Monday, September 5, 2011
Knox Appeal: Resumes Today After Summer Recess
With the verdict in the appeals trails of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito expected at the end of this month, tensions are high on both sides. After a summer recess, the trial continued today with the prosecution questioning the court appointed forensics experts regarding their results of two key pieces of DNA evidence that helped convict Knox and her former boyfriend of murdering Meredith Kercher back in 2007. Knox arrived at the courtroom today looking anxious and drawn.
In their 145-page report to the court, the experts—Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti—questioned much of the evidence that was collected in that original investigation, saying procedures to obtain it fell below international standards and may have led to contamination.
Questioned today over the extraction of DNA profiles from the bra clasp, Carla Vecchiotti said the data was so mixed that a very high number of genetic profiles could be extracted, depending how one combined the data “I could find yours, too,” Vecchiotti told the presiding judge. “I’m there, too,” she said, adding that some data was compatible with her own DNA. This was a bizarre comment by Vecchiotti, which if we take what she said at face value could call into question her own methods and possible contamination on her part. However, she was most likely facetiously stating that there were a number of profiles on the clasp. She added that Kercher’s profile was the only certain one.
The prosecution and Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, are now in a touchy situation as they are forced to attack the reputations of the court appointed experts, which might be viewed as an attack upon Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann—who appointed them.
The key witness today was Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the police forensic scientist who carried out the original investigation, defended the collection procedures used and the results obtained. Dr. Stefanoni told the court that DNA analyses were carried out from behind a glass wall to avoid the risk of contamination. She also said some of the standard protocols cited by the experts were published after she finished her report in May 2008, also pointing out that there are no internationally accepted international protocols for DNA collection. Using some of the 119 PowerPoint slides she said she had prepared, she challenged the experts' finding over DNA quantity, analysis and evidence collection techniques. Dr. Stefanoni’s testimony will continue Tuesday, where she is expected to defend her team's handling of the bra clasp among other things.
After the session, Maresca commented to CNN reporters regarding Dr. Stefanoni’s testimony today. “Stefanoni has thoroughly and calmly clarified the principal elements of the work she carried out—in a clear manner, given the complex subject…during the examination at the time…I think she managed to get the court’s full attention and to have damaged the independent forensic work.”
Just ahead of the hearing, in a letter (Read complete letter HERE) released by Francesco Maresca, Kercher’s sister, Stephanie, wrote: “In these last few weeks we have been left seriously anxious and greatly troubled by the news regarding the original DNA findings. It is extremely difficult to understand how the results, which were obtained with great care and presented in the original trial as valid, could now be regarded as irrelevant.”
Stephanie Kercher concluded by writing, “My sister, a daughter brutally and selfishly taken from us nearing 4 years ago…and yet a not a single day goes by that we can grasp any peace or closure…We ask that the Court of Appeal assess every single (piece) of evidence, both scientific and circumstantial, as well as any witnesses who have taken the stand independently of any other information or media,” she wrote.
Continuing her verbal campaign to free her daughter, Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas commented on the contents of the Kercher letter: “I saw in her letter where she stated that it [the evidence] was collected appropriately,” Mellas, told ABC News. “Well, perhaps they should go and review the crime scene videos, because clearly it was not.”
The appeals hearings are expected to continue through the week. After rebuttals later in September, an appeals verdict is expected by the end of the month.