Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Knox’s Luminol-Revealed Footprints In Her Own Room: The Damning Tale They Tell

Posted by The Machine



Dr Stefanoni with Dr Comodi, main DNA prosecutor

Long post. Click here to go straight to Comments.

1. Post Overview

If you visit those few sites and twitter feeds still craven to Knox and her unsavory pals, you’ll see true desperation now.

Ignoring the other vast swathes of evidence, they still beat their brains out “proving” that Italy bungled and misread the DNA. 

They desperately want you to ignore these telling facts: that on the DNA the defense teams were all over the map, that after prosecution presentations they usually tiptoed on, and that they had had observers at every single collection and processing of DNA -  and not even one complained or found fault.

At the Massei trial in 2009, Dr Stefanoni gave a 137-slide PowerPoint presentation to the judges and lay judges to give them a basic understanding of DNA evidence and to help them understand the significance of the DNA evidence in this case.

It included the main forensic findings, images, photographs, the DNA profiles of Meredith and the three defendants and the electropherograms.

One of the last pieces of forensic evidence Dr Stefanoni presented to the court during this PowerPoint presentation was a Luminol footprint - Rep.180 - that was found in Amanda Knox’s room.

Rep 180 was attributed to Knox because it matched her foot size. There were two other Luminol footprints in her room, but Dr Stefanoni regarded this Luminol footprint as particularly significant evidence against her.



Rep 180 - see version with Knox measurements below

2. Why Rep 180 Is So Telling

In this post, I’ll carefully examine the reasons why Dr Stefanoni considers Rep 180 to be significant evidence against Amanda Knox as well as consider the significance of the other Luminol prints in Amanda Knox’s room.

I’ll also explain why Judge Masse and Judge Marasca were both wrong to think they know about forensic science that some of Italy top DNA experts and debunk the myth that a negative TMB test result means the Luminol wasn’t reacting to blood.

Prosecution case on bedroom prints

On 18 December 2007, the Scientific Police completed their forensic investigation at the cottage. They collected more DNA evidence and they sprayed Luminol on the floor of different rooms in the cottage to see whether there were any traces of blood that had been cleaned up.

It was a safe bet that there would be bare bloody footprints at the cottage because there wasn’t a trail of bare bloody footprints leading up to the bare bloody footprint in the small bathroom. The Scientific Police sprayed the hallway outside the small bathroom and a number of bare bloody footprints magically appeared.

Unsurprisingly, they matched the foot sizes of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. They had been arrested on 6 November 2007 after they had both lied repeatedly to the police and changed their stories dramatically. The DNA and forensic evidence was starting to provide the explanation for Knox and Sollecito’s multiple false alibis and numerous lies

There were two Luminol traces in Filomena’s room - where the break-in was staged - and three Luminol footprints in Amanda Knox’s room. Two of the luminol prints contained the DNA of Amanda Knox and Meredith; one was in the hallway and the other was in Filomena’s room.

Judge Massei and Judge Nencini accepted the Luminol prints as damning evidence against Knox and Sollecito because they matched their feet and they reasoned the Luminol must have reacting to Meredith’s blood as there was an abundance of her blood at the cottage.

The defence experts had pointed out that Luminol also reacts to other substances such as rust and fruit juice. The idea that Knox and Sollecito had dipped their feet in rust or turnip juice and then walked around the cottage in bare feet is too ridiculous to take seriously.

Judge Massei interprets Knox’s prints

Judge Massei thinks Amanda Knox tracked Meredith’s blood into Filomena’s room and her own room when she was checking to see what the situation was outside of the cottage.

These traces, besides constituting further evidence of the presence of Amanda in Meredith’s room when she was killed, lead us to believe that Amanda and Raffaele, before deciding to break the glass in the window of Romanelli’s room and leave the house, wished to make sure that there was no-one in the street; a worry that may have had its basis both in the scream let out by Meredith and which could have been heard by someone who, being in the street, had stopped in curiosity, and in the presence, only slightly earlier, of a broken-down car, in the very near [409] vicinity of the house on Via della Pergola, a car which both Amanda and Raffaele must have noticed when they entered the house; in fact, it should be considered that Raffaele must have already noticed the presence of such a vehicle when he was in the square in front of the University when, as Curatolo testified, he went close to the grating located there in order to look below, where that same broken-down car, causing an obstruction to the traffic, may have caused horns to be blown.

“The biological traces attributable to Amanda (one to Amanda alone and one to Amanda and Meredith) highlighted by Luminol and present in the rooms of Amanda and Romanelli can therefore be adequately explained by the need to check what the situation outside the house was, and to do this Amanda had to look from the window of her own room and from the window of Romanelli’s room, leaving in these areas the prints which were then highlighted by Luminol.” (Judge Massei’s report, pages 380-381).

This is a very plausible scenario. However, it should be pointed out that Dr Stefanoni and Judge Massei don’t completely agree on the DNA evidence and the Luminol prints.

Dr Stefanoni claims Amanda Knox was bleeding on the night of the murder and her blood was mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations at the cottage: in three sports in the small bathroom, in a Luminol footprint the hallway and in a Luminol trace in Filomena’s room.

Dr Stefanoni’s forensic finding that Amanda Knox’s blood was mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations at the cottage has been confirmed by Professor Biondo - the head of the DNA Unit of the Scientific Police - and Professor Garofano - the former head of the RIS Carabinieri.

Judge Massei thinks Amanda Knox’s DNA - not her blood - was mixed with Meredith’s blood in the small bathroom, the hallway and Filomena’s room. However, he doesn’t provide any scientific evidence to support his assertion. As I’ve pointed out before, Judge Massei has no forensic qualifications, experience or training. He clearly doesn’t know more about forensic science than Dr Stefanoni, Professor Garofano and Professor Biondo.

Dr Stefanoni is regarded as one of Italy’s leading forensic experts and that’s the reason why she was part of the disaster investigations team that was sent to the scene of the 2004 Asian tsunami to identify victims and she was appointed the Chief Technical Director in the Forensic Genetics Investigations section of the Scientific Police.

Why Dr Stefanoni sees Rep. 180 as hard evidence against Knox

On slide 136 of Dr Stefanoni’s PowerPoint presentation, she states that Rep. 180 is one of the “more significant biological results.”


“Approfondimento
alcuni risultati biologici più significativi
Rep.180: campionatura di presunta sostanza ematica evidenziata
mediante test del Luminol (st. KNOX)”

In-depth analysis
some more significant biological results
Rep. 180: sampling of presumed blood substance highlighted
by Luminol test (st. KNOX)

If you look at the electropherogram for Rep.180, you’ll understand why Dr Stefanoni regards it as significant evidence against Amanda Knox. Her DNA peaks are extremely high. Even higher than her peaks on the electropherogram for the cotton bud box. 14 peaks are over 1,000 RFUs, four peaks are over 2,000 RFUs and one peak is over 3,000 RFUs.

In other words, Amanda Knox’s DNA in this Luminol footprint clearly wasn’t touch DNA. It must have come from a source that provides an immense amount of DNA e.g. blood.


Professor Garofano pointed out that extremely high DNA peaks indicates the sample is undoubtedly blood:

“However, here is the electropherogram and you can see that the RFU value is very high, so the sample is undoubtedly blood, which is the body fluid that provides the greatest amount of DNA.” (Luciano Garafano, Darkness Descending, page 371).

There were three Luminol footprints in Amanda Knox’s room: Rep. 178, 179, 180 (L3, L4, L5). Dr Stefanoni thinks they all contained blood.

The pertinent question is: Whose blood was it?

The DNA test results can help us answer the question: all three of the Luminol prints in Amanda Knox’s room contained her DNA. None of them contained Meredith’s DNA.

The fact that that 14 of Amanda Knox DNA peaks in Rep.180 were over 1,000 RFUs indicates it was her blood.

These three forensic findings corroborate Professor Garofano’s claims there was “copious blood loss by Amanda” and that she “walked around in her own blood, blood that she also had on her body.”

Amanda Knox’s supporters like to point out that Judge Marasca claimed that TMB (Tetramethylbenzidine) test results proved there was no blood in the Luminol prints:

With reference to the asserted hematic traces in the other environments, especially in the corridor, there’s also an obvious misrepresentation of the proof. In fact, the progress-of-works reports of the Scientific Police had excluded, consequent to the use of a particular chemical reagent, that, in the examined environments, the traces highlighted by the luminol were of hematic nature. The work status reports despite being regularly compiled and registered in evidence, were not considered.” (Judge Marasca’s Supreme Court report).

Apart from the fact Judge Marasca isn’t a DNA expert, this is also clearly not true. Luminol and TMB tests are both presumptive tests - not confirmatory ones. In other words, a negative TMB test result doesn’t mean there was no blood.

Dr Sarah Gino - Amanda Knox’s forensic expert - acknowledged in court that a negative TMB test result doesn’t mean there was no blood in the Luminol prints:

“[Dr Sarah Gino] She underlined that the SAL [stato di avanzamento lavoro – work status report] reports which had been made available had shown that a generic diagnosis for blood had been performed and had given a negative result, and therefore it could not be said with certainty that blood was present in the material revealed by Luminol.” (The Massei report, page 282).

Judge Massei noted the reasons why there were negative TMB test results i.e. there wasn’t sufficient material to indicate the presence of blood and Dr Stefanoni had used most of the DNA to determine who it belonged to:

But it must be noted that the negative result for blood does not necessarily indicate that no blood was present. The result may have been negative because there was not sufficient material to indicate the presence of blood. Dr. Gino stated that in her experience there is a probabilistic relation to the number of cases in which the blood test comes out positive or negative. The negative result was also partly a consequence of Dr. Stefanoni’s choice to use most of the DNA to determine the individual profiles and only the remainder to attempt to determine the nature of the trace. “ (The Massei report, 282).

Judge Massei also noted out that Dr Stefanoni had explained it was preferable to know to whom the biological specimen belonged to rather than ascertaining the nature of it:

“The negative result of the test performed to determine the haematological nature of the material of specimen B does not per se exclude the haematological nature of the specimen.

Dr. Stefanoni, [when] questioned on this specific aspect, noted that since any DNA that might be present on the trace in question was certainly of a very small quantity, a minimal quantity was used to determine whether the trace was of a haematological nature or not: consequently the outcome of test, [which was] negative for blood, did not necessarily signify the non-haematological nature of the trace, as it might have been derived from too small a quantity of material to have allowed a positive result, even if that substance had been [310] blood.

She [Dr. Stefanoni] explained that such a choice, whereby the greatest quantity of DNA had been used to determine the biological profile rather than the nature of the specimen, provided a basis for the subsequent assessments: it is preferable to know to whom a given biological specimen is attributable, rather than ascertaining the nature of that same specimen, without any possibility of attributing it to anyone.” (The Massei report, page 288).

Judge Massei pointed out that the defence experts didn’t put forward a significant counter-argument to Dr Stefanoni’s claim that a negative TMB test doesn’t necessarily mean there was no blood:

With respect to the affirmation according to which the negative test for blood does not necessarily signify absence of blood in the sample being analysed, no significant counter-arguments were put forward. Moreover, Dr. Stefanoni’s explanation of this point seems convincing: if the quantity is minimal, the negative outcome of the test may also be a result of the insufficient quantity used for the test itself.” (The Massei report, page 288).

Judge Marasa’s ignorance with regard to forensic science led him to assuming that a negative TMB test result means there was no blood in the Luminol prints and traces at the cottage. He essentially accused Dr Stefanoni of misleading the Massei court about the TMB test results when she did no such thing.

She specifically pointed out that the Luminol identified presumed blood traces in the Luminol prints in her official court report for the Massei trial.:

‘‘un profilo genetico derivante da mistura di sostanze biologiche (conententi presumibilemente ematica) appartenenti ad almeno dui individui entrambi di sesso femminile”

‘‘a genetic profile deriving from a mixture of biological substances (presumably containing blood) belonging to at least two individuals both of female gender.”

She also pointed out that TMB tests on blood traces revealed by Luminol have negative results about half the time,

“She added that, in her own experience, analyses performed with TMB on traces revealed by Luminol give about even results: 50% negative, 50% positive,” (The Massei report, page 258).

This is to be expected because Luminol is significantly more sensitive than TMB and that’s the reason why It is the blood detection technique most commonly used by forensic investigators.


Judge Marasca has not only accused Dr Stefanoni of being dishonest, he has also by extension accused Professor Garofano and Professor Biondo of being dishonest because they confirmed Dr Stefanoni’s forensic finding that the Luminol was reacting to blood. The only person who is guilty of misrepresenting the evidence is Judge Marasca.

It defies belief that Judge Marasca who has no forensic qualifications, experience or training thinks he knows more about the forensic science than two DNA experts who have PhDs in forensic science.

Dr Stefanoni and Professor Garofano have both pointed out that you can determine whether the Luminol was reacting to blood by the luminosity of the presumed blood trace and the DNA test results.

“But let’s see what the prints actually mean. First of all, from their sheer luminosity they are blood. The DNA test showed Meredith’s blood in all cases except for two places in which we have a mixed Amanda and Meredith sample.” (Professor Garofano).

“So I, with genetic analysis, can say with certainty that there was blood”. (Dr Stefanoni).

“in other words everything that is not blood, is nonetheless different even if it is still a bluish fluorescence: that is, the colour does not change, [but] the intensity and the duration change. So in effect, the intensity, thus, of that blue or that azure, so intense, is not given off, in general, by other reagents that are not blood: they give a weaker fluorescence”. (Dr Stefanoni).

3. Some conclusions from the above

Sometimes judges make embarrassing schoolboy errors. This usually happens when they arrogantly opine about subjects they know nothing about.

Judge Masipa didn’t understand the legal concept of dolus evantualis and applied it incorrectly when acquitting Pistorius of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

In South African law, under the principle of dolus eventualis, a person can be convicted of murder if they foresaw the possibility of their actions resulting in the death of someone but continued regardless.

Judge Hellmann claimed obtaining the same result twice does not increase the reliability of the result. He was referring to carrying on a test on the remaining DNA on the blade of Sollecito’s kitchen knife.

Mathematicians Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez point out in their excellent book Math on Trial that Hellmann’s comments show a ‘’complete misunderstanding of the probabilistic result of considering two separate results from two performances of the same test.’’

Judge Marasca’s claim the TMB test results means there was was no blood in the Luminol prints is demonstrably false. The defence experts didn’t even claim this. He can be inducted into the hall of shame alongside Judge Masipa and Judge Hellman for judges who have made embarrassing and painfully stupid mistakes.

But let’s not let the stupidity of the judges mentioned above distract us from the significance of the three Luminol prints found in Amanda Knox’s room, especially Rep.180.

Judge Massei thinks Amanda Knox tracked Meredith’s blood into her own room when she was checking to see what the situation was outside of the cottage. It seems she also tracked her own blood into her room and a lot of it.

Posted by The Machine on 06/24/20 at 12:40 PM in

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