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Video: Knox makes appeal in murder conviction

  1. Transcript of: Knox makes appeal in murder conviction

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: But let us begin this half-hour with Amanda Knox , back in an Italian courtroom this morning to appeal her murder conviction. We're going to talk to her parents in a moment. But first, NBC 's Keith Miller is in Perugia with details. Keith , good morning to you.

    KEITH MILLER reporting: Good morning, Meredith . Well, it's all or nothing for Amanda Knox on this appeal . She could win her freedom; but also, the judge in the case could impose a harsher sentence than the 26 years she is already serving. Knox is older now, the strain of three years behind bars starting to show. In the same courtroom where she was convicted of murder and sexual violent assault, Amanda Knox sat at the defense table still proclaiming her innocence in the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher , an exchange student from England . Knox 's defense will argue that the evidence needed to convict does not exist. Knox 's lawyers say they have a new witness list, and they're asking the appeals judge to appoint an outside panel of experts to examine the DNA evidence . If the appeal judge agrees, it would be a whole new trial for Knox , a good chance to win her freedom.

    Mr. ALEXANDER GUTTIERES (Italian/American Attorney): Because that would mean that the judges have some doubts and want to delve into the evidence more in detail than was done in the trial level.

    MILLER: The prosecution is also appealing. They want Knox to serve more time behind bars. The circuslike atmosphere surrounding the appeal is exaggerated by more than 100 journalists. The attraction is Knox , appearing like the all- American girl that the Italian press still calls " Angel Face ." Alongside Knox is her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito , also convicted of Kercher 's murder and sexual assault. On appeal , the defense hopes to show that Knox had no motive for killing her roommate, and that the prosecution failed to provide evidence backing up its claim that the killing was the result of a drug-fueled sex game gone wrong. Explaining the guilty verdict , the trial judge characterized Knox as "a manipulative, promiscuous woman who clashed with Kercher ." The defense maintains that's no motive for murder. In the written appeal , the defense described Knox as worn out, writing, "The long pre-emptive custody has broken down the young woman." The judge this morning postponed the trial until next month. At that time they will again -- everybody will be back in court. But as we know, Meredith , the wheels of Italian justice moves very slowly. We don't expect a verdict in this appeal until next spring. Meredith :

    VIEIRA: All right, Keith Miller , thank you very much . Amanda Knox 's parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas , are with us now. Good morning to both of you.

    Mr. CURT KNOX (Amanda Knox's Parents): Good morning.

    Ms. EDDA MELLAS (Amanda Knox's Parents): Good morning.

    VIEIRA: Right after the hearing today, one of Amanda's lawyers said to the press her time in prison has taken a toll on her psychologically.

    Ms. MELLAS: Mm-hmm.

    VIEIRA: And as Keith just pointed out, her lawyers have also said that custody has broken her down. They described her as depressed, tense, worried, exhausted. You talk to her on a weekly basis. Do you hear that in her voice? Is that what you hear?

    Ms. MELLAS: Well, you know, we have a short 10 minutes with her when she calls us, and she always tries to put on a brave face for us during those 10 minutes . But we know this is, you know, this is just horrible for her to be locked up for a crime she didn't commit, and it is taking its toll.

    VIEIRA: In what way?

    Ms. MELLAS: Well, I mean, I think you can see the fact that she's just, you know, down. She's worried that this is not going to get fixed. You know, to be -- to be innocent and to be locked up is just horrific. It's -- I don't know that I would characterize her as depressed, but she is definitely worried and this is hard.

    VIEIRA: You know, Curt , there is a...

    Mr. KNOX: And you...

    VIEIRA: ...new judge assigned to this case, to the trial . Do you think that that will affect the appeal ?

    Mr. KNOX: Actually, I think it's going to, from the standpoint of a fresh set of eyes really looking at the case and looking at the evidence and the how the motivation was written and the fact that there was a lot of assumptions made without fact in the wrong conviction.

    VIEIRA: I know that the defense wants a review of all the forensic evidence . They also want to introduce new witnesses. If the judge agrees to that, what signal will that send to you, Edda ?

    Ms. MELLAS: Well, I think it's a positive signal. I think they're saying, yeah -- you know, that would be them saying, 'Wait a minute, you know, maybe we didn't get it right. Let's retake a look at this.'

    VIEIRA: You know, after the -- Amanda was found guilty of murder last December, the court explained its verdict this way, it said that they found no inconsistencies with the prosecution's case. You disagree with that, Curt . Why?

    Mr. KNOX: Absolutely. I mean, in going through the motivation, there are assumptions made that are not backed up by fact. There's hypotheses that are not backed up by fact. And we think that an independent review of specifically the forensic evidence is really going to point this new judge and jury to the fact that Amanda had nothing to do with this crime.

    VIEIRA: Her trial is also going to be held simultaneously with that of her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito .

    Ms. MELLAS: Mm-hmm.

    VIEIRA: Do you think that's going to hurt her or help her, Edda ?

    Ms. MELLAS: Well, you know, they're both innocent. They're both in the same boat. There's nothing connecting them to this crime. So I -- you know, I think it -- I think it's fine. I don't know that it's going to hurt or help. I think it just, it is what it is .

    VIEIRA: But meanwhile, you have the prosecution, they are also appealing because they want her to serve even more time. They want her to serve life in prison. So are you worried at all, either one of you, that this could all backfire on Amanda , that she could be in worse shape after this process is over?

    Mr. KNOX: I think if they really take a look at the facts of the case vs. all of the media hype that took place during the first trial , I think we're going to find that this really isn't that much of a gamble at all. And hopefully they'll see that this wrongful conviction should be overturned and they'll actually do it.

    Ms. MELLAS: You know, I don't -- I don't see it as an option. I mean, when you're innocent, you have no choice but you appeal and you keep going until she's freed.

    VIEIRA: Meanwhile, tomorrow is Thanksgiving . It is one more holiday without your daughter.

    Ms. MELLAS: Mm-hmm.

    VIEIRA: How do you cope with this on a day-to-day basis?

    Ms. MELLAS: You know, we have -- you know, we have other children here, and we talk to Amanda . And she all wants -- you know, she wants us to stay strong and to keep plugging along. And so we all do it, you know, for her.

    Mr. KNOX: Right. We focus on her. But we also, you know, have to continue to live our day-to-day lives as well.

TODAY staff and wire
updated 11/24/2010 10:40:10 AM ET 2010-11-24T15:40:10

Amanda Knox, already serving a 26-year sentence in an Italian prison for the murder of her British roommate, appeared calm but serious Wednesday as her lawyers began the process of challenging the evidence against her. Meanwhile, prosecutors are trying to get a judge to throw the book even harder at the 23-year-old from Washington state.

Knox returned to court in Perugia briefly on Wednesday for the start of her appeals trial. Also attending was Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who was Knox's boyfriend at the time of the murder. He has been convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The hearing, devoted mainly to procedural matters, lasted 15 minutes and the case was adjourned until Dec. 11.

Under Italian law, Amanda Knox’s second bite at the judicial apple could leave an even more bitter taste than the first one. The defense is seeking a full review of the case, hoping to introduce new witnesses and ultimately win an acquittal. But if prosecutors have their way, the defendant dubbed “Angel Face” and “Foxy Knoxy” by the European tabloids could wind up with an even longer sentence.

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"We want an acquittal, the prosecution demands a life sentence: It's an intense, harsh and violent legal clash," Luciano Ghirga, a lawyer for Knos, told The Associated Press Tuesday.

But Knox’s parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira on Wednesday that they do not view the appeal as a gamble. Rather, they are encouraged by the fact that the appeal was assigned to a new jury presided over by a new judge who is regarded as open-minded and fair by defense lawyers in Italy.

Mellas said that despite the risk of a longer sentence, not appealing was not an option: “When you are innocent, you have no choice but to appeal and you keep going until you are free.”

Video: More prison time for Amanda Knox? (on this page)

Knox, Sollecito, and another man were tried for the November 2007 stabbing death of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. Knox, a student abroad, was sharing a flat with Kercher and two other women in Perugia at the time.

Although evidence was presented at the trial that crime scene evidence was mishandled, Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murder last December. Prosecutors argued that Kercher died during a sex game gone wrong. A third suspect received 30 years in prison, but an appeals court slashed his sentence to 16 years.

Slideshow: A murder in Italy (on this page)

‘Fresh eyes’
When the appellate proceedings resume on Dec. 11, Knox’s defense lawyers are expected to ask the court to appoint an independent panel of experts to review the physical evidence in the case. The family hopes that “fresh eyes” will view the evidence in a different light and conclude that there is no physical evidence tying Amanda to the murder, Curt Knox told Vieira.

In his findings, the trial judge entertained speculation and guesses and just got it wrong, Curt Knox argued.

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“There are assumptions made that are not backed up by fact. There are hypotheses that are made that are not backed up by fact,” he said. “We think an independent review, specifically of the forensic evidence, is really going to point this new judge and jury to the fact that Amanda had nothing to do with this crime.”

In their appeal motion, Knox's lawyers were sharply critical of the verdict, maintaining it was based on mere hypotheses and saying that "the motive, a fundamental aspect of a serious crime, is basically absent." They also denounced an "obscene media campaign" against their client, accused police of focusing their investigation into the slaying on the assumption that Knox was guilty, and said the court made the same mistake.

Video: Knox makes appeal in murder conviction (on this page)

Prosecutors did present circumstantial evidence and forensic evidence linking both Knox and Sollecito to the crime, and the court in its verdict supported this evidence against the defense's claims. They described Knox as a manipulative, promiscuous woman whose personality clashed with Kercher's.

In their December ruling, the judges said they found no inconsistencies in the prosecution's case. The killing was carried out without planning or animosity, but still it was the result of a brutal sexual assault, the court said in a document that was released in March and summed up the reasoning behind the verdict.

Wearing a blue knit sweater, Knox looked a bit tired and grave when she appeared in court on Wednesday. Although she is concerned about what is at stake in the proceedings, she tries to hide it during the 10-minute phone calls she gets with her family every Saturday, her mother said.

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“She always tries to put on a brave face for those 10 minutes; we know that it is just horrible for her to be locked up for a crime she didn’t commit,” Mellas said. “This has taken a toll … I don’t know that I would characterize her as depressed, but she is worried.”

Knox’s lawyers said as much in court papers. “The long pre-emptive custody has broken down the young woman,” they wrote.

A ruling on the appeal is not expected until sometime in the spring.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive

Photos: Amanda Knox: Her long legal saga

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  1. Amanda Knox: Her long legal saga

    The long legal saga of Amanda Knox, an American student accused of the violent death of her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, has made headlines around the world since it began in Perugia, Italy, in late 2007.

    Reversal of fortune
    From left, Pierluigi Puglia, member of the British consulate in Italy; Stephanie Kercher, sister of the late Meredith Kercher; her brother, Lyle Kercher, and lawyer Francesco Maresca speak to the press in Florence on Jan. 31, 2014, the day after the guilty verdicts against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of UK student Meredith Kercher in 2007 were reinstated in Italy. The verdict overturned Knox and Sollecito's successful appeal in 2011, which released them after four years in jail. (Franco Origlia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Reconvicted

    Amanda Knox is shown here in Seattle after serving four years in prison after being convicted in a case involving the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito is shown here in Florence, Italy, on Jan. 20, 2014. Though both were acquitted on appeal and released in 2011, they were re-convicted of the murder on Jan. 30, 2014. (Splash News, AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Awaiting another verdict

    Raffaele Sollecito leaves court in Florence, Italy, on Jan. 30, 2014. The Italian ex-boyfriend of Amanda Knox awaited the court's verdict in the retrial of both Knox and himself for the murder of Meredith Kercher more than two years after they were acquitted. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A new trial

    Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the family of Meredith Kercher, talks to reporters as he arrives for the start of Amanda Knox's second appeals trial in Florence, Italy, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Italy's highest court ordered a new trial for Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, overturning their acquittals in the 2007 slaying of Kercher. (Francesco Bellini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Not going back

    Amanda Knox appeared on TODAY on Sept. 20, 2013, to discuss her upcoming retrial in Florence for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. Knox maintained that she would not go back to Italy to face trial again: "It's not a possibility, as I was imprisoned as an innocent person and I just can't relive that," she told Matt Lauer. (Peter Kramer / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A memoir

    Filled with details first recorded in the journals Amanda Knox kept while in Italy, "Waiting to be Heard," Knox's memoir, is set to be released on April 30, 2013. (HarperCollins via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Acquittal overturned

    Luciano Ghirga, lawyer of Amanda Knox, center, talks to journalists as he leaves Italy's Court of Cassation in Rome on March 26, 2013. Italy's highest criminal court overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial. The court ruled that an appeals court in Florence would have to re-hear the case against the American and her Italian-ex-boyfriend for the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Home at last

    Amanda Knox makes remarks after arriving in Seattle a day after her release from prison in Italy on Oct. 4, 2011. She was acquitted of murder and sexual assault by an Italian appeals court after spending four years in custody over the killing of her British housemate, Meredith Kercher. At left is her father, Kurt Knox. (Dan Levine / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Welcome home

    Well-wishers greet Amanda Knox upon her arrival at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle a day after her release from prison in Italy on Oct. 4, 2011. (Dan Levine / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Tears of relief

    Amanda Knox cries after hearing the verdict that overturned her conviction and acquits her of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher, at the Perugia court on Monday, Oct. 3. The Italian appeals court threw out Amanda Knox's murder conviction and ordered the young American freed after nearly four years in prison. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Home front

    Supporters of Amanda Knox react as they watch a news broadcast about her appeal verdict from a hotel suite in downtown Seattle on Oct. 3. (Elaine Thompson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Sisterly support

    Amanda Knox's sister Deanna Knox, center, cries tears of joy in Perugia's Court of Appeal after hearing that Amanda won her appeal against her murder conviction on Monday in Perugia, Italy. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Closing arguments

    Amanda Knox, accused of the 2007 murder of her housemate Meredith Kercher, arrives in court as her appeal trial resumes in Perugia, on Sept. 30, 2011. Wrapping up the defense case, Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, points to alleged errors by police and urges a panel of lay and professional judges to look beyond how Knox has been portrayed by the media and the prosecution. (Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Hoping for her release

    Amanda Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga (left), and her father, Curt Knox (right), use their mobile phones at the court during her Sept. 30, 2011, appeal trial session in Perugia. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Her fate in the balance

    Amanda Knox arrives at the court during her appeal trial session in Perugia, Italy, on Sept. 30, 2011. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Her ex-boyfriend

    Raffaele Sollecito attends his appeal hearing at Perugia's Court of Appeal on Sept. 29, 2011 in Perugia, Italy. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are awaiting the verdict of their appeal that could see their conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher overturned. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. He calls her 'she-devil'

    Carlo Pacelli (center), lawyer for Patrick Lumumba, (left) -- a barman who is seeking damages from Amanda Knox as part of a civil case running alongside her murder appeal -- speaks outside the Perugia courthouse on Sept. 26, 2011. Pacelli called Knox a "she-devil" and told the appeals court she destroyed Lumumba's image by falsely accusing him of the murder, testimony that helps prosecutors attack her credibility. Knox has said she wrongly implicated Lumumba under pressure from police. . (Mario Laporta / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Legal battleground

    Through the bars of holding cells, a view of the courtroom in Perugia on Sept. 6, 2011, before the resumption of the appeal trial of Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. (Fabio Muzzi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. New 'do

    Sporting a new, short haircut, jailed Amanda Knox attends a preliminary hearing in Perugia, Italy, on June 1, 2010. (Fabrizio Troccoli / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Awaiting sentence

    Amanda Knox is driven into court at midnight to hear the sentence in her murder trial on Dec. 5, 2009, in Perugia, Italy. Knox was convicted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was also convicted of the murder charges. He was sentenced to 25 years. (Franco Origlia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Pleading her case

    Amanda Knox looks on during a break in the closing arguments of the murder trial in Perugia, Italy on Dec. 3, 2009. She read a statement during her murder trial on Dec. 3, in Italiian saying, "I am afraid of having the mask of a murderer forced onto my skin." (Max Rossi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Police escort

    Murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by a police officer as she arrives at Perugia's court, Italy, Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. Italian prosecutors have begun their closing arguments in her trial. (Alessandra Tarantino / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. The murder weapon?

    Prosecutor Manuela Comodi shows a knife during a hearing in the murder trial for Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on Sept. 19, 2009. The knife, wrapped in plastic and kept in a white box, was shown to the eight-member jury during the trial of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. (Stefano Medici / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Victim in video

    At the trial of Amanda Knox, a music video that included an appearance by slain student Meredith Kercher was shown June 8, 2009. Kercher played the love interest in the video for the song "Some Say" by London musician Kristian Leontiou. The 2007 video was shot only weeks before Kercher died in Perugia, Italy, at age 21. (TODAY) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Boning up?

    Amanda Knox holds the Italian penal code book at the trial of slain British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on Jan. 16, 2009. (Daniele La Monaca / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Back in court

    Amanda Knox, one of three suspects in the murder of Meredith Kercher, arrives at a Sept. 27, 2008 court hearing in Perugia, Italy. Kercher, a British student, was found dead in her Perugia flat on Nov. 1, 2007 with her throat cut. (Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Sister speaks out

    Stephanie Kercher reads a statement during a Sept. 15, 2008 press conference in Perugia, Italy as legal proceedings connected to the death of her sister, Meredith Kercher, approach a critical phase. (Antonio Calanni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. The victim's family

    Arline, mother of Meredith Kercher, answers newsmen questions flanked by Meredith's sister Stephanie, left, and brother Lyle, during a press conference in Perugia, Italy on April 18, 2008. (Leonetto Medici / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Headed to a hearing

    Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who along with Knox and Rudy Hermann Guede was held on suspicion in the murder of Knox’s housemate Meredith Kercher, is escorted by Italian police to a January 2008 hearing with magistrates. (Paolo Tosti / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Remembering Meredith

    A floral tribute with photographs of Meredith Kercher is shown at her funeral at Croydon Parish Church, South London on December 14, 2007. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Another suspect

    In December 2007, police in Germany arrested Rudy Hermann Guede, a native of the Ivory Coast, in connection with Meredith Kercher's murder. Here Guede is shown being led away by Italian police after arriving in Rome from prison in Germany. (Riccardo De Luca / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Arrested, then released

    Patrick Lumumba Diya, a Congolese man who owned a small bar in Perugia where Amanda Knox sometimes worked as a barmaid, was arrested after being implicated in the Meredith Kercher murder by Knox. However, he was released after another suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede, was arrested in the case. He is shown here leaving police headquarters with his lawyer on Nov. 20, 2007. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Under arrest

    Her cap pulled low, American student Amanda Knox was arrested on Nov. 6, 2007, for her alleged involvement in the brutal murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher. (Pietro Crocchioni / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Searching for clues

    Police forensics investigators examined Meredith Kercher's Italian house while a coroner conducted a post-mortem investigation on the slain student's body. (Chris Radburn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. The murder scene

    On Nov. 5, 2007, the rented hillside home that murder victim Meredith Kercher had shared with fellow student Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy was a crime scene. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Front-page news

    By Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007 Meredith Kercher's gruesome murder was front-page news in the central Italian city of Perugia. (Chris Radburn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. The day after

    Amanda Knox, a student from Seattle who had been living with Meredith Kercher in Perugia, was arrested Nov. 6, 2007 for her alleged involvement in Kercher’s murder. Also held by police was Knox’s Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Taken Nov. 2, the day Kercher was found dead, this picture shows the pair outside the rented house Knox shared with Kercher. (Stefano Medici / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. The murder victim

    Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old British exchange student, was found dead with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007 in her room in an apartment she shared with other exchange students in the Italian town of Perugia. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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