Amanda Knox's legal defense was startled today when the Italian court rejected her lawyers' request to appoint an independent experts to review the prosecution's DNA evidence.
The refusal by the judge clearly surprised and disappointed the defendants. Knox briefly put her head back and closed her eyes, but her former boyfriend and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito put his head down and cried. Sollecito's lawyer patted his client on the back.
Knox and Sollecito were counting on the independent review to help rebut charges that they murdered Knox's roommate Meredith Kercher during a drug fueled sex game.
During the marathon trial, the defense had put their own DNA experts on the stand to criticize the prosecution's handling of DNA evidence and the conclusions they drew from it. They had hoped to have an independent expert appointed by the court to reject some or all of the DNA evidence.
One key piece of evidence presented by the prosecution is a speck of what they claim was Kercher's DNA on a knife found in Sollecito's apartment. The prosecution claims the knife was the murder weapon.
Defense lawyers have challenged the validity of the DNA saying the amount on the knife was not sufficient to make a positive match to Kercher.
Knox's family said the judge's decision was not what they wanted, but said they still have hope.
According to Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, the family is optimistic. "The defense has put together an extremely strong case that shows that Amanda had nothing to do with this crime. Further evidentiary support may not be needed and we will be there for the verdict," Mellas told ABCNews.com.
A lawyer for Knox, Luciano Ghirga, told reporters that the judge's decision "does not change anything."
"It is a decision that we accept, and we are ready for the debate. It was foreseeable. Nothing has changed," Ghirga said.
Judge Giancarlo Massei told the court that if the jury still had doubts about the DNA evidence by the time lawyers for both sides concluded their closing arguments, they could ask for a review by independent experts.
The judge then adjourned the trial until Nov. 20 when closing arguments will begin. The court hopes to have a verdict by Dec. 5. Lawyer Francesco Maresca, who represents the Kercher family, said that Kercher's parents would be present for the verdict.
Today's ruling was the latest event in the long and exhausting defense of Amanda Knox has taken a financial and emotional toll on her family.
For nearly two years, Knox's family has shuttled back and forth 6,000 miles from Seattle to Perugia, Italy, to visit their daughter and sister in the Italian prison that has become her home.
They have had to finance an expensive legal team that includes forensic and DNA experts.
For the Knox family, it has been an unimaginable, emotional and quite expensive journey. And there is no end in sight because if Amanda is convicted, the family will appeal. And if Amanda is acquitted, the prosecution plans to appeal.
The question of how the family could possibly continue to pay for lawyers, travel and living in Perugia is one they cannot definitively answer, other than to say that somehow they will.