A demonstration illustrating a forensic examination of a knife similar to the one prosecutors claim West Seattle raised Amanda Knox used to murder her British college roommate Meredith Kercher. Today's hearing in her appeal involves the prosecutors cross-examing two court-appointed forensics experts who last Sunday embarrassed the prosecution's DNA scientists citing sloppy evidence gathering. UPDATE: Prosecutors will supply their own DNA experts to refute the findings of the court-appointed experts beginning Sept. 5.

UPDATE 2: Final hearing for Amanda Knox today not so final; will continue Sept. 5

Prosecutors will question "new DNA experts", Knox family: Appeal "is on the right track"

UPDATE, Saturday, 3:20 p.m.

As we reported below, today was scheduled to be the final hearing in Amanda Knox's appeal case prior to a four-week summer recess, closing arguments, then verdict. However, in court today, the judge agreed to allow the prosecution to hear more witnesses beginning Sept. 5, including those who collected the DNA in the original trial that placed Knox behind bars for a 26-year sentence. The prosecutors today attacked the legitimacy of the two court-appointed forensics experts and their findings. The experts were appointed by the judge.

The director of Italy’s scientific police, Piero Angeloni, read a letter in court defending the experts and said that each year they process 4,500 crime scenes and have never been condemned so harshly for their work: “Never has anyone questioned our methods this way.”

Chris Mellas interview:With late edit on some details

The West Seattle Herald just interviewed Amanda Knox's stepfather, Arbor Heights resident Chris Mellas shortly after he left the courtroom, by phone in Perugia, Italy. These are his observations of the day in court and the case as he sees them.

"Court began this morning at 9:30 a.m. and lasted until almost 7:00 p.m. Most of it was (Prosecutor) Manuela Comodi badgering the court-apponted forensics experts and the people from the media I spoke to after court seemed to think the prosecutors were not endearing themselves to the court. The experts were chosen by the judge. Comodi asked for the forensics experts' resumes and tried to downplay their findings. These experts are respected and train police on how to collect evidence.

"Comodi asked the experts how can they prove there is contamination (on the DNA from the collected evidence) and the experts said the standard process is you have negative controls in place to disprove the testing machinery, and (prosecution forensic expert) Stefanoni would not provide said documentation. As such, you cannot disprove contamination."

Mellas explained that Comodi countered that details proving the prosecution's original DNA results were in the case files and should be discussed in court, and that she had access to the files. She then provided a copy to the judge and he handed it to the experts. They reviewed the file and said the document codes did not match with the machine codes, as they are supposed to, so they told the judge it was not correct documentation, hinting that the documents were not just incorrect but not even from the same test, or worse. Comodi then said that these documents were a part of the case file, since 2008, and 2009 and it was the fault of the defense that they were not used.

"The judge said, 'OK. There will be a 30 minute recess to find those files'. When court resumed THE JUDGE said the files could not be found. The judge said, 'You've been shown to not be forthcoming, and honestly, and the documents newly submitted will not be allowed. It wouldn't change the outcome of their report anyway.

"At the end of the day I think the judge had enough. So overall it was a good day, but in the beginning the civil prosecution requested their DNA experts are allowed to speak. They'll take any chance they have go up there. They see it as another chance to put doubt in the minds of the jury.

"Amanda was unhappy with the fact that this thing is going to drag out longer but at least more good stuff is coming out."


The final hearing for West Seattle-raised Amanda Knox has just began, at about 10:00 a.m. in Perugia Italy, nine hours ahead of Seattle time, (PST). The judge, Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, read a letter from a section of new forensic crime report. In the letter a manager for the judge defends the scientific work of the expertise of the two court-appointed independent forensic experts, and calls the findings by professors Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti "damaging" to the image of the police.

Currently (11:30 a.m. Perugia time) Prosecutor Manuela Comodi is challenging the forensics experts by questioning their experience. However, Judge Hellmann told her to stick to the report, and not to other cases in the forensics experts' past.

As the West Seattle Herald reported here following last Sunday's hearing, the two forensics experts spent hours reading protocol for collecting evidence for DNA testing from Europe to America that contradicted methods the prosecutors' DNA team originally used in the (first) murder trial of Meredith Kercher, Knox's college roommate in Perugia. Also, a video projected in court showed DNA collectors dropping and mishandling evidence wearing dirty gloves.

During the current hearing it is expected that at least one DNA scientist in charge of the original collection of DNA evidence will cross-examine the experts. Legal experts in Italy and America have been telling media since last week's hearing that the video embarrassed the prosecution and that Knox's case for her innocence has been strengthened as a result.

After today's hearing, a four week summer recess takes place, and then all return to court Aug. 27 for closing arguments before the verdict is read.

We will update.

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