Amanda Knox Takes Stand Again, Says She Was Shocked by Friend's Death

The U.S. college student, on the stand again, spoke about police interrogation.

June 12, 2009, 4:33 AM

PERUGIA, Italy, June 13, 2009— -- On the day she was supposed to have graduated from the University of Washington, accused murderer Amanda Knox took the stand for a second day today as the prosecution grilled her about the night of her police interrogation.

Knox testified that she was shocked by the death of the woman she considered a friend and again blamed harsh police tactics as the reason she gave statements to the police that she now says were false.

Tensions rose in the courtroom as lead prosecutor Guiliano Mignini accused Knox of evading his questions and the judge had to chide her to respond.

Knox, a 21-year-old American exchange student from Seattle on trial in Perugia, Italy, for the murder of her roommate, testified Friday that because she was stoned on the night her roommate died she was confused about what happened that night, a confusion that later muddled her original statements to Italian detectives.

She told the court that she spent the night of the murder at her former boyfriend's home, Raffaele Sollecito who is also on trial for murder, smoking marijuana and having sex.

Knox said on the stand today that she was hit and bullied as police tried to force her into implicating herself in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

"I was very, very scared," Knox testified, "because they were treating me so badly and I didn't understand why."

But when the prosecution grilled Knox on who hit her, she said she couldn't remember -- just that it was a policewoman with long, brown hair.

When Mignini asked Knox why she would sign a statement that wasn't true, she answered that "they kept saying I was either a stupid liar or I forgot.

"I was so scared and so upset at that point," she said. "I thought, 'Gosh, maybe they're right, maybe I did forget.'"

Today's testimony, which she gave in English initially before switching to Italian, came after Knox spent nearly seven hours on the stand Friday.

Her father, Curt Knox, said he was very proud of his daughter.

"We were able to go behind the wall, I call it, and actually hug her and tell her that she did really good," he said. "I mean, she was very articulate. She answered all the questions. I think she cleared up a number of things."

Curt Knox said his daughter's testimony Friday that she had smoked pot and had sex with her boyfriend before going to sleep was not surprising.

"There are many kids that experiment with drugs. She is not a user," he said. "I can tell you one thing that she has learned from this -- that she will never touch anything like that again."

Knox's mother will testify next week. Then the defense is expected to start attacking the prosecution's forensic evidence from the crime scene.

Knox Tells Her Side of the Story

Knox took the stand Friday for the first time in the case. Both Knox and Sollecito , 25, are accused of murder and sexual violence in the death of British student Meredith Kercher, who was 21 when she died Nov. 1, 2007.

A third person, Rudy Guede, has already been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the murder. An appeal of that conviction is scheduled for November.

"On Nov. 1, I told Raffaele that I wanted to watch a movie, so we went to his place," Knox told the court Friday, speaking alternately in Italian and English. The two had dinner and then went upstairs to Sollecito's bedroom, she said.

"I sat on the bed, he sat at his desk. He prepared the joint and then we smoked it together," she said. "First we made love, then we fell asleep."

Knox's appearances on the stand marked a dramatic twist in the long case, which began in January, more than a year after the murder.

For the first time in public, Knox spoke about her relationship with Kercher and about her behavior after the murder, which had been characterized as strange and showing no remorse. Previous testimony included an account of Knox turning cartwheels at the police station after the killing, and being amorous with Sollecito.

"In general, I'm someone who tends to act a little silly when I feel I'm in difficulty or not at ease," said Knox, speaking in Italian.

"I cried, but I was always hugged by Raffaele," she said of her reaction to the discovery of Kercher's body. "First, he gave me his jacket, then he was cuddling with me because I was shaking. I didn't know what to think. I was shocked."

Knox disputed earlier suggestions that she didn't get along with Kercher, saying their relationship was friendly and open.

"I confided in her. I would often ask for her advice," testified Knox, speaking in Italian. "When Meredith had a problem over my behavior, she would tell me. That was it. There was nothing she would keep hidden or that we couldn't find agreement on."

Knox Testifies About Day of Murder

Knox, who has been held in an Italian prison for 18 months, told the court that she had last seen Kercher on the afternoon of the murder, in the home they shared. Halloween was the night before, and Kercher still had vampire makeup on her face, Knox testified.

"She left her room, said 'bye,' walked out the door," Knox said. "That was the last time I saw her."

Knox and Kercher, both exchange students, were sharing the flat in Perugia for the semester.

On Nov. 2, 2007, Kercher was found stabbed and strangled to death in her room in the house she shared with Knox and two other women.

Knox's explanation of where she was during the murder has changed at least twice over the course of the case. Originally, she said she was not in the house. Later, Knox told police that she was in the house when Kercher was murdered and heard the victim scream.

On the stand she explained that, under intense police interrogation, she had "imagined" hearing the scream.

Wearing white and sporting a ponytail, Knox explained to the jury in a confident voice why she signed a statement at a Perugia police station implicating herself, a statement she now says was false.

"They got tough with me, called me a liar and said I was trying to protect someone," Knox said in English with an Italian translator standing by her side. She spoke in a confident voice and used her hands freely to emphasize her points.

She later switched to Italian, expressing frustration with the translation.

"I wasn't trying to protect anyone, so I didn't know how to respond," Knox said. She added, "I couldn't understand why they were so sure I was the one who knew everything."

She said police posed the same questions over and over again, repeatedly asking her who she thought had killed her roommate and asking her to go over exactly what she did the night Kercher died.

At one point, Knox told the jury, police hit her on the head.

"I was hit in the back of the head by one of the police officers who said she was trying to make me -- help me remember the truth," Knox said.

The Perugia police have repeatedly denied any misconduct on the night of the interrogation or at any other point.

The prosecution maintains that the confused testimony Knox gave to the police is a sign of her culpability.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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