One of Italy's most prominent defense lawyers told the jury in Amanda Knox's murder trial today that the 22-year-old student from Seattle is not "Amanda the Ripper."
Instead, attorney Giulia Bongiorno said that Knox is more like "Amelie of Seattle," referring to the lead character in the popular French movie "Amelie," about a naive young woman who tries to help people.
The description of Knox as a naive, even bizarre young woman, comes after several days of prosecution summations in which prosecutors depicted her as a vengeful woman who got her boyfriend and another man to sexually attack her "prissy" British roommate Meredith Kercher, and slit her throat Nov. 1, 2007.
Prosecutors have asked the jury to convict Knox of murder, sentence her to life in prison, including nine months of daytime solitary, and fine her $12 million.
Bongiorno, who is a member of the Italian parliament and previously successfully defended Italy's former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti against Mafia charges, was the first of four defense lawyers to present summations in the nine-month case. The trial is expected to conclude later this week.
Bongiorno is actually representing Knox's co-defendant and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, but she told the court that she was forced to defend Knox in order to defend Sollecito.
"She is a fragile and weak young girl, that is the true Amanda," Bongiorno said.
"Amanda writes that her friends think she is like Amelie because she likes the little things, like birds singing. I agree with Amanda's friends, Amanda likes to look at the world through Amelie's eyes. She is spontaneous, immediate and imprudent," the lawyer said.
"She is extravagant, and unusual, full of contradictions -- someone who does cartwheels in the police station," Bongiorno said, mentioning one of Knox's actions during the murder investigation that led prosecutors to suggest she was cold and uncaring.
The attorney described Knox as "a little bizarre and naive," but said, "She is not Amanda the ripper, she is the Amelie of Seattle."
Knox and Sollecito were in court today as they have been for every court session. Knox's parents, who are divorced, and two step-parents were also in court, and Knox gave them a quick smile and mouthed the words, "Are you OK?" to them.
The two defendans also seemed a bit more upbeat today, having Bongiorno on their side. During a break, Sollecito mouthed a message to Knox, asking her, "Are you OK?" Knox nodded and smiled.
Besides challenging the prosecution's description of Knox as "diabolical and malicious," Bongiorno also attacked the evidence presented by the prosecution.
She ridiculed Knox's odd confession during a grilling by detectives when she told police she had a vision she was at the house and said a bar owner she worked for, Patrick Lumumba, was at the murder scene. Knox later said she became confused because police were rough with her, called her a liar and hit her in the head.
"I find it very difficult to imagine Amanda that night, giving those statements without a lawyer," Bongiorno said. "I don't like the idea of a person who hits herself in the head as she is being questioned without a lawyer, like police said she did. At least let her hit herself in the head in front of me," she said sarcastically.