Debunking komponisto on Amanda Knox (long)

Re­but­tal to: The Amanda Knox Test

If you don’t care about Amanda Knox’s guilt, or whether you have re­ceived un­re­li­able in­for­ma­tion on the sub­ject from kom­pon­isto’s post, stop read­ing now.

[Edit: Let me note that, gen­er­ally, I agree that dis­cus­sion of cur­rent events should be dis­cour­aged in this site. It is only be­cause “The Amanda Knox Test” was a fea­tured post on this site that I claim this re­but­tal of that post to be on-topic for this site.]

I shall here make the fol­low­ing claim:

C1. kom­pon­isto’s post on Amanda Knox was mis­lead­ing.

I could, ad­di­tion­ally, choose to make the fol­low­ing claims:

C2. Amanda Knox is guilty of mur­der.
C3. The pros­e­cu­tion suc­ceeded in prov­ing Amanda’s guilt be­yond a rea­son­able doubt
C4. Amanda Knox re­ceived a fair tri­al

I be­lieve claims C2 through C4 are also true; how­ever, time con­straints pre­vent me from lay­ing out the cases and de­bat­ing them with ev­ery sin­gle hu­man be­ing on the In­ter­net, so I shall merely fo­cus on C1. (That said, I would be will­ing to de­bate kom­pon­isto on C2, since I am cu­ri­ous whether I could get him to change his mind on the sub­ject.)

To back up C1, I shall quote the fol­low­ing para­graph from kom­pon­isto’s post, and show that this para­graph alone con­tains at least four mis­lead­ing state­ments. My be­lief is that kom­pon­isto merely ac­cepted pro­pa­ganda from the Friends of Amanda (FoA) at face value, even though most of their claims are in­cor­rect. Un­like kom­pon­isto and FoA, I shall cite re­li­able sources for my claims.

”After the mur­der, Kercher’s bed­room was filled with ev­i­dence of Guédé′s pres­ence; his DNA was found not only on top of but ac­tu­ally in­side her body. That’s about as close to the crime as it gets. At the same time, no re­motely similarly in­crim­i­nat­ing ge­netic ma­te­rial was found from any­one else—in par­tic­u­lar, there were no traces of the pres­ence of ei­ther Amanda Knox or Raf­faele Sol­lecito in the room (and no, the sup­posed Sol­lecito DNA on Mered­ith’s bra clasp just plain does not count—nor, while we’re at it, do the 100 picograms [about one hu­man cell’s worth] of DNA from Mered­ith allegedly on the tip of a knife han­dled by Knox, found at Sol­lecito’s apart­ment af­ter the two were already sus­pects; these two things con­sti­tut­ing so far as I know the en­tirety of the phys­i­cal “ev­i­dence” against the cou­ple)” -kom­pon­is­to

Here are the four mis­lead­ing state­ments I found:

1. “[H]is DNA was found not only on top of but ac­tu­ally in­side her body… no re­motely similarly in­crim­i­nat­ing ge­netic ma­te­rial was found from any­one else” -kom­pon­si­to

Guede’s dna was, in­deed, found on the right side of her bra, on the left cuff of her jumper, and in­side Mered­ith’s body, as well as in other places around the house.

Raf­faele’s DNA was found in only two places in the house: a cigarette butt, and on Mered­ith’s torn-off bra clasp. (Con­trary to FoA pro­pa­ganda, the clasp did not con­tain DNA from an ad­di­tional “three uniden­ti­fied peo­ple”). This should help you un­der­stand that DNA does not volu­mi­nously and con­stantly spew forth from hu­mans in the way kom­pon­isto be­lieves it does. (That said, there might have been more traces of their DNA had Raf­faele and Amanda not cleaned the apart­ment the morn­ing af­ter the mur­der. Part of the rea­son Guede’s DNA is more wide­spread is be­cause Raf­faele and Amanda fo­cused on clean­ing up ev­i­dence point­ing to them­selves, and did not have a rea­son to care about ev­i­dence point­ing to Guede.)

Amanda’s DNA was found on the han­dle of a cer­tain knife in Raf­faele’s apart­ment, which Mered­ith had never vis­ited. The knife blade had been re­cently cleaned with bleach (which de­stroys DNA), but hid­ing in a groove near the tip of the blade that the bleach failed to scrub was a sam­ple of Mered­ith’s DNA. The blade matched one of the two knives used to kill Mered­ith. When later ques­tioned about it, Raf­faele first claimed that Mered­ith had vis­ited his apart­ment and cut her­self on that par­tic­u­lar blade. Un­for­tu­nately Raf­faele was not able to back up this du­bi­ous claim that Mered­ith had ever vis­ited Raf­faele’s apart­ment.

Amanda’s DNA was also found, mixed with Mered­ith’s DNA, in at least four blood spots across the apart­ment. One of the blood spots was in the third room­mate’s (Filom­ena’s) bed­room, where the staged break-in took place. Even if, like kom­pon­isto, you bizarrely be­lieve that DNA just gets ev­ery­where, it’s hard to ex­plain why Amanda’s DNA is mixed into that fi­nal spot of blood and why Filom­ena’s DNA is nowhere to be seen in that blood spot, de­spite its be­ing in her own bed­room. (Nor, tel­lingly, is Guede’s DNA mixed in with those blood spots, de­spite the defense’s in­sis­tence that he acted alone.)

2. “Sup­posed” Sol­lecito DNA? There is no mean­ingful con­tro­versy over whether Sol­lecito’s DNA is on the bra clasp.

3. A bit of a nit: Mered­ith’s DNA on the knife is more than one hu­man cell’s worth. The amount is not ter­ribly rele­vant though to a Bayesian; there’s no law of na­ture that states that, when any DNA sam­ple gets suffi­ciently small, it sud­denly starts to mu­tate to look ex­actly like Mered­ith Kercher’s DNA.

4. “[T]hese two things con­sti­tut­ing so far as I know the en­tirety of the phys­i­cal “ev­i­dence” against the cou­ple...” -kom­pon­si­to

Here is ad­di­tional phys­i­cal ev­i­dence (a non-ex­haus­tive list):

* As men­tioned, blood stains with Amanda and Meridith’s DNA mixed to­gether

* Foren­sic anal­y­sis of Mered­ith’s body showed there were mul­ti­ple si­mul­ta­neous at­tack­ers

* Lu­minol anal­y­sis showed that cer­tain bloody foot­prints matched Amanda and Raf­faele. One of Amanda’s bloody foot­prints was found in­side the mur­der room, on a pillow hid­den un­der Mered­ith’s body.

* A staged break-in: anal­y­sis of the bro­ken glass shards in­di­cated the win­dow was bro­ken from the in­side rather than the out­side, and was bro­ken af­ter the bed­room was ran­sacked rather than be­fore. (The sig­nifi­cance of this is that Knox as a room­mate had a strong rea­son to stage a break-in to deflect at­ten­tion away from her­self, while Guede as an out­sider did not)

* Cell phone, In­ter­net and lap­top us­age records all in­di­cate that Amanda and Raf­faele lied about their ac­tivi­ties on the night of the mur­der.

* Mered­ith’s clothes were washed the day af­ter the mur­der. This im­pli­cates Amanda and Raf­faele in the cleanup of the crime scene.

* The post-mur­der clean­ing in the Kercher flat, and the bleach­ing in the Sol­lecito cot­tage, also count as Bayesian phys­i­cal ev­i­dence. The morn­ing af­ter the mur­der, Amanda or Raf­felle bought a bot­tle of bleach at 8:30 AM, and then re­turned to buy an­other bot­tle of bleach at 9:15 AM, as though the first bot­tle of bleach had been in­suffi­cient. (Also see the Tele­graph.) Ac­cord­ing to true­jus­tice.org, when the po­lice ar­rived, Amanda and Raf­faele were found with a mop and bucket; as con­fir­ma­tion, note that Raf­faele ad­mit­ted to shut­tling around a mop and bucket the morn­ing af­ter the mur­der.

There is also volu­mi­nous ev­i­dence that would gen­er­ally be clas­sified as ‘tes­ti­mo­nial’ rather than ‘phys­i­cal’ (al­though, to a Bayesian, the differ­ence is fairly aca­demic), as well as cer­tain log­i­cal prob­lems with the defense’s the­o­ries. Since my in­tent is merely to de­bunk kom­pon­isto’s post rather than es­tab­lish Amanda’s guilt, I will not delve fur­ther into those ar­eas; how­ever, see here for a good “In­tro­duc­tion to Logic 101” ex­plain­ing some of the difficul­ties with the defense claims.