American student Amanda Knox weathered a second day of tough questioning Saturday over charges that she took part in the murder of her British housemate who refused to join in a group sex session in Italy.
Prominent public prosecutor Giuliano Mignini grilled the 21-year-old exchange student over her alleged role in an orgy that turned violent with the stabbing death of Meredith Kercher, 22, of Britain.
Mignini focused on Knox's assertions that aggressive police questioning had led her to make false statements -- notably, that her part-time employer Patrick Lumumba was the killer.
The defendant described "a steady crescendo" of accusations and suggestions that finally led her "to believe I had forgotten things."
She testified with confidence in fluent Italian, although she addressed all her questioners with the familiar form for "you," occasionally prompting murmurs in the courtroom.
Knox had said Friday that she was also under duress when she stated that she was at home at the time of the murder and could hear Kercher's screams.
Instead, Knox said, she spent the night of Nov 1, 2007, with her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito at his flat, where they smoked marijuana, had sex and watched a movie.
Both have been held since a few days after Kercher was found semi-nude in a pool of blood with her throat cut in the house in the walled medieval town of Perugia that she shared with Knox.
Defense lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova praised Knox's testimony, saying: "We know that Amanda can explain and sell herself better than anybody else."
He added: "If you keep a young girl of 20 all night without a lawyer and take advantage of her naivety, you can get her to tell the story about Patrick."
The Congolese Lumumba, who was held for two weeks before being released without charge, is suing Knox for defamation and was present at the hearing.
Noted lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, who is defending Sollecito, also praised Knox as having been "very authentic in her responses."
A third defendant in the case, 20-year-old Rudy Guede, from Ivory Coast, has already been convicted and sentenced to 30 years for his role in the murder.
While claiming innocence, Guede, who worked as a casual laborer here, opted for a so-called "fast-track" trial limited to evidence from the probe.
In the prosecutors' scenario, Guede held Kercher down while Sollecito and Knox stabbed her.
Kercher's family are seeking 30 million euros ($40 million) from the alleged killers.
Later Saturday, the defense summoned its first character witness on Knox's behalf, a university classmate in her native Seattle, Washington.
Describing himself as Knox's "best friend" but not her boyfriend, Andrew Seliber, 22, said he attended a party described in sensational terms by the British newspaper the Daily Mail's online edition, Mail Online.
Under the headline "The wild, raunchy past of Foxy Knoxy," the article said students "high on drink and drugs were hurling rocks into the road" outside.
The article quoted a guest as saying the party was a scene of debauchery, "with drink, drugs and bodies everywhere... Everyone just wanted to get drunk, get high and get laid. There was also a lot of violence because everyone was so pumped up.
"The article said a lot of things that didn't happen at the party," Seliber said.
Knox was like "any other college student" in that she drank alcohol and smoked marijuana occasionally, he said, adding: "She cares a lot about her body."
Seliber also corroborated Knox's assertion Friday that the nickname "Foxy Knoxy" was a childhood reference to her football skills. "It was not a name that she gave herself," he said.
Two judges and six jurors will decide the fate of Knox and Sollecito, who face 30 years in prison if convicted. A verdict is expected later in the year.© Wire reports