Amanda Knox breaks down in Italy sex-murder appeal

AMANDA Knox, the American woman convicted of killing a British student in Italy, broke down in tears at her appeal today as her lawyers questioned the DNA evidence in the case.

“I am unjustly convicted,” an emotional Knox, reading in Italian from handwritten notes, told the court in the university town of Perugia in central Italy where she was living with Leeds University student Meredith Kercher. “I will never get used to this broken life,” she said.

“To Meredith’s family and loved ones, I would like to say that I am sorry that Meredith is not here. What you’re going through and what Meredith went through is incomprehensible and unacceptable,” Knox said.

She also apologised to Patrice Lumumba, the man she indicated as the possible culprit during police questioning after the gruesome 2007 killing, saying: “I should have withstood the pressures that made me do you wrong.”

Knox last month was indicted on charges of slander for claiming police beat her during the questioning. She said then that she had been in her house at the time of the killing but now says she was at her boyfriend’s house. Her lawyer meanwhile questioned DNA evidence linking her to the crime.

“We will request a new examination of the DNA,” Luciano Ghirga told AFP.

Knox was sentenced in 2009 to 26 years for murdering Kercher with two other people in the cottage she shared with the British student in Perugia as part of what prosecutors described as a drug-fuelled sexual attack.  Her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison and is appealing together with Knox.

An Ivorian man, Rudy Guede, was convicted in a separate trial in which he said he was in the house but did not take part in the killing.  Prosecutors said Guede sexually assaulted Kercher and she was then held down and stabbed in an apparently motiveless attack.  The main DNA evidence on Knox was a knife in Sollecito’s house which was found to have traces of her DNA on the handle and Kercher’s on the blade, as well as her DNA mixed in with Kercher’s blood in a bathroom they shared.

The appeal trial began with a hearing last month in which a nervous-looking Knox appeared briefly before the court was adjourned.  The next hearings are scheduled for December 18 and January 15 and the outcome of the trial is expected some time next year. Ghirga has said he expects the final verdict in February or March.

Prosecutors have said they will seek a life sentence for Knox – their original request in her first trial – if the conviction is upheld. Meanwhile Kercher’s father, John, said in an article in Britain’s Daily Mail this month that it was “utterly despicable” that Knox had become a celebrity. He said that Knox’s parents, Kurt Knox and ex-wife Edda Mellas, “have never expressed their condolences to our family for our grievous loss”.

“This appeal, like the initial court case, will drag on for months, while the dark tunnel between my family and our ability to grieve for Meredith in peace becomes ever longer,” he said.

“If Knox doesn’t get the result she wants, our agony will be even more protracted: she may then take her case to Italy’s Supreme Court in Rome. Put simply, our ordeal could go on for years.”

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