Knox tells her side of story
Former University of Washington student Amanda Knox, accused of murdering a housemate, testified for the first time Friday, offering an...
The New York Times
PERUGIA, Italy — Former University of Washington student Amanda Knox, accused of murdering a housemate, testified for the first time Friday, offering an alibi for the night of the 2007 killing and saying police beat her into making a false statement in the case.
Knox, 21, of Seattle, said she smoked pot, had sex with her boyfriend at the time — co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito — and fell asleep at his apartment. She said she did not return home until after her roommate was killed.
Knox has been jailed since November 2007, soon after Meredith Kercher, 21, of Surrey, England, was found with her throat slit, partly clothed and wrapped in a duvet in the house the two women shared.
Knox, who is charged with murder and sexual assault in Kercher's death, could face Italy's stiffest punishment, life imprisonment, if convicted of murder. The trial began in January and a verdict is expected in the fall.
Prosecutors planned to cross-examine Knox today.
Prosecutors said Knox, Sollecito, 25, a computer-science student from Italy, and a second man murdered Kercher in a drug-fueled sex game that went awry.
The second man, Rudy Guede, 21, who was born in Ivory Coast and reared in Italy, was convicted last fall of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He is appealing the ruling.
On Friday, he was quoted in the Italian news media as saying from prison, "You know you were there, Amanda; tell the truth."
The case — a tale of a junior year abroad gone bad, starring a fresh-faced American protagonist and set in a beautiful Umbrian hill town — has captivated Italy and drawn intense news coverage.
On Friday, Knox appeared in Perugia's Renaissance-era courthouse to tell her side of the story for the first time. She said she had been yelled at by the police and hit on the head twice while she was being questioned.
"They kept calling me stupid," she added.
Knox said she had been pressured by the Italian authorities to offer false testimony, in which she accused her boss at a bar where she worked of the crime. In written testimony to police, she said she had been in the house's kitchen blocking out Kercher's screams as Kercher was killed by the boss, Patrick Lumumba, originally of Congo.
Knox said that after hours of questioning, during which the police tried to put ideas in her head, she wanted to write down her testimony to help focus her thoughts. "I wasn't sure what was my imagination and what was reality," she said.
Lumumba was later cleared by prosecutors.
"The declarations were taken against my will, and so everything I said was taken under confusion and pressure," Knox said of her written account.
Knox said Friday that she had been at Sollecito's house the evening of the crime, where the two smoked marijuana, watched the French film "Amélie" and had sex.
When she returned home the next morning, she said, she noticed the door had been left open, and the door to Kercher's room was locked. She said she and Sollecito eventually called the police, who found Kercher's body.
Four days later, Knox was arrested. Knox and Sollecito are also charged with tampering with the crime scene to make it look like a robbery. If convicted, the two face life in prison.
Sollecito has said he was at his own apartment the night of Nov. 1, working at his computer. He said he does not remember if Knox spent the whole night with him or just part of it.
Knox described her relationship with Kercher as easygoing, in contrast with previous testimony indicating that Kercher had complained about Knox's bathroom habits and had expressed surprise at her apparent promiscuity.
"I confided in her, I would often ask for her advice," Knox said Friday. "When Meredith had a problem over my behavior, she would tell me. That was it."
Knox appeared confident, ebullient and in good humor throughout the daylong hearing Friday. She spoke in English and fluent Italian, which allowed her to navigate the many hypothetical clauses in her testimony.
In recent weeks, forensic investigators called by the prosecution have testified that they found DNA evidence of Knox's footprint in Kercher's blood in the apartment, and traces of the two women's intermingled blood in several places there.
While no definitive slaying weapon has been found, police said an 8-inch kitchen knife at Sollecito's house bore traces of Kercher's DNA near the tip and Knox's near the handle. In addition, a coroner called by the prosecution testified that bruises on Kercher's body indicated she had been held by multiple assailants.
Defense lawyers accuse investigators of shoddy work and tampering with the crime scene.
Knox was not under oath when she testified. Under Italian law, only witnesses testify under oath.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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