Knox upset, tired; gets family visit in prison
PERUGIA, Italy (AP) - December 5, 2009 -- Amanda Knox sought comfort from visiting family members Saturday on her first day in prison since being convicted of murdering her British roommate.
The family of victim Meredith Kercher said the verdict brought a measure of justice. However, they said, it was not a time to celebrate.
Knox, a college student from Seattle, was tired and upset following the midnight verdict and sentence of 26 years in prison, according to family members and a lawyer who saw her.
"Amanda like the rest is extremely disappointed, upset about the decision," Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, said after the visit to the prison just outside Perugia. "We told her that she's gonna get out of here. It's gonna take a little longer."
Knox and Kercher's families came to this central Italian town for the verdict, which was announced at around midnight after 13 hours of deliberations. The court also convicted Knox's co-defendant and former boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, and gave him a 25-year jail term for the murder.
Knox and Sollecito are appealing the verdicts.
"She couldn't sleep all night," said lawyer Luciano Ghirga, who spent an hour with Knox at her jail just outside Perugia on Saturday morning. "She's worried for her parents, too, but she is keeping the faith needed for the next steps."
Ghirga said Knox was kept under strict surveillance. He denied reports that she had been put under suicide watch, which is the standard practice in such cases.
Kercher, 21, was Knox's roommate while they studied in Perugia. Her body was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007, at the apartment they shared. Prosecutors said the Leeds University student was murdered the previous night.
"Meredith still leaves a big hole in our lives and her presence is missed every time we meet up as a family," John Kercher Jr., one of her brothers, told a press conference in Perugia.
Kercher's sister, Stephanie, said the verdict "does bring a little bit of justice, for us and for her." But she added: "Life will never be the same without Mez."
The prosecutors said they were satisfied with the ruling and would not seek to appeal, even though the court did not grant their request for life imprisonment. Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said that the verdict "recognizes the defendants are guilty of all the crimes they had been charged with."
In an interview with ABC News in the hours that followed the verdict, Curt Knox said he was "stunned."
"I just looked at them; I looked at the jurors," he told ABC. He then said he thought to himself: "'How could you even do this with what was presented in the court of law?"'
Knox's families and her supporters have long sought to cast doubt on the Italian justice system, contending the prosecution's case largely rested on character assassination.
The prosecutors say on the night of the murder, Nov. 1, 2007, Knox and Sollecito met at the apartment where Kercher and Knox lived. They say a fourth person was there, Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivory Coast citizen who has been convicted in the murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Guede, who is appealing his conviction, says he was in the house the night of the murder but did not kill Kercher.
The prosecution says Knox and Kercher started arguing and the three brutally attacked and sexually assaulted the Briton. They were acting, according to the prosecution, under "the fumes of drugs and possibly alcohol."
They presented DNA evidence they said was linked to Knox and Sollecito, though these claims were disputed by the defense. "You have to agree with the verdict. You have to go with the evidence, there's nothing else," Arline Kercher, the victim's mother, said of the verdict.
As part of the ruling, Kercher's parents were awarded euro1 million ($1.5 million) each in compensation, while euro800,000 ($1,200,440) were granted to Kercher's two brothers and sister each, said the family's lawyer, Francesco Maresca. He said this was only an initial sum. Maresca asked for a total of euro25 million ($38 million) from Knox, Sollecito and Guede, and he said this request would be discussed in a separate civil proceedings.
Kercher's family, however, stressed that they were not expecting to receive any money, but the high compensation was a symbol of the gravity of their crimes.
The pair also was convicted of illegally carrying a weapon - the knife - and of staging a burglary at the house where the murder occurred by breaking a window, supposedly in an effort to sidetrack the investigation.
Knox also was convicted of defaming a Congolese man whom she initially accused of the killing. He was jailed briefly but was later cleared. Knox said during the trial that police pressure led her to initially accuse an innocent man.
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