PERUGIA, ITALY - Convicted murderer Amanda Knox broke into tears Saturday as she made an emotional address to an appeals court in Italy, saying she was the innocent victim of an "enormous mistake" and that her life had been "broken" by three years in jail.
In her address to the court, the 23-year-old American reached out for the first time to the family of Meredith Kercher, the British woman she was convicted of killing and sexually assaulting in 2007 when they were roommates on a student exchange program in Perugia.
Knox, from Seattle, denied being the “dangerous, diabolical, jealous, uncaring, violent” person described by the prosecution.
Last year, Knox was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Also convicted of the same charges was Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who is Knox’s former boyfriend. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Both deny wrongdoing, and both have appealed the verdict.
The appeals trial formally opened last month, but that hearing was immediately adjourned. With Saturday’s hearing, the new proceedings got into full swing.
“I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent. We did not kill Meredith,” Knox said during her 20-minute address, speaking Italian, and her voice breaking. “It doesn’t do justice to Meredith and her loved ones to take our lives from us.”
Silence fell on the courtroom as Knox started speaking, with her stepfather, Chris Mellas, and her university friend Madison Paxton in attendance. Paxton, who was crying during the speech, said later that she had never been “so proud of anybody in my life.”
Knox had addressed the court in the previous trial but never for as long or as passionately. She said she regretted not being able to fully speak her mind before, saying that words don’t come easily to her and that she has a difficult time standing up for herself.
In the United States, the coverage of the case has been largely favorable to the American and critical of the Italian handling of the case. Some raised doubts over the investigation and the collecting of forensic evidence allegedly linking Knox and Sollecito to the crime.
“I stand here more scared than ever, not because I am or I have ever been afraid of the truth,” she said, “but because the truth has not been r e c o g - nized.”
She was in tears as sisters, and the idea of their suffering, their loss, terrifies me.”
“What you are going through, and what Meredith was subjected to, is incomprehensible and unacceptable,” she said. “You are not alone as you remember her. My heart is shattered for all of you.”
Kercher’s family did not attend. Their lawyer, Francesco Maresca, left the courtroom as Knox spoke, saying later that he “didn’t want to have to listen to these statements, which came too late, are inappropriate, devoid of any significance and only intended (to impress) the appeals court.”
she said she thinks of Kercher as a dear friend she is “grateful and honored” to have met.
In the previous trial, Knox had described Kercher as a friend whose death had shocked her. On Saturday, she turned her thoughts to the victim’s family.
“I’m very sorry Meredith is no longer living,” a tearful Knox said. “I, too, have little