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Entries in DNA (11)

Wednesday
Sep072011

Amanda Knox Wins Another Round in Her Murder Appeal

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- American college student Amanda Knox won a skirmish round Wednesday in the appeal of her Italian murder conviction when a court rejected prosecutors' request to conduct further tests on DNA evidence in the case.

The request to do additional tests on the DNA came after a court appointed independent panel gave a scathing report on the prosecutions' handling and analyzing of the DNA evidence, concluding it should not have been admitted as evidence.

A fresh round of tests could have added months to the appeal at a time when the Seattle woman has gotten her hopes up that her four year incarceration could be coming to an end.

The judge on Wednesday set closing arguments to begin on Sept. 23.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Amanda Knox Prosecutors May Seek Second Review of DNA Evidence

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Italian prosecutors indicated Tuesday they are considering asking for DNA evidence in the Amanda Knox trial be tested yet again with enhanced techniques that were not available at the time of the 2007 murder of Knox's roommate.

Prosecutors raised that possibility as their case has been shaken by a panel of DNA experts who said key DNA evidence was improperly handled and analyzed and was likely contaminated.

Any request to retest the DNA would come at the conclusion of testimony by DNA experts who have been battling over the credibility of the evidence used to convict Knox and sentence her to 26 years in prison.

Prosecutors say there are new techniques that would be able to test the tiny amount of DNA that is available and that the court-appointed experts who carried out the independent DNA review of the evidence should have carried out these tests.

It isn't clear whether prosecutors will make the request or whether the judge would grant it, but the prospect of another round of testing would greatly delay a ruling in Knox's appeal, and possibly prolong her imprisonment by several months. That prospect would be a blow to the 24-year-old Seattle woman who has gotten her hopes up that her ordeal could be coming to an end.

"Well, I think it would be unfortunate as it would mean more time before Amanda gets out," said Knox's stepfather Chris Mellas, who was at the appeals hearing Tuesday.

Knox's father Curt Knox, who was also at the hearing, said his daughter has been encouraged by the way the appeals hearings have been going.

Knox and her ex-boyfriend, 26, were convicted in 2009 of killing Knox's roommate, British exchange student Meredith Kercher, while the two women were attending a semester of college in Perugia, Italy. Knox and Sollecito have been in prison since shortly after the 2007 killing.

More forensic experts are scheduled to take the stand when the hearing resumes Wednesday.

A verdict in the appeal could be handed down in late September.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Amanda Knox Prosecutors Line Up Experts to Defend DNA Handling

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Italian prosecutors lined up witnesses on Tuesday to defend their handling of DNA evidence that was used to convict American student Amanda Knox of murder and to keep her in prison for another 20 years.

One expert countered expert testimony that the DNA evidence had been badly handled and contaminated as nothing more than "a hypothetical theory."

The high stakes involved in the battle of the DNA experts was apparent on Knox's face as she looked fixedly in front of her with a very serious expression during the largely technical testimony on Tuesday.

Knox, 24, and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 26, are appealing convictions that they murdered British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in 2007.

Knox, who is from Seattle, and Sollecito, an Italian, have been in a Perugia prison since shortly after the killing.  In 2009, both were convicted of murder and Knox was sentenced to 26 years while Sollecito was given 25 years.

Defense teams were buoyed earlier this summer when a panel of DNA experts delivered a blistering critique of the prosecution's handling of DNA evidence, particularly on a knife that was the alleged murder weapon and Kercher's bra clasp which placed Sollecito at the scene of the crime.

The critique said there was not enough DNA on the knife to prove that it contained the DNA of both Knox and Kercher, and that the bra clasp was so badly handled that it had likely been contaminated and should not have been used as evidence.

The prosecution on Tuesday called Giuseppe Novelli, an expert on human genetics at Rome's Tor Vergata University, to bolster its case against Knox and Sollecito.  Novelli said he reviewed the prosecution's procedures and he "absolutely excludes" contamination on the knife and bra clasp.

Novelli also said that the experts did not carry out all the tests available to determine whether the evidence was valid.

Also scheduled to testify on Tuesday is Francesca Torricelli, the director of a genetic diagnostic center at the University of Florence who will try to convince the court that the DNA evidence was credible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul252011

Amanda Knox Appeal: No DNA Evidence Found on Murder Weapon

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- American student Amanda Knox received a major boost in the appeal of her Italian murder conviction Monday when independent analysts rejected the prosecution's claims of finding DNA on two crucial pieces of evidence used to convict Knox of killing her roommate.

Knox, looking pale and fragile, smiled slightly at her mother at the start of the hearing that could determine whether she is released from prison or must finish her 26 year sentence.

Knox, 23, was convicted along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of stabbing her British roommate Meredith Kercher to death in November 2007 in Perugia, Italy, where both girls were spending the year studying.

The two analysts testified Monday that they found no DNA or blood on the blade of a knife found in Sollecito's kitchen that prosecutors claimed was the murder weapon. Prosecutors had claimed during the trial that the knife had DNA from both Knox and Kercher on it.

The experts also told the court that there was no DNA on Kercher's bra clasp that was recovered from the crime scene six weeks after the murder. Prosecutors had argued that the clasp contained Sollecito's DNA, a piece of evidence that placed him at the scene of the grisly killing.

The independent DNA experts told the court that the investigating team violated numerous protocols for the proper collection of DNA evidence. A ripple of laughter went through the courtroom at one point as the court was shown video of the detectives collecting DNA evidence, and doing the exact opposite of what the experts had just described was the proper method.

DNA evidence is supposed to be placed in paper bags, not plastic, and it should not be wiped, the experts said. The evidence in the Knox case was placed in plastic bags and video showed the investigators swiping Q-tips for evidence, and not changing their gloves at the proper moments.

In addition, the experts presented a catalogue of errors allegedly committed by the prosecution's forensic team, including how the evidence could have been contaminated, the original reports were missing certain data, the DNA was not quantified at times, and how control tests were not used.

The experts' written conclusions released earlier this month and their testimony has buoyed Knox's family members, who have insisted she is innocent of murder. Knox has been in prison since her arrest shortly after Kercher's death.

Knox’s defense team has argued that a third person who was also convicted of the murder is the real killer. Ivory Coast drifiter Rudy Guede was convicted of the murder in a separate trial and is serving a 16 year prison term.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul012011

Amanda Knox Hopes to Be Home for Christmas

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) -- A beaming Amanda Knox hugged her lawyer when he explained the legal report that questioned the DNA evidence used to help convict her of murder and told her lawyer she hopes to be back home in Seattle in time for Christmas.

Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, told his client, "I have not seen you so relieved, so radiant in years."

Ghirga spoke with Knox in her Italian prison Thursday, the day after a panel of DNA experts assigned by a court in Perugia, Italy, released its report saying that two key pieces of DNA evidence used in Knox's trial were unreliable and could have been contaminated. Ghirga described his conversation with Knox to Italian media.

"I am so happy. Someone finally believes me," Ghirga recalled Knox telling him, Il Massaggero newspaper reported. "I have been waiting for this moment for four years. Four years of repeating the same things without being listened to. I am innocent."

Knox has been in jail since November 2007 when she and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were arrested and charged with the murder of Knox's British housemate Meredith Kercher. They were convicted of that murder in December 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito was given 25 years.

The report by the DNA experts is part of their appeal of the conviction and sentencing. The appeal is underway in Perugia and the report will be discussed in court at the next hearing set for July 25.

"At times I cry and remember the first days," Knox said to Ghirga. "I was young and didn't understand all this. But now there's a light, the hope to be free. The hope of spending Christmas in my America."

She also repeated that she is innocent of Kercher's killing.

"I did not kill her. I will never tire of repeating this. We lived together, we were friends, I would never have harmed her. I too want to find out who killed her," Knox told her lawyer, La Repubblica newspaper reported.

She said the ruling was a "comfort" to her parents because it "will strengthen their conviction that their daughter is not an assassin, has not killed anyone."

Knox and her family have other legal battles. She will be in court on Monday as her lawyers try to block the Lifetime movie Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy starring Hayden Panettiere from airing in Italy. Her lawyers also want Google and YouTube to remove clips of the movie from the Internet and seek more than $4 million in damages.

Her parents will also be in an Italian court Monday to face charges of libeling Italian police. Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, and father Curt Knox were charged after repeating their daughter's claim that police were abusive of their daughter during a night-long grilling about the Kercher murder.

Amanda Knox also faces slander charges for making similar statements during her murder trial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Amanda Knox 'Extremely Happy' with Expert Panel's DNA Findings

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox, an American college student who is appealing her Italian murder conviction, was "extremely happy" Wednesday after hearing that a court-appointed panel of DNA experts concluded that key DNA evidence used to convict her may have been contaminated.

"She's extremely happy," said her father Curt Knox in an exclusive interview with ABC News.  "It's a weight off of her shoulders... She knew she was innocent, but having independent experts say that the DNA evidence is unreliable and potentially contaminated is a big step towards bringing her home."

Knox, 23, has been in an Italian prison since her arrest in November 2007 for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher.  She and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, were convicted in 2009 and Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison.  Sollecito was given 25 years.

The report filed Wednesday in a Perugia court by court-appointed forensic experts, and obtained by ABC News, give credence to the defense lawyers of both Knox and Sollecito, who had argued that the evidence against their clients had been contaminated by police during their investigation.

"When I got the news today, you know, it was extraordinary," her father said.  "We're still very hopeful that the court will see all of these compounding things and free her in September."

"We are thrilled," Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, told ABC News from Italy where she is waiting to visit with her daughter in prison.  "This is what our experts said all along.  This is great news.  We've always known Amanda is innocent."

The forensic experts were charged with examining the two main pieces of evidence in the case, Kercher's bra clasp and a knife found at Sollecito's apartment.

"One cannot exclude that the results obtained could have derived from phenomena of environmental contamination and/or contamination, which could have taken place in any of the phases of the evidence gathering and/or manipulation" of the evidence, the experts wrote in their conclusion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Amanda Knox Wins Big Legal Victory

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- American college student Amanda Knox won a big legal victory in the appeal of her murder conviction Wednesday when an Italian judicial panel concluded that some of the DNA evidence used to convict her may have been contaminated.

Italian news agency ANSA reports that a report filed in a Perugia court by court-appointed forensic experts give credence to the defense lawyers of both Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who had argued that the evidence against their clients had been contaminated by police during their investigation.

Knox, 23, and Sollecito were convicted of murdering Knox's roommate Meredith Kercher.  Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison while Sollecito was given 25 years.

"We are thrilled," Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, told ABC News from Italy where she is waiting to visit with her daughter in prison.  "This is what our experts said all along.  This is great news.  We've always known Amanda is innocent."

Mellas said that she believes her daughter has heard the news from Italian TV in prison and that lawyer Luciano Ghirga will be going to see her Wednesday to explain the ruling to her.  Mellas won't get to see her daughter until Friday.

The forensic experts were charged with examining the two main pieces of evidence in the case, Kercher's bra clasp and a knife found at Sollecito's apartment.

"One cannot exclude that the results obtained could have derived from phenomena of environmental contamination and/or contamination, which could have taken place in any of the phases of the evidence gathering and/or manipulation" of the evidence, the experts write in their conclusion.

Prosecutors maintained in the trial that Knox's DNA was found on the handle of a kitchen knife they believe to be the murder weapon, and that the DNA of victim Meredith Kercher was found on the blade.  Prosecutors also argued that Sollecito's DNA was found on the clasp of Kercher's bra.

Defense lawyers argued that there was so little DNA on the knife that it couldn't be retested or be reliable.  They said the bra clasp wasn't collected by police until weeks after the murder and after it had been moved around Kercher's bedroom during their probe.

The two, court-appointed forensic experts -- Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti, both from the Legal Medicine Institute of Rome's La Sapienza University -- initially were not able to retest the DNA on the bra clasp and the knife because there was not enough DNA to retest.

They were then assigned to judge "the degree of reliability of the tests carried out by the forensic police on the evidence based on court documents, specifically with reference to any possible contamination."

The 144-page report filed in court Wednesday will be discussed in court in Perugia on July 25.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May212011

Amanda Knox Case: Forensic Experts Get Extension to do Tests

VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images (File)(ROME) -- An Italian court has granted forensic experts extra time to submit their report in the case involving American Amanda Knox, who was convicted of killing her roommate in 2007.

The court’s decision to grant the independent experts more time came on Saturday, the same day that experts were supposed to submit a DNA report. Experts now have until June 30 to hand in the report.

Knox was present at Saturday’s hearing, and spoke out about her experience in prison so far, describing it as being “very frustrating” and “exhausting.”

“I am in prison for three years now and I am innocent,” Knox said, while speaking before the court in Italian. “It is very frustrating and it is exhausting and I want the truth to be found. There have been many mistakes and many prejudices.”

In December, 2010 Knox was sentenced to 26 years behind bars for the killing of roommate Meredith Kercher. The 21-year-old British native was found dead in November, 2007 at the home she shared with Knox in the city of Perugia.

The testing by the forensic experts comes as Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, have appealed their convictions in the murder case. Sollecito was also found guilty of murdering Kercher, and is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Experts are testing DNA evidence that was said to be found on a knife, believed to be a murder weapon, and on a bra clip found at the scene. Experts are testing to determine whether the results from the original test were valid.

In response to the court’s ruling, Knox said, “I want to thank the court for accepting the independent forensic experts’ requests because this is very important.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

Officials 'Almost Certainly' Know if Bone Has Holloway DNA

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/Handout(NEW YORK) -- The Dutch forensics team charged with examining a jaw bone that washed up on an Aruban beach has had Natalee Holloway's dental records in hand since Tuesday, more than enough time to make a comparison, a source close to the family said Friday.

"They almost certainly know by now the results," the source told ABC News. "There are mixed signals," the source said. "If it wasn't her I'd think they'd come out and say it wasn't her with all the fanfare."

Aruban prosecutor Peter Blanken made headlines Thursday by telling CNN that the jaw bone was that of a young woman. Yet, after flying to the Netherlands for the testing, Blanken is headed home to Aruba, the source said, based on information out of Aruba.

The Forensic Institute said earlier this week that the announcement of the findings would be left to Aruban authorities. The bone, which the Dutch-language paper de Telegraff reported was the lower half of the jaw with one molar still intact, was found by tourists last week on a beach in Aruba.

Holloway, an 18-year-old high school senior from Alabama, vanished in the island country in May 2005 while on a school trip. If the bone is confirmed to be Holloway's it would be the first piece of physical evidence that the teenager was dead.

The suspect in her disappearance has long been Dutch playboy Joran van der Sloot, who has never been formally charged. Van der Sloot, who was 17 years old at the time of Holloway's disappearance, is now being held in a Peruvian prison after confessing to the murder of Stephany Flores, 21, earlier this year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Natalee Holloway Bone Found? Dutch Forensic Team Running Tests

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/Handout Photo(LONDON) -- A Dutch forensics teams is awaiting the okay from an Aruban prosecutor to test a bone fragment that some people believe could belong to missing U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway.

Officials at the Netherlands Forensic Institute confirmed that they have received the bone and are prepared to conduct DNA testing.

The Dutch-language newspaper de Telegraaf reported that the bone -- thought to be the lower half of a human jaw -- was found by tourists Friday on a beach in Aruba. According to the paper, pictures of the mandible show an intact molar.

The Forensic Institute said the announcement of the findings would be left to Aruban authorities, but it was unclear how long it would take to produce results. The chief Aruban prosecutor on the Holloway case is in the Netherlands.

Holloway, 18, disappeared in Aruba in May 2005 while on a school trip. Dutch playboy Joran van der Sloot is widely believed to be involved in her disappearance and, in all likelihood, her family believes, Holloway's murder.

Van der Sloot is jailed in a Peruvian prison after confessing to the murder of Stephany Flores, 21, earlier this year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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