- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

PERUGIA, Italy | An American college student accused of killing her British roommate in Italy 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.

Amanda Knox, 21, said she smoked pot, had sex with her boyfriend - co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito - and fell asleep at his apartment on the night of the slaying. She said she did not return home until after her roommate was killed.

Miss Knox alternated between English and fluent Italian during about six hours of testimony in a packed Perugia courtroom, where she is being tried on charges of murder and sexual assault for the slaying of Meredith Kercher, 21, a British student.

Miss Knox’s account of the night of the killing contrasts with that of prosecutors, who say Miss Kercher was killed during what began as a sex game.

Prosecutors say Miss Kercher came home after an evening with friends on Nov. 1, 2007, and soon after opened the door to Miss Knox, Mr. Sollecito and Rudy Hermann Guede, who was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

According to the prosecutors, Mr. Sollecito held Miss Kercher by the shoulders from behind while Miss Knox touched her with the point of a knife. They say Guede, an Ivory Coast national, tried to sexually assault Miss Kercher and then Miss Knox fatally stabbed her in the throat.

Sitting on the witness stand with an interpreter next to her, two prison guards behind and her parents at the rear of the medieval courtroom, Miss Knox offered a much different account.

“On November 1, I told Raffaele that I wanted to watch a movie, so we went to his place,” said Miss Knox, a University of Washington student who was doing a year of study abroad. After dinner, they went upstairs to his room, she said.

“I sat on the bed, he sat at his desk, he prepared the joint and then we smoked it together,” the student from Seattle said. “First we made love, then we fell asleep.”

Miss Knox described her relationship with Miss Kercher as easygoing, in contrast with previous testimony indicating that Miss Kercher had complained about Miss Knox’s bathroom habits and had expressed surprise at her apparent promiscuity.

Mr. Sollecito, 25, has said he was at his own apartment the night of Nov. 1, working at his computer. He said he does not remember if Miss Knox spent the whole night with him or just part of it. The two have said they could not remember events clearly because they had taken drugs.

Miss Knox also repeated her accusations that she was beaten by police and was confused when she was questioned in the days after the killing. Police have denied any misconduct.

Miss Knox and Mr. Sollecito have been jailed since shortly after the slaying. They could face Italy’s stiffest punishment, life imprisonment, if convicted of murder. The trial began in January, and a verdict is expected after a summer break. Guede has appealed his conviction.

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