Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Considering The Sad And Sensitive But Also Crucial Subject Of Meredith’s Time Of Death

Posted by James Raper

The following is a discourse on the time of death (TOD) arguments in the case.

These have been summarised but not analysed in depth yet on TJMK. A discussion on the pathology is not really everyone’s cup of tea, but the issue was examined in some detail by Massei and to some extent by Hellmann with somewhat differing conclusions reached.

The topic is relevant because Judge Massei used (inter alia) the expert’s findings to corroborate a TOD being after 11pm, more toward 11.30pm, whereas Judge Hellmann argued an earlier TOD as follows: “it is more consistent”¦.to hypothesize that in fact the attack, and hence the death shortly thereafter, occurred much earlier than the time held by the Court of first instance, certainly not later than 10.13 pm”.

In addition to what is covered by the contents of these two Motivation Reports, there is an argument which is presented by the Friends of Amanda, and in particular Chris Halkides who I understand is, or was,  an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina. In fact he presents an argument put forward by Professor Introna (Sollecito’s expert) during the trial.

This argument is to do with the standard time for the stomach to empty from the start of a meal, and relating this to the autopsy findings and in particular that of the pathologist Dr Lalli who found that Meredith’s stomach was 500cc full but that there was no material to be found in the duodenum.  Halkides’ argument is that this demonstrates conclusively that Meredith was attacked shortly after her return to the cottage at 9pm and would have died shortly thereafter. The significance of this, if correct, is apparent in that it opens up, or at least it raises a doubt as to whether there is or not a verifiable alibi for Knox and Sollecito. 

Although Knox does not have an alibi from the time of Meredith’s return home at 9pm, there was human interaction, the last, on Raffaele’s computer at 9.15pm, and one might assume that they were together at that time.  But no verifiable alibi until one takes into account that Curatolo says that he first saw the two on Grimana Square around 9.30pm.

My area is the law, and I have no medical or scientific expertise, so I hesitate to go up against anyone who has, but nevertheless I will endeavour to summarise and rationalise the evidence, arguments and conclusions as presented by Massei, Hellmann and Halkides.

First a word about the digestive system.

Food, already masticated, passes through the esophagus to the stomach, where it is broken down by acids, from where it then passes to the small intestine from whence the body extracts the nutrients it needs.  The duodenum is that part of the small intestine right next to the stomach and it’s function is to dissolve the food “juice” further with enzymes before passing it on to the rest of the small intestine.

Judge Massei

Judge Massei considers the experts’ findings in the following areas to determine a likely time of death.

The first is temperature decrease, “taking the Henssge nomogram into account: rigor mortis; hypostatic marks” etc.

One can note that in fact rigor mortis and the hypostatic marks were not in the least bit helpful due to the 12 hour delay in the pathologist getting to examine the body.

That apart, nevertheless “¦”¦“These led Dr Lalli to conclude that death may have occurred between 21 hours 30 minutes, and 30 hours and 30 minutes, before the first measurement, and thus between approximately 8 pm on November 1st 2007, and 4am on November 2nd”¦.The intermediate value also indicated by the mathematical reconstruction (26 hours prior to the first measurement) puts the time of death at approximately 11 pm.”

Just how one works out TOD on temperature decrease indicators, especially in the absence of a pathological examination earlier than that which took place here, is pretty technical.  I will not attempt to present the data (some of which is missing i.e Meredith’s actual body weight) or explain the mathematical models (so as to calculate body weight and the rate of cooling) (the Henssge nonogram appears to be one such mathematical model in graph form) that the experts used. 

Nearly all the experts, other than Professor Introna, whilst having marginal disagreements about data and formulae, were not in fundamental disagreement about the wide parameters of or even Dr Lalli’s conclusion of a TOD of approximately 11pm.

Professor Introna departed from the other experts to use an “ideal weight” and a specific formula to calculate the ideal weight, to produce a TOD of 8.20pm when of course we know that Meredith was still very much alive. Thus Massei ruled out ideal weight calculations as unreliable and used a median weight based on Dr Lalli’s guesstimates of Meredith’s weight (as used by the other experts) on first examination and at autopsy, though she was not actually weighed at all.

The second area is gastric emptying of the stomach.

It was acknowledged by all the experts that there is something like a standard period between the time that food enters the stomach and it then being processed through into the small intestine.  There was, however, some disagreement as to the parameters, ranging between 2-3 hours and 3-4 hours. One could therefore say 2-4 hours. Remember this.

Most of the experts agreed though that individuals are different, and there are variables leading to wide discrepancies including the type of meal eaten. A number of the experts heard said that the state of digestion was probably the most unreliable indicator as to the TOD.

All agreed that acute stress, psychological as well as physical such as an attack, would inhibit the digestive process.

I will not rehearse Professor Introna’s argument here as this, essentially, is the argument which Chris Halkides deploys, to which I will come in a moment.

It is fairly clear that Massei found the information as to body cooling time more convincing than information as to the state of digestion. However, as I understood it, the Appeal Court was going to be asked to re-evaluate precisely that. Did it?

Judge Hellmann

The Court of Assizes of first instance has acknowledged the difficulty in precisely fixing the time of death based merely on autopsy criteria. Since not all the accurate data is available, the time span within which the death of Meredith Kercher can be placed based on such criteria remains very widely outlined: between 9pm and 9.30pm of November 1st 2007, and the early hours of November 2nd.However, in reconstructing the sequence of events the Court of first instance assessed it was able to fix the time of death based on other elements, in particular the harrowing scream”¦.

The first point to note here is that Hellmann misinterprets the first Court’s findings. He ignores the fact that the first Court did determine a TOD between 11pm and 11.30 pm as probable based on the pathology alone, and gave reasons for this.

None of the expert testimony is rehearsed, let alone re-evaluated by Hellmann.  He proceeds merely to discredit the reliability of the witnesses as to the other elements such as the scream etc.

One recalls that Nara Capezzali says that she heard a scream sometime between 11 and 11.30 pm. That there was a broken down car and the breakdown driver came and went between perhaps 11 and 11.15 pm.

As mentioned earlier his hypothesizing about the other elements leads him to a TOD of not later than 10.13 pm although this time seems a very random one based on what he presents. He talks in this section about Guede’s statement that he arrived at the cottage at 9 pm.

One suspects that if Hellmann could have fixed the time of death at 9.15 pm or 9.30 pm then he would have done so as either time would be a get out of jail free card for Knox and Sollecito.  He did not, but he got them out of jail nevertheless with his hypothesizing - here and elsewhere in his report.

I could just stop here because further discussion on the pathology itself would seem irrelevant as regards the appeal to Cassation, though it could really matter at a second appeal trial.

But here is a comment about Chris Halkides because some do say they find his conclusion convincing.

Chris Halkides

My summary of his argument.

The stomach was full (or at least had 500 cc of contents) and the duodenum had no material in it.  As the duodenum had no material in it then, Halkides deduces, the stomach had not started to release any part of the meal Meredith had consumed at Robyn Butterworths’ into the small intestine at TOD. Death stops the digestive process.

The contents of the stomach observed by Dr Lalli included some of the apple crumble eaten by Meredith and what appeared to be items, in a very advanced state of acidification, thought to be pizza toppings. Meredith and Sophie had eaten pizza at Robyn Butterworths’ home, followed by the apple crumble. In addition there was a small measure of alcohol in the stomach equivalent to a glass of beer.

They had started eating at about 6pm (some accounts e.g John Follain’s have it earlier at 5.30 pm) or maybe 6.30 pm, putting on a DVD to watch a film and finishing at 8 pm or perhaps 8.30 pm. The times here are an indication if anything and are not to be treated as completely accurate.

If it was 6.30 pm that Meredith began to eat then using the standard parameters discussed by Massei we have latest TODs of 9.30 or 10.30 pm for when material from the stomach should have started to enter the duodenum. Not later and certainly not as late as 11 or 11.30 pm.

That is Halkides’ argument in a nutshell. He argues that TOD is actually about 9.30 pm. If so it would have been impossible for Knox and Sollecito who were still at the flat at 9.15 pm and who were seen in the square at 9.30 pm to have committed the murder.

He has referred me to an article in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology about an experiment conducted on volunteers where the mean time (for 95 individuals) for gastric emptying of solids is 127 minutes, give or take, I think, twenty minutes either side.

Using the mean, to be pedantic, this would mean that Meredith died before she got home or at the latest immediately on arrival (6.30 + 2 hours 27 minutes = 8.57 pm.)

That article, incidentally, was published in 2006. It doesn’t seem to date that the results have been peer reviewed and verified and I would have thought that the experts who testified at the trial in 2009 would have been aware of it. So the data set out here may be suspect for a given individual and does not take into account variables excluding age, sex and body mass index which the research found to have no significant correlation.

In any event Halkides is quite happy to have a latest parameter of 3 hours, but no longer. Indeed that would be what brings us to 9.30 pm.

The problem I detect with his argument is twofold.

Firstly there is the uncertainty as to when Meredith began to eat at Robyn’s home (and since it was a two course meal, when she began to eat the apple crumble) and secondly Halkides’ argument is predicated on that two course meal being her last.

If the apple crumble was eaten at 8 or 8.30 pm then (adding on the 2 hours 27 minutes from the above research) it may still have been in her stomach at 10.27 or 10,57 pm, or later indeed (which Halkides has to concede) since the digestive time from the research is only an average.

So with a parameter of 3 hours we might just as well say 11 pm or 11.30 pm.

In addition to variables we could take into account inhibitors such as Meredith suffering acute psychological stress commencing”¦well”¦we cannot be certain when, can we?.

One can play Hellmann’s game and hypothesize to our advantage a number of stress situations on that fateful evening, starting quite early. No one has to accept Massei’s hypothesis of a Meredith on her own and in relaxed mode until about 11pm. Massei’s hypothesis here is in no way crucial.

Furthermore the hypothesis that Meredith actually ate a further snack on her return to the cottage does seem to have some basis in fact in that at the autopsy the pathologist found a mushroom in her esophagus. Mushrooms specifically had not been a topping on the pizzas baked at Robyn’s home. As to the alcohol in her stomach no alcohol had been consumed at Robyn’s home, only water.

It might sound a bit flippant for me to suggest it but it might be the case that Meredith, who was passionate about pizzas, had a beer and grilled a quick meal of pizza toppings from the fridge for herself which Halkides mistakes for evidence of the pizza still in the stomach.

That Meredith might still have been hungry might be because she had not, until eating at Robyn’s, eaten for a considerable time beforehand.

She had been partying all night Halloween and had gone to bed at about 4 am, rising at about midday, and then leaving not so long afterwards to be with her friends. Whether she had anything to eat at the cottage before leaving on the afternoon of the 1st, we simply don’t know.

Knox tells us in her e-mail to Seattle that she and Raffaele cooked and ate there, but she does not mention Meredith having anything to eat, and Meredith left before they did.

For some reason John Follain thinks Meredith did eat then, Paul Russell that she did not. I do not see how either could be sure. If it had been me I might have felt up to a nibble but not much more knowing that in a few hours I would be eating a meal with my friends.

It seems to me that it is quite possible that Robyn’s pizza had passed through the stomach, duodenum, and indeed perhaps most of if not the rest of the small intestine by 11.30 pm and that the apple crumble had not even begun to enter the duodenum.

Let us assume that Meredith actually started her pizza at 5.30 pm (according to Follain) finishing at 5.40 pm. As she was already hungry the stomach acids go to work straight away and the pizza passes at the earliest to the duodenum after two hours, spending a further three and half hours (as per literature) in the small intestine before passing to the rectum . A total of five and a half hours.

Thus the small intestine had disposed of it by 11.10 pm. There would however be an unlikely gap to the consumption of the apple crumble. Yet if the apple crumble was consumed after the DVD (watching the film The Notebook circa 123 minutes) then that would be around 8 pm, entering the duodenum three and a half hours later (possible) at 11.30 pm or at least it would be doing this but for the fact that Meredith was already the subject of a vicious attack inhibiting the digestive process.

I accept that I am not using uniform digestion times in this speculation (indeed I have deployed earliest and latest parameters at will) but nevertheless they are within the parameters accepted by the experts, and even, at a push, by Halkides as well.

The point is that this is a complicated topic and there are many imprecise details that do not allow for certainty but only probablilities, or in some instances, possibilities. This Massei, and to a certain extent Hellmann recognized.

Nobody can be precisely sure and so any other timeline or alibi must stand or fall on their own.



Here are my two cents. Let us consider the factor called variability.

Let us take a concrete example. with a sample of 95 individuals, you note that average time is 120 mins (just for ease in typing) with a standard deviation of 20 mins. What the hell does it mean?

Roughly speaking, 60% of the people will have 120+/- 20 mins; i.e., 100 min to 140 mins.

If we want 95% accuracy, that will mean for 95% of the people will have this number 120+/- 40 mins. We usually use 95% but you can be fussy and use 99% confidence and then the numbers will be 120+/- 60 mins. This is normal statistics (you can check with any student).

It simply means that anytime between 60 to 180 mins may be useful.

20 min variability is not small (if it is the real standard deviation). As his sample was 95 students, some must have (statistically speaking) taken 80 mins and some might have taken 160 mins.


Lab experiments are carried out with care and we ensure that effects from other factors are minimum, to say the least. In real cases, the variability will be more, not less.

Yes, I do understand this business.

For adult education nothing beats children.

Posted by chami on 05/09/12 at 08:16 PM | #

Dont anyone be holding their breath waiting for James and Chami to be contradicted. “Experts For Sollecito and Knox” are, we suspect, more and more a threatened species these days.

You know, like “Lawyers For Sollecito and Knox” which James Raper tied to smoke out in his post last week.

“Ghost Writers For Sollecito and Knox” also seem to be getting harder to snare. PMF has a really funny quote from one who (to his real relief) just managed to get away.

Okay, bets are on. Between Halkides and Hampikian. Or can they both make it out the door at the same time?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/09/12 at 08:54 PM | #


About the alcohol.

Death, however you may define it, is an ill defined concept in biology. A fellow may be dead but his digestive system continues to work for sometime (I do not know the exact time, but exact times are so variable that they are practically useless).

Gastric secretions stop first but the enzymes released continue to act (i.e., the food continues to get cooked). Around the same time the secretions stop, the absorptions too slowly stop and the food continues to “rot” whereever it is.

Alcohol is one of the fermentation products and it will accumulate (because it cannot get absorbed). After 24 hours there may be sufficient alcohol for one can of beer!

A small amount of alcohol will also appear in blood because of fermentation of the sugar in blood but the amount will be very small. Therefore the stomach alcohol content does not mean anything!

The earlier these observations are taken the better but by the time post mortem was carried out more than 24 hours are over.

Just to give an example (sorry to give a sick example; can’t think quickly): even if you have not taken alcohol, your vomit will start stinking within a couple of hours and after 24 hours will have a decent amount of alcohol present. It is a natural process.

I do not think Chris Halkides will disagree!

Q:  Do you know what the death rate around here is?
A:  One per person.

Posted by chami on 05/09/12 at 11:00 PM | #

This is a very interesting post though extremely sad to be going over these details. I must confess that I have often pondered about the arguments of Halkides myself and wondered if there is any weight in them. However, despite having absolutely no experience in such matter, even I can tell that my stomach does not behave in the same way always. Even a small thing like exam related stress can alter my eating and digestive patterns so I am not sure how Halkides makes such authoritative conclusions about it.

The point about Meredith having had a snack is quite interesting and I would say quite possible. It is not all that improbable that she might have had a quick snack after coming home considering that the evidence does somewhat point to it. If the TOD is so early like Halkides and other FOAkers predict, then when did she have time to eat the mushroom and maybe sip a beer? Her friends have testified that mushroom was not part of the meal earlier. So either she must have had it after coming home which means that the TOD cannot be as early as Halkides predicts (unless we assume that the first thing which Meredith did after coming home was rush to start eating mushrooms after which she was immediately attacked with not a second to spare) OR she must have had it before leaving for Sophie’s in which case it is pretty evident that the theory doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Either ways, it just doesn’t work.

Posted by Sara on 05/10/12 at 12:23 PM | #

Looks like we weren’t the only ones absolutely convinced that AK and RS were going to lose the appeal - the daily mail did too!

Posted by Spencer on 05/10/12 at 01:33 PM | #

Does anyone know if the Kercher’s were ever concerned that their phones might have been hacked?  Or Meredith’s?  A macabre thought I know, but if they did it to Milly Dowler…

Posted by Spencer on 05/10/12 at 06:43 PM | #

I have studied a little bit about this subject, as well as having worked in a medical examiner’s office for a time.

What chami said above is correct: clinical lab experiments are designed explicitly to limit the number of variables. Subjects eat the same meal, in the same amount of time, under the same conditions. Stomach emptying is measured with a radioopaque dye. The goal is to establish basic principles of digestive functioning in health and in various disease states.

You would think that an autopsy study would have been done in which the duodenal contents of deceased persons whose last meal time was known would be correlated. You would be wrong. We have no idea what the real-world variation may be.

In Meredith’s case, additional compounding factors include: she was grazing rather than eating a meal all at once (and the FIFO principle does NOT apply to stomach contents), she may have had a beer (I’m doubtful of this), she may have been lying flat much of the time, she was certainly under stress, and Lalli did not tie off the bowel so some of the duodenal contents may have escaped.

Based on the above I’d be reluctant to venture any guess beyond Massei’s window of 9pm to 4am, which everybody agrees is correct, with the most likely time being closer to 9pm than 4am.

I say this as someone who believes from the phone evidence and witness Formica that the attack probably commenced shorly before 10pm. Even if the 9:11pm “possible human interaction” is real it would give Knox and Sollecito time to get to Piazza Grimana before 9:30pm, when they were first seen by Curatolo.

Posted by brmull on 05/10/12 at 09:52 PM | #

I can’t see why the friends cannot be asked about the timing of the meal and when the crumble was consumed.  Why are we speculating when they can simply be asked?

Posted by James Higham on 05/10/12 at 11:28 PM | #

The standard error made by Knox supporters is to claim that stomach contents may be employed to pinpoint time of death or that it is more accurate than the other three main considerations.  This argument was not employed in court and the reason it wasn’t is that it is nonsense.

I did one of the calculations proposed by a JREF regular over a year ago and arrived at a most probable time of death of 20:15 or 20:20. 

In this case, the autopsy and standard time-of-death determination techniques added very little to what the police knew from other information, including witness statements from Knox and Meredith’s friend Sophie Purton. 

The defence has to make the time of death earlier than 23:00, if possible, but not too early.  You obviously cannot testify that your calculations demonstrate a most likely time of death of 20:15.  This is why Introna suggested some time around 22:00 but definitely not what Chris Halkides and others have said about the “pinpoint method”.  Introna was right to testify as he did and allow some wiggle room but he didn’t differ materially from Lalli’s proposal.

Posted by Stilicho on 05/11/12 at 12:26 AM | #

@James - The friends have indeed been asked about the time of the meal of course and it is based on their answers that these speculations have arisen. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even have had a window for speculation. I would assume that they were probably unable to provide the details to the exact minute which is not so unusual. Moreover, if one friend said “around 5-5.30” and another said “around 5.15-5.30”, that still leaves quite a bit of gap for speculation considering that we are talking in terms of minutes and seconds here. I don’t think it is realistic to expect them to remember the time to the exact minute. We must not forget that they were under extreme shock when they were questioned too.

Posted by Sara on 05/11/12 at 05:06 AM | #

I have been reading the draft of Hellman’s report from PMF today and I am completely astounded by the logic (or the lack thereof) that Hellman has used to release AK and RS. His judgement is based on sentences to the likes of “AK had no reason to point to Lumamba if she was really involved, it would have been far more beneficial for her to point towards the real culprit as it would have given her credibility and she anyway cannot be held responsible for crime that happened in the adjacent room”.

I cannot believe it. How does he work that one out? A person involved in a murder has no reason to lie? It would have been beneficial for her to point to Guede so that he could have then pointed to her and sealed the deal?? Is this what justice has come to - Ramblings and illogical assumptions? Does judge Hellman really believe that people who commit murder do not try to mislead trials? I feel so sad.

Posted by Sara on 05/11/12 at 05:39 AM | #


The friends have indeed been asked about the time of the meal of course and it is based on their answers that these speculations have arisen. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even have had a window for speculation. I would assume that they were probably unable to provide the details to the exact minute which is not so unusual.

Yes but we’re not talking minutes here.  By some of the speculation, we don’t know when the dessert was by a matter of hours.  Surely the friends know when she had her dessert, even if they say “mid-evening” or “near the end of her time there”.  I mean, it’s not too hard to know when they all had their dessert.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being negative but this point I thought would be quite easy to establish.

Posted by James Higham on 05/11/12 at 07:50 AM | #

Sorry to go on but look at this:

There would however be an unlikely gap to the consumption of the apple crumble. Yet if the apple crumble was consumed after the DVD (watching the film The Notebook circa 123 minutes) then that would be around 8 pm

Why the “yet if the apple crumble ...”?  What did the friends say - di they eat their crumble before, during or after the film?  That seems remarkably easy to establish.  Sure they might not give 8.24 p.m. or something like that but they could surely say: “We ate our dessert during the film”.

That would be enough and if asked: “What, near the beginning, near the end or sometime in the middle,” again surely at least one friend would be able to say that, given that they’re intelligent girls.

Posted by James Higham on 05/11/12 at 07:57 AM | #

It’s heartening to see posters continuing the good work for Meredith. I feel bad I dropped the ball and took off to England, but I needed a break. Maybe I’ll know Meredith better having been here, watched ‘her rugby’ on telly. Thanks to you TJMK posters for carrying the torch for her continually! Her cause is just.

Posted by Hopeful on 05/11/12 at 02:58 PM | #

The stomach contents debate is (excuse the pun) perfect fodder for the FOA.

Any lay person after reading for 5 minutes on the subject knows it is impossible to pinpoint the time a person died just by looking at that persons stomach contents.

Yet to the FOA this is perfect in their never ending tactical quest to muddy the waters in this case. They can waffle on for hours, days, weeks, months on this subject.

Posted by Black Dog on 05/11/12 at 03:52 PM | #

James, I do get your point and yes, it might have been fairly easy to establish that. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps the friends were either not clear about the time of playing the movie itself (I think they kept stopping and restarting it - to allow for the crumble making, photo uploading etc) Or there must have been some amount of vagueness in their answer (“we started eating crumble sometime during the second half of the movie”). Another aspect which might be leading to speculations is that we cannot be sure when she actually “ate” it. I often start eating during a movie and then get so engrossed in it that I forget to eat and then finish it all up hurriedly after the movie ends. I guess the point I am trying to make is that there is plenty of room for speculation unfortunately.

Posted by Sara on 05/11/12 at 06:44 PM | #

I finished reading the Hellmann draft report yesterday and I was so very astounded and disappointed :(. I was hoping against hope that there might be some amount of logic, something we had missed, hadn’t thought of. But no, it seemed to me that Hellmann just took the arguments from one of the FOA sites and fluffed them up with legal terms.

There were so many inconsistencies that even me, who doesn’t know anything about law felt like screaming. Logical conclusions from Massei report are dismissed without reason, statements are accepted only partially and only when they are beneficial to the accused, baseless assumptions are made - not once or twice but throughout the report. A classic example - Hellmann says that Guede’s statements in court cannot be accepted, rather the statements he made to his friend during the chat session are more reliable where he claims AK had nothing to do with it. But he seems to forget that in the same chat session, Guede also claimed that he himself had nothing to do with it. Why not accept that too?

I had given up hope after reading the first few pages of the report. But I was still not ready for the master piece - the burglary staging. Hellmann says the burglary was either not staged or even if it was, it was staged by Guede himself. Wow! And why would Guede do that in such an obvious manner to implicate himself, considering it was supposed to be his modus operandi and all that? Well, because Guede thought that if he does it in such an obvious manner, then noone would think he did it because obviously he would not do it in such an obvious manner if he had indeed done it. Overcomplicated much? So, Guede thought about all this and staged the burglary yet forgot to wipe his own bloody handprints and foorprints from Meredith’s room and to flush the loo.

Towards the end, I had seriously started doubting if the report was written by Hellmann or by Dempsey.

Posted by Sara on 05/11/12 at 07:02 PM | #

Yes Sara, Hellman’s report is a stunning document isn’t it?
Stunning in the sense that it emotes jawdropping disbelief.

Posted by Black Dog on 05/11/12 at 07:50 PM | #

Answer To:  Posted by James Higham on 05/11/12 at 12:57 AM | #

Why the “yet if the apple crumble ...”?  What did the friends say - di they eat their crumble before, during or after the film?  That seems remarkably easy to establish.  Sure they might not give 8.24 p.m. or something like that but they could surely say: “We ate our dessert during the film”.


This is what Massei writes [34 ff]:

“Meredith had arrived at about 4 pm; they had prepared a pizza and had eaten; then they had looked at the Halloween photos on the computer before starting to watch a film; around the middle of the film they had prepared an apple crumble, a sort of apple cake, which they had eaten with ice cream.”

And Massei again [132]:

“This meal ended at about 20:30 pm, so [Introna] considered that the mealtime lasted from 18:30 to 20:30 pm.”

There’s no confusion about the length or timing of the meal or its constituent parts.  The confusion starts when people with no medical experience write authoritatively that Meredith must therefore have died within two hours and twenty-seven minutes from 18:30 (20:57) and subsequently tack on thirty more minutes to arrive at 21:27.  Introna didn’t do that but Halkides did after borrowing from a textbook and deducing a “just-so” conclusion. 

Halkides tacked on the additional half-hour not because he understands forensic pathology but because he knows he cannot support a time-of-death of 20:57.  This is dishonest and he has to know it is since I’ve told him and many others including “Yummi/Machiavelli” have told him too.

Did I answer any of your concerns or is there something specific that I overlooked?

Posted by Stilicho on 05/11/12 at 10:00 PM | #

That’s much clearer and thanks, also to Sara.

And that Hellman report is unbelievable.  It’s so unprofessional, why didn’t their bar association deal with him or is that what’s happening now?

Posted by James Higham on 05/12/12 at 01:27 AM | #

OT - Amanda Knox slander trial postponed

Posted by mojo on 05/12/12 at 04:15 PM | #

I think this just destroys every FOA argument that there is no way Amanda could ever have stabbed someone…

Posted by Severino518 on 05/12/12 at 05:29 PM | #

How about this news item from India:

You can also see it in BBC news:

Hush-hush Justice delivered to your door steps!


A young husband with an inferiority complex insisted he was just a little pebble on the beach.  The marriage counselor told him, “If you wish to save your marriage, you’d better be a little boulder.”

Posted by chami on 05/12/12 at 09:19 PM | #

Reader-Warning: The following comments regarding the above Time-of-Death discussions may chill, horrify, nauseate or otherwise offend some readers; continue at your own subjective peril:

A classic text is “The Estimation of the Time Since Death in the Early Postmortem Period” 2nd Ed, one of whose co-authors, Professor Bernard Knight, Emeritus Professor of Forensic Pathology, University of Wales, was closely interviewed by John Follain on this subject.

In Follain’s book “City of Secrets” he quotes Professor Knight: “Anybody who gives a time of death within a fraction of an hour establishes himself as an idiot”.

IMO, when people die abruptly, with no pre-mortem emotional build-up, as in a road-traffic accident, their alimentary tract may conform, at autopsy, to the ToD criteria variously applied by “experts” in this case.

When a person dies following such emotional stress as Meredith must suffered before she died, their alimentary tract has been reacting in various well-known ways:

1.  It may have propelled its contents onwards by degrees varying from only the next normal step e.g. from stomach to duodenum, or to complete onward expulsion.

2.  It may have propelled its contents backwards by degrees varying from only the previous normal step e.g. from stomach to oesophagus, or to complete backward expulsion.

3.  Its normal function, including digestive status, peristaltic status, and absorptive status may have been disturbed, including arrested, for a period of time and to a degree varying with emotional responses.

4.  Any combination of the above.

Most people have observed these various things, both in other living people and in themselves; haven’t we-all?

To apply to a person whose death was preceded by such emotional turmoil as that which must have preceded Meredith’s death, the criteria variously applied by “experts” in this case, seems to be futile, as politely indicated in the Massei Report e.g. pp. 149 & 179.

Meredith’s alimentary function could have been so disturbed that no one can know what ToD criteria are applicable. In such individually unique circumstances there possibly are none.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 05/13/12 at 12:40 AM | #

Hi Guys, I’ve just finished reading ‘Meredith’, what beautiful tribute to a gorgeous girl. How very generous of the family to share their most personal memories and photos of her, I really enjoyed learning more about her.

I would urge all of you who have enjoyed the book to log onto Amazon and post a review.

Love and light to the Kercher’s and RIP Meredith.

Posted by Melanie on 05/13/12 at 07:35 PM | #

Hi Melanie

I fully agree with your take on John Kercher’s book, have very carefully read it, and was most impressed with the balance of his perspectives.

One of them in particular struck a special chord for me:

“For Judge Hellmann to refer to Knox and Sollecito as ‘two good youngsters’ sounds more like a defence summing-up, I thought ‘two youngsters’ would have been sufficient.”  (Chapter 10 Our Hope for Justice: Kindle Location 3656)

The chord it struck is a conflict in the thinking about this case which enables the Hellmann’s of this world to substitute their emotional sympathy for the two accused “good youngsters” for their more-proper empathy with the actual victim – Meredith.

Hellmann et al. were legally-assigned Finders-of-Fact who needed fully inform themselves of those facts before reaching their verdict.

The natural human desire not to inflict pain on Meredith’s Family by describing the facts of Meredith’s probable experiences during her final minutes plays into the hands of the Hellmanns, by enabling them to blind themselves to those facts.

If Hellmann et al. had taken-notice of those unpleasant facts they may not have strived so strongly to imagine reasons-to-doubt the guilt staring them in the face.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 05/13/12 at 09:59 PM | #

Hi Cardiol, yes I picked up on that also. He’s very measured, don’t you think? While his love for Meredith and his family shines through he’s not blinded by rage as so many would have been in his position. The upshot is, if she’d been attacked by a ‘lone wolf’ there would have been DNA under her finger nails as she would have lashed out - that’s just human instinct.

I’m pleased that he was able to read the Massei report, that can’t have been easy but it really is the definitive read. I’m thinking about reading Hellman’s report, but it seems to have had a bad effect on Sara. I’m hopeful that the acquittal will be over-turned but I doubt that Knox will be sent back to Italy. But she’ll never be free, she knows what happened that night and she can’t discuss it with anyone. That must be a very lonely existence.

Posted by Melanie on 05/13/12 at 10:24 PM | #

Yes Melanie, Hellmann’s report indeed left me very depressed because I had really hoped that he and the jury saw something which we missed and there might be some amount of fairness in their decision at least. But there was really none and it is not easy to accept that Meredith’s life meant so little to them that they released the accused just because they seemed like “good youngsters”.

And yes, I was extremely angry at the use of those words too..their use is hard to miss as Hellmann stresses on it and I really don’t see why “youngsters” would not have sufficed. At the very least, it should have been something like “supposedly good youngsters”.

Posted by Sara on 05/14/12 at 05:10 AM | #

I’m in the middle of a long report, a combination of timelines and major objections up until November 2nd which will appear at my place in a few days.  All those dates are making my head spin.

Anyway, at this point, there were a few too many names for me as to who lived where and which characters were which, so it was obvious I’d need to look back at Massei [pdf here]:


However, I made the error of googling “Massei Report” and got this

So I put the Massei Report translation done by the Italian translators at TJMK beside the one I’d just found and both were very similar.  One might speak of an ongoing relationship and the other would speak of a relationship which had been going on.

Essentially, the two were virtually the same, which led me to believe that the one I’d just found was some other site interested in justice for Meredith.  However, there was just the one page of the Massei and I looked all over for the whole report.

It simply wasn’t there.  What I did find though was an About page, saying:

... after physical evidence revealed that a burglar named Rudy Hermann Guede (who had little connection to either Knox or Sollecito) had been responsible for the murder. Instead, investigators theorized that the three of them, Knox, Sollecito, and Guede, had killed Meredith Kercher in the course of a violent sex orgy ...


Amazing - I’d stumbled onto a Knox camp site.  This About page went on:

The translator, komponisto, believes that Knox and Sollecito are not only innocent but obviously so, and that the Massei-Cristiani report is of interest to students of human rationality, skepticism, and critical thinking as a case study in atrocious reasoning on the part of a judicial authority — about concrete empirical facts, not subtleties of jurisprudence.

The interesting thing is that “the translator” says nothing of the kind about what he believes - all he’s done is translated one page and not badly either. 

The nameless person on the About page is the only one making that comment.  Compare the scholastic standard of that with the site TJMK - go to the sidebar and follow any link you like.  It’s crammed with data, from where much of my upcoming post comes from.

Read it - the dates and times are not made up - they’re from the record.  Where there is speculation, it’s stated as such.  Any question is answered at TJMK.

This amazing About section though goes on:

This translation was begun in 2010, soon after the report was released, and was interrupted after a group advocating Knox and Sollecito’s guilt announced the imminent publication of a translation of their own.

Now, while working on the translation of the Conti-Vecchiotti report, komponisto has decided to make the completed portion of his Massei-Cristiani translation available, with a view toward possibly finishing it in the future.

Hang on - completed portion?  One page?  LOL.  He then goes on to aggressively state that the report must be called the Massei-Cristiani report:

In the case of the document translated here, it is komponisto’s opinion that Beatrice Cristiani should not be absolved of her role in its preparation.

Whatever substances is this person on?  “Absolved”?  Strange term to apply to a judicial report of well over 400 pages.  So, after making all these claims, the obvious question is - how exactly is the Massei Report incorrect?

I mean, where is the step by step refutation by Mr. About and further, where is his counter scenario, if he won’t accept the official timeline? 

Actually, what I’d been trying to check in the first place was who this Daniel was whom Knox had slept with.  I’d got most of the men/boys she’d slept with but this one I’d not heard of.

Posted by James Higham on 05/14/12 at 09:51 PM | #

Hi James -

Welcome to the Goebbels-Orwell world of FOAK double-think, now led by the Hell-Men School of Imaginary-Reasons-to-Doubt, e.g. if only the oesophageal-fragment of whatever, had been properly analysed, and if only it was undigested apple then maybe the time-of-death would make-it-possible that AK is innocent!

What are a few deceptions and lies between friends-in-a-good-cause?

Posted by Cardiol MD on 05/15/12 at 12:04 AM | #

@James Higham:

Komponisto is the guy famous for advocating for Knox and Sollecito at a forum called “Less Wrong”:


That’s a sample of his smokescreen approach—this time regarding the scene in Filomena’s room.  Unlike his approach in Meredith’s room, which is entirely dependent on DNA samples, he decides instead to ignore the fact that there is no evidence of any kind—genetic or otherwise—that Guede entered through that window.

If he applies his own Bayesian techniques then Komponisto would be at a minimum 95% confident that Guede did not enter through that window and that’s without even including the probability of the front door not being secured. (The likelihood of that event is well over fifty per cent if Knox is to be believed that she couldn’t close it properly).

Those probability games he plays are, by the way, cookie-cutter templates he likely pulled off Wikipedia because Bayesianism is not applied as he thinks it is.  Using it his way you could “prove” that the incumbent US president is a citizen of Kenya.

Posted by Stilicho on 05/15/12 at 12:56 AM | #

I have often tried to challenge FOAKers on this many times.

It is amazing how so many people are willing to believe that if AK and RS had been in Meredith’s room, there would most definitely have been some proof of it and are yet willing to ignore that the same holds good for Guede being in Filomena’s room. But that’s always, always been their approach.

In fact, a major difference I found between Massei’s and Hellmann’s report is their approach towards logical thinking. While I do not agree with every single inference in Massei’s report, it is pretty obvious that he considers all angles, tries to explain everything and does not leave any loose ends, even if I don’t agree with some points.

Hellmann, on the other hand, just ignores evidence or offers something really feeble like “it is illogical to assume that two good youngsters would do this”. As if there is some global rule book about what “good youngsters” would and would not do.

Posted by Sara on 05/15/12 at 02:22 AM | #

Massei did what could be done with the evidence as it stood at the time.  Sure there are flaws here and there but the overall thrust is neither right nor wrong but a catalogue of chronological facts.

I’ve just finished the report, drawn heavily from here so it would hardly interest people for Meredith at this site as you’ve seen it all before - I just put much of it together in one post.

Then when I stepped back and looked - it was simply impossible not to come to the minimal conclusion that the two at least knew very well what was going on. 

And time and time again, I come back to Micheli’s simple premise, which has not been addressed in any proper way:

Who came back, cut off Meredith’s bra and moved her body some time later?  It wasn’t Guede. He went home, cleaned himself up and went out on the town with his friends.  Someone rearranged things.

That leads to only one of two conclusions, both having a relationship.  I’ve kicked and fought it, suspected the boys downstairs, suspected the English girls, tried all sorts of scenarios.

It keeps coming back to the same thing every time.

Posted by James Higham on 05/15/12 at 09:39 AM | #

Hello everyone

Just wanted to say Hi as I’m new and well done to Mr Raper for an iluminating article.

Posted by olly on 05/15/12 at 01:05 PM | #

James, I would still like to see your report when you publish it, even if it is drawn heavily from this site.

I always find at least a few points worth pondering whenever I hear someone’s perspective on this case (or any case for that matter).

If you feel it is not worth getting it posted here, perhaps you could leave a comment telling us where you have posted it? Thanks in advance.

Posted by Sara on 05/16/12 at 12:41 AM | #

According to the Knoxii Guede came back, he also has the ability to float in the air and leave bloody footprints on bathmats without any bloody shoe or footprings leading to and from it.

Guede is also superhuman, he can scale a wall and leave no trace of himself inside or outside the room he broke into and also somehow manage to slip through broken glass without cutting himself.

Posted by Severino518 on 05/16/12 at 06:23 AM | #

On the ‘mushroom’— I’m sure I’ve long ago read discussion confirming that it was a fragment of culinary fungus, versus the hallucinatory variety.

However, i could also swear I read more recently (in Follain, perhaps?) forensic reference to a “mushroom” of blood and foam, formed as the victim breathed out her own blood. So, not a mushroom in the familiar sense, just as there was early confusion due to the use of the word “tampone” for the swab used (whence the rumour that she’s been on her period.)

Sorry, I’ve had very limited time to read and review lately!

Also, as someone whose stomach emptying times are outside of the norm ( I took Reglan for years to aid with a congenital lack of peristalsis) I have to take anyone’s certainty on the matter with a large grain of salt. I can eat my tea at 5 and still have heartburn in bed at 10!

p.s.,Welcome back, Hopeful!

Posted by mimi on 05/16/12 at 08:22 AM | #

It’s bad form to advertise oneself and so I shan’t put the URL but I’m currently under attack by FOAKers for the timeline I posted and would appreciate some knowledgeable help.  Google “knox” and “nourishing” and you’ll find the post.

What I was attempting to do was present a complete timeline without going into any of the other evidence.  One of the FOAKers acknowledges it’s complete but then goes on to say we are wrong, of course.

Posted by James Higham on 05/16/12 at 09:04 AM | #

mimi, Meredith had a carton of mushroom on her shelf in the refrigerator. Presumably that’s where the mushroom came from.

James, I believe it was Guede who cut the bra strap and moved Meredith’s body. But your point remains that Knox and Sollecito came back to clean up.

Posted by brmull on 05/16/12 at 09:21 AM | #

Hi BRMull. On Guede, interesting. How would that work?

Guede would seem the least likely to want to make the crime look more like a sex crime, and Judge Micheli who was maybe the sharpest and least emotional of the three judges, saw him as long gone by then.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/16/12 at 01:56 PM | #

With reference when the apple crumble was eaten, I think the following might be useful.

Robyn said in her testimony that around the middle of the film they had prepared an apple crumble, or cake. Follain says “They stopped the film while they put an apple crumble Robyn had made in the oven, finishing the meal at about 8-8.30pm.”

To be accurate Follain also says that they started eating some time after 5.30pm.

It seems that the apple crumble, like the pizza was made up from ingredients by the cook, Robyn. When I buy a ready made apple crumble from the supermarket this takes 40 minutes to bake.

I don’t think that “the middle of the film” needs to be taken literally. We can go either way but let’s say, to our advantage, that it had in fact run for 80 mins before it was paused for the apple crumble. Then suppose a bit of prep time either side of the baking, say, 15 mins in all.

Then, if they had started the pizza at, say, 5.40pm, we add on 80+15+40, we come to 7.55pm.

Guesswork, but just saying.

Posted by James Raper on 05/16/12 at 04:08 PM | #

So, she gets there some time after 16:00, being “a bit late” remember, eat 17:40 sounds about right, 30 minutes, cleared away, film is put on - remind us again which film it was, so that we know the length but assume about 100 - 120 minutes ...

Actually, we need the film on about 18:15, it will end two hours later and there’ll be some chat for a while [girls] - 30 mins for this minimum, so crumble maybe 19:30 to 20:00, prefer 20:00 but “halfway” suggests a bit earlier.  It took maybe a quarter of an hour.  End of crumble before end of film by perhaps 20 minutes.

Film might finish maybe 20:20.

20:55 Sophie Purton leaves Meredith on Via Roscetto, Meredith continues home alone [per SP] Sophie remembers waving goodbye to Meredith at 20:55 because at 21:00 there was a program on that she had to watch.

How does that look?

Posted by James Higham on 05/17/12 at 12:10 AM | #

Re-reading your post, JR, let’s put the end of the crumble at shortly before 20:00.  Now, going on my ex-gf, she’d not eat straight away but would take the walk home, then she might have gone to the fridge for a drink, saw the topping and had a nibble or else she just had the drink.

She goes to her room and does whatever - it was a holiday.  I think she ate the mushroom [as a nibble] just before the attack, as it was in the esophagus, as you say.  It would be fine to have that nibble earlier too.

She’d have that now because the first pangs would hit.  Now, if I’d had a “fair portion” of the pizza and not pigged out as I could have had I been on my own, I’d be hungry again [a bit] about, say, 22:00 to 22:30.

So, we’re not far away, are we?  How long can we give the mushroom[s] in the esophagus?  If she had that at 22:00, then the attack happens about 23:00, that seems a reasonable time frame - we have to work in the scream here, heard by the neighbour.

Earliest for the attack after all of this maybe 21:45 and latest - who knows?  23:45?  Horrible to say this but it depends how drawn out it was.

We need to consider AK here.  I have her in Via Ulisse Rocchi, via a cell that does not cover Sollecito’s home, receiving an SMS text from Patrick Lumumba at 20:18:12, asking her not to come in to work that evening.

20:35:48 Knox, located in Corso Garibaldi or environs, sends an SMS in response to Patrick’s. No further activity occurs on Knox’s phone for the rest of the day.

Now there’s confusion.  She told RS she was going to Le Chic [per RS].  Yet around 20:40, Jovana Popovic arrives at Sollecito’s to tell him about not needing the lift; Knox opens the door and tells her that Sollecito is in the bathroom.

What to make of that?  20:50 RS chops up button mushrooms with his knife, and he and AK stir fry them [per Mignini].

20:56 Meredith’s English phone recorded details of an attempt for an outgoing call “home”, to her mother.

21:10:32 Click on RS’s computer, no more activity on computer until following day.

21:30 Meredith commences phone call with mother [What time did it end?]  Maybe snacked during this?  Girls do.

Around 21:30 – 22:00 Antonio Curatolo, while reading the Espresso newspaper, notices Knox and Sollecito in the little square.

22:00 Meredith’s English phone composed the number for “Abbey” [an English bank].  Was this her or someone else?

22:13:19 Meredith’s English phone does a 9-second GPRS connection to IP address, via cell 30064, covering Via della Pergola and which does not cover Via Sperandio [p337, p350]. This might have been an MMS message from its size

22:15 SMS requesting account balance sent from MK’s mobile to her bank balance.

Next one’s difficult unless it was someone else requesting the bank balance:

22:30 “Alessandra Formica, a police witness, said her partner was almost knocked over by a black man running away from scene”.

About 23:00 Nara Capezalli, the woman who lives opposite MK’s, hears screams coming from the house after which “at least two people” emerged and fled “in different directions.”

That’s where I’ll pause.  It seems to be within that timeframe.

Posted by James Higham on 05/17/12 at 01:08 AM | #

Just a hunch but has anyone besides me ever thought that Frank Sfarzo is actually Mario Spezi. I notice allot of praise for him by Preston and the fact that he was one of the first websites that started the sliming of the Perugian police to which doing so would benefit Preston and his book/movie.

Posted by Severino518 on 05/17/12 at 02:17 AM | #


I share your concern about the phone hacking of the Kerchers phones, now that you mention it.

The murder of Meredith Kercher, ‘Foxy Knoxy’, virgin Sollecito, satanic Migini etc; the trials, appeals, FOA, PR campaign etc, made Merediths death a massive media event.

One can only imagine the clamour of the press hounds for ‘exclusive’ news.

The Kercher family were keeping a dignified silence, which must have been a frustration to reporters. John Kerchers phone numbers would have been readily available to ‘hackers’ because of the freelance nature of his job.

Posted by starsdad on 05/17/12 at 05:50 AM | #

@ James Higham,

I notice that you say “21:30 Meredith commences phone call with mother”.

I was not aware of any such phone call. Do you have a source for this which you could point me to? As far as I am aware, many FOAkers argue that Meredith was attacked as soon as she arrived home without even having had a chance to remove her jacket.

So, I am not sure any such phone call happened because then the argument wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on.

Posted by Sara on 05/17/12 at 08:18 AM | #

You are correct Sara. There was no phone call to mother at 21.30.

It’s all in Massei. There was an attempted phone call to mother at 20.56.

There was also an attempted call to her voicemail at 21.58.

At 22 hours her Abbey number is dialled but without the prefix for England.

In placing TOD earlier than Massei, Hellmann argues that Meredith would surely have tried to contact her mother again, but as she didn’t it must surely be because she was in the process of being murdered. This, one must assume, would be after 21.58. I find it somewhat puzzling that Guede would have wanted to access Meredith’s voicemail had this been any earlier.

How does Hellmann know that Meredith would have wanted to phone again? Perhaps the attempted call to voicemail was significant? This was cancelled before charges would be incurred.

Essentially Hellmann is adopting the defence contention that the 21.58 and 22.00 calls signify the moment that Meredith was being attacked. This is not a bad hypothesis actually though it does not give AK and RS an alibi. Why she would be grasping hold of her mobile whilst being attacked and the unlikely connections, attempted or otherwise, seems a bit strange to me. There is of course the hypothesis that the mobile was in the back pocket of her jeans.

Aren’t there other just as likely scenarios than that she was murdered before she had the opportunity to make a repeat call? This might include that Meredith didn’t want to bother her mother. Had she wanted to speak to her mother would she not have been at least curious at to whether there was any voicemail for her? Indeed was there any voicemail for her? Apparently not that we know of.

Posted by James Raper on 05/17/12 at 12:34 PM | #

Sara, James R

I notice that you say “21:30 Meredith commences phone call with mother”.

My position is that I want the timeline correct.  If you can point out these things, all well and good.  it will actually appear her in a few days.

The way it happened was that I went to the TJMK sidebar and clicked on various pages - lots of them.  Wherever there was a post with times, I took those times verbatim, with the surrounding words and put them onto Word.

So, as you can imagine, there were times all over the place, often three or four versions of the same time.  My job, in my timeline, was to make sure those were consistent.

Now, out of that, I got the following [this is a small fragment of the whole line]:

21:10:32 Click on RS’s computer, no more activity on computer until following day. The film file Amelie.avi closes on Sollecito’s MacBookPro laptop, from either being stopped, or reaching the end of the file [p327]. Sollecito’s computer remains connected to the Net throughout the night and only 11 files are created, at regular intervals, by either the operating system [Mac OS X] or within the Mozilla Firefox browser cache; the P2P service also remains active [p328]. The logs from Sollecito’s service provider, FastWeb, show no web page retrieval requests during this time period [p330].

21:15 Around this time MK arrives home, eats something with mushrooms, has a little alcohol.

21:30 Meredith commences phone call with mother [What time did it end?]

Around 21:30 – 22:00 Antonio Curatolo, while reading the Espresso newspaper, notices Knox and Sollecito in the little square in front of the University for Foreigners; he knows each of them from before, by sight [p383]. We don’t rely on this.

21:58 Meredith’s English phone recorded details of an attempt to call Voicemail; no phone traffic was generated according to the phone provider’s records, as would be expected if the caller disconnected before the welcome message finished [p350, p352, p353].

Not sure if this is the same event or not:

22:00 Meredith’s English phone composed the number for “Abbey” [an English bank], the first entry in the contacts list, but since the international prefix was left off, the call did not connect; the roaming profile provider Wind captured the details, the phone’s memory did not [p350, p353].

Around 22:00 Mrs Lana receives a threatening phone call advising her not to use the toilet because there’s a bomb. She immediately notifies the police, who arrive and find nothing; the call is a hoax; Mrs Lana and her husband are asked to come to the police station the following morning to report the phone call [p12].

So, “21:30 Meredith commences phone call with mother [What time did it end?]” came from one of the posts here - can’t recall whose. 

If that is wrong, then we need to change it.  My purpose in preparing the line, as mentioned, was that we would all look at it and comment where something seemed wrong.  Then we end up with the definitive line, courtesy of all of us.

That’s what I think we’ve begun here.

Posted by James Higham on 05/17/12 at 03:00 PM | #

@ James Raper - I completely agree with you regarding the observations about Meredith’s return phone call to her mother.

I have observed that Hellmann has made a big deal about it in his report but frankly speaking, I do not see anything unusual here. When I call someone at 9 in the night and they do not reply, I will assume that they are either having dinner or an early night or maybe they are out. I may or may not call them back, depending on how urgent it is to speak to them.

Either ways, there is nothing really unusual. Meredith might have assumed her mother had an early night and may not have wanted to disturb. Or since she had spoken to her father in the noon, she knew all was well and saw no particular reason to keep trying. Since she herself was tired, she may have simply decided to leave it for the next day.

There are so many simple explanations for it and I really don’t see the sense in basing an entire argument on the fact that she did not call her mother back. On the other hand, if we assume that the FOAKers are right and she was attacked as soon as she came home, one has to wonder when she had the time to hang her bag on the chair, fling the book on the bed, eat a mushroom and drink beer - none of which are the actions of someone being attacked.

Also, while it is possible that the mobile phone was in her back pocket, one can also assume that she would have flung it on the bed along with her books when she came home. Natural, don’t you think? At the end, all these are speculations and I don’t know why Hellman thinks arguments can be built around them. We need to go with known facts as much as possible and what is known is that Meredith had a mushroom in her stomach and Nara heard a scream.

@ James Higham - As far as i know, the rest of the timings are fine, though I would say that Meredith probably arrived home a bit earlier than 21.15, maybe around 21:00, from what I know. Also, I did not know about the message requesting for bank balance but it could be true, maybe someone else can confirm this.

Posted by Sara on 05/17/12 at 08:31 PM | #

There was an attempted phone call to mother at 20.56.

There was also an attempted call to her voicemail at 21.58.

At 22 hours her Abbey number is dialled but without the prefix for England.

The Abbey call, dialled wrongly.  Why?  By whom?

Posted by James Higham on 05/17/12 at 11:02 PM | #


Micheli did a great job, but his theory that Meredith lay for a time on her side is wrong. The bloodstain he refers to is demonstrably part of the clean-up and framing attempt.

My belief is that, after the attack, Knox and Sollecito fled with Meredith’s phones (probably because they thought she might have surreptitiously called for help.)

Guede was then left wondering what happened. I think he dragged Meredith by her bra strap to the space where it was found in order to contain the blood.

The subsequent removal of the bra was obviously done in a frenzy because it was cut and then literally ripped off. I think Guede was panicked and thought the twisted bra was hurting Meredith and so he forcefully removed it.

If the removal had been part of the staging it would have been easier to cut all the straps rather than rip it off. Moreover the bra wasn’t really crucial to the staging; simply having her pants off would be enough.

Posted by brmull on 05/19/12 at 07:11 AM | #

@brmull, I see what you’re saying, but if that was the case, then how would RS’s DNA end up on the hooks?

I can’t think of any way that would have happened unless he was trying to forcefully rip it off. In this scenario, Guede’s DNA would have been more likely to be there, right?

Posted by Sara on 05/19/12 at 10:16 AM | #

Sara—Guede’s DNA was on Meredith’s right bra strap. When he cut the strap just to the right of the clasp, there was no longer any tension to hold the small piece of cloth containing the hooks.

When the bra was ripped off this little piece of cloth became detached and landed on the left side of the victim. Sollecito found it during the clean-up, picked it up and then discarded it, not realizing he’d left his DNA on the hook.

Posted by brmull on 05/19/12 at 11:54 AM | #

Brmull, I thought DNA couldn’t be left on an object from just touching it, but it requires some force or pressure on the object in order to leave any trace of DNA.

Posted by Spencer on 05/19/12 at 01:07 PM | #


You are right to say that DNA does not get transferred with a little touch!

DNA is present within the cell nucleus and is not part of the sweat. However, one of the excellent sources of DNA is saliva which contains abundant amount of DNA.

The most tricky part is the sample collection: the investigation cannot see the DNA and must guess from where to collect the sample for analysis. Without a visual clue, the sample collection will be a random hit and miss affair.

I seriously doubt if you just pick up an object and then discard it, you will leave your DNA on it. Possible, but doubtful.

The investigators must have some hint in the form of visual guide - the sample is collected from this specific region only.

“Trust me”: Translation of the Latin “caveat emptor.”

Posted by chami on 05/19/12 at 09:45 PM | #

Spencer—It’s true that pressure would ordinarily be required. Maybe he leaned on it, stepped on it, or squeezed it between his fingers.

None of the alternative scenarios I’ve heard offers a better solution for why his DNA was on the hook but not on another part of the cloth.

Posted by brmull on 05/20/12 at 12:51 AM | #
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