Amanda Knox 'crucified' in Italy murder case: lawyer

29th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Amanda Knox's defence urged jurors to overturn her murder conviction on Thursday saying the American had been "crucified" by the media as her appeal in Italy moved towards a final verdict.

Lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said the result of the first trial, in which Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, had been a "mistake" and he told the court: "Don't make a mistake. Not at the cost of keeping innocents in prison."

He condemned "fantastical reconstructions" of the grisly killing of Knox's British housemate Meredith Kercher on November 1, 2007 in the house they shared in the university town of Perugia where the appeal trial is taking place.

Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann said the jury will retire to consider the verdict on Monday, bringing to a close a complex four-year legal saga on a shocking crime that has gripped observers in Europe and the United States.

The appeal began in November 2010. If the verdict is upheld, Knox would have a second and final chance to appeal the conviction in Italy's highest appeals court. If it is overturned, she is expected to be set free immediately.

Dalla Vedova said a review of the forensic evidence ordered by the appeal judge that has cast doubt on some of the DNA analysis used to convict Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito had offered "comfort" to the defence.

The prosecution says Sollecito and a third person, Rudy Guede, held Kercher down while Knox slashed her throat as part of a drug-fuelled sexual assault.

"If there's no proof, you have to absolve," Dalla Vedova told jurors, as an ashen-faced Knox looked on. Wearing a black coat, the 24-year-old was escorted into the courtroom by prison guards to the sound of camera shutters clicking.

Her father, Curt Knox, told reporters outside the court that Knox was "anxious" but said the family was "hopeful" that she would be released.

A tearful Knox said the family visited her on Wednesday and it was the first time she had seen her sister and two half-sisters together in two years.

Meanwhile in court Dalla Vedova accused the media of setting up a parallel trial of Knox based on sensationalist information on her sex life.

Knox "has been crucified, impaled on the public square... She has been overwhelmed and raped" by scurrilous news reports, he said.

Earlier this week a lawyer for the man Knox identified as the killer in a deliberate lie to police during her first interrogation said she had "a two-faced soul" divided between the "angelic" and the "demonic".

But her lawyers repeated her claims that she was at her boyfriend's house on the night of the murder and is completely innocent.

Simulating knife wounds to his neck, Dalla Vedova said a review of the evidence had shown that the presumed murder weapon -- a kitchen knife -- did not match the cuts on Kercher's body and did not contain her DNA.

"This should not be considered as the murder weapon. It should be thrown out," he said. The knife, which has traces of Knox's DNA on the handle and was found in Sollecito's house, was the only proof placing Knox at the scene.

Sollecito's lawyer Giulia Bongiorno this week said prosecutors were obsessed with the portrayal of Knox as a "femme fatale" figure like the dominatrix character in a 19th century sado-masochistic novel called "Venus in Furs".

Knox arrived in Italy in September 2007 for a one-year programme at a university in Perugia -- a medieval town popular with foreign students.

She met Sollecito at a classical concert a few days before the killing.

During a night-time police interrogation in the days after the murder with no lawyer present, Knox admitted to investigators that she had been in the house at the time of the killing and was still haunted by Kercher's screams.

She identified the owner of a local bar where she worked as a waitress as the killer. The man, Patrick Lumumba, was held for two weeks but was later found to have a rock-solid alibi. He is an injured party in the court case.

© 2011 AFP

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