Friends of Amanda Knox video: Steve Moore

Steve Moore

Steve Moore is a retired FBI agent who first became involved with Friends of Amanda Knox by writing a set of essays for their Injustice in Perugia website, setting out his view of the investigation into Meredith Kercher’s death as corrupt and abusive. He has since talked about the case on a number of TV networks in the US. His interest in the case led to him being fired last year from his job as deputy director of security at Pepperdine University, California, where his bosses felt his work was being adversely affected.

How credible people find Moore tends to be predicated on what they make of his background. For Knox’s supporters, Moore’s 25 years’ FBI experience makes him supremely qualified to judge the Italian investigation. He’s their star turn. Doubters, on the other hand, will say that a lot of people have worked for the FBI and all Moore has done is watch some crime scene footage on YouTube, which isn’t necessarily a ready route to gaining complete insight. Maybe it is best not to think about who is right, but to just watch the video of his presentation for Friends of Amanda Knox.

Moore begins by explaining how he originally thought Knox was guilty. But his wife strongly felt that Knox was innocent and, after two months of thinking about it, he realised that his wife was right. I know the feeling, Steve.

He goes on to outline what he feels is a central problem with the investigative approach take in the case. Sherlock Holmes famously said: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. Moore’s maxim as an investigator provides an interesting counterpoint: “When you hear the sound of hooves outside, think horses not zebras”. In other words, go with your gut instinct and ignore anything you think is improbable.

With reference to the Kercher case, the horse is Knox’s co-accused Rudy Guede because, according to Moore, he was a prolific criminal who had committed five or six burglaries in the month prior to the murder. This in itself is a little bit bold. Defence lawyers for Knox and Sollecito put forward some circumstantial evidence that may or may not connect him to two unsolved burglaries, but he didn’t have a criminal record prior to Kercher’s death.

That aside, Moore’s logic seems surprising for an experienced investigator. The key originating problem in the Italian investigation was, in his view, that, once they had a suspect who may have had a criminal history, they did not regard that as telling them everything they needed to know about the case.

Next, Moore gives an explanation as to why there cannot have been a crime scene clean-up at the flat using bleach: it would have been easily detected by investigators and it wasn’t. As far as I can tell, this is fine, although, since the investigators didn’t detect a bleach clean-up, it is not entirely clear why Moore thinks it is important to stress why there couldn’t have been one.

Bleach was present, according to Moore, in the bathroom. Footprints matching Knox and Sollecito found in the flat were detected using a chemical called luminol. This is usually taken to indicate the presence of blood. But, as Moore points out, it can also indicate the presence of bleach. Knox testified that she had showered the day after the murder. If we assume that the shower in the flat had been recently cleaned with a product containing bleach then that could explain the footprints.

That could be a viable alternative hypothesis. There are three questions, though, that I think would need answering before I can start to take it seriously. Firstly, Knox’s footprints were not found in the bathroom, but one in the hall just outside Kercher’s room and one just inside Knox’s room, which was adjacent. It’s easy to imagine Knox getting out of the shower and walking down the hall to her room, leaving gradually fainter footprints as she went. But how is it that she left no footprints between the shower and Kercher’s door? Secondly, the footprints did test positive for DNA. How is this explained? Thirdly, presumably what we are talking about with the shower hypothesis is not bleach but water with a tiny amount of bleach in it. Would this still show up in a luminol test? I just don’t know.

Along the way, Moore lets slip something that I think is quite damaging for his credibility. The way he explains the testing, luminol is a presumptive test. It doesn’t tell you that a substance is blood, only that this is likely. A second test, using a chemical called TMB, is needed in order to confirm that the substance definitely is blood (a confirmatory test). The footprints tested negative using TMB, so they were not blood. They must have been something else (bleach, for example). He even goes so far as to accuse the police expert, Patrizia Stefanoni, of purgery, since, the way he sees it, she must have known about the “negative test for blood”.

What Moore ought to understand, had he the relevant experience, is that TMB is also a presumptive testing agent. Although, like luminol, it is commonly described as a “test for blood”, it’s really just a double-check in this case. The negative result, on its own, would suggest the absence of blood. But, when you’re dealing with microscopic quantities, as in this case, a first presumptive test being positive and a second being negative is usually just taken as a failure of the second test. Knox’s own scientific expert, Sarah Gino, was asked about this during the trial, and she simply replied that it happens about half of the time.

It’s not all bad news for Moore, though. TMB doesn’t detect bleach, so his theory remains viable, assuming the presence of bleach is reasonably likely and the presence of DNA can be accounted for. But his understanding of the science seems more like it was acquired from the University of Google than from the FBI.

Things don’t get much better when Moore gives his explanation of why the “burglary” in the flat, claimed by the prosecution to have been staged, wasn’t staged at all. He highlights a piece of glass embedded in the inside shutter of the window that was broken, suggesting that this proves that it was broken from the outside. But it is obvious from the photos in his own presentation that it would have been possible to achieve this from inside the room. Besides which, I don’t think it would be beyond the wit of Knox and Sollecito, if they did stage the break-in, to have realised that it would be a good idea to throw a rock from the outside. There would have been only a slight risk of being seen.

Moore’s treatment of the fact that the glass shards from the window were found on top of the clothes scattered around the room (i.e. the window was broken before the room was ransacked) seems very confused. His conclusion seems to be that glass on top of the clothes is to be expected because, if the room was ransacked after the window was broken, glass under the clothes is just what you would expect to find. Watch that section of the video for yourself. It’s around the 56 minute mark. The PowerPoint heading as he speaks says: “A no-brainer”. I couldn’t possibly comment.

After opining that is is impossible to cut someone horizontally if you are in front of them (I haven’t yet found anyone willing to let me test this theory out on them), Moore moves on to what ought to be, in my view, the centrepiece of his presentation, but is instead just tagged onto the end.

There are what seem to be various legitimate questions (I don’t claim to know the legitimate answers) about how well investigators minimised the risk of evidence being compromised at the crime scene. For example, as Moore mentions, a crucial piece of Kercher’s bra was initially left on the floor and not collected for analysis. Without doubt, that is not the hallmark of a flawless investigation.

Moore focuses, though, on the results of his own research. He claims that investigators should have regularly changed shoe-covers, but didn’t. He says that the cover-alls they were wearing were not suitable for use at a crime scene. For all I know, he may be quite correct. But by this point in the presentation, I’m not really prepared to take Moore’s word for anything.

The tragedy of this presentation is that there are undoubtedly arguments in defence of Amanda Knox that could have been brought out but, instead, we got served a coulis of stuff off the Internet. Regardless of her guilt or innocence, she deserves better.

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24 Responses to Friends of Amanda Knox video: Steve Moore

  1. RoseMontague says:

    I noticed you gave Moore’s employer’s reason for his firing but not Moore’s version. In all fairness you should give both sides of that dispute.

    I am not a huge fan of Steve Moore either, although I thought his post at IIP on the interrogation of Knox was informative. Perhaps that is more along his area of expertise as far as investigation and interrogation rather that the technical aspects of the science and forensics questions that other experts may be better informed about.

    I wanted to apologize for the lack of paragraphs in my last comment on the previous post. When typing a html comment I am used to using the (br) html tag for a line break, which is not on the list below (LOL). You should add that one as well as a preview function (please).

    Rose

  2. bucketoftea says:

    Hi Maundy.

    The way luminol reacts with bleach is acknowledged and dealt with by using this test after some time has passed because bleach dissipates. If there had been bleach used in the cleanup, it would have been gone by the time they tested weeks later. The prosecution’s case does not include anything about bleach being used to clean the crime scene. Moore must be arguing with himself here. Again.

  3. Charlene Plotts says:

    Good luck with your new blog. I am relatively new to this sad case, and have read about it over the last few months until my head hurt. But I must say, your little gem about AK and RS having the wits to throw the stone from OUTSIDE the cottage is something I have not read before, and never considered myself.
    Spot on! My head hurts again because when I read this, I smacked my forehead and said, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

  4. Sane says:

    Regarding the window breaking – central argument for the staging was the police’s claim that they saw no glass under the window outside. That’s where the ridiculous theory of breaking the window from the inside against the closed shutter originated from. If the judge allowed the (quite sensible) idea that the window was in fact broken from the outside then there is no way to claim staging anymore. Guede could have either broken the window and climbed in or break it and then get inside by e.g. lock bumping the front door.

    • Charlene Plotts says:

      I’m trying to understand your comment. Could you please explain what lock bumping is? I’ve never heard this term, and I’m trying to get a picture.
      Thank you

    • maundy says:

      Hi Sane.

      Just from looking at the pictures in Moore’s presentation, it seems clear to me that there are three ways the window could have been broken. One is from the outside. A second is from the inside with the window and inside shutter opened inwards. A third is from the inside with the inside shutters open and the window and outside shutters closed. I can’t see anything that tells me which of those options is more likely. The embedded glass pointed out by Moore only really excludes the scenario where the windows were closed and all the shutters were open.

      I think the police’s theory was not about seeing no glass under the window, but about seeing no glass further forward than the outside shutters would have allowed if they were closed. To me, that’s inconclusive, but it’s worthwhile evidence to suggest that the outside shutters were closed when the window was broken.

      • Bruce Fisher says:

        When looking at the possible scenarios, it is important to look at the glass throughout the room. Both of your scenarios detailing the window being broken from inside are refuted by the position of the glass. If the shutter and window were open inward, then the glass would have fallen to the floor. Whoever broke the window would have then had to pick the glass back up and place it on the ledge. This scenario is further refuted by the glass in the room as mentioned below.

        The scenario regarding closed window and closed outside shutter is also refuted by the glass evidence and also by the lack of any fresh marks on the outside shutter. There was glass seen as far away from the window as the nightstand. This glass clearly shows that the rock was thrown from outside.

        There are too many details to discuss here. Overwhelming evidence shows that the rock was thrown from outside the cottage. Ron Hendry did an excellent analysis for IIP and we have many other photos detailing the window if you are interested.

  5. WSBrown says:

    Hi Maundy. I like your style. I’ve been following this case for a while. Here’s my overall conclusion: AK and RS are seriously involved in the death of Meredith. That 1) there is not abundant amounts of their DNA in Meredith’s room and 2) that as young ‘amateurs’ they have not spilt the beans after all this time means they were not DIRECTLY involved in the killing. In the future I’ll post reasons why I think they were seriously involved if you wish.

    • maundy says:

      Hi WSBrown.

      For what it’s worth, I think that more than one plausible scenario can be put together in which Knox and/or Sollecito are guilty of something but not the precise crime they were convicted of. For example, I don’t think the possibility can entirely be excluded that either one of them may be innocent of the murder but guilty of assisting the other one in a cover-up.

      I the context of a courtroom, I think it is more difficult, though, because some form of positive evidence would need to be available in order to argue such a hypothesis. Theoretical possibility isn’t enough. Besides which, because of the nature of adversarial trials, one side or the other would need to adopt the theory in the first place.

      • WSBrown says:

        Maundy

        I guess I’m coming from this from the point of view of trying to get at the ‘actual truth’ rather than the ‘legal truth’ if that makes sense. To this end here is:

        INTERESTING POINT #1 8.18pm Patrick L sends text to Knox ‘no need to come to work’ 8.35pm Knox texts him back to say ok. The mobile phone towers show that she was actually on a street that leads to Patrick’s club when she received Patrick’s text and yet she says she was at Raffaele’s. Why lie? I think these are 17 crucial minutes where AK made a decision that led to Meredith’s death.

    • RoseMontague says:

      In reference to the cell phone activity of Amanda in your last comment. Massei contradicts himself on this one saying that that tower does cover Raffaelle’s apartment (after saying that it does not). It is a rather obvious error on Massei’s part.

      • WSBrown says:

        Hi RM

        Massei page 322 states Knox was absent from Corso Garibaldi 30 when the 20:18 text was received. Please let us know relevant page of Massei report where that is contradicted. Thanks.

      • WSBrown says:

        Hi again. I have found the confusion RoseM is referring to. Massei states that Sector 9 cell covers Sollecito’s apartment and Sector 3 cell covers road to Lumumba’s. It does indeed later on state Sector 3 covers Sollecito’s. Later in the report Massei makes a case out of the Sector 3 cell covering the road to Lumumba’s and seems very confident about this.

  6. bucketoftea says:

    And good luck. šŸ˜€

  7. Claude the Monkey says:

    I looked at the video at 56 mins like you suggested and you are right. It’s a total facepalm.

    The guy basically says: You wanna know why there was glass on top of the clothes? I’ll tell you why there was glass on top of the clothes. There was glass on the floor and someone threw clothes on top of the glass. That’s why there was glass under the clothes.

    We are discussing the opinions of this person why?

  8. wonderfullone says:

    Moore is an IDIOT.

  9. Bruce Fisher says:

    “The tragedy of this presentation is that there are undoubtedly arguments in defence of Amanda Knox that could have been brought out but, instead, we got served a coulis of stuff off the Internet. Regardless of her guilt or innocence, she deserves better.”

    You write as if Steve was speaking at trial. Steve misspoke about the glass. Happens all the time in speeches. People aren’t perfect. From your tone throughout your articles, along with your new found friendship with Peter Quennell, it is clear what your agenda is. I obviously have no problem with that as it is well known that I am an advocate for Amanda and Raffaele but I do take notice when misinformation is posted online.

    You have based your opinion of Steve Moore on one speech. You also provided false information about his departure from Pepperdine University. In a comment here, you admit that you don’t have much knowledge about Steve’s departure from Pepperdine, yet you wrote about it anyway. I found it interesting that you questioned Steve’s credibility regarding the blood tests and then stated that he may be correct after all. You might want to come up with stronger evidence if you are going to question the credibility of an FBI agent with 25 years experience investigating violent crime.

    Just so we can be clear, luminol testing does not prove that a substance is blood. That is a fact. The stains discussed were tested for the presence of blood and those tests were negative. That is a fact. The truth is the stains detected using lumonol were undated stains that had absolutely nothing to do with the murder.

    • WSBrown says:

      Hi Bruce

      Do you accept that Raffaele Sollecito told the police ‘nothing has been stolen’? when he reported the burglary?

      • Bruce Fisher says:

        I would have to go back and get his exact words but yes I agree that Raffaele told the police that it looked like nothing was stolen.

        What do you think that means?

  10. WSBrown says:

    Massei report (translated) records his words as “No, there has been no theft”. Your version is vaguer which I find significant. Filomena, when she arrived later, confirmed that there was no theft but she was the inhabitant of the room not someone who had reputedly no knowledge of the contents of the room. Given the scenario, I’m struggling to grasp why Raffaelle did not say ‘I don’t know, it’s not my room’.

  11. Harry Rag says:

    Steve Moore has repeatedly got basic facts about the case wrong and made up completely fictitious stories.

    Here are some of his false claims:

    1. The large kitchen knife doesn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.
    2. “They” want you to believe that Amanda Knox inflicted all three wounds on Meredith’s neck.
    3. Meredith had no defensive wounds on her hands.
    4. Rudy Guede left his hair and fluid samples on Meredith’s body.
    5. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito didn’t step into Meredith’s blood and that can’t be avoided.
    6. None of the luminol prints or stains contained Meredith’s DNA.
    7. Mignini coerced Amanda Knox into naming Diya Lumumba as the killer.
    8. Amanda Knox wasn’t given food or drinks when she was questioned by the police.
    9. Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian on 5 November 2007.
    10. Amanda Knox recanted her accusation against Diya Lumumba as soon as she got some food.

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