Idaho

Evidence pointed to one man in murder, says Knox family consultant

Greg Hampikian talks about his DNA work in the Amanda Knox case on Monday at Boise State University, where he’s a professor. (Betsy Russell)
Greg Hampikian talks about his DNA work in the Amanda Knox case on Monday at Boise State University, where he’s a professor. (Betsy Russell)

BOISE – For Boise State University Professor Greg Hampikian, there’s no mystery about what happened to 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, the woman found murdered in 2007 in Perugia, Italy.

“I know what happened,” Hampikian told an audience of about 200 at Boise State University on Monday. Kercher was sexually assaulted and murdered “by one guy,” he said – “Rudy Guede.”

Also charged in that crime, however, were Kercher’s roommate, Amanda Knox of Seattle, and two others.

Hampikian is director of the Idaho Innocence Project, and is a professor of biology and criminal justice at Boise State. He worked on the Knox case as a volunteer consultant for the Knox family, and was present in Italy for the proceedings.

Guede, a drifter from Ivory Coast, was convicted of the murder and remains in prison.

But just after the crime, he wasn’t the one arrested. A prosecutor, based on a hunch aroused by Knox’s behavior, arrested Knox, her boyfriend, and bar owner Patrick Lumumba, and theorized that three people committed the attack.

Lumumba turned out to have an airtight alibi – he was working at his bar at the time. And when the DNA evidence came back, it didn’t match any of the authorities’ three suspects – it matched Guede. He’d left a handprint in the victim’s blood on her wall. His DNA was on and inside the victim, all over her room and more. “You had one guy whose DNA was all over the victim,” Hampikian said.

But rather than release Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaelle Sollecito, prosecutors went back to the crime scene 46 days later – after many people had been at the scene, including Knox and Sollecito, who were allowed to retrieve belongings – and found a bra clasp that they tested and found showed a tiny bit of Sollecito’s DNA. They also took a kitchen knife from a drawer at Sollecito’s home and found it showed a tiny bit of Knox’s DNA on the handle and a tiny trace of Kercher’s on the blade.

Hampikian said those traces, not large enough to be reliably tested, likely were the result of contamination by the testers, and that knife was not the murder weapon. The bra from which the clasp came had been collected 46 days earlier and was covered with Guede’s DNA, not Sollecito’s.

He conducted an experiment in his lab at Boise State, in which researchers collected soda cans that had been used by employees of the dean’s office, and brand-new knives, still in the package, from a dollar store. In collecting and tagging the cans and knives – without changing gloves between every piece of evidence, but only between every other piece – lab workers unknowingly transferred a tiny amount of one of the employees’ DNA to one of the knives, though she’d never seen or touched it. That’s what happened with the evidence in the Knox case, he said. “You can transfer DNA in this way.”

“This gut feeling is a very dangerous thing, especially in law enforcement, and it’s a very persistent force,” Hampikian said. “I have them as well. That’s the best part of being a scientist, is that you have data that tells you it’s wrong.”

Standards for measuring the supposed DNA on the evidence in the Knox case were lowered so far that the tests weren’t valid at all, he said – and that’s what the court eventually found, clearing Knox and freeing her.

“All of this has to do with controls,” he said, “which, if you’re in my lab, that’s all you hear about.”



Click here to comment on this story »



Blogs

Parting Shot — 7.25.16

We've had enough of angry Democrats in Philadelphia today. So I thought I'd close with a viewtiful, tranquil photo by Marianne Love/Slight Detour of a sailboard on Lake Pend Oreille, ...



Example Quest - Who am I?

Hey everyone, sorry for the delay in postings. To make it up to you, I’ve attached a free side quest of my own design. I wonder how many people can ...


The opposite of face time

These are times that can challenge even someone gifted at TV remotemanship. That's because some of us live with people who do not want to see certain politicians' faces. And ...



Saving for the future

sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.



Sections


Profile

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile