The Knox camp got a boost today, as things seemed to go entirely their way Wednesday. The fourteenth appeals hearing started with requests by Prosecutor Manuela Comodi for new testing on the knife and bra clasp and to introduce newly discovered records about the DNA-testing machine used in the case. Furthermore, Comodi had requested to recall Luciano Aviello to the stand, a witness who had originally testified that his brother killed Kercher, who has since publically retracted this statement when questioned by Comodi in prison in July (Read more on this HERE).
Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, however, rejected all three requests—all victories for Knox’s defense, who opposed the motions. Judge Hellman said the discussion regarding DNA evidence had been thorough enough for the court to form an opinion, and he said that new testing would be “superfluous.”
Other expert defense witnesses came forward as well today to counter expert prosecution testimony a day earlier. Much as he did in the original trial, Carlo Torre, one of Italy’s best-known forensics experts, presented a detailed technical argument about the DNA on the knife. Torre testified that the “smaller wound [on Kercher’s neck] is absolutely incompatible with the knife in question.” Torre is also a proponent of “one robust killer” as opposed to three attackers.
Dr. Torre’s assistant, Sarah Gino (who is a private coroner) also testified today. Reiterating some of what she said on the stand in the original trial, Gino added that Sollecito’s genetic material could have gotten onto the bloodied bra if it was on Knox’s clothes when they were washed with Kercher’s before the killing, a new theory now posed by Gino.
In her testimony earlier this week, Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni said that she stored biological evidence in the victim’s freezer on November 2 and 3 (2007), before bringing the samples to Rome. “This is a strange way of [collecting] evidence,” defense forensic expert Adriano Tagliabracci testified today, criticizing the methods used by Stefanoni. Taught methods of collection of biological evidence calls for them to be air-dried, because they are damp, thus should be packaged in a non-plastic contained to prevent mold or bacteria from creating a whole different kind of science experiment inside the containers.
It was certainly a good tactic by the defense to raise these concerns, although in retrospect, this procedure by Stefanoni didn’t affect her results, and the defense has a better chance of swaying the jury with the independent experts’ findings—because the plastic bag contamination (argument) would have a better chance ruining the possibility of receiving a DNA match rather than providing a match via contamination.
Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, told the media that the rulings were not a defeat, and that he understood why the judge rejected the requests.
Reminiscent of his enthusiasm and optimism during this time in the first trial, Amanda’s father, Curt Knox said (as reported by The Telegraph), “Amanda is happy and hopeful that she won't be spending too much more time in prison...”
Meanwhile, Nick Pisa, of The Telegraph and The Daily Mail, is reporting that a clearly frustrated Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said: "There is an ill wind blowing in this case. The judge and his assistant are clearly against us. I can see both Knox and Sollecito being freed which will be a shame as they are both involved."
However, it is ABC who has apparently interviewed Comodi and their take is very different than what Nick Pisa wrote. The Seattle Times is reporting that in ABC’s interview with her, Comodi said:
“We did our job. I am convinced by what I have said. I am fully convinced of their guilt and I would find it very serious if they were set free. Today’s decision could lead one to think that there is more of a possibility that they be set freed.”
Nick Pisa seems to have used his ill-will to twist the quote of Comodi in an effort to "sell papers" per say; and it seems to be working because today Sheppard Smith of FOX News used the quote verbatim and proceeded to slam Italian Justice and the case against Knox. Even I was fooled by it for a few hours.
A voice of reason in the most unlikely places also emerged today. After the session, Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga, warned that the court’s rejection of new DNA testing was not equal to a positive outcome of the whole appeals trial.
Judge Hellmann suspended the proceedings until 23 September 2011, at which time he announced that closing arguments will begin, with the prosecution going first, followed by civil plaintiffs, and then the defense.