IN the third Italian murder trial of US student Amanda Knox, a court-appointed expert testified that the alleged murder weapon shows a new DNA trace that belongs to Ms Knox and not the victim.
That testimony bolsters the defence, which claims the kitchen knife was not the weapon used in the bloody 2007 slaying of Ms Knox's British roommate, Meredith Kercher (21).
Another piece of DNA on the knife blade initially attributed to Ms Kercher was disputed on appeal.
Expert Andrea Berti testified that the new DNA trace from the knife's handle showed "considerable affinity" with Ms Knox's DNA.
It did not match those of Ms Kercher, Ms Knox's co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito or Rudy Guede, an Ivorian man who has been convicted separately of the killing.
Ms Knox's lawyer, Luca Maori, said after the hearing that expert testimony backs their argument that his client had used the knife found in Mr Sollecito's kitchen solely for preparing food.
He also noted that the new DNA trace was from the knife handle where another DNA piece linked to Ms Knox had been located.
"It means that Amanda took the knife exclusively for cooking matters, to keep in the kitchen and to use it there," Mr Maori said.
He said the trace's very existence also indicated that the knife had not been cleaned.
"It is absurd to use it for a murder and put it back in the drawer," he said.
The DNA evidence on the knife found in a drawer at Mr Sollecito's place has been among the most hotly contested evidence in the original trial, and now in two appeals.
Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of murdering Ms Kercher, and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in jail respectively.
The conviction was overturned on appeal in 2011, freeing Ms Knox to return to the US where she remains.
Italy's highest court, however, ordered a fresh appeals trial.