Amanda Knox is about to face what she could have never imagined.
If life had gone according to plan, Knox would graduate from the University of Washington in Seattle this weekend. Instead, she will take the witness stand to defend herself in an Italian courtroom where she has been on trial since January, charged with murder.
College graduation is just one of the milestones Knox has missed while held in a prison in Perugia, Italy, for the past 18 months. Knox had dreamed of spending her junior year abroad in this medieval Italian town in the Umbrian hillside. But not long after she arrived, Knox went from being a sweet-faced coed to what newspapers described as an accused killer with "icy blue eyes."
Knox, 21, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, are accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Knox's British roommate, Meredith Kercher, 21.
Kercher was found stabbed and strangled to death in her room in the house she shared with Knox and two other women, Nov. 2, 2007. A third person, Rudy Guede, has already been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the murder.
Knox and Sollecito, on trial together, maintain their innocence and claim they were together at Sollecito's apartment the night of the murder.
After five months of testimony in which witnesses have often portrayed Knox as an inappropriately behaved and bizarre young woman, in what her father, Curt Knox, has called a "character assassination," the defense will have its chance to show the jury that Knox is innocent. She begins her defense and takes the stand for questioning June 12.
Knox may begin in her testimony in English but will likely speak mostly in Italian, her father told ABC News. She planned to make a last-minute decision on the stand, he said.
The decision to take the stand was Knox's and that of her lawyers. Sollecito will not be questioned.
Knox's decision to take the stand is a "no brainer," according to Los Angeles defense attorney Roy Black who has been following the case closely.
"If she doesn't get up there and put on a good performance, have a good explanation, I think there's a very good chance she's going to be convicted," he told "Good Morning America."
One thing Knox has going for her, Black said, was the prosecution's "weak" theory that the killing was the result of Kercher's refusal to participate in a sex game.
"I think that's the weakest part of the case for them. They say some type of sex orgy was planned and the victim didn't want to go along with it. So she was killed because of that. I don't find that particularly convincing," Black said.
Black suggested Knox should blame the killing on Guede who has already been convicted of taking part in the murder and whose fingerprints and DNA are already established at the crime scene.
Xavier Amador, a Columbia University clinical psychology professor who frequently consults on criminal trials, suggested that Knox has a unique problem with the jury in Perugia.
He noted that the Italian media has written luridly about Knox's behavior after her arrest and during the trial and that Italian jurors are not screened for biases or preconceived notions, and not told to avoid reading about the case as they would be in the U.S.