Forensics has come a long way in past years. Fifty years ago, murderers could easily get away with eliminating someone they didn’t get along with. A little blood was nothing a good wipe down and gloves couldn’t fix. Nowadays, DNA evidence usually puts the bad guys behind bars, and helps the good guys go free.
But is this always the case? During Meredith Kercher’s murder trial, it’s possible that the DNA evidence found on the scene helped put the wrong woman behind bars. Amanda Knox is now sitting in an Italian jail cell, hoping that this time, DNA and forensics will be the thing to save her.
What Evidence Was Found?On the first night of November, in 2007, Meredith Kercher was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her apartment around 11 pm. At the time, Meredith was a foreign exchange student from London, studying in Perugia, Italy. She had moved in with Amanda Knox, who was also a foreign exchange student from Seattle, Washington.
Amanda Knox came home the next afternoon to find that her flat had been burglarized and Meredith was missing. Knox and boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, called police and waited outside for help to arrive.
Once on the scene, police noticed blood in several rooms throughout the apartment and quickly found Kercher’s mangled body, hidden by a duvet, inside her room. Meredith had been sexually assaulted, stabbed, and left to die in a pool of her own blood. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were the prime suspects in the case.
As the investigation wore on, DNA evidence made it clear to police the Knox and Sollecito, as well as friend, Ruby Guede, were responsible for the brutal crime. Sollecito’s DNA was found on Kercher’s bra, which was ripped from her body. Guede’s DNA was found inside of Meredith, as well as on her bra and purse.
But the majority of the evidence pointed to Knox as the killer. Her DNA was found mixed with Kercher’s blood around the apartment, and most importantly, on what investigators believed to be the murder weapon.
Did Evidence Point Police in the Right Direction?While this all sounds very black and white, this is actually where it gets tricky. Many believe that the DNA evidence used to convict these three students was actually contaminated. Others argue that the murder weapon was not the real weapon that killed Kercher.
Guede has since pled guilty to his part in the crime. After appealing his first sentence, Guede has received a punishment of 16 years in prison, which he is currently serving. However, while Knox and Sollecito have also been found guilty, they maintain their innocence in the matter. Knox is currently serving 26 years in an Italian prison, while Sollecito is serving 25.
How Accurate Was the Evidence Used in the Trial?There are two main problems with the DNA evidence used to convict Amanda Knox. The first problem is that there is a decent chance the evidence was contaminated. Kercher was killed on November 1st. However, DNA samples were not collected until December 18th, which was 49 days after the murder.
Also, while police were collecting samples, they failed to even follow correct protocol. Between collecting samples, investigators are to switch gloves. When watching the video of the investigation, it is not only clear that investigators failed to change their gloves, but they were passing around evidence. If one investigator had Knox’s DNA on their glove and was passed a sample, they could have easily transferred DNA onto the sample.
Considering that Knox also lived in the apartment, it is very likely that her DNA would have been just about everywhere. The transferring of DNA, due to incorrect procedure is highly probable. The investigation was conducted so poorly, that it is almost laughable. The Italian police apparently sent their B-team to investigate Kercher’s murder.
Another problem lies with the murder weapon. Many believe that Kercher’s DNA was only found on the knife because that sample was also contaminated. The trace of DNA was so faint, that it could have gotten on the knife through cross contamination and not by coming into contact with Kercher. Because Knox prepared meals using the knife, finding her DNA on the handle would have been nothing to be suspicious about if the small amount of Kercher’s DNA was not found.
Additionally, the knife that was said to be the murder weapon did not even match some of the wounds on Kercher’s neck. Investigators also found an imprint of a knife, outlined in blood, on Kercher’s bed that the suspected murder weapon did not match.
Will the Amanda Knox DNA Evidence Help Free Amanda in the Future?Because evidence had been so badly botched, Knox and Sollecito have appealed their conviction and are being given another shot at freedom. As of February 9, 2011, experts are reviewing the DNA evidence, which they must present in court on the 21st of May.
There is so much that can be said about Amanda Knox’s trial. Her character has been questioned and made a mockery of, her life has been ruined, and she has become infamous in countries across the world. It's difficult to say if she is truly innocent or is a victim of an unfair justice system. With all of these things going against her, DNA evidence may be the only thing to save her in the end.
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