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Thursday, November 29, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW student says she was 'going crazy' in Italian jail

The Associated Press

PERUGIA, Italy — An American student jailed in connection with the slaying of her British roommate was quoted Thursday as saying she was "going crazy" during her first days in jail.

Amanda Marie Knox, a 20-year-old from Seattle, has been jailed in Perugia since Nov. 6. On Friday, a judge must decide whether she and another suspect — her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito — should remain behind bars.

Knox agreed to talk to the Turin newspaper La Stampa, but not about the night Meredith Kercher was killed.

"No questions about that night; I don't want to be affected by things that I learn from outside," she is quoted as saying, speaking Italian. "Whenever I see Perugia footage on TV, I switch channels. What I have to say I want to say to judges alone. And to my lawyer."

Knox has given conflicting statements since Kercher was found dead in their Perugia apartment on Nov. 2. Kercher, a 21-year-old Leeds University student, was killed by a knife wound to the neck, and prosecutors said she died fighting off a sexual assault.

Knox first said she wasn't home the night of the slaying, but later told prosecutors she was in the apartment, saying she had to cover her ears to drown out Kercher's screams.

Her lawyer, however, is expected Friday to go back to the original version — that Knox was not at home — when he speaks to the judge ruling on Knox's detention, according to La Stampa and other Italian reports citing a defense document prepared for the hearing.

Knox told La Stampa that the first days in jail were difficult.

"The first days, I was kept isolated," she told the newspaper, speaking in Italian. "It was very hard; I couldn't have any relations with anybody." Then she was transferred to a ward housing people accused of sexual crimes, the newspaper said.

"My God, those days were terrible; nobody talked to me," Knox is quoted as saying. "I thought I was going crazy and I prayed that they would move me. When I arrived here, everything changed."'

"They treat me with dignity," she said, adding that her fellow inmates are "wonderful."

Knox's and Kercher's DNA were found on a knife that investigators believe may have been the murder weapon; the knife was found in Sollecito's home.

The top investigating prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, wrote that the body of evidence against Knox has only grown as the probe continued.

In addition to Knox and Sollecito, 23, Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivory Coast native, has been detained in the slaying. Guede is to be extradited from Germany. All have denied any wrongdoing.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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