Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:45 AM ET
Amanda Knox maintained Friday that she won't go back to Italy to face trial again.
"I was already imprisoned as an innocent person in Italy, and I can't reconcile the choice to go back with that experience," she told Matt Lauer in her first TV interview about the upcoming retrial in Florence on Sept. 30. "It's not a possibility, as I was imprisoned as an innocent person and I just can't relive that.
"I don't think I'm going to be put back in prison. I think that we're going to win. That's why I'm fighting this fight, that's why I continue to put forth the defensive argument in court."
Not going back, she said, isn't an admission of guilt. "I look at it as an admission of innocence, to be quite honest.
"Besides the fact that there are so many factors that are not allowing me to go back — financial ones, ones where I'm going to school, ones where I want the court to proceed without distraction. I was imprisoned as an innocent person. It's common sense not to go back."
The thought of a return to prison haunts her, as she wrote about in an original essay for TODAY.com.
"I imagine it all the time because I have to think the worst-case scenario,'' she told Lauer. "I have to prepare in my mind what that would be like. I thought about what it would be like to live my entire life in prison and to lose everything, to lose what I've been able to come back to and rebuild. I think about it all the time. It's so scary. Everything's at stake."
The trial will be Knox's third for the alleged murder of British roommate Meredith Kercher while both were students in Perugia, Italy in 2007. Knox was convicted in 2009 and spent nearly four years in an Italian prison before she and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted on appeal and released on Oct. 4, 2011. In March, the Italian Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Knox, rejecting the appeals court ruling.
Knox, 26, can be represented by her lawyers. If she is re-convicted, her legal team can appeal to the Italian Supreme Court. It’s not clear whether the U.S. would allow her to be extradited if she is re-convicted. Knox said her lawyers have not met with U.S. government officials to see if they would allow her to be extradited.
"That's not the primary concern of my lawyers right now,'' she said. "I don't believe that they have, precisely because they're still confident that we can win this."
Knox said the thought of prosecutors capitalizing on her absence "drives me crazy," and said she understands the "risk" of not showing up.
"What is being on trial here is not my character. It shouldn't be. What should be on trial is the facts of the case. If you look at the facts of the case, there's proof of my innocence," she said. "There's no trace of me in the room where my friend was murdered. There's traces all over the place of the man who actually did this. Rudy Guede was convicted, his DNA was everywhere, and it's impossible for me to have participated in this crime if there's no trace of me."
She maintains her faith that the evidence will prevail.
"There's always the fear that's lingering and the experience of having been convicted when I shouldn't have, but things have changed," she said. "It's not just the prosecution's voice that's out there, and while it is the legal process in Italy where one can be convicted of a crime if there is no motive to be found and if there's only circumstantial evidence, you can't be convicted if there is proof to the contrary.”
When Knox was acquitted in 2011, Kercher's father called the decision "ludicrous" and told The Guardian that the family was "shocked." Lauer asked Knox about the possibility that Kercher's family will always believe she played a role in their daughter's murder.
"I really hope that that isn't the case,'' Knox said. "I really hope that they can come to understand that it's so hard to be logical about this when you've lost someone so close to you and so important to you, but I really hope that with time, with things changing, with an opening, they'll give my innocence a chance, and I'll be able to approach them. I don't want to be forever separated from them because at this point Meredith is a part of my life. I only knew her for a very short amount of time, but she'll always be there, and I want to be able to share that with them."
Knox, who lives in the Seattle area, penned a book, “Waiting to Be Heard,” in which she details her stay in prison, maintains her innocence and said she was railroaded by the Italian court system.
Knox was convicted in December 2009 and was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Sollecito received a 25-year sentence. Prosecutors claimed that Kercher’s death was as a result of a violent sex game gone awry. In 2011, the appeals court overturned the convictions, citing inadequate evidence. The court noted that the DNA evidence in the case was false or contaminated, there was no murder weapon found, and the prosecution did not provide a sufficient motive for the crime.
She has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks, she has said, and the upcoming retrial has inflamed those issues.
“It’s happening so fast, and I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen," Knox told Lauer. "But I’m trying to do everything I can to make a difference.”