Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Twelfth Appeal Session: Prosecution Start To Undermine The Independent Experts’ More Tenuous Claims

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Above: Dr Stefanoni head of the Scientific Police’s Rome DNA labs with her prosecution interrogator Ms Comodi]

Monday’s Italian reporting suggests that Dr Stefanoni is coming across as highly competent and very objective.

Her team’s DNA handling and testing seems to have cut no corners. Her testimony will spill over into Tuesday.  The AGI News Service describes Dr Stefanoni on Monday running through her procedures and precuaions and denying that contamination could have taken place.

She hit point by point on all the complaints made by the consultants of the Assize Court of Appeal at Perugia about the police work in the context of scientific investigations into the murder of Meredith Kercher. She strongly defended the specialist work done by her laboratory. Stefanoni has categorically ruled out a possible contamination of the findings, pointing out that “the contamination is not ‘a thing that comes out of something abstract.”

The expert then recalled that the DNA of each operator that operates within the laboratories of the scientific police is ‘duly filed and that any possibility of contamination, whether by a person or from sample to sample, is tested on a regular basis. Dr Stefanoni also described how the “wet samples” collected on the first day of the murder investigation were kept in the refrigerator of the house and then brought to Rome.

And La Nazione in describing the same testimony adds that the defenses are taking quite a gamble in their all-or-nothing approach where a full acquittal seems increasingly unlikely and where the prosecution are asking for tougher sentences for Knox and Sollecito based on a waiver of Judge Massei’s mitigating circumstances.

The huge volume of evidence not being re-examined in the current appeal (about 95% of all evidence including a majority of the forensic evidence) is highlighted in many of the reports. Rudy Guede’s direct accusation of Knox and Sollecito to their faces in one appeal session is also recalled.

No mention of the position of the no-nonsense Supreme Court of Cassation position but that gorilla has to loom large in Judge Hellman’s mind. Judge Hellman does not have the final word on this appeal in Italian law, and a final outcome may take another 18 months. And if there is any funny business suspected, appeals can always be made to Cassation instantly.

In light of these two circumstances, the defense teams are still much more pussyfooting in Italian in the appeal court than the shrill PR claims in English-language media, while still not making the smartest move in Italian courts when defendants seem cooked and evoking some sympathy for them.

Knox’s best chances seem to be falling between those two stools.


Over on PMF it was suggested yesterday (the poster said it was from trusted sources who had always proved correct on previous occasions that the outcome of this appeal phase would be that the verdict would be upheld but that the length of the sentences would be reduced.

Posted by thundering on 09/06/11 at 04:59 PM | #

Hello Thundering
      Although in my opinion they are both equally guilty I am also of the opinion, given
Guilia Buongiorno political ambitions, that she would prefer to get Sollecito off, or at the very least a reduced sentence. Therefore if the jury gets it right and Sollecito is seen as just a dupe. Then the poster on PMF may be right. With any luck if Sollecito’s sentence is reduced then the amount will be tacked onto Knox’s.

There is so much stupidity and downright lies on the news right now. Even CNN could not get that the murder weapon belonged to Sollecito but said it belonged in Knox’s cottage kitchen drawer.

Also thank you Peter for the uplifting post.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 09/06/11 at 05:47 PM | #

Thanks, first, to Peter for all he does here.  It’s important.

I’ve just come across a TV snippet (ABC) in which a columnist being interviewed has accused the Italian court of having “crucified an innocent” Amanda Knox.

News as propaganda: we should be used to that by now but it is nonetheless galling.

On thundering’s comment:
I could see Sollecito’s sentence being reduced because his motives & participation were secondary, but Amanda’s incentives were primary.  Can this be overlooked, say on the strength of her age?

But if so, let it be. What’s crucial is that Amanda is judged to be guilty of a senseless vicious murder, following the planned rape of a roommate whom she had no reason to hate or injure. Whether sociopath or psychopath, we see her as a morally disfigured human being.  And that mask she has fastened to her own face.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 09/06/11 at 06:03 PM | #

Thanks Peter for the update,

I’ve been hoping that Stefanoni would defend her methods admirably and I’m glad it looks like she is.  I’m one of those people who still cling to the hope that their sentences may actually stand, or even increase, especially considering all the recent bribery and Rudy’s fingering of them, and now with Stefanoni successfully defending the DNA taken from (at least the) knife, I remain hopeful.

Posted by Spencer on 09/06/11 at 07:56 PM | #

Ernest, I agree with everything you said. Except Sollecito’s sentence should not be reduced. He participated fully, probably making the two smaller wounds; covered up the crime; and protected the prime mover Knox.

ABC’s coverage is dismal, disgusting, and totally predictable, for an organization run with only the bottom-line (and “an exclusive with the crucified Amanda”) in mind.

Thanks, Pete, for being a force for truth and justice out there in the world.

Posted by Earthling on 09/06/11 at 08:05 PM | #

By the by, this CNN report isn’t bad:


They still made a mistake in the video about the knife, saying (as did ABC) that the difficulty was with Amanda’s DNA on the knife, when it is actually Meredith’s DNA that is being questioned.

However, the text part of that page is relatively unbiased and informative, compared to most of the English (American) media, anyway.

They do need to figure out that Vecchiotti is a woman, however. (“Carla” is an English feminine name as well, ‘kay, folks? LOL)

Posted by Earthling on 09/06/11 at 08:18 PM | #

I say go Dr.Stefanoni. Science evidence completely meshes with the logical evidence (for example the cell phone evidence). Together they expose the lies, inconsistant stories, weak attempts at covering their tracks, blaming others, and the lone wolf theory. Thank you Peter for the post, additionally I admire the comments of Earthling and Ernest, cheers to all.

Posted by friar fudd on 09/06/11 at 08:23 PM | #

I hear a female voice running through a few arpeggios…....must be the fat lady preparing for a performance.

Posted by Smacker on 09/06/11 at 08:56 PM | #

I hear a female voice running through a few arpeggios…....must be the fat lady preparing for a performance.

Posted by Smacker on 09/06/11 at 09:22 PM | #

Today was definetely a good day for the prosecution: http://bit.ly/nEg0pE

Posted by willsavive on 09/06/11 at 10:55 PM | #

Dear Matteo
        As they say in Australia “No worries”
Don’t forget that, and as Peter has pointed out, a vast majority of the evidence has not been questioned by the defense. What they are doing is a vast gamble and I believe they are playing to the family of Knox by not telling them the truth. A case in point was Knox’s lawyer telling Edda Mellas that the DNA evidence would never make it into court which was echoed by Janet Huff, Knox’s aunt who in turn told the Seattle News. This is how things get taken out of context. So to quote an old English saying this time. “Be of good cheer and keep your pecker up”

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 09/07/11 at 12:04 AM | #

@willsavive - That’s a very nice summary. Thanks.

The defence may be able to raise questions about 1-2 pieces of DNA evidence, but they will never succeed in discrediting in general the procedures of the national forensics lab in front of an Italian jury.

I’ve read that sentences are often reduced on appeal in Italy, but to me that almost doesn’t matter. What matters is placing guilt where it belongs and limiting the ability of the guilty to profit from Meredith’s murder.

Posted by brmull on 09/07/11 at 12:46 AM | #

Thank you for this clear confirmation of what we all already know. Dr Stefanoni is an excellent scientist and her team have done a thorough job - nothing was contaminated. Knox is clearly guilty. I sincerely hope that on September 26th, Judge Hellman takes the right and proper course, and confirms the convictions (hopefully he will increase the sentences for these two evil killers - Knox and Sollecito)

Posted by proud-american on 09/07/11 at 01:35 AM | #

Once and still Barbie Latza Nadeau was and is in the section ’ Best Reporting’ on this website.
Yesterday I heard her saying in an television interview: ” I’ve been probably too hard on her (ak)”
Now I read in The Daily Beast article about ” the court in Italy and the court of public opinion”. Who would that be?

Here we say: ” Barbietje, Barbietje, . . . .” (while shaking our head)

Posted by Helder Licht on 09/07/11 at 01:49 AM | #

Kudos to the prosecution and Dr. Stefanoni. I will say, Dr. Novelli also. But if there was one person who may have turned this case around, it was Stephanie Kercher.

She reminded us, that the family is still asking for justice. Let’s see if the court delivers.

Posted by Ergon on 09/07/11 at 03:55 AM | #

Hi.  yes, I agree with Ernest’s comment about guilt being placed where it should be.  Although the more revengeful side of me would like to see the increase in sentence requested by the prosecution, I personally think that is unrealistic - I’ve never heard of such a thing.  That the sentences remain as they are would be best but I suspect that there may well be a reduction given that Italy has a reputation for reducing sentences on appeal.  However, if the convictions are upheld that is the main thing.

Posted by thundering on 09/07/11 at 04:52 AM | #

Thanks Brmull!

Once again, CNN’s coverage of the case today was abominable! Sunny Hostin was on CNN today talking about the case (Sunny is a contributor for truTV’s IN SESSION and serves as a legal analyst). She said that she has been following this case closely for sometime, yet, she frequently looked down at her notes to recite basic details of the case. Moreover, she said that the two pieces of DNA evidence (bra clasp and knife) were the only pieces of DNA evidence against Knox and Sollecito. She has been parading around on TV shows, such as EXTRA saying “There’s no question about it [Knox will be set free].” These people will do anything (i.e. twist the story anyway they can) to get ratings!

Posted by willsavive on 09/07/11 at 06:43 AM | #

Much appreciate the dialogue which goes on here & yes, Earthling makes a good point.

This kind of dialogue refashions & purifies the contemporary ethic & helps define the quality of the human spirit.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 09/07/11 at 09:31 AM | #

When Aviello was brought in by the defense, we all called him a turncoat in advance.
He turned out to be the lyer we did foresee.

Now the prosecution wants to recall him to the stand and BLN is getting sarcastic, calling him a turncoat, a lyer, in which she suggests he’s not suitable to be recalled.

She is compensating a lot for having too hard (sic)  on Knox. In the meantime she ‘s advertising her book.

She’s getting more and more Moore, the harsh camp.
Balancing for being in a winning (?) team.

After all she is a journalist in the first place.
We are seekers for true justice.

Thnx Ernest: indeed there’s a lot of defining the quality of the human spirit.

Posted by Helder Licht on 09/07/11 at 02:14 PM | #

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