Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

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

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (632)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: captcorajus 19 December 2009 03:19:08PM *  9 points [-]

Here's a thought exercise, that for me clears the confusion in this case. Pretend that you don't already know who the suspects are in this case, and are looking at the evidence to try and find one for the first time. You have no preconceived notion as to who killed Kercher.

Your evidence comes in two weeks after the killing and you have a bloody hand print on a pillow, fingerprints elsewhere in the room, saliva DNA outside the victim and skin or saliva DNA inside the victim as well. All of this is of one person, Rudy Guede.

You look up Rudy Guede and you find that in the weeks prior to the murder he was involved in three separate break-ins involving a knife, but was not arrested. When you try to locate him, you find he has fled the country to Germany.

At this point, do Knox and Sollecito even come into this story as anything other than footnotes? There are no interrogations, no cartwheels, no rumors of bleach purchases, no "foxy knoxy", no stories of sex on a train, none of it. The knife in Sollecito's flat, with a minuscule amount of DNA on the blade that doesn't identify Kercher but can't exclude it never enters the scene. Neither does the bra clasp found 47 days later.

Blood drops of the victim found in a co-habituated bathroom with mixed DNA of roommates doesn't seem all that sinister.

For me, this clears up who the guilty party in this case quite nicely, and takes my "feelings" out of the equation.

Comment author: brazil84 19 December 2009 05:19:37PM *  0 points [-]

In fairness, aren't you also starting with some or all of the following pieces of evidence?:

(1) A room in the crime scene apartment has been ransacked but no valuables (which were in plain view) were taken;

(2) A window in that same room has been broken with marks suggesting it was broken from the inside;

(3) the same window is on the second floor and can be seen from the street. Further, there is no obvious reason why a burglar would need to get in through an upper floor;

(4) Bloodstains indicate that the victim died with her bra on and the bra was removed a few hours later; and

(5) When the police arrived at the crime scene apartment, one of the victim's flatmates was standing there with her boyfriend and with a mop and a bucket.

Comment author: captcorajus 19 December 2009 06:03:54PM *  6 points [-]

1) Actually, Kercher's rent money was missing and Guede's DNA was found in her purse. After her murder he went clubbing and then hopped a train Milan. Where did he get the money to do that? To state there was no robbery doesn't jibe with the evidence. Knox had $2000 in her bank account, and Sollecito's parents are well off. Guede was a known drifter known for his money problems.

2) No, evidence was NOT that window was broke from the inside. The glass was inside the room, and a rock was found. The dispute arises because some glass was below clothing in Filomena's room. However, Filomena was allowed into her room to retrieve personal effects, so the exact placement of clothing is suspect. Furthermore, the building itself is fairly isolated and traffic along the road is minimal.

3) There is a truss next to the window making access relatively easy. An investigator for the defense, dressed in a suite and tie easily scaled it. Rude Guede was an accomplished athlete and basketball player.

4) That's an evaluation of the judge who accepted the prosecutor's contention of the muti person scenario. Scientific testimony at trial contradicts this assertion. In either case, this is evidence open to interpretation. Even if that were true, there is still no evidence that Knox or Sollecito were involved in moving the body! Putting them in the room a SECOND time hours later further creates a logic problem because no evidence of their presence is in the room! What are they, ghosts?? Even if you prove there was more then one assailant, you still have to prove those additional assailants were Knox and Sollecito... which you can't You must UNLEARN what you have learned my friend. ;)

5) No such evidence was presented at trial, and even if it was so, its completely meaningless. How do you get from "a mop and bucket" to "a three way sex crime"? You must have something stronger in addition to the observation for it to have probative value of a crime! If they cleaned the crime scene how did they leave behind Guede's fingerprints and DNA? Either is all there, or its all gone. You can't selectively clean up microscopic evidence... much less with a mop and bucket. Its laughable.

As komponisto stated, it is difficult to be cold in your rational evaluation. You are assigning the mop and bucket a value almost equal to DNA inside the victim when in real comparison they are light years apart in real value.

Comment author: brazil84 19 December 2009 06:15:47PM *  0 points [-]

Hold on a sec: Are we looking at things from the perspective of the initial evidence available to investigators? Or are we looking at all the evidence in its totality?

These are two separate but related questions:

(1) Does the initial evidence offer a reasonable basis to be suspicious of Knox and/or Sollecito?

(2) Does all the evidence in its totality indicate that Knox and Sollecito are guilty?

It seems to me you just jumped from discussing (1) to discussing (2). If you want to do that, fine, but in that case it's not fair for you to ignore later evidence which developed against Knox and Sollecito.

You are assigning the mop and bucket a value almost equal to DNA

I'm not doing that at all. The mop and bucket are one initial piece of evidence which, when combined with other initial pieces of evidence, form a reasonable basis to be suspicious of Knox and Sollecito.

Comment author: captcorajus 19 December 2009 06:30:10PM *  4 points [-]

How is the mop and bucket evidence of a crime??? That's an emotional response, not a rational one. You must prove 1) the mop and bucket was used to clean up a crime scene, and 2) that Knox and Sollecito were the one that did it. No proof of 1 exists, so how can you prove 2?

1) I'm saying that if you follow the evidence, Knox and Sollecito never enter the picture as suspects. I do not assign behavior as evidence of a crime without strong physical evidence to cooberate it. All we have initially are the behaviors.

2) The evidence in totality can't connect them to the crime or Guede. Guede is completely connected by the evidence. So how can you prove guilt?

I'm saying this: If you START with the cold hard evidence, and proceed from there, Knox and Sollecito are NOT suspects. Since they are not suspect, their behavior isn't probative, and everything that follows: "Foxy Knoxy", Vibrators in the bathroom, sex on a train, cartwheels at the police station have 0 value as evidence of a crime. Get it?

I'm time warping. Starting with the evidence to find the people, not starting with the people and then trying to find evidence to implicate them. Its a thought exorcise.

Comment author: Feh 20 December 2009 06:53:57AM 4 points [-]

brazil84's points 1, 2, and 3 are false in my opinion, I have insufficient knowledge about #4 (the allegedly postmortem removed bra) but my reaction is "so what?" and "how does the investigator know the bra wasn't removed post-cut rather than postmortem?"), and here is my take on #5, the mop and bucket...

The allegation that Amanda and Rafael were found with a mop and bucket outside the crime scene apartment is reported on truejustice.org (which has been accused of bias in some of the comments here.) Truejustice.org claims to be paraphrasing a judge's statements about pretrial hearings. This alleged fact apparently did not come up in the actual trial. In the actual trial, Rafael's maid said she found a mop and bucket underneath the sink at his apartment, and said he explained that they had cleaned up some leaked water. The maid testified that there was a clear liquid in the bucket. My wild guess at the truth here is that indeed Amanda and/or Rafael had taken a mop and bucket from Amanda's apartment to Rafael's apartment to clean up a leak, and the maid saw it when she came in the morning (she cleaned around 11:00 on certain days, as I recall.) And then, possibly, and unfortunately for them, Amanda or Rafael brought the mop back to Amanda's apartment shortly before the police arrived. But your guess is as good as mine.

One thing I stumbled across was this comment to a blog:

"There is one simple reason that I believe that Amanda and her boyfriend are both guilty of some involvement in this crime: they were at the apartment the next morning with a bucket of bleach. Please explain away her guilt under this "circumstance.""

I think that's pretty funny, or at least it would be if the freedom of two individuals weren't at stake. No evidence of bleach, by the way.

Comment author: brazil84 20 December 2009 10:50:18AM -1 points [-]

brazil84's points 1, 2, and 3 are false in my opinion

Well, do you agree that one of the residents of the flat stated that (1) she left her room without clothing strewn all over it; and (2) there were valuables in plain view which were not taken?

Do you agree that a second floor window was broken? Do you agree that the same window was visible from the street?

In short, I would like to know exactly where you disagree with the points I raised.

And please don't simply offer explanations for these things based on the evidence in its totality. I raised these points to show that there was physical crime scene evidence which supports reasonable suspicion of Knox and Sollecito.

And then, possibly, and unfortunately for them, Amanda or Rafael brought the mop >back to Amanda's apartment shortly before the police arrived

Again, please keep in mind that I raised these points with respect to the issue of whether there were grounds to suspect Knox and Sollecito based on the crime scene evidence.

If you would like to jump to a discussion of Knox's (and Sollecito's) guilt or innocence based on all the evidence in its totality, that's fine, but in that case we need to consider ALL the evidence, which includes evidence that was subsequently developed against Knox and Sollecito.

Comment author: Feh 24 December 2009 10:12:28AM *  0 points [-]

I agree that truejustice.org reported that one of the residents stated that she left her room without clothing strewn about and that she left valuables in plain sight that were not taken. I fail to see the relevance to Amanda, especially if the valuables were not clearly valuable or were easily traceable (e.g., the valuables could have been jewelry, which the murderer may have believed risky to fence or believed to be worthless costume jewelry.) Cash was taken.

I agree that a second floor window was broken and that there was easy access to said window from the side/trellis. I fail to see the relevance to Amanda.

You are implicitly referencing the glass-on-clothes argument. I am unmoved by this evidence that the window was broken from the inside because:

  1. Glass fragments could wind up on top of clothes even if the window was broken from the outside. The clothes weren't strewn about before the incident, so, if the glass were broken from the outside then the clothes would have been strewn about after the glass fragments were on the floor, allowing fragments to roll up on top of clothes.

  2. The murderer's objective after the crime seems to have been to delay discovery of the body. The murderer went into the bathroom outside the victim's room to clean himself, then went back into the victim's room, locked the door, and exited through the window. Therefore, even if the window was broken from the inside, which I really, really doubt, it makes sense from the murderer's perspective. Amanda and her boyfriend, on the other hand, sped the discovery of the body by calling the police (although, ironically, other police were already on their way.)

  3. I'm kind of assuming the victim had a European style door lock, which can only be locked from inside, rather than American style door lock, which can be locked before exiting. But if it's true that it was a lock-from-inside style lock, then there is something wrong with the prosecutors. The prosecutors implied there was no way to get in or out of this room through the window (which wasn't true, but never mind), so what happened to the criminal in their estimation? Did he teleport out?

Comment author: brazil84 24 December 2009 11:12:10AM 0 points [-]

Cash was taken.

From the room which was ransacked? If so, this would change my assessment of that aspect of the staging issue.

went back into the victim's room, locked the door, and exited through the window. >Therefore, even if the window was broken from the inside

It seems you are under the impression that the ransacking and broken window were in the victim's bedroom. As far as I know, that's incorrect.

Comment author: Jonathan_Graehl 02 February 2010 09:14:04PM 2 points [-]

Regardless of whether a break-in was actually staged (I don't care), have you ever had your home burgled? I have; they took a few dollars worth of laundry quarters in plain sight, rummaged through some random areas (some drawers, shelves, under the bed, and neglected to take anything else, including electronics, cheap jewelry, and a few hundred dollars cash in a desk drawer.

Comment author: brazil84 03 February 2010 12:03:36AM 0 points [-]

Regardless of whether a break-in was actually staged (I don't care), have you ever had your home burgled?

Never (as far as I know).