Entries in DNA Evidence (1)


Amanda Knox Prosecutors Defend Their DNA Evidence

Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- An Italian prosecutor in the Amanda Knox murder case used a white bra Saturday to demonstrate how her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito allegedly got his DNA on the bra clasp of murder victim Meredith Kercher.

Prosecutors also rejected the work of two DNA experts who were appointed by the court and who concluded that the prosecution's handling of the evidence was below internationally accepted forensic standards and had made it unacceptable as evidence.

Their work, prosecutor Manuela Comodi said, "has nothing scientific about it." She also accused the experts, who are forensics professors, of lacking competence and the necessary experience to critique her investigators.

"Would you entrust the wedding reception of your only daughter to somebody who knows all the recipes by heart but has never actually cooked?" she asked the court.

Comodi seemed to take particular aim at Carla Vecchiotti, one of the two experts. "She does not want to examine (evidence) because she is not competent to do so," the prosecutor said.

She complained of what she called "scientific falsities" in the experts' report and said the experts "betrayed the people who nominated them by adding confusion."

The DNA evidence in the case has become critical to the appeal by Knox and Sollecito and the criticism by the experts has significantly boosted Knox's hopes that she could finally be released from her 26 year prison sentence and go home to Seattle.

Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, were convicted in 2009 of murdering Kercher, a British student who was Knox's roommate during what was supposed to be a year of studying in Perugia, Italy. A third person, Rudy Guede, was also convicted of taking part in the murder during a separate trial.

One of the most significant pieces of evidence during their murder trial was what prosecutors claimed was Sollecito's DNA on Kercher's bra clasp, which had been cut or torn away from the bra during the attack that left her partially nude and her throat slashed.

To bolster her argument, Comodi pulled out a white bra and showed judges and jurors "how Raffaele Sollecito's DNA ended up on the bra clasp."

Tugging at it with both hands she said "Sollecito is here, this side, and Rudy Guede here."

Sollecito and Knox turned their heads to watch her demonstration briefly, but Sollecito soon turned back to his lawyer and shook his head.

Comodi argued that it is impossible that the bra clasp was contaminated by DNA from another source, saying it was "scientifically false" that the DNA could "fly" onto the clasp.

She also said that Sollecito's DNA had an extremely rare chromosome Y, adding to the certainty of the forensic evidence.

The independent experts, however, had noted the clasp was left on the floor of Kercher's bedroom for six weeks after the killing and when it was finally collected as evidence it was passed around among the investigators, and then placed in a plastic bag instead of the recommended paper bag. DNA deteriorates in plastic, the experts said.

They concluded that the bra clasp had likely been contaminated by the improper handling.

Comodi was the third member of the prosecution team to address the court in their two-day summation of the case.

Knox's family has gathered in Perugia in the hope that she will be released when a verdict comes down, possibly as early as Oct. 3.

The verdict will be rendered by a majority decision by six jurors and two judges. If they are evenly split, Knox and Sollecito will be acquitted.

But the high stakes of the moment are clearly evident on Knox who appears frail and tense. Even her hair appears thinner. Her mother, Edda Mellas, commented on Friday after watching her daughter in court, "She doesn't appear to be sleeping well."

Knox and Sollecito had been dating for about a week at the time of Kercher's death in November 2007. They were arrested days after her killing and have been in an Italian prison cell ever since.

Summations will resume on Monday when lawyers for Kercher and Diya "Patrick" Lumumba will address the court. Lumumba sued Knox for defamation after she incorrectly told police he had a "vision" that he had been present at the murder. She made that comment, which she soon tried to retract, after a nightlong interrogation in which she claims that she was verbally and physically abused by the Perugia police.

Knox and Sollecito's lawyers will also present their summations next week, followed by rebuttals. The last words of testimony will come from Sollecito and Knox.

If Knox and Sollecito win their appeal, the prosecutors have the right under Italian law to file their own appeal.

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