Saturday, September 21, 2013

Knox & Sollecito: A Closer Look at the Footprint Evidence

If you have listen to anything from the American media about the Amanda Knox case you would likely believe that there was no physical evidence at the crime scene linking Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to the murder of Meredith Kercher. However, with just a simple cursory review of some of the official sources it is easy to see that there is actually an abundance of physical evidence against the two convicts. Perhaps the best place to start is Judge Massei’s Report on the conviction of Knox and Kercher. Furthermore, it is imperative to read the Italian Supreme Court’s Reasoning on the case. Aside from the obvious four spots of blood found at the cottage (3 spots in the bathroom and one in Filomena’s room) mixed with Knox and Kercher’s DNA, there are also several pieces of convincing footprint evidence that was used to help convict the three accused, which includes Rudy Guede. Putting the plethora of circumstantial evidence and the other physical evidence aside and simply focusing on the footprint evidence gives us a very clear picture of exactly what occurred that fateful night.

Luminol (3-aminophthalic hydrazide) is a chemical that reacts with the microscopic particles of iron found in hemoglobin, causing an organic peroxide reaction. If blood is present, its oxidized state is expressed by a chemoluminescent burst, i.e. the sample glows with a bluish color in the dark. This chemical was used in this case to enhance several footprints found at the crime scene to have been cleaned, most likely by the perpetrators.

The picture above provides a very striking visual of what is about to be explained. For the purposes of this exercise I will be using my own labeling system to detail each footprint. Please refer to the picture above for reference sake. Before doing the analysis, it is important to note the size of each foot of each suspect. In doing so, we see the disparity among the participants that shows the unlikelihood of mistaking the identities. The following footprint evidence is taken from the Massei Report (pages 347-349).
Amanda Knox          –     6.5W  (US)
Meredith Kercher     –     8W     (US)  
Raffaele Sollecito     –     8.5M  (US)
Rudy Guede             –     12M    (US)
FP1 – This print was located in the bedroom of Amanda Knox, identified as a right barefoot print, which was found to be compatible with Amanda Knox’s right foot and it also included Amanda Knox’s DNA.

FP2 – This print was located in the corridor in the direction facing the exit, right next to Rudy Guede’s second shoe print, facing in the same direction. Being placed on a Robbins grid the investigators were able to get measurements for the big toe, both width and length for the metatarsus, and a width measurement for the heel. The bloody bare footprint was determined to be compatible with Raffaele Sollecito’s right foot.

FP3 – This barefoot print was located in the corridor directly in front of the door to Meredith Kercher’s room and pointing towards the entrance as if entering the room. The measurements were found to be compatible with Amanda Knox’s Right foot.

FP4 – The notorious bloody barefoot print found on the bathmat that was normally located in the bathroom shared by Knox and Kercher, but which was found in Amanda Knox’s room. This print was compatible with the right foot of Raffaele Sollecito.
FP5 – For the purposes and practicality of this exercise, all of the footprints identified as Rudy Guede’s will be labeled under FP5. The court found that there was no reason or evidence to believe that Guede removed his shoes at any point. They furthered determined that "…it was his [Rudy Guede’s] shoe prints in the victim’s blood that were left on the floor of the house, in a path leading away from the victim สน s room and toward the door exiting the house, a door that had been pulled [shut] behind him” (SC Ruling, pg. 6). As indicated in the picture above, Guede’s bloody shoe prints lead directly from Kercher’s room to and out the front door of the cottage.

FP6 – “Following the procedure of luminol enhancement, it was shown that Knox, her feet stained with the victim’s blood, went into Romanelli’s room… leaving footprints revealed by luminol, some of which were mixed, i.e., constituted from biological traces of both Knox and Kercher” (pg. 11, SC Ruling). This, along with a multitude of other factors, lends itself to the theory that Knox was a major part of the staged break-in in Filomena Romanelli’s room.

The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation (SC) reasoned that Rudy Guede could not have killed Meredith Kercher by himself, based on the evidence; they outright reject the “lone wolf” theory. The SC specifically directs the appeals court to consider prior (and now definitive) findings in the Rudy Guede decision that there were multiple attackers and that the break-in was staged. This ruling stacks the deck against Knox and Sollecito in a big way! The SC also makes clear its belief that the footprints attributed to Knox, which contained both Knox and Kercher’s DNA, were made in blood. They also affirm that they found there was no evidence that contamination occurred.
The upcoming hearing date begins on September 30, followed by October 4, 22, 23; November 6, 7, & 26 (2013). The presiding Judge will be Alessandro Nencini, president of the court’s second chamber, while the lateral judge is expected to be Magistrate Cicheria. A judgment is expected to be heard by the end of the year.

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