Video: Police ‘short cuts’ and ‘sloppy work’ may free Knox

  1. Closed captioning of: Police ‘short cuts’ and ‘sloppy work’ may free Knox

    >>> hour with serious news. key ruling this morning tied to the appeal of amanda knox 's murder conviction in italy. lester holt is in perugia . lester, good morning.

    >> ann, good morning. a big day here in perugia . a late and bold attempt to bolster what many would see is a faltering case against knox and her ex-boyfriend just failed. prosecution came to court this morn and said, judge, can you appoint some more dna expert, independent experts to review the work already reviewed. the judge said no and added he already had enough information from expert witnesses to make a call in this case. all of this could spell very good news for amanda knox . perhaps thinking these could be among her last few court hearings in this appeal, amanda knox looked pencive as he entered the court this morning. on tuesday an expert hired by the defense offered compelling evidence of what the defense maintains a series of short cuts and sloppy work by police evidence technicians at the crime scene . the court was shown these photos of the rf from the home knox shared with her murdered roommate meredith kercher , stild packed with food several weeks after the crime. it's important because police now admit they actually stored biological evidence in the victim's refrigerator. the question, did they first remove this food, a source of potential cross contamination ? the defense expert told me it was an odd breach of protocol.

    >> it is a strange way of storing evidence.

    >> reporter: this week the prosecution has offered rebuttal witnesses to try to repair the damage to its case delivered by court appointed expertses who have testified that dna results used to help convict knox and her ex-boyfriend are of such a tiny amount they're useless. knox 's attorney who rarely speaks to reporters left court on tuesday clearly pleased. how do you feel about this session?

    >> they will decide.

    >> reporter: this morning yet another defense expert was on stand, this time talking about the knife, the alleged murder weapon, and food particles on it that should have absorbed any blood had it been used to kill kercher. these last ten months of appeals' testimony have been agonizing for amanda's father who believes by now his daughter's innocence should be abundantly clear to even the prosecution.

    >> the job of the prosecution is to find the truth. why is the prosecution not willing to accept that the results are and challenge everything that they've said?

    >> reporter: still, curt knox who has made the trip to perugia countless times these last four years is hoping this one will be his last. she prevails in the appeal you fully expect she's on the next plane to seattle?

    >> i'm hopeful that will happen, yes.

    >> reporter: had the prosecution prevailed today in its request for more dna analysis and more independent experts, this case could have easily gone into the next year. as it stands right now, next in line, closing arguments will happen on the 23rd of august. when that ruling came down today i was looking at amanda fox, knox , no reaction.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/7/2011 5:26:57 PM ET 2011-09-07T21:26:57

An American student jailed for the murder of her English housemate hopes to win an appeal against her conviction after an Italian judge rejected prosecution calls for a second review of crucial evidence that two experts have undermined, her family said on Wednesday.

Amanda Knox, 24, is appealing against her conviction for the 2007 killing of language student Meredith Kercher at their rented house in the Italian town of Perugia, central Italy.

Appeal court judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann turned down a prosecution request to review forensic evidence used to convict Knox after an independent report found it to be unreliable.

"They have no case, there is no case left and I am very hopeful that by the end of the month we will get to bring Amanda home," her father Curt Knox told CNN outside court.

'Happy and hopeful'
His daughter is "happy and hopeful" that she will be released from prison soon, he said in comments reported by Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

One of the two prosecutors opposing Knox's bid to overturn her conviction was quoted by the Daily Mail newspaper as saying that there was an "ill wind blowing in this case."

Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said she could envisage Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, also convicted of Kercher's murder, being cleared by the appeal court.

"The judge and his assistant are clearly against us. I can see both Knox and Sollecito being freed which will be a shame as they are both involved," Comodi was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

Knox and Sollecito and Ivorian Rudy Guede were jailed in 2009 after what judges concluded was a frenzied sex game that spiraled out of control.

Both deny wrongdoing and are appealing the lower court verdict.

The decision to deny more DNA testing was a blow to the prosecution, which had sought to counter the results of a court-ordered independent review that harshly criticized how DNA evidence was used in the case.

Without a clear motive or convincing witnesses, the DNA evidence is crucial, and much of the appeals outcome hinges on it.

The court presided over by Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann said closing arguments to begin on Sept. 23, with the prosecution going first, followed by civil plaintiffs and the defense.

Story: Alleged DNA contamination at heart of Amanda Knox appeal trial

In the first trial, prosecutors maintained that Knox's DNA was found on the handle of a kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon, and that Kercher's DNA was found on the blade.

They said Sollecito's DNA was on the clasp of Kercher's bra as part of a mixed trace that also included the victim's genetic profile.

Image: Amanda Knox, the U.S. student convicted of killing her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy on November 2007, leaves the courtroom in Perugia
Str  /  Reuters
Amanda Knox leaves the courtroom after her appeal trial session in Perugia, Italy, Wednesday.

Unreliable
The appeals court ordered an independent review, which found that much of that evidence was unreliable and possibly contaminated.

The review was at the center of several fiercely debated hearings in the Perugia courtroom, with police defending their investigation.

The TODAY show reported Wednesday that the court was shown pictures of the refrigerator, filled with food, in the house where Kercher died, taken weeks after the murder.

The court was told that police stored biological evidence in the refrigerator and there was a question about whether the food — a possible source of DNA contamination — had been removed first.

"This is a strange way of [collecting] evidence," defense forensic expert Adriano Tagliabracci told TODAY.

Story: Italian police defend their Knox murder probe

Pratillo Hellmann said the discussion about the DNA evidence had been thorough enough for the court to form an opinion.

New testing would be "superfluous," he said, rejecting the request made earlier in the day by Prosecutor Manuela Comodi.

The court also rejected another prosecution request to put back on the stand a witness who had previously testified that his brother, a fugitive, had killed Kercher during a botched burglary.

The witness, a jailed Naples mobster called Luciano Aviello, announced he wanted to retract and was questioned by Comodi in prison in July.

The court ruled that transcriptions of that questioning would suffice.

The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this report.

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