PERUGIA, Italy -- Defense attorneys have finished their final arguments as Amanda Knox's appeals trial enters its final phase in Perugia, Italy.
Court has finished for the day; rebuttal arguments are expected Friday and possibly continue through Monday. After the rebuttals finish, Knox will have the opportunity to make a “final declaration” to the court before deliberations begin. It will be the speech of a lifetime for Knox, who is expected to tell jurors that she is paying for a crime she did not commit.
Knox's family expects a verdict on Monday. No court is scheduled for Sunday.
Knox is appealing her murder conviction and 26-year sentence. Knox's former boyfriend and co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, is also appealing his 25-year sentence.
After days of listening to prosecutors demonize Knox as a murderous “she devil,” defense attorneys fired back in closing arguments Friday. Attorney Carlo Della Vedova told the jury that prosecutors rushed to judgment when they focused on Knox shortly after her British roommate, Meredith Kercher , was found murdered in the house the girls shared.
Della Vedova told the jury Knox has been the victim of a "tragic judicial case" and has spent over 1,000 days behind bars as a result.
"Knox has been crucified in a public square, subjected to the most sinister of speculations," he said. "All, regardless of their nationalities, have offended Amanda Knox."
Della Vedova said Knox was a "girl who has had a tsunami, a tornado hit her. This has swept away her life."
Vedova characterized the prosecution’s case as full of errors and conjecture. The case has been unraveling on appeal, after court appointed independent experts reported more than 50 mistakes in the collection and analysis of evidence from the crime scene. The same experts concluded the knife collected by police as the murder weapon could not have made the stab wounds on Kercher’s throat and did not contain any of Kercher’s blood.
Della Vedova urged the court not to be afraid to recognize that the lower court that had convicted the two had made a mistake.
"That's exactly why we have appeals -- courts can make mistakes," he said. "Nobody is infallible."
Even so, prosecutors insist that Knox is guilty and focused their closing arguments earlier this week on vilifying Knox’s character. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini has described Knox as a having the face of an angel and the heart of the devil. He maintains that Knox murdered Kercher with the help of two men — Knox’s Italian ex-boyfriend Raffale Sollecito, and a drifter who was convicted in a separate trial.
Mignini maintains Kercher was killed because she refused to take part in a drug fueled sex game initiated by Knox, but Vedova characterized that theory as a fantasy, lacking any basis in reality.
Knox appeared nervous, even frightened, as she entered the Perugia courtroom where the appeals trial is taking place. It’s the same courtroom where she was convicted in December 2009. Knox and her family were convinced she would be exonerated in the first trial, and when the jury delivered its verdict, they were crushed. But in court, she is buoyed by the support of her mother, father, sisters and step parents, as well as friends from Seattle who sit just a few feet away in court.
Knox’s father, Curt Knox, said during a family visit with Amanda at the prison yesterday, Amanda spent time talking with her three sisters. Curt Knox said they didn’t dwell on the case. He said his daughter is holding up, “but she’s scared. We all are.”
Curt Knox said that the appeals trial has given them new hope that they will be bringing Amanda back to Seattle very soon. He said the family has been amazed at the amount of support they have been getting from people in Seattle. He said they have received e-mails and letters from strangers expressing concerns about Amanda’s well being in prison.
The appeal is not without risk for Knox. Prosecutors are asking that her 26 year sentence be increased to life in prison. The jury has many choices. They can overturn the conviction, shorten the sentence or lengthen it. Prosecutors are asking that her 26 year sentenced be increased to life.
If the conviction is overturned, Knox could be freed within a day or two. If the conviction is upheld, Knox can still appeal to Italy's Supreme Court.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.