An American student accused of killing her British roommate in an Italian university town is "diabolical" and devoted to satisfying her own appetites, even though she presents an innocent image in court, the lawyer for a man briefly accused of the crime said Monday.
Amanda Knox, 24, was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher while they were studying in Perugia in 2007. Knox was sentenced to 26 years and has appealed. On Monday, she appeared in court looking tired and tense, NBC News reported.
A verdict in the appeals trial, which has drawn international attention, is expected in early October. Prosecutors have asked that Knox be sentenced to life in prison, Italy's stiffest sentence, with a six month stay in solitary confinement.
Early in the probe, Knox accused Diya "Patrick" Lumumba of killing Kercher, a Briton who shared an apartment with Knox at the time of the murder. As a result of that claim, Lumumba was briefly jailed. He was later cleared.
Lumumba has sued Knox for defamation and is also a civil party to the criminal appeal. Defense lawyers are expected to sum up their case later this week, when Knox will apparently address the court.
'A double soul coexists'
"Who is Amanda Knox? Is she the mild-looking, fresh-faced person you see here, or the one devoted to lust, drugs and alcohol that emerges from the court documents?" Lumumba's attorney Carlo Pacelli asked the appeals court.
"Amanda is one and the other, in her a double soul coexists," he said. "Both a (saint) and a demonic, satanic, diabolical she-devil, which leads her toward borderline behavior. This was the Amanda of Nov. 1, 2007," the night of the murder.
Knox maintains police pressure led her to accuse Lumumba. Pacelli said in court that his client is the "second victim" of the crime.
Knox's co-defendant in the appeals trial is her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. He was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years. He, too, denies wrongdoing.
The attack was so over-the-top," Curt Knox, the defendant's father, said of Monday's summation. "Still, it's extraordinarily difficult to listen to, for Amanda knowing she wasn't any of those things."
Curt Knox insisted his daughter was always serious and that "you just don't go abroad and freak out in a short period of time."
"Does he accomplish proving anything by name-calling?" Knox's father added.
Other civil plaintiffs include the Kercher family. Their attorney, Francesco Maresca, first showed the court on Monday a photo of a smiling Kercher, telling the jurors: "Look at her. She was a beautiful girl in the prime of her life."
Minutes later, he showed images of her dead body covered in blood.
"I don't want to shock you or make a show out of this," Maresca told the jurors. "But this is to show you her suffering."
"We're not in a TV show," he added.
Silence fell in the courtroom as the images appeared on a screen. Knox mostly seemed to keep her head down.
Graphic photos have been shown to the court before, but behind closed doors. In this case the courtroom wasn't cleared and the photos were run repeatedly for a few minutes. Maresca later apologized for not asking that the room be cleared.
"The jury must make a decision and therefore must understand what really happened," Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said.
Maresca and his assistant Serena Perna told the court that Kercher died while desperately resisting a sexual assault and escalating violence. The prosecutors say she was killed in what had begun as a drug-fueled sexual aggression.
Knox and Sollecito insist they spent the night at his house the night of the murder.
A verdict in their appeals case is expected by next week. Knox and Sollecito hope to be freed after four years in jail; prosecutors have asked the court to increase both their sentences to life in prison, Italy's stiffest sentence.
In Italy, prosecutors and defendants can appeal a verdict. Manuela Comodi, a prosecutor in the case, told the ANSA news agency that, in case of an acquittal, the prosecution would appeal the case of Knox and Sollecito to the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest criminal court and last level of appeals.
Also convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede from Ivory Coast. Italy's highest criminal court has upheld Guede's conviction and his 16-year prison sentence. Guede also denies wrongdoing. Also convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede from Ivory Coast. Italy's highest criminal court has upheld Guede's conviction and his 16-year prison sentence. Guede denies wrongdoing.
Knox has won support from many in the United States, where her family has helped keep attention on her case by appearing regularly on talk shows. Many Americans see her as an innocent American who got trapped in a byzantine legal system thousands of miles from home.