Friends of murdered girl arrive to incriminate Knox

Witnesses tell court of American student's 'inappropriate and strange' reaction to discovery of murder
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The Independent Online

Amanda Knox, the American student accused of the murder of her English flatmate Meredith Kercher, behaved in an "inappropriate" and "very strange" manner after the killing was discovered, an Italian court heard yesterday.

As well as testimony from seven close friends of Ms Kercher, the trial yesterday heard for the first time from Ms Knox herself, who breezily told the packed courtroom: "I'm innocent and I am confident that everything will be sorted out, that's all."

Ms Knox is accused of murdering Ms Kercher, from Coulsdon in Surrey, along with her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who is on trial with her, and Rudy Guede, from the Ivory Coast, who is serving a 30-year sentence for his role in the crime. The prosecution alleges that Ms Knox stabbed Ms Kercher in the throat at the culmination of a sex orgy in November 2007.

Amy Frost, a fellow student at Perugia's University for Foreigners at the time Ms Kercher was murdered in her room, described what she saw as the peculiar behaviour of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito at a Perugia police station after the killing was discovered.

"Their behaviour at the police station seemed to me really inappropriate," she said. "They sat opposite each other, Amanda put her feet up on Raffaele's legs and made faces at him. Everyone cried except Amanda and Raffaele. I never saw them crying. They were kissing each other."

Robyn Butterworth, another close friend of Ms Kercher, said: "Amanda's behaviour was very strange. She didn't seem to show any emotion about what had happened."

They also testified to hearing Ms Knox say that she had seen Ms Kercher's body in the closet of her room with a blanket over it.

Ms Butterworth said: "I don't know who she was talking to. She was talking to the room. I didn't want to talk to her because I found it quite upsetting ... I was really upset that she was even mentioning these things. I removed myself, I didn't want to know. I also remember her talking on the phone, saying, 'It could have been me, how do you think I feel – I found her.' ... She kept talking about how she had found Meredith. She sounded proud that she had been the first to find her."

While in the waiting room at the police station, another of the friends, Natalie Hayward, remarked: "I hope Meredith wasn't in too much pain." Ms Frost remembered Ms Knox replying: "What do you fucking think? She fucking bled to death."

The witnesses also recalled how Ms Kercher struck up a friendship with Ms Knox, who she first regarded as "pretty and nice" – but said that the relationship degenerated as the English girl struggled to put up with her flatmate's personal habits.

They recalled how Ms Kercher complained that Ms Knox left the shared bathroom dirty, failed to flush the toilet and left a see-through washbag containing condoms and a rabbit-shaped vibrator lying around. They also said that she brought men home.

Ms Knox, who did not address her relationship with Ms Kercher, said that the vibrator was a jokey gift from a girlfriend before she came to Italy.

The English girls were fellow students with Ms Kercher at Perugia's University for Foreigners at the time she was murdered. Ms Butterworth, the first to give evidence, said: "I knew about the relationships in the house. Meredith said it was a bit awkward. She didn't know how to talk to Amanda about flushing the toilet and keeping the bathroom clean.

"She said she found it 'strange and uncomfortable' that Amanda left the bag with condoms and a vibrator and other objects in the bathroom."

Ms Butterworth described how she and two other friends had eaten supper together on 1 November, the night Ms Kercher died. "We invited Meredith to have dinner together and watch a film," she said. "She came to our house at about 4 pm. We cooked a pizza, ate it, then looked at photos on the computer that we had taken ... the previous night. Then we watched the film but halfway through we stopped it and made apple crumble which we ate with ice cream. Meredith went home at about 9pm. It was quite a relaxed night, we talked about boys from home."

Ms Butterworth also mentioned how Ms Kercher had said that Ms Knox had asked her if she would like to go out with her that evening, "but Meredith had already arranged to have dinner with us". Ms Kercher felt bad about turning her flatmate down, she added.