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updated 9/29/2011 10:30:47 AM ET 2011-09-29T14:30:47

American student Amanda Knox was a naive young woman publicly "crucified" and "impaled" to justify wrongly imprisoning her for murder, her lawyer told an Italian court on Thursday.

Knox is appealing a 2009 verdict that found her guilty of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher during a drug-fuelled sex game that went wrong. Kercher's half-naked body was found in 2007 in a bloody pool in the apartment the two shared.

Knox was arrested on Nov. 6, 2007 — four days after Kercher's body was found in their apartment in Perugia. Knox was sentenced to 26 years behind bars, and prosecutors want the term increased to life.

Her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, and an Ivorian drifter were also jailed over the murder. But much of the focus in the case has been on Knox, who prosecutors allege led the sexual assault and held the knife that slit Kercher's throat.

Wrapping up the defense case, Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova pointed to errors in the police investigation and urged a panel of lay and professional judges to look beyond the image of a sex-crazed wild girl created by the media and prosecutors.

Story: Amanda Knox is no man-eater, her ex's lawyer says

"She was crucified, impaled in a public square," Dalla Vedova told the court. "Who, if not her, has been run over by a media tsunami?"

Being respectful of the pain caused by Kercher's death did not mean wrongly jailing two innocent youths, he argued.

"She was a girl who was quite different from how she has been depicted," he told the court. "How many times have we heard Amanda Knox saying 'Why don't they believe me?'"

Story: Amanda Knox to sisters: 'I'm afraid, but OK'

The 24-year-old study abroad student from Seattle, wearing a silver-gray top on Thursday, has visibly lost weight since her last trial and has appeared frail in her latest appearances in court.

Dalla Vedova told the court that she has spent about 1,000 days behind bars.

Verdict could come in days
A verdict in the trial is expected by Monday, with the Knox family optimistic their daughter will walk free from an Italian prison that has been her home for nearly four years.

Video: Family says Amanda Knox still has hope (on this page)

Their hopes have been boosted by a forensics review that cast doubt on traces of DNA found on a kitchen knife and Kercher's bra clasp -- evidence that was used to convict Knox -- and attacked police for sloppy handling of crime scene material.

But prosecutors have since tried to wrest back momentum in the case by focusing on other evidence pointing to Knox and targeting her personality, painting her as a man-eater who resented her roommate and enjoyed flirting with danger.

Story: Timeline: Amanda Knox's murder trial

They allege Knox and Sollecito staged a theft in the Perugia apartment to throw police off track and have attacked Knox's credibility by pointing to her false accusation blaming a Congolese barman for the murder.

Knox's family has flown in for the last stretch of the trial, attending hearings and visiting her in prison. Members of the Kercher family, which has kept a lower profile, are also expected to come to Perugia for the verdict.

"We visited her yesterday and she was rather anxious. But it was also the first time all my four daughters have been together for two years," a teary-eyed Curt Knox, the defendant's father, said.

In an interview with TODAY Show's Matt Lauer in Perugia on Thursday, Knox's two younger half-sisters said they were optimistic.

“She is not the witch that everybody says she is,’’ Ashley Knox, 16, told Lauer. “She is a very loyal and down-to-earth person."

Video: Sisters defend Knox: ‘She isn’t a bad person’ (on this page)

Ashley said Knox is nervous about the verdict, which is expected by Monday, but also "very hopeful."

Added Delaney, 13, "I have my hopes pretty high."

The sisters had not seen Amanda face-to-face in nearly two years until this week, relying on phone calls and letters to contact her.

“She’s become a stronger person, and she is smarter,’’ Delaney said. “She’s learned more.’’

Knox says she falsely accused barman due to stress
Knox says she wrongly accused the barman because she broke down under stressful police questioning. In one particularly sharp attack earlier in the trial, the lawyer for the barman called Knox Satanic, diabolic, a witch and a she-devil.

Video: Amanda Knox: ‘she-devil’ or ‘angel face’? (on this page)

Defense lawyers have hit back, saying such extreme characterizations are part of a campaign by the prosecution and media to justify a lack of motive in the case by creating a false image of Knox.

Many supporters in the United States see Knox as an innocent student abroad, trapped by an unfair justice system. Her family regularly appear on U.S. talk shows and she is backed by a dogged Internet campaign.

Soon after her arrest on Nov. 6, 2007, Knox became a media sensation, depicted either as a manipulative girl-gone-wild or as a naive young woman caught up in a judicial nightmare. The media remained hooked on the case, and hundreds of reporters, cameramen and photographers have descended on the central Italian town in anticipation of the verdict.

The trial is expected to wrap up by Saturday or Monday at the latest, with Knox expected to address the jury before they decide her fate.

Her sisters revealed some of Knox's hopes, should she be freed.

“Amanda in all of her letters, she tells me that she wants to feel grass,’’ her third sister, Deana, told reporters. “She wants to lay down and put grass in between her toes and in her fingers and feel sunlight. It’s the little things that she misses the most.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Explainer: Timeline: Amanda Knox's murder trial

  • Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are appealing a 2009 verdict

    Image: Amanda Knox
    Stefano Medici  /  AP
    Amanda Knox
    that found them guilty of murdering British student Meredith Kercher.

    Here is a timeline of the main events in the case. (Source: Reuters)

  • November 2, 2007

    Image: Meredith Kercher
    22-year-old British university student Meredith Kercher
    The body of Kercher is found with a deep stab wound in the throat, in the apartment she shared with American student Knox in the central Italian town of Perugia.

  • November 6, 2007

    Image: Raffaele Sollecito
    Tiziana Fabi  /  AFP - Getty Images
    Italian student Raffaele Sollecito
    Knox, Sollecito, and bar owner Patrick Diya Lumumba are questioned by Italian police.

  • November 19, 2007

    Image: Rudy Hermann Guede
    Police say they are seeking a fourth suspect, named as Rudy Hermann Guede, from Ivory Coast. He is arrested the next day in the German city of Mainz. On the same day Lumumba is released without charge from prison in Rome.

  • April 1, 2008

    Knox, Sollecito and Guede lose their appeals to be released from prison and are told they will stay behind bars until they are charged or released.

  • October 28, 2008

    Guede is sentenced to 30 years in jail for taking part in Kercher's murder. His sentence is cut back to 16 years on appeal in 2009. Judge Paolo Micheli also orders Knox and Sollecito to stand trial on murder charges

  • January 16, 2009

    Trial of Knox and Sollecito begins.

  • December 5, 2009

    A court sentences Knox to 26 years in prison and Sollecito to 25 years after they are found guilty of murdering Kercher during a drunken sex assault. Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito say they will appeal the sentences and Knox's family denounces the verdict as a "failure of the Italian judicial system."

  • November 8, 2010

    An Italian court orders Knox to stand trial for slandering police officers during the murder investigation.

  • November 24, 2010

    Knox and Sollecito's appeal against their convictions starts and is adjourned. It resumes on December 11.

  • December 16, 2010

    Guede's conviction is confirmed by Italy's highest appeals court.

  • June 29, 2011

    An independent forensic report discredits police evidence used to help convict Knox.

  • July 25, 2011

    Two court-appointed experts, Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti, tell an appeal hearing the knife thought to have been used to kill Kercher carried no trace of blood but may have been contaminated with other DNA traces.

  • September 23, 2011

    Prosecutors display gruesome crime scene photos.

  • September 26, 2011

    Patrick Lumumba's lawyer Carlo Pacelli calls Knox a "she-devil" and tells the appeals court she destroyed Lumumba's image by falsely accusing him of the murder, testimony that helps prosecutors attack her credibility. Knox has said she wrongly implicated Lumumba under pressure from police.

  • September 29, 2011

    Wrapping up the defense case, Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova points to errors in the probe by police and urges a panel of lay and professional judges to look beyond the image of Knox created by the media and the prosecution.

Video: Amanda Knox: ‘she-devil’ or ‘angel face’?

  1. Closed captioning of: Amanda Knox: ‘she-devil’ or ‘angel face’?

    >> reporter: the appeal of amanda knox 's murder conviction is being held in a courtroom a short distance from where i'm standing. her fate could be decided as early as this weekend or early next week. it will be a much anticipated conclusion to a case that's generated headlines and enormous curiosity all around the world. amanda knox entered court this morning like so many times before, but it could be all over soon. she's in the final days of appealing her conviction on murder and sexual assault charges. very soon she is expected to stand up in court and make a final plea for her freedom. since her arrest in 2007 , amanda knox has gone from an unknown 20-year-old college student to an object of enormous international attention. she was voted the most fascinating woman in italy in a television poll. there have been marriage proposals, books, and a made-for- tv movie .

    >> i would never hurt her. my conscience is clean.

    >> reporter: italian lawmakers sent a letter to italy 's president on her behalf. even donald trump weighed in on her conviction telling seattle tv station komo --

    >> i think people should boycott italy . they shouldn't go to italy .

    >> reporter: the all american girl from seattle is often called " angel face " by the italian media. british tabloids painted a picture of a wild party girl with a dark side , a portrait her family has furiously contested. for years, knox has resolutely maintained her innocence, saying she was with her then boyfriend the night meredith kercher was killed. he was also convicted and is also appealing. knox 's family has been unwavering in their support flying back and forth from seattle to perugia dozens of times. her step father and also her best friend even moving here to support her. the whole family is here right now, hoping to bring amanda home. i spoke with amanda's father on wednesday.

    >> you've got a 24-year-old kid that's essentially fighting for her life and this is her last chance to actually tell the judge and jury that she truly had nothing to do with this horrific crime.

    >> reporter: since the start of her appeal, knox has remained focused in court but in the last few days she appears to be worn out and anxious as she waits for the decision on her future.


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