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captcorajus comments on The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom - Less Wrong

42 Post author: komponisto 13 December 2009 04:16AM

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Comment author: captcorajus 17 December 2009 03:51:44AM 5 points [-]

komponisto, can I just say that you have very eloquently voiced my very thoughts on this case. In my blog article, "Logic Trumps Innuendo" I wrote the following:

"As I surf the net, reading a variety of comments in regards to this case there is much speculation about evidence in this case. Much of it was not used at trial, but somehow made it into the public consciousness through ongoing press leaks during the investigation, such as:

"Knox was seen with a mop and bucket the morning of the murder." What does that mean exactly? The innuendo would be that she cleaned the crime scene, but see the logic problems posed by that below.

"Knox purchased bleach the morning of the murder, there are receipts." No receipts were presented at trial, but even if there were what how is that probative?

"The found the murder weapon in Sollecito's flat." They found his knife, in his flat, in his drawer. Logic alone makes it unlikely that this is the murder weapon, and the prosecution's own analysis reinforces this. See logic question below as to why.

"Meredith's bra had Sollecito's DNA on it." Left on the floor of Knox's flat for 47 days after the murder, a variety of DNA including Sollecito's was found on the seperated clasp, not the bra itself.

... and on and on. I offer no explanation in this article for these, but simply pose some logic questions that address conflicting and incompatible ideas with the facts. This approach certainly reveals some troubling problems with the case against Knox and Sollecito. The unspoken question at the end of each of these is simply, "If this is so, how is that possible?"

Logic problem 1: They had the temerity to properly dispose of their bloody clothes and shoes, but then took the murder weapon home, cleaned it thoroughly, and put it back in the drawer?

Logic Problem 2: They cleaned the knife so well that luminal had no reaction, no blood was found on the knife, but the low copy skin DNA of the victim somehow remained on the blade???

Logic Problem 3: With a mop and bucket they somehow managed to selectively clean the murder scene clean of their DNA and fingerprints but leave behind Rudy Guede's??

Logic Problem 4: The bra clasp collected 47 days after the murder had Sollecito's DNA on it, but the bra itself did not???

Logic Problem 5: Meredith Kercher's bedroom door was locked from the inside and had to be broken down to gain entry. How did Knox get in there and remove all of her and Sollecito's fingerprints and DNA and leave behind Rudy Guede's?"

I too have felt this case begs for the the application of Occam's Razor. You simply can't connect Knox and Sollecito to Guede, much less put them into some three way sexual tryst. My logic circuits implode at the prosecutor's inane theory, which to prove you would need significantly more evidence than what was presented at trial.

Comment author: brazil84 17 December 2009 03:47:47PM 0 points [-]

It seems to me that most of those problems can be explained by postulating that (1) the prosecution's case is overstated; and (2) the prosecution's scenario of what happened is incorrect.

However, even if (1) and (2) are true, it does not mean that Knox and Sollecito are innocent or uninvolved in the murder.

By analogy, consider the OJ Simpson case. As I recall, there really were some serious questions about the prosecution's evidence in that case. Even so, it seems pretty clear (to me) that OJ was guilty.

Obviously the OJ Simpson case is very different from the Amanda Knox case. But the point is that police, prosecutors, and others are often tempted to try to turn a good case into a great case.

Of course one big difference with OJ Simpson is that the case fits into a very simple paradigm: the jealous ex-husband. So it's very easy for the prosecution to present a coherent theory (including a motive).

Perhaps a better analogy is the Annie Le case. It seems pretty clear who killed her, but it's not entirely clear why. Nevertheless, there will be pressure on the prosecutors to come up with a scenario for what happened and why.

Comment author: captcorajus 18 December 2009 04:42:16AM *  4 points [-]

There is a lot of what I call "noise" in this case. Things that MAY apply, but not all of them carry the same weight, thus it becomes necessary to organize my thought processes. I start with the hard evidence FIRST, not the other way around. I do not look at the people and then find evidence to implicate them, I look at the evidence first and then find the people.

By "hard evidence", I mean that evidence that can be observed directly or by repeatable scientific methods.

I refine my thought process even further by using these principles which state: 1. The simplest explanation that fits the facts is usually the correct one. 2. the more outlandish a theory is the greater the amount of evidence is required to support it, and 3. The further away you move from a causal event the less accurate your observations will be.

With that as a guide, the DNA of Rudy Guede inside Kercher becomes a white hot beam of guilt, and Knox's cartwheels with the police has almost no luminescence at all.

Given how much evidence is in the room where Kercher was killed leads you directly to Rudy Guede. The bedroom is the key to this case as that is where the murder took place. As you move further away from the bedroom, you are less likely to find direct connection to the killer or killers, so as I move out of the bedroom other things like mixed DNA in a bathroom of people who co-habituate get less consideration.

Given the preponderance of evidence that there is of Guede, logically then, this must also be true for Knox and Sollecito if the prosecution's theory of the crime is to hold true. However, no such preponderance of evidence exists for them. Knox's presence is non existent according the the physical evidence, and Sollecito's hinges on a bra clasp found 47 days after the crime. The more outlandish a theory is the greater the amount of evidence is required to support it, ergo which version of the crime does the evidence and logic support:

That a known burglar, involved in three separate break-in incidents in the weeks prior to the murder broke in and robbed, assaulted and murdered Kercher.

Or

That new lovers Knox and Sollecito with no criminal history whatsoever, conspired with relative unknown Guede to involve Kercher in some sex game and inadvertently killed her?

This leaves Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba footnotes in this story. Stories about bleach purchases, hip wiggling, knives in a residence not connected to the scene, Myspace pages, emials and raunchy tabloid stories about an attractive American female and her Italian boyfriend are relatively benign compared to fingerprints in blood, feces in the toilet and DNA inside the victim.

Using THIS method, which is the traditional method of deduction leads you to the guilty party. Using disassociated bits of information that you then try to connect to hard evidence found latter only leads to confusion. Bragging about it only leads to a need for obfuscation when the hard evidence contradicts your theory.

Comment author: brazil84 18 December 2009 12:12:45PM 1 point [-]

"That a known burglar, involved in three separate break-in incidents in the weeks prior to the murder broke in and robbed, assaulted and murdered Kercher.

Or

That new lovers Knox and Sollecito with no criminal history whatsoever, conspired with relative unknown Guede to involve Kercher in some sex game and inadvertently killed her?"

Are those the only two possibilities? As an attorney, I can tell you I have seen many many cases where neither side's theory about events is very credible.

It seems pretty clear to me that the answer to my question is "no," but I would like to hear your take.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 December 2009 12:28:23PM 1 point [-]

As an attorney, I can tell you I have seen many many cases where neither side's theory about events is very credible.

As an attorney you are asking a tangential question with the implication that it has more relevance than it does.

Comment author: brazil84 18 December 2009 12:45:20PM *  2 points [-]

I remember when I started practicing law on my own I would be outraged when I caught the other side in numerous lies and yet the judge would still go against my client. At the time, it seemed to me that the judge was heavily biased against my client.

It took me a while to learn what I have tried to share in my last couple posts. In hindsight, I realize that most of those clients really did do pretty much what they had been accused of doing. And that in any event, the judge was (generally speaking) making a reasonable assesment as to my client's guilt or innocense.

The fact that the prosecution's case has holes in it doesn't necessarily mean that the Defendants were innocent or uninvolved in the murder.

But feel free to explain why you think my question is tangential or irrelevant and I will be happy to consider it.

Also, you might ask yourself if you are angry at me over our previous exchange and whether this anger is coloring your judgment.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 December 2009 01:51:29PM 0 points [-]

But feel free to explain why you think my question is tangential or irrelevant and I will be happy to consider it.

I will wait and see if anyone else finds my objection to your rhetoric hard to understand.

Comment author: brazil84 18 December 2009 06:30:56PM 0 points [-]

Suit yourself. In essence, I am pointing out that there are other possibilities besides the 2 scenarios described by captcorajus.

If you feel that my observation is so obviously tangential or irrelevant that no explanation is required beyond simply stating that it is tangential or irrelevant, then so be it. People can draw whatever inference they wish. My inference is that you have no good explanation for your claim, but of course I am starting from the belief that my observation was relevant. (Otherwise I would not have made it.) If someone else sees things differently, perhaps they can shed some light on the issue.

Comment author: radical_negative_one 18 December 2009 07:25:00PM 3 points [-]

So, you're suggesting that Knox and Sollecito are guilty, but for reasons other than the prosecution's argument. The other commenters here have been discussing the issue, so maybe if you have other arguments, or can point us to another source, that would be relevant.

If you're just saying, "But captcorajus might be wrong," that doesn't strike me as being terribly useful, without any further insight to explain why.

I realize that most of those clients really did do pretty much what they had been accused of doing.

Or, are you saying the fact that Knox and Sollecito were in a courtroom as defendants is enough to conclude that they're guilty?

Comment author: brazil84 18 December 2009 08:05:38PM *  0 points [-]

"So, you're suggesting that Knox and Sollecito are guilty, but for reasons other than the prosecution's argument."

Not exactly. I'm saying that there is good reason to be skeptical of the prosecution's scenario. Nevertheless, the evidence is sufficient to be reasonably confident that Knox and Sollecito were involved in the murder.

"If you're just saying, 'But captcorajus might be wrong,' that doesn't strike me as being terribly useful, without any further insight to explain why."

I'm saying, in essence, that captocorajus' argument rests on a false dilemma. Implicitly he is asking us to choose between 2 possibilities when in reality there are other possibilities.

"Or, are you saying the fact that Knox and Sollecito were in a courtroom as defendants is enough to conclude that they're guilty?"

No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that holes in the prosecution's case do not necessarily imply innocence on the part of the defendants. (As a practical matter, without knowing more, the fact that somebody is a defendant is indeed good evidence they are guilty. But here we do know more so I have not been relying on the mere fact of prosecution.)

Comment deleted 18 December 2009 11:45:44PM [-]
Comment author: brazil84 19 December 2009 12:28:04AM 1 point [-]

"Please see the response from RNO (for a start)."

I don't see anything in RNO's response which would offer an explanation for your claim. On the contrary, it appears that RNO simply misunderstood my point and I explained myself a bit further.