Amanda Knox appeared in court today for a key decision on whether a review of the evidence used to convict her of Meredith Kercher’s murder will be allowed.
The appeal hopes of the American 23-year-old rest partly on having the forensic evidence re-examined independently.
Her lawyers also want to introduce new witnesses in the ongoing process.
The student from Seattle cut a hunched and pale figure as she was escorted into the same courtroom in Perugia where her original trial was played out.
Her mother, Edda Mellas, was in court for the hearing and said she would stay in Italy to spend Christmas with her daughter.
Found guilty in the Umbrian hilltop town last year of stabbing the 21-year-old British student to death after a sex game, Knox is hoping to have the verdict overturned.
At today’s hearing prosecutors will put forward their arguments against her appeal.
Lawyers representing the civil parties in the case – Meredith Kercher’s family and Diya “Patrick” Lumumba, a barman she falsely accused – will also speak.
Defence lawyers for Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, also jailed for the murder, are arguing for a fresh look at the evidence, including disputed DNA traces found on a knife allegedly used as the weapon and on the clasp of Miss Kercher’s bra.
They maintain that this evidence was inconclusive and have also argued it may have been contaminated when analysed.
The court is expected to rule later today on whether such a review and the introduction of new witnesses will be permitted.
Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola said a review would be “useless” and that “this court has all the elements to be able to come to a decision”.
A rejection would be seen as a major setback to the former couple’s hopes of overturning the guilty verdict.
But Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas, hinted at potential problems even in the event that the decision does go their way.
He said: “The vast majority of forensics experts in Italy have already weighed in one way or another. I would imagine they are going to have a hell of a time (finding an expert).”
Knox’s chances were dealt a blow this week when Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast man also jailed for the murder, failed to get his conviction overturned at Italy’s highest court in Rome.
University of Leeds student Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found dead on November 2, 2007 in her bedroom at the Perugia house she shared with Knox and others during her year abroad.
Her throat had been slit and her semi-naked body was partially covered by a duvet.
More than three years on, her family remain devastated by their loss.
Her father, John Kercher, bemoaned the impossibility of escaping the incessant publicity surrounding the case.
Writing in the Daily Mirror today, he said: “It means we are constantly reminded of the awful details of our daughter’s death, when we’d like to concentrate on our happy memories of her...
“Whenever I open a paper or switch on the TV there is something about the trial and the appeals.”
And he rejected the idea that Knox and Sollecito had been wrongly convicted, citing a 400-page report by the judge that detailed the reasons for the conviction.
These include traces of Knox’s and Miss Kercher’s DNA on a knife believed to be the murder weapon and in their bathroom; a shoe print in Miss Kercher’s room consistent with the size Knox would have worn; and evidence that a break-in had been staged while valuables had not been taken.
He expressed hope that now that Guede’s conviction had been upheld for a second time he might finally tell the truth about what actually happened on “that fateful night”.
“The major question of why did this happen to her is constantly on our minds,” he added.