AMANDA Knox’s lawyer has made a final plea to an Italian jury to correct the “tragic error” that has put her in prison for more than 1000 days for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.
“Don’t make a mistake. Not at the cost of keeping innocents in prison,” Carlo Dalla Vedova urged the appeals court in the cobblestoned hill town of Perugia.
With the verdict due on Monday, Mr Dalla Vedova claimed that the US exchange student – dubbed “Foxy Knoxy” in the tabloid press because of her screen name on MySpace – had been “crucified” by the media.
Her life had been swept away by a “tsunami, a tornado”, he said, urging the two judges and six jurors not to be afraid to overturn the 26-year sentence for murder and sexual assault.
“In light of the absolute inability of the conviction to meet the standard of proof, of the extremely serious errors made … the only decision possible is the acquittal of Amanda Knox,” he said.
“That’s exactly why we have appeals – courts can make mistakes. Nobody is infallible.”
Mr Dalla Vedova was summing up before Ms Knox’s own last-gasp appeal to jurors on Monday, the final act in the year-long process.
The presiding judge, who had barred cameras from the courtroom during proceedings, said that he would allow live television coverage of the decision “because of the numerous requests received” from the media.
US television networks have besieged the courthouse for days in anticipation that Knox will be released.
Her divorced parents and other family members were in court yesterday after visiting her in prison the previous day.
Knox, from Seattle, was convicted of killing Ms Kercher, a student at the University of Leeds, with whom she was sharing a house in Perugia while studying abroad in 2007.
Knox’s boyfriend at the time of the killing, Raffaele Sollecito, is appealing against his 25-year sentence.
A third man, Rudy Guede, a drug-dealer from Ivory Coast, has exhausted his appeals and is serving 16 years.
Mr Dalla Vedova said that the review of the forensic evidence by court-appointed experts, which dismissed previous findings of DNA linking Knox and Sollecito to the crime, had brought some “comfort” to his client.
He also insisted that the presumed murder weapon, a 30cm kitchen knife, did not match the cuts on Ms Kercher’s body.
“This should not be considered as the murder weapon. It should be thrown out,” he said.
Knox’s father, Curt, told reporters outside the court that she was “anxious” but said that the family was hopeful she would be released.