Category: The two knives

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why DNA Test Results 6 November May Leave No Further Argument Over Knox And Sollecito Guilt

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: an image of similar testing in the same Carabinieri laboratory in north Rome]


The official results of the tests by the Carabinieri laboratory will be made public by Judge Nencini in court on 6 November.

The report and attachments are reported to be more than 100 pages long. Andrea Vogt has already warned that no assumptions should be made yet that we know the full story. But already for the defenses, matters do not look pretty.

    1) It sounds like the result of the DNA near the top of the blade (see images below) shows conclusively that it is another sample of Knox’s DNA. Given where the sample came from it could be blood DNA and add further proof to the notion that Knox was injured while struggling with Meredith.

    2) The low-copy-number amplification technique used was almost identical to that used by Dr Stefanoni to prove that it was Meredith’s DNA on the blade of the knife - actually that was a larger sample. Judge Massei’s court accepted this, Judge Hellmann’s consultants tried very hard to undermine it, and the Supreme Court ruled that they did not even come close.

Earlier this year, our main poster Fly By Night in a post worth re-reading explained just how conclusively the results of that first testing pointed to both Meredith and Knox.

As is typical of all DNA analyses, Stefanoni proceeded to amplify the results to a point where an electropherogram would reveal meaningful “peaks” and found that a resultant 13 pairs of peaks corresponded precisely to peaks derived from a known sample of Meredith Kercher’s DNA!

In this case it is pointless to attempt to argue that Stefanoni somehow exceeded the amplification limits of her equipment. As outlined in the DNA discussion above, the typical problems associated with an amplification of low levels of DNA are related to peak imbalances, enhanced stutter, allele drop-outs, or allele drop-ins.

In this case there was nothing but a perfect match for Meredith that even Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti could not deny in court.

Stefanoni had clearly identified an identical match for Meredith’s DNA on the blade of Sollecito’s kitchen knife, leaving Vecchiotti and Conti no other option than to argue for “contamination” in court.

However, it was convincingly demonstrated by Stefanoni and all evidence handlers that from knife collection through laboratory analysis no reasonable opportunity for contamination with Meredith’s DNA existed.

Dr Stefanoni’s testing of all the DNA from the crime scene was done in front of some defense observers. Those who were there saw her do nothing wrong. Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Giuesppe Novelli, Professor Francesca Torricelli, Luciano Garofano, Elizabeth Johnson and Greg Hampikian have all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife.

It looks as if the prosecution has now achieved a clean sweep of all of the of DNA testing. Meredith’s DNA on the lower blade of the knife seems even more conclusively a firm given, and so does Knox’s on the upper blade and the handle.

We are where we were back in 2008 before trial, where other defense lawyers might have suggested to their clients to select a trial of the short form type - the same choice that will see a somewhat penitent Guede out on work release in two years, no more.

But instead, their clients could now be facing life sentences for that bad choice.


Image: looking along the blade toward the handle, both sides of the knife




Here is an image showing the I trace in the location described in the post with credit to Iodine of PMF and the Case Wiki




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Meredith Case Wiki: A Highly Objective Summation Of The Case From Original Docs And Transcripts

Posted by James Raper





Some of our readers may not have noticed the new link to The Meredith Case Wiki to be found in the left hand column of this front page. I had not noticed it myself until recently.

This is an important link to a new website that is now a vital additional resource for those interested in understanding this case.

The website - The Murder of Meredith Kercher - is run by Edward McCall, with the assistance of other contributors, and TJMK is pleased to acknowledge and promote its distinctive and concise approach to presenting the facts of the case.

The site is modelled on the format of a page from the Wikipedia free encyclopedia.  As with a Wiki page it is easily navigable. The data presented under the various headings is the consequence of much research but it still remains a work in progress. Wherever possible the material used is referenced in footnotes.

It starts on the Main page with a Mission Statement and an Introduction to the case. It then considers the evidence and has a good section entitled Myths Debunked.

The reader can easily access significant court documents: the Massei Report, the Hellmann Report, the Galati Appeal and the Supreme Court of Cassation Motivations Report. There is an accessibly summary of the Matteini and Micheli Reports.

In particular, for the researcher, there is a most welcome section entitled Court Transcripts. Here can be found transcripts of witness testimony from the Massei and Hellmann trials, experts reports, and the various writings and testimony of Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede. At least that is to be the hope ultimately as there exist a good number of gaps at present.

Already some of the witness statements have been translated from Italian to English but there are a number of transcripts still to be translated. If there are any translators who would wish to help, please contact us and we shall be pleased to put your name forward.

McCall wishes to acknowledge the massive contribution made by True Justice for Meredith Kercher. TJMK has perforce grown organically and exponentially over the years and has accumulated a breadth and wealth of data, in-depth analysis and informed comment on the case which is unsurpassed on the internet, or indeed anywhere.

It will continue to do so and report developments until the conclusion of all aspects of the case.


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Carabinieri Laboratories In North-Central Rome Where Now Two Different Samples Need Attribution

Posted by Peter Quennell




Third update

Italy-based freelance reporter Andrea Vogt has tweeted the following: Leaks suggest DNA on knife shows knox genetic profile, but there is another profile being studied. Too early to interpret

Second update

Excellent comment on PMF by the poster Hugo which explains how the balance hasn’t changed.

The song remains the same. The republic contends that Amanda Knox used that knife to murder Meredith Kercher. The knife has yielded the DNA of just two people: Knox, in a position which indicates that she was gripping it, and Meredith, in a position which indicates that she was stabbed with it.

The defence can easily claim that Knox’s trace results from normal culinary use (although Stefanoni said the handprint indicated an atypical stabbing grip, with the knuckles on the same side as the blunt edge of the blade, and not a normal culinary cutting grip, with the knuckles on the same side as the sharp edge).

The problem is Meredith’s DNA at the sharp end. ‘Independent court-appointed expert’ Carla Vecchiotti admitted on the stand that this could not have arisen from laboratory contamination.

Professor Christopher Halkides’ suggestion that the contamination occurred during collection, because Stefano Gubbiotti acquired Meredith’s ‘aerosol DNA’ on his clothing, when he was supposedly in the house the same day, almost a week after the murder, and thus transferred the DNA from his clothing to his fingers to his evidence-handling gloves to the knife when he took it from Finzi’s envelope and re-packaged it in a stationery box at the Questura, is self-evidently absurd, fanciful, fictional and completely outwith the realms of actual forensic science.

And it’s not in evidence anyway, so it’s not an option open to the court.

Plus the objection to low copy number DNA is an American superstition not recognised in Europe. Unusually, it’s a scientific area where the US lags well behind. So you get hillbillies like Bruce Budowle grumbling, ‘Cain’t rightly say what that there newfangled LCN is, but ah reckon ah’m agin it.’ You’ll recall that a British appeal court has found that Bruce Budowle hasn’t the faintest idea what he’s talking about and also that, like Halkides, he tends to cite sources that don’t actually say what he says they say.

Knox is there on the hilt of the knife. And M is there near the point of the blade, and she’s trying to tell us something.

First update

The gap between the blade and handle of the knife was apparently widened to obtain the sample for the test. Sollecito lawyer Maori has claimed it is Amanda Knox’s. It is apparently adjacent to her previous trace.

If that is the case, the strength of the DNA evidence (which is very strong) remains unchanged. Dr Stefanoni identified Exhibit 36 on the blade as a strong trace of Merediith’s DNA. This was supported by various experts.

No contamination of that trace has ever been proved - or even a convincing contamination scenario put forward - and the video on top of the post below shows how the DNA charts for the sample and for Meredith totally match.

First post

Human DNA is widely reported in Italy to have been established from the sample never before tested on the large knife.

We may have to wait on an announcement from Judge Nencini in Florence as to whose DNA it is. That may not happen today.

These labs in the Carabinieri barracks are not far from the center of Rome. They are very well know to Italians because (images at bottom) “RIS” the Italian version of the show “CSI” is set there.



















Thursday, October 10, 2013

Testing Of The DNA Sample Starts Today Though Possibly No Results Announced Before 6 November

Posted by Peter Quennell


1. ViaDellaPergola’s video

That video from 2010 illustrates how the existing positive tests described in the Massei Report were crystal-clear; subsequently Hellmann, Zanetti, Conti and Vecchiotti (all now being investigated) so muddied the water.

2. From our short-form Massei Report

This is from Part Three of the four-part abbreviation of the Massei Report done by Skeptical Bystander and a PMF team in mid-2011.

Exhibit 36: The double DNA Knife

Exhibit 36 is a 31 cm long knife with a 17 cm blade and a dark handle.  It was seized from the kitchen cutlery drawer at Raffaele Sollecito’s home, located at 110 Corso Garibaldi in Perugia, on 6 November, 2007 when Chief Inspector Armando Finzi was ordered to perform a search of Sollecito’s residence.  This exhibit is important because “Sample 36b” taken from a scratch on the knife blade yielded Meredith Kercher’s biological profile.

After putting on gloves and shoe coverings, Finzi and his team entered the home.  They noted a strong smell of bleach.  Opening the cutlery drawer, they saw a big, “extremely clean” knife.  In Sollecito’s bedroom they found a second knife.  The knives were bagged and sealed.[106]

Exhibit 36 was carried back to the police station, where it was placed in a box for shipping to the Polizia Scientifica in Rome.  Dr. Stefanoni was the recipient of the box containing the knife in Rome.  All parties testified that standard procedures were followed to avoid the risk of contamination.

On 4 November, 2007, Meredith’s roommates Filomena Romanelli, Laura Mezzetti, and Amanda Knox had been taken by the police to look at the knives in their kitchen at the apartment in Via della Pergola.  Personnel from the Questura reported Amanda’s “severe and intense emotional crisis, unlike [the reaction of] the other two girls”.[292]  This behavior was contrasted to Amanda’s behavior at Police headquarters two days earlier:

“This circumstance appears significant both in its own right and also when one considers that Amanda had never previously shown signs of any particular distress and emotional involvement (in the Police headquarters, on the afternoon of November 2, Meredith’s English girlfriends, Robyn Carmel and Amy Frost in particular, according to their declarations, had been surprised by the behaviour of Amanda, who did not show emotions).”[292]

Investigators’ attention was alerted to the Exhibit 36 knife because of Amanda’s inconsistent behavior.  Later, police overheard a jail conversation between Knox and her parents on 17 November, when Knox said, “I am very, I am very worried about this thing with the knife ... because there is a knife of Raffaele’s ...”.[292]

Exhibit 36 thus became a central piece of trial evidence.  The debate would subsequently be focused on two issues: The compatibility of the knife with the large stab wound in Meredith’s neck; and the reliability of the DNA analysis.

Considering the first of these points, although the knife blade is 17 cm long, the depth of the larger wound is just 8 cm .  This “discrepancy” was the basis of defense efforts to discredit the knife as a murder weapon. The compatibility of the Exhibit 36 knife and the larger of Kercher’s wounds is addressed by Professor Bacci (see p. 121 of the Massei report).    Professor Norelli maintains that “it is not said that a blade is always embedded (plunged into) the target right up to the handle; the blade may also go (in) only to a certain portion of its length, and not right up to its end”.[126] 

It is noted that the movements of the victim may have played a part in determining the depth of the cuts.  “If I insert a centimeter of the blade into the victim and the victim suddenly moves towards me, how much of the blade will be driven inside the body surface area is absolutely unpredictable and depends on the action of both”.[129]  Alternatively, the blade of the knife might have met an obstacle. The cutting action is described on p. 146 and again starting on p. 152.

Defense witness Dr. Patumi disputed the compatibility of the wounds with said knife, arguing that a blade of 17 cm length could not have caused a cut 8 cm deep; see p. 156-157.  However, the Court rejected “the thesis of the incompatibility of the most serious wound and the knife Exhibit 36”, holding this thesis to be “unacceptable” .[172]

Regarding the second point ““ that of the DNA analysis ““ Dr. Stefanoni was the responsible expert at the crime lab in Rome. Although no biological traces were visible to the naked eye on the face of knife blade, Dr. Stefanoni perceived scratches - “anomalies in the metal’ - on the blade when rotating the blade under strong lighting.  The streaks were:

“... visible under good lighting by changing the angle at which the light hit the blade, since obviously the blade reflects light and thus creates shadows, making imperfections visible.”[196]

Sample 36b was taken from one of these points on the blade.  The genetic profile of Meredith Kercher was identified from this sample. Stefanoni presented charts to the court, showing the DNA profile: she noted “that the peaks were a bit low, but that without doubt were still within the range that is considered useful for testing a specimen (page 108). Although of a much lower quantity of DNA, the profiles were nonetheless very present and, by making a comparison with Meredith’s profile, Dr. Torricelli reported that “šwe find all the alleles, and we find them to be equal to those obtained from the swab taken, from the sample taken from the wound. Therefore in this case too, without doubt”› -she continued- “šalthough we are confronted with a sample that contains very little DNA, it nonetheless contains the DNA of only one person and is therefore comparable to Meredith’s; with regard to this knife, I would say I have no doubt in interpreting it: specimen A with Amanda’s profile and specimen B with the profile, compatible with that of Meredith.”[231-32] However, the amount of DNA was small and it was all used up in order to run a single test.

The defense objected that it was impossible to evaluate whether the actual nature of Sample 36b specimen: 

“.. when we have a small amount of DNA we talk about low copy number DNA, and that when this type of DNA is present, we are indeed able to carry out our amplification and obtain a profile, but we must remember that we may have lost one of the alleles, we may have an allelic imbalance ... it becomes very difficult to distinguish from a real allele, so that when working on ...  small quantities of genetic material, it is necessary to be very cautious in interpreting the results.”[237]

To this point, Dr. Stefanoni argued that it is preferable “to know to whom a biological specimen is attributable, rather than ascertaining the nature of that specimen, without attributing it to anyone.”[288]

Furthermore, it was argued by the defense that the quantity of DNA was too low to be able to perform the tests and consider the results reliable.  Given a low amount of DNA, the risk of contamination is high - particularly given the very numerous number of samples being analyzed.
 
The court rejected the possibility of contamination because no anomalies were ever identified in the Polizia Scientifica’s analytical process. The Prosecutor pointed out that all tests had been carried out in the presence of a lawyer/consultant for the defense - who had raised no objections during the testing.  The possibility of contamination during the collection of evidence was rejected based on a detailed consideration of the collection process.

Thus, the DNA from Meredith which was found on that knife cannot be traced back to any contamination occurring in the house in which it was found, or to the method of acquisition of the knife on the part of Finzi, or even to the collection and dispatch methods used by Gubbiotti. In addition, as has been said, that such contamination could have been carried out by the laboratory is also ruled out.[266]

In addition, Dr. Stefanoni testified that she did have the biological profile of the defendants, but did not employ them while interpreting the electrophoresis diagrams. Nevertheless, the Massei report judges that:

“... the main criticisms advanced by the defense concerned precisely this very small DNA quantity, and it raised the question of the reliability of the result obtained.”[288]

To this central point, Dr. Stefanoni:

“Regarding the too low quantity of DNA, Dr. Stefanoni declared, as has been seen, that even in the case of a particularly scanty amount of material, the analysis and evaluation should be performed, and she added that, if the data that emerges is absolutely readable and interpretable and the correct laboratory practice was followed, the result is reliable and there is no reason to repeat the test.

“It does not follow ... that the data is unusable and unreliable as a consequence of a lack of repetition due to a lack of further quantities of DNA. It is necessary, instead, to take account of the data that emerges from such a specimen and to check for the ““ possible ““ presence of other elements, both circumstantial and inherent to the data itself that, despite the lack of repetition of the analysis, could allow an evaluation of the reliability of the analysis and of its outcome.”[289]

The court concluded that the biological profile that resulted from the 36B DNA analysis ...

“... gave a biological profile attributable to the person who was mortally wounded with that very knife: a result, therefore, that was entirely reasonable and consistent with the event; [it was] certainly not explainable as a mere coincidence, and it must be ruled out ““according to what has already been observed in this regard - that it could have originated from contamination or from the use of a suspect-centric method.”,[290] and that

“”¦. it should therefore be affirmed that the analysis of trace 36B, which detected the presence DNA attributable to Meredith, appears to be completely reliable.”[293]


3. TJMK posts on the latest DNA science

1. Poster Fy By Night:  The Hellmann-Zanetti Appeal Court’s DNA Consultancy Looks Even Worse In Face Of The Latest Science

2. The Machine A New DNA Analysis Strongly Implicating Sollecito Seems to Have The Defense Forces Extremely Rattled

4. Sollecito tries to wind back the “pricked” claim

Our lawyer SomeAlibi recently explained how.

5. Andrea Vogt posts possible scenarios.

Scroll down to UPDATE OCT. 9, 2013 An excellent weighting of the possibilities.

The DNA could be Meredith’s, which would dramatically hurt thr defenses. It could be Rudy Guede’s, which would dramatically hurt thr defenses. Or it could be neither (or untestable) which would nt neccessarily affect the outcome. .


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Questions For Knox and Sollecito: Why Claim Rudy Guede Did It Alone When So Much Proof Against?

Posted by Marcello




1. Problems Of Your “Guede did it alone” Mantra

Your attempts to frame Guede for the entire attack sound racist, and they fly in the face of a multitude of hard facts.

Why are you and your more untethered supporters arguing to the media that Rudy Guede alone attacked Meredith (he could not have), that he was a drifter (he wasnt), a burglar (he wasnt), and drug dealer (he wasnt), and that his DNA traces are “all over Meredith’s room” (they werent)?

There are surprisingly few DNA traces of Guede in there, and outside Meredith’s door there is only evidence of (1) his prior use of the south bathroom, and (2) his shoeprints headed straight for the front door.

There is zero evidence that Rudy Guede was ever in the shared bathroom (the one with Sollectio’s bloody footprint on the bathmat) and zero evidence he was in Filomena’s room (the one with the broken window and the mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox). 

2. Evidence Against You Is Far, Far Stronger

Explain if you can about Sollecito’s bloody footprint. Explain if you can about the evidence of cleanup. Explain this and this about your multiple contradictory alibis.

Explain if you can why YOUR own witnesses Alessi and Aviello were such disasters for your side in court. Explain your cell phone actions (or non-actions) and the timing and content of your phone calls, and your computer actions (or non actions).

Explain why in Sollecito’s book he claims he sent several emails throughout the night; but there zero records of such emails with his email provider. Explain why both Sollecito and Knox framed Dr Mignini.

There are three compelling reasons above all why the Massei court and the Supreme Court will remain totally unbending on the point that Guede did NOT attack Meredith alone, and that it had to be a pack attack on Meredith.

  • One is the full day of closed court testimony at trial by crime-scene experts from Rome who accounted for every point of evidence in Meredith’s room with a depiction of a 15 minute pack attack involving three people. This seriously upset the jury and your own defense was left essentially speechless.

  • One is the prosecution’s video shown in closed court during Summations of the recreation of the attack on Meredith, which accounted for every point of evidence with a 15 minute pack attack involving three people.  This seriously upset the jury and your own defense was left essentially speechless
  • .
  • One is that the entry of an attacker via Filomena’s room is so absolutely unbelievable. Your own defense always knew this, and barely tried to make that sale (hence the witnesses Alessi and Aviello).

There are seven other routes for a burglar to enter the house, all of them faster and quieter and five of them darker. You can see five in these images below: two via the east windows, three up onto the balcony and into the house via the louvre door or the kitchen window.

All seven routes would be obvious to any burglar, long before he walked all the way around the base of the house to beneath Filomena’s window (which he did several times in your scenario). 

3. The Numerous Questions From Which You Hide

On or after 6 November you have both promised to appear in the appeal court in Florence. You are apparently too nervous to face cross-examination under oath, but you have said you intend to try to explain things.

    1) Rudy Guede had been to the apartment at least twice already on prior occasions and knew the boys who lived in the lower story. Why did Guede choose to NOT break-in to the lower story where he knew (or could ascertain) that all four boys were away on holiday, and therefore could break-in and rummage with some certainty of not getting caught?

    2) Why did Guede choose to break-in to the upper story of the villa mid-evening, when he surely knew Knox and Kercher would be staying at the villa for the holidays and could have been there or returned at any time to “catch him in-the-act”?

    3) Surely Guede would have verified that no one was present by circling the cottage and checking if any lights were on in the windows? But Guede “missed” the really easy way in: the balcony in the dark at the rear, used in 2 burglaries in 2009.

    4) If Guede did circle the cottage to make sure no one was there before attempting the break-in, why would he then choose the most visible and more difficult path of entry through a second story window, as opposed to the more hidden and easier path of break-in at the back of the villa, which he would have noticed while circling the villa?

    5) Why would Guede choose to break-in through a second story window that was highly exposed to the headlights of passing cars on the street as well as exposed to night lighting from the carpark?

    6) Ms. Romanelli testified that she had nearly closed the exterior shutters. Assuming her memory is correct, there is no way a burglar could easily verify if the windows were latched and if the inner scuri were latched to the window panes, which would make access to the window latch impractical unless one was armed with a core drill or an ax. Why would Guede, who was certainly familiar with such windows, choose to attempt the break-in through a window that he could not easily verify would allow him quick access?

    7) Assuming the shutters were closed, Guede would have to climb up the wall and open the shutters before smashing the window with the rock. The night of the murder, the grass was wet from rain the previous day. Why was there no evidence of disturbed grass or mud on the walls?

    8) Guede had Nike sneakers, not rock climbing shoes. How did he manage the climb up the wall with that type of footwear?

    9) If the shutters were closed, or somewhat closed, how did Guede manage to lift himself up to the sill with only an inch of sill available to grab onto?

    10) Assuming Guede opened the shutters, how did Guede verify if the inner scuri where not latched to the window panes, which would prevent access to the window latch? There was no light inside Ms. Romanelli’s room to reveal that the scuri were ajar.

    11) Assuming Guede managed to check that the inner scuro behind the right-hand window was not latched, how did he manage to break the glass with a 9 lb rock with one hand while hanging on to the sill with the other?

    12) Assuming Guede managed check that the right-hand inner scuro was not latched, how did he break the glass with the rock without having glass shards fly into his face?

    13) If Guede climbed down to the lob the 9 lb rock at the window from 3 meters below, how would he do so to avoid glass shards raining down on him?

    14) If Guede climbed down to the lob the rock at the window from below, why would he choose a 9 lb 20 cm wide rock to lob up to a window 3 meters above him, with little chance of striking the window in the correct fashion?

    15) If Guede climbed down again and climbed back up to the carpark (up a steep slope with slippery wet grass and weeds) to lob the 9 lb 20 cm wide rock from the car park, why is there no evidence of this second climb down on the walls?

    16) Why did Guede choose a 9 lb 20 cm wide rock to throw from the car park, given that a large, heavy rock would be difficult to lob with any precision? Especially considering that the width of the glass in the window pane is only 28 cm wide, surely anyone, experienced or not, would have chosen a smaller, lighter rock to throw with greater precision.

    17) If Guede lobbed a 9 lb 20 cm rock from the car park, such a lob would require some velocity and therefore force. Guede would have been roughly 11-12 feet away from the window, in order for the lob to clear the wood railing at the carpark. If the rock was thrown with some velocity, why is the upper 1/2 of the glass in the window pane intact, without any fracture cracks at all?

    18) If Guede lobbed a 9 lb 20 cm rock from the car park, such a lob would require some velocity and therefore force. Why is there so little damage to the scuro the rock hit, so little damage to the terrazzo flooring impacted by the rock, and so little damage to the rock itself, which surely would have fractured more on impact with a hard terrazzo floor?

    19) Why was there no evidence of glass shards found in the grass below the window?

    20) If Guede climbed the wall to open the shutters, climbed down and up to the car park to throw the rock, then climbed back down and up again to the window, how does he manage to hoist himself onto the sill without cutting himself on the glass that was found on the sill?

    21) If Guede climbed the wall to open the shutters, hoisted himself onto the sill, tapped the glass with a 9 lb rock to lightly break the glass in a manner more consistent with how the window was broken, why did he throw the rock into the room, rather than let it fall into the grass below?

    22) Why was no dirt, grass, muddy shoeprints or similar trace evidence found on the window sill?

    23) Why was no dirt, grass, muddy shoeprints or similar trace evidence found in Romanelli’s room?

    24) If Guede climbed the wall to open the shutters, climbed down and up to the car park to throw the rock, then climbed back down and up again to the window again, hoisted himself onto the sill without cutting himself on the glass that was found on the sill, unlatched the window and stepped inside Filomena’s room, how did he manage to get glass on top of Romanelli’s clothing that was found under the window sill?

    25) Why would Guede, who would have spent a good 10 minutes trying to break and enter with the climbing up and down from the carpark, waste valuable time throwing clothes from the closet? Why not simply open the closet doors and rifle through the clothes without creating more of mess?

    26) Why did he disregard Romanelli’s laptop, which was in plain view?

    27) Why did Guede check the closet before checking the drawers of the nightstand, where surely more valuable objects like jewelry would be found?

    28) Why were none of the other rooms disturbed during the break-in?

    29) Assuming Ms. Kercher arrived to the cottage after Guede’s break-in, presumably when Guede was in the bathroom, why did she not notice the break-in, call the police and run out of the cottage?

    30) Assuming Guede was in the bathroom when Ms. Kercher returned, why go to the extent of attacking Ms. Kercher in her room rather than try to sneak out the front door, or through the window he had just broken, to avoid if not identification, at least more serious criminal charges?

    31) Assuming Ms. Kercher was at the cottage while Guede broke-in, why did she not call the police the moment she heard the rock crash through the glass, loudly thud to the terrazzo floor and investigate what was happening in Romanelli’s room while Guede was climbing back down from the car park and climbing back up to the window?

    32) Assuming Ms. Kercher was at the cottage while Guede broke-in, Guede could have been on the sill already because he had tapped the glass with the 9 lb rock to break it. Therefore perhaps Guede was already partially inside Romanelli’s room when he was discovered by Ms. Kercher. In this case Guede follows Ms. Kercher to her room in an attempt to dissuade her from calling the police and the assault ensues. But then, if this scenario is correct, when does Guede have time to rifle through Romanelli’s clothing and effects?

    33) Why is there a luminol revealed footprint in Romanelli’s room that has mixed traces of Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA ?

    34) Why does this footprint not match Guede’s foot size?

    35) If multiple attackers were required to restain Ms. Kercher, holding her limbs while brandishing two knives and committing sexual violence, then who else was with Guede and why no traces of this 4th (or more) person(s) were found, either in shoeprints, footprints, fingerprints, DNA or otherwise?

    36) If Guede and others were involved in the assault, why has Guede not acknolwedged them, and instead consistently hinted that, and finally admitting that Sollecito and Knox were with him during the assault?

    37) If Guede and others were involved in the assault, why do the other shoeprints, footprints, DNA traces and fingerprints all point to Knox and Sollecito being present during the assault, in one way or another?


4. Italy Is Not Buying The Racist Mantra

If your racist mantra remains “the black guy did it alone” and “Italians are corrupt and stupid” you need to PROVE that. If you cannot answer all of these questions above, this will deservedly cook you.

You could be facing 30 years with the “mitigating factors” canceled and the new penalties you will incur for your dishonest books and PR campaigns.


[Five easier ways in: 3 via balcony (note two drainpipes, window grid below), 2 via side windows]










Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Appeal Session #1(B) Detailed Report On Enquiries The Court Has Okayed

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above the two co-judges with lead judge Allessandro Nencini reading the case history]

Explanation

The previous post listed what has already been agreed to by the court to guide the appeal. This report which only became available later describes what had been the prosecution and defense requests.

Translation From The Umbria24 website

Meredith, war of requests in the first hearing of the 2nd Appeal

The court has order a new test on the I trace and on the hearing of the witness Luciano Aviello. Rejected all other requests

By Francesca Marruco

After a little over 2 hours in counsel chambers the Florence Court of Appeals has decided to order a new test on the trace evidence of the knife seized in Raffaele Solecitto’s apartment, the weapon presumed to have been used in the murder.

The Court has also decided to hear the witness Luciano Aviello but rejected all the other requests for renewal of investigations presented by the defense. The Court resumes on Friday with Aviello and the assignment of the task of the new genetic analysis to the Carabinieri del Ris of Rome.

[The appeal] this morning in the maxi courtroom no. 32 of the Florence Justice Courthouse, commenced the new appeal for the murder of Meredith Kercher, after the annulment of the acquittal by the Supreme Court.

Present in the courtroom was only Patrick Lumumba. Absent, as expected, were the two appellants, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

- 9:00 Francesco Sollecito, father of Raffaele, says he is tranquil about the outcome of the new trial. Responding to journalists, he specified “The statement of the Supreme Court is compromised by errors committed because the judges did not have full access to all of the proceedings, as they themselves indicated.”

- 9:45 The defense of Knox and Sollecito have asked for the exclusion of the Patrick Lumumba (civil) party because the conviction of Amanda for calunnia has already been passed into final sentence.

This request was opposed by the General Prosecutor Alessandro Crini, and the lawyer of Lumumba. For them the plaintiff’s civil right is legitimate, as the Supreme Court has asked this court to re-evaluate the penalty in light of the finalized sentence of Knox.

The Court retired to counsel chambers to decide, announcing it wanted to decide today on any reopening of the investigation.

- 10:15 The court rejects the request of the defense of Knox and Sollecitto to exclude the civil party Patrick Lumumba, because the Court specifies that, among other things, the offense was not assessed in totality by the trial court.

- 10.50 The President of the Court of Appeals, Allessandro Nencini, is initiating his introductory report, starting from the day of Meredith’s homicide. The judge travels trough the most important passages of the three Courts. Speaking of the trace, secured by the consultants of the second [Hellman] Court, on the knife (considered the weapon of the crime by the first Court) President Nencini said: “It is necessary to underline that the independent consultants had found another trace; but it was not analyzed”.

- 11:15 The President of the Court, Judge Nencini, at the end of the introductory report, said: ” This is an appeal for matters of undeniable seriousness beyond the media spectacularization. Thus the Court is willing to give all possible space for debate to all of the parties, because originally there was a solid verdict, and the actions on which we proceed are of undeniable seriousness”

- 11.25 Raffaele Sollecito defense lawyer Giulia Buongiorno was the first to take the floor.

]Bongiorno:] Sollecito’s defense does not ignore the motivations of Cassazione, and we are in favor of any kind of verification that the Court will order, with the following caveats. This proceeding has always been based on two types of evidence, the testimonial and the technical.  We request that during this proceeding, which we hope to be the last one, that the Court during the next hearings will concentrate only on the truly reliable evidences, putting aside those that are nullified by media conjecture.

Many witness have said things because they have read them or heard them. The proceeding was reopened, but not to collect this type of guesswork. We do not want to inflate this proceeding with new conjectures. We request to examine in depth the crime observed, as emphasized by Cassazione.  In the crime scene room there are copious traces of two of the four claimed present persons, the victim and Rudy Guede who admitted to having been there, and none of the two appelants except on the hook of the victim’s bra.

When the Prosecutor asserts that there are no traces because Amanda and Raffaele cleaned them, we think that this is impossible. For this reason we request to have a evaluation done in order to verify if it is possible to clean selectively…  A Cassazione mistake was that it didn’t notice the entry into the crime scene room before the bra hook was found, so we request the acquisition of two reports [on that].

We want to understand if in a sealed place it is possible to get firm evidence even after the admission by the police of other searches.  We do not request to simply take the hook and to say that it is contaminated, we want to know if in that environment it was possible to collect some genuine evidence, because at the crime scene there were not ten traces of Raffaele but only that one”.

 

A subordinate request by Giulia Buongiorno is that experts, new experts or the ones at the Hellman appeal, will read the electropherograms.  Buongiorno requests the analysis of both of Meredith Kercher’s cell phones that she consider the “black box” of the crime and that they “were never analyzed deep enough by the Corte d’Assise di Perugia” The defense requests also analysis of the presumed sperm trace on Meredith’s pillowcase.

- 12.15   Amanda Knox defense lawyer Carlo Della Vedova takes the floor and raises right away an exception to the judge’s stipulations.  “Are we today able to judge on matters that happened six years ago? Can a person be under proceeding for life? Are we sure that Amanda Knox is an accused like all the others? Is it right, the indefinite delay of this proceeding? For all of this I insist that the Court evaluate the constitutionality.”

- 13.00 The Kercher family’s lawyer produced a letter written by the family members of Meredith that read “We are confident that the evidences will be reexamined and all the requests of more evidences will be granted, in a way that all the unanswered questions will be clarified and that the Court can decide on a future way of action in this tragic case. The past six years have been the most difficult of our lives and we want to find an end and remember Meredith as the girl that she really was rather than remember the horror associated with her”.

-14.00 The General Prosecutor Alessandro Crini says he is against the request of the defense to hear anew from some witnesses, including Rudy Hermann Guede. The same argument Crini voiced for the majority of the requests of the opening introduction presented by the defense. In conclusion, he asked for the the addition of the evaluation of the “I” trace, isolated by the independent experts, but never analyzed because they claimed it was believed to be Low Copy Number. Furthermore the prosecutor asks that the witness Aviello be reheard.

-15:00 The lawyers of the civil part that represent the Kercher family support the request of the General Prosecutor Crini, and opposed the requests of the defense. The lawyer Francesco Maresca said he believes that the defense attempts to frame with a new “dress” evidence that is strong, resistant, and robust, from the findings of the trial court, and that were minimized by the first appeal court. For example, the witness Capezzali.

Also there are newly framed certain requests that are obsolete, that have already been actioned. Like that of the selective cleaning. In the bathroom next to the room of the crime, there were many mixed traces of DNA of Amanda and the blood of Meredith. And the genetic profile of Sollecito, besides on the bra hook, was present only mixed with that of Amanda on a cigarette butt, then how did it migrate, only that one, from the cigarette butt to the bra hook?

- 15:10 The defense of Raffaele Sollecito maintains the request to analyze the “I” trace, but opposes hearing from the witness Luciano Aviello. Buongiorno also pointed out that it is not true that the independent experts of the second court decided automatically to not analyze certain traces, but did so in the presence of the prosecution experts Stefanoni and Novelli and those of the defense.  Carlo Dalla Vedova, for the Knox defense, said that Avelio should be heard only to demonstrate that the police uses him two different ways. Like when Avelio said he knew where the crime weapon was.

- 15.30 The Court retired in council chamber and announced that will not come out before 17.30


Conclusion

Thereafter the court convened again and the decisions were as outlined in our post below this one. Almost all of what the defense had argued for - each of them a stretch if you know the full circumstances - was denied. 

And the two main requests from the prosecution - that Aviello be put back on the stand, and the large knife be retested - were accepted. Ourcomes of these may or may not add to the strength of the prosecution’s case, but seem to offer no prospects of joy for the defenses.


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Questions For Sollecito: Can You Realistically Account For The Bathroom Mat Evidence?

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters




1. Your Attempted Bath Mat Hoax

Let us start this series of questions to you with the bloody bathmat footprint

Specifically how you characterized it at different points in your book as part of your attempted proof that Guede acting alone did the crime.

Here is the full extent of your hoax “proving” that that print was actually from Rudy Guede’s foot.

(a) [Page X11] The intruder was quickly identified as Rudy Guede, an African immigrant living in Perugia with a history of break-ins and petty crimes. His DNA was found all over Meredith’s room, and footprints made in her blood were found to match his shoes.  Everything at the crime scene pointed to a lone assailant, and a single weapon.  Guede repeatedly broke into houses by throwing a rock through a window, as happened here

(b) [page 23] Amanda went ahead with her shower, only to notice a small bloodstain on one of the washbasin taps. It looked like menstrual blood. Was Meredith, who shared the bathroom with her, having some sort of problem? It was unlike her to leave things less than immaculate. Maybe she’d run out to a pharmacy. Then again, it was just one small stain; perhaps she missed it.

(c) [Page 79]  When my defense team examined the official paperwork, they noticed that the analysis of the footprints"including extensive inquiry into the length and shape of the foot likely to have produced them"had been conducted by two members of the Polizia Scientifica in Rome, working not in their official capacity but as private consultants charging thousands of euros to Mignini’s office. One of the analysts, Lorenzo Rinaldi, was a physicist, not a specialist in anatomy, and the other, Pietro Boemia, was a fingerprint technician with no further scientific credentials. That begged the question: if Mignini’s office felt it needed to contract the job out to private consultants, why wouldn’t it go to people with more pertinent qualifications? The whole thing stank.

(d) [page 192]  We didn’t bother to ask for a review of the footprint analysis by Rinaldi and Boemia because we had demonstrated some elementary measuring errors and felt confident that would suffice.


2. Our Analyses Of The Bath Mat Print

(1) Our main poster the Machine

The Machine described at the time how the prosecution and their witnesses did a terrific job on this evidence at trial in May 2009, and how your defense had virtually no comeback at all.

Two bloody footprints were attributed to Raffaele Sollecito. One of them was revealed by luminol in the hallway, and the other one was easily visible to the naked eye on the blue bathmat in Meredith’s and Knox’s shared bathroom.

Lorenzo Rinaldi excluded the possibility that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat was the right size or shape to belong to Knox or Guede instead of Sollecito: “You can see clearly that this bloody footprint on the rug does not belong to Mr. Guede, but you can see that it is compatible with Sollecito.”

Andrea Vogt’s report for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer shows just how meticulous and painstakingly detailed the analysis of the bloody footprints was:

“All the elements are compatible with Mr. Sollecito’s foot,” Rinaldi said, pointing with a red laser to a millimeter-by-millimeter analysis of Sollecito’s footprint projected onto a big-screen in the courtroom. He used similar methods to exclude that the footprint on the bath mat could possibly be Guede’s or Knox’s.

“Those bare footprints cannot be mine,” said Sollecito in a spontaneous statement”¦. But the next witness, another print expert, again confirmed Rinaldi’s testimony, that the print, which only shows the top half of the foot, matches the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot”¦.

Rinaldi’s detailed Powerpoint described methods of image analysis, metric and grid measurement of the ball, toe, heel and arch, as well the particular characteristics of the footprints and shoeprints as well as the actual shoes and feet of Knox, Sollecito and Guede. The three suspects gave their footprints and fingerprints at police headquarters.”

Another print expert also testified that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot.

Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, asked Dr. Stefanoni to confirm that other substances like bleach or fruit juice can also react to luminol.

Dr. Stefanoni acknowledged that they do, but pointed out that biologists who work regularly on crime scenes distinguish easily between the bright blue glow of a blood trace and the much fainter glow from other reactive substances.

(2) Our main poster Kermit

Kermit in effect recreated a version of the Powerpoints which Dr Rinaldi walked the court through, in these Powerpoints here.

You will see they are detailed and very precise, and it is your footprint and not Guede’s footprint which remorselessly emerges on the bathroom mat.

After viewing the damning nature of those slides, read at the end what Kermit concludes: You WERE present at the scene of the crime. You might not have had murderous intent, or wielded the fatal blow, but you and your bare foot were there. 

(3) Our main poster SomeAlibi

SomeAlibi, a trial lawyer, recently warned here that even ONE piece of evidence if firm and inexplicable enough could be enough for a jury to decide to put you away.

There are at least four pieces of evidence that tie you to the scene of the crime: those two footprints, your still-unexplained DNA on Meredith’s bra, and sworn eye-witness testimony of Rudy Guede that he saw you there.

That is in addition to dozens of other evidence points which include cellphone evidence, computer evidence, myriad alibis, an admission that you lied, and another eyewitness account.

SomeAlibi then goes even beyond Kermit in his analysis to show how definitive the identification of YOUR footprint was. See his chart here which leaves zero room for any doubt. He comments on it as follows:

I present here a summarized view of critical evidence which suggests with devastating clarity that Raffaele Sollecito was present the night of the murder of Meredith Kercher. No lengthy text, no alternate versions, just measurements.

This FIRMLY places Sollecito in the very room where Meredith was attacked and killed.

In the small bathroom right next to Meredith’s bedroom was a bathmat. On it was found a bloody naked right footprint of someone walking straight towards the shower in the bathroom. The blood is that of Meredith.

The footprint is not Amanda Knox’s - it is too big - but we can compare it to the prints taken of Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito.

In Judge Massei’s report the multiple measurements were detailed in the narrative over many sentences and, in that form, their immediate cumulative impact is less obvious. It is only by tabulating them, that we are forcefully hit by not one but two clear impressions:

The measurements are extremely highly correlated to the right foot of Raffaele Sollecito in twelve separate individual measurements. In themselves they would be enough for a verdict of guilt in all but a few court cases.

But they also show a manifest LACK of correlation to the right foot of Rudy Guede, the only other male in that cottage on the night. Have a look for yourself.

(4) Our main poster Sara

posted on our Sollecito Book page that you made a false claim in your point (b) above about the obviousness of the bathroom blood stains.

Raffaele tries to underplay the presence of blood in the bathroom by claiming that the print on the bathmat was hardly visible or distinguishable as blood.  Even in his interview with Katie Couric he claimed that it was not obvious that the stain on the bathmat was blood.

The problem? Amanda in her email during the initial days of the investigation says “it was after i stepped out of the shower and onto the mat that i noticed the blood in the bathroom.it was on the mat i was using to dry my feet”

When Knox herself admits that she knew it was blood on the bathmat, why is Sollecito claiming otherwise?

(5) Our main poster Vivianna

Vivianna posted this correction on our Sollecito Book page in response to your claim (c) that the government experts were hired guns - and the wrong ones.

The reality, according to Judge Massei, is quite different. [the experts were:]

1. Dr Lorenzo Rinaldi (Engineer, Principal Technical Director of the State Police, director of the three sections which compose the Identity Division of the ERT - Esperti Ricerca Tracce)

2. Chief Inspector Pietro Boemia of the ERT in Rome

And their tasks involved analyzing both shoeprints and footprints

Sollecito forgets to mention that their first consultancy report, with regard to a footprint left by a Nike shoe, was actually favorable to him.  Unlike a previous analysis which had attributed the shoeprint to him, this team of experts correctly attributed it to Guede. 

However, since the second consultancy task resulted in an identification of a footprint with Sollecito’s, the experts are clearly “out to get him” like everyone else involved in the investigation. It doesn’t seem to occur to Sollecito that if that had been the case, they wouldn’t have bothered to correct the previous consultant’s work on the shoeprints.

(6) Your Own Lawyers At Trial & Appeal

That Rudy Guede had attacked Meredith alone needs proof your own defense lawyers miserably failed to provide at trial, and did the opposite of at the annulled appeal.

At the annulled appeal they put the erratic jailbirds Alessi and Aviello on the stand, in a desperate attempt to explain who were the THREE perps that the crime scene recreation and autopsy had decisively demonstrated attacked Meredith.

3. Your Claims in Part 1: False In All Rspects

Guede was NOT quickly identified, precisely because Knox fingered Patrick only. Knox if anything diverted attention AWAY from Guede as he did in turn from her.

Guede had zero proven history of break-ins and petty crimes, and Judge Micheli became angry at such unfounded claims. Guede had no prior criminal record at all. He had only been back in Perugia for a few weeks after an extended stay up north.

His DNA was not found “all over” Meredith’s room. A major surprise in fact was how few traces of him were found.  The recreation of the crime scene and the autopsy both pointed AWAY FROM a lone assailant, not toward.

From Meredith’s wounds, it was evident that two and perhaps three knives had been used, and not a single weapon. What lone intruder carries or uses two or three knives?

Guede’s shoeprints in blood exit Meredith’s room and lead straight to the front door. There is no evidence at all that he removed his shoe, for whatever reason, and somehow left only ONE footprint several yards from Meredith’s room. .

And all this together with the footprints in blood outside the door matching the feet of both yourself and Knox is why the Supreme Court confirmed Guede’s guilt only “in concorso” (with others).


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Welcome To New Arrivals #1: An Experienced Trial Lawyer Recommends How To Zero In On the Truth

Posted by Some Alibi



[Merediths window is seen on the top floor of the house in the lower foreground]

Welcome To Common Sense

This briefing was first posted with slightly different opening paras at the start of the annulled Hellmann appeal. New arrivals often tell us this helped them the most.

If you’ve come to this website because of the Amanda Knox book and interview, then welcome.  Like all of us who come to this case, you have one key question: did they do it?  The Knox book and interview seriously cherrypick the case, and perhaps haven’t helped you at all.

On the Internet, you will find people who are passionate in their defence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito; and you will find people who are passionate in their support of an exceptionally talented girl who died, of a fine justice system previously untainted by PR, and of the prosecution’s very strong case.

Click here for the rest


Monday, April 08, 2013

Experienced Trial Lawyer: There’s Far More Evidence Than UK/US Courts Need For Guilt

Posted by SomeAlibi




The false claim “there is no evidence”

Some amateur supporters of Knox and Sollecito have committed thousands of hours online to try and blur and obfuscate the facts of the case in front of the general public.

Their goal is simple: to create an overwhelming meme that there is “no evidence” against the accused, and thereby try to create a groundswell of support. Curt Knox and Edda Mellas and Ted Simon have all made this “no evidence” claim many times.

At least some some of the media have eagerly swallowed it.

The amateur PR flunkies make up myriad alternate versions of what created single points of evidence, often xenophobic scare stories designed to trigger emotional reactions, which they hope will be repeated often enough to become accepted as “the truth”.

And where things get really tricky, another time honored tactic is to go on at great length about irrelevant details, essentially to filibuster, in the hope that general observers will lose patience with trying to work it all out.

But time and again we have shown there is actually a great deal of evidence.

Evidence is the raw stuff of criminal cases. Let me speak here as a lawyer. Do you know how many evidence points are required to prove Guilt? One evidence point if it is definitive.

A definitive evidence point

If you’re new to this case or undecided, what is an easy example of ONE definitive evidence item that might stand alone? Might quickly, simply, and overwhelmingly convince you to invest more time into understanding the real evidence, not that distorted by the PR campaign?

In fact we have quite a choice. See the footprint which was second on that list.

Now see the table above. I recommend the use of this table of measurement to avoid the lengthy back and forward of narrative argument which so lends itself to obscuring the truth. I would like to present you with this single table of measurements to give you pause to question whether this line that there is “no evidence” is really true or whether it might be a crafted deception.

I present here a summarized view of critical evidence which suggests with devastating clarity that Raffaele Sollecito was present the night of the murder of Meredith Kercher. No lengthy text, no alternate versions, just measurements.

This FIRMLY places Sollecito in the very room where Meredith was attacked and killed.

In the small bathroom right next to Meredith’s bedroom was a bathmat. On it was found a bloody naked right footprint of someone walking straight towards the shower in the bathroom. The blood is that of Meredith.

The footprint is not Amanda Knox’s - it is too big - but we can compare it to the prints taken of Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito.

In Judge Massei’s report the multiple measurements were detailed in the narrative over many sentences and, in that form, their immediate cumulative impact is less obvious. It is only by tabulating them, that we are forcefully hit by not one but two clear impressions:

The measurements are extremely highly correlated to the right foot of Raffaele Sollecito in twelve separate individual measurements. In themselves they would be enough for a verdict of guilt in all but a few court cases.

But they also show a manifest LACK of correlation to the right foot of Rudy Guede, the only other male in that cottage on the night. Have a look for yourself.

If you were the prosecution, or indeed the jury, and you saw these measurements of Raffaele’s foot versus the print, what would you think? Answer the question for yourself based on the evidence admitted to court.

Then, if you compare further, exactly how plausible do you find it that the measurements of the bloody imprint are Rudy Guede’s instead?

Not only are some of the individual measurements of Rudy’s imprint as much as 30% too small, but the relative proportions of length and breadth measurements are entirely wrong as well, both undershooting and overshooting by a large margin (70% to 150%).

Conclusions that must follow

Presented with those numbers, would you consider those measurements of Rudy Guede’s right foot to show any credible correlation to those of the footprint on the mat?

Supporters of the two have tried frantically to create smoke screen around this - the wrong technique was used they say (ruled not so by the court) / they are the wrong measurements (all 32 of them? that Raffaele’s are matching exactly or within a millimetre but Rudy’s are out by as much as -30% to +50%...?).

The severity of the impact on the defence is such that there was even a distorted photoshopped version circulated by online supporters of Raffaele and Amanda until they were caught out early on in coverage. But it is hopeless, because these are pure measurement taken against a scale that was presented in court and the data sits before you.

Have a look at the measurements and understand this was evidence presented in court. Whose foot do you think was in that bathroom that night? Rudy Guede? Or was it Raffaele Sollecito on twelve counts of measurement?

And if you find for the latter, you must consider very seriously what that tells you both about the idea there is “no evidence” in this case and who was in the cottage that night…


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Hellmann-Zanetti Appeal Court’s DNA Consultancy Looks Even Worse In Face Of The Latest Science

Posted by Fly By Night



[Above: images of typical modern analysis DNA facilities similar to Dr Stefanoni’s in Rome]


The Galati appeal to Cassation comes down very strongly against the work and conclusions of the appeal court’s DNA consultants Vecchiotti and Conti.

Dr. Galati argues that the consultancy should never have happened at appeal level, that its methods were slipshod and out of date, that its conclusions were mainly innuendo that left the prosecution case untouched, and that the consultants should not have refused to test a remaining sample from the large knife collected at Sollecito’s place.

In July 2011, about the midpoint of the appeal trial, I took strong issue with the C&V science and essentially mirrored in advance what Dr. Galati would argue to Cassation nearly a year later. Many other TJMK posters including our legal posters James Raper and Cardiol took issue with legal and other aspects.

With a Supreme Court ruling on the 2nd level (first appeal level) outcome scheduled for early next week, it’s the perfect time to re-examine the role of DNA in that outcome against the latest science. I want to include some excellent observations from our contributing poster “Thoughtful” as expressed in her recently published book Math on Trial.

I’ll start off with an overview of the science of DNA analysis and describe recent developments in analysis approaches, techniques and capabilities.  Incidentally, one of my resources for this information is a chapter in “DNA Electrophoresis Protocols for Forensic Genetics” published shortly after the Hellmann verdict for the first appeal (circa early 2012); a chapter in which Carla Vecchiotti is cited as providing technical assistance.

Given Vecchiotti’s involvement in recent academic publications we can be certain that at the time of the Hellmann verdict Vecchiotti was well aware of the rapidly evolving and improving nature of DNA testing procedures and capabilities.  And in contrast to her courtroom allegations that Dr. Stefanoni had not followed “internationally established forensic science standards” in her DNA analysis techniques, Vecchiotti has recently contributed to sources claiming that today’s critical challenge is to develop general guidelines for DNA evaluation and promulgate clear and universal laboratory practices while recognizing that a multitude of labs exist, each with its own specific protocols and personnel.

We will return to the Conti-Vecchiotti report shortly, but first let’s have a quick look at the history and state-of-the-art of DNA analysis.


Brief History of DNA Testing

The literature reveals that the USA has never been at the forefront of forensic DNA analysis.  The first court cases to successfully employ DNA “fingerprinting” techniques occurred in England during the mid 1980s.  A case involving a double rape/homicide of teenage girls in 1986 turned out to be prophetic in that it involved the first use of DNA to exonerate an innocent suspect and also was the first to apply DNA “databases”, issues which still give rise to disputes nearly 30 years later.

Over time, a variety of procedures were developed to extract DNA from biological samples but all worked on the same basic principle of breaching individual cell walls, removing the protein surrounding the DNA, isolating the DNA, and finishing with the purification and quantification of the DNA.

An important milestone in DNA fingerprinting was the development of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in 1985.  The PCR quickly became an important analytical method for forensic samples because of its sensitivity, specificity, rapid analysis, and ease of automation.  PCR amplification technology permitted the analysis of forensic samples with low quantities (less than 1 ng) of extracted DNA, unlike earlier methods that required at least 50 ng.

While PCR was far more sensitive than earlier procedures, problems with mixed DNA samples and DNA degradation led to the use of genetic markers known as Short Tandem Repeats (STR). STR analyses were fast and reactions could be multiplexed permitting multiple loci to be amplified in a single run.

In 1997 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory in the USA launched an effort to establish a set of 13 core STR loci for use within a national DNA database known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).  Similar sets of STR markers had already been selected by the European Union and elsewhere but, in general, a DNA profile obtained using 12 or more STR loci was found to yield a composite genotype frequency of less than 1 in a quadrillion.  This high degree of accuracy results from the hereditary nature of STR distribution and enables a very powerful method for biological identifications.

STR typing of extracted DNA has traditionally been very sensitive to the quantity of input DNA with ideal levels ranging from 0.5 to 2 ng.  Either too little or too much DNA could produce imbalanced amplification results resulting in incomprehensible outcomes.  The STR process is further complicated by “stutter” in the interpretation of multiple contributor DNA samples.  Stutter is an artifact of the PCR process that produces “false alleles” one repeat shorter than a primary allele.

In recent years DNA analysis techniques have evolved rapidly as equipment manufacturers upgrade STR systems to tolerate even the smallest of samples and samples that have been highly degraded.  The improved sensitivity of today’s STR kits along with the development of new strategies for the amplification of low levels of DNA now allows samples which previously could not be analyzed to produce viable results.

Low-level DNA samples often contain mixtures of DNA, which has complicated the detection and interpretation process due to stochastic sampling effects that include peak imbalance, enhanced stutter, allele loss (allele drop-out), and un-attributable alleles (allele drop-in).  With this in mind, strict guidelines have been developed including a careful determination of analytical thresholds and the use of replicate analyses in a profile to properly interpret low-level mixed-DNA samples.  More importantly, new analytical techniques such as laser micro-dissection and fluorescence in-situ hybridization have been developed enabling the identification, capture, and amplification of DNA from individual cells prior to “electrophoresis”, eliminating the problem of mixed profiles altogether.

In addition to today’s far more precise DNA analysis machines and methods there are also compelling arguments for the use of statistical or probabilistic models within the DNA analysis process to augment traditional “consensus allele” electropherogram evaluation approaches.  In short, the efforts of both scientists and statisticians are now creating powerful next generation approaches to DNA analyses as we progress through a second decade of highly successful STR typing methodologies.


Logic and Science on Trial

In my 2011 report I challenged Carla Vecchiotti’s contention that Dr. Stefanoni had not followed “internationally established forensic science standards” in her DNA analysis techniques.  Vecchiotti herself has conceded to the challenge through her contributions to publications that clearly describe a need to develop generally accepted guidelines for DNA evaluation and to create clear and universal laboratory practices that can be accepted by the diverse population of analytical labs currently operating under divergent operational protocols, all under the direction of professional and expert personnel.

In her excellent and recently published Math on Trial book, contributing poster “Thoughtful” accurately describes how DNA analysis expert Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni proceeded in her laboratory analysis of a small DNA sample found on the blade of a knife confiscated from Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment.  Not having what she felt was a sufficient sample to divide for replication of her analysis Dr. Stefanoni took the chance of running her entire sample in a single run.

As is typical of all DNA analyses, Stefanoni proceeded to amplify the results to a point where an electropherogram would reveal meaningful “peaks” and found that a resultant 13 pairs of peaks corresponded precisely to peaks derived from a known sample of Meredith Kercher’s DNA!

In this case it is pointless to attempt to argue that Stefanoni somehow exceeded the amplification limits of her equipment.  As outlined in the DNA discussion above, the typical problems associated with an amplification of low levels of DNA are related to peak imbalances, enhanced stutter, allele drop-outs, or allele drop-ins.  In this case there was nothing but a perfect match for Meredith that even Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti could not deny in court.

Stefanoni had clearly identified an identical match for Meredith’s DNA on the blade of Sollecito’s kitchen knife, leaving Vecchiotti and Conti no other option than to argue for “contamination” in court.  However, it was convincingly demonstrated by Stefanoni and all evidence handlers that from knife collection through laboratory analysis no reasonable opportunity for contamination with Meredith’s DNA existed.

In the first appeal trial, Judge Hellmann was thus presented with exceptionally compelling evidence that Meredith’s DNA was in fact found on the alleged murder weapon that had been confiscated from Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment.  Astonishingly, Hellmann rejected this evidence on an expressed assumption of non-compliance with testing techniques established by international scientific community standards; compliance standards that Vecchioti herself admits do not exist via recent academic and scientific publications as discussed above.

As “Thoughtful” carefully explains in Math on Trial, Hellmann’s faulty reasoning in excluding the knife evidence did not end there.  Hellmann provided Vecchiotti and Conti with an opportunity to retest any remaining DNA on the knife if they felt it was warranted.  Vecchiotti and Conti declined to perform any retests on the basis that that only a few cells might still exist on the knife, thus invalidating any potential results according to a false assumption that “international testing standards” somehow prohibited such low-level DNA tests even though, as outlined in the DNA discussion above, single-cell DNA analysis had at that time already become an acceptable possibility and Vecchiotti knew it.

Hellmann, however, accepted Vecchiotti and Conti’s reasoning by essentially stating that repeating an “invalid” DNA analysis procedure twice can do nothing towards resolving a DNA identification problem because two wrongs do not make a right.  In Math on Trial, “Thoughtful” artfully explains the complete failure of logic of Hellmann’s line of reasoning.  Hellmann claims that running an experiment independently two separate times and obtaining the same result each time can do absolutely nothing towards increasing the assurance of reliability for an event.

However, “Thoughtful” describes how successfully repeating Stefanoni’s low-level DNA analysis technique could easily carry a probabilistic result from a “not beyond a reasonable doubt” percentage range to a highly convincing 98.5% or higher probability.  “Thoughtful’s” arguments in Math on Trial are completely in line with today’s efforts to embed statistical and probabilistic models within the DNA analysis process for a much higher precision and accuracy standard.


Conclusions

In 2011 I concluded that Vecchiotti and Conti’s expert report findings actually boiled down to two primary debates: (1) Issues surrounding the small sample (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.

In 2013, on the eve of the Court of Cassation ruling on the first appeal outcomes of the Meredith Kercher murder trial, it appears to me that all issues related to DNA analysis and contamination have been powerfully addressed by both the prosecution and “best available science” considerations. 

The errors in Judge Hellmann’s logic and reasoning that set Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito free have been shown to be plentiful and astounding, as evidenced by the few DNA related examples that have been examined in this report.  In light of all of the above and the powerful legal arguments raised by the Galati appeal to Cassation, it seems that there can be no other option than to send this appeal outcome back for a thorough lower court re-evaluation.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Disarray And Decay In The Pro-Knox Parade: Bruce Fischer’s Epidemic Of Malicious Claims

Posted by The Machine




The Knox supporters’ leader-of-the-parade spirals up

Back in October 2008, in our first long post ever on Meredith’s case, Skeptical Bystander highlighted the crazed pro-Knox attack sharks that were starting to appear on Candace Dempsey’s blog.

Psychologists warned us that a competitive leader-of-the-parade spiral was wittingly or unwittingly being encouraged by the Curt Knox/David Mariott/Anne Bremner campaign, and that this could be far from the worst we’d see.

Sure enough, late in 2008, Frank Sforza (timidly posting anonymously as “Frank Sfarzo”) did a u-turn on his blog Perugia Shock from nicely supporting Meredith and the prosecution to angrily supporting Amanda Knox and vilifying the prosecution and pro-Meredith sympathizers. (A u-turn for which he now pays dear.)

At a West Seattle Knox fundraiser in January 2009 a really angry Paul Ciolino wowed the crowd with red meat. He attempted to leapfrog all the other pro-Knox hotheads with a vicious personal attack on the prosecution. Ciolino sounded so crazed that even Amanda Knox’s defense lawyers had to distance themselves from him.

Soon after, Doug Preston, long a timid sniper safe on the other side of the Atlantic from Italy, published his angry, error-ridden Monster of Florence with its surreal Afterword on Meredith’s case.

From that point on, slamming the Italian police and police experts and prosecution without any restraint (for which there has been zero parallel in US or UK legal history) became a cowardly passion across the Atlantic which any ill-informed hothead could play. The Italian MP Rocco Girlanda next leaped to the head of the parade with easy access to Knox in prison, and some of his slobberings were so bizarre that even the Knox-Mellases for once thought to check that supporter out.

Fischer attempts to elbow his way to the front

First mention of “Bruce Fisher of New York” on Perugia Murder File was in a comment by myself on 7 March 2010. Even back then, Fischer had a whole handful of basic facts about the case wrong but heeded no advice.

Fischer arrived after the 2009 Massei trial was done, and from that time on he tried to absolutely dominate the pro-Knox parade. His fundamental effort is to muddy the water on the hard evidence and inflame American public against Italy and its cops, court, and ustice officials.

Such inflammatory actions are in fact illegal under Italian law and especially so when very senior justice officials are falsely accused of crimes.

Fischer wrote a joke of a book, the very worst on the case. He has posted endless badly-written posts on his own websites and forums, with no correction when they proved wrong.

He also posted endless badly-written posts on other blogs and group blogs like Technorati (evicted), Gather (evicted) and Ground Report, with no correction when they proved wrong. And he posted dozens of videos on Youtubes with no correction when they proved wrong.

Fischer set out to hijack the Amanda Knox Wikipedia page, which to knowledgeable Italians now looks absolutely bizarre. He recruited a raft-full of confused and uncurious nitwits like Steve Moore, Nigel Scott, Ron Hendry, David Anderson, Saul Kassin, and Michael Wiesner.

All of them are now lesser people than they once were.

Fischer is clearly a clinically deeply angry man (he has in his past little education, a disaster of a career, several bankruptcies, and a house repossession) so not unexpectedly most of Fischer’s prolific output has been in the form of vicious personal rants.

Revealed 18 months ago to be merely Bruce Fischer, a shop assistant in a mall store on the far outskirts of Chicago, with not a single honorable accomplishment to his name, he chilled somewhat. But his personal rants all still remain online, and so does his epidemic of wrong claims.

Lately he has been trying frenetically to shore up the edifice of the seemingly unstable Frank Sforza. Sforza is now on the run from the American law and facing several trials in Italy; Sforza’s own site has fled behind the scenes.

This first post in the series nails 20 of Fischer’s malicious claims intended to inflame public opinion against the police and prosecution which he has long pushed hard on his websites and other websites and forums.

Bruce Fischer on Amanda Knox’s interrogation

On his website under the heading The Illegal Interrogation of Amanda Knox, Bruce Fisher gives what appears to be a very detailed eyewitness account of what happened to Amanda Knox when she was questioned at the police station on 5 November 2007.

The problem is Bruce Fischer wasn’t actually present when Knox was questioned and he doesn’t know what happened. His account is repeatedly contradicted by numerous witnesses who were actually present. These witnesses include Amanda Knox’s interpreter, Anna Donnino, numerous police officers from different units from Perugia and Rome and Amanda Knox.


Malicious Claim 1: Amanda Knox repeatedly told the truth

Bruce Fischer’s claim that Amanda Knox repeatedly told the truth is complete and utter nonsense. Even a simpleton could understand that Amanda Knox’s repeated claims that Diya Lumumba killed Meredith are not true and that it’s not possible for her to be in two different places - Sollecito’s apartment and the cottage on Via della Pergola - at the same time.

Judge Micheli, who presided over Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial and sent Knox and Sollecito to trial, noted that they had given multiple alibis and had lied in attempt to cover for each other.  The mobile phone records, the data recovered from Sollecito’s computer and the corroborative eyewitness testimony provide irrefutable proof that she lied repeatedly.

Judge Massei outlined numerous examples of these lies in his report: she falsely claimed she received a text message from Diya Lumumba when she was at Sollecito’s apartment (322); there are various discrepancies in her statements about the time she and Sollecito ate dinner (78); her claim that she and Sollecito had a peaceful night of continuous and prolonged sleep is contradicted by Sollecito’s activity on his computer, the turning on of his cell phone and the testimony of Marc Quintavalle (85).

Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, conceded that she had given conflicting accounts to the police:

All of the lawyers have imposed on Amanda the gravity of her situation, and the gravity of accusing other people. They have all told her that she needs to tell the truth because there have been differences in the statements.

According to Anna Donnino, her interpreter, she denied responding to a text message from Lumumba.

She had denied responding to an SMS message from Mr Lumumba telling her there was no need to come to work because there were few customers, leaving her free for the evening. But she broke down when police said phone records showed that she had done so, Ms Donnino said.


Malicious Claim 2: The interrogation of Amanda Knox was illegal

No court in Italy has ever ruled that any of Amanda Knox’s questioning on 5 and 6 November 2007 was illegal. This explains why Bruce Fischer is unable to support his claim with any reference to a court ruling.


Malicious Claim 3: Amanda Knox was told Diya Lumumba killed Meredith and she did not give Patrick’s name to the police. His name was suggested to her.

According to the corroborative testimony of multiple witnesses, including her interpreter Anna Donnino, Amanda Knox voluntarily and spontaneously accused Patrick Lumumba of murdering Meredith.

After hearing and weighing up the testimony of these witnesses and Amanda Knox, Judge Massei stated that it couldn’t be claimed that “Amanda Knox was persuaded by the investigators to accuse Diya Lumumba aka Patrick, by means of various pressing requests which she could not resist.” (The Massei report, page 388.)

He noted that there had been “no corroboration of the pressing requests which Amanda was seemingly subjected to in order to accuse Diya Lumumba of the crime committed to the detriment of Meredith.” (389).

Judge Massei concluded that Knox had freely accused Diya Lumumba of Meredith’s murder.


Malicious Claim 4: Amanda Knox was slapped on the back of the head.

All the witnesses who were present when Knox was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at the trial that she wasn’t hit. Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, distanced himself from these allegations:

There were pressures from the police, but we never said she was hit.


Malicious Claim 5: This abuse went on for hours until Amanda was finally broken.

Leaving aside Fischer’s unsubstantiated claim that Amanda Knox was abused for hours, she was questioned for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes on 5 November 2007. According to Barbie Nadeau Amanda Knox’s questioning started at about 11.00pm:

Since Knox was at the police station, the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m.

Knox questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect and made her first witness statement. She wasn’t actively questioned again that night. Mignini later witnessed another statement but no questions were asked.


Malicious Claim 6: Amanda Knox was suffering from extreme exhaustion with no food or water.

A number of witnesses who were present when Knox was questioned, testified that Knox was given something to eat and drink. Even Amanda Knox admitted this was the case in court.

Ms Napoleoni told the court that while she was at the police station Ms Knox had been ‘treated very well. She was given water, camomile tea and breakfast. She was given cakes from a vending machine and then taken to the canteen at the police station for something to eat.’ (Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009).

Also from Richard Owens in The Times.

Ms Donnino said that Ms Knox had been “comforted” by police, given food and drink, and had at no stage been hit or threatened.

John Follain in his meticulous book Death in Perugia also reports that Knox was given food and drink during her questioning:

During the questioning, detectives repeatedly went to fetch her a snack, water, and hot drinks including camomile tea. (Death in Perugia, Kindle edition, page 134).



Malicious Claim 7: The Italian Supreme Court stated that the interrogation was illegal because Amanda did not have an attorney present.

The Italian Supreme Court has never stated that Amanda Knox’s questioning on 5 November 2007 was illegal. Bruce Fischer eventually admitted this was not true on PMF.net

When it comes to the admissibility of the written statements, you are technically correct. The interrogation itself was never ruled illegal.

However, he still hasn’t corrected this Malicious Claim on his website.


Malicious Claim 8: Sollecito couldn’t support Knox’s alibi because he was sleeping.

Bruce Fisher’s claim that Sollecito was only speaking about when he was sleeping is completely contradicted by Sollecito’s witness statement:

Amanda and I went into town at around 6pm, but I don’t remember what we did. We stayed there until around 8.30 or 9pm.

At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner. (Aislinn Simpson, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2007).

Police said Raffaele Sollecito had continued to claim he was not present on the evening of the murder. He said: “I went home, smoked a joint, and had dinner, but I don’t remember what I ate. At around eleven my father phoned me on the house phone. I remember Amanda wasn’t back yet. I surfed on the Internet for a couple of hours after my father’s phone call and I stopped only when Amanda came back, about one in the morning I think. (The Times, 7 November 2007).

At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment.

Knox maintains that she spent the night of Nov. 1, 2007, at Sollecito’s house. Sollecito did not take the stand during this trial, and his lawyer told NEWSWEEK that it was, at least in part, because he could not corroborate Knox’s alibi. (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).


Malicious Claim 9: Amanda Knox gave in to the interrogators demands by describing an imaginary dream or vision.

Contrary to Bruce Fisher’s claims that Knox described an imaginary dream or vision, Amanda Knox makes no mention of an imaginary dream or vision in her two witness statements. She categorically states that she met Diya Lumumba at Piazza Grimana and that they went to the cottage on Via della Pergola. In her first witness statement, she claims that Lumumba killed Meredith.

Bruce Fischer on the double DNA knife


Malicious Claim 10: No other knives were taken from Raffaele’s apartment.

Fischer makes yet another demonstrably Malicious Claim. He clearly hasn’t read the Massei report in its entirety because Judge Massei discusses a jack-knife that was 18cm long with an 8cm blade at some length and the results of the DNA tests that were carried out on it:

He (Armando Finzi) recalled they found another knife whose total length was 18cm, with an 8cm. blade… (106).

On the jack”‘knife, 4 samples were taken, with negative results where blood-derived substances had been looked for; on the fourth sample, which involved the handle, the genetic profile was found to be of Sollecito plus Knox…

Four samples were taken from the jack-knife and only one yielded a positive genetic result: the sample taken from the belt clip. The trace did not turn out to be blood and it yielded a mixed genetic result: Sollecito plus Knox. To confirm the presence of result the Y profile of Sollecito. (194).

Andrea Vogt reported that another knife was taken into evidence in article for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A small knife was taken into evidence from Sollecito’s bedroom, along with other items.  (Andrea Vogt, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 February 2009).


Malicious Claim 11: The knife was chosen from the drawer because it looked clean.

Fischer is desperately trying to discredit the police investigation by dismissively and falsely claiming that the knife was chosen because it simply looked clean. Armando Finzi was the police officer who bagged the knife. He testified that he thought it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound on Meredith’s neck. Andrea Vogt explained this in the same article:

Armando Finzi, an assistant in the Perugia police department’s organized crimes unit, first discovered the knife in Sollecito’s kitchen drawer. He said the first thing he noticed upon entering the place was a “strong smell of bleach.” He opened the drawer and saw “very shiny and clean” knife lying on top of the silverware tray.

“It was the first knife I saw,” he said. When pressed on cross-examination, said his “investigative intuition” led him to believe it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound as it had been described to him. With gloved hands, he placed the knife in a new police envelope, taped it shut with Scotch tape, then placed it inside a folder, he said. There were smaller and bigger knives in the drawer, but no others were taken into evidence from the kitchen, he said.

(Andrea Vogt, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 February 2009).


Malicious Claim 12: No DNA was on the blade.

Bruce Fischer’s bizarre claim that there was no DNA on the blade is contradicted by numerous DNA experts. Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA Unit of the Scientific Police, Professor Francesca Torricelli, former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano and Professor Novelli have all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife.

Even Greg Hampikian and Elizabeth Johnson’s letter confirm that the DNA on the blade of the knife was consistent with Meredith’s DNA. Carla Vecchiotti also acknowledged that there was a complete DNA profile on the knife, but claimed it was unreliable because it should have been tested two or three times.

After categorically stating that there was no DNA on the blade, Fischer goes on to claim that the DNA on the blade came from the laboratory. However, Dr Stefanoni analyzed the traces on the knife six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. This means that contamination couldn’t have occurred in the laboratory. In court, Carla Vecchiotti accepted that six days was sufficient to avoid contamination.


Malicious Claim 13: No additional testing will ever be available.

Professor Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories with cutting-edge technology that could have carried out a test on the remaining DNA on the knife. (Galati-Costaglio Appeal, UK Version, page 26).


Malicious Claim 14: No control tests were done

John Follain points out in Death in Perugia that the control tests had been filed with another judge:

The tests had been filed with an earlier test, and Judge Pratillo Hellmann later admitted them as evidence. (Death in Perugia, Kindle Edition, page 409).

Forensic scientists Professor Novelli and Emiliano Giardina specifically who were consultants for the prosecution stated in an article in an Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotiano that the negative control were performed and these tests excluded the possibility that Meredith’s bra clasp was contaminated in the laboratory.

Bruce Fischer on the bra clasp


Malicious Claim 15: They (the Scientific Police officers) pass it (the bra clasp) around with contaminated gloves.

How could Bruce Fischer possibly know that these gloves were contaminated? He is not a forensic scientist. He didn’t quote any DNA tests on the gloves. There is no evidence that these gloves were contaminated and predictably Fischer provides no scientific findings to support his assertion.

Bruce Fischer on the Luminol footprints


Malicious Claim 16: None of the bare footprints detected with luminol tested positive for Meredith’s DNA.

Bruce Fischer gets his facts wrong for the umpteenth time and proves that he’s ignorant of the facts concerning the DNA evidence. The Luminol footprint in the corridor contained Meredith’s DNA. This information is contained in the Massei report:

Amanda (with her feet stained with Meredith’s blood for having been present in her room when she was killed) had gone into Romanelli’s room and into her [own] room leaving traces [which were highlighted] by Luminol, some of which (one in the corridor, the L8, and one, the L2, in Romanelli’s room) were mixed, that is, constituted of a biological trace attributable to [both] Meredith and Amanda”¦ (380).


Malicious Claim 17: “Yet the court concluded Amanda purchased bleach anyway.”

Judge Massei made no such claim. On the contrary, he argued that the fluorescence given off by Luminol was due to the presence of blood, not bleach (284).

To support his argument that bleach had not been used to clean the cottage, he pointed out no-one entering the house had not noticed any smell of bleach (283) and noted that if bleach had been used to clean the house, many traces would have been highlighted by the Luminol (284).


Malicious Claim 18: Quintavalle states that he only saw the side of Amanda’s face.

This claim is completely untrue. Galati pointed out in his appeal that Quintavalle’s own witness statement contradicts this claim:

A further observation on which the CAA bases its assessment of unreliability (thus, of low reliability) appears completely arbitrary, because contradicted by the statements of the witness. Quintavalle would have seen the young woman out of the corner of the eye and never from the front.

From the examination of the statements made by Quintavalle in the first instance trial completely different facts emerge because Quintavalle affirms what was referred to by the Court of Assizes on p. 71, when the young woman was still outside the store (cf. transcripts of the hearing 21 March 2009, p. 72) adding: “this young woman when she came inside, I looked at her to greet her; I mean I saw her at a distance of one metre, 70-80 cm”.  (Galati-Costaglio Appeal, UK Version, page 39).


Malicious Claim 19: “He (Curatolo) said Amanda and Raffaele were chattering from about 9:30 pm to right before midnight on the basketball court near the cottage.”

Antonio Curatolo clarified in court that he didn’t watch Knox and Sollecito the whole time in Piazza on the night of the murder. Barbie Nadeau reported that he saw them on a couple of occasions:

...he (Curatolo) placed Amanda and Raffaele there, testifying that the two stood at the gate and watched the house around 9:30pm and again at around 10:30pm on November 1.  (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, Kindle edition, page 116).


Malicious Claim 20: “During closing arguments, after all of his different theories had fallen apart, Mignini told the jury: “There is no motive.”

Mignini never told the jury that “there is no motive”. Barbie Nadeau pointed out that the prosecutors had changed their theory, but only rather slightly:

The prosecution lawyers began their case in January 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. When it came time for closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred” A sex attack was still involved.


The Knox supporters’ leader-of-the-parade spirals down

Only 20 Malicious Claims are taken apart above but there are at least several hundred more. When you consider the sheer number of Malicious Claims that Fischer has made and how much these claims differ from the actual hard truths, you cannot trust anything he says.

And yet many of Fischer’s Malicious Claims have been unquestioningly widely accepted as fact, and have been repeated by many in the media. For example, Journalist Nathaniel Rich stated that Sollecito claimed that Knox could not have left his apartment for several hours while he was sleeping. A key Fischer claim.

More of Nathaniel Rich’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Steve Moore’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Saul Kassin’s paroting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here.  Michael Wiesner’s parotting of Fischer’s claims is dismembered here. 

The credibility of Bruce Fischer and his disastrous leadership of the Knox parade have been completely shot to pieces. Any journalists who use Bruce Fischer as a source in the future should hang their heads in shame.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How Much Or How Little To Blame Rudy Guede? The Defenses’ Immense Headache Coming Up

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Photo by Andrea Vogt as in December 2010 Supreme Court decides that Rudy Guede didnt act alone]


On a scale of 0% to 100% how much of the blame for the crime against Meredith has been heaped on Rudy Guede?

Well, it sure varies.

In trial court and first-appeal court it was never ever 100%. Seemingly very scared of the harm Guede could do to their clients, if they provoked him into telling all, defense lawyers have acted consistently since 2008 and more-so since December 2010 as if they walk on eggshells around him.

In fact among the defendants and their teams only ONCE was Guede ever blamed 100%. 

Sollecito’s bizarrely-titled Honor Bound 2012 book, the factually unchecked one which now is causing him and his defense team so much trouble, was the first instance ever among those accused to try to blame Guede for the crime 100%.

Our next post will look at the categoric claims against Guede in that book. Meanwhile, here, let us start at the beginning.

Commencing from when they were arrested, Amanda Knox pointed decisively at a black man, but of course she pointed at the wrong one: Patrick Lumumba. Make that 0%. Not long after they were arrested, Knox and Sollecito were strongly questioning the role of one another. So 100% against each other, but still a zero against Mr Guede.

In his messages from Germany Guede blamed two hasty intruders though he had no choice but to say he was there. Perhaps 33% at this point.  After Guede was captured, Sollecito implied that they were at the crime scene together because he was worried that Guede would implicate him. Make that 50%.

At Guede’s short-form trial In October 2008, Judge Micheli blamed Guede 33% too. In sending Knox and Sollecito to full trial he dismissed the lone wolf theory (never really to be revived in court again) and he tentatively believed the evidence pointed to their being equally guilty.

In fact Judge Micheli tentatively blamed Knox for instigating both the attack on Meredith and the rearrangement of the crime scene.  In effect he allocated 50% of the blame to Amanda Knox and 25% each to Guede and Sollecito. 

Throughout trial in 2009 the Knox and Sollecito defense teams seemed to take great care not ever to blame Guede 100%, perhaps because (for murky reasons not made public) Rudy Guede had refused to testify against their clients.

Judge Massei assigned Guede 33% of the blame as he concluded that Guede had initiated the attack but that Knox and Sollecito had wielded the knives and that one of them had struck the final blow. 

During trial and thereafter, the defense lawyers for the three were often on Italian TV and as our main poster the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria exhaustively charted in a four-part series, each “gently” blamed the other two.

We can assume that is either 33% or 50% but never more than that.

On February 24. 2011, in the Supreme Court report, on its rejection of Guede’s final appeal of his sentence for involvement in killing Meredith, blamed Rudy Guede and two others equally. Some 33% of the blame each.

The Supreme Court relied upon three facts: the physical evidence of Guede’s presence at the flat, Guede’s actual admission of his presence, and Guede’s implicit admission of shared-guilt in his documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 (“I was scared that they would say I was the only guilty person”).

In a nutshell, the situation at the start of the Sollecito and Knox appeal before Judges Hellmann and Zanetti in 2011 was this:

  • The Supreme Court had decided that Rudy Guede acting ALONE could not have attacked Meredith with several knives over an estimated 15 minutes, left so little physical evidence upon her, staged the break-in via the absurd route of Filomena’s window while leaving zero DNA in her room, placed Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, engineered several traces of Knox’s and Sollecito’s footprints outside the room, and placed the mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox in several different locations outside Meredith’s locked door.
  • But there remains zero evidence that perps two and three which the physical evidence strongly pointed to were anyone other than Knox and Sollecito. There’s really not one speck of hard evidence to the contrary. Defenses somewhat desperately tried to engineer some at first appeal from the seemingly perjured testimony of jailbirds Alessi and Aviello and some smoke-blowing over the DNA testing, but in terms of HARD evidence came up empty-handed. Alessi did a meltdown on the stand, while Aviello turned completely cuckoo, and Judges Hellmann and Zanetti had to invent arguments frantically to dig Knox and Sollecito out of that hole.

I have done a series of posts (to be read from the bottom upward) on the Hellmann-Zanetti outcome covering many other aspects of their strange arguments.

Back in late 2010 some of us at TJMK were impressed at the alacrity with which Judge Hellman selected Conti and Vecchiotti.

We were thinking that “he had already thought it all out” [we seem to have got that-much right], and that he was “being prudently responsive to the legal and political pressures bearing down on him, and knows the ruling also calls the defendants’ bluff.”

I had posted that the defenses of Knox and Sollecito seemed to be trying to exclude evidence that they themselves tried to destroy, essentially on the grounds that their destructive attempts failed to destroy all of it, and left behind only some of it.  Their argument had boiled down to whether the disputed DNA evidence is more unfairly prejudicial than probative.

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

I had thought that was what the Massei Court had already done, and was what the Hellmann/Zanetti court was then doing. The Hellmann/Zanetti court was doing that - but that was not all it was doing, as we now know and regret.

I had believed that the defendants would bitterly regret their petition for such DNA Expert-Opinion Review.  We should know in March 2013 if they regret it at all, let alone “˜bitterly’. So far they may not, but Sollecito’s current venture into special-pleading journalism in his book seems likely to accelerate their journey to a bitter and regretted destiny.

We were less impressed with how Judge Zanetti started the appeal hearings.

To his eternal discredit Judge Zenetti uttered words to the effect that “the only thing that is “˜certain’ in Meredith’s case is that Meredith is dead.” Nothing else. In effect, illegally promising a whole new trial at appeal level - very much frowned on by the Supreme Court.

Unless the word “˜thing’ is a mistranslation, that is not the only thing that was already certain in Meredith’s Case; Many Things were then certain in her case. 

For example, it is certain that the first-ever documented references to Meredith’s scream just before she was killed had already come both from the mouth of Amanda Knox herself, and from the hand of Amanda Knox, in the case of her contemporaneous personal hand-written notes.

Guede, himself, had certainly already made a documented reference to Meredith’s scream.

It was also certain that Guede had made documented references to his actual presence when Meredith screamed.

Some of these already-certain facts inconveniently undermined Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s already-assumed conclusions, so they then proceeded in-turn to undermine the “˜reliability’ of those facts, e.g. “˜it is not certain that the scream was Meredith’s scream; it could have been someone-else’s scream’; or even Amanda’s scream?

The Massei court had exhaustively presented the evidence from all sources in their conclusion that Knox and Sollecito were the ones who shared Guede’s guilt. But Hellmann/Zanetti then contradicted ALL the previous finders-of-fact with regard to Guede, essentially using five ploys in arguing:

  • That Guede was Unreliable: “for example, in the questioning before the Prosecutor, he denies being known by the nickname of Baron, “¦.so as to result in a version completely incompatible with the reality of the facts as perceived and heard…” [Is that ever giving birth to a mouse?], and
  • That the Supreme Court had “held Rudy Guede to be an Unreliable person”, and
  • That “therefore, among the evidence against the two accused, the testimony given at the hearing of June 27, 2011 by Rudy Guede cannot be included because it is Unreliable, nor can the contents of the letter written by him and sent to his lawyers”, and
  • That concerning Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 “”¦ the contents of the chat between Rudy Guede and his friend Giacomo Benedetti on the day of November 19,  2007,  also listened to by the Police,  can be considered in favour of the two accused”, because “he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance,”
  • And that “So, in the course of that chat with his friend….. Rudy Guede does not indicate in any way Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as the perpetrators…..” and “.....he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance….. he being…. certainly the perpetrator….. of the crimes carried out in via della Pergola, that if Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had also participated, that he would at that moment have revealed this to his friend.”

So, summarising Hellmann and Zanetti, they have absurdly argued a contradiction:

  • Because of Guedes notoriously unreliability, the public evidence in which he did accuse Knox and Sollecito cannot be considered as evidence of their guilt, but
  • In spite of Guede’s notorious unreliability, because Guede did not accuse Knox and Sollecito in a private conversation this must be considered as conclusive evidence of their innocence.

We are not the audience to which Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti to the Supreme Court is directed. Most of us probably have some difficulty with its legalese, translated into English, so bear with it.

Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti refers to Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 as follows:

The Hellmann/Zanetti court, “has”¦ made “¦. completely anomalous use of the Skype call, accepting it for the time of Kercher’s death, but not for other circumstances which are also extremely relevant for judgment purposes, but which have been totally ignored.

In fact, in the call, Guede recounts having heard Meredith complaining about her missing money and of her intention of asking Ms Knox, with whom she had quarrelled, for an explanation (p. 10 of the call [transcript]), of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (p. 18), then of having seen Meredith look, still in vain, for her missing money in Amanda’s room (pp. 18-19 of the call [transcript]), and of having heard a girl enter the house, who could have been one of the roommates, thus Amanda (p. 11 of the call [transcript]), while the Ivorian found himself in the bathroom, just before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have caused him [59] to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the girl’s ingress (p 12 of the call [transcript])”... .

The Court has, in practice, without reason thrown the responsibility onto Guede for throwing the rock and clambering in (see pp 121-122 of the appealed judgment): in the same Skype call, Guede, however, repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room during the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola on that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call [transcript]). Not only that: Rudy Guede also said that he was at Knox’s many times”› (pp 88 of the call [transcript]).

If the Court held the Ivorian citizen to be sincere in the tele-conversation with his friend Benedetti, then why not also believe him when he denies having broken in, or when he recounts Meredith having it out with Amanda, or when he says that he had been at the latter’s place many times”›?

Dr Galati’s appeal to the Supreme Court argues that the Hellmann/Zanetti appeal judgment, apart from being manifestly illogical, is manifestly contradictory with respect to the contents of the case file referred to (Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code). Here is what it says about their tortured interpretations of Rudy Guede.

And in the Skype call with Benedetti, intercepted unbeknownst to him, there emerge circumstances that confirm Guede’s court declarations. The Court takes the Skype call with his friend Benedetti into examination, valuing it “šin favour of the two accused”› both for what it does not say and also for what it does say, and this it does building from one, not only unexplained, datum but which would have taken little to deny: since Rudy was outside of Italy, he was in some sense safe”› and thus could well have been able to tell the whole truth (p 40 of the judgment).

Not in the least does the Court depart from the presupposition that in this call Rudy would have been telling the truth and, because in this call he would not have named the current defendants, these have got nothing to do with the homicide. The Court does not explain, though, that even in this call Rudy was tending to downplay his responsibility and, if he had named his co-participants, that would have easily allowed, by means of investigations and subsequent interviews, the bringing out of his causal contribution and of his responsibility.

[91] Of the things said in this Skype call, the Court seems at one moment to want to value the chronological datum from 9:00 PM to 9:30 PM to affirm that this would therefore have been the time of death of Meredith; successively, though the appeal judges, following the principle of plausible hypothesis, in relation to the outgoing calls on the victim’s English handset, have moved it to 10:15 PM, but they have not altered the reliability of the time indicated by Guede.

In truth, during the course of the conversation, Rudy recounts having heard Meredith complain about the missing money and of her intention to ask Knox, with whom she had argued, for an explanation (p 10 of the call); of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (see p 18); of having seen her search, again in vain, for the missing money in Amanda’s room (pp 18 and 19 of the call) and of having heard a girl enter the house ““ who must have been one of the flatmates, thus Amanda (p 11 of the call), ““ while he was in the bathroom, a little before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have induced him to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the ingress of the girl (p 12 of the call).

And also, on the subject of the break-in in Romanelli’s room ““ thrown without explanation onto Guede’s back (see the judgment being appealed from, at pp 121 and 122) ““ can remarks by the Ivorian citizen be found in the transcription of the intercept. Guede repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room for the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call).

If the [Appeal Court] had held as reliable what Rudy narrated in the Skype call relating to the time in which Meredith was killed, it supplies no reason at all, on the other hand, for why it does not believe him as well when he denies [92] having committed the break-in or when he recounts the quarrel of Meredith with Amanda.”

None of this changes my own beliefs that there are even many more things in evidence that are “˜beyond any reasonable doubt’.  For example:

  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Meredith was restrained by hands other than the knife-wielding hand(s); and that Meredith was restrained by the hands of two, or three persons as she was killed.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were taken to clean away smears made by Meredith’s blood in the place where she was killed, and tracks of Meredith’s blood transferred by her killers to other places.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were also taken to simulate a break-in that never-was.

In the next post, we examine Dr Galati’s appeal further and the strident claims against Guede made in Sollecito’s own book which contradict some of the positions of HIS OWN LAWYERS. Note that Dr Galati has argued in the appeal that it was ILLEGAL for Hellmann and Zanetti not to have taken the Supreme Court’s ruling on three perps fully into account and having innored it or brushed past it. 

Verrrry tough situation for defense counsel to be in.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Excellent Sunday Times Report On The Many Killer Questions The Second Appeal Next Year Might Answer

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Rome: St Peter’s and Vatican in foreground; Supreme Court large white building in right background by River Tiber]


It really ain’t over until it’s over, and knowing the hyper-cautious Italian justice system, maybe not even then.

Now the drama moves to Rome.

Before any verdict and sentence in the case can become final, under Italian law and the constitution the verdict and sentence must be endorsed by the Supreme Court of Cassation.

If either the prosecution or defenses demand that issues be looked at by Cassation (as we know, the prosecution will) Cassation will do so, and it may punt the case back down to the first appeal court to re-examine questions or even run a complete re-trial at first appeal level.

At Cassation level the prosecution is likely to have at least five advantages.

    1) A confusing Hellman sentence report seems likely which won’t be able to dispose of the Massei and Micheli reports because the Hellman court did not re-examine all issues

    2) Cassation’s ruling on the final appeal of Rudy Guede which points to three perps, and Cassation’s general tendency to side with trial courts against first-appeal courts.

    3) The likelihood that only the prosecution will file issues for consideration by Cassation and not the defenses and so the prosecution will dominate all proceedings.

    4) Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and entourages seem unlikely to be there in person for the Cassation hearings or a retrial, and emotive factors would be less in play.

    5) The Italian media and Italian public opinion and increasingly UK and US opinion seem to be taking the position that the Hellman appeal decision was unsatisfactory.

Two days ago, the Sunday Times ran this fine analysis below by their reporter on the case, John Follain, of the open issues that will be facing Cassation and possibly again facing the lower appeal court. 

With a dozen books out John Follain has by far the largest and most impressive book publishing record of any reporter on the case.

Publishers Hodder and Stoughton have announced that his book Death in Perugia: The Definitive Account of the Meredith Kercher Case will be released first in the UK later this month - on 25 October.

KILLER QUESTIONS; The acquittal last week of Amanda Knox only deepens the confusion surrounding the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher. John Follain, who has investigated the case for four years, unpicks the evidence How could one man pin Meredith down and inflict those injuries?

By John Follain in Perugia.

They may have been coached to hide their true feelings, but the expressions of the judges and jurors were an open book. Surprise and shock registered on the faces of the appeal tribunal in Perugia as they watched a video taken by the forensic police who searched the whitewashed cottage where Meredith Kercher was murdered.

That summer’s day in the medieval, vaulted Hall of Frescoes was the pivotal scene of the 10-month appeal trial of Amanda Knox, 24, and Raffaele Sollecito, 26 “” the moment that freedom suddenly became possible, if not probable, for the former lovers.

The rotund, bespectacled Stefano Conti, one of two specialists in forensic medicine appointed by the court to review two crucial traces of DNA evidence, gave a sardonic running commentary on the behaviour of the Roman scientific squad searching for clues in the cottage. They failed to use clean protective gloves to handle each item of evidence or biological sample, Conti pointed out. They passed Meredith’s bra clasp to one another before placing it back on the floor where they had found it. The officer who picked up her bra wore no gloves at all.

As the senior appeal judge, Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, recalled last week after acquitting Knox and Sollecito of sexually abusing and murdering Meredith, the DNA review was “the most difficult moment” of the trial.

“The prosecutors understood that their case was at risk, and it was at that moment that the trial became a battle with no holds barred,” he said.

The courtroom fight over this international cause célèbre ended with a sobbing Knox being rushed out by guards and flown home to a heroine’s welcome in Seattle.

But, far from resolving the mystery of how and why Meredith died, the acquittal has fuelled the unanswered questions over her fate. Are we “back to square one”, as Meredith’s brother Lyle said after the verdict? What are the mysteries still to be resolved? And will we ever know what truly happened? MEREDITH, a 21-year-old language student from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found lying virtually naked, her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox and two other young women on the afternoon of November 2, 2007. “Case closed,” an overoptimistic police chief proclaimed just four days later.

The investigators thought Knox had handed them the keys to the mystery. Under questioning she placed herself at the crime scene on the night before the body was found. She had been in the kitchen, with her hands over her ears, she said, while Patrick Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner for whom she worked as a waitress, killed Meredith.

Police promptly arrested Lumumba, Knox and her boyfriend. But Knox later went back on her testimony, insisting she had been with Sollecito at his flat all night.

Investigators were forced to release Lumumba after witnesses testified he had been working at his bar on the night of the murder. Knox and Sollecito stayed behind bars.

Forensic evidence then prompted the arrest of another African immigrant, Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter. Part of his palm print was on a cushion under Meredith’s body, his DNA was in her body where he had apparently groped her sexually, and his DNA was mixed with hers in drops of blood inside her shoulder bag.

The prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, accused Guede, Knox and Sollecito of killing Meredith when she resisted their attempts to force her into a sex game.

Certainly, there appeared to be compelling evidence that Knox was lying. She had tried to frame Lumumba. The defence now claimed that an intruder had broken into the cottage and attacked Meredith; but the break-in had clearly been staged. Amateurishly, a room had been ransacked before the window into it was smashed “” the glass lay over the strewn clothes instead of under them. Was this to cover Knox’s tracks? There were mixed traces of Knox’s and Meredith’s blood in the bathroom and another room. Bloody footprints had been left by Knox and Sollecito in the bathroom and in the corridor. Knox had behaved bizarrely at the police station after the murder, kissing and caressing Sollecito and doing yoga exercises. Sollecito had said he spent much of the murder night on his computer, but this was disproved by experts.

Still, this was all circumstantial evidence rather than proof. The Rome forensic police came to the rescue of the prosecution team. They reported that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of a kitchen knife found at Sollecito’s flat “” and Knox’s was on the handle. This was believed to be one of the murder weapons.

Forensic pathologists said Meredith’s wounds had been caused by two knives, pointing to more than one killer. The team from Rome also reported that Sollecito’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra clasp. (Only much later would it emerge that the police had retrieved this from the bedroom floor a full 46 days after first spotting it.) The case rapidly became a sensation. The prime suspect was an intelligent and alluringly pretty American, only 20 at the time, who, reporters joyously discovered, had been nicknamed “Foxy Knoxy” back home in Seattle. That this was for her skills on the soccer pitch was lost in the rush to find out more.

Dozens of witnesses and expert consultants passed through Perugia’s Hall of Frescoes during the first trial, which lasted for much of 2009.

Knox was portrayed by the lawyer for the bar owner, Lumumba, as an unscrupulous and manipulative she-devil, and by her defence team as “a wholesome girl” wrongly accused.

The prosecution case was that Kercher, a hard-working young woman from a modest background, had become exasperated by Knox’s slovenly and promiscuous behaviour as a housemate.

She had remarked to her father that “Amanda arrived only a week ago and she already has a boyfriend”. She told friends that Knox left a vibrator and condoms in the bathroom and brought “strange men” to the cottage. Investigators leaked Knox’s diary, in which she had listed seven sexual partners, three of whom she had slept with after her arrival in Italy, including a man she had met on the train on her way to Perugia. On Facebook she had put down as her interests: “Men.” Unable to prove exactly what had happened on the night of the murder, Mignini offered a plausible scenario based on Meredith’s 43 knife wounds and bruises.

He suggested that an argument between Meredith and Knox escalated when Guede and Sollecito joined the American “under the influence of drugs and maybe of alcohol” in trying to force Kercher into a heavy sex game that ended in murder. The sensational 11-month trial ended in guilty verdicts and jail sentences of 26 years for Knox and 25 years for Sollecito.

Some months later, in August 2010, I met Knox briefly in Capanne women’s prison, which is a short drive from Perugia. She had cut her hair and looked younger and more frail than during her trial. She wore a red Beatles sweatshirt, black leggings and silver nail varnish.

When I arrived, she was pushing a trolley down a corridor.

A guard explained that her job was to collect orders from other prisoners for small goods they could buy: newspapers, cigarettes, coffee, magazines and “” at that time of year “” strawberries. We were allowed to talk for only a few moments, but a guard told me: “She’s pretty well. Amanda’s confident that the future will bring freedom for her. She doesn’t break down in tears. It’s nothing like the night of tears after the verdict, when we had to comfort her.”

I was told she had been reading “” in Italian “” the 427-page summary by the two judges at her trial, who had dissected the inconsistencies in her evidence.

This summary included the judges’ own reconstruction of what might have happened on the night of the murder, based on the evidence that had been put before them.

They suggested that Knox, Sollecito and Guede had arrived at the cottage at about 11pm. Knox and her boyfriend had gone to her bedroom to have sex, and, excited by a situation “heavy with sexual stimulus”, Guede had walked into Kercher’s room wanting to have sex with her.

Kercher rejected him “” she was tired, and had a new boyfriend anyway “” but Knox and Sollecito intervened to assist him. According to the judges, they were probably drugged on hashish and seeking “erotic sexual violence”. Forcing Kercher to yield to Guede was a “special thrill that had to be tried out”.

They suggested Sollecito cut Meredith’s bra with a small knife he always carried “” collecting knives was a hobby. As Guede sexually assaulted Kercher with his fingers, Sollecito stabbed her in the neck. Kercher screamed “” a neighbour heard her “” and Knox stabbed her in the throat with a kitchen knife, the judges argued. She took several minutes to die as she inhaled her own blood.

THAT was the lurid and damning case that Knox had to fight when she returned to the Hall of Frescoes last November for her appeal.

Her demeanour had changed. Gone was smiling and self-confident “Foxy”, whose manner may have helped secure her conviction. After three years in prison, Knox was much more demure.

The appeal hearing began auspiciously for her when the deputy judge remarked: “The only certain and undisputed fact is the death of Meredith Kercher.”

The comment prompted prosecutors to complain that the court had already made up its mind, but it was a portent of what was about to be revealed.

The appeal court’s decision to grant a defence request for an independent review of two items of DNA evidence “” the kitchen knife and the bra clasp “” proved devastating for the prosecution’s case.

The two experts “” Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, from La Sapienza University in Rome “” said the DNA trace on the knife blade could not be attributed to Meredith because it was too slight. They said Sollecito’s Y chromosome was on the bra clasp, but it could have been the result of contamination by police mishandling of the evidence. From then on, the prosecutors fought a losing battle to discredit Conti and Vecchiotti.

Outside the courtroom the Knox camp’s media offensive exploited the experts’ conclusions.

Knox’s family “” her mother, father, stepfather and friends “” had come well primed for battle. Homes had been remortgaged and funds raised.

With the help of a PR company in Seattle, they dominated prime-time shows on the leading American TV networks, dramatically influencing public opinion there “” so much so that the prosecutor Mignini thundered in court that he had never seen a convict hire a PR firm to prove her innocence.

Mignini himself was a key target. In what appeared to have been a turf battle with prosecutors in Florence, he had been given a suspended 16-month prison sentence for abuse of office after tapping the phones of police officers and journalists in a separate investigation into a serial killer. It was a reflection of the fragmented and politicised condition of the Italian justice system.

The prosecutors tried but failed to switch the focus away from the forensic evidence by introducing Guede, the third party to the murder. He had been prosecuted separately because he had opted for a “fast track” trial that offers a lighter sentence as an incentive. Jailed for 16 years for murder, he had appealed to the Supreme Court in Rome “” Italy’s highest court “” which confirmed his conviction, ruling that Guede had sexually abused and murdered Kercher with “unidentified accomplices”.

This was an insight into the mystifying processes of Italian law. How could justice be served by trying Guede separately? Why had he not been brought to give evidence at the first Knox trial? Why were his accomplices “unidentified” when Knox and Sollecito had been convicted of joining him in the murder? The answers lay in the fact that his supreme court appeal started just after Knox’s appeal began in Perugia “” and the two cases overlapped, a bizarre way of seeking out the truth.

Once Guede’s Supreme Court appeal had been dismissed he was summoned to the witness box in Perugia, where his contribution was damning yet so limited that it did not sway the judges and jury.

Rather than taking him through the events of the killing, Mignini read out a letter in which Guede had written of “the horrible murder of a ... wonderful girl by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox”. Challenged by one of Knox’s lawyers, Guede stood by the letter, saying: “It’s not as if there is my truth, and the truth of Tom, Dick and Harry. What there is is the truth of what I lived through that night, full stop.”

A lawyer for the Kerchers detailed the injuries Meredith suffered, arguing it would have been impossible for Guede to hold her down, sexually assault her, try to suffocate her, try to strangle her and wound her with more than one knife.

But it was too late. The appeal panel of judges and jurors had made up their minds. A juror confided after the “not guilty” verdicts had been delivered that the court had decided to acquit because of doubts over the forensic evidence, and because it saw no motive for the murder.

Pratillo Hellman explained: “To convict, the penal code says you have to be persuaded beyond every reasonable doubt. The smallest doubt is enough to not condemn.”

But he added enigmatically: “Maybe Knox and Sollecito know what happened that night, because our acquittal verdict stems from the truth which was established in the trial. But the real truth can be different. They may be responsible, but there isn’t the evidence… So, perhaps they too know what happened that night, but that’s not our conclusion.”

The judge’s comments earned him a new nickname, which investigators texted to each other delightedly: “Pontius Pratillo”, after Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands of responsibility for the execution of Jesus Christ.

The prosecution scored one potentially significant victory. The court found Knox guilty of slandering the former bar owner Lumumba by initially claiming he had killed Kercher. It sentenced her to three years in prison, but released her as she had spent almost four years behind bars.

“That’s absurd, absurd,” Mignini fumed. “Knox accused Lumumba to throw the police off her tracks. Why else would she accuse him?” IN PERUGIA, at least, the prosecution can count on overwhelming backing. After the verdict, a crowd several thousand strong massed outside the courts, amid jeers at defence lawyers and chants of “Assassini, assassini!” (murderers, murderers) and “Vergogna, vergogna!” (shame, shame). In bars across the picturesque city, and on the main cobbled street, Corso Vannucci, many dissected the case for days afterwards “” the consensus was that Knox and Sollecito were at the cottage when Meredith died, but no one agreed on what role they played.

For the Kercher family no outcome could have been more bewildering. As Knox flew home, Meredith’s mother Arline, her brother Lyle and her sister Stephanie spoke to me.

“It almost raises more questions than there are answers now,” Lyle said, “because the initial decision was that [the murder] wasn’t done by one person but by more than that. Two have been released, one remains in jail, so we’re now left questioning: who are these other people or person?” Did they believe that Knox and Sollecito were guilty? “In a way we have to believe what the police say because they are the ones compiling the evidence,” Arline replied. “We haven’t a clue. I think that’s what he was saying. It’s the police “” it’s their job.”

“It’s difficult for anybody to make a valid opinion on any case, not just this one, unless you’re a trained expert,” Lyle echoed. “There are forensics, detectives, psychological profilers and so on, who are trained to do this and read the information and draw the hypotheses from that, which of course no lay person really is. So if that’s the conclusion they come to, then we’re happy to stand by that.”

“We have to accept, don’t we, just like now we have to accept this,” Arline said.

“And that’s why it’s so disappointing, because we don’t know,” Stephanie added.

It is not over for the Kerchers.

Last week’s acquittal is far from the last word on the case. The judges have 90 days to draft a report explaining the reasons for the verdict. Then the prosecution and the defence will have a further 45 days to lodge a new and last appeal. Only rulings by the Supreme Court are considered definitive in Italian justice.

Guede’s lawyers said he would appeal for a new trial if the Supreme Court confirmed Knox’s acquittal “” on the grounds that it would contradict the Ivorian’s conviction for killing Meredith alongside unidentified accomplices. “So I’m supposed to be Meredith’s only assassin?” Guede is reported to have told a prison visitor. “I’m supposed to have struck that poor girl with a knife 40 times? I confessed my responsibilities and I accused those who were in the house with me.

“I’m in prison, and the others are free and happy at home. If it wasn’t them in the house that damned evening, who are the other accomplices supposed to be? The money made available to Amanda and the media strategy helped to free her.”

Many investigators and lawyers admit privately that the Italian judicial system may simply never come up with a full and convincing explanation of Meredith’s death.

Italian justice is agonisingly slow. Judges and lawyers attend several trials in the same week, with the result that the appeal trial saw 20 days of hearings over no fewer than 10 months. It is also full of safeguards for defendants, including long preliminary hearings enshrined in the post-war constitution to eradicate the caricature of justice delivered by the courts under Mussolini.

Many of the most notorious cases in Italy’s post-war history have yet to be resolved in court. Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire prime minister, is embroiled in a string of corruption, fraud and sex offence investigations and trials, and claims that leftist prosecutors are plotting to oust him.

This week Berlusconi will push through parliament a bill banning publication of phone and other intercepts before a case reaches trial “” a measure that has become a priority for him, as investigators are expected to release within a few weeks dozens of intercepts of reportedly embarrassing conversations between Berlusconi and a convicted drug dealer.

In such a climate Italian justice itself is on trial. The truth of what happened to Meredith Kercher may emerge one day, but it’s no safe bet that it will do so in an Italian court of law.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fifteenth Appeal Session: Prosecutor Manuela Comodi Starkly Explains All The Forensic Evidence

Posted by Peter Quennell


This is a translation of key parts of a detailed report from the AGI news service - the excellent reporter is not named.

On Ms Comodi’s opening remarks to the court.

In Perugia the hearing of the appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, in the first instance [at trial] convicted for the murder of Meredith Kercher, has resumed. This morning, the prosecutor Manuela Comodi began her part of the indictment.

“Regardless of the scientific evidence, your decision can only be the confirmation of the decision at first instance [at trial],” the prosecutor said. During the day the prosecution will make its request for a tougher sentence for the ex-lovers who are present in the courtroom next to their defence teams.

Ms Comodi on the strength of the forensic evidence.

“Quite apart from all the scientific evidence, the outcome of this process can only be at least the confirmation of the conviction of first degree”...The prosecutor judge then began to attack the independent expert report on the traces of DNA ordered by the Court.

“That ploy may have led you to believe you do not trust the results for the knife proposed as the murder weapon and the hook of the bra worn by the victim when she was killed. Those conclusions are strongly challenged by the prosecution.” Then Comodi talked of “the awkward performance of experts who have betrayed your trust… [with] their absolute inadequacy and incompetence.”

She then mentioned the lack of experience in the field of the experts appointed by the Court. “Would you trust your daughter’s wedding to a cook who knows all the recipes but has never cooked?”. In the initial phase of her indictment the prosecutor also mentioned the process carried out in England to indict Danilo Restivo…

The Guardian has a good report on how Danilo Restivo was caught in part by incriminating DNA some TEN YEARS after his crime.

And Ms Comodi on the DNA on the knife and bra clasp.

“Who wielded the knife [that killed Meredith Kercher] was Amanda Knox.” The prosecutor said in court, mimicking the way according to the defense reconstruction that knife was contested by the murderer of Meredith.

“They will tell you, She used it at some other time while staying at Sollecito’s house, but Amanda’s DNA was found in the wrong place for normal use. Give it a try, you will see that in cutting bread or meat the hand rests on the back, not there.”

“Starch on the knife? It could come from the powder present on the “vast majority” of rubber gloves used by personnel involved in investigations.” The prosecutor was recalling the words of a senior advisor to the defense of Amanda Knox, according to whom the starch was derived from the cutting of food such as potatoes and is a sign of lack of washing of the blade on which should have been found traces of blood of the victim if it was used for the crime….

“Talc is present on most sterile disposable gloves, such as those used by the scientific and the Flying Squad in Perugia. It is totally unfounded, the thesis of the non-washing of the knife.”

“The hook of the bra collected 46 days after being found missing? What of the DNA of Elisa Claps [in the Danilo Restivo case] analyzed after nearly 20 years? There is no way this could be contamination because Sollecito had not since been in the house.

Here is a very strong report from Il Mattino which after mirroring the AGI report above adds this:

“In addition to the knife and the bra hook there are other tracks that connect the presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to the crime scene” said the prosecutor in her indictment.

“Traces of the mixed blood of Meredith and Amanda have been found in the bathroom, where there was an imprint of a foot of Raffaele Sollecito in Meredith’s blood. Footprints of Raffaele and Amanda in Meredith’s blood were found using Luminol in the hallway and the room of Amanda.”

The prosecutor pointed out that under the bed, in Meredith’s room, the lamp of Amanda was found. In Meredith’s room there already was one lamp. Amanda’s lamp was there “because they had to find something to take away, maybe a bracelet or a ring that Amanda might have lost.”

And the prosecution concluded by asking for life sentences and some solitary confinement for Sollecito and Knox as the crime was “aggravated - carried out for trivial reasons” and asking for the exclusion of the mitigating factors that Judge Massei had allowed.

Some of the Italian media reports carried headlines quoting Ms Comodi saying “They killed her for nothing”.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 2 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

4. Morning of November 2

Accounts of the events of the morning of 2 Nov do not agree. According to Knox’s statement, she and Sollecito slept until around 10-10:30 am.[67] After a while, she decided to go back to her house to take a shower and change her clothes, and to fetch a mop to clear up some water from a leaking pipe in Sollecito’s kitchen.[65] Her intention was that when she returned they would leave for a planned trip to the nearby town of Gubbio.[70]

When she arrived at her apartment, she was surprised to see that the front door was open. She entered the house, leaving the door open in case it had been deliberately left ajar by one of her flatmates, who might have gone out briefly, to get some cigarettes for example. She then went to her own room, undressed and went into the bathroom that she shared with Meredith. She took out her earrings and cleaned her ears - a regular necessity because the piercing in one ear had become infected. She noticed drops of blood in the sink, and thought this strange but continued to take a shower. Getting out, and not having remembered her towel, she decided to use the bath mat to shuffle into her own room. At that moment, she noticed the blood stain on the mat but thought it might be from some menstrual problem that hadn’t been cleaned up.[70]

Having returned the bathmat, she put her earrings back on, brushed her teeth, dressed in clean clothes and then went in the other bathroom (the one used by Romanelli and Mezzetti) and dried her hair with their hairdryer. She then noticed that there were feces in the toilet, which was strange as Romanelli and Mezzetti were very clean. She left her apartment, locking the front door, and went back to Sollecito’s, where they made breakfast and she told him what she had seen.[70]

In contrast to this account, forensic examination of Sollecito’s computer showed that it had been used for about half an hour from 5:32am to listen to music. After this, he turned on his mobile phone and, at 6:02 am,  received an SMS message which had been sent to him by his father the previous evening when the phone was switched off. Phone records also confirmed a call made at 9:30am to Sollecito by his father. There was no mention of any of this activity in Amanda’s statement.[82]

According to the testimony of Marco Quintavalle, the owner of a small supermarket, he opened his shop at 7:45am on the morning of November 2 and almost immediately a young woman, whom he identified as Amanda Knox, went into the store department that had groceries, detergents and toilet paper on sale. He saw her leave again but did not know if she bought anything. Quintaville did not present this information to the police until some months after the crime and explained that, although he had previously been questioned about the morning after the murder, he had not been specifically asked about Knox. Another of the shop’s employees stated that she had not seen Knox in the store.[83-84]

The court highlighted the discrepancies between Knox’s account and the evidence of the computer and phone records and the testimony of the shop owner. It also doubted the credibility of Knox going back home to change her clothes, take a shower and fetch the mop to dry the floor. Since Knox and Sollecito had planned a trip to Gubbio that morning, she could well have brought the clothes with her that would be needed. It was also noted that Knox had already showered and washed her hair at Sollecito’s house, the previous evening: there was no obvious need for her to repeat those actions and, if there were such a need, there was no reason why she couldn’t do so at Sollecito’s. Fetching the mop to dry the floor was also deemed to be scarcely credible, considering that Sollecito employed a cleaner and, in any case, everything needed to clean up some water was already there.[85]

What is certain is that, around midday, Knox called Filomena Romanelli to say she had arrived at the apartment and had found the door open: she had taken a shower and it had seemed to her that there was some blood in the apartment. She said that she was going to Sollecito’s place but did not know the whereabouts of Meredith. Romanelli rang Knox back and Knox (now at Sollecito’s) told her that the window in Romanelli’s room was broken, everything was in a mess, and that she should come back home.[30]

Knox and Sollecito went back together to the house in Via della Pergola. According to their accounts, they looked in Romanelli’s room where there had apparently been a burglary, and checked the other rooms, but found nothing missing. They were worried that Meredith’s door to her room was locked and, when she was called, there was no answer. Sollecito made an attempt to force open Meredith’s door (described by the court as a ‘timid’ attempt, given that it was easily forced open later).[31] After that, they left the house, partly to look at the broken window from the outside.

Earlier that morning, two mobile phones had been discovered in the garden of a house located in Via Sperandio, a short distance from 7 Via della Pergola (the shortest route would be distance of about 5-7 minutes on foot, according to one witness).[25] The owner of the house had contacted the Communcations Police with regard to a telephoned bomb threat which she had received and then discovered the two phones. One of the phones was registered to Romanelli (although both were in fact Meredith’s phones - one given to her by Romanelli for use in italy).[26][30]

The Communications Police traced Romanelli’s address and arrived at the girls’ apartment some time between 12:30pm and 1pm. Outside the house, they found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito ““ who said that they were waiting for the carabinieri, whom they had called because they had been away for the night and had come back to find the entrance door open and then a window broken.[28]

Romanelli, her friend Paola Grande and their boyfriends, Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri arrived around 1pm.[28] Romanelli made a quick check of her room, discovering that, although it was in a complete mess with the windowpane broken and clothes thrown around the floor, nothing was missing.[31] Nonetheless, she was concerned that the front door had been found open, bloodstains had been found in the small bathroom, and there was no news of Meredith. Furthermore, Meredith’s bedroom door was locked.[31]

The significance of this fact subsequently became a point of disagreement, with Knox saying that even when she went to the bathroom for a shower Meredith always locked the door to her room (the fact that she said this being confirmed by Zaroli and Altieri). Romanelli, on the other hand, said she was aware of only one occasion when the door had been locked and this was when Meredith had returned to England for a few days.[31]

The Massei report notes Knox’s apparent lack of concern at the locked door, both in the presence of the Communications Police and in her earlier telephone conversation with Romanelli. This was at odds with an email that Knox sent to her friends and family a few days after the murder (November 4, 2007) in which the locked door acquired a central importance and Knox described herself as “panicking” when she first discovered it.  Massei concludes that panic at the locked door would be a logical reaction if Knox had been uninvolved in the murder, but according to Romanelli and the Communications Police, there was no such panic.

Knox and Sollecito, in fact remained in the living room, some distance away from Meredith’s room, while Romanelli and her friends were so concerned that they decided to force the door open. One of Romanelli’s friends broke down the door and the bloody body of Meredith Kercher was found.[32] The Communications Police sealed the area and called the Carabinieri, who arrived a short time later.[33]

5. Pathology: Injuries, time and cause of death and Conclusions

Massei observes that the injuries Meredith Kercher sustained were the subject of intense analysis and speculation in the courtroom, yet his summary and conclusions are clear and concise.  Many of Meredith’s injuries appear to have been caused by the actions of restraining, whereas some were obviously inflicted by a knife or knives and showed great diversity in both dimensions and overall harmfulness.  Massei found that one point was particularly significant: the knife wounds from the attack to Meredith’s neck came from both the right and the left sides.[371]

Massei believes Meredith’s injuries lie at the heart of the debate over the single attacker versus the multiple attacker scenarios.  The hypothesis of a single attacker requires that the single attacker continually modify their actions, first by exercising a strong restraining pressure on her, producing significant bruising, and then for some reason switching to life threatening actions with a knife, thereby changing the very nature of the attack from that of subjugation to that of intimidation with a deadly weapon, and finally to extreme violence by striking first from the right penetrating to a depth of 4cm (1.5 inches) and then from the left to a depth of 8cm (3 inches) into the neck.[371]

Massei describes the first knife blow coming from the right by saying that it was apparently halted from going any deeper by hitting the jawbone. The Court considered that this blow was an effort to force Meredith to submit to an action against her will. The Court also considered that the penetrating knife wound from the left was preceded by the action of running the knife over the surface of the skin on the same part of Meredith’s neck, just a few centimeters below the eventual strike zone where the serious, deeper second wound was inflicted.[371]

What surprised Massei about Meredith’s wounds was that in spite of all the changes in approach during the attack she somehow remained in the same vulnerable position, leaving the same part of her neck fully exposed to an attacker.  If this were a solo attacker then this person released a firm restraining grip on Meredith to somehow bring a knife into play, then striking her first from the right and then switching the knife-holding hand to somehow float a knife in an intimidating manner across her neck on the left, before finally stabbing her in that same location on the left with a final debilitating blow.[371-372]

Massei concludes that throughout the attack Meredith remained virtually motionless, and he cites the almost nonexistence of defensive wounds on other parts of her body in comparison to the number, distribution, and diversity of impressive bruises and wounds to her face and neck.  Massei finds this disproportion to be a significant factor, particularly when considering Meredith’s physical and personality characteristics.[370,371]

Meredith’s physical build was described as being slim and strong; possessing a physique that would have permitted her to move with agility.  In addition, Meredith was described as being athletic and one who practised football, karate, and boxing.[369]  Therefore, the court found it unlikely that only one person performed the attack against her, and inevitable that several people had acted together against Meredith; a group who forcibly restrained Meredith in movement so that she could not defend herself in any way nor shield herself with her hands in order to avoid the repeated attacks to her neck.[371]

Meredith’s defensive wounds were found to be minimal and consisted of a 0.6cm (quarter inch) long superficial slice on the palm of her right hand showing only a trace of blood and another 0.6cm (quarter inch) slice on the second finger of her left hand, along with several highly superficial cuts to the fingertip of the index finger.  Massei finds this remarkable considering that the normal and instantaneous human reaction to that first violent knife stab to the neck would have been to protect the area of attack, along with a strong desire to escape even if it meant receiving a blow to another part of the body.  However, Meredith remained in the same standing position while continuously offering her exposed neck to the actions of the person(s) striking her, with the peculiar distinction of striking first from the right and then from the left.  Massei believes that a scenario as such seemed inexplicable, unless one accepts the presence of more than one attacker who, as a group, forcibly restrained the athletic Meredith’s movements while intimidating and striking her from multiple angles.[369]

Massei also believes that evidence demonstrated Meredith was still dressed and awake when the attack began on her and that the violence against her could not have taken place as it did if Meredith were lying on her bed.  Massei concludes that Meredith was sober and fully conscious since no traces indicating either the use of drugs or the abuse of alcohol were found; all of which, if present, might have contributed an inability to firmly resist an attack.[369]

Furthermore, Massei finds it impossible to imagine a scenario in which a single person could have removed the clothes that Meredith was wearing (shoes, pants and underwear) while inflicting the sexual violence revealed by the vaginal swab.  Massei finds it highly unlikely that one person could have caused all of the resulting bruises and wounds cited above in addition to removing her sweatshirt, pulling up her shirt, and bending her bra hooks by force before finally tearing and cutting the bra. The actions on the bra alone, during which a small piece of material with hooks was cut off and thrown to the floor, were necessarily conducted from behind Meredith and required the attention of both hands of an attacker, and thus Meredith would have had her own hands free to attempt actions of self-defense.[370]

Massei concludes there was very little evidence of any defensive maneuvers on the part of Meredith, which to him was a strong indication that several attackers were present, each with a distribution of tasks and roles: either holding Meredith and preventing her from any significant defensive reaction, or actually performing the violent actions.  Massei concludes that the rest of the body of evidence came in full support of such a scenario, recalling that a biological trace of Rudy was found on one of the cuffs of Meredith’s sweatshirt indicating a gripping in order to prevent any reaction.  In drawing together all of the elements mentioned above, both circumstantial and forensic, Massei concludes that the diverse morphology of the injuries, their number, and their distribution mandated that the violence against Meredith was performed by multiple attackers.[370-371]

Summary of pathology findings

Massei describes the significant injuries discovered during the post-mortem examination and states that there were no noticeable injuries in the chest or abdomen areas, two areas of slight bruising on one elbow, small wounds on the hands indicative of a minimal defensive response, very slight bruising on the front of the left thigh, minor bruising on the front middle of the right leg, and a slight area of bruising just below the top of the head.[111-112]

Massei cites compelling evidence of recent sexual activity having the characteristics of non-cooperation on the part of the female participant.  Non-spermatic biological material belonging to Rudy Guede was discovered during the course of a gynecological examination of the corpse. This, in conjunction with a distinct pattern of abrasions, was interpreted by the court as being strong evidence of sexual violence.[157-158]

The head and neck injuries were the most significant and included small spots inside the eyelids indicative of asphyxiation, a bruise to the cheek possibly caused by a knife point, bruising on the nostrils and trauma to the lips suggestive of silencing or suffocation efforts, biting injuries to the tongue, bruising and abrasions on the lower jaw indicative of a hard compression by hand, and neck swelling and hemorrhaging with pools of blood left inside the lungs as a result of two significant knife wounds.[111]

Dr. Lalli, the Perugia Coroner, who performed the autopsy on Meredith at the morgue of the Perugia Polyclinic, reported that the hyoid bone, located at the back of the tongue muscle had been “severed”.[145: Professor Torri quotes Dr. Lalli’s comment]

The most significant wounds Meredith sustained were inflicted by knife-stabs and thrusts occurring very quickly from the right and from the left, severing the right superior thyroid artery and the hyoid bone.[139] The largest of these was inflicted by a knife high on the left side of the neck near the jawbone which penetrated to a depth of 8cm (3 inches).[111]

Another significant knife wound, 4cm (1.5 inches) deep, was noted on the right side of the neck, above which were found superficial parallel scratches.  The wound from the right crossed the path, inside the neck, of the wound from the left. The Court concluded that these knife wounds were made by single-bladed, pointed cutting tools and that Meredith’s injuries might be consistent with a virtually infinite number of instruments, provided they had a blade with only one sharpened edge that was not serrated.[111-113]

The Court held that it is self evident that should one conclude during forensic pathology investigations that a knife is not compatible with any of the wounds inflicted on the victim, it would be pointless to give that knife further consideration, including DNA testing.[166]

The experts and consultants who were examined during the course of the trial, taking into examination the various wounds present on the neck, did exclude the compatibility of Raffaele’s knife with the smaller stab wound inflicted on the right side of the neck, and the Court agreed.  However, the Court did not agree with arguments that the knife confiscated from Raffaele’s flat was incompatible with the deep wound on the left.  The Court concurred with expert testimony proclaiming that the knife presented by the prosecution as the murder weapon, with the DNA of both Meredith and Amanda on it (ie the “double DNA knife”), is clearly compatible with the large fatal neck wound.[169-173]






Cause of death

The Court found that the death of Meredith Kercher was asphyxia caused by the neck-wound which severed both the hyoid bone and the right superior thyroid artery. The severing of the hyoid bone opened Meredith’s airway directly through the skin to the atmosphere, and the severed right superior thyroid artery was the main source of the blood which asphyxiated her when she then inhaled blood directly through her severed airway down into her lungs.[162]

Time of death

In order to preserve the crime scene, a thorough examination of the corpse was not performed until approximately 11 hours after the body was discovered.  Relying upon the criterion of body temperature and the influences of various other factors such as blood loss, the corpse being covered with a duvet, and other environmental conditions the time of death was initially placed approximately between 8:00 pm November 1, 2007 and 04:00 am November 2, 2007.  An intermediate value for such a time range is considered of value, and the actual time of death was suggested by the coroner as being approximately 11.00 pm on November 1, 2007.  The combined criteria of temperature, hypostatic stains, and rigor mortis all supported this range for the time of death, but for a variety of reasons were unable to accurately define a more narrow time of death range.[113-116]

Massei notes that the state of digestion of Meredith’s stomach contents provided significant additional information towards establishing a more accurate estimate for the time of death.  Meredith’s stomach contents included apple, cheese, and floury fragments of the apple crumble she ate while visiting friends, which had not yet entered into her the small intestine.  In addition, a piece of mushroom was also found in Meredith’s esophagus.  This could not have been consumed during the meal with friends, which did not include mushrooms, since it was in a different less digested state.[115, 178-179]

Testimony during the trial established that an emptying of the stomach into the small intestine under typical conditions starts between two and four hours after the start of a meal.  A complicating factor is that Meredith apparently ate additional food at home after her earlier meal which, according to statements made by the British friends of Meredith, occurred sometime between 6 pm and 8 pm.  Nevertheless, it becomes possible to propose a time of death as being 3 to 4 hours beyond the time frame of the initial eating event: therefore, this could reasonably range between 9pm (around the time she arrived home) and midnight of November 1, 2007.  This timeframe remains consistent with all other indicators.  It is important to note that the beginning of the attack would have been a moment of tremendous stress for Meredith that may have arrested her digestive process. However, Massei notes that this, like many other variables concerning the behavior of the digestive tract, remains in the realm of speculation.[178-179]

The various consultants and experts heard in court regarding the time of death all emphasized the difficulty of establishing a precise time.  Regarding time of death, there can be no doubt that Massei relied upon the evaluations of a variety of evidentiary sources, including the consideration that Meredith would not have been able to make any vocalizations following the final fatal stab wound to her neck, which lends importance to witness statements regarding when they may have heard a scream on the night of the murder.  However, the Court concluded that testimony regarding the pathology alone made it possible to suggest that the time of death that was, in fact, within a range of tens-of-minutes either before or after 10:50 pm November 1, 2007.[131]

6. Forensic investigation

The forensic evidence included the analysis of DNA in various samples taken, of footprints revealed by Luminol, and of foot prints and shoe prints.

Meredith Kercher

The fatal wound was swabbed in order to obtain the profile of her DNA for comparison with other samples. [190] One of two swabs of her vagina produced genetic material, the DNA of the Y chromosome of Rudy Guede. [189] Samples taken from under her fingernails yielded only her own DNA. The court noted that her finger nails were very short and probably would not inflict significant scratches on an attacker. [190]

Rudy Guede’s Y chromosome was also found mixed with Meredith’s blood on Meredith’s handbag and on the left cuff of her sweatshirt.[192]

The Small Bathroom

Blood was found in seven locations in the small bathroom that Knox shared with Meredith. [192]

“¢ The Door Frame: blood was found on the right, inside door frame containing Meredith’s DNA. [192]
“¢ The Light Switch Plate: Meredith’s blood was also found on the light switch. [192]
“¢ The Sink: Blood was found in two places. There was dried blood near the faucet that had the DNA of Knox. [192] A streak from the left part of the sink toward the drain containing Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
“¢ The Bidet: Meredith’s blood was found mixed with the DNA of Knox.[192]
“¢ The Toilet Lid: Meredith’s blood.[192]
“¢ Q-tip Box: Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
“¢ The Bathmat: Three samples taken from the bathmat yielded Meredith’s blood.[192] The bloodstains on the bathmat were studied and compared with footprints taken of the right foot from Knox, Sollecito, and Guede, and found to be that of Sollecito. [351-355]

The Large Bathroom

Toilet paper and faeces were found in the toilet. Testing the toilet paper found the DNA of Rudy Guede.[192]

Traces Revealed by Luminol

Various surfaces were sprayed with Luminol, which fluoresces brightly when applied to blood. The fluorescence was then swabbed and tested for DNA. Nine traces were found; two were Meredith’s, three were Knox, and two were mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox.[281-286]

“¢ Romanelli’s Bedroom: One sample of Meredith, and one of Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[282]
“¢ Hallway: Three footprints matching, based on measurements, Knox’ right foot were found, two facing the exit, and one oriented toward the doorway of Meredith’s room.[247]
“¢ Knox’ Bedroom: Footprint of Amanda Knox’ right foot, also identified by measurements.[247]

Shoeprints

Shoeprints made in Meredith’s blood and visible to the naked eye led from Meredith’s bedroom to the exit, becoming fainter toward the exit. [193] These were determined to be incompatible with Sollecito’s shoe size 9, and to be compatible with a Nike Outbreak 2, size 11.[334-336]

Although the shoes were never found, a box for Nike Outbreak 2, size 11 was found in Guede’s apartment.[334]

A left shoe print was found on Meredith’s pillow, estimated to be between size 36 and 38.[342]

Knox wears a size 37.[343] A defense expert made a comparison of the sole pattern with Guede’s right shoe, and argued that the print could have been made by him. The court noted the conflicting theories without expressing a specific opinion,[343-344] and noted that Knox seemed to have been moving about the scene in her bare feet.[344]

Other Evidence

“¢ A small trail of drops of Meredith’s blood from the small bathroom to the kitchen/living room.[193]
“¢ A cigarette butt found in the kitchen had mixed DNA of Sollecito and Knox.[197]
“¢ A jack knife belonging to Sollecito was found to have the DNA of Sollecito and Knox, but no blood.[195]

The Court’s Analysis:

The defense did not contest the mixed DNA test results, but instead argued that they were irrelevant: that mixed DNA would be expected since Meredith and Knox lived in the same house and shared the small bathroom. [378] They suggested that Knox’s DNA could be exfoliated skin cells. Dr. Stefanoni (for the prosecution) testified that exfoliated skin cells are keratinized and contain no DNA. [202]

The court concluded that Knox’ DNA became mixed with Meredith’s blood from vigorous scrubbing of the hands and feet, and that this is how the mixed DNA sampled came to be found in the sink and the bidet.[279]

DNA testing cannot, by itself, determine when biological material has been deposited, or in the case of mixed DNA, which was deposited first or whether it was simultaneous. [211] However, the court noted that Knox told the court in her answer to questioning that the bathroom was clean when she left the house on the afternoon of November 1.[278]

The court concluded that Meredith’s killers had gotten blood on their hands and elsewhere on their bodies, and that they needed to clean off the blood. Accordingly, they tracked blood on their feet to the small bathroom, where Meredith’s blood was transferred to the doorframe and light switch plate when they turned the light on in order to use the bathroom.[279] Sollecito tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom, leaving a partial print of his right foot in blood.[379]

Knox was not wounded.[280] The trace of her blood on the tap was different in appearance from the mixed DNA samples, and was explained by her as having come from her own ear having been pierced. [280] The mixed trace in the sink and the bidet appeared to have been diluted with water, constituting a single trace placed there by Knox when she was cleaning Meredith’s blood from her hands and feet.[378]

The defense experts did not specifically attack the accuracy of the findings on the trace evidence revealed by Luminol.[285] Dr. Gino noted that a generic test for blood was negative on the sample, and that the DNA test was low copy number. She also noted that substances other than blood can cause Luminol to fluoresce.[282]

The court observed that there was an abundant quantity of Meredith’s blood on the floor of the bedroom to be tracked around the house.[279] The fact that DNA testing revealed the presence of genetic material in the samples indicates the presence of biological material that reacts with Luminol. The court said that attributing the fluorescence to fruit juice, rust, bleach, vegetables, etc. could not explain the presence of reactive trace in so many parts of the house, whereas the walking in blood and subsequent cleanup easily accounts for the findings.[283-285]

The defense’s “low copy number remark” was rejected because Dr. Stefanoni had testified that the sample had been processed according to standards and procedures necessary for international quality certification, and noted that the certification was granted by the international certifying body in 2009; the quality certificate was an acknowledgement of what already existed, and had already been done.[285]  Further, the court noted that the criticisms of Dr. Gino and Dr. Tagliabracci were hypothetical, and all concerned specific findings and a small portion of the specimens.[285]

The footprint on the bathmat was partial, missing the heel. [339] Based on the dimensions of the big toe, the plantar arch, and the shape and location of various “bumps”, Inspectors Rinaldi and Boemia concluded that the print was made in Meredith’s blood by Sollecito’s right foot, that it was consistent with Sollecito’s wider foot and inconsistent with Guede’s longer, narrower foot, and well as being inconsistent with Knox.[339-342]

The measurements from the bathmat: big toe”“33mm wide, 39mm long. Metatarsus”“99mm wide, 55mm long. [339]

Footprints taken with printer’s ink resulted: Big Toe—Sollecito: 30mm wide, 37mm long. [339] Guede: 23mm wide, 43mm long. Knox: 22mm wide, 41.8mm long.[339] Metatarsus”“Sollecito: 99mm wide[339]

Rinaldi and Boemia used the so-called L.M. Robbins grid, which is marked in centimeters, lining the vertical axis with right-hand outline of the foot, and the horizontal axis with the tip of the big toe. [340] By comparing the samples with the bathmat, they concluded that the shape of Guede’s plantar arch and the alignment of his “bumps” could not be reconciled with the print on the bathmat, whereas Sollecito’s bumps align consistently between his sample and the bathmat. [340-341] The primary distinctions between Guede’s right foot and Sollecito’s are: the width of the big toe, the shape of the metatarsus, differences in the plantar arch, and the shape of the left side of the foot.[341]

Professor Vinci, Sollecito’s expert attempted to show that the foot print was actually that of Guede. He argued that the morphology of Sollecito’s foot was such that his second toe made no contact with the paper, but that a portion of the mark on the right side of the big toe print on the bathmat is actually from the second toe. He thus measured the big toe print as being 24.8 mm wide.[352]

The court rejected this theory. It noted that the photograph appeared to show the opposite of what was claimed, i.e., it showed the blood had been deposited as a single unit on a decorative flourish of the mat. Moreover, the court noted that, by comparison, Guede’s foot is generally longer and more tapered, and that the second toe print falls quite far from the big. [354] Finally, the court discounted the idea that Guede had ever been in his bare feet that evening. The visible shoe prints clearly showed that he walked directly from Meredith’s room, down the hallway, and out the door.[379]

Part Three is here.


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 3 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

7. Double DNA knife and bra strap

Exhibit 36: The double DNA Knife

Exhibit 36 is a 31 cm long knife with a 17 cm blade and a dark handle.  It was seized from the kitchen cutlery drawer at Raffaele Sollecito’s home, located at 110 Corso Garibaldi in Perugia, on 6 November, 2007 when Chief Inspector Armando Finzi was ordered to perform a search of Sollecito’s residence.  This exhibit is important because “Sample 36b” taken from a scratch on the knife blade yielded Meredith Kercher’s biological profile.

After putting on gloves and shoe coverings, Finzi and his team entered the home.  They noted a strong smell of bleach.  Opening the cutlery drawer, they saw a big, “extremely clean” knife.  In Sollecito’s bedroom they found a second knife.  The knives were bagged and sealed.[106]

Exhibit 36 was carried back to the police station, where it was placed in a box for shipping to the Polizia Scientifica in Rome.  Dr. Stefanoni was the recipient of the box containing the knife in Rome.  All parties testified that standard procedures were followed to avoid the risk of contamination.

On 4 November, 2007, Meredith’s roommates Filomena Romanelli, Laura Mezzetti, and Amanda Knox had been taken by the police to look at the knives in their kitchen at the apartment in Via della Pergola.  Personnel from the Questura reported Amanda’s “severe and intense emotional crisis, unlike [the reaction of] the other two girls”.[292]  This behavior was contrasted to Amanda’s behavior at Police headquarters two days earlier:

“This circumstance appears significant both in its own right and also when one considers that Amanda had never previously shown signs of any particular distress and emotional involvement (in the Police headquarters, on the afternoon of November 2, Meredith’s English girlfriends, Robyn Carmel and Amy Frost in particular, according to their declarations, had been surprised by the behaviour of Amanda, who did not show emotions).”[292]

Investigators’ attention was alerted to the Exhibit 36 knife because of Amanda’s inconsistent behavior.  Later, police overheard a jail conversation between Knox and her parents on 17 November, when Knox said, “I am very, I am very worried about this thing with the knife ... because there is a knife of Raffaele’s ...”.[292]

Exhibit 36 thus became a central piece of trial evidence.  The debate would subsequently be focused on two issues: The compatibility of the knife with the large stab wound in Meredith’s neck; and the reliability of the DNA analysis.

Considering the first of these points, although the knife blade is 17 cm long, the depth of the larger wound is just 8 cm .  This “discrepancy” was the basis of defense efforts to discredit the knife as a murder weapon. The compatibility of the Exhibit 36 knife and the larger of Kercher’s wounds is addressed by Professor Bacci (see p. 121 of the Massei report).    Professor Norelli maintains that “it is not said that a blade is always embedded (plunged into) the target right up to the handle; the blade may also go (in) only to a certain portion of its length, and not right up to its end”.[126] 

It is noted that the movements of the victim may have played a part in determining the depth of the cuts.  “If I insert a centimeter of the blade into the victim and the victim suddenly moves towards me, how much of the blade will be driven inside the body surface area is absolutely unpredictable and depends on the action of both”.[129]  Alternatively, the blade of the knife might have met an obstacle. The cutting action is described on p. 146 and again starting on p. 152.

Defense witness Dr. Patumi disputed the compatibility of the wounds with said knife, arguing that a blade of 17 cm length could not have caused a cut 8 cm deep; see p. 156-157.  However, the Court rejected “the thesis of the incompatibility of the most serious wound and the knife Exhibit 36”, holding this thesis to be “unacceptable” .[172]

Regarding the second point ““ that of the DNA analysis ““ Dr. Stefanoni was the responsible expert at the crime lab in Rome. Although no biological traces were visible to the naked eye on the face of knife blade, Dr. Stefanoni perceived scratches - “anomalies in the metal’ - on the blade when rotating the blade under strong lighting.  The streaks were:

“... visible under good lighting by changing the angle at which the light hit the blade, since obviously the blade reflects light and thus creates shadows, making imperfections visible.”[196]

Sample 36b was taken from one of these points on the blade.  The genetic profile of Meredith Kercher was identified from this sample. Stefanoni presented charts to the court, showing the DNA profile: she noted “that the peaks were a bit low, but that without doubt were still within the range that is considered useful for testing a specimen (page 108). Although of a much lower quantity of DNA, the profiles were nonetheless very present and, by making a comparison with Meredith’s profile, Dr. Torricelli reported that “šwe find all the alleles, and we find them to be equal to those obtained from the swab taken, from the sample taken from the wound. Therefore in this case too, without doubt”› -she continued- “šalthough we are confronted with a sample that contains very little DNA, it nonetheless contains the DNA of only one person and is therefore comparable to Meredith’s; with regard to this knife, I would say I have no doubt in interpreting it: specimen A with Amanda’s profile and specimen B with the profile, compatible with that of Meredith.”[231-32] However, the amount of DNA was small and it was all used up in order to run a single test.

The defense objected that it was impossible to evaluate whether the actual nature of Sample 36b specimen: 

“.. when we have a small amount of DNA we talk about low copy number DNA, and that when this type of DNA is present, we are indeed able to carry out our amplification and obtain a profile, but we must remember that we may have lost one of the alleles, we may have an allelic imbalance ... it becomes very difficult to distinguish from a real allele, so that when working on ...  small quantities of genetic material, it is necessary to be very cautious in interpreting the results.”[237]

 

To this point, Dr. Stefanoni argued that it is preferable “to know to whom a biological specimen is attributable, rather than ascertaining the nature of that specimen, without attributing it to anyone.”[288]

Furthermore, it was argued by the defense that the quantity of DNA was too low to be able to perform the tests and consider the results reliable.  Given a low amount of DNA, the risk of contamination is high - particularly given the very numerous number of samples being analyzed.
 
The court rejected the possibility of contamination because no anomalies were ever identified in the Polizia Scientifica’s analytical process. The Prosecutor pointed out that all tests had been carried out in the presence of a lawyer/consultant for the defense - who had raised no objections during the testing.  The possibility of contamination during the collection of evidence was rejected based on a detailed consideration of the collection process.

Thus, the DNA from Meredith which was found on that knife cannot be traced back to any contamination occurring in the house in which it was found, or to the method of acquisition of the knife on the part of Finzi, or even to the collection and dispatch methods used by Gubbiotti. In addition, as has been said, that such contamination could have been carried out by the laboratory is also ruled out.[266]

In addition, Dr. Stefanoni testified that she did have the biological profile of the defendants, but did not employ them while interpreting the electrophoresis diagrams. Nevertheless, the Massei report judges that:

“... the main criticisms advanced by the defense concerned precisely this very small DNA quantity, and it raised the question of the reliability of the result obtained.”[288]

To this central point, Dr. Stefanoni:

“Regarding the too low quantity of DNA, Dr. Stefanoni declared, as has been seen, that even in the case of a particularly scanty amount of material, the analysis and evaluation should be performed, and she added that, if the data that emerges is absolutely readable and interpretable and the correct laboratory practice was followed, the result is reliable and there is no reason to repeat the test.

“It does not follow ... that the data is unusable and unreliable as a consequence of a lack of repetition due to a lack of further quantities of DNA. It is necessary, instead, to take account of the data that emerges from such a specimen and to check for the ““ possible ““ presence of other elements, both circumstantial and inherent to the data itself that, despite the lack of repetition of the analysis, could allow an evaluation of the reliability of the analysis and of its outcome.”[289]

The court concluded that the biological profile that resulted from the 36B DNA analysis ...

“... gave a biological profile attributable to the person who was mortally wounded with that very knife: a result, therefore, that was entirely reasonable and consistent with the event; [it was] certainly not explainable as a mere coincidence, and it must be ruled out ““according to what has already been observed in this regard - that it could have originated from contamination or from the use of a suspect-centric method.”,[290] and that

“”¦. it should therefore be affirmed that the analysis of trace 36B, which detected the presence DNA attributable to Meredith, appears to be completely reliable.”[293]






Exhibit 165 (Bra clasp)

Exhibit 165 is a small piece of material with hooks from Meredith Kercher’s bra.  The Polizia Scientifica discovered Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on this so-called “bra clasp”.

Dr. Stefanoni and her team began evidence collection at via della Pergola 7 on November 2, 2007.  Additional searches were conducted of Sollecito’s Audi A3, Sollecito’s flat at Corso Garibaldi 110 (November 13), Patrick Diya’s pub “Le Chic” (November 14),  and Rudy Guede’s studio (November 20).  There was a further search at via della Pergola 7 on December 18. 

Meredith’s bra (missing its clasp) was collected on November 2, 2007, in the first search, along with other items (towels, sheets, toilet paper, underwear, etc.).  The bra was found at the foot of the victim in poor condition: torn off of Meredith’s body with cuts at the back.  The bra is Exhibit 59.

The missing bra clasp was one object of the December 18 search.  The search process - including measures taken to ensure against contamination - is described in detail on pp. 204-06 of the Massei report.  However, it is noted that the bra clasp was picked up about 1.5 meters away from its original position as seen in photographs taken on November 2-3.

Small blood drops were clearly visible on the bra clasp material.  The bra clasp revealed a mixture of DNA belonging to the victim and to Sollecito.  According to Dr. Stefanoni the quantity of DNA was not low. 

On trace B, from the clasp, a mixed genetic profile was found: the victim plus Sollecito and that result was further confirmed by the Y profile of Raffaele Sollecito, also found on the hooks.[197]

The Polizia Scientifica’s mixed trace DNA analysis is described in detail in Massei on pp. 206-11. 

The defense raised the issue of the Polizia Scientifica using a “suspect-centric”methodology that might bias the DNA analysis and its interpretation.  Dr. Stefanoni’s remarks are summarized in Massei:

“With reference then to the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito and the fact that his profile was already present and available to her when she interpreted the collected samples, including the one relating to the hooks, she stated that the data was present as historical fact, but that she did not have it, have it available before her at the moment in which she was interpreting the technical data, nor was she otherwise consulting this biological profile.”[226]

Given the delay in collecting the bra clasp and the fact that the bra clasp had been moved on the floor of Meredith’s room, the essential question before the court is presented as follows:

“Was ... the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito, which, according to Dr. Stefanoni, was found on the bra clasp, a consequence of an act of Raffaele Sollecito carried out directly on the bra which Meredith was wearing on the night that she was killed, or on the contrary, could it have had a different origin, so that this DNA could have ended up on the bra clasp without Raffaele Sollecito having ever touched the bra directly, and its clasp in particular?”[266]

The court observes that Meredith’s door was closed and locked on the morning of November 2; that’s how Sollecito and Amanda testify to have found it and that’s how the Postal Police saw it when they arrived.  When the door was finally broken down and opened:

Raffaele Sollecito remained at a distance, far enough—as has been said—that he could not even have been able to look into the room; furthermore, it does not appear that he entered the room at any later time; in fact, as has been seen, the contrary has been shown: once the door was broken down, everyone was ordered to leave the house and Raffaele Sollecito did not enter into the cottage again, much less into Meredith’s room.[268]

Therefore the court rejects this hypothesis for the “placing” of Sollecito’s DNA in Meredith’s room.  Furthermore, there is no reasonable suggestion that Sollecito could have placed his DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp in the prior week after meeting Amanda for the first time.  Sollecito’s DNA was only found in one other location in the house: on a cigarette stub, mixed with that of Amanda Knox. 

8. The staged break-in

The Massei Report examined the evidence surrounding the broken window and disarray in Filomena Romanelli’s bedroom in order to determine whether a real break-in had occurred or the appearance of one had been staged.

When she first returned to the apartment,  Romanelli had made a quick check of her room and ascertained that, even though it was in a complete mess with the left-side [as seen from inside the room] windowpane broken and a big rock on the floor, nothing was in fact missing.[31] The court noted that when Romanelli had left the house, on November 1, she said she had pulled the external shutters towards the interior of her room, although she did not think that she had actually closed them completely. Because they were old and the wood had swelled a bit, they rubbed on the windowsill so, to pull them towards the room, it was necessary to use some force. But, once they had been pulled in, they remained well closed by the pressure of the swelled wood against the windowsill.[48]

Based on Romanelli’s testimony, the court rejected the assumption made by a defense expert witness that the external shutters were left completely open. In fact they were not even completely open on the day following the murder, according to witnesses on November 2.[50]
The initial assumption was that the window had been broken with a rock thrown from the outside (and such a rock was indeed found in the room). However, to have broken the glass of the window without shattering the external shutters, it would have been first necessary for a burglar to open these shutters. The court considered whether some sort of instrument could have been used to open them from the outside, but noted the failure to find any suitable instrument and doubted what type of instrument could be used to this end. This led them to assume that the wall would have to be scaled a first time in order to open the external shutters, so that the burglar could then aim a rock at the window. [48-49]

He would then have had to return underneath the window for a second climb, and balance on his knees or feet on the outside part of the windowsill, while reaching through the broken glass to unlatch the window. The court noted that the window must necessarily have been latched since, otherwise, there would have been no need to throw a rock at all, but just to open the external shutters and climb inside. [49] The burglar would also need to rely on the fact that the external shutters themselves were not actually latched, and also that the internal wooden shutters had not been fastened (otherwise it would have been impossible to open them from the outside).[49]

The court decided that this scenario appears totally unlikely, given the effort involved: going twice underneath the window, going back to throw the stone and scaling the wall twice. Especially so, taking into account the uncertainty of success (having to count on the two favourable circumstances indicated above), with a repetition of movements and behaviours, all of which could easily be seen by anyone who happened to be passing by on the street or actually coming into the house.

Next, the court noted that the double climb necessary to reach the height of three and a half metres would surely have left some kind of trace or imprint on the wall, particularly at the points on the wall that the burglar would have used to support his feet, especially as the earth below the window, on that early November evening, was very wet.[50] In fact, investigators had examined both the wall and all of the vegetation underneath the window, and noted that there were no traces on the wall of earth, or grass, or any streaks at all, and none of the vegetation underneath the window appeared to have been trampled.[142] Furthermore, it was observed that a nail that was part-way up the wall, remained intact. The court deemed it very unlikely, given the position of that nail and its characteristics, that a climber would not cause it to fall or bend.[50]

The next fact to consider was that the pieces of glass from the broken pane were distributed in a homogeneous manner on the inside and outside parts of the windowsill, without any displacement being noted or any piece of glass being found on the ground underneath the window. A prosecution expert witness stated that this tends to exclude the possibility that the rock was thrown from outside the house. Also, a climber, in leaning his hands and then his feet or knees on the windowsill, would have caused at least some piece of glass to fall, and he would have been obliged to shift some pieces of glass in order to avoid being wounded by them. Instead, no piece of glass was found under the window, and no sign of any wound was seen on the pieces of glass found in the room. It can moreover be observed that the presence of many pieces of glass on the outside part of the windowsill increases the probability of finding some small pieces of glass on the ground underneath, since there seems to be no reason that so many pieces of glass would all stop just at the edge of the windowsill without any of them flying beyond the edge and falling down to the garden below.[51,52]

These inconsistencies in the break-in theory can, however, be explained if one supposes that the rock was thrown from the inside of the room, with the two external shutters pulled inwards so that they blocked the pieces of glass from falling to the ground below. Once the glass had been broken from inside, the rock was set down at some place in the room, and the external shutters were pushed towards the outside, being thus opened from within the room.[51]

A further indication that the ‘break-in’ was staged was deduced from photos of the scene, taken by investigators. The appearance is that the goal was to create obvious disorder in Romanelli’s room, but does not appear to be the result of true searching for the kind of valuable objects that might tempt a burglar. The drawers of the little dresser next to the bed were not even opened; the objects on the shelves appear not to have been touched at all; piles of clothes seem to have been thrown down from the closet but it does not seem that there was any serious search inside the closet, in which some clothes and some boxes remained in place without showing any signs of an actual search for valuable items that might have been there. It does not appear that the boxes on the table were opened in a search for valuable items. Indeed, no valuable item was taken, or even set aside to be taken, by the ‘burglar’.

Based on all this evidence, the court concluded that the disorder in Romanelli’s room and the breaking of the window pane constituted an artificial representation created in order to misdirect the investigations towards a person who, not having the key to the front door, was supposed to have entered through the previously broken window and then effected the violent acts on Meredith which caused her death.

Part Four is here.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: How Motive For The Crime Is Addressed By Judge Massei

Posted by James Raper





The Massei Report in the main I thought was excellent. He was incisive with his logic, particularly, though not exclusively, with regard to the staging of the break in and how that necessarily meant that Amanda was present at the scene when the murder was committed.

However, I thought that he was rather feeble in his coverage of the defendants’ motives as to the attack which led to this brutal murder. Perhaps he thought it better to stick with the indisputable evidence. Since this pointed to a sex attack he surmised that Guede had a go at Meredith first, and then - because the stimulation was too much for them - he was joined by Amanda and Raffaele. This works but does seem a bit weak.

Micheli, the judge who committed Amanda and Raffaele to stand trial, was more certain in his mind as to the roles played by these three. He said that there was “an agreed plan”, “to satisfy sexual instincts” with “murderous intent” and that effectively Amanda was the instigator and catalyst.

Motive is largely an area of speculation but it is surely possible to draw inferences from what we know?  As Micheli did.  The Appeal Court and ultimately The Supreme Court of Cassation may well adopt the same reasoning and conclusion ““ maybe go further.

And there were, to my mind, undoubtedly many factors at work, and it is these which I wish to address. I have always been interested in the possible dynamics of just how these three came to murder poor Meredith. Pro-Knox campaigners once made much of “No Motive”. Now not so much because the issue draws people in to a discussion of the evidence and of Amanda’s personality.

For instance, Massei asks, though he says we can not know, had Amanda egged Guede on as to the “availability” ( my word, not his) of Meredith during or prior to their presence at the Cottage?

Frankly the answer to that has to be “yes” since it is a bit difficult to figure out why Amanda and Raffaele would otherwise wish Guede to join them at the cottage. I doubt that Amanda and Raffaele would have wanted Guede around if they were just going there to have an innocent cuddle and sex and to smoke cannabis, as Massei implies. The evidence is that Raffaele hardly knew Guede and in the presence of Amanda was very possessive about her. If he had known of Guede’s interest in Amanda he would have been even less keen to have Guede around.

Also, if all was so innocent beforehand, then why would Guede have tried it on with Meredith and then pressed the situation in the face of her refusal to co-operate, knowing that there were two others there who could have come to her assistance?

The answer is of course that Guede knew full well in advance that there would be no problem with Amanda and Raffaele. He had been invited there and primed to act precisely in the way he did, at least initially. Why? Well there is plenty of evidence as to why Amanda, in her mind, may have been looking for payback time on Meredith. Come to that later.

What does not get much attention in the Massei Report, other than a terse Not Proven at the end, is the matter of Meredith’s missing rent money and credit cards and whether Amanda and Raffaele stole them. It is as if the Judge ( well the jury really) felt that this was a trivial issue that brought nothing much to the case and thus it was not necessary to give it much attention. And indeed there is no summation of or evaluation of that evidence.

Now that does surprise me. Of course there may have been some technical flaw with the charge and the evidence. But in the absence of any comment on this then we do not know what that may be.

What I do know is that the matter, if proven, is not trivial. A theft just prior to the murder significantly ups the stakes for Amanda and Raffaelle and produces a dynamic, which, threaded together with a sexual assault, makes for a far more compelling scenario to murder. It also leads one to conclude that there was a greater degree of premeditation involved : not premeditation to murder but as to an assault, rather than the more spontaneous ” let’s get involved” at the time of the sex attack as postulated by Massei.

What is the evidence? What evidence was before the court? I do not have access to trial records. Therefore I stand to be corrected if I misrepresent the evidence or if my interpretation of it does not met the test of logic.

There were two lay witnesses to whom we can refer. The first was Filomena Romanelli, the flatmate and trainee lawyer. If there was anyone who was going to ensure that the rent was paid on time, it would have been her. She gave evidence that the rent being due very soon she asked Meredith about her contribution of 300 euros and was told by Meredith that all was OK because she had just withdrawn 200 euros from her bank. Filomena assumed from Meredith’s reply that the balance was already to hand.

Is there a problem with this evidence? Is it hearsay and thus inadmissible under Italian law?

Perhaps it is not enough by itself because of course had Meredith not in fact withdrawn the money from her bank, or sufficient funds to cover the stated amount, then that would be a fatal blow to that part of the theft charge. Her bank manager was summoned to give evidence, essentially to corroborate or disprove Filomena’s testimony. I do not know what exactly that evidence was. One would assume that at the very least it did not disprove her testimony. Had it done so that would, as I have said, been fatal. It is also unbelievable that Massei would have overlooked this in the Report. I am assuming that Meredith did not tell a white lie and that the bank records corroborate this.

There may of course be an issue of timing as I understand that the bank manager told the court that transactions at a cash machine are not necessarily entered on the customer account the same day . However that does not seem to me to be significant.

One must also think that the bank manager was asked what other cash withdrawals had been made if the credit cards were taken at the same time as the money.

I understand that there is of course a caveat here: my assumptions in the absence of knowing exactly what the bank manager’s evidence was.

It would be useful also to know how and when the rent was normally paid. It sounds as if it was cash on the day the landlord came to collect.

We do know that the police did not find any money or Meredith”˜s credit cards. Had Meredith, a sensible girl, blown next month’s rent on a Halloween binge? Unlikely. So somebody stole it. And the credit cards. Again, just as with the fake break in, when according to Amanda and Raffaele nothing was stolen, who and only who had access to the cottage to steal the money? Yes, you have guessed it. Amanda, of course.

Does the matter of missing rent money figure anywhere else? There is the evidence of Meredith’s phone records which show that a call was placed to her bank late on the evening of her murder just prior to the arrival of Amanda, Raffaele and Guede. Why? I have to concede that there is no single obvious reason and that it may be more likely than not that the call was entirely unintentional.

But if, as may seem likely, the credit cards were kept with her handbag, and the money in her bedroom drawer, then on discovering that her money was missing she may have called her bank in a funk only to remember that the cards were safe and that no money could be withdrawn from her account.

The missing money also figured in the separate trial of Guede. He made a statement which formed the whole basis of his defence. Basically this was that he had an appointment with Meredith at the cottage, had consensual foreplay with her and was on the toilet when he heard the doorbell ring etc, etc. What he also added was that just before all this Meredith was upset because her rent money had disappeared and that they had both searched for it with particular attention to Amanda’s room.

Now why does Guede mention this? Remember this is his defence. Alibi is not quite the right word. He had plenty of time to think about it or something better. His defence was moulded around (apart from lies) (1) facts he knew the police would have ie no point denying that he was there or that he had sexual contact with Meredith : his biological traces had been left behind, and (2) facts known to him and not to the police at that stage ie the money, which he could use to make his statement as a whole more credible, whilst at the same time giving the police a lead. He is shifting the focus, if the police were to follow it up, on to the person he must have been blaming for his predicament, Amanda.

If all three, Amanda, Raffaele and Guede, went to the cottage together, as Massei has it, then Guede learns about the missing rent money not in the circumstances referred to in his statement but because Meredith has already discovered the theft and worked out who has had it and challenges Amanda over it when the three arrive. Perhaps this is when Guede goes to the toilet and listens to music on his Ipod. After all he is just there for the sex and this is all a distraction.

Although Micheli thought Guede was a liar from start to finish, he did not discount the possibility that Guede was essentially telling the truth about the money. Guede expanded upon this at his appeal, telling the court that Amanda and Meredith had an argument and then a fight over it. It is a thread that runs through all his accounts from his Skype chat and initial statements in Germany to his final appeal.

Guede’s “evidence” was not a factor in the jury’s consideration at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial. Although he was called to give evidence he did not do so. Now his “evidence” and the findings and conclusion of the courts which processed his case come in to play in the appeal of Amanda and Raffaele.

When were the money and credit cards stolen?

I have to accept that as to the money at any rate a theft prior to the murder is critical to sustain the following hypothesis. The credit cards were in any event probably taken after the attack on Meredith.

According to Amanda and Raffaele they spent Halloween together at Raffaele’s and the next day went to the cottage. Meredith was there as was Filomena.  Filomena left first, followed by Meredith to spend the evening with her friends, and Amanda and Raffaele left some time afterwards.

So Amanda and Raffaele could have stolen the money any time after Meredith left and before she returned at about 9.30pm - the day of her murder. Incidentally Filomena testified that Meredith never locked the door to her room except on the occasions she went home to England. Meredith was a very trusting girl.

What motive had Amanda for wanting the money apart from the obvious one of profit?

There are numerous plausible motives.

To fund a growing drugs habit which she shared with Raffaele? Not an inconsiderable expense for a student. Both Amanda and Raffaele explained during questioning that their confusion and hesitancy was due to the fact that they had been going rather hard on drugs. Mignini says that they were both part of a drugs crowd.

Because her own financial circumstances were deteriorating and to fund her own rent contribution?  She was probably about to be sacked at Le Chic where she was considered by Lumumba to be flirty and unreliable and to add insult to injury would likely be replaced by Meredith. In fact Meredith was well liked and trusted by all whereas Amanda’s star was definitely on the wane. 

But maybe Amanda just also wanted to get her own back on Meredith.

Filomena testified that Meredith and Amanda had begun to have issues with each other.

Here are some quotes from Darkness Descending.

Filomena ““ “At first they got on very well. But then things began to take a different course. Amanda never cleaned the house so we had to institute a rota “¦.then she (Amanda) would bring strangers home”¦.Meredith said she was not interested in boys, she was here to study”.

“Meredith was too polite to confront Amanda, but she did confide in her pal, Robyn Butterworth. Robyn winced in disbelief when Meredith said that the pair had quarreled because Knox often failed to flush the toilet, even when menstruating. Filomena began noticing that Amanda could be odd, even mildly anti-social.”

It seems that Amanda did not like it when she was not the centre of attention. It was observed that, comically if irritatingly, she would sing loudly if conversation started to pass her by and when playing her guitar would often strum the same chord over and over again.

On the evening of Halloween Amanda texted Meredith enquiring as to whether they could meet up. But Meredith had other arrangements. Meredith appeared to be having a good time whereas Amanda was not.

Indeed there has been much speculation that Amanda has always had deep seated psychological problems and that just after several weeks in Perugia her fragile and damaged ego was tipping towards free fall.


With Meredith’s money both Amanda and Raffaele could have afforded something a little stronger than the usual smoke and I speculate that they spent the late afternoon getting stoned.

Of course Amanda was still an employee of Lumumba and she was supposed to turn up that evening for work but perhaps she no longer cared all that much for the consequences if she did not.

Again I speculate that she, with or without Raffaele,  met Guede at some time -  perhaps before she was due at work, perhaps after she learnt that she was not required by Lumumba -  discussed Meredith’s “availability” and agreed to meet up again on the basketball court at Grimana Square.

The notion that Amanda and Guede hardly knew each other seems implausible to me. We know that they met at a party at the boys’ flat at the cottage. Guede was friends with one of those boys and was invited there on a number of occasions. He was an ever present on the basketball court in Grimana Square which was located just outside the College Amanda and Meredith attended, and just metres from the cottage. He was known to have fancied Amanda and Amanda was always aware of male interest.

What else did Amanda and Raffaele have in mind when arranging the meeting or when thinking about it afterwards? Guede was of course thinking about sex and that Amanda and Raffaele were going to facilitate an encounter with Meredith later that evening. However Amanda and Raffaele had something else on their minds. The logic of their position vis a vis Meredith cannot have escaped them. They had taken her money whilst she was out. Had she not already discovered this fact then she would in any event be back, notice the money was missing and would put 2 and 2 together.  What would happen? Who would she tell? Would she call the police? How are they going to deal with this? Obviously deny it but logic has it’s way and the situation with or without the police being called in would be uncomfortable.

They decided to turn the tables and make staying in Perugia uncomfortable for Meredith. Now the embarrassing, for Meredith, sexual advances from Guede were going to be manipulated by them in to a sexual humiliation for Meredith. Meredith was not going to be seriously harmed but as and when they were challenged by Meredith over the missing money, as inevitably they would be, she was to be threatened with injury or worse. Knives come in useful here. Amanda may have fantasized that Meredith would likely then give up her tenancy at the cottage, perhaps leave Italy. Whether that looks like the probable and likely outcome I leave you to judge, but the hypothesis is that they were starting to think and behave irrationally and that this was exacerbated by the use of drugs.

In the event there came a point when neither Amanda nor Raffaele had any other commitments anyway. They got to the basketball court. They waited for Guede.

We know Amanda and Raffaele were on the basketball court the evening of the 1st November. This is because of the evidence of a Mr Curatolo, the second lay witness. He was not precise about times but thought that they were on the basketball court between 9.30pm and 10pm and may have left around 11.00 ““ 11.30pm and then returned just before midnight. In any event he testified to seeing Amanda and Raffaele having heated arguments, and occasionally going to the parapet at the edge of the court to peer over. What were they looking at? Go to the photographs of Perugia on the True Justice for Meredith website and you will see. From the parapet you get a good view of the gates that are the entrance, and the only entrance as I understand it, to the cottage.

So why the behaviour observed by Mr Curatolo? They may have been impatient waiting for Guede to arrive. Were they actually to go through with this?  Was Meredith at home, alone, and had she found the money was missing and had she called the police or tipped off someone already? Who was hanging around outside the entrance to the cottage and why? There was, apparently, a car parked at the entrance, a broken down car nearby with the occupants inside awaiting a rescue truck, and the rescue truck itself, all present around 11.00pm. Amanda and Raffaele did not wish to be observed going through the gates with these potential witnesses around.

We, of course, cannot know for certain what went on in the minds of Amanda and Raffaele between the time of them leaving the cottage and their departure from the basketball court to return to the cottage. It has to be speculation but there is a logical consistency to the above narrative if they had stolen Meredith’s money earlier that day, and their meeting up with Guede just before leaving the basketball court does not look like a co-incidence.

From there on in to the inevitable clash between Amanda and Meredith over the money.

It is my opinion that at the cottage Amanda came off worse initially: that she got caught in the face by a blow and suffered a nose bleed.
Stefanoni and Garofano both say that there was an abundant amount (relatively speaking) of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom washbasin, and to a lesser extent the bidet.  Whereas most of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom was mixed with Meredith’s, the blood on the washbasin tap was Amanda’s alone. Both of a quality and quantity to discount menstrual (from washed knickers) or bleeding from ear piercing. Their conclusion was that Amanda bled fairly profusely though perhaps briefly at some stage.

Possibly Amanda may have cut her feet on glass in Filomena’s bedroom but if so it’s difficult to see how blood from that ends up as a blob on the basin tap and in the sink and cut feet are painful to walk on and she did not display any awkwardness on her feet the next day.

Amanda’s blood may have come from a nick by a blade to her hands. I think the nick would be obvious the next day .If so, she was not hiding it. She was photographed the next day outside the cottage waving her hands under the noses of a coterie of vigilant cops.

She might have got a bloody nose during the attack in Meredith’s bedroom save that there is no evidence of her blood there.

On the other hand if she got into a tussle with Meredith (say in the corridor outside their rooms and where there was little room for other than the two to be engaged) and was fended off with a reflex blow that accidently or otherwise connected with her nose, Amanda’s natural reaction would be to disengage immediately and head for the bathroom sink and staunch the flow of blood.

A nose bleed need not take too long to staunch especially if not serious and there is no cut (certainly none being visible the next day).  Just stuff some tissue up the offending nostril. A nose bleed is not necessarily something of which there would be any sign the next day.

Raffaelle fusses around her whilst Rudy briefly plays peacemaker. But Amanda is boiling. As furious with Raffaelle and Guede as she is with Meredith. She eggs Guede on and pushes him towards Meredith.  Raffaele proudly produces his flicknife, latent sadistic instincts surfacing.

Is a scene like this played out inside the cottage or outside? I think of the strange but sadly discredited tale told by Kokomani.

In any event motive is satiated and the coil, having been tensed, is sprung for the pre-planned, but now extremely violent, hazing of poor Meredith.

I am also thinking here of Mignini’s “crescendo of violence” and where a point is reached where anything goes ““ where there is (from their warped perspectives) almost an inevitability or justification for their behaviour. A “Meredith definitely needs teaching a lesson now!” attitude.

Psychology is part of motive and there is much speculation particularly with regard to Amanda and Raffaele. They have both been in prison for well over three years now and during this time psychological assessments will certainly have been carried out.

Based on specific incidents and and general patterns of behaviour, speech and language, and demeanour, some preliminary conclusions will have been reached correlated with the facts of the crime.

If their convictions are upheld these assessments may be relevant to sentence in so far as they shed light on mitigation and motive.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Precise And Accurate Italian Wikipedia Article On Meredith’s Case, Now Translated Into English

Posted by Tom M and Skeptical Bystander


A recent post on TJMK by Gwaendar refers to Wikipedia and the current effort by the Fictitious Friends of Amanda to make her the focus of an article that has so far been devoted to the Murder of Meredith Kercher.

The Eclectic Chapbook blog often comments on the case. It has called this effort “tragically misguided and possibly somewhat demented,” describing it as an instance of “the Enchanted Glen Phenomenon, which is a psychological space wherein normal laws do not apply and all rules are magically suspended. “

We have now examined and translated the Italian Wikipedia article which was written in a space where the normal laws certainly are applied and no rules have been suspended. 

The main reporting and the voluminous records of the trial and the appeal are of course all in Italian, and Italians on the whole have a far better grasp of events and the legal context than do most observers in the US and the UK. Because there is so much source material, and so little misleading reporting, it would seem that If any Wikipedia in any language in the world is going to describe the case correctly, it will be the Italian one.

This translation below of most of the Italian Wikipedia article is not word-for-word, but it is intended to convey the substance of the Italian article as it would have been if originally written in English. 

The index, the sections on books and movie, and the citations were omitted.

The murder of Meredith Kercher, an English student in Italy enrolled in the Erasmus program at the University of Perugia, occurred during the night of November 1, 2007.  Meredith was found lifeless, with her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with other students in Perugia.  The cause of death was hemorrhage due to bleeding from a wound to the neck caused by a sharp object used as a weapon.

Two men and a woman were convicted as a result, of murder, sexual violence and theft.

Biography

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was born December 28, 1985 in Southwark, London, lived in Coulsdon, and was a student at the University of Leeds, where she was pursuing a degree in European Studies. She enrolled in the Erasmus program, and had arrived in Italy in September 2007 to complete her degree in European Studies.

Details and circumstances of the murder

Kercher was murdered at night between 1 and 2 November 2007, in the apartment she shared with three other young women, two Italian and an American, who were away that night. Based on the first examination of the autopsy, the pathologist who handled the case ruled that the death occurred between 22:00 and midnight on that day.

The following morning an elderly woman living near Via della Pergola where Meredith’s body was found, alarmed by the discovery of two abandoned mobile phones, called the police. From information obtained from one of two mobile phones the Postal Police of Perugia sent agents to the house of Meredith Kercher.  On their arrival the police found Amanda Knox (Seattle, USA, July 9, 1987), Meredith Kercher’s flatmate, and her Italian friend, Raffaele Sollecito (Giovinazzo, March 26, 1984), with whom she had recently started a relationship, outside the house.

The two young people said they were awaiting the arrival of the police; when asked why, they said they had found a window broken, the door open, and suspected a theft. Later, these claims were questioned by investigators, given that the Police Post arrived at the house on Via della Pergola at 12:35 and telephone calls to the Police were not made not until 12:51 and 12:54.  Entering, the Police found the bedroom of Meredith Kercher locked and decided to break down the door. Upon entering, they found a number of bloodstains, the room in disarray, and a foot sticking out from under the duvet which had covered the bed.

The Convicted:

The three convicted at the first stage are:

  • Raffaele Sollecito, who was born in Giovinazzo (BA), a university student of 23 years at the time of the murder;
  • Amanda Knox, a student originally from Seattle, U.S., 20, who had a relationship with Sollecito at the time of the crime;
  • Rudy Hermann Guede, born December 26, 1986 in the Ivory Coast, was arrested in Germany on November 20 and extradited to Italy on December 6, 2007.  At his lawyers’ request, Guede received from the court at a preliminary hearing an order granting expedited trial.

Knox and Guede were detained in Capanne prison, a 20-minute drive from Perugia. Sollecito, after also being held in Capanne, was transferred in early 2008 to the Vocabolo Sabbione prison in Terni.

The case also, initially, erroneously involved Patrick Lumumba, owner of the restaurant where Amanda Knox worked; her statement placed him at the crime scene on the night of the crime. The charges were later proved unfounded and demonstrated the unreliability of Knox as a witness. Implicating the Congolese man was also an incorrect translation of a text message sent to him in English by Knox (‘see you later’, which rather than a generic “Ci vidiamo,” was translated literally as “we will see each other later”[“ci vidiamo dopo”].

Thus, police thought that the two had an appointment for the evening of the crime). Patrick Lumumba was ultimately released and all charges against him were dropped.  Following the unjust detention lasting 14 days, Lumumba was awarded € 8000 as compensation, but this was deemed inadequate by his lawyer, who threatened to sue.

The Sentences

Knox, Sollecito and Guede were sentenced respectively to 26, 25 and 16 years in prison. Rudi Hermann Guede opted for an abbreviated trial and his conviction for complicity in murder and sexual violence was made final by the Court of Cassation, First Criminal Division, on December 16, 2010. For the other two participants, the case is on appeal. The decisions reconstruct in detail the manner and circumstances of the murder, a motive defined “violent, sexual, erotic.”

The conviction in the first trial of Sollecito and Knox, issued by the Court of Assizes of Perugia, is based on numerous expert opinions, objective evidence and testimony.

According to the reconstruction regarding Knox and Sollecito, on the evening of November 1, 2007, they met in piazza Grimana, where they had occasionally met Guede, an acquaintance of Knox, who decided to join them for the evening. They decided to go to Knox’s house, to which her roommate Meredith Kercher, after an evening with her English friends, had just returned. Kercher’s bedroom door was presumably ajar, and upon entering the house the three defendants immediately noticed her presence.

Going directly to another part of the house, Knox and Sollecito made love.  Guede, shortly after, went to the bathroom, where he left organic residues in the water of the toilet, as found in the investigation. According to the reconstruction, Guede left the bathroom, probably excited by the sounds of Sollecito and Knox making love, noted again the door ajar at Kercher’s room, and decided to approach. Then he entered Kercher’s room; but after her refusal, he became violent, attempting to rape her.

Kercher’s cries led Knox and Sollecito to go to her room, where they joined Guede’s criminal action, finding it an “exciting situation.” While the Guede violated Kercher, Knox and Sollecito tried to immobilize her: to do this Sollecito and Knox wielded knives to threaten the victim. The analysis shows that the knife wounds by Sollecito were probably quite small, while Knox wielded a kitchen knife, later found, and on which were found genetic traces of her mixed with those of Kercher.

The situation then deteriorated, partly because of the screams and resistance of Kercher: Knox then, with the kitchen knife, struck the victim in the neck, causing fatal injuries. The three defendants, shortly after the murder, fled with Kercher’s phones, fearing that if someone called her and got no response, they would be suspicious and the crime would be discovered: the cell phone was ultimately found in an embankment a few hundred meters from Kercher’s house.

Then they headed in different directions: Guede to a nightclub, Knox and Sollecito to the latter’s flat. The next morning Knox and Sollecito tried to clean up the crime scene and clean up their tracks; then they broke a window in the house to stage a mock burglary, hoping to throw the investigation off course.

Guede’s Supposed Confession

In March 2010 rumors spread of an alleged confession by Rudy Guede. The facts are as follows: it seems that Guede had revealed his complicity, with a friend, in killing Kercher, to Mario Alessi, an inmate housed in the same prison, a character already known to police and media for the murder of little Tommaso Onofri, Guede had invited Kercher to go to a party, she refused, and subsequently the friend of Guede tried to rape her. According to Alessi, Guede tried to come to Kercher’s aid, and Guede’s friend rebuked him, saying that he should just strike the final blow to end the girl’s misery, which is what Guede did.

Then Guede and his friend met again by chance in a nightclub, and Guede’s friend gave him money to flee to Germany, where he was at the time of the extradition and return to Italy for arrest. This reconstruction, which would completely exonerate Knox and Sollecito, was found by investigators to be totally unfounded.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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

Posted by SomeAlibi


Welcome

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

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

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

My own arrival

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

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

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

The unanimous jury

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

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

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

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

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

The voluminous evidence

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

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

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

The Massei Sentencing Report

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

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

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

The Knox PR campaign

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

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

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

Now for a quick tour of the evidence.


Some of the points of evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher. RIP.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ten Examples Of How The Former Campus Cop Steve Moore Serially Mischaracterizes The Case

Posted by The Machine




1. The Chronic Chest-Thumper

A couple of weeks ago Steve Moore was frogmarched out of his workplace on the campus of Pepperdine University and told not to come back.

Although Pepperdine apparently offered him a deal for his resignation, he refused, and so he probably departed with only the minimal severance entitlements in his contract. Now he is suing Pepperdine, presumably to see if he can get a little bit more. 

Steve Moore has been rather plaintively claiming since the firing that he did nothing wrong, except to avidly support the innocence of Amanda Knox in his own time. No mention of his confused take on the case or of Pepperdine’s exchange students in Italy who must rely on the police Moore delights in trashing.

We suspect that a lot of things about his confused, hurtful and ebullient campaign reached the front office of Pepperdine University and its Law School, and that some or many of these things may come out in the open when Steve Moore’s suit goes to court. Our next post will contemplate what some of these things may be.


2. Moore Adrift On Hard Facts

It’s not a secret at all to those involved in handling the case in Perugia and Rome (where Moore is much ridiculed) and presumably now at Pepperdine (which has a very good law school, one capable of correctly absorbing the Massei report) is how Steve Moore is serially unable to get the facts right.

His media interviews have followed the very familiar PR script. The presenter or journalist begins by really talking up Steve Moore’s 25-year career with the FBI as one of the FBI’s really big stars! Then going to to emphasize how Steve Moore has REALLY done his homework on this case! On the NBC Today Show, for example, it was claimed that Steve Moore has studied “every iota of evidence”! Reporter Linda Byron stated on Seattle’s King 5 TV that he had obtained the trial transcripts and the police and autopsy records! And Moore had all of them translated into English!

The intended message is clear: Steve Moore is an exceptionally credible professional expert in all the relevant fields! He knows this case inside out because he has researched it absolutely meticulously!

In this piece, we will compare just a few of the many claims that Steve Moore has made - here in interviews with Frank Shiers on Seattle’s Kiro FM Radio, with Ann Curry on the NBC Today Show, with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News, and with Monique Ming Laven on Seattle’s Kiro 7 TV - with the real facts, as described in the Massei report and the witness testimony from the trial.

3. Ten Of The Oft Repeated Lies By Moore


Frequent Moore Lie 1: The large knife doesn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

Steve Moore has repeatedly claimed in interviews with for example Frank Shiers, Ann Curry and Monique Laven that the double DNA knife doesn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

Untrue. Prosecution experts, multiple defence experts and Judge Massei in his report have all agreed that the double DNA knife DID match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

On these matters, the considerations already made must be recalled, which led this Court to evaluate the outcome of the genetic investigation as reliable, and this knife as absolutely compatible with the most serious wound. (The Massei report, page 375).

Barbie Nadeau reported directly from the courtroom in Perugia that multiple witnesses for the defence, including Dr. Carlo Torre, conceded that the double DNA knife was compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck.

“According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).

He (Dr. Carlo Torre, defence expert) conceded that a third larger wound could have been made with the knife, but said it was more likely it was made by twisting a smaller knife. (Barbie Nadeau, The Daily Beast).

For someone who has allegedly “studied every iota of evidence”, it seems that Steve Moore is doing nothing more than regurgitating a familiar FOA myth that has long been completely debunked.

He clearly hasn’t studied every iota of evidence. Very far from it.

Monique Ming Laven had a copy of the English translation of the Massei report. Warning bells should have gone off in her head as soon as Moore claimed the double DNA knife didn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck, and yet she didn’t challenge him.


Frequent Moore Lie 2: They want you to believe that Amanda Knox inflicted all three wounds on Meredith’s neck

Moore stated in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News that “they” claimed that Knox caused all three wounds on Meredith’s neck.

“What they’re having you, what they want you to believe is that in the middle of a life and death struggle, holding a girl who is fighting for her life. Amanda stabbing someone for the first time in her life, takes two stabs with a very small knife, throws it away and says give me the other one” (5.48 -  6.05)

Untrue. Neither the judges and jury nor the prosecution have ever claimed that Amanda Knox inflicted all three wounds on Meredith’s neck:

“Elements which lead one to consider that the 4cm in depth wound was inflicted by Raffaele Sollecito with the pocket knife that he was always carrying around with him, and was inflicted immediately after having cut the bra…” (The Massei report, page 374).

The following extract is from Mignini’s timeline, which was presented at the trial on 20 November 2009 by the prosecutors:

23.30 ...At this point, the two knives emerge from the pockets of Amanda and Raffaele: one with a blade of four to five centimetres, the other however a big kitchen knife. Meredith tries to fend off the blades with her right hand. She is wounded.

23:40 ...The three become more violent. With the smaller knife, Sollecito strikes a blow: the blade penetrates 4 centimetres into the neck.

The timeline presented by the prosecutors during their summation was published in Il Messagero and other Italian newspapers. It was translated by main poster Tiziano and our other Italian speakers and posted on PMF and TJMK here.


Frequent Moore Lie 3: Meredith had no defensive wounds on her hands

Steve Moore told Frank Shiers on Kiro FM that Meredith had no defensive wounds on her hands.

Untrue. Moore clearly hadn’t read the autopsy report, or its summary in the Massei Report.

“They consist also in some tiny defensive wounds: one on the palm of her [396] right hand of a length of .6cm showing a tiny amount of blood; another on the ulnar surface of the first phalange of the second finger of the left hand, also of length .6cm; another on the fingertip of the first finger with a superficial wound of .3cm, and another tiny wound corresponding to the fourth radius.” (The Massei report, pages 369-370).


Frequent Moore Lie 4: Rudy left his hair and fluid samples on Meredith’s body.

Steve Moore has made this claim in interviews with Frank Shiers and George Stephanopoulos.

Untrue. Rudy Guede did not leave any hair or fluid samples on Meredith’s body. There is no mention of Rudy Guede leaving his hair or fluid samples on Meredith’s body in either the Micheli report or the Massei report.

Steve Moore is simply making things up or relying on false information.


Frequent Moore Lie 5: Amanda and Raffaele didn’t step in blood and that can’t be avoided

In his interview with Frank Shiers, Steve Moore claimed that Knox and Sollecito didn’t step in Meredith’s blood.

Untrue. The Massei report completely contradicts this claim. It notes that Amanda Knox stepped in Meredith’s blood and tracked the blood with her feet into her own room, the corridor, and Filomena’s room:

Even the traces highlighted by Luminol therefore show the existence of evidence against Amanda, making [the Court] consider that she, having been barefoot in the room where Meredith was killed and having thus stained her feet, had left the traces highlighted by Luminol (which could have resisted the subsequent action of cleaning, on which more will follow) and found in the various parts of the house which she went to for the reasons shown above (her own room, the corridor, Romanelli’s room). (The Massei report, page 382).

Judge Massei attributed the visible bloody footprint on the bathroom mat to Raffaele Sollecito and categorically ruled out the possibility that it could have belonged to Rudy Guede:

“Also from this viewpoint it must be excluded that the print left on the sky-blue mat in the little bathroom could be attributable to Rudy.  A footprint that, for what has been observed in the relevant chapter [of this report] and for the reasons just outlined, must be attributed to Raffaele Sollecito…” (The Massei report, page 379).

The bare bloody footprint in the corridor, referred in the Massei report as trace 2, was attributed to Raffaele Sollecito:

In this particular case, they lead to an opinion of probable identity with one subject (Sollecito with respect to trace 2, Amanda Knox with respect to traces 1 and 7) and to the demonstrated exclusion of the other two. (The Massei report, page 349).


Frequent Moore Lie 6: None of the luminol prints or stains contained Meredith’s DNA

Steve Moore told Frank Shiers that Meredith’s DNA wasn’t found in any of the luminol prints or stains.

Untrue. Meredith’s DNA was found in the luminol traces in the corridor and in Filomena’s room.

Amanda (with her feet stained with Meredith’s blood for having been present in her room when she was killed) had gone into Romanelli’s room and into her [own] room leaving traces [which were highlighted] by Luminol, some of which (one in the corridor, the L8, and one, the L2, in Romanelli’s room) were mixed, that is, constituted of a biological trace attributable to [both] Meredith and Amanda…” (The Massei report, page 380).


Frequent Moore Lie 7: The prosecutor through fierce interrogation coerced Amanda into implicating someone else in the case

Steve Moore has made this claim on a number of occasions

Untrue. The prosecutor wasn’t even present when Amanda Knox first accused Diya Lumumba.

Dr Mignini was called to the police station after she had ALREADY admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed and after she had ALREADY made her false and malicious accusation against Lumumba.

Her implication of Lumumba was triggered by sight of a phone message she had denied. She had an interpreter with her at all times, and she had a lawyer present at all times after her status moved to that of a self-proclaimed witness.

Her own lawyers never ever claimed the interrogation was anything out of the ordinary (Italian law requires that lawyers report real claims of abuse), or that for a suspect she was treated less than kindly.

They never filed any complaint, contributing to her calunnia conviction, and making her situation at her slander trial in Florence in November one that is dire and untenable. 


Frequent Moore Lie 8: Amanda Knox wasn’t given food or drinks when she was questioned by the police.

Steve Moore claimed on the Today Show and ABC News that Amanda Knox wasn’t given food or drinks when she was questioned.

Untrue. Monica Napoleoni testified that Amanda Knox was given things to eat and drink.

“Ms Napoleoni told the court that while she was at the police station Ms Knox had been “treated very well. She was given water, camomile tea and breakfast. She was given cakes from a vending machine and then taken to the canteen at the police station for something to eat.” (Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009).

Amanda Knox even herself confirmed during her testimony at the trial that she was given something to eat and drink.


Frequent Moore Lie 9: Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian on 5 November 2007

Steve Moore stated in his interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News that Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian, a language he says she barely knew, on 5 November 2007.

Untrue. Interpreters were present at all sesions on 2, 3, 4 and 5 November and their names appear in the records Knox signed. Knox was provided with an interpreter, Anna Donnino, on 5 November 2007, who translated all the police officers’ questions into English for her and translated her answers back.

In Amanda Knox’s own testimony on the stand in June 2009, she even referred to this interpreter - she claimed the interpreter seemed to give her some advice at one point.


Frequent Moore Lie 10: Amanda Knox recanted her accusation against Diya Lumumba as soon as she got some food

Steve Moore has made this claim in numerous interviews and articles.

Untrue. Amanda Knox didn’t retract her accusation as soon as she got some food at all. In fact, she reiterated her allegation in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007 which was admitted in evidence:

[Amanda] herself, furthermore, in the statement of 6 November 2007 (admitted into   evidence ex. articles 234 and 237 of the Criminal Procedure Code and which was mentioned above) wrote, among other things, the following: I stand by my - accusatory - statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrick…in these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrick as the murderer…”.

This statement, as specified in the report on it of 6 November 2007 at 2:00pm, by the Police Chief Inspector, Rita Ficarra, was drawn up, following the notification of the detention measure, by Amanda Knox, who “requested blank papers in order to produce a written statement to hand over” to the same Ficarra. (The Massei report, page 389).

The Massei court took note of the fact that Amanda Knox didn’t recant her false and malicious allegation against Diya Lumumba during the whole of the time he was kept in prison. Later courts noted that she told her mother she felt bad about it.

4. Verdict On Steve Moore

He is either an incompetemt or a phoney. Either way he is not to be trusted.

His various surfacings smack of a Walter Mitty character making things up as he goes along, with an expression and a tone of voice that suggests he is thinking “Yes, folks, this REALLY is all about ME.” 

He will save Knox! He will save Knox! Come what may!

Steve Moore has never ever addressed the numerous smoking-gun issues, like Knox’s and Sollecito’s many lies before and after 5 November 2007. It seems that perhaps he’s not even aware of them - he certainly seems to think Amanda Knox only lied on 5 November 2007.

Italian authorities worked hard and professionally in Perugia and Rome to get this case right. If he is ever to speak up again with any credibility at all, Steve Moore needs to read and actually understand the Massei report in its entirety.

It’s unforgivable for him to get so many facts wrong on so many occasions in front of large audiences, and then use those wrong facts to make multiple highly unprofessional accusations against the authorities in Perugia and Rome.

He would never have got away with this about a US case. He would have been held in contempt of court for trying to poison the jury pool.

And the journalists who get to interview him REALLY should have alarm bells going off when he comes out with his many fictions.

It was very remiss of Monique Ming Laven and Ann Curry not to challenge Moore over any of his false claims, such as the double DNA knife being incompatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck. George Stephanopolous did at least make some small attempt to push back.

Steve Moore is not only oblivious to many facts about the case.

He seems totally oblivious to the real hurt that his cowardly, dishonest, self-serving campaign from across the Atlantic is inflicting on Meredith’s family and her friends.


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