Video: Knox to testify in appeals trial

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    >> now to an important decision in italy by amanda knox . she plans to address the court hearing her murder conviction appeal as that case winds down this week. nbc's keith miller is in perugia with the latest for us. keith, good morning.

    >> reporter: amanda knox is coping, according to her family. but the prosecution's demand that her prison sentence be increased to life, along with six months of solitary confinement has given her a shock. amanda knox has lost weight. she appeared in court this morning looking tired and tense. almost four years behind bars and the strain of the appeal are taking a toll.

    >> reporter: she looks like she's working really hard to pay attention . she's taking notes a lot. i'm really happy for the way she's handling all the really insane things that are being said.

    >> in court this morning, family and friends offered encouragement as civil lawyers got their chance to try to convince the judge and jury knox and her former boyfriend are remorseless killers. acting as prosecutors, lawyers representing the three civil cases being heard simultaneously with the criminal trial are all seeking damages. knox and her former boyfriend were convicted of the murder and violent sexual assault of knox 's roommate meredith kercher . the kercher family complained their daughter has been forgotten because of all the attention focused on the defendants. the prosecution took two days to sum up its case, calling the evidence rock-solid. but a former fbi agent here as an independent observer calls the evidence weak, blaming the prosecutor for mishandling the case.

    >> reporter: he has never investigated this case. he has simply tried to prove his conclusions correct. and they were wrong in the first place and you can't -- you can't create a zebra by painting stripes on a horse.

    >> the appeal trial is attracting international interest. with almost 400 journalists covering the final stage of the appeal. once hostile to knox , the italian press is now speculating that a faulty investigation has produced a weak case. in court , the prosecutor blamed what he called a media circus for attempting to undercut his case led by armchair detectives. the defense will sum up its case later this week and then amanda knox will apparently address the court , the judge and jury . once again, proclaiming her innocence. lester?

    >> reporter: keith miller , thanks. savannah guthrie is "today's" legal correspondent. savannah, good morning. a lot has been made of the dna evidence in the case used to conviction amanda knox . that was taken off the table by independent experts who said it simply candidate there. if you take it off the table, how strong is the circumstantial evidence in the case against knox ?

    >> the prosecutors call it rock-solid but i think it is hardly that. there's some suspicious behavior perhaps by amanda knox in the way she acted in the interrogation. she of course said she was coerced when she was talking to police in the moments and days after the murder. but the dna was really the crucial evidence in this case. it's what tied amanda knox and her boyfriend to the murder scene and these independent experts have all but eradicated that. assuming the judges believe it, they've got a thinner case.

    >> there's somebody in prison who's already confessed to the murder.

    >> exactly. forensics strongly tied him to the case and he acknowledged being at the scene. he's currently serving a 16-year sentence.

    >> the prosecution is doubling down here. the appeals process works both way, the prosecution can appeal and they are actually asking for a life sentence now for amanda knox and that she be kept in isolation up to six months. what's that about?

    >> as you say, the thing about an appeal in the italian system is that prosecutors get another bite at the apple as well and that's the risk. apparently it is very standard for prosecutors not only to ask for more time but also to ask for an increase in the severity of the type of time. so they're asking for amanda knox to have six months of solitary confinement . by and large though, i think this is one feature of the italian justice system that favors amanda knox . the appeal is not at all what it would be in this country where the only issue is points of law. they can basically retry the case. they have retried the case and i think ultimately she may benefit from that.

    >> another big difference is the defendant's right to speak to the court unchallenged. she will take that right. it's called a declaration. she can stand up at any time and speak and apparently is going to do that. there is not as much downside as doing that in american court , right?

    >> absolutely. because if a defendant speaks in the american courtroom that defendant is subject to cross examination . sheer she can just make a statement. think her lawyers will probably tell her less is more, the less said the better. she can declare her innocence, perhaps convey condolences to the kercher family for what they've been through but once again say to the court , look, i had nothing to do with this.


Image: Amanda Knox
Stefano Medici  /  AP
Amanda Knox attends an hearing of her appeals trial at the Perugia court, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 24. Italian prosecutors have urged an appeals court to uphold the murder conviction of Amanda Knox despite what they called a media campaign in support of the American student, asking the jurors to think instead of the young victim whose life was brutally ended.
updated 9/26/2011 8:00:03 AM ET 2011-09-26T12:00:03

Amanda Knox can't sleep or eat properly as she awaits to know if an appeals court in Italy will uphold or overturn her murder conviction, a friend of the jailed American student said Sunday.

A verdict is expected in early October, capping an appeals trial that began almost a year ago.

Knox was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, her British roommate in Perugia, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Knox's boyfriend at the time of the 2007 murder, Raffaele Sollecito of Italy, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years.

They deny wrongdoing and have appealed their convictions, issued by a lower court in 2009.

Madison Paxton, a friend from the University of Washington who has moved to Perugia to be close to Knox and visits her in prison regularly, told The Associated Press that Knox has no energy and tires very easily.

"In these days coming towards the end, finding very peaceful moments is hard for her," Paxton said. "Her sleep is very disturbed, her eating is very disturbed."

The 24-year-old Knox has visibly lost weight and appears worn out by four years behind bars. Her lawyers and family have described her as increasingly anxious as she awaits a verdict.

The appeals case continues Monday, when a lawyer representing the Kercher family will make his closing arguments. The lawyer of a man who was implicated in the murder by Knox — and was briefly jailed as a result of her statement — is also expected to address the appeals court in Perugia. Both the Kercher family and the man figure as civil plaintiffs in the case.

Later in the week, defense teams will sum up their case.

Knox herself is expected to address the court in a final plea. In a letter sent to Italian lawmaker Rocco Girlanda, who has campaigned for her freedom and frequently seen her in prison, Knox said she has been thinking about what to say to the court and what to do if she is released. The letter, dated Aug. 9, was shown on an Italian TV show Sunday night.

Kercher, 21, was stabbed to death on Nov. 1, 2007. Her body — lying in a pool of blood, her throat slit — was found the following day in the apartment she shared with Knox.

Prosecutors maintain Kercher died in what had begun as a drug-fueled sexual assault. They have asked the appeals court to stiffen Knox's and Sollecito's penalties and sentence them to life in prison.

Also convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivorian man. Italy's highest criminal court has upheld Guede's conviction and his 16-year prison sentence. Guede denies wrongdoing.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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