Presentation on theme: "Murder in Perugia. In some of the recent court sessions, the prosecution in the Meredith Kercher murder trial in Perugia dealt with barefoot footprints."— Presentation transcript:
Murder in Perugia
In some of the recent court sessions, the prosecution in the Meredith Kercher murder trial in Perugia dealt with barefoot footprints pressed in blood, several of which were identified on the cottage floor tiles only after the application of Luminol, a chemical substance which reacts with the iron in even slight, non-visible bloodstains, making them momentarily visible for inspection and measurement by investigators. Another footprint was a very visible barefoot bloodstain on the bathroom mat in the small bathroom shared by Amanda Knox and Meredith. Months ago, in the Updated “These Boots Were Made for Walking” presentation, we analysed these footprints. We were able to conclude that whoever caused the barefoot footprints, some were compatible in length with Knox's and Raffaele Sollecito's feet (we didn't study characteristics other than length), and none were compatible in length with Rudy Guede's giant basketball player's feet (Rudy left his own, Nike shoe prints).Updated “These Boots Were Made for Walking” A few days ago I was looking at the prints, and thought that the footprints which were compatible with Sollecito’s size 42 feet showed a crooked, elongated big toe. However, a closer examination of the prints has shown that what seems to be apparent is often not the case - like a broken window seeming to indicate a robbery. The objective of this new presentation is to revisit some of the footprints in question, and update our analysis of them in light of Dr. Lorenzo Rinaldi's forensic testimony in the courtroom last May 9. For other presentations, timelines, debate, transcripts, images, and articles and much more content, I recommend the following two sites which have resulted from Steve Huff’s True Crime Weblog on this tragedy: Perugia Murder FilePerugia Murder File - True Justice For Meredith KercherTrue Justice For Meredith Kercher (While you’re at it, visit Steve’s current blog, published by Village Voice Media: Also take a moment to check out the excellent analysis on this case on Miss Represented’s blog.Miss Represented’s blog Any irony or sarcasm which may be encountered in the presentation or our discussions is not meant by any means to trivialise the pain and suffering, and brutal senseless murder that Meredith experienced, nor to reduce her memory. As we go through the scenarios of what may have happened in the crime, the only moment which is truly important is the day when all the evidence is presented in court, like in any other serious crime case. I can only hope that there will be one single ending, that justice is served to those responsible for each of the crimes which have been determined by the Italian judiciary. I am buoyed by the fact that the victim’s family has continued to express confidence in the Italian justice system. - Kermit (7 June 2009)
In my prior comparison of a luminol print from the cottage and the bathmat footprint, I identified characteristics in common between them. However, while those observations are real, perhaps they aren’t the most important considerations as we compare the different footprints, nor are they complete observations. How my observations could have been more precise: 1. Not saturate the colours in the bathmat photo I felt this would make it easier to delineate the footprint; in fact, the strongest colour visually “swamped” the other colours: the lightest areas of the footprint were “washed into” the bathmat.
1. Not saturate the colours in the bathmat photo The saturated colour and the raised tufts of the bathmat gave rise to the elongated big toe. Such a toe is visually “crooked”. In addition, drawing the bent axis of such a toe with the ball of the foot pushed the identification of the ball of the foot to an area where there was no blood nor Luminol, hence the dotted line of the supposedly ill-defined ball of the foot. 2. Take into acount the 3-dimensional aspect of the bathmat and the impact of its texture on the footprint In my prior comparison of a luminol print from the cottage and the bathmat footprint, I identified characteristics in common between them. However, while those observations are real, perhaps they aren’t the most important considerations as we compare the different footprints, nor are they complete observations. How my observations could have been more precise:
1. Not saturate the colours in the bathmat photo However, when I saw the Il Messaggero image of Raffaele’s police footprint made in custody, there was an obvious difference with my observsations: his big toe was neither long nor crooked, but rather triangular 2. Take into acount the 3-dimensional aspect of the bathmat and the impact of its texture on the footprint In my prior comparison of a luminol print from the cottage and the bathmat footprint, I identified characteristics in common between them. However, while those observations are real, perhaps they aren’t the most important considerations as we compare the different footprints, nor are they complete observations. How my observations could have been more precise:
1. Not saturate the colours in the bathmat photo So let’s try it again, taking measures to be more precise. Later we’ll incorporate the “new” visuals as reported in Il Messaggero. You’ll see that this presentation focuses on comparing the newly available footprint of Raffaele taken in custody, with the bathmat footprint made in blood. I’ll save for a future presentation an examination of the Luminol print. 2. Take into acount the 3-dimensional aspect of the bathmat and the impact of its texture on the footprint In my prior comparison of a luminol print from the cottage and the bathmat footprint, I identified characteristics in common between them. However, while those observations are real, perhaps they aren’t the most important considerations as we compare the different footprints, nor are they complete observations. How my observations could have been more precise: In particular, if before we were looking at the luminol and the bathmat prints only from an overall point-of-view of their high-level characteristics, let’s now descend to a very detailed visualisation, aided by the measurements which we now have available.
We’ll need to pull out our precision measuring instrument ( ) from last autumn’s presentation on the 6 Luminol prints. The ruler is based on ILE marker “C” for one of the visible shoeprints in the victim’s room. All we have to do is to rotate it and extend it proportionally, in order to obtain a measuring ruler in centimeters. We see that the floortiles used in the north wing of the cottage are 16 cm. in width.
Let’s confirm the tile width and calibrate our ruler on this grid, at 16 cm. per tile width, on the bathroom footprint photo. 6 cm 12 cm 18 cm 24 cm
Also, let’s keep in mind as we advance the importance of the texture of the bathmat, and its 3 dimensional impact on the footprint.
This recent graphic spread is thanks to Il Messaggero. In addition to bringing new images into our analysis, there is a key element which these photos contribute, which is metrics. I was happy to see the measurements on the footprints and the defendants should be happy too, as it will allow them to pursue their own defence strategies concerning this key evidence. In this presentation we’ll make use of the images associated with Raffaele Sollecito.
Let’s zoom in on the bathmat photos, and the detailed scale of our ruler. 6 cm 12 cm 18 cm 24 cm Now we’ll try and compare specific measurements between the bathmat footprint and Raffaele’s footprint as taken in custody.
The first line we will draw will be the one from behind the ball of the foot to the point between the big toe and the second toe. I suggest we draw the line from the clearest end-point, which would be behind the ball of the foot. Let’s the mark the line and stop when we get to the end point at the front of the ball of the foot.
Now let’s measure this line … and we get … 6 cm 12 cm 18 cm 24 cm … 55 mm. Mmmmmmmm… okay, that’s fairly near the police custody ball-of-the-foot measurement of 57 mm. Now, I’ll accept it if someone says that while the starting point of the line is quite obvious, the end point isn’t necessarily clear. More on that later.
6 cm 12 cm 18 cm 24 cm Now let’s draw the horizontal line in a manner which looks for concordance … you’ll see, it makes sense. First of all, like with the other line, we start from the clearest end point. Concordance? Since the extreme end of the bathmat line is ill- defined, let’s draw the line with exactly Raffaele’s measurement: 95 mm.
I guess you call this our first test: are the measurements from Raffaele’s police custody footprint approximately compatible with the bathmat footprint? I think it would be imprudent to exclude the possibility. Now, what about that big toe? Last week I was thinking that it was a crooked, elongated toe …
Spend a few seconds looking at this zoom of the unenhanced bathmat photo. Specifically, try to follow the limit of the footprint from behind the ball of the foot, around to where the big toe joins the foot, then try to identify exactly where the print of the big toe reaches. That’s enough for now. This isn’t a trick request, in fact it’s quite the opposite. In my case I’m surprised with myself, that until now, I hadn’t tried such a simple exercise on a zoom of the photo.
? ? I’ve marked with green arrows where I think it’s quite obvious that the bloody footprint is in that point. I’ve marked with pink arrows where it’s clear that the bloody footprint doesn’t reach. I’ve put a couple of question marks on the inside of the big toe, where the limits of the big toe are not exactly clear. Click back and forth a few times between this screen and the previous one. Do we all agree on these limits to this part of the footprint?
Now let’s trace that limit to the footprint. This leaves a somewhat different impression than the “crooked, elongated” toe.
Let’s combine all three of the lines we have drawn: And now, the spooky part. Let’s overlay a semi- transparent copy of Raffaele’s police custody footprint over the bathmat print.
Now let’s apply the bathmat image which Rinaldi used for his measurements. Unfortunately, on the copy which we have available from Il Messaggero, only one of the measurements is readable … 50 mm from behind the ball of the foot to the end of the bloodstain between the big toe and the 2nd toe. Rinaldi was more honest than I (55 mm), as he stops his line where the blood visibly ends. (our photo wasn’t as defined there) 6 cm 12 cm 18 cm 24 cm
Let’s summarise and click through the images: Rinaldi’s measurements on the bathmat
Let’s summarise and click through the images: Raffaele’s police custody footprint
Let’s summarise and click through the images: Our lines and delimitation of big toe (it’s not crooked!)
I’m not a forensic expert - I’ll leave that to Dr. Rinaldi. And while I don’t feel in a position to say definitely that that is Raffaele’s footprint on the bathmat, I do believe that the bathmat print is compatible with his footprint. Minor differences, like the point of measurement for the line between the big toe and the 2nd toe, can be justified by the texture of the bathmat, its raised tufts, and the “valley” just at that point of measurement.
“ Ms. Bongiorno - can I call you Giulia? - I assume you have a plan for this … “
CONCLUSION ( 1/3 ) I don’t have the details of Dr. Lorenzo Rinaldi’s expert forensic testimony to the court last May 9. But he has stated that there is a very close compatibility between the bathmat footprint made in blood, and the footprint taken of Raffaele in custody. A close inspection of the bathmat photo reveals that the footprint there is not simply a foot with a crooked long big toe, but rather does coincide with the custody print, as we saw it published in Il Messaggero. QUESTIONS: Do Dr. Rinaldi's observations mean that those footprints are definitely Amanda's and Raffaele's? Not in 100% irrefutable legal terms. However, the more points of correspondence which are identified between two footprints, the more likely that footprints are made by the same foot. What's more, that consideration is multiplied if you have similar positive results for footprints from not just one, but two persons who aren't sought out as unrelated, exogenous, coincidentally correct samples out of the 10 billion persons who make up humanity, but are in fact two persons who are related (boyfriend - girlfriend) and who could fit into a scenario for being present in the cottage between 9 p.m. on 1 November 2007 and 10:30 a.m. the next morning in Perugia, Italy. It may be argued that his evidence - or better said, his analysis - is flawed or that the results are due to the proverbial statistical lottery. In any case, it would be imprudent for the jury to ignore Rinaldi's expert testimony relating to the footprints, which we understand from press reports was well prepared, well presented, and stood up to the attempts to discredit it by the defence legal teams (which is, of course, their job). If the footprint evidence is true, does it mean that Amanda or Raffaele are guilty of murder or the other charges which they face? No, not by itself. A footprint does not a murderer make. However, if we are swayed by Rinaldi’s analysis (personally, I have to say that it seems quite convincing), we have to ask ourselves: - what were they doing in the cottage, what did they do there, and at what times were they there during that night? - why can't they tell us, or why haven't they told us the Truth? The Truth isn't just some of the truth, or a convenient legal truth (protected by a suspect's right to lie), but the Whole Truth. The use of a suspect's right to silence does not show he or she is guilty of anything in particular. But if one is innocent of charges, and in light of a certain weight of evidence being shown against you, it is probably best not to make use of your right to silence, but - with the help of your legal advisors - lay out a logical and explicit defence strategy.
CONCLUSION ( 2/3 ) I recently read an interesting article in The NY Times - Judging Honesty by Words, Not Fidgets, by Benedict Carey:The NY Times - Judging Honesty by Words, Not Fidgets, by Benedict Carey May 12, 2009 “Before any interrogation, before the two-way mirrors or bargaining or good-cop, bad-cop routines, police officers investigating a crime have to make a very tricky determination: Is the person I’m interviewing being honest, or spinning fairy tales?.... Until recently, police departments have had little solid research to guide their instincts. But now forensic scientists have begun testing techniques they hope will give officers, interrogators and others a kind of honesty screen, an improved method of sorting doctored stories from truthful ones.... Kevin Colwell, a psychologist at Southern Connecticut State University, has advised police departments.... He says that people concocting a story prepare a script that is tight and lacking in detail. 'It’s like when your mom busted you as a kid, and you made really obvious mistakes,' Dr. Colwell said. 'Well, now you’re working to avoid those.' By contrast, people telling the truth have no script, and tend to recall more extraneous details and may even make mistakes. They are sloppier.... In several studies, Dr. Colwell and Dr. Hiscock-Anisman have reported one consistent difference: People telling the truth tend to add 20 to 30 percent more external detail than do those who are lying. ‘This is how memory works, by association,’ Dr. Hiscock-Anisman said. ‘If you’re telling the truth, this mental reinstatement of contexts triggers more and more external details.’ Not so if you’ve got a concocted story and you’re sticking to it. ‘ It’s the difference between a tree in full flower in the summer and a barren stick in winter,’ said Dr. Charles Morgan.... “ Will the Barren Tree of Truth to which we have been witness during the course of an autumn, a winter, a spring, a summer, another autumn, another winter, and another spring suddenly burst into bloom by the time this summer of 2009 arrives? (Three weeks distant at the time of writing this). I am not betting on it, but I hope and pray that that may occur. Perhaps Raffaele and Amanda are not legally guilty of the trial charges against her (or perhaps she is …). But in any case they are morally responsible to tell the Whole Truth, for many reasons, including - above all - the Kerchers’ right to know everything possible about what happened to their daughter, and - in purely selfish terms - the viability of their own reinsertion into the world on the day when they finally return to Seattle and Bari and they try to convince the general public that they really did make every effort to support the investigation, respond to questions and help clarify Meredith’s murder in any minor or major way which they could.
CONCLUSION ( 3/3 ) It’s never too late to start working on redemption, but it does get more and more difficult to achieve as more time passes. Even Judge Heavey tells people to assume their responsibilities, regardless, as he says, of whether your actions are right or wrong (click to see his statement from 1995). It’s clear that his apology in a 1995 legislative investigation referred to moral responsibilities, and not just legal liability, as he was never found legally responsible for wrongdoing in that case (the issue goes back to when he was a politician). I wish he had been as public and explicit in his apology to Prosecutor Mignini for the unsupported accusations of illegal actions on the part of Italian justice officials that the American judge made on Washington State Supreme Court official letterhead - as published by Anne Bremner on her website (Anne has now left the link hanging by removing the document, but you can still find it on PMF), calling Heavey “a member of the Friends of Amanda group”. Part of the problem, perhaps, is the energetic effort on the part of the respective groups of people who believe they are supporting Raffaele and Amanda, who have turned their positions into an “all or nothing” bet. However, if they are truly concerned about their return and reinsertion into normal family and social activities - at whatever date - then they would do well to encourage Raffaele and Amanda to tell the Whole Truth. It will help them emotionally and give them the confidence to state in the future that whatever happened, they have explained what they know about this case. I personally find Raffaele’s and Amanda’s "barren tree" explanations early in the investigation and subsequence silence rather distressing; it definitely does not contribute to the public being able to trust and believe that each of them was completely unaware of and separate from the occurrence of the crimes in the cottage on 1 November 2007 ================ Post Script: In the name of complete disclosure, I should also quote the end of the above mentioned New York Times article concerning police questioning, concerning the limits of the “barren tree” method of detecting truth or lies: ” This approach, as promising as it is, has limitations. It applies only to a person talking about what happened during a specific time — not to individual facts, like, 'Did you see a red suitcase on the floor?' It may be poorly suited, too, for someone who has been traumatized and is not interested in talking, Dr. Morgan said. And it is not likely to flag the person who changes one small but crucial detail in a story — 'Sure, I was there, I threw some punches, but I know nothing about no knife' — or, for that matter, the expert or pathological liar.' "