Dr. Greg Hampikian, Boise State professor, nationally known DNA expert and director of the Idaho Innocence Project, took particular interest in the Jan. 30 guilty verdict of Seattle-native Amanda Knox, who maintains she is innocent of the 2007 murder of her roommate.
Knox, now 26, spent four years in an Italian prison after being convicted of the murder of her English roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, where they were both studying in 2007.
But Hampikian and the Idaho Innocence Project played a role in helping to free Knox three years ago, using DNA evidence to point to a different suspect.
“My introduction to this case was through the British tabloids,” Hampikian said in 2011. “I never expected to work on it for three and a half years.”
Hampkian's team uses uses DNA, found in every human cell, to paint the picture of a crime scene. Using a component from toothpaste and another from a meat tenderizer, the bulk of cellular residue can be cut away to extract the DNA. With a small amount of DNA, a person can be linked to the evidence.
“We can amplify your entire genome from a single cell, and it takes about 90 minutes,” said Hampikian.
But on Jan. 30, an Italian appeals court found Knox and her former boyfriend were guilty of the murder.
Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America this morning, Knox said the news hit her "like a train," and she vowed never to back to Italy willingly.