“I Am Not Who They Say I Am”: Amanda Knox Claims Innocence in a Final Plea to Appeals Court

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In a final effort to overturn a conviction in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito appeared before an Italian appeals court Monday.

Knox, a 24-year-old U.S. student who was sentenced to 26 years in prison back in 2009, was on the verge of sobbing in an emotional plea to an eight-member panel of judges in Perugia.  “I am not who they say I am – the perversion, the violence, the lack of respect for life. I did not do the things they said I did. I did not kill, I did not sexually assault, I did not steal,” she said.

(MORE: Verdict Watch: Amanda Knox’s ‘Trial by Tabloid’ Comes to an End)

Just before Knox’s testimony, Sollecito, 27, also appealed his 25-year conviction and told the court he has never harmed anyone in his life. “I’ve never woken up from this nightmare,” he said of the four-year legal process.  Sollecito pointed to his bracelet with the phrase, “free Amanda and Raffaele,” claiming he had not taken it off until now.

Both Knox and Sollecito distanced themselves from the third person convicted in Kercher’s murder, Rudy Guede, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in a separate trial.

The appeals case focuses on the dismissal of DNA evidence on a kitchen knife presumed to be the murder weapon. In June, two independent court-appointed experts called the forensic evidence unreliable, but prosecutors have asked to increase the sentences to life terms due to other circumstantial evidence placing the two defendants at the scene of the crime, the BBC reports. 

Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, who is presiding over the case, said a decision will not be made before 2 p.m. EST, according to the AP. Should the jury acquit Knox and Sollecito, prosecutors plan to appeal the decision, but Knox’s family hopes to immediately take their daughter back to Seattle.

“We will do everything we can. If it happens to go bad we have another alternative in going to the Supreme Court within Italy and we won’t stop until she comes home to us,” her father Curt Knox told ABC.

Kercher’s family is expected to arrive in Italy for the final decision Monday afternoon.

MORE: Amanda Knox Appeal: Who’s Who in the Italian Murder Trial