The controversial murder case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, in Perugia Italy, has now been completely demolished on appeal. Knox and Sollecito currently stand convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher in late 2007. Both have vehemently denied any involvement in the murder and now after nearly 4 years, it appears their voices will be heard.
Court appointed independent forensic experts, Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, from Rome's Sapienza University, released a scathing report detailing gross negligence on the part of lead forensic scientist, Patricia Stefanoni, regarding the key DNA evidence used to secure convictions in the first trial. The alleged murder weapon and a DNA laced bra clasp have been fully discredited leaving absolutely no credible evidence to confirm the convictions of Knox and Sollecito. The report will be presented to the court July 25, where it will be game over for the prosecution.
As an English translation of the report becomes available, it is clear that much of the blame belongs to Stefanoni, who lied repeatedly in court to benefit the prosecution. The independent experts cite an egregious violation committed by Stefanoni that clearly shows she had an agenda.
The worst of all revelations is Stefanoni's failure to objectively test DNA samples. The method she used centers in on a specific suspect, a practice that is forbidden by all international standards due to the fact that it leads to biased analysis. Samples are to be analyzed individually and then the final results are compared to see if any produce a positive match. If one begins knowing what they are looking for already, they are likely to interpret the electropherogram to match the result they are trying to achieve. Conti and Vecchiotti explain as follows:
"Statements about a profile obtained from a sample under examination, regarding the decision as to which is a true allele and which a 'drop-in', must necessarily be pronounced without knowledge of the suspect's profile; only in such a way, in fact, can a qualitatively unimpeachable and balanced approach to the interpretation of the profile emerging from the sample in question be guaranteed. An interpretation of the profile obtained from a sample, carried out with the suspect's reference profile available, indicates an imbalanced [approach], and is in total contrast with the absolutely objective nature of forensic science"
Stefanoni not only violated protocol, but also lied about it in court when she stated that she had adhered to proper procedure and analyzed all traces in an absolutely objective manner. Her boss, Dr. Renato Biondo, head of the DNA Unit at Polizia Scientifica, Rome, and consultant for the prosecution, needed positive results from Stefanoni and she was more than willing to fulfill the request.
This is not the first time Stefanoni has been dishonest with the court. Stefanoni claimed that stains detected at the crime scene using luminol (an investigative tool used to detect blood not visible to the human eye) were never tested for blood; however, in July 2009, when pressured by the defense, Stefanoni released information originally withheld confirming the stains were tested with tetramethylbenzidine, which is extremely sensitive for blood. All of the stains detected with luminol tested negative for blood. Stefanoni held this information from the court testifying instead that the stains were indeed blood. This is yet another example where Stefanoni created evidence to benefit the prosecution.
But Stefanoni’s lies do not end there. She also lied when she testified that she changed gloves every time she handled a new sample. However, Raffaele Sollecito’s defense used clear video and photographic evidence to show that Stefanoni used the same gloves multiple times.
Patrizia Stefanoni is one of the prosecution's key pawns that contributed to the injustice committed against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and her actions should not go unpunished. The conclusions made by the independent experts are very clear and are expected to be accepted by the court that appointed them. An ongoing translation of the report can be viewed here:
With the latest findings, Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann should move for a rapid conclusion to the appeal, fully exonerating Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, in compliance with Italian law. Perugia will then be left with the job of cleaning up the mess by eliminating those who created it, as all responsible must be held accountable for causing irreparable damage to two innocent people.