Nightly News   |  October 01, 2011

Not leaving their daughter behind

Since Amanda Knox was imprisoned four years ago, at least one family member has always stayed in Italy to visit her. NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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>>> . we are now just days from the verdict in the appeals trial of amanda knox , the american exchange student convicted of murdering her roommate in italy . an acquittal would bring an end to an emotional four-year deal for knox's family. any other outcome they say they can't even bear to imagine. lester holt is in perugia tonight and has spoken with amanda knox 's family and friends .

>> reporter: sheer far from home , inprison for a horrible crime. but amanda knox is not alone.

>> somebody always has to be in italy .

>> yes.

>> we make it a point to have somebody there for her to visit her so that she's not left behind.

>> reporter: for this entire four-year ordeal, her family has stood with her, both emotionally and physically.

>> etta , how many trips have you made to italy ?

>> at least probably five a year, five times, what 20 in the last four years? something like that?

>> reporter: her morm mom and dad are divorced but they are united and powerful in their determination to clear their daughter's name and end a nightmare that began on a november day in 2007 .

>> she called me and was talking about how something odd was at her house. three foechb calls actually all early in the morning . in the second one she up called they had broken down the door and found somebody and the phone call was when the police were there. she was devastated. she was beyond upset. yeah. it was horrible.

>> reporter: it was one of amanda 's roommates, british student meredith kercher . she had been viciously murdered.

>> and then to learn that your daughter is potentially a suspect.

>> i got a call from etta saying amanda has been charged with murder.

>> how do you process that?

>> you can't.

>> reporter: life for the family has been a blur ever since. a trial in a town they couldn't understand, a devastating verdict and sentence as legal and travel expenses saturday through the roof.

>> it was horrific. there was large parts of it especially the beginning that i don't remember. i think we were all in shock.

>> reporter: back in seattle, supporters have raised money to help the family. etta 's husband, amanda 's stepdad, a computer consultant, actually moved to per ruj yeah to be close to amanda .

>> anybody who is a parent can understand, you don't leave your kid alone in a prison the other side of the world.

>> reporter: amanda has adjusted to prison life as best she can.

>> when you're in perugia and get to see her, what are the visits like?

>> they're really nice because you can actually hug her, hold her.

>> reporter: this weekend the entire family is in perugia for what could be their last time.

>> etta , have you allowed yourself to at all fantasize about what it would be like to step off the plane at seatac, to drive to west seattle and walk in the door with amanda ?

>> no. you want to go there, you want to believe that. but as amanda told me, she said, you know what? i feel like i can breathe but i'm still here. i'm still locked up. so until she walks out, i don't try -- i try to stay away from those thoughts.

>> reporter: lester holt , nbc news, perugia , italy .