Video: Family, friends defend Amanda Knox's character

SEATTLE - This Friday, University of Washington exchange student Amanda Knox goes on trial in Italy for the murder of her British roommate.

Amanda has been portrayed as a sex-crazed American gone wild. But her family and friends counter those images, saying they are hurting her chances of getting a fair trial.

Deanna, Delaney and Ashley Knox used to spend a lot of time with their big sister Amanda on the beach in West Seattle. Now their only moments together are hurried visits in an Italian prison.

"It's really sad," 19-year-old Deanna said. "It's the worst when we see her leave because we can see her starting to cry when she walks away."

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Tense and scared as Amanda's murder trial approaches, the sisters turn to family photos and letters for comfort. One letter from Amanda reads : "I'm thinking of you always. Please give my love to the family of course. I miss you all and love you so much. Your loving sister, Amanda."

The Knox sisters say they're doing all they're doing all they can to keep Amanda's spirits up. They're learning her favorite Beatle's song - "Let it Be."

A much bigger challenge is restoring their sister's battered reputation.

"It breaks my heart," Deanna said. "I hate seeing my older sister just being thrown under the dirt."

The tabloids have been vicious, portraying Amanda as a reckless, promiscuous party girl turned killer.

Countering that image is a groundswell of support in Seattle, from Web sites that have raised money for Amanda's defense to college friends like Ben Parker and Madison Paxton, who will testify as a character witness.

"I hope I can just portray her as she really is, especially because the jury will have seen all the tabloids," Paxton said. "I just want to tell the truth about who she is and who I know."

Paxton says Amanda was a serious honors student at the UW, who worked three jobs to earn enough money to study abroad.

"She had to work so hard to go to Italy," Paxton said. "She would get up at 4:30, 5 in the morning to go open at the coffee shop, go to class, do homework and then go to work at the art gallery."

But prosecutors allege Italy brought out Amanda's dark side. And just days after her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found dead in their cottage, police turned the spotlight on her.

"It was like are you serious?" said 22-year-old Ben Parker, a Tacoma resident. "This is a joke. This can't be happening."

But it was happening. And it got worse when prosecutors announced the alleged motive - that Amanda slashed Meredith's throat because the young woman refused to take part in an orgy involving Knox, her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and a third man.

"This whole sex, drugs and craziness, and scandal and satanic rituals and all these ridiculous things that they're saying are so ridiculous, so opposite, there's no way I could every imagine her doing anything close to this," Parker said.

Parker and Paxton have made up T-shirts calling for the release of Amanda and Raffaele. They fear many people have already concluded Amanda is guilty.

It didn't help that her image as a sex crazed American made international headlines, fueled by pictures from her MySpace page and her nickname: "Foxy Knoxy."

"She's definitely playing the lead role in a real life play that's very scary," Parker said.

Her sisters say they want to set the record straight. That nickname was given to Amanda by a soccer coach when she was 8 years old.

"She's very competitive," Deanna said. "She likes to win and she's very foxy on the field, like she'll go over to anyone and try to tackle them and get the ball back. So she got the name Foxy Knoxy. Just with our last name. It means nothing that people use it as."

With Amanda's trial happening thousands of miles away in a foreign court, her family has to concede they're terrified about what could happen.

KING 5 Investigator Linda Byron asked: "What if she's convicted?

"I don't even want to think about that," said Ashley, 13. "If I did I would just cry for so long."

So far all of the court hearings have been held behind closed doors. Amanda's family believes that's contributed to the rumors and leaks and they're hoping the trial will be open.

But Meredith's family is asking that the trial be partially closed to protect their daughter's privacy.

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