Amanda Knox 'crucified' in Italy murder case: lawyer
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 moves 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 the "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 trial is taking place.
There will be a final hearing in the appeal on Friday before the jury retires to consider the verdict on Monday, ending a complex legal saga stemming from a shocking murder that has gripped observers around the world.
The appeal began in November 2010. If the verdict is upheld, Knox would have a second and final chance to overturn 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 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 has said that it believes Sollecito and a third person, a small-time local drug dealer named Rudy Guede, held Kercher down while Knox slashed her throat as part of a brutal, drug-fuelled sexual assault.
But the defence stressed that there was no physical evidence linking Knox to the scene of the crime -- Kercher's bedroom -- and that there was no motive.
They say Knox was at Sollecito's house on the night of the murder. The two have always protested their innocence, as does Guede who was tried separately and is serving out a 16-year sentence having exhausted his appeals.
Dalla Vedova said the prosecution's theory that Knox and Sollecito had taken Guede's side after he tried to assault Kercher was "incredibly illogical."
"If there's no proof, you have to absolve," Dalla Vedova told jurors, next to an ashen-faced Knox, who came in wearing a black coat over a green top.
The 24-year-old was escorted into the courtroom by prison guards to the sound of camera shutters clicking from a crowd of photographers and cameramen.
Her father, Curt Knox, told reporters outside the court that Knox was "anxious" but said the family was "hopeful" that she would be released.
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 reports, he said.
He and Knox's other lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, repeatedly urged jurors to ignore these reports and focus on the facts before them.
Simulating knife wounds to his neck, Dalla Vedova said the 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 the victim's DNA.
The knife, which was found at Sollecito's house, has been the only physical evidence linking Knox to the scene of the crime. "The only possible decision that can be taken is to absolve Amanda Knox," Dalla Vedova concluded.
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 suing Knox for slander.
Ghirga said that the interrogation had taken place in "total confusion".
"Something inside her broke. She screamed, she held her head," he said.
A local lawyer who has represented Knox from the start, Ghirga said he was convinced of her innocence, adding: "I consider her like a daughter."
© 2011 AFP