Friday 23 March 2018

Scientists cast doubt on key DNA evidence in Knox trial

Maurizio Troccoli in Perugia

A REPORT compiled by an independent expert forensic team yesterday claimed to discredit vital police evidence used to help convict American student Amanda Knox .

Ms Knox was found guilty of the murder of her English housemate.

But yesterday scientists appointed by an appeal court said in a report that DNA evidence used in the trial was unreliable and numerous errors had been made by police scientists.

Significantly, they said no evidence supported the original police conclusion that murder victim Meredith Kercher's blood was found on a knife which they identified as the weapon and which had been handled by Knox.

The 23-year-old and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were jailed in 2009 for 26 and 25 years respectively for the slaying of Ms Kercher but are appealing. Ivorian Rudy Guede was also convicted of the murder.

Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old English student, was found half naked in November 2007 with her throat cut in the house she shared with Knox in the university city of Perugia.

The judges said the murder was the result of a frenzied sex game that spiralled out of control in a case that has attracted huge media attention.

The experts, Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti, confirmed police conclusions that Knox's DNA was found on the handle of the knife but said material on the blade was from starch.

The experts also said there was no DNA evidence on a clip from Kercher's bra which police said was traceable to Sollecito.

In a scathing indictment of the methods of the Italian police, the experts said tests on the blade of the knife "as obtained appear unreliable because [they were] not supported by scientifically valid analytical procedures".

They added: "International procedures for inspection and protocols for collection and testing of the evidence were not followed."


"We cannot exclude that the result obtained from the blade of the knife could derive from contamination in some phase of handling or analytical processing of the samples."

The experts reached similar conclusions about the bra clip, saying the tests taken had been wrongly interpreted and did not follow international protocols. They also could have been contaminated, the experts said.

Knox's Italian lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, said the report "is a big blow to the scientific evidence. We are happy with the result, even if it has come late."

He said the forensic report would be considered by the next hearing of the appeal trial in July.

Earlier this week, Knox clashed in court during the appeal hearing with 24-year-old Guede, who is serving 16 years for Kercher's murder but is not part of the appeal.

She told the court she was "shocked and anguished" by evidence from Guede that she and Sollecito killed Kercher.

Irish Independent

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