Friday, October 11, 2013

The Carabinieri Laboratories In North-Central Rome Where Now Two Different Samples Need Attribution

Posted by Peter Quennell

Third update

Italy-based freelance reporter Andrea Vogt has tweeted the following: Leaks suggest DNA on knife shows knox genetic profile, but there is another profile being studied. Too early to interpret

Second update

Excellent comment on PMF by the poster Hugo which explains how the balance hasn’t changed.

The song remains the same. The republic contends that Amanda Knox used that knife to murder Meredith Kercher. The knife has yielded the DNA of just two people: Knox, in a position which indicates that she was gripping it, and Meredith, in a position which indicates that she was stabbed with it.

The defence can easily claim that Knox’s trace results from normal culinary use (although Stefanoni said the handprint indicated an atypical stabbing grip, with the knuckles on the same side as the blunt edge of the blade, and not a normal culinary cutting grip, with the knuckles on the same side as the sharp edge).

The problem is Meredith’s DNA at the sharp end. ‘Independent court-appointed expert’ Carla Vecchiotti admitted on the stand that this could not have arisen from laboratory contamination.

Professor Christopher Halkides’ suggestion that the contamination occurred during collection, because Stefano Gubbiotti acquired Meredith’s ‘aerosol DNA’ on his clothing, when he was supposedly in the house the same day, almost a week after the murder, and thus transferred the DNA from his clothing to his fingers to his evidence-handling gloves to the knife when he took it from Finzi’s envelope and re-packaged it in a stationery box at the Questura, is self-evidently absurd, fanciful, fictional and completely outwith the realms of actual forensic science.

And it’s not in evidence anyway, so it’s not an option open to the court.

Plus the objection to low copy number DNA is an American superstition not recognised in Europe. Unusually, it’s a scientific area where the US lags well behind. So you get hillbillies like Bruce Budowle grumbling, ‘Cain’t rightly say what that there newfangled LCN is, but ah reckon ah’m agin it.’ You’ll recall that a British appeal court has found that Bruce Budowle hasn’t the faintest idea what he’s talking about and also that, like Halkides, he tends to cite sources that don’t actually say what he says they say.

Knox is there on the hilt of the knife. And M is there near the point of the blade, and she’s trying to tell us something.

First update

The gap between the blade and handle of the knife was apparently widened to obtain the sample for the test. Sollecito lawyer Maori has claimed it is Amanda Knox’s. It is apparently adjacent to her previous trace.

If that is the case, the strength of the DNA evidence (which is very strong) remains unchanged. Dr Stefanoni identified Exhibit 36 on the blade as a strong trace of Merediith’s DNA. This was supported by various experts.

No contamination of that trace has ever been proved - or even a convincing contamination scenario put forward - and the video on top of the post below shows how the DNA charts for the sample and for Meredith totally match.

First post

Human DNA is widely reported in Italy to have been established from the sample never before tested on the large knife.

We may have to wait on an announcement from Judge Nencini in Florence as to whose DNA it is. That may not happen today.

These labs in the Carabinieri barracks are not far from the center of Rome. They are very well know to Italians because (images at bottom) “RIS” the Italian version of the show “CSI” is set there.


Pete, having lived in Rome, a small correction. The RIS labs are about 2.5 hour walk north from the center of Rome, assuming center of Rome is piazza Venezia.

By car or bus it’s likely about 30 minute to 45 minute drive.

There is a Carabinieri barrack not far from piazza Venezia, but that’s not where these labs are at.

Posted by Marcello on 10/11/13 at 07:31 PM | #

Ah well nothing like heightening the tension. The Knox bunch must be pissing themselves with a mixture of hope and fear. Not us though since even without a definitive match there is so much more. However, if it is a positive match I wonder what the Knox bunch will try next? Just about anything I would think from the tests are wrong to invaders from outer space led by the evil Mignini. Sad but true. Perhaps Michelle Moore will enter a convent. Who knows? We will wait with fingers and toes crossed.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 10/11/13 at 07:37 PM | #

Hi Marcello

Are we getting something wrong? My business in Rome always seems to be to the east or the south or the west.

However Yummi has been sharing a lot with me about the Carabinieri barracks, take a look at the map below. The labs compound is just across the Tiber there.

From Wikipedia, the Rome RIS address is:  Caserma Salvo D’Acquisto, Viale di Tor di Quinto, 00191 Roma, which Google Earth shows as there. 

If you accept our definition of downtown (maybe not? yours is indeed a few minutes south) the distance seems to be about the same to the barracks as to the Vatican.

Click on the image for a larger version.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/11/13 at 08:40 PM | #

If the sample is collected from the region where the blade meets the handle, then it is most likely to be AK’s DNA.

The region collects lots of grime over time and is very difficult to clean because much goes within the grooves. From the picture posted by Ergon on, one can see that there was some attempt to clean this area specifically.

From the same picture, one can see that the cutting edge of the blade has some damage from 22cm to the tip. Some attempt was made to clean this are in particular (see the pics on

Whatever may be the outcome, it cannot alter the already established facts.

The amusing fact is that the machines are US made and the experimental protocols are supplied by the manufacturers. Of course the interpretation of the data is human, but it is there for all to see.

But the FoA always gets interesting brainwaves!

Posted by chami on 10/11/13 at 09:09 PM | #

Can the defense not just say, well of course her DNA is on the knife, she helped RS with the cooking?

Posted by believing on 10/11/13 at 09:37 PM | #

One of those images of the smaller knives that were taken from RS clearly shows blood on part of the handle. Who did this belong to?

Posted by distemper on 10/11/13 at 09:55 PM | #

Hi Believing. They have indeed said that, but for at least two reasons it doesnt really convince anyone.

1) See the Second Update in the post in which Hugo explains Knox’s print pattern. That would be unusual for someone cooking.

2) Meredith’s DNA was undeniably on the other end of the knife. That didnt result from cooking.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/11/13 at 10:52 PM | #

Dear Pete,
Your ‘downtown’ is the Parioli area which Romans likely would not consider ‘downtown’. ‘Downtown’ would be synonymous with ‘Centro Storico’, i.e. inside the Aurelian walls, with piazza Venezia being ‘centro citta’. It’s a 30 minute walk along via del Corso from piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia. I’ve walked from piazza Venezia to the stadio Olimpico and that is about a 90 minute walk. I’ve also walked from the Vatican to the Nomentana area and that’s 1.5 to 2 hours walk. The distance from your downtown to the RIS would be at least an hour’s walk.

Posted by Marcello on 10/11/13 at 11:27 PM | #

Hi Marcello. All agreed. Piazza Venezia is indeed the heart of downtown. Everywhere is a nice walk. My work (UN) was at Viale delle Terme di Caracalla and in departments of the Italian government. Also with the City of Rome. Civil service staff there are among the friendliest and most helpful in the world. And the way the city is lit up at night…

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/11/13 at 11:39 PM | #

I lived there from 1978-1982, as a high school student at Notre Dame International School, which closed in 1990. I’ve gone back many times. It is a great city, an architect’s dream. But it has its share of serious planning issues, and despite a very good bus system, traffic keeps getting worse. It needs more metro lines, but every time they break ground they find relics and that delays things considerably.

Posted by Marcello on 10/12/13 at 12:28 AM | #


” Leaks suggest DNA on knife shows #amandaknox genetic profile, but there is another profile being studied. Too early to interpret.”

Posted by True North on 10/12/13 at 12:47 AM | #

Andrea Vogt tweeted the following:

“Leaks suggest DNA on knife shows #amandaknox genetic profile, but there is another profile being studied. Too early to interpret.”

Posted by The Machine on 10/12/13 at 12:48 AM | #

Of course what would be brilliant is if the trace they’ve found contained the DNA of both Knox and Meredith, combined.

We found it in the crime scene, we might find it on the knife.

Posted by Spencer on 10/12/13 at 12:51 AM | #

Sharp eyes True North and Machine. Now Andrea Vogt’s important tweet is in the box at the top.

The leak saying the DNA was only Knox’s apparently came from defense lawyer Luca Maori. He has proved tricky more than once in the past. For example see here:

Maori seems to have been the one to emerge from a closed door hearing before Judge Mateini in 2008 and claimed Dr Mignini had said the motice was “satanic”. Then that went viral.

In fact Dr Mignini probably got the motive spot-on: a drug fuelled hazing, with sexual humiliation, that spiraled out of control.

If Knox and her team and family had been more on the ball, they would have realised he was offering a way forward which might not have resulted in Murder One.

Instead they chose to fight the prosecution all the way. And Maori’s client seems set to go down.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12/13 at 01:06 AM | #

“Another profile being studied. Too early to interpret.”

I wonder whether that’s code for the experts arguing furiously over an attribution? If that were the case then it would have to be Meredith. But I’m guessing. All will be revealed in due course.

Posted by James Raper on 10/12/13 at 01:51 AM | #

Thanks James

Yes, the tension must have been immense. And Meredith’s DNA (again) would fast-track the demise of the perps’ appeal.

Have you ever observed such things? Do all the observing experts sit primly behind the glass? I was a little startled that Maori was the one to announce.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12/13 at 02:06 AM | #

Hi Peter,1st post.Help me I’m confused.The results of DNA on the knife were to be presented on Nov 6th, and today defense lawyer Luca Maori leaked DNA result, surely this is a blatant breach of court protocol and should be punished, or am I wrong? One thing I do know is we are dealing with thoroughly despicable people who will stop at nothing to get AK and RS off

Posted by forres on 10/12/13 at 02:23 AM | #

Hi forres,

The technical report about DNA test result is to be deposited at the chancellery on Oct. 31 (so the whole can be considered public by that date).

On Nov 6th the court hearing is scheduled (6 days are to give time for the defence and parties to prepare themselves).

I can’t say that a leak by now is a breach of rules, as long as it’s something the defence experts are supposed to know.

If the RIS experts’ assessment - not just their results - was theoretically leaked before 31. Oct, that would be a breach of the rules on their part.

This is what happened with Vecchiotti and Conti: their assessments were leaked in advance.

Posted by Yummi on 10/12/13 at 02:44 AM | #

Thanks a lot Yummi. C&V leaked their assessment to the defense I believe?

News service Adnkronos has filed a report confirming that the testing is not yet over.  This case has seen surprise after surprise - but two untested samples of DNA on the knife?

One theory is that the target sample (36i) is the one not yet assigned (James Raper above suggests it could be the subject of an argument); and what was tested first was a smaller sample revealed only earlier today, up by the handle of the knife.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12/13 at 02:45 AM | #

Hi Yummi, thanks for the clarification about the DNA. I am starting to be disturbed again by whats happening in this case ,Candace Dempsey has already chimed in with a misleading comment,and I have a hunch this will be reported on CNN and ABC who, for some reason carry a torch for AK, they in turn will misinform their audience. Its deja vu and dirty tricks all over again

Posted by forres on 10/12/13 at 03:14 AM | #

I think sample 36I is a mixed profile. The main contributor was probably easy to identify as Knox’s profile. But it seems the RIS believe there was a second profile, a smaller amount, which they decided to submit to a further amplification process.

I don’t believe the results - whatever it will be - could be relevant to the trial evidentiary set. It’s not going to change nothing nor contribute to the evidence of the defendants guilt.

But I believe that the test results may well contribute to further discredit Vecchiotti. She refused to test a sample, argueing that the overall amount was only 5 picograms, and would be not just “unreliable” but above all too small to extract a profile. These can be shown to be obvious lies.

By the way, let’s quote a little passege from the Supreme Court sentence report (p. 65):

... a member of the panel of experts could not assume responsibility for unilaterally narrowing the scope of the mission, which was to be carried out without hesitation or reservation, in full intellectual honesty, giving a complete account of the possible insufficiency of the material or unreliability of the result. (...)


The hihligted part is mine.

The Supreme Court makes a remark about Conti and Vecchiotti’s “intellectual honesty”. This is an extremely strong comment, if you consider that it comes from a Supreme Court.

The Cassazione is not a fact-finding panel, they don’t write about their casual feelings. If they make any factual observation or comment this implies that there is some fact which they consider manifest, undisputable. That is, something obvious prima facie that anyone can see, that does not require a fact-finding by a judiciary organ to be noticed.

The High Court considers manifest and obvious that C&V’s contribution had issues of intellectual honesty.

Posted by Yummi on 10/12/13 at 03:36 AM | #

Just to clarify.

The trace they tested was close to the handle but there is still another trace as yet not tested?

The trace tested is revealed to be Knox’s DNA?

They are still examining the other trace?

Whilst I think I understand the protocols once the trial is under way i.e. not embarking on new tests without having the acquiescence of the defence and other parties, what I don’t understand is why the police don’t at the beginning upturn each and every stone in their investigation into a murder. 

So, by that token, why wasn’t the handle dismantled at the start and why is it that they are still not examining the handle?

Is Knox still in Seattle?

Posted by thundering on 10/12/13 at 03:36 AM | #

P.S. If Knox’s DNA is on the blade, I am perplexed. 

Why would anyone, even a murderer, hold a knife by its blade?

Posted by thundering on 10/12/13 at 03:38 AM | #

Thank you, Yummi. 

That’s helpful and SHAME to C&V.

Still, it would be much more satisfying if there were to be a clear DNA profile for Meredith in these new traces as that would really settle the matter. 

I am keen to see a clear and indisputable outcome so that the criminal nonsense is put to bed.  I suppose that is wishful thinking, though.

Posted by thundering on 10/12/13 at 03:43 AM | #

@ thundering

Why would anyone, even a murderer, hold a knife by its blade?

... To clean it?

Posted by Yummi on 10/12/13 at 03:59 AM | #

@ Yummi.

OK granted - but I never hold my kitchen knives by their blades when cleaning them ...... too afraid of cutting myself!  I hold the handle and then use the sponge or the cloth to firmly rub up and down under running water 😊

I suppose she was cleaning with grit and determination requiring a firm handle on the blade.

Posted by thundering on 10/12/13 at 04:15 AM | #

Hi Thundering

I think the thread has become a little confused. We cannot be too sure yet where the DNA traces are from.

I said above that it seemed beforehand 36I was in a groove on the blade; then Italian media reported that where the blade enters the handle was opened up.

James said Andrea’s tweet could be explained if there was just one sample but disputed.

Yummi also said there could be just one sample but of mixed DNA.

My guess is this could clear up fast, even tomorrow, if someone (other than Maori!) leaks.

Otherwise, as Yummi warned, we may have to wait to the end of October or even 6 November to find out. I think we can relax; its the defenses in the hot seat here.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12/13 at 05:06 AM | #

Hi forres.

You express concern about dirty tricks on the rise again and ABC and CNN slanting the news some more.

However, dirty tricks seem only to have landed the defenses in a ton of trouble so far, and as we’ve been reporting, Italian officialdom has started pushing back against ABC and CNN and much worse cases of slanting on sites like Ground Report.

Trials in Italy have begun or are expected and the Italian justice system has lawyers here now. Stay tuned. This will work out right.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12/13 at 05:14 AM | #

Hi Peter.

OK noted.

Posted by thundering on 10/12/13 at 06:44 AM | #

“Otherwise, as Yummi warned, we may have to wait to the end of October or even 6 November to find out.”

No matter how long the wait, as long as the truth is revealed, it is worth it.  Speculation only hurts.  Strength to the Kerchers.

Posted by zinnia on 10/12/13 at 09:45 AM | #

For consideration.
One imagines that Sollecito and Knox would have had to conceal the knife returning to RSs flat. If Knox had used a handbag there is a possibility of DNA transfer to the blade.

Posted by starsdad on 10/12/13 at 11:42 AM | #

@ seekingunderstanding my question is why didnt they get rid of this knife. They got rid of everything else. Perhaps seekingunderstanding could answer this question for me please.

Posted by Mason2. on 10/12/13 at 12:42 PM | #

@mason2. Hello
I was wondering about this a couple of days ago. Of course this has to be speculative, I’m sure you understand :

The knife is quite large. It obviously can be aligned to the crime. I think whoever used it would carry a huge burden of guilt . One response to such unbearable guilt is a form of denial that pretends everything is ‘normal’.
It would be seen as a ‘normal’ thing to do to place it ‘back’ in a ‘normal’ place, and try and pretend nothing had happened.

The other consideration is more calculating, and consistent with efforts to manipulate evidence. Where could it have been got rid of to? Because of its size, its retrieval would be likely. (After all, when the assertion came of Aviello’s brother etc - the proof would have been finding the allegedly buried knife).
I expect they knew it would be looked for, and reckoned it would look less suspicious to leave it there.
Also were confident of their scrubbing clean ( it does look like a steel scourer has been on it). The guilty can try very hard to remove traces that may remind them of the guilt they don’t want to feel.
I personally feel AK’s reaction at the knife drawer in the cottage is very significant. It can’t have been feigned.
Hope that helps.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/12/13 at 02:26 PM | #

@ seekingunderstanding

You may be looking too far in to this. It was their ‘property’

Posted by starsdad on 10/12/13 at 02:32 PM | #

Yes, it was their property that would have been hard to permanently conceal.
Unconscious motives don’t usually operate ‘either-or’ to the more conscious rationalizing self. They seem to be more of an ‘over layering ’ or perhaps under layer, too.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/12/13 at 02:51 PM | #

This was discussed at some length on PMF.

The knife belonged to the owner of the flat Raffaele was renting.

The thinking was that he would have to account for it as part of the inventory and he was about to leave Perugia. 

If they had bought a new one to replace that one it would have been spotted so soon after the murder and the knife’s absence would also have been spotted ..........

Posted by thundering on 10/12/13 at 02:55 PM | #


Or might it simply be that the knife came with Sollicito’s apartment and was part of the inventory? Hence it would have to be replaced….....

Posted by Miles on 10/12/13 at 02:57 PM | # that would be the reasoning.
There are other indications, in other behaviour, of the two self-consciously ‘being normal’ in the days afterwards…

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/12/13 at 03:26 PM | #

I might be off the pace here but why is there seemingly some small jubilation amongst Knoxoholics that the new sample is rumoured not to be Meredith’s? Surely the Massei report confirmed Meredith’s DNA was on the tip of the blade and no contamination was proven ipso facto this was likely the murder weapon (and thus RS’s pathetic lie as to how the DNA got there).

Is it just that the Knox entourage are so desperate about the likely outcome in Florence that any finding which is not as bad as it could have been is occasion for great relief and joy?

The victim’s DNA was on the defendant’s knife, m’lud. I rest my case.

Posted by Odysseus on 10/12/13 at 03:42 PM | #

I think, it is just a thought only at this time…

AK mentioned about the garbage. I think most of the stuff were disposed off in the garbage bin and they wanted to make sure that the external garbage bin has been cleared BEFORE the body is discovered.

Few clothes and a pair of shoes will never be noticed if they are nicely packed in trash bags. A big kitchen knife may cut the plastic and come out and be noticed.

Just a random idea but she was thinking about the garbage and I consider this significant.

Posted by chami on 10/12/13 at 03:46 PM | #

On the other hand are we giving these two too much credit?

I remember a film a while ago called ‘Blood Simple’ which was based on an actual on going psychological event. That of being panicked to the point of trying to cover everything but forgetting a host of minor clues.

If you consider how they both tried to wipe down the entire room after covering Meredith with the duvet (psychological clue) but still missed important points such as the lamp and the the footprints, break-in, blood droplets etc: then the knife, although important and concentrated upon to a great degree, still wasn’t clean enough because by this time they were both exhausted (See picture of them both next morning.)

No! there’s just too much for them to get rid of. (Clothes, phones for example, Phone calls to the US in the middle of the night, computer not turned on, obvious lies, Quintavalle, stolen money, 3 second calls the Meredith’s phone.)

They cleaned the knife at Sollecitos apartment. (Water Leak and Knox waiting for the store to open first thing in which in itself raises a red flag) The knife must have been last because of the smell of bleach and is just another example of them screwing up. Point being if it had been a simple burglary gone bad (Avielo and his brother etc:) there would have been no attempt at a cover up/clean up.

Each clue by itself is easily explained away which is what the P/R effort is all about, but if you take all of this in it’s entirety then there is no doubt who did this. Knox and Sollecito are guilty of the rape torture and murder of Meredith kercher.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 10/12/13 at 03:55 PM | #

Yes, chami, good and simple point.
Also agree with the gist of Grahame above…there was an awful lot to think about in a short time no doubt extremely tired.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/12/13 at 04:11 PM | #

@ seekingunderstanding you make a very good point of being in denial and trying to make things look normal. Put the knife back in it’s normal place.

I wondered if they kept it as a souvenir.

Posted by Mason2. on 10/12/13 at 05:15 PM | #

The knife was in the inventory list. They could get rid of it if they could replace it with an almost identical one.
Maybe if they went to buy a new one they might be spotted and this could be even more suspicious.
Anyway the question is rather pointless. We don’t know if the knife was the murder weapon. What role it played exactly. We can easilly guess they might well just have believed it was clean and it would be impossible to detect anything.
I recall that while Knox said she was worried about the Knife and Sollecito basically admitted to the presence of Kercher’s DNA by making up a disgusting “hand pricking story”, Sollecito also was particularly worried about potential Meredith’s DNA that could be found on the “rags” he had in his kitchen.

Posted by Yummi on 10/12/13 at 05:46 PM | #

@Grahame Rhodes

I think they (AK) cleaned the knife mostly clean in the small bathroom itself. But they were worried and tried to clean thoroughly with some scrubber (steel wool, most likely) that left some mark on the blade. The second job was done in the RS house.

I do not know whether the police inspected the “trap”, the “U” shaped pipe (it is simply a plastic pipe in old installations but modern sinks use a metal part) where heavy items dropped in the sink goes and stays. In the RS flat, this was removed and cleaned and fitted back by AK and RS. How convenient!


It is impossible to explain the presence of MK’s DNA on the blade halfway along the length- unless it is the murder weapon. At least one of the murder weapons. Any test done now does not, or cannot, invalidate the earlier result or finding. This is an independent experiment and the results are independent.

Page 120, Follain wrote “As Mignini showed the young women the knives, Amanda suddenly started to sob”. This is not a proof but just a correlation between Amanda and her knives! Why she was worried about the knife?

Too many hanging ends.

Posted by chami on 10/12/13 at 06:50 PM | #

Regarding AKs and RSs state of mind in the aftermath of the murder. I have come to the conclusion that Knox did not flush the toilet that Guede had used because of an over-occupied mind. She must have seen it was soiled but had more important things to do and worry about.

Posted by starsdad on 10/12/13 at 09:34 PM | #

Hi starsdad, regarding your theory that Knox did not flush the toilet because she was over occupied is I think dubious. My theory is that Knox left the feces intentionally to implicate Guede, she must have been thinking DNA would be extracted, so   think it was very deliberate and calculating

Posted by forres on 10/13/13 at 02:26 AM | #

DNA testing. Based on reflection about the opening of the gap between the handle and the blade, and what Andrea Vogt tweeted about a mixed trace, this excellent post by the Machine on mixed traces and its source documents might be worth a read - with apologies if next week a mixed trace is not revealed.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/13/13 at 03:59 PM | #

New photo of the knife posted here and my analysis here

Posted by Ergon on 10/14/13 at 08:17 PM | #

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