By PHOEBE NATANSON and NIKKI BATTISTE PERUGIA, Italy Sept. 27, 2011
Amanda Knox‘s mother was thrilled today after the first round of defense summations in the appeal of her murder conviction, saying that “it’s hard to stay grounded” as the case nears its conclusion and what Knox hopes will be a verdict that will free her from an Italian prison.
The judge presiding over the appeal by Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito said that the final arguments were moving along so quickly that a verdict could come as soon as Saturday. It had originally be anticipated to be delivered early next week.
Knox, 24, and Sollectito, 27, were convicted in 2009 of murdering Knox’s British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, where both women were spending a year abroad to study. Knox has been sentenced to 26 years, while Sollecito got 25 years in prison.
At the end of today’s session, Edda Mellas, Knox’s mother, told ABC News that she asked her daughter, “‘Can you feel the light?’ because today’s hearing was great.”
“It’s hard to stay grounded in these final days,” Mellas added.
A key moment in the trial still to come will be when Amanda Knox addresses the court. Knox will be the last person in the trial to speak before the six jurors and two judges retire to deliberate, and she has been working on what to say for more than three months, her father Curt Knox told ABC News.
When she does get up to speak, which could be either Friday or Saturday, “She will be fighting for her life,” her mother said today.
In meantime, Edda Mellas reveled in today’s summations by Sollecito’s lawyer who rejected prosecution arguments that the Seattle woman is a sex obsessed “she devil.” instead, lawyer Giulia Bongiorno compared her to Jessica Rabbit, the sexy but tender and loving cartoon character in the movie “Who Killed Roger Rabbit.”
Bongiorno paraphrased Jessica Rabbit’s famous line from the movie in which Jessica’s draws, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”
Lawyer says Amanda Knox is more like the loving Jessica Rabbit than a “she devil.”
Bongiorno invoked the loving image of Jessica Rabbit when she mentioned the pictures of Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito embracing outside the Perugia cottage where Kercher was killed and later at the police station while waiting to be interrrogated.
Those images have been used by the prosecution and the press to reenforce an image of Knox being more interested in sex than her slain roommate.
The embrace outside the cottage, Bongiorno said, was “tenderness, not obsession.” And she added that she didn’t know that “two young kids were not allowed to embrace in police stations.”
Knox’s defense was launched by Bongiorno, who is actually the lawyer for Sollecito, who was convicted of Kercher’s 2007 murder along with Knox. a third person, Rudy Guede, was also convicted in a separate trial of taking part in the murder. he was sentenced to 16 years on his final appeal.
Bongiorno told the appeals court that the case has been “Amanda-centric.” Sollecito was convicted of taking part in the killing because he was Knox’s boyfriend, she said.
Amanda Knox Feeling Pressure in Final Days of Appeal
Bongiorno said the image of the two suspects was drawn up by prosecutors to fit the crime.
The real problem with the trial is “haste” she said, “haste to resolve the case in four days, haste to find the evidence to fit the crime, including haste to find the murder weapon.” She said the prosecution should have abandoned the case against Knox and Sollecito as soon as “one piece of evidence didn’t fit the puzzle.”
Knox is clearly feeling the pressure of being the focal point of the case. her father, Curt Knox, told “Good Morning America” today that she had broken out in hives, and has had trouble eating and sleeping. Curt Knox said he watched his daughter “cringe” as lawyers depicted her Monday as a liar and a person with a “double soul,” half of it “angelic” and the other half “satanic.”
The father said Amanda Knox has also been working for more than three months on the statement she will make to the court next week. Knox will be the last person to speak before the six jurors and two judges retire to decide whether to overturn her murder conviction and set her free, or increase her 26 year prison sentence to life in prison.
Bongiorno noted that the prosecutors have tried to counter press reports that have highlighted problems with the DNA evidence against Knox and Sollecito and the growing sympathy in the Italian media for the defendants.
Bongiorno called the media the prosecution’s “boomerang,” since press reports during the 2007 investigation and the 2009 trial were so negative towards Knox and Sollecito.
Sollecito’s lawyer also bore in on the prosecution’s disputed claim that Kercher’s bra clasp, found six weeks after the murder, contained Sollecito’s DNA.
The clasp was one of the most crucial pieces of evidence that the prosecution used to convict the couple of murder. Two court appointed forensic experts faulted the handling of the clasp and concluded it had likely been contaminated and should not have been submitted as evidence.
Bolstering arguments that the investigation may have contaminated the clasp, Bongiorno showed photos today of Kercher’s bedroom shortly after the murder and again when the clasp was finally collected by police as evidence. the photos show the room had been turned upside down during the previous six weeks.
Knox’s lawyers will make their summations on Thursday, followed by summations and statements by Sollecito and Knox.
ABC News has the full story in its new video eBook, THE AMANDA KNOX STORY: a Murder in Perugia, available for sale on the iBooks, Kindle, and Nook eBook stores.
Knox’s family was still reeling today over the hardball tactics of lawyers on Monday. Besides the harsh description of Amanda Knox’s character, prosecutors had again shown the emotion packed autopsy photos of Kercher’s nude and bloody body.