Amanda Knox has once again been found guilty of the 2007 killing of Meredith Kercher, together with former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, following a retrial after the original 2009 verdicts were returned.
She described the verdict, from her home in Seattle, as ”prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation” and a perversion of justice and wrongful conviction.
Knox was ordered to serve 28 years and six months in jail. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years, while Knox’s lawyers said they would appeal to the highest court in Italy.
The long-running saga does, however, show up major issues regarding potential contamination of DNA evidence and what lessons might be drawn from the crime saga.
Potential for the contamination of forensic DNA evidence has been highlighted by the Meredith Kercher murder trial. But just how much of a problem is it and what lessons should be drawn?
The BBC report that during the retrial, the judge ordered a new DNA test on the knife that prosecutors had submitted as evidence.
But some independent forensic scientists told the BBC this knife (which had been considered a possible murder weapon) should never have been given the importance it was because there was no evidence of blood found on it.
Greg Hampikian, from Boise State University in Idaho, US, is one of them. The forensic expert is critical of the way DNA evidence was handled.
“I could see the problem with the case right away,” says Dr Hampikian, who adds that he became interested in the case early on.
The Trial Timeline
- 1 November 2007: Ms Kercher is killed at her apartment in Perugia. Police find her a day later.
- 6 November 2007: Kercher’s American housemate Amanda Knox is arrested, along with Sollecito and Congolese national Patrick Diya Lumumba.
- 20 November 2007: Rudy Guede detained in Germany and extradited to Italy. Mr Lumumba released without charge
- 28 October 2008: Rudy Guede is sentenced to 16 years. A judge rules Sollecito and Knox will face a murder trial
- 4 December 2009: Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito found guilty of murder and sexual violence, and jailed for 26 and 25 years
- 3 October 2011: Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito are acquitted
- 26 March 2013: Re-run of appeals ordered. Acquittals overturned
A knife recovered from Sollecito’s house was found to have Ms Knox’s DNA on the handle and a small amount of DNA on the blade “consistent with the victim”.
Dr Hampikian, who founded the Innocence Project, an organisation that investigates claims of wrongful conviction, says: “That is significant because Miss Kercher had never gone to that house, so what is she doing on the blade of the knife?
“While that may seem on its face to be evidence of a crime, in order to substantiate such a small amount of DNA you look for blood, and I can’t emphasise enough how small this was – it was just a few cells.”
But there was no evidence of blood or any other body fluids found, the Boise State researcher points out.
“You can’t really wash the blood off and leave the DNA in any practical sense. That means that the few cells or molecules might have been from the laboratory after they amplified Miss Kercher’s DNA,” he explains.
Read More: BBC