Category: Greg Hampikian

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Appeal Session #3: The Carabinieri Labs Report On The DNA On The Knife

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above: an image of similar testing in the same Carabinieri laboratory in north Rome]

Final Update

So the court session does not even extend beyond the lunch hour. Good morning Seattle! At this moment it is still only 3:30 in the morning there. Only night owls will know what happened.

Yummi and Mason2 may have more for us, which will appear either here below this final update on in Comments.  Also Andrea Vogt and hopefully Barbie Nadeau will be filing longer reports in English. We will also check out all the Italian reporting.

Hard to see any game changers in today’s strong but undramatic testimony. The Carabinieri RIS DNA experts could not be shaken. All momentum remains with the prosecution and with the Supreme Court’s “givens” on the evidence, such as the presence of three attackers in Meredith’s room. 

The defenses seem to be giving up. They could have phoned it in. Sollecito lawyer Bongiorno didnt make any new fuss. And Amanda Knox lawyer Dalla Vedova was cut off by the lead judge several times, for trickily going off the point. He really is out of his depth in a criminal trial; at the same time often condescending.

And a seeming big slap in the face for the American defense stooge Greg Hampikian who seems to have illegally colluded with the disgraced Hellmann consultants Conti and Vecchiotti (who were not even mentioned today) when Judge Nencini asked Dr Barni “Would you be able to provide reliable standards without using suggestions from Americans?” Dr Barni responded “Of course”.

And Sollecito “wasted” his statement by whining about his life, showing no compassion for Meredith (despite his claimed visit to her grave), and not answering any of the dozens of open questions. Sollecito really needed to show he is both strong and compassionate and NOT a weakling under the thumb of Amanda - but he seems to have done quite the opposite. The family lawyer must not be too pleased.

Fifth Update

The opening of Frank Sforza’s trial in the same courthouse is postponed, apparently because new information on his campaign to poison opinion against the judiciary and his unsavory connections has been coming in.

Information will be exchanged that is gathered at this trial on mafiosos Luciano Aviello and at Aviello’s own trial for obstruction of justice which is now proceeding in the same Florence courthouse in parallel.

The findings and possible charges on the defamatory and dishonest books by Knox and Sollecito are due about now from the Florence and Bergamo prosecutors. Information gathered in those investigations could also be fed in to this process, or put aside for separate trials.

As both the AK and RS books are bulging with the standard PR talking points (some of which flowed from Frank Sforza and Doug Preston) in a sense it will be Curt Knox, the Mellases, Marriott, Sforza, Fischer and Moore who will be put under the microscope.

Fourth Update

A more detailed report on the DNA phase today from the Andrea Vogt website.

The RIS Wednesday deposited their forensic report on trace 36i, a spot of DNA identified (but not earlier tested) on the kitchen knife alleged to be the murder weapon. “Cento Percento” (100 percent) said Major Berti, discussing compatibility. The RIS found that the DNA was compatible with Amanda Knox, and excluded that it was that of Sollecito, Guede or Kercher. 

The RIS expert was asked only a few questions from attorneys and the judge. The judge asked why the RIS had done two amplications of the DNA and not 3 or 4. Major Berti described that two is considered the minimum number of amplifications necessary, according to today’s forensic standards, doing less (or more) might have diminished the reliability of the results. The judge also asked about the age of the equipment used. Berti responded that the forensic kit used this time has been commercialized since 2010 and available for use since 2011. 

At one point the judge stopped a line of questioning by Knox’s Rome attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova, who was asking why the RIS described Knox’s DNA as “fluids” when a prior expert had said the trace did not come from blood.  Nencini said: That question was not put to the RIS by this court, it was not their job to determine that. The other experts’ reports are in the case files for everyone to read, he noted, adding: “We cannot put words in the mouth of this expert that were said by another expert.”


Third Update

Tweets from our main poster Yummi (Machiavelli)

32. Judge Nencini’s comments were always addressed at Dalla Vedova’s arguments, who was in fact a bit silly

31. The Judge declared the evidence phase closed. Next court dates are 25 November for prosecution argument and 26 for the defences with 16 and 17 December.

30. Judge Nencini asked Dr Barni “would you be able to provide reliable standards without using suggestions from Americans?” Dr Barni: “of course”

29. Dalla Vedova said Tagliabracci was the only Italian source in the RIS report, all others are foreigners, emphasized the American labs…

28. Sollecito said his family absolutely never had issues with justice. And he is a proud ‘member’ of that family

27. He also played the ‘national’ card, as he remphasized ‘I am Italian’ twice and then addressed the court ‘I am an Italian, as you are’

26. Sollecito mentioned the defens’s arguments (he has an orthopedical issue with his foot etc.).

25. The questions of all parties to the experts were intended to elicit information to be used in arguing the unrelated previous finding

24. He mentioned Meredith’s name only once, to say he barely knew her.

23. Sollecito talked with a faint voice, a long speech in which he described himself as a victim.

22. The Carabinieri say that there are only a few governmental laboratories which have the 17025 certificate (the Carabinieri and the Police)

21. Nencini stops Dalla Vedova, points out that scientific community is international

20. Dalla Vedova tries to elicit that the good standards are not the Italian ones.

19. The RIS obtained the ISO9001 certificate in 2008, and a more specific certificate in 2012.

18. Bongiorno asks RIS to explain why two amplifications are recommended.

17. Prosecutor Crini asks if there are criteria to distinguish which labs or which experts are more competent.

16. Speaking about their software which allows to weight probabilities of attribution.

15. They note that three alleles which are ‘alien’ were drop off in one duplicate.

14. The biologic method has a ‘consensus’ interpretation and a ‘composite’ interpretation, two ways to interpret the double result.

13. They describe the methods employed, the ‘biologic’ method and the ‘statistic’ method.

12. Absence of any male trace stands out as a feature of the sample (all contributors are females)

11. They extracted two profiles in a duplicate in agreement with experts of all parties

10. Dr Berti says the sample was a low template. They have a strategy to obtain reliable results.

9. Points out that documentation says sample 36i comes from insertion of blade in the handle.

8. Dr. Berti summarizes the recovery of sample in Vecchiotti’s lab.

7. Bongiorno says Sollecito intends to release a spontaneous declaration. He will do that after the experts testimony.

6. Berti and Barni enter the court.

5. Many law students from the Florence school for Magistrates are in court to follow the hearing.

4. Sollecito had managed to enter the courtroom from side entrance eluding photographers. Carlo Torre arrives in court.

3. Giulia Bongiorno & Raff kiss each other. Giulia, Raff & Father have a worried discussion

2. I wonder… will the court withdraw his passport?

1. Raffaele Sollecito is in courtroom. Walking in empty room, few people waiting. Hearing will start 1/2h probably


Second Update

Tweets from Patricia Thomas (AP) and Sabina Castelfranco (AP)

Patricia Thomas “@MozzarellaMamma:  RaffaeleSollecito - Amanda Knox and I were very carefree and isolated in our love nest.

Sabina Castelfranco “@SCastelfranco:  Sollecito says he is not the assassin he has been described as. Says Amanda was his first love

Patricia Thomas “@MozzarellaMamma:  RaffaeleSollecito - I have been described as an assassin. Amanda Knox was my first real love in life

Patricia Thomas “@MozzarellaMamma:  RaffaeleSollecito takes stand to make statement, starts complaining about media descriptions of himself


First Update

Tweets from Barbie Nadeau

35. Nov 25 - prosecution; 26 - civil; Dec 16 - Sollectio; 17 - Knox; Jan 9 - rebuttals, 10 deliberation and verdict

34. Dec. 16, 17 closing arguments for Knox and Sollecito

33. Judge closes hearing for day, says closing arguments begin Nov 25, 26, must find December dates to conclude

32. Sollecito finishes by thanking judges for their time, judge tells him he can intervene any time during rest of appeal until they deliberate

31. Sollecito says he hates the fame, how it has hurt him, how it isn’t fair

20. Sollecito says he has a difficult time looking for work, people associate him with the murder of meredith kercher

29. Sollecito says that even on his vacation in Dominican Republic, he had to defend himself like a public figure, his life is judged by all

28. Sollecito repeats twice that he never met Rudy Guede, how nothing in original trial was based on reality.

27. Sollecito takes trip down memory lane, highlights worst parts of trial and incarceration for him, has not mentioned meredith kercher yet

26. RaffaeleSollecito - I feel a persecution. It is a nightmare, beyond all imagination.

25. RaffaeleSollecito—close to tears as he testifies to court “I am fighting every day to bring out the truth” 

24. Jury totally transfixed by sollecito declaration, can’t take their eyes off him

23. Sollecito thanks and defends his family, calls amand knox his first love

22. Judge asks for Sollecito declaration now

21. Judge asks about relevance of kit they used, how old technology was, etc.

20. Judge asks what minimum testing is for validation of DNA, RIS says “at least two”

19. Judge tells Dallavedova he cannot put words in mouth of new expert that were said by previous experts, this is fresh analysis

18. Judge clarifies that RIS was not asked to reanalyze work that has been done, but to test a sample that has not been tested.

17. Dallavedova essentially kicks goal into own net, not doing amanda knox any favors by making RIS defend methods used in original conviction

16. Dallavedova manages to get RIS expert to defend Italian methods, says they are in line with global standards, this was crux of 1st appeal

15. DallaVedova asks about international protocol, backfires slightly b/c RIS expert says he doesn’t want to dis italian methods, are valid too

14. Bongiorno hammers point that international standards in DNA must be followed ([claims]they were not for meredithkercher sample on tip of knife)

13. Jury in new appeal trial for amanda knox; sollecito look totally lost, lots of daydreaming during DNA testimony, nail biting, looking around

12. Bongiorno asks RIS expert specifics of amplification of sample with an eye to trace with meredith kercher DNA that was amplified many times

11. Prosecutor asking for clarification on how samples are tested, how RIS experts are qualified, etc.

10. RIS: DNA testing as important to exclude suspects as to confirm them, in this case no question that amandaknox DNA is on knife, others’ not

9. RIS: testifying about international standards necessary to validate DNA, how they used in their examination of this particular spot on knife

8. Sollecito listening attentively and jotting notes as RIS expert testifies about the knife

7. RIS: the spot they tested on the knife (near handle) matched definitively the DNA of amandaknox in double tests

6. RIS: the spot they tested on the knife did not match meredith kercher or rudy guede or sollecito after double testing

5. RIS: Experts tested spot “H” [?] on the knife (the spot near the handle) for both the victim meredith kercher and suspect

4. RIS: DNA analysis showed no x chromosome, i.e.: no male chromosome in sample they tested on knife

3. RIS: essential in DNA testing to double test samples to validate results

2. RIS expert: explains technical details of testing DNA, how much is needed, how it is tested

1. Judge says he wants to hear from RIS experts first and then sollecito can give his declaration


Initial Post

Well, that first shot from the court at the top sure is a surprise, and maybe bad news for Amanda Knox. Where are Sollecito’s other lawyers, Bongiorno and Maori? Presumably they are off to the side talking. .

In tweets Andrea Vogt has mentioned that she is reporting for the BBC and the Associated Press TV; reporters cannot have bigger clients or more global reach than with those two. This is from Andrea Vogt’s website.

Court is now in session. Day will begin with RIS forensic debates. Raffaele Sollecito will make a statement later in the day.

Sollecito arrived in the Florence court of appeals looking relaxed and ready to make his case before the court later in the day. His father, Francesco Sollecito, also appeared visibly happy to have his son back in arms reach, after an extended stay in the Caribbean. A large number of his friends were in the audience.

Forensic experts for the defense Walter Patumi, Carlo Torre and Sarah Gino were also in attendance in preparation for debate on the new DNA evidence tested by the RIS in Rome, specifically, trace 36i on the kitchen knife alleged to be the murder weapon. RIS say the DNA profile is that of Amanda Knox. Arguments today will mostly about how it might have gotten there, with prosecutors attempting to place it in the context of the murder and defense attorneys arguing it could have been transferred during normal domestic use of the utensil.

Next hearings are Nov. 25-26, with a verdict expected in mid-December.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why DNA Test Results 6 November May Leave No Further Argument Over Knox And Sollecito Guilt

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: an image of similar testing in the same Carabinieri laboratory in north Rome]


The official results of the tests by the Carabinieri laboratory will be made public by Judge Nencini in court on 6 November.

The report and attachments are reported to be more than 100 pages long. Andrea Vogt has already warned that no assumptions should be made yet that we know the full story. But already for the defenses, matters do not look pretty.

    1) It sounds like the result of the DNA near the top of the blade (see images below) shows conclusively that it is another sample of Knox’s DNA. Given where the sample came from it could be blood DNA and add further proof to the notion that Knox was injured while struggling with Meredith.

    2) The low-copy-number amplification technique used was almost identical to that used by Dr Stefanoni to prove that it was Meredith’s DNA on the blade of the knife - actually that was a larger sample. Judge Massei’s court accepted this, Judge Hellmann’s consultants tried very hard to undermine it, and the Supreme Court ruled that they did not even come close.

Earlier this year, our main poster Fly By Night in a post worth re-reading explained just how conclusively the results of that first testing pointed to both Meredith and Knox.

As is typical of all DNA analyses, Stefanoni proceeded to amplify the results to a point where an electropherogram would reveal meaningful “peaks” and found that a resultant 13 pairs of peaks corresponded precisely to peaks derived from a known sample of Meredith Kercher’s DNA!

In this case it is pointless to attempt to argue that Stefanoni somehow exceeded the amplification limits of her equipment. As outlined in the DNA discussion above, the typical problems associated with an amplification of low levels of DNA are related to peak imbalances, enhanced stutter, allele drop-outs, or allele drop-ins.

In this case there was nothing but a perfect match for Meredith that even Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti could not deny in court.

Stefanoni had clearly identified an identical match for Meredith’s DNA on the blade of Sollecito’s kitchen knife, leaving Vecchiotti and Conti no other option than to argue for “contamination” in court.

However, it was convincingly demonstrated by Stefanoni and all evidence handlers that from knife collection through laboratory analysis no reasonable opportunity for contamination with Meredith’s DNA existed.

Dr Stefanoni’s testing of all the DNA from the crime scene was done in front of some defense observers. Those who were there saw her do nothing wrong. Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Giuesppe Novelli, Professor Francesca Torricelli, Luciano Garofano, Elizabeth Johnson and Greg Hampikian have all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the knife.

It looks as if the prosecution has now achieved a clean sweep of all of the of DNA testing. Meredith’s DNA on the lower blade of the knife seems even more conclusively a firm given, and so does Knox’s on the upper blade and the handle.

We are where we were back in 2008 before trial, where other defense lawyers might have suggested to their clients to select a trial of the short form type - the same choice that will see a somewhat penitent Guede out on work release in two years, no more.

But instead, their clients could now be facing life sentences for that bad choice.


Image: looking along the blade toward the handle, both sides of the knife




Here is an image showing the I trace in the location described in the post with credit to Iodine of PMF and the Case Wiki




Monday, August 05, 2013

A New DNA Analysis Strongly Implicating Sollecito Seems to Have The Defense Forces Rattled

Posted by The Machine


F
[Above: DNA professional Professor David Balding; at bottom, DNA amateurs Barras and Halkides]


The Supreme Court has already shown strong disdain for the myriad dirty tricks of the defense forces, and legal action is building against them (see our post next week).

That the defense forces in this context attempt to put out even more misleading information seems a sure sign that their backs are to the wall, and that they will risk anything to again tilt the playing field. 

Colin Barras

“Software says Amanda Knox’s DNA wasn’t at crime scene”  This highly misleading header appeared above an article by Colin Barras on the New Scientist website last month.

It should be pointed out that Colin Barras isn’t a DNA expert. He has never been involved in a forensic investigation. He has never provided expert testimony in a court case. He is simply a freelance British science writer with degrees in geology, palaeobiology and palaentology - the palaentology of Jurassic sea urchins.

Barras explains in his article that Professor David Balding, a Professor of Statistical Genetics at University College London, has developed new software for interpreting Low Template DNA evidence.

This is true. However, Barras then goes on to make the following claim:

Using the software on data from Knox’s trial suggests that it was very unlikely that her DNA was at the crime scene.

In fact Professor Balding and his software suggested nothing of the sort. Professor Balding was referring specifically to an incomplete DNA profile on Meredith Kercher’s bra clasp which has never been at much issue.

He did not refer to all the other DNA evidence that was collected at the crime scene and presented as evidence in court.

It’s important to clarify what this crime scene actually is, because the defense forces of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito constantly move the goalposts in relation to this case depending on who they are talking about.

When they talk about the evidence against Knox and Sollecito, their version of the crime scene is strictly limited to Meredith’s room. When they discuss the evidence against Guede, their version of the crime scene includes other rooms in the cottage i.e. the other bathroom and the hallway. And when they discuss the collection of the DNA evidence, their version of the crime scene suddenly includes the flat downstairs, even though no crime was committed there.

According to Wikipedia “A crime scene is a location where a crime took place (or another location where evidence of the crime may be found), and comprises the area from which most of the physical evidence is retrieved by law enforcement personnel, crime scene investigators (CSIs) or in rare circumstances, forensic scientists.”

The Scientific Police from Rome and the Forensic Police from Perugia clearly regarded most of the cottage as a crime scene. The Forensic Police from Perugia catalogued potential evidence by placing letters and numbers in different rooms in the cottage. (The Massei report, p200).

The Scientific Police then collected DNA and forensic evidence from Meredith’s room, Amanda Knox’s room, the hallway, the kitchen, the blood-spattered bathroom, the other bathroom which was used by Filomena and Laura and Filomena’s room where the break-in was allegedly staged. That’s a total of seven rooms.

And the Scientific Police didn’t actually claim at the trial that the incomplete profile on the bra clasp belonged to Amanda Knox. It was Sollecito’s forensic expert Professor Vinci who claimed that Knox’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra. His findings were presented in court at Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial in 2008.

So Colin Barras has used a straw-man argument. He has completely ignored the six pieces of DNA evidence that place Amanda Knox at the crime scene on the night of the murder.

According to the prosecution’s experts, Amanda Knox’s blood was found mingled with Meredith’s blood in three places in the bathroom: on the ledge of the basin, on the bidet, and on a box of Q Tips cotton swabs.

Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s DNA was also found mixed together in a bare bloody footprint which was revealed by Luminol in the hallway and a mixture of Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s blood was also found on the floor in Filomena’s room.

Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of Sollecito’s kitchen knife and a number of forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Giuesppe Novelli, Professor Francesca Torricelli, Luciano Garofano, Greg Hampikian and Elizabeth Johnson - have all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade.

Dr Stefanoni analysed the traces on the knife six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. This means that contamination couldn’t have occurred in the laboratory. Meredith had never been to Sollecito’s apartment, so contamination away from the laboratory was impossible.

The knife is still in evidence and remains compelling evidence against Knox and Sollecito.

Ominously for Knox and Sollecito, the Supreme Court explained how DNA evidence should be assessed in court i.e. contamination must be proven with certainty not supposition.

The burden of proof is on the person who asserts contamination, not the person who denies it.

In other words, if the defence lawyers claim the DNA evidence was contaminated, they must describe the specific place and time where it could have plausibly occurred.

Nobody has ever proved that the bra clasp and knife evidence were contaminated and it’s difficult to see how the defence lawyers’s experts are going to do this at the new appeal.

Chris Halkides

Chris Halkides is one of Amanda Knox’s most effusive supporters. He has pontificated extensively about the case on his blog View from Wilimington and on other Internet websites.

On 30 July, he was finally prompted to post an interview with Professor Balding done some months previously. I suspect Halkides had been very keen to interview Professor Balding after reading Colin Barras’ article on the New Scientist website; but was holding back on posting it because it went against his own claims.

Indeed,  his interview has turned out to be quite a slap in the face for the Friends of Amanda and Colin Barras, because Professor Balding categorically described the DNA evidence against Sollecito to Halkidis as “strong”.

It’s worth summarising Professor Balding’s impressive academic record which for this case is topnotch, perhaps the best .

He is currently the Chair of Statistical Genetics at University College in London. He has a first-class honours degree and a PhD in Mathematics. And he has written many journal articles and co-authored a number of books on a range of topics.

This is apparently the whole of Chris Halkides’ interview with Professor Balding:

TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2013

An interview with David Balding

Part 36 in the Knox/Sollecito case

Professor David Balding recently published an analysis of the bra clasp DNA.  It may be helpful to explain some terms found in this article.  John Butler (Fundamentals of Forensic DNA Typing) defines the likelihood ratio (LR) as “The ratio of the probabilities of the same event under different hypotheses, and he explains that the prosecution’s hypothesis is usually the numerator, and the defense’s hypothesis is usually the denominator.  A ban is a unit of expressing the weight of evidence (WoE).  This scale is logarithmic; a likelihood ratio of three bans is equal to one thousand.  Some months ago Dr. Balding was kind enough to answer some of my questions about this work.

Does Raffaele Sollecito¹s DNA fall into the category of low template DNA, and if so, should two separate amplifications have been run?

There’s no strict definition of “low-template” but broadly yes the peaks associated with Sollecito are low (but not those associated with Kercher, they are high).  Conti-Vecchiotti discuss a threshold of 50 rfu below which a peak should not be relied on; in the UK, that threshold was used in the past but nowadays as techniques have improved the threshold is often lower, 25 or 30. 

However that doesn’t matter here as all the peaks associated with Sollecito are well above 50: there is a 65, a 70 and a 98, all the 26 other peaks are above 100.  So it is not extremely low template - many low-template cases are successfully prosecuted in the UK even when some peaks fall below the threshold and so are discounted.  In this case all the peaks associated with Sollecito seem clear and distinct so I think there can be no concern about the quality of the result as far as it concerns him or Kercher.

Replication is generally a good thing and is nowadays done in most cases in my experience, but not all - one problem is that replication splits the sample and so can increase the chance of not getting a usable result.  But although replication is desirable it is not essential.  (In a sense there already is replication, because each of the 15 loci is an independent test.) 

This is all a matter of weight of evidence, which Conti-Vecchiotti paid no attention to: if you measure the weight of evidence properly, that accounts for the extra assurance that comes from replication and gives a stronger result (or conversely gives a weaker result if there is not replication).  But because Sollecito is fully represented in the stain at 15 loci (we still only use 10 in the UK, so 15 is a lot), the evidence against him is strong even allowing for the additional uncertainty due to non-replication.

Are there contributors other than Raffaele Sollecito and Meredith Kercher to the autosomal profiles?  If so, how does the presence of this additional DNA affect the bra clasp as evidence?

Yes, Conti-Vecchiotti identified a further 12 above-threshold peaks at alleles that could not have come from Sollecito or Kercher.  They correctly criticised the scientific police for ignoring these: many do appear to be stutter peaks which are usually ignored, but 4 are not and definitely indicate DNA from another individual.  The extra peaks are all low, so the extra individuals contributed very little DNA.  That kind of extraneous DNA is routine in low-template work: our environment is covered with DNA from breath and touch, including a lot of fragmentary DNA from degraded cells that can show up in low-template analyses. 

There is virtually no crime sample that doesn’t have some environmental DNA on it, from individuals not directly involved in the crime.  This does create additional uncertainty in the analysis because of the extra ambiguity about the true profile of the contributor of interest, but as long as it is correctly allowed for in the analysis there is no problem - it is completely routine.

Are there contributors to the Y-STR profile other than Raffaele Sollecito?  If so, how does the presence of this DNA affect our interpretation of the bra clasp as evidence?

I haven’t looked closely at the Y evidence - there seems no need for it because the autosomal evidence is overwhelming for the presence of DNA from Sollecito.  But from a look at Conti-Vecchiotti, it seems to back up the conclusion from the autosomal profiles: Sollecito’s alleles are all represented and these generate the highest peaks, but there are some low peaks not attributable to him; so at least one of the additional contributors of low-level DNA to the sample was male.

The bra clasp was collected about 47 days after the murder, and it was found in a different location from where it was initially observed.  In the interim many people entered the cottage and items from her room were removed.  Are these concerns sufficient for the clasp to be excluded as evidence?

The only worry would be if somehow DNA from Sollecito was brought into the room and deposited on item 165B.  I don’t know enough about what happened to say if that was likely but I’d guess that people walking in and out of the room etc would be unlikely to do that.

The clasp was collected with gloves that were not clean, not with disposable tweezers (videos here and here).  The glove was handled by more than one person.  Are these concerns sufficient for the clasp to be excluded as evidence? If not, should the clasp be given less weight as evidence because of them?

Same comment - the only concern is if any of this could have transferred DNA from Sollecito onto item 165B.

Would you care to comment on the storage of the clasp after the forensic police tested it?

I know nothing about it.

Did you analyze the electronic data files?  Did you examine the laboratory¹s own protocols and machine logs?

I have only seen the epgs for the autosomal DNA profiles of 165B.  There is an unclear version of them in the Conti-Vecchiotti report, but Prof Vecchiotti kindly provided me with a clean set.

Did you examine the negative controls?

No

Fellow main poster Stilicho highlighted the most important conclusions from this interview on the PMF Forum where the quality of the DNA discussion is very informed.

The interview contains a few things that have been vigorously denied by the FOA:

The 50 RFU level is not sacred or inviolable.

It is improbable that Sollecito’s DNA got there by secondary transfer or by contamination.

The likelihood that the DNA on the bra clasp is Sollecito’s DNA is “overwhelming”.

...the interview doesn’t contain anything not already known to both sides but it contains several key elements that are not accepted by both sides.

Chris Halkides asked two-part leading questions and didn’t get the answers that would be needed to continue to falsely assert that Sollecito’s DNA is not abundant on the clasp or that, if it was there, it likely got there by some other route.

All the other inferences about environmental contamination are irrelevant to Balding’s main point: it is Sollecito’s DNA on that clasp and it didn’t get there by accident.

Final Thoughts

Some credit must go to Chris Halkides for finally posting the interview with Professor Balding even though it categorically said the DNA evidence against Sollecito is strong. I’m not sure he’ll be invited to any FOA events in the future.

Shame though on Colin Barras, for writing such a misleading article, and for using a straw man argument to highly misrepresent the DNA evidence against Amanda Knox which was then deliberately fed to the Italian media.

He completely ignored the six pieces of evidence that place her at the crime scene on the night of the murder. He also completely ignored the most important of Professor Balding’s findings.  ie that the DNA evidence against Sollecito is strong.

This finding implicates Knox and places her at the crime scene when Meredith was killed, and makes a mockery of Barras’s headline that suggested otherwise.


[Below: the wannabe crime-scene DNA experts Colin Barras, left, and Chris Halkides, right]


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ominous Development For Sollecito And Knox: A DNA Conviction Based On A Tiny Sample Of DNA

Posted by The Machine



[Burgess, image below, murdered Yolande Waddington and, above, Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams]


There is a HUGE dagger hanging over Sollecito and Knox. A UK case resolved this week indicates why.

New tests on the DNA sample on the large knife found in Sollecito’s house which the independent DNA experts refused to do, and the judges failed to re-order despite a strong prosecution request, could result in Knox and Sollecito being ultimately convicted and secure Knox’s extradition to serve out her term.

Lawyers consider it a dead certainty that the Supreme Court will order those tests -  that is if they dont throw out the entire Hellman/Zanetti judgment for illegal scope, or throw out the DNA report for illegally having been ordered in the first place.


(1) Summary of the UK case

David Burgess this week was convicted in Reading of murdering Yolande Waddington, 17, some 46 years after the crime was committed, thanks to all the advances in DNA technology. Back then, he was already convicted of killing Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams.

Burgess is the latest person in Britain to have been finally found guilty of murder years after his crime was committed. Nat Fraser, Gary Dobson and David Norris had been convicted of murder this year after evading justice for a number of years.

In September 2010, Thames Valley Police reviewed the case and with advances in DNA techniques finally gathered the evidence which resulted in Burgess being convicted of Yolande Waddington’s murder.

Forensic experts obtained a partial DNA profile from the blood samples using a new technique called MiniFiler. It differs from previous methods as it can obtain information from smaller pieces of DNA. This is ideal for older cases where samples have degraded over time.

According to the manufacturer’s website

[The MiniFiler kit] increases your ability to obtain DNA results from compromised samples that previously would have yielded limited or no genetic data. This means cold cases can come off the shelf for re-analysis and new, challenging samples have a better chance of delivering interpretable results.

When David Burgess attacked Yolande, he left blood on a number of Yolande’s items, including her hair band and comb. Tests showed the chances of the DNA found on the comb and hair band not being Burgess’s were not more than one in a billion.


[Below: David Burgess then and now who had taunted the police a year ago to “prove it”]




(2) Here are the implications for RS and AK

It puts the 46-day delay (caused by the defenses) in retrieving the bra clasp into perspective.

It’s not the first case of somebody being convicted of murder decades after the crime took place on the strength of DNA evidence. Ronald Castree was convicted of murdering Lesley Molseed 32 years later.

It also highlights the arrogant negligence of the DNA consultants Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti who had refused to carry out ordered test on the knife for flimsy reasons (“the technology is experimental” when it wasn’t) that no US or UK court would have accepted. They had been specifically instructed to do the tests if possible by Judge Hellmann.

At trial in 2009 it was accepted that Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen. There still is no argument about that.

And a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano - had all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade.

Even Greg Hampikian, a forensic expert who argues Knox is innocent, concedes that Meredith’s DNA was definitely found on the blade.

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti didn’t know that Dr Stefanoni analysed the traces on the knife a long six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. Contamination couldn’t possibly have occurred in the laboratory after so long a gap.

At the appeal, Professor Guiseppe Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories that now have the latest accepted technology to carry out a new test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The fact that Judge Hellmann denied the prosecution the opportunity to present evidence to the contrary was a violation of the procedure code. Italian law states the following:

If new evidence about a point is admitted, evidence a contrario proposed by the opposing party must always be admitted too.

Dr Giovanni Galati has now argued in his appeal to the Supreme Court that Judge Hellmann should have allowed a new test to be performed because the technology is NOT experimental but cutting edge. Summary here:

The second [point concerns] the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

As remarked at the top, if the entire judgment or the DNA report are not thrown out for illegal scope, Judge Hellman’s refusal to allow the prosecution’s request to allow a new test on the knife will be the main reason why his verdict will be revoked.

Under Italian law RS and AK still stand accused until the Supreme Court signs off. Anyone who is concerned with the truth and justice and what Meredith stood for and the good name of Italy will want to know whether the remaining DNA on the knife is Meredith’s.

If Meredith’s DNA is identified on the knife it should make conviction and extradition a slam dunk..


[Below: ViaDellaPergola’s video first posted 18 months ago and still relevant]