Image: Amanda Knox
Stefano Medici  /  AP
U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox, center, arrives for a hearing in the murder trial for Meredith Kercher at Perugia's courthouse, Italy, Sept. 19, 2009.
updated 9/19/2009 1:50:16 PM ET 2009-09-19T17:50:16

A knife that prosecutors say could have slain a British woman in Italy was shown in court Saturday at the murder trial of her American roommate and an Italian co-defendant.

The knife, wrapped in plastic and kept in a white box, was shown to the eight-member jury in Perugia, central Italy, during the trial of Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

Knox and Sollecito, who were in court, watched as the knife was brought in. The two are on trial on charges of murder and sexual violence for the 2007 death of Meredith Kercher. They deny wrongdoing.

The knife, handled by a court official wearing gloves and a face mask, was shown as three forensic experts were called by Sollecito's defense to discuss the alleged murder weapon and other evidence they had studied. 

Prosecutors allege the knife with a 6 1/2-inch (16.5-centimeter) blade found at Sollecito's house could be the murder weapon. They say it had Kercher's DNA on the blade and Knox's on the handle — a claim that defense lawyers reject, saying the knife is too big to match Kercher's wounds and the amount of what prosecutors say is Kercher's DNA is too low to be attributed with certainty.

In Saturday's session, forensic expert Mariano Cingolani cast some doubt on the knife's "compatibility" with a wound to Kercher's neck, which is not considered to be the fatal one.

"Many other knives in general are more compatible with that kind of wound," said Cingolani, who was appointed by a Perugia judge before indictments for Knox and Sollecito were handed down.

Cingolani said one of three cuts on the victim's neck would have been bigger if that knife was used, given the wound's depth. However, the expert also cautioned that no firm conclusion could be drawn without knowing the position of Kercher's neck during the attack or the elasticity of her tissues.

According to Cingolani, whose team did not carry out an autopsy on Kercher's body but examined photos and videos of the procedure, the 21-year-old died of combined loss of blood and suffocation.

He said bruises on her neck suggest she might have been strangled and may have choked on her own blood.

Anna Aprile, another of the experts who testified Saturday, said Kercher's body showed evidence of sexual activity shortly before death. It could not be directly determined whether she was raped, but the fact that she was found in a pool of blood, with multiple wounds and bruises, suggests violence during intercourse, Aprile said.

Prosecutors allege that Kercher was killed during what had begun as a sex game. Her body was found in her bedroom in the apartment she shared with Knox on Nov. 2, 2007.

More on: Amanda Knox

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