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Amanda Knox supporters in Seattle await verdict

October 3, 2011 | 12:03 pm

As Amanda Knox awaits a verdict in an Italian courtroom on the appeal of her murder conviction, her friends and supporters are holding a vigil in Seattle, where Knox grew up.

"We're on edge, but we're cautiously optimistic, full of hope. It seems to be taking an awfully long time, and obviously we wish it weren't," family friend Tom Wright said as about a dozen friends of the Knox family and other supporters gathered in a downtown Seattle hotel suite.

Read breaking coverage of the verdict at our World Now blog, with Henry Chu reporting from London.

Photos: Amanda Knox appeal

The group convened Sunday night and sat up through the night, watching Knox's statement to the court and that of her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Lighted candles were placed in front of photographs of Knox throughout the room, and some of the onlookers wiped back tears as Knox spoke in fluent Italian to the jury.

"Amanda and Raffaele gave a wonderful speech to the court. We feel she did a tremendous job. So courageous, in poise and eloquence. It was just beautifully said, and all Amanda," Wright said.

A verdict could come as early as today. The group ordered in food Monday morning and kept waiting.

"We convened last night at 6 p.m., and we haven't slept," Wright said. "We see this coming to an end, and hopefully, a positive end. But we're on pins and needles."

Both Knox and Sollecito, 27, spoke in their own defense on the final day of the appeals case Monday.

U.S. college student Amanda Knox has been nicknamed "Foxy Knoxy" in the media. And even her own attorney compared her to the sexpot cartoon character Jessica Rabbit.

At times, it's been hard to tell what is precisely on trial -- Knox's sexuality, or charges that she and her Italian boyfriend fatally stabbed and sexually assaulted Knox' British roommate in 2007. Meredith Kercher, 21, was stabbed numerous times and had her throat cut in the apartment in Perugia, Italy, where the young women were studying abroad.

Authorities claimed that Knox and Kercher had a bitter fight, and that Knox, her boyfriend and another man turned on her in a sexually-charged, drug-and-alcohol fueled attack. Knox, however, has repeatedly maintained her innocence, and says she was not even in the home the night Kercher was killed. 

"I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn't there," Knox told the jury Monday morning, according to media reports. "I've lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way possible," she said, and also added: "I'm paying with my life for things that I didn't do."

Knox had been convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 26 years in prison after a trial that drew intense media attention around the globe. The case has been covered extensively in People and Time magazines alike. Sollecito was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years and another man, Rudy Hermann Guede, a drifter, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The evidence presented at the two trials has changed. In the first trial, prosecutors insisted that Knox's DNA was found on the murder weapon, and that Sollecito's DNA was found on the victim's bra. An independent review of the evidence in the case has raised questions about shoddy testing and evidence collection procedures, including claims that key evidence was not even collected from the crime scene until weeks after the murder.

At the second trial, prosecutors have portrayed Knox as a sex-crazed woman who loved to party and engage in salacious behavior. But her attorney paraphrased a line from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and said that Knox was being unfairly portrayed. Knox "is not bad, she's just drawn that way," he said.

Her parents have been outraged at Knox's treatment by the count, saying that there's no evidence against her. Instead, they say, she has been vilified and cast as a femme fatale in order to sway jurors.

Under the Italian court system, the jury has quite a bit of latitude. They could acquit Knox and set her free, or uphold the conviction. They also have the ability to tinker with the sentence itself.

Photos: The Amanda Knox case


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-- Kim Murphy in Seattle with Rene Lynch in Los Angeles 

Photo: Amanda Knox is escorted into an Italian appeals court Monday morning. Credit: Antonio Calanni / Associated Press