Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pseudoscience in Amanda Knox Trial

Methods of the Polizia PseudoScientifica A Knife, a Clasp, a Glow

By Mark Waterbury

Italian Translation

We have had time to consider the methods of the Polizia Scientifica in the Knox/Sollecito trial, and they have come to look, not merely unscientific, but pseudoscientific. That means pretend science, it is not the real thing. We see this, because a consistent pattern has emerged.

It is not a pattern of innocent mistakes, made under the stress of time. Neither is it one of incompetence, for these people mostly know what they are doing. Neither does it appear to be blatant framing by splashing blood, planting evidence, or manufacturing data. That type of lie would produce clear results, and might also leave clear tracks. These results are anything but clear. And who wants to leave tracks? Certainly not the Polizia Scientifica.

What appears to be the pattern in the Knox/Sollecito trial is something like this: The Polizia Scientifica plucks an item from the field. They subject it to of some sort of “scientific” testing. Then they “cherry pick” the results, and present these special results in the complete absence of anything to compare them with. That is, without any control experiments. This modus operandi is compatible with pseudoscience. It appears to be an attempt to create the appearance of scientific certainty, while producing absolutely unscientific results. Who are they trying to fool? The judge and jury.

“...pseudoscience is any subject that appears superficially to be scientific, or whose proponents state that it is scientific, but which nevertheless contravenes the testability requirement...”

What is this “testability requirement?” It means that if you can't test it, if you can't repeat the experiment to see if it happens again, it isn't science. It is pseudoscience. Take the kitchen knife DNA. The testing performed by Stefanoni destroyed the sample. Not a trace was left. Her experiment cannot be tested, cannot be reproduced. It can never be checked to see if it was a real result, or a fraction of a flyspeck of contamination from her lab. It was, “I did this experiment. These are the results. Trust me.”

Here's the procedure in more detail. Follow along. There will be a quiz at the end.

Step 1: Collect some stuff from the crime scene, or thereabouts. A kitchen knife, a clasp, a Luminol glow. No need to be picky here. It's not the item itself, it's the science you do to it that makes it cry “guilty.” That's why it didn't matter that the kitchen knife was a randomly chosen implement, as shown in “The Magic Knife.” A can opener from Raffaele's drawer would probably have Amanda's DNA on the handle, it just wouldn't sound as impressive.

Step 2: Perform tests on the item. What kind of tests? Scientific Tests, of course. The tests need to have the veneer of impressive, and barely comprehensible science upon them. For this, DNA profiling cannot be beaten.

Step 3: “Cherry pick” the results. This means, pick the ones that support your theory, and leave the ones that don't. Don't like a result? No problem. Don't report it. Discard those DNA peaks that don't fit. Didn't find anything that incriminates the defendant? No problem. Go back 46 days later, and pick up some more stuff from the scene.

Step 4: Present these results floating freely in an ominous air of suspicion and guilt. Leave out any kind of reference, any kind of comparison that might show how uninformative and mundane they really are. Avoid, in other words, any kind of control tests .

Now you have the impressive sounding results to support the prosecutor's tales.

Let's talk some more about control tests, because this is such a fundamental matter, that it is often lost in the grass. An experiment without a control is like a thermometer without a scale. You see the mercury inside, but you have nothing to compare it with. You can understand that it is meaningless, it is data without context, or, you can point at it and make up any temperature you want.

“Scientific controls are a vital part of the scientific method , since they can eliminate or minimize unintended influences such as researcher bias .”

Careful scientists take steps to keep their own researcher bias from influencing results. They perform double blind experiments, for instance, in which even they don't know which specimen is which, to prevent themselves from knowing what the results “should be.” That way, when they get a result, they can trust it, because they know they didn't unconsciously choose it.

Let's walk through the Polizia PseudoScientifica process for three items.

A Knife
The kitchen knife was retrieved from Raffaele's kitchen drawer some 5 days after the murder. It was reportedly taken to the police station, sat on a detective's desk for a day or so, and then was mailed to the lab in an ordinary box. Hardly the kind of careful handling you would expect of evidence slated for conventional DNA testing, let alone the hypersensitive LCN profiling. The blade DNA profiling was performed by an improvised, non-reproducible, never-validated method with deficiencies described in detail in LCN DNA Parts I and II. In fact we can add extremely poor evidence handling to the list of 9 deficiencies compiled in Part II to make it 10 testing deficiencies.

The low copy number test on the kitchen knife was performed without any negative controls. In negative control tests you perform the DNA multiplication and profiling, without adding any sample to the system. Often when this is done, as if by magic, a DNA profile emerges. It has come from a minute amount of contamination from the equipment, or the laboratory. These negative controls are essential to performance of LCN work, as shown in Part II of this series. They were not performed by Stefanoni.

Perhaps even more important for the knife DNA, no control experiments were run to follow the handling of the item from the field through to the laboratory. That is, to see if other, random objects retrieved from the same drawer and handled in the same, unprofessional way, might also appear to have DNA on them. It would be interesting to hear the prosecution spinning a sinister implication out of DNA found on a can opener. Perhaps one can use canned peas for satanic rituals. Would Meredith's DNA be found on a spoon from the same drawer? How about Filomena's? Would the spoon then be cast as the murder weapon, whether it matches any wounds or not?

All this is preposterous of course. But think about it. We have no way of knowing what the supposed knife DNA means, or where it came from, because no comparison tests of any kind were performed.

Retrieval of the bra clasp by the Polizia Scientifica.

A Clasp
Making sense out of the bra clasp DNA, which reportedly includes profiles from approximately five people, would be a challenge even with careful, rigorous control experiments. Without them, it is hopeless. Ask yourself this simple question. What would happen to any random object left on the same floor and kicked about for 46 days? Especially an object with cloth attached , making it a virtual dust mop. It would be covered with dust, and the DNA that comes with that dust. Raffaele was at the apartment visiting Amanda on several occasions. The presence of his DNA there means nothing.

Control experiments to check for this would have been simple. The clasp was retrieved from a pile of debris left by the fastidious investigators in Meredith's room, shown in the picture at the right. Testing a few other items from that pile to see if they, too, had picked up DNA dust from the floor would tell us whether there was anything special about the clasp. Of course, that wasn't done.

So we have “Raffaele's DNA was found on Meredith's bra clasp,” rather than, “Raffaele's DNA, along with DNA from lots of other people, was found at various random locations throughout Amanda's apartment, which he visited several times before the murder.” The first phrase sounds incriminating. The second, accurate phrase, shows how meaningless this test result is without a control experiment.

The handling of the clasp when it was retrieved from the scene is shown in the video above. The investigators, dressed in fancy white outfits, seem to play some kind of game with it. Why the outfits? They do nothing to prevent mixing contamination of the material at the scene. As shown in the closeup picture, the outfits, and their gloves, quickly become contaminated by DNA from various sources at the scene which can then be transferred to the evidence.

A Glow
Luminol glowing footprints were found in a hallway, and some may have been Amanda's, it is hard to know for sure because they were only compared with her feet, and found to be “compatible.” Again, no controls. Meredith, Laura, Filomena, none of the other resident's feet were compared to these footprints. The footprints were tested for blood, and it came out negative. No blood. So, why are they important? Amanda lived there, after all.

Amanda's DNA was said to be found in one of these footprints. Did they also test a meter away from the footprints, to see if her DNA was all over the apartment where she lived? No. That would have been another control experiment. Was the DNA actually associated with the footprint, or did it just happen to be there, because the resident's DNA was all over their apartment, as people's DNA usually is? We will never know. They skipped the control experiments, and presented results without any reference.

It's getting hot in here. Just look at that thermometer without any scale!

These are just three examples, there are many more. Enough to discern a clear pattern, that the methods of the Polizia Scientifica are compatible with pseudoscience, and are a consistent attempt to mislead the judge and jurors.

Now for the quiz:
1. If you wanted to perform honest tests to search for truth, to learn what has really happened, would you exclude control experiments? (Yes /No).

2. If you wanted to perform tests that appear scientific, but are actually intended to make an innocent person look guilty, would you perform control experiments? (Yes/No)

3. Did the Polizia Scientifica perform control tests in the Knox/Sollecito investigation? (Yes/No)

If you answered “No, No, No!” then, you've got the point. If you didn't, stop and think if you would like to be investigated with these same kinds of tactics.

Special thanks to my molecular biologist friend, Dr. K. for reviewing these articles.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stefanoni Was Winging It

Italian Translation

LCN DNA Profiling Part II:
Watch Where You Sneeze
Written by Mark Waterbury.

When people's lives and liberty are on the line, you hope the people on the job get it right. That is part of what is so disturbing about the technical work of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni of the Scientifica Polizia. When Amanda and Raffaele's liberty was at stake, Stefanoni “winged it.” Made it up as she went along. She performed science improv. However you put it, her techniques were at odds with both accepted scientific methodology and with simple common sense.

Some of the serious issues surrounding LCN DNA profiling, shortened here to “LCN,” were described in Part I of this article. Now we pose the question: How does the test performed by Stefanoni on the kitchen knife blade DNA compare with the techniques called low copy number DNA profiling?

In a nutshell, it was worse.

Here is the account given of Stefanoni's work by Frank Sfarzo in his Perugia-Shock blog at

“But the substance was minimal and if she took it to test the blood than nothing would remain to test the DNA. So she said O la va o la spacca, make it or break it, and took a 20% of it to test it for blood: negative.

The test failed but Dr Patrizia wasn't discouraged and she took what remained, about 20 microliters, she dried it to 10 and tested it for DNA. It didn't sort anything but Mrs Stefanoni didn't give up and started to amplify and amplify until the first peaks appeared. The machine was not allowed to go beyond, but something there was and had to be taken out. The goodwill scientist broke the seals and kept amplifying and amplifying and amplifying until, in a forest of background noise peaks, some alleles emerged. She decided which were the stutters, the false ones, and which the real alleles, et voila! The genetic profile of Meredith Kercher was served to Renato Biondo who could deliver it on a silver plate to the one who hired him, the prosecutor.”

There are two common definitions of low copy number DNA profiling. The first states that profiling that falls below the normal stochastic limits can be considered LCN profiling. That is, when random noise becomes very loud because the sample size is very small, you have LCN, not standard DNA profiling. The second definition uses some quantity threshold criterion. If you have less than 200 picograms of DNA, for example, it is LCN. The critical factor is that the number of original template molecules in the sample is very few, on the order of 5 – 10.

The profiling that Stefanoni performed on the DNA from the blade of Raffaele's kitchen knife meets either of these definitions. There was so little DNA present that the instrument indicated no DNA until Stefanoni overrode the machine limits. This amplification increase was not achieved by the PCR technique. Once the sample has been chopped up and subjected to electrophoresis, it is too late for that. The increase was performed by other methods, such as lowering the threshold level, or simply changing the display scale until the minute fluorescence peaks were visible.

This makes the testing performed by Dr. Stefanoni even worse than the various methods being experimented with to perform normal LCN testing. In those cases, the experimenter knows that the sample is tiny, and tenuous, so they take appropriate precautions and use a higher number of PCR multiplication steps, typically 34 compared to 28, resulting in 2^6 (64) times as many molecules for the electrophoresis and fluorescence observation.

But remember that the main problems with LCN are introduced during the first few cycles of replication, when there are very few molecules and any difference in replication becomes a major artifact. That happened with the kitchen knife DNA, so all of those errors are well represented. In this case, however, not only were those artifacts introduced, but additional artifacts from the high amplification of the weak fluorescent signal also added noise to the vanishing weak signal. So that's one deficiency.

Yet another troubling question is raised by this mid-course change in experimental methodology. Since Stefanoni did not originally expect to perform LCN profiling, but only conventional profiling, she apparently did not observe any of the far more stringent protocols that are observed by other laboratories experimenting with use of LCN. These include extreme efforts to avoid contamination, provision of control tests, retention of a portion of the sample for subsequent testing, performance of the test on two samples for comparison, and clean up processing steps.

Even with those far more stringent protocols, LCN profiles are not allowed as evidence by the vast majority of the world's courts. But let's take a look at these proposed procedures that attempt to place LCN testing on a more reproducible, reliable basis. That way, we can illuminate the deficiencies in Stefanoni's science improv technique.

The following quotes are all from the Crown Prosecution Service in the U.K. at: This is from an article that supports the use of LCN.

“The FSS LCN test requires an ultra-clean laboratory and so is more expensive and less widely offered than the standard test.... The site of this bespoke laboratory is remote from other DNA Units, operates stringent entry requirements, is fitted with positive air pressure and specialist lighting and chemical treatments to minimize DNA contamination.”

Stefanoni's procedure, in sharp contrast to these requirements, was performed in an ordinary DNA analysis laboratory with other DNA units present. An ultra-clean laboratory, positive air pressure systems, and photo and chemical DNA sterilization are vital techniques to avoid contamination of samples within the laboratory. None of these facilities and procedures appears to have existed for Stefanoni's test. That makes four more technique deficiencies.

“In LCN testing, each sample is divided into three parts or aliquots, and two of these are tested. The third is retained for further testing in the event of a failure or to confirm the presence of a mixture.... Only those DNA components that are seen twice are included in any calculation, to show that the result is reproducible.”

Stefanoni used 20% of the sample to test for blood, which came out negative. Whatever was on the knife, it wasn't Meredith's blood. Then she tested all of the remaining material at once, so there was no possibility of comparing two results, and nothing left for further testing. By the standards of the Crown Prosecution Services, Stefanoni's results would be thrown out by either of these criteria. And that makes two more deficiencies.

We're not through. Laboratories performing LCN rely heavily on what are called “negative controls.” The following quote is from The Law Society of Scotland's publication at:

“In forensic science the fact to be established is that the DNA profile originated from the material recovered from a crime scene or a suspect, not the investigator, the laboratory, packaging, or analytical instruments. A “negative control” is set up by simply processing a “blank” sample that has no DNA. All being well, this control will not show any DNA. The presence of DNA in the negative control illustrates that there has been a source of contamination in the analytical method. It does not, of itself, show where that occurred, merely that it has. The tradition over many years has been, for very sound reasons, that anything found in the “negative control” invalidates the analysis.

...even in a tightly controlled analytical procedure a significant number of supposedly negative controls give a positive result, i.e. they indicate the presence of DNA.”

Stefanoni apparently did not perform any negative controls with same system parameters as that used for the kitchen knife DNA. That's another deficiency.

And note here, the statement, “It does not, of itself, show where that (contamination) occurred, merely that it has.” When Sara Gino was pressed, under cross-examination, to say where and how Stefanoni contaminated the samples, she could not give a specific answer, but only cited, “the literature.” This was seen as a weak response. But how could she possibly know at what point in the handling or processing contamination by 50 picograms of material may have happened? This is something you test for the presence of, not something you can possibly see happen. Even if someone followed the sample with a microscope in real time, it would be virtually impossible to witness the inadvertent transfer of such a minute amount of material. Gino's response, that she could "cite the literature,” which lists typical sources of contamination to guard against, was correct.

But these negative controls do not check for all sources of contamination, they only check for contamination originating in the laboratory. If the kitchen knife were contaminated before being chosen at random from Raffaele's drawer, this type of control won't catch it. If it was contaminated while being picked up, while being transported, or anywhere else along it's path, this method will not show that. To do that, you would have to perform additional negative controls, say, on the other knives in the drawer, or from some other source, handled in the same manner as the kitchen knife. None of this was done. That's yet another, major deficiency.

So we see that in roughly nine distinct ways, Stefanoni's improv LCN DNA profiling was even worse than unproven and inadmissible LCN DNA profiling tests.
1. The DNA wasn't amplified enough; the very weak fluorescence was simply blown up.
2. The test site was not remote from other DNA tests to avoid contamination.
3. Specialized LCN-quality entry procedures to avoid contamination were not used.
4. A positive pressure environment was not maintained to exclude contamination.
5. Special LCN sterilization procedures to destroy errant DNA were not used.
6. The entire sample was consumed in a single test; no comparison of tests was possible.
7. No sample was retained for future reference. The test can never be reproduced.
8. No negative control tests were run to check for contamination.
9. No control tests to check for field contamination were performed.

There could be some mistakes in this analysis. Unlike Stefanoni, who claims that there has never been contamination in her laboratory, I make mistakes. It may be six deficiencies, or an even dozen. We do not know the exact details of how samples were handled in the laboratory of Patrizia Stefanoni. Neither does the defense team, or the court, as determined by Judge Massei when he ruled that she needed to provide more information. In fact, when you see the clear discrepancies between what was said to have happened, and what you can see happening on the specimen collection video tapes, it is clear that not even Stefanoni really knows what transpired during the collection, transportation, storage, and subsequent analysis of samples in this case.

There are, perhaps, some things that she should have known, that clearly went wrong. A glove not changed, as evidenced by the crease in the exact same spot after she claimed to have changed it in between samples. A specimen handled by more than one person, another transported in packaging that was not sterile. A specimen retrieved, and then dropped on the floor, deliberately or otherwise, after it had been on that floor for 47 days after the crime.

But, perhaps most importantly, in this realm of sensitivity, in this extreme, almost ethereal realm where picograms determine everything, it is just not possible for ordinary handling measures to prevent contamination of the results. The DNA on the kitchen knife blade is more likely to have been contamination, than to have been a valid forensic sample.

Special thanks to my molecular biologist friend, Dr. K., for reviewing these articles.

Article copied with permission from Mark at

All materials on this web site are Copyright, 2009 by the publisher. Reproduction rights will be granted to any compatible site interested in re-publishing them.

All comments, questions, or criticism, please email

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Sollecitto: Problems with LCN DNA testing.

Above picture is Patricia Stefanoni, the woman who magically found the DNA of Meredith Kercher's on a kitchen knife police found in a drawer in Raffaelle Sollecito's apartment.
Coincidentally, no other knives in the drawer were tested.

By Mark Waterbury

It's called “Low Copy Number DNA” profiling (LCN DNA), and it could be a powerful tool against crime, or a chilling assault on our freedom. It is the technique used to claim that the kitchen knife found in Raffaelle Solecito's kitchen drawer had Meredith Kercher's DNA on the blade. If it is used to convict Amanda Knox of murder, she may well prove to have been the “canary in the mine,” drawing our attention to a potentially serious threat to civil liberties everywhere.

We have all heard about the remarkable abilities of DNA profiling to identify criminals and others from traces of their blood or flakes of their skin. We have been told that the odds of a mistake being made are “billions and billions” to one in Carl Saganesque tones of certainty. But this new twist on the technique radically changes those odds, and not in a good way.

Conventional DNA testing is done with a microscopic, but still significant size sample of DNA, on the order of 1 nanogram (1 billionth of a gram). This quantity provides enough material to ensure that it is physically associated with the actual evidence at a crime scene; a smear of blood, a patch of hair, a cigarette butt. You extract a sample from the specimen, and profile it. And you still have the specimen. You can extract a second sample, and test it again. Or pass it to the defense for their comparative analysis. The experiment is reproducible because there is enough material present to do the test more than once.

“Interpretation of DNA profiles is assisted by the use of systems that are not too sensitive. This is important because the scientist often needs to associate the presence of a bloodstain (or other evidence) with the DNA profile itself.” Peter Gill, Forensic Science Service, U.K. Article available online at:

This DNA is replicated by a method called the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This reaction splits the two halves of DNA apart, adds complementary base pairs to each of the halves, and voila, you have two DNA chains where before you had one. Do it again, and you have 4, 8, 16, 32... 17 billion (2^34). Ideally, each cycle of PCR gives twice the number of copies, so you have 2^N copies after N replication cycles.

It is then diced up in a selective, specific way, and the pieces are spread out by a method called electrophoresis, which drives different lengths of DNA at different speeds through a gelatine material. The pattern of these different lengths is then analyzed statistically, and compared with the known DNA from various people. If the patterns match, the DNA is thought to match.

This much is straightforward. Conventional DNA profiling is supported by a well-established body of scientifically controlled experiments, it yields reproducible results, and these results have been extremely valuable, both in identifying the guilty, and in exonerating the innocent. But LCN DNA testing is a different matter entirely.

Low copy number DNA profiling is performed by increasing the number of replication steps compared with conventional DNA testing, so that an even smaller sample is blown up to a large enough quantity for electrophoresis. Every added step roughly doubles the number of DNA chains, but also introduces exponentially greater chances for errors in the replication process. This is particularly important when the initial sample is very small.

When a large enough sample is available as the starting “template,” the copying process is performed on a large number of molecules right from the start. Any small variation in whether or not a given molecule copies, and what parts of it copy, are washed out because there are a lot of templates available. If you miss one in one hundred, you only have a 1% error. However, if you only have a few template molecules, and any part is missed in the first stage, that error continues to be amplified throughout the PCR process. Miss one in five, and the error for that single step jumps to 20%. Some profile peaks may be diminished, some may be increased, some may drop out entirely, and “stutters” may occur, poorly understood false peaks that are, in a sense, combinations of other peaks.

The statistical variation resulting from the tiny number of starting templates is significant. In fact, LCN DNA profiling is defined as profiling after replication from such a small amount of DNA that the results fall below the normal stochastic limits of the technique. “Stochastic” means that an element of chance is involved, so that the system is not deterministic. It contains a significant amount of random noise. As a result, repeating the same LCN DNA tests on identical starting samples of material does not produce nearly identical profiles, unlike conventional DNA testing.

Another technique, “touch DNA” is profiling that is performed on DNA obtained from tiny amounts of skin cells that are deposited, along with oils, from fingerprints and similar “touches.” These tiny amounts may be replicated by either LCN DNA methods, involving more replication cycles and operating below the stochastic limits, or by conventional replication techniques if a large enough sample is present.

Bode Technology is a biotech company that is developing a touch DNA technique, and they are very careful to distinguish the two:

“Touch DNA is not Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA. LCN DNA profiling allows a very small amount of DNA to be analyzed, from as little as 5 to 20 cells. Because of the small amount of starting DNA in LCN samples, many more cycles of amplification are necessary.”

To avoid this serious shortcoming, Bode performs standard DNA profiling on their touch samples, which can then be admitted as evidence in court.

Both techniques, however, can share a common issue, that of reproducibility. If the sample size is small enough, there is nothing left after the replication and analysis to repeat the experiment. It cannot be reproduced. In scientific work, an irreproducible result is automatically suspect because there is no way of confirming it. There is even a famous science humor publication named the Journal of Irreproducible Results (

LCN DNA profiling is an irreproducible technique for two distinct reasons. First, because the sample was too small for conventional testing in the first place, it is completely consumed and destroyed in the course of performing the LCN test. No sample, no reproducibility. Second, the test results that are produced contain this strong, random variability. If you perform LCN DNA profiling on ten identical samples, you can get ten different profiles, each differing from the others because of amplification of statistical flukes.

Touch DNA, on the other hand, may be reproducible from the experimental standpoint, if the folks at Bode have done their work, but may, or may not be reproducible from the existence of additional sample viewpoint.

In addition to the issue of reproducibility, LCN DNA is simply a very new technique, and that should prompt caution. In fact, most researchers in the field fill their papers with appropriate caveats about the need for further development, and further testing before the technique is widely used. Conventional DNA profiling has been rigorously tested, reproducibly performed in many laboratories around the world, and validated with carefully designed control tests. With LCN DNA profiling, no such body of controlled tests yet exists. The method is too new, too quirky, and too unreliable to be safely used until it is much better understood.

Now let's think about what all this means for civil liberties. How would you like to live in a world in which any person can be convicted of any crime, anywhere, any time, on the basis of unassailable, “scientific” evidence? The evidence will be unassailable, because there will be nothing left of it by the time the analysis is through. They will be able to swab an object at a crime scene, LCN DNA profile it, and present it in court with no risk of contradiction. It will be their word against yours, and they will have a bunch of apparent, “scientific proof” backing them up. This is a recipe for a police state.

What does it mean for Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Solecito? The DNA profile from the knife blade in Raffaelle's kitchen drawer that supposedly matches that of Meredith Kercher was performed by LCN DNA testing. It can never be reproduced. The “any crime, anywhere, any time” danger expressed in the previous paragraph is not hypothetical, it is actually happening to Amanda and Raffaelle. This form of evidence amounts to, simply, “The defendant is guilty because we say so.” Yet it is even worse. It is an un-testable assertion backed up by a bunch of impressive charts and statistics and the magic words, “science” and “DNA.” It has all of the appearance of scientific certainty with none of the substance. It is not yet truly scientific, and it is anything but certain.

Keep in mind that there is nothing especially “Italian” about this frightening new investigative technique. Most of the early work was done in Britain, and it is being studied in forensic labs around the world. Be patient, LCN DNA matching is coming soon to a forensic laboratory near you. How can we be sure that the technique won't be grossly misused, leading to the convictions of many innocent people, not just these two? We can't.

While this article gives some background on DNA, a more thorough overall primer is available at:

“Because LCN analysis by its nature is not reproducible, it cannot be considered as robust as that associated with conventional DNA typing.”From:

“The ability of small amounts of DNA to produce false and misleading results is well-known and well-documented within the research community, where the technology originated.”

Article copied with permission from Mark at

All materials on this web site are Copyright, 2009 by the publisher. Reproduction rights will be granted to any compatible site interested in re-publishing them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito: The Bra Clasp

Italian Translation

This video, posted by someone on youtube, shows Italian police picking up the bra clasp, purporting to have Rafaelle's DNA on it. Here is what the youtube user wrote on his/her page:

"The discovery of Meredith Kerchers' bra clasp 47 days after her murder. It is said to have a trace of Raffaele Sollecitos' DNA and is the only evidence that places him inside the room where the murder took place. There is no physical evidence at all of Amanda Knox. Note at 0:02 the finger reaching over and stroking the clasp: note at 0:30 the flashlight held directly over it: note at 0:33 the investigator reaching over and taking the clasp from the hands of the other: note 0:34 investigator takes it then grasps it with 2 fingers of other hand used to firmly grip flashlight: note at 0:43 how close the investigator holds the flashlight to clasp, note also how fast his movements are and that his mask is slipping down under his nose: note at 1:05 the investigators mask has dropped under his nose as he examines it closely: note 1:33 the investigator holds the flashlight so close to it that it seems to touch it just before he drops it (does he knok it out of his own hand?): note 1:37 the photographers camera and flash unit are held directly over it as they rediscover the clasp where just they dropped it: note 2:25 investigator brushes clasp against thumb of officer fumbling with evidence bag before they seal it. "

More from Frank Sfarzo of Perugia Shock:

"The piece (clasp) wasn't found on the first inspection and remained on the floor for long time, exposed to possible contaminations. Then, according to her ("Giulia Bongiorno, (Sollecietos' attorney), the contamination was certainly realized at the moment that they collected the clasp, on December 19.

Stefanoni rejected the allegations explaining to have followed the procedure, changing the tweezers at every sample, changing the gloves when she had to change them, filming and taking note of everything, etc. After the hearing her chief Renato Biondo wouldn't allow her to talk too much. But it doesn't really matter. They were triumphant after the hearing, certain to have demonstrated the correctness of their work...he defined the scientific data absolutely certain and the prosecutor's theory 'unassailable'."