Penultimate post on the Meredith Kercher case

This is my second last statement on the appeal – the decision is announced tomorrow, Monday.  I’ll follow that up with a short, one paragraph statement, once it’s delivered.  No further comment is envisaged from me at this blog until/unless there is new judicial process undertaken on the matter.

There are two issues for me, aside from justice for Meredith Kercher and her family:

1.  The Italian press are full of how the Knox camp, the media and a PR firm have attempted to buy tomorrow’s verdict.  I’m not getting into the arguments on this again in this post but this is what’s being said in Italy and MG Miller wrote, at my place:

Is there anyone who is NOT offended by the behavior of the Knox family? Curt shoving a cameraman after the verdict, Edda droning endlessly with a “you know”, sometimes twice in the same sentence. (And mind you, this is a school teacher). It’s embarrassing! The Kercher family have been nothing but grace, and dignity, while these two buffoons; let me use a line I read, “Keep whopping it up like Slim Pickins at a chili cook off that has run out of spoons”.

This has got up quite a few people’s noses and strangely, it’s not actually Amanda Knox whom people are down on over this – it’s the appalling behaviour from that side.  Even if she were not guilty of the murder [see point 2 below], then there is a deep desire that those people do not get away with this injustice.

2.  The evidence.  This has not altered in substance since 2009 and the 19 judges who reviewed the evidence would still essentially have that same evidence to review today and would come to the same conclusion.  The way that only two pieces of evidence were reviewed this time around and yet an acquittal is on the table, is heavily prejudicial to justice, unless the other evidence is already taken as read, in which case that’s fine.

It’s as well to remember that the conviction was based only partly on two pieces of forensic evidence and very much on the totality of all evidence, circumstantial and otherwise.  People have been convicted on far less than what’s available here.  So let’s have another look at that evidence.  Great effort has been made to debunk this but it certainly has not been to date.  This is mainly from Harry Rag, a Meredith watcher of some years:

…………………….

#  Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on:

1. On the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts – Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo and Professor Francesca Torricelli – categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade.

2. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the ledge of the basin.

3. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the bidet.

4. Mixed with Meredith blood on a box of Q Tip cotton swabs.

5. Mixed with Meredith’s blood in the hallway.

6. Mixed with Meredith’s blood on the floor of Filomena’s room, where the break-in was staged.

7. On Meredith’s bra according to Dr. Stefanoni AND Raffaele Sollecito’s forensic expert, Professor Vinci.

#  Amanda Knox’s footprints were found set in Meredith’s blood in two places in the hallway of the new wing of the cottage. One print was exiting her own room, and one print was outside Meredith’s room, facing into the room. These bloody footprints were only revealed under luminol.

#  A woman’s bloody shoeprint, which matched Amanda Knox’s foot size, was found on a pillow under Meredith’s body. The bloody shoeprint was incompatible with Meredith’s shoe size.

#  Two independent imprint experts categorically excluded the possibility that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat could belong to Rudy Guede. Lorenzo Rinaldi stated:

“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.”

The other imprint expert print expert testified that the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot.

#  An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp and the hooks on the clasp were damaged.

#  According to Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani, Rudy Guede’s visible bloody footprints lead straight out of Meredith’s room and out of the house. He didn’t lock Meredith’s door, remove his trainers, go into Filomena’s room or the bathroom that Meredith and Knox shared.

He didn’t scale the vertical wall outside Filomena’s room or gain access through the window. The break-in was clearly staged. This indicates that somebody who lived at the cottage was trying to deflect attention away from themselves and give the impression that a stranger had broken in and killed Meredith.

#  Guede had no reason to stage the break-in and there was no physical evidence that he went into Filomena’s room or the bathroom. The scientific police found a mixture of Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s blood on the floor in Filomena’s room. They also found irrefutable proof that Knox and Sollecito had tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom.

The murder dynamic implicates Knox and Sollecito.

#  Barbie Nadeau wrote the following:

“Countless forensic experts, including those who performed the autopsies on Kercher’s body, have testified that more than one person killed her based on the size and location of her injuries and the fact that she didn’t fight back—no hair or skin was found under her fingernails.”

#  Judge Paolo Micheli claimed that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito knew precise details about Meredith’s murder that they could have only known if they were present when she was killed.

#  Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted that she involved in Meredith’s murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007. She stated on at least four separate occasions that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed. She also claimed that Sollecito was at the cottage.

#  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito both gave multiple conflicting alibis and lied repeatedly. Their lies were exposed by telephone and computer records, and by CCTV footage. Neither Knox nor Sollecito have credible alibis for the night of the murder despite three attempt each. At the trial, Sollecito refused to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment.

#  Legal expert Stefano Maffei stated the following:

“There were 19 judges who looked at the evidence over the course of two years, faced with decisions on pre-trial detention, review of such detention, committal to trial, judgment on criminal responsibility. They all agreed, at all times, that the evidence was overwhelming.”

#  I have some questions [writes Harry Rag]:

1. Why do you think Knox and Sollecito repeatedly told the police a pack of lies and gave multiple conflicting alibis?

2. Who do you think staged the break-in in Filomena’s room?

3. Who do you think tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom that Knox and Meredith shared?

#  1. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito lied before 5 November 2007, so [it] cannot [be] claim[ed] that they were “confused, scared, bullied, snowballed out of control”.

These … are explored in depth in the judges’ sentencing report.  Raffaele Sollecito admitted that he and Knox had lied to the police and claimed that Knox had asked him to lie for her.

On 5 November, they were given another opportunity to tell the truth. However, they both chose to tell the police even more lies.

2. There is no absolutely no doubt that the break-in was staged.

There were shards of glass on top of Filomena’s clothes on the floor. In court, the prosecutors showed photographs of shattered glass on top of scattered clothes [showing] the window was broken after the room had been ransacked.

Nothing of value was taken even though there were valuable items in plain view. Sollecito already knew nothing had been stolen from Filomena’s room and he told the police that nothing had been stolen before Filomena confirmed this.  The outside shutter was closed and because of a warp, it was stuck against the window sill. The burglar would have needed to climb to the window to open the shutter first, before throwing the rock.

There was no glass on the grass or ground below, but broken glass was on the window sill. This fact indicates that the window was broken from the inside while the outside shutters were closed. If the window had been broken from the outside, there would have been shards of glass outside, but there wasn’t even one piece of glass.

There is no evidence that anyone stood outside Filomena’s window and climbed up the vertical wall. There were no marks from soil, grass or rubber soles on the wall. The earth of the evening of 1 November was very wet, so if anybody had climbed the wall, they would have left some marks on it.

There was a large nail protruding from the wall. This nail would almost certainly have been used by an intruder climbing up the wall. However, there was no sign that this nail had been stepped on.

The glass on the window sill and on the floor show no signs of being touched after the window was broken, which would have been the case if the intruder had gained entry through the window.

There was not a single biological trace on any of the shards of glass. It would have been very likely that an intruder balancing on the window sill would have suffered some kind of injury or cut because of the shards of glass.

In order to open the latch, the burglar would have had to kneel while doing so, and he would have cut his knees, if he had not cleaned the window sill first. Yet that wasn’t done and if he had done this, there would have been glass on the ground below.

There was no physical evidence of Rudy Guede in Filomena’s room. He left the cottage almost immediately after Meredith screamed. However, someone tracked Meredith’s blood into Filomena’s room after she had been stabbed.

The scientific police found Amanda Knox’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s blood on the floor. The criminal biologists involved in the case are in no doubt that Amanda Knox was in Filomena’s room after Meredith had been stabbed.

[There is] no evidence that Rudy Guede was “skilled in break and entry”.

3. Rudy’s Guede visible bloody footprints [led] straight out of Meredith’s room and out of the house. They became progressively weaker and fainter. There is no evidence that he went into the blood-spattered bathroom.

The judges’ report has detailed analysis on why the bare bloody footprint on the blue bathmat belonged to Raffaele Sollecito and was incompatible with Rudy Guede’s foot.

Sollecito also left a bare bloody footprint in the hallway, which is further proof that he had stepped in Meredith’s blood whilst barefooted.

The Kerchers’ lawyer, Francesco Maresca, called the mixed blood evidence “the most damning piece” of evidence against Knox. And Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani paid particular attention to the mixed samples of blood in their sentencing report.

The reason why the mixed blood evidence is so damning is that Amanda Knox’s DNA wasn’t outlier DNA that had been left some time earlier.

Amanda Knox herself effectively dated the blood stains in the bathroom to the night of the murder at the trial when she conceded there was no blood in the bathroom the day before.

Three of the samples were “perfect”. Dr. Stefanoni said the most compelling forensic evidence against Knox was the mixed blood sample found on the drain of the bidet and it certainly wasn’t the result of co-habitation.

#  [The Knox camp] wrote:

“But, oh yes, there’s some 200+ samples of Guede’s DNA.”

This is complete and utter nonsense. There was a total of five instances of Rudy Guede’s DNA at the crime scene.

Both Sollecito and Knox gave completely different accounts of who they were with and what they doing on the night of the murder. These weren’t “inconsistencies”, but … lies.

Sollecito claimed that he had slept until after 10.00am on 2 November 2007. However, this lie was exposed by his telephone records and data recovered from his computer.

– He used his computer at 5.32am.

– He turned on his mobile phone at 6.02am.

– He received three phone calls at 9.24am, 9.29am and 9.30am.

Yet he lied to police about sleeping in.

#  Knox and Sollecito still don’t have credible alibis for the night of the murder despite three attempts each. Sollecito is still refusing to corroborate Knox’s alibi that she was with him at his apartment.

#  Why did Amanda Knox voluntarily admit that she was involved in Meredith’s murder?

#  Please note that Knox lied to Filomena and her friends in an e-mail before 5 November 2007. Sollecito was caught lying to his family in a bugged conversation.

#  [The] argument that they lied because they were afraid, confused or being manipulated doesn’t apply to the lies mentioned above. [On top of that] they contradicted each other from the very beginning.  The police were not aware of many of Knox’s and Sollecito’s lies until they got their phone records and the data from Sollecito’s computer.

#  When Amanda Knox told Filomena that the window in her room was broken, Filomena told her to phone the police. Knox told Filomena that she had already phoned them. Knox’s mobile phone records proved that this was untrue.

#  Knox and Sollecito lied to the police from the very beginning, which is a fact that was acknowledged by Sollecito. He claimed that Knox had asked him to lie for her. Please note that he didn’t attribute his lies to confusion and fear.

#  Knox’s and Sollecito’s accounts of what happened on 1 November didn’t match up. For example, Sollecito told the police that he and Knox had left the cottage on Via della Pergola at 6.00pm and that they went for a walk downtown and passed through Piazza Grimana, Piazza Morlacchi and the main fountain in Corso Vannucci.

#  Knox told the police that they had left the cottage at 5.00pm and that they went straight to Sollecito’s apartment.

#  Knox also lied in an e-mail to friends on 4 November 2007.

#  She claimed that when she called Meredith’s Italian phone it “just kept ringing, no answer”. Her mobile phone records show this call lasted just three seconds. She didn’t make a serious attempt to contact Meredith because she knew that she was dead.

#  She also claimed in this e-mail that she had called Meredith’s phones after speaking to Filomena. Her mobile phone records prove that this was untrue. Marc Quintavalle’s testimony about seeing Knox at 7.45am on 2 November is corroborated by shop employee and defence witness Ana Maria Chiriboga, who says that he spoke about seeing Knox that morning.

#  Sollecito claimed that he had downloaded and watched Amelie during the night. Marco Trotta, a police computer expert, said the film had been watched at 6.30pm.

#  Knox and Sollecito have given three different versions of events for the night of the murder and they have all been shown to be untrue.  Can you think of another murder case where the defendants have given three different alibis?

#  Sollecito’s lawyers didn’t want him to be cross-examined in court.

#  [Not only is there no evidence] that Amanda Knox took a shower at the cottage on 2 November [but] if Knox wanted a shower, she could have had one at Sollecito’s apartment. Furthermore, the police officers who spoke to Knox on 2 November said that she smelt badly.

#  Of course Rudy Guede claimed that Knox and Sollecito weren’t at the cottage at first. I’ll let the Italian Court of Appeal explain why:

“Guede has kept quiet for as long as he could” said the Court of Appeal in its recent motivation report “because, given the deep connection of the events, accusing Amanda and Raffaele would have exposed him to their very probable retaliation”. (“Guede, finché ha potuto, ha taciuto, poiché, stante la profonda connessione degli eventi, accusare Amanda e Raffaele lo avrebbe esposto a più che probabili dichiarazioni ritorsive da parte di costoro”).

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

#  No evidence was mishandled and Amanda Knox wasn’t abused at the police station.

#  [Much has been made of the bra clasp DNA by the defence but] his DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests. Judge Massei pointed to the extremely clear RFU peaks associated with the DNA test, the lowest of which was 30% higher than the RFU test widely used for minimum reliability and the highest of which was more than 200% higher. Of the 17 loci tested in the sample, Sollecito’s profile matched 17 out of 17. Dr. Torricelli for the Kerchers affirmed that the alleles (peaks) in the sample constituted the biological profile of Raffaele Sollecito.

Mail:

Nor will Meredith’s British friends in Italy forget Knox’s reply when one expressed the hope that she hadn’t suffered too much. ‘What do you think?’ she said. ‘She f*****g had her throat cut. She bled to death.’

The retort was not merely insensitive but seemed to suggest Knox knew rather too much about the manner in which Meredith died. In a phone-call to her mother, she also described how the body had been found in or near the wardrobe.

She had been standing behind several police officers, flatmates and friends when the bedroom door was kicked in, and her view of the bedroom was obscured. So how could she know these details?

……………………..

Defenders of Knox come out with statements like [drawn from my comments threads]:

Even if someone IS a sociopath, this does not mean she is guilty.  You can’t convict someone based on how they act or “seem”.

There is this constant theme that:

1.  There is no evidence linking Knox and Sollecito to the house but this is contradicted many times above plus this is a sleight of hand.  They mean the room, which had been cleaned.  There was plenty of evidence in the rest of the house and that indicates that the thing started out there and the body was moved.  It proves nothing what was in the final room.

Plus, who put Amanda’s lamp under Meredith’s bed?

2.  She is being convicted for being a sociopath, which is clearly not so – she was convicted on the sum total of the evidence.

All three are as guilty as hell on the evidence alone but quite apart from that, what alternative is there, given that the Supreme Court already accepts beyond doubt that there were three people?  The Knox camp says there weren’t but the Supreme Court begs to differ.

This could go on forever and ever, with the Knox camp raising spurious objections on things which have already been decided and they would do this, as a drowning man will clutch at any straw.  It’s clearly upset some that I have accepted the evidence reviewed by nineteen judges rather than the spin of the Knox machine – in fact I’ve been called misogynist for having the temerity not to be swayed by the beautiful Amanda’s “come-on” [her own defence team’s expression].

…………………….

If she walks tomorrow, very great injustice will have been done to the Kercher family who have surely suffered enough as it is.

37 comments for “Penultimate post on the Meredith Kercher case

  1. ubermouth
    October 3, 2011 at 11:30

    You should not be abused for having your views on this,especially when I know how much research you do for your posts. I agree with you wholeheartedly that she is GUILTY and it would be a travesty if she was let off.

    You have always written this up most professionally James and I have enjoyed every article you have written about this tragedy,which that bloody family have turned into a circus.

  2. Rene ST
    October 3, 2011 at 13:14

    I believe much of the outcome of the appeal lies in whether the court rules that the DNA evidences were exposed to contamination or what I suspect the defence is implying interference. Regardless, the other situational evidences presented are crucial to the acquittal judgement too and so like you, I don’t get why that has been overlooked as well.

    Personally though, even with all evidences present and taking into consideration that the DNA evidences are indeed suspect, I would rescind on the guilty verdict for the murder charge. That is purely from a legal standpoint I feel where overruling the DNA evidence does eliminate a major determinant that Knox/Sollecito is guilty of murder.

    However, there’s certainly an element of manslaughter or attempted murder in the case as I don’t see how Knox/Sollecito can be ruled out of involvement in the case. The only credible defence I can afford to them is at most they were either not partaking in the actual murder itself or that they weren’t fully conscious of their actions. I suspect it’s the latter. Til now I’ve been surprised (or ignorant) actually that little has been made on Knox/Sollecito’s state of mind at the time of crime. How intoxicated were they? I thought it’s clear they were but to what extent and how delusional could they have been? My deductions based on current evidence and if DNA should not be considered credible, then it’s that Knox/Sollecito were both involved in what happened without fully comprehending the situation. Guede I feel has the best grasp of the truth but whether that’s what he actually reveals is anyone’s guess.

  3. Matt M
    October 3, 2011 at 18:57

    Great job…keep your chin up. You will never be able to convince everyone mainly because they choose to be ignorant. Thanks

  4. Matt M
    October 3, 2011 at 21:19

    Serious miscarriage of justice….sad but it happens here in America as well. Its not the beginning of the end but it is sad for the victim’s family. I firmly believe that the guilty will pay their debt in one way or another. Hang in……Matt

  5. Marty
    October 3, 2011 at 21:38

    Dear James,

    I got interested in this case a few months ago and your blog is one of the first sites I found that really got me hooked. Thanks for all your informative posts as they helped me to form my own opinion. I’m completely shocked about the verdict tonight. It makes me sick to think that this girl will not return to USA and probably make millions out of Meredith’s death.

  6. adam
    October 3, 2011 at 21:58

    how are you feeling now?????

    the evidence was flimsy at best, and the way you drew your own conclusions and portrayed them as fact is disgraceful!

  7. October 3, 2011 at 22:00

    Uber, Rene, Matt and Marty – thank you for those. I have to stick to my promise not to post again but I’ll discuss it here. If they are both cleared, then that makes the black man the sole killer. How? How did he get into the house? He didn’t climb in the window and it was physically demonstrated why not – no one could – they tried it. This did not even come into consideration at this appeal.

    I need that question answered – how did Guede get into the house? One last one – why did she finger Lumumba? Why did she say she was at the house and heard him doing it?

    This is so terribly wrong. I hope the prosecution don’t give up on it but might now, to spare the Kerchers. There’s still the slander trial but who holds out any hope now?

  8. Reaver
    October 3, 2011 at 22:17

    Here are some random thoughts following the acquittal:

    1) Sollecito can presumably still go down for this if the Supreme Court overturn the acquittal. If that happens, at least there will be a guilty verdict hanging over Knox for the rest of her life for the world to see. That might be a small consolation for the Kercher family.

    2) The totality of evidence argument looks strong, but without the DNA evidence, legally it becomes much weaker. I don’t think a court in the UK or USA would find AK and RS guilty without the DNA. But of course with the DNA it’s a game-changer. Despite this, elements of the prosecution case are incredibly damning, such as Knox’s early admission and the contradictory alibis. If the Supreme Court overturn the DNA mishandling, then it will simply be a repeat of the first case. But is that likely? How could this judge and jury have screwed up such a huge case so badly?

    3) The defence lawyers were ‘just too good’. It’s such a common scenario – if you can afford the best lawyers in the country, your chances of acquittal are enormously higher, guilty or innocent, as your talented and expensive lawyers are going up against the often underpaid and overworked state prosecutors/lawyers.

    4) Until the one man (Guede) who knows exactly what went on that night fully explains what happened, there is STILL no clear motive for RS and AK. In addition, there is no overriding theory as to what actually happened. Was it a sexual act? Was it manslaughter? Was it an argument that spun out of control? Was it somehow drug-fuelled?

    This to me is one of the most ‘sensational’ aspects of the case, that fuels speculation, and is important because there are too many unanswered questions. For instance, why would Knox and Soccelito assist Guede? Or if the other way around why would Guede assist Knox and Soccelito?

    I still think AK and RS are guilty in some way, perhaps not outright murder, but possibly manslaughter, largely because of the two reasons I stated above.

  9. Reaver
    October 3, 2011 at 22:25

    James,
    If the slander charge stands then you have a giant question over Knox’s credibility. If it’s proven that she wasn’t pressured into making a false admission, or fingering Lumumba, then it’s reasonable to say ‘why would you lie about all that?’ To put it another way: if someone is being threatened/bullied/beaten/starved during an interrogation, then they might say anything in their confused state to make it stop – that is possible. But if someone innocent (who wasn’t even at the house the night the murder occurred) is merely being questioned in a professional manner, then there is no logical reason to lie, unless perhaps that person has some psychological issues.

    The problem is that even if the slander charge stands and it’s proven she fabricated it, I don’t know if that can be used against her for the Supreme Court appeal.

  10. Reaver
    October 3, 2011 at 22:31

    Another thought – there is not enough focus on the relationship between Guede and Knox. Did I read that the two exchanged messages before and after the murder? If that is true then that alone would be incredibly damning, especially if she has denied ever knowing him. It also kills the Guede-was-a-burglar-who-came-across-Kercher defence.

  11. Man With a Polish Wife
    October 3, 2011 at 22:33

    James

    I knew that you would not accept comments from the post you have just made post judgment, but from this post, it was obvious that you anticipated the outcome, and consequently it came as no surprise to me.

    I have not been in the position to follow this case, as when the original trial happened I could not spare the time to take an interest, therefore, your posts have consolidated my limited knowledge of this affair.

    Therefore, your recent posts have shocked me in that the summary of evidence you have presented appears overwhelming. As in everything in life, and as you have intimated, follow the money, but in a case like this, there must be something more involved – much much more.

    You have stated that your lips are sealed, however. I ask you to reconsider this, because, as you espouse, the implications are beyond serious.

    Thank you.

  12. Marty
    October 3, 2011 at 22:36

    Well it looks like it won’t matter if it does go to the supreme court either since Amanda will be back in USA with no hope of extradition. I suspect there may have been some influence from the US government in the background on this as it seems inconceivable that they were aquited over a couple of pieces of evidence amongst hundreds of other evidence. It is only Knox supporters who back the lone killer theory too, so if not them two then who?

  13. October 3, 2011 at 22:37

    Reaver – thanks for that.

    Adam – the only “disgrace” was in the Knox circus/Dempsey who slandered the Kercher family constantly. That there could be such a turnaround since the Supreme Court confirmed the convictions, that only two pieces of DNA evidence from six could overturn a conviction when it wasn’t even resting on those – something has definitely gone on here.

    The Supreme Court accepted that it had to have been more than one person. So if not these two, who then? The two of them are guilty as hell and as thousands are saying tonight – something stinks big time.

    You asked me how I felt? Sickened, of course, along with the decent people in the world.

    MwaPW – our comments crossed. I’m just a blogger but I have, in the last two weeks, taken the time to read the evidence – all of it, including stomaching the Knox circus output, e.g. Dempsey. I’ve gone back and checked it against TJMK. Where there seemed no answer, I wrote to one of the pro-Meredith people to see about it, e.g. the timing of the calls by Knox to Meredith.

    About a week ago, I did what I’ve done tonight – tried to nut out how it sits, without Knox or Sollecito in it at all, knowing zero, sitting outside the cottage at 12:26, happily oblivious.

    It doesn’t wash, nor do the multiple lies and alibis, nor does the fingering of Lumumba, nor does Sollecito, on record, saying she was not with him at the critical time, nor with Guede saying they both did it. Now he’s going to be the interesting one. My feeling is he’ll be gagged and won’t repeat the accusation. Something has definitely gone down here. If he does though, then that strengthens the automatic appeal.

    I was off on one point – it’s not up to the prosecution to decide on the appeal – apparently it is automatic. There is the slander but they seem to be accepting over there that she’s done her time for that.

    Not good, people, not good.

  14. Rene ST
    October 3, 2011 at 22:48

    To be fair, once the court overruled the credibility of the DNA evidences, the guilty verdict for murder will be difficult to uphold. But too many other evidences point towards Knox/Sollecito being close the crime scene and the only probable reasoning that they were aware and involved in the events leading up to the murder.

    By legal context, I stand by my earlier comment, I deem it the most acceptable judgement that Knox/Sollecito are innocent of murder but not absolute innocence. I’m not sure if it’s possible for the prosecutors to correct the charges in their appeal but I do think they should with sufficient evidences still standing that proves Knox/Sollecito were involved in the proceedings pre and post-murder.

    Addressing Kercher’s family, can only hope they do not dwell on this “injustice” that they might perceive. It’s my personal beliefs that justice and punishment means little to the loss of a victim and their family. Ultimately, it’s the truth that u seek to provide closure. Sadly, this truth is too muddled now by what I feel is the real crime committed by Knox/Sollecito and possibly Guede, a crime that will hardly draw judgement in the legal court.

  15. Reaver
    October 3, 2011 at 22:49

    It’s extraordinary how biased the BBC coverage I have been watching. Here’s a quote “if it (Knox’s plea) was an act, it was a virtuoso performance”. It’s disturbing to think that the jury might have been swayed by a verbal plea made four years after the event. Unless you admit guilt and apologise for your actions, that should have no bearing. And the focus on her “flawless Italian” and tears seems to carry a subliminal suggestion that those are the actions of an innocent person.

    I don’t believe the US authorities could have swayed this behind the scenes. We are talking a country where the current Prime Minister is currently on trial – why would some provincial, criminal court care about American authorities?

  16. October 3, 2011 at 23:02

    Someone wanted it this way. I don’t think this is the end of it by any means. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring.

  17. Reaver
    October 3, 2011 at 23:07

    James – the news reported that she could serve a max sentence of 6 years for slander. That means in theory 2 years left (on top of 4 served), if she decides to try her luck and stand trial for that. Big if. If she does that, and it goes against her, she could end up in prison during the Supreme Court appeal – so if she lost that, they’d simply add the 26 years left for murder. An unlikely scenario but possible.

    I’m not buying the ‘someone pulled some strings to get them off’ theory yet as there is no hint of evidence of that, aside from a very unsatisfactory outcome for many. I think the reality is more disturbing – money, top lawyers and a carefully constructed media campaign were used very effectively. Along with what will probably transpire to be an imperfect and possibly bungled police investigation.

    Or is there something in the judgement that we don’t know yet? Could there be some kind of smoking gun exonerating the two?

  18. Reaver
    October 3, 2011 at 23:16

    Isn’t it possible that the murder actually took place in a different room in the house, but then the body was moved into MK’s room?

    That might explain why there was no DNA from AK and RS in that room. And perhaps Guede had been in there on his own, or he got tasked with moving the body in there. Or maybe he went in to steal the money in the minutes after the murder but the other two were too smart to go in and have their DNA inside the room. The bucket and mop might have been used to clean another room (i.e. the room with the broken window, or the bathroom) where the actual murder took place. It could almost have been a daring and deliberate frame-up by AK and RS to pin the whole thing on Guede – ‘Rudy – you move the body in there, and help yourself to the 300 Euros in her drawer while you’re there’.

  19. October 3, 2011 at 23:20

    Need to go to bed now. I’ve a nasty interview of my own to go to tomorrow morning and need a clear head. I’ll come back to this post early before I go.

  20. Reaver
    October 3, 2011 at 23:25

    From a non-legal standpoint – I think the victim’s family often give a good reading into the true story. No one has as much invested in getting to the truth as them. They have absolutely no reason to believe anything other than what they see is the truth. Often the police share inside information with the victim’s family which is inadmissable as evidence for some technical reason, but damning in some way. The Kerchers seems to be smart and reasonable people, who must have spent 100’s of hours reading/digesting/discussing the case. Again, this is not a legal argument, but one of those little facts that help shape a gut feeling.

  21. Pablo
    October 5, 2011 at 15:15

    “Three of the samples were “perfect”. Dr. Stefanoni said the most compelling forensic evidence against Knox was the mixed blood sample found on the drain of the bidet and it certainly wasn’t the result of co-habitation.”

    I doubt this is a direct quote from Stefanoni, but if it is it further seriously undermines an already questionable reputation.

    Why? Because it ignores the fact that its scientifically impossible to prove that the DNA samples collected actually came from two (i.e. AK & MK’s) blood samples. Even Massei in his report thought that the mixed DNA did not necessarily indicate mixed blood.

    It also ignores the problem of dating mixed DNA samples. The rate of decay of a DNA sample depends upon so many factors that dating DNA by its degradation is not practical.

    Mixed DNA is rather common. Head of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology’s genetics group, “[John] Butler has reviewed more than 5000 DNA samples from 14 US labs and found that mixing is a common occurrence: 34 per cent of the samples he studied included DNA from two people, while 11 per cent were three or four-person mixtures.”

    When viewed in this (non-biased, scientifically accepted) context, the mixed DNA samples really don’t require much explanation given that AK and MK lived together.

    So there goes the mixed “blood” evidence.

  22. October 5, 2011 at 18:06

    It’s as well to get the science right before using terms such as “So there goes the mixed “blood” evidence” when nothing of the kind happens. It’s also good to get right who said what. “I doubt this is a direct quote from Stefanoni, but if it is it further seriously undermines an already questionable reputation” is an amazing statement.

    For a start, she did not say it. In fact, it was Italy’s premiere forensic science expert Luciano Garofano who testified that Stefanoni’s analysis of the bra clasp was “perfect.”

    On the basis of your misinformation, you then conclude that her reputation is already questionable? [Facepalm].

    To summarize the entire DNA analysis is beyond the scope of one blog comment here so a selection of key findings must suffice for now. You’ll find the detailed findings and how they were arrived at at TJMK and PMF.

    The Supreme Court of Cassation’s finding at Guede’s final appeal that the forensic evidence in Meredith’s room and on her body pointed overwhelmingly to three assailants having been present and was accepted as such.

    There were various mixed-blood traces in the bathroom, corridor and Filomena’s bedroom, and several footprints in blood. All these the defenses kept away from because they knew they couldn’t be countered. They therefore concentrated on two aspects only where they thought they had some chance of invalidating the findings.

    They invented a fictional standard, een as American testing was behind European and Italy was a member of the European community of forensic science.

    Stefanoni explained she had no need to repeat tests since the experts for the defence were on hand to witness her work. “And it was good enough to show it was Kercher’s DNA,” she said. “A small amount, but good quality.”… This was not in dispute.

    The original DNA findings proved without doubt that the mixed blood confirmed all three bleeding at the same time – there was no problem with the timing, as the Knox camp tries to make out. Again – read the report itself.

    A good question was why Sollecito’s DNA there at all but that’s a matter for the other accumulated evidence.

    The DNA samples currently under review by the court were not the only DNA samples used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. In fact, the five mixed samples (not just DNA – there was the fresh blood of both women in four of them) of Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher constituted the strongest, most damning physical evidence of the case.

    This was why they had not been subjected to independent review during the appeal, along with the great majority of the evidence Judge Massei and the jury considered in convicting Knox and Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher – they had to keep away from those.

    Vecchioti and Conti also confirmed the presence of Amanda Knox’s DNA on the handle of the knife and so, even if Knox’s explanation is accepted [one of them] then the issue is still why she transported the knife or even he did. Someone transported that knife.

    Dr. Stefanoni found about 4 nanograms of Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp, which is a substantial amount of DNA considering that research suggests that contaminated samples usually contain sub-picogram amounts of DNA, or around 1000 to 10,000 times less DNA than attributed to Sollecito on the bra clasp.

    The fact that Raffaele’s DNA on the clasp appeared to be mixed with additional DNA did NOT lead to conclusions that his profile could not be effectively isolated and identified, or had to be the result of contamination. In fact, that was not established at all, except in the minds of the dubious “independent experts”, appointed by a judge who is now on the defensive over his actions – see today’s news reports.

    It is also not plausible to suggest that contamination is the source for Sollecito’s abundant DNA on the bra clasp in the absence of significant environmental traces for Sollecito anywhere else in or around Meredith’s home, or in the Rome laboratory for that matter.

    The report which inferred there was environmental contamination of the bra clasp, on the basis of the presence of a plurality of male contributors (at least two), failed to give weight to the outstanding difference in the peaks hight/areas (amount of DNA) between these third parties, on one hand, and Sollecito’s DNA on the other: the amount of DNA present was very diferent in the two cases.

    There was a very big difference in the amount of DNA from these contributors – Sollecito on one side versus others, his contribution really very large compared to others. The flawed “independent” report failed to notice this.

    The report also criticized the “interpretation” given by Stefanoni, as said, of the DNA chart on the bra clasp. But, in fact, in the end, that report acknowledged that both autosomic and Y haplotype DNA of Sollecito were present on the bra clasp (p.135).

    Now, having said that, the type of blanket assertions and even, dare I say it, slurs against the characters of various parties by the Knox machine and supporters, abetted by the English language media are one of many reasons why this was truly a miscarriage of justice.

    Thank you for your contribution, Pablo.

  23. Reaver
    October 5, 2011 at 18:46

    Wow – that’s an excellent response James. I think you have clearly explained and rebutted the technical evidence that much of the media are now using to suggest that they were was ‘no DNA evidence against them’. At best, for Knox and Sollecito, you could say ‘there IS DNA evidence against them, but due to heavily debated technicalities the judge has not allowed it’. That is a big, big difference to the way many are now spinning this.

    It’s sad but it actually reminds me of one of those stories you hear about someone being caught red-handed drink driving, but then getting off due to some smart lawyer finding a strange technicality over the way that the arrest was made, such as the police officer not using the correct terminology (that does happen in the US by the way).

  24. October 5, 2011 at 19:30

    There’s a post coming up at 21:00, Reaver.

  25. Carla
    October 6, 2011 at 03:32

    What an excellent explanation of the DNA report(s) James, so easy to understand and yet so technical. Thank you.

  26. October 6, 2011 at 06:14

    As those who wrote the words at TJMK and PMF know, I just read the material at those sites, copied and pasted, then edited it down to a readable whole. The praise belongs to those people whom I didn’t specifically name, as there were so many but I attribute under the names of the sites. I think most of it is there.

    Feel free, in turn, to take this and use it, if need be, to set the record straight where you encounter misinformation.

  27. Pablo
    October 6, 2011 at 11:01

    It’s as well to get the science right before using terms such as “So there goes the mixed “blood” evidence” –
    Agreed.

    To summarize the entire DNA analysis is beyond the scope of one blog comment here so a selection of key findings must suffice for now. You’ll find the detailed findings and how they were arrived at at TJMK and PMF
    – I’ve read both sites and they make some but not all of the mistakes as you do on the point of the mixed “blood” evidence.
    For a start, she did not say it. In fact, it was Italy’s premiere forensic science expert Luciano Garofano who testified that Stefanoni’s analysis of the bra clasp was “perfect.”
    -That you’re referring to Garofano (and not Stefanoni) makes sense since he probably started this misunderstanding in the first place. In Darkness Descending. On page 371 he writes, “However, here is the electropherogram and you can see that the RFU value is very high, so the sample is undoubtedly blood, which is the body fluid that provides the greatest amount of DNA. In some cases you see higher peaks of Amanda’s DNA than Meredith’s. Amanda has been bleeding. Nor is it old blood, as the defence might say, because blood decays fast..…Unfortunately for her, she bled at the same time Meredith was bleeding. That’s a lot to explain.”
    There are several reasons why Garofano’s interpretations are wrong. For a start, inferring tissue source from peak heights is simply ridiculous. In general the presence of DNA almost never gives an indication of how (or when – more below) it was deposited. If high peaks mean blood then what would you expect from semen which has a ten to one hundred fold higher concentration of DNA? Peak heights are not and cannot be an indication of whether or not blood was the source of DNA.
    His additional claim that the DNA from blood decays quickly is difficult to evaluate. Saliva gives tall peaks in DNA profiling, which is one more indication that peak height cannot be used to infer the biological origin of a sample. And I reiterate, the rate of decay of a DNA sample depends upon so many factors that dating DNA by its degradation is not practical. Further, even if one were to accept that DNA peaks from blood did degrade very quickly, one might have to conclude that the luminol-positive, mixed-DNA samples were not blood, inasmuch as the luminol was applied on 18 December, more than a month and a half after the crime.
    Massei himself refutes Garofano’s slanted interpretation of the evidence when he notes (page 27 of his report) “With regards to the mixture of DNA attributable to the biological profiles of Meredith and Amanda Knox, she [Dr. Stefanoni] affirmed that, certainly, there was blood content, there being a specific test carried out… Though, from the point of view of other substances (sweat, etc.), no tests were done. Therefore, it was definitely a mixture of biological substances, but it was not in any case possible to determine whether it was blood plus blood, or blood and saliva, or blood and exfoliation cells.”
    Massei speculated that the mixed DNA was a result of AK scrubbing MK’s blood from her hands. Page 279 of his report: “And it is probable – not necessary, but probable – that during the following act of scrubbing the hands to remove the blood, she left the mixed trace consisting of Meredith’s blood and of cells which had been removed by rubbing during the act of washing.” Furthermore, his report acknowledged that AK had no wounds and therefore was not bleeding. It also noted that DNA by itself gives no indication of when it was deposited. The reason why he thought that the traces were deposited simultaneously was at least partially on the basis of AK declaring that the bathroom was clean on the afternoon of 1 November. But a clean bathroom does not necessarily imply a DNA-free bathroom. Another problem with his position is that there is no reason to rule out Amanda’s depositing the DNA on the morning after the crime in addition to the possibility that she deposited it before the crime.

    “In fact, the five mixed samples (not just DNA – there was the fresh blood of both women in four of them).”

    This is misinformation –THE whole point is this: what they found was mixed DNA, some contained in blood. WHAT THEY DID NOT AND CANNOT SAY WITH ANY DEGREE OF CREDIBLE SCIENTIFIC CERTAINTY IS THAT THEY FOUND MIXED DNA SAMPLES CONTAINING FRESH BLOOD FROM BOTH WOMEN. See above.

    “..of Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher constituted the strongest, most damning physical evidence of the case. This was why they had not been subjected to independent review during the appeal, along with the great majority of the evidence Judge Massei and the jury considered in convicting Knox and Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher – they had to keep away from those.”

    OK, this is a repetition of TJMK but it’s a very slanted view on the defence strategy. I don’t think this is how they saw it at all and even Massei himself acknowledges this – his view is that the defence thought that the mixed traces were meaningless (on p. 278, English translation): “All the more so since the samples had been taken using the same blotting paper which had been used for various parts of the bidet and the sink.” Even Garofano was dismayed at the way the washbasin trace was collected, noting, “The fact that the sample was collected by wiping both the edge and the plughole is dangerous. You’re likely to find all sorts of stuff in the plughole.” (p. 370, “Darkness Descending”).

    A simpler explanation as to why the defence stayed away from mixed DNA samples in the appeal is simply because it made more sense to concentrate on the areas of DNA collection and analysis where the most obvious mistakes were made and where it was easiest to make a convincing (and ultimately winning) argument against the original prosecution. This is all the more so given that the mixed DNA evidence appeared to be misinterpreted and misunderstood in the original trial. Barbie Nadeau wrote: “The defense’s biggest mistake, according to interviews with jurors after the trial, was doing nothing to refute the mixed-blood evidence beyond noting that it is common to find mingled DNA when two people live in the same house. The jurors needed more than that. ‘To have mixed blood, you have to both be bleeding,’ one of them remarked to me after the verdict. It was obvious that Meredith was bleeding, but why was Amanda bleeding?'” The defence probably did make a mistake in the original trial in not fully factoring in the potential for misunderstanding in this area. They should have argued much more clearly against the mixed DNA necessarily being mixed, fresh blood.

    It simply cannot be proven that both were bleeding at the same time. The converse is also true. But from a strategic view, why take the chance that the jury will make the same mistake twice?

    In conclusion, the mixed DNA (and not mixed “blood”) evidence really is meaningless when viewed in the context of the science and this is compounded by the careless way in which forensics collected evidence. If you can’t accept the science though then of course you will continue to draw the wrong conclusion from this aspect of the evidence.

  28. October 6, 2011 at 11:42

    We’ll now leave it to the reader to decide, Pablo. To your capitalized words – yes they very much could and have done.

    Also, the main thrust of the argument is being lost in pedantics over the amount and what can be inferred, e.g.:

    It should be noted that two imprint experts – Rinaldi and Boemia – testified at the first trial that there was a woman’s bloody shoeprint on the pillow under Meredith’s body which matched Knox’s foot size, but was incompatible with Meredith’s foot size. Barbie Nadeau and Luciano Garofano both agree that there was a woman’s shoeprint on the pillow.

    An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found 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.

    According to a number of DNA experts – Professor Vinci, Dr. Stefanoni and Luciano Garfofano – Amanda Knox’s DNA was also on Meredith bra.

    Dr. Stefanoni’s investigation and forensic findings were independently reviewed by Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA Unit of the scientific police, in 2008. He provided confirmation that all the forensic findings were accurate and reliable and he praised the work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team.

    The Kerchers hired their own DNA expert, Professor Francesca Torricelli, who also confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the double DNA knife.

    There were five instances of Knox’s blood or DNA mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage. Knox and Meredith were bleeding at the same time.

    Luminol revealed Knox’s and Sollecito’s bare bloody footprints in the corridor.

    The bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot, but couldn’t possibly belong to Guede.

    The double DNA knife has not been debunked in terms of the matching but in terms of the amount of the sample and that is a technicality which does not impinge on the method.

    Here’s a question for the FOA:

    Why are there no traces of Rudy Guede in Filomena’s room and the blood-spattered bathroom?

    This is also one of the points the defence did not address and is another indicator why the defence is desperate to zero in on the DNA testing on two samples but lets the others go:

    Sometimes lost in the discussion of the mixed traces is [the] perception that there may have been many more mixed traces inside Meredith’s bedroom. Five mixed traces doesn’t sound like a lot but each of these were discovered outside a locked door and Knox has denied being inside that room during the murder. How did one or two—let alone five—traces of the victim’s blood and probably that of Knox wind up all over the place with the ‘magical barrier’ of the locked door intervening?

    Also, don’t forget, which the defence does, that at least one defense witness observed her one-time-only testing and saw Meredith’s DNA profile appear in front of his eyes. Her methods were not out of line with low-count DNA practices elsewhere in Europe. There was no protest at that point.

    And don’t forget the erasing of traces where there was no business them being erased in that manner. It was selective and Amanda’s lamp under Meredith’s bed was another indicator – why was it in that room at all? Who took it in there – Guede?

    Of the three, whose psychological profile more nearly matches that of the calculating cleaner-upper? Guede?

    This is all about totality of evidence and quite in line with investigations where the accused/convicted have gone to lengths to cover their traces. We start with more than one perp because that was established and accepted by the SC and so the question is who? On this question – why did Knox finger Lumumba? The FOA explanation that it was a stressed out little girl is disingenuous.

    The PCR/STR system is not flawed, as you appear to claim, otherwise it would not be in use. If convictions cannot be brought on the basis of this fingerprinting, then that would be in all the journals, which it is not. The points you make apply to your assumption of what the sample was like but even this was surmise, unless you were present. Those present assert it was valid.

    Two Hellman appointees waltz in after four years, look at two already old samples and make a judgment on the whole of the investigation, which then ignores all the other evidence and results, not in an “insufficient evidence” decision but in absolute innocence. Really? No doubts about that innocence at all?

    There are these:

    http://www.scribd.com/full/15713484?access_key=key-1tgrgc5mhek0jhf6yat
    http://www.scribd.com/full/15713484?access_key=key-1tgrgc5mhek0jhf6yat
    http://www.scribd.com/full/15713545?access_key=key-1hqpmd0vjtx3nksb8ia0

    On chance and probability:

    http://www.scribd.com/full/15713545?access_key=key-1hqpmd0vjtx3nksb8ia0

    On the amount required:

    http://www.scribd.com/full/15713545?access_key=key-1hqpmd0vjtx3nksb8ia0

    One out of 10 billion chance:

    http://www.scribd.com/full/15713545?access_key=key-1hqpmd0vjtx3nksb8ia0

    Therefore, in legal terms [not medical], it is difficult to take the technique apart and therefore, one relies on contamination as a defence. However, it was shown that this line did not bear fruit, except in Hellman’s mind – hence the reaction of Stephanoni and her subsequent explanation.

    It also should be noted that it isn’t ‘required’ that there be a high enough amount for an independent retest in Italian courts, since as standard under Italian law, Amanda and Raffaele’s legal teams were invited to be present when the tests were performed so they could observe that they were performed correctly and the results were accurate. They declined the invitation. This is one of the reasons their complaints on the knife DNA were rejected by Judge Massei. In the UK/US systems, the defence experts are not invited to be present when the testing is done, therefore in the US/UK a retest is a requirement for it to be admitted in court.

    At PMF, there is a chart you can only access by joining up and I’m not a member but it says below it:

    The next 3 images are the original charts supplied by Dr Patrizia Stefanoni. The last image is the knife’s DNA sample chart (in blue) overlaid over Meredith’s sample chart (black). All the peaks match.

    One commenter said:

    It also needs pointing out, that what is important is ‘not’ how low or high the rfu is, but the noise to peak ratio. Note, this knife sample has very low noise on it, where in contrast the peaks are clear and pronounced. Neither are there any stray peaks, as one would expect in a noisy sample.

    … and another said this:

    1. Claim: the peaks are too low to count:

    The reason for caution is that in a noisy sample it is not certain which are peaks and which are not: that can happen with peaks of any size (though it is less likely with higher peaks). In this case the noise is not sufficient to cast doubt, so far as I can see. Rather than talking in generalities can you point to any part of the “noise” which comes close to the height of the peaks, so that it stands as a candidate for being a peak? I can’t, though of course I am not a scientist. But if there were such candidates the scientists could, and should, have stated specifically where they see the actual problem lying: they did not. This is froth.

    2. Claim: second test would resolve the issue of whether this is contamination.

    Ok how does that work? If you have a big enough sample to run a second test you either get the same results or you don’t. If you do then you have the same profile. In that letter they state that a dna test cannot tell you how the sample got to where is was found. So it says nothing about contamination at all: and if you don’t then you may have established that the dna is not that of the person you have identified and the original finding is due to noise: but you have not established anything about contamination at all: you can’t have. The test does not address that at all.

    A second test is desirable but not for the reasons stated. Others have already addressed why it is not essential.

    Now to the 9 U.S. scientists who all said the same thing, i.e. they all signed on the dotted line. They had no access to the crime scene and procedures but Knox’s and Sollecito’s people did. This was a beat-up.

    ……….

    What we have, when all is said and done, is an obligation on the defence to produce sufficient evidence beyond doubt that all evidence, not just that on two points, is tainted. They were only able to do that by slurs, as Pablo did in his first attack and as I showed, that was ludicrous.

    ………..

    Now, in order to go further into the forensics, we need to know who you are, Pablo and who I am. I am an amateur from the educational and separately, investigative field. If you, Pablo are a forensic scientist, then I step back and await someone of qualification to answer your specific points. If you, like me, are just an interested amateur, then you can quote from reports as well as or better than I and we’ve proved nothing, certainly not to overturn a double conviction which went through 19 justices and so completely, without the slightest trace of doubt.

    So it does now come down to your bona fides.

    ……….

    Once again, thanks for your contribution.

  29. Pablo
    October 6, 2011 at 14:58

    Attacks? Bona Fides? Look, I was just pointing out the inaccuracy of your claims regarding the mixed blood evidence. Even Stefanoni and Massei conceded there was no proof of mixed fresh blood so if you’re the interested amateur you claim to be, why is your view different?

    I’m not slurring Patrizia Stefanoni. Its a fact that her reputation has been damaged. Two of the main incriminating pieces of DNA evidence provided by her for the first trial have been adjudged by a panel of independent, court-appo­inted DNA experts to be incompetently produced and thereby inadmissable. This isn’t media spin or FOA inspired BS, its independently adjudged fact by a panel of experts and adjudged as such in the appeal court.

  30. howdy
    October 6, 2011 at 19:08

    4 ng of DNA is not a small amount. It perhaps has come from the skin cells, with strong force. Just by touch, perhaps one or none cell will be transferred. 4 ng of DNA might indicate 10 or more cells (perhaps upto 50) cells were present. Experts can testify whether 10 or more cells can be explained by routine contamination. If we value contamination so common, then the technique will be useless (for forensics). The tool can be used 100 year later and the DNA is very stable. Remember that DNA is used in other studies and we rarely have a perfect sample for a 1000 year old specimen.

    Mixed DNA just means that the sample analysed contains two or more different DNA profiles from different individuals. Nothing more. At this stage it is impossible to state whether the DNA source is blood or other cell and all studies that refer to the low copy number (usually) comes from a single cell.

    The blood sample on the knife groove must have been tested first by microscope and then subjected to PCR. The sample will be less than 10-50 ng and the DNA will be less than 10-100 pg. Perhaps it came from a single cell. It will be mixed with other junk (this made the cell stick even after cleaning).

    I am just a scientist and the information presented is well know to any biology student. I am not commenting on other aspects of the controversy.

    Far better information could have been obtained from the cell tower logs, computer hard disk and careful photography.

  31. October 8, 2011 at 23:15

    The total amount of DNA on the bra clasp was 1.14 ng. Sollecito’s putative contribution to this amount was 1/6 to 1/10 of that, suggesting that the amount of DNA that was attributed to Sollecito is around 200 pg or less. One can see that the peaks in the electropherogram that correspond to Meredith’s profile are the largest ones present.

  32. October 8, 2011 at 23:18

    You wrote, “Now to the 9 U.S. scientists who all said the same thing, i.e. they all signed on the dotted line. They had no access to the crime scene and procedures but Knox’s and Sollecito’s people did. This was a beat-up.” This is untrue. Neither the 9 scientists nor anyone else on the Knox/Sollecito defense teams had access to the forensic files, such as the .fsa files or the machine logs.

  33. October 9, 2011 at 08:29

    Chris, all signing on the dotted line was preceded by “ie”, in other words it meant “effectively” or “what that really means is”. In other words, they all agreed to the same thing at the same time and were aware that this was in unison.

    You say they had no access to the forensic files – precisely and thanks for pointing that out.

    The bra clasp had sufficient DNA in the original instance to lead them to that conclusion. The issue was not how miniscule or how large the amount of Sollecito’s DNA present was but that there was any DNA whatsoever of his on the bra.

    Again and again and again, the prosecution side and those who have reviewed the evidence, in the hope of getting to the truth to allow Meredith’s family their closure, have said the same thing – it is the totality of evidence which convicted the pair [and Guede].

    The totality.

    If the prosecution had relied only on the two pieces disputed by the defence, then the bra would not look shaky at all and the knife only shaky in interpretations of what it actually meant.

    But it’s not necessary to rely only on that. Why was the knife transported anyway and by whom? When you see the explanations the pair gave, they gave rise to all sorts of contradictions, not just on that but against all the other things they were asked.

    We can’t get past the pattern of lying and creating new alibis, new explanations and to me, the wonder is not in the inability of the pair to get their stories together but in how badly they did it. It was almost as if they wanted suspicion to be raised. It reads like a script of a bad whodunnit, where the dastardly duo are caught out in their lies.

    Read Massei and then read the TJMK material on each of the areas [sidebar, not main posts], clear away any author’s interpretation of that and let it stand as is. There is much which is explainable, of course, but there is much which is not.

    The totality is really quite damning and in so many criminal trials [except for Knox’s], it’s been way more than enough to convict, especially in the absence of viable alternatives and given the pair’s knowledge of what went on.

    The boot is not on the foot of the prosecution at this point but on that of the defence – to explain away almost every anomaly, certainly the major ones. They did not do that. They took two pieces only and the result of that, if they were successful, should have been the “insufficient evidence” conclusion.

    That they were absolutely acquitted is gobsmacking, as it is based on a really amazing notion – that if one side is relying on all the evidence for its case and given that that side needs it all put again, rather than hoping the jurors would read it, then to disallow the prosecution to put its case is wrong.

    To acquit on that basis is a miscarriage and that’s why the Supreme Court verdict will be interesting.

    There are most certainly questions about Mignini but not the sorts of questions [beating Knox etc.] which have been put. There are other questions of Hellman and Mignini which haven’t been put yet. And as for one of those “independent experts” – trace her history, as some Italian friends of mine have.

  34. howdy
    October 9, 2011 at 19:11

    @ChrisHalkides

    I see that you are a biochemist. So I presume you are familiar with DNA isolation, purification, PCR, Restriction Enzymes, Electrophoresis, Statistics, spectroscopic methods in biology and all the related topics.

    You admit that 10-16% of the DNA isolated from the same sample (I do not have the full data and therefore I use your comments) contains the DNA of the then accused (now freed). So you think 10-16% of total DNA came as a result of contamination? Have you seen so much of contamination in your lab days?

    I have only seen the extracts of the letter from the 9 US scientists but I am sad to say that they do not know what they are writing (or talking about). They mention relative fluorescence units but forget that being relative they cannot be compared across samples or different machines. It is not like absorbance, which is not relative, but this is fluorescence, which is always expressed in arbitrary units and is not comparable across samples or machines. You can compare two traces that are from the same machine at the same time. I do not think that they thought that their letter will come on the internet. I also looked up scopus and saw his publications.

    If you have any doubt, just ask any spectroscopy student.

    In touch DNA analysis (LCN), we can see even one single molecule of DNA but it need to be amplified by PCR and the results also come clean and clear. Contamination will be more serious in the lab where you are doing the actual analysis. But that is a different topic altogether.

  35. October 9, 2011 at 22:08

    Howdy,

    At some point in the future, forensic scientists might agree that setting run-specific thresholds will be the standard practice. This consists of using multiples of the noise within a run to decide whether a peak is real and whether its height can be accurately quantitated. However, for the time being most labs use a threshold that is measured in RFU. The lowest threshold is 40-50 RFU, and I have heard of thresholds that are much higher, 100-150 RFU. To my way of thinking the most important rule to follow is that the rule governing the threshold must be set prior to the analysis of the run, as suggested in Rudin and Inman’s textbook on forensic DNA analysis.
    Jason R. Gilder, M.S.; Travis E. Doom, Ph.D.; Keith Inman, M. Crim.; and Dan E. Krane, Ph.D., “Run-Specific Limits of Detection and Quantitation for STR-based DNA Testing,” Journal of Forensic Science, January 2007, Vol. 52, No. 1.
    http://www.bioforensics.com/articles/RunSpecificRFUthreshold.pdf

    On the one hand there is general agreement that small amounts of DNA are more mobile in contamination or secondary transfer events than larger amounts. On the other I have noticed an extreme reluctance on the part of many forensic scientists to draw inferences about when or how DNA arrived on an object from the DNA profile itself. Therefore, I am not sure I want to draw inferences about the clasp based solely on the amount of DNA present. However, one might wish to examine other contamination events to gain some insight. Although it is a partial profile, Ms. P’s DNA on Jaidyn Leskie’s clothing contains some peaks that are far stronger in RFUs than the peaks attributed to Raffaele. I would also note that contamination from post-PCR DNA ay happen by a number of mechanisms.

    From my perspective there are four possible ways that what is presumed to be Sollecito’s DNA could have arrived on the clasp: primary transfer, secondary/tertiary transfer prior to its being collected, contamination (either during collection or during analysis), and evidence tampering. I think primary transfer is not terribly likely for several reasons, not the least of which is the presence of the DNA from several other individuals on the clasp.

    I strongly urge you to read the entire text of the letter of 19 November 2009 for yourself. You may be interested to learn that two of the coauthors of the paper above were cosigners of the open letter and a third is a coauthor on a DNA profiling textbook. The knife profile is part of this letter, and the videos of the collection of the clasp were available to them. I would say that the Conti-Vecchiotti report comes as far less of a shock to those who have read this letter than those that have not.

  36. October 9, 2011 at 22:16

    James Hingham,

    It is absolutely shameful that the defense and its consultants did not have the electronic data files, machine logs, or standard operating procedures, despite asking repeatedly for them. Thank you for highlighting this. I have read all of the forensic passages in the English translation of the Massei report, and I disagree with many things that Judge Massei concluded, as I have discussed elsewhere. Massei’s reasoning elsewhere is no better. In my view the prosecution’s case had no credible murder weapon, no motive, and a timeline that thumbed its nose at all that is known about human digestive physiology. I have examined some of the publications of Conti, Vecchiotti, and Novelli as part of forming an opinion of the DNA forensics of this case. Stefanoni lacks an advanced degree or a publication record in the area of DNA forensics, and that needs to be factored in as well.

  37. howdy
    October 10, 2011 at 15:12

    @ChrisHalkides

    Thanks for the link. Strange but true, it essentially supports what I have written earlier. It has additional useful information that I can use in future. Nowhere it suggests or recommends using a fixed cutoff for the peak detection. Using mean+3*sigma (>99.7 % confidence) is the “industry standard” although it has not come from the heavens. Using mean+10*sigma is really stupid (physically meaningless) and does not serve any purpose. I am not keen on going into the details, but you can certainly find out from any statistics student (there is nothing new here, these are all 100 year old basic statistics). You can use any cutoff you wish but you cannot ignore basic statistics.

    About standards: I do not believe there is any accepted standards but manufacturer’s recommendations. Standards take ages to come and by the time it arrives the method has become obsolete. I may be wrong but unlikely.

    You are making the same mistake when you are comparing results from two different runs. They are just not comparable. You can try to say the relative proportions of the two peaks (that is also risky but is somewhat safer) in one run differs greatly (more than a factor of 10) from the relative proportion of the two similar peaks in another run on another machine (that is admissible but with reservations).

    There was an article in nature (a very respected british journal) recently that tells how biologists make mistakes when applying statistical methods and tools. (Erroneous analyses of interactions in neuroscience: a problem of significance – pp1105 – 1107; Sander Nieuwenhuis, Birte U Forstmann & Eric-Jan Wagenmakers; doi:10.1038/nn.2886; nature neuroscience).

    You are also making “hypothesis” about the “contamination”. As presented, this is only a hypothesis (perhaps several). Hypothesis can be tested using statistical tools (very aptly called “hypothesis testing”) using available data. I am not going into the details (you can do it yourself or take help from any student of statistics) but if you do that you will be very surprised to know the result (it is not contamination)- Statistics is a very powerful tool indeed!

    Some one (somewhere else) mentioned about “motive”. Motive is like a (causative) force- cannot be seen or quantified- it is an intangible “matter” that resides in the mind (another intangible quantity). The effects of the (motive) force are tangible motions that can be “evidenced” and quantified. We simply guess a motive from the actions but it can never be proved. We seek the motive because it is intellectually satisfying to somehow understand at some strange unconscious level- Ah, I see. Now I understand. Motive does not matter but the action (the result) does.

    This is not my area of specialisation but I understand the subject. It is not my job to influence opinions. I just want the facts to be clearly established and debated. I shall certainly read the letter by the 9 US scientists in the same way I read any scientific document- logic and basic science. I do not have any favourites in this game.

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