Court Hears of Strangulation First, Two Knives Used to Kill in Knox Case

American college student Amanda Knox took her seat in an Italian court once again today to listen to a coroner explain in detail how her roommate was murdered.

Meredith Kercher was found knifed to death in her room in the quaint university town of Perugia on Nov. 2, 2007, and Knox is accused of wielding the knife that killed her. The knife was part of the discussion in court today.

Because of the explicit and personal nature of the testimony, the court proceedings were held behind closed doors for the third time on the request of the lawyer representing the victim's family.

Medical examiner Mauro Bacci is the last of four medical consultants to testify for the prosecution in the trial of Knox, 21, and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25. The two young students are accused, along with Rudy Guede, a 22-year-old Ivory Coast citizen who grew up in Perugia, of murdering Kercher, a young British girl who was also studying in Perugia. Guede was convicted to 30 years in prison for his role in the killing this past October.

With journalists unable to attend the hearing, information on what Dr. Bacci said in court today came from lawyers as they emerged from the courthouse and, as always, interpretations differed.

Francesco Maresca, who represents the family of Meredith Kercher, is a firm believer in the prosecution's theory that the murder was the result of a sex game gone wrong between all three defendants -- Knox, Sollecito and Guede. He told journalists outside the courthouse that Dr. Bacci told the court that whoever attacked Kercher first tried to strangle her, and then stabbed her in the throat, possibly with two different knives.

Bacci said that the knife the prosecutors believe is the murder weapon is compatible with the largest and deepest cut in Kercher's throat but is not compatible with another, smaller wound. This is the first time a witness for the prosecution has mentioned the possibility that more than one knife might have been used.

Tests on a large kitchen knife found in Sollecito's home a few days after the murder revealed traces of Knox's DNA on the handle and traces of Kercher's DNA on the blade. The prosecution believes this is the murder weapon. Since Knox was often at Sollecito's house, her DNA on the handle would not be surprising. Meredith Kercher, however, had never been to that house. Defense lawyers say the traces of DNA are not blood and are too slight to be considered evidence.

Maresca also told reporters that according to Dr. Bacci "injuries suggest" that Kercher had probably participated in a nonconsensual sexual act before she died.

Luca Maori, one of Sollecito's lawyers, told journalists that based on Dr. Bacci's conclusions, the knife prosecutors believe is the murder weapon is "only abstractly compatible" with the wounds found. Defense lawyers for both Sollecito and Knox maintain that the murder was committed by one person, and that the knife the prosecution has submitted as a murder weapon is no such thing. Guede, an Ivory Coast national, was convicted of Kercher's murder in a separate trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He has denied murdering Kercher.

A second lawyer for Sollecito, Giulia Bongiorno, came out of the morning hearing asserting that "the seized knife is incompatible with the wounds" on the victim. She also said that the "injuries from a group sexual assault are normally glaring, but not in this case."

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