How likely would have an innocent person behave that way?

As it easy to grasp, it is not just a question of picking up a camera out of 13. It is the entire sequence that is incompatible with an innocent person. Nobody, asked directly to pick up the camera used in a crime, would have done it on purpose, as a clear evidence of guilt.

Certainly there was an indirect request, implicit in the Columbo stratagem: ``find the negative''. But even an expert photographer would have not reacted that way if he had been innocent.

Let us assume it is reasonable he could overlook, in that particular, dramatic moment, he had other ways out (see footnote 32) and only thought at the negative of the destroyed picture. In this case he could have asked the policemen to take the camera and to look inside it. Or he would have indicated the cameras behind Columbo's shoulder, suggesting that the negative could be in one of those cameras.33

An innocent person, even put under dead stress and thinking that only the negative of the destroyed picture could save him, would perhaps jump towards the shelf, take the first camera or the first few cameras he could reach and even desperately shout ``look inside them!''. But he could have never resolutely displaced other cameras, taken the correct one on the back row and opened it, sure of finding the negative inside it.

But not even a cool murderer would have reacted that way, as Galesco realized a bit too late. The clever trick of Columbo was not only to ask indirectly the killer to grasp the camera he used and that only he could recognize, but, before that, to put him under stress in order to make him loose self control.

Giulio D'Agostini 2010-09-30