Sunday, January 07, 2018

Despite Disinformation From Apologists And Even Supreme Court, Law & Science Support Damning DNA

Posted by James Raper



Chief DNA expert Dr Stefanoni with prosecutor for DNA Dr Comodi

1. Post Overview

There was a substantial body of evidence that many observers found convincing enough even without the DNA results from the Knife and Bra clasp.

But at trial much of the other evidence was largely ignored by the defence. It would be fair to say that those DNA results were the subject of disproportionate attention, and subjected to repeated attacks from the defence.

So it is worth having a recap and review of the basic facts and how this evidence was dealt with by the judges in this case.

2. The Knife

Test Results

The knife was collected from Sollecito’s flat based on its seeming strong match to a knife imprint on Meredith’s bed.

On examination in Dr Stefanoni’s lab in Rome it was found to be clean but she swabbed a striation in the blade and examined what she had. As to whether the sample (36B) was quantifiable she had a positive result but she also wrote “too low” in the laboratory records and without recording the actual quantification. In her testimony at trial she remembered that the quantification was in the order of about 100 picograms.

Given the quantity she did not risk subjecting the sample to a biological or presumptive blood test either of which would likely have interfered with the efficacy of a DNA analysis. Nor did she divide the sample so as to be able to repeat the standard amplification procedure, for the same reason.

Having amplified the entire sample it was then processed by the electropherogram.

Each and every one of us have 16 chromosomes in our DNA strand by which we can be identified; the sex denominator and 15 that are unique to each individual in that the molecules in the chromosome are repeated a different number of times in every one of the loci. In each loci we have a pair of alleles due to the fact that we inherit half a chromosome from each of our parents. The molecules of the chromosome, not just in each locus but in each allele, are repeated a different number of times and the machine is able to read and record these repetitions, known as short tandem repeats, or STRs.

The result was unarguably Meredith’s DNA profile.

The STRs in the result exactly matched those in Meredith’s profile save for one of 30 alleles. That was in Marker D21SW11.  Here are the details.


Not just the STRs match but the sequence of loci as well, with which we are familiar from a transposition of the electropherogram graphs.

The RFUs for the sample – the measurable height of the peaks in the graph and indicating the amount of DNA – were low, and it is accepted that with this sample we are dealing with Low Copy DNA. The expert analysist thus has to exercise some caution in interpreting the results because of the phenomena of stutter, allele drop out and background noise from the machine when the quantity is low. Stutter and allele drop out usually occur in the amplification process and for this reason international guidelines recommend a repetition of the amplification in cases of Low Copy DNA. One can see why that would be desirable were the result not as clear as it is in this case.

There is only one unique contributor in this sample and the STR data effectively disposes of such concerns, particularly given the wide variations between the matched repetitions in the markers.

The defence beat the non-repetition drum for all it was worth – which was nothing at all – but incredibly, and with the help of the so-called independent experts, they managed to obtain rulings from Hellmann and the 5th Chambers that the sample result was unreliable for the reason that, as the independent experts would have it, it was “not supported by scientifically validated analysis”, which basically means that the test was not repeated.

What none of these tosspots did was mention or evaluate the data in coming to this conclusion. All they ever had, and what they put forward, was a hypothetical possibility (that there might be some doubt were the two tests to differ) which on a superficial level might seem reasonable but which, on evaluation, is neither plausible nor helpful.

Given the clarity and strength of the result in the test that was done it would be exceedingly unlikely that, on a repetition, there would have been such a differentiation that one would no longer be confident of the initial profile reading. No expert argued, or was able to argue, not even the independent experts, and certainly not based on research presented as evidence, that there would still not be an acceptable profile for Meredith Kercher even if the match was not as precise as the first due to the aforesaid phenomena.

Indeed, in the subsequent testing (which the independent experts did not want to do) of sample 36I, taken from the blade at a later date, we note two things.

There was indeed a repetition of the amplification in that case because more sensitive equipment enabled the testers to do that, but even with a DNA quantity of 5 picograms (20 times less than the quantity in 36B, and substantially increasing the risk of the aforesaid phenomena), and with the chemistry and process of amplification being exactly the same, there were only three alleles that were deemed to have dropped out.

Had that occurred on a re-amplification of the much greater quantity of DNA in sample 36B, we would still have had an acceptable profile.

We can, therefore, place considerable reliance on the result from 36B even if it is not absolute proof.

Nonetheless, the defence advanced two arguments against the knife being the murder weapon, a detailed discussion of which is somewhat outside the scope of this article.

The first is that it did not match the major knife wound; and the second is that there was no proof of there having been blood on it.

I have discussed these in detail elsewhere. Their argument that the knife could not have matched the wound is not at all convincing, and although there was no proof of blood on the knife (for which, of course, there could be an obvious non-exculpatory reason) sample 36B could not be tested for blood. So it may have been, and of course, it did not need to have been blood anyway to give a DNA result.

So, if the validity of the identification is reliable for trial purposes, could it nevertheless be unreliable because it is the result of contamination. We are looking here at contamination in the laboratory or contamination by touch transfer. The answer to both scenarios is that it is very unlikely. The reasons are as follows :-

Laboratory contamination

Negative controls were undertaken prior to the testing of 36B. The Independent Experts had assumed that these had not been done simply because they were not attached to Dr Stefanoni’s consultancy report.

The testing of 36B was a full 6 days after the last previously DNA tested trace of the victim, as proven in the SAL records. The independent expert Carla Vecchiotti admitted on cross-examination that this lapse of time was sufficient to avoid lab contamination.

The testing was undertaken in accordance with the provisions of Article 360 of the Criminal Procedure Code which, if the provisions are complied with, allows into evidence the result of non-repeatable testing. The provisions were complied with. Experts for the defence were present when the sample was tested and made no criticism of the procedure or of anti-contamination controls.

Contamination by touch transfer (non-primary transfer)

The knife was collected from a kitchen drawer in Sollecito’s apartment by operatives who wore anti-contamination gloves and shoes.

The operatives who visited Sollecito’s apartment had never been to the cottage where Meredith was murdered.

In any event Meredith had never been to Sollecito’s apartment

On collection the knife was placed on its own into a paper bag, which was sealed and placed into a folder, and this was taken to the police station, where the knife was removed by another officer wearing anti-contamination gloves and placed in a box sealed with scotch tape, and the box was then sent to the lab in Rome.

As to inadvertent touch transfer, from the primary donor (Meredith) to an agent (say Knox), and then onto the knife, this seems somewhat outlandish, if not impossible. Would not Knox have touched a lot of other things in between; and how often does one hold a large kitchen knife by the blade?

3. The Bra Clasp

Test Results

A single swab of the metal hooks of the clasp was taken by Dr Stefanoni from both the metal hooks. DNA analysis revealed that it was a mixed sample.

The sample (165B) was quantified for DNA and this time it was recorded on the SAL Cards. The sample contained 5.775 nanograms of DNA. As there are a thousand picograms to a nanogram, the sample was well over the 200 picograms below which a sample is nowadays to be treated as Low Copy Number.

The analysis showed the mixed DNA profiles of Meredith and Sollecito and potentially a third contributor. Dr Stefanoni calculated that the ratio of Meredith’s DNA to Sollecito’s was in the order of 6 : 1. The main expert for the defence, Professor Tagliabracci, calculated that the ratio was 10 : 1 but that would still mean that the quantity of Sollecito’s DNA was still significant at 577.5 picograms.

All the RFU’s were over the recommended minimum guideline.

There were, in fact, two DNA tests conducted on the sample, but these were different from each other rather than repetitions. One was the standard autosomal analysis (as in the case of 36B) the other being an analysis of the Y haplotype. The 16 pairs of autosomal STRs are a better indication of an individual’s genetic identity, as they are unique. The Y genetic profile is not as unique as the genetic profile, as it is shared with other persons, specifically the donor’s paternal male line. A male gets his Y haplotype from his father.

Altough a matter of interpretation in a mixed sample, it was asserted that all the 15 pairs plus the sex pair were in place for Sollecito’s genetic profile on the autosomal analysis. The defence, however, disagreed with the assertion. Professor Tagliabracci expressed doubt as to five of the loci. The independent experts agreed with him as to four.

Even if Professor Tagliabracci were to be right, the result would still satisfy the Crown Prosecution in England & Wales where 10 matches is deemed to be sufficient.

However we also have the analysis of the Y haplotype which has 17 loci. The Y haplotype is Professor Torricelli’s specific area of expertise and she testified that the 17 loci compatible with Sollecito’s haplotype were very clear with the peaks well defined. Checking with the haplotype databank she found that had only 11 loci been noted a search would have produced 31 subjects with the same haplotype whereas on a search with 17 she found none.

No doubt there are a good many males walking around in Italy who share Sollecito’s haplotype, even with the same 17 loci, but the probability that any one of these was in the cottage on the night of the murder, rather than Sollecito, would seem to be so small as to be absurd.

We can rely on the identification of Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp.

We then move to the issue of possible contamination.

Laboratory Contamination

  • Again negative controls were in place

  • The testing of sample 165B was a full 12 days after the last previously tested trace of Sollecito

  • Again the testing was in accordance with the provisions of Article 360 of the CPC
Contamination by touch transfer (non-primary transfer)

The position here is less straightforward than with the knife. Once Meredith’s body had been removed the clasp was found under a pillow that had been beneath Meredith. It was photographed where it was found on the floor but not bagged and it was not until 46 days later (on the 18th Dec) that it was collected. It had moved a few feet and was found under a small rug. The collection of the clasp was on video.

The defence (to include observations made by the independent experts) made a number of points with regard to contamination.

  • The delay in collection increased the risk of contamination as the police as well as forensic operatives had been in Meredith’s room after the bra clasp was first discovered and before the cottage was sealed off on the 8th Nov. All of this activity, including the return of the forensic operatives on the 18th Dec, would have allowed ambient dust (posited as an agency of transfer) to move around and settle.

  • The forensic search had concluded on the 5th Nov but the police had been there afterwards on the 6th (when the rooms in the house had been checked again) and then again on the 7th (to check on the washing machine and to collect the computers).

  • When Dr Stefanoni and her operatives returned to the cottage on the 18th Dec it was noted that many items in Meredith’s room had obviously been handled,  moved around and/or removed, and that her mattress was in fact in the living room.

  • There were lapses in protocol on that day in that the operatives had not changed their gloves each time items were touched in Meredith’s room, a practice that Dr Stefanoni admitted had happened

  • The clasp, after being collected by hand, was placed on the floor to be photographed. One of the hooks was bent, suggesting that it had been stood on.

  • A close-up of the bra clasp being held in the gloved hand of one of the operatives appeared to show (it was claimed) a smudge on a fingertip and spots on it which, it was suggested, were dirt.

These observations would have to be evaluated from the facts that emerged from the trial, and per se.

  • If the bent hook had been stood on that would have to have occurred even before the pillow was removed to expose the clasp. The clasp was photographed in situ and already showing the bent hook. This was also as Dr Stefanoni remembered it when it was first seen.

  • Of course items had been handled in Meredith’s room by the forensic team. This was a murder investigation. However no items removed from the room were returned to it, for instance those taken away for analysis, or the mattress.

  • According to the testimony of the officers who entered Meredith’s room on the 6th and the 7th they had not been able to see the bra clasp although it was known that it had not been collected. This would indicate that it was already hidden beneath the small rug. It would be somewhat disparaging as to their professionalism to suggest that (a) they had lied, and (b) they had gone ferreting about on the floor for it.

  • As to a smudge on the operative’s glove, this is speculative. Hellmann acknowledged that it would be a matter of interpretation as to whether this was a smudge or a shadow.

  • As to the spots of dirt, again it is speculative as to whether these were dirt or blood, or anything else. After all there was dried blood on the fabric of the clasp and the spotted glove belonged to the operative who was holding the clasp.

There are also the following observations that would have to be made.

  • As there was no suggestion that Sollecito had ever been in Meredith’s room, other than on the night of the murder, one has to posit a plausible “innocenti” theory as to how his DNA was on the clasp; that is, a plausible theory of contamination. There is always a possible risk of contamination. The independent experts stated in their written report that they were unable to exclude that the result from sample B was derived from contamination. That contamination is a possibility is a safe conclusion with which one cannot disagree, but this is not enough.

  • Hellmann wrongly (see the 1st Chambers’ decision annulling the acquittal) thought that it was incumbent on the State to “guarantee” the results of the DNA analysis, as if that is possible when there is always a risk of contamination. It is surely sufficient for the prosecution to show that all reasonable steps were taken and that, as a consequence, contamination was not probable. The defence have, obviously, to demonstrate the opposite, and if they had successfully made some inroads into the former (that the steps taken were not all sufficient enough to be reasonable, given certain lapses of protocol) then they still fell a long way short of showing that contamination was probable as a result.

That the defence struggled with that task is demonstrated by the following observations we can take from the facts.

  • A plausible source for the postulated contaminating trace was not established. The only other identified trace of Sollecito in the cottage was his DNA mixed with the DNA of Knox on a cigarette stub in an ashtray in the living room. If that had been the source then one would have expected Knox’s DNA to be mixed in with sample 165B.

  • Clearly also the unsourced contaminating trace would have had to have been carried into Meredith’s room somehow. Such a trace could not have originated in her room. That would have meant that Sollecito was there, which would hardly be exculpatory. Any breach of protocol would be meaningless in that context.

  • As to how such a trace may have been carried into the room, we can only speculate. Did someone step on a trace on the floor and walk it into her room? Or carry it in by glove? This sort of speculation simply lacks any degree of probability (given the impossibility of knowing whether there was any such trace outside the room and that an operative would have made contact with it).

  • Clearly the said trace has also to end up adhering to the hooks. This leads us to the physics of transference. Simple contact is not, by itself, enough. After a period of time, when the DNA containing substance is no longer reasonably fluid, there has to be some pressure for there to be an exchange of trace, in this case, to the metal. Nothing like that can be observed in the video of the collection and the point also disposes of the idea that DNA in ambient dust may have been an agent of transfer. And this after what we must consider were a number of movements of the postulated trace. There is only one scenario, among the many, which could have involved no more than three steps (tertiary transfer) ; an operative touching the trace and then directly handling the hooks. Even here the likelihood is that the trace of Sollecito’s DNA on the metal hooks would have been so small it would be Low Copy DNA, which it wasn’t.

  • It appears that even Hellmann struggled with the task. In his Motivation he says that contamination probably occurred, not in the laboratory, nor when the forensic operatives were at the cottage, but when the police officers were there, and precisely by them onto the bra clasp, which would have to be during their two visits on the 6th and the 7th. In other words he manufactured a probability from personal speculation based on no evidence at all,  indeed contrary to the testimony of the officers involved, and taking none of the foregoing observations into account. The 5th Chambers fared no better. All they could do was allude to the video still of the glove with “a smudge” and the “spots of dirt”.


4. My Conclusion

How on earth could the 5th Chambers conclude that Meredith’s DNA profile on the knife and Sollecito’s DNA profile on the bra clasp had “no probative or circumstantial relevance”?


Posted by James Raper on 01/07/18 at 01:56 PM in


Comments

Very illuminating and informative piece. So it would seem that in the end the evidence was interpreted to fit the desired conclusion. Or that if the DNA evidence 36B were not absolute proof, then that is enough for reasonable doubt.  Or to state that it did not meet standards of evidentiary value. (It was proposed). 

When Tim Hennis had his appeal—which he lost—a forensic expert proposed that the DNA sample which the state of North Carolina was using as prosecutorial evidence would not be accepted in many other states.  So it would seem that in Italy and the US there is no clear consensus;  it’s all to a degree up for debate at certain numbers….

The biggest red flag , to my thinking, about the knife was Solledito saying that he had accidentally pricked Kercher with it when she was over for dinner. Why make up such a story unless one is aware that the DNA is there for a valid reason?

“It appears that even Hellmann struggled with the task. In his Motivation he says that contamination probably occurred, not in the laboratory, nor when the forensic operatives were at the cottage, but when the police officers were there, and precisely by them onto the bra clasp, which would have to be during their two visits on the 6th and the 7th. In other words he manufactured a probability from personal speculation based on no evidence at all,  indeed contrary to the testimony of the officers involved, and taking none of the foregoing observations into account.”

Was Hellmann thinking that the police might have deliberately contaminated here?

Thanks for an illuminating post.

Posted by CBHeidegger on 01/07/18 at 07:20 PM | #

Thanks James for writing such a brilliant article about the bra clasp and knife evidence.

Posted by The Machine on 01/07/18 at 07:48 PM | #

Hi CBHeidegger,

Absolute or mathematical certainty is not required in any common law jurisdiction.

Posted by The Machine on 01/07/18 at 07:55 PM | #

@The Machine :  I would think not, thus the rulings seem in bad faith.

Posted by CBHeidegger on 01/07/18 at 08:03 PM | #

And illogical.

Posted by CBHeidegger on 01/07/18 at 08:16 PM | #

More on Knox speaking on the 24th at Roanoke College and showing the hoax Netflix movie and peddling the hoax Knox book.

DavidB on 01/07/18 at 03:45 PM “I hereby offer 10% towards any trip for someone to represent us at Roanoke. Even if you have to travel from Australia.”

Hi David, terrific idea. It already looks like your money might be safe though. Apologies to any Australians. We’ve taken down the Headsup box at the top for the moment. Knox may or may not still turn up but they sure took to heart the headsup.

Note the date: January the 8th 2018.

It may prove that we have won big and easily here. We seem to have all the momentum. Great main post above and below are very timely.

This new page is causing some jaw-dropping. http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/smokinggunlinks

If this proves right, thanks to so many who contributed. See if Knox’s speaker booking bureau drops her. Watch Netflix, and VICE Media, and her book publishers.

For our record: http://www.roanoke.com/community/sosalem/january-events-at-roanoke-college/article_b341578a-ce84-5848-8842-afd2bd44002b.html

Roanoke College January 23-24: Turk Pre-Law Presents Amanda Knox

In 2007, Amanda Knox, a college student from Seattle, was studying in Italy when her roommate was brutally murdered. Knox spent the next four years in prison for a crime she did not commit.

A screening of the documentary Amanda Knox

Tuesday, January 23, 7:00 p.m., Wortmann Ballroom, Colket Center

This Netflix documentary details the many reasons why this international case entranced the world. Knox does an admirable job of detailing the crucial facts of this complex case and illuminates how being wrongfully convicted of murder could happen to anyone.

Truth Matters: A Conversation with Amanda Knox

Wednesday, January 24, 7:30 p.m. Wortmann Ballroom, Colket Center

In Truth Matters, Knox will describe what it’s like to be publicly vilified and wrongfully convicted, and what she’s learned about truth-seeking in the process. Her story raises important issues not only about her own case, but about the larger question of wrongful convictions both abroad and in the American legal system.

Knox’s book, Waiting to Be Heard, will be available for purchase and autograph after her talk.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/08/18 at 01:37 PM | #

Here is the Contact Us page for Roanoke College:  https://www.roanoke.edu/x49781

Here are the contact details for the public relations department:. Public Relations 540-375-2282 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I hope as many people as possible contact the college and let them know it’s unacceptable for a college to treat a convicted criminal as some kind of celebrity.

Posted by The Machine on 01/08/18 at 05:53 PM | #

I do suggest to keep the college on our side. We’ve had several emails from them now, now all of them appreciative. First time.  All the other law schools that hosted her simply went silent, and next thing she popped up again. I dont see real merit in that.  This school is actively talking.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/08/18 at 11:17 PM | #

I do have to ask:

(1) How does she keep getting these speaking invites?

(2) Can we find out if and how much she gets paid?

(3) Are the questions pre-screened?

Coming up on 5 years since she freaked out Diane Sawyer, people still want to hear her?

Posted by Chimera on 01/08/18 at 11:57 PM | #

@James—very nice article.  Detail is incredible

Posted by Chimera on 01/09/18 at 12:02 AM | #

Hi Chimera

Click image below for Knox’s bureau and her marketing come-on, which plays to a common mistrust in American justice at this moment.


We tried to get a price for a talk. But it’s based on our telling them size of audience, who is in audience, is it for-profit or not-for-profit.

There’s nothing about allowed questions, but that could be spelled out in the next round.

It’d be possible for us now to freak out that bureau. But if Roanoke do it with legal threats over dishonesty in marketing, that could really do it.

I doubt that she lasts 3 more months with them.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/09/18 at 12:38 AM | #

If she continues these talks then sooner or later surely the inevitable will happen and she will receive a proper question which will tumble her. 
Although she has gotten away with it for a decade so maybe her luck will continue.

Very pleased to read about Jim Clemente.

Posted by DavidB on 01/09/18 at 09:21 AM | #

The few posters left over on IIP are even more demented than usual now.

Bruce Fisher is convinced that I am The Machine. This despite his previous insistence that TM is John Kercher Jnr (who works/worked at the BBC) and having in the past checked my credentials with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

Zrausch thinks my article is full of overt lies. He thinks that 36B was tested for blood. No, it wasn’t. Read Dr Stefanoni’s testimony. He thinks negative controls were not done. Yes they were. Read all the court reports. Nowhere was absence of negative controls flagged up as fact. On the contrary it was specifically stated that they were done.

To use a Trumpism they might understand: #SAD

The only thing on which I would agree with them is that there is virtually no chance now of getting the 5th Chambers decision overturned, but that is not as important as keeping the truth in the public domain.

Posted by James Raper on 01/09/18 at 11:05 AM | #

Good of IIP to read but they still think the DNA is their ace in the hole? Their fake demonization of Dr Stefanoni is absurd.

So “Bruce Fisher of New York” in the low-rent outer suburbs of Chicago still obsesses over who everyone is? Still stalking as their Titanic goes down?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/09/18 at 11:44 AM | #

DavidB:

“surely the inevitable will happen and she will receive a proper question which will tumble her.”

What would that question for the fake victim be?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/09/18 at 11:45 AM | #

Hi Pete,
“Amanda, you knew Meredith would have been the only one in the cottage on 2nd November. But you got home to an open front door, blood in the sink, unflushed toilet, BLOODIED bathmat in the bathroom. Then you used the BLOODIED bathmat to shimmy from the bathroom to your bedroom. Then you got ready (with the BLOODIED bathmat in your bedroom) . Once prepared for your trip you Gubbio (though you as well as Sollecito looked dishevelled), you picked up the BLOODIED bathmat and carried it back to the bathroom. You were in that cottage for an hour but still had no concern for Meredith.
What did you do for the rest of the hour that you spent in the cottage?
There is only one kind of person that would copy your actions and that is surely a guilty one.

Posted by DavidB on 01/09/18 at 03:07 PM | #

You alleged you “prepared for your trip to Gubbio”.....

Posted by Cardiol MD on 01/09/18 at 06:25 PM | #

James, just seen your article.  Well-thought out.

So much for Gill’s ludicrous theory.

Posted by KrissyG on 01/09/18 at 10:49 PM | #

Great article, James! For reference, here’s the Stefanoni slide presentation rebutting Conti and Vecchiotti from the Wiki

Osservazioni sulla perizia a firma della Prof.ssa Vecchiotti e del Dr. Conti

Dr.ssa Patrizia Stefanoni http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/docupl/spublic/filelibrary3/docs/presentations/2011-09-04-Slides-Scientific-Police-Stefanoni-comments-Conti-Vecchiotti-report.pdf

(shows the negative control result re 36B on page 44).

Posted by Ergon on 01/10/18 at 12:22 AM | #

In my view, finding Meredith’s DNA on the knife was a genuine miracle and one of the reasons that convinced me most abt guilt.

Posted by Ergon on 01/10/18 at 12:25 AM | #

And of course re 165B, this study “The effect of pressure on DNA deposition by touch”

Samuel H.A. Tobias, Guilherme S. Jacques, Ruth M. Morgan, Georgina E. Meakin ~ University College London

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1875176817300641

““These results show that pressure increases the transfer of DNA to a surface directly from skin, not just of DNA between surfaces,” write the scientists, from University College London. “Furthermore, these findings show that pressure can significantly impact the amount of DNA deposited, even when DNA deposition significantly varies between individuals.”

““Increasing the pressure between skin and surface significantly increased the amount of DNA deposited, which resulted in the detection of more alleles, from both the donor and unknown sources,” they conclude. “Pressure is a key variable for crime scene investigators and forensic examiners to consider when prioritizing items/surfaces that are likely to produce successful touch DNA results during a criminal investigation”.

Posted by Ergon on 01/10/18 at 02:05 AM | #

Also https://www.forensicmag.com/news/2018/01/more-pressure-more-touch-dna-study-says?et_cid=6229113&et_rid=687185831&type=cta&et_cid=6229113&et_rid=687185831&linkid=https://www.forensicmag.com/news/2018/01/more-pressure-more-touch-dna-study-says?et_cid=6229113&et;_rid=%%subscriberid%%&type=cta

Posted by Ergon on 01/10/18 at 02:06 AM | #

Thanks, Pete.  I sent the following email.

Dear RC:

Please present a fair and balanced talk on the Amanda Knox case when you host her later this month.  I sincerely request that you review the case file which is available at the link at bottom.  This is the evidence and court transcripts which have all but been ignored by the U.S. media. 

Sincere thanks, best wishes and Happy New Year!


http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/Main_Page

Posted by whatswisdom on 01/10/18 at 01:57 PM | #

@Ergon Not just the DNA on the knife, but the footprint on the bathmat and luminol highlights in the hallway.  Most damning of all in my mind is Knox’ conduct and furtiveness over her phone calls.  It shows clear foreknowledge of Meredith’s fate.

Posted by KrissyG on 01/11/18 at 01:03 PM | #

The staged break in and the knife imprint on the mattress cover as well, KrissyG.

Posted by Ergon on 01/12/18 at 12:15 AM | #

Off topic, but an interesting case in Calgary.  Seems the university doesn’t want a convicted sex offender around while he awaits sentencing.

Wasn’t this the case with U of Washington in 2014, except they ‘‘wouldn’t’’ do anything after the Nencini confirmation?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/university-calgary-connor-neurauter-convicted-sex-offender-1.4483598

Posted by Chimera on 01/12/18 at 02:03 AM | #

https://www.change.org/p/university-of-calgary-expel-connor-neurauter-from-the-university-of-calgary

Posted by Chimera on 01/12/18 at 02:06 AM | #

Interesting statement from the APA reported here: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/psychiatric-association-warns-against-diagnosing-public-figures-like-trump-without-medical-exam/article/2645459

“We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined, whether it be on cable news appearances, books, or in social media,” the group wrote. “Arm-chair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.”

Posted by Ergon on 01/13/18 at 10:43 PM | #

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/former-boyfriend-amanda-knox-says-11845865

Back in the news again. ““So I feel really sorry for her family – but I cannot entirely empathize with them because I did not know her”.

No; the reason you and Amanda can’t empathize is because you are both guilty.  And coming up with reasons as to why you can’t empathize is your way of explaining your complete absence of sympathy for Meredith Kercher.

Posted by DavidB on 01/14/18 at 07:37 AM | #

@Thank you, James Raper. This is a fair, honest and extremely objective discussion of the knife and bra clasp DNA. The lucid and logical style of the writing is a pleasure to follow, and illuminates complicated matters for easier understanding.

The knife DNA is convincingly Meredith’s on the blade, and as CBHeidegger says it is all the more suspicious when Raffaele makes up a crazy story about it to excuse its presence there rather than shout an outright enraged denial of any possibility that her DNA could be there.

Loud indignant denials would have been an honest person’s response, not some silly story of WHY the dead girl’s DNA was on his knife blade. Human nature may be debatable but the DNA is not, it was Meredith’s.

As you so carefully and openly concede, the bra clasp DNA is not so straightforward. With the many police in and out of the scene, the possible “shadow or dirt” on the gloved hand that lifted the clasp for the photo, the fact the clasp had been moved around on the floor from under the pillow to under a rug, there was more room for error in how DNA came to be on the clasp, at least theoretically. But you show step by step how contamination is still very minor risk.

Even with the slim possibility of accidental transfer of Raf’s DNA from other parts of the cottage (where it was not abundant at all) by the crime scene investigators, the odds when looked at logically continue to be reduced.

And I wonder if the bent bra clasp metal hook was not stepped on at all, either by the perps or by anyone later, but was bent out of shape by a hand pulling it hard with a yank in some effort to wrench the clasp apart by force, in trying to tear the bra open without finesse, to remove it after the victim was felled which is why a knife was quickly resorted to, used to cut the fabric apart. The cut clasp (cut by a clean knife, maybe Sollecito’s pocket knife?) would dispense with having to work the tiny metal hooks since they were in a hurry and panicked.

Sprung hooks on a bra are very common if the garment is worn much too tight. Then if the hooks are forced into place to take the strain of movement during wearing and bending of the body hour after hour, they will often expand under the pressure. If the threads that were sewn by manufacturer to hold the hook and eye closures do not burst and give way, the hook itself unbends. It’s like pulling hard on a paperclip, the metal is flexible. The bent hook was found under the pillow, the photograph is evidence that it was not the crime scene techs who bent it either by stepping on it or pulling at it.

Sollecito’s Y haplotype strongly identifies his DNA on the clasp, it’s just a matter of how that DNA landed there in the first place.

The pillow and rug actually protected the clasp from airborne dust. Of course the rug might have had floor dust on it from the underside. What that means, only an expert could discuss.

The transfer theory although slim is just vague enough to cover a hundred imagined possibilities, not probabilities, but it does leave room for defense to cast doubt. So the bra clasp evidence was not seen as strong to establish Raf’s guilt.

In light of Raf’s hammertoe in blood on the blue bathroom rug, (also refuted of course), his DNA being on the bra clasp is no big leap. His “she was at my house that night, no she wasn’t, I lied to police because she asked me to” certainly adds up to doubt about Raf’s whereabouts on the crucial night.

Knox and Raf were at pains to describe their activities at the cottage the afternoon of the day of the murder. Maybe they stressed this (there were no witnesses who saw them at the cottage that afternoon, only their word for it)was to account for any of their DNA later found in Meredith’s bedroom.

They could then pop up and say things like, “Oh, well, that afternoon Meredith wanted to show Raf and me something in her room before she left to see her friends. Yes, we walked into her bedroom for a few minutes to chat with her. That’s why our fingerprints were near the closet, she was showing me her new outfit. I remember Raf picked up her Collins Dictionary and thumbed through it,” or lies like that ready to hand if any DNA from the murder room did point to them. They’d have an innocent explanation why they were in the room, especially to cover Raffaele’s presence since he was seldom at the cottage.

I believe his DNA was on the bra clasp and that he cut the bra off to stage the scene.

Perhaps some of this very clearly laid out DNA evidence will come to the attention of the Roanoke audience who might use it to question Knox on the facts.

Posted by Hopeful on 01/14/18 at 02:56 PM | #

Hi Hopeful,

It’s not possible to extract a full DNA profile from dust. 

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

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

Posted by The Machine on 01/14/18 at 05:11 PM | #

I suppose the argument would be that dust could contain fragmented DNA that while incapable of providing a profile might throw up some rogue alleles that would lead to a false interpretation. However I don’t think that could be likely given the improbability that a false allele from somebody else’s DNA would end up in the right place in an allele pairing, and in a loci, with the same STR reading (and with a more than acceptable RFU) as in Sollecito’s profile.

We also have to consider what might be in dust that could have this effect. The most likely substance would be the particles of skin which we shed all the time. However these particles are already dead and keratinized. In other words a hard surface has formed and, if there is any extractable DNA inside, making the process of DNA transfer virtually impossible. How would the skin cell particle, on a transfer other than by primary pressure, adhere to the metal hooks on the clasp?

The independent experts implied that ambient dust might have led to a false reading re Sollecito’s profile, or even that the dust might have contained fragments of Sollecito’s DNA that had contaminated the bra clasp. They said that this was a well known danger with dust. However they did not, to back this up, refer to any research evidence as to the likelihood and how this would produce a strong profile. Once again this was just another unsubstantiated ethereal hypothesis second guessing the expert experience of Dr Stefanoni who, unlike them, actually works in the field of practical forensic analysis.

As an example of how airy-fairy the IE’s were they also suggested that control samples of ambient dust should have been taken. Where would one start?

Hellmann, it should be noted, nor any other judge, gave the thought the time of day.

Posted by James Raper on 01/15/18 at 08:33 AM | #

Thanks again James

For our records and searchability this is the box that was at the top in the past several days.

Breaking news. Paul Ciolino, another misrepresenter of what is a strong case and major stirrer of hate who Knox’s own lawyers wanted gagged, claims in a Chicago case his “reputation and career” were destroyed. Precisely what Ciolino tried to do to Dr Mignini.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/15/18 at 08:34 PM | #


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