Meredith Kercher
Anonymous  /  AP
British university student Meredith Kercher, 22. Her family awaits an appeals verdict expected on Monday, against former roommate Amanda Knox, convicted along with the defendant's former Italian boyfriend of murdering her four years ago.
By
updated 9/30/2011 3:17:47 PM ET 2011-09-30T19:17:47

Meredith Kercher would have been 25. The British student would have finished her degree at Leeds University and perhaps been preparing for another Halloween, a day she loved.

Instead, her family awaits an appeals verdict expected Monday against former roommate Amanda Knox, of Seattle, who was convicted along with her Italian ex-boyfriend of murdering Kercher in 2007.

Kercher's killing has spawned one of Italy's most sensational and closely watched trials. Yet to her family's frustration, Kercher has been eclipsed in the public's eye by the 24-year-old Knox, as supporters of the photogenic American mount a high-profile campaign to free her.

By contrast, Kercher's family has chosen to remain largely silent during the years of trial and appeal, quietly honoring her memory on the Nov. 1 anniversary of her death and her birthday on Dec. 28. But they are growing increasingly agitated as the appeal verdict approaches.

In one of the few TV interviews they have granted, Kercher's sister Stephanie and mother Arline said attention should focus on justice for the victim, not Knox or her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who is also appealing his conviction alongside Knox.

"In this whole case — going on four years — Meredith has been forgotten," Stephanie Kercher said in a recorded interview on RAI public television this month.

"The attention has completely moved from Meredith to Amanda and Raffaele," she said. "She was lovely, kind and we lost her."

Story: Knox's parents: 'She's not staying here. Period.'

'A girl full of life'
On her last Halloween, one day before her death, Meredith dressed as a vampire. Photographs, some of the last of her life, show her smiling brightly with red lipstick, a high-collared cape wrapped around her neck.

The young student fought hard for approval from her university to study in the charming medieval town of Perugia, arriving in September 2007. She was excited to have found a room with a view of the Umbrian landscape, court records show. She shared the apartment with two young Italian women and Knox, who moved in around the same time.

Amanda Knox
Pier Paolo Cito  /  AP
Amanda Knox walks by media representatives as she arrives at the Perugia court for an appeal hearing, in Perugia, central Italy, on Friday.

Kercher made friends fast, testimony in the first trial shows. Within weeks, she had a small group of British girlfriends with whom she went dancing or watched films, and she had started dating a young Italian living downstairs. Giacomo Silenzi has said they fell in love quickly, and has been left to wonder what the future might have held had she not been killed.

On the last night of her life, she ate pizza and apple crumble with a small group of friends, watched a movie and went home alone around 9 p.m., according to court testimony.

Meredith was 21 when she was found the afternoon of Nov. 2 sprawled naked on the floor of her locked bedroom, throat slashed, body covered in a blanket.

Prosecutors claim that she was murdered when a drug-fueled sexual encounter with the two defendants and a third man went awry. Rudy Guede, an Ivorian who lived in Perugia from age 5, is serving a 16-year sentence for his role in the murder.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years, Sollecito to 25. All three proclaim innocence.

Video: Amanda Knox trial approaching conclusion (on this page)

Meredith's father John Kercher, a freelance journalist, has said he refused to view her body, so he could remember as she was in life.

"I had last seen her a couple of weeks before, when she flew home to buy winter clothes. We met for a coffee and she showed me some boots she had bought," John Kercher wrote in the Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid. "I want that to be the one memory of my daughter I hold in my mind forever."

She was the baby of the family, with three older siblings — two brothers and a sister.

She loved ballet and gymnastics, and had an orange belt in karate. She wrote poetry and stories. People remembered her as being warm and generous, full of hugs, lending class notes to anyone who asked, and always rushing to help anyone who needed it.

After arriving in Perugia, she kept a cell phone with a British number to stay in close contact with her mother, who was in poor health.

Only one vice is ever mentioned. "She was always late, always running," her mother Arline said on the RAI TV interview. "She was a girl full of life. She loved music, she loved to dance. She was full of joy in her heart."

The degree the quietly studious Kercher would have been awarded in 2009 was granted posthumously. It was accepted by her sister Stephanie to a standing ovation at Leeds.

Awaiting a verdict
During rebuttals on Friday, the Kerchers' lawyer, Francesco Maresca, urged the jury to "confirm the truth" in front of the victim's mother, sister and a brother, who would make the journey to Italy for the verdict.

"You will look Meredith's family in the eyes only once," Maresca said. "They could not always be here in court due to the mother's health problems and siblings' economic problems."

In fact, he said, they had trouble finding airline tickets for the verdict, which the lawyer contrasted with reports that the Knox family had a private jet ready to whisk the American student out of the country in the case of a not guilty finding. Knox's family has denied the existence of such a plan.

Earlier, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said acquitting Knox would mean forever losing a chance at justice.

"We know what an acquittal means — a swift escape abroad," he told the appeals court. "Escape we could no longer remedy."

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

The prosecution detailed DNA evidence and other circumstantial clues as they had their last chance to talk to the jury.

While they cling to their memories, the Kercher family says it will continue to fight for justice — even as it delays their own process of healing.

The Kerchers have no doubts about whether Knox is guilty — and express rage that she's garnering most of the attention.

"As a journalist myself, I know the reason why. Knox is young, attractive and female. To many, she seems an unlikely killer," John Kercher wrote in The Daily Mail tabloid in December as the appeals trial got under way. "Yet to my family she is, unequivocally, culpable."

Alessandra Rizzo contributed to this report.

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

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
    AP
    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 trial approaching conclusion

  1. Closed captioning of: Amanda Knox trial approaching conclusion

    >>> now to a sensational case nearing what could be a very dramatic final act. 24-year-old amanda knox was an american student in italy in 2007 when her roommate was brutally murdered. convicted of the crime, she was sentenced to 26 years in prison. now, her appeal of that verdict and the sentence has put the italian justice system on trial as well. today the appeals court heard final arguments in her case and nbc's lester holt was there.

    >> reporter: amanda knox walked into an italian courtroom today for what may be one of the last times. within days, an appeals court could decide whether to throw out her conviction and set her free. knox and her italian former boyfriend were convicted in the brutal 2007 killing along with this man, an african immigrant who already lost his appeal. today, the lead prosecutor in his final rebuttal suggested amanda knox wants to leave that man, rudy guede , holding the bag. she could go free, said the lead prosecutor, and once again the black guy will pay.

    >> the racist theme has emerged during the closing statements. very interesting.

    >> reporter: prosecutors say the killing was the result of a drug-fuelled sex game , but their strongest evidence, supposed dna on a knife and bra clasp, was discredited by court-appointed experts, giving renewed hope to knox 's family.

    >> alls we are doing is trying to support our daughter and trying to have the truth come out and have her come home.

    >> reporter: court observer american attorney alex gutierrez says it's as if the italian justice system is now on trial.

    >> they feel that they are being attacked as to the way they conducted their investigation. instead of attacking amanda they are justifying their actions.

    >> reporter: prosecutors and attorneys suing knox have attacked her as everything from a she-devil to a diabolical liar. as the judge overseeing it all guides this case toward what is expected to be an emotional finish. as it stands now, amanda knox will get the final word when she addresses this court on monday. after that, two jujs and a jury of six will require to decide her fate.

Photos: Amanda Knox: Her long legal saga

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  1. Amanda Knox: Her long legal saga

    The long legal saga of Amanda Knox, an American student accused of the violent death of her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, has made headlines around the world since it began in Perugia, Italy, in late 2007.

    Reversal of fortune
    From left, Pierluigi Puglia, member of the British consulate in Italy; Stephanie Kercher, sister of the late Meredith Kercher; her brother, Lyle Kercher, and lawyer Francesco Maresca speak to the press in Florence on Jan. 31, 2014, the day after the guilty verdicts against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of UK student Meredith Kercher in 2007 were reinstated in Italy. The verdict overturned Knox and Sollecito's successful appeal in 2011, which released them after four years in jail. (Franco Origlia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Reconvicted

    Amanda Knox is shown here in Seattle after serving four years in prison after being convicted in a case involving the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito is shown here in Florence, Italy, on Jan. 20, 2014. Though both were acquitted on appeal and released in 2011, they were re-convicted of the murder on Jan. 30, 2014. (Splash News, AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Awaiting another verdict

    Raffaele Sollecito leaves court in Florence, Italy, on Jan. 30, 2014. The Italian ex-boyfriend of Amanda Knox awaited the court's verdict in the retrial of both Knox and himself for the murder of Meredith Kercher more than two years after they were acquitted. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A new trial

    Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the family of Meredith Kercher, talks to reporters as he arrives for the start of Amanda Knox's second appeals trial in Florence, Italy, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Italy's highest court ordered a new trial for Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, overturning their acquittals in the 2007 slaying of Kercher. (Francesco Bellini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Not going back

    Amanda Knox appeared on TODAY on Sept. 20, 2013, to discuss her upcoming retrial in Florence for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. Knox maintained that she would not go back to Italy to face trial again: "It's not a possibility, as I was imprisoned as an innocent person and I just can't relive that," she told Matt Lauer. (Peter Kramer / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A memoir

    Filled with details first recorded in the journals Amanda Knox kept while in Italy, "Waiting to be Heard," Knox's memoir, is set to be released on April 30, 2013. (HarperCollins via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Acquittal overturned

    Luciano Ghirga, lawyer of Amanda Knox, center, talks to journalists as he leaves Italy's Court of Cassation in Rome on March 26, 2013. Italy's highest criminal court overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial. The court ruled that an appeals court in Florence would have to re-hear the case against the American and her Italian-ex-boyfriend for the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Home at last

    Amanda Knox makes remarks after arriving in Seattle a day after her release from prison in Italy on Oct. 4, 2011. She was acquitted of murder and sexual assault by an Italian appeals court after spending four years in custody over the killing of her British housemate, Meredith Kercher. At left is her father, Kurt Knox. (Dan Levine / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Welcome home

    Well-wishers greet Amanda Knox upon her arrival at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle a day after her release from prison in Italy on Oct. 4, 2011. (Dan Levine / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Tears of relief

    Amanda Knox cries after hearing the verdict that overturned her conviction and acquits her of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher, at the Perugia court on Monday, Oct. 3. The Italian appeals court threw out Amanda Knox's murder conviction and ordered the young American freed after nearly four years in prison. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Home front

    Supporters of Amanda Knox react as they watch a news broadcast about her appeal verdict from a hotel suite in downtown Seattle on Oct. 3. (Elaine Thompson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Sisterly support

    Amanda Knox's sister Deanna Knox, center, cries tears of joy in Perugia's Court of Appeal after hearing that Amanda won her appeal against her murder conviction on Monday in Perugia, Italy. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Closing arguments

    Amanda Knox, accused of the 2007 murder of her housemate Meredith Kercher, arrives in court as her appeal trial resumes in Perugia, on Sept. 30, 2011. Wrapping up the defense case, Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, points to alleged errors by police and urges a panel of lay and professional judges to look beyond how Knox has been portrayed by the media and the prosecution. (Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Hoping for her release

    Amanda Knox's lawyer, Luciano Ghirga (left), and her father, Curt Knox (right), use their mobile phones at the court during her Sept. 30, 2011, appeal trial session in Perugia. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Her fate in the balance

    Amanda Knox arrives at the court during her appeal trial session in Perugia, Italy, on Sept. 30, 2011. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Her ex-boyfriend

    Raffaele Sollecito attends his appeal hearing at Perugia's Court of Appeal on Sept. 29, 2011 in Perugia, Italy. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are awaiting the verdict of their appeal that could see their conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher overturned. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. He calls her 'she-devil'

    Carlo Pacelli (center), lawyer for Patrick Lumumba, (left) -- a barman who is seeking damages from Amanda Knox as part of a civil case running alongside her murder appeal -- speaks outside the Perugia courthouse on Sept. 26, 2011. Pacelli called Knox a "she-devil" and told 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. . (Mario Laporta / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Legal battleground

    Through the bars of holding cells, a view of the courtroom in Perugia on Sept. 6, 2011, before the resumption of the appeal trial of Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. (Fabio Muzzi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. New 'do

    Sporting a new, short haircut, jailed Amanda Knox attends a preliminary hearing in Perugia, Italy, on June 1, 2010. (Fabrizio Troccoli / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Awaiting sentence

    Amanda Knox is driven into court at midnight to hear the sentence in her murder trial on Dec. 5, 2009, in Perugia, Italy. Knox was convicted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was also convicted of the murder charges. He was sentenced to 25 years. (Franco Origlia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Pleading her case

    Amanda Knox looks on during a break in the closing arguments of the murder trial in Perugia, Italy on Dec. 3, 2009. She read a statement during her murder trial on Dec. 3, in Italiian saying, "I am afraid of having the mask of a murderer forced onto my skin." (Max Rossi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Police escort

    Murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by a police officer as she arrives at Perugia's court, Italy, Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. Italian prosecutors have begun their closing arguments in her trial. (Alessandra Tarantino / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. The murder weapon?

    Prosecutor Manuela Comodi shows a knife during a hearing in the murder trial for Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on Sept. 19, 2009. The knife, wrapped in plastic and kept in a white box, was shown to the eight-member jury during the trial of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. (Stefano Medici / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Victim in video

    At the trial of Amanda Knox, a music video that included an appearance by slain student Meredith Kercher was shown June 8, 2009. Kercher played the love interest in the video for the song "Some Say" by London musician Kristian Leontiou. The 2007 video was shot only weeks before Kercher died in Perugia, Italy, at age 21. (TODAY) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Boning up?

    Amanda Knox holds the Italian penal code book at the trial of slain British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on Jan. 16, 2009. (Daniele La Monaca / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Back in court

    Amanda Knox, one of three suspects in the murder of Meredith Kercher, arrives at a Sept. 27, 2008 court hearing in Perugia, Italy. Kercher, a British student, was found dead in her Perugia flat on Nov. 1, 2007 with her throat cut. (Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Sister speaks out

    Stephanie Kercher reads a statement during a Sept. 15, 2008 press conference in Perugia, Italy as legal proceedings connected to the death of her sister, Meredith Kercher, approach a critical phase. (Antonio Calanni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. The victim's family

    Arline, mother of Meredith Kercher, answers newsmen questions flanked by Meredith's sister Stephanie, left, and brother Lyle, during a press conference in Perugia, Italy on April 18, 2008. (Leonetto Medici / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Headed to a hearing

    Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who along with Knox and Rudy Hermann Guede was held on suspicion in the murder of Knox’s housemate Meredith Kercher, is escorted by Italian police to a January 2008 hearing with magistrates. (Paolo Tosti / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Remembering Meredith

    A floral tribute with photographs of Meredith Kercher is shown at her funeral at Croydon Parish Church, South London on December 14, 2007. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Another suspect

    In December 2007, police in Germany arrested Rudy Hermann Guede, a native of the Ivory Coast, in connection with Meredith Kercher's murder. Here Guede is shown being led away by Italian police after arriving in Rome from prison in Germany. (Riccardo De Luca / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Arrested, then released

    Patrick Lumumba Diya, a Congolese man who owned a small bar in Perugia where Amanda Knox sometimes worked as a barmaid, was arrested after being implicated in the Meredith Kercher murder by Knox. However, he was released after another suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede, was arrested in the case. He is shown here leaving police headquarters with his lawyer on Nov. 20, 2007. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Under arrest

    Her cap pulled low, American student Amanda Knox was arrested on Nov. 6, 2007, for her alleged involvement in the brutal murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher. (Pietro Crocchioni / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Searching for clues

    Police forensics investigators examined Meredith Kercher's Italian house while a coroner conducted a post-mortem investigation on the slain student's body. (Chris Radburn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. The murder scene

    On Nov. 5, 2007, the rented hillside home that murder victim Meredith Kercher had shared with fellow student Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy was a crime scene. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Front-page news

    By Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007 Meredith Kercher's gruesome murder was front-page news in the central Italian city of Perugia. (Chris Radburn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. The day after

    Amanda Knox, a student from Seattle who had been living with Meredith Kercher in Perugia, was arrested Nov. 6, 2007 for her alleged involvement in Kercher’s murder. Also held by police was Knox’s Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Taken Nov. 2, the day Kercher was found dead, this picture shows the pair outside the rented house Knox shared with Kercher. (Stefano Medici / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. The murder victim

    Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old British exchange student, was found dead with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007 in her room in an apartment she shared with other exchange students in the Italian town of Perugia. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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