Has Mignini had his chips?

A potato, yesterday.

A potato, yesterday.

If you’re someone who has been following the Meredith Kercher case closely, then chances are you will at some point looked at Frank Sfarzo’s blog. And, regardless of what you make of Frank’s views on the case, you probably didn’t find the experience at all time-wasting. It’s an entertaining blog with lots of interesting information regarding the case. More to the point, Frank has a track-record for scooping everyone when it comes to new developments. Apparently, even Giuliano Mignini, the chief prosecutor in the case, keeps his eye on Frank’s blog.

So, it is certainly possible that Frank is onto something with his recent claim that analysts in Rome have found starch on the knife alleged to have been used by Amanda Knox to stab Meredith Kercher.

But how significant is this revelation? Frank suggests two theories as to how the starch got there. It could be that there has been lab contamination from starch used on latex gloves. But wouldn’t it be surprising for a DNA lab to be routinely using gloves capable of causing contamination? More likely, I think, is the idea that the starch has simply come from food. The knife in question is, after all, a kitchen knife.

It seems that the starch found is unlikely to have come from bread. Frank suggests pasta. However, on the basis of nothing in particular, I’m going with the theory that what we are dealing with is the residue from a humble potato.

Perhaps the defence lawyers will be able to make something of this. If the knife really was used in the murder, it’s obvious that it must have been fairly thoroughly cleaned shortly thereafter, since there was no blood visible when the police bagged it. But if there’s tiny bits of potato on the knife, then surely it can’t have been cleaned all that thoroughly after all. That’s a possibility that could really make mash out of this particular element of the prosecution case.

According to Frank, though, there were only five picograms of starch on the knife. A picogram is one trillionth of a gram, so we really are talking about very small potatoes here. In all likelihood, this amount of starch, wherever it came from, is not going to turn the case on its head. Sorry to have you read all this only to have you realise that I’m simply speculating wildly about nothing very much. But I’m a blogger. It’s what I’m here for.

On the other hand, Frank is a blogger too. Why assume that he is right on all the details? Maybe the quantity of starch found is greater than his information suggests and prosecutor Mignini may need to get his jacket after all.


3 Responses to Has Mignini had his chips?

  1. 2catsintheyard says:

    The police used latex gloves which are visible in the videos of evidence collection–I suspect the starch grains came from those gloves.

    • maundy says:

      Yes, it seems that may be possible. Apparently some latex gloves have a starch-based coating. I would have thought that any lab where contamination is a particular concern would avoid these, though. So, as I say above, I think starch on a kitchen knife coming from food is more likely. I could be wrong, though.

      Like your username.

  2. maundy,

    Not only was there no visible blood, but tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) showed that there was no blood down to its limit of detection. This is a very sensitive test for small amounts of blood.

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