Sunday, July 1, 2012

The time of death in the murder of Meredith Kercher


Part 33 in the Knox/Sollecito case

Introduction
The time of death (TOD) in the murder of Meredith Kercher is a central part of the question of whether Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito participated in her murder.  Ms. Popovic saw Ms. Knox around 8:40 PM acting normally.  If the TOD is between 9 and 10 PM on 1 November 2007, then it is difficult to imagine how they could have imbibed drugs or alcohol, met Rudy and initiated events leading to murder in the 80 minutes that followed.  Let us examine the TOD primarily using the physiology of digestion.  This topic was recently discussed at the pro-guilt website, True Justice for Meredith Kercher, and I am grateful to its author for reminding us of the sensitive nature of this topic.  I am also grateful to the translators of the Massei-Cristiani Report and the Hellmann-Zanetti report.



Meredith’s friends’ descriptions of the meal
As summarized in the English translation of the Massei report (pp. 34-38), Robyn Butterworth was not sure about when the young women ate pizza on 1 November but thought that might have been around 6 PM.  They stopped watching the movie, “The Notebook” long enough to put the dessert, apple crumble, into the oven, according to John Follain's book, "Death in Perugia," p. 54.  Amy Frost thought that the time of the meal was 5:30 or 6 PM.  Sophie Purton thought that the time of the end of the meal was perhaps an hour before leaving, which would mean that they finished desert around 7:45.  According to Candace Dempsey’s book, Murder in Italy, Sophie Purton said that Meredith ate only part of her pizza.

Judicial estimates of Meredith’s time of death
Massei and Cristiani, the professional judges in the first trial, put the time of death as a few minutes after 11:30 PM (p. 382).  Follain (Death in Perugia, p. 344) reported that PM Mignini estimated the time of as between 11:20 and 12 midnight.  A summary of Raffaele’s appeal document suggests a TOD of 9:30-10:00.  Hellmann and Zanetti, the professional judges in the second trial, put the time of death as no later than 10:13 PM.

Gastric emptying times
The contents of Meredith’s stomach had a volume of 500 mL, and her duodenum was empty (Massei, p. 115).  Two time periods are commonly used to measure the first portion of digestion.  The time at which food begins to leave the stomach and enter the duodenum is t(lag).  The time it takes for the stomach to empty by half is t(1/2).  Because Meredith’s duodenum was empty, the more useful number is t(lag), not t(1/2).  The time between the start of Meredith’s last meal and the TOD must be less than t(lag).  In some of his comments Judge Massei seems to be concerned with t(1/2) or perhaps the time it take for the stomach to empty completely.  Yet he also wrote (p. 115), “Dr. Lalli also took into consideration the state of digestion. He stated that solids are ingested into the stomach and are not able to reach the pyloric sphincter until they are reduced to a semi-fluid or fluid consistency; the emptying of the stomach then begins to occur when some of the contents have become sufficiently fluid to reach the pylorus, which happens the third or fourth hour after eating. This is when one can find food material at the level of the duodenum (page 63 of the Lalli report).”  This is significantly longer than the average or median values of t(lag) of which I am aware, and it may be that Judge Massei simply misunderstood Dr. Lalli’s report or did not clearly understand the distinctions among the various measures of gastric emptying.  A website at Colorado State University on the pathophysiology of the digestive system shows the differences among t(lag), t(1/2), and the time for complete emptying.  These values are about 80, 150, and 220 minutes, respectively in this diagram.


A 2003 study by Chen et al. (J. Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 18, 41-46) determined a value of t(lag), namely 81.9 ± 17.4 minutes, with a range of 37.1 to 117.8 minutes.  The authors described the test meal:  “The egg [one yolk and two whites] was ingested with two slices of white bread coated with 7 g of margarine and 8 g of grape jelly, followed by 150mL water.”  A paper on gastric emptying times (Hellmig et al., "Gastric emptying time of fluids and solids in healthy subjects determined by 13C breath tests: influence of age, sex and body mass index" Volume 21, Issue 12, pages 1832–1838, Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, December 2006), was published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which is peer-reviewed. Other articles cited this paper at least 25 times.  These workers described their test meal:  “After addition of 50 mL of low-fat milk, the egg was scrambled and fried in a pan. The solid test meal was completed by a piece of brown bread (50 g) and butter (20 g).”  They showed that t(lag) for a solid meal did not follow a normal distribution.  The median time was 82 minutes, with the 25% percentile at 66 min. and the 75% percentile at 102 min. Out of 82 subjects (Figure 1D), the longest value was 200 minutes, and the next longest was 170 minutes (each value corresponded to a single individual).

If one uses 6:30 as an estimate for when Meredith began to eat, then 9:50 (200 minutes after 6:30) is a working estimate of the outermost reasonable time at which Meredith was still alive. In fact, the meal may have started earlier than 6:30, given the testimony of Meredith’s friends.  The problem for the prosecution does not get much better if one assumes that Meredith began her meal at 7:45 (when the desert was finished, according to Ms. Purton) and uses 200 minutes as the longest possible t(lag).  This assumption puts the latest reasonable TOD at 10:55 PM.  However, this TOD is far less likely than (for example) 9:05 PM, which is 80 minutes after 7:45.  In other words, there is no possible time for Meredith to have consumed her last meal that favors Judge Massei’s TOD over a TOD between 9 and 10 PM.  

Other indications of Meredith’s time of death
The Hellman-Zanetti report did not attempt to use stomach/duodenum physiology to ascertain the TOD.  However, these judges did use other means to reach a similar conclusion.  Meredith attempted to call her mother around 8:56 but was unsuccessful.  Meredith called her mother once a day; therefore, it would be odd that she did not call back in the period in which she was supposed to have been alone in the prosecution’s scenario.  Later there were two activities in close succession, namely an aborted call at 9:58 to Meredith’s answering machine and one at 10:00 PM to Meredith’s bank, but without the country code, neither of which is a complete call.  Finally at 10:13 there is a GPRS internet connection for 9 seconds.  The summary of Raffaele’s appeal document notes that the tower that handled this interaction can reach both the apartment and the location at which the phones were finally found.  It is difficult to see why Meredith would have initiated any of these three later activities herself.

It is strange that Meredith did not try to call her mother after her attempt at 8:56 did not succeed.  Nor did she call, text, or email anyone else after she arrived home, presumably close to 9 PM.  She did not change into night garments or remove clothing from a washing machine.  The Hellmann court put the TOD at 10:13 at the latest, and yet the evidence suggests that the TOD might have been earlier even without bringing in the physiology of gastric emptying.

Conclusions
The cell phone data suggest that Meredith died no later than 10:13 PM, as Judges Hellmann and Zanetti indicated. It is undisputed that there was activity on Raffaele’s computer at 9:08 PM, and the defense argued that there was activity at 9:26 and that the screensaver log files indicate additional activity.  Even by itself, the lack of material in the duodenum strongly suggests that the time of death was likely to be earlier even than 10:13.  Therefore, there was not enough time for Raffaele and Amanda supposedly to become very messed up from alcohol and/or drugs, to meet Rudy Guede, and to initiate a long series of actions that culminates in murder.  It is likely that Meredith was attacked shortly after returning home, probably between 9 and 9:30.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do you fail to account for delayed digestion due to possible extreme duress? 10;15-10;30 even that time frame allowed for opportunity by the suspects. So you think Guede who had no idea when Amanda may return had time to take the duvet off the bed then place Meredith's books on the bed staging the study scene and to what purpose? Would he not want to flee not knowing who could arrive at any time.There are those, and maybe your are one of them who also think Guede sexually assaulted Meredith after the fatal attack.No one would be that stupid unless they had their victim isolated in a remote location. Why do you think there were no bloody fingerprints on those books on the bed? Might he have used his time better to clean his foot and hand prints as well. Using your theory he was able to clean his hands so well that there was no traces left on the phones you think he used.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 10:15, One timeline I saw suggested that Amanda and Raffaele arrived at Amanda's flat around 11 PM, five hours after Meredith's meal at 6:00. Therefore, even if Meredith's digestive system stopped immediately, t(lag) would have to be 300 minutes. If one moves the presumed time of attack forward to 10:15, that still produces a t(lag) of 255 minutes, which is less unreasonable but still quite long. It is for this reason that I wish the Hellmann-Zanetti court had allowed an independent examination of Raffaele's computer data. The loss of metadata, such as the time of access of the Stardust file, also becomes more significant.

I am not sure why you discount the possibility that Meredith herself put the books on the bed. The phones were handled by several people before anyone realized that they were evidence in a murder investigation. I am not a criminal profiler, but I have read that covering the victim is the sign of an inexperienced killer.

Anonymous said...

Meredith did not place the books on her bed because she was lying under the duvet. The books were placed after the duvet was removed from her bed. That is they were placed after the murder with no bloody prints on them.

Michelle Moore said...

Is there a picture of the books?
It doesn't seem to really make a difference regardless of where the books are in my mind. Also I heard that young first time inexperienced killers might do such a thing as place the duvet over Meredith.
This are really piddly things when it comes down to the fact that Rudy Guede killed Meredith Kercher. End of story. The evidence and the forensics do a dang good job of telling the story, but every exact little detail...well, talk to the guy with HIS DNA in the room.
Hellman knew that if the DNA was discredited you needed bother with all the rest because it would have been nothing but a huge waste of time.
They were all things that only pointed to Amanda and Raffaee's innocence.

Michelle Moore said...

Wait a sec...
Here's a pic( if you scroll down this link).

http://www.injusticeinperugia.org/RonHendry9.html

This is a no brainer.. The position of those books look like they WERE on the bed the whole time. That notebook is upside down and they're all messed up. It looks like Rudy grabbed the duvet and the books fell right where you seem them laying. Who knows. for sure? Rudy...but it doesn't make Amanda and Raffaele guilty still.

RoseMontague said...

Thanks, Michelle.

There is also a book on the floor, with blood on it, next to the light colored bag she was probably carrying when she arrived home. I doubt she took the notebook with her to the dinner but we know she did bring a book home.

Thanks Chris for another excellent article; I consider the stomach contents to be just another piece that argues for an earlier TOD. Rudy's statements about the times fits with an earlier TOD as well as the cell phone data. Massei goes through ridiculous hoops trying to explain this evidence away. They wanted to fit a later TOD in only because of the drug addicted dope dealing homeless park bench bum's testimony, who can't even get the day straight, much less the hour.

Chris Halkides said...

One possibility is that Rudi removed the book(s) from the bag after he returned from the small bathroom. I would prefer not to speculate too much about when he placed the duvet over Meredith's body. As other commenters have pointed out, only one person on the planet can answer some of these questions, and he has chosen not to do so.

Frank Giordano said...

Thanks Chris, another great article. In fact, I'm thinking I'm going to copy all 33 of these into a single reference document.

Ergon.. er, anonymous, you ignore two very obvious considerations;

- There are several very innocent explanations for the books ending up on the bed, not least of which is Meredith had pulled down the duvet and top sheet in preparation to get into bed and put the books on the fitted sheet.

That aside, the more critical point;

- Why would it make any more sense for Amanda and/or Raffaele to put the books on the bed. It has zero staging value as this was a violent murder scene and things wind up in all sorts of places.

Why are there no bloody fingerprints on the books? Um.. because NO ONE touched them. That's where they were when the attack began. Prove me wrong.

Anonymous said...

Who would take off the duvet to prepare to sleep with a sheet only on a chilly November night? The other scenario with the tablecloth yanking parlour trick leaving the items in place on the bed is equally unrealistic. The heavy duvet yanked would scatter objects left on top. Speaking of no prints what about AK's only light source found on the floor. If Guede went to the bathroom after his break-in did he just carry on with his business while Meredith went into the kitchen and had a mushroom then went to get Ak's lamp? How did Guede know that AK didn't come home with Meredith and just flop on her bed. He must have still been in the bathroom if we suppose Meredith got the lamp.If Ak were in her room lying down in the dark she could have hidden and called someone if she hear Meredith scream. Or how could Guede be sure she would not walk through the door at any moment? After all according to AK they didn't know each other so how could he know her plans?

Anonymous said...

"If Ak were in her room lying down in the dark she could have hidden and called someone if she hear Meredith scream."

And as she wasn't there and didn't scream Guede had a bit of a clue that Knox wasn't there.

He already had a good idea that no-one was home by smashing the window, and there's nothing to suggest that he had any reason to suspect that anyone other than Meredith came home.

Had he some idea that someone else was there, you can bet that we'd be looking at two bodies, or he would have fled.

This concept is obviously causing you some difficulty.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you address the reality of Guede committing a supposed crime in a home with multiple tenants having no idea of their return. Knox could have hidden and tried to dial for help. That is what most people will do if afraid and hear an intruder. How would Guede know who was home as he was so busy in the washroom? He either was not alone or was led to believe that he would not be disturbed.There also was the alleged broken window which passers by could see. He would have had to act with the probability of someone walking in or reacting to the scream or broken window at any time. Is it likely that he took the time to remove clothing move the body stage an assault ,wash up etc with the threat of being discovered at any minute?

Chris Halkides said...

I think that the scream(s) that the witnesses heard were unrelated to Meredith's murder. Guede may have thought that all of the students were away on a long holiday weekend. Once he committed the crime, he did not attempt a lengthy clean-up. I see no evidence of a staged assault.

Vicki said...

Um, Anonymous, maybe you should ask Rudy Guede these questions. You can harp about lamps and books and bedsheets all you want, but nothing changes the fact that Amanda and Rafaelle could not have been at the house when Meredith was attacked. The gastrology and the DNA support the fact that Rudy Guede was the murderer.

Anonymous said...

Well in fact it is not conclusive method to determine TOD.Stress and alcohol could also play into further delay of digestion. In this case even a TOD of 10:15-10:30 does not exclude the involvement of the others accused. So I'll continue to look at other pieces of the puzzle and evidence that you consider harping, such as the lamp. The evidence of staging related to the assault had to do with the moving of the body and the removal of the bra after. There is absolutely no logic in Guede who may have expected AK to arrive home to take the time to sexually assault her after she lay dying.We know he tried to staunch the wounds with a towel. Do you think some time after that he took the time to move her or take off her bra. It was on when she died according to Micheli. If Guede had in fact taken the phones or closed Meredith's door , he would have had to do some serious hand scrubbing to remove all the blood. There was no evidence of his shed DNA in the sink or bidet.

Chris Halkides said...

Without vitreous or bladder data, there is no good evidence to suggest that Meredith had any alcohol on 1 November. Some tissues give anomalous readings for alcohol levels, due to microbial fermentation after death. Some time ago I looked into the question of livor mortis, and IIRC Massei's report discounted this idea. Therefore, I see no reason to believe that Meredith's body was moved long after her death. Guede may have moved her body during the sexual assault. I have some doubt that Micheli was correct about the bra. This was discussed a long time ago at JREFF.

A blanket and unsupported statement to the effect that stomach/duodenum contents are not a conclusive method to determine TOD is not convincing on its own. Many of the things that would make this method uncertain (time of the meal, for example) are known in this instance.

Anonymous said...

You are right my blanket statement is only supported by the fact that if the stomach contents were so conclusive in determining TOD it would have played a much bigger role in the case. I think many people believe now that the attack occurred before 10:30pm, including myself. I do think the scream that woke the teacher up and caused her to check with her parents was Meredith's.

Chris Halkides said...

Anonymous at *:58, PM Mignini changed the TOD in his closing remarks, and the defense probably did not anticipate this development. Raffaele's appeal covers some of the same ground as this entry. The problem with a TOD that is 10:30 or earlier is that there is not much time for Amanda and Raffaele to consume nontrivial amounts of mind-altering substances, meet Rudi, and have some sort of interaction with Meredith. If one accepts the computer interaction at 9:26 as real, that puts a severe constraint on the time, also. Both Frank Sfarzo and Andrea Vogt reported on the loss of the information on the time at which the Stardust file was opened; depending on when the file was actually opened previous to the time that the police opened it, it might have provided an electronic alibi for this time period. The police were no better than incompetent to lose this information.

Chris Halkides said...

here is a discussion on whether or not the body was moved that I found to be helpful.

Anonymous said...

Sollecito admitted to smoking up at the cottage around 5pm so the party started early - plenty of time to get a good buzz on. As far as you using Ms. Popovic as the sole judge for Knox being "normal" or not, no thanks. Sollecito was so high he wouldn't even come out to speak with her. And as far as your precise calculations on how women eat, they don't shove the meal in all at once. They're quite different than the guys. A meal with the girls is enjoyed over time. Meredith most likely didn't "finish" her pizza and apple crumble until shortly before she left. Most women don't keep exact track of when their friends take their bites of food either, so the witness statements are approximate. When one gets ready to leave someone's home, they might grab a few quick bites as they leave. We'll never know so your calculations are null. Anon is also correct that stress played a factor.

Frank Giordano said...

Anonynous wrote; "Who would take off the duvet to prepare to sleep with a sheet only on a chilly November night?"

What I said was "pull down the duvet and top sheet in preparation to get into bed". I did NOT say take off. Do you slip in under your sheet and blanket without pulling them down some to make entry easy?

You wrote "Stress and alcohol could also play into further delay of digestion."

What stress are you referring to? Stress that comes with an attack? If so, then the attack would have had to occur early enough for the stress to prevent food entering the duodenum within a normal time frame as defined by scientific study. The fact of the matter is, enough is known about what was eaten and when to make this evidence very compelling on setting TOD, and when factored with evidence the confirms Amanda and Raffaele were at his place at nearly 21:15, then it becomes very unlikely they were at the murder scene when the attack occurred.

You obviously have your mind made up and, as such, you resist anything that challenges that conclusion. But for those with an open mind, and who take the time to study the science Chris presents in this blog, this is the best information we have to determine TOD. Guilters are pleased the police didn’t allow the coroner to take body temp, and eagerly try to discredit stomach content analysis, because you know there is evidence of where Amanda and Raffaele were at 21:15 and you know this makes placing them at the scene of the crime difficult.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 8:22, Both Raffaele and Amanda thought that they were busy that evening, until Ms. Popovic came over and Patrick called. Therefore, they were unlikely to have indulged in much pot smoking or drinking before those times. From what I have heard, the relevant time is when the meal starts, not when it ends. Moreover, I see no reason to think that Meredith was not yet done with her pizza while the others were eating apple crumble. Therefore, I reject your analysis.

Anonymous said...

Frank why would you say 'guilters' interested in knowing the truth would be happy the body temp was not taken? All information relevant to solving the case is important.Are you suggesting that people would like evidence suppressed that would show innocence? Your thinking is flawed here and perhaps shows your hand. There are those that want to know the truth even if it means the accused turn out to be innocent. There are those that simply want the accused to be innocent. The latter group would be the ones turning a blind eye.

Anonymous said...

Chris they were already smoking pot at the cottage earlier around 6. RS was not working so no need for him to be sober. He did say that he would never smoke again or something to that effect after he was accused.em

Murdoch said...

Lordy Lordy

We know the truth. Guede killed Meredith. He's a psychopath and a sadist who pleasured himself over her dying body. Why is this so difficult for some to understand?

Anon, you have posted some bizarre questions here. For example, why would he rape her after killing her if he thought AK was coming home? How would he know if she was coming home? How can anyone know what went through the animals head?

If you looked at his background, he certainly has a track record of being very comfortable in places he had no right to be.

In the lawyers office, he drank fanta from the fridge and strangely took the broken glass from the window into another room and neatly arranged it on a desk.

In the nursery, he cooked up pasta and frozen spinach. When discovered, he didn't try and escape but sat waiting for the police

He burnt his nextdoor neighbours house to the ground, killed her cat and stole a gold watch, the fireman commented "they feasted here".

He was known to sleep walk for miles, crawl on the floor and bark like a dog, woke up in the middle of the night and pretended to be a professor speaking in English and Italian.

Read this and look in the comments section below where the author raises further questions about Guede.

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474981070613

PS Great article Chris. Thanks for letting me post here :)

Anonymous said...

RS was committed to take Jovana Popovic to the bus station until she stopped by his apartment at 8:40 PM to inform him that she no longer needed his assistance; AK was scheduled to work at Lumumba's bar until he texted her at 8:18 PM to not come in because business was slow.

With these known commitments it is most unlikely that RS and AK were doing any heavy smoking.

Anonymous said...

No amount of alcohal or drugs could make well adjusted individuals commit a crime like that. After 8:40 both were free , cell phones turned off alibi's were sketchy and changing. RS had no reason to suddenly not provide Ak with an alibi. A chance meeting with Guede , an unplanned trip to the cottage could have happened.In my opinion Guede is not the only one who has exhibited some kind of social or personality disorder.

Frank Giordano said...

Anonymous wrote; "Frank why would you say 'guilters' interested in knowing the truth would be happy the body temp was not taken? All information relevant to solving the case is important."

For the same reason you so strenuously argued against the logical conclusion of the stomach content analysis. You have to have a later TOD to have any chance of arguing Amanda and Raffaele were there. So, with no body temp (which is as great a F.U. as any that the investigation team committed, and they committed many) and if you ignore the stomach content analysis, then you can push TOD out as last as you need to in order to argue they were there.

Chris has clearly explained the science behind the conclusion and what it shows is it would have been highly unusual for the TOD to be anything later than 22:00, and most likely it was earlier. This, of course, doesn't work well for the guilter crowd so you just dismiss it, or make excuses for it.

Anonymous said...

Frank I think she was killed between 10:13-10:30. Being threatened for some time before absolutely would cause delay in digestion, in fact that kind of torment would just about halt the process altogether. Has Chris found something that could alter that time to say it had to happen before 10:13? Please refrain from using your childish 'guilter' response as the basis for your argument.

Frank Giordano said...

The basis of my argument is the science behind Chris's post. You don't like guilter, fine, will stick with PGP. You should end the hyporacy though and stop using FOAKer and Groupie.

Stomach content anaylsis would suggest a TOD between 21:30 and 22:00, and if you use the baseline established for normal, healthy people, it would be closer to 21:30.

Agreed, per numerous studies, high stress, such as, for e.g., being attacked and murdered, would slow the system, but that would mean the attack would have had to have taken place prior to when a normal, unstressed system would have begun emptying into the duodenum. So TOD could be after 22:00, but the attack would still have had to start before 22:00. This does not help the PGP's argument.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 6:59, What is your basis for saying that they smoked pot at 6? Neither Amanda's statements nor Raffaele's statements are reliable, IMO, in that they contain things we know are not true.

Anon. at 8:51, No one knows when Raffaele turned off his cell phone; cell phone records do not provide this sort of information. Raffaele backed Amanda's alibi in front of Judge Matteini. Both Amanda and Raffaele have two basic versions of what they did that night: what they said on the night of 5 November, and what they have said before and after. It is clear to me which version should be discarded.

Anon. at 10:43, Do you think that the cell phones were in Meredith's possession at 9:58, 10:00, and about 10:15? If so, how do you account for the cell phone activity?

Anonymous said...

Frank , I have never used the word groupie of fok , sorry . Chris if RS said himself he smoked at 6pm at the cottage but you say we cannot believe anything he says, We obviously look at things differently and it's fine to disagree .

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 11:42, You misunderstand me. I said that both Amanda's and Raffaele's statements made on the night of 5-6 November are not reliable. They were obtained under coercive conditions IMO and contain statements we are certain are false. We know that Raffaele met Ms. Popovic at his flat around 5-6 PM, yet IIRC his statement puts him in town at that time. That is very different from saying that we cannot believe anything he says.

Anonymous said...

Correction Chris. AMANDA met Popovic, not Raffaele. He was to high and was hiding in the bathroom. If Popovic would have seen him, she would have know in an instant he was f***ed up. As far as you dismissing the theory that Meredith finished every bite of pizza before taking one single taste of apple crumble? Well, you don't get out much, do you. You also don't hang with women either.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 7:06, You and your friends would gain credibility by using your real names. IIRC Ms. Popovic came over twice, meeting Raffaele the first time and Amanda the second time. The key is when Meredith started eating. Sophie Purton testified that the meal ended about an hour prior to Meredith's leaving, which would put it at 7:45. What evidence do you have that Meredith started eating after 7:45?

Anonymous said...

What credibility? I have no friends or belong to any group. I'm just one person who became interested in the case after the appeal. My name would have no meaning to anyone unlike yours I suppose. MK could have eaten later as she didn't appear too hungry and only had half a slice of pizza. Cheese and any alcohol are digested slower. Maybe she ate her dessert closer to the time she departed. More inportant to me is the stress that she may have encountered for perhaps an hour or so after her return home and the delay in digestion that caused. You want to overlook things like the terrible scream that awakened the teacher and the running footsteps she heard sometime after ten. You probably find nothing unusual about any of the coincidences and incriminating behavior. If you were a able to say " I know it looks bad , but there is a possible explaination for everything" you would gain more credibility with me. Instead the changing alibis and all the evidence was the fault of the police. The crazy shower story, the email home the blood on the tap, the lamp in the room the unlikeluy break-in... Nothing unusual right? BTW the creepy music video that AK scripted? Seriously that was so insensitive and is a horrible reminder of her behavior at the police station. Is no one advising this girl how to behave? Hopefully the Supreme court will rule in such a way that many of these unresolved parts of the case can be somehow delt with in a more thorough way then the last trial. That is that the ruling will be more in depth which ever way it falls.

Murdoch said...

Now he's just teasing us lol

Frank Giordano said...

Stress from what? There is no indication that anything else would have been causing her stress other than being assaulted. So even if TOD was 22:00 or later, if you're claiming stress caused the extremely long time to digest, then I have to assume you mean the attack happened sometime sooner than that. Those are the key timings.. when the meal began (between 18:00 and 18:30) and when the assault began.

"You want to overlook things like the terrible scream that awakened the teacher and the running footsteps she heard sometime after ten."

Not speaking for Chris, but... there is nothing to overlook. Witness Monacchia testified she heard a man and a women loudly arguing in Italian just before the scream. Amanda hardly spoke any Italian at that point so it was not her. This occurred "some time after 10 p.m." The other witness, Capezzali, testified she heard a scream at 23:30, more than an hour after Monacchia heard a scream. If the scream Capezzali supposedly heard was from Meredith then Meredith went over 300 minutes without anything emptying into her duodenum. That simply doesn't happen, especially to a normal, healthy young woman. And regardless of what you make of the testimony, I have no idea how that's supposed to somehow link Amanda and Raffaele to the crime.

What unusual behavior? What changing alibi? There alibi was the same on 2 Nov as it is today. Neither has wavered. The only time things changed were when the police used coercive interrogation techniques, including lying to Amanda and Raffaele about what the other was saying. What was wrong with the email home? Be specific. Blood on the tap was her blood on her tap.. one drop. Your point is? The lamp in the room proves what?

You throw things out there but none of it makes any sense. None of it ties either Amanda or Raffaele to the crime. Twist it any way you wish, but at the end of the day you've got nothing to tie them to the crime. H & Z saw this and that's why they were found innocent.

Anonymous said...

As Anon pointed out, cheese digests more slowly. It's a well known fact that a common road trip snack for kids is cheese as it takes longer to go through their systems, is fairly healthy, and you don't have to make as many pit stops. What's on pizza? Cheese. Was that factored into this analysis?

Anonymous said...

Frank a nervous stomach results in bloating and the feeling of nausea. That is a sign that food is not being digested and is remaining in the stomach longer. If Meredith was being harassed or threatened for up to an hour at home she would not be digesting her meal as a normal person. Digestion is a process that is affected by our emotions. The stress hormones can directly affect how a meal is processed from beginning to end. Why would you thing the lamp was not important? What about her own dried blood that she said she touched on the tap? She said the bathroom was clean the day before.

Frank Giordano said...

"If Meredith was being harassed or threatened for up to an hour at home she would not be digesting her meal as a normal person."

Exactly. And, since nothing had passed to her duodenum then you must conclude that harassment began soon after arriving home. The actual TOD, in that case, is not the key event - it's when the assault began.

I didn't say the lamp wasn't important, I said it doesn't prove anything. What if I said Meredith was removing an earring when she got home, dropped it and went and grabbed Amanda's light to help look for it. Can you disprove that's what happened? How does the lamp in Meredith's room tie Amanda to the crime?

The drop of blood was very small and she obviously never noticed it. Saying the bathroom was clean is not proof the spot of blood wasn't there and she didn't see it. It just means that in general, the bathroom was clean and she didn't see any of the blood she saw the next day. Again, you put your own bias on the relevance of the spot of blood but it does not represent evidence of anything.

Anonymous said...

I think the harassment started sometime after 9 and concluded in her death sometime after 10pm The blood drop was noticed by Amanda. She claimed to have touched it and said it was dry. She didn't realize it was hers,she said the blood was not there the day before. The lamp is important, doubtful that Meredith fumbled in Amanda's dark room to find her only lamp source. Especially if as you say Guede is already after her. I agree it was likely needed to search for something though.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 12:24 AM, Only Follain describes the pizza itself, to the best of my knowledge, and it had more than one type of cheese. However, the amount of cheese relative to dough was not indicated. The test meals have some fat from the egg and from the butter or margarine, and the ratios of protein to fat to carbohydrate may be similar.

Anon. at 2:08 PM, Amanda and Raffaele watched a video at 9:08; therefore, the could not even get to her flat until after 9:30 and more or less grabbed Guede and took him with them. There is just not enough time for any reasonable scenario. Running footsteps are just that; nothing ties them to the crime.

Anonymous said...

Chris the flat is 5 minute walk. There was enough time for situation to happen at the cottage. The film may have been on but who says they actually were watching the whole thing. They could have been getting high and planning some kind of outing to the cottage. Instead of questioning within half an hour when Meredith last ate, look at the huge differences in time they claimed their meal was that night. Nothing is really believable,and sorry RS was not mistreated and had no reason to tell his sack of lies.

Anonymous said...

"The film may have been on but who says they actually were watching the whole thing."

When did the prosecution indicate that Sollecito and Knox had been questioned on the contents of the film and could not provide a sufficient answer?

It's one of the first thing you would ask if you were trying to catch them out - so what was the answer?

skind

Anonymous said...

"Nothing is really believable,and sorry RS was not mistreated and had no reason to tell his sack of lies. "

?? Really??

So he lied about Knox going out when he stayed in, and you can't conceive of any possible reason why that may have been intended to get the police to just stop bothering him? You know, exactly the sort of response police are trained to elict from witnesses they suspect know more than they're telling?

If only we could have an example of his writing from the time, perhaps we could come across something by him that makes it clear that was what he wanted.

Skind

Anonymous said...

Chris: You said "However, the amount of cheese relative to dough was not indicated. The test meals have some fat from the egg and from the butter or margarine..."

I don't find any pizza crust/dough recipe that calls for eggs, butter, or margerine.

Anonymous said...

Skind He also told his father he had told a pack o lies. This is after he was was interviewed by police. Did he want his father off his back too?

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 9:42, I surmise that the relative proportions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates are important, more so than the exact source of each. It is interesting that in the Hendricks case from Illinois, that the children also ate pizza, and no one suggested that there was anything special about pizza in that example.

Paul Smyth said...

Excellent piece. It also needs to be emphasized that here, as in so many aspects of the case, the Italian police showed a dismal lack of competence and professionalism. One of the first things done in any murder investigation is to take the temperature of the corpse since that is the single best way to determine time of death. Mignini's explanation of this failure to obtain a temperature is, frankly, risible. In any event, Chris and Hellmann have it exactly right: the convergence of several factors make assigning a time of death no later than 10:15 is plausible and convincing.

The other thing we must remember is that Perugia has a highly sophisticated network of security cameras in place. The defense repeatedly asked for footage from relevant cameras at relevant times since if Amanda and Raffaele were truly out and about that night SOME camera should have shown them. But the cops claimed that in every single instance the relevant cameras were either broken or were not checked in time.

The case against Amanda and Raffaele was built on repeated lies, threats, and intimidation and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Who is to blame for that horrific script and music video? no friend of Merediths.

Frank Giordano said...

"I think the harassment started sometime after 9 and concluded in her death sometime after 10pm"

Probably an obvious statement since we know she got home around 21:00, but it's a start. Stomach content analysis would suggest the attack occurred between 21:00 and 21:30. Given the time and location of the calls made from Meredith's phone it seems clear the phones were dumped in the garden by 22:15 at the latest. This timeline wouldn't preclude the possibility of Amanda and Raffaele being at the scene but it becomes extremely unlikely since there was human intervention on Raffaele's computer at 21:09.

"She didn't realize it was hers,she said the blood was not there the day before."

Have you never bled before and not even realize it? And saying it was not there the day before means she did not see it, not that it wasn't there.

"The lamp is important, doubtful that Meredith fumbled in Amanda's dark room to find her only lamp source. Especially if as you say Guede is already after her. I agree it was likely needed to search for something though."

They did not live in a cave. The house had lights. I'm pretty sure Meredith could have gone into Amanda's room and unplugged a lamp. And obviously she wouldn't be looking for an earring if she was being attacked. I gave you a possible scenario for the lamp being in the room. The point I am making is the PGP suffer from confirmation bias. You can't see anything other than that which assigns blame to Amanda. The lamp in the room has no evidential value in regards to who murdered Meredith. You can't prove who put it there or for what purpose. But you -assume- Amanda put it there to clean up a crime and then in your mind it becomes evidence.

Anonymous said...

Having another shower in a cold cottage with the door left open and scooting around on a bloody mat with other worrisome drops of blood is highly unusual. Not seeing the open door and the trashed room of Filomena's is also suspect. She was calling out and looking to see who was home. RS said Filomena's open door and wrecked room was the first thing he saw upon return to the cottage. Everything about that morning was strange , including the pair going off to AK's room together while the PP were there. The panic over the locked door and no Meredith that disappears when others arrive. You are the one in my opinion that is not able to look clearly at what the actions and evidence show. I would say you have the tougher job explaining it all away. I would be thrilled to learn of new evidence or information from Guede which would clear AK and RS. The point is to have justice for the victim. Can you honestly say you would accept the reverse and learn that you were wrong?

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 8:26 PM, Trying to pin down when they ate by when Raffaele did the dishes is unsupported conjecture. When I prepare dinner, the first thing I do is to wash the old dishes and the sink. Moreover, it would matter very little even if they got the time of the dinner wrong. When your alibi is that you stayed at home, it does not matter in which order you ate, watched a movie, or made love. Without a recording of the interrogation, there is no way to prove whether or not the interrogations were coercive. However, the police have been the source of much false information in this case; therefore, there is no reason to believe their fanciful tales of tea and crumpets. On the other hand, Raffaele indicated it was coercive.

This brings up another point. That night Raffaele offered the police his keys so that they could check his computer. That is when the metadata of Stardust got overwritten. Do you think that the overwriting was accidental or intentional?

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 9:55, Why did Raffaele ask for a lawyer and ask to talk to his father if the interrogation were not coercive? More generally, what is the point in discussing Amanda's or Raffaele's behavior when the combination of cell phone and duodenum evidence makes stories of their involvement only possible by large imaginative leaps? Can one rule out their involvement absolutely? Not with the evidence we have at this time, but the situation is the mirror image of reasonable doubt.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 8:18, The music video is a non-issue.

Frank Giordano said...

Anon, justice for Meredith would have been Guede getting 30 years in prison. There is no doubt of his involvement. With Amanda and Raffaele, what you are trying to do is put two people in prison for 30 years based on what you consider to be strange behavior. To be convicted the evidence must be beyond reasonable doubt. Strange behavior doesn't even come close. And the fact of the matter is, the lack of any forensic evidence of either of them in the murder room, the lack of any motive, the lack of historical behavior to suggest they could do this, and the need to leap well beyond common sense is all of far greater significance than strange behavior.

I've asked this many times before, and I'll ask it again; does it make sense to you that two kids in their early 20's, having both found out they were free for the evening while sitting at his house watching a movie, would leave his home, hook up with a guy they don't even know and murder her roommate instead of just hanging out at his place, getting high and making love?

Anonymous said...

No it does not make sense if they were two well adjusted kids. We have plenty of behavior to show they were both unusual in their personal relationships,reactions, and habits. I don't agree that the callous and narcissistic video and script is not telling of the personality of the accused.Until the source of possible contamination of the DNA on the clasp is discovered it is still evidence. Please don't explain about the other partial profiles or dust I have heard it all before. The sample for RS stood out as different.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 12:58, We have plenty of testimonials from Amanda's and Raffaele's friends which attest to their good characters. On the other hand, there are the English women: they barely knew Knox, and one of them professes hatred of her in Follain's book. As for the video, I question whether Amanda had much to do with it, and even if she did, trying to find meaning in it is more of the same, tired long-distance psychoanalysis that has plagued discussion of this case for more than four years (Amanda's short story, "Baby Brother") is a good case in point.

The source of the contamination (by van Oorshot's definition) is less important that the fact of its existence. If some of the DNA that arrived on the clasp got there innocently (unrelated to the crime), then there is no good reason to assume that all of it did not arrive innocently. Or conversely, unless one subscribes to the notion that all of the people whose DNA is on the clasp participated in the crime, it is very tenuous evidence at best.

There are two problems with what you implied with respect to the amount of DNA on the clasp. One is that Meredith's profile stands out. The peaks assigned to Raffaele are not much larger (and indeed are in some instances smaller) than the unassigned peaks. Two is that it is extremely problematic at best and contrary to forensic practice to assign a mode of deposition (primary versus secondary transfer) to DNA based on how much is there. Therefore, even if Raffaele's DNA profile stood out, it would be unwise to assume that this were the result of primary transfer.

Anonymous said...

Of course Meredith's DNA was on her bra and the action of putting in on for one or more days would account for the expected greatest amount of DNA.My point was and I think you are trying to mislead is, that the next greatest amount was from RS.That sample while smaller than MK's was much greater and not of the inferior quality like the partial profiles that could have come from dust. It could only have come from the assailant or was planted. As tiring as you find those short stories and videos, They both make references to the murder. The obvious comparison to the Video MK was in was on the mind of the person who wrote the script and put herself in the staring role. There is evidence from Lumumba that AK was not happy about her reduced role at the Chic and the fact that the owner had approached MK to come into work. There was also evidence from several of the girls that the relationship between Amanda and Meredith had become increasingly strained. We might know more if the diary pages to the month of October were not missing.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 3:53, If you read the relevant portions in Massei or examine the electropherograms yourself, you can resolve this paradox. The intensities of the unknown peaks are not very different from those that Stefanoni attributed to Raffaele. The amount of DNA from the unknown persons may be less, because the profiles are less complete. However, you are still willfully ignoring the obvious problem that one cannot make a simple statement such as, "larger amounts of DNA correspond to primary transfer and smaller amounts correspond to secondary transfer." I would respectfully suggest that you are unlikely to find even one professional DNA forensic worker who makes this claim. In addition Dr. Tagliabracci noted that Raffaele's putative DNA was on the borderline of being low-template in quantity, not the "abundant" DNA of lore.

Chris Halkides said...

I updated Part 27, which is an analysis of the bra clasp.

Anonymous said...

It is not that they are just smaller amounts but there is a huge difference in the meaning of a complete profile and a partial one.So who is being willful here? I would like you tell me where the complete profile of RS might have come from in the sealed room? The only other DNA discovered at the cottage was from a cigarette butt. I already get that the partial profiles could have been transferred from dust off the floor. Blanket statements about contamination do not begin to explain how a complete profile landed on that clasp. The Supreme court will have to decide whether the independent 'experts' should have trumped the earlier findings.

Anonymous said...

Chris I just read your post about RS. He wrote to his father about the lies he had told about Amanda. No reason for him to do this, he offered this information to his father to distance himself from her. He even bragged how he had his knife on him when he was interviewed by the police,for which his father chastised him.Doesn't seem like he was bullied into saying anything false.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 5:34 PM, Besides Stefanoni who is claiming that Sollecito's putative profile is complete? The problem is that Raffaele and Meredith share about 10 alleles, and Meredith's profile dominates the egram. There is no objective way to say whether Raffaele's alleles are there or not.

I suggest that you look over this entry for more information on touch DNA. You should also read through some of my previous blog entries; many of the same issues come up time and again. Trying to make inferences on whether something is a complete profile or not is a wrong path to take.

Moreover, you are confusing the DNA that Raffaele Deposited at the house with the DNA of his that the forensic team found, but the former is necessarily equal to or greater than the latter. For example, Raffaele touched Meredith's door, probably depositing his DNA in the process. He also cooked at Amanda's flat; if he washed his hands in her bathroom, he left his DNA on whatever towels he used.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 5:57, Do you have a link? I recall that Amanda said to one of her parents words to the effect, "I said a lot of stupidity."

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that the clasp DNA could have come from the towel or handle? If so the gloved investigator would not grab a towel then touch the clasp in the locked room. The door handle may be a remote possibility. Would not the defense have checked the door handle to see if there was DNA?

Anonymous said...

Chris, you nailed it when you book-ended the TOD with the 8:56 pm call which didn't go through and the 10:13 pm GPRS internet connection from Meredith's phone. The lack of any attempt to retry the aborted call to Meredith's mother, no other computer activity, and the failure to remove any outer clothing are strong indications that she was accosted upon her entry into the flat. These strong considerations for a time of death before 9:30 pm are supported by your analysis of the autopsy report showing a lack of material in Merediths’ duodenum.

The 8:40 pm visit to Raffaele’s apartment by Jovana Popovic, the 9:08 pm computer interaction, and the (disputed) 9:26 computer interaction squeezes the window of opportunity for Amanda and Raffaele to hook up with Guede and commit the ghastly murder of Meredith Kercher.

If there were a small window of opportunity, why would Amanda and Raffaele wish to leave Raf’s apartment for any deviousness involving Guede (whom they hardly knew) against Meredith? Why would a couple of 6 or 7 days not wish to spend the night at Raf’s place after having been relieved of their respective commitments?

For Amanda and Raffaele to have been involved in this deed the following had to have happened: Amanda and Raffaele found a small window of opportunity between 9:10 pm and 9:20 pm (of course this was impossible if there were indeed a 9:26 computer interaction); left Raf’s cozy apartment; hooked up with Guede, the barely know drifter, around 9:20 pm; arrived at the flat before 9:30 pm; and attacked and killed Meredith at 9:30 pm.

WHY???????????????????????????????

How did Amanda and Raffaele participate in the attack and murder of Meredith Kercher and leave no evidence of their presence? There was blood everywhere in the small bedroom yet there was evidence of the presence of only one individual—Rudy Guede. If Amanda and Raffaele were involved, why was there no evidence of their presence? The Conti-Vecchiotti Report verifies the statement “there was no evidence of the presence of Knox and/or Sollecito in the bloody bedroom.”


Bob / Sept79

Frank Giordano said...

Well said Bob. The window of the murder is narrow, all but certainly before 22:00 and most likely sooner. For certain we know Amanda and Raffaele were at his place at least until 21:08 but likely until 21:26. Physically they still could have gotten to the cottage, but this wasn't catching a train. For two people, who had every reason in the world to remain at home together, to suddenly run out, hook up with a virtual stranger and murder Amanda's roommate is beyond ridiculous.

Thank you again Chris for another insightful post. Part of a wonderful series.

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 9:35, I don't know whether the defense has any power to influence what does or does not get tested by the forensic police, but I suspect not. The handle or the door itself could have been touched by a forensic worker who then handled the clasp. Rudy brought towels into the bedroom and may have transferred Raffaele's DNA to the clasp in a couple of ways. For example, the towel might have been lying over the clasp, and Rudy stepped onto the towel, transferring DNA to the clasp. It is interesting to speculate in this way, but I am not saying that it happened exactly as I imagined it.

Additional tests on the clasp in 2011 might have been helpful. Do you think that the improper storage of the clasp was accidental or intentional?

Chris Halkides said...

Anon. at 10:18, You wrote, "Can you honestly say you would accept the reverse and learn that you were wrong?" The pro-innocence commenters with whom I interacted have indicated that there are certain pieces of hypothetical evidence that (if they were offered for real) would change their minds about the case. For example, if the putative semen stain were tested and found to be Raffaele's, then my opinion about the case would change completely. What piece of evidence could change your mind?

Anonymous said...

"Skind He also told his father he had told a pack o lies. This is after he was was interviewed by police. Did he want his father off his back too?"

?? This is internally inconsistant.

He supposedly told the police 'a pack of lies' to get them off his back - when we are talking about him saying he didn't know Knox's whereabouts for a few hours.

You have him admitting to his father that he'd 'told a pack of lies' (I would like to see direct evidence that this is expressly what he said), which is the functional and logical opposite of lying to someone to misdirect them.

Please explain why you have such an abvious contradiction, and why you dodged the issues raised.

skind

Anonymous said...

I suspect one of the answers to why Raffaele told a 'pack of lies' is that he was pressured by his interrogators who had relieved him of his pocket knife, shoes and who knows what else.

We will all know the real answer when his book is published. I have preordered my copy from Amazon.

Bob / Sept79

RoseMontague said...

Anon on 7 July said: "We might know more if the diary pages to the month of October were not missing."

Sounds ominous and that is the most likely reason this was included in Follain's book. My understanding is that several diaries/journals from Amanda were taken dated prior to her arrest, either 3 or 4 from what I have read. Some of these contain entries from October and Follain even quotes an entry from 18 October in his book.

This is another of those myths based on a piece of information that sounds like it points towards guilt but instead is just another disingenuous smear.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that digestive data is unlikely to be conclusive either way. The lags and leads are too long. It seems to me that we dont know when Meredith started her pizza or whether she ate again when she got home.

Finally, the studies cited seem to have involved very particular meals which do not appear to be very close related to thing MK ate. Is there any literature looking at whether digestion times are invariant to meal times.

Chris Halkides said...

We have Sophie Purton's testimony on the start time of the meal. Even if it were much later than she thought it was, it doesn't help the prosecution's case that much, as I explained in this entry. There is no reason to believe that Meredith ate at home, but (even if she had) that is unlikely to stop the passage of earlier food into her duodenum. Meal size and composition have an effect on digestion time, but it was testified that Meredith's portion was small. I would not say that the digestive evidence alone is absolutely certain. However, in combination with the cell phone evidence, the lack of Meredith's texting or emailing anyone, and the state of her clothes, the lack of material in her duodenum makes the prosecution's timeline untenable.

Unknown said...

From everything I had heard and read, including this blog, I simply could not beleive that Amanda Knox could be guilty. But the more I read, especially from less biased sources, it becomes pretty clear that Knox is a killer. In fact truely evil. I would put money on the new trial in 2013 confirming this. Mark my words.

Chris Halkides said...

Unknown, What is your theory of what happened? What is your timeline?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information. If I understand it correctly, there seems to be no doubt the police and Mignini knew Knox and Sollecito were innocent within a few months at most after the murder.
I have been commenting on your most recent post but two weeks ago knew nothing about the case.
I also thank you for the info. on forensics technicians working for prosecutors in the US basically blowing off confirmatory tests for blood when they don't work for the prosecution. Really appalling, one would hope this guy Deaver in NC would be locked up.

james rae said...

A good post although I arrived quite late in the game. All I sense regardless of all the evidence and opinions and the reality distortion field around this complex case is all three are skilled at saying as little as possible and having strange lapses of memory and changing stories from the getgo..

Chris Halkides said...

James Rae, Have you read "Honor Bound?" Both Amanda and Raffaele said that they were at his apartment prior to their interrogations, and both reverted to that story afterward. Amanda took 36 hours to do so, but Raffaele wrote that it took him several weeks to regain complete mental clarity. Raffale's account of the interrogation is that he got the nightsof 31 Oct and 1 Nov mixed up and asked for a calendar. The police refused his request, as they refused his request for a lawyer. When he heard Amanda crying out and wanted to help her, a cop said that there would be blood on the floor if he tried to leave.

Both Amanda and Raffaele have similar accounts of the night of 1 November and the day of 2 November, but they got times wrong. I don't attach any significance to such differences. This case is brutal, tragic, and simple. Rudy Guede was trapped in the house he was going to burglarize, by Meredith's return and presumed locking of the door. Their confrontation escalated into sexual assault and murder.