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As court arguments end, defendant Knox tells jury: 'It's up to you'


Latest update : 2009-12-04

As court arguments ended ON Thursday in the trial of American Amanda Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito, accused in the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, Knox told the jury: "It is up to you now".

AFP - American Amanda Knox asked a jury not to put the "killer's mask" on her as she and her former boyfriend made emotional final appeals Thursday denying the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

"I'm afraid of being labelled as someone that I'm not, as doing things I didn't do and having the killer's mask forced on me," the 22-year-old told the court in Perugia, central Italy, where she has stood trial since January.

On the last day of arguments before the six-member jury and two judges begin deliberations on her fate, Knox thanked them and said in a trembling voice: "It is up to you now."

Raffaele Sollecito, the Italian engineering student who became Knox's boyfriend just a week before Kercher was brutally slain in an alleged sex murder, had spoken earlier, saying "Give me my life back."

"I didn't kill Meredith, and I wasn't in that house the night of the crime," the bespectacled Sollecito, 25, told the court in the medieval walled city.

Prosecutors are seeking the maximum life imprisonment for Knox and Sollecito, who have been in custody since a few days after Kercher, an aspiring teacher, died of multiple knife wounds to the neck on the night of November 1, 2007. She was 21.

In the prosecutors' scenario, Knox, Sollecito and a third assailant, Rudy Guede of Ivory Coast, joined in a drug-fuelled sexual misadventure in which Kercher refused to participate.

Guede has already been convicted in the case and sentenced to 30 years in jail, having opted for a "fast-track" trial in exchange for clemency.

With a verdict expected as soon as Friday evening, the defence and prosecution for Knox and Sollecito vied for the last word.

They sparred over key evidence now familiar in a trial that began in January -- a bloody shoe print, a broken window, DNA found on the victim's bra.

After the proceedings, chief prosecutor Luciano Mignini told AFP he was confident of a conviction, but said the prosecution would not look on such an outcome as a "triumph" to celebrate.

Mignini, noting that he has three teenage daughters, said he was keenly aware of the "heavy consequences" for the young defendants.

Knox lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova was equally confident of acquittal, saying "nothing is certain" in the prosecution's case.

"The opposition has no corroborated evidence, there were lots of contradictions, and they kept changing the motive," Dalla Vedova told AFP.

The Kerchers' lawyer, Francesco Maresca, for his part, said he felt the 11th-hour appeals to the jury by Knox and Sollecito would not "carry much influence," adding: "They can be discounted."

He said the Kercher family, who are seeking 25 million euros (37 million dollars) in damages, would arrive in Perugia on Friday afternoon and would decide whether to meet the press only once the verdict is pronounced.

"Meredith knew all three of her attackers," Maresca told the court Thursday.

"Meredith died because after being assaulted and threatened... there was a need to silence her," he charged.

Knox also faces a defamation suit from her former part-time employer, Patrick Lumumba, whom she accused of the murder in the early days of the investigation.

The Congolese bar owner and musician spent two weeks in jail before being released without charge.

Pacelli told the court Thursday that Knox "didn't move a finger" to recant her accusation, knowing it to be false.

Knox charged that aggressive police questioning -- she alleged that a woman police officer struck her twice on the back of the head -- led her to accuse Lumumba during 54 hours of questioning over a four-day period.

Civil plaintiffs also include the owner of the cottage Knox and Kercher shared with two Italian women.

Dubbed the "house of horrors," it went without tenants for two years.


Date created : 2009-12-04