Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Independent Forensic Experts Discredit DNA Evidence in Amanda Knox Case

Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti

Court appointed independent forensic experts, Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, from Rome's Sapienza University, released a scathing report in late June detailing gross negligence on the part of lead forensic scientist, Patricia Stefanoni, regarding the key DNA evidence used to secure the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the first trial. The alleged murder weapon and a DNA laced bra clasp have been fully discredited on appeal leaving absolutely no credible evidence to confirm the convictions of Amanda  and Raffaele. Conti and  Vecchiotti presented their findings to the court on July 25, putting Amanda and Raffaele one step closer to freedom.

Translation of the report submitted by Vecchiotti and Conti is now in progress. The conclusions reached by Conti and Vecchiotti constitute a damning indictment of the investigation conducted by Italy’s Scientific Police, and in particular of the methods employed by the prosecution’s main forensic scientist, Patrizia Stefanoni. They lend official support to the already-widespread perception that Amanda and Raffaele have been the victims of a scandalous miscarriage of justice.

Read the translation in progress here: The Conti-Vecchiotti Report By komponisto

You can view the full report in Italian here:

Here is an English translation of the conclusions reached by the independent court appointed experts Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti.


Based on the considerations explained above, we are able to respond as follows to the inquiries posed at the assignment hearing:

"Having examined the record and conducted such technical investigations as shall be necessary, the Expert Panel shall ascertain:

1. whether it is possible, by means of a new technical analysis, to identify the DNA present on items 165b (bra clasp) and 36 (knife), and to determine the reliability of any such identification"

- The tests that we conducted to determine the presence of blood on item 36 (knife) and item 165B (bra clasps) yielded a negative result.

- The cytomorphological tests on the items did not reveal the presence of cellular material. Some samples of item 36 (knife), in particular sample "H", present granules with a circular/hexagonal characteristic morphology with a cental radial structure. A more detailed microscopic study, together with the consultation of data in the literature, allowed us to ascertain that the structures in question are attributable to granules of starch, thus matter of a vegetable nature.

- The quantification of the extracts obtained from the samples obtained from item 36 (knife) and item 165B (bra clasps), conducted via Real Time PCR, did not reveal the presence of DNA.

- In view of the absence of DNA in the extracts that we obtained, with the agreement of the consultants for the parties, we did not proceed to the subsequent amplification step.

2. "if it is not possible to carry out a new technical analysis, shall evaluate, on the basis of the record, the degree of reliability of the genetic analysis performed by the Scientific Police on the aforementioned items, including with respect to possible contamination."

Having examined the record and the relevant documents, we are able to report the following conclusions regarding the laboratory analyses performed on Item 36 (knife) and Item 165B (bra clasps):


Relative to the genetic analysis performed on trace A (handle of the knife), we agree with the conclusion reached by the Technical Consultant regarding the attribution of the genetic profile obtained from these samples to Amanda Marie Knox.

Relative to trace B (blade of the knife) we find that the technical analyses performed are not reliable for the following reasons:

1. There does not exist evidence which scientifically confirms that trace B (blade of knife) is the product of blood.

2. The electrophoretic profiles exhibited reveal that the sample indicated by the letter B (blade of knife) was a Low Copy Number (LCN) sample, and, as such, all of the precautions indicated by the international scientific community should have been applied.

3. Taking into account that none of the recommendations of the international scientific community relative to the treatment of Low Copy Number (LCN) samples were followed, we do not accept the conclusions regarding the certain attribution of the profile found on trace B (blade of knife) to the victim Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, since the genetic profile, as obtained, appears unreliable insofar as it is not supported by scientifically validated analysis;

4. International protocols of inspection, collection, and sampling were not followed;

5. It cannot be ruled out that the result obtained from sample B (blade of knife) derives from contamination in some phase of the collection and/or handling and/or analyses performed.


Relative to Item 165B (bra clasps), we find that the technical analysis is not reliable for the following reasons:

1. There does not exist evidence which scientifically confirms the presence of supposed flaking cells on the item;

2. There was an erroneous interpretation of the electrophoretic profile of the autosomic STRs;

3. There was an erroneous interpretation of the electrophoretic profile relative to the Y chromosome;

4. The international protocols for inspection, collection, and sampling of the item were not followed;

5. It cannot be ruled out that the results obtained derive from environmental contamination and/or contamination in some phase of the collection and/or handling of the item.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Steve Moore Vindicated in Lawsuit With Pepperdine University

Steve Moore

Steve Moore was faced with a major decision last September when Pepperdine University gave him an ultimatum: stop advocating for Amanda Knox or face termination.  Recently retired from the FBI, Steve was hired by Pepperdine University as the Deputy Director of Public Safety, a perfect fit for Steve, making several improvements to campus security in his short time on the job, receiving good performance reviews. Steve was fired when he refused to comply with Pepperdine's ill-planned ultimatum.  

Steve's change of course began when he accepted a challenge from his wife Michelle regarding the Amanda Knox case. Michelle had watched a 48 Hours Mystery program about the case that convinced her Amanda had been railroaded. Steve spent 25 years putting bad guys in prison so it would take a lot more than a television show to convince him of a person's guilt or innocence. Knowing her husband well, Michelle challenged Steve to investigate the case and prove her wrong. Steve took his wife's challenge, conducted a thorough investigation, and to his surprise, he too concluded that Amanda Knox was innocent. 

I met Steve and Michelle shortly after "the challenge" when I was notified that a woman had posted a comment on facebook that her husband, a retired FBI Agent, believed Amanda was innocent.  I contacted Michelle to see if her husband had interest in getting more actively involved. Steve felt compelled to help, writing a series of articles discussing his findings for Injustice in Perugia

Steve explained why he felt he had an obligation to help Amanda Knox:
 "I could not see this injustice and do nothing, any more than a doctor could see a person collapse and fail to render assistance, or a fireman hear the cries of children inside a burning house and stand idly by"
Steve's expert opinion would not go unnoticed leading to interviews with every major network in America. This didn’t sit well with an online hate group, led by Peggy Ganong and Peter Quennell, congregating for no reason other than to attack Amanda Knox. One member of the group, SomeAlibi, vowed to "take down" Steve Moore for simply believing Amanda was innocent, and the group encouraged all of their followers to write letters to Pepperdine in an attempt to get Steve fired. 

We have several instances confirmed of this hate group contacting employers of those supporting Amanda Knox in an effort to harm them. The group also trolls facebook accounts of Amanda's supporters, even viewing accounts of their children. This behavior is not surprising coming from a group led by Peter Quennell, a known stalker who relentlessly harassed a young woman until she found the courage to go to the authorities. His continued activities show that he clearly has not learned his lesson and he may soon find himself with serious legal problems. Quennell has repeatedly accused me of libel, knowing full well that everything I print is backed by facts. If Quennell ever retains a lawyer instead of falsely claiming to have representation, maybe he will file a lawsuit. Of course we all know that will never happen because he has no case. 

His partner in hate, Peggy Ganong fully supports Quennell and, by her own admission, has stalking tendencies of her own. She actually drove by Amanda's parent's home to count their shrubs, apparently in an attempt to accuse the family of misusing funds donated to Amanda; all nonsense of course. She has a continued obsession with me even using my name in her avatar on her hate site, asking when she will see me. I am sure her and her gang would like nothing more than to contact my employer and harass my family as they have done time and time again but I think I will take a pass for now. 

We don't know for sure if the hate campaign against Steve Moore by the Quennell-Ganong cult influenced Pepperdine's decision but they celebrated his firing as if they had achieved great success. Their celebration was premature as Steve Moore has now been compensated for his wrongful termination. Steve filed a lawsuit shortly after he was fired; the preliminary judge reviewed the case and determined his complaint was valid, setting the trial date for August. Pepperdine moved for summary judgment, which was denied. It looks like Pepperdine had no interest in seeing the inside of a courtroom, offering a settlement instead. Steve discussed the settlement on his blog:
"I am happy to announce that Pepperdine and I have reached a satisfactory settlement of the lawsuit.  As a stipulation requested by Pepperdine, I have agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.  But I can can tell you that Michelle and I are happy with the settlement and we feel very much vindicated! I would like to thank the university for doing the right thing at this juncture. With the stress of that ordeal over, the family has plans to vacation in Maui later this summer."
I have great respect for Steve and Michelle Moore and I am very pleased that Pepperdine has chosen to do what is right in this case. Steve and Michelle have sacrificed greatly for a cause they believe in and I am honored to call them friends. I am proud to stand with them on the side of truth as we watch the evidence against Amanda Knox being completely demolished on appeal.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Amanda Knox: Expert's Report Proves Forensics Expert Lied

Patricia Stefanoni
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.