Wednesday, September 7, 2011


An appellate Italian court rejected a prosecutor's request today for new testing of crucial DNA evidence in the appeals trial of Amanda Knox. The decision to deny additional DNA testing was a blow to the prosecution, which had sought to counter the results of a court-ordered independent review that harshly criticized how DNA evidence was used in the case.

The court presided over by Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann also set closing arguments to begin September 23. A verdict is expected by the end of September.

Knox was convicted in December 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, 21, while they were studying in Perugia and sentenced to 26 years; Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who was Knox's boyfriend at the time, also was convicted and sentenced to 25 years.

COMMENT: In the first trial, prosecutors maintained that Knox's DNA was found on the handle of a kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon, and that Kercher's DNA was found on the blade. They said Sollecito's DNA was on the clasp of Kercher's bra as part of a mixed trace that also included the victim's genetic profile.

The appellate court ordered an independent review which found that much of that forensic evidence was unreliable and possibly contaminated, although it should be noted that often judges are swayed more by the persuasiveness of experts than by the science itself. What was excluded from review was Knox's numerous inconsistent statements about the facts in the case.

Francesco Maresca, a lawyer for the Kercher Family, said he would be present at Perugia for the verdict, as in the case of the first trial. Just days ago, the family released a letter to express great concern over recent DNA evidence findings, asking the court to assess all evidence and testimony. Unfortunately, the focus of the appellate review has largely addressed DNA analysis. It is unfortunate that Judge Pratillo denied the prosecution the opportunity to order new DNA analysis. What harm could it have done? Without new DNA analysis, the court will never know who committed the murder of Meredith Kercher. If Knox's murder conviction is reversed, justice will be sadly denied to the Kercher Family.

Two final factors for contemplation. Why is that in virtually all courtroom photos, Amanda Know is smiling? Also, does the conviction of Raffaele Sollecito mean nothing?

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