“Two traces of blood, identical to those detected in Meredith’s apartment, have been found in the neighbours house,
on the lower floor of the country house of Via Saint’Antonio, which was rented out to four students from Marche…..”
What happened downstairs at Via della Pergola 7? Did Rudy Guede break-in for a change of clothing and the police covered it up? For the prosecution, the mess and blood in the apartment was all from a cat. The mystery of the downstairs apartment was part of the defense case at trial and many witnesses were questioned about it. It was also part of Giulia Bongiorno’s closing arguments at the Massei trial where she told the court an intruder had been in the apartment on the night of the murder. Below is a detailed analysis of the statements, testimony, lab work and photographs concerning the Meredith Kercher murder downstairs crime scene.
Detective Lorena Zugarini breaks into the downstairs apartment
The police quickly focused their attention on the outside grounds of the cottage, where they located a series of apparent blood drops leading down the steps and toward the entrance of the downstairs apartment [Exhibit Nos. 8, 9, 10]. Disgraced detectives Monica Napoleoni and Lorena Zugarini (who lost their jobs for misconduct in another case) broke into the apartment where there was blood drops in the bedroom, hall and bathroom [Exhibit Nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 28].
The outside/downstairs samples were an early focus of the investigation. Lab technician Patrizia Stefanoni can be heard on the telephone on November 3 speaking of the urgent need to test blood samples. Indeed, the laboratory records demonstrate that the downstairs/outside samples were the first traces tested by the Scientific Police: 11 of the 13 Exhibits [Exhibit Nos. 3 and 9 were never tested] of presumed blood collected from downstairs/outside yielded 28 separate traces (i.e., individual samples for analysis), all of which were analyzed on November 5-6. [See Chart]
On November 6, the police announced the arrest of Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba. The downstairs/outside forensics results were not presented at the pre-trial detention hearing on November 8. Thereafter, the downstairs apartment and outside steps were effectively abandoned as a part of the prosecution’s crime theory. It should be noted that while the downstairs apartment showed no visible sign of a break-in, Meredith was in possession of a key to the apartment which the police claim to have recovered in the upstairs apartment on November 6. It’s possible Guede entered the apartment in need of clean clothes since he admitted being covered in blood and had to get back to his apartment without attracting attention to himself. Any evidence of Rudy Guede or Meredith Kercher’s blood downstairs would mean he broke-in there as well and the case against Knox and Sollecito would have collapsed.
The Statements of Rudy Guede
Before the murder:
I went downstairs to the guys’ place, but no one was there either. So then, I waited in the yard.
After the murder:
I was covered with blood.
And who was in the house below when I left?
I left the house in shock. I was outside, but didn’t know where to go, seeing still all that blood. It was all so red. I thought of going home. I had wet trousers and tried to cover it with the sweatshirt. There were a lot of people in the street, in Piazza Grimana. There were some guys still playing basketball even though it was dark.
I arrived back home, not knowing what to do. I remember having taken off my pants. I changed only those, because of the clothes I was wearing, only the trousers were dirty. I put on the “Pelle Pelle” ones, I remember because many of my friends said they looked like pajamas. I washed my hands, they were full of blood, in the sink, and I left. I just wasn’t able to stay home. It seemed I was seeing blood everywhere.
Rudy Guede Deposition March 26th, 2008 p59-60
Guede: When Meredith was no longer… at a certain point she… like, I don’t know how to define it, she had like… at a certain point it’s like she slipped away and in that moment I didn’t know what to do, so many thoughts came to mind, I didn’t know whether to go into the street and shout that something had happened, at a certain point I panicked and I said to myself “here no one will believe me” because I repeat, I had blood on my hands, I went down on my knee… when I placed the cushion, I had this left part of my foot, of the left knee anyway that had become drenched because I placed myself next to her trying to help her… I had so many thoughts come to my mind until at a certain point the thing which frightened me the most is that I heard from the floor below, or rather below the house, below as if someone was moving a table, a chair, that classic noise that you hear, and there I became frightened that I wouldn’t be believed about what had happened.
Mignini: Then there was someone else that had gone below?
Guede: I heard a noise as if someone had gone below.
Attorney: Who was going towards…
Mignini: The apartment of the guys.
Attorney: Towards the apartment of the guys or towards the road?
Guede: No, towards the apartment of the guys was my perception… It was as if someone was moving…
Mignini: Yes, then you left.
*Notice Mignini gives him the answer instead of asking if it was him who entered the apartment.
Witness Statements To Police
I left the duvet over the two bed cushions to avoid them getting covered with dust.
I don’t know what to say regarding the blue pillowcase stained with blood because it was hanging and clean when I left.
I don’t know how to explain the traces of blood on my duvet given that my door was locked with a key as well as the window.
When I was leaving, there was no blood on the floor in the house; on the walls, perhaps there were small spots caused by insects.
The black cat actually has an injured ear but I am not aware that it has dripped blood.
I am astonished by the fact you have told me, that there is a lot of blood on Stefano’s bed.
I have never seen any stain of blood on the light switch in the hall.
Crime Scene Video
- The bedroom at 2.13 is Stefano Bonassi’s which he says was locked with a key and in “perfect order” when he left on October 28;
- The bedroom at 4.22 is Ricardo’s. The other roommates had urinated on the floor which is what the camera guy is looking at. There’s glass shards on the floor at 4.42 & 5.29;
- At 7.04 there’s clothes on the floor and a blue pillow case with blood on it which Bonassi said was hanging on the line above to dry when he left.
Crime Scene Photos
The Lab Work
The relevant lab records (“SAL’s”) were not disclosed until 2009, and then revealed that each of the 28 downstairs/outside Exhibits had been subjected to a presumptive test for blood (TMB), and 20 of the traces returned a positive result, indicating the likely presence of hemoglobin. The SAL characterized 18 of these as species-specific to “cat/gatto” but gave no further detail as to alleged species-specific blood testing. Curiously, Stefanoni testified that the “cat blood” had been deposited sometime after the police broke into the downstairs apartment, but before they collected the samples. Testimony by the residents of the downstairs apartment casts doubt on the theory that a cat been wounded sufficiently to have deposited all of the blood stains from downstairs/outside.
The question remains: were the downstairs samples really “cat blood”? The Scientific Police’s records are inconclusive and their actions suggest that they did not believe the samples were “cat blood”:
- No species-specific blood test was observed by the defense, no methodology to identify species is disclosed in the SALs, and no corresponding test records have been produced.
- The lab did not stop testing the samples that its records now say are “cat blood” (as would be expected if it believed it was dealing with cat samples), but instead, the lab subjected all of these traces to subsequent human-specific DNA analysis (Real Time PCR amplification and STR amplification).
The results of the Lab’s DNA testing undercut the suggestion that a species-specific blood test was performed, leading to a proper identification of all of the blood-positive samples as “cat blood”:
- Only 2 of the 18 “cat blood” traces failed to quantify at least some human DNA.
- Of the 20 blood-positive traces, 8 had sufficient quantity of human DNA such that, per the Lab’s practice, they could be genetically profiled. Of these 8 traces, the Lab records suggest that at least 6 were genetically-profiled (via STR analysis), but none of the ensuing 6 profiles have been disclosed by the prosecution.
It is implausible that some of the items identified as “cat blood”would actually have been deposited by a cat or that a cat could bleed from the ear that much:
- Item Nos. 8, 9 and 10 form a path of 10 apparent freshblood drops leading down the steps to the entry door to the downstairs apartment. The number and placement of drops appears too profuse to be from a cat. In addition, the drops are wide and diffuse, suggesting that they might not represent drops of pure blood, but rather, blood thinned with water.
- Item No. 28 is a lightswitch on the wall of the downstairs apartment. The lightswitch samples are the only blood samples from inside of the downstairs apartment that are not identified as cat’s blood.
- The blood samples and their arrangement in the bedding may be too profuse to have been deposited by a cat.
There are irregularities in the analysis of some of the “cat blood” items, which suggest that there could have been problems with the lab analyses:
- Of the 10 traces forming the path down the steps and to the entry door to the downstairs apartment, 8 were negative for blood and 2 were positive for blood, even though all traces obviously derive from a common source. Further, 5 of these traces quantified at least some human DNA via Real Time PCR. Two of the blood-negative traces quantified asufficient quantity of human DNA that per the Lab’s practice, they could be genetically profiled, and yet, no corresponding profiles were produced.
- The two profiles apparently generated from the lightswitch traces (positive for blood, no species identified) appear to be missing from the prosecution’s document production.
Testimony of Patrizia Stefanoni May 22, 2009 p12
ANSWER – It has unfortunately happened also in this case that a kitten drove us crazy, because initially during the inspection, the inspection inside the house on Via della Pergola, hence the house where the corpse has been found, unfortunately we had been greatly led astray, almost fooled by the fact that a cat, evidently wounded, had introduced itself in the apartment let’s say on the floor below the victim’s one [apartment], evidently there were glasses on the ground, broken [glasses] in other words which had been produced by entering in the apartment, because the keys could not be found, and therefore this kitten unfortunately wounded itself and left blood everywhere, obviously forcing us to do a mad sampling work since we thought that somebody clearly…..in other words I don’t know….connected to the crime [had wounded himself or had been wounded] and hence had bled, instead it had indeed been a kitten. After the determination of the first analysis on these samples, on the nature and typology, [then] comes the out-and-out first treatment, which is that of abstraction.
Testimony of Professor Adriano Tagliabracci – Consultant (Sollecito defense), September 14, 2009
Bongiorno: Can we continue that way we can get on to the …
Consultant: Instead the other, the last report which was submitted regarding this, this sheet here which is a report from the Real Time PCR is a machine…
Bongiorno: Can you speak louder into the microphone otherwise they go mad trying to transcribe, real…
Consultant: Real Time PCR that is a more refined piece of equipment which is based on a different technique which is able to… it’s specific for human DNA that can only give a positive result for higher primates, such as apes but certainly dogs and cats for example would not give a result.
Bongiorno: Of course.
Consultant: If it had been the DNA of a dog or cat we wouldn’t have obtained a result, it’s specific for human DNA indeed as indicated below. So moving on, here there are some things basically that are different with respect to what is recommended by the manufacturer because there is a preliminary cycle of 2 minutes which is not recommended, then the manual expects 40 cycles instead in this report and in the others there were 50 cycles done but in reality these are things of minor importance.
Bongiorno: Can we continue?
Consultant: So to summarize from the documentation that was produced it’s not possible to obtain this information, the reactive mix as we mentioned the volume before the reaction, the quantity of DNA that was utilized for the PCA for amplification, if there had been any variations from protocol with respect to the manual, such as if they performed concentrations on the DNA that was extracted, those initial 50 microliters if they were concentrated before or after the quantification, whether this happened or not is not mentioned in the report…
LAWYER BONGIORNO – I read 2.
CONSULTANT- Then it is finding 2, ah excuse me finding 2 seen below, finding 2 which refers to the… to the blood which was found and upon which immunological tests were done which resulted in animal blood, of cat.
LAWYER BONGIONO- Of cat.
CONSULTANT- Yes, yes, they were…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- So now we are analyzing cat blood.
CONSULTANT- It is shown in the report and it was examined through antibodies, human, dog, and cat antibodies, it tested negative for human and dog antibodies, instead it was positive for cat antibodies, so it is the blood of a cat. A quantization by Real Time PCR was also done, which I repeat is specific to man, man is the reaction specific to this sample 47032 …
LAWYER BONGIORNO- What does man specific mean?
CONSULTANT- It means that a positive result is found only if it is blood, human biological material, human biological material.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Yes, I understood.
CONSULTANT- I repeat this resulted negative in confrontation…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- With cat.
CONSULTANT- Positive for cat, negative for man, here one does the quantification with a method specific for man and the result is that it is DNA.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Excuse me professor…
CONSULTANT- It is human DNA
LAWYER BONGIORNO- So I wonder how it is possible that the findings in report 2 on one side are positive and therefore would seem to be due to a cat and at the same time can be attributed to a man by what you are saying?
CONSULTANT- The hypothesis are varied, but what amazes me even more is that what is being reported in the technical report is completely different from the results of the report.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Why?
CONSULTANT- Because it is written in the technical report, “all three traces of blood belonging to exhibit 2 have been attributed to cat’s blood, the test confirmed by the negative results obtained for DNA quantification”, but where is the negative result obtained for DNA quantitation ? Here the result is positive for this trace.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- So Professor…
CONSULTANT- i.e. this…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- In order to understand a little better…
CONSULTANT- It is not correct. This is the opposite.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- So under this profile, you contest the annotations in the technical report where it says “all of the traces of blood in report 2 are attributable to cat blood” noting that it is the opposite of the data…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Which is indicated on the same page because in reality it tested positive for human?
PRESIDENT- Can you tell us the page number of the report in order to facilitate…of the technical report…
CONSULTANT- Um now…
PRESIDENT- Whatever, if you don’t have it now we will find it…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- 21
PRESIDENT- 21 Thank you.
CONSULTANT- Page 21? So here there is something that does not correspond with that which is reported in these famous documents which we… that you have requested for so long, it does not correspond here, we have also seen before what the problems are…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Therefore Professor, in order to understand, on page 21 of the technical report of Dr. Stefanoni, you have found a discrepancy in the notations about the blood…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Attributed to a cat because at least one test resulted compatible with a human?
CONSULTANT- Yes to explain. There could also be a normal explanation.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Such as?
CONSULTANT- I think it was extracted from the mattress so if the mattress… if a human slept there they would have left human epithelial cells on it, going back to the epithelial cells of the other… she left the epithelial cells for which there was a negative result for anti-human because that serum is used on the blood but there were however epithelial cells which had given a positive result to the next quantization: I repeat desquamated epithelial cells on the mattress, this is probably the reason but if I were to be challenging and to do my duty as the technical consultant for the Defense I could also say “there has been a contamination in the laboratory, human DNA has been introduced into the tube where the quantization was made”, uh because I cannot exclude that seeing that…
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Now regardless of the solutions that you can give the fact is that in any case there is a description that does not match the data.
CONSULTANT- It does not correspond.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Then the interpretation could be either that which is more negative and malicious of the technical consultant or that which is more positive of a banal error, but either way the error is documented.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Let’s go forward.
CONSULTANT- These are the conclusions regarding these documents that, like we have already said, the documentation produced could be incomplete, because I repeat, I am not able to explain how one can keep in mind all of the completed examinations regarding concentrations, volumes etc…etc.. when we have in front of ourselves hundreds of exhibits, there is a lack of traceability in all of the analytical examinations, I repeat the concept is like a clinic file which follows the patient during recovery. The s.a.l. , or other documentation which should follow the findings throughout the analytical phase, is not there. A part is missing. Contradictions exist between what is reported in the technical report, the laboratory documentation and what is being said at the hearing and then I insist in my hypothesis of the hearing that regarding the sample 165B we are facing a situation of low copy number with too small amounts of the sample, which are found to be at a quantity below 200 picograms.
LAWYER BONGIORNO- Professor in light of this analysis, therefore, since you have done this documentation I ask two things: if I had been able to deliver this documentation before hand, could you have done a more complete analysis and, however I believe that we have already explained with precision, exactly what is lacking and in what places?
Consultant – What is missing affects the interpretation and assessment of the result, these are results which need to be clearly backed up through an analytic approach which does not appear to be documented here, not only does it not appear to be documented but there are actually things affirmed that are different to what is reported in the… in these reports which have been shown.
Lawyer Bongiorno – Do you have other things to add about your slides?
Consultant – No
Lawyer Bongiorno – I’ve finished your Honor.
Testimony of Marco Marzan – downstairs resident, 23 June 2009 p17
Ghirga: Let’s go back to the cats that were present in your apartment.
Ghirga: You said you had two. I recall, one was with stripes?
Ghirga: Did it have problems with wounds, of…
Marzan: No, the black cat had problems with wounds, yes.
Ghirga: What kind of wounds did the black cat have?
Marzan: It had a wound on its ear
Ghirga: Do you remember if it was bleeding?
Marzan: Yes, it was bleeding.
Ghirga: I have to inform you that you responded: “I’m not aware of it dripping blood”, in the circumstance… [of a previous deposition to the Police – translator’s note]
Marzan: Dripping, I don’t remember.
Ghirga: Can I read it, your Honor?
Judge Massei: Of course, statement of? The date, Counsel.
Ghirga: 3 November, 18:40, questioning at the Police Station. To the question he responds: “Actually the black cat has a wound on the ear, but I’m not aware that he was dripping blood”. If you’d like to explain to the Court.
Marzan: I recall that it had a wound on the ear, but between having a wound and bleeding, and dripping blood there’s a difference. The wound would have to be considerable for it to actually drip blood days later, basically.
Judge Massei: Was this cat losing blood?
Marzan: Honestly I don’t remember, it had some blood on the ear, I don’t remember if it was dripping or not.
Ghirga: No, … ok, it’s strange this thing …
Ghirga: Ok, I missed a question earlier about the blood, if I remember well, and then I’ve finished, your Honor. To a question of the Police of 3 November you respond, and we don’t know what the question was: “I’m surprised at the fact that you tell me that…”, seeing as you distinguish between dripping, losing blood, etc, etc, “I’m surprised at the fact that you tell me that on Stefano’s bed there is a lot of blood”. This response that you gave can help you remember better, can you clarify better if the wound was bleeding, not bleeding? You are surprised about there being lots of blood.
Intervention: (not picked up by microphone)
Ghirga: OK, I had said that he distinguishes between dripping, losing blood.
Judge Massei: Excuse me, Counsel, let’s stick to asking questions. Continue.
Marzan: Look, the wound that the cat had on the ear wasn’t so significant to leave a mattress drenched in blood.
Ghirga: No more questions, your Honor.
Rocchi: Listen, before leaving, leaving the apartment, was there cat’s blood in the apartment or in any case were there drops of blood, spots of blood in the apartment?
Marzan: I don’t remember, however it was very probable, or rather, it would often happen that it was necessary to kill dozens of insects that every day flew about our house.
Rocchi: On the day of the 3rd, when you were questioned, you said: “When I left there was no blood on the floor of the house, on the walls maybe there were small spots of blood caused by the insects”. So do you confirm?
Marzan: I confirm.
Rocchi: So, when you left the apartment, there was blood in the apartment, spots of blood?
Marzan: I… as far as I remember, no.
Rocchi: Listen, were you told, when you were questioned by the investigators, if there were spots of blood on the light switch of the sitting room (not heard)?
Marzan: Sorry, I didn’t understand.
Rocchi: If there were spots of blood on the light switch of the sitting room. Were you told this?
Marzan: If I was told this or if I remember if there were patches of blood?
Marzan: Ehm… I mean, I absolutely don’t remember if there were patches of blood on the… I mean, the insects can be swatted anywhere, because the insects can be swatted anywhere, so I can’t know if one of my flat mates swatted an insect on the light switch.
Rocchi: Excuse me, but do you consider a spot left by a swatted insect a drop of blood?
Marzan: No, no, I said that I never saw drops.
Rocchi: So can you tell me if you were told that there was… do you remember if you were told that there were patches of blood on the light switch of the sitting room?
Marzan: yes, I was told this.
Rocchi: Did you remember?
Crime Scene Videos
The original crime scene video, minus frames showing Meredith’s body: