Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Perugia

by Anne Bremner

Given the continuing scrutiny of the forensic evidence in Amanda Knox's trial, I've asked my friend, Mark Waterbury, Ph.D, a member of The Friends of Amanda Knox, to give us his thoughts on the evidence. Most recently, Mark has authored and released a book, The Monster of Perugia – The Framing of Amanda Knox, which is now available in Kindle (eBook) format on Amazon.com.

by Mark Waterbury
A funny thing happened on the way to Perugia.

In December, the court in Perugia, Italy, that is hearing the appeals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito ruled that independent experts should review the DNA forensics work of the Polizia Scientifica. In particular, it asked the experts to take a fresh look at the only two items of evidence that the prosecution claims connect Amanda and Raffaele to the crime. Those items are highly contested by the defense because of the unique and irreproducible handling of the evidence, as well as the interpretation of testing results.

A review of the methods and interpretations has been a longstanding demand of the defenses.

The first item of evidence was a kitchen knife retrieved from Raffaele’s kitchen implements drawer. Although it does not match the knife wounds, does not match an imprint left on a pillow at the crime scene; and although it tested negative for blood with TMB and the DNA profiling systems reported “too low” as the test result, the prosecution’s forensics expert twisted the controls to blow up the noise at the bottom of the graph. Voila! In a DNA profiling lab with many samples of Meredith Kercher’s DNA, both before and after PCR amplification, a noise level trace appeared. This kind of contamination is not unusual at all.

The other item was Meredith Kercher’s bra clasp, which was cut or torn from her bra during the assault. The strap was spotted and photographed soon after but not retrieved until 47 days and unknown exposure later. At this point in the investigation, not one single shred of DNA evidence, or fingerprints, or footprints, or anything else connected these two defendants to the scene of the crime. That implies very strongly that these two defendants were innocent, and that the murder was committed by a third defendant, Rudy Guede, who has already been convicted. Guede left extensive traces at the crime scene, and even admits being present.

Instead of releasing Amanda and Raffaele in what I call a "hail Mary" clasp play in my book, The Monster of Perugia – The Framing of Amanda Knox, the investigators went back in 47 days later specifically to retrieve that bra clasp. By remarkable coincidence and unbelievable luck, it showed a contamination level DNA of at least three people, and was compatible with the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito. It was also compatible with many, many, other people because it is a mixed DNA profile at trace levels.

The funny thing happened when these new experts appeared in the Perugia court and one of them asked if they could dismantle the knife handle to inspect the tang, the part of the blade that secures the knife to the handle. The defense had no problem with that, but the prosecution and the civil attorneys that side with the prosecution fought it tooth and nail.

The prosecution has claimed that this item is powerful evidence against Amanda and Raffaele. Why should they be afraid to take a closer look at it? In fact, why didn’t they examine the insides of the knife handle long ago? If it was, in fact, used to commit a stabbing, blood certainly would have made it to the handle and some of it would wick up into the joint between the blade and the handle. Critical evidence would be preserved at that point. Yet, the prosecution never looked for it, and now doesn’t want it examined.

The appeals judge granted the independent experts the right to dismantle the knife, and we 'll now wait 90 days for their report.

Click to find more information about Mark Waterbury's book or Amanda Knox evidence.

Mark is a Ph.D. in materials science with 20 years of experience, including as a scientist for the Air Force, an engineer for a major engineering firm, and CTO for two companies. He's also developed a number of measurement techniques, holds several patents, and has worked on a wide range of scientific projects. Most recently, Mark started his own firm, Perception Development Co., which provides consulting services and development of a variety of new products and technologies.


Michaelsmth said...

They went back to retrieve that bra clasp right after Raffaele's family proved the shoe print he was arrested on the night of Nov.5,'07 was actually Rudy Guede's.

As you state, they then had absolutely nothing at all - so went back to get the clasp, kicked in a corner. Lo and behold, Raffale's DNA was on it - how convenient was that.

Anyone who doesn't see this stinks to high heavens isn't looking with an honest or open-mind.

This wrongful conviction was set-up from the getgo.

Anonymous said...

Seems like this is little other than a shameless spam for a slow selling book by a very biased interviewer.

Anonymous said...

I still wonder -- and really would like to hear an explanation -- why it is that the authorities constantly recorded Knox in jail, including her conversations with family, but somehow don't seem to have any recordings of the interrogation when she claims the police struck her. They cried foul at her accusations, so why haven't they produced recordings to demonstrate that she is lying? It seems too convenient that that's the one time they didn't record her.

Anonymous said...

The bra clasp and recording issues are troubling indeed.

Fine said...

Waterbury: "Although it does not match the knife wounds,...."

Ummm, Mark, you should familiarize yourself with the evidence. If the knife didn't match any of the knife wounds, the prosecutors would never have used it as evidence. In fact, the knife is consistent with TWO of the stab wounds to Meredith's neck.

Anonymous said...

"investigators went back in 47 days later specifically to retrieve that bra clasp."

Did they say they were going in to get the bra clasp ahead of the search or is that speculation?

Anonymous said...


The coroner described the knife as being "not-incompatible" with the slash would. It could not have made the other two wounds. Any knife could have made the slash wound though.

Fine said...

Anonymous said...


The coroner described the knife as being "not-incompatible" with the slash would. It could not have made the other two wounds. Any knife could have made the slash wound though.


You, and Mark Waterbury, are mistaken. The coroner, Dr. Lalli, and the Court, found that the deepest stab wound to Meredith's neck, on the left side, was compatible with Raffaele's kitchen knife. Only one knife wound, the one to the right side of Meredith's neck---which severed an artery---was not compatible with Raffaele's knife.

The correct information is available in Judge Massei's MOTIVATION REPORT, available online, and translated into English.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Dr Waterbury's main area of expertise is the Vertical Gardening field he loves so much and writes much more informative articles about than this fact less feeble attempt at forensics

Paul said...

Can we please stop using the weasel word "compatible"? It is the favorite word used by the Italian police when they don't have real evidence. The kitchen knife might be "compatible" with the wound in the same sense that a skate blade or a piece of glass would be. But there is absolutely no reason to suppose that any knife was involved other than the smaller knife Rudy Guede used to kill Meredith. The most compelling testimony on this point was made by defense expert Walter Patumi, who made it clear that a very high level of force was used to make the knife wound. Had anything as large as the kitchen knife been used, the wounds would have been even more severe.

Mr. Waterbury has done an excellent job showing that the DNA methodology used in analyzing the knife was horribly flawed and conformed to no known standard. Essentially, the technician made a new method up on the fly to force a result.

Here is another thought. The murder took place on November 1. The knife was not retrieved for five or six more days. Do you really think that if Amanda and Raffaele were so clever that they could remove all trace of themselves from the scene that they would fail to dispose of the principal murder weapon. Do you really think they would keep it at the top of the knife drawer and continue to use it in cooking? Please. This does not even pass a basic smell test.

If you have the time by all means read the Motivations document, but read the appeals documents to. You will find the sentencing report to be the single most disgraceful legal document of its type that you ever had the misfortune to read. There are ludicrous internal contradictions, wild leaps of logic, misrepresentations of testimony. When he comes to a dead end, the judge posits the existence of evidence that was never introduced at trial. When he has no answer at all--as in the case of the blood spatter evidence, he simply ignores it altogether. Whether we are talking about the way cell towers operate or the way the Apple operating system works the judge's ignorance is appalling.

One final point: anyone who wants to know what really happened in this case should read Mr. Waterbury's account of what was done to Amanda Knox in over 50 hours of police interrogation, none of it with a lawyer present.

Anonymous said...

Mark Waterbury wrote: "...The appeals judge granted the independent experts the right to dismantle the knife,"

I am suspicious of so-called experts plugging their own work who get even very simple facts wrong. Judge Pratillo Hellman did NOT rule that the scientists from Rome have the right to take the knife apart. He asked them to review the knife and clasp evidence produced in the first trial, as per the defense appeals request. Pratillo Hellman said that to disassemble the knife would require a special request from these experts, which he would rule on--if they formally make such a request--only later.

Anne Bremner wrote: Mark has authored and released a book,"

If Dr. Waterbury released his own book, is it fair to conclude that it is self-published?

Paul said...

Oh please let's stop logic-chopping and nit-picking. There is no doubt that Pratillo Hellman will allow the knife to be disassembled if the new experts wish it. That is why the prosecution and the civil parties lawyers went berserk. He is obviously trying to see if the the DNA work that was done was even remotely plausible. My guess--and it is only that--is that he is going to acquit fairly quickly unless Stefanoni's work gets a ringing endorsement--and it won't.

Do people realize that Curatolo, the chief prosecution witness, is a bum who lives out of garbage cans? His testimony was so absurdly inconsistent that the very fact that it was even allowed into evidence is a joke. This homeless man has testified in no fewer than three murder cases on behalf of the Perugia police over the past 10 years. More recently, another Italian police agency charged this paragon with arranging heroine deals.

DUDE said...

The bloody footprints said to be comparable with Amanda and Raffaele, were bloody lies. The authorities did not find Amanda or Raffaele's bloody footprints anywhere on Earth. The following in thought of as perjury in most courts.

(page 64 hearing Sept. 26, 2009). "Dr. Stefanoni confirmed that to prove that blood is present, you have to test for it. Dr. Stefanoni claimed that no testing was done. In July 2009 the test records revealed otherwise. The luminol findings were tested using tetramethylbenzidine, and the tests were negative for all tracks. The luminol findings tested negative for blood."

Massei report page 256-257: “With respect to the Luminol-positive traces found in Romanelli's room, in Knox's room and in the corridor, she stated that by analysing the SAL cards "we learn, in contradiction to what was presented in the technical report deposited by the Scientific Police, and also to what was said in Court, that not only was the Luminol test performed on these traces, but also the generic diagnosis for the presence of blood, using tetramethylbenzidine, and this test, gave a negative result on all the items of evidence from which it was possible to obtain a genetic profile" (page 64 hearing Sept. 26, 2009).”

DUDE said...

Amanda and Raffaele had an alibi for the time Meredith was actually murdered.
FROM JUDGE MICHELI'S REPORT: Starting with the investigations, the Public Prosecutor and the Judicial Police proceeded to reconstruct the movements of the girl [ Meredith ] in the last hours of life, it is also the assumptions made by CT coroner point of time of death, to be placed at a distance of no more than 2 or 3 hours after last meal, and would probably be understood took place at around 23:00 [ 11 pm ]

FROM JUDGE MICHELI'S REPORT: On 17 November, P. [Sophie Purton] made a new prosecuting magistrate deposition, confirming the initial statements without time to clarify where the four friends had begun to eat in the house of A. [ Amy Frost] and R.[Robyn Butterworth] (perhaps 18:00 [ 6 pm ]

Note: Meredith was one of the four friends that ate at 6 pm.

Those not familiar with this case may ask why 6+3=11. It is because when the crime lab analyzed Raffaele's hard drive they determined he logged on the intrnet at 9:10 pm, and he watched a cartoon until 9:46 pm, so the authorities had to establish a time of death when Amanda and Raffaele did not have an alibi. So 6+3=11.

DUDE said...

My opinion: No, what we have here is an overly ambitious prosecutor who's a brick shy of a full load, coupled with the symptoms of a man with his head up his own butt. This man was sentenced to 16 months in prison because he could not see the consequence of his actions and he was intoxicated with his power. A man bursting with ego who envisions himself as the sword of god and a gifted actor. A man that brought asinine satanic cult related charges against 20 people. All the charges against all the people were thrown out of court due to a lack of evidence. A man that ruined the lives of 20 people and could not care less.

DUDE said...

According to witness testimony one of the postal police officers entered Meredith's bedroom after Luca kicked the door open. The officer later testified he did not enter the room. Everyone at the crime scene knew her throat had been cut. Amanda didn't understand what was being said so Raffaele told her in English what the others were saying about Meredith's throat being cut. Meredith's body was covered so someone had to enter the room and look under the cover to know her throat was cut. It seems the officer committed perjury but the court did not take issue.

DUDE said...

I choose to believe what is rational and supported with logical facts. I do not believe irrational accusations that are neither logical or supported with facts. For example I choose not to believe the window was busted from inside Filomena's room. The window has shutters on both the inside and outside. The gouge made by the rock on the inside shutter indicates the shutter was partly closed when the rock thrown from the outside passed through the glass and hit the inside shutter then bounced off the shutter, landing in a bag near the window. Some of the glass bounced off the shutter and landed at the base of the window outside the building. Much of the glass scatted all over Filomena's room and some of the glass was knocked all the way across her room to the wall opposite the window.

The argument that the window was busted from the inside of the room is based on what is said to be Amanda foot print in Filomena's room and glass Filomena said she saw on top of her clothes that were in the floor near the window. Per judge Micheli there were no crime scene photos of this glass and no crime scene reports that determine if any glass was on or under her clothes. What is said to be Amanda's bloody foot print is not conclusive. The test did not conclusively verify what is said to be Meredith's DNA is conclusively hers. Also I must consider both Amanda and Meredith lived in the apartment and their DNA is likely to be found anywhere in the apartment, plus the blue blur that does not in any way look like a foot was not verified to be blood or to be Meredith's blood. Also I must consider when people walk with blood on their feet they leave a trail of bloody foot prints. For this foot print to be Amanda's it would be necessary for her to dip one foot in blood then hop on the other foot to Filomena's room then throw the rock through the window with both her feet on the floor. One more thing I must consider is that Guede left a trail of bloody show prints from Meredith's bedroom to the apartment entrance door and more than eight people walked on his bloody shoe prints and all over the apartment. Their shoes picked up microscopic traces of her blood and spread it about the apartment so microscopic traces of her blood is likely to be found on the floor anywhere in the apartment. What is said to be Meredith's DNA sampled from what is said to be Amanda's bloody foot print in Filomena's room is a microscopic trace so small it could not be positively identified. This is very weak evidence to conclude the window was busted by Amanda from inside the building, especially when considering the physical evidence indicates the window was busted from outside the building. I wonder if the jury actually believed this rubbish or if they slept through this act.

Judge Micheli discussed the gouge in the shutter in his report but he did not clarify if he was discussing a shutter on the inside of the window or the outside window and his blabbering is not intelligible. Also in the Judges report it's discussed that Filomena did not remember the position she left the shutters in so he assumes a position she remembered leaving the shutters in to support the window being busted from inside the building. This assumption is almost as illogical as him assuming the police knew about an event that occurred at 12:07 based on a phone call made at 11:50. The authorities in Perugia display a tendency to assume what ever suits their purpose irregardless.

Anonymous said...

According to convicted prosecutor Guiliano Mignini,Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito left his apartment sometime after 9:46 PM,wondered around Perugia and picked up Ruede Guede,a man Amanda barely knew and Raffaele didn't know at all and they all three went over to the house and got whacked out of their minds on marijuana.Then they squeezed into Meredith's little room and attacked her at the same time,sexually assaulted her,and then stabbed her in the throat with two different knives.After committing this horrible crime Guede fled the house and then fled the entire country.Amanda and Raffaele returned to his apartment and got back in bed and fell asleep.It all makes perfect sense as long as your brain doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

JC Court says:

Look at this case from the point of view that the prosecutor is "corrupt", and it all make sense.

We firmly believe that Italy will see through this great Prevarication, and do the right thing, this prosecutor does not represent Italy as a whole, what he did to these innocent kids is unconscionable, The truth will prevail!

Anonymous said...

Until you have been sitting in Amanda's shoes you will never know to what distance the Police, and or prosecutors will go to charge someone of a crime. In 2008 I was arrested and held for assualt with a deadly weapon and attempted murder. I was inncoent. I begged the police to test the gun for my fingerprints. I was given bail, bailed out and returned home to learn my fate. 24 days later, it was determined that my fingerprints were not on the gun and the individual acusing me had an alterer motive. I will never trust any legal or justice system again. I know that during my interview my story changed repeatedly, the incident became fuzzy and what happened first, second and last got all mixed up. After hours of being interviewed they had me all confused. I doubted myself! the truth prevailed and all charges were dropped. This was in the US were I had accesss to my leagal system, my attorny's and jury of my US peers. If this case was tried in the US Amanda would be free.

Nightowl2548 said...

The very fact that police claimed to have "accidentally" erased all three hard drives of Amanda and Rafaelle tell you all you need to know that they are actively subverting the evidence. I took computer classes in college and my teacher discussed forensics and just how darn near impossible it is to fully erase data from a hard drive. As a matter of fact, the US Defense department melts down all Hard drives containing classified materials and guards the location where the slag is buried as if it were Fort Knox. How many times have we heard of the FBI computer forensic teams finding traces of child pornography on computers where the defendant had attempted to erase the evidence. One man was even convicted of murder after the FBI put pieces of the disk he destroyed back together to access the files. Clearly if a top notch forensic team got hold of Amanda and Rafaelle's computers they could find out what is encoded on the platters. The police probably didn't want it be known that Rafaelle was in fact watching a downloaded movie at 9pm and Amanda had ample evidence and photos of a good relationship with Meredeth in the days leading up to the crime.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Women in Crime Ink.
This travesty of a murder case is of a piece with much of the blatant lying and injustice by the powerful in our societies. When Amanda and Raffaele are free to resume their lives, it will be so partially because many people took the time and effort to work and speak out on their behalf.