda Knox’s handwritten statement to police on the evening of November 6, the day she was arrested.

The statement is in the blockquotes, with my statement analysis in bold type.  Words that are blodened are done so for emphasis. 

This is very strange, I know, but really what happened is as confusing to me as it is to everyone else.

The opening line appears deceptive.

Dr. Paul Eckman teaches that testifying to memory failure is almost always deceptive. We don’t know what drugs may have impacted her when this statement was made, but failure to remember is most always deceptive, especially in high stress situations.  It should be noted that the word “this” indicates closeness, whereas the word “that” shows distance.  On average, we see the word “that” used more frequently with memory failure.

note the inclusion of sensitive words, “very” strange, and “really” what happened. She notes that others are confused as she is.  In a criminal investigation, innocent people (those who did not “do it” nor were involved in it) say so.  They do so quickly, and without sensitivity indicators.  Even in the most emotionally upsetting circumstances, a denial is found early.

It is comprised of: 1.  First Person singular “I”    2.  Past tense verb   3.  Event specific.  4.  Without qualifiers or sensitivity indicators.  We expect to hear this quickly in a statement.

I have been told there is hard evidence saying that I was at the place of the murder of my friend when it happened. This, I want to confirm, is something that to me, if asked a few days ago, would be impossible.

Passive language “I have been told” rather than who told her what specifically. But far more telling is the following words within her statement possibly an embedded admission: “I was at the place of the murder of my friend when it happened”.  This is not something an innocent person generally says, even in the form of a question, nor in a reflection of others’ words.  Someone not at the crime scene would not frame these words, nor place herself there.

Note that she Wants to confirm, which is different than confirming and is a weak assertion.

She wants to confirm something that to her, if asked a few days ago, would be impossible.  This means that, to someone else, it would not be impossible; only to “her”, and only on the condition of being asked a few days ago.  This is a strong indication that Amanda Knox is lying.

Is the something that she wants to confirm something that would be different to someone else (hence the use of “to me”).  This is why extra words are essential in analysis.  She is not being asked “a few days ago”, she is being asked in the present. It appears that her perspective on the “something” she wants to confirm is different now than it was a few days ago.

Also note that “would be impossible” is different than “is impossible.” The addition of “would be” changes her claim from something that already happened into a future event; making it weaker.

I know that Raffaele has placed evidence against me, saying that I was not with him on the night of Meredith’s murder, but let me tell you this. In my mind there are things I remember and things that are confused. My account of this story goes as follows, despite the evidence stacked against me:

“I know” is strong and with the first person singular, it is something that she recognizes and asserts.  Notice how “I know” is unlike her other statements.  It is not “I believe” nor is it qualified with “I know that in my heart” or “I know that in my mind…” or any other additional words.  That Raffaele has said that she was not with him on the night of Meredith’s murder is something strong to Knox.

Next notice that it is only “in my mind” that there are things that may be elsewhere; not just in her mind.  This is likely deceptive, as it is only in her mind; and not in reality. It is an attempt to avoid the stress of lying.

When people recount events from memory, they generally don’t call it a “story”, a word which conjures images of a made up tale.

On Thursday November 1 I saw Meredith the last time at my house when she left around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Raffaele was with me at the time. We, Raffaele and I, stayed at my house for a little while longer and around 5 in the evening we left to watch the movie Amelie at his house. After the movie I received a message from Patrik [sic], for whom I work at the pub “Le Chic”. He told me in this message that it wasn’t necessary for me to come into work for the evening because there was no one at my work.

Note that when the word “left” is used, it often indicates missing information.  70% of the missing information is due to time constraints, rushing, traffic, etc, with the other 30% being sensitive information.

Note whenever the number 3 enters a statement as it is known as the “liar’s number”  It should not be considered deceptive on its own, only noted in context.  When someone wishes to be deceptive and chooses a number, it is often “3” unless the subject is asked how many drinks he or she had, and then the number is “two”.  The number 3 enters such as:  “I was approached by 3 men” or “At 3 oclock on the third floor…” etc.  It is not an indicator of deception on its own, for it is possible to be approached by 3 men on the third floor; only that it should be noted and later factored into the full analysis. 

Note that the word “with” shows distance:

“My wife and I went shopping.”

“I went shopping with my wife.”

These are two ways of saying almost the same thing.  A follow up question to B will likely show why distance entered into the statement; such as “I didn’t want to go shopping” etc.  Here, the distance is between her and Raeffale: 

“Raeffale was with me” but then immediately changes it to “we” which shows closeness, except that she has a need to emphasize the closeness by explanation:  “We, Raffele and I stayed…”  This need to emphasize, along with the needless repetition is an indicator that she is being deceptive.

Note that Patrik “told” me, rather than he “said” indicates firmness; It may be that she and Patrick argued, or that she wants to emphasize authority.  But whatever the need, she uses “because” (which explains why something happened) making the statement itself, along with Patrik, sensitive.

Now I remember to have also replied with the message: “See you later. Have a good evening!” and this for me does not mean that I wanted to meet him immediately. In particular because I said: “Good evening!” What happened after I know does not match up with what Raffaele was saying, but this is what I remember.

Note that she “now” remembers which, like the word “but” (which refutes what was previously stated) stands to change her account.

Note that “goodbye”, “see you later” etc, in homicide cases can indicate the time of death. 

Note the return of “I know” which is strong.  What does she know?  She knows that it does not match up with Raffaele’s testimony.  weak commitment to the text. If the subject does not own the text, neither can we.

I told Raffaele that I didn’t have to work and that I could remain at home for the evening. After that I believe we relaxed in his room together, perhaps I checked my email. Perhaps I read or studied or perhaps I made love to Raffaele. In fact, I think I did make love with him.

Note the pronouns:  “I told Raffaele” is strong language.  This may indicate an argument.

Note “after that” is a passage of time, or skipping over.  There is missing information at this point of her statement.

Note that “I believe” is weak; but when the weakness is added to:  “we relaxed” (which, by itself is strong) is then added “together” (redundancy), we see deception.  This needless emphasis is being made to place them together. 

Note “perhaps” is a qualifier and she is not committed to the statement.

Note that she “perhaps” made love or perhaps read.  This is more than just deceptive:  it is an indication of someone else’s presence:

Timing is an issue as she has skipped over time and withheld information (temporal lacunae).
 
Why would she need to say that she made love to Raffaele?  She already introduced him with “we”.  This is an indication of not only deception, but of the presence, within sexual activity, of more than just Amanda Knox and Raffaele.  We do not know the time frame since she has skipped time.

Note:  Deceptive use of qualifiers. Again, see Dr. Eckman for this form of deception (memory). Note “perhaps” (qualifier) she made love “to” Raffaele. Sex is a theme in this case, and should be explored by investigators. First she says she may have made love TO Raffaele, then changes it to WITH him in the same sentence. The change in language would need to be explored.

However, I admit that this period of time is rather strange because I am not quite sure. I smoked marijuana with him and I might even have fallen asleep. These things I am not sure about and I know they are important to the case and to help myself, but in reality, I don’t think I did much. One thing I do remember is that I took a shower with Raffaele and this might explain how we passed the time.

Note anything reported in the negative as sensitive.

Note “I admit” show reluctance and resistance overcome.

Note “with him” instead of “Raffaele and I smoked marijuana”; shows distance

Note that “these” things instead of “those” things.

Note that the entry of water into a statement is often an indicator of sexual assault.  Whether it is the washing of clothes, washing of hands, shower, bath, etc, 

Here we have the first indicator that her roommate died as part of a sexual homicide.

Note that when she was with Raffaele, she had to mention that she had sex “with him” which is an indication that during sex, at least one other person was present.  Now, with the entry of water into the statement is indicative that Amanda Knox was not simply present at the murder of Merideth, but that she was present for a sexual homicide.

Note that to be vague; indicates an attempt at deception.  She reports what may have happened, with choices such as reading or sex.  This lack of commitment indicates deception on her part.

Deception, in order to be deception, must be willful.  Amanda Knox places herself at the scene of a crime, and then gives indicators of a sexual homicide.

In truth, I do not remember exactly what day it was, but I do remember that we had a shower and we washed ourselves for a long time. He cleaned my ears, he dried and combed my hair.

The qualifiers resemble Casey Anthony.  “In truth” means she speaks at times outside of truth.
 
Note that ” I do not remember” is an affirmation of what she does not know.  This is a signal of deception.  Note that she does remember, but only not “exactly”

Note “we” took a shower.  This is the 2nd indicator in a short statement where water is introduced.  The element of water is often found in statements where a sexual assault or homicide has taken place.

It is significant that she tells us that Raffaele “cleaned” her.  While speaking, even when attempting to be deceptive, what is in the heart slips out and she may have been thinking of washing off blood when she gave this statement.  Those that wish to excuse her due to police misconduct, or mishandling of evidence must do so by ignoring not only the fact that she lied, but that she employed the language of a sexual homicide in doing so. 

“I dropped off (the hitchhiker), stopped to get gas and wash up.  After that, I drove down I-95 until…”

This was a statement where a hitchhiker was murdered.  The timeframe where he washed up showed the time of death.

The shower details are also interesting as it is used to pass time and sexuality. Sex is a theme in her statement. Think how you might describe your night; even if you had a romantic shower, would you include it? If you felt that you needed to, would you give details about ears? Sex is in her mind while giving this statement and should alert investigators to any sexual motive in the crime. Making love “to” not “with” her boyfriend may show that Amanda Knox strongly wanted to please him. This may speak to motive and just how far she went. 

One of the things I am sure that definitely happened the night on which Meredith was murdered was that Raffaele and I ate fairly late, I think around 11 in the evening, although I can’t be sure because I didn’t look at the clock.

The lack of commitment to the events is noted but we also see:

That which is in the negative:  when someone tells us what they did not do, did not say, did not think, particularly when offered in an open sentence, it is a strong indicator of what they did do, did think, and did say.  Here, she remembers that she did not look at the clock. 

This tells us:  She looked at the clock as time was significant. 

Note that this is something that “definitely” happened, yet she then says “I think” showing the obvious contradiction.  Deception noted.

It is like the statement where the person says “and I saw no one run across my lawn” indicating that she saw someone run across her lawn.  Always flag anything offered in the negative.

Also note that “because” is sensitive as it explains why something took place.  In a statement, we normally get what happened and not why something happened, and just as being told what didn’t happen, the “why, because, therefore, so, since, etc” is highly sensitive to the subject.

After dinner I noticed there was blood on Raffaele’s hand, but I was under the impression that it was blood from the fish. After we ate Raffaele washed the dishes but the pipes under his sink broke and water flooded the floor. But because he didn’t have a mop I said we could clean it up tomorrow because we (Meredith, Laura, Filomena and I) have a mop at home. I remember it was quite late because we were both very tired (though I can’t say the time).

Note “I noticed” is passive.  Passive language seeks to conceal identity or responsibility.  Note that the word “but” is used to refute what was just said.  What does she refute?  Noticing blood?  It is the origin of the blood that she seeks to conceal, not the noticing.
 
Note that “after dinner” chronologically is when she “noticed” blood, but then in her statement she says “after we ate” is repeated, going back to the event.  Truthful accounts are in chronological order and can be repeated backwards and forwards.  Any time someone is out of chronological order, it should be flagged for deception. Always note when someone says that they “can’t” say something; it can indicate that if they did tell the information, it would harm them. Here, she “can’t” tell the time; yet has other details down carefully.

Note also any inclusion of thought/emotion within an event. When someone is giving a verbal or written statement, it has been shown through careful study that in the recall process, emotions and thoughts are added later; not in the actual event itself.

A statement has 3 general portions:

  • an introduction
  • the event
  • post event action

It is in the 3rd section that emotions and thoughts are most likely to be included in an honest statement.

note also the “balance” of a statement is where the introduction of an honest statement is about 25% of the statement; the event is 50%, and the post event (like calling 911, etc) is 25%. Any deviation is noted but strong deviation is a solid test for deception. This is covered in other analysis)

Note time:  she “can’t” tell us indicates that she is restricted by consequence, since we know that she looked at the clock.

The next thing I remember

Temporal lacunae. This indicates withheld information during a critical time period; high sensitivity. The police interview would strongly emphasize here

was waking up

Note verb tense

the morning of Friday November 2nd around 10am and I took a plastic bag to take back my dirty cloths to go back to my house. It was then that I arrived home alone that I found the door to my house was wide open and this all began. In regards to this “confession” that I made last night, I want to make clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion.

Note “very doubtful” qualifier; rather than making a full denial of her confession.  This is because it is almost impossible to lie upon a lie.  She can only doubt the lies she told earlier.  Note “this” confession, rather than the expected “that” confession, had it been false.

Note the order: stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion. Stress is the first thing noted.

Not only was I told I would be arrested and put in jail for 30 years, but I was also hit in the head when I didn’t remember a fact correctly.

This is an example of an extra word, ie, one in which the sentence works without, giving away information.  She could have said “I didn’t remember a fact” but instead says “I didn’t remember a fact correctly” which would show deliberate deception.  She cannot tell us what she didn’ remember, only what she remembers, so this would place it in the negative, however, it wasn’t remembered “correctly”, indicating that she did remember it, just not “correctly”; and is another indication of deception.

Here, Knox comes close to a confession, even in her denial. Note what she calls the information: “fact”

I understand that the police are under a lot of stress, so I understand the treatment I received.

However, it was under this pressure and after many hours of confusion that my mind came up with these answers. In my mind I saw Patrik in flashes of blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming. But I’ve said this many times so as to make myself clear: these things seem unreal to me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in my head and the questions I am being asked.

Note that innocent people never accept nor excuse false work.

Even within fabrication, each word spoken (or written) is vital and should be examined within the forensics of the investigation.

We have already seen the lack of ownership and now she only reports seeing things in her mind. Yet, in spite of lying, there may be many important elements within her account.

But the truth is,

This introduction tells us that she has lied and now wants to be believed

I am unsure about the truth and here’s why:

Note that “truth” repeated, shows sensitivity and the analyst should be on alert that “truth” is a sensitive topic to the subject.

1. The police have told me that they have hard evidence that places me at the house, my house, at the time of Meredith’s murder. I don’t know what proof they are talking about, but if this is true, it means I am very confused and my dreams must be real.

2. My boyfriend has claimed that I have said things that I know are not true.

Knox is acutely aware of the evidence, the crime scene, and that she has been blamed.  Here, she also quotes her boyfriend, though we note the embedded still: “I have said things that I know are not true” appears supported by the analysis.

I KNOW I told him I didn’t have to work that night. I remember that moment very clearly. I also NEVER asked him to lie for me. This is absolutely a lie. What I don’t understand is why Raffaele, who has always been so caring and gentle with me, would lie about this. What does he have to hide? I don’t think he killed Meredith, but I do think he is scared, like me. He walked into a situation that he has never had to be in, and perhaps he is trying to find a way out by disassociating himself with me.

Note that she does not say “Raffaele did not kill Meredith” but only that she does not “think” he did; leaving room for someone else to “think” otherwise.
 
Note that while attempting to describe him as “caring and gentle” she uses the word “with” which shows distance, but then “this”, showing closeness, to the things he was saying.  Amanda Knox brings herself close to the detail; not further away as expected with innocent people. 

Note that “but” refutes what came before it.  What came before it?  “I don’t think Raffaele killed Meredith”

She recognizes that he had a part in the killing.

Several indicators here, including qualifiers, adverbs,and the inclusion of “never” which here is offered (negation) which suggests that she did ask someone to lie for her. Note that she says “he walked into a situation” with “walk” a word indicating tension.

Note that she says Raffaele is in need of a “way out” of the situation. 

Honestly,

Repeated use of similar statements is from habitual liar (childhood) who wants to be believed

I understand because this is a very scary situation. I also know that the police don’t believe things of me that I know I can explain, such as:

1. I know the police are confused as to why it took me so long to call someone after I found the door to my house open and blood in the bathroom.

This tells us what Knox has been attempting to do: confuse the police. The police are not “confused”; they recognize the incongruity of Knox’ statements. This is the “muddy the waters” technique employed by the guilty (Jose Baez comes to mind)

The truth is,

Noted that she has a need to announce truth, which brings the rest of her statement into question.  This is something deceptive people do when they want to be believed. 

I wasn’t sure what to think, but I definitely didn’t think the worst, that someone was murdered.

Note twice she goes to the negative:  not sure what to think and what she did not think, yet, she adds in the weakened “definitely” to what she didn’t think.

Note that the word, “someone” is gender free. This is an attempt to, perhaps, even lie to herself about the murder. She knows the gender of the victim.

I thought a lot of things, mainly that perhaps someone got hurt and left quickly to take care of it. I also thought that maybe one of my roommates was having menstral [sic] problems and hadn’t cleaned up. Perhaps I was in shock, but at the time I didn’t know what to think and that’s the truth. That is why I talked to Raffaele about it in the morning, because I was worried and wanted advice.

Note that frequently in murders, guilty perpetrators will minimize what happened.  Meredith did not get “hurt”, she was murdered.

Note “left quickly to take care of it” can be viewed with the “taking care” of the cleaning of the person and the apartment.

Note the use of the word “perhaps” as not only used when a subject is deceptive and does not want to be pinned down in a statement, but here it is used repeatedly, showing sensitivity. 

Note that “because” is noted for sensitivity as it is outside the boundary of the general statement of “what happened” and shows a need to explain.

Liars have a difficult and stressful task of recalling what stories they have told and by adding “perhaps” and “maybe”, they are able to later defend their inconsistency.

First, she lists possible excuses for not calling police, excuses that didnt cause her to be alarmed. Then she goes on to say that “perhaps” she was in “shock”, which means that she would have had knowledge of a traumatic event. In the next sentence, the “shock” turned to “worry” which caused her to seek advice.

2. I also know that the fact that I can’t fully recall the events that I claim took place at Raffaele’s home during the time that Meredith was murdered is incriminating.

This is similar to an admission.

And I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrik, but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.

Note again that “but” refutes what came first.  She wants to “stand” behind the statements but…this is where it is difficult to lie about a lie.

3. I’m very confused at this time.

Note that she is “very” confused, but only “at this time”

My head is full of contrasting ideas and I know I can be frustrating to work with for this reason. But I also want to tell the truth as best I can. Everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith’s death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.

[illegible section]

I’m trying, I really am, because I’m scared for myself. I know I didn’t kill Meredith. That’s all I know for sure. In these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrik as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night. The questions that need answering, at least for how I’m thinking are:

1. Why did Raffaele lie? (or for you) Did Raffaele lie?

2. Why did I think of Patrik?

3. Is the evidence proving my pressance [sic] at the time and place of the crime reliable? If so, what does this say about my memory? Is it reliable?

4. Is there any other evidence condemning Patrik or any other person?

3. Who is the REAL murder [sic]? This is particularly important because I don’t feel I can be used as condemning testimone [sic] in this instance.

I have a clearer mind that I’ve had before, but I’m still missing parts, which I know is bad for me. But this is the truth and this is what I’m thinking at this time. Please don’t yell at me because it only makes me more confused, which doesn’t help anyone. I understand how serious this situation is, and as such, I want to give you this information as soon and as clearly as possible.

If there are still parts that don’t make sense, please ask me. I’m doing the best I can, just like you are. Please believe me at least in that, although I understand if you don’t. All I know is that I didn’t kill Meredith, and so I have nothing but lies to be afraid of.

Amanda Knox owns her involvement in Meredith’s death with a word: MY. Someone who was not involved in Meredith’s death would not state “my involvement”, because they would not own it.

The same theme continues. I have highlighted the key words as the explanation is the same. Knox can’t tell the truth, as it would cause her consequences; therefore, she seeks to confuse and leave open all sorts of possible explanations. She does not report what happens, but attempts to persuade. This is likely how she got herself out of trouble growing up, and is used to getting her way. The wording suggests her form of lying is lifelong, and not specific to this event.

Amanda Knox would not pass a polygraph. She fails the polygraphy of Statement Analysis and places herself at the scene of the murder and is deceptive throughout her account.  She, by her own words, tells us that this is a sexual homicide, not just a homicide, and that she took part in it; present for the activity.  She places herself by the crime scene and even though she attempts to deceive, her words give her away.  She has nothing to be afraid of but lies, which would appear that she feared her lies were not bought by police. 

It is likely that she, Amanda Knox, did not inflict the final death blow, and that she is not sure who’s blow or cut was the final one that caused Meredith’s death.  This is why she said she did not “think” that Raffaele killed her, “but”.  This was likely a sexual assault that several took place in where they would each blame the other.
 
She attempts to build an alibi for herself, indicating the need for alibi, and she attempts to explain away the washing away of evidence on her part. 

Amanda Knox was part of a sexual homicide.  This comes from her own words, and is not changed if prosecutors are corrupt or honorable, nor if evidence was dropped or mishandled.  Amanda Knox, herself, has told us that she was part of a sexual homicide, was present, and that she knows hard evidence thus proves it. 

If her initial confession is thrown out, this statement itself shows her involvement.  It is difficult to imagine anyone trained in interviewing and interrogation claiming that this statement is truthful.  Mishandling evidence or dropping something, or not wearing gloves may cause difficulties, but it does not mean that Amanda Knox didn’t take part in the murder.  Her own words show that she did.

Posted on 08/11/11 at 11:22 AM by Peter Hyatt. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

It Looks Like There Could Be A Major Realignment of Italian Politics In The Near Future

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his chief political rival Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti]


There are at least five good reasons why Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is probably not lying awake at night worrying about how to spring Sollecito and Knox.

First, Perugia’s prosecutors and courts have a very fine reputation for being straight and unbending and doing the right thing.

When the investigations into major misappropriation of funds from the recent winter Olympics and catastrophic earthquake by people in Rome had to be moved out of Rome for that very reason, it was to the Perugia prosecutors and courts that the investigations were moved.

Second, Mr Berlusconi is already among the least popular politicians in Italy, while the popularity of the President of the Italian Republic who is known to dislike and oppose Mr Berlusconi is quite the reverse. His chief rival (image above) is also a lot more liked.

Third, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has more important things on her own mind than using political and diplomatic capital to persuade Mr Berlusconi to intervene to try to reverse a verdict that her own Rome embassy and State Department found quite fair.

Fourth, one of Italy’s firm and unyielding judges slammed Mr Berlusconi a couple of weeks ago and told him that his trial for underage sex had to go ahead soon in a courtroom in Milan. That is only one of four trials that he now faces. 

And fifthly as a prime minister he might not last very long for bad policy moves as this terrific article in the UK Guardian explains

The parliamentary opposition is highly up in arms over what they see as his excessive caving to the demands of the European Central Bank because of his and his party’s weakend condition. .Many of Italy’s economic fundamentals are in fact better than those of some other European countries and those of the United States.  Investment News just posted this.

Unlike Greece and other peripheral markets, Italy is actually running at a primary budget surplus, its net foreign debt to gross domestic product is relatively low, its current account deficit is modest by European standards and, unlike in Spain, there is little evidence of a housing or credit bubble.

Perhaps Knox’s and Sollecito’s own lawyers have it right. They know their clients will be freed by an open and transparent court process in Perugia - or not at all.

Posted on 08/09/11 at 10:03 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contexts
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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Powerpoints #14: Why The Totality of Evidence Suggests Knox And Sollecito Are Guilty Just As Charged

Posted by James Raper With Kermit





Please load Powerpoint Viewer if not on your system, and click here for the slides. The Powerpoints consist of 150 slides, the outcome of many hours of work, and should open in 30 to 60 seconds. 

Impartial lawyers like myself tend to look at a tough case like this and think, “Now what would I have done differently?” The problem for the defences here is that there are literally hundreds of evidence points, many created by the appellants themselves as they behaved erratically both on the night Meredith died and subsequently.

The Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon (who in our view was brought in far too late to be of real help after all the bull-in-a-china-shop damage of the PR) himself recognized this, on Dateline NBC late in 2008, when he said that a whack-a-mole approach to creating reasonable doubt would fall short in this case. (Whack-a-mole is a popular fairground game where “moles” keep popping up out of various holes, and you win if you can whack them all.)

Judge Micheli set out a big picture for the conviction of Rudy Guede in October 2008 and the remitting of Knox and Sollecito to stand trial. Judge Massei clearly created a big picture in all of the fine detail he neatly tied together in his 425-page report. The Supreme Court of Cassation understood the big picture in declining Guede’s final appeal.

The defences have never really managed to respond with their own big-picture approach. Nitpicking of a few evidence points, which is really all the defence and the campaign have done, will only very rarely destroy such an edifice. At the end of the DNA rebuttal this September, the DNA collection and analysis is unlikely to be fully discounted, and already it seems that more ethical and competence question marks hang over the independent consultants than over Dr Stefanoni and her team.

This for your consideration is an overview of all of the main evidence. Check it out as you go through and you will see that after the nine long months of the appeal process it is all almost entirely left standing. If they really want to see Knox and Sollecito released, the defence lawyers now need to bite the bullet and prepare their clients properly and let them try to explain from the stand.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eleventh Appeal Session: Judge Overrules Defense Objections and Stefanoni Will Return to the Stand

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above Dr Stefanoni today with Ms Comodi and the Sollecito defense team minus Giulia Bongiorno]


The session has begun with prominent DNA expert Dr Luciano Garofano again in the audience.

Mentioned in previous posts is that he has spoken out nationally several times recently about his concern about the “CSI effect” where DNA evidence becomes in some trials a make-or-break issue even when other evidence is widespread.

Dr Stefanoni is of course also present with her team and other prosecution DNA witnesses are also prepared. TGCom have reported this as the first item to have been covered.

The President of the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Perugia, in opening the hearing, read a letter from the Director of the Scientific Police, Piero Angeloni, to the Court iin which reference is made to the criticisms of certain experts of the laboratory’s work in the context of scientific investigations into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

In the letter Angeloni emphasized the powers of the science, pointing out that “every year 4,500 investigations” are handled. He described how the laboratories are equipped with quality certification. “The laboratory is equipped with a computerized system for tracking objects” Angeloni said in the letter..The technical equipment is modern and the staff have many years of experience.” 

Angeloni stressed that “never before has asurveys of this nature been advanced, as here, into the work of the national forensic laboratory.” The service had never been subject to criticism before and used state-of-the-art equipment, his letter said.

Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti were first questioned by the Knox defense team. The Sollecito defense team have said that they will have no questions. ADNKronos reports that Carla Vecchioti in response to a question said that there was no DNA of Meredith found remaining on the knife when reexamined. Some starch was found.

Prosecutor Comodi then pressed the two on what is the standard lower limit of DNA traces to be subjected to low-count DNA testing and on this there was apparently not a concrete answer.

The court next moved into closed session. The defenses have objected to the prosecution’s DNA experts being allowed to take the stand. We may not know the outcome until after the break for lunch.

Okay the defense objections are overruled. The lead judge decided that the court will reconvene on September 5 to give Dr Stefanoni plenty of time on the stand. No more witnesses for today. Mr Angeloni’s letter may have had some effect. His labs should only be criticized (for the first time) with proven great care and no bias.

Oddly, the independent review team largely ignored the European state-of-the-art on low count DNA testing which, at strong prosecution request, the judge had instructed them to get on top of. That is a very suspicious goof.

Judge Hellman may not much favor this review in light of that.


Posted on 07/30/11 at 05:50 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Public evidenceDNA and luminolTrials 2008 & 2009Hellmann appeal
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Witness Tampering By Defenses? Two Investigations Apparently Already Launched In Rome And Perugia

Posted by Peter Quennell





Sources tell us they believe Vanessa Sollecito and her family are once again under investigation, this time possibly with Sollecito’s defense lawyers.

The investigation was apparently sparked by the specific claims yesterday under oath before a magistrate in Perugia of Luciano Aviello (a serial defamer and perjurer whose credibility never has ranked high) that Vanessa Sollecito paid him 30,000 Euros for his testimony on June 18 with Sollecito’s counsel in the loop.

First, here is a summary of what Luciano Aveillo testified to on 18 June by our main poster Will Savive:

Another prison inmate Luciano Aviello [42] who has served 17 years in jail after being convicted of being a member of the Naples-based Camorra, testified today that his brother Antonio and his colleague had killed Meredith while attempting to steal a “valuable painting.”

Aviello said that the Albanian—who offered his brother “work” in the form of a robbery—had inadvertently jotted down the wrong address, and they instead went to the house where Kercher and Knox were living, and they were surprised by Meredith’s appearance. According to Aviello, his brother and the Albanian man then committed the murder and fled.

Aviello is from Naples, but was living in Perugia at the time of the murder. He claims that his brother, who is currently on the run, was staying with him in late 2007 and on the night of the murder he returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood.

Flanked by two prison guards, Aviello described how his brother had entered the house Meredith shared with Knox and had been looking for the painting when they were disturbed by a woman “wearing a dressing gown.” So many convicts, which one to believe, if any?

“My brother told me that he had put his hand to her mouth but she had struggled,” Aviello testified. “He said he got the knife and stabbed her before they had run off. He said he had also smashed a window to simulate a break in.” Aviello said his brother had hidden the knife, along with a set of keys his brother had used to enter the house. “Inside me I know that a miscarriage of justice has taken place,” he asserted. Consequently, Aviello had been in the same jail as Sollecito and had told him: “I believe in your innocence.”

Luciano Aviello now claims that all of this above was fiction. There were no hidden keys or knife, and his brother was not living in Perugia at that time.

Here is a translation by our main poster ZiaK of one of the most comprehensive reports of what Luciano Aviello testified to yesterday under oath in Perugia. We have added the emphasis to key passages..

Meredith, Aviello: «I lied following agreement with Sollecito’s lawyers in exchange for money »

Aviello claims he received 30 thousand euros in exchange for his testimony

Scritto il 27/7/11 • Categoria: Cronaca

by Francesca Marruco

After having received notice that investigations had been completed by the Perugia prosecutor, the ex supergrass (state’s evidence), Lucian Aviello, requested and was granted a hearing with the Perugia prosecutors. Last Friday in Capanne prison, the witness who had been brought into the court case by Amanda Knox’s defence team admitted – in a roundabout way - to Dr Manuela Comodi that everything he had declared was false: that it was false and had been agreed with Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyers in order to create confusion in the case.

He denied all the statements he had made in court. Luciano Aviello, who had told the judges of the Assize court that Meredith had been killed by his brother and that he himself had hidden the knife with which she was killed as well as the keys of the via della Pergola house, told the assistant prosecutor, Manuela Comodi – who, together with her collegue Giuliano Mignini, was in charge of the investigations into the death of Meredith Kercher – that he recanted everything he had previously declared. His brother had nothing to do with it, he had never hidden any knife nor any bunch of keys. Just as he had never lived in Perugia – as he had stated in court before the judges.

Aviello: «Nothing is true, and it was all by agreement» As to why he had told this sea of whoppers, he gave his explanation in fits and starts in over 80 pages of court records. From the desire to help someone he had met in jail, and whom he loved – Raffaele Sollecito – by means of his lawyers, some of his family, and one of Amanda Knox’s lawyers who apparently went to the Alba jail to hear him in order to deflect suspicion from Sollecito’s team. Aviello heavily accused Sollecito’s lawyers and sister. He said that it had been she [the sister] who had delivered the 30 000 euros to an acquaintance of his in Naples, who was to act as a go-between. The money was to be found in an apartment in Turin which the Perugia police will check. Aviello declared himself as being willing to appear in court and repeat everything before the appeal judges of the court of Assizes.

His first motives and his current ones The reasons for which he had agreed to tell these lies was that, according to what he told the prosecutor, he had been assured that the Perugian prosecutors would not investigate him – contrary to what had in fact happened – and that he was fond of Raffaele Sollecito, and also because he was to receive in counterpayment those 30 000 euros which he would use for a sex-change operation, as he himself had declared several times. But now that he had received notice that the investigations were finished, and since (he claims) he no longer hears from Raffaele any more because otherwise no-one would believe him [translator’s note: I assume Aviello means he doesn’t hear from Raffaele because Raffaele is concerned that if he stayed in touch with Aviello no-one would believe Raffaele any more], he no longer has any reason to continue lying, whereas he has plenty of reasons to try and lighten his own position as someone under investigation for calunnia (slander).

Aviello: Raffaele told me that it was Amanda and that he was also there Around the middle of the interrogation, Aviello said – referring to something that Raffaele apparently told him – that «the murderer, in fact, was not him: it was Amanda, during an erotic game». Raffaele apparently also declared «I actually know that it’s true that Amanda did it, but I didn’t do it: it wasn’t me that did the murder; I didn’t do it». This is what [Aviello] declared between one allegation and another, and he also declared that he was prepared to repeat everything before the judges. Before those very judges to whom, on 18 June last, he so shamelessly lied.

What has changed? The repercussions which these new declarations – made by a man who has already been convicted 8 times previously for slander [calunnia] – might have cannot be conjectured. Or at least, not all of them. The lawyer Giulia Bongiorno has already declared that she will defend her honour in court against anyone who might accuse her of having paid a convict to create confusion in the case. It is foreseeable that Luca Maori and Carlo Dalla Vedova will take the same stance. What the Prosecution will do is more difficult to determine. The investigations on Aviello’s slander against his brother may have ended, but how many others may be instigated as a result of these declarations? In the meantime, everyone will return to court on Saturday to discuss the genetic evidence, which might truly decide the path that this case will take.


Presumably a beeline is now being made to that apartment in Turin where the 30,000 Euros if it exists might be hidden. Early announcements might also be expected from the Sollecito family, who did meet with Aviello in prison, and from Giulia Bongiorno who chose to put Aviello on the stand.

There is also a second investigation, we are told. Several sources understand that the independent DNA consultants Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti might now be under investigation for possible contact or collaboration with one or several defense DNA experts.

Our main poster Fly By Night already suggested that the geographical location and published views of experts quoted by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti looked pretty fishy. And the lawyer for the family of Meredith, Francesco Maresca, complained on Monday that a request endorsed by Judge Hellman for them to make sure to use European resources on the state-of-the-art of low-count DNA testing had been ignored.

A note on Italian law here. If the prosecution or defense come to believe that an element of the appeal is not being thoroughly and objectively examined they are entitled to appeal instantly to the Supreme Court of Cassation for a ruling.

Amanda Knox’s defense already took that route, before she ever went to trial, to request that her statement made without counsel present in the wee hours of November 6 2007 should be put aside. The Supreme Court so ordered.

We are sure Judge Hellman will want only the full truth and he may put all parties back on the stand. Still, the power of upward appeal is available to the prosecution in both these instances.

Posted on 07/27/11 at 11:35 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedThe defensesTrials 2008 & 2009Associated trialsHellmann appeal
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Tenth Appeal Court Session: Might Today’s Testimony Give Sollecito More Of An Advantage Than Knox?

Posted by Peter Quennell





As expected the Italian reporting is a lot cooler and more dispassionate than that in English. The prevailing attitude is one of let us wait and see.

There are at least three good reasons for this.

Italians sat through the trial and the talk shows on television in a way that other nationalities didn’t and saw it as a fair and open process where the prosecution did an excellent job and the defenses were often pretty bumbling. And several times in the past two weeks the nationally respected DNA expert Luciano Garofano has cautioned the nation that juries should not over-weight forensic evidence in comparison with all the rest.

Also Mr Maresca was shown on national TV after today’s hearing saying this:

In my opinion, they have not worked in a completely non-partisan way. Next Saturday we will explain to the judges who have not followed the whole discussion [in the 2009 trial] all that was presented in the first trial of experts’ findings.

In their review they have responded to only the requests of the defence and not of the prosecution, and I don’t know if an [impartial] expert should do this. In the expert’s report they have not even referred to a single request from the prosecution.

Still, after her dismal misfires over the testimony of Alessi and Aviello and Rudy Guede, Sollecito lawyer Giulia Bongiorno might tonight have some reason to be a bit pleased. At least until the end of next Saturday when she will have sat through a fierce rebuttal.

Today’s testimony clearly showed that the handling of the bra clasp has its problems - though the prosecution will point out that there is still no scenario for precisely how Sollecito’s DNA was present and pressed so hard into the clasp if he did not do it himself.

Knox’s position seems much more problematic.

She was the only one to have a reason to rearrange the crime scene, she was the one to finger Patrick Lumumba for no obvious reason if she was not guilty, she placed herself at the scene in her several so-called confessions, and her pattern of phone calls remains very incriminating. Those mixed-blood traces in the bathroom and corridor and Filomena’s room are of Knox’s blood mixed with Meredith’s, not Sollecito’s,  and those appear to be her footprints revealed with luminol on the floor.

If the bra clasp evidence is discounted after next saturday, what physical evidence would then tie Sollecito to the house at the time of Meredith’s death?

Pretty well only the footprint on the bathmat which (for reasons we have never understood) the Knox camp has spent years discrediting. And Sollecito cut Knox adrift on 5 November 2007 when he presented an alibi in which he was at the house all night whereas she wasnt. He said at the time Knox had lied.

She was the one seen at the Conad supermarket at a time when she said she was asleep. And her phone was shown at the trial to have been elsewhere on the night Meredith died.

Stefanoni probably has her best shot in rebuttal in maintaining the knife evidence as credible, because at least one defense witness observed her one-time-only testing and saw Meredith’s DNA profile appear in front of his eyes. Her methods were not out of line with low-count DNA practices elsewhere in Europe, and the American comparisons seem suspect and irrelevant.

We still agree with the Supreme Court of Cassation’s finding at Guede’s final appeal that the forensic evidence in Meredith’s room and on her body points overwhelmingly to three assailants having been present.

But the appeal court might just buy the notion that there were actually only two.

Giulia Bongiorno has often gone her own way in defense of Sollecito (for example in calling Alessi and Aviello) and she is nationally respected for presiding over the justice committee in parliament. And the Sollecitos are said to not like the Knoxes and Mellases very much.

So in light of today’s bra clasp evidence she might now be tempted to bet the bank and put Sollecito on the stand. To claim he was not present when Meredith died.

Posted on 07/25/11 at 07:06 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedAmanda KnoxRaff SollecitoPublic evidenceDNA and luminolTrials 2008 & 2009Hellmann appeal
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Tenth Appeal Court Session: Italian Reporting So Far Good, First English-Language Reports Misleading

Posted by Peter Quennell


Italian media are reporting flatly and evenly that the court session has begun. Some have asked to use quotes from our posts on the suspect report.

First English language reports are less impressive. Peter Popham of the UK Independent which has been a major propagator of false facts in the past has already posted this:

There has never been any forensic evidence placing Amanda Knox at the scene of Ms Kercher’s murder.

Actually there has been. Plenty. Various mixed-blood traces in the bathroom, corridor and Filomena’s bedroom, and several footprints in blood. All these the defenses generally keep well away from, as there simply seems no innocent way to explain them.. 

More misreporting can be presumed and we will add any additional examples here or in comments below.

Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the victim and her family, made a strong statement before the start of the court session. Here it is from TGCom in part:

The family of Meredith Kercher, the British student murdered in Perugia, is feeling “a lot of concern” about the latest developments in the appeal process. This was conveyed by their lawyer Francesco Maresca.

The new findings are considered “slight, but perhaps still too much, given the wild atmosphere in which they have been advanced, in contrast to the evidence that was seriously and carefully developed and presented by prosecution forensic scientists.”

“As to the objections of the new experts, they are familiar. We know them by heart and they have already been presented… The Kercher family is surprised at the categorical nature of Conti and Vecchiotti’s assessment.”

He added that “there is much other proof that shows the guilt of the two accused parties.”

Posted on 07/25/11 at 10:35 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is the Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Defamatory? Stefanoni Believes So and May Sue

Posted by Peter Quennell


This looks like really bad news for Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito. The last straw.

TJMK main poster Fly By Night already described in great detail how suspect and heavily biased is the Conti-Vecchiotti report.

He predicted fireworks by the Scientific Police and prosecution expert witnesses who were seriously and without proper bases impugned. He predicted the fireworks would start tomorrow in court. 

But already the fireworks have begun. The Guardian’s Tom Kington (who himself has often seemed to show a pro-Knox bias) reports quoting the UK’s Sunday paper The Observer: 

A prominent forensic scientist, whose DNA evidence helped to convict the US student and her former boyfriend, has vowed to overturn the findings of an independent report that says much of her work in the case was unreliable.

Written by two independent experts from Rome’s Sapienza University, the 145-page DNA review rubbishes the work of Patrizia Stefanoni, the police forensic scientist who found Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA on a kitchen knife at Sollecito’s house and identified DNA belonging to Sollecito on a torn bra clasp found beside Kercher’s semi-naked body.

The report claims Stefanoni ignored international DNA protocols, made basic errors and gave evidence in court that was not backed up by her laboratory work, rendering the knife and bra strap worthless as evidence. But Stefanoni has vowed to fight back during three hearings devoted to the DNA reviews.

“I am angry about the false statements in this report and ready to come to court to highlight the past record of these experts,” she told the Observer. “I am also looking into taking legal action against them. What international DNA protocols are they talking about? The Italian police is a member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI), while they are not.”...

After discovering there was no DNA left to check on the knife or the bra clasp, the experts retraced the steps taken by Stefanoni, concluding that the DNA trace of Kercher on the blade was so weak it could not be reliably matched – or was at best the result of contamination – and quoted Stefanoni admitting in court she should have double-tested her result to be more convincing.

Stefanoni claimed she had no need to repeat tests since the experts for the defence were on hand to witness her work. “And it was good enough to show it was Kercher’s DNA,” she said. “A small amount, but good quality.”...

The experts quote numerous US police and FBI experts on the risk of low DNA results and poor evidence handling, prompting one Italian police source to claim they were being fed information by Knox’s defence team. (Emphasis added.)

More attempted manipulation behind the scenes that now turns out to be heavy-handed overreach? Good luck to Judge Hellman tomorrow. He appointed the two “independent experts.” And he already almost lost control of his court once.

He will already be getting anxious to protect his good name before the Supreme Court. Unlikely now to buck any trends.


Posted on 07/24/11 at 09:15 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedPolice and CSIPublic evidenceDNA and luminolAppeals 2009-2014Hellmann appealDiversion efforts byMore sockpuppets
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Norwegian Public Safety Forces Ill-Equipped To Stop Possible Worst Shooting Spree in History

Posted by Peter Quennell

The latest death toll estimate at Lake Utoya and Oslo is 98 dead. The gunman was firing for one and a half hours.

Apparently there was no security presence on the island. And the Associated Press has the first report on why such a delayed response from an under-equipped police force to stop Anders Behring Breivik from more killing.

Police arrived at an island massacre about 1.5 hours after a gunman first opened fire, slowed because they didn’t have quick access to a helicopter and then couldn’t find a boat to make their way to the scene just several hundred yards (meters) offshore.

There is a minute by minute description of the growing horror on the island here and a Norwegian politician has posted a first-hand account of how so many others died and she survived here.

Intensely sad and disturbing - and in the land of the Nobel Peace Prize. We don’t support public institutions at our real peril.

Posted on 07/23/11 at 05:40 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

French Divided Over French Woman In Mexico Jail: Take A Hard Noisy Line Or One Quiet And Subtle?

Posted by Peter Quennell





You’d be surprised - or maybe not - at how very rare it is that publicly impugning another country’s legitimacy and competence really pays off.

Good governments and good international lawyers and good public relations experts all very rapidly move to take negotiations quietly behind the scenes. Though that may not guarantee the outcome they want, it usually results in some wiggle room and softening.

But the opportunity for this passes very fast.

We have only ever seen a hard line out of the unblinking Italian courts in Meredith’s case, up to and including the Supreme Court of Cassation in their rejection of Guede’s final appeal. The hardline PR seems to have hit a wall. And Amanda Knox (in the calunnia trial) and her biological parents (in theirs) and the family of Raffaele Sollecito (in their perversion of justice trial) all seem to have hit their own individual walls.

It is hard to see what the hardline PR campaign for Amanda Knox has achieved other than that equal and opposite Italian hard line.  After a very silly start the Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon seems to have tried to get away from all that, and to move things behind closed doors.

Florence Cassez’s case is very well described in the Wikipedia entry.

Now 36, she moved to Mexico from France in 2003, ended up with a Mexican boyfriend who was decidedly bad news, and in December 2005 was arrested for her part in kidnapping three people for ransom.

Kidnapping is huge in Mexico, and along with the wars over the supplying of Americans with drugs, it comes top of most people’s most-feared list. 

In line with the Mexican government’s efforts to try to stamp out all the kidnapping, Florence Cassez was given a very harsh sentence. It is now set at 60 years. There are dozens of French and Spanish-language reports and YouTubes on the case.

She has had one appeal which failed and right now she serves out her 60 years.

Almost without exception, Mexicans feel it was a well-proven case and that Florence Cassez’s claims that she did not not know what was going on right under her nose when three captives were being held by her boyfriend on the same ranch rang hollow at her trial.

France has been more divided.

There are some who think she did it and must pay the piper for her crime. There are some who think a softer line might have helped. And there are some, like President Sarkozy, who have taken a very hard line. They seem to have upset Mexico’s president and senior officials and not influenced the judges at all.

France has no sentence longer than 20 years for kidnapping-related crimes so the Mexican government has closed the door to her returning to France and serving out her sentence in prison there.

After more time passes and presidential elections happen in Mexico and France, the deadlock might be broken, and the case could be reviewed and Florence Cassez’s fate become something different.

But for now she has only her “friends” to thank. 





Below: two of the few videos with English commentary or subtitles, both pro-Florence Cassez, the first some years old, and the second early this year.


Posted on 07/21/11 at 10:28 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Might Come Up In The Final Days Of The Current Appeal

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


There have been nine appeal hearings since last November and there might be a further half a dozen.

Court will meet on July 25 and 31 and August 1. Then will come the August break, and then further hearings and an appeal verdict. At the last hearing on 27 June, Judge Hellman assigned the next three court dates for the DNA report and its rebuttal.

The only other sure thing accepted for discussion is the prosecution’s intention to revisit the mitigating circumstances Massei allowed and argue that they should be disallowed and the sentences of RS and AK increased.

The judges and jury have available to them not only the Massei and Micheli reports but all of the 10,000 plus pages of evidence from both trials plus all the court transcripts.

Our main posters James Raper, a lawyer, and Kermit will be posting a Powerpoint presentation after the DNA court sessions which will explain all of the tough questions that are still lurking in plain sight.

If the appeal court is to overturn the original verdict Judge Hellman would have to convince the Supreme Court of Cassation that Massei, Micheli, Guede’s first appeal judge and the Supreme Court itself that they all got it wrong and that the evidence suggests there was either only one perpetrator or another two.

But the existing evidence including the mixed blood, the mismatched alibis, and the strange pattern of phone calls does not fit either scenario.

Each of the discussion items in the appeal so far seem to have been quasi-disappointments for the defenses, and Giulia Bongiorno seemed to signal that at the June 27 hearing when her frustration over the failure of either Alessi or Aviello to convince became obvious.

Guede on the stand saying that Sollecito and Knox murdered Meredith had to have been a hard blow, and there would be no reason obvious to the court why he would lie.

Our Italian lawyers think the defense on appeal has been misconceived and too hard-line, too zero-sum-game, not very smart.  In the appeal hearings Knox and Sollecito have not had the opportunity to exercise either any innocent charm or any show of repentance, and Knox’s statement on 11 December blaming a whole lot of others could have seemed to the jury rather unpleasant.

Our lawyers don’t see an acquittal in the cards barring some huge surprise, such as Sollecito or Knox getting up on the witness stand and surviving withering cross-examination in convincingly putting across one or other of their alibis.

If they don’t get up on the stand, the judges and jury are meant to not make anything of that. But they surely would wonder why.

Posted on 07/19/11 at 07:09 AM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Respected Journalist Carl Bernstein Criticizes “Murdochism” For Debasing News Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell

Carl Bernstein was one of the two intrepid Washington Post reporters who helped to bring down President Nixon over the illegalities of Watergate.

He is being seen daily on American TV now and (as above) on British TV decrying the reporting methods and culture which are now being exposed in London, and the manufacture of false news and sensationalism which have left audiences falsely angered and concentrating on all the wrong things.

And which are now resulting in a large popular backlash, and the fleeing of advertisers from the Murdoch newspapers.

On the whole, the UK Murdoch media vehicles reported fairly on Meredith’s case (Sky News, London Times, London Sunday Times, The Sun) but the New York Post stirred things up (see here and here) as did especially Geraldo Rivera on his talk show on Fox TV News.

And the aggressive sensationalist culture did spread far and wide.  The much milder competitor to the New York Post, the New York Daily News, has this to say::

The question now is whether the scandal will bring down the most successful propaganda fount in the world, Fox News, or if it will simply continue to sell factoids as “fair and balanced” fact.

This is much more serious than merely hurling mud at a target who has long helped Republicans by slinging loads of mud. The basic problem is, as Carl Bernstein points out in Newsweek, Murdoch became terribly influential with a simple way of doing things:

Just reduce every issue to a child’s level of perception with sensational headlines leading only to black and white, bad and good. In the practices of his mammoth News Corp., Murdoch always sent ethics and fact flying out the window in favor of profits. .

The New York Times has posted a good history of how and why Rupert Murdoch evolved his media culture in Troubles That Money Can’t Dispel here.

As of today, it looks like Rupert Murdoch and possibly his two sons and daughter may all have to stand down in face of anger from News Corps’ nine independent directors on its board of sixteen. News Corps stock value has been hemorrhaging half a billion a day for two weeks.

The directors may also pull the plug on more newspapers and maybe make News Corp exclusively an entertainment company - and get out of faux news.

Posted on 07/18/11 at 09:18 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsMedia news
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Repeat Of The Powerpoint Guides To The Relevant Locations And Events On Meredith’s Fatal Night

Posted by Kermit

Click on the two images below for the two Powerpoints which will take a few seconds to load.

First posted late in 2008. We re-post them now in response to questions we’ve received from the many new arrivals to Meredith’s cause.






Posted on 07/17/11 at 08:33 AM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Analysis Suggests The Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Is Weak, Tendentious, Cites Non-Existent Standards

Posted by Fly By Night


Background

In light of the huge fanfare two weeks ago over the release of the court-ordered independent expert review by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti (image above, more in post below) on the forensic science methods and findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni as part of the Knox/Sollecito appeal, we start this analysis of that report by summarizing a few hard facts:

  • The DNA samples currently under review by the court are NOT the only DNA samples used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.  In fact, the five mixed samples (not just DNA – there was the fresh blood of both women in four of them) of Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher constitute the strongest, most damning physical evidence of the case. This is why they have not been subjected to independent review during the appeal, along with the great majority of the evidence Judge Massei and the jury considered in convicting Knox and Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

  • In reviewing the findings of Dr. Stefanoni, Technical Director/Principal Biologist with the Polizia Scientifica in Rome (image below), the expert report is also critiquing the findings and opinions of an entire well-regarded forensics agency along with the personal views of many prominent forensics experts. They include Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and the nationally prominent General Luciano Garofano who in support of Dr. Stefanoni’s own open descriptions have provided lengthy statements describing in great detail their reasons for agreeing with Stefanoni’s methods and findings.

  • The use and acceptance of LCN DNA analysis techniques in the USA lags behind that of other countries in the world, as documented in the numerous publications on the topic now seen in US professional journals.  Enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are routinely relied upon in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe to provide sound evidence for courtroom arguments.  So the expert report’s overbearing reliance upon AMERICAN sources including the controversial opinions of Bruce Budowle (image below) of the University of North Texas, in questioning Stefanoni’s LCN DNA testing techniques, is highly questionable. Budowle has been strongly criticized by a number of distinguished researchers including Theresa Caragine and John Buckleton for his non-scientific opinions and for allegedly engaging in unethical practices and maintaining serious conflicts of interest.

  • Claudio Pratillo Hellman, the judge presiding over the Knox and Sollecito appeal trial, appointed Vecchioti and Conti to provide an independent assessment for the court regarding the handling and analysis of several pieces of evidence that played a role in the conviction of Knox and Sollecito.  Using the expert report as a focus, on Monday July 25th these independent experts will appear in court along with various expert witnesses for the prosecution, the defense teams, and the Kercher family to discuss the only pieces of DNA-related evidence that have been subjected to review in the appeal trial. They are (1) the DNA on the kitchen knife accepted by the Massei court to be the murder weapon, and (2) the DNA on a bra clasp torn from Meredith’s body.

The findings of the expert report itself in all their 145 pages of depth appear to boil down to two primary debates: (1) Issues surrounding the Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA analysis techniques employed by Dr. Stefanoni, and (2) Issues surrounding the probability of excluding all possible sources of contamination from the evidence.

The Expert Report

When the supposed findings of the independent expert report were first leaked, international media ballyhooed them as a sure sign that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito would soon be cleared of murder charges, claiming that the prosecution’s DNA arguments had now been shown to be based upon substandard DNA testing practices, and that the evidence might have been contaminated.  Knox herself was said to have sung and danced with joy upon hearing the news.

But a closer look at actual contents of the report, and its supporting documents, suggests that such celebrations are premature and ill-advised.  The expert report exists to serve only as the focal point for upcoming courtroom arguments, including arguments over the validity of Dr. Stefanoni’s claim to have identified Meredith Kercher’s DNA on the blade of the kitchen knife.  The report explains why a complete repeat of the testing Stefanoni performed on both the knife and bra clasp was not possible and how DNA on the bra clasp had deteriorated beyond testability. 

The expert’s attempts to perform repeat tests on the knife were unsuccessful in identifying cellular material on the blade. This was not a surprise, considering that Stefanoni had previously reported that additional testing would be impossible due to the minimal amount of DNA originally found there.  The expert’s testing did, however, firmly conclude that Amanda Knox’s DNA was located on the handle of the knife.

The expert report will steer upcoming courtroom debates towards a complete review of Stefanoni’s crime scene management practices, the DNA analysis methods she employed, and the reasoning and protocols she used to reach her conclusions.  The expert report provides one of several frames of reference for these debates and in part focuses upon criticisms not only of Stefanoni’s use of LCN DNA testing techniques to identify Kercher’s DNA on the knife blade but the entire LCN DNA analysis methodology itself.  As noted above, Vecchioti and Conti confirmed the presence of Amanda Knox’s DNA on the handle of the knife but suggest that the very small sample of Meredith’s DNA located on the blade, identified by LCN DNA testing, is the result of contamination.

The Potential For Contamination

Contamination of evidence might occur in the evidence collection phase of an investigation, or it might occur as the result of improper laboratory testing procedures once a sample has arrived securely at the forensic laboratory.  Before digging deeper into laboratory contamination potential, including associated LCN DNA analysis issues, we first take a look at the expert report’s evaluation of evidence collection protocols and the potential for contamination in that phase of the criminal investigation.

The expert report attempts to establish that international standards for crime scene management practices exist. However, their approach raises the same question raised by the assignment of Bruce Budowle, a controversial and opinionated LCN DNA commenter, as the foundation for their DNA analysis critiques.  Namely, why does the expert report find it necessary to over-rely upon inappropriate and highly questionable American resources to support its most critical arguments?

As strange as it may seem, the Italian expert report references quite a few relatively obscure, and often outdated, editions of American resources. They include the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory Manual, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Handbook, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Evidence Guide, the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory Manual, the New Jersey State Police Evidence Manual, and even introductory college textbooks covering criminal investigations at the level of “please wash your hands.”

If the intent of the expert report was to establish that a standard set of international protocols exists, and then to compare that set of protocols to protocols used in the Meredith Kercher murder case, then why not cite the international body that establishes and upholds such standards, if that body actually exists?

Instead, the approach taken by the expert report only serves to underscore the notion that there may, in fact, be no such thing as international standards for evidence collection and handling.  What the report actually establishes is that they are citing from a selected list of extremely diverse regional “best practices” manuals in support of theoretical and abstract concepts or points.  In doing so the expert report authors its own set of ad hoc “international standards” as it moves along. 

It would have been far more effective to put the focus on creating an objective and fair analysis of the real-world crime scene management procedures employed in this case, and then comparing and contrasting those findings with the successful, or unsuccessful, management practices of other similar case-study investigations providing appropriate citations from relevant literature along the way.

As a result of the independent experts’ approach, the contamination risk concerns cited in the expert report during the evidence collection phase appear to be largely a rehash of arguments over protocol that were thoroughly vetted during the course of the trial itself, such as how often investigators changed their gloves.

What we are left with is a report that only theoretically suggests that contamination cannot be ruled out, while completely failing to provide concrete examples of precisely when and how contamination could have entered into the evidence management chain.  For the appeal, this will result in a repeat of the same attacks upon investigative methods and processes, and all of the related arguments, that the court entertained during the trial, albeit this time with a new judge and jury.

The expert report apparently confirms that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on the bra clasp in an amount that would be difficult to attribute to contamination.  Dr. Stefanoni found about 4 nanograms of Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp, which is a substantial amount of DNA considering that research suggests that contaminated samples usually contain sub-picogram amounts of DNA, or around 1000 to 10,000 times less DNA than attributed to Sollecito on the bra clasp.

That fact that Raffaele’s DNA on the clasp appears to be mixed with additional DNA should NOT lead to conclusions that his profile cannot be effectively isolated and identified, or must be the result of contamination.  In fact, Italy’s premiere forensic science expert Luciano Garofano testified that Stefanoni’s analysis of the bra clasp was “perfect.”  It is also not plausible to suggest that contamination is the source for Sollecito’s abundant DNA on the bra clasp in the absence of significant environmental traces for Sollecito anywhere else in or around Meredith’s home, or in the Rome laboratory for that matter.


LCN DNA Testing

LCN is a DNA profiling technique employed when available DNA is limited to very small quantities.  A DNA sample might be as small as a millionth the size of a grain of salt, amounting to only a few cells of skin or sweat left in a fingerprint.

Using LCN testing techniques the small sample can be successfully evaluated and attributed to an individual.  LCN DNA testing has been in use since 1999 and is rapidly gaining worldwide acceptance in both legal and forensic science communities.  For example it has now been used in more than 21,000 cases in the UK since being approved for use in criminal cases in 2008, following a period of stringent testing and evaluation.

The increased sensitivity of LCN testing techniques does increase the potential of contamination to impact analyses of small DNA samples in the laboratory.  Since LCN techniques can accurately amplify DNA samples having as little as just a few cells it has been suggested that even breathing on such a small sample has the potential to render the resulting profile useless.  Contamination is particularly problematic for LCN samples because both sample and contaminant DNA are amplified, resulting in a complex mixed profile with related stochastic effect impacts. 

But, as evidenced in the expert report itself, Dr. Stefanoni is well-versed in the appropriate methods for dealing with these concerns, since she is quoted as already having admonished the court experts Vecchioti and Conti for not making use of a fume hood to ensure the absence of contamination as they conducted their retests on the evidence.

In recent years numerous professional publications have addressed the scientific, technical, and legal issues surrounding LCN DNA sample testing, outlining the stochastic effects and artifacts such as peak imbalances between alleles and loci, as well as allele and locus drop-out, or allele drop-in, along with making a variety of suggestions for both avoiding contamination and making error-free evaluations of stochastic effects. 

On the basis of these publications, including the proceedings of the biannual world congresses of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, it is clear that enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are now routinely in use in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe.  This is strong evidence that the scientific community is now actively engaged in an effort to document all LCN DNA methods in use and is working towards developing standard biostatistical tools for evaluating LCN DNA typing results. 

It also appears as though the USA is lagging behind other regions in research, practice, and acceptance in this discipline.

In this relatively new field of study it is not surprising that researchers have yet to establish anything approaching standards for LCN DNA testing and analysis.  Even so, this has not prevented the results of LCN DNA testing from being successfully and routinely introduced as viable evidence in courtroom arguments. 

For example, on February 8, 2010, Judge Robert Hanophy of the Supreme Court of Queens County, New York ruled that results of LCN DNA testing, as performed by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City, is now generally accepted as reliable in the forensic scientific community, it consistently yields reliable results, it is not a novel scientific procedure, and it is therefore admissible at trial (People v. Megnath, Supreme Court of New York, Queens County, 2010 NY).

Although the current Wikipedia article on the topic maintains that LCN DNA has only been adopted for evidential purposes in the UK, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, this unreferenced claim stands in ignorance of the fact that inquisitorial court systems in numerous European countries do not typically require formal publication and peer review of analytical methods in scientific journals as a justification for their methods. 

And as we have seen in the current Knox/Sollecito trial, in Europe it has become customary to have independent experts attempt to convince the court of the validity, or invalidity, of the LCN typing results that have been presented in a trial.  To be successful, it is essential that an independent expert provide the court with evidence of expertly-conducted retests of available evidence, relevant citations of appropriate research, and meaningful evaluations of protocols employed in outlining their objective and balanced set of opinions for the court. 

In this regard, it appears that the independent expert report for the Knox/Sollecito appeal has completely missed the mark.

Their report gives the strong impression that Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti were overtly attempting to invalidate the findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the Polizia Scientifica in Rome, and the wealth of supportive testimony provided in court during the trial.  The tone of their report strongly indicates that they have lined up with Sollecito defense experts Adriano Tagliabracci and Valerio Onofri of the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Ancona, and Knox defense experts Sara Gino, Walter Patumi and Carlo Torre from the University of Turin.

We will see in court on the 25th if they are really across the figurative aisle from the prosecution witnesses Dr. Stefanoni and Dr. Giuseppe Novelli, a highly esteemed professor of biomedicine at Tor Vergata in Rome who is considered to be the “father of police forensics” in Italy, along with the expert witnesses for the Kercher family Professor Torricelli, and Dr. Emiliano Giardina, who is a colleague of Professor Novelli at Tor Vergata University.

This appears to establish grounds for a formidable courtroom battle if all experts can provide solid grounds for their opinions. However, the Kercher’s lawyer Francesco Maresca was already quick to point out that those on the prosecution’s side of the aisle have substantially more practical experience and years of work in the forensic science field.

An in depth reading of the expert report uncovers allegations that Dr. Stefanoni has not followed internationally established forensic science management standards and that in doing so she has committed analytical errors, such as the misattribution of peaks in her bra clasp DNA analysis.  What the report fails to mention, however, is that no such standards exist and that there are currently multiple perspectives from which a scientist might argue their case regarding the proper interpretation of DNA data, as evidenced in any sampling of current forensic science journal articles. 

For example, the expert report cites a 2006 International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) publication as an example of a standard for determining which stutters should be considered as alleles in the assessment of mixed DNA samples.  But this alleged “standard” stands in contrast to direct testimony from Dr. Stefanoni while defending her lab protocols in comparison to the ISFG “recommendations” which she claims in no way qualify as authoritative standards.  The difference between recommendations and standards is a critical distinction in scientific fields.

A closer look at this discrepancy reveals that in 2007 Dr. Stefanoni and her immediate supervisor, Dr. Renato Biondo, hosted a meeting in Rome of the European DNA Profiling Group (EDNAP) in which these same 2006 ISFG recommendations were discussed.  At that meeting papers were presented from the UK and Germany that contested a number of the ISFG recommendations that the expert report now attempts to establish as mandatory standards. 

In the midst of this ongoing debate over ISFG recommendations, it is quite remarkable that the expert report, citing that 2006 ISFG document, chooses to assert that Stefanoni made erroneous interpretations of chart peaks simply because her interpretation of the data did not respect the controversial ISFG recommendations. 

The experts report consequently admits that they confirmed Stefanoni’s awareness of the ISFG recommendations, and that she expressed a personal view that they should simply be viewed as “guidelines.”  Yet they STILL insist on continuing to label her conclusions as erroneous since she did not “correctly” and “explicitly” adhere to the ISFG “recommendations.”

In light of all this, it is highly unlikely that Judge Hellman will dismiss Dr. Stefanoni’s knowledge and expertise on this matter as readily as Vecchioti and Conti have in their expert report.

An in depth analysis of the expert report also indicates that the citations from scientific journals are incomplete and often “cherry-picked” to directly support specific criticisms brought against Dr. Stefanoni’s methods. 


For example, the expert report appears to base its entire argument against Stefanoni’s reliance upon LCN DNA analysis techniques upon one paper, authored by Bruce Budowle et al entitled “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance.”  The expert report then goes on to cite a paper by Gill and Buckleton where these authors appear to support a few claims made by Budowle (image above) in his article, but the report completely ignores the fact that Gill and Buckleton then go on to air strong criticisms of many other claims made by Budowle.

In fact, in 2010 John Buckleton and Peter Gill authored a scathing criticism of Bruce Budowle’s entire “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance” article; the very article that the expert report relies exclusively upon in bringing Dr. Stefanoni’s methods into question.  In their article, published in Forensic Science, Buckleton and Gill state:

[Budowle’s] article is not peer reviewed. The proceedings of the ISFG Congress are prefaced by the message: “the manuscripts were neither reviewed nor edited in detail.  The articles reflect the opinions of the authors.”

It contains neither new data nor any novel scientific findings. Rather it represents public advocacy and is an expression of alternative opinion by the three authors concerning observations that are largely common ground. There is a place in the scientific literature for advocacy but it must be soundly based on proven facts.

We have some considerable difficulty in actually determining just exactly what the authors are indeed advocating. This is because of their inconsistent use of terminology and inconsistent recommendations. In our opinion, the views presented are inadequately precise, demonstrate a lack of appreciation of underlying principles and are not aligned with broader scientific opinion.

The title of the paper appeared to have one eye on future Frye or Daubert hearings and again we question whether such a title has a place in the learned literature. It takes upon itself, inappropriately, the role of gatekeeper of what constitutes “general acceptance” (The Frye test).

The article itself appears to be a rather inappropriate continuation of a debate arising from a court case in New York (People v. Megnath). Again we would question whether this journal is the correct forum to air this debate.

In other words, Buckleton and Gill are suggesting that Bruce Budowle acted unethically by publishing his non-peer reviewed opinions in a professional journal for the purpose of using the article to support his work as a paid consultant, and as an expert witness in court cases such as People v. Megnath in New York. 

Incidentally, Budowle was unsuccessful in advocating his opinions as an expert witness for the defense in People v. Megnath in his battle with Theresa Caragine of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York over her submission in court of data obtained using LCN DNA testing techniques.

Theresa Caragine herself authored a powerful rebuttal of Budowle’s article claiming that when Budowle’s “opinions” were published he failed to disclose that he had, in fact, been retained by the defense counsel for Mr. Megnath, and that he had already testified as a paid expert witness regarding the opinions he expresses in the journal article that the expert report relies heavily upon in attempting to substantiate its points.  And even though Bruce Budowle’s opinions had previously been delivered as a paid expert witness in a judicial setting, he made the claim of ‘No Conflict of Interest’ when applying to publish this non-peer reviewed article.

Caragine’s remarks go even further in criticizing the Budowle et al LCN DNA article by pointing out that it is not even a research article, but a non-peer reviewed submission that had purportedly been presented in the context of the 23rd Biennial Worldwide Conference of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, 2009 in Buenos Aires. 

Caragine claims that, while Budowle had in fact submitted a similar paper at that meeting, it was not under its current title, nor did it have the same the list of authors, and the abstract submitted to the conference organizers for their selection process does not align with the content of the paper now cited in the Italian experts’ report submitted to the court in the Knox/Sollecito appeal.  In her rebuttal, Caragine strongly questions whether or not such a circumvention of all standard principles of scientific publishing is in any way acceptable or appropriate.

Conclusions

In light of all of the above, the upcoming July 25th court hearing in the Knox/Sollecito trial should be considered as anything but a foregone conclusion.  The rationale behind the exuberant remarks noted in recent press releases regarding content allegedly favorable to defense efforts and anticipated impacts appears to be baseless. 

For an Italian report, it gives the appearance of being remarkably Amero-centric, and we find it ugly and unprofessional that the expert report chooses to attack Dr. Stefanoni and her colleagues by citing nonexistent international standards and by relying upon extraordinarily questionable resources in doing so. 

The report’s final conclusion that contamination cannot be completely ruled out is remarkably weak considering that there are relatively few real-world cases in which contamination of evidence might be completely ruled out.

It becomes clear, then, that well informed prosecution interrogators will have no problem in identifying and attacking the report’s multiple weaknesses.  We should expect Dr. Stefanoni and the prosecution’s team of experts to present precise counter arguments for the challenges expressed in the expert report, strongly defending the forensic science capabilities of Stefanoni and her team.

Posted on 07/13/11 at 08:10 AM by Fly By Night. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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