Amanda Knox appeal nearing the end

PERUGIA, Italy - A defense lawyer argued Thursday that Amanda Knox was an innocent girl "crucified" in the media, as a judge said the highly anticipated verdict in the appeals trial of the American student convicted of murdering her roommate would come Monday.

Carlo Dalla Vedova told the appeals court in his closing arguments that Knox has been the victim of a "tragic judicial case" and has spent over 1,000 days behind bars as a result.

Knox was convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher, a British student in Perugia, and sentenced to 26 years in prison, while co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years. They deny wrongdoing and have appealed the 2009 verdicts.

Hundreds of reporters, cameramen and photographers have descended on the central Italian town in anticipation of the verdict.

Knox was arrested on Nov. 6, 2007 -- four days after Kercher's body was found in the apartment they shared in Perugia. Her case quickly became a media sensation and she was depicted either as a manipulative girl-gone-wild or as a naive young woman caught in a judicial nightmare.

The role of the media in the four-year-long case has been a theme of closing arguments of all parties. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini has lamented what he said was media interference and an increasingly strong campaign in support of Knox. Defense lawyers said Knox had been unfairly portrayed.

"Knox has been crucified in a public square, subjected to the most sinister of speculations," Dalla Vedova said. "All, regardless of their nationalities, have offended Amanda Knox."

Dalla Vedova said Knox was a "girl who has had a tsunami, a tornado hit her. This has swept away her life."

He urged the court not to be afraid to recognize that the lower court that had convicted the two had made a mistake. "That's exactly why we have appeals -- courts can make mistakes," he said. "Nobody is infallible."

Kercher, 21, was brutally stabbed to death in what prosecutors say had begun as a sexual assault. Prosecutors say that a fourth person was present the night of the murder, Rudy Hermann Guede from Ivory Coast, who has also been convicted. Italy's highest criminal court has upheld Guede's conviction and his 16-year prison sentence. Guede also denies wrongdoing.

Knox and Sollecito, who was the American's boyfriend at the time of the crime, insist they spent the night at his house.
 

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