ITALY: Amanda Knox makes final appeal
REPORTING FROM LONDON -– Former American exchange student Amanda Knox made an emotional appeal for her freedom Monday, declaring in an Italian courtroom that she was completely innocent in the brutal killing of her roommate in what authorities say was a sex game gone wrong.
Knox, 24, told jurors that she was not the violent, promiscuous killer portrayed by the prosecution and that her trust in the Italian police had been betrayed.
"I was manipulated. I am not what they say," said Knox, who is from Seattle. "I have not killed; I have not raped. ... I wasn't present at the crime."
Knox has been in prison for the last four years since the November 2007 slaying of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, a British student whose throat was slashed in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy. Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of the murder two years ago, but they have lodged an appeal.
Both Knox and Sollecito, 27, spoke in their own defense on the final day of the appeals case Monday, and a verdict is expected later in the day.
Knox addressed the jury in Italian, at times emphatic and at other moments too overcome by emotion to continue speaking. The panel consists of six lay jurors and two judges, who sat and listened in the packed courtroom in Perugia.
Knox's lawyers argued in previous days that the police investigation into Kercher's death was bungled and that the case against Knox and Sollecito was based on flawed DNA evidence. An independent review of the DNA evidence has found it to be unreliable.
But prosecutors take issue with that finding and say that circumstantial evidence also points to the defendants' guilt.
The case has attracted international media attention because of the lurid accusations made against Knox. The case has also put Italy's justice system in the spotlight, with many of Knox's supporters convinced that police and prosecutors acted hastily and incompetently.
-- Henry Chu
Photo: Amanda Knox arrives in court for her appeal. Credit: Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters