Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito; Billy Wayne Cope; The Norfolk Four; Insightful Huffington Post commentary makes the telling point that "convictions are on shaky ground when prosecutors have to explain away "conspiracy theories" in order to save them or are constantly switching theories to explain away DNA." Professor Steve Drizen and Hannah Riley;

POST: "Knox and Sollecito: Victims of a prosecutor's 'conspiracy theories' to explain away DNA," by Professor Steve Drizen, and Hannah Riley, published by the Huffington Post on February 12, 2014;  Steven A. Drizin is the former Legal Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law and is one of Billy Wayne Cope's appellate attorneys. Hannah Riley is a Communications Associate at the Innocence Project. She has worked independently on Knox and Sollecito's case, and the opinions expressed here are hers and not necessarily those of the organization."

GIST: "Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent of Meredith Kercher's murder. Rudy Guede sexually assaulted and killed Kercher after she came upon him burglarizing the house she shared with Knox and two other young women. The easiest way for us to clarify their innocence is to examine the case in the context of our work on false confessions and the lessons we have learned from working in the Innocence Movement.  In the annals of false confessions, there are only two other cases that rival the Knox case: the Billy Wayne Cope case and the Norfolk Four case. These three are the only rape-murder cases in which prosecutors continued to pursue convictions against an original suspect who "confessed" even after DNA testing conducted before trial matched to a different person who had little or no connection to the original suspects. When such DNA evidence surfaces before trial, prosecutors almost always drop charges against the original suspects and pursue the man whose DNA is a match. That the prosecutors in these cases didn't and that juries convicted Knox, Sollecito, the Norfolk Four, and Cope speaks to the power of confession evidence to blind them to the truth.........The hopes and fates of Knox, Sollecito, the Norfolk Four, and Billy Wayne Cope now depend on the willingness of Italian and American authorities and courts to learn what the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in Corley v. United States in 2009: The pressures of police interrogations are so immense that they can induce "a frighteningly high percentage of false confessions." There's a second lesson that they must also learn: When DNA evidence tells a different story than a confession, the DNA should trump the confession. That's why DNA is the gold standard. Confessions, however, are often no more than "Fool's gold." Finally, perhaps the most enduring lesson from the study of wrongful conviction cases is that convictions are on shaky ground when prosecutors have to invent "conspiracy theories" in order to save them or are constantly switching theories to explain away DNA."

The entire post  can be found at:


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