Idaho DNA Expert Shocked That Amanda Knox Faces A New Trial

Mar 27, 2013

Amanda Knox reacts at the announce of the verdict of her appeal trial in the Meredith Kercher' murder on October 3, 2011at Perugia's court.
Credit TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images / Flickr

Italy's highest criminal court Tuesday overturned Amanda Knox’s acquittal in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial.  An appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against the American student and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaelle Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher. 

That case was originally overturned, in part because of DNA analysis done by Greg Hampikian.  The Boise State professor and director of the Idaho Innocence Project says he was surprised and disappointed when he heard the verdict.  “I was sick to my stomach.  We were listening, actually just sitting up in bed with the Italian TV on the internet and then CNN up and a feed from her family and really hoped it would be over, that they would uphold her release and I think we were all really shocked.”

Q. You helped free Knox.  What was your role in her original acquittal?

A. I was a DNA analyst with the defense team and I’ve been working on the case about three years now with them.

Q. How important is DNA evidence in this case?

A. I think it was what originally convicted them [Amanda Knox and and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito] and certainly it was what the appeals judge was most concerned about and he appointed his own two independent experts from the University in Rome with whom I had nothing to do, and they came up with everything that we came up with here in Boise, Idaho and then some.  That the DNA used to convict Amanda and Raffaele was not reliable, likely a contamination, so she was acquitted.

Q. You have said in the past that you know who killed Meredith Kercher.  Who do you think committed the crime?

A. Well, it’s not think.  His DNA spells out his identity to an assurance of one in quadrillions.  We know who did it. It’s Rudy Guede. He’s serving in prison presently. He was never released.  He was convicted before Amanda and Raffaele were tried, there’s no question about who did this. 

The only question facing the court was did he have accomplices and I think it’s a very complex story that the prosecutors came up with to try and involved Amanda and Raffaele, it doesn’t make any sense.  They didn’t know this guy.  It looks like it was a break in, there was a broken window.  It all seems pretty typical, if there is a typical, murder situation like this.  To create this elaborate myth that Raffaele and Amanda were involved, without any substantial evidence, is a stretch.   I didn’t think it would be revisited, but apparently it will be.

Q. What happens now?  What is the role of the Idaho Innocence Project going forward?

A.  We’ve been in touch with Amanda’s family and we’ve told them that we’re certainly still on the case.  We’re happy to do whatever’s necessary.  We don’t know if the court wants to revisit the DNA evidence yet, they have to issue their report within 90 days.  If the DNA is still on the table, then we’re still involved as consultants on the case.  We just don’t know, the court hasn’t told us. It’s brand new to us and we’re waiting for that report.

Q. How is the family holding up?

A. On the surface, really well.  Very brave statements were released.  But I know that family and I know other families that we work with and to tell people that their daughter, or in Amanda’s case, that you are under suspicion for murder and that you could be returned to the prison where you spent four years in Italy, is extremely frightening. 

It is part of a continuing sentence that she and family are serving, that Raffaele and his family are serving, and frankly that the Kercher family, the victim’s family are serving.  They’re all under the eye of the press, there are people who are arguing the case on the internet, they can’t get away from it. 

So their lives are back under the microscope.  I know Amanda, she’s very private. She’s really not interested in being in the limelight.  Her family is not interested in that as well, but they have to be.  And so, they’re under a sentence again, to live this one story over and over again with the threat of a long, long prison term.  It’s a terrible situation but yeah, they’ve but a very brave spin on it, they’re very strong, warm people, so I’m sure they will do fine, as fine as you or I could do under that kind of pressure.

Amanda Knox says the decision by Italy's highest court to overturn her acquittal and order a new murder trial is "painful," but she says she's confident she'll be exonerated.  Her family spokesman says it's doubtful Knox will travel to Italy for the new trial and instead will continue to attend the University of Washington in Seattle where she is a junior.

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