The appeal of Amanda Knox’s murder conviction will continue through Saturday, then will break for ten days; afterwards, when returning, the final summing up by prosecution and defense will take place. A final verdict in an Italian Court of Appeals, by Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman, is slated for ruling around September 26th.
At issue is the crucial DNA evidence used to prosecute Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. The crux of an argument for setting these two free is that evidence collected during the original investigation wasn’t up to par, measured against international standards. Such conclusions are based on an independent review of DNA evidence.
The primary focus of this controversy is the knife (which is major in getting the conviction) confiscated from Raffaele Sollecito apartment back in the fall of 2007 (in Perugia, Italy). At the time, the prosecutors demonstrated that Knox’s DNA was present on the knife handle. Meredith Kercher’s DNA was detectable on the blade.
On Monday, one expert argued persuasively that the DNA on Kercher’s bra clasp was too mixed to make a clear identification. Carla Vecchiotti (one of the independent experts) said that since the data was so mixed, any number of genetic profiles could be extracted from the data. She added, only Meredith Kercher’s DNA was for certain (present on the bra clasp).
With regard to the shaky knife evidence, Carla Vecchiotti testified that it actually tested negative for blood. Moreover, (as shocking as it is) Carla mentioned the knife had not been cleaned, such as the prosecutors had originally asserted. Therefore, if the knife hadn’t been ‘thoroughly washed,’ and it had no traces of blood, how could it be the murder weapon?
Another argument against admitting the DNA evidence on the knife (specifically Kercher’s), is that the amount was so low, it could not be examined again to acquire any new conclusions. Naturally enough, Patrizia Stefanoni, the Italian state police forensic expert who originally conducted the DNA examination, made claims on Monday that her methods were professional and adhering to current standards.
This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve looked at this case with an eye for detail, and yet the evidence is no less confusing than it was in the first place. Intuitively, I’ve never really been convinced that Amanda had anything to do with Kercher’s murder. I’m not convinced either that the knife found at Raffaele’s apartment was the real murder weapon.
The bra clasp with mixed DNA on it should not have been introduced either. Carla Vecchiotti even says that some of the data was compatible with her own DNA. The collection of the bra clasp evidence at the original crime scene was very shoddy. This has been known from the outset, and has been pointed out in countless books, articles, and TV specials.
Simply on the basis of these two items (knife and bra clasp), two essential pieces of evidence used to get a conviction for Amanda and Raffaele, the Italian Court of Appeals should see fit to free these two students, who have already been in jail for nearly four years. And yet we are forced to once again take a close look at what happened to Meredith Kercher after a fun-filled Halloween celebration in Perugia.