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Netflix ‘Amanda Knox’ 2016 and The Lizard King Donald Trump

November 25, 2016

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How Amanda Knox bites the hand that feeds her

Amanda Knox has been in the news a great deal recently, riding on the crest of an ‘exoneration’ campaign, culminating with the Netflix film, six years in the making, released in Sept 2016.

Netflix caricatures

In the film, the factors that led to her so-called ‘wrongful conviction’ (she claims) included Nick Pisa’s tabloid reportage in that most middle class of UK comics, the  <fx crucifix and garlic>  DAILY MAIL.  Much loved for its doomladen headlines, to the extent GUARDIAN pop hackette, Julie Burchill, famously nicknamed it ‘THE DAILY HORROR’, wherein the non-GUARDIAN-reading masses could immerse themselves daily in an entertaining round of ‘illegal immigrants and asylum seekers flooding the country’, ‘family of 27 given 50-roomed mansion’ and that most loved standby of all, ‘Benefit Scroungers’.

Bearded ‘modern parents’ GRAUNIAD readers, on the other hand, in their peep-toed sandals and chomping of organic vegetarian nut roasts lap up Simon Hattonstone’s bleeding heart eulogies for the wrongfully imprisoned one.  Thus: GUARDIAN hack, good.  Pisa bad.

Then there is the plodding Italian Prosecutor, a Dan Brown-style Italian Catholic  with a paranoia about masonic cults and devilish conspiracies, who sees himself (the film makers claim) as Sherlock Holmes.  So that explains his lurid interest in her!  Not that there is a shred of evidence she had anything to do with Meredith Kercher’s murder.  Yes, it’s all about priggish, obsessive tyrants, still living in the Italian equivalent of the Victorian ages.

Swept along on a wave of her own lies, see above, we are now entertained by the spectacle of Knox claiming that Donald Trump’s support for her, after her original conviction, only made it worse for her, because after all, the Italians were riding on anti-American feelings in convicting her and Sollecito.  But not anti-African, as Rudy Guede did do it.  That’s different.

Knox is now claiming, in her fervent support for the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton, that she despises Trump for his views on the Central Park Five, whom he still refers to as ‘guilty’, despite their exoneration, as contrasted with her, whom he described as ‘completely innocent’.  She sees racism in his stance.  Oh, the irony of Knox fingering an innocent black man for Meredith’s murder.  Paradoxically Knox seems to be saying, they are innocent and Trump calls them guilty, whereas I am guilty and Trump calls me innocent.  All because he’s a racist.  Knox vocally states she does not stand with Trump and why should she vote for him, just because he supported her and helped fund her defence?  These are all good commendable points.  But before we get carried away, whoa!   Let’s stop and take a reality check.

Gift Horse

For the astonishing fact to come out of all of this, is that Knox should indeed be grateful to Trump.  Of course, not to agree with his political views.  However, had her conviction been upheld by the Marasca-Bruno Supreme Court, as all the legal experts expected, Trump, as President of the United States has the power to refuse her extradition.  Not directly, as that is a veto for the State Secretary, but that power is there.

We saw it when Maria Cantwell, senator for Seattle put out a press release – which was taken up globally – calling for the then-State Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration that the USA should intervene to free Amanda Knox because of the clear anti-American sentiment of the Italian judicial system, she states.

Maria Cantwell even made an appointment to see Clinton saying she had been strongly petitioned by friends of Amanda Knox.

Didn’t the makers of the Netflix film ‘Amanda Knox’, 2016, assert it was the tabloid journalists who had bullied the Italian police and courts?  We see immediately that, true, whilst the mass media is intensely powerful in influencing opinion, it doesn’t actually do anything, except reflect social mores.  The real movers and shakers being politicians and political advisers.

From day one, Amanda Knox had the full weight of American politicians behind her, and, rather than Nick Pisa being responsible for her conviction, it is surely the likes of Donald Trump and influencers in the US State Department responsible for getting her off the charges?  It can be readily seen Knox has a debt of gratitude owing to these shady enforcers behind the scenes.

Senator Cantwell declares war on Italy

Tom Ford of THE WASHINGTON POST writes 06 Dec 2009:

 As angry Americans promised to boycott Italian holidays, wine and food, a vociferous support group calling itself Friends of Amanda Knox urged people to email Barack Obama to ask him to support her appeal.

Maria Cantwell, a US Democrat senator for Washington state has said she plans to bring her own concerns about the trial, including possible anti-Americanism, to the Mrs Clinton’s attention.

Mrs Clinton, the Secretary of State, said on Sunday that she had not yet looked into the case as she had been preoccupied with Afghanistan policy.

She told ABC News: “Of course I’ll meet with Senator Cantwell or anyone who has a concern, but I can’t offer any opinion about that at this time.”

cantwell

Seattle Senator Maria Cantwell

The dastardly DAILY MAIL writes 8.12.2009:

After the verdicts, Knox’s furious father Curt Knox vowed to fight to clear his daughter’s name and spoke of his ‘anger and disbelief’ at the Italian justice system.

His campaign seems to be gaining support on Capitol Hill. Senator Maria Cantwell, from Washington state, declared there were ‘serious questions about the Italian justice system’.

She said she was concerned there had been an ‘anti-American’ feeling at the trial and said she would be raising her concerns with Mrs Clinton.

‘The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Miss Knox was guilty,’ she said. ‘Italian jurors were allowed to view highly negative news coverage about Miss Knox.’

Mrs Clinton was asked about the trial in an appearance on a U.S. news programme.

She said: ‘Of course I’ll meet with Senator Cantwell or anyone who has a concern but I can’t offer any opinion about that at this time.’

She said she had not expressed any concerns to the Italian government. Last night, Knox’s Italian lawyer distanced himself from the senator’s claims. Luciano Ghirga said: ‘That’s all we need, Hillary Clinton involved. I have the same political sympathies as Hillary but this sort of thing does not help us in any way.’

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said: ‘This senator should not interfere in something she has no idea about. I am happy with how the trial went.’ 

Enter the cavalry

Business mogul, Donald Trump tweets 30 Sept 2011:

trump-tweet

In a tv interview with Fox News Greta Van Susteren, Donald Trump explains:

“I helped the family out — I felt very, very badly for that family and for her — I never thought she did it,” Trump told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “I watched very intently, like everybody else, and there was just no way she was involved in that.

“And so I did help them out — I feel very, very happy about it — in fact, I said boycott Italy until they release her,” Trump said. “It was really an injustice — and I would get on that plane so fast if I were her and get out.”

Van Susteren asked Trump whether he had ever spoken to her parents. Trump said he had and “well, they’re lovely people.”  Newsmax 4th Oct 2011

Ingrate

Whilst Knox has been complaining loudly about the intervention of Donald Trump the ingrate laughs in the face of the Kercher family who had to struggle financially.  John Kercher writes:

How Foreign Office let us down

We were surprised at the lack  of financial help available from the British Government as  we dealt with the aftermath  of Meredith’s death.

We had received tremendous support from the British Consulate in Florence,  which arranged translation facilities and made transport arrangements, but despite our pleas, we did not receive any financial support from the Foreign Office.

A number of MPs campaigned on our behalf for some contribution towards our flights, but their efforts were to no avail.

Indeed, it seemed this was a policy decision, one that did not affect just us, but anybody who had suffered an ordeal such  as ours. This lack of help was despite the fact that we were obliged to provide testimonies  in court.

Nor could we expect any help from the Italian government. Before Meredith was murdered, EU states had said they would sign an agreement to compensate the families of foreign nationals who were victims of a violent crime committed in their country. 

However, of all the states, Italy failed to sign the agreement in time.

Financially we were alone and it made the business of attending the trial, and seeking justice for Meredith, all the more problematic.  Daily Mail Femail, 15 April 2012

The GUARDIAN has been influential in giving Amanda Knox, in particular, a sympathetic ear.  Nick Richardson GUARDIAN COMMENT writes

 From the outset the innocentisti accused the colpevolisti of anti-Americanism. Following the trial the US senator Maria Cantwell wrote to Hillary Clinton to alert her to the anti-Americanism at work in the courtroom – though Sollecito, an Italian, was being tried too. Was there anti-American sentiment among the colpevolisti? The resentment, even, of a former great imperial power towards the current hegemon? Almost certainly.

But the anti-Italian sentiment flowing in the other direction has been just as concentrated. The managers of Knox’s downfall have come in for savage caricature: Giuliano Mignini, a Perugia public prosecutor, has been portrayed as a senile fuddy-duddy; Monica Napoleoni, head of Perugia’s murder squad, a vindictive bully; Patrizia Stefanoni, who was responsible for collecting forensic evidence from the crime scene, has been slammed for incompetence, though at the time of the crime she was well respected in her field.  Cantwell stated that she had “serious questions about the Italian justice system”, though the state she represents, Washington, currently holds eight people on death row.  30.1.2014

A blogger on My North West astutely ripostes:

 I was intrigued by a press release that came out right after the guilty verdict. Senator Maria Cantwell issued a statement in which she said “I am saddened by the verdict and I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.”

Anti-Americanism??? I can understand how that could have been a factor during the Bush years when the world hated us.

But once we elected Obama, the world fell in love with the United States all over again. We were once again “welcomed into the world community”… and “no longer a pariah on the world stage”…

How could Senator Cantwell suggest that anti-Americanism played a role in this verdict. Barack Obama is our president – THERE IS NO MORE ANTI-AMERICANISM!!!

I guess the other possibility is that Knox actually whacked the gal…Dori Monson http://mynorthwest.com/75674/amanda-knox-guilty-how-could-this-happen- under-obama/

The ‘abominable’ DAILY MAIL – according to the Netflix film makers – writes:

This high-profile case though, brings a particular set of problems for the Obama administration because of the high emotions if elicits on both sides of the Atlantic – not just in Italy and America, but in the United Kingdom too.

The United States and Italy enjoy a successful extradition relationship, with cooperation high on busting organised crime.

It would cause a potential diplomatic row should the president and John Kerry choose not to send Knox to Italy if her appeal fail.

However, on the flip side, Italy may choose not to anger their most powerful ally over such an emotive case.

Knox herself has said that she would not return to Italy and that would only do so, ‘kicking and screaming.’

Regardless, any decision on whether to extradite the 26-year-old from the U.S. is likely months away, at least. Experts have said it’s unlikely that Italy’s justice ministry would request Knox’s extradition before the verdict is finalized by the country’s high court.

If the conviction is upheld, a lengthy extradition process would likely ensue, with the U.S. State Department ultimately deciding whether to turn Knox back over to Italian authorities to finish serving her sentence.

So far the State Department has refused to be drawn on a position regarding the outcome of the Knox re-trial.

Spokesman Patrick Ventrell was asked in March last year what would be the likely decision and only offered that the verdict was still months away.

‘We can’t really comment beyond that,’ Mr Ventrell told reporters according to the Daily Telegraph. ‘We never talk about extradition from this podium in terms of individual cases.’

 31 Jan 2014

Trump now

So, we see that the decision to extradite would now have been in the remit of Trump’s new Secretary of State – currently in the running are Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani – whether or not to extradite, and with the power to override any treaty with Italy or US court.  From what we see of Trump’s attitude towards the legally exonerated ‘Central Park Five’ and his public disregard in continuing to label them guilty and to refuse to apologise for the ads he took out in four main newspapers calling for the death penalty, it is a short step to his overriding any guilty verdict by the Italian Supreme Court.  Indeed, some observers are convinced of the invisible hand of the US State Department in the background in the recent shock acquittal of the pair.

Another disturbing aspect is the issue of press releases by Maria Cantwell calling on Italy to free Knox.  The question arises, on whose authority was she given permission to issue press releases about sensitive international legal matters?  It seems she then had to petition Hillary Clinton during the appeal process, who prudently declined to comment.

Matt Ford, The Atlantic.com analyses the issue in fine detail 31.1.2014:

Slate’s Justin Peters hypothesized that the U.S. could use Article X of its extradition treaty with Italy, which requires the requesting nation to prove “a reasonable basis to believe that the person sought committed the offense for which extradition is requested,” to block her extradition.

There are more drastic options the U.S. government could take to protect Knox, though. Could Congress and/or President Obama override the extradition treaty with Italy to shield Knox, for example? Yes, says Julian Ku, an international law professor at Hofstra University, but they’re unlikely to do so. “I doubt there will be any need for Congress to intervene,” he said. “If the political winds blow so strongly in favor of Knox, Secretary [of State John] Kerry has all the authority he needs to keep her in the U.S.”  

But even if Italy does request Knox’s extradition, Kerry can still simply refuse regardless of whether there are legal problems, says Ku. “It would be a real diplomatic blow, and a bad policy decision in my view, but neither illegal nor unconstitutional.” 

Earlier this year, Peter Quennell, of TJMK writes:

 Compare with how the UK government reacted after Meredith died. Basically it looked the other way. Many in Italian justice were amazed at how totally disinterested the UK government was in the case in all the years since Meredith’s death.

The US government sprang into action to help Knox and to make sure she was treated right, though there was no proof the Italians would do anything but. They found her a Rome lawyer with good English (Carlos Dalla Vedova) and monitored all her court sessions and her four years in Capanne.

This came at a probable cost of over half a million dollars. And that is just the public support. Nobody ever said “the Federal budget cannot stand this”.

The extent of the British government in pushing justice for Meredith and her family? Exactly zero over the years.

Nothing was ever paid toward the legal costs or the very high travel costs of the Kercher family to be in court as the family finances ran into the ground. Nobody from the Foreign Office in London or the UK Embassy in Rome observed in court except in Florence, just the once.  14 Feb 2016 http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/C350/

In more recent weeks Knox made a powerful denunciation of Trump in the wake of Clinton’s presidential election defeat.

Knox went on to say that Trump called for the death penalty to be reinstated in New York during the Central Park Five case.

“Is it because I is white?”

“Even now, he views (the suspects) as guilty, though they were exonerated when the true perpetrator, a serial rapist, confessed to the crime,” she wrote. “Why did Trump defend me and condemn them? Is it because I was an American on trial in a foreign country? Is it because I’m a white woman?”  www.wftv.com

Stand by me

So, when Amanda Knox declares her opposition to Trump, are we to take her seriously?  Any more so than her claim it was, ‘Nick Pisa wot got me jailed’?

Knox has had all kinds of senior and anonymous political figures involved in her rescue from justice: Cantwell, Kerry, Clinton, Ventrell, President elect, Donald Trump, and faceless officers of the US State department, the latter who appear to have issued a press release to the global media, circa 31 Mar 2015, that they would refuse to extradite.  We need to ask, on whose authority were all these press releases circulated?

It kinda takes your breath away when Knox claims – and as reported in the national press – that she is not ‘standing by Trump’.  To claim firstly that the likes of Nick Pisa is more powerful than US politicians really exposes the manipulative lies of Knox and the Netflix film makers.  Donald Trump is reported in the Italian press in recent days as being ‘bitter’ about Knox’ comments about his donation towards her legal costs, and who can blame him?  Sure, she doesn’t need to share his views, but a little gratitude may have been the better part of valour.

Trump and his views on law and order

THE WASHINGTON POST interviewed Kevin Richardson, one of the five 8 Oct 2016

Trump became a part of this widely reported and closely followed crime story when, two weeks after the teens were arrested, he spent a reported $85,000 placing full-page ads in all four major New York daily newspapers.

“Just like those ads, that speech was a call for extreme action based on a whole set of completely false claims. It seems,” Richardson said, “that this man is for some strange reason obsessed with sex and rape and black and Latino men.”

This week, when confronted again with just how wrong he was about the Central Park Five, Trump not only refused to acknowledge widely reported and well-known facts or the court’s official actions in the case. He did not simply refuse to apologize: He described the men as guilty, and then demonstrated, once again, that he is a master at the dark art of using long-standing racial fears, stereotypes and anxieties to advance his personal and political goals.

He used the Central Park Five to differentiate himself from his political opponent. He stoked support for solutions inconsistent with the law. And he refused to admit any error.

<snip>   Wise — who served the longest term of all the wrongfully convicted teens and eventually crossed paths with the real Central Park rapist in prison, setting off a chain of events that got the convictions tossed out — said the content of Trump’s campaign is really a continuation of those 1989 ads.

central-park-five

THE WASHINGTON POST also interviewed Yusef Saleem 12 Oct 2016

At the time, our families tried to shield us from what was going on in the media, but we still found out about Trump’s ads. My initial thought was, “Who is this guy?” I was terrified that I might be executed for a crime I didn’t commit.

Another man, Matias Reyes, eventually confessed to the rape and was definitively linked to the crime through DNA. Because of this, we were exonerated in 2002. New York City paid us $41 million in 2014 for our false imprisonment. (As is customary in such settlements, the city did not admit liability.)

Trump has never apologized for calling for our deaths. In fact, he’s somehow still convinced that we belong in prison. When the Republican nominee was recently asked about the Central Park Five, he said, “They admitted they were guilty.” In a statement to CNN, Trump wrote: “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty.  [= This applies to Knox – confession – and Sollecito!~ KG] The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.” (Meili, for her part, told CNN in 2003: “I guess there are lots of theories out there, but I just don’t know. . . . I’ve had to come to peace with it by saying: ‘You know what? I’m just not going to know.’ 

It’s further proof of Trump’s bias, racism and inability to admit that he’s wrong.
When I heard Trump’s latest proclamation, it was the worst feeling in the world. I couldn’t breathe. <snip>

I realize, too, that I’m not the only victim. Trump has smeared dozens of people, with no regard for the truth.

Should politicians intervene in live murder trials?

Trump’s intervention in the Central Park Five case illustrates how imprudent it is for a politician to attempt to intervene in legal cases.  He can have little idea of the evidence presented before the courts.  Trump’s gung-ho White Knight charge-to-the-rescue of a fellow German-American – and backed by physical funding – is based on irrationality, emotion and jingoism, “the last refuge of a scoundrel”.  How dangerous and meddlesome for Cantwell to demand a defendant be released regardless of the facts of the case.

No, Knox doesn’t stand by Trump, but it’s thanks to the likes of him she is free.

I am the Lizard King
I can do anything
I can make the earth stop in its tracks
I made the blue cars go away 

~ Jim Morrison

 

 

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Netflix ‘Amanda Knox’ Review: The Italian Job: The DNA Sting

October 24, 2016

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Above: ‘Independent’ Expert Witnesses, Conti and Vecchiotti, fraternise in Hellmann’s Court with Sollecito’s defence. Vanessa, Raffaele’s sister, and their father, Francesco, is pictured greeting Vecchiotti and Conti with beaming smiles.

I have previously written a review about the Netflix film, ‘Amanda Knox’ [2016], see here: https://krissyg1.com/2016/10/01/review-of-the-netflix-film-amanda-knox-2016/

How Conti & Vecchiotti Misrepresent the DNA Facts

Here I plan to expand on the section: ‘’The Appeal to Authority”: the inclusion in the film of geneticist scientists, Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti.

I hope to set out how and why the film misleads the viewer in respect of the appearance of Vecchiotti & Conti.  The choreography used by the film makers to present Knox and Sollecito as ‘exonerated’ and ‘innocent’ based on Vecchiotti & Conti’s narrative in the film will be revealed for the careful script that it is.  I will demonstrate why Vecchiotti & Conti’s declarations in the film are deceptive.  An analysis of Vecchiotti and Conti’s entire role in attaining the release of the pair and the revelation of the hidden agenda that underlies the film will be explored.

Fine Slicing

In the film, Vecchiotti and Conti appear quite deeply into the film, at 1’ 4” of 92 minutes.  The appearance of the ‘DNA experts’ towards the end, enables the film makers to reinforce the image of a great miscarriage of justice, leading up to the grand finale denouement.  Enter Conti.

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Referring to the evidence of Sollecito’s DNA found on the bra, Conti introduces the audience to a key principle of DNA.  It is ‘dust spread everywhere,’ he avers.  To set the scene, we are informed that the Forensic Police (‘Scientific Police’ in Italy) acted chaotically and that the crime scene was an absolute shambles.  We hear an audio voiceover of a supposed scientific policeman saying to another ‘this is absurd, there is unbelievable chaos everywhere’.

So there we have it.  ‘A crime scene must be completely sterile’.

We are roundly informed that this crime scene was not, based on Conti’s word for it.

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Next, enter his co-partner, the other ‘independent’ expert hired by the Hellmann appeal court to evaluate the evidence concerning the DNA identified on the presumed murder weapon knife, and the bra clasp sample: Carla Vecchiotti.

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Carla Vecchiotti claims that the issue of contamination of the DNA ‘was raised by the court’.

Shot moves to the scientific police as she continues, ‘ it could have been by other people’.

She then throws in a red herring.  ‘There was the DNA of two unknown males on the clasp’, which we can dispense with straight away.  In reality they were fragments of DNA, no more than 6 – 8 alleles, and precisely of the type of dust contamination Conti is talking about.   This effectively subverts the issue away from the strong DNA profile of Sollecito found on the clasp.

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Vecchiotti then continues the theme of the film that prosecutor, Mignini, was acting entirely intuitively.  ‘You can’t just make it what you want it to be’.

She claims there are ‘problems with contamination in the laboratory’, yet in court she insisted the alleged contamination was at the collection stage, and not at the laboratory.  A picture of the knife comes up.

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Vecchiotti comments, ‘The Knox DNA profile is a very good one.’

Of the Kercher DNA on the blade she states, ‘It’s so small.  So scarce, the likelihood of contamination is very high.’

From this, she concludes the Kercher DNA is ‘inconclusive’.

The film makers show us the picture at least three times with ‘INCONCLUSIVE’ in bold red letters.  ‘I asked Dr Stefanoni (the forensic police chief in charge of this case) how she concluded this is the murder weapon without any other evidence?’

However, the courts upheld, and Conti and Vecchiotti themselves concurred under oath, that far from being inconclusive, it was a strong profile of Meredith, at 15 alleles.

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Again, Vecchiotti repeats the lie that the laboratory was contaminated, when no such finding was upheld by any court, including Hellmann’s, by referring to Stefanoni stating she had examined fifty of Meredith’s samples at the same time, see above.  She insinuates Stefanoni overrode standards so that they would not have to close the lab up between samples.

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The film then cuts to clips of US media outrage at Vecchiotti’s findings of ‘contamination’, even dragging in Donald Trump, no doubt sucking on a tic tac, with just a small cameo of Mignini for ‘balance’, stating that ‘all evidence’ needs to be looked at, implying that Mignini accepted the alleged contamination and was now trying to deflect from it onto other evidence.  The reader should bear in mind, that in fact, there was no such finding of contamination in Stefanoni’s labs.

Nor does she or her co-partner ever once in the film, and nor do the film makers mention that their report was discredited by the Chieffi Supreme court and Hellmann expunged.

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Having established – falsely – that Vecchiotti and Conti had proven contamination to an unwary audience, the film then cuts to Amanda Knox claiming, ‘There is no trace of me in the murder room…and nothing reliable of Raffaele’.

We are shown a diagram of eight black spots of Rudy Guede’s traces and one white one for Sollecito, some distance away from the body, underneath which, it was actually found.  A police mug shot of Guede appears on screen, whom Knox describes as ‘ a guy who regularly committed burglaries’.

From this we are led to believe Guede is a seasoned criminal career burglar, when as of the time, he had no convictions at all.  The film makers inform the audience it is, ‘a burglary gone wrong’, not a finding by any court, apart from the vacated Hellmann court.  The balance (at roughly six to one against, in terms of time coverage) once again is provided by Mignini who points out its unfairness, given the evidence found at the trial.

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The film then cuts to Conti, who makes an astonishing confession – for a scientific professional expert witness and professor –  stating, ‘What happened inside that room between Guede and Meredith, was not a job assigned to me.’

So now it is out in the open, Vecchiotti and Conti, far from protecting their professional integrity by following their ethical code, which states that they are expected to act with objectivity in their professional role and should safeguard this by recusing themselves should they feel that they have become advocates for a party, in the film do not even hide their partisanship.

Conti  feels confident in this ‘documentary’, now as a global film star, to declare his advocacy for Knox and Sollecito with the above statement.

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The Vecchiotti and Conti sequence of the film ends with a drawn out episode of a supercilious Conti leaning back in an attitude of condescension, no doubt aimed at Mignini, when he concludes,

‘Cicero once said’ – pause – ‘ Any man can err, but only a fool perseveres.’

Next, the film completely ignores that his and Vechiotti’s report was unceremoniously ridiculed by the next level court – Chieffi, Supreme Court – and the pair branded as ‘intellectually dishonest’.  It ignores that the case was remitted back to a completely different Appeal Court, in a completely different area, from Umbria to Tuscany, and under a completely different judge.

In the Netflix film, a diagram showing Knox’ DNA on the knife handle is admired as a strong profile.  Meredith’s DNA on the blade is highlighted as a question mark.  Time and again, the viewer is shown the same diagram with the word ‘INCONCLUSIVE’ above the Meredith DNA in red letters.  The truth is, ALL of the defence experts – including Vecchiotti and Conti – accepted it was a strong DNA profile of Meredith (15-allele) so we see a blatant misrepresentation here, that rather than the confidently strong profile it is, Vecchiotti declares that it is ‘inconclusive’, and leads the viewer to believe this was because of proven contamination.  This deception is underlined by the film makers immediately galloping to the Hellman Court after the Vecchiotti & Conti interview, with wild scenes of Hellmann freeing the pair and declaring them innocent.  The connection is made: the knife DNA – and the bra clasp – is ‘contaminated’ and that is why the pair were freed.  ‘This was the only flimsy evidence,’ is the message conveyed. Thanks to the lurid and putrid imaginings of Mignini and Pisa, those kids suffered, the viewer is told.  Cue mass media bombardment by the outraged Netflix viewers, on Twitter and Facebook excoriating Pisa, mostly, and also Mignini, as having botched up the whole case and ruined the lives of these two kids.

That was the film: now the reality

  • I will look at Vecchiotti and Conti’s true track record, which is appalling. The husband of a murder victim was denied justice for a staggering NINETEEN years, as DNA investigator Vecchiotti, et al, negligently refused to investigate the DNA of the perpetrator of the murder.
  • How did Vecchiotti and Conti get appointed by Hellmann court at all? I reveal how the US contingent of pro-Amanda Knox scientists helped ‘fix’ it.
  • I will highlight the legerdemain ploys adopted by the pair in preparing their report, which predicated Hellmann freeing the pair from prison. It was a moot point henceforth as to whether they would ever return.
  • I will set out Chieffi’s and Nencini’s damning criticisms of Vecchiotti and Conti in the case.  Crini points out, in the Nencini report, that Vecchiotti’s own laboratory fridge did not have a thermometer!
  • I will show how the elaborate ‘heist’ of the judicial system in springing ‘the kids’ from jail happened. A US scientist, using Boise University resources, Greg Hampikian, was bragging to courts in the US under oath, even as Hellmann had been expunged and Nencini had just recommenced the appeal, that, ‘I am still working on the Amanda Knox case’.
  • My analysis exposes the interconnections between US advocates Hampikian, Bruce Budowle and British forensic expert, Dr Peter Gill, with Vecchiotti and Conti, which casts grave doubt on the pair being ‘independent’ expert witnesses at all.

modern-scientific-police-labs-in-rome

Modern Forensic Science Laboratories in Rome

The track record

On 21 April 2016, Carla Vechiotti, together with Pascali, Vicenza and Arberello, was found guilty in a civil suit of gross negligence in the examination of the murder of Contessa Ogliata, dating from 1991, and ordered to pay €150,000 in damages.  Vecchiotti appears to have a reputation for cutting more corners than Stirling Moss, with other cases often quoted, with which she is associated.

Above:  Conti & Vecchiotti laboratores forcible closed down.  Right: Bodies line the corridors

Recently, Conti and Vecchiotti’s laboratory in Rome was closed down due to public health issues. Contamination almost certainly occurred in their laboratory.   Rotting cadavers unclaimed by relatives, were said to have piled up in the corridors.  Stefanoni’s laboratory, which followed all the conventional standards of the day was never proven to have been contaminated.

Carla Vecchiotti’s reputation is in tatters. She has made a number of shocking errors in a couple of murder cases, she repeatedly misled the appeal court – Judge Nencini described hers and Conti’s work as “misleading” and “reprehensible“.

The Hellmann Court (Appeal Court)

judge-claudio-pratillo-he-007

18 Dec 2010  At the Hellmann appeal the defences made three unusual requests, (a) to get an independent review of the DNA and (b) to bring in Alessi to challenge Curatalo’s testimony and (c) Aviello, a mobster.  Hellmann agreed to appoint Conti &Vecchiotti from La Sapienza University in Rome.  In the interim 16 Dec 2010, Rudy Guede was definitively convicted. (a) was challenged by Comodi, saying there were many experts for both sides already.  Hellmann argued a judge did not have sufficient expertise to evaluate the experts’ opinions.  Having achieved the appointment of Conti &Vecchiotti , Conti &Vecchiotti [‘the experts’] delivered the coup de grâce: claiming  international standards were not met, contamination could not be ruled out, and that the DNA profile of Meredith could not be reliable.  The pair made the claim the DNA could have ‘come from dust’, and rebutted by Stefanoni, who said in that case, there should have been contamination elsewhere, not just on the bra clasp.

braclasp

Contamination from the laboratory was completely ruled out, contrary to the claims made in the Netflix film, after which, ‘the experts’ moved to a stance that the contamination happened before it even got to the laboratories.  At the hearing, Conti was constantly asked what the criteria were for alleging contamination, to which he replied, ‘Anything is possible’.  As a scientist, a proper evaluation of probability was expected of him.

In their report they claimed, ‘The electrophoretic profiles exhibited reveal that the sample indicated by the letter B (blade of knife) was a Low Copy Number (LCN) sample, and, as such, all of the precautions indicated by the international scientific community should have been applied.’

It transpired ‘the experts’ had decided to use the US standards of Bruce Budowle and supported by Gill, et al., that the threshold for Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA should be raised to 200 picograms, from the hitherto conventional 100 picograms.  In addition, ‘the experts’ argued, the US standard of 50 RFU’s should be used in place of the then Italian standard of 30 RFU’s.  Analysis of DNA below these levels introduces a higher risk of ‘background noise’; contamination from alien sources, i.e., everyday dust, which may contain DNA fragments.  Hellmann, ‘the experts’ and the US scientists getting involved, by virtue of ‘the experts’ quoting extensively from their papers, erred in presupposing that Dr Stefanoni knew nothing about these issues.  Professor Novelli, for the state, challenged the claim that there was any contamination.  Indeed ‘the experts’ were unable to demonstrate this other than by quoting lengthy academic papers which had little to do with mundane case law and more to do with ivory towers.  Vecchiotti, born 1951, with a long CV from medical student days, would have known what Italian standards were, yet tried to subvert them in retrospect.

A complaint was lodged by the prosecution about the pair being seen to openly fraternise with Sollecito’s defence team during the hearing, a strict Bar Standard ‘no, no’ for an independent expert witness.

‘The experts’ refused to analyse a further sample of DNA found on the knife, giving the reason it was LCN, and they ‘didn’t want to make the same mistake as Stefanoni.’

rsakrg

Above: Raffaele Sollecito;  Amanda Knox;  Rudy Guede

Hellmann accepted Vecchiotti & Conti’s findings and acquitted Knox and Sollecito, declaring them ‘innocent’, aside from the calunnia for Knox, together with finding that Guede acted alone, as a ‘burglar disturbed.’

For the film makers, this defines the end of the film.

The Chieffi Court (Supreme Court)

The next level of appeal court overturned completely Hellman’s findings.  It rebutted that the DNA sample of Meredith’s was ipso facto low quality just because it was LCN.  ‘The experts’ had claimed, relying on their US sources, that LCN sampling should only be done on special projects, such as missing persons or cadaver identification, and that there was not the technology as it was ‘too innovative’.  Chieffi did not buy this, pointing to embryology studies.  He scoffed at the idea of ‘the experts’ being more expert than Professor Novelli or Dr Torricelli.  He censured Hellmann for failing to consider their equivalent expert knowledge.

Chieffi was particularly critical of ‘the experts’ refusing to test the remaining knife sample, calling their reasoning, ‘intellectually dishonest’.  25 March 2013, Chieffi ordered the case back to the Appeal court to consider the DNA evidence again, amongst other issues, and that the knife sample be tested.  One suspects ‘the experts’ were loath to test the sample in case it turned out be further DNA of Meredith, and this may be why Chieffi smelt a rat.

The Nencini Court (Appeal Court)

nencini

Nencini made it clear in a newspaper interview it was not within his remit to criticise ‘the experts’, but rather, to assess the legal rectitude of the Massei court decision, which Hellmann patently failed to do.  However, criticise he does.  He directs Barni, witness for the police, that ‘no US standards’ are to be quoted.   In upholding the findings of the Massei court, he makes the following point in his reasoning about the DNA of the knife and bra clasp:

  “… The consultant holds furthermore that the most appropriate technical approach to interpret the genetic profile arising from trace 165B and to avoid subjective interpretations is to “call upon”, meaning to consider as valid, all of the alleles with RFU > 50, independently of their position or whether or not they might be stutter. Once the complete profile is determined, given that there may also be more than

two contributors to the trace, we feel that the only statistical approach that can be used adequately here is the RMNE (Random Man Not Excluded) method. This statistical approach makes it possible to estimate the possible error due to a chance compatibility, meaning that of a person chosen randomly from the population and who by pure chance is fully compatible with the genetic characteristics of the individual represented in the trace. The higher and nearer to 1 that probability is, the more likely it is that the profile could be the result of a random choice and thus the higher the probability of an error in the attribution of the genetic profile to a given individual. In this case, as seen in Table 5, the profile of Raffaele Sollecito is compatible at all the loci analyzed in the mixture of DNA found on Exhibit 165B.

The probability that a random individual from the population would also be compatible (the inclusion probability) [245] was calculated, and came out to be equal to 3.05592 x 10^-6, which is about 1 in 327 thousand. This computation is considered to be extremely conservative, since all of the allelic components are taken into consideration together with their frequency in the reference population.” (Pages 15-17 of the technical report submitted at the 6 September 2011 hearing before the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Perugia.)

The same investigative method was also suggested by the consultant of the Prosecutor in relation to the interpretation of the genetic profile of the markers located on the Y chromosome of trace 165B. Here again, all alleles with RFU>50 were considered, giving the following table:

Table 3. Profiles of Chromosome Y taken from trace 165 B

Marker

Exhibit
165B

Raffaele
SOLLECITO

DVS456

13.15

13

DYS3891

12-13

12

DYS390

22-23-24

22

DYS3891

29

29

D’tS458

14-15-17

15

DVSI9

14

14

DVS385

13-14-16

13-14

DYS393

12-13-14

13

DYS39I

9-10-11

10

DYS439

11

11

DVS635

21-22

21

DVS392

11

11

V GAT,t 114

11-12

11

DYS437

14-15

15

D’t’S438

9-10

10

DVS448

19-20-21

20

 [246] On the basis of the data in the above table, applying the method of statistical calculation indicated above, Prof. Novelli estimated the probability of a chance inclusion of a random person from the population in the mixed profile, together with the chance compatibility of this random individual with the major contributor to the Y chromosome, as about 1 in 3 billion.”

He upholds that the Forensic Police, aside from some human error, acted correctly and dismissed defence claims that Stefanoni had withheld raw data, and as claimed by ‘the experts’, citing documentary proof the information had been deposited.  Nencini reinstated the convictions, 31 January 2014, and dismissed the claim of contamination.  The sample on the knife ‘the experts’ had claimed was ‘starch’ and ‘too low LCN’ was successfully tested and found to be that of Amanda Knox.  None of this is mentioned by Vecchiotti & Conti in the film and nor do the film makers point it out, leaving their audience to believe ‘the experts’ claim of ‘contamination is proven’.

A key finding was that Professors Novelli and Torricelli had already been the target of the criticisms raised specifically by Prof. Adriano Tagliabracci, technical consultant for the Sollecito defense, at the first instance trial court, and thus was a matter settled (res judicata).  This is important to note, for Marasca later describes Tagliabracci in glowing terms as ‘world renowned’ when he reinstates the Hellmann findings in this matter, at the next level.  Nencini observes, ‘Finally, it is observed that Prof. Tagliabracci’s criticism is founded on an unproven and unprovable suspicion, namely that the biologist doing the work being already in possession of reference samples supposedly used the “suspect-centric” method.’

tagliabracci

Professor Adriano Tagliabracci

Nencini also found that the second instance [Hellman] court undervalued the fact that the tests carried out took place during the preliminary investigation [of which the Defence was notified and had the right to attend], that at the time of those tests, there were no objections concerning the sampling and laboratory activity, nor was a pre‐trial hearing requested regarding the testing, all of which proves agreement with the [laboratory] procedures.

Is Contamination Possible?

There were NO full male DNA profiles on the bra, apart from Sollecito’s and Guede’s.  Vecchiotti and Conti, significantly, in the film, try to detract from this highly incriminating scientific fact, by making reference to everyday dust fragments, as if that could possibly account for it.  The assertion by Conti in the film that ‘a crime scene must be kept sterile,’ is meaningless for there are many environmental pollutants at every crime scene.

prof_david_balding

Professor David Balding

Expert forensic geneticist Professor David Balding, and who, until October 2009 was Professor in Statistical Genetics at Imperial College, London, where he still retains an affiliation as Visiting Professor commented as follows. He is an editor of the Handbook of Statistical Genetics.

“Sollecito’s alleles are all represented and these generate the highest peaks, but there are some low peaks not attributable to him; so at least one of the additional contributors of low-level DNA to the sample was male.”

“They correctly criticised the scientific police for ignoring these: many do appear to be stutter peaks which are usually ignored, but 4 are not and definitely indicate DNA from another individual.  The extra peaks are all low, so the extra individuals contributed very little DNA.  That kind of extraneous DNA is routine in low-template work: our environment is covered with DNA from breath and touch, including a lot of fragmentary DNA from degraded cells that can show up in low-template analyses.  There is virtually no crime sample that doesn’t have some environmental DNA on it, from individuals not directly involved in the crime.  This does create additional uncertainty in the analysis because of the extra ambiguity about the true profile of the contributor of interest, but as long as it is correctly allowed for in the analysis there is no problem – it is completely routine.” (David Balding).

in some cases we have peaks that correspond to a fourth person.”

“The fourth person is not Guede, it seems. This mystery fourth person hasn’t been mentioned much”. (Luciano Garofano, Darkness Descending).

“But because Sollecito is fully represented in the stain at 16 loci (we still only use 10 in the UK, as the legal threshold, so 16 is a lot), the evidence against him is strong.”

In this case all the peaks associated with Sollecito seem clear and distinct  so I think there can be no concern about the quality of the result as far as it concerns him or Kercher.”

The Italian Scientific Police follow the guidelines of the ENFSI – the European Network Forensic Science Institutes. Dr Stefanoni observed that they followed these specific guidelines whereas Conti and Vecchiotti basically picked and mixed a random selection of international opinions:

We followed the guidelines of the ENFSI, theirs is just a collage of different international opinions”.

In other words, Conti and Vecchiotti were not referring to the specific guidelines and recommendation of one particular international forensic organisations despite giving that impression at the appeal in Perugia. They cited a number of obscure American publications such as the the Missouri State Highway Patrol Handbook and Wisconsin Crime Laboratory Physical Evidence Handbook. The Italian Scientific Police are under no obligation to follow the DNA protocols of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Wisconsin Crime Laboratory.

Professor Novelli also pointed out that contamination has to be proved:

The contaminant must be demonstrated, where it originated from and where it is. The hook contaminated by dust? It’s more likely for a meteorite to fall and bring this court down to the ground.”

Professor Torricelli testified that it was unlikely the clasp was contaminated because there was a significant amount of Sollecito’s DNA on it. Professor Novelli analysed the series of samples from all 255 items processed and found not a single instance of contamination, and ruled out as implausible that a contaminating agent could have been present just on one single result.

There was an independent review of the forensic evidence in 2008.

Dr Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA Unit of the Scientific Police, reviewed Dr Stefanoni’s investigation and the forensic findings. He testified at Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial in October 2008 and confirmed that all the forensic findings were accurate and reliable.

stefanoni

Dr Patrizia Stefanoni, leader of the Forensic Police, addressing Sollecito defence team.

He also praised the work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team.We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.

So, now we have a pointer as to why Conti introduced his presentation by claiming ‘DNA is spread like dust.’  To mislead the general public viewers of the Toronto International Film Festival 2016 – endorsed ‘documentary’ into believing the DNA evidence of the bra-clasp and knife was ‘contaminated’.

To sum up, then, WAS there any possibility of contamination, as Vecchiotti and Conti are now claiming in the film?

  1. Conti and Vecchiotti didn’t prove there had been any contamination.  Judge Chieffi pointed this out.
  1. Conti and Vecchiotti lied to the appeal court – Judge Nencini pointed this out – and they didn’t test the DNA sample despite the fact they were specifically instructed to do so.
  1. Numerous DNA experts believe the bra clasp is strong evidence – Professor Balding, Professor Novelli, Luciano Garofano, Professor Torricelli and Dr Biondo.
  1. It’s impossible that the knife was contaminated.
  1. There is no universally accepted DNA standards for collecting and testing DNA evidence. DNA protocols vary from country to country.
  1. Conti and Vecchiotti cited obscure sources, They didn’t refer to the specific guidelines of an international forensic organisation.
  1. Conti and Vecchiotti excluded contamination in the laboratory.
  1. The defence experts had no objections when the DNA evidence was tested.
  1. Vecchiotti made calamitous errors in other cases and her lab was closed down.
  1. Does anyone really believe Sollecito’s DNA floated on a speck of dust under Meredith’s door and landed on the exact part of her bra clasp that had been bent out of shape during the attack on her?                                              –  THE MACHINE

The Marasca-Bruno Supreme Court (Final)

marasca-bruno

Above: Italian Supreme Court Judges, Fifth Chambers, Genaro Marasca and Paolo Bruno

In the final Marasca-Bruno Supreme Court short 48- page reasoning, from March 2015, the guilty verdicts as upheld by Massei and Nencini are overturned, and Vecchiotti & Conti‘s report reinstalled.

The second reason [the first reason being: The first reason challenged the violation and inobservance of the criminal law], highlights a problem of great relevance in the circumstance of the present judgment, that is the right interpretation of the scientific examination results from a perspective of respect of the evaluation standards according to article 192 of the criminal procedural code and the relevance of the genetic evaluation in the absence of repeatable amplification, as a consequence of the minimal amount of the sample and, more generally, the reliability coefficient of investigations carried out without following the regulations dictated by the international protocols, both during the collecting phase and the analysis. Particularly, anomalies were challenged in the retrieval of the knife (item 36) and the victim’s brassiere hook, which do not exclude the possibility of contamination, as correctly outlined in the Conti-Vecchiotti report, ordered by the Perugian Court of assizes, which also notified the unreliability of the scientific data, precisely because it was not subject to a further examination. It was also denied that the retrieved knife would have been the crime weapon.”

Thus, we see the Chieffi Supreme Court directly challenged by a sister chambers and the criticisms of Vecchiotti and Conti swept aside, as though they had never happened.

Marasca writes:

‘In fact, no trace of Sollecito was found in the room of the murder. The only element of proof against him was represented by the DNA trace retrieved on the brassiere hook of the victim; trace of which relation with the indicted was actually denied by the Vecchiotti-Conti report, which, in this regard, had accepted the observations of the defense advisor Professor Tagliabracci, world-renowned geneticist.’

It further states:

‘12) Also erroneous was the interpretation of the results of the genetic evidence on item 36) …[…]

14) Obvious also was the flawed reasoning on the results of the genetic investigations on the bra hook, …[…]… With regard to the possible contamination of the item, the appeal judges overlooked the photographic material placed before the court, which clearly demonstrated the possible contamination, regarding the way the hook was treated, with a “hand to hand” passage carried out by persons who wore dirty latex gloves. Furthermore, a second amplification was not carried out on the hook …[…]… With regard to this, the objections by the defense and the contrary conclusions of the defense adviser professor Tagliabracci, were not considered.’

In other words, the DNA evidence for the knife and the bra clasp is completely dismissed.  We see no proper rationale by Marasca, just a few handfuls of abstractions along the lines of Conti’s famous, ‘Anything is possible.’

peter-gill

Dr. Peter Gill

It takes on board Gill’s theories of ‘secondary’ and ‘tertiary’ transfer of DNA, when Gill himself appears to have overlooked that he himself wrote, that ‘this is highly improbable after 24 hours have passed’.

If Marasca’s rulings are considered bizarre, then light is shed when one realises that Bongiorno, for Sollecito, was given NINE times longer to present her appeal than any of the other parties, so it is fair comment to assume its reasoning is based on Bongiorno’s appeal points.  In addition, her 306 page appeal was appended with Gill’s advocacy report, and whom was never cross-examined.

The resuscitation of the hitherto presumed decaying corpse of Vechhiotti & Conti is remarkable, given the cadaver of their report to Hellmann was picked raw, first by the First Chambers Supreme Court (Chieffi) and then Nencini.

Vecchiotti and Conti have risen like Lazarus from a car crash, shrouded in the malodorous cloth of something fishy.

How the Sting was pulled off

Freelance journalist Andrea Vogt, who reported extensively on the case, said of the Marasca reasoning:  ‘In my opinion, their report is superficial at best and intellectually dishonest at worst, when even the most minimal amount of Quellenkritik is applied’.

Andrea Vogt writes an incisive analysis of the US influence on the Conti & Vecchiotti reports, which I cannot better here, so do read it for yourself:  http://thefreelancedesk.com/the-secret-u-s-forensic-defense-of-amanda-knox/

However, I will repeat her prophecy, ironic in hindsight:

  “If Knox is acquitted at the end of this month, the quiet American hand in her forensic defense will be heralded as the turnkey that made the ultimate difference in her case. But if she is convicted, there are legitimate questions to be asked about exactly what public resources were spent on this international defense.”

Vogt uncovered what appears to be a whole secret network that she was unable to penetrate through the fog of Freedom of Information law, which enabled Hampikian to claim ‘trade secrets’ as a project of Boise University, where his laboratory is based, to evade the question of, ‘Who was funding his Amanda Knox advocacy work?’

hampikian-tv

If then, it is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that both Meredith’s and Sollecito’s DNA is strong and background contamination ruled out by the trial courts, why then does the film revisit the discredited testimony of ‘court experts’ Vecchiotti & Conti?  We can link this back to the film makers own self-professed strong pro-Knox beliefs in her innocence.  Thus we have come full circle.

The defence managed to convince the now expunged Hellmann court to appoint ‘independent experts’; the Chieffi Supreme Court ruled that, whilst this was within Hellmann’s remit, it did not provide adequate reasoning for doing so.  Vecchiotti & Conti, remarkably, in their report, relied heavily on US standards, thus making the straw man claim that Italy hadn’t followed them, notwithstanding their strong academic and legal background in Italy.  This therefore cannot have been due to ignorance, so we have to point to their own volition to be influenced by strongly Knox-advocates.  For example, Hampikian, funded by Boise University grants and protected by a blanket of secrecy, citing ‘trade secrets’ when journalist Andrea Vogt requested information under the Freedom of Information statutes.

In addition, Bruce Budowle, a more conservative ex-FBI forensic expert, was heavily relied upon, together with peers Gill, et al.  It was at this stage Gill may have got roped in.  His later book draws on Vecchiotti &Conti’s Hellmann’s Report.  Thus, we see a band of pro-Amanda Knox advocates determined to influence the so-called ‘independent’ experts, even when both Hampikian’s and Budowle’s reports were rejected as depositions by the courts.  Even when ‘the experts’ were spiked by the Chieffi Supreme court, Hampikian was still averring, ‘I am involved in the Amanda Knox case’.

Friends of Amanda Knox even today lovingly quote Hellmann despite his de facto ex-communication from the judiciary.  Little surprise we see the film makers eager to include Vecchiotti and Conti, who made it all possible for the birds to fly.

On the subject of Dr Peter Gill, who is widely regarded as having influenced the Fifth Chambers, via Bongiorno’s Appeal, to which his theories were attached, is now drawing on Vecchiotti and Conti as his main source, so we have a case of the experts’ racing car, as it were, driving the man, referred to devoutly by the defence, as ‘the father of forensic science’.

Dr. Naseer Ahmad of PMF.net was moved to comment:

 ” – A look at his sources show that the chapter on Meredith Kercher was directly influenced by the Conti-Vecchiotti report.
– He argues contamination, but doesn’t prove a path of transmission.
– He cites papers on secondary transfer of DNA, but misses the point his suggested routes, RS>door handle>investigator’s latex glove>bra clasp is tertiary transfer.
– He argues the low cell count of Meredith’s Kercher’s DNA on the knife suggests contamination without considering that rigorous washing with household bleach might degrade it. (Yet miraculously those cells did provide a full match with Meredith’s DNA)
– The shoe box belonging to Meredith story has been shot down.
– He clearly has not read Inspector Gubbiotti or Finci’s testimonies, which removes all possible paths of ‘innocent transfer’.
– Reading the actual research papers he cites, there is no way that such significant amounts of DNA could actually transfer to the bra clasp.
– He did not review Patrizia Stefanoni’s Scientific Report or any of her notes, instead relying on the IIP translated C&V report and Hellmann decision.
– He refers to the Meredith Kercher wiki, but never even looked at the DNA segments which would have alerted him to problems with the C&V report.
– He may have had indirect input from Sollecito’s first DNA expert, Vincenzo Pascali, and Carla Vecchiotti, but does not seem to know of Vecchiotti’s colorful record of falsifying evidence.

Last, and worst of all, he did not refer to the Supreme Court decision annulling Hellmann even though the translation was widely available almost ten months before his book was published. There is no way he could not have known this, since we had been in contact with him since earlier this year. It is unconscionable that he chose this route to promote his theories. Elsevier under its new ownership and editorial policies seem to have allowed any number of self-published books to be written. If Professor Gill had written a scholarly text book it would have to be reviewed by an editorial board and sent for peer review, which might have led to professional experts critiquing and hopefully pointing out his errors. Instead, he wrote a slim, unreviewed ‘popular’ book to promote his own theories, which, embarrassing perhaps for him, is being critiqued and torn apart by lay persons, ahem.

Misleading DNA Evidence – Reasons for Miscarriages of Justice, Peter Gill, Academic Press.

Quote:

Recommendation 1: The expert should provide the court with an unbiased list of all possible modes of transfer of DNA evidence (pg 20).”

The irony is not lost.

meredith

R.I.P

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher (28 December 1985 – 1 November 2007)


Sources:
Thanks to Naseer Ahmad.
Thanks to The Machine, for the section on ‘Contamination, is it possible’
The Machine’s analysis of ’50 of the most common myths still promoted’ can be read here:
http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/fifty_of_the_most_common_myths_still_promoted/
http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/Main_Page
http://www.perugiamurderfile.net/viewforum.php?f=1
The Nencini Sentencing Report: http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/The_Nencini_Sentencing_Report_(English)
The Chieffi Sentencing Report:
http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/The_Supreme_Court_of_Cassation_of_Italy_Sentencing_Report
The Massei Report: http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/The_Massei_Report_(English)
The Marasca-Bruno Report: http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/The_Marasca-Bruno_Report_(English)
My thanks to everybody who helped me with material.

Review of the Netflix Film ‘Amanda Knox’ 2016

October 1, 2016

The Truth Hides its Face

car

The film presents itself as a ‘neutral objective’ documentary of the events surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2007 and the consequent acquittal of the accused pair, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

The directors, Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, and producer, Stephen Robert Morse, claim they gave it the title of ‘Amanda Knox’ as it became ‘all about her’.  This is part of the case they wish to put to the viewer, that the pair were only convicted because of the prurient press interest – as represented by ‘villain hack for the DAILY MAIL’, Nick Pisa, a cockney ‘wide boy’ who giggles as he describes his excitement of a ”girl-on-girl’ crime (which it was, given both Meredith and Amanda are female) and arch villain, the mad Roman Catholic prosecutor, Guiliano Mignini, supposedly obsessed with good and evil, Sherlock Holmes and who took a dislike to the ‘anarchist, anti-authority’ Amanda Knox, victimising her because he considered her canoodling with her Italian boyfriend outside of the murder cottage, immoral.

The truth hides its face in this documentary.  The directors and producer Stephen Robert Morse conceal from the viewer that they were active supporters and proponents of the ‘Friends of Amanda Knox’ and David Marriott PR campaign, to ‘Free Amanda Knox’, Blackhurst and Morse ‘tweeting’ profusely to this effect from as early as 2010, with Morse writing articles attacking Nick Pisa, the Italian prosecution and ‘the “hater”/”guilter trolls” who expressed their suspicions of the pair.

The credits at the end of the film lists numerous names of ardent ‘Free Amanda Knox’ advocates, including Nina Burleigh, the initiator of the ‘Rudy is a drifter, petty thief, burglar, drug dealer’ soundbite, picked up by almost all of the press, none of it substantiated, Doug Preston, who had a grudge against Mignini because of the acrimonious ‘Monster of Florence Affair’ which had him leaving Italy unceremoniously, run out of town, and seething.  The credits include Amanda’s own family.

rodblackhurst

The directors claim in their promotional material and supporting ‘blurb’ they went to great pains to ensure balance and to ‘let the protagonists speak for themselves’.  These claims given the above, are less than candid.  In addition, the film promotes only facts that support their fervently biased views.  My notes that follow the review, lists some of the lies and the omissions perpetrated by the documentary.

How then is the deception carried out?

There are several techniques to engage an audience, not dissimilar to a novel, film or memoir.

1. Make the narrator likeable

In the Amanda Knox film, this is done by showing clips of Amanda’s and Raffaele’s younger days.  This is not done for the other defendant, Rudy.  We have a very young looking Amanda joking into the camera and old black and white pictures of Raffaele in his choir boy robes with his hands in pious prayer.  Thus, we are reminded that Amanda and Raffaele are warm people who were once cute kids.  This encourages the viewer to empathise with the subject of the documentary.

We even see Amanda and Raffaele seeming to flirt with each other, each lighting up and smiling as they recall fond memories of the other during their brief affair.

3 Be selective in what you tell the viewer

We are not told about Amanda’s previous disturbing short stories about murder and rape, nor about Raffaele’s wayward behaviour that caused his father to threaten to put him into rehab.  He bragged of his drug taking on social media and posted bizarre images of himself dressed as a maniac wielding a meat cleaver.

The viewer is not informed of Raffaele’s obsession with knives and vast collection.  If this had been mentioned, Nick Pisa’s observation that the knife pricks below Meredith’s  chin showed she had been taunted and tortured with a knife, would make more sense to the viewer.

You will see from my list below of many salient and incriminating facts and evidence, which the directors leave out completely.  Thus, we are only informed of the knife and the bra clasp, but not of the luminol-enhanced footprints of the pair, nor Raffaele’s presumed footprint in Meredith’s blood on the bathmat.

We are told that Rudy’s biological signatures are all over the scene, and we are shown the same diagram, more than once, of Rudy’s eight circled biological spots with just one for Raffaele, and none for Amanda, when the truth is, there was more DNA evidence found of Amanda at the murder scene than Rudy.  In addition, the Raff circle (in glowing white, like driven snow) is some distance away from the body, when in fact, the bra clasp with a strong DNA profile (17 alleles) of Raff was found under the body, under a sheet, and as photographed by the forensic police.  The filmmakers have attempted to obscure this physical fact.  It could be they have chosen the spot it was collected on Day 42, instead, kicked under a rug.

meme-film-biological-spots

Most people would be very surprised to learn there were only about four markers found for Rudy, compared to at least five for Amanda, whose DNA mixed with Meredith’s, led police to believe she had bled the same time.  This is because white blood cells are a rich source of DNA and in one mixed sample, in the bathroom, Amanda’s DNA is more prolific than Meredith’s, her DNA presumed to be from her blood, given the colour of the stain the DNA was extracted from.

So, we the viewer are led to believe the ‘evidence’ is flimsy against Amanda and Raffaele and are encouraged to believe there is much more against Rudy.

We are told more than once, ‘the DNA evidence of the knife and bra clasp is crucial’.

4. Appeal to Authority

Here DNA scientists, Conti and Vecchiotti appear, she wearing her pristine scientist white coat, sitting at her scientific desk, and he assuming an air of authority, as the pair proclaim the DNA of the bra clasp and the knife (remember, the ‘only’ two ‘crucial’ pieces of evidence against the pair) were contaminated and therefore, the ‘result of Meredith’s DNA on the blade and Raffaele’s on the bra clasp is inconclusive.’

The directors conceal from the viewer that the court (Hellmann) who commissioned Vecchiotti and Conti was later expunged by the Supreme Court and Vecchiotti and Conti heavily criticised as, ‘intellectually dishonest’.

They fail to mention that Vecchiotti and Conti did not appear to keep up a professional ‘independent expert witness’ integrity at the hearing.  They were seen heading straight for Raffaele’s legal team, shaking hands with them, and observed dining at a wine bar.  The prosecution lodged a complaint against Maori, Raffeale’s lawyer, about this perceived breach of legal ethics

vandc

Video screen capture of Vecchiotti and Conti familiarity with Sollecito’s Defence at the Appeal Hearing

The other key thing the film makers are careful not to draw the audience’s attention to is that Carla Vecchiotti was found Guilty of professional misconduct, of negligence, in the Olgiata criminal case .  [See ‘sources, 4’, below]

5. Adopt an Anti-Hero

The anti-hero for the filmmakers is Rudy Guede.  We are reminded about how his damning evidence is more prolific than Raffaele’s or Amanda’s.  We are reminded that ‘evidence still points to Rudy’s guilt’, whilst the couple are ‘exonerated’.  This in itself is untrue, as the pair were NOT exonerated.  They were acquitted due to insufficient evidence, the US equivalent of the conviction being ‘vacated’, or the Scottish Law, ‘not proven’.  At no time did the Supreme Court declare the pair ‘innocent’, yet the filmmakers constantly claim they were.

In the film Amanda states, of Rudy, ‘He is a burglar who has burgled many times, and he came to my house to burgle’.

Shoot to ‘rogue red top hack’, Nick Pisa, ‘We weren’t interested in Rudy, the story was Amanda.’

6 Lead the viewer to the epiphany

This is a technique popular with Hollywood filmmakers who churn out popular ‘feel good’ movies.  The feel good ‘happy ending’ here is that the baddie, that is Rudy, remains the only guilty party and, victory, the heroes, Amanda and Raffaele are vindicated.

The next step is to ask, ‘How did this happen?’

The viewer is invited to look to the other villains of the piece, Mignini and Pisa.  We are encouraged to hate them, and ‘boo and hiss’.  Indeed, many reviewers and ‘tweeters’ have reviled Nick Pisa, in particular.

We are informed the convictions were overturned thanks to the ‘flawed investigation’ and because of media pressure.  However, media reporting of live cases whilst legally restricted in the UK and the USA, is not in Italy.  There is no law in Italy that prevents ‘media leaks’, thus the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to reach such a verdict as there is no legislation against it.  Nick Pisa, in effect, did nothing legally wrong.

Many reviewers believe the film to be ‘about a miscarriage of justice’, but the fact is the verdict given was not ‘miscarriage of justice’, i.e., ‘in the public interest’, it was ‘insufficent evdience’.

And thus, the viewer goes away with the filmmaker’s intended message, ‘Amanda and Raffaele are innocent’, ‘exonerated’, ‘vindicated’ ‘there was no evidence’ and that they suffered ‘a miscarriage of justice.

The viewer goes a way with a ‘feel good’ feeling that right has prevailed over wrong.

The Reality

The real life reality, as usual is very different from the idealised Disney vision, as set out by Blackhurst and MGinn, and the argument is that the filmmakers have perpetrated a fraud on the viewing public by concealing their vested interest in portraying Amanda and Raffaele as victims of injustice, whether it’s true or not, as the facts and the evidence points otherwise.

There is nothing wrong in holding an opinion, of course.  The question is, is it an honest one?  I would argue, no.

‘Amanda Knox’ 2016, is not honest, transparent or even ethical.

———–

Netflix notes:

 Lies and omissions of ‘Amanda Knox’ 2016 (film)

Lie: claims after ‘police broke down door’ (lie) they were told Meredith had had her throat slit and there was blood everywhere, whereupon the camera cuts to Amanda appearing to be comforted by Raffaele rubbing her arm (Message to viewer: she had just been told the awful news.) Truth is, she and Raffaele did not see the murder room, she was not told by the police these details, she herself brought it up at the Questura. The pair claimed Luca told them in the car (*after* the kissing scene), Luca said he only knew ‘because Battistelli made a cut throat motion with his hand’. –  It hardly explains Amanda’s prior knowledge of the crime scene.

 

Bear in mind, in that kissing scene, Amanda was known to have earlier  been carting a mop back and forth, visited a store to browse bleach and the pair had been listening to grunge rock at 5:30 am. None of this is mentioned.

Lie – claims she ‘stayed home and went to cottage next morning’ – phone records show she was near cottage when she read Patrick text.

Lie – refers to herself as a ‘beautiful blonde American’ – self praise and all that.  This recalls the blond hair found in Mez’ hand, across the top of her bag and again, in her vagina.

Embellishment:  Amanda says she saw ‘Patrick in brown leather jacket’, quote: ‘ I thought I was remembering he had killed her’.

Omission: in scene where she says, ‘there was my Mom’ ((34:00) in an audio of a prison visit, Amanda omits to mention she rang up her Mom for the first time since she left Seattle, just *before* the door was broken down, and then lied to the police and her Mom about it.

Omission: Amanda didn’t mention she told cops ‘Meredith’s door is always locked’ and appeared calm, contrary to her email home to 25 people, wherein she claims to have banged the door and shouted Meredith’s name.

Lie: she reiterates she was with Raffaele, when even he said she went out.

There’s the HIV lie, via Nick Pisa. She wasn’t told she had HIV at all, as confirmed by self in own hand.

Manipulation: lots of baby pics of Raffaele as an angelic choir boy, but no mention of teacher and parental concerns about his viewing habits, drugged out behaviour, weird messages on social media, and knife collection fetish.

Manipulation: they used a diagram showing Rudy’s forensic evidence ‘spots’ in eight places, with Raffaele’s only in one. Omission: omitted Amanda’s forensic evidence spots, omitted Raffaele’s presumed footprints in luminol and and on the bathmat.

Manipulation: emphasis on Rudy ‘covered in blood’, his quote, ‘Amanda had nothing to do with it’.

At the time, it was within the interest of each perp to cover for the other.  Likewise, Amanda did not name Rudy, but covered for him, as decreed by the final Marasca Supreme Court.

 Omitted to mention court finding there was more than one perp, and that Raffaele refused to testify at all.

 Manipulation: claimed bra clasp and knife DNA was ‘crucial to the evidence’ more than once. Gave viewer impression this was the only evidence, which they then demolish by enter: Conti and Vechiotti. No mention at all that Conti and Vecchiotti were excoriated by Chiefi Supreme Court and called ‘intellectually dishonest’.  The Hellmann Court to whom they reported was completely expunged and ordered to be looked at again, using a completely different Appeal Court Judge (Nencini Court). Vecchiotti has since been convicted of misconduct in another case.

Lie; Classic quote by Stefano Conti: ‘The crime scene must be kept sterile’.

A crime scene is rarely sterile, happening in people’s every day homes. Amanda and Raffaele got people to tramp all over the crime scene. The bra clasp was under the body, under a sheet, so not accessible to forensics team, who had to make way for Lalli, without disturbing the body.

Lie: Conti says the forensics team was in ‘total chaos’.

Logical Fallacy: from Conti & Vecchiotti – heavily criticised by the courts –  the film moves on to the conclusion, the knife DNA and bra clasp DNA is “inconclusive”, therefore the case against the pair collapses (strawman). Omission: no mention of any of the other evidence. In particular, the luminol and Amanda’s and Mez’ mixed DNA.

 Lie: Amanda states Rudy was a burglar who burgled many places and ‘he burgled my home.”

As Raff said to the police when he got round to calling them, ‘Nothing has been taken’.

Like: I liked Mignini’s comment, “I don’t think this is very fair” re the claim ‘Rudy did it alone’.

Also Stefanoni was well aware of the RSU contamination levels, 30 in Italy 50 in the US. It’s absurd for Vecchiotti and Conti to claim Stefanoni did not take this into account. She helped identify thousands of tsunami victims in 2004 by DNA analysis.

Lie: the film celebrates Hellmann acquitting the pair (and this is where the film ends, with the aftermath added on as brief written narrative across the screen, and shot of AK jumping up and down after Marasca Court’s verdict of acquittal of the pair). It fails to mention Hellmann’s verdict was expunged.

It describes, quote, Amanda’s arrival at Tacoma Airport, as ‘a crush of well wishers’. Lie/Omission: The US newsreader enthusiases about Amanda arriving at Tacoma-Seattle Airport to crowds (lie), yet the only person in the photo (omitted to mention) is one David Marriott, her publicist, whom Curt Knox hired within two days of her arrest.

film-david-marriott

It quotes Marasca as giving ‘stunning flaws and increased media pressure’. Problem is, there is no law in Italy against the press speculating on cases not yet tried, unlike in the UK. Thus Marasca did not have the jurisdiction to make such a verdict.  No law against it, means there is no jursisdiction (i.e., no legal power to judge on it).

It concludes they were ‘exonerated’, reiterates “evidence still points to guilt of Rudy” (there is no mention of the Marasca Court’s criticisms of Amanda and Raffaele) and that the police and cops should ‘own their faults’.

Omission: It states Raffaele ‘now runs his own internet company’ – fails to state this business is in catering for the dead.

Sources:

http://www.themurderofmeredithkercher.com

http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php

http://www.perugiamurderfile.net/

  1. Barbie Nadeau in Angel Face: “Concern that the independent experts weren’t so independent after all spread quickly after several journalists saw Vecchiotti with Raffaele’s lawyer Luca Maori in the courthouse halls and coffee bars of Perugia. Curious, too, was the fact that the Vecchiotti-Conti report cited more American forensic standards than Italian ones, and that many of these had also been quoted by the Friends of Amanda.”
  2. @Machiavelli_Aki has tweeted the sentence, issued last week, in a civil case brought against Pascali, Vechiotti (and another dottore).  The three of them were found guilty of negligence, and grave professional misconduct, and ordered to pay damages and all costs.  The case under consideration arose from the forensic ‘investigations’ into the Olgiata case.

from: http://www.perugiamurderfile.net/

3. From Macchiavelli:  The judgment against Carla Vecchiotti.

vecchiotti-misconduct

4. Many thanks to Nell of www.perugia for wiki link, below.

crime dell’Olgiata

The Olgiata crime was a murder took place on July 10 , 1991 in a villa of ‘ Olgiata , exclusive area located north of Rome, whose victim was a noblewoman, the forty-Countess Alberica Filo della Torre.

The case remained unsolved for twenty years [1] , mainly because of the poor accuracy of the investigation [2] .

After almost twenty years, in 2011 , DNA testing has identified the culprit in Manuel Winston, a Filipino maids, former employee of the family, who then confessed to the incident on 1 April 2011 [3] . The quantity and confession made sequel sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment, imposed on November 14 following and confirmed on 9 October 2012 .

Google translation: “The Civil Court of Rome by judgment of 21.4.2016 sentenced at first instance ex officio technical consultants Pascali Vicenzo Lorenzo, Arbarello Paul and Vecchiotti Carla for negligence in the performance of examinations of Outdated exhibits about the murder of the Countess, dismissing more than 150 thousand euro compensation awarded, on request the next Countess Alberica Filo Foundation joint Tower, in order to be used in charitable activities.”

 

 


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