Monday, April 26, 2010

The prosecution's failure to release the electronic data files to the defense

Part XIV in the Knox/Sollecito case

(updated three times on 4/27/10, once on 5/6/10, and once on 5/20/10)

One of the first things that drew me to the Knox/Sollecito case was the open letter on two items of evidence, the kitchen knife and the bra clasp. The two coauthors, Drs. Elizabeth Johnson and Gregory Hampikian are forensic DNA scientists. A one-paragraph appendix to the open letter was co-signed by seven additional experts in the forensic DNA field, including Dan Krane and Jason Gilder. The open letter completely dismissed the DNA evidence linking the knife to the crime and said. “Handling and movement of this sample [the clasp] has compromised its probative value.”

Dr. Johnson was initially approached by someone close to the defense team about looking into this case, but I have no information on how the other individuals became involved. The defense gave Drs. Johnson and Hampikian the limited materials that were released in discovery; however, the other seven did not have these data, owing to time. The seven co-signers wrote, “…While I have not had the opportunity to review all of the case-specific data in this matter, I agree that the scientific evidence that they describe does not convincingly associate the kitchen knife with the murder of Meredith Kercher. I also agree that the handling and movement of the bra clasp that they describe would have compromised its probative value, and that the presence of a DNA profile does not speak in any way to the time frame or the circumstances under which DNA became associated with this sample…” The seven names appear at this website but not on the pdf file of the letter itself; however, several of them have confirmed their involvement in the case in email correspondence.

One portion of the open letter made specific mention of the lack of release of the electronic data files. Drs. Johnson and Hampikian both requested the release of the electronic files used to construct the DNA electropherograms (for one manufacturer, these are called .fsa files), according to Jason Gilder. Dr. Krane did so on multiple occasions, according to Jason Gilder, who is one of the seven co-signers of the open letter. Dr. Krane had previously put electronic data files to very good use in the Leskie case; therefore, it is no surprise that he would request them here. The requests were made via the defense lawyers, but the prosecution steadfastly refused the requests. According to Dr. Krane, the release of electronic files is the almost universal norm. Dr. Norah Rudin provides on her website a standard form, DNA discovery request, for cases involving DNA forensics. From this document:
“2. Items #7 and #8 listed in the Discovery Request refer to electronic data, also known as raw data.
a. Electronic data is considered standard discovery and is critical to an independent review.
b. Electronic data must be received prior to commencing an independent review.
c. The laboratory will typically provide you with a CD containing electronic data.”

According to Amanda’s stepfather Chris Mellas, the defense team had asked for the DNA forensic data (this would be expected to include the electronic files and machine logs) but was told that they did not exist. Then the defense learned that the Kercher family’s lawyer had some of this information and demanded that the judge order the release of the data in the summer of 2009. The prosecution released some data, but not what was asked for. The lack of release of these data was one of the reasons for a mistrial motion in the fall of 2009. In April of 2010 Bob Graham wrote, “It has also emerged that the prosecution has failed to deliver to the defence all the paperwork and documentation related to the forensic testing. Chris Mellas, Knox's step-father who is currently in Perugia, said yesterday: ‘Our lawyers asked for everything, every file and record relating to the forensic testing. We were given some of the stuff, like what was on Meredith's shoes or a juice glass but not the full reports on the knife used or the bra-clasp.’ Deputy prosecutor Manuela Comodi brushed off the request for all forensic documentation and added: ‘They have everything they need. That is enough.’” Ms. Comodi’s words imply that the defense did not receive everything, just what the prosecution claims is enough.

The news reports from last summer and fall are consistent with Mellas’s recounting of the events. The defense did not know until last July that Patrizia Stefanoni had written the words, “Too low” on files relating to the DNA profile culled from the knife. ABC news reported in September of 2009, “The trial reopened with an attempt to have the case thrown out, but it was rejected after the judge and the jurors deliberated for 90 minutes. Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito became animated in their assertion that evidence had been withheld from them. Sollecito's lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, addressed the court for 20 minutes arguing that the defense was not provided with crucial details of Sollecito's DNA allegedly found on Kercher's bra hook until July 30, 2009. The rights of the defense were damaged, she said, when ‘documents regarding the quantity of biological material on the bra hook and documents regarding the procedure used to attain DNA results were not made available to the defense.’”

Sara Gino, a defense expert witness, still did not have the dates on which the samples were run as of September of 2009. Frank Sfarzo reported in October of 2009 that the defense also asked the judge for an independent review of the forensics, which was not granted. Bob Graham reported in December of 2009, “Other forensic experts in several countries – including two from Britain – have started to study the DNA results but have delayed giving a verdict until they have received precise details on the methodology used by their Italian counterparts. The failure of the prosecution to provide these details to Knox and Sollecito’s defence teams is one of their central complaints.”

Do the defense team and the experts it consults have a right to obtain the data in electronic form? Release is clearly routine in the United States, consistent with the principle of transparency, enunciated by Keith Inman and Norah Rudin. Good science does not change when one crosses the border between nations. As an anonymous DNA forensic expert speaking about paper copies of the DNA forensic data said, “Certain parameters have irrevocably been applied to the data; as such it represents an interpretation by the laboratory rather than the original data.” A defendant should have the right to see and to challenge the evidence against him or her, and that principle is at risk in the Knox/Sollecito case.

Update I, 4/27/10: I corrected a minor typographical error in the first paragraph, where Dr. Johnson's name appeared twice.

Update II, 4/27/10: According to Chris Mellas by the time the defense learned that Mr. Maresca, the attorney representing the Kerchers, had some of the DNA forensic data, they had already requested it twice, before the pretrial and before the trial itself. Their third request in the summer of 2009 resulted in a court order that was not followed. To the best of my knowledge the additional DNA experts associated with the open letter made their requests after this time.

Update III, 4/27/10: Joy Halverson and Marc Taylor have confirmed that they signed the appendix to the open letter. Marc Taylor wrote, “We have discovered numerous manipulations of the data analysis or the actual physical analysis of the evidence by reviewing the electronic data…The electronic data is clearly the ‘best evidence’ in the legal system.”

Update IV, 5/6/10: In response to my query to another person who signed the letter, Simon Ford confirmed that he signed the letter and replied, “In my opinion, it is always important to review the electronic data underlying a test result, if only to confirm the integrity of the data set. In low level DNA cases such as this, in which the slightest contamination could compromise the test result, it is absolutely essential to review the electronic data for the key samples and the associated controls to check for low level contamination. I cannot think of any valid reason why the prosecutor would chose not to provide the electronic data. In my experience, forensic DNA analysts in the US are invariably happy to turn over the data to support their findings.”

Update V, 5/20/10
The Irish Times - Saturday, February 27, 2010
DNA testing project offers fresh hope to the wrongfully convicted

A forensic genetics expert, Dr Hampikian’s expertise is called on by the Innocence Project all over the US and further afield. He is currently working with the family of Amanda Knox, the American student jailed in Italy last year for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

A professor of genetics at the University of Boise, Idaho, Dr Hampikian’s role with the Innocence Project is voluntary, but one he takes seriously. He has been involved in four exonerations over the past decade, though, ironically, his DNA testing has confirmed guilt in two further cases.
“I can’t tell who is telling the truth or who is lying, but the DNA can tell,” he says. “Sometimes the Innocence Project is a bit of a misnomer. In two of the four exonerations, I developed evidence that led to the arrest of somebody new for the crime, so for some people we are the Guilty Project – and that’s an important part of what we do.”

This documents that Dr. Hampkian, like Dr. Johnson, is a consultant for the Knox defense team.


Anonymous said...


Do you know if one of the reasons for the appeals of Knox and Sollecito contain the failure of the prosecution to turn over the .fsa files to the defense?


Chris Halkides said...


I have not seen the appeal document myself. However, all publicly available information points to this as one area to address in the appeal. Obviously, if I were in the position of these families, that is what I would do.


Anonymous said...

The prosecution and the court's position on turning over the data is indefensible. This alone should have the US State Department extremely concerned.


Anonymous said...

You say electronic files are ALMOST the universal norm. Are they the norm in Italy?

Also: In the Italian legal system, can the prosecution simply refuse to hand over forensic documentation? Is that all it takes?

I'm essentially asking whether these issues speak to differences in the Italian and American legal systems; OR whether the Knox/Sollecito trial was conducted in an obviously irregular way.

If the trial violated the norms of the Italian legal system, one would think legal and forensic experts in Italy are complaing. Are they?

One Spook said...


You wrote:

"The defense did not know until last July that Patrizia Stefanoni had written the words, “Too low” on files relating to the DNA profile culled from the knife."

Although you apparently did not explain who Stefanoni is, I read that she is described as "public ministry consultant, Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni."

It seems that she is an Italian official. I wonder why she would be writing DNA profile report notes in English?

One Spook

One Spook said...

To the Anon @ 1:27.

If you read what Chris wrote, you would learn that Knox's lawyers based their appeal for a mistrial on the fact that evidence was withheld from them, and Chris wrote in his reply to Christiana that it appears from public information that the withholding of information is a part of Knox's lawyers' upcoming appeal.

Obviously they wouldn't be appealing it on those grounds if they didn't believe it was "irregular" and/or that it violates Italian law.

One Spook

Chris Halkides said...

One Spook,

Patrizia Stefanoni testified against Knox and Sollecito. The DNA testing was done in her lab. There is speculation that she wrote, "Too low" in English because she was copying from the machine, which is made by Applied Biosystems, Inc.

I am not sure whether Italian law is settled with respect to the release of electronic data, but Dr. Krane's remarks covered more than the United States.

Thanks for finding the typo; I corrected this.

Chris Halkides said...

Steve Moore now has three articles at injusticeinperugia, Bruce Fisher's blog on this case.

One Spook said...

Chris: I believe the three articles from Steve Moore are so informative and excellent that the links to those pages should be a permanent part of your Blog commentary.

Most of us who comment here are laymen. You have graciously taken the time to provide us with very excellent information, well written and understandable from the scientific standpoint, which is your background. These three articles from a highly experienced investigator, Steve Moore, are so superbly done, and so thorough that they should be required reading for anyone interested in or commenting on this case.

Below are those links:

Professional Opinion From Veteran FBI Agent Steve Moore

1. ”Investigation of Violent Crimes is My Life; Not a Hobby”

2. ”The Mountain of Missing Evidence”

3. ”Evidence Collection”

If you read nothing else about this case, please read these fine articles.

One Spook

Black Tea said...

Looks like old Spook ran everybody off.
Condolences, Chris.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Chris, for your explanations regarding the science and technology relating to forensic DNA analysis.

I agree with Spook that the articles by special agent Moore simply must be read by anybody trying to form an honest opinion about this case. It has been my belief from the start that if RS and AK had been involved in this bloody crime, the physical evidence against them would be clear. The prosecution wouldn't be relying on low-count DNA analysis (flawed at that). Moore, with his experience and expertise has really made that clear.

This was a tragic and horrible crime, and my heart cries for Meredith Kercher and here family. However, no justice is served by locking up innocent young people.

Spook, thank you for your comments in this forum. Both here and on the DIW forum you consistently demonstrate inciteful clarity of thought.

With no credible physical evidence tying RS or AK to the actual crime, everything else is irrelvant.


Mead said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Black Tea said...

RD, you might have posted "in-CITE-ful" in error. But if so, you slipped up with a true one there. And funny as hell. I'm sure you meant to say "insightful" with your rah-rahs.

Nobody here can say anything with clarity. That kind of tunnel vision is as damaging as assuming the guilt of the defendants.

I suggest you read what Chris has said about DNA and also check if this investigator has any ulterior motives either way for his "clarity".

Rose seems to be the only lucid poster and the most objective. Anyone who states with certainty anything about this case should be ignored.

Rose said...

Black Tea makes an excellent point. Well, two points if you count his comment about Rose. The problem I find with Steve Moore's articles is the fact the he is so certain that Amanda Knox is innocent. There is no doubt and he does not entertain the remotest possibility that she may have been involved in this tragedy. He even uses the word impossible in one of his articles. I will have more to say on these articles at some point.


Chris Halkides said...


Your comment is off-topic. I do not moderate comments, but I retain the right to ban commenters. Now you have been warned.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the correction, Black Tea. Although I did appreciate the links in Spook's post, my intent was to express appreciation for his commentary.

I also appreciate the humor in your certain statment that "Anyone who states with certainty anything about this case should be ignored."

We will have to agree to disagree regarding whether anyone can say anything with clarity. IMHO, it is clear that with neither motive nor credible evidence connecting RS or AK the the actual crime, then discussions of cartwheels, satanic rituals, sexual partners, etc. are just not relevant.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the correction Black Tea. Although I did appreciate Spook providing the cites (links) to Moore's articles, my intention was to express appreciation for his commentary.

I also appreciate the humor in your certain statement, "Anyone who states with certainty anything about this case should be ignored."

We will have to agree to disagree regarding whether anyone can say anything with clarity.


Black Tea said...

Rose,thanks for your acknowledgment. I just don't get the certainty some have on the case.

It looks like we'll all be the subject of attack if we disagree. Is that why you're so subdued?

I will say again that I like your approach.

And the lovely Debrah should be flattered that so many want to go after her.

And no, I'm not Debrah. But thanks to everyone for the compliment.

Carry on Rose in this geriatric maze.

Joe said...

Am I missing something?

Doesn't the burden of proof lie with the prosecution to prove with "certainty" that the defendents are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

That would normally require credible evidence and credible testimony, not conjecture, assertions, and suspicions.


I anxiously await your rebuttal to Steve Moore. Will you mention mops, forgotten phone calls, glass on clothes, and cartwheels?

I can't wait! This should be good!

Chris Halkides said...

To all,

I recognize that one may leave comments that one later regrets. I strongly encourage any person in that position to contact me, and I will gladly remove their remarks.


Rose said...

I would love to see Steve Moore do an article or two on the FBI anthrax investigation. I agree with a lot of things Mr Moore says in his articles. He seems to be very convincing or maybe it's just very convinced.

Rose said...

halides1 said...

To all,

I recognize that one may leave comments that one later regrets. I strongly encourage any person in that position to contact me, and I will gladly remove their remarks.


How far back can I go with this offer?

Chris Halkides said...

If a commenter asks and the software lets me, I will remove anything. I would very much prefer this than returning to moderating comments and/or banning commenters.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly certain we can all discuss this case in a rational, respectful manner without resulting to insults and belittling of one's posts.

If I have posted anything that someone doesn't agree with or my logic is faulty, please debate me reasonably. I will try to do the same with all here, though my posts are few.

I hope this blog doesn't evolve into one where Chris feels the need to edit or remove poster comments. I'd prefer he spend his time writing rather than babysitting.


Joe said...


With regard to your 4/27 update about Joy Halverson and Mark Taylor:

Clearly the quote by Mark Taylor refers to other cases, because the electronic data files in the Knox case have not been released.

Does this quote suggest that misconduct by Dr. Stefanoni could be discovered by way of the electronic data files?

It should make one wonder why the prosecution refuses to release these files.

Chris Halkides said...


Every forensic expert I have asked has said something very similar about the importance of having electronic files. Not releasing them makes me wonder what really is there.


One Spook said...


Nowhere in Steve Moore’s articles does he us the word “innocent.”

At the risk of again beating this horse that should have been dead long ago, the work of a prosecutor is to prove guilt based on evidence. He never once said Amanda Knox is innocent. As lay observers, our overriding question ought to be, as a jury would consider, “Based on the evidence presented, did the prosecution prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Moore is an expert in evaluating a prosecutor’s theory and gathering and examining all available evidence against that theory. None of us is such an expert, and our owning a modem does not make us one.

What he is certain about is that the prosecution did not have a sound theory of the crime; that they did not present a viable case; that the evidence (or lack thereof) was incompetently gathered and handled; and the conclusions reached “go beyond simply stretching credibility.”

To support his conclusions, Moore has offered a plethora of information garnered from decades of experience examining crimes similar to this one. He painstakingly describes exactly how proper procedures and techniques contribute to reaching a supportable, defensible conclusion as free of bias and “hunches” as it could possibly be.

There is no way any reasonable person could say that about the prosecution in this case.

Part of the reason he can and does speak with a great deal of certainty (not to mention “clarity”) is that he has a wealth of experience and training, has seen similar situations many, many times, and I hope you took heed of this statement from Moore, “I never had a person I took to trial who wasn’t convicted.” That ought to tell you that he is extremely good at what he does.

Like Joe, Rose, I’ll be interested in your rebuttal to Steve Moore, and I hope you heed Black Tea’s advice and write “with clarity.”


One Spook

Randy said...

Is it possible that the electronic files do not exist or were not saved? maybe they were damaged in some way? They gave them to that person who fried all of those hard drives and he accidentally deleted it instead of copying it!

my guess and it is only a guess is that in Italy, the prosecution is not required to give these particular files to the defense.

"(3) In criminal trials, the law provides for timely and confidential information of the accused regarding the nature and reasons of charges brought against them; they are granted the time and means for their defense; they have the right to question those who testify against them or to have them questioned; those who may testify in favor of the accused must be summoned and examined under the same conditions granted to the prosecution; any evidence in favor of the accused must be acknowledged; the accused may rely on the help of an interpreter if they do not understand or speak the language of the proceedings.
(4) In criminal trials, evidence may only be established according to the principle of confrontation between parties. No defendant may be proven guilty on the basis of testimony given by witnesses who freely and purposely avoided cross-examination by the defense." (Italy Constitution...article based on a translation from the Italian Embassy in London)

The Steve Moore articles are really informative. It was interesting reading about the knife wounds to the attackers. He doesn't just throw out some opinions or rants or theories. His whole explanation of the immediate area around Meredith is inline with questions I had from the beginning of reading about this case. For me, this is where you should see the most of AK & RS. But all that is in the room is some DNA on a bra clasp.

The rest of the case I can see how you can say certain things happened whether I believe them or not. False accusation, ok happens sometimes. Murderer keeps souvenir of the crime- yeah sure. 3 people get out of control after taking drugs and drinking alcohol, ok. Roommates don't get along, sure it happens. But, for 3 people to sexually assault and then violently kill another person with only 1 of them having any cuts and only 1 of them leaving DNA on the victim. I don't believe that is possible.

Rose said...

Steve Moore's article The Mountain of Missing Evidence lists several factors why Amanda and Raffaele could not have murdered Meredith. The first two are the lack of blood transfer and the lack of bloody clothes and shoes. Unfortunately, both AK and RS had plenty of time to clean up and dispose of their clothes. As far as the footprints go there were only eight found in Meredith's room, 5 of those being on the pillow. One of those prints on the pillow could be Raffaele's, in my opinion. The prosecution seems to think it may have been Amanda's. I would have to say that this claim is disputed and not taken as given. By Steve's own description the fact that only 3 bloody footprints were found in that room other than on the pillow seems unlikely without some sort of cleanup having taken place. The fact that they did not even find Amanda's fingerprints on her own table lamp that was for some strange reason taken into Meredith's room is also telling. Why was the lamp taken in there to begin with? If Rudy went into Amanda's room to get it would not there be some of Rudy's bloody footprints, fingerprints, etc in Amanda's room? Steve doesn't seem to consider this.

The next thing he lists is lack of injuries to AK and RS. He seems to find this unusual. He also seems to buy into the prosecution theory that Amanda was the primary knife attacker. I don't believe that is the case. Even Rudy was found with only one cut on his hand and that could be explained by many things. Even Chris has speculated Rudy could have gotten that by coming in the window over the broken glass.

His next point even lists the lack of blood transfer found in Amanda's room and also not found in Raffaele's apartment. I guess if they changed clothes in Raffaele's kitchen and then mopped up the kitchen floor and disposed of the clothes it could have gotten rid of this evidence. Both Amanda and Raffaele even admit the kitchen floor was mopped.

His next point is that AK and RS did not attempt an escape. It is possible that they thought they would get away with something by means of a cleanup and staging of the murder scene and break in. An escape would point to them as suspects. Even Rudy was in no hurry to get out of town quickly.

His next two points list psychological reasons that Amanda could not have been capable of murder. In my opinion, this is about as much proof as those who have listed behavior that points to Amanda being capable of this. I believe it is fair to say that this point is disputed. In my opinion people are not entirely predictable and are capable of doing many unexpected things.

This is Steve's conclusion: "AMANDA’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE MURDER IS NOT JUST UNLIKELY, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. The prosecution is missing all evidence needed to convict Amanda Knox, and hasn’t provided any plausible reason for it's absence."

In my opinion, it is not impossible at all.

Debrah said...


Let me applaud you with a shower of signature deep red Diva roses for that stunning analysis of Moore's unintentionally comical "impossible" critique.

Only feverish soap opera hounds would buy into his brand of certainty.

As "Black Tea" queries.......what ulterior motive would one have for such a black-and-white critique?

"The fact that they did not even find Amanda's fingerprints on her own table lamp that was for some strange reason taken into Meredith's room is also telling. Why was the lamp taken in there to begin with? If Rudy went into Amanda's room to get it would not there be some of Rudy's bloody footprints, fingerprints, etc in Amanda's room?"


Chris Halkides said...

Black Tea,

If you have some reason or evidence to make the rest of us believe that Steve Moore has ulterior motives, let's hear them.


Black Tea said...

Chris and all, I have no proof that Moore's strange statements of certainty are because of ulterior motives. I'm just asking if it is a possibility.

For pro-Knox-Sollecito readers Moore's opinions and findings will be a great body of work and they'll hang on every word.

For the rest of us his opinions are just one more opinion. The fact that he states his case with such certainty is a red flag, or should be. Does he want some kind of recognition as a champion of the appeals by pushing his ideas? I don't know for sure and no one else does either.

Anonymous said...

Black Tea is taking the jurors' tact: 'it must be true because it is possible!' And 'surprise!' Rose is congratulating BT, and Debrah is congratulating Rose, and...

This lovely little circle is so well orchestrated that one wonders how they might know each other?

Steve Moore's conclusions are well-reasoned and based on clearly presented facts. The motives of these three commenters are what I am concerned about.

Rose said...

Do three posters who admit they don't have all the answers constitute a consortium of conspirators? If we can just get 2 more to join our little circle, we could actually form a pentagram.

Steve Moore makes some great points and he is very persuasive.In my opinion however, he has overstated his case to the point that I believe he is showing some of the same tunnel-vision he accuses the Italian investigators of showing.

Rose said...

I would like to add that my evil nature got a great kick out of Steve Moore's complete smack-down of the Policia Scientifica in his article titled Evidence Collection.

My favorite part:
Possibility 1: They failed to notice that the bra clasp had been cut off.

Conclusion: They are incompetent and any of their findings should be viewed with great suspicion.

Possibility 2: They didn’t think it was important.

Conclusion: They are incompetent and any of their findings should be viewed with great suspicion.

Possibility 3: They looked but could not find the bra clasp.

Conclusion: They already had the bra clasp on video. Incomprehensible. (See Conclusions 1 and 2 above).

Possibility 4: They saw it, but didn’t realize what it was.

Conclusion: They are incompetent and any of their findings should be viewed with great suspicion.

That is some funny stuff there. I wonder if all those years of hearing criticism of the FBI's investigations of certain matters has come around to payback time. I wonder if each time an FBI agent screwed up the rest of the investigation became characterized as a bunch of incompetents whose findings should be viewed with great suspicion.

BTW, Steve. Glad to hear the FBI "solved" than pesky Anthrax case.


Chris Halkides said...


I was recently reminded of the fact that one or more towels soaked in Meredith's blood were stored improperly in plastic bags. This allowed some form of microbial growth and made them unsuitable for DNA testing, I believe.

Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence.


Rose said...

Good point, Chris. I had seen that mentioned and I was wondering what the proper method was for storage of such things.

I am really getting some positively evil sounding word verifications today. My bad influence, I am certain.

Chris Halkides said...


In general, one stores items in cloth, rather than plastic, bags, to allow for air circulation and to minimize decay. However, in the case of an item with lots of blood, I am not sure.


Anonymous said...


I am definitely a novice when it comes to DNA collection, evidence, testing, etc. What little I know I have read (here and elsewhere - Google mainly).

Below is a link and excerpt to collection of blood evidence. I don't know if current methods are different - it appears this information is from around 1990 - 20 years ago. A lot could have changed in that amount of years.

Most items of evidence will be collected in clean, unused paper containers such as packets, envelopes, and bags. Moist or wet biological evidence (blood, body fluids, plants, etc.) from a crime scene can be collected in clean, unused plastic containers at the scene and transported back to an evidence receiving area if the storage time in sealed plastic is less than two hours and this is done to prevent contamination of other evidence. Once in a secure location, wet evidence, whether packaged in plastic or paper, must be removed and allowed to completely air dry. That evidence can then be repackaged in a new, clean, unused, dry paper container. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD EVIDENCE CONTAINING MOISTURE BE SEALED IN PLASTIC OR PAPER CONTAINERS FOR MORE THAN TWO HOURS. Moisture allows the growth of microorganisms that can destroy or alter evidence.

What is your opinion concerning the above? Also, was it determined in court that the towels were stored improperly?


Chris Halkides said...


The mouldy towels were mentioned by Colonel Garofano on pp. 387-388 in the book "Darkness Descending" and again on pp. 401-402 and again on p, 433. The authors of this book believe that the presence of Guede's blood would help him show that he shed blood in his own defense. I am very baffled by this passage, but the book as a whole has a number of errors and is not very objective. I get the impression that the prosecution did not bring the towels up in the trial.

The passage you quoted about not storing items in plastic is familiar to me. I was partly going by memory in my earlier comment. It sounds consistent with everything else I can recall and is correct, as far as I know.


Joe said...

We know that Knox and Sollecito were in Meredith's room when she was murdered.

How do we know this?

There is no trace of them in the room. They must be involved!

My opinions of this case rest with the evidence, or lack there of.

I'll leave the conjecture, assertions, and suspicions to others.

Randy said...

I don't think Steve Moore believes Amanda was the one who stabbed Meredith..."Putting a knife in Amanda’s hand is like putting a trumpet in my hand. It doesn’t mean that I know what to do with it. I am a firearms instructor. I can tell you that a knife or firearm in an inexperienced person’s hands is more dangerous to them than others. The thought that you could put a knife in Amanda’s hands, and the very first time, have her inflict fatal wounds (especially without injuring herself in the process) is ludicrous." I think he mentions AK as possibly using the knife when he talks about blood splatters.

He does seem to "color outside of the lines" sometimes though making his points. I think his criticisms of the evidence collection are valid.

Anonymous said...

On the JREF forum there is a poster by the name of Charlie Wilkes who posted the following (in a reply to another poster):

katy_did writes:

Hmm, let's step back a second here. You say "Rudy leaves none of his DNA on the towels". How do we know? They were never tested.

They were tested with the following results:

Rep. 60 - Blood-soaked green towel found beneath body - no profile obtained (3 samples); 2 hair formations were also found but were unsuitable for DNA analysis.

Rep. 61 - Blood-soaked light-colored towel found next to body - match for victim (both of 2 samples); a number of hair formations found on this towel were examined but were unsuitable for DNA analysis.

Rep. 62 - Beige towel on mattress - match for victim (all of five samples); hair formations were also examined but found unsuitable for DNA analysis.

How is it possible that no DNA was found on Rep. 60, a blood-soaked towel, you might wonder. Answer: because Perugia's ace detectives let it rot it in a plastic bag before they sent it to the lab.

It appears this poster has information concerning the towels, though from what source I don't know (trial transcripts, news articles, etc). My questions are:

1. In the collection of blood evidence from a crime scene is it okay to store the items in plastic as long as that storage is for no longer than two hours (from previous post concerning blood evidence collection/storage)?

2. When a report says no DNA profile was obtained (Rep. 60) does that mean there was no DNA or can it mean that there wasn't enough to get a complete profile (like the other DNA profiles which were on the bra clasp besides Rafaelle's)?

3. Was it testified to in court that one of the towels (Rep. 60) was compromised due to faulty collection and storage procedures?

4. Are there other reasons a complete profile may not have resulted from Rep. 60 besides having been stored improperly?


Charlie Wilkes said...

Christiana, my primary source is a document prepared by the police science lab detailing the results of the DNA testing done in this case. I noticed the negative result for the towel, and I wondered how a blood-soaked towel could fail to yield DNA profiles for any of the multiple samples, so I asked Frank of Perugia Shock, and he said the blood became rotten. I am familiar with other cases where DNA evidence has been destroyed because it was put away wet in plastic bags, and I assume that is probably what happened in this case. I'm not aware that the subject came up in court.

Rose said...

Thanks for the information. I was wondering what you think about Amanda's defense team? It would seem to me in the example you gave that the defense would highlight such instances of error on the part of the forensic investigators.

Secondly, what do you think of the defense teams choice of experts? it appears obvious that the judge/jury were not swayed by these people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering some of my questions Charlie.

If any of the evidence was improperly handled or stored it should be part of the defense to question it and bring it to the court's attention. They may have done this - there are 10s of thousands of trial document pages for one to peruse. This subject may also be covered in the appeal documents of Amanda and Raffaele.

It would be of value to know if reasons other than improper collection or storage of evidence could yield a negative result concerning DNA.


Rose said...

Steve Moore appeals to the Duke Lacrosse supporters in his latest article:


It seems to be a response to Debrah and Black Tea. Debrah, he is on your side with that LAX thing. Black Tea, he is not getting paid for his efforts. OJ, he thinks you did it.

Anonymous said...


"The fact that they did not even find Amanda's fingerprints on her own table lamp that was for some strange reason taken into Meredith's room is also telling. Why was the lamp taken in there to begin with? If Rudy went into Amanda's room to get it would not there be some of Rudy's bloody footprints, fingerprints, etc in Amanda's room?"


Rose and Debrah,

Are you kidding? I doubt there are any of my fingerprints on my lamps. All I touch is the switch to turn on the light. Besides what if Ms. Kercher borrowed the lamp and carried it to her room herself? And if Mr. Guede moved the lamp...what was to prevent him from moving it before the murder...hence no bloody footprints. Good fingerprints are not so easy to find even at a crime scene. The lack of fingerprints from Amanda on this lamp says absolutely nothing. Sheesh.


Anonymous said...

I think Rose and Debrah are determined to keep the conversation going on this so they push the limits on this unbelievably silly case...and that is perfectly all right.

Mr. Moore's analysis is very fine. Several months ago now I, too, concluded that it was basically impossible for Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito to have participated in this murder...which is why this case is so outrageous. I am not sure anyone could lay out the problems with the case any better than Mr. Moore has.

It's a total dog of a case. And we need to keep talking about it until these kids are released.


Ray Turner said...

The prosecution's own experts conceded that lack of fingerprints is meaningless. I hope we can put this aspect to rest.

Randy said...

"How is it possible that no DNA was found on Rep. 60, a blood-soaked towel, you might wonder. Answer: because Perugia's ace detectives let it rot it in a plastic bag before they sent it to the lab."

is this an example of sloppiness? inexperience? does it make you think about some of the problems that there may be with some of the other evidence? bra clasp for example...the apparent lack of comparison tests for the other roommates in the cottage....allegedly not taping the interview with Amanda because they were too excited. Were they too excited when the collected the knife from RS's apartment?

"Most violent crimes are committed in the heat of the moment. The perpetrator is in an agitated state, possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and doesn't have the presence of mind to meticulously cover his tracks. It's the rare criminal genius who studies forensic science so he can commit the perfect murder and get away with it."

from an article about CSI- in the USA, the one in the article was in Denver- and their techniques.

Rose said...

It is unfortunate for Amanda that Meredith must have decided to borrow her lamp on that particular night, and most unfortunate that the pipe just decide to fall off requiring a mop that very same night. And it is really just bad timing that they turned off their phones and stopped playing with the computer during the time of the murder. And for the phone company to get it wrong that Amanda tried to reach Meredith's phone for just a few seconds when it actually just rang and rang. And just bad reporting when Raffaele told that reporter before the arrest that they were concerned because Meredith never locked her door. And it is just weird to think how Rudy was able to enter Filomena's window leaving all that glass on the window sill lined up just like if the exterior shutter was closed when the window was broken from the inside. And just bad police work not finding any glass on the ground below. And unfortunate that Rudy must have also picked up some glass as he was searching Filomena's room and deposited that glass on top off the clothes and computer making it look like it was staged. And very strange that Rudy was able to leave no trace that he had even been in Filomena's room, yet did not even bother to flush. And amazing that the police were arriving at almost the exact time that Raffaele was calling them. And highly unfortunate that puny Raffaele was unable to break the door down and when one of the downstairs boys had no trouble with it and just a bad decision that Amanda and Raffaele had decided to step away because they had already done their part. I could go on and on with this very plethora of unfortunate events. Fate was conspiring to get Amanda and Raffaele in hot water. It could be nothing else. If only Amanda's memory would somehow return, I am certain she could set the record straight, very unfortunate that fickle memory of hers.

Debrah said...

"Fate was conspiring to get Amanda and Raffaele in hot water."

Yes, Rose.

That has to be the answer.

It's a devilishly Diva mystery until you ponder those conspiring forces of evil.

You've just systematically outlined a litany of occurrences that, on the most viciously bizarre day, aligned with an ascendant Saturn and a full moon in Mars......

......the Italian tiles of justice were able to descend and scoop up these two effete, albeit academically serious students, into a seedy reticulation of danger......

.......for the sole purpose of satisfying Roman Rabelaisian appetites.

Debrah said...


I fear it will be necessary to allow your phlogistonic comments to cool.


Anonymous said...

Cling to your illusions if you must, Rose. You are making a lot of negative assumptions about issues for which there are equally compelling innocent explanations.

Overall, the evidence stinks.


Chris Halkides said...


Maybe Raffaele was a little reluctant to destroy the door and held back, but the neighbor was not. Maybe the neighbor was stronger or used the stronger leg muscles. Even if we assume that Raffaele helped to murder Meredith, why would he not want to break the door down? It is not as if he could prevent the body being discovered by faking an inability to do it. Quite the contrary, breaking the door down and acting shocked and saddened would make perfectly good sense in that hypothetical. With respect to the computer usage, the police inadvertently erased the information relating to when Raffaele and Amanda watched Stardust, according to Frank Sfarzo.


Chris Halkides said...


Do you see those three stars up in the sky? Those are Orion’s belt. Now, Orion was a hunter… My point is we humans seem to be hard-wired to tell stories to make sense of the world, whether or not the stories have any factual basis.

There is no evidence that a hunter named Orion ever existed, AFAIK. How much evidence do we have that there was a drug-fueled sex orgy? Did the prosecution find evidence of drugs? Did Rudy, Amanda, and Raffaele communicate with each other in any documented way, let alone communicate about a plan to terrorize and/or sexually assault Meredith? If Meredith were murdered between 9 and 10 PM (as I believe she was), was there even time for Amanda and Raffaele to become stoned, drunk or whatever, given what their known actions between 8 and 9 PM?

I am reading Candace Dempsey's just-published book, and there is something of an answer to the question of why the jurors voted the way that they did, despite the lack of evidence. ABC news interviewed one juror who said. “It is hard to envision Knox doing this. But it is possible. We can all drink too much, then get into our cars and drive.” (page 319)

Dempsey correctly notes two problems with this statement. First, that the standard should be reasonable doubt, not “it’s possible.” Second, as a Seattle lawyer said to her, driving is something we do on a daily basis. But we would not murder someone even drunk, unless we were depraved to begin with.


Anonymous said...

Exactly Rose,

AK's lamp in Meredith's room is not evidence of murder or of AK's being in the room at the time of the murder.

Neither a fallen pipe nor a mop is evidence of murder or of AK's being in the room at the time of the murder.

Turning off her phone is not evidence of murder or of being present during a murder.

An observation regarding Meredith's habits in locking her door is neither evidence of murder nor of being present at the time of the murder.

The configuration of the glass shards is not evidence of murder or of AK being present at the time of the murder.

Whether Rudy entered Filomena's room or left any trace in her room (or this crackerjack investigative team not finding any trace) is neither evidence of murder nor of AK being present at the time of the murder.

RS's refusal to break down the door is neither evidence of murder nor of AK being present at the time of the murder.

I'm sure you can (and will) go on an on.

It is difficult to prove a negative, nor should AK and RS be asked to prove their innocence. But the lack of any credible physical evidence placing either AK or RS in the room at the time of the murder for such a bloody crime IS a "mountain of missing evidence" supporting their innocence, particularly given the mountain of physical evidence placing Guede at the crime scene.

Do you also believe the Apollo moon landing was faked, given the equally compelling evidence of that?


Debrah said...

Let me state for those not in tune with didactic satire, I am not in disagreement with "Rose".

The fact that there are so many elements of this case that are ripe for satire should elicit just a bit of...... do you say?......

.......skepticism with respect to the unequivocal cries of innocence.

"Rose" is well-aware of my views with regard to the Lacrosse Hoax; however, it should be illuminated that a few who were touted as "heroes" at the time the case was in full bloom have long-since lost some of their luster.

That said, I would suggest that anyone such as Moore who so forcefully states his case.......

......all the while telling everyone that he's just "doing what he has to do" should be viewed in realistic terms as well.

He might be right in everything he has stated.

And he might be wrong.

Check out the Anthony Hopkins film "Fracture". It's a brilliant illustration of how everything might appear so perfectly innocent while a ton of glorious guilt lay just below the surface.

And allow me to disclose that, personally, I am not invested in the Knox/Sollecito. However, this venture of commenting on it has been endlessly entertaining.

The way a few people have behaved and have shown their empty-nester azzes have been worth the price of admission.

Moore is doing this out of the kindness of his heart the way any attorney is going to do "pro bono" work.

Everyone in the community along with his/her long lost cousin will have to hear about they whisper sotto voce how concerned they are for the unfortunate.

But please! Publicize it!

Thus, giving some of these people a reason to zip their pants every morning.

Recognize life for what it is.

People who don't have a life mulct from the lives of others.....and hope to be praised for doing so.

Joe said...


How "certain" are you of the occurences that you refer to?

I'm sure that you will hold onto the conjecture and assertions, but if you have any actual evidence to share, please do so.

Rose said...

I am going by memory on these occurrences. Most I have referenced or linked to on this blog on one post or another. Is there a particular one you are asking about?

I have no difficulty picking out Orion's belt. It's his little bow and arrow I have trouble locating. I think you are misreading the juror comment. I see it as meaning they were simply prepared to believe it was possible that Amanda was involved and then from there made a decision based on the evidence. If the jury was not prepared to believe Amanda could do such a thing because she was a pretty college girl without a history of violent behavior, then they did not belong on the jury, in my opinion. That juror is speaking about being open minded. Even good people are capable of terrible things. Yes, that is sadly the case. ☼

Chris Halkides said...


Sharon Swanson wrote an article called, "A Visit with the Collin Finnerty Family," in which she said, "I understand that good people can do awful things. I also know that awful things can happen to good people. And within those poles lie the facts in the Duke lacrosse case." Same situation here.


Rose said...

Nice quote, Chris. I agree.

One Spook said...

Rose, I do hate to pile on, so this will be my last reply to you.

With all due respect, you remind me of the character “Happy Jack” in a great song of the same name by ‘The Who’. It was sung of Jack, “The kids would all sing, he would take the wrong key …”

And, it’s cool to “take the wrong key” and sometimes, it’s even productive. Sensational criminal cases almost always have unproven, questionable elements and thus provide fodder for folks to write about for years and years. The Perugia case is not one of those.

Honestly though, in your analysis of Moore’s essays, I almost had to stop reading when you wrote, “One of those prints on the pillow could be Raffaele's, in my opinion. The prosecution seems to think it may have been Amanda's.” Based on your logic and proof, the fingerprint and shoeprint could have been yours, or mine too. “RD” did an excellent job addressing your questions and Observer correctly concluded, ”It's a total dog of a case. And we need to keep talking about it until these kids are released.”

At the end of the day, the prosecution has yet to provide any credible evidence that either Knox or Sollecito were present at the time the crime was committed or that they participated in this horrendous crime in any manner.

I fully agree with Joe aptly said, “My opinions of this case rest with the evidence, or lack there of.

I'll leave the conjecture, assertions, and suspicions to others.”

And thus I leave you Rose, but since I began with a song, I’ll end with a poem that I’ve copyrighted:

“There once was a woman who lived in a Thesaurus.
She found so many synonyms that she grew to bore us.
And so she commented more and more;
A pedant at best, and a crashing boor.”

One Spook

Rose said...

You are a man of many talents, One Spook. Unfortunately, fine poetry is not among your considerable répertoire. I do so miss Joan Foster.


Debrah said...


With regard to your (7:05 PM).......

Indeed, who can disagree with the Swanson quote?

One which she wrote so compassionately after Kevin and MaryEllen Finnerty invited her to their home.

Swanson is an extremely nice person. I met her when Stuart came to speak at Duke, but even she went along with the rest of the media in the beginning.....for whatever reason.

MaryEllen Finnerty invited her to spend some time with the family after reading Swanson's hit piece she initially wrote......dutifully joining the tendentious mob at the N&O and the lazy meta-narrative promoted by the mainstream media.

Like it or not, if we must compare the two cases, then let's do so honestly.......and look back honestly on some of those people.

The lacrosse players would not have stood a chance, even in their innocence, which, by the way, was infinitely more apparent than has ever been shown in the Knox/Sollecito case.

Unfortunately, the chain of events in Perugia are not as distinct and clear.

It would be impossible to fully explain to those who are not residents of the Triangle just how formidable it would have been for the innocent lacrosse players to have ever gotten fair treatment if the case could have been pushed to trial in Durham....or any other nearby city or town.

Their own wise behavior and demeanor, the relative affluence and professionalism of their own parents, and the actual evidence available which served to buttress their unwavering and consistent professions of innocence, provided a strong defense against the ridiculous rape charges.

And Mike Nifong was so egregious in word and deed on national TV that even the ultra-liberal mob might have secretly recoiled......knowing that he was screwing up their agenda.

The defense attorneys lucked up and fell into that case.

The fact that they are such a part of the very fabric of the culture that automatically assumed the guilt of "rich, white boys" will always be the grandest of ironies.

Debrah said...

During the lacrosse case, attorney Joseph Cheshire called his younger partner Bannon, his "brain".


Putting aside the fact that Cheshire doesn't need anyone else's brain, especially someone with a law degree from a school like Campbell University......

.......that was a nice pat on the head for a dutiful and dependable law partner.

After reading the quotes below from UPI, one can be thankful that it was Cheshire who was in charge.

As we all recall, Bannon did an excellent job sifting through all the DNA evidence; however, for a more objective view, people should really take a look at what Michael Gaynor had to say about that whole episode.

Looking back, it literally scares the hell out of me that someone with such a retro and bizarre personal ideology as the one below even had his hands on such a delicate case as the Duke Lacrosse Hoax.

This is the mindset that creates the dangerous tunnel vision that Knox/Sollecito supporters talk so much about.

However, the case in Perugia is not weighted down with the culture war issues that bring out the loony in people like Bannon.

Anyone not living in the Triangle cannot possibly comprehend the strength of the longtime locked-in ultra-Liberal environment.

Mix that reality with elements of "race" and the odds of getting a fair shake are minimal.

Take a look at this from UPI......

"Brad Bannon was a harder sell. 'When I first read in the newspaper that these rich white kids from Duke had raped a poor black woman from Durham, I found it easy to believe, Bannon later ecalled. 'My background wired me to believe that privilege and wealth would exploit poverty.' "

Then it goes on to explain that Bannon was raised by a single mother who was a school teacher---NEA drenched, of course---and how she and her own mother worked for the JFK campaign in West Virginia when he was running for president.

"In college and law school, Brad had honed a sense of distrust for the exercise of privilege and power and an affinity for society's underdogs. Bannon is not a Democrat, he says, 'because the Democratic Party isn't liberal enough.' "

These are the people who could just as easily have been on the front lines with the potbangers if they had chosen a different profession.

Reade, Collin, and David projected such a strong presence along with consistent and unwavering accounts of what took place that it really took very little work for seasoned attorneys who are all liberal Democrats.

Major players in the judicial machine of the state.

The lacrosse players and their upscale families were a bouquet for any experienced defense attorney.

And let me reiterate........the late Kirk Osborn was the only lacrosse defense attorney who put himself on the line when it could have damaged his career.

This was another point that Gaynor made at the time that didn't get enough attention.

In my opinion, and one that Stuart lamented as well, there were many conservative champions in that case who were ignored so that a "liberal on liberal" legal match could be the scenario.

So it would not appear that there was a group of conservatives supporting the lacrosse players and fighting the black community and the Gang of 88 and their depraved milieu.

Trouble is, many of the "heroes" had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the defense of those "rich white boys".

For most attorneys, the national / international spotlight and some of that good capitalist money-for-hire from those for whom the Democratic Party is way liberal enough......

.......will prompt a kind of objectivity in them very quickly.

Rose said...

It is certainly obvious that Chris has done a terrific job putting the DNA evidence into an area of doubt. That does not mean that this evidence should be completely discarded.

My reading of the motivations report indicates that the judges/jurors considered the testimony of the prosecution experts as well as the defense experts and concluded in the other direction. That is why I was interested in Charlie's opinion regarding the choice of experts. The judges did not have the benefit of the many opinions that have come out by other experts since this trial ended. The motivations report goes into great detail regarding the DNA testimony and outlines why they made the decisions they did. As we discussed previously there was also a great deal of emphasis put on the staging of the break-in.

There has been quite a bit of bashing towards this jury because of the perceived "lack of any evidence". Perhaps it would be fair to say that the DNA evidence is disputed on this blog and others and not disputed on certain other blogs and websites. I have read a poorly Google translated version of the entire report and it seems to me they considered both sides of the argument on the DNA evidence as well as a lot of argument over the circumstantial evidence.

The (PMF) translated report will be out soon. It is interesting to me that they have gone to a lot of effort to do this translation whereas the pro-Amanda sites have not done anything other than some short summaries of just a few paragraphs. Nor have they made the contents of the appeal available. It would seem to me they would want the counter argument to come out before the motivations report.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the twin facts of ample alibi evidence and the glaring absence of an actual crime are two key components that distinguish the LAX case from the Knox case.

Potentially almost as significant was Bob Ekstrand's quick intervention to block the Duke administration and Durham police department's collaboratively arranged police interrogation of the players sans pesky parents or alert lawyers.

The unimpeachable commonality that binds the two cases
is the stunning absence of DNA at crime scenes where any thinking person would expect to find a generous supply of that powerful genetic witness.


Chris Halkides said...


From Candace Dempsey's book, I learned that Amanda's flatmates thought it odd that Amanda showered as much as she did. Other than possibly some issues around how to clean a bidet, I don't think that there is much to the hygiene angle.


Debrah said...

Sounds like good news from the hygiene front, Chris!


If we can believe the accounts in Dempsey's book and take them as unimpeachable facts........more credible that Nadeau and company.

It's common to take about three showers or baths when one is very active.

After workouts......then readying to go out on dates after a long well as after sex.

Consequently, for many people, especially during the warm season, taking multiple showers would be necessary to chase the musk away!

Michael Gaynor said...

I am not nearly as familiar with the Knox case as I am with the Duke lacrosse case, but I do not believe that the two cases are especially comparable.

Comparing the Knox prosecutor to the disgraced, disbarred former Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael Nifong does not seem justifiable.

Not all politically ambitious/publicity-happy prosecutors are the same.

There is a big difference between an overzealous prosecutor who does not turn over relevant evidence because he or she truly believes that the person or persons being prosecuted actually committed the crime or crimes charged (bad as that would be--AND I AM NOT ACCUSING THE KNOX CASE PROSECUTOR OF THAT) and a shameless political hack who prosecutes or continues to prosecute persons whom he knows must be innocent because none of their DNA has been found in or on the clothing of an alleged rape victim and the accuser's history was like Mangum's history and the accuser changed her story like Mangum did).

The scurrilous Nifong had been appointed to fill the DA vacancy in Durham County to fellow Democrat Governor Michael Easley and promptly sent then ADA Freda Black packing. He (white male) was in a three-way Dem primary race with Black (white female) and Keith Bishop (black male). Black (Freda) was favored to win when the phony gang-rape cry gave Nifong a chance to try to save his job by pandering to the black voters by posing a a champion of black woman especially and blacks generally.

I do not know what the prosecution's failure to release electronic data files to the defense signifies in the Knox case, but it does not parallel what happened in the Duke case.

The DNA Security report was released to the defense and the defense then asked for and eventually obtained the supporting documentation for that report in discovery.

Yes, Nifong claimed the supporting documentation was not relevant, because no DNA of any member of the Duke men's lacrosse team had been found, but it was not his call and he complied with the order to produce it.

Anyone who read the report with care should have realized that multiple male DNA was found and, even without the benefit of private investigator reports on false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum, suspected that the supporting documentation would be a treasure trove.

Didactic satirist "Debrah" mentioned me in a comment and I comment to make my own views clear.

"Debrah" commented that "the late Kirk Osborn was the only lacrosse defense attorney who put himself on the line when it could have damaged his career."

I think that Osborne was in a class by himself among the Duke case defense lawyers, but he was not the only one who took risk.

I do claim that Wade Smith, lead attorney for Collin Finnerty, mentor and former partner of John Edwards and former chair of the North Carolina Dem Party, put his career at any risk in the case.

Michael Gaynor said...

Just kidding! Nifong was not afraid to persecute the Duke Three, but he would never have gone after Wade Smith personally and Wade Smith had to know Nifong would not target him.

This was a case in which the players were innocent of the charges, the DNA would prove it and a Dem was playing the race card for political purposes. It was fraught with peril for the Democrat powers in North Carolina and potentially problematic for Democrats generally.

It worked out about as well as Dems could hope for a Democrat scandal and Smith's involvement certainly did not hurt.

Smith said after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper not only anoounced that the charges against the Duke Three should be dismissed, but took the rare step of declaring the players innocent, that he (Smith) understood a desire to have Magnum prosecuted, but it was not needed in the circumstances.

Right. A DA gad tried to railroad the Duke Three. No prosecution of Mangum was what was best for Dems in control of Durham and the state of North Carolina. Nifong alone took the blame (and even spent ONE night in jail). Nifong's office was not investigated, as though he was the only scoundrel in his office, and so the Democrats did not have the party's black base inflamed over a prosecution of Mangum that could have brought sunlight. (What would Revs. Jackson and Sharpton have done if Mangum had been prosecuted?)

Joe Cheshire and Brad Bannon, the attorneys for David Evans, did not join in Osborne's very public motion to have Nifong removed as prosecutor, but they did take some career risk but, unlike Osborn, did not die of a sudden massive heart attack. Nifong refused to meet with Cheshire and Bannon after they were retained and he was making outrageous public statements, so they sent him a letter warning him to cease his public comments, citing the ethical rules he was violating, and telling him that he had already threatened the rights of anyone to a fair trial in Durham. Telling that to a district attorney in which the teller practices criminal law is not without risk not only to the teller, but to the teller's other criminal defendant clients.

A formal ethics complaint was quietly filed against Nifong and any expectation that Nifong had that the defense would give him a pass until after he won the general election and then cut a face-saving deal with him proved to be unwarranted. The players wanted their innocence established, not Nifong's face saved. It was not a case to be compromised, because the charges were bogus and the prosecutor knew it long before Bannon asked Dr. Brian Meehan about his report during a hearing in the case.

"Debrah" opined that "there were many conservative champions in that [Duke] case who were ignored so that a "liberal on liberal" legal match could be the scenario.

The fact that Wade Smith is a prominet North Carolina Democrat, Cheshire is a liberal Democrat and Bannon said he was too liberal to be a Democrat are not disputed.

I am a conservative. I supported the players against false charges early, was asked to support them on the Internet and then posted extensively. I was acknowledged and applauded in Until Proven Innocent by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, but it is true that the book definitely was not geared to conservatives and conservatives from Rush Limbaugh (white male to La Shawn Barber (black female)to the Independent Women's Forum went unmentioned and Sean Hannity's increasing skeptism of Nifong got a line on p. 205.

There is irony here. UPI's subtitle is "Political Correctness and thwe Shameful injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case." The political correctness crowd hated that and thus did not support the book. Conservatives loved the subtitle, but did not fall in love with a book aimed at the center. As a marketing strategy, it was not a winner.

Debrah said...

Well, none other than Mr. Gaynor, I see.

Very provocative as well as informative.

Your point about the marketing strategy of the book is well-taken and I agree in part.

I believe if there had not been such a fear of turning off the ultra-liberal environment and all the tap dancing that some felt they had to do to "get along" with those who were thought to be indispensable---but were not, really---in the writing effort.......

........and if there had not been such an aversion to all-things-conservative, there would have been much greater demand.

If you want to exclude or avoid any group during such a venture for personal reasons, it's a marketing killer.

The desire to make sure everyone knew the conservatives were kept at bay---("Hey! I'm not a Republican! Never voted for one! I'm not a conservative! They're stupid like Bush!")---really was a bit creepy as well as infantile.

That's why that account in the book from the intellectually constipated Bannon is such a disappointment and unintentionally comical.

He was making sure the "boys from up North" knew he was "with it" and "had been basking on the cosmopolitan veranda"......(albeit, puddles of NASCAR beer bubbled along the wrought iron rails).

Unfortunately, some observers might have we really need another vapid tale of "liberal do-gooders" who "work hard for their money" and share a "we are the world" moment?

When, truthfully, it was not their show by any means.

The longtime, ingrained Democratic machine in the state is wholly rotten to the core.

Ooops! But I feel compelled to do the same thing as mentioned above for fear of being called a......shush!.....dare not speak its name!...ahhh...ahh...a conservative.

I'm a Diva centrist.

A registered Democrat, but only vote their way part of the time because I'm not crazy.

Chris Halkides said...

Hello Michael,

I hope you decide become more acquainted with this disturbing case because it would be wonderful to have your legal perspective. It’s true that I have focused on the lack of release of electronic data files and the poor quality of the DNA forensic work, but that is because they fall closer to my area of expertise than a number of other immoral and possibly illegal actions taken by the prosecution team and the lawyers for the Kerchers and for Mr. Lumumba. I note that Mr. Mignini has already been convicted, and his sentence is eighteen months. He is appealing his sentence and will probably not serve any time. Remarkably, he is still involved in the Knox/Sollectio appeal and is trying to lengthen their sentences.

Although I drew the comparison
myself in the second article in this series, I will not attempt to summarize all of the similarities and differences between this case and the DL case here. However, I would like to share an observation from novelist and writer Douglas Preston about the Knox/Sollecito case when Candace Dempsey
interviewed him. “One other detail that American readers might like to know: in Italy, prosecutors are firmly in charge. They tell the police what to look for, where to go, what evidence to analyze, what evidence not to analyze. In America, the police work independently and are specifically trained in evidence gathering and criminal investigation. In Italy, the police must do what the prosecutor tells them. As a result, many criminal investigations in Italy are botched by prosecutors who are judges, trained in the law, who have no background in criminal investigation, police work, or forensic science.” When Mr. Nifong took control of the DL investigation, he was behaving more like an Italian prosecutor than a typical American one, if Mr. Preston’s account is accurate. It is only fair to point out that Mr. Preston had personal experience
with Mr. Mignini’s interviewing and prosecutorial style, as detailed in The Monster of Florence, which he coauthored with Mario Spezi.

Again, welcome.


Michael Gaynor said...

"Diva Debrah" may not have divined what I meant by "As a marketing strategy, it was not a winner."

I did not try to imply that Stuart and KC wrote the book with a marketing strategy slanting their work.

Stuart is a centrist and KC is very liberal. UPI was not going to be a tribute to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Nor Thomas Sowell or La Shawn Barber.

I don't agree that it has to be a "marketing killer" to "exclude or avoid any group...."

Unapologetically conservative books have been great marketing successes. "Progressives" are whining that Sarah Palin's book profits are much to much (but the "Avatar" profits are fine).

If UPI had been writtten to appeal to conservatives, I think it would have been a great marketing success (and been promoted by Sean Hannity).

It's inconceivable to me that the book could have been written to appeal to the rabid radicals who backed Crystal Gail Mangum and been a marketing success (unless George Soros wanted it to be).

The political correctness crowd didn't want focus on the Duke case, much less the one Stuart and KC provided, complete with--gasp--blame on political correctness.

The perfect book on the Duke case would have exposed the ugly politics of Durham and North Carolina. UPI didn't do that. Key members of the defense legal time (and important sources for the book) were not interested in taking on the system in which they had been very successful. They wanted to win exoneration for their clients...and they did.

"Diva Debrah": "The longtime, ingrained Democratic machine in the state is wholly rotten to the core."

If you say so (and I'm not disputing it), then what's your reason for being a registered Dem in that state? Voting in primaries?

As Dan Rather closed his CBS News broadcast a few times...COURAGE!

Debrah said...

"I don't agree that it has to be a 'marketing killer' to 'exclude or avoid any group....' "

Fair enough.

Let's just say that given the national / international attention the lacrosse case garnered, covering the entire story without regard to the politics and ideologies of anyone would have been riveting.

I am the last person you have to convince of KC's and Stuart's stellar work on the case and the book.

I love KC and always will. He's extraordinary. I might not agree with him on everything; however, I've only known one other person in my life who is so purely brilliant.

And Stuart is such a gentleman, an intellect, and a real mensch. He would have been great in the role as the quintessential "buffer" in the "Godfather".

I just believe that when you make such a venture, you will have a more exciting and more illuminating piece of work if you don't use verbal emollients and if you don't avoid the confrontations whose very existence tell the broader story.

You don't make friends that way, but how many people actually remember someone's glowing obituary longer that an hour after reading it?


".......then what's your reason for being a registered Dem in that state?"

It's the lesser of two evils.

I'm socially individualistic and fiscally circumspect.

"Voting in primaries?"

An unintended bonus, for sure.

Debrah said...

"The perfect book on the Duke case would have exposed the ugly politics of Durham and North Carolina. UPI didn't do that. Key members of the defense legal time (and important sources for the book) were not interested in taking on the system in which they had been very successful."

You got it, baby.


And anyone who continues to get only their take on the case will not be telling the real story.

Michael Gaynor said...

Hello Chris

"When Mr. Nifong took control of the DL investigation, he was behaving more like an Italian prosecutor than a typical American one."

For reasons political, racial and personal, Nifong was able to do what he did.

It's not hard fore me to believe that a jury would convicted a person who is innocent. That seems to be an inherent problem in any political justice system and an individual catastrophe.

But that pales before the problem of an inherently biased system in which personal interest and/or political interest trump justice.

If I understand correctly, you believe that the Knox case involves an individual miscarriage of justice in which the check on ta zealous prosecutor, the jury, got it wrong. Maybe so. But I don't see evidence that the Italian prosecutor was out to frame innocent people to win key votes that would allow him to keep his job. Am I missing it?

The Duke case has that evidence. The case lasted as long as it did due to politics being played. Governor Easley waited until long after Nifong was elected and Nifong had become toast in the courtroom of public opinion to utter a bad word in public about the scoundrel he had appointed (and even then uttered it out of state). The North Carolina Attorney General's Office waited to be asked to take over the case. Not acceptable.

Michael Gaynor said...

I wrote about the dispute over the state of the North Carolina criminal justice in 2007, supporting Liestoppers and criticizing Brad Bannon.

Duke Case: LieStoppers, Yes; Brad Bannon, No

North Carolina's criminal justice system needs major reform, not fine tuning.

I enthusiastically applaud LieStoppers' disturbing May 6, 2007 article entitled "NC DA's Push For Legalized Nifonging," NOT David Evans attorney Brad Bannon's much too favorable appraisal of North Carolina's legal system. With the Duke case finally dismissed and the North Carolina State Bar apparently targeting only Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong, the redoubtable LieStoppers (lauded by America's top legal commentator, Stuart Taylor, Jr., for "an amazing performance of journalism on the fly") are still focused on fixing North Carolina's flawed criminal justice system and frustrating the current prosecutorial effort to permit the disclosure of some exculpatory evidence to be delayed, while Mr. Bannon is treating the Duke case as a local aberration instead of something symptomatic of significant underlying problems.

Thanks to North Carolina's open-file discovery law passed in 2004, a North Carolina prosecutor no longer can wait to hand over witness statements to the defense until the witnesses testify. That helped the defense to finally secure the dismissal of the bogus charges in the Duke case, but it was not enough: the world also had to be shown that exculpatory evidence had been concealed and it took until mid December of 2006 for the defense to do that.

LieStoppers had suspected that self-interest had prompted the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys' split with Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong last December and said so then.

Besides calling upon Mr. Nifong to recuse himself from the Duke case, the Conference's public statement gratuitously set forth the case for the proposition that ample safeguards were in place, as follows: "There are a number of safeguards in place under our laws to regulate actions taken by a District Attorney as well as sanction prosecutorial misconduct. (1) The voters in a prosecutorial district provide the first safeguard - they pass judgment on the qualifications and conduct of the persons who seek the job by casting their votes at the ballot box. (2) Ultimately the courts in each jurisdiction review and rule on each individual case that a District Attorney prosecutes to determine whether the District Attorney has followed proper procedure and the case is legally sufficient. The District Attorney is an officer of the court. The courts have authority to impose various sanctions such as contempt or dismissal of the criminal charges if the court finds prosecutorial misconduct. (3) The North Carolina State Bar has the authority to enforce the rules of professional responsibility that govern all attorneys including prosecutors; there are a number of rules that uniquely apply to prosecutors. The State Bar determines whether or not a District Attorney has violated those rules and, if so, what sanctions are appropriate. (4) N.C.G.S 7A-66 sets forth the statutory procedure for removal of a District Attorney from office. Among the grounds for removal are willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the office into disrepute. A judge of the Superior Court rules on all issues presented in any sworn affidavit submitted in such removal proceedings. (5) District Attorneys are subject to the provision of the recently enacted State Ethics Act; complaints against a District Attorney that are lodged under the law are reviewed and acted upon by the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge in the District. With these many safeguards in place, the conduct of District Attorneys is thoroughly regulated probably more than that of any other judicial officer in our legal system.”

Michael Gaynor said...

The Conference's public statement was a plaintive plea by the other 99 North Carolina district attorneys not to regulate them further. It was made after Mr. Nifong's concealment of exculpatory evidence had been exposed, reportedly due to the diligence of David Evans defense attorney Brad Bannon. (The Conference was not moved to issue a statement by Mr. Nifong outrageous public statements with respect to the Duke case made before the Democrat Durham County District Attorneyprimary on May 2, 2006.)

In their latest article, the prescient folks at LieStoppers opined, "The unprecedented statement from the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys revealed not only that Nifong had become a pariah among his peers, but also that the state’s elected district attorneys shared a concern that they would all suffer if Nifong’s ripples caused the General Assembly to enact stricter safeguards."

To LieStoppers (and me), "[t]he inclusion of this painstaking outline of supposed safeguards in the NCCDA statement calling for Nifong to recuse himself, makes clear the aversion with which the group viewed additional state regulation, and their expectation that, without their unprecedented intervention, one Nifong ripple would likely lead to exactly that."

Michael Gaynor said...

Politics as usual rearing its ugly head when reform is needed instead.

What prompted LieStoppers to refocus on that public statement by the Conference was the Conference's subsequent attempt to convince the North Carolina Legislature to pass a bill that would roll back parts of the 2004 law that helped the defense lawyers show the innocence of the three young men charged in the Duke case and give district attorneys and their staffs greater leeway to withhold details from some interviews with witnesses and investigators.

LieStoppers: "Confirming our expectation that the NCCDA primarily moved against...Nifong in order to influence the General Assembly and not for the sake of justice, Anne Blythe reported on the efforts of the NCCDA to lobby for new legislation. One such bill, dubbed by some the 'Nifong Protection Act,' seeks to legally allow North Carolina prosecutors the same opportunity to withhold evidence from potentially innocent defendants as Nifong illegally did in the Durham Hoax."

"Predictably, the NCCDA ignores the rampant withholding of evidence that prompted the open file discovery law in the first place and attempts to maintain the illusion that Defendant Nifong’s misconduct, characterized as 'offensive' by NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, were the isolated actions of one rogue prosecutor."

"Although the NCCDA attempts to paint the egregious misconduct of rogue prosecutor Nifong as an atypical aberration and asks that other prosecutors not be held accountable for his misdeeds, an examination of similar misconduct by several other North Carolina prosecutors serves as a reminder that the open file discovery law not only predates the Durham Hoax, but also was enacted due to the questionable actions of many other prosecutors. While Gell’s case is perhaps the most prominent instance of pre-Durham Hoax prosecutors withholding evidence in order to obtain a wrongful conviction, countless other examples can be found to demonstrate the need to prevent prosecutors from having the ability to totally decide on their own, without any oversight, what evidence they will or will not share with defendants."

Michael Gaynor said...

Brooklyn College History Professor Robert K.C. Johnson, in a post on his Durham-in-Wondrland website entitled "Brad Bannon: The Unknown Soldier" about David. Dixon's interview of Mr. Bannon, summarized Mr. Bannon's views on the role of the blogs vs. the mainstream media in the Duke case as follows:

"Bannon feels that information from blogs was often more reliable than information from the mainstream media about this case. 'I think that trend followed other trends in blogs about politics, current events, and the War in Iraq,' explained Bannon. 'That was one of the most fascinating things about the news coverage of this case. It wasn’t the mainstream media trying to outdo each other in service to pre-existing meta-narratives. It was people who didn’t have the compensated, corporate backing of the mainstream media and said, "Hey, let’s focus on facts and not an agenda." I know other cases have been discussed on blogs before, but this might be the first case to get this much attention in the blogosphere. And, just like the mainstream media, some of it is reliable, and some of it isn’t. I personally believe there should be standards for bloggers, like putting their real names on their blogs, like Professor KC Johnson has done in this case with his site.'"

I agree about the blogs having done what the mainstream media should have done and the appropriateness of bloggers using their real names (as I have done since I first wrote an article for Internet posting).

But I am disappointed that Mr. Bannon is lauding the North Carolina criminal justice system and treating the Duke case as a bump on the road of steady progress (without a word as to how hard some of that progress was to obtain--for example, then Attorney General and now Governor Michael Easley vehemently, but unsuccessfully, opposed, both before and after enactment, a provision giving death row inmates the right to all police and prosecution files to help with their appeals).

Mr. Dixon quoted Mr. Bannon as saying that he would like to shout from the mountain tops, “I am not going to let the view of North Carolina’s criminal justice system to America be [the Duke] case.”

Lord have mercy.

Michael Gaynor said...

The Duke case is explained by North Carolina's politics and its criminal justice system. Mr. Nifong tried to railroad Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans because it was the way for him to win the Democrat primary for Durham County District Attorney (tantamount to election in Democrat-dominated Durham County). There were people in the Durham Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney's Office who enabled Mr. Nifong or looked the other way instead of blowing the whistle on him. The case probably would have proceeded to trial if Judge Osmond Smith had not replaced Judge Kenneth Titus (the judge who issued an unconstitutional gag order on potential witnesses, including the defendants) and on September 22, 2006 not only removed the gag (thereby permitting the defendants to be interviewed by the late Ed Bradley for the "60 Minutes" expose on the Duke case finally broadcast on October 15, 2006), but ordered the production of the underlying documentation that showed that false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum had been a multiple male DNA depository on the night of the Duke men's lacrosse team party on March 13, 2006 over the opposition of Mr. Nifong and the man who agreed with him not to fully report the DNA test results, Dr. Brian Meehan.

Getting Mr. Nifong to stipulate to Judge Smith taking over the Duke was great lawyering. Would his pro-Nifong predecessor judges have ordered the production? I hope so, but I wouldn't want to have to count on it. Their performances in the Duke case should be reviewed.

That underlying documentation contained what I had reported it contained in a June 30, 2006 article entitled "Duke Case: Does the Prosecutor Need Prosecuting": "Mr. Nifong should have wondered about the credibility of the accuser when the DNA samples were eagerly provided, or at least when the DNA found inside the accuser was determined not to have come from any of the Duke lacrosse players but from several other males."

The presence of multiple male DNA not only contradicted Ms. Mangum's statement about what she had and had not done before arriving to "entertain" on the night of March 13, 2006 and thus further undermined the credibility of a person with a criminal, medical and sexual history that cried out for confirmation of any charge she made, but also raised the question as to when Mr. Nifong planned to share that information with the defense.

Michael Gaynor said...

Last December Mr. Bannon let the world know that Mr. Nifong had planned NOT to reveal it and agreed with Dr. Meehan that it would kept out of Dr. Meehan's report.

It was a wonderful moment, but once the underlying documentation was produced, it really was inevitable (unless there had been falsification) and a DNA expert could examine it and interpret the data accurately). Mr. Nifong had crossed a Rubicon back in April of 2006. He fought not to turn over the underlying documentation, but lost. He then turned it over and he was doomed. Dr. Meehan really had no way to justify and was stuck having to own up to what he had done.

Mr. Bannon: “In the Duke case, our clients are factually absolutely innocent, but as criminal defense lawyers, we often represent guilty people who are rightfully charged."

Mr. Bannon is absolutely right about the innocence of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, each wrongly and wrongfully indicted for kidnapping, rape and sexual offense, and about criminal defense lawyers (himself included) representing guilty people rightfully charged.

Unfortunately, that business choice of defense attorneys poses a problem for the innocent: criminal defense lawyers who represent both those wrongfully charged and those rightfully charged tend to defend both the same way, their protestations that all their clients are innocent are not believed and defense lawyers are reluctant to challenge the conduct of the prosecutor, for the sake of their other clients and their business interest.

It was the late Kirk Osborn, a Reade Seligmann attorney, who bravely did was morally right, but potentially professionally suicidal. HE is the hero of heroes among the lawyers on the case, for reasons generally known and not generally known. His course of action was principled, in the best tradition of the legal profession, but not professionally safe or politically wise, much less politically correct.

Mr. Bannon chose to defend the reputation of the North Carolina criminal justice system, but it is hardly as innocent as each of the so-called Duke Three and even Mr. Bannon conceded that some reform is in order.

Professor Johnson reported Mr. Bannon's rosy view of the North Carolina criminal justice system this way:

"As proof of North Carolina’s legal progression, Bannon cites numerous examples. 'In the past several years, North Carolina has acted progressively in all branches of government to improve the fairness of our state’s criminal justice system. In 2000, we established the Indigent Defense Services Commission to oversee the provision of legal representation to indigent defendants and to develop training, qualification, and performance standards for that representation. Joe Cheshire [the lawyer who hired Mr. Bannon and now his senior partner] was instrumental in the establishment of IDS and is still the Chair. In 2002, our then Supreme Court Chief Justice established the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission to study issues related to wrongful convictions and to recommend changes in criminal law and procedure to avoid such miscarriages of justice.

Michael Gaynor said...

"The Commission’s first major action was a comprehensive study of how to avoid one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions: mistaken or false eyewitness identifications. The study produced the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission Recommendations for Eyewitness Identification, which were implemented by numerous law enforcement agencies in North Carolina, including the Durham Police Department by General Order 4077 dated February 1, 2006, though that order was ignored and violated during the PowerPoint ‘identification’ just two months later in the Duke case. In 2004, our state’s Conference of District Attorneys and criminal defense bar came together to recommend passage of North Carolina’s open-file discovery law, which went into effect in October of that year and required the complete files of all law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies in felony prosecutions to be provided to the defense. In 2006, we established the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the first statewide commission in this country established to review claims of actual innocence by convicted prisoners. Wade Smith [Collin Finnerty chief North Carolina attorney] sits on the Commission. So you can see that North Carolina as a whole has acted progressively and consistently over the last several years on many fronts to improve the fairness of the criminal justice system and has, in fact, been a nationwide leader in some of those efforts. You can also see that defense lawyers in the Duke lacrosse case have been actively involved in those reforms.'

"Bannon also says that the relationship between defense attorneys and prosecutors in North Carolina is much more cordial and professional than that seen in the Duke case with the original prosecutor. 'Most of us recognize that we are all professionals, and we all play necessary roles and have special responsibilities that work toward one goal: the fair administration of criminal justice in our state. I assure you, it gives me no pleasure to be in an antagonistic professional stance with a prosecutor, and I’m usually not. This case is an anomaly, and North Carolina is not a backwoods, regressive society. We are progressive, particularly in the area of recognizing flaws in our criminal justice system and constantly working to improve it. The train has long been on that track of progression, and it was only derailed in people’s minds as a result of this case.'"

I'm sure that it does not give Mr. Bannon "pleasure to be in an antagonistic professional stance with a prosecutor," but his train story is spin. In North Carolina, a prospective defendant can't address the grand jury and there is not a statutory ground for dismissal "in the interests of justice" (as there has been in New York for a long time).

Yes, Mr. Bannon, as a defense attorney, wants some reforms, but as a defense attorney practicing in North Carolina, he lauds his state and the people in office and minimizes the great need for reform.

Michael Gaynor said...

Professor Johnson:

"Future Reforms in Criminal Procedure Law

"But Bannon does believe that this case highlights the need for additional improvements in certain aspects of criminal procedure. 'I would hope the legislature would explore Grand Jury reform. One of the things we absolutely know is that the lead police officers and prosecutor who were in charge of this case in Durham had meetings with experts about DNA. We know those experts told them that they discovered DNA from multiple people that did not match any of the accused. It would be fascinating to know if that information was presented to the Grand Jury in Durham. The only way we would know that is if there was a record of the Grand Jury testimony, and we do not have that requirement in North Carolina. Unlike federal court, in state court in North Carolina, the Grand Jury is a secret proceeding and not recorded in any way.'"

No grand jury record in a state that has been progressing so nicely for so long. Imagine that!

The late Kirk Osborn will be missed. He realized that Mr. Nifong ought to be removed from the Duke case and he filed a motion for removal when lawyers for the other defendants, including Mr. Bannon, were still treating Mr. Nifong as though he was acting in good faith instead of malevolently.

North Carolina's criminal justice system needs major reform, not fine tuning.

"Joan Foster," LieStoppers' Poetess Laureate, and the other LieStoppers were right again, you betcha.

Debrah said...

"Mr. Dixon quoted Mr. Bannon as saying that he would like to shout from the mountain tops, 'I am not going to let the view of North Carolina’s criminal justice system to America be [the Duke] case.' "

"Lord have mercy."

Mr. Gaynor--

Don't call on "the Lord".

Can he really ameliorate such an oleaginous comment?

Bannon is either a blooming idiot or he's curiously comfortable inside the realm of sleaze in which so many of his fellow travelers reside.

Mike Easley

Jim Black

John-boy and Elizabeth Edwards

Ruffin Poole

Bev Perdue

Rufus Edmisten

....etc.......etc.......there are so many Lib-Dem lawyers/pols in jail, or who are being or have been, investigated that dear Bradley might, indeed, have to find another political party very soon.

But not because this one "isn't liberal enough".


The rest of the ultra-Libs will be in the slammer.

And he's now supporting Kerry Sutton for a Durham judgeship.

Anyone trust this guy with anything beyond research......or searching titles?

Michael Gaynor said...

"Diva Debrah": "...anyone who continues to get only the[] take on the [Duke] case [from defense legal team members with a vested interest in the current criminal justice system] will not be telling the real story."

If true, then KC didn't tell "the real story."

"Diva Debrah": "I love KC and always will. He's extraordinary. I might not agree with him on everything; however, I've only known one other person in my life who is so purely brilliant."

Tne you really need to...MEET MORE PEOPLE!

Debrah said...

Mr. Gaynor.....Mr. Gaynor.....Mr. Gaynor--

I, no doubt, need to do many things.

However, MEET[ing] MORE PEOPLE!..... not one of them.


Randy said...

looks like we have a long layover at RDU..with all the talk about the Dook lacrosse hoax case.

"How should reporters cover cases like Duke? As long as reporters cover crime stories as routine court cases instead of as “metanarratives” of race, class, and such, they should be OK. The problem arises when reporters go beyond news gathering and rely on stereotypes rather than on facts. The narrative is quickly set, and other coverage reinforces it. In the Duke case, the narrative was that a group of racist, drunken, rich, white frat boys had raped a poor, oppressed black woman who went to school and worked to feed her children."

the Meredith Kercher case was tried in the court of public opinion long before the trial started.

" It is about a kind of event that has taken on a central place in American culture: the legal case that creates a national community of attention, the case the public consumes every “fact” of with an endless appetite for more. Cases like these typically combine scandal, celebrity, and highly combustible social issues, race and sex perhaps chief among them..." (

Sounds like the goings on in Perugia. I suppose there are some similarities if you look close enough. Of course, Durham, NC is not exactly Perugia, Italy. ;)

but you have a prosecutor who was convicted of abusing some of his power, questionable DNA evidence, the rush to judgement in the press, changing stories by some of the players in the case, most of the people involved with the trial were outsiders (AK- Seattle, RS- Bari, MK- South London, RG- Perugia et al)...

will the outcome ultimately be the same with AK & RS in the role of the lacrosse players? There were some stories when the case was getting started that some people thought they would be found guilty but later have the verdict reversed on appeal.

Chris Halkides said...

To all,

Here is an interesting take from a lawyer’s


Debrah said...


The page wasn't found with that link.

Those legally-inclined might need a new one.

Chris Halkides said...

Try this,and check out his earlier articles.

Debrah said...

Mr. Gaynor--

One point I want to make on the previous comments is that KC's main thrust in UPI and the blog...... and, indeed, what attracted him to the case in the beginning was the grotesque behavior of the Duke professors.

I would say that his analysis of those inside the academy was his most vital contribution.

However, if future works are in the pipeline and only the assistance and the views of the same lacrosse defense attorneys are used as "sources".....

......then, obviously, that work would be contaminated.

Now that the lacrosse players are free from the grasp of the loony Far Left at Duke and in Durham and the case is long over, it's time to focus on a clear and panoramic analysis.

If one is to revisit the subject at all.

Certainly those same attorneys who are such a huge part of the NC Lib-Dem machine have no business touting the system as clean and progressive.

The reality-based world will demand much more.

Debrah said...

No, Chris,

That one didn't work.

Perhaps the best way to go is to follow the links on the side of the page of the first one you put up.

Chris Halkides said...

Try this and check out his earlier articles also.

Do smart quotes gum up the linking process?

Debrah said...

That one worked great, Chris.

Perhaps "Rose" will have the answer about smart quotes.

I'm not sure.

By the way, where has "Rose" been hiding out, pray tell?

Michael Gaynor said...

"Diva Debrah":

"One point I want to make on the previous comments is that KC's main thrust in UPI and the blog...... and, indeed, what attracted him to the case in the beginning was the grotesque behavior of the Duke professors.

"I would say that his analysis of those inside the academy was his most vital contribution."

Exposing the academy scoundrels was a huge contribution and in the book and the blog KC was on target.

Even before KC set up Durham-in-Wonderland, he posted a withering (and fully deserved) criticism of the Duke Faculty Freaks.

He did make a mistake, however. He initially praised Duke President Richard Brodhead.

The tea leaves were there to read before the Duke case. See "Richard Brodhead targeted Hershel Parker before Duke Lacrosse"

In Until Proven Innocent, Brodhead was appropriately excoriated.

It's probably too much to expect a person as liberal as KC to identify all the villains at the jump.

On the other hand, KC's tenure battle, deservedly won, shows that he was not one to pander to his supposed peers.


"Tenure battle

"In 2002 and 2003, Johnson's application for tenure at Brooklyn College became the subject of significant media attention when he was originally turned down for tenure in the history department.[3] Although he had received strongly favorable evaluations in earlier years, his request for tenure was rejected due to an alleged lack of 'collegiality'.

"Part of the controversy, which would become the subject of numerous news articles, editorials and op-ed columns involved a discussion about the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, empanelled by CUNY administrators shortly after the attacks had taken place. Arriving at the panel discussion with a group of students, Professor Johnson questioned the makeup of the group charged with discussing the subject of the attacks and how they should be addressed by American policymakers, a panel that he alleged was comprised strictly of individuals critical of American foreign policy and that of America's allies.

"After an extensive legal and public relations battle, he eventually received tenure on appeal to the chancellor of the City University of New York system, Matthew Goldstein."

Debrah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Gaynor said...


I finally accessed lawyer Steve Graham's March 14, 2010 post.

He was clear that he considered the convictions a mistake, but he closed with "You can see from reading Amanda Knox’s 'confession' that the statement was really no confession at all, and would not have passed muster in any American court."

The point is that Knox was tried in an Italian court and other countries have their own ideas about justices.

We have a presumption of innocence, while others presume guilt.

We seem to be more inclined to sequester jurors that Italy.

The prosecutor was convicted of essentially overzealous investigation, not framing an innocent person, in an unrelated matter.

The jurors convicted.

If it's legal in Italy (and I don't know), those who believe the conviction was a mistake should be respectfully contacting jurors seeking explanations of what the jurors found important or irrelevant and why the jury convicted. That strikes me as more helpful that characterizing what the jury did as preposterous.

In the Duke case, I called for a motion to dismiss, because I believed that the charges were dismissible as a matter of law and Judge Osmond Smith (unlike the two prior judges on the case) might grant it.

My concern was not that Durham jury would convict, but that there would never be a unanimous verdict.

In Knox, the jurors convicted, not the prosecutor, and discovering why they really did (as opposed to saying that the media coverage was sensationalistic and they were bad people) seems to me potentially more fruitful for the Knox and Sollecito supporters.


Chris Halkides said...


The jurors produced a sentencing explanation in March that was several hundred pages long, called the Massei report. Various groups are working on translating it, and there have been news reports. The Massei report rejects Mignini’s motive for the crime, instead offering what amounts to reefer madness as the explanation. I have seen portions, including one discussing whether or not a lone assailant was responsible, and it seemed wishy-washy on this vital question and others.

I have documented that release of the electronic data underlying DNA forensics is the norm, not just in the United States, but elsewhere. There is no downside to releasing such files beyond the cost and time of copying a CD. The poor quality of the DNA forensic data in this case makes the argument for the release of the electronic files even stronger. The prosecution’s failure to turn them over makes the present trial unfair in fact, whether or not it makes the trial unfair under Italian law.

There are a number of aspects of the trial that ought to give one pause, and I will mention this one, not because it is the worst, but because I have not brought it up before. According to Candace Dempsey’s book, one of the lawyers asked a defense witness about Ms. Knox’s sex life in the United States. Of what possible relevance is that?

Mignini’s treatment of Mario Spezi was abusive, at the very least (it has been discussed here also); fortunately, the matter was dropped (after the intervention of another prosecutor, it is rumored) before it had a chance to become a frame-up.


Michael Gaynor said...

Chris: "According to Candace Dempsey’s book, one of the lawyers asked a defense witness about Ms. Knox’s sex life in the United States. Of what possible relevance is that?"

Without knowing the context in which the question was raised, I don't know if it was relevant. But as a general proposition prior sexual history conceivably can be relevant. The questions becomes whether prejudice does or does not outweigh possible relevance. If the question is objected to, the judge rules. If there is no objection, it's too late to complain later.

Anonymous said...

Been away from the computer for awhile. Mr. Gaynor, good to see you here. Interesting comments on Mr. Serendipity as I like to call him. Perhaps someday we will know the truth about when the defense team really knew about the other male DNA.

I just get silly with my hot links and give them funny names sometimes, it really probably just irritates the folks that have given their articles such serious titles. Mr. Gaynor, there is really no comparison to the Kercher case and that Duke thingy. It does seem to be a pattern of late that I have seen with the Amanda was framed crowd. ₤

Rose said...

Been away from the computer for awhile. Mr. Gaynor, good to see you here. Interesting comments on Mr. Serendipity as I like to call him. Perhaps someday we will know the truth about when the defense team really knew about the other male DNA.

I just get silly with my hot links and give them funny names sometimes, it really probably just irritates the folks that have given their articles such serious titles. Mr. Gaynor, there is really no comparison to the Kercher case and that Duke thingy. It does seem to be a pattern of late that I have seen with the Amanda was framed crowd. ₤

Michael Gaynor said...

"Rose": "Mr. Gaynor, there is really no comparison to the Kercher case and that Duke thingy. It does seem to be a pattern of late that I have seen with the Amanda was framed crowd"

Wrongly convicted is not necessarily framed.

Chris's post noted that "[tThe jurors produced a sentencing explanation...called the Massei report.... The Massei report rejects Mignini’s motive for the crime, instead offering what amounts to reefer madness as the explanation."

That effectively refutes the prosecutor-framed-them theory. The jurors considered the evidence presented and did the convicting on its own theory.

I wonder what jurors would say now if interviewed for a magazine article on the case.

The Massei report is valuable to read, but. unlike reports, people can be interrogated and observed.

Chris Halkides said...


You seem to be keen on debunking the idea of a prosecutorial frame-up. I find this odd for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I don't know of anyone here who calls it that. I personally prefer to think of it as tunnel-vision with a side-helping of bad conduct.


Michael Gaynor said...


I don't think that the comparison of the Knox case to the Duke case is suitable in the absence of strong evidence of a frame up by a corrupt prosecuted backed in the way disgraced, disbarred former North Carolina DA Michael Nifong was back by the police, his office, the local authorities and newspapers and the Duke University administration and many of its professors, especially the so-called Gang of 88..

I do think that your characterization of "a side helping of misconduct" is appropriate and that Nifong was guilty of something worse than "tunnel vision."

The Duke case involved something much worse than an apparently overzealous prosecutor who engaged in unrelated illegal wiretapping and secured comvinctions by a jury even though the jury rejected the prosecutor's position on motive.

Last month a poster at the estimable LieStoppers Meeting Forum reposted an article by Professor Hershel Parker, the world's Herman Melville expert, that including this excerpt: "On 30September 2007 Michael Gaynor was even more scathing than [Bill] Anderson about 'Mr. Brodhead's pathetic public statement.' He quoted Brodhead's blaming 'the public,' which 'consumes every "fact"' with 'an endless appetite for more'" The culture, Brodhead insisted, was to blame: 'having become one of America's principal forms of shared public life, these cases highlight crucial problems of our culture.' Gaynor commented: 'Don't blame the public for the Duke case! Blame the ex-convict stripper, blame the rogue prosecutor, blame his enablers in both his office and the Durham Police Department, blame the political correctness extremists, the feminists and the black racists who didn't care about the actual facts . . . and blame Duke University President Richard Brodhead for being a coward instead of an honorable man.'"

I believed that when I wrote it and still do.

Thus I don't believe that the Knox case is comparable.


Randy said...

"Article 27 [Rights of the Accused]
(1) Criminal responsibility is personal.
(2) The defendant may not be considered guilty until sentenced.
(3) Punishments may not contradict humanity and must aim at re-educating the convicted.
(4) Death penalty is prohibited except by military law in time of war."

Italy constitution translation-

the prosecutor is supposed to have 12 lawsuits going on in relation to this case.

"Originally the chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini claimed the motive for the attack on Meredith was because she refused to take part in a drug-fuelled orgy with Knox, her boyfriend Sollecito, and a fourth person, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, a small-time drug-dealer.

During the course of the trial, Mr Mignini repeatedly changed his mind about the motive as he sought to explain the murder. On one occasion he said it was because "powerful drugs had driven Amanda and Raffaele crazy."

Then he claimed robbery was the motive before settling on a belief that the killing had taken place because of a personal animosity between the two young women. He also described Knox as "a natural-born killer... a naturally violent person." "

"Spezi’s arrest unleashed scathing criticism by some journalists. Giuttari and Mignini responded with a series of “assessments” (later judged illegal by the tribunale) authorized under the signature of Judge Marina De Robertis, who used a legal procedure meant only to be employed in an emergency; but these emergency authorizations were never retroactively justified as required by law.

One of the cases involved the wiretapping of a cellular telephone owned by the daily newspaper, La Stampa, in use by the reporter Vincenzo Tessandori, who was moreover illegally investigated beyond normal judicial procedures, but who had written several articles critical of the investigation. The same illegal harassment was directed at other newspaper reporters such as Gennaro De Stefano (who has since died) and Roberto Fiasconaro.

Giuttari and Mignini ordered the wiretapping and shadowing of two police officials from the press office of the Polizia in Rome, who had earlier asked Giuttari to limit his television appearances."

is this normal behavior for a prosecutor?

one of the jurors did make some comments to ABC News...

A juror in the Amanda Knox case told ABC News that reaching a verdict was an "agonizing decision" and that none of the members of the eight-person jury could sleep the night before.
Edda Mellas says the family will fight to get its daughter out of prison.

"No one slept the night before ... and I think we were all -- judges included -- in tears before the verdict was read," she said.

Knox's fate was decided by two Italian judges and six jurors. After more than 11 hours of deliberations, they reached a unanimous verdict, which found Knox guilty of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in the cottage they shared.

"It was hard to envision Knox doing this," she said. "But it is possible. … We can all drink too much, then get in a car and drive."

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Mr. Gaynor here.

I cannot emphasize enough that it is crucial to read The Monster of Florence to get the flavor of the Italian justice system, which is almost certainly EVEN MORE IN NEED OF REFORM THAN THE ONE IN DURHAM.

Please picture Mr. Nifong in control of the prosecution with a crony on the bench who sat in judgment with the jury. Imagine Mr. Nifong prosecuting for defamation everyone who criticized his case/performance. And consider what it would have been like had Mr. Nifong jailed KC Johnson or Stuart Taylor. Mr. Mignini, in fact, JAILED the KC Johnson style journalist of the Florence serial murder case on bogus charges that created an uproar among Italian journalists.

You of all people, Mr. Gaynor, will find the Perugia case most intriging. Welcome aboard.

And please pick up the Monster of Florence book. You will read it very quickly and come away with a much clearer understanding of the Italian police procedures and the criminal justice system.

Plus, a quick romp through Perugia Shock is extremely helpful as well.


Rose said...

I would encourage Mr. Gaynor to read everything he can find on the subject both pro-innocence and pro-guilt (if you can find one that is balanced let me know). Make up your own mind on this case.

Anonymous said...


I would encourage everyone to visit the JREF forum on discussion of the Amanda Knox case. There are both pro-innocence and pro-guilt theories and posters on that forum.

I find the debate fascinating and for the most part (when insults and name-calling aren't present), evidence, theories and information from both sides quite enlightening.


Rose said...

Good point on the JREF forum. I haven't even read all the posts which are now approaching 11,000. LOL. Not sure if there is anything that hasn't been covered there but as you know, I have learned several things from there that I did not know.

It is hard to get a word in edgewise with the addition of Mary H. I think she brought some "friends" with her.

Debrah said...

Well.......(as a wink and a nod to Mr. Gaynor)......

.......with regard to attorneys of any stripe one doesn't need to be convinced of the often dungeon-level world in which they operate daily.

However, when one of them is suddenly characterized as the "unknown soldier" for his enthusiastic paper shuffling......

......and he begins to believe all the intentional hype.....

........then starts quoting Gandhi and Frederick Douglas (LOL!!!) without the benefit of a comedy routine to set the stage......

.......then you know why someone who had been practicing law for over a decade was "unknown".

Hey, could we find that rock?



Chris Halkides said...

Rose and Christiana,

There is a considerable amount of misinformation, name-calling, and hypocrisy at the JREF thread on Amanda Knox. If you can find your way past all that, you can sometimes learn valuable things there.


Rose said...

Here is a link to the most current page at JREF as of this post (page 274).

Amanda Knox guilty - all because of a cartwheel

Chris Halkides said...


I forgot to mention the bullying, threatening, and belittling that goes on at JREF. Thanks for the link.


Anonymous said...


I definitely don't like the insults and name-calling, but when posters of both sides are respecting of one another the debate can be very good.

I think those who are strong advocates of one side or the other suffer the most abuse. And there are those who debate fairly and respect other opinions despite their convictions.

I've never been singled out (my posts are limited and I ask more questions than give answers) so my reaction to the forum may be different from someone who has.


Joe said...

As mentioned by Observer, I would recommend that anyone new to this case should read Perugia Shock, from the beginning.

Frank covered this case from day one, and he attended every hearing throughout the whole process.

Chris Halkides said...

To all,
From a NYT article, “An American in the Italian Wheels of Justice,”

“And in a sharp departure from American jurisprudence, the prosecutors portrayed Ms. Knox as promiscuous and wanton.
‘In the United States, character evidence does not come to play in the trial unless the defendant puts it in play,’ Mr. Fletcher said. ‘The prosecution can’t come into court and say my guy is a bad guy. In this case, even if there a sexual motive, so what if, say, she had a dozen boyfriends? That is not relevant here.’” George P. Fletcher is Columbia University’s Cardozo professor of jurisprudence.

It may also helpful to recall that only Rudy Guede had sexual knowledge of Ms. Kercher.


Chris Halkides said...


You have a point with respect to the JREF forum on Amanda Knox. On page 275 an anonymous commenter RWVBWL said:

“From a street person's point of view, Amanda Knox does not appear whatsoever to be ‘hard’, she is simply a college age gal, living away from her parents while overseas, studying, working, dating, drinking, experimenting with pot, and her sexuality. In other words, simply finding herself. There is NO WAY, in my opinion, that any ‘hard’ core street sauvy [sic] person, who was involved in a murder, their first one at that, would EVER freely try to help the cops, day after day, WITHOUT an attorney. Capiche?”

Compare this with the DL case, with which some of us are familiar:

“Cheshire said the fact that the players turned over the fingernail shows they had nothing to hide.
‘Is that consistent with someone that knowledgeably and knowingly committed a rape?’ Cheshire said. ‘That they would leave fingernails that were ripped off a person in a violent struggle in their trash can after they're told there's an investigation and that police were going to come to their house, and when the police do, they give them the fingernails?’”

IMO, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito were extremely foolish to speak to the police without lawyers, but foolish does not mean guilty.


Joe said...


Does the machine automatically generate the electronic data files as samples are being tested, or does the scientist enter the raw data manually to the files?

Chris Halkides said...


At least some of the information is generated automatically, but I don't know whether all of it is or not. Let me look into this a bit further.


Joe said...


Additional information would be appreciated!

In his summary of the motivations, on Perugia Shock, Frank wrote "The lack of all registry data is irrelevent" in reference to Massei's motivations and position on the matter.

Michael Gaynor said...


Foolish definitely does not mean guilty, but guilty people especially young ones, may figure that they are too smart for the police and that lawyering up will make them seem guilty and therefore opt to seem cooperative.

In the Duke case the players turned over the fingernails because they were innocent and knew the fingernails could not be incriminating.

But Amanda Knox opting to talk to the police instead of to lawyer up is not proof of innocence. If she had lawyered up instead, that would have been taken as a sign of guilt and she didn't have a lawyer to call immediately if she had wanted to do so, did she?


Chris Halkides said...

By registry files are we sure that they mean the electronic data files? Are you also concerned about whether or not the files can be tampered with?

Chris Halkides said...


To the best of my knowledge, she did not have a lawyer at this time. I am looking into when she first met with one.

I think that those who believe them to be guilty are forced to assume that they are some of the stupidest criminals around: Instead of returning to Amanda's place early in the afternoon, why not stay at Raffaele's place until the body is found? Even better, why not take a brief holiday as many other students did on that weekend? There are other examples like this one.


Chris Halkides said...


The players may have been a trifle sanguine with respect to the fingernails, especially had a trial taken place in Durham. Even within the last year, the fingernail with what may or may not have been David Evans' DNA on it came up repeatedly in conversations with a contingent of pro-Nifong commenters. Would a jury really understand about secondary DNA transfer? Did the Knox/Sollecito jury really understand how poor the prosecution's DNA evidence was? I would not bet the house on either question.


Anonymous said...


I completely agree that it is very valuable to look at all the websites on this if possible, including TrueJustice...which seems to me the most pro-guilt site of all. That is how I approached it anyway. You really need to read all the arguments and, to the extent possible, review the evidence.


Randy said...

JREF was interesting for awhile...things seem to take a turn for the worst when Bruce Fisher started posting. Not to say he was generating negative posts or comments. But both sides of the debate seem to start being more personal. I noticed more frequent moderator comments in recent pages.

Sometimes they demand to see what one would think are technical papers to prove points and other times Barbie Nadeau is used as the gold standard. Quite often someone will say that a point or topic was discussed already there and the other person should go find it. The side thread about DNA had some promise with people who didn't comment in the "cartwheel" thread commenting on DNA. Then someone brought up the details and what each item meant...seemed like it ran off the other commenters and the same 4 or 5 people were leaving messages. I found it more interesting to read comments when someone is actually very knowledgeable about a particular topic and not someone who has read a bunch of internet articles.

I believe part of Amanda's appeal is the lack of legal representation during the initial days of questioning. Also, she said the police said things would go easier on her if she didn't have a lawyer present.

I was reading some of the posts on Perugia Shock from 2007 and 2008. It's interesting to see how things got to where they are...the threads at Truejustice- honestly, they are so one sided I only read them for amusement. The FOA page, I hardly go to...the injusticeinperugia site is pretty decent...sometimes I do wonder about some of the points made there. I think it is always best to back up statements on a website like that with hard facts.

As for the discussions here, they are usually very civil and not much of the craziness that exists on other websites. The title caught my eye since I lived in Wilmington for about 9 years or so...miss Wrightsville Beach!! Also spent 5+ years in Raleigh when I was going to college. I also have a personal connection to Italy- Venice area. I think I became interested in the case as it was wrapping up in October or November. I did see some of the photos on Italian TV when I was there in Feb. 2009 and wondered what that was all about but didn't think too much about it at the time. I think I saw the famous photo/video of AK & RS kissing outside the cottage back in Oct/Nov and that was when I went- "oh yeah...I've seen that before."

One Spook said...

Chris writes:

Would a jury really understand about secondary DNA transfer? Did the Knox/Sollecito jury really understand how poor the prosecution's DNA evidence was?

Those two sentences tell you more about this case than anything that's been written in these comments.

Recall that retired FBI agent Moore wrote that rather than collect all of the knives and other objects in Sollecito's apartment that could have made the 46 penetrating wounds in Kercher's body, the investigators collected one knife, and that knife later just happened to have a speck of DNA on it --- a speck so miniscule and unable to be tested by defense experts such that it wouldn't even qualify as evidence in a US trial.

The prosecution even admitted that their magic knife couldn't have possibly caused other wounds in Kercher's body.

An American jury would have never even known that "magic" DNA evidence even existed, and it was never clearly shown to the Italian jury just how weak and inconclusive that "evidence" was as proof.

Come on, people!

There exists no credible evidence that either Knox or Sollecito were even present at the time of the crime or that they participated in any manner in this horrendous crime.

One Spook

Michael Gaynor said...


Lawyers worry that jurors will not understand with good reason, as you suggest.

As for young people finding themselves in a legal jam, often they don't want their parents to find out and they don't lawyer up. In the Duke case players were discouraged (some would use a stronger word) by Duke and led to believe things would be fine.

Fortunately, one players whose mother is a lawyer realized that he should tell her what was going on.

I'd be surprised if Amanda Knox was eager to phone how to talk about what was going on.

In the Duke case, although there definitely was no rape, sexual assault or kidnapping, players were not eager to tell parents, some very upset, what actually did happen.

Debrah said...

"In the Duke case, although there definitely was no rape, sexual assault or kidnapping, players were not eager to tell parents, some very upset, what actually did happen."

An excellent point and one I started to make some time ago.

This was undoubtedly a factor when Knox and friends were in the midst of questioning by police.

Of course they would try to "handle things" first without having their parents brought in.

Too many questions by the parents would have arisen early on.

"Why in hell do you even have acquaintances like this Rudy person?"

"Who is Raffaele Sollecito? I thought you went to Italy for study!"

"Who are those boys downstairs and why do they come in and out of your apartment?"

Consequently, we have this sordid case where there might be no guilt.

Only stupidity.

Chris Halkides said...


Edda Mellas, Amanda's mother, arrived in Italy on 6 November, the day the police announced the arrest of Amanda and Raffaele. They had been questioned on the evening of the 5th and into the morning of the 6th. Rudy and Amanda knew each other only slightly, and he didn't really enter the story for almost two more weeks. I think he was arrested on the 19th or thereabouts.

In reading Ms. Dempsey's book, I get the impression that Amanda's parents or German relatives thought that the extensive questioning that Amanda and Raffaele were subjected to over the previous days was out of the ordinary.


Anonymous said...


Some questions I have concerning secondary transfer of DNA:

1. Is secondary transfer the same as contamination?

2. Is it easy for a forensic scientist to detect secondary transfer during testing?

3. Would secondary transfer result in large amounts of DNA being present (speaking of amounts of DNA what exactly is considered a large amount of DNA for testing)?

4. How does one determine that a result is secondary transfer vs regular (?) transfer of DNA?

I realize my questions aren't scientific but I hope you can get what I am trying to ask. If you have answered some or all of these questions before in prior posts could you direct me those posts?


Anonymous said...


I agree this forum (View-from-Wilmington) is very civil in its tone. It has the benefit of being more sided towards the science aspect of the case.

The other forums I find interesting are Perugia Shock, Perugia Murder Forum, True Justice, Injustice and JREF. They all offer something unique and when one weeds past the posts that are inflammatory there is information that presents arguments/evidence for both sides. The difference with JREF is that it doesn't appear to be an advocacy site for either side.


Chris Halkides said...


By coincidence my next post will cover most or all of your questions. I have a rough draft, but the final draft may take a couple of days to finish.


Debrah said...


With regard to your (8:29 AM), I suppose all parents are not alike in the way they would react to such news.

For most, the first response would naturally be to protect their kids up front from any threatening force and ask questions later.

My mother was like that. I was a good student--top fifth of the class---and also went overboard into extracurricular activities because I knew it would look good on my record.

So, like many, there wasn't much time left for getting into trouble.

Nonetheless, my mother would always find everyone else at fault first when an issue came up.

My father was the opposite. He was the enforcer. If something went awry, he would ask what I had done wrong.

I think more kids need an enforcer.

Perhaps not as strict as he; however, looking back, his way had the most impact.

Just a certain "look" and you knew to alter things a bit.

I think many parents today want to be "friends" with their kids and perhaps didn't have an enforcer when they were growing up to even understand what that would be like.

Every boy who came to the door to take me on dates came with a kind of dread because they knew my father would be there scrutinizing them.

He always wore dark suits and was a striking figure. Perhaps they thought he was in the Mafia or something.


I was talking with a friend the other day who is also a university professor. His father is a professor as well and they are originally from the NY area. The father moved to the Triangle long ago for a position at one of the schools.

He told me that at university in the 70's and the 80's standards were much higher than they are now---and I can vouch for that.

The 90's brought on the real explosion of Gang of 88-esque lowering of academic standards.

Therefore, he said that so-called honor students today would realistically be just average students at that time.....but now they seem to abound.

And the real insanity is the acceptance of people still in college between the ages of 25-30....still working on their B.A.!

And parents seem to think nothing of this extended adolescence. They don't seem embarrassed by it at all.

Chris, since you are in the hard sciences you might not suffer this academic reality as often as do professors in other fields of study.

It's more difficult to finesse a good grade without actually knowing anything in your area.

Chris Halkides said...


DNA forensic scientist Jason Gilder had this to say when I asked him about contamination a while back, "One of the standard axioms of DNA typing is, the presence of a DNA profile says nothing about the time frame or the circumstances under which DNA was transferred to that item. Contamination falls into is one such instance of an issue that cannot be identified by the electropherogram alone (unless you are dealing with a control sample or other known profile)."

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris. I look forward to reading your future post about DNA.

Please correct me if I misunderstand the following about DNA:

1. A partial profile can mean there wasn't enough of the sample to test or it was old DNA deposited some time ago;

2. A full profile means the sample tested was more recent but could have been left by contamination (or is this also subject to not being able to determine a time frame).

I know I am not going to earn a science degree or become an expert in the field by having questions answered in a forum but I do like to try and understand the science behind a method used.


Chris Halkides said...

Christiana, Let me give you a casual answer now and possibly revise it later. Each country has a predetermined number of locations on the chromosomes that the scientists look for. Let's say that this number is 13. What the forensic scientists are looking for in essence is the lengths of particular sequences of DNA in those thirteen locations.

If a DNA profile shows peaks of whatever lengths in all thirteen locations, then it is a full profile. If, say, only 9 of 13 locations have peaks corresponding to DNA, then it is a partial profile. The trouble with a partial profile is that there is less certainty of the identity of the person who deposited it.

Degradation of DNA might lead to a partial profile, but I don't think that it is the only explanation.


Rose said...

My understanding is that a partial profile could fit any number of people, just as a bloody foot print for example. If the partial profile matches the suspect it is still an indicator, but not proof, in my opinion.

Chris Halkides said...

To all,

This is an interesting case from California, both from the point of view of partial DNA profiles and for what it has to say about statistics in cold hit cases. It’s a long article but a sobering one for those who believe that DNA alone should be enough to convict someone. Other articles can be found here.


Kani Mozhi said...

Really means and inspires a lot to hear from you guys.I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work..
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