Knox confessed under stress, psychologist tells death trial

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AMANDA Knox "confessed" to being at the scene when Meredith Kercher was murdered because she was "under stress", a psychologist told an Italian court yesterday.

Knox, 22, who is accused of the brutal sex murder of Meredith, 21, was "confused and tired" and had "false flashbacks" prompted by intensive police questioning.

Professor Carlo Caltagirone was giving evidence on behalf of Knox as the final witnesses in the eight-month trial were being heard at the court in Perugia.

Meredith was found semi-naked and with her throat cut in the bedroom of the house she shared with Knox and two Italian women in November 2007.

Prosecutors claim that she was killed after refusing to take part in a sex game. Also on trial is Knox's former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Both deny murder.

Yesterday's hearing focused on the "confession" Knox had made in Perugia police station four days after Meredith's body was found and in which she said she had "covered her ears" as barman Patrick Lumumba "killed Meredith". As a result of what she said, Mr Lumumba, 38, was held for two weeks before being released without charge. He is now suing Knox for defamation.

Knox's lawyer, Carlo Della Vedova, told the court that Knox had been "questioned for more than 40 hours between 2 and 6 November" and asked Prof Caltagirone what her state of mind would have been.

He said: "She would have been under extreme stress and tension and situations of stress and tension can create false flashbacks. You may spontaneously say something which is not true.

"The questions should have been put to her after she had rested. I am very dubious if anything she said at that time was reliable."

Mr Della Vedova repeated Knox's earlier testimony in which she said she had been "hit over the head and that she had been threatened with 30 years' jail unless she told what the police wanted to hear.

Professor Caltagiorne added: "Being questioned in those stressful circumstances for over 40 hours would make you have false recollections and memories. She was confused and tired."

Forensic expert Walter Patumi, who was also called by Knox's defence, then told the court that wounds found on Meredith's body were incompatible with the knife said by prosecutors to have killed her.

Meredith, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was in Italy as part of her Leeds University European Studies degree and had only been in Perugia for two months.

Outside court, Amanda's father, Curt Knox, said: ""Her statements were made after more than 40 hours of questioning over four days and that would easily have created confusion for Amanda."