By Calvin Palmer
Amanda Knox gave evidence at her trial today during which she said she smoked marijuana and had sex with her boyfriend on the night British exchange student Meredith Kercher was murdered. She also claimed she was beaten by Italian police and forced into making false statements.
Knox, 21, from Seattle, and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, are standing trial for the murder and sexual assault of Kercher. Both deny any wrongdoing.
Dressed in a white shirt and pale trousers, Knox protested her innocence and said she was nowhere near the hillside cottage she shared with Kercher when the British girl was murdered on the night of November 1, 2007.
Knox told the court in Perugia, central Italy, she spent the evening with her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. After dinner, they went up to the bedroom.
“I sat on the bed, he sat at his desk, he prepared the joint and then we smoked it together,” Knox said.
“First we made love, then we fell asleep.”
The prosecution alleges that in a sex game that went wrong, Sollecito held down Kercher while a a third defendant, Rudy Guede, sexually assaulted her and Miss Knox stabbed her three times in the neck.
Guede, 22, originally from the Ivory Coast, was found guilty of being involved in the murder in a separate trial last year and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Knox told the court of the last time she saw Kercher hours before the murder. They had talked about the Halloween party of the night before and Knox noticed Kercher still had traces of makeup on her face, having dressed up as a vampire.
Knox then had something to eat with her boyfriend while Kercher stayed in her bedroom.
“She left her room, said ‘bye,’ walked out the door,” Knox said. “That was the last time I saw her.”
The next morning Knox and her boyfriend went to the cottage and she thought it “strange’ that the front door was open.
“I called ‘Is anyone there?’ No one answered. I went to my room and changed, went to the bathroom and saw spots of blood there.
“I had a shower and on the way back to my room I saw blood on floor. I thought: ‘Hmm, strange.’
“I put on my clothes in my room, then I went to the other bathroom to brush my hair. I saw traces of feces in the toilet,” which she said she found disgusting.
“I called Meredith, who didn’t answer.”
She then called one of her two Italian flatmates, Filomena Romanelli, who returned to the house and found her window had been broken in an apparent burglary.
“We found Meredith’s door was locked,” said Miss Knox. “Filomena was saying ‘Mamma mia, it’s never locked!’. I said that sometimes Meredith locked it when she had a shower or when she went to England.”
A male friend broke down the door and found Miss Kercher’s half-naked body lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood.
“I heard there was a body in there. There was lots of confusion,” she said. “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what had happened, couldn’t accept it.”
She repeated accusations that police hit her on the back of the head twice and placed her under enormous pressure to blame a Congolese barman, Patrick Lumumba, for the murder.
“The police called me a stupid liar who was trying to protect someone,” she told the court. “I was very scared, the police were treating me badly and I didn’t know why.”
Asked if she had been hit during her interrogation, she showed how she had been cuffed on the back on the head twice by a police officer. Perugia police have denied mistreating her.
Knox said she had named Patrick Lumumba “under the amount of pressure of everyone yelling at me and telling me they would put me in prison for protecting someone”.
Police had seized on a text message containing the English phrase, “See you later” Knox sent on the day of the murder to Lumumba, who was employing her as a bar worker. “They [the police] put the telephone in front of my face, told me to look at the message and said ‘you were going to meet someone’,” said Knox.
She said an interpreter at the interrogation suggested she was suffering from memory loss due to trauma. “In my confusion I started to imagine I was traumatised as they said,” she said.
Lumumba was briefly jailed but then found to have had nothing to do with the crime and is seeking defamation damages from Miss Knox.
Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga and Carlo dalla Vedova, then took over proceedings, with a seemingly well- rehearsed cross-examination designed to counter, one by one, the doubts raised about Knox’s character during the trial.
Knox spoke in Italian and seemed more at ease.
Asked why she repeatedly behaved strangely in the presence of police, once performing cartwheels while awaiting questioning, Knox said: “It was a way to release tension.”
Her much quoted nickname Foxy Knoxy was because of her skills as a defender in her school football team, she said.
She had written about her seven lovers in her prison diary only after she was mistakenly told she was HIV positive following a prison blood test.
A suspicious mark seen on her neck after the murder was merely “a hickey from Raffaele”, Knox said, laughing.
There will be a two month break in the trial over the summer and it is expected to last at least until the autumn.