Re Depp v Heard damages hearing today. Good report here. Judgement entered: $10.4m to Depp less $2m to Heard. AH must post $8.4m bond plus interest to appeal, her lawyer balked but judge firmly insisted. Only known appeal grounds is judicial error, no neutral lawyer points to any. If appeal fails, Depp gets $8.4m instantly. Main media struck dumb?

Category: Police and CSI

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.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is the Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Defamatory? Stefanoni Believes So and May Sue

Posted by Peter Quennell


This looks like really bad news for Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito. The last straw.

TJMK main poster Fly By Night already described in great detail how suspect and heavily biased is the Conti-Vecchiotti report.

He predicted fireworks by the Scientific Police and prosecution expert witnesses who were seriously and without proper bases impugned. He predicted the fireworks would start tomorrow in court. 

But already the fireworks have begun. The Guardian’s Tom Kington (who himself has often seemed to show a pro-Knox bias) reports quoting the UK’s Sunday paper The Observer: 

A prominent forensic scientist, whose DNA evidence helped to convict the US student and her former boyfriend, has vowed to overturn the findings of an independent report that says much of her work in the case was unreliable.

Written by two independent experts from Rome’s Sapienza University, the 145-page DNA review rubbishes the work of Patrizia Stefanoni, the police forensic scientist who found Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA on a kitchen knife at Sollecito’s house and identified DNA belonging to Sollecito on a torn bra clasp found beside Kercher’s semi-naked body.

The report claims Stefanoni ignored international DNA protocols, made basic errors and gave evidence in court that was not backed up by her laboratory work, rendering the knife and bra strap worthless as evidence. But Stefanoni has vowed to fight back during three hearings devoted to the DNA reviews.

“I am angry about the false statements in this report and ready to come to court to highlight the past record of these experts,” she told the Observer. “I am also looking into taking legal action against them. What international DNA protocols are they talking about? The Italian police is a member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI), while they are not.”...

After discovering there was no DNA left to check on the knife or the bra clasp, the experts retraced the steps taken by Stefanoni, concluding that the DNA trace of Kercher on the blade was so weak it could not be reliably matched ““ or was at best the result of contamination ““ and quoted Stefanoni admitting in court she should have double-tested her result to be more convincing.

Stefanoni claimed she had no need to repeat tests since the experts for the defence were on hand to witness her work. “And it was good enough to show it was Kercher’s DNA,” she said. “A small amount, but good quality.”...

The experts quote numerous US police and FBI experts on the risk of low DNA results and poor evidence handling, prompting one Italian police source to claim they were being fed information by Knox’s defence team. (Emphasis added.)

More attempted manipulation behind the scenes that now turns out to be heavy-handed overreach? Good luck to Judge Hellman tomorrow. He appointed the two “independent experts.” And he already almost lost control of his court once.

He will already be getting anxious to protect his good name before the Supreme Court. Unlikely now to buck any trends.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Limited Review Of The DNA Tests Agreed To By Judge Hellmann Are Now Underway In Rome

Posted by The Machine


[Amended by the Machine after his posted comment.]

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti of La Sapienza University in Rome (above) have begun the review of the DNA on the large double-DNA knife and the bra clasp under the eyes of expert witnesses.

Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni and Professor Giuseppe Novelli will be testifying on behalf of the prosecution. 

Professor Novelli has an impressive CV. He is a highly regarded professor of biomedicine at Tor Vergata in Rome and director of the Centre of Excellence for Genomic Risk Assessment in Multifactorial and Complex Diseases.  Professor Novelli is regarded as the “father of police forensics” in Italy.

If there had been any doubts about the validity of the DNA evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, he wouldn’t have agreed to testify for the prosecution.

A number of independent experts have already confirmed the validity of the DNA evidence at various court hearings.

There was an independent review of the forensic evidence in 2008. Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA unit of the scientific police, reviewed Dr. Stefanoni’s investigation and the forensic findings. He testified at Rudy Guede’s fast track trial in October 2008 and confirmed that all the forensic findings were accurate and reliable.

He also praised the work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team. “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

Alberto Intini, the head of the Italian police forensic science unit, testified for the prosecution at the trial last year. He maintained that the crime scene had not been contaminated. He pointed out that unless contamination has been proved, it does not exist.

He also stated that the results of the tests showed that the investigation had been carried out correctly because there was not even one trace of any of the forensic technicians.

The Kercher family hired their own DNA expert, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and asked her to examine the DNA evidence.

Professor Torricelli is the Director of a genetic facility at Careggi University Hospital and has been working in genetics since 1976. She testified at Knox’s and Sollecito’s trial last year and she also confirmed Dr. Stefanoni’s findings.

She told the court that the significant amount of Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp meant that it was unlikely that it was left by contamination. She also agreed with Dr. Stefanoni that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the double DNA knife.

Distinguished DNA expert and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano analysed the DNA and forensic evidence for the early 2010 book “Darkness Descending”.

He has more than 32 years of forensics experience and is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is considered by many as Italy’s top forensics expert. In his section of the book, he explains at length why he too thinks that Knox and Sollecito are guilty of Meredith’s murder.

Although General Garofano agrees with Dr. Renato Biondo and Alberto Intini that the scientific police did a good job, he thinks the police should have separated the plastic handle from the knife and checked for blood there because it often gathers in the grooves and recesses under the blade.

Stefano Conti has asked Judge Hellman for permission to take apart the handle of the knife.

The conclusions of the DNA retesting must be filed with Judge Hellman’s court no later than May 9 and they will be discussed at the appeal hearing on May 21.

Retesting of the DNA was always a high-stakes gamble for the defense teams and could prove to be game-over for Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeal in a single stroke.

On the other hand, the prosecution has little to worry about either way, as the balance of the evidence is so massive.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report:  All Judges, Lawyers And Witnesses At Trial Jan-Dec 2009

Posted by Storm Roberts



[Above: Dr Giancarlo Massei, the president of the Court]

Our intention with this new series of posts is to show how thorough the trial was, and how compelling the Massei Report on the grounds for the Knox-Sollecito sentence is. 

At the beginning of the trial, the witness counts were considerable: approximately 90 for the prosecution, 60 for the civil plaintiffs, 90 for the defence of Raffaele Sollecito, and 65 for the defence of Amanda Knox.

However, a large number of witnesses for both Amanda Knox and for Raffaele Sollecito were removed from the witness listing. Thus the actual number of people testifying was lower than originally expected. 

Here is a comprehensive list I have compiled, made by going through the Massei Report, picking out the witnesses, and noting what they testified about. If I had the information available, I have noted where a witness was specifically called by the defence of either of the then defendants.

Officers Of The Court

  • Judges:  Dr Beatrice Cristiani and Dr Giancarlo Massei, the president of the Court.
  • Prosecutors: Public Ministers Dr Manuela Comodi and Dr Giuliano Mignini.
  • Interpreter for Amanda Knox:  Dr Anna Baldelli Fronticelli.



[above: the two prosecutors]

The Legal Teams:

  • For the family of Meredith Kercher:  Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna.
  • For Diya “Patrick” Lumumba: Carlo Pacelli.
  • For Aldalia Tattanelli (the owner of the house): Letizia Magnini.
  • For Amanda Knox:  Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova.
  • For Raffaele Sollecito: Giulia Bongiorno, Daniela Rocchi and Luca Maori.



[above: Amanda Knox’s legal team]

Witnesses


The following is a list of witnesses and a brief note as to the evidence they presented. I am not detailing their arguments here, merely indicating the areas the witnesses were heard in.  For full details of the evidence and the court’s arguments please read the Massei Report in full and the summaries coming up.

  • Amanda Knoxtestified while not under oath at the request of her defence and the legal team representing Diya Lumumba.  Her testimony was heard on 12th and 13th June 2009. Raffele Sollecito made a couple of interventions from his seat beside his three lawyers, but he did not get up on the stand.
  • Mrs. Elisabetta Lana and her son, Alessandro Biscarini.  They discovered two mobile phones, both belonging to Meredith Kercher (one was registered to Filomena Romanelli, Meredith’s flatmate), in their garden at Via Sperandio.
  • Dr. Filippo Bartolozzi - at the time Manager of the Department of Communications Police for Umbria - Dr. Bartolozzi received the mobile phones from Mrs Lana, the first at approximately 11.45 to 12.00hrs on 2nd November 2007, the second at approximately 12.15 to 12.20 hrs.  He traced the first phone to Filomena Romanelli and, at noon, despatched two officers to her address to investigate why her phone was in Mrs. Lana’s garden.
  • Inspector Michele Battistelli and Assistant Fabio Marzi - the two officers despatched by Dr. Bartolozzi.  They arrived at 7 Via della Pergola at a little after 12.30 hrs - they found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito sitting outside the house.  They gave evidence about the circumstances leading up to the discovery of Meredith’s body and with regards to securing the scene whilst awaiting the Carabinieri and Scientific Police.
  • Filomena Romanelli who was Meredith’s flatmate gave evidence regarding the phone she had lent to Meredith.  She also detailed when she had moved into the flat at 7 Via della Pergola and the living arrangements.  She told of her plans for the 2nd November and how a worrying phone call from Amanda Knox led to her calling her back and returning to her home earlier than planned.  A key point of Ms. Romanelli’s evidence was her disagreement with Amanda Knox over when Meredith locked her door - Ms. Romanelli stated that Meredith had only once locked her door and that was when she had returned to England for a few days.
  • Paola Grande, Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri - the other young people who were at the property when Meredith’s body was discovered.  Mr. Altieri broke down the door to Meredith’s room.
  • Laura Mezzetti - the fourth flatmate in the upstairs flat at number 7 Via della Pergola.  She testified with regards to the living arrangements and also that Amanda Knox is an early riser, a “morning person”.
  • Robyn Butterworth, Amy Frost, Sophie Purton and Nathalie Hayward - Meredith’s friends from England.  They testified as to when they last saw Meredith and described the behaviour of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the Police Station in the evening of 2nd November 2007.  They also testified that Meredith had no plans after returning home at around 21.00 hrs on 1st November other than to study and have a rest as they had been out late the previous night and believed that they had classes the next day.  Meredith’s friends did not know of Rudy Guede and had not heard Meredith mention his name.
  • Giacomo Silenzi, one of the young men living in the flat underneath Meredith’s flat.  He was Meredith’s boyfriend.
  • Stafano Bonassi, Marco Marzan and Riccardo Luciani the other tenants of the downstairs flat.  Along with Mr. Silenzi they testified as to the the interactions between themselves and the girls upstairs, the gatherings they held, the fact that Rudy Guede was known to Amanda Knox.  They testified as to Rudy Guede’s actions at their house.  They gave evidence of having met or known of Raffaele Sollecito and his relationship with Amanda Knox.
  • Giorgio Cocciaretto a friend of the young men in the downstairs flat testified with regards to knowing Rudy Guede through playing basketball and having seen him at the 7 Via della Pergola house when both Meredith and Amanda Knox were present.
  • Rudy Guede availed himself of his right not to participate in the trial of Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Sollecito.  Judge Massei details Rudy Guede’s involvement based upon the evidence available in order to complete the reconstruction of events of 2nd November as he was charged alongside Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
  • Marta Fernandez Nieto and Caroline Espinilla Martin - two young ladies living in the flat above Rudy Guede, they testified than on the night of 31st October they had been in the presence of Rudy Guede and that the only girl they saw him dance with was a “blonde girl with long smooth hair”.
  • Gioia Brocci from the Questura of Perugia who testified with regards to a trail of shoe prints leading from Meredith’s room to the exit of the flat getting fainter as they went.  Ms. Brocci also testified as to the lack of signs of climbing on the wall below Filomena Romanelli’s window.  She also collected evidence from the bathroom next to Meredith’s room.
  • Sergeant Francesco Pasquale testified as to the possibility of breaking into the flat though the window in Filomena Romanelli’s room.  Sergeant Pasquale was a consultant for the defence.
  • Maria Antonietta Salvadori Del Prato Titone, Paolo Brocchi, Matteo Palazzoli and Cristian Tramontano testified with regards to previous incidents involving or possibly involving Rudy Guede.
  • Edda Mellas , Amanda Knox’s mother.  She testified as to communications with her daughter on the 2nd November amongst other things.
  • Antonella Negri a teacher at the University who taught Amanda Knox and who testified as to her diligence as a student.
  • Francesco Sollecito, father of Raffaele Sollecito.  He testified as to his son’s character and about his communications with his son.  He also spoke of his son’s relationship with Amanda Knox.
  • Antonio Galizia, Carabinieri station commander in Giovinazzo, the Sollecito family’s home town.  He testified that in September 2003 Raffaele Sollecito was found in possession of hashish.
  • Jovana Popovic testified as to the presence of Amanda Knox at Raffaele Sollecito’s home at two points in time on the evening of 1st November 2007.
  • Diya “Patrick” Lumumba was Amanda Knox’s employer at “Chic”.  He testified that he has sent her a text message excusing her from work on the evening of 1st November.
  • Rita Ficcara Chief Inspector of the State Police - to whom Amanda Knox delivered a written statement composed whilst she was awaiting to be transferred to Capanne Prison.
  • Antonio Curatolo - Mr. Curatolo testified as to having seen Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the basketball court in front of the University (the Piazza Grimana) in the evening of 1st November 2007.
  • Maurizio Rosignoli - who runs a kiosk in the Piazza - testified with regards to the timing of buses at the Piazza Grimana thus corroborating times in Mr. Curatolo’s evidence.
  • Alessia Ceccarelli - who worked managing Mr. Rosignoli’s kiosk - gave evidence as to Mr. Curatolo’s presence in the Piazza.
  • Marco Quintavalle, who runs the shop “Margherita Conad”, testified he had seen Amanda Knox at 07.45 hrs on 2nd November, she was waiting for him to open his shop, she went to the section of the store that had items such as groceries, toilet paper and cleaning products but he did not serve her at the till so could not specify what she bought if anything.  He testified that he knew Raffaele Sollecito as he was a regular customer.
  • Officer Daniele Ceppitelli gave evidence with regards to the 112 calls made by Raffaele Sollecito at 12.51 and 12.54 hrs on 2nd November.  In these calls Raffaele Sollecito declared that nothing had been stolen from the flat.
  • Nara Capezzali, Antonella Monacchia and Maria Ilaria Dramis gave evidence of unusual sounds and activity coming from the area around 7 Via della Pergola - namely a scream and the sound of running footsteps.



[one of Sollecito’s three lawyers with Sollecito]

Expert Witnesses

  • Dr. Lalli, the Coroner, he performed the post mortem and ascertained the cause of death and a “time window” when death was likely to have occurred.  He put the time of death between 20.00 hrs on 1st November 2007 and 04.00 hrs the following day.
  • Dr. Domenico Giacinto Profazio was head of the Perugia Flying Squad at the time of Meredith’s death.  He gave evidence regarding the investigative procedures and safeguards including the physical security of the property.
  • Dr. Marco Chiacchiera, deputy director of the Perugia Flying Squad also gave evidence regarding the scene and investigation.
  • Monica Napoleoni, Deputy Commissioner of the State Police gave evidence regarding the scene and investigation.  She also testified as to Raffaele Sollecito’s desire to remain with Amanda Knox.
  • Mauri Bigini a chief inspect at the Flying Squad confirmed the evidence given by Profazio and Napoleoni.
  • Armando Finzi a chief inspector at the Flying Squad gave evidence regarding the examination of Raffaele Sollecito’s flat and the collection of the knife which is now termed “the Double DNA Knife” (Exhibit 36).
  • Stefano Gubbiotti and Zugarini Lorena confirmed the evidence regarding the search of Raffaele Sollecito’s flat.
  • Dr. Giunta from the Scientific Police in Rome directed the detection of latent prints at the scene.
  • Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni from the Scientific Police in Rome collected biological trace evidence for analysis.  She also performed the analysis of DNA evidence and testified extensively on all aspects of DNA - from the background science, through the collection and the testing methods employed to the analysis.
  • Professor Mauro Marchionni, Dr. Vincenza Liviero and Professor Mauro Bacci, the three consultants appointed by the Public Ministers to analyse the forensic medical evidence testified as to various aspects of Dr. Lalli’s report including the cause of death, timing of death, the sexual assault and the wounds.  They reported on the degree of compatibility of the knife - Double DNA Knife, Exhibit 36 - with the wounds suffered.
  • Professor Gianaristide Norelli, the consultant for the civil party, is a forensic police doctor. He testified with regards to the time and cause of death and the sexual assault against Meredith.  He testified as to the degree of compatibility of the Double DNA Knife with the wounds suffered.
  • Professor Francesco Introna, a consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence testified with regards to the forensic medical evidence (cause and time of death, the sexual assault). His opinion is that the murder was committed by one person and that the Double DNA Knife was not the weapon used to inflict the large wound on the left of Meredith’s neck.  He hypothesised that Meredith was already undressing at the end of the day when she was surprised by her sole attacker who attacked from behind.
  • Professor Carlo Torre, a consultant appointed by Amanda Knox’s defence testified with regards to the same areas as described above.  In his opinion the Double DNA knife was not the knife used to inflict the large wound on the left of Meredith’s neck.  He believed a stabbing from the front was the most likely dynamic, and he saw nothing that would lead him to believe there was more than one attacker.
  • Professor Vinci, a consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence, he testified with regards to the stains on the bed sheet -which appeared to be made in blood, outlining a knife.  Professor Vinci also testified with regards to footprints found in the flat.
  • Dr Patumi, a consultant appointed by the defence of Amanda Knox, testified with regards to the neck wounds suffered and also with regards to the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.
  • Professor Anna Aprile, Professor Mario Cingolani and Professor Giancarlo Umani Ronchi, all independent consultants appointed by the judge (GIP) at the preliminary hearing. Professor Aprile testified specifically on the question of the sexual assault, Professors Cingolani and Umani Ronchi again considered the evidence with regards to the cause and time of death and the compatibility of the Double DNA Knife with the large wound on the left of Meredith’s neck.
  • Dr. Torricelli, the consultant for Meredith Kercher’s family, testified and gave her opinion on the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.
  • Dr. Sarah Gino, a consultant appointed by the defence of Amanda Knox, testified and gave her opinion on the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.
  • Professor Tagliabracci, a consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence, testified and gave his opinion on the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.  He also gave evidence with regards to the effects of certain drugs.
  • Marco Trotta, Claudio Trifici and Gregori Mirco officers of the Postal Police, gave evidence with regards to the seized computer equipment and also with regards to internet activity at the home of Raffaele Sollecito.
  • Mr. Fabio Formenti, the technical consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence - observed the Postal Police’s analysis of the computer equipment.
  • Dr Michele Gigli and Dr. Antonio D’Ambrosio, consultants appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence, testified with regards to the computer and internet evidence.
  • Chief Inspector Letterio Latella gave evidence with regards to mobile phones and how they pick up signals from base stations which cover certain areas, he also testified with regards to the call records of the mobile phones of the defendants, victim and others.  He detailed how a connection to the network was picked up by the base stations and how the location of the phone can be approximated through knowing which base station was used.  He was able to tell the court which connections to Meredith’s two phones were made from her own flat and which from Mrs. Lana’s garden.
  • Assistant Stefano Sisani provided evidence with regards to both landline telephone services and mobile phone services.
  • Bruno Pellero an engineer appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence to give evidence with regards to telephonic communications.
  • Dr. Lorenzo Rinaldi, Principal Technical Director of the State Police, director of the three sections which compose the Identity Division of the ERT, gave evidence regarding shoe prints and footprints (including those highlighted by the use of luminol.
  • Chief Inspector Pietro Boemia, who worked alongside Dr. Rinaldi.
  • Chief Inspector Claudio Ippolito a consultant who reported on shoe prints - appointed by the public minister.



[Background: the Judges and jury (lay judges) for the trial]>


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Calunnia Claims At The Core Of The Problem For Amanda Knox - And Her Parents

Posted by Peter Quennell



Here is Amanda Knox claiming mistreatment as the reason why she falsely fingered Patrick Lumumba.

This was the court CCTV camera feed to the press-room on 12 June 2009. It was legitimate for the reporters there to capture it.

Our Italy-based Italian-speaking posters Fiori and Nicki both observed that to many or most Italians. Knox’s two days on the stand rang pretty hollow. She apparently needed to come across as a lot more fragile for the claims in the video to ring true.

Yesterday at the first hearing to set the date for Knox’s new trial, the number of police interrogators who are considered to have been targets of calunnia Amanda Knox was stated as twelve.

They will presumably all be testifying both at Knox’s new trial in October, and at the trial of Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, who allegedly repeated Knox’s claims on TV, and for whom the first hearing is coming up on 7 July.

They could face prison time and/or fines.

Judge Claudia Matteini observed that her presiding over the early hearings into Meredith’s case in 2008 (and denying Knox house arrest, a denial believed based in part on a psychological profile never made public) was not automatically a reason for her being replaced as a judge in this new case.

Knox had not made the claims you can see in the video at the time Judge Matteini was presiding. However, she agreed with what seems a reasonable defense request that a higher court should take the question of a possible conflict of interest under review.

She stated that the appeals court will issue a decision on who should be the judge for the new trial on 17 June.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Rome Panel On Meredith’s Case: Seems To Have Been Shallow, But Of No Comfort To Knox Apologists

Posted by Cesare Beccaria



[Above: IAF president Rocco Girlanda - a wannabe Italian David Marriott?]


The outrage that directly led to the creation of TJMK late in 2008 was the deliberate attempt to disappear Meredith and to replace her as the “real victim”.

Reversing that horrible trend and ensuring Meredith is revered, and at the end of the day granted her true justice, has always been our main mission. We have also worked to reverse the horrible sliming of Italy (a country Meredith loved and so looked forward to) and the officials and the trial process.

As far as we can see no English-language media have better explained the impressive Micheli Report and the impressive Italian system and the powerful evidence of guilt. Or for that matter lately shown Italy in such a positive light.

Ideally, if it had wanted to spread actual understanding, the Italian American Foundation Rome panel yesterday should have covered much of that same ground.

As far was we can see, it didn’t. And there seems to have been little mention of Meredith.

But at least the panelists seem to have come up with no new criticisms. Today Italy looks no worse, and Knox’s position looks no better. And the panel was inconclusive on what might have happened differently in the United States. (We reckon the outcome would have been identical but the sentences would have been Life.)

Andrea Vogt reports for the Seattle P-I on yesterday’s doings. Key excerpts below.

1) On the Italian American Foundation panel

The gathering was not so much an exercise in legal theorizing as one to smooth the hard feelings between Italy and the United States over the trial of one American college student. It’s a case that has spawned books, Websites and congressional involvement.

In fact, experts decided they couldn’t say what would have happened in an American trial.

“The only answer is, it is impossible to answer this question,” lawyer Anthony Sistilli told the audience, according to ANSA Italian wire services that covered the forum. “We do not want to retry the case. We want to help bridge the gap of understanding, which is our mission for this meeting.”...

“Trial outcomes are unpredictable. You really can’t guess what the outcome would be,” Arcabascio, who is co-director of the Florida Innocence Project, told the crowd. “But reasonable doubt is a standard of proof we use in both countries.”

Arcabascio also noted that sequestered juries are still used in the United States, but less and less common due to the high cost….

“No-one had any intention of bringing up criticisms,” said Rocco Girlanda, president of the U.S.-Italy Foundation told seattlepi.com. “Our scope was simply to compare the judicial systems and trial processes of Italy and the U.S.”

2) On Amanda Knox in prison

Girlanda ended the evening on a light note, saying that perhaps after the case’s expected appeal, the association would even have the chance to have a “special honored guest,” meaning Knox.

He also mentioned that the association is continuing to meet regularly with Knox in prison. Italy-USA Association officials said that prison authorities have called Knox’s behavior in Capanne “exemplary.”

Though she had requested work in the prison laundry, she has been given a less menial task with the prison commissary. Her job, according to foundation officials who meet with her, is to take orders from the various cellmates about what they want from the prison store. Inmates are able to buy items such as candy, cheese, soda or other small shopping items.

There are also some must-read paragraphs by Andrea Vogt on the very fishy commercial aspects of IAF president Rocco Girlanda’s role in the case. Is he seeking a PR contract?

Rocco Girlanda, who is also a parliamentarian and PR consultant, has been criticized before for raising false hopes for Knox apologists, and yesterday he did it again.

Andrea Vogt also reports on the state of Seattle-Perugia relations (with links to some Facebook pages), on the new books on the case, and on a new pro-Sollecito website, apparently created by a certain Chris Mellas.

What a surprise.

Low-traffic low-traction and generally highly inaccurate apologist websites, all with a nasty sneering tone, seem to be springing up like wildflowers these days.

************

Below: IAF president Rocco Girlanda at right with fellow parliamentarians outside Capanne Prison, after visiting Amanda Knox.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Could The Italian Authorities Be Starting A Wave Of Libel + Slander Investigations?

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Nick Pisa’s report on Sky News about the charges Amanda Knox’s parents are being investigated for.

The sliming of the prosecution, the police and investigators, and even the many judges in the process, never seemed to our legal contacts like a particularly good idea.

The CIA operatives trial we referred to in this post (over which the United States and the Italian prime minister could exert ZERO influence, please note) shows that Italy has a long arm and tough laws.

And the very independent judges and prosecutors are willing to take a very hard line to enforce them.

A Seattle lawyer who propagates what seems to us a pretty daffy and unfounded view of the case, made statements in the recent report by Italian network LA7 which don’t seem to have gone over very well in Italy. They may have attracted some official attention.

We dont know if the many statements made to an American audience on for example the ABC, CNN and CBS networks (most recently by New-York-based lawyer John Q Kelly) could attract investigations. But we do hear they might have all been taken note of, and it is possible the US networks might be monitoring their coverage of the case from now on.

ABC and KING-5 Seattle, both highly negative about Italy in recent months, may be particularly vulnerable.

And if and when the one administrative charge against Mr Mignini is dropped, an American crime-fiction writer and wannabe real-crime reporter might also perhaps find himself in the Italian legal cross-hairs for some very odd things he has said and written.

it will be interesting to see if any of the US-based media pick up on and report objectively on this development in Italy. Someone taking bets?

*******

Update #1: The Associated Press has just fed the defamation story to its client media outlets in the United States.

Update #2: The AP report has now gone viral. As of right now (2:00 pm New York time) Google is returning over 1500 hits. So the word is out: watch one’s tongue where Italian justice is concerned, or there may be consequences.

Update #3: Here is a safe bet based on some insider buzz. This development will make the US State Department and the American Embassy in Rome very happy. They have long wanted the sliming of Italy to stop.

Update #4: It sounds like it might make several million citizens of Seattle very happy too. They have long wanted the Mellases and Knoxes to simply stick to the truth - and address, you know, the hard evidence.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moved By Italian Justice: Doing The Very Best It Can For Meredith And Her Poor Family

Posted by Hopeful

Crestfallen and broken, Amanda and Raffaele react in visible distress in the latest courtroom photos.

Amanda looks sad, smitten, perplexed, astounded, with anger not far under the veneer, yet overall truly sorrowful for the first time in 2 years. Raffaele is weeping as the court denies more evidence do-overs. He feels the weight of this blow.

These two are probably guilty, but it still makes me sad to see what prison can do to human beings. Why, oh why, couldn’t they have let Meredith live and simply enjoy her sweet life? Mercy to her would have been multiplied back to them so very many times over.

I believe Prosecutor Mignini and his assistant, Mrs. Comodi, and all the Perugia homicide cops want to see JUSTICE done above all.

Surely they take no pleasure in the misery that native-son Sollecito is undergoing. They had to arrest him to redress a huge evil. I’m sure they regret the repercussions this has meant to his father, a fine medical doctor, an upstanding citizen of Italy. Despite this, and America’s loud outcries, they have proceeded.

I think the Italian police and prosecutors have acted with more intense caution and discretion in handling the evidence against Amanda because of her U.S. citizenship. I don’t think this is a case of two innocents being railroaded.

If the Italian police had wanted to score points politically, they could have closed the case after the arrest and conviction of Rudy Guede. The police saw undeniable proof to their practiced eyes that Amanda and Raffaele were very guilty.

And I don’t think forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni of the Polizia Scientifica in Rome is in the prosecution’s back pocket. I believe she acted in good faith. Patient and careful analysis of forensic lab samples requires real intelligence and excludes quick passion.

“To Be or Not To Be”. Methinks Amanda does look a little Danish.

It wasn’t fish blood or cat’s blood or pierced ear blood on their hands, it was the blood of honor. Meredith was defenseless in a foreign land. She was a great asset to her own family, to the Erasmus program, to Italy, and eventually to the world. She deserves the best efforts of her host country, and she’s receiving them here.

It now feels like justice is not only happening here - it’s convincingly SEEN to be happening. We all owed you this one, sweet Meredith. May you rest in peace.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Maybe Why Meredith’s House Was So Tough For Some Of The Police-Cars To Find?

Posted by Peter Quennell


Most of the police team seem to have made it with alacrity to 7 via della Pergola on the day after.

They have very fast cars and pretty good navigation. But one or two had to call in for directions.

This led to some ridicule among those who actually think that ridicule helps Amanda Knox.

Their fast route to the house is to head east up the hill from the Questura (if that is where they all came from). Then through Piazza Grimana by the School for Foreigners. And then down to via della Pergola, by way of the famous tee junction.

Click above for the route from Piazza Grimana down to the tee junction (the last several shots there are of the stone steps that Rudy ran up) and then click below for the street sign they would have encountered. 

Via della Pergola heads down to the LEFT here. The street sign says that via San Antonio begins to the RIGHT here.

And Meredith’s house is clearly off to the RIGHT.



Friday, July 03, 2009

The Trial Resumes: The Court Agenda For Friday, Saturday And Monday

Posted by Peter Quennell

On Friday and Saturday Raffaele Sollecito’s defense will interrogate several of the Carabinieri who will explain how they think the police made mistakes at the crime scene. 

And on Monday the forensic scientist Carlo Torre will testify for Amanda Knox’s defense team. Dr. Torre is one of the most prominent forensic scientists in Italy and some of those he has testified for have walked.

These witnesses may make a dent or they may not. It is common to have experts from within law enforcement who say, well, they would have done it another way.

Mr Torre may be more impressive but the forensics are only a fraction of the case and no-one else has undermined them so far.

And there is the endlessly confounding question hanging over Knox: who moved Meredith later - much later? 

A whole day of prosecution evidence on the final day was offered on this belated rearrangement of the crime scene.

It may leave Mr Torre pretty stuck for an answer.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Trial: Friday’s Testimony Bolsters The Prosecution’s Case

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]

Andrea Vogt now reporting for The Independent.

Upon arrival, the Kercher family quietly took seats in the courtroom behind their Florentine lawyers, Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna, who opened their case with two expert witnesses: a coroner, and a leading forensic geneticist from a Florence hospital.

Mr Maresca told the court that the expert witnesses “sustained the prior results and valuations of the coroner who performed the autopsy and the forensic evidence specialists who already testified”. He added: “And for the first time today, we also heard that the bruises on the victim’s hips were consistent with a sexually violent approach.”

Professor Gianaristide Norelli testified that the multiple lesions on Ms Kercher’s body were consistent with being held and attacked by more than one person. He said she died of suffocation and interpreted her stab wounds as having been inflicted as threats during a struggle. The wounds, mostly on the side of her neck, were possibly inflicted by two different knives, he said, but noted that one of the stab wounds was compatible with the alleged murder weapon.

Professor Francesca Torricelli told the court that she believed the samples of Mr Sollecito’s DNA found on Ms Kercher’s bra clasp was a significant enough amount that it was unlikely to have been left by contamination. She also sustained a previous forensic biologist’s findings that Ms Knox’s DNA was found on the handle and the victim’s on the blade.

Alessandra Rizzo reporting for the Associated Press:

Forensic expert Gianaristide Norelli, a witness called by the Kercher family, said the main cause of Kercher’s death was suffocation.

Court documents have said suffocation was caused by the hemorrhage following the neck wounds. But Norelli said suffocation was also aided “manually” by forcing the victim’s mouth and nose shut and by strangling her.

This, Norelli argued, showed a clear intent to kill, while the neck wounds may have been inflicted with the intent to scare or threaten the victim. He said that Kercher’s own movement may have inadvertently contributed to making the stab wounds deeper.

The wounds were compatible with a kitchen knife the prosecution says might have been the murder weapon, Norelli said. The knife, which was found at Sollecito’s house, has a 17-centimeter (6.69-inch) blade….

Prosecutors say Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the kitchen knife, and Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade. Francesca Torricelli, a DNA expert also called by the Kercher family, confirmed the findings of the prosecutors.

“I have no doubt” the traces are compatible, she told the court Friday. Torricelli also confirmed the prosecutors’ finding that DNA compatible with Sollecito’s had been found on the clasp of Kercher’s bra.

And an unnamed writer reporting for the Daily Sun.

The parents of Meredith Kercher “” Arline and John “” spent their first day in court yesterday under the unwavering stare of her alleged killer Amanda Knox.

One witness said: “It was very unusual. I’m not sure if she was looking for sympathy or trying to offer it, but Meredith’s parents never looked at her.”



[click for larger image, courtesy AP]


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Trial: About The Forthcoming Testimony Of The Kercher Family And Amanda Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Report by Ann Wise for ABC News

1. On the forthcoming testimony of the Kerchers

There will be a somber day in court when the family members of Meredith Kercher take the stand. Kercher’s mother, sister and one of her brothers will travel to Perugia from England on June 6 to testify in court, according to their lawyer, Francesco Maresca. They are civil plaintiffs in the case against Knox and Sollecito.

It is not clear what their testimony will be, but she may speak about the last time they spoke to Meredith, and her plans and state of mind that day.

2. And on Amanda Knox’s intention to testify

She is expected to take the stand for questioning June 12…

The prosecution did not ask to question Knox. The decision to take the stand was hers and that of her lawyers. Her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, will not be questioned.

The first questions will come from her lawyers, but then Knox can be cross-questioned by the prosecution, lawyers for the civil plaintiffs (the Kerchers and Lumumba) and the judge, Giancarlo Massei.

She can choose to interrupt the questioning at any time, or choose to answer certain questions and not others, but if you take the stand it is supposed you plan to answer the questions.

The only other time Knox has agreed to be questioned since her arrest - by prosecutor Giuliano Mignini in December 2007 - she broke down, according to court records, and refused to continue…

And in Italy, defendants are allowed to and even expected to lie. While witnesses have to swear tell the truth, defendants do not. It is assumed that if they are defending themselves they might not tell the whole truth, and will not be charged with perjury if they don’t.

Amanda Knox will testify in Italian, which she has been perfecting while waiting for court appearances.

2. Status Of The Court Reporting In English

This post and the previous one seems to be the only English-language reporting on this final session for the prosecution. Those reporters dont always travel to Perugia when court sessions are to be closed.

An Italian long weekend commences tomorrow (so no trial) and of course the Rome-based foreign reporters also work on many other stories.

They give a lot of caring, careful attention to Meredith’s case, but it is only a fraction of what they are required to cover. Italy generates a lot of news and it is considered interesting reading in many other countries.

A cable channel in New York broadcasts a half-hour of news in Italian from the state-owned channel every evening of the week. Segments on the case are routine.

This sure beats the American TV network coverage. We would presume that Italian-Americans are among the best-informed on the case in the US.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Trial: More On The Violent Crimes Unit’s Reconstruction Of The Violent, Prolonged Attack

Posted by Peter Quennell



Grim-faced expert witnesses from the Violent Crimes Unit in Rome enter court

1. Reconstruction Of The Attack On Meredith

Judge Massei closed the court for much of the time. No English-language reporters were there.

Nevertheless, reports in La Nazione and other Italian media described the reconstruction of the final attack on Meredith in the court with the aid of many photographs and graphics.

Giuseppe Codispoti, Director of the Analysis of Violent Crime Unit, said in his deposition that the evidence pointed to three subjects in addition to the victim being present in the room at the time.

The evidence included the many wounds on Meredith, the state of her clothing, and the locations and shapes of the bloodstains on the walls, the wardrobe, and the floor.

Wounds to Meredith’s right hand pointed to a desperate attempt to ward off one or several attackers with knives while she was being held by her other arm.

The director of the Violent Crime department, Edgardo Giobbi, told the court that when, on the day after the murder, he handed Knox (not yet a suspect) a pair of shoe covers before entering the apartment below hers, she swiveled her hips and said “oopla.” This attitude made him turn his “investigative attention” on her, he said.

This was dramatic and telling testimony, and for some in the courtroom apparently quite hard to take.

Below: One of the images used in their detailed reconstruction of the final frenzied act in Meredith’s bedroom that suggested three people had to be involved.




2. Prior Testimony That Relates

Judge Micheli summarized the same forensic evidence and concluded for purposes of convicting Rudy Guede and of sending Knox and Sollecito to trial that it did point to three people being involved.

Judge Micheli also concluded that, as part of a cover-up, Meredith was later moved from the location below (by the wardrobe and the window) to where she was found, several feet to the left (by the bed).

3. Defensive PR Reaction To This Tough Talk

In their attempt to ridicule and undermine this compelling evidence, CBS News (48 Hours) in their recent very slanted report repeatedly showed bizarre caricatures of this scene by an Italian cartoonist.

None were remotely correct. That was not, we think, CBS News’s finest hour. They have been very silent on it since.

The paid Candace Dempsey defense blog on the Seattle PI website took a shot at ridiculing the reconstruction image above.

Something rather incoherent to do with not being specific enough about the figures. But the image above was one of a number that the witnesses used.

As real crime experts in the field would all know, it was deliberately not more specific because it incorporated only the known hard evidence.

Contacts of ours in NYC associated with law enforcement are giving the reconstruction an A. It was a careful and clever bit of work.


Trial: La Nazione On Testimony About The Attack And What The Blood Traces Suggest

Posted by Peter Quennell


La Nazione is one of Perugia’s newspapers. Click above for their early report, in Italian.

1) On today’s testimony.on what the blood traces suggest

Before Meredith died, she struggled to free herself from the constraint of one of the attackers, and she brought her left hand up to her devastated neck after the fatal knife attack. This is the evidence proven by the bloodstains found on the hand of the English student and, in particular, her index finger.

This is one of the elements that helps to reconstruct the dynamics of the crime conducted by the forensics experts of the Violent Crime Unit to be presented in today’s depositions in their case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito accused of the murder and rape of their friend..

2) On the testimony scheduled to come next

The tight schedule of hearings ordered by the President of the Court, Giancarlo Massei, includes 5 and June 6 to hear the witnesses for the civil parties (lawyers Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna) who assist the victim’s family.

Testifying on the 5th should be the advisers (legal and medical forensic geneticist) while on the 6th it will be the turn of Meredith’s mother, Arline, and then her sister Stephanie and brother Lyle. They will talk about why she had chosen to study in Perugia, and the last telephone contacts before her murder.

On June 12th Amanda Knox is expected to be examined by her lawyers, Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova. The enigmatic Seattle student might still decide to escape the barrage of questions at the last minute.

On the 13th the first witness will be Patrick Lumumba, the civil party up against the American for libelous slander. And then the witnesses for the defenses will commence testifying.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Forensic Testimony: The Court Agenda For Friday And Saturday

Posted by Peter Quennell

Italian media are reporting that forensic evidence will probably again be the exclusive focus this week.

Giuseppe Codisposti and Piero Sbardella of the forensic team from Rome should testify on the second collection of evidence and the prints found on the pillow.

Both names also appear on the witness list of the Sollecito defense team, though it is possible they will appear just this one time and then be cross-examined.

An expert called Roberto Politti is also announced as a witness. He may be part of the same team, or he may be a biomedical expert of the same name in Italy who has published on the contamination of biological samples.

Italian commentary seems to suggest a general perception that the defense teams have not made very many dents so far in this key area of the evidence.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Trial: Court Hears Of Enormous Cruelty Of The Crime

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Nick Pisa’s report.

Dr Francesco Camana told the court: “From the blood pattern we can see that when Meredith was fatally knifed in the throat she was no more than 40cm from the floor.

“She was kneeling down facing the wardrobe, her face pressed almost to the floor, with her chest pushed forward and her legs behind her.”

 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/24/09 at 06:00 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedPolice and CSITrials 2008 & 2009Comments here (0)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trial: ABC’s End-Of-The-Day Report On Friday’s Forensic Testimony

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Patrizia Stefanoni prepares to testify, click for a larger image]

Ann Wise filed this report

1) On Amanda Knox’s DNA

[Stefanoni] said that in about 20 out of over 100 hundred samples taken from the crime scene she found Knox’s genetic profile, or DNA. This is not unusual since Knox lived in the cottage, but significantly, in a number of the samples Knox’s DNA was mixed with Kercher’s DNA.

Most of the mixed DNA from the two women was found in blood traces discovered in the bathroom. Stefanoni told the court that Knox’s DNA was found mixed with Kercher’s in a luminol-enhanced bare footprint in the hallway outside Kercher’s room,and in a luminol-enhanced spot found in the room of housemate Filomena Romanelli.

When the murder was discovered, Romanelli’s room appeared to have been broken into. Her window was shattered and a large rock was found on the floor. Nothing was stolen, however, and investigators accuse Knox and Sollecito of faking the break-in after murdering Knox.

In the small bathroom that Knox and Kercher shared, investigators found numerous spots of blood, including on the sink, the toilet, the bidet, the rug, the light-switch and the door jamb. Three of these blood stains one on the edge of the sink, the one on the drain of the bidet, and one on a Q-tip box - contained the mixed DNA of Kercher and Knox

2) On Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA

The DNA of Sollecito was found only in two samples out of the many taken in the house, one on a cigarette butt in the kitchen, and on the hook of Kercher’s bra, mixed with Kercher’s DNA.

Kercher’s bra was found on the floor in her room, soaked in blood and with the shoulder straps torn. The part of the bra with the hooks had been cut off. This fragment of the bra was taken into evidence a month after the crime when the forensic police returned to look for it and other items they had not taken the first time.

In the meantime, the crime scened had been searched and the house turned up-side down. Sollecito’s defense maintains that the late collection of the piece of bra and the earlier search of the house has contaminated that particular piece of evidence.

Under a sometimes-heated cross interrogation by the defense lawyers for both Knox and Sollecito, Stefanoni defended her methods and denied the crime scene had been contaminated.

Sollecito would have had to rub the bra hook forcefully for DNA from his skin cells to be on it, she said. Dead skin cells floating around the room do not contain DNA and would not stick, she said.



Friday, May 22, 2009

Trial: Patrizia Stefanoni Seen Here With One Of Her Teams

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]

These teams seem to professionals we know watching the case to be smart, efficient, and well-organized.

And large. The numbers involved in the various searches and analyses have been quite considerable.

They all arrived in Perugia from Rome of course. From the equivalent of Scotland Yard or the FBI.


Trial: The Morning Report By Sky New’s Nick Pisa

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the full story.

DNA from Meredith Kercher murder suspect Amanda Knox was found on the handle of a kitchen knife and Miss Kercher’s DNA was on the tip, a court has heard…

On Friday, forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni told the court how her team had recorded 460 biological traces at the crime scene.

Dr Stefanoni also said DNA traces were found on a black-handled kitchen knife recovered from Sollecito’s flat - which the court has been told is compatible with the murder weapon.

She showed photographs of the knife and pointed out the areas of the handle where Knox’s DNA was found, and the tip of the blade where Miss Kercher’s was found.

Dr Stefanoni told the court that blood tests on the knife had proved negative, and in earlier hearings the judge and jury were told that the knife had been cleaned.

DNA from Knox and Miss Kercher was also found in blood stains found in the bidet of the bathroom, the sink and on a box of cotton wool buds, the court heard.

Dr Stefanoni said the bloodstains were “slightly pink as if the result of being washed”....

The court heard how DNA from Sollecito was found on a metal clasp that had been cut away from Miss Kercher’s bra and which was found at the scene.

A blood stain found in the bedroom of flatmate Laura Romanelli was also found to have DNA from Knox and Miss Kercher.

That last line sure surprised us! But we think Nick Pisa may have intended to write Filomena Romanelli and not Laura Romanelli at that point.

Mixed-blood evidence found in either bedroom would appears to be very important new news, and even tougher for the defense teams than the mixed bathroom traces.

We remain grateful for Nick Pisa’s fast reports. The London Times, in contrast, has not posted any report on the trial for quite some time now.


Today’s Witness Patrizia Stefanoni Shakes Hands With Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

Posted by Peter Quennell

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Italian media have reported that the first part of Ms Stefanoni’s deposition was a sort of seminar on how to catalogue and collect forensic evidence and exhibits.

From La Nazione: “We use kits which are internationally recognized and marketed. This means that a researcher in Sydney, Australia, looking at the same tube would see the same outcome in terms of results of the DNA. For our investigation of the death of Meredith, two different special kits were used to analyze the DNA and other genetic traces.”

She then testified that 460 biological traces were collected and analyzed. And that 360-degree images of each room were taken in advance of each of the team’s search for more evidence. She excluded contamination by her operatives.

“In collecting traces of bloodstains, it is crucial for the operator not to come into contact with them, not to alter the scene, and to avoid being infected by bacteria or viruses. Therefore we use special gloves, boots, masks and coveralls.”

Ms Stefanoni’ found no biological evidence under Meredith’s short fingernails, which she found not unexpected as Meredith was apparently fighting off a knife attack and then down on her hands and knees.

It is perhaps worth recalling that Ms Stefanoni presented essentially the same evidence at the trial of Rudy Guede. Judge Micheli seems to have found it extremely credible, as it forms a large part of his report.

Judge Micheli then awarded Guede a term of 30 years in prison, and Prosecutor Mignini had only asked for 25.


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