Tuesday, October 08, 2019

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

Posted by The Machine

Dr Stefanoni with Dr Mignini, two world-class professionals

This overview of the Gladwell series lists all posts.

Long post. Click here to go straight to Comments.

1. This Evidence Series Overview

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Bra Clasp Evidence STILL Stands Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numerous forensic experts have effectively ruled out contamination at the cottage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numerous forensic experts have effectively ruled out contamination in the laboratory

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

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

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

Professor Novelli ruled out contamination in the laboratory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Conclusions On This Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Our Next Post

Click for Post:  There’s This Powerful Evidence Of Sollecito’s Crimescene Presence: Unmistakably HIS Footprint

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


Hi Machine

Endorsed word for word. It was a characteristically out-of-his-depth Gladwell and not the Italians experts he maligns who on a grand scale has “botched” this.

These are seven of the supporting points we have both made many times previously:

1) Almost all collection, and all of the processing in the state-of-the-art Rome police labs, was done with defense observers looking on and not one of them ever complained about anything. All their names are in the court reports.

2) The ONE reason the bra clasp remained behind in the house for a month and a half is that Stefanoni’s team would not go back there without observers, and surprise-surprise it “mysteriously” took a month and a half for a defense observer to become available.

3) This solid confirmation of proper processing was THE reason the defense teams at trial in 2009 had almost zero comeback on the DNA evidence. Like you do again, the prosecution and their experts hit this one right out of the ballpark.

4) The trial jurors were sitting there, day after day, observing five things none of us ever did: (a) an accumulating mosaic of evidence, (b) confident prosecution experts, (c) flailing and despondent defense experts, (d) flailing and despondent defense legal teams, and (e) the obviously downcast Knox and Sollecito, not knowing where to look. 

5) Massei and Nencini were “murder judges” capable of processing such scientific information and bringing their 2009 and 2013 juries into the picture. Fine reports, and you channel them.

6) Hellman was not a “murder judge” and left his 2011 jury very vulnerable to the lunacies on the DNA front that Conti and Vecchiotti and their Svengali, Hampikian, were able to conjure up.

7) Also Marasca and Bruno were not “murder judges” and so once again in 2015 the defenses were able to do a number on them - and arrive back at a Hellman-type outcome identical to the 2011 outcome Judge Chieffi and the First Chambers had thrown out!

And so to Gladwell. He now adopts the barking-mad conspiracy theories of Hampikian, Hellman, Marasca and Bruno. And remains totally ignorant of Massei and Nencini.

Some researcher. 

And so he foolishly misses the story of a lifetime: how PR and politicians and the mafias corrupted two courts to deny Meredith justice, and to set those two ghouls loose and forever desperate for more blood-money.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/09/19 at 06:35 PM | #

There were two tests carried out on the sample swabbed from the hooks on the bra clasp, but not by way of a repeat amplification for analysis. There was no need for a repeat amplification because the amount of Sollecito’s DNA was not Low Copy Number. Below 200 picograms and the guidelines recommend a repeat amplification. The quantity of Sollecito’s DNA was well above this. All the peaks were well defined.

What was tested, in addition to the autosomal markers, was the Y haplotype found there. This is passed unchanged from father to son. So, one’s Y haplotype will be shared with male relatives. On testing the Y haplotype all 17 loci were found, a complete match.

The statistical probability that the profiles were not that of Raffaele Sollecito (and that, as to Y haplotype, some distant relative of his, who just happened to share a significant number of the same individually unique autosomal markers, was in the cottage on the night of the murder, rather than Raffaele) is so exceedingly low, that it can be accepted that his DNA was on the bra clasp.

Actually all the judges accepted this even if the likes of Hellmann and Marasca were less than fulsome in acknowledging the fact.

The issue was contamination. Environmental contamination was a non-starter despite the bollocks spouted by the so-called independent experts.

As to tertiary transfer, there was no convincing evidence as to such a probability, just hypothetical possibilities. One can always dream these up in any crime scene scenario.

Posted by James Raper on 10/10/19 at 04:57 AM | #

That’s an excellent summary of the bra clasp evidence James.

I think the fact that Dr Stefanoni’s forensic findings were confirmed as being accurate and reliable by Dr Renato Biondo - the head of the DNA Unit of the Scientific Police - should be highlighted.

Renowned DNA experts Professor Novelli and Professor Torricelli also confirmed Dr Stefanoni’s forensic findings with regard to the bra clasp and knife evidence.

What is the point of the likes of Dr Stefanoni and Dr Biondo spending years studying for degrees in biology and specialising in forensic science and Italy having two forensic science organisations - the Scientific Police and the RIS Carabinieri - if their expertise is completely ignored by judges who have no forensic qualifications and experience?

Judges should stick to their field of expertise i.e. law. When they venture into the fields of forensic sience or mathematics, they invariably make embarrassing schoolboy errors.

Brilliant mathematicians Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez pointed out that Judge Hellmann made an embarrassing schoolboy error when he claimed that it wouldn’t be significant if the untested DNA sample from Sollecito turned out to be Meredith’s DNA. You don’t need a degree in mathematics or statistics to understand that Hellmann was completely wrong about this.

I really don’t know how Judge Hellmann and Judge Zanetti and Judge Marasca and Judge Bruno can sleep at night. Their commitment was to two sadistic sex killers who couldn’t care less about them and not truth and justice.

What makes Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito so special that judges and Supreme Court judges act so perversely?

Posted by The Machine on 10/10/19 at 10:24 AM | #

Good work, James and Machine. So cool and exact. A pleasure to read.

Okay. Here are eight DNA-related hard facts that the hoaxer Gladwell and the snakepit of previous hoaxers seem to have “forgotten” in their shrill denunciations of Italy.

(1) This prosecution was knee-deep in top-notch experts (who all pointed the way of collection and processing competency and highly reliable results). Try finding more than a single such expert in most American cases.

Did Gladwell mention this?

(2) The defense teams also brought in some guns-for-hire who (despite ease of access not exceeded in any other country in the world) never gained any traction with the real “murder judges” Massei (2009), Chieffi (2013), and Nencini (2014).

Did Gladwell mention this?

(3) The defenses, renowned for sleazy tricks and mafia ties, gained traction ONLY with the befuddled Judge Hellman and Judge Zanetti (2011), and then the equally befuddled Judge Marasca and Judge Bruno (2015), which their own illegal judge-shopping had caused to be managing those appeals.

Did Gladwell mention this?

(4) Italy’s official DNA competence was not, in any respect. inferior to that of all European countries generally, and certainly not behind that of the US (despite all those irrelevant manuals Hampikian was spreading around).

Did Gladwell mention this?

(5) Here is a key example of the first American state out of fifty playing catch-up to Italy on the LCN processing that the top two Italian police labs correctly used, one two years before, to detect the DNA on the knife.


Did Gladwell mention this?

(6) Italy requires, by law, seemingly uniquely globally, that defenses have experts RIGHT THERE to observe DNA collection and processing. This is required even before suspects are moved to defendant status, which happened after most DNA collection and processing in this case was done.

Did Gladwell mention this?

(7) It is that same mandatory direct observing and videotaping of collection that allow hoaxers like Gladwell to claim that the DNA in this case was somehow botched (“speck of dust”). The shrill hoaxers now channeled by a shrill Gladwell would have been way more compelling if they had shown a random sample of tapes (or even one) of American investigators doing this collection just right.

Did Gladwell mention this?

(8) It is American lax procedures, poor equipment and training, and non-openness to defense observers at crucial stages, that allows the American Innocence Project to thrive, and to have enabled several hundred prisoners falsely convicted to walk free over the years. Italy in contrast does not even have ONE Innocence Project case - and not for lack of recent trying.

Did Gladwell mention this?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/10/19 at 01:25 PM | #

The defence forensic observers required by law had to watch Stefanoni’s evidence collecting from a van outside, hence the video.

In 2011 the “independent” Vecchiotti was caught red-handed by the Carbinieri preparing a CD for the defence, supposedly by highlighting anything at all that could help them.  But wait!  Wasn’t she supposed to be independent?  Here she was collaborating with one of the parties.

Pro-Knox zealot, Candace Dempsey, writing in PSI Seattle Intelligencer - so she may have got her story direct from Vecchiotti - said the Carabinieri turned up and she appealed to Hellmann for help.  Hellmann failed to reprimand her at all.

In the UK she would have been dismissed from the court in ignominy. He simply directed her to ensure the prosecution also received a copy of the video.  This should have been without saying. 

All evidence produced at trial is supposed to be seen by all parties and the court, in advance.  Why was Vecchotti evidence collecting for the defence at all?  No doubt they all spent hours pouring over it, to see if they could spot any pixel marks, accidents of photography light and shade or dust specks on the lens could pass for ‘dirt’.

Sure enough, there seemed to be a speck on a glove handling the bra clasp.  No surprise that this soon became an exaggerated and highly unlikely claim that it was this speck that caused Raff’s DNA to jump onto the bra clasp hook via the door to Meredith’s room.

It’s ridiculous the lengths Vecchiotti and Conti went to help the defence.  They came clean in the subsequent Netflix film, with Conti claiming quite clearly that ‘Guede did it alone’.

Independent?  Shocking!!!

Posted by KrissyG on 10/10/19 at 01:52 PM | #

Hi KrissyG

Did Gladwell mention this? The illegal consultant-shopping, which flowed directly from the illegal judge-shopping, that resulted in Hampikian being illegally brought in?

The stalking-inciter Gladwell’s “research” mainly seems to have consisted of the Netflix “documentary” as he called it, which was actually produced by these guys.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/10/19 at 02:21 PM | #

It’s amazing, isn’t it?  Chieffi was baffled as to why the pair were hired at all.

Posted by KrissyG on 10/10/19 at 02:46 PM | #

Hi Krissy,

I spoke to an English forensic scientist about Conti and Vecchiotti’s socialising with Sollecito’s family in Perugia and he said they would have been found guilty of contempt of court in England. Independent experts shouldn’t be associating with the family of one of the defendants or consulting with one of their high profile supporters in the media.

Posted by The Machine on 10/10/19 at 04:51 PM | #

It’s great to see comments like this on Twitter:

“If this had happened in 2019, all 3 killers would be in jail. You could still throw all the blame on the black guy back in 2007. Not today. I was an advocate for your innocence until I read the court transcripts and realized how much your PR firm lied. I feel pretty stupid now.”

Posted by The Machine on 10/10/19 at 06:48 PM | #

Six DNA experts by name confirm Sollecito’s DNA is on the bra clasp. I will return to this later, but first some OT news from a September 2019 Instagram photo of Raf with new girlfriend (unnamed, far as I could tell). She’s a brunette beauty, long hair, holidaying with him in Venice, Italy down by the water near gondola docks and wharf. He wears sunglasses, black tee shirt, and shaved hair above his ears with long ponytail on crown of head. She smiles broadly, she’s very beautiful, with long dark hair worn straight and parted down the middle. In one photo, Raf kisses her on the forehead. Frankly, she looks a good bit like Meredith Kercher!?

In Touch magazine headline;  Amanda Knox’s Ex Raffaele Sollecito Has a New Girlfriend: ‘She Is Wonderful’

Raf says, “Yes, we have been in a relationship for a short time.” They met on the internet, said “the 35-year-old handsome hunk.” “It’s been two months but we have known each other for two years. He shared Instagram photos of them on Sunday, September 8, 2019.

Raffaele told In Touch that it wasn’t easy for him to date. Some girls were attracted to his “black halo”, but “good girls are appalled and scared of me…when they had to tell their families about me, there was always some family member who would get worried because they did not trust me.”

Amanda Knox, 32, host of The Scarlet Letter Reports, got engaged to her longtime boyfriend Christopher Robinson in November 2018. One month later Amanda secretly married the 37-year-old. (for tax and insurance purposes supposedly). In Touch magazine miraculously got the news right and says that Knox is already married but will celebrate the nups on February 29, 2020.

“Talking to Strangers”:...pathologizing jargon says reviewer Anthony Cummins at inews.co.uk. He says Gladwell “zig-zags with trademark eccentricity through a dizzy array of potted histories…”

“One chapter recounts how Italian police were wrong-footed by Amanda Knox turning cartwheels after her flatmate Meredith Kercher’s murder.”

Cummins says of Gladwell, “He argues that in 1938 Neville Chamberlain was less able to judge Hitler’s intentions after meeting him in person, not more. He labels Knox and Hitler as examples of ‘mismatched’ people whose faces aren’t a billboard for the heart. But Gladwell’s wider point—whose faces are?—is just jazzed up common sense,” concludes Mr. Cummins.

One could wish that Mr. Gladwell would have pursued common sense a bit more to look at the bra clasp DNA of Sollecito which remains uncontested proof he was part of the crime and if he was there, so was his Siamese twin Foxy Knoxy.

Also, Raffaele has an IMDb page which credits him with playing “himself” on the Katie show (Katie Couric interview), in the Amanda Knox documentary, etc.

Posted by Hopeful on 10/13/19 at 07:02 PM | #

Sollecito was an ‘incel’ before Knox initiated him, as it were.  He had that air hostess girlfriend with whom he tried to abscond to Austria at one point.  After the publicity of the trial and hearings, she was gone, so likely just there for PR, like Colin Thunderstrike was for Knox.

So he’s been together with his new g/friend in the flessh for just two months.

TBH I can’t see Sollecito having a long-term heterosexual relationship relationship any time soon.

Posted by KrissyG on 10/14/19 at 04:19 AM | #

Some girls were attracted to his “black halo”.

I suspect he is proud of it.

Posted by DavidB on 10/14/19 at 04:23 AM | #

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