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Tags Ian Stephen , Jodi Jones , Luke Mitchell , murder cases

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Old 18th July 2019, 05:41 PM   #41
Chris_Halkides
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reasonable doubt and the DNA

Thank you for some clearly written summaries. I know that you are not saying that Steven Kelley is the murderer (and neither am I--there are other reasonable suspects). However, if he were the murderer, it is odd that he would take part in the search for the same reason that you gave for Luke Mitchell. With respect to Mr. Kelley's DNA and semen, what I can say is that if I had been on the jury, it would have alone given me reasonable doubt that Luke Mitchell was the murderer.
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Old 18th July 2019, 06:01 PM   #42
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Why am I still up?

My logic says I am extremely suspicious of Mr Kelly. If you follow the logic of what Sandra Lean is saying, and I do, the absence of Luke's DNA in association with Jodi's body is virtually incredible if he had carried out that brutal murder. But then that point surely applies to everyone else whose DNA wasn't found on the body! I think there was one other profile which wasn't Steven, I need to look that bit up again, and then of course there was James Falconer's used condom near the body. But if we're looking at a huge unlikelihood of the murderer's DNA not being on Jodi's body, well, go figure as they say.

I appreciate there are a lot more factors than that, but goose and gander sauce. If John Ferris or Mark Kane (the defence's two favourites) did it, where is their DNA?

Also, Steven was simply part of the search party. He didn't suggest going over the wall. Left to his own devices he would have continued west along the path with Janine. Indeed, at the point when Luke met up with the other three, at the junction of the paths, there had been some discussion initiated by either Steven or Janine suggesting that they should actually go and look down Lady path, and it was Alice who swayed the decision to go along Roan's Dyke path (back along, in Luke's case).

So I'm looking at Steven Kelly with a very jaundiced eye right now.
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Old 19th July 2019, 05:08 AM   #43
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Before starting on Luke's own account of his movements and his alibi I think we need to drill down a bit more into the Andrina Bryson evidence, and also another alleged eyewitness sighting later in the evening.

I am simply gobsmacked that the time needed for Mrs Bryson to go and look at the house seems to have been airbrushed from the narrative. Her original story was that she drove first to the supermarket, did the shopping, loaded it into the car, then drove to Easthouses where there was a house for sale she was interested in. This wasn't an arranged viewing, she just wanted to take a look at it from the outside. She got a bit lost trying to find the house, but found it, had a look, then drove back home. It was quite clear at that time that she had seen the couple at the eastern end of Roan's Dyke path on her way home, after she'd looked at the house, not on her way to the house.

She said she got home, unloaded the car, put away the shopping, and started to make the tea. Then her phone rang and she took a call. She estimated the call came in about half an hour after she got home, at about 6.20. In fact the call was logged on her phone as 6.17, so she was about right. That would put her return home at about 5.45 to 5.50. She originally said she saw the couple at the path about five or ten minutes before she got home, which is about right for the drive from there to her house. This puts the time of the sighting at about 5.35 to 5.45, without any need to reference the supermarket checkout time.

The till receipt time of 4.45 (and 31 seconds) tallies with Mrs Bryson's own estimate of what she did, giving her 30 to 35 minutes for the actual shopping in the store (she in fact estimated 35 to 45 minutes) and about an hour in total for the drive to Easthouses (12 to 17 minutes each way), the search for the house for sale, time to look at it, and then the drive back home again. If the bank statement time of 4.32 (and 45 seconds) is used instead, this cuts the time for the actual shopping to only 20 minutes maximum, including queueing up for the till and ringing up the purchases. I suppose it depends on how much she bought, but the till receipt tallies better with her own recollection of how the time went.

However, why does it matter? If you take 13 minutes off the time spent in the supermarket, all this does is add 13 minutes to the time spent looking for and looking at the house for sale, because it doesn't affect the timing of her return home. It moves her arrival in Easthouses 13 minutes earlier, but it doesn't change her departure time. And yet it was on her way out of Easthouses that she was supposed to have seen the couple at the end of the path!

Using the bank statement time for the completion of the supermarket shop instead of the till receipt gets her arrival in Easthouses to about 16.53, which is exactly the time the prosecution needed Luke to have been seen at the end of the path with Jodi. But that's not when Mrs Bryson said she saw the people at the path!

Bear in mind that Mrs Bryson was driving her car, with two children in it, one of them only a two-year-old. She didn't stop to scrutinise these people, she simply noticed them as she drove past. The layout of the road is important here. If you're driving south from Easthouses on the road in question, the end of the path is at a fairly sharp bend. In fact at that point the path appears to continue on in a south-west direction while the road makes a fairly sharp left turn to continue in a south-east direction.

https://goo.gl/maps/bXJREZafGbzEsHyr5

Note that a driver coming from this direction is pretty much looking straight up the path for a few moments, and Mrs Bryson would have had a reasonable view of anyone standing at the path entrance, although only for a couple of seconds. (Zoom in to the path itself here. https://goo.gl/maps/sNUEqCb9Uw3fQkVB8) This is what Mrs Bryson originally said she saw. She wouldn't have had much time to see the couple, and she would obviously have had to concentrate on the left-hand bend in front of her, but it's a reasonable enough story.

Now look at it from the other direction, driving north towards Easthouses.

https://goo.gl/maps/eYqPxmuHt7PPmxRB6

It's a bit different, isn't it? There's an indication of an entrance there, maybe, but an entrance to what? You can't see. Mrs Bryson didn't know Easthouses at all well. If she had seen a couple of people standing under that tree, how could she have known they were at the end of a footpath at all? It simply doesn't compute.

There's no possibility that anyone could be mistaken about which direction they were driving in when they noticed something at that spot. You're either driving south, when you have a left-hand bend in front of you and you can see right into the footpath, or you're driving north, when you have a right-hand bend in front of you and you can't even see that there's a path there. Even when you're right alongside the path entrance, driving north, you can't see that it's a path, as here. https://goo.gl/maps/MqJo8eNVTcnHazsKA You actually have to go past the entrance and twist back to see the path!

Not only that, in court the suggestion was put to Mrs Bryson that the male that she saw was as much as 10 yards into the path. This is all quite confused as she originally said she saw both people together at the entrance to the path, nevertheless she seemed to accede to the suggestion that the male was some little way into the path, facing towards the girl who was at the entrance. Even more bizarrely there was a suggestion that she'd seen the male move down the path - which is completely impossible whichever direction she was driving in as she couldn't have had the path in sight for long enough to see this happening. However, the point is that it would only have been possible for her to see into the path, to see that the male was 10 yards down the path (wherever that suggestion came from), if she was driving south. It's impossible for someone driving north to see into the path at all.

In order for Mrs Bryson to have seen anyone at that path at 4.53, she must have seen this when she was driving north, towards Easthouses, before she went to look at the house for sale. But driving north you simply can't see what she is supposed to have seen. Driving south, you can see it (although to clock that much detail in the couple of seconds as you drive past is quite a feat), but if she saw this when she was driving south then the time was about 5.40, not 4.53.

So what the hell was Donald Findlay (more on him later) thinking about, in court? All he had to say was, Mrs Bryson, which way was your car facing when you saw these people? Was the bend (you should have been concentrating on, two children in the car and all that) a right-hand bend or a left-had bend? Could you actually see into the path itself when you noticed the two people?

If she actually saw them on the way to the house viewing then that is not what her original account said, so how come she originally thought she was driving south towards a left-hand bend then revised her story so that she was actually driving north towards a right-hand bend? And how come she even realised there was a path there, let alone acceded to the suggestion that one of the people was as much as 10 yards down the path, when a driver travelling north can't see the path at all? And yet that's what we have to believe if the sighting was 4.53.

If she made the sighting as she drove south, as everything seems to suggest and indeed only a southbound driver could possibly see into the path or even realise there was a path there in the first place, then the time of the sighting was about 5.40. The prosecution case relied on Jodi having been killed at 5.15.
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Old 19th July 2019, 06:09 AM   #44
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I think that completely kills the Andrina Bryson sighting. It's so damn simple and so damn obvious it's difficult to believe this just slid past, but having seen similar things happen in other cases (including Lockerbie, which is relevant because it was the same bloody QC prosecuting in both cases), I have to believe it's possible. I haven't seen this point made by anyone previously, even Sandra Lean only mentions that the entrance to the path is on a fairly sharp bend in the road.

The only thing is, Sandra Lean doesn't mention where Andrina Bryson lived at the time, or where the supermarket was. However the end of the path, in Easthouses Road, is to the south (or south-east) of Easthouses village. If Mrs Bryson was driving on that road going home from viewing the house for sale, then she must have lived somewhere south to south-west of Easthouses. Ditto as regards the supermarket. If she drove past the end of the path on her way from the supermarket to Easthouses, she must have been coming from the south or south-west. Somewhere like Newtongrange makes sense. There's a small supermarket near Newtongrange station that fits the bill, although I don't believe that station was open in 2003 (it's on the Borders Railway, which wasn't reopened to passengers until 2015), but that's not really relevant. If Mrs Bryson didn't live somewhere like Newtongrange, the whole thing gets a lot more complicated.

But really, the directionality kills it even before you get on to the huge discrepancies in the descriptions of the people Mrs Bryson said she saw. She described a male in his early 20s of medium build with very thick sandy brown hair sticking up in a clump at the back. She said he was wearing a green fishing-style jacket with a lot of pockets and matching trousers. Luke was a skinny 14-year-old with thin, straight blond hair. He himself said he was wearing a green bomber jacket (over a black t-shirt) and baggy jeans, with distinctive light-coloured snowboarding boots, and that's what he was wearing when the people who actually knew him saw him at Newbattle just before six. The prosecution wanted him to be wearing a heavy parka, but they couldn't persuade Mrs Bryson that she'd seen a parka.

The female Mrs Bryson described was of indeterminate age, wearing a plain navy-blue hoodie and lighter blue boot-cut jeans. Her hair was described as very dark. Jodi had mid-brown or auburn hair. She was wearing a baggy black hoodie with a very distinctive orange logo on the back, and very baggy black trousers.

Sandra Lean mentions that there's a school (Newbattle High School) not far from where Mrs Bryson saw the two people - I think it's the school Dr Lean's own two daughters attended at the time. There was an end-of-term concert on at the school that night, and at around 5.40 people would have been starting to head back to the school to help with the set-up. The Newbattle High School uniform included a fairly plain navy blue hooded top. The two people seen by Mrs Bryson were never traced, but of course the police weren't going to try to trace them, were they? And since the case was all about them being seen at 4.53, anybody who had been at that spot at 5.40 wouldn't necessarily have thought there was any connection.
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Old 19th July 2019, 09:39 AM   #45
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I realise I am benefiting from being able to look at a large-scale OS map to see where all this is. There are maps in Sandra Lean's book but they're black and white reproductions taken from Google Maps and they're almost illegible.

Here is the OS map of the area to aid comprehension. I have added points for Luke's house and Jodi's house. These are not exact as I only have street names not numbers and in particular that entire group of houses where Luke lived has the same street name (Newbattle Abbey Crescent). However it's close enough and gives a decent idea of the distances involved.

Roan's Dyke path runs west to east across the middle of the area shown. The murder scene is again approximate but close enough. The grid lines are 1 km squares.

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Old 19th July 2019, 11:58 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Now look at it from the other direction, driving north towards Easthouses.

https://goo.gl/maps/eYqPxmuHt7PPmxRB6

It's a bit different, isn't it? There's an indication of an entrance there, maybe, but an entrance to what? You can't see. Mrs Bryson didn't know Easthouses at all well. If she had seen a couple of people standing under that tree, how could she have known they were at the end of a footpath at all? It simply doesn't compute.

Actually it's even worse than I realised when I wrote that. Look again at the north-facing view of the corner, linked in the quote. "Under the tree" is wrong. The tree is in the grounds of the house that's almost out of frame on the left. The entrance you can see here isn't the entrance to the path at all, it's the paved driveway of the house. The narrow path entrance is just past the lamp post, this side of the brown close-boarded fence. You literally can't see it, even in this view, and if there were a couple of people standing right in front of it you'd see even less.

Not only that, the Streetview van has been on the southbound carriageway when that shot was taken, which gives a more favourable angle for seeing the path entrance. The only view I can find of the corner taken when the Streetview van seems to have been on the northbound side of the road (although it's more like the middle) is this one. https://goo.gl/maps/n5SDXZEbegc8cze58 (Remember, Yank comrades, we drive on the left here.)

Where's the path? The pale grey area is the driveway of the house. The path entrance is between the lamp post and the brown close-boarded fence. At this angle it's invisible. Again, put two people standing just the other side of the lamp post, and how could anyone who wasn't intimately familiar with the road and the path possibly have any idea there was a path there at all? (And that shot was taken in March when the trees and the beech hedge were bare. The June shot I linked to originally shows a lot more foliage, making the path even less appreciable.)

Mrs Bryson wasn't familiar with Easthouses. She didn't know the area. She got lost trying to find the house for sale. She was driving a car at perhaps 25 mph along that road, a car with her two young children in it. She was approaching a blind right-hand bend, and you'd imagine most of her attention would have been on the road. The two people standing by the lamp post weren't doing anything in particular. It's categorically impossible for her to have realised the people standing there were actually at the entrance to a path at all, let alone (as she was later drawn into stating) that she saw one of them walk ten yards down the path away from the road.

Unless there is some way I'm not aware of whereby Mrs Bryson's route from the supermarket to the for-sale house took her southbound on that road, she could not possibly have seen what she claimed to have seen at 4.53. The view she claimed to have had is only appreciable from a car travelling south, and as I understand it she was travelling south on her way home from the house viewing, not on her way to it. At about 5.40. Which is what she originally told the police.

There has got to be something I'm missing here. But what?
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Old 19th July 2019, 01:00 PM   #47
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You know, Rolfe, I sometimes think you missed your true calling. You'd have made a marvelous barrister (ETA: or advocate, I see they're called in Scotland).
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Old 19th July 2019, 02:12 PM   #48
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Nah, I would have made a terrible lawyer. I can't abide arguing for the sake of winning an argument rather than to establish the actual truth.

Even if there isn't a simple explanation for what I noticed here, it's of no practical use. It's not new evidence. That's the whole problem with the law. It's far more concerned with procedure and protocol than with establishing objective truth and righting wrongs.
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Old 19th July 2019, 02:20 PM   #49
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You know, I suspect these white houses to the north of the path at the Easthouses end might be newer than 2003. That might just have been an open field at the time of the murder. It's also possible the roundabout is new since then. But I don't think it makes any real difference, it's the angle of the path to the road that's important. The only difference would be that the close-boarded wooden fence probably wasn't there and it would have been something like an ordinary wire-stranded field fence. But it wouldn't have made the path any easier to see.

I appreciate that the perspective from the Streetview camera can be very odd. However moving around and looking at different angles, and checking different time spots, usually clarifies matters. It could be deceptive though. My car is in for repair at the moment but when I get it back I might pop up to Easthouses and have a look at the actual location. It's only about 20 miles away.
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Old 19th July 2019, 05:35 PM   #50
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Anyway, what about the other eyewitness sighting, which was back in Newbattle, to the west of the path?

This second sighting was important to the prosecution because it placed Luke closer to the western end of the path than he admitted to going in the early evening, and that he was lying about having remained in or close to Newbattle Abbey Crescent until after six o'clock.

This sighting was reported by two women, sisters-in-law, called Lorraine Fleming and Rosemary Walsh. They were again driving along a road, this time the B703 Newbattle Road, which bounds the western end of Roan's Dyke path. They were driving north, downhill towards Newbattle Bridge, and the path entrance would have been on the right.

Mrs Walsh said she arrived at Miss Fleming's house between 5.20 and 5.25, to collect her to go shopping. They drove down the hill past the end of the path, and Miss Fleming "pointed out someone standing by a wooden gate about 10 to 15 yards past the entrance to Roan's Dyke path."

The only gate I can see in the oldest Streetview image (2009) is on the left side of the road and is metal, but that doesn't really matter, let's assume that's where the women saw this person. The time of this sighting was said to be between 5.45 and six o'clock. If this is going to be represented as being Luke it would have to be a lot nearer 5.45 than 6.00, because Luke was definitely seen by witnesses who knew him by sight just before six o'clock, sitting on the low wall at the end of Newbattle Abbey Crescent, about 500 yards further along the road. That's about a five-minute walk, so Luke couldn't possibly have been close to the end of the path much after 5.50 if he was 500 yards away before six o'clock. Miss Fleming did estimate 5.45 for the sighting. (Quick note. It's 400 yards from the end of the path to Newbattle Bridge and another 100 yards from the bridge to the junction with Newbattle Abbey Crescent.)

This person is a slightly better shot at describing Luke than Mrs Bryson's but that's not saying much. The women got the age and build about right, but repeatedly said this youth had dark hair. (Sandra Lean says that a mistake in the hair colour was unlikely because it was a bright and sunny evening, but at quarter to six that gate would have been in the shade of the trees to the west of the road so that doesn't entirely compute.) The clothes are a problem though. This time something is described that might be a parka, jeans, and dark footwear. When Luke was seen sitting on the wall less than 15 minutes later he was wearing his green bomber jacket with the orange lining and distinctive light-coloured boots.

There's another odd wrinkle to this. The two women also said they saw a jogger on Newbattle Road, two hundred yards further on from the entrance to the path, running towards the bridge (that is the same direction as they were driving) away from the path entrance. They assumed the jogger would have run past the youth they saw standing by the gate. However, they were wrong about this. The jogger was traced, and she had never been south of the bridge. She had run north-east along Newbattle Abbey Crescent (the long street with the series of cul-de-sac housing developments where Luke lived) to the junction with Newbattle Road, where she turned left, away from the bridge. This was a regular training route for her and she was sure of it. She was also checking her times, and believed she was at the junction of Newbattle Abbey Crescent and Newbattle Road (exactly where Luke was sitting, but there is no record of whether she saw him) between 5.40 and 5.45.

So the two women must have seen the jogger north of the road junction, which is 150 yards north of the bridge, not 200 yards past the end of the path, which would be about 200 yards south of the bridge.

This introduces an intriguing possibility. If the two women were mistaken about the position of the jogger, as they were, putting her at least 350 yards further back (south) along Newbattle Road than she actually was - and possibly more than that - could they equally well have been mistaken about where they saw the youth loitering on the left-hand side of the road? Could they have driven past the end of Newbattle Abbey Crescent, seen Luke there, then passed the jogger some little way further up Newbattle Road, but in retrospect moved the whole thing back some 500 yards? (And simply got the hair colour and the jacket and the footwear flat wrong.)

If that was Luke, at the end of Newbattle Abbey Crescent, at about 5.45, he couldn't have been the murderer, as there simply isn't enough time for everything to happen and for him to get back to that spot only 30 minutes after the killing. Of course the police didn't want that to be the case, they wanted Luke that 500 yards closer to the scene of the crime and somewhere other than where his own statement placed him, so they weren't going to pursue that one.

Whether or not this is a possibility, it's clearly not a reliable sighting of Luke. The women didn't see the youth's face. Later, when Luke's picture was in all the papers they were telling each other "that's him!", but the statements describe not seeing the face because of the youth's hair.

It's worth pointing out that according to the two women this person wasn't walking along the road, he was "leaning on the gate". If that was Luke, half an hour after murdering Jodi and intent on covering up the crime, that's an extraordinary way to behave. The confirmed sighting of Luke just before six also described him as just hanging around.

So that's it. Actual probative value, zero.
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Old 20th July 2019, 04:18 PM   #51
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Tremendous work Rolfe, thank you.

Are there key issues that make Steven Kelly somewhat implausible as the perpetrator?
Could it be a truly random attack as seems possible in the West Memphis 3 case?
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Old 20th July 2019, 05:20 PM   #52
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Sorry, I've been talking with Chris by PM rather than posting in the thread.

First, Sandra says the anomaly about the direction of travel was noted and there is some bizarro-land explanation involving Mrs Bryson turning around and driving south on her way to look at the house. I need to get more details on this because it's insane. I now know where she lived and which supermarket it was and the whole thing is extremely peculiar.

There's no doubt that the simple direct route from anywhere in Easthouses to Mrs Bryson's house would go south down Easthouses Road. It seems that Mrs Bryson originally said she had seen the couple at that time. It's anybody's guess which route she might have taken to drive from the supermarket (the Co-op in Gorebridge) to Easthouses but it's a hell of a stretch to get her southbound on Easthouses Road at that point. The thing is, she came forward only the following day. You don't forget which route you drove as quickly as that, especially not if you realise it might be relevant to a brutal murder.

I'm sceptical about a stranger murderer. If Jodi for some reason had gone into the woodland strip of her own volition, it's a funny place for a mad slasher to be lurking I'd have thought. On the other hand I believe Janine when she said that Jodi wouldn't have gone over the wall with someone she didn't know. And the wall, even with the broken part, is too high to force her over. Of course that break in the wall isn't the only way into the woodland strip, there are other ways. We're assuming she was walking on the path to meet Luke when she was accosted, but that may not be the case.

I need to read more about Steven Kelly. Sometimes it's implied that his DNA might have got there by washing-machine transfer but other times it's stated flat out that his semen was on her t-shirt and bra. He was Janine's boyfriend. So far as I know he hasn't murdered anyone else! I wonder how common it is for someone who has committed a murder like that not to do it again even if they're not locked up?

I just can't get past the fact that his was the DNA that was found. The experts all say it would be extremely unlikely that the murderer's DNA wasn't on the body unless he'd been wearing a full set of overalls and maybe even a mask. So right now I'm wondering why it can't be him, and never mind the fairy-stories about "innocent transfer".
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Old 21st July 2019, 10:54 AM   #53
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Luke's fingernail scrapings

"He co-operated fully. She checked for any injuries, and saw an abrasion on each of Mitchell’s shins. The more recent was between 24 and 48 hours old. Mr Findlay asked: "There were no injuries that had the appearance of being received in the previous 12 hours?"

Dr Hiremath said: "No."

She added that she had taken fingernail scrapings from Mitchell, which would be submitted for analysis to test for blood or other material." Scotsman
EDT
I realize now that I posted at least a portion of this before. However, it raises the question in my mind of who did have injuries in that time period. There is an article at the Sunday Times that indicates that scrapings were taken from Jodi, but it is behind a paywall.
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Old 21st July 2019, 01:53 PM   #54
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From the article

Although many of Jodi’s clothes were torn off in the frenzied attack, there was no sign of a sexual assault. Jodi fought her attacker and fingernail scrapings, possibly containing tiny pieces of the attacker’s DNA, have been taken from her body. Her clothes, including her distinctive baggy blue top, have been sent for analysis in the hope that they will yield hairs, particles of skin or stains left in the struggle.
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Old 21st July 2019, 05:47 PM   #55
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A serious difficulty with this case is that only Luke appears to have been treated as a suspect the whole way through. Right at the start, when the police arrived on the path where the search party were gathered, they separated Luke from the other three. They bundled him into a police car or van and whisked him off to the police station even before his mother caught up with what was going on. By the time she reached the police station he had already been stripped and put into a paper suit and all his clothes confiscated.

Meanwhile the rest of the search party was taken to a different police station, treated in a much less aggressive manner and allowed to go home without their clothes being taken or any intimate examination or sampling. Since both Alice and Steven had been over the wall and Alice actually touched Jodi's body then their clothes ought also to have been taken and their bodies sampled for evidential purposes in case they had picked up something significant. It was some time later (a week?) before they were asked to hand over the clothes they had been wearing and mostly these had been washed. There also seems to be some confusion over what Steven was actually wearing at the time.

And I was going to write a lot more but I got sucked into Twitter, as one does. Later.
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Old 22nd July 2019, 04:57 AM   #56
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Professor Busuttil

Here is a link to a forum in which this case was discussed in 2011. There are some newspaper articles which are quoted and linked. For example from the Telegraph:

"Donald Findlay QC, defending, asked if Jodi's injuries suggested she had "fought literally to the death". Prof Busuttil said: "Indeed so, yes." Mr Findlay pointed out that when a doctor examined Mitchell, "not a bump, scratch, bruise or abrasion" was found which could be linked to the time Jodi died. "That is so," agreed the professor."
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Old 22nd July 2019, 07:08 AM   #57
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No blood or even DNA of Jodi's on him either. And no DNA of his on Jodi.
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Old 22nd July 2019, 11:39 AM   #58
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Thanks for that link Chris. One thing I picked up from that is that they did run a "special defence of incrimination" at the appeal, but based on Mark Kane and James Falconer, not Steven Kelly. It seems to have been rejected because no trace of either man's DNA was found on Jodi's body. But there was no trace of Luke's DNA on Jodi's body either. And because Falconer had given an "innocent explanation" for the presence of the condom nearby. But Luke gave innocent explanations for everything they accused him of, and they just didn't believe him.

I had wondered why they didn't run a special defence of incrimination against Steven Kelly, but it may be that there wasn't enough evidence. Of course if Steven lied to the police about his whereabouts and the police simply believed him, that would make it difficult. Hard to disprove an alibi years later if the police didn't check its veracity at the time.

What is often not appreciated about a special defence of incrimination is that it is not necessary to prove that the person did it, or even to prove that the evidence against the other person is stronger than the evidence against the accused. All that is necessary is to prove that there's a non-negligible chance that the person did it, which is (officially) deemed to demonstrate reasonable doubt and so justify an acquittal. But it's probably harder to do it at appeal than at the primary trial.
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Old 22nd July 2019, 12:13 PM   #59
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too many suspects

At the discussion board to which I linked, Sandra wrote, "His story would also involve him having had to step over the body twice, without noticing it."

Northern Lights quoted the Edinburgh News in part:

"The former drug user, who was on a course for recovering drug users near where Jodi's body was found in 2003, reportedly handed in an essay titled Killing a Female in The Woods to his course tutor three weeks before the murder.

It is reported he was also a regular visitor to the woods where Jodi was killed, and on the day after the murder he had scratches on his face and arms but could not remember how he got them."
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Old 22nd July 2019, 01:27 PM   #60
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I'm not sure yet about the stepping over the body part. It depends on what time Falconer was there, and what time Jodi was actually killed. The simple deduction for time of death is only a little bit later than the police time. She left her house to walk to Newbattle to meet Luke, and the actual time of leaving was a minute or two after five o'clock. However this was too late for Luke to have been the killer and the police pushed her time of leaving back to about ten to five, and manipulated Mrs Bryson's evidence to corroborate that. At least, that's how I read it at the moment.

The police assumed she had walked (with Luke) along the path towards Newbattle and in the course of that journey he persuaded her to climb the wall into the woodland strip and then attacked her. However Luke says he never left Newbattle, and he was waiting there for her to arrive. In this scenario she walked along the path alone. Since she never arrived at Newbattle, and there is no witness to her having been anywhere else in the vicinity after she was seen leaving home, logic says that somehow she encountered her murderer on the path or in the woodland strip at that time. That would put the time of death around 5.30.

However there is no forensic evidence corroborating that time of death. It's not impossible she went somewhere else before starting to head for Newbattle. In that case we'd be looking at a later time of death. It's not that good a theory because she knew Luke was waiting for her. But on the other hand she didn't have a phone on her to tell him if something else had come up, and she was a 14-year-old girl. I say this because, supposing Falconer wasn't involved at all, and genuinely saw nothing while he was in the wood, we have to consider that there was nothing to see at that time. I don't yet know how sure we are about the time he was there, either.

The condom was found fifty yards from Jodi's body and none of Falconer's DNA was on the body itself, so logic seems to suggest that at the very least he wasn't the sole perpetrator of the murder.
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Old 22nd July 2019, 03:07 PM   #61
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As a first assumption then, the time of death was most probably 5.30 or a little before. I think there was probably only one assailant, partly because I think that sort of slasher murder tends to be a solitary crime and partly because I don't think she'd have been able to fight back so much if there had been more than one attacker.

I don't know how long the struggle would have lasted but it certainly wasn't instantaneous. A few minutes, but I'm not sure how few. Surely Jodi would have been screaming as loud as she could. And surely anyone passing on the path while that was happening would have heard. Even if they didn't think it was something they should intervene in, I'd have thought anyone hearing something would have come forward in retrospect. Nobody did, which means we can probably exclude any time when someone else was on the path. I don't yet know exactly which times that excludes.
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Old 31st July 2019, 06:48 PM   #62
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differential extraction of DNA using DTT

On page 192 of Innocents Betrayed Dr. Sandra Lean wrote, "One extremely confusing result, from the sperm fractions of a number of samples labeled 'semen' read, 'The DNA identified, which was female in origin, matches the profile of Jodi Jones,' before going on to give the usual statistical data..." She points out that the authorities did not explain this when asked.

I can make an educated guess that might resolve this paradox. There is a technique first described by Peter Gill called differential extraction (John Butler's book Advanced Topics in Forensic DNA typing: Methodology, p 37). It uses centrifugation (as Dr. Lean notes), but it also uses a reducing agent* known as dithiothreitol (DTT) to break disulfide bonds present in the nuclear membrane of sperm cells, helping to break up the membrane and to release the DNA. Although Dr. Butler does not discuss the matter at this point in his textbook, my understanding is that differential extraction is not always 100% successful at separating sperm cells from vaginal epithelial cells. Therefore, having female DNA show up in the "sperm fraction" is not an impossibility. I have never seen differential extraction by itself used as proof that something was semen, nor do I think that it should constitute proof. I would say that without confirmatory testing for semen (and direct observation of sperm under a microscope is one confirmatory test IIRC), nothing should be called semen.
*reducing agents such as DTT add electrons. When a disulfide bonds are reduced, the two sulfur atoms become thiols groups: R-S-S-R' + 2 protons + 2 electrons => R-S-H + R'-S-H.
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Old 31st July 2019, 06:56 PM   #63
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Steven Kelly's DNA

On page 101 of Innocents Betrayed Dr. Lean said that Steven Kelly's DNA profile was recovered from blood on the t-shirt that Jodi was wearing. IIRC this is in contrast to other things that I have read, which said that the source of the DNA was semen. Let's assume for the sake of argument that his DNA was obtained from a blood sample. It is not "implicit" (Professor Gill's word) that the DNA in fact came from blood. Professor Gill calls this the association fallacy, and his book gives a good example, the Adam Scott case. The tests for blood versus for DNA are different, and have different limitations. It would be nice to have a complete list of all of the DNA profiles and their origins.
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Old 31st July 2019, 08:07 PM   #64
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interrogations of juveniles

Even among the people who think that Steven Avery is guilty, there are those that find grave fault with how Brendan Dassey was interrogated to elicit a so-called confession. Although the situations were very different in certain respects, the interrogations of Luke Mitchell were equally appalling. From what I can gather, there have been certain reforms in Scotland since then; I can only hope that they were sufficient.
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Old 1st August 2019, 04:01 AM   #65
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I don't understand the DNA results and I'm slightly concerned that Sandra doesn't either. Although the lab I worked in did a lot of PCR diagnostic testing this isn't the same as DNA profiling and I find the latter hard to follow sometimes. I can see Sandra has tried her best but she doesn't even have my level of background and I'm not sure her understanding is complete. I think some of the things she says are contradictory.

As I understand it there were five male profiles found on Jodi's body and/or clothes. One of these was Steven Kelly's, and that was associated with either sperm or semen I'm unclear which. The other four were unidentified but were not Luke Mitchell's or either of the two men implicated in the special defence of incrimination (James Falconer and Mark Kane). I do not know whether the policemen who gathered up Jodi's possessions and rolled her body on to the plastic sheet after everything had been rained on all night but before the forensic examination was done were elminated.

It seems to me to be incredible that someone did what was done to Jodi without leaving some DNA behind. Prof Busuttil spoke of someone wearing a protective suit and goggles or a mask, which all sounds a bit theoretical to me. Is there any case of a slasher murderer going out prepared like that?

James Falconer is an odd one. A used condom containing his semen was found close to the body. One might speculate about a rapist using a condom to prevent his DNA being found in the victim's vagina, but would he then just chuck the thing in the grass a few yards away? Also, the murderer's DNA would surely be on the surface of the victim's body as well, and there was none of his DNA on the body. Sandra says that according to his own account of when he was in the woodland strip he would surely have seen the body - it seems he was there in the early dusk and it seems inevitable that Jodi had already been killed by then. But perhaps there is a misunderstanding about where he was standing and what he could have seen, I don't know.

Steven Kelly is the one that baffles me. His DNA is explained by the police in terms of Jodi having borrowed a t-shirt of Janine's, and as Steven was Janine's boyfriend and they were clearly sleeping together (although not living together so I'm not sure how that worked exactly) then the DNA came from the t-shirt by innocent transfer.

The "borrowed t-shirt" thing has never been clearly explained. Jodi lived with her mother and Janine lived with her grandmother so it wasn't as easy as all that for the sisters to borrow each other's clothes. With both girls having a number of black t-shirts (I remember it was almost impossible to get a t-shirt that wasn't black at that time) it was all very confused. And did the girls have identical t-shirts? They might have done but the whole thing is mired in imprecision.

What was the state of the t-shirt Jodi was wearing, that was supposed to be borrowed? The forensic examiner said it smelled of laundry detergent, suggesting it was freshly washed, however some accounts talk about semen stains on it. Did Steven ejaculate over a clean t-shirt of Janine's that Jodi later borrowed without noticing it wasn't actually clean? Other accounts talk about washing-machine transfer, postulating that if Janine's and Steven's clothes were washed in the same load then DNA could transfer that way. However if that was the case and we're talking about semen stains then only sperm heads would survive the laundry process, nothing else. I'm not at all clear that Janine's and Steven's clothes actually were washed in the same washing machine, although there's a lot of stuff about how they would just leace their clothes all together in a jumbled heap when they undressed to go to bed.

What is surprising is the alacrity with which the police leaped to the "innocent transfer" explanation for Steven's DNA, practically feeding the idea to Steven and Janine (and Alice I think, in whose house Janine was living). Steven was with Luke when Luke found the body, he also went over the wall at the time the 999 calls were being made (he made one of them) and being older might have seemed a more intuitive suspect than a 14-year-old boy. I'd have thought most police investigations would have been all over him like a rash, and if he didn't do it he'd have had an awful lot of explaining to do. I'd have expected the borrowed t-shirt story to be something his defence dredged up, not something the police were only too happy to concoct to exonerate him.

If the sperm heads found on Jodi's body were Steven's and while it's all a bit confused I think they were, surely this is the most incriminating thing to be found in the entire investigation? Or is it the case that the fact they were only sperm heads proves the washing machine theory? I'm seriously unclear about this. I mean, Luke was Jodi's boyfriend. What was sperm belnging to anyone else even doing in association with her body?
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Old 1st August 2019, 04:05 AM   #66
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I honestly don't know whether a lab would be asked specifically to find evidence of one person's DNA, and then if they didn't find it but did find DNA of someone else, would report "no reportable result". Sounds unlikely to me, and I don't know how to find out.
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Old 1st August 2019, 04:35 AM   #67
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I note that further on in the book Sandra makes reference to other somewhat similar murders and attacks on women which might conceivably be linked to Jodi's murder. In that case we'd be looking at a stranger murder by a serial killer or stalker (even if the series was only two cases).
  • Stewart Jack, convicted of the murder of Laura Milne in 2007, cutting her throat and attempting to dismenber the body. This happened in Aberdeen which is quite a long way away, but Jack's lifestyle was described as "chaotic" and "nomadic". He would have been 17 or 18 when Jodi was killed in 2003.
  • Robert Greens, convicted of attacking a woman in Roslin Glen in 2005. In this case the victim escaped, but the attack was similar to what happened to Jodi. Roslin Glen is very close to Easthouses and Greens' sister lived only a few minutes walk from Roan's Dyke path.
  • Allan Roberts, convicted of attacking a woman in East Lothian, again very near to Easthouses, in 2004. He was a serial stalker who used secluded cycle paths to get around the area and was said by the psychiatrist at Carstairs to be a dangerous predator. I don't think he ever killed any of his known victims, however he was said to have confessed to Jodi's murder to someone, on the day Luke Mitchell's trial began.
  • James Dunleavy, convicted of murdering his mother Philomena in 2013. Her remains were found in a shallow grave on Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh. This one obviously has nothing to do with Jodi's murder but Sandra does include a passing reference to it on her list.
  • The unknown murderer of Saima Ahmed, whose remains were found scattered on a golf course on the other side of Edinburgh in 2016. Mrs Ahmed was a Londoner and nobody knows how her body came to turn up in Edinburgh. Again I think this link is beyond tenuous.
  • The unknown murderer of Betty Brown, who took a bus out of Edinburgh in 2010 (the bus ran along Newbattle Road, passing the end of Roan's Dyke path) and was never seen again until her body was found in a quarry in Longtown, near Carlisle. This one doesn't seem very relevant either. (In fact it has come up, probably with more relevance, in relation to the disappearance of Suzanne Pilley from Edinburgh city centre, also in 2010.)
  • Robert Soutar, possibly implicated in the murder of Anne Nicoll in Dundee in 2002. Again this is some way from Easthouses, however the attack again bore similarities to Jodi's murder. Robbie McIntosh who was convicted of that crime was in jail when Jodi was murdered but he entered a special defence of incrimination against Soutar which didn't succeed.
The obvious two cases to concentrate on here are Robert Greens and Alan Roberts. Greens' attack on the woman in Roslin Glen happened two years after Jodi's murder and I think about the time Luke Mitchell's trial was going on. Police were asked whether his DNA had been checked against the unknown profiles on Jodi Jones and gave evasive answers which obviously imply that no check was made. There's no mention of Roberts' DNA being checked either.
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Old 1st August 2019, 06:01 AM   #68
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At the moment I'm still confused about the timelines of the Mitchell family in the early evening of the murder. Sandra isn't very clear about this. So far I have this.

4.00 Luke arrives home from school. Although his older brother Shane usually got home from work about 3.30, on this occasion the house was empty because Shane had stopped on his way home to help a friend fix a problem with his car. There was something about Luke walking home (part of the way?) with a friend but I can't find the reference and there seems to be no independent confirmation of him arriving home.

4.05 Shane called the Mitchell landline from his own mobile, and the call was answered. Since nobody else was in the house at the time this is pretty good proof Luke was indeed home. Shane was apparently calling to let Luke know he'd be in for tea.

4.25 A call was logged from the Mitchell landline to Scott's Caravans, Corinne Mitchell's workplace. Luke, Corrine and Corinne's mother Ruby all confirmed it was a conversation about what Luke was going to prepare for tea. Again, since there was nobody else in the house this is pretty good proof Luke was there. Somebody was using that landline at 4.05 and 4.25.

4.34 Jodi (using her mother's mobile because her own was broken) texted Luke to ask if he wanted to meet up. There was an exchange of texts here, I don't know how many but Luke texted back at least once. The actual messages were never recovered (this is important and possibly sinister).

4.38 Jodi's last text in the sequence.

4.40 Shane Mitchell arrived home.

4.54 Luke made a call to the speaking clock using his mobile.

I think it's undeniable that Luke was in his own house right through to 4.25 at the earliest, on the basis of the landline calls. One allegation made was that he didn't go home from school at all but went straight to the Easthouses end of the path to "lie in wait" for Jodi, but this doesn't seem possible. The question is, could he have got from his home to the position of the Andrina Bryson sighting at approximately 4.53? Walking at a smart pace that journey takes 18 minutes, so the latest time he could have left the house would have been 4.35. That's right in the middle of the series of texts, suggesting that if it was him he either left the house after the call to Corinne and was on his way to the path when the texts were received, or that he started hurrying along the path pretty much the minute he got Jodi's first text.

Also of interest is that Andrina Bryson made no mention of the youth she saw at the Easthouses end of the path carrying or using a mobile phone. And yet the timing of that sighting is very tight to 4.53 or 4.54, and a call was logged from Luke's phone to the speaking clock at that time. (It seems odd to me to call the speaking clock from your own home but according to Sandra this was something Luke did from time to time. I make no judgement on that at present.)

4.54 Shane Mitchell logged on to his computer, in his own bedroom.
5.06 Internet connection ended. The police alleged he had been looking at pornography and masturbating and he wouldn't have been doing that if he thought Luke was in the house. The police seem to have browbeaten Shane into agreeing that he was accessing porn, but according to Sandra the porn sites only connected momentarily and were probably pop-ups. Shane originally said he had been looking at car sites.

5.15 This is the time given for Corinne getting home from work. It's also the time the police alleged Luke was actually murdering Jodi. I'm very unclear as to whether Corinne confirmed she'd seen Luke at this point or not, although given that she was accused of lying to cover for Luke it wouldn't have mattered to the police.

Some time before 5.30 Shane left to spend the evening with friends.

5.32 Luke, using his mobile, called the Joneses' landline to try to tell Jodi he had finished his tea and was out of the house, sitting on the wall at the end of Newbattle Abbey Crescent, at the junction with Newbattle Road (B703). However the call either didn't connect or wasn't picked up.

5.40 Luke tried the call again and it was picked up by Jodi's stepfather who said Jodi had already left.

As I understand it, if Luke had been the murderer these two calls would have had to have been made pretty much from the woodland strip shortly after the killing which was said to have been at 5.15. However I also note that the Fleming/Walsh sighting of the youth leaning against the gate in Newbattle Road close to the western end of Roan's Dyke path was said to be 5.45, so possibly (in the scenario where Luke actually did what he was convicted of doing) he was walking west along the path from the murder site at the time.

6.00 (or just before) Luke was positively identified sitting on that wall, by friends who knew him. According to the police he had already murdered Jodi by this time.

7.00 Luke called his mother to ask her to tell Jodi, if she turned up, to go to the grounds of Newbattle Abbey where he was meeting some other friends.

Two things I'm unclear about here. First, what time was the meal eaten? Luke was responsible for making the tea, and it was pies, which he burned, and Shane complained about the burned pies. (Just pies? A growing lad would be wanting chips and baked beans with that, I certainly would!) Corinne had "something different" because she was a vegetarian. It doesn't take that long to heat up a pie (OK in the oven as you can't burn them in a microwave, so 15 to 20 minutes given that the things were overdone?) so Luke could easily have done that some time between the 4.25 phone call to Corinne (to discuss what to cook) and say five o'clock.

I'd hazard a guess that Shane logged off the internet to go and eat his tea, and if he left the house before 5.30 after eating then he pretty much had to have done that. So, he ate (and complained about) a burned pie. The pie didn't prepare itself. Presumably Shane knew Luke had done that, and it's implied it was Luke's cooking he was complaining about. Thus he knew Luke was in the house. But Luke also ate a burned pie, before leaving the house at about 5.30 to meet Jodi as agreed in the text sequence. So, didn't the two brothers eat together? It seems very strange if they didn't. Why all the questioning Shane about whether he checked the house before he logged on to the internet and knew Luke wasn't there, when it seems inevitable they ate together about the time Luke was supposed to have been murdering Jodi?

Also, if Corinne came in at about 5.15, were the boys eating at that point? Did she join them? What did she have for tea and did Luke prepare that as well? I'm just astonished that the timings so clearly indicate some sort of communal meal in the period between about 5.06 (Shane logging-off the internet) and 5.30 (Luke leaving to meet Jodi) and there is absolutely nothing at all about this in any of the accounts. It's all about whether Luke was in while Shane was on the internet, and nothing at all about what happened after that and who was in when Corinne returned from work.

The other thing I'm unclear about is that according to this account Luke sat on that wall for a whole hour and a half before going up to Newbattle Abbey. I thought he'd gone on much sooner than that, perhaps not much after six when he was definitely seen there. This does seem odd, and this was one of the points against him at the trial, that he hadn't phoned back to Jodi's house after the 5.40 call to say she hadn't shown up. Of course she didn't have a phone on her and he knew that, but to wait that long on the wall and not phone to say, "do you know if Jodi really intended to come over to my place because she still hasn't turned up", is mildly odd.

There seems to be no suggestion that Luke killed Jodi between six and seven, after he was seen sitting on the wall. I understood he had been alibied by the friends he had met at Newbattle Abbey for the rest of the evening, but if he didn't go there until seven there's a window there.

(I really don't think he did it, I'm just trying to get my head round what's supposed to have happened at his end. There's more, about what clothes he was wearing and when he supposedly asked Corinne to burn the non-existent parka jacket, but I think that's enough for now.)
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Old 1st August 2019, 07:12 AM   #69
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Transparency and disclosure

I have previously quoted Allan Jamieson in this thread with respect to the thorny question of when the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Here is something he wrote in April of 2019 on disclosure. "Despite Government claims that Scotland has one of the best, if not the best, criminal justice systems in the world, we at The Forensic Institute know that it has the most restrictive disclosure regime for forensic scientific evidence in the advanced world."

This makes me concerned that Luke Mitchell's defense team may not be able to assess the forensic evidence in a complete and independent manner. Students of the Knox/Sollecito case know that forensic discovery was far from complete in that instance. Clearly the problem exists in other countries besides Italy.
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Old 1st August 2019, 09:58 AM   #70
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Scotland boasts a lot, but it's not justified. And as for disclosure, don't get me started. (Lockerbie again.)

I think the forensic evidence may be a mess, because of the interference with the crime scene by police before the forensics officer got there (that and the rain). I also don't know what, if anything, the partial profiles are supposed to mean.
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Old 1st August 2019, 10:31 AM   #71
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Partial profiles

Let's assume that only single profiles, as opposed to mixed profiles from more than one person, are present on all items of evidence for the sake of argument. If a partial profile on an item of evidence has all of the same alleles as a reference sample, then the person associated with the reference is included as one possible donor (I would discourage the use of the word "match"). If only a few alleles are present, then the statistics will be not terribly impressive, meaning that, for example 5% of the population might be included. This is what Dr. Lean believes about the partial profiles, if I am reading her book correctly.

However, suppose that a partial profile has some of the same alleles as a reference sample but also has some that are different. Then the person who provided the reference sample is excluded as a donor to the item of evidence. The fact that some alleles of the item are identical to ("match") the reference is meaningless, and a person who pointed out the identical ones without pointing out the nonidentical ones would be sowing confusion.

Unfortunately for Luke Mitchell, given the behavior of the Scottish authorities in this case, I have to wonder whether or not second situation is the one that applies here, meaning that the actual situation is even worse than Dr. Lean portrayed in her book. One problem with the lies/half-truths that the interrogator used in order to elicit a confession is that they can be believed by the general public (the family of Jodi Jones believes that Luke's DNA was present, but I am skeptical). This is one reason why an expert in DNA profiling should be found to review this case.

One quick comment about the rain. If Ms. Jones's clothing were removed during or just after the assault (therefore before the rain), then I do not see how the rain could be responsible for transferring the DNA, unless the transfer happened because (as I understand Dr. Lean's book) the clothes were piled together later on. If my understanding is correct, then this is additional evidence of mismanagement of the crime scene.
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Old 1st August 2019, 03:48 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Chris_Halkides View Post
Even among the people who think that Steven Avery is guilty, there are those that find grave fault with how Brendan Dassey was interrogated to elicit a so-called confession. Although the situations were very different in certain respects, the interrogations of Luke Mitchell were equally appalling. From what I can gather, there have been certain reforms in Scotland since then; I can only hope that they were sufficient.

I believe things have improved since then, but just how far ingrained habits have been eradicated from individual policemen is anybody's guess. It would seem the Mitchell interviews were taped and what is in the book is verbatim transcripts (the occasional use of Scots by both Mitchell brothers and various policemen would tend to corroborate that), but that doesn't seem to have deterred them from going full Reid technique on a 14-year-old.

And yet the SCCRC, while acknowledging that the interviews were outrageous, simply said that since Luke didn't confess despite all the pressure then it didn't matter. I think this is also outrageous. Is the message supposed to be, if the police shout and yell at you and refuse to believe a word you say, it's better to confess and then the SCCRC will come to your aid? I don't think so.

I was struck by Corinne's remark in that YouTube interview earlier this year, that Luke was convicted despite there being no evidence against him. I thought, that can't be right, there must have been something. But it is right.

He had "guilty knowledge" about the location of the body. No he didn't, the dog alerted him, and this was included in the statements of the two people who accompanied him until mysteriously they changed their minds a month later and said the dog did nothing. (One of these two people was Steven Kelly whose DNA was on the body and the other was Steven Kelly's girlfriend. Fancy that.)

He was seen at the eastern end of the path with Jodi at a time when he said he was still at home burning pies. No he wasn't, Andrina Bryson saw two people who didn't match the descriptions of Luke and Jodi, and the timing for Luke to get to the far end of the path after receiving the texts from Jodi (which was the first time he learned that she was free to come out that evening) was impossibly tight. Let alone that Mrs Bryson must have been driving south to see what she said she saw, and her itinerary would have had hr driving north at that point.

And he had no alibi for the time of the murder. He did, but the police refused to believe Shane. (And Corinne? I'm not sure if she said she saw Luke at 5.15 or not.) There's also the point that he was seen at just before six o'clock doing exactly what he said he'd been doing since 5.30, and that someone who has just committed a horrific murder and has clothes to dispose of is a bit unlikely just to be sitting around on a wall looking as if he's waiting for someone.

I still can't understand why there's nothing in Sandra's book about the evening meal, who ate where and when. That seems logically to cover exactly the time of the murder and yet I don't see a definite statement from either Shane or Corinne that they ate together. Strange.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 08:08 AM   #73
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A liberal use of white-out on the profiling document

Link Although I have a mixed impression of profiling, I see no reason why the FBI report should not be available in its entirety. In fairness, I do not see an easy way of determining who redacted the report, the FBI itself or the Scottish authorities.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 11:47 AM   #74
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As you say, why redact it? It's not evidence. Luke can't present that profile in court as evidence of innocence. I think it's another example of the defensiveness of the police and the prosecution in this case. I think they may know they got the wrong person, but because of the way the investigation was screwed up right at the start (only collecting evidence about Luke and failing to collect evidence about any other possible suspects in the vicinity) they were backed into a corner where they had to build a case round him.

Alan Turnbull, the prosecution advocate was, as I said, one of the prosecuting advocates in the Lockerbie trial. I believe he was one of the lawyers who saw an unredacted document that proved the prosecution's star witness was a liar and a fantasist, and was then involved in telling the court that the redacted passages were irrelevant and should not be disclosed to the defence.

I also believe that from about November 1999 the prosecution in the Lockerbie case realised that the bomb suitcase had (or at least probably had) been introduced at Heathrow and not Malta. They then proceeded to present a false narrative to the court in order to sustain the pretence that Malta was indeed the scene of the crime. (Specifically, they revised the original forensic assumption that the blue Tourister suitcase had been on top of the bomb suitcase, which it absolutely definitely provably was, and dreamed up a scenario where it was underneath.) I believe Alan Turnbull was party to that, which again got an innocent man convicted. So you may gather he is not my favourite person. I have a very low opinion of his integrity.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 01:47 PM   #75
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IME, a senior detective's "hunches" abut who done it, trumps physical evidence as to who done it. Plus, detections means promotions and miscarriages of justice are so far down the line that they never come back to haunt the senior investigating officers, who have often retired by then anyway.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 02:37 PM   #76
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I have to say, my observations agree with you.

This case is actually making me quite depressed. I think it's the sheer youth of the victim (of the miscarriage of justice - sadly the youth of the murder victim is by no means unusual). He was 14, but he was accorded none of the protection from publicity that should have been in place, on the contrary the police seem to have been encouraging lurid reporting to his disadvantage. As Sandra Lean remarks, when describing Luke setting out with a torch and his dog to look for Jodi, "he was half an hour from the end of his life as he knew it."

Although I don't think he was actually locked up until he was 16, his normal life ended right there. But even 16 - when I think of myself at 16 and all the growing-up I did from then until I was 31, Luke's age now. It's a huge part of anyone's life. I went from being a schoolgirl sitting my O grades to being a university lecturer in that time. He could have had a career, been married, had a family, taken up golf or mountain climbing or hang-gliding. Instead he's locked up in Shotts prison and is probably now damaged beyond repair.

One little throw-away line near the end of Sandra's book really got to me. It was about Luke not being weird or a loner, but making friends in the various social situations he found himself in, including that he "made friends at the stables where his horse was kept." This is the only reference in the book to Luke having a horse, and knowing how much time you spend with your horse if you have one at that age, I'm slightly surprised there's so much in the book about him hanging out with friends here and there and nothing about him going to the stables or going out riding. But regardless of that, the reason this struck me wasn't just that I identified with Luke as a horse person and a rider, but that I know where these stables must be.

Only 3 km from Luke's house as the crow flies, a bit longer by road, is the Edinburgh and Lasswade Riding Centre, which is the main reason I know that area a bit. It's where I go riding myself, and the stables from where I hire the horse I've been riding at the Common Ridings in the summer. As Luke's only mode of transport was a bicycle, this is the only stables within reach. It's clear from Sandra's book that Luke's family enjoyed outdoor pursuits, and I suspect Luke even went on the Common Ridings before all this happened. And he's been banged up for the past 14 years.

I'm not claiming he was "a choirboy", as Kenny MacAskill is so fond of declaring that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi wasn't, apparently in some way hinting that it's OK to convict someone of something they didn't do so long as their personal life falls some way short of angelic. He smoked cannabis. He was having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Both of these things are actually illegal. But neither of them is particularly out of the ordinary (the latter when we realise we're talking about two 14-year-olds experimenting with their sexuality, not an adult paedophile).

He could have grown up into a decent member of society and had a happy life. The person Luke Mitchell could have been has been murdered just as surely as Jodi Jones was murdered. But by the state, not an evil slasher-killer, so that apparently makes it OK, suck it up kid.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 04:38 PM   #77
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Shane Mitchell

According to Sandra Lean (and this is my attempt to summarize several pages), the police managed to twist Shane's words, in a way that seemed to take away Luke's alibi for the late afternoon. The story that emerged was that Shane had been surfing porn and masturbating which he would not have done if he had thought that Luke was at home. He said that he was on the internet on automotive sites, and yes, there were some connections to porn sites. However, these were for only a few seconds, suggesting that they were pop-up advertisements. He did not say that he was masturbating, only that if he had been on porn sites that he might have been.

However, Sandra Lean's book does not go into nearly as much detail about Shane's description of that evening, or of Corinne's description. This is a bit frustrating for the reader.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 04:44 PM   #78
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on a lighter note

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I'm not claiming he was "a choirboy"
Those on either side of the George Pell debate (we have a thread right here in Trials and Errors) can probably agree that even choirboys are not always "choirboys," in that they were surreptitiously drinking communion wine.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 06:25 PM   #79
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No. It's just Kenny's pet phrase when he's backed into a corner on the Lockerbie evidence. Maybe Megrahi wasn't guilty "beyond reasonable doubt", but "he was no choirboy" (do they even have choirboys in mosques?), so that apparently makes it all right.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 06:36 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by Chris_Halkides View Post
According to Sandra Lean (and this is my attempt to summarize several pages), the police managed to twist Shane's words, in a way that seemed to take away Luke's alibi for the late afternoon. The story that emerged was that Shane had been surfing porn and masturbating which he would not have done if he had thought that Luke was at home. He said that he was on the internet on automotive sites, and yes, there were some connections to porn sites. However, these were for only a few seconds, suggesting that they were pop-up advertisements. He did not say that he was masturbating, only that if he had been on porn sites that he might have been.

However, Sandra Lean's book does not go into nearly as much detail about Shane's description of that evening, or of Corinne's description. This is a bit frustrating for the reader.

Reading that, at times I could strangle Shane. I mean, why all the capitulation to the police suggestions? Once he realised how important that time period was, and that the police were not playing with a straight bat, surely he should have said he remembered Luke being there, and just stuck to it? He had a pie for his tea. His little brother cooked it, and burned it, and he wasn't too happy with that, but Luke could hardly have burned that pie if he wasn't there! But then they used the Reid technique on him too.

It's not really the period from Shane getting in from work (and fixing his pal's car) to when he logged off the internet that interests me so much though, as the period immediately after that, when common sense suggests that Shane ate his evening meal - and if Luke didn't prepare it, who did? And according to Sandra, Corinne came in from work. Did she see Luke? Did she say so? When and what did she eat? Who did she eat with? Shane? All three together?

Sandra says not a dicky-bird about any of this which is utterly bizarre when you consider this is exactly the time period when the police allege Luke was actually murdering Jodi.

I've been (again) ploughing through the changing statements about whether Judith had imposed a curfew on Jodi that evening, and who was using Judith's phone when and so on, and you know what, it's not that important. A quick summary would do it. But we get reams of really confusing detail. And then when really crucial points are in play, like which direction Andrina Bryson's car was pointing when she saw the two people at the end of the path, or when the Mitchells ate their evening meal and with whom, nothing.

I think it's being too close, not seeing the wood for the trees, and not having anyone else to bounce it off, that has made the book less accessible than it might have been. I really need to talk to this woman face to face.
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