Image: Knox comforted by lawyer
Alberto Pizzoli  /  AFP-Getty Images
Amanda Knox is comforted by lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova during her trial on Thursday.
updated 12/3/2009 2:47:47 PM ET 2009-12-03T19:47:47

American student Amanda Knox, fighting back tears, told the Italian court trying her for the murder of her British roommate that she doesn't want to be branded an assassin.

With her voice breaking, Knox addressed the eight members of the jury Thursday, just before they were scheduled to begin their deliberations, possibly Friday. It was her final statement to the court.

Knox said she was afraid she was losing herself, frightened of being branded "what I am not."

"I am scared of having the mask of an assassin forced onto me," she told the court, speaking Italian.

Knox is charged with murder and sexual assault in the slaying of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old who was studying in Perugia. Also on trial is Knox's boyfriend at the time of the slaying, Italian Raffaele Sollecito. All three were students in Perugia.

Seeking life sentences
Prosecutors are seeking life sentences. Both defendants have pleaded innocent. The verdict can be appealed by both parties.

Thursday's session was devoted to the rebuttals by both defense lawyers and the prosecution.

In her remarks, Knox said she was trying to remain calm even though she is "disappointed, sad and frustrated" over her two years in jail. She said she remained "confident and certain in what I know."

Knox thanked her family and friends who supported her. She also thanked the prosecutors who seek to put her behind bars for life, saying they were only seeking justice.

"They are trying to do their job, even if they can't understand," she said.

Both Knox, a 22-year-old student from Seattle, and Sollecito, 25, have been jailed since shortly after the slaying.

The prosecutors contend that on the night of the murder, Nov. 1, 2007, Knox and Sollecito met at the apartment where Kercher and Knox lived. They say a fourth person was there, too — Ivory Coast citizen Rudy Hermann Guede.

Guede has been convicted of murder and sexual assault in separate proceedings, and been sentenced to 30 years in prison. He has appealed his conviction, saying he was in the house the night of the murder but did not kill Kercher.

‘The fumes of drugs and possibly alcohol’
According to the prosecution, Kercher and Knox started arguing and then the three brutally attacked the Briton and sexually assaulted her. They were acting, according to the prosecutors, under "the fumes of drugs and possibly alcohol."

The defense has focused largely on the lack of evidence and what they say is the absence of a clear motive.

Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said in his closing arguments days ago that "there are still many doubts in this trial." He said the DNA evidence cannot be attributed "beyond any doubt."

On Wednesday, Luciano Ghirga, one of Knox's defense lawyers, insisted in court that Knox was the victim of a "mechanism that crushed her."

"Amanda is asking to have her life back. Give Amanda her life back by clearing her of all charges," Ghirga said.

Slideshow: A murder in Italy In an apparent acknowledgment of the enormous pressure the high-profile case has created, Ghirga appeared to weep as he thanked the jury and colleagues at the end of his arguments.

"I broke down at the end, as soon as I stopped talking. I even feel a bit embarrassed about it," he said as he left the courtroom.

Knox and Sollecito have maintained they were at Sollecito's apartment the night of the slaying, watching a movie on his computer and smoking pot. Defense lawyers for Knox and Sollecito are working on the theory that Guede was the sole attacker.

Knox's sister, Deanna Knox, said she was nervous about the outcome but hopeful things would go well.

"I know she is innocent and she'll be home any time now," she said.

Knox is also being tried on charges of defamation for allegedly accusing Diya "Patrick" Lumumba — a Congolese man who owns a pub in Perugia where she worked — of being the killer. Because of her accusation, Lumumba was briefly jailed. He was later cleared and is seeking damages from Knox. The American testified last June that she was beaten by police and confused when she was questioned and that the pressure led her to accuse Lumumba.

Police have denied any misconduct.

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Video: Emotional Knox makes final remarks


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