In recent weeks Amanda Knox's appeal trial has provided plenty of tabloid fodder with prison inmates making wild claims about who really killed Meredith Kercher, and Rudy Guede, who was convicted of her murder, saying Knox and then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito may have been involved. Today Knox finally got some good news, when two independent experts said the DNA evidence that helped convict her was unreliable.
From the start, the defense has insisted that the DNA wasn't collected or tested properly. In a 145-page report submitted today to a tribunal in Perugia, the court-appointed scientists said that the way evidence was handled was below international standards, and may have been contaminated. The samples in question came from a kitchen knife found in Sollecito's kitchen and Kercher's bra clasp, which was found at the scene of the crime 46 days after she was killed. In the original trial, experts said Knox's DNA was on the knife's handle and Kercher's was on the blade. They also found traces of Sollecito's DNA on the bra clasp. According to the new report, Knox's DNA is on the handle of the knife, but the other results are inconclusive. The New York Times reports:
"The genetic profile, as obtained, appears unreliable because not supported by scientifically valid analytical procedures," and so cannot be positively identified as belonging to Ms. Kercher, the report said.
The experts also said that both the knife and the bra clasp had been collected and handled without following international procedures, and that "it cannot be ruled out" that the evidence had been contaminated and that the conclusions were untrustworthy.
The defense says that since Sollecito and Knox didn't have any motive to kill Kercher and weren't placed at the scene by any witnesses, this finding proves their convictions should be overturned. However, nothing in this case is that simple. A lawyer for the Kercher family questioned the finding, saying the new experts have less experience than the original investigators. Prosecutors added that their case didn't hinge on just the DNA evidence. This is an important win for Knox and Sollecito, but the new report will definitely be challenged when the hearings resume in late July.