Prosecutors described Amanda Knox as a “witch of deception” and a “lying, sex-loving she-devil” during her murder appeal. Now Knox’s legal team is fighting to erase that image by proving Knox is a victim, too.
Carlo Dalla Vedova, Knox’s lawyer, pleaded with the jury to look past the “fantasty reconstructions” and name-throwing that have made headlines across the world. “She was a girl who was quite different from how she has been depicted,” he told the jury. “How many times have we heard Amanda Knox saying ‘Why don’t they believe me?’” He went on to say that she has been publicly “crucified” in order to justify wrongly imprisoning her.
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Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are appealing the 2009 verdict that found them guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher, Knox’s 21-year old housemate, during a botched sex game. Knox was sentenced to 26 years behind bars and Sollecito to 25. The two have now spent more than 1,000 days in jail, and life in a cell block has had a visible effect on Knox, who is now 24. She appeared in court today looking pale and thin, having lost the sheen that earned her the nickname “Foxy Knoxy” when she came to the world’s following the 2007 murder.
The original conviction hinged partly on two pieces of DNA evidence: a 30-cm kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s apartment which had traces of Kercher’s DNA near the tip of the blade and traces of Knox’s on the handle; and a bloodied clasp from Kercher’s bra that contained Sollecito’s DNA. Knox’s legal teamed gained momentum earlier in the appeal when two court-appointed, independent experts deemed that evidence unreliable and questioned the competence of the Italian investigators. Kercher’s DNA on the knife was so low it couldn’t even be re-tested. And the bra clasp was collected 46 days after the murder and had, at one point, been lost by police, greatly boosting the chances of contamination.
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“Yes you must show respect for the poor victim Meredith Kercher and her mother and father but do not make the mistake of putting two innocents in jail,” Dalla Vedova said. “Pain is not a judicial argument.”
Earlier, prosecutors called Knox a liar for wrongly naming Patrick Lumumba, owner of a pub where she worked, as the killer. Dalla Vedova again painted Knox as the victim, saying the police’s inhumane interrogation led her to make false statements. “When she was brought on for her interrogation which lasted all night, there was an incredible breach of human rights,” he said. “She asked for a lawyer but was told that having a lawyer would make her position only worse than it was.” Knox previously claimed she was denied food and water.
On Tuesday, Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno stirred sympathy for the defendants, repeatedly referring to them as “kids.” The theme of innocence extended to their sex life: she rejected the idea that the pair engaged in violent sex acts, instead saying they rubbed noses in “Eskimo kisses.” Bongiorno, one of the highest-profile lawyers in Italy, also attacked sensationalist media coverage that, she says, could have influenced what witnesses told the court. “The lives of this kid and his parents have been destroyed,” she said. “You must today evaluate if if these kids committed the crime.” Describing Knox, Bongiorno paraphrased the sultry cartoon character Jessica Rabbit by saying Knox “is not bad, she’s just drawn that way.”
Knox and Sollecito will each address the court before the jury adjourns to deliberate. A verdict could come as early as Saturday, though lawyers anticipate that it will be delayed until Monday.
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William Lee Adams is a staff writer at the London bureau of TIME. Find him on Twitter at @willyleeadams or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.