ROME, Feb. 27, 2009 -- Police told an Italian court today that Amanda Knox had a "strange attitude" after discovering that her roommate had been murdered, doing a cartwheel in the police station, sitting on her boyfriend's lap, making faces at him and kissing him.
A detective also described for the court the urgent messages they found on the cell phone of the victim, British exchange student Meredith Kercher, left by her family after they heard that an English student had been murdered in Perugia, Italy.
Kercher was found Nov. 1, 2007, half-naked with her throat slashed in her bedroom in the apartment in Perugia she shared with Knox and two Italian women.
Knox, a 21-year-old student from Washington, has been in jail since Nov. 6, 2007, awaiting trial along with her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24. A third person, Rudy Guede, has already been found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The former director of Perugia's crime squad, Domenico Giacinto Profazio, described the behavior of Knox and Sollecito in the hours and days after Kercher's body was found and her roommates were questioned.
He told the court about seeing Knox sitting on Sollecito's lap in the detectives' waiting room and said that he had told them "it was not appropriate."
In another example of what he considered their puzzling behavior, he said that he had been told that before they were arrested, "Amanda did a cartwheel or a split in one of the rooms at the police station, and then that she burst into tears at the end of her interrogation."
The head of Perugia's homicide squad Monica Napoleoni testified that all of Kercher's friends were horrified by the news of her murder as they waited to be interviewed at the police station.
"All were terrified except for Amanda and Raffaele. They seemed indifferent. They were making faces and kissing," Napoleoni told the court.
Knox and Sollecito deny the charges against them and say they were at Sollecito's house on the night of the murder.
But investigators have been unable to establish where the couple was during that hours they believe Kercher was killed, and had tried to track them through the use of their cell phones.
Prosecutor's Evidence Challenged
Profazio testified that both Knox and Sollecito's cell phones were turned off between 8 p.m. and 8.30 pm on the night of Nov. 1, the night the murder took place.
Knox, wearing a purple sweater, held her head down as she entered the crowded courtroom today escorted by prison guards. She seemed calm and remained silent as she listened attentively to the hearing, which is conducted entirely in Italian. Her translator sat beside her, but she didn't seem to need much assistance to understand the proceedings.
Knox's father, Curt Knox, was seated alone at the rear of the hall. He has been present at all hearings since the start of the trial on Jan. 16.
Sollecito's lawyer attacked the prosecution's evidence today.
At one point, Profazio told the court that two evidence-gathering inspections were carried out in the house before the victim's bra clasp was found on the victim's bedroom floor more than a month and a half after the murder. Traces of Sollecito's DNA have been found on it.
"That fragment [of evidence] moved around the room," Giulia Bongiorno, one of Sollecito's lawyers, told reporters. "We can see that it ended up under a small carpet from the police video taken during the gathering of evidence. One has to guarantee that the evidence examined was not contaminated before anyone can speak of DNA traces. This can not be the case if police entered the scene without wearing gloves or the correct clothing required for such evidence gathering."
A bloody footprint that was found by investigators in Kercher's room was also the object of much questioning in court today. At the start of the investigation, the footprint was considered to be one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sollecito, but it was later found to belong to Rudy Guede.
"Raffaele was arrested because of a footprint which was not his and now he is being kept in jail because of a bra clasp which we have started to show today may not really prove that he was present," Bongiorno said.
The trial resumes on Saturday.
The hillside house where the murder took place has bizarrely become the focus of yet another investigation. Intruders have broken in to the apartment sometime in the last few months and disturbed its contents, leaving a used candle and four kitchen knives positioned in various rooms.
The discovery was made when police officials, accompanying the two Italian roommates, were authorized back into the house to pick up personal property that has been in the house since the murder.
The apartment was sealed by the police soon after the finding of the body, and investigators and authorized officials have been the only people allowed to enter it since then. Investigators are trying to establish if the later entry was some sort of prank or threat.
Zachary Nowak contributed to this report from Perugia