TODAY   |  November 19, 2009

Closing arguments begin in Knox trial

Nov. 20: Attorneys began closing arguments in Italy today in the case against American student Amanda Knox, who is accused of murdering her roommate while studying abroad. Knox’s parents talk with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> may never forget.

>>> but we begin this half hour on a more serious note. closing arguments begin today at the italian murder trial of american college student amanda knox . we're going to talk to her parents in just a moment, but first, nbc's michelle kosinski is in perugia with the latest. michelle, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, meredith . closing arguments did begin this morning. both amanda knox and her then boyfriend are accused of murder and sexual violence, but this is a case where every single piece of evidence prosecutors have presented is fiercely contested, and those who have been watching say they cannot predict with confidence which way the judges and jury will go here. for two years, amanda knox has sat in an italian jail holding fast to her claim she is innocent. now, time for a decision.

>> we are confident that the court is going to take the correct decision according to justice.

>> reporter: amanda and her then boyfriend, raffaele sollecito , stand accused of brutally killing her roommate, british exchange student meredith kercher , found locked in her bedroom, semi-clothed, throat slashed. prosecutors have painted it as the end of a violent sex game . a drifter, rudy guede , has been convicted of the murder. his fingerprints were in the bedroom and in her blood. he's convicted of leaving the country. but this week on appeal, he claimed he saw amanda leave the apartment that night after he heard meredith scream and tried to help her, and that earlier, meredith angrily accused amanda of stealing her money. amanda 's defense says no way, that she was at raffaele sollecito 's apartment with her boyfriend all night. amanda 's stepfather, who visited her thursday, says she's holding up surprisingly well.

>> i was happy to see that she was in good spirits and ready for this.

>> reporter: what do prosecutors have against these two? they say the murder weapon, a knife found in raffaele's kitchen with amanda 's dna on the handle and meredith 's on the blade. but defense experts insist it does not match meredith 's wounds -- no blood on them, just a scant trace of her dna . they say evidence on the handle. prosecutors also have a trace of raffaele's dna on meredith 's bra clasp, but again, the defense claims contamination. there is not a single fingerprint from either of them anywhere at the crime scene, a tenuous web of circumstance and forensic shreds that will very soon determine whether an american exchange student and her boyfriend, who claim they weren't there, will spend decades in prison here. it seems like for every question, there is an equal and opposite explanation. police say at one point, amanda confessed to covering her ears to meredith 's screams, but she says police told her to envision being there that night. they say she tried to implicate another man. she says they led her down that road during interrogation. the jury's expected to begin deliberating early next month. meredith ?

>> michelle kosinski , thank you. we are joined now by amanda knox 's parents, edda mellas and curt knox. good morning to you both.

>> good morning.

>> good morning.

>> curt, if i could start with you, when is the last time you talked with amanda and how did she seem to you?

>> i actually got a short chance this past saturday as she makes a ten-minute callback to the states. so, she sounded quite good and her spirits seemed to be up.

>> and your husband chris is in italy for closing arguments, as michelle just said. what does he have to say about amanda 's mood in the courtroom and also the proceedings so far today?

>> well, we've been getting things this morning from him. he says amanda 's gone into this feeling very strong, and she's, you know, holding her head up and hoping for the best.

>> and that is wonderful to hear, but edda, this has got to be nerve-racking for you and also, curt, for you as her parents, especially now that we're getting to the end.

>> oh, it's awful. it's horrible waiting, but i mean, we've been doing this for two years now, so, at least there's an end in sight.

>> curt, what will you be listening for in the prosecution's final summation?

>> well, frankly, i'm trying to figure out what his new theory related to this whole process has been, because he has changed his theory throughout the trial. so, we're actually looking to see what his summation really is going to turn out to be.

>> and now you have this one man who was convicted in the case already, rudy guede , who was testifying in court this week in his appeal, and he said among other things, that after he claims to have heard meredith scream, he saw a silhouette leaving the apartment, which he claims was amanda . i know the jurors in this case -- this is not testimony in this case, but they're not sequestered. so, are you afraid it will influence the jurors in amanda 's case?

>> well, you know, we hope it doesn't. i mean, we hope they really just take a look at what's presented in court. but you know, even his statements are so incredible. i mean, he says that amanda arrived at her own house and rang her own doorbell. it just doesn't make any sense.

>> curt, you want to comment on that?

>> well, i'm focused more on what's really happened in our trial, in our court of law , but it is a true statement. one of the differences between the systems is the jurors and the judges are not sequestered. so, you're always very anxious about any statements and any misreporting that may have taken place over the last couple years having an impact on the decision.

>> yeah, so, does that make you worry about whether or not -- and you said in the past you felt your daughter could get a fair trial , but do you worry now that maybe she can't?

>> you know, i think we've worried all along just because of what's happened, you know, all the false reporting, and you know, to be quite frank, things have not really gone correctly so far, but we have to be hopeful that now it's all public and, you know, everything that's been presented in court has been, you know, pretty much good for us. it shows that she is innocent.

>> and will you be there in the courtroom for the verdict?

>> yes.

>> yes, we will.

>> edda mellas, curt knox, a difficult time in both your lives. we greatly appreciate you coming in and talking to us this morning.

>> thank you.

>> thank you for having us.