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Originally published Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Witness: Knox had scratch to neck

An American student accused in the stabbing death of her British roommate had a scratch on her neck hours after the killing, a witness testified...

The Associated Press

PERUGIA, Italy — An American student accused in the stabbing death of her British roommate had a scratch on her neck hours after the killing, a witness testified Saturday at the murder trial in Italy.

Laura Mezzetti, an Italian woman who shared an apartment with victim Meredith Kercher and defendant Amanda Knox, told the court she saw the scratch on Nov. 2, 2007, at the police station where they were waiting to be questioned.

Kercher's body had been found earlier that day in their apartment in Perugia.

"Amanda had a wound to her neck, and I noticed it because it was known that Meredith had been killed by a wound to her neck," Mezzetti told the court. "She had a scratch to her neck."

Mezzetti said she observed Knox's scratch from a few yards away. She described the wound as "vertical, less than 1-centimeter [0.4 inches] thick," red in color, and she gestured that it was under Knox's chin.

"I was afraid that Amanda, too, might have been wounded; I was worried and I looked at it really intensely," Mezzetti said.

In comments after the hearing, Knox's lawyer and her father downplayed the testimony.

Prosecutors allege Kercher was the reluctant object of a sex game that ended when she was stabbed in the neck.

Knox, a 21-year-old from Seattle, and Raffaele Sollecito, a 24-year-old Italian who was her boyfriend at the time, are being tried on charges of murder and sexual violence. They deny wrongdoing.

Another man, Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede, was convicted last year on the same charges and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Guede, who also denied wrongdoing, had requested and received a fast-track trial.

Mezzetti said she did not see any scratch when she saw Knox on Oct. 31, 2007, during breakfast at the apartment, and that she did not see Knox again until two days later at the police station. She said the scratch was different from a love bite, which would be "purple and more round."

Mezzetti told police in November that she had seen the scratch, but she had failed to mention it in several previous interrogations by police. Asked why she had not mentioned it before, Mezzetti said she thought everybody else would have noticed it.

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Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, said his client had nothing more that a little mark on her neck. "This is a witness giving a medical assessment," he said.

The defendant's father, Curt Knox, told reporters after the session that the doctor who gave his daughter a full-body medical examination following her Nov. 6, 2007, arrest "did not make a single note related to a scratch in the neck."

"When we go to the next phase, that's what you will hear," he said.

"There is no scratch," he said, adding it was "probably a hickey."

Appearing in court Saturday on Valentine's Day, Amanda sported a bright T-shirt with "All You Need Is Love" scrawled across the front in large, pink letters.

Speaking for the second straight day to the court, Knox said she was hurt by recent testimony from witnesses, including by her Italian roommates. Witnesses said Knox did not always leave the toilet clean, prompting Kercher and other roommates to complain.

"I'm sincerely disappointed," she said, speaking Italian. "This cleaning issue was vastly exaggerated. I have talked about it with the other girls, but there was never conflict."

Knox insisted that relations in the house were good.

The trial continues Feb. 27.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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