Knox eyes freedom as Italy murder trial wraps up

29th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Lawyers for Amanda Knox are to counter her portrayal as a cunning "she-devil" at her murder appeal in Italy on Thursday, as her family said they were hopeful of an imminent release.

Knox, 24, is set to make an emotional statement to the court after a lawyer for the man she identified as the killer in a deliberate lie to police said she had "a two-faced soul" divided between the "angelic" and the "demonic".

Her lawyers are expected to present her claims that she was at her boyfriend's house on the night of the murder and is completely innocent of the gruesome killing of her British housemate Meredith Kercher in November 2007.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the crime in 2009.

Her defence so far has centred on the results of an independent analysis of forensic evidence ordered by the court that has cast serious doubt on the DNA analysis from one of the presumed murder weapons -- a kitchen knife.

The prosecution will have a chance to respond to the defence's arguments and the verdict is then expected as early as Saturday, lawyers said.

Knox's stepfather Chris Mella told reporters earlier that her accusers were telling "crazy lies" and that Knox was "under a lot of pressure."

"We really hope that she'll be freed. It's a matter of days," he said.

Knox herself said in one of the first hearings of her appeal, which began in November 2010, that Kercher was her friend and she had no reason to kill her.

Her defenders have fought hard against the image of Knox put forward by the prosecution as a dissolute party girl who harboured hatred towards Kercher.

Kercher was found almost completely naked in a pool of blood on the floor of her bedroom on November 2 with multiple bruising and stab wounds.

The prosecution claims that Knox was the one wielding the knife on the night of November 1 -- while Kercher was held down by two others in the room.

Knox's then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito is also appealing, while the third person -- Rudy Guede -- was tried separately and has exhausted his appeals.

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

Speaking to jurors on Tuesday, Bongiorno said: "You have been provided with a deformed portrait of these two young people..... Amanda has been transformed into a 'Venus in Furs' in contrast to a fake and weak man."

Knox travelled to 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 murder 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.

From the beginning, the case has attracted huge media attention.

Sensational headlines in British tabloids in the weeks after the murder were blamed by Knox supporters for influencing the outcome of the first trial.

Discussions of the complex case on US daytime television shows in recent months have tended to be more favourable towards Knox and her family.

© 2011 AFP

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