Newcomers to this blog are advised to begin with the first two posts, Just the Facts, Ma'am and Case Solved, which explain in very general terms why I believe I've solved this case. Some important questions are answered in the following post, Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, Misdirections. After that feel free to browse whatever topics might interest you (see blog archive).

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Another DNA Case: Amanda Knox

As is by now well known, Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were once again found guilty in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox's flat mate in Perugia, Italy. There are some interesting resonances between this case and the Ramsey case which are, imo, worth discussing here. The case is far too complex to get into in any detail in a blog post, but for those interested in digging deeper, a fairly detailed summary is provided on Wikipedia. It's a complicated case for sure, and not easy to get a handle on.

In both cases, DNA has played a significant role. And, in this regard especially, one sheds light on the other. To cut to the chase, much of the case against Knox and Sollecito hinges on the interpretation of DNA evidence found both at the scene of the crime and at Sollecito's apartment. At the scene of the crime we find the DNA of the victim's attacker. This evidence was traced, not to either Knox or Sollecito, but to a man named Rudy Guede, an individual with a criminal history, who only a week before had been arrested for breaking into a nursery school, carrying an 11 inch knife.

Guede claimed he'd been let into the flat by Kercher and had been in close contact with her as they kissed and petted. He denied harming her, claiming she'd been attacked by an intruder while he was in the bathroom. Unfortunately for him, his bloody palm print had been found on a pillow underneath the body of the victim, a piece of obviously incriminating evidence that resulted in his conviction for murder. End of case, you say? Not quite, because, after initially denying that either Knox or Sollecito were present at that time, he later changed his story to place them at the scene. Not long after their initial conviction, his sentence was drastically reduced, suggesting that this could have been his reward for "cooperating" with the authorities.

Nota Bene: In both the Kercher and Ramsey cases, it was alleged that DNA found on the victim was that of her attacker. However, in the Kercher case there was abundant DNA found all over the scene, not just some miniscule traces requiring highly specialized and sophisticated methods to retrieve. Guede left not only his DNA, but also his fingerprints, the bloody palm print and also his shoe prints. If JonBenet had been attacked by an intruder, this is the sort of evidence we would have expected to find, not just in microscopic traces, but, as in the Kercher attack, all over the place. Of course, any DNA or other evidence left on the scene by JonBenet's father could easily be dismissed, since he was known to have been in close contact with her prior to the attack. And he was, as we know, the one who discovered her body and carried it upstairs. So anything traceable to him could be explained away as "perfectly innocent."

Significantly no trace of anything that could be associated with Amanda Knox was found at the crime scene, no fingerprints or footprints, no fiber evidence, no DNA. According to the Wikipedia account, "The prosecutors advanced a single piece of forensic evidence linking Sollecito to Kercher's bedroom, a DNA fragment (Sollecito's Y chromosome) detected during analysis of Kercher's bra clasp, which had been cut from the strap." Unfortunately for the prosecution, the bra clasp in question had been ignored for a long time and when finally examined, handled with a "dirty glove." As in the Ramsey case, this DNA was miniscule, in fact a single Y chromosome. His lawyers pointed to the lack of any other traces of Sollecito's DNA anywhere else on the bra or anywhere else on the crime scene generally, very logically suggesting contamination.

The other DNA evidence was allegedly sitting on a kitchen knife found in Sollecito's apartment. Apparently a trace of Kercher's DNA was found on the blade. And Knox's DNA was discovered on the handle. NB: what was reportedly found on the blade of that knife was a trace of DNA, NOT blood, just DNA. If Kercher's blood had been found on that knife, that would have been powerful evidence indeed. But a trace of DNA? Again, as in the Ramsey case, such a trace could mean almost anything. Since Knox lived in the same building with Kercher and they had been friendly, it's not difficult to see how some traces of Kercher's DNA could have been innocently transferred to the knife by Knox herself. And as for Knox's DNA on the handle, well that's a no brainer, since she lived with Sollecito and prepared meals in his apartment. Yet, from the prosecution point of view, this was evidence linking her to "the murder weapon."

This is a complicated case, with many ramifications and some pieces of very puzzling and troubling evidence and also testimony that I won't get into here. However, on the basis of the DNA evidence and other evidence both present at and absent from the crime scene, and on the basis of the completely unconvincing argument that traces of Kercher's DNA on Sollecito's knife could have any bearing whatsoever on the case, plus the overwhelming evidence of Guede's involvement, it's very hard to believe that either Knox or Sollecito could have had any involvement in this crime, not to mention any motive for perpetrating it. Apparently the only explanation the prosecution was able to come up with for the complete absence of Knox's DNA from the crime scene was that she managed to clean it up. I can understand cleaning up some blood or wiping away some fingerprints -- but cleaning up DNA? Sorry, DNA is a molecule, it's microscopic, you can't see it.

While there are aspects of this case that have never been adequately explained, and there are aspects of Knox's behavior that do seem suspicious, on the basis of the actual evidence found at the crime scene, it seems abundantly clear that she and her friend had nothing to do with the murder of Meredith Kercher. This looks to me like a complete travesty of justice. What a shame!


  1. When DNA first started being used in court we all thought it was almost foolproof and that there would be no more false convictions, and absolute certainty about the convictions that were obtained with DNA evidence.

    Of course the human element can't be eliminated. People have to interpret evidence. Most lawyers have no science background, so they really don't know what they're talking about when it comes to DNA. The same holds for Judges. Needless to say it also applies to most jurors.

    Those of us following the Ramsey case know all too well that many people think any trace of someone is indicative of their involvement in the crime. If we leave it to the jury to decide the importance of DNA, we'll see erroneous convictions.


  2. Sorry, I know this is a JB website, but Knox and Sollecito are guilty. Knox reported hearing Kercher scream long before that was verified by 3 other witnesses, and her DNA was very much found at the crime scene...mixed in with Kercher's blood. The two changed their stories numerous times and have been caught in many lies.

    Kercher's body was also moved hours after her death, as evidenced by lividity on one side (she was found on her back), and the fact that her bra was found by her feet...obviously having been cut off her long after her death, and moved.

    She had virtually non-existent defensive wounds, and much bruising showing she was being restrained while being cut. One person could not have created those wounds and she would never have allowed someone continuous access to her neck unless she was being restrained.

    A false burglary was staged and someone locked Kerchers's room. Guede didn't come back after stabbing her. His footprints lead out of Kercher's room straight out the front door. All of the staging and door-locking done hours after her death was done by Knox and Sollecito.

    It's very sad all around, and when I read that the US most likely would extradite her if her appeal fails, I felt sad for her. That's the effect she has on people...but as one lawyer stated, there are a lot of people in jail in the US convicted on far less evidence against them than Italy has against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

    1. As I said, there are aspects of this case that have never been adequately explained. And I must admit I haven't followed this case very closely so could be on the wrong track. However, it seems to me that all sorts of conclusions are being drawn based on assumptions rather than facts.

      Knox's testimony about hearing Kercher's scream was elicited during a very long and grueling police interrogation. She subsequently recanted that "confession" on the basis that she had been intimidated and coerced. We know very well how easy it is for police to elicit confessions from innocent people, so her accusations have to be taken seriously.

      If there were no defensive wounds, that could mean Kercher's hands were tied, or that her assailant was restraining her hands with one hand while knifing her with the other. If in fact she was being restrained by someone else, that doesn't meant it was necessarily either Knox or Sollecito. Her attacker could have had an unknown accomplice. And if her body had been moved subsequent to the attack, and the door locked, once again I see no evidence that this was done by Knox and/or Sollecito. Her attacker apparently took her keys, so that person could have locked the door.

      It's been widely reported that no trace of Knox's DNA was found at the crime scene, so I'm curious to learn more about your claim that it in fact was. But even if it was, I would think the amount of DNA would be significant, since trace DNA could easily have been transferred to Kercher innocently prior to the attack.

      I admit I'm not nearly as well versed on this case as the Ramsey case, so I'm reluctant to insist that Knox and Sollecito have to be innocent. But on the basis of what's being reported, there does seem considerable cause for reasonable doubt at the very least.

      In any case, thanks so much for your thoughts on this case. Now I'm curious to learn more.

    2. DocG, you state this perfectly. The 'evidence' of Knox/Sollecito involvement stated by anonymous above is more speculation and assumption than evidence. The entire cottage scenario was envisioned by Amanda at the behest of the police (primarily Donnino, her 'interpreter'). Amanda's DNA was detected in her bathroom and the means of sample collection by the Scientific Police (proven by video we've all seen) was flawed. Rather than a very targeted collection of a spec of blood the technician scrubbed large areas around the blood, ensuring any latent DNA would also be collected. And the two have had a very consistent alibi, with the only exception coming during the interrogation when the police lied and coerced changes to the story. This was quickly recanted.

      The poster fails to mention that six of seven experts who testified at the trial said the wounds were consistent with a single attacker. They didn't all conclude this is what happened, but they could not rule it out. The poster also fails to point out that blood droplets, clearly exhaled by Meredith, was found on her bare breasts. The evidence shows the initial attack took place with her bra on, but that she was still alive when it was removed.

      It is mere opinion the break-in was staged, it was not proven. In fact, the police failed to document any aspect of this. They also failed at securing the scene, allowing Filomena (who's room the break-in occurred) into her room to go through her things. At the base of the window, outside, police gathered to talk and smoke cigarettes. No photos of the ground outside the window were taken. And, of course, the poster doesn't wish to mention the break-in was consistent to a break-in two weeks earlier into a lawyer's office that Guede was linked to.

      I appreciate your analysis, DocG. Well written and logical. I look forward to reading more from you. It may turn out, however, that I'll come to hate you as I spent far too much time following JonBenet's case years ago and had come to peace with the idea it would never be solved. Now I just might get back into that case as well... thanks pal!

  3. Independent experts testified, on appeal, that they believe some of the evidence was contaminated.


  4. on line bob enyart kill jonbenet.