Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Amanda Knox: Steven Drizen and Hannah Riley explain why misguided prosecutors use conspiracy theories to explain away DNA - and how Knox and Sollecito became victims of police tunnel vision and confirmation bias. (A brilliant piece. Should be read by anyone who has the slightest doubt about their innocence. Must, Must Read. HL);

POST: "Prosecutor's 'conspiracy theories' to explain away DNA," by Steven Drizen and Hannah Riley, published by the Huffington Post on April 20, 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.........Once the DNA matched Guede (and after he admitted Knox was innocent via Skype), the authorities should have released Knox and Sollecito and focused their sole attention on Guede, who, like Ballard and Sanders, was a lone-wolf predator. But police tunnel vision and confirmation bias took over. Tunnel vision transpires when police lock onto a theory of how a crime occurred, thereby blinding themselves to other alternatives. Confirmation bias causes them to interpret evidence in ways that support their theory and to ignore or reject evidence that does not.
Unfortunately, for Knox and Sollecito, tunnel vision and confirmation biases are human conditions which mean that judges and juries experience them, especially in cases where confessions are involved. For years, judges and jury members have taken confessions as the gospel truth because they cannot accept that someone would ever confess to a crime -- especially a murder or rape -- that they did not commit. The truth is that there have been hundreds of proven false confessions discovered in the post-DNA age and over 80 percent of them have been in murder cases. 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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